THE EPISTLES OF JESUS
THE REVELATION TO THE CHURCH
In order to embrace the original mindset that was an integral part of the foundational teachings of the New Covenant -- a mindset that is demonstrated in the Dead Sea Scrolls and writings of the time -- we must understand the difference between the opposing carnal mindset that robs the Gospel of its spiritual essence. With the reinterpretation of the Word in order to make it adaptable to an institutionalized government-church environment, the result was that man was deemed a physical being -- born in sin -- and in need of redemption -- which redemption was then supplied by the church. Jesus, on the other hand, was declared to be a pre-existent spiritual being who took on a body of flesh in order to redeem mankind from his sin and wickedness. In order to support this carnal image of man, the whole first century perception of the spiritual nature of man had to be condemned and done away with. Man could no longer be envisioned as the pre-existent soul that uses the physical body as a vessel in order to manifest himself in this world -- but rather, in the same light as that proclaimed by men such as Darwin, man became the physical body.
With regard to the issue as to which manner of thinking is correct, there is no question with respect to the first century mindset of the followers of Christ. In fact, only the most worldly and unspiritual sect of Jews known as the Sadducees viewed man as a physical being, rather than a pre-existent spiritual soul who was presently dwelling in a physical vessel. Therefore, when the Roman Church attempted to remove the teachings of Jesus from the biblical environment of this foundational concept of man, the result was that a whole host of other very carnal doctrines had to be created. This creation of formal doctrines became necessary in order to explain away the gaping holes they created when they attempted to replace the genuine spiritual perception of the Word with a Darwinist perception of the word.
Fundamentally, all the Church Fathers of the first three centuries had to be condemned as heretics and replaced with a new generation of church theologians. The very men who were at one time considered the greatest minds of the Christian Church -- true saints such as Origen and Clement -- were rejected, and explained away by men such as Augustine -- who was himself a Pagan convert. The result was that these Augustinian doctrines -- Original Sin, the Platonic doctrine of the Trinity, predestination as later embellished by Calvin and Luther, the doctrine of faith as the exclusive criteria for the judgment of mankind, Christianity became a redemptive religion, rather than the higher revelation of God that leads mankind back home into the Kingdom from which he originally immerged. In this almost total revision, the focus of the gospel message became so altered and changed with respect to the face and complexion of the believers perception of the Word, that the church became very much of this world, and manifested what its opponents called the Synagogue of Satan (Rev 2:9). There was no longer a covenant between God and the Church of Rome! In every way the church that called itself Christian, was very much ruled over by Satan.
With regard to the true nature of man: If we claim to be Christian, we must be cognizant of the fact that the Bible warns us that carnal or natural man is incapable of answering this question -- and if we claim to believe the scriptures, we should then exercise extreme caution when we listen to anyone. Men who call themselves enlightened -- i.e., men of religion, science, or philosophy -- attempt to offer an explanation for mysteries that are beyond their comprehension. That the carnal explanations devised by natural man can only behold a mere shadow of true reality, is the underling message contained in the warning where it is written: "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Prov 14:12 KJV). If, therefore, we believe what the scriptures state, then we should believe nothing unless it is taught to us directly by the Lord himself.
The second century Church Father Clement of Alexandria writes that it is "...the greatest of all lessons to know one’s self. For if one knows himself, he will know God; and knowing God, he will be made like God... and that man becomes God, since God so wills". From the perspective of Darwin and the Roman Church, we must ask the question: How can this be? How can "...man become God"? The majority of Christians today believe that only Jesus was God incarnate -- how can it be said that "man becomes God"? Why is such a concept not prevalent in our churches today? Very simply: It is the power of darkness that has alienated us from our true spiritual nature, and conceals from us our true character as the prodigal sons of our Father.
If we are to again inherit the freedom that Jesus declared is our birthright, we must comprehend that our servitude to the powers of this world depends upon our mindset and manner of thinking. When we cling to doctrines of belief where we perceive ourselves as the physical body in which we are presently dwelling, our thinking is carnal and limited to this world. On the other hand, when we comprehend that we are an image of our pre-existent soul which dwells in a parallel spiritual dimension -- and that our soul was created in the image and likeness of God -- our thinking begins to transcend the limitations of this world. Once we understand this great fact, we begin to understand that the power of Satan over man is greatly enhanced when man is kept ignorant of his true source of being, and the prince of darkness has therefore clouded this teaching that the Lord taught His disciples with regard to our own divine nature. We must therefore heed the warning of the scriptures in the recognition that Satan does not want us to possess the same mindset as the original people of the New Covenant! The prince of darkness can only control us when the Word is sown on ground that will not permit us to produce the fruit of the spirit.
When Jesus walked among us and revealed ultimate Truth to the world, and overcame the shackles and control of the mind of man by what the Apostle Paul calls the god of this world (2 Cor 4:4), we were warned that the powers of darkness would do everything it could to alienate mankind from the Light that Jesus revealed. This warning was given to us because while it is true that the god of this world could not prevail against Jesus, the most effective way to continue the strangle hold over the people, was to drive a mental and spiritual wedge between Jesus and those who called themselves his followers.
The disciples and original followers of Christ possessed a pure and genuine biblical view of their relationship to Jesus. He had taught them that he was their brother -- that he came to free them from the shackles of the god of this world -- and if they believed his witness, and followed him, he could help them -- and would show them The Way into the Kingdom. Even in his prayers and supplications to the Eternal Father, he continually maintained the perception of his common brotherhood with mankind -- i.e., he did not teach them to pray to him -- neither did he teach them to pray to "his" Father -- but rather, he taught them to pray to "Our Father" (Matt 6:9). In like manner, the parable of the prodigal son portrays each of us as the pre-existent sons of the One Father. In the parable there is no savior who permits the son to dwell in the far country, and still be saved. What Jesus conveyed to those who will call themselves his brothers and followers is they must leave this realm of darkness -- they must begin the journey home to the Kingdom -- and more than anything else, this spiritual concept that Jesus taught has no place in modern Christian doctrine. Why? Because Satan has prevailed!
Every Christian today should ask himself if doctrinal purity is important? Does the assertion by biblical scholar A. Powell Davies matter "...that the origin of Christianity was not what was commonly supposed to have been"? Does it matter that the very first followers of Christ believed that Jesus became the Son of God through his holiness, rather than the created Son of God -- or, in accordance with Constantine’s doctrine of the Trinity, God Himself? With regard to the claim by the disciples of Christ that Jesus was the adopted Son of God, of which Acts 13:33 is just one example, the Barnes’ Notes biblical commentary writes: "This evidently cannot be understood in a literal sense. It literally refers to the relation of an earthly father to his children; but in no such sense can it be applied to the relation of God the Father to the Son. It must, therefore, be figurative".
When this same assertion that Jesus is the adopted Son of God is made at Hebrews 1:5, Barnes’ Notes again writes: "There is a difficulty, as we shall see, in applying the passages which follows to the Messiah -- a difficulty which we may find it not easy to explain".
Martin Luther, one of the founders of modern Christian doctrine, not only rejected the Epistle to the Hebrews, but also rejected over half of the New Testament. The problem that he saw with these biblical writings was they failed to support his doctrines of belief. Rather than making a deeper investigation into the matter, Luther did as Christians have done since the fourth century right up to the present -- i.e., reject and close their minds to the conflicting messages of the Bible.
It is a fact that many church theologians have been critical of Paul’s assertion that Jesus was the adopted Son of God in his Epistle to the Hebrews. Thus, Barnes’ Notes echoes this criticism in the words: "But people will expect something more from an inspired apostle. He must use no argument merely because it will pass, or is commonly employed. He must be wise enough to understand what is the true mode of reasoning on any point, whatever the prevalent fashion may be, and honest enough to employ that mode alone; otherwise the inductive philosophy should enable us nowadays to detect flaws in the reasoning of inspiration".
What the theologians are stating is their opinion that there are flaws in the Apostle’s reasoning when he supported the well-documented Jewish-Christian belief that Jesus was the adopted Son of God. People will expect something more from an inspired Apostle, they allege. He should have been wise and honest enough to write that Jesus was God.
Yet, when we view these statements as flaws, we are in fact rejecting the very essence of the New Covenant religion itself. Faith in the revealed Word of God means that we embrace the idea that its authors were Divinely inspired. Which should we believe? The Bible, or is the problem the result of the influence of the Roman Church -- an influence that causes us to believe differently than did the Apostle? What our theologians therefore view as a flaw is merely the result of our own deviation from the all-important original biblical mindset that is absolutely necessary to perceive and comprehend the Spiritual Gospel of God.
On this subject Barnes’ Notes writes: "The truth is, that the passages quoted must have been ‘acknowledged by the Jews’ properly to belong to the subject, or the apostle would not so confidently have adduced them as proof. At the same time, they must in reality have belonged to it, or he never could have used them at all. ‘This was not enough,’ says Owen, ‘that those with whom he dealt acknowledged these words to be spoken concerning the Messiah, unless they were so really, that so his arguments might proceed ‘ex veris’ as well as ‘ex concessis,’ from what was true, as on what was granted.’ To the same purpose Mr. Scott remarks, ’that the compositions of inspired apostles are of equal authority with the passages they adduce -- and if they were sufficient proofs to the persons ‘immediately’ concerned, they must be sufficient for all who consider the writer as fully knowing, by divine ‘inspiration,’ both the doctrine of Christ and the true meaning of the Scriptures’".
Their assertion, though not understood today, is true just the same. If we believe that the disciples were "fully knowing, by divine inspiration", then we must also believe that what they said; i.e., that Jesus was the adopted Son of God, must somehow be true, even though our present-day doctrines that were passed down to us from the Church of the Roman Empire fail to support this understanding that Jesus himself taught to his disciples. Moreover, we have yet to explore the possibility that in a paradoxical world, perhaps both doctrines are true. When we bring into the equation the very profound and continual warning of the scriptures that because of our carnal understanding, we cannot look at both lines of scripture and see the truth of each of the paradoxes, if we fail to perceive the need to evolve our understanding of these biblical conflicts, we have brought spiritual death upon ourselves, and doomed ourselves to be the victims of the casualties of the war of life.
More Importantly, though, is the fact that because our perception and beliefs are different today than what the Apostles believed, we cannot even begin to comprehend the implications of many biblical passages used to prove that Jesus was the Son of God -- as seen in the words: "It will be alleged, however, that while the direct application to the Messiah, of this and other prophecies, is obvious and authoritative, it is yet desirable, and they who deny inspiration will insist on it as essential, to prove that there is at least nothing in the original places, whence the citations are made, inconsistent with such application. Such proof seems to be especially requisite here; for immediately after the words, ‘I will be his Father and he shall be my Son,’ there follows: ‘if he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men’ (2 Sam. 7:14); which last sentence, it is affirmed, cannot, in any sense, be applicable to the Messiah" (Barnes’ Notes).
We fail to comprehend that these passages of scriptures do apply to Jesus, because we do not understand the very concept of the Messiah -- or Christ in the Greek language. What we fail to understand is that these words can be very applicable to the Messiah, when it is understood that the Messiah or Christ means the Anointed one of the Lord. What is not applicable is to call God the Messiah, the Christ, or the Anointed. The problem is not with what is contained in the Bible -- but rather, with Constantine’s interpretation of the Bible in relation to Plato’s doctrines of belief.
In just this one example of scripture we are confronted with the proverbial question that has been encountered by religious people since the dawn of time: Do we want to believe what is (religiously) politically correct? As did the Christians who embraced the religion of the Emperor Constantine! Do we want to believe what seems acceptable and right to the carnal mind of man, as did Luther and the Protestant reformers? Do we want to believe what is convenient -- or more appropriately what we can make applicable to our present-day culture? Or do we want to embrace spiritual reality? Your choice will determine which of the Two Ways you walk -- i.e., the broad-way of this world, or the narrow path that leads to life.
Again the words of the Rev. Charles Spurgeon: "The system of truth revealed in the Scriptures is not simply one straight line, but two; and no man will ever get a right view of the gospel until he knows how to look at the two lines at once". The Bible has an over abundance of passages that simply do not fit our modern-day beliefs -- among these are the many instances where, in the words of Barnes’ Notes, these passages "...cannot, in any sense, be applicable to the Messiah". Does God, then, expect us to follow in the footsteps of Martin Luther who simply rejected whatever part of the written revealed Word that he did not agree with? This is not only intellectually dishonest, but has the effect of man dictating to God what is correct. Did not the Sadducees and Pharisees do the same thing?
We call ourselves Bible believing, God fearing, Christ sanctified people, and yet we do not adhere to the Word of God. We reject the Law of Moses, saying we are exempt from its precepts -- even though Jesus himself warned that we are responsible for fulfilling every word that is written. We reject many of the tenets of the gospels on the basis that the disciples of Jesus were too Jewish. We claim that only Paul possessed a genuine vision of what Jesus truly taught -- and yet, we criticize what he wrote in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Are we not an arrogant people who define our beliefs in accordance with our own desires and needs?
While it is true that the Old Testament was written for the Jews; and the gospels were written for the Messianic Jews; and it is in like manner true that the Epistles of Paul were written for the Gentile converts -- it is also true that in the one instance where we have no other choice but to admit that the text of the Bible speaks directly to modern-day Christians, we simply refuse to believe what Jesus is saying to us. Chapters two and three of the Book of Revelation have been rightly called the Epistles of Jesus to all who call themselves his followers. Of these Epistles, Joseph A. Seiss in his, The Apocalypse: Exposition of the Book of Revelation, quotes the Archbishop Trench of the Church of England as stating: "...it is impossible, if the canons of the Church be followed, for these epistles ever to be read in the public services".
The canons of the church were based upon a doctrine of faith and belief as it evolved through the Roman Church, and further refined by the Protestant reformers to the present day. Yet, the requirements that Jesus sets forth for us in a voice from heaven -- in what has been called Christ’s Epistles to the very people who call themselves his followers, is so very different than what is contained in "...the canons of the Church", that it is admittedly "impossible... for these epistles ever to be read in the public services".
The problem is no different than the struggle that has evolved in the United States Public Schools. The Ten Commandments were removed from the school environment because -- according to the Supreme Court -- if the young children were to read the Commandments, they might be moved to actually do them, and thereby they would undermine the fundamental Atheistic and anti-God agenda that is being taught. In like manner: If the believers in the churches were to read the Epistles of Christ, and comprehend the criteria that the Lord would be using to judge the people when the time comes that they stand before the judgment seat, they might begin to do them, and depart from adherence to the canons of the church. Thus, the problem is that these Epistles were written at a time prior to the institutionalization of the Church, when the Gospel of Christ was understood in a more pure form.
What is it that these Epistles of Christ proclaim that is in conflict with modern church dogma? Contrary to the doctrine of the Protestant reformers, they affirm the position of James over that of Paul with regard to the need to demonstrate one’s faith through one’s works. With respect to this controversy that has continually raged throughout the history of the institutionalized Church, Barnes’ Notes writes at James 2:26: ...all history has shown, the statements of Paul on the subject of justification are liable to great abuse. All the forms of Antinomianism have grown out of such abuse, and are only perverted statements of his doctrine. It has been said, that if Christ has freed us from the necessity of obeying the law in order to justification; if he has fulfilled it in our stead, and borne its penalty, then the law is no longer binding on those who are justified, and they are at liberty to live as they please. It has been further said, that if we are saved by faith alone, a man is safe the moment he believes, and good works are therefore not necessary. It is possible that such views as these began to prevail as early as the time of James, and, if so, it was proper that there should be an authoritative apostolic statement to correct them, and to check these growing abuses. If, therefore, James had, as it has been supposed he had, any reference to the sentiments of Paul, it was not to correct his sentiments, or to controvert them but it was to correct the abuses which began already to flow from his doctrines, and to show that the alleged inferences did not properly follow from the opinions which he held; or, in other words, to show that the Christian religion required men to lead holy lives, and that the faith by which it was acknowledged that the sinner must be justified, was a faith which was productive of good works".
Fundamentally, what is written above has come to pass -- i.e., the modern church is founded upon an abuse and misunderstanding of Paul’s justification by faith doctrine -- a doctrine that prompted men such as Martin Luther to reject over half of the New Testament. The idea that we can either be members of a particular church which bears the name of Christ -- or we can accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, and be saved -- is simply in opposition to the fundamentals of the Bible -- and especially the New Testament.
On the apparent contention of James that Paul’s doctrine was misleading many of the Gentile converts, and causing them to go in the wrong direction, the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary explains: "Plainly James means by works the same thing as Paul means by faith; only he speaks of faith in its manifested development; Paul speaks of it in its germ". This can be seen in the example of Simon Magus who not only professed his belief, but was baptized, and yet he was told: "You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God" (Acts 8:21 NAS). Simon had faith. He had been baptized. Simon had accepted Jesus as Lord. Yet, Simon was told that his heart was not right before God. The question, then, is whether you, the reader, want to wait until the time of judgment to find out if what you believe, and the lifestyle you live, is the same as that which was affirmed by Jesus.
The crux of the problem is that we have doctrinally strayed so far from the essence of what Jesus taught, and have taken spiritual concepts and reinterpreted them in a carnal mindset, that we are no longer even capable of understanding the good works that are required of us. Moreover, we have so anchored our souls and chained ourselves to this, the realm of the "outer darkness" (Matt 22:12-14), that we no longer perceive and comprehend the very shackles that bind us.
What we have here is one of many examples where biblically based doctrines conflict in the mind of carnal believers. Are we saved by faith? Or by works? Have we been predestined for glory? Or has our hearts been hardened so that, like the Sadducees and Pharisees of the past, we call upon the name of the Lord in vain? All these biblically based questions revolve around one of the great conflicts that has continually raged throughout church history; i.e., which of these two biblically based doctrines are correct? Do we have free will and choices as some passages of scripture maintain? Or are the many other passages correct in the assertion that everything in life was preordained by God -- preordained even before the foundation of the world? Of these two very conflicting biblical doctrines, the Rev. Spurgeon wrote that "it is only my folly that leads me to imagine that these two truths can ever contradict each other" (Charles H. Spurgeon, Autobiography Vol. 1; The Early Years. pp. 173, 174).
As believers, we need to stop, open our eyes, smell the coffee, and have a reality check. If the Rev. Spurgeon, the author of many respected theological works, admits that he cannot bring these two great biblical truths together into one understanding -- if we acknowledge that we do not believe the same today as did the first followers and disciples of Jesus -- if we entertain the possibility that biblical scholars are correct in their assertion that our scriptures that we rely upon to receive the Word of God have not been passed down to us in their original pure form -- and if we heed the voice of the expert when he warns us that "Biblical scholars were not disturbed by what they found in the Dead Sea Scrolls because they had known all along that the origin of Christianity was not what was commonly supposed to have been" -- the great religious question should be posed: Would modern Christians consider that the problem is our own perception of the Word, as embodied in our modern doctrines of belief, rather than with the Word of God?
When scholars such as Edmund Wilson, an expert who worked on the scrolls, and authored the book The Scrolls From The Dead Sea, raises the question as to what difference does it makes if "Jesus... had been trained in the discipline and imbued with the thought of a certain Jewish sect, and that he had learned from it the role that he afterwards lived..."; such a thought should have deeply troubled a church that prays for purity of doctrine and understanding!
What is it that causes us to ignore the very sacred -- God given documents -- that was given to us in answer to our prayers? What is it that "biblical scholars knew all along", that greatly disturbs the modern theologian and clergy with regard to the "certain Jewish sect" which Edmund Wilson writes that Jesus learned and preached the doctrine of? In addition to the fact that this sect of Jews not only embraced a whole gamut of spiritual doctrines that the church today views as heresy -- of which the pre-existence of the soul and the living of successive lives (reincarnation) in order to attain perfection is just one -- but that the crux of the problem is that their lifestyle and tenets of belief simply cannot conform to the rigid faith-based canons and the structure of an institutionalized church. The problem is that this sect of Gnostic Jews are as far removed from the Sunday go-to-meeting people of today, as the modern culturally driven go-to-meeting people are from the essence of New Covenant thought.
Fundamentally, what the new found knowledge of the scrolls from the Dead Sea reveals is that man created a pseudo-church to replace the True Church -- a Church that only genuine spiritual Christians had access to. And then, when the spiritual Christians refused to join the replacement church created by the Emperor Constantine, he retaliated against them, and they were then wiped out by the very sword of the impostors who called themselves the people of God.
In the same way that Archbishop Trench said of the Epistles of Christ: "...it is impossible, if the canons of the Church be followed, for these epistles ever to be read in the public services", the same exact statement can be made with regard to the religious tenets of that "certain Jewish sect" that Edmund Wilson wrote about. In this respect, believers must view the church in the same way that we view any other form of government that is not addressing the needs of the people. All governments will continue status quo -- not doing anything that will create a ripple in their balance of power -- until the people themselves demand change.
It has been said by many that if the Sadducees and Pharisees had heeded the warning of John the Baptist, they would not have fell under the condemnation of Jesus. But they did not heed the warning of John -- largely because of the will and control of their leaders -- the priests of the Sanhedrin -- who chose political power over truth in doctrine. This same exact problem has again come to pass in our present time.
Believers today have a choice: Do you choose to purify your understanding of the Word Now! Or do you choose to continue status quo -- continue until which time you stand before the judgment seat? If you choose to wait, and make your case, what will your defense be? You could say that you put your faith in your clergy -- who inspired you to remain faithful to the canons of your church. And to this the Lord might respond: "So too did the Sadducees and Pharisees before you". Or you might say that the demands of modern society -- the need for a large house -- a new car -- clothes -- vacations -- new furniture -- kitchen -- etc. -- etc. -- etc. -- did not leave you with sufficient spare time for anything as demanding as a change of mind. And to this the Lord might respond: "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Matt 19:23-24 NIV).
If you choose to wait and defend yourself before the judgment seat of Christ, then you might very well hear the Lord say to you: "Didn’t I warn you of all these things when I spoke to you about the sower and the seed" (Mat 13:3-23; Mk 4:2-20; Lk 8:5-15)? And as you look into the face of the Lord, you will hear him say: "I warned you that the creator of false doctrine -- the cares for the things of this world -- the deceitfulness of riches -- all make the Word unfruitful -- and so you chose to ignore the words I spoke -- turn away from the Light -- and give your heart and mind over to the seduction of the Evil One".
You might then say that you were confused -- and attempt to get off on a technicality, or use this argument as grounds for a guilty with an explanation plea. You will then make your case by saying: Which church was I to believe? The Catholics said this doctrine -- the Evangelicals said another doctrine -- the Jehovah’s Witnesses said still another doctrine -- the Mormons, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Quakers, this Orthodox, that Orthodox, this Church of God, the Universalists, the Reformers, the all inclusive stand for nothing Liberals, the mean spirited Conservatives, all say something different -- and I was confused, and decided to wait and see. And as you gaze into the face of the Lord, you will hear him say: "All I ever asked you to do was become my genuine disciple -- put the doctrines of men behind you -- purify yourself -- walk in The Way -- and learn directly from me -- and me alone".
Right now you see yourself as being part of a group of people with similar beliefs and sentiments. It is human nature to feel secure in the safety of numbers -- after all, haven’t we been told that "it takes a village"? You perceive yourself to be protected, because you are moving within the body of a group. Part of your reasoning is that if all these faithful and wonderful people are wrong, their error will be overlooked on the basis that they are all trying to be good people. Yet, when you stand before the judgment seat of Christ there will be no group, numbers or pack. You will not feel secure -- but rather alone and intimidated. All your excuses will be brought forth -- and all your arguments will collapse in the presence of the Light of Truth -- when you stand philosophically naked before the Lord -- vulnerable, and alone.
As a last defense you will say: But I had faith -- I believed -- I said a prayer and was born again -- I belonged to your church, your temple, society, kingdom hall, or mosque -- I called upon your name -- I praised you, I told you what a wonderful God you were -- I sang songs about your greatness -- I witnesses about you to my friends -- I preached your name. I lived a better life than most of the other people, you will reason. And as you look into the face of the Lord, you will hear him say: I warned you and pleaded with you to "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it... Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, ’Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’" (Matt 7:13-23 NIV).
Thus, you will be judged, not by your profession of faith or belief, but rather, what you do -- your works in the Lord -- which will be the fruit that you have brought forth. This very question is posed by the brother of our Lord Jesus when he wrote: "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?" (James 2:14 NKJ). He then goes on to conclude: "Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works" (James 2:17-18 NKJ).
To believe and profess faith in the doctrines of men, or a carnal perception of the Word of God, is spiritually lazy and slothful. The true life in Christ and requirements of the disciple to gain entrance into the Kingdom have been set before us in the words: "Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’ For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matt 6:31-34 NAS).
What the Lord is saying is that we are required to set aside the doctrines, the many cares, and the things of this world, and seek His Kingdom and His Righteousness. The problem is that this cannot be accomplished in a casual way. We cannot fulfill the Commandments of Christ in an easygoing, cushioned, relaxed manner. Neither can we continue to live in accordance with the customs and culture of this world, and remain faithful to the teachings of the Christ. "If ye love me, keep my commandments", says the Lord (John 14:15 KJV). "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46 KJV).
In order to bring forth the fruit, and fulfill the things which the Lord commanded, we must possess a very clear and pure perception of the Word. Thus, the words of the Lord: "But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men" (Mark 7:7 NAS). Written directly in the Epistle of Christ to you -- the believer -- which the Son of God will invoke on the very day that you stand in judgment, these words will be the primary foundation upon which a verdict is based: "I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary" (Rev 2:2-3 NKJ).
If you claim to believe the witness that Jesus gave you, then it can be seen that you will be held accountable -- and the question will be posed to you as to how have you tested the doctrine of those who preach to you? Those who call themselves apostles of Christ? Have you set yourself apart from the people and culture of this world? Of whom Christ says are evil? Have you put the things of this world aside, and labored with unending patience and perseverance for the pure Word and the Kingdom? If you have not, and desire to embrace the purity of the Word, and learn more about what Jesus actually taught to those who sat at his feet and learned directly from him -- and if you, yourself, possess the hunger to learn directly from the True Light and inherit the promise: "And they shall see His face, and… the Lord God shall illumine them; and they shall reign forever and ever" (Rev 22:4-5 NAS).
This illumination that the scripture speaks of is the illumination of the mind -- which illumination is brought about through the knowledge and the manifestation of the Truth in your life. In this respect, one cannot believe, and remain clinging to impure doctrines, and experience the illumination of the Light. One cannot live a carnal lifestyle and experience the illumination of the Light. One cannot be followers of men and inherit the glory of the Kingdom.
You have choices! You can choose to purify your beliefs and life now -- or you can defend your case when you stand alone before the judgment seat of the Lord! There is no other choice in life but these. The requirements are the same now -- and are the same for all people -- as they were at the dawn of creation: "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live" (Deut 30:19 KJV). What the Lord has said is that your choice can be found not only in what you believe, but rather, in everything you think, do and say.
What is the saying? "Choose Life" -- and choose it with abundance. And in this we find the purpose of these words I write to you? One cannot make choices without first knowing the options. One only chooses when they are in a position to make an informed choice. We can repeat rhetoric and say: Choose Jesus. But then we must ask: Which Jesus? The Jesus of the Catholics -- the Evangelicals -- the Jehovah’s Witnesses -- the Mormons, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Quakers, this Orthodox, that Orthodox, this Church of God, the Universalists, the Reformers, the all inclusive Liberals, the Conservatives? Each one of these groups possesses a germ of truth that makes sense. None of them, in their partial understanding of the Word, can enlighten your understanding in order to embrace the Word of God in its completeness. Each is a starting point that embraces the milk of the Gospel from a different perspective. It does not matter where you start -- only that you crave and desire the Truth, and the Truth alone -- and are willing to follow in the footsteps of the Lord wherever they lead you.
The Bible commands you to choose truth and life -- not some man’s carnal perception of Jesus. If you believe, then you will believe Jesus when he said: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6 NIV). The problem is that we must embrace and come to the genuine Jesus, and not the Jesus recreated in the image of the doctrines of men!
We need a reality check! We need to truly believe that God answers the prayers of His flock! We need to believe these things, not in a philosophical manner, but rather we need to believe these great truths with the essence our very lives. We need to hear the calling, and go forth in the manner of Christ’s disciples -- when they left everything that they had in this world, and followed in the Master’s footsteps.
We need a spiritual revolution! We need to be cognizant of what the Lord has given us in order to bring about this revolution. We must begin with the recognition that God has given a great wealth of important documents and facts into the hands of the Church -- and thus far, we have done virtually nothing with them. We have taken no steps to begin the process of purification of our doctrines of belief -- and from a modern church perspective, it is business as usual. Moreover, so long as you continue to throw money into the collection plate, you are guaranteed it will continue business as usual. The flock of believers need to demand truth over long practiced and seasoned rhetoric. We need to embrace the principle that: When the people lead, the leaders will follow. We need to bring about true change and restoral within the Church.
In view of our spiritual slothfulness and our failure to see the need to pick up our crosses and bear the burden of the Light in this world of darkness, every Christian has good reason to fear that God will just forget us, and write us off as a lost people! We of course would reason that God would not do that to us. Why? Because we believe in Jesus? But do we? What we fail to consider is the reality of Jesus’ words that only those who do the will of the Father, are those who believe with their hearts, are worthy to be called his children. We cannot adhere to the ways of the god of this world, and call ourselves the children of the Light!
More than at any time since the creation of the Institutionalized Church by the Emperor Constantine in the year 325 AD, we are only now able to see clearly that the original Jewish followers of Jesus and the original Gentile Church were correct in their assertion that the scriptures are a spiritual -- rather than a physical -- creation. Anointed men of an elevated spiritual vision do not write history books -- they place no emphasis on history, and write only about the spiritual side of mankind.
What does this mean to us today? The evidence now confirms the fact that simply reading the Bible is not enough, and that one must possess Spiritual eyes and understanding in order to comprehend the true underlying message of the scriptures. Moreover, there is no doubt in the minds of the scholars that our scriptures were written in a code -- a spiritual language -- that is not understood today.
More than at any time in the past our Bible scholars know who wrote the books contained in the Bible. The scriptures are not the work of a people imbued with a carnal mindset! The scriptures were written by mystics -- those who had overcome the natural barriers of the physical -- and the scriptures are designed to open the door to man’s innate spiritual nature that the carnal mind is unable to embrace. What we must come to terms with is the biblical assertion that, we are not the beings that we appear to be when we use only the carnal senses of our physical body, and this was acknowledged by the Lord when he said to the worldly Jews: "Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, You are gods?’ If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?" (John 10:34-36 NKJ).
If we truly consider ourselves the Lord’s people, then from a biblical perspective we must be cognizant of the fact that certain requirements are expected of us. Nowhere in the Bible is it suggested that the people of God can believe anything they please -- in any manner that they choose. Throughout the scriptures we are told to seek an accurate knowledge and "the way of God more perfectly" (Acts 18:26 KJV). What this means is that, if we are to become disciples of the Lord, it is imperative that we develop within ourselves a hunger for truth.
Modern Christians will ask: We have faith and belief in Jesus -- isn’t that the truth? Yes, it is the truth. But what are you doing with your faith and belief? Since the majority of Christians are either waiting till they die, or for the predicted arrival of judgment day to find out if they have fulfilled the Word of God, perhaps a closer look at the Book of Revelation will provide us an answer.
If this is the book predicting the events of what will transpire when all mankind will be judged, as is commonly believed today, then modern Christians are in grave and serious trouble. Why? Because we do not believe what is written in the book. The very pillars that are the foundation of modern Christian doctrine -- faith and belief -- are simply not found in the Revelation. In the King James Version, the word faith is found four times, and it is never used as a deciding factor as something that will save the people. Nowhere does Jesus affirm that a person, group of people, or church have fulfilled the requirements of the Gospel, or are saved, because of their faith.
In the Book of Revelations, the word faithful appears eight times, and is used either to describe a person who is faithful -- as in a faithful martyr or servant -- or the word is used to present the idea that what is written is a faithful and true rendition of things witnessed. This is not to say that faith is not an absolutely necessary attribute, or that ones faithfulness is not an essential quality, but these characteristics are always portrayed as a supportive virtue of the faithful servant who continually observes and practices the Word of God.
In total contradiction to modern Christian doctrine, the criteria of judgment that will be used for the followers of Christ is not passive faith, or philosophical belief -- but rather, the criteria is the peoples "works" -- what they accomplish with their lives -- and it is used in this fashion eighteen times. At Revelation 3:2 we find an example of one of the main differences in the religious perspective of the first century followers of Jesus -- those who knew him, and personally sat at his feet and learned the requirements to enter the Kingdom -- and what we believe today: "for I have found no works of thine perfected before my God" (Rev 3:2 ASV).
As Christians we must ask the question: What does it mean when Jesus condemns the people because they failed to have "perfected works" -- which in many other translations is rendered "completed works"? From the perspective of what Jesus taught his faithful disciples, completed and perfected works is demonstrated by their ability to enter into the parallel realm that he called Heaven, and another realm he called the Kingdom of God, and be spiritually pure enough to sit at the throne of the Father. To follow Christ, literally means to go to where the Master is. Since the Master is in the Kingdom, then we cannot be his followers if we are not with him. Thus, the term "works", takes on a whole different dimension that neither the Sadducees, Pharisees, the Church of Rome, nor the modern believer is able to comprehend.
Where does faith enter into the picture? Perhaps this is best put into perspective where it is written: "I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first" (Rev 2:19 NKJ). The paramount criteria of judgment is the people’s works -- then love -- then service to their fellow man -- then faith -- and lastly, their patience. In the list of criteria that the Lord will use to test us, it is important that we recognize that the word "works" is used a second time in his acknowledgement of the people’s improvement, as seen where it is written: "and as for your works, the last are more than the first".
If this is true, we ask, why isn’t the requirements that Jesus established more readily preached in our churches today? One of the major problems is that once the Roman Church severed itself from its spiritual roots, defiled the scriptures and killed the genuine disciples of Jesus, the shepherds of the people became a class of quasi-religious philosophers and speculators -- having never fulfilled the Gospel message in themselves, and having never opened the doors to the Kingdom, they preached about spiritual realities they knew nothing about. Being speculators, they completely ignored the most important elements of the Gospel message -- as seen in the observations of Joseph A. Seiss in his work, The Apocalypse: Exposition of the Book of Revelation. Seiss calls the addresses to the seven churches Epistles composed by Christ to all believers, and makes notice of the fact that few Christian commentators pay them any attention, as seen where he writes: "Exposition is also remarkably barren with respect to these epistles. Though in every way marked as of equal account with the parables, they have not received a tithe of the attention. We have hundreds of disquisitions on other special discourses of the Saviour, where it would be difficult to find tens devoted to these, His last and most solemn, dictated from heaven, superscribed with His own marvelous attestations, and urged upon all by the sevenfold admonition to hear and ponder what they contain. Even writers on the Apocalypse itself, in very many instances, have passed these epistles with hardly a word of remark. (from Seiss’ Apocalypse)
Every Christian should in fact view these epistles of Christ as written directly from heaven to the individual believer, as seen in Siess’ words: "But as the seven churches were representative and inclusive of the entire Church, these epistles also give Christ’s judgment of the entire Church, and are necessarily anticipative of its entire history. In other words, they give us, from the beginning, the exact picture of the whole history of the Church, as that history, when finished, shall present itself to the mind of Christ as he contemplates it from the judgment seat, which is really the point from which everything presented in the Apocalypse is viewed. We may therefore read in them what was in the beginning, and what the career of the Church has been since, and will be to the end." (from Seiss’ Apocalypse)
What does this means? We cannot continue to profess with our lips to be the followers of Jesus, without first coming to terms with the reality of what is being conveyed by Siess to the common believer. When we read these Epistles of Christ, we are hearing the words that will be spoken to us with regard to what is expected of us. When understood in this manner, no other words in the Bible are of a greater importance to the modern believer. These words and Epistles were not spoken to the Jews, the Gentiles, or any other group of people. These words are being spoken to us -- modern Christians. In Barnes’ Notes we find this exact thought explored: "There is a solemn admonition to hear what the Spirit has to say to the churches. This is in each case expressed in the same manner, ‘He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches’ (Rev. 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22). These admonitions were designed to call the attention of the churches to these things, and, at the same time, they seemed designed to show that they were not intended for them alone. They are addressed to anyone who ‘has an ear,’ and therefore had some principles of general application to others, and to which all should attend who were disposed to learn the will of the Redeemer. What was addressed to one church, at any time, would be equally applicable to all churches in the same circumstances; what was adapted to rebuke, elevate, or comfort Christians in any one age or land, would be adapted to be useful to Christians of all ages and lands". (from Barnes’ Notes).
If it is true that these Epistles are the Lord speaking from heaven directly to us, then one of the most important questions we must ask is why they are not the focal point of modern Christian doctrine? In comparison, all the other writings in the Bible pale, and are of a much lesser consequence in relation to what Christ has to say directly to the modern believer! In recognition of this fact we must question the reluctance of the church to place these Epistles in their proper place before the people, as demonstrated in the words of Seiss: "Strange to say, the Church has nowhere included these epistles in the lessons prescribed to be read in the public services, except in a secondary and very remote manner. In the Church of England, Archbishop Trench remarks that it is impossible, if the canons of the Church be followed, for these epistles ever to be read in the public services. (NOTE: ‘It is very much to be regretted, that while every chapter of every other book of the New Testament is set forth to be read in the Church, and, wherever there is daily service, is read in the Church, three times in the year, and some, or portions of some, oftener, while even of the Apocalypse itself two chapters and portions of others have been admitted into the service, under no circumstances whatever can the second and third chapters ever be heard in the congregation.’ -- Epistles to the Seven churches. p. 10.) Though so specifically and urgently addressed to the churches, it would seem as if there had been some general concert to prevent them from being seen or heard." (from Seiss’ Apocalypse).
In view of the fact that the requirements of these Epistles will be presented to you as you come before the Lord in the day of judgment, we must understand what is contained in these epistles that make "...it is impossible, if the canons of the Church be followed, for these epistles ever to be read in the public services". Moreover, if these Epistles represent the requirements of the Lord with respect to the Gospel message, then when we relegate them to a position of secondary importance, we are in fact no different than the Sadducees and Pharisees who Jesus condemned as a people who ignored the essence of the Word of God.
The problem is this: Like the traditions of the Sadducees and Pharisees that Jesus condemned, canons of the modern church are not founded upon the requirements that Jesus set forth before the people, but are instead based upon Luther’s perception of what Paul wrote with regard to his doctrine of faith and belief. Two very profound factors make our adherence to these church cannons dangerous. In the first place, Luther was a priest in the Church of Rome -- and the spiritual language and symbols the scriptures are written in was quite foreign to his understanding. The second factor is demonstrated in the fact that what Paul wrote was incomplete from a biblical perspective -- designed for entry-level Pagans who had to totally alter their thinking and lifestyle merely to embrace what Paul called the "milk" of the gospel.
One only has to study Christian history to quickly become cognizant of the fact that Paul’s incomplete epistles have led more Christians away from the essence of the Word, than towards it. But this is not the fault of Paul, who outwardly declares to the reader that one must go beyond the "milk" in order to receive the Gospel of God. That the church has continually ignored this warning, and fallen into a dogmatic pit in the creation of their many creeds and doctrines which attempted to explain in a carnal perception what can only be comprehended with an Anointed Mind, is easily demonstrated. This truth is expressed in the words of the Barnes’ Notes Commentary for James 2:26: "...all history has shown, the statements of Paul on the subject of justification are liable to great abuse. All the forms of Antinomianism have grown out of such abuse, and are only perverted statements of his doctrine".
Unless we believe that we will appear before the judgment seat of Paul, rather than Christ, we must very seriously re-evaluate Luther’s doctrine of faith, and come to terms with the criteria that the Lord himself has told us he will use to judge us -- which criteria is the works that we accomplish with our gift of life. It is not that faith is not important -- because it is -- it is just that in making faith without action the whole thrust of our religious expression, we have embraced the Gospel in an incomplete manner.
If, then, it is true that faith and works must function together in a unified religious expression, we must then ask the question: What works are required of us? Surely not the rituals and works of the Sadducees and Pharisees whom both Jesus and all the Apostles condemned! Neither is it the works envisioned by modern day carnal Christians! But rather, it is the works that enable the disciple to open the gate of the great divide between heaven and earth -- the gate that enables the disciple to dwell in both parallel realms simultaneously. It is these works -- works of the spirit -- that if you are found lacking, you cannot be saved regardless of your faith or belief.
The great truth that the modern believer must come to terms with is this: If we have not yet sat at the feet of the Master in his Kingdom -- and have with our own spiritual eyes gazed upon the Mysteries of God -- then we have yet to accomplish the completed and perfected works that the Lord himself has said would be required of us. Moreover, if we truly had faith, then we would have been faithful to the Lord’s teachings in every aspect of our lives.
In our pursuit to understand the works that the Revelation warns are required of us, the answer to our great dilemma lies in the very people who we have judged and condemned. We have labeled the first century Messianic Jewish followers of Jesus heretics because they proclaim a different Jesus than we do today. Yet, once it is recognized that there are many parts of the Bible that Christians today shun because the revelation that is portrayed does not conform to our canons of belief, we should be deeply troubled. From our pulpits we hear a doctrine of faith preached -- i.e., Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, writes that we will be accounted worthy by faith, and works cannot save us -- and yet, in the very Epistles of Christ that have been spoken to us from heaven, it is not faith that is required of us, but works -- works that we do not understand.
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