STRIKING A BLOW AT TODAY'S PASTORAL SYSTEM

October 30, 1999
by: S.R. Shearer

"They (i.e., your religious leaders) shall put you out of the synagogues (i.e., your meeting places - in other words, they shall excommunicate you): yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they (i.e., your religious leaders) do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you (before they happen), that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them (i.e., that I warned you about them before they occurred). And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you." (John 16:1-4)


 
WE ARE NOW AT THE "END OF THE AGE"

As we suggested in our article, "The Organized Church and the End of Days," (Vol. 11, No. 1, July 22, 1999), we are now at the "End of the Age." The world is heading inexorably towards a single conclusion - the creation, as it were, of one giant pyramid-like (hierarchical) system in which all of mankind, all of his organizations (including his churches and religious organizations), all of his corporations, all the nations of the earth, all the cultures of this world, etc. will be incorporated; one vast keritzu-like structure in which all of mankind will be subsumed and contained which will then produce the "character" or "image" of the Beast (Rev. 13:11-17). The Bible pictures this system as a "woman riding a beast." Commenting on this, Dwight Pentecost of Dallas Theological Seminary writes:

"Turning then to the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Revelation, we see the whole stage (i.e., world) filled with two personalities only: a 'Beast' and a 'Woman' ... these two ... picture ... the future prophetic earth ... there can be no argument or discussion as to this speaking of both the CIVIL [political, economic, and military] and ECCLESIASTICAL [religious] conditions that will rule and characterize that part of the earth that is within the limits or boundaries of Prophecy. The whole of it will be filled with what shall answer to this 'Beast' and this 'Woman'. The two [the 'Beast' (which answers to the Civil Power) and the 'Woman' (which answers to the Religious Power) are thus indissolubly co-related, and tell us to what end all [this is] trending; and that is that there will eventually be a one World-Empire and a one World-Church ..." [We very much encourage you to re-read our last article, "The Versailles Phenomenon; Tension in the Empire: Building up to the Great Deception."]

What, then, are we to do? - we certainly don't want to be ensnared by this process! But if we are to avoid getting caught up in it we must get as far away from the so-called "Organized Church" as we can. And why is that? Because - sadly - much of the "Organized Church" has become a part of this phenomenon, a phenomenon which will inevitably lead all those that become involved in it into the "anti-Christ" system of things the Bible says will prevail at the "End of the Age."

This is the direction that the churches in America are headed! It's the direction of the age! - from small to big; from simple to complex. The fact is, pastors today are deemed failures if they preside over a church of less than a hundred people. Unhappily, the church today is a place where "big" means success and "small" means failure; where numbers count, and simplicity is disparaged. In such systems, people "go along to get along," and conformity is the order of the day.

You say, "But we're Southern Baptists! we're Regular Baptists! we're in the Assemblies of God! etc. Certainly they have a history of sound doctrine!" But this kind of history doesn't mean a thing here! Remember what apostasy is all about. Apostasy means to "fall away." The Bible says:

"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away (apostasia - Gk.) first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition ..." (2 Thess. 2:3)

You can't "fall away" from something unless you were there to begin with. For example, you cannot "fall away" from the second story of a building unless you had been on the second story to begin with. By using the word apostasia, the Bible clearly has reference to a church that was once very obviously a believing church. How could it be possible for the Bible to have reference here to some strange "New Age" religion, or to groups like the Jehovah Witnesses, the Mormons, the Moonies, and so forth? - these groups were never Christian to begin with. As a result, there was nothing for them to "fall away" from!

ASCERTAINING YOUR OWN SITUATION

You say you don't know whether or not the church you are attending is a part of this process - a process which has as one of its principal goals the creation of a "one-world church." Well, it's not that difficult to tell! A few simple questions should suffice.

You say you don't know whether or not the church you are attending is a part of this process - a process which has as one of its principal goals the creation of a "one-world church." Well, it's not that difficult to tell! A few simple questions should suffice. For instance, is your church actively involved in the "unity movement?" - what conservatives used to call the "ecumenical movement" when they connected this kind of thing to the so-called "Liberal Churches." You might very well be surprised how many in today's Christendom are involved - from well known and respected evangelical leaders like Charles Stanley, D. James Kennedy, Tim LaHaye, the late John Wimber, Juan Carlos Ortiz, C. Peter Wagner, Beverley LaHaye, Ern Baxter, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Chuck Colson, Jack Hayford, David Yonggi Cho, etc. to lesser known leaders like Robert Stearns, Mike Bickle, Reuven Doron, Che Ahn, Frank Hammond, Cindy Jacobs, Bill Hamon, John Eckhardt, Bobbie Byerly, Dutch Sheets, Jim Goll, John Paul Jackson, James Ryle, Frank Damazio, Ed Silvoso, Carlos Annacondia, Claudio Freidzon, Roger Mitchell, Ted Haggart, Paul Cain, Chuck Pierce, Rick Joyner, Kingsley Fletcher, Jim Laffoon, Barbara Wentroble, ad infinitum. The list is endless and runs the gamut from Charismatic Catholics to "Old Line Pentecostals" and includes countless numbers of so-called "fundamentalists." Everyone of these people - and many more besides - are immersed up to their necks in the "unity movement." Is the church you attend connected to any of these people? If so, then don't be so sure that your church hasn't been affected by the modern ecumenical movement.

Take another example! Has your church taken part in the rapprochement with the Roman Catholic Church? [And be clear here, we are certainly not against Roman Catholics per se, nor are we saying that there is no such a thing as individual Christians in the Roman Church; but for the most part, these people are Christians DESPITE the Roman system, not because of it; the fact of the matter is, the Roman system is so thoroughly apostate that most evangelical scholars have little doubt that the Bible - when speaking of the "Great Whore" of the Book of Revelation - is speaking about the Roman Church (please see Gardener's Faiths of the World and Edgar's Variations on Catholicism; in addition, we also highly recommend Albert James Dagar's excellent booklet on the subject - available through Media Spotlight (P.O. Box 290, Redmond, WA 98073-0290).]

You say, No, your church is not a part of this rapprochement. Well, don't be too sure that it isn't. The truth of the matter is, this rapprochement has taken hold everywhere in today's evangelicalism - and large numbers of very important evangelical leaders have become energetically involved: people like Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition and president of the Christian Broadcasting Network; Charles Colson, head of the International Prison Fellowship Ministry; Steve Sheldon, director of the Traditional Values Coalition; Dr. Richard Land and Dr. Larry Lewis, officers of the Southern Baptist Convention. 1

All these people, and many more besides, recently joined with Roman Catholic leaders to endorse a declaration put together by the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, a Catholic theologian who heads the Institute on Religion and Public Life in Manhattan. The document is entitled "Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium;" the declaration's aim is to promote the growing ties among the nation's largest and most politically active religious groups; its purpose is to encourage continued Christian political activism aimed at "taking the country back for Christ and the church." [Please see the second chapter of the Antipas Papers, "A Trap Is Being Set; Don't Get Caught!"]

UNITY AT ALL COSTS

Evangelicals working together with the Roman Catholic Church? While all this might make sense insofar as a "common political agenda" is concerned, it certainly makes no sense insofar as a spiritual agenda is concerned - after all, what relationship can evangelicals have with Roman Catholics when Catholics continue to believe that -

  1. Mary is the masterpiece of God's hands. ["Fourth Glorious Mystery" of the Rosary.]
  2. She was exempt from all sin. ["Fourth Glorious Mystery" of the Rosary.]
  3. She is in intrinsic unity with the Godhead ("Her divine maternity and her alliance with the Most Holy Trinity") ["Fourth Glorious Mystery" of the Rosary.]
  4. She is the Mediatrix and Advocate of men. ["Fifth Glorious Mystery" of the Rosary.]
  5. She is the treasurer of the graces of God, of the merits of Jesus Christ, and of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. ["Fifth Glorious Mystery" of the Rosary.]
  6. She is the Queen of Heaven and earth, angels and man. ["Fifth Glorious Mystery" of the Rosary.]
  7. She is the destroyer and ruin of the devil and of heresies. ["Fifth Glorious Mystery" of the Rosary.]
  8. She is the Ark of the Covenant
  9. She is the Gate of Heaven
  10. She is the Morning Star
  11. She is the Refuge of Sinners

How is it possible to win people to God in this kind of belief system? Where is Christ in all this? The Bible says that -

"... there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." (1 Tim. 2:5)

But Catholics say that Mary is -

"... the Mediatrix and Advocate of men ..."

This is the plain teaching of the Rosary! There is nothing hidden about this! - and if that is so, there is no salvation in Catholicism. How could there be? Mary (who, no doubt, was a very wonderful and spiritual person in the truest meaning of those words) can't save! - only Christ can save! There is ABSOLUTELY no room for compromise here! 2

And all this to say nothing concerning the heresy of the mass3 and countless numbers of other doctrines which are so outrageous and / or idolatrous that no sincere Christian could ever involve himself with them; for instance, worship of the saints, relic-worship [often of dead body parts (e.g., hands, fingers, bones, etc.) of the so-called saints of the Roman Church], confession, purgatory and indulgences (which follows logically the doctrine of purgatory), etc. [Again. for a more thorough understanding of these sacraments, we refer the reader to Gardener's Faiths of the World and Edgar's Variations on Catholicism; in addition, we recommend Albert James Dagar's excellent booklet on the subject - available through Media Spotlight (P.O. Box 290, Redmond, WA 98073-0290).] And then J.I. Packer and Richard John Neuhaus - to say nothing of countless other Protestants and evangelicals throughout the country - have the titanic temerity and enormous presumption to imply that the Reformation was all just a misunderstanding! The colossal insolence and artless naivet´┐Żof such thinking is breath-taking. What are these men thinking? - and, again, it isn't as if all these heresies are hidden away somewhere in the deeper recesses of the Catholic Church - but rather quite to the contrary, they're reiterated daily in Catholic "Masses" throughout the world in which every Catholic is expected to participate.

THE MINDSET OF TODAY'S EVANGELICALISM

And yet people like Paul Crouch of the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) say there is nothing wrong in all this. Indeed, speaking concerning those who oppose unity with the Catholic Church, Crouch has said,

"... that old rotten Sanhedrin crowd (i.e., those who oppose the 'unity movement' for doctrinal reasons - for instance, those who allege the incompatibility of Catholic and evangelical theology), twice dead, plucked up by the roots ... they're damned and on their way to hell and I don't think there's any redemption for them ... the hypocrites, the heresy hunters that want to find a little mote of illegal doctrine in some Christian's eyes ... when they've got a whole forest in their own lives ... I say, to hell with you! Get out of my life! Get out of the way! Quit blockin' God's bridges (of ecumenicism)! I'm tired of this! ... This is in my spirit. Oh Hallelujah ...
  "Have you ever seen the old movie, Patton? ... He's my hero, he's my hero. Old nail-chewing, tobacco-chewin', cussin' Patton - but he read the Bible every day. I have a feelin' we'll see old General George in heaven ... There's a wonderful scene in Patton ... they're tryin' to get the Third Army across the bridge in France and there's an old, dumb jackass ... right there on the bridge and it's blockin' the whole convoy of troops ... General George roars up, pulls that ivory-handled revolver out ... and shoots the donkey ...
  "There's a spiritual application here ... I want to say to all you scribes, Pharisees, heresy-hunters, all of you that are going around pickin' little bits of doctrinal error out of everybody's eyes and dividin' the Body of Christ ... get out of God's way, stop blockin' God's bridges (of unity), or God's goin' to shoot you if I don't ... let Him sort out all this doctrinal doodoo! ... I refuse to argue any longer with any of you out there! Don't even call me if you want to argue ... Get out of my life! I don't want to talk to you ... I don't want to see your ugly face."4

Now stop just for a moment and think about what Crouch has said here:

  1. Those who protest "Political Christianity," specifically, those who protest the movement of Christians to work together to "bring America back to Christ and the Church," are damned and on their way to hell!
  2. There is no redemption for them.
  3. They should be shot for opposing "unity," and if God doesn't do it, Crouch and his ilk will.
  4. "Sound Doctrine" is doodoo [i.e., dung (sh-t)]

The fact is, so strong has this kind of ecumenicism become in certain Christian circles today - and most especially in the charismatic community, both Catholic and Protestant - that it seeks to invalidate - usually by subtle ridicule and spurious charges of being "unloving," "divisive," and "harsh" - all evidence which tends to unveil the "unity movement's" true motivation (which is the creation of a "one-world church." [This movement has, in the words of Francis Frangipane, the ultimate aim of "... establishing the Lord's Kingdom on earth" through the creation of a "New Breed" of Christian empowered to physically carry out "God's will" in the "here and now."]

Christians which aim at "taking back the country for Christ and the Church" are simply not interested in evidence which challenges their agenda, and they do everything in their power to "mask" this evidence from other evangelicals who would otherwise be disposed to act if they really had an opportunity to see the facts. And it cannot be expected that those who believe that "the end justifies the means" will be very scrupulous as to their measures - despite their smiling faces, limp wrists, and sweet protestations to the contrary: hence their violent personal attacks against those who oppose them.

All people like this care about is Christianity's usefulness in the construction of a political movement - and if that means sacrificing what Christianity is all about spiritually, so be it. What Dobson, LaHaye, Hinn, Robertson, Kennedy, et al are interested in is the development of a solid phalanx of voters that they can use to "take the country back for Christ and the church" - and if they are going to do that, they are going to have to enlist EVERYONE who "names the name of Christ," from the Roman Catholics to the Mormons, to the Moonies, etc. They need every vote they can get! - and hang everyone who gets in the way.

COME OUT OF HER!

So again we ask, What are we to do? Well, the Bible is quite clear on this matter; it says that we are to -

"COME OUT OF HER" (Rev. 18:4).

And in all of this, it may not be so much a question that we will have to decide to leave, as it is that if we try to remain faithful to our persuasions and refuse to be silent about them, we will be "invited" to leave - and, as time goes on, maybe much worse. Indeed, the Bible warns that there will come a time when -

"They shall put you out of the ... (churches): yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service." (John 16:2)

Still, we are not thereby released as Christians from our obligation to "produce" the church - and if it means retreating to our homes and establishing "house-churches" in order to carry on, so be it!!

No matter how disappointed we are in the concept of the church, no matter how much we have been hurt by our brothers and sisters in the Lord, we can never give up on the church. The church is God's testimony, and if we give up on the church, we give up on that testimony! Indeed, the Bible specifically warns against giving up on the church; it says -

"... hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging {one another}; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near." (Heb. 10:23-25)

And why is the church God's testimony? - because it answers a primal longing in the heart of man: the longing for fellowship! The longing for community! - something that is impossible without God. I tell you the truth, there is nothing more unattainable to man than the establishment of long-lasting, close relationships. Indeed, it sometimes seems that all life is, is a series of broken relationships: whether husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, business partners, friends - whatever. The fact is, very few of us are ever able to establish such relationships - and so much so that men and women everywhere are confounded and amazed whenever they find it. And when they do, they are forced to exclaim, this must be of God!!

This is the church's testimony! This is the church's glory: a caring and mutually devoted community of believers united together on the basis of Christ's love. LOVE!! - that is what the church is all about.

"And if I give all my possessions to feed {the poor,} and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
"Love is patient, love is kind, {and} is not jealous; love does not brag {and} is not arrogant,
"Does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong {suffered,}
"Does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
"Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
"Love never fails ..." (1 Cor. 13:3-8)

This is what the church is all about - the manifestation of the love of God by REAL (flesh and blood) people living in affectionate and caring fellowship with each other. I say again, this is what the church is all about: the exhibition (as it were) of this kind of "community" to a world lost in cynicism, hatred and ego - a "community" that has nothing to do with hierarchy and outward forms of control, and everything to do with love and putting others first, and self last. Only God can build such a community! And when it is built, man must exclaim, "This is of God!"

It is only in Christ that this kind of love can be found - the kind that builds community! Community is possible only when self and ego are put on the cross; when the needs of others are put first. This is the kind of love that can only be found in Christ; and it is for this reason that the apostle Paul tells us:

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
"But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
"And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Phil. 2:5-8)

THE CHURCH: GOD'S ANSWER FOR MAN'S LONGING
FOR COMMUNITY; FOR HIS DESIRE "TO BELONG"

The need for community lies at the heart of man. Indeed, the Bible says:

"... It is not good that ... man should be alone ..." (Gen. 2:18)

He needs other human beings with whom he can interact; with whom he can mutually relate; with whom he can share his joys and sorrows, his victories and defeats, his successes and failures. Yes! - even failures. Indeed, one of the most poignant passages of Scripture relates to the need of companionship when one is suffering failure:

"... woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up." (Eccl. 4:10)

And this sad lamentation is repeated throughout the Scriptures (Ex. 18:18, Num. 11:14, Eccl. 4:11, etc.).

Even God cannot abide loneliness - and it was this more than all the other horrors of the crucifixion, that tore at Christ's heart when He was abandoned by the Father as He hung on the cross:

"And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46)

THE HORROR OF LONELINESS

Loneliness is surely an abhorrent thing. Indeed, one of the most invidious things about sin is that sin destroys relationships; and in doing so, it creates separation and isolation. After all, what is it about adultery that makes it so abominable? - surely it is the fact that it tears at the fabric of trust which holds a husband and a wife together in love! And is it not the same with idolatry? Does not idolatry strike at the very heart of the relationship that God desires with man? - certainly it does! And what about honoring your parents? - when one fails to do so, does it not break the relationship between parents and children? - of course it does! And then there's stealing, and covetousness and all the rest. Do not all these things - in the end - destroy relationships and break the bonds of trust that hold a community together, creating in their wake suspicion, cynicism, hatred, etc. - all the things which are the progenitors (i.e., the origin and source) of isolation and division? Surely they do!

Man needs "community" - and sin destroys it. Sin destroys man's relationship with God, and it destroys his relationship with other men. Without "community" - i.e., "community" with man and "community" with God - man ceases to be man; he loses his humanity. And it is for this reason that God gave us the church -

"That they all may be one (i.e., that they may have "community" with each other); as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us (i.e., that they may have "community" with God): that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." (John 17:21)

"That the world may believe that thou hast sent me." This is very important! How does the world know that God sent Christ into the world? - because believers have (1) "community" with each other, and (2) "community" with God! That's our testimony: Community! -

"And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
  "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me (John 17:22-23)

And how is this "community" accomplished? - through the church! The Bible says,

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world ... Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will ... Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself ... That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ ... And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the CHURCH, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all. And to make all men see what is the FELLOWSHIP of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known BY THE CHURCH the manifold wisdom of God ... That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend WITH ALL SAINTS what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, him be glory IN THE CHURCH by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." (see Eph. 3:3-21)

"Gather together in one;" "fellowship;" "with all saints" - what is all this speaking about? - "community!" - "community" with God, and "community" with man! Where? - in the church!

WHAT CAN I DO?

You say, Well, what can I do? I'm alone; the fact is, it sometimes seems that I only am left - to which we would answer, While that might seem to be true, it's not!! God always has had His hidden though faithful ones. Paul says,

"Hath God cast away his people? (in this case, the church) God forbid ... God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God ... saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets ... and I am left alone, and they seek my life ... But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace." (Rom. 11:1-5).

You say, "But I am so weak, what can I do?" - but the Bible says:

"My (i.e., Christ's) grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in (your) weakness ..." (2 Cor. 12:9)

OVERCOMING OUR DEPENDENCE ON THE PASTORAL SYSTEM

The first thing we must do in order to "not foresake the assembling of ourselves together" (Heb. 10:23-25) is to confront our psychological dependence on the "Pastoral System" of today's church. The fact is, evangelicalism - at least as it is constituted today - has done everything it can to make the saints of God dependent on "paid professionals," [and we mean no disrespect here to the concept of "full time (paid) workers" - there is, after all, such a thing; but not as it is construed in today's evangelicalism] and in doing so, to subvert what evangelicalism was originally all about - bringing all the saints into meaningful function within the church body.

The sad reality is, Christians in America who have been brought up in today's "pastoral system" simply have no concept of what it means to take responsibility themselves for the "meeting life" of the church. They have been taught to sit quietly in their chairs (pews) week after week while the "paid professionals" teach and otherwise function. What a shame that people who today call themselves "evangelical" can put up with such a system, let alone encourage and teach it. The sad truth is, however, the great truth of the "priesthood of all believers" which evangelicalism did so much to recover in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is today more "dead doctrine" than it is reality - a teaching more honored in the breach than in the keeping.

All this, however, doesn't make the doctrine of the "priesthood of all believers" (and that "all" includes women as well as men - especially in today's "emergency situation" 5) less true than it has always been; the doctrine is a matter of plain Scripture; the Bible says:

"Ye also, as lively (i.e., living) stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." (1 Pet. 2:5)

And again, the Scripture says:

"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light ..." (1 Pet. 2:9)

The body of Christ (i.e., the church) is a living organism; it is not a business organization or an inanimate structure. This implies that all members of the church must function. Just as in our physical bodies, there is no member that is without function, in like manner, there is no one who is a member of the body of Christ who can refrain from functioning as a member of that body - who can be excused from serving as a priest in the meeting-life of the church. All the members must function, and all the priests must serve. It is only when all the members of the body are functioning that we can have the real church-life.

THE FAULT LIES WITH US

The failure of today's evangelical church to teach this doctrine, however, lies more with us, the so-called lay-people, than it does with our leadership; it lies principally with our own laziness and carelessness - a laziness and carelessness that has permitted the "pastoral system," which characterizes the priestly structure of the Roman Catholic Church and the "pastorate" of the old "mainline" Protestant denominations - to creep back into our assemblies and meetings while we, the so-called lay-people, slumbered and slept.

If we, as the so-called lay-people, would simply arouse ourselves, grab hold of the plain teachings of the Scripture, and begin humbly taking responsibility for ourselves, we would discover what a wonderful provision God has made for us - indeed, for all Christians: a provision which allows us, without the help of intermediaries and a priestly class, to take direction directly from God Himself. This provision has to do with the way God made us; it has to do with our TRICHOTOMOUS nature. This issue is an extremely important matter - because it goes to the very heart of the priestly class's control over us. It is something that most church leaders have done everything in their power to cloud over and obscure.

We would do well now to look closely at this matter, because if we once understand it, the intimacy with Christ which we will be led into, and the power which will be unleashed in our lives insofar as the church (and the work of the church) is concerned, will be overwhelming, so that then, with Paul, we can pray:

"... that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, "And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power ..." (Eph. 1:17-19)

TRICHOTOMY PASSES THE INITIATIVE
TO THE INDIVIDUAL CHRISTIAN

Trichotomy passes the initiative to us! Trichotomy teaches that the real church-life - the real "Community of God" - flows out of our individual walk with Christ; it is not dependent on outward regulation and control. Our life in the church is - in the first instance - an individual matter. It is NOT a corporate matter; it is an individual affair. The church-life begins first as something that is highly personal and culminates in something that is wonderfully corporate.

It is for this PRECISE reason that it is so necessary for us to comprehend our trichotomous nature; this is not an exercise in academia. How we answer this question relates directly to how much initiative we can take in our lives insofar as the church is concerned. If we once comprehend this matter we will never again see ourselves as merely helpless individuals waiting for other people to take the initiative for us insofar as the church is concerned. The initiative rests with us - and it matters not one whit whether we are male or female, rich or poor, black or white, Russian or Chinese. We are not helpless losers forever "waiting for Godot"6 - or any other such person. It rests with us as individuals what happens with regard to the church. Wherever we are, in what ever predicament we find ourselves, the initiative for the church-life rests with us.

BODY, SOUL, AND SPIRIT


  THE EARLY CHURCH'S VIEW OF MAN WAS TRICHOTOMOUS

Most Biblical scholars in the early church saw man as a threefold (trichotomous) being. Even as late as Augustine (A.D. 354-430), the common view was that man was trichotomous - that he possessed a body, a soul, and a spirit. Indeed, in Faith and Creed: Augustine wrote:

"... there are three things of which man consists - namely spirit, soul, and body ..." [Faith and the Creed (XX:23)].

But as Latin Theology (i.e., Roman Catholicism) began to take hold on the church, most theologians abandoned trichotomy and began to see man as simply a twofold being of soul and body (with spirit being just another name for the soul). This idea, known as dichotomy, continued as the majority opinion down through the centuries and still is the most common view held by the Roman Catholic Church and most of the Protestant churches which came out of the Reformation (i.e., the Dutch Reformed, the Lutheran, the Episcopalian, the Presbyterian, etc.) - all of which, interestingly enough, hold to a post-millennial approach to eschatology (i.e., that the church must take control of the world before Christ can return). [It is interesting to note in this connection, however, that Martin Luther, the father (so to speak) of the Reformation, championed the view that man was trichotomous.]

TRICHOTOMY, THE PLYMOUTH BRETHREN & EVANGELICALISM

It wasn't until the rise of evangelicalism in the 1800s [and most especially, the Plymouth Brethren, the group which is looked upon by most church historians as the parent body out from which evangelicalism sprang] and John Nelson Darby that trichotomy once again revived - and it's worth noting in this connection that along with a revived view of man as a trichotomous being, pre-millennialism also revived. Through such books as Dispensational Truth by Clarence Larkin (1918) [which possessed detailed charts and very refined explanations as to man's threefold nature] and Hal Lindsay's Late Great Planet Earth (1962) Darby's teachings were popularized and gained wide acceptance and public acclaim in conservative church bodies throughout most of the 20th century. But with the rise of the modern ecumenical movement - i.e., the political movement of Protestant and Catholic bodies together to "take the nation back for Christ and the church" - post-millennialism (which "politicizing" promotes) resurfaced along with dichotomy - which post-millennialism of necessity encourages.

TRICHOTOMY AND THE SCRIPTURES

But that man is a three-part being seems to be the unwavering view of the Scriptures: that man has a body is, of course, self evident; but that man has a spirit in addition to his soul is also just as evident - at least to those who are disposed to read the Scriptures literally. The Scriptures seem to clearly differentiate between the two. For example, that man has a spirit seems to be very plain from the following Scriptures:

  1. "The spirit (Heb. - ne shamah) of man is the lamp of the Lord." (Prov. 20:27)
  2. "The spirit (Gk. - pneuma) indeed is willing ..." (Matt. 26:41)
  3. "Jesus perceiving in his spirit (Gk. - pneuma) ..." (Mark 2:8)
  4. "He sighed deeply in his spirit (Gk. - pneuma) ..." (Mark 8:12)
  5. "My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior (Gk. - pneuma) ..." (Luke 1:47)
  6. "He was deeply moved in spirit (Gk. - pneuma) ..." (John 11:33)
  7. "Being fervent is spirit (Gk. - pneuma) ..." (Acts 18:25)
  8. "I am going to Jerusalem, bound in the spirit (Gk. - pneuma) ..." (Acts 20:22)
  9. "Whom I serve in my spirit (Gk. - pneuma)." (Rom. 1:9 NASB)
  10. "The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit (Gk. - pneuma) ..." (Rom. 8:15)
  11. "What man knoweth the things of a man except the spirit (Gk. - pneuma) of man which is in him." (I Cor 2:11)
  12. "They refreshed my spirit (Gk. - pneuma) as well as yours." (I Cor. 16:18)
  13. "His spirit (Gk. - pneuma) was refreshed by you all." (2 Cor. 7:13)
  14. "The Lord Jesus be with your spirit (Gk. - pneuma)." (2 Tim. 4:22)

And that man has a soul is also evident from the following Scriptures:

  1. "Why are you cast down, O my soul (Heb. - nephesh)." (Ps. 42:5)
  2. "My soul (Gk. - psuche) is very sorrowful." (Matt. 26:38)
  3. "My soul (Gk. - psuche) doth magnify the Lord." (Luke 1:46)
  4. "Now is my soul (Gk. - psuche) troubled." (John 12:27)
  5. "... were of one heart and soul (Gk. - psuche) ..." (Acts 4:32)
  6. "I call for a record upon my soul (Gk. - psuche) ." (2 Cor. 1:23)
  7. "For they watch for your souls (Gk. - psuche) ." (Heb. 13:17)
  8. "Seeing you have purified your souls (Gk. - psuche) ." (I Pet. 1:22)
  9. "Which war against your soul (Gk. - psuche) ." (I Pet. 2:11)

It should be noted in this connection that the Hebrew word for spirit is ne shamah which means "wind," and the Hebrew word for soul is nephesh which means a "living (thinking) being." They are two totally different words, and mean two totally different things. In addition, the Greek word for spirit is pneuma which means "breeze," and the Greek word for soul is psuche, which - like the Hebrew word, nephesh - means a "living (thinking) being." Again, they are two totally different words, and mean two totally different things.

Finally, the Hebrew word for spirit, ne shamah ("wind"), corresponds to the Greek word for spirit, pneuma ("breeze"), while the Hebrew word for soul, nephesh ["living (thinking) being"] corresponds to the Greek word, psuche [also "living (thinking) being"].

Thus, when God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness ... So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him ..." (Gen. 1:26-27) what is meant here is that God made man a three-part being. Since God is a three-part being (i.e., He is triune), He created man a three-part being - body, soul and spirit.

WHAT IS THE SPIRIT OF MAN?

If, however, man has a spirit which is different from his soul, what is the spirit? The spirit is our "inner man" (Eph. 3:16) - it is that portion of our being which is meant to touch [and commune (fellowship) with] God - so that we:

"May be able to comprehend (understand) ... what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height (of Christ); and to know (His) ... love ... which passeth knowledge, that ... (we) might be filled with all the fullness of God." (Eph. 3:18-19).

The spirit is what Peter refers to as "the hidden person of the heart" (I Pet. 3:4) - and it's precisely this "hidden person of the heart" which differentiates man from the beasts.

MAN AS DIFFERENTIATED FROM THE BEASTS

The beasts have no such ability to touch God - they were never meant to "commune" (i.e., fellowship) with God - only man has this ability (or possibility). Indeed, if only the body and soul are taken into account, then the radical "animal rights" activists (as bizarre as they may seem) are correct when they say that there is little that differentiates man from the beasts - after all, beasts, just like man, think, reason, love, and hate and, ipso facto, they have a soul! To say that they don't - that they just react to stimuli like plants - is asinine. Plants (which have only a body, but no soul) don't think, don't love, don't reason - unlike the beasts and man, they only react to stimuli; they are still alive, but they don't have a soul, and surely they don't have a spirit.

SOUL AND SPIRIT

It is important to understand the difference between our soul and spirit because it is in our spirit where we are cognizant of God and were He speaks to us through the Holy Spirit. It is in the spirit where our fellowship with God begins. It is in our own spirit where we must worship God. This is why Jesus said,

"God is a Spirit (meaning the Holy Spirit): and they that worship him must worship him in spirit (meaning man's spirit) and in truth." (John 4:24)

Our spirit is deeper than our soul. It's deeper than our random thoughts. It's deeper than our outward emotions which we might project to others - it's a place where we can retreat to and always find happiness and joy in Christ - regardless of our outward circumstances. This is what Paul was talking about in II Cor. 6:10 when he said that as a servant of Christ he was "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" - sorrowful in his soul due to the trying circumstances which surrounded him - but always rejoicing in his spirit where he had fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul puts it this way in II Cor. 4:8:

"... we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed." (II Cor. 4:8)

Nothing could shake Paul from his deep, abiding trust and peace that was his experience down deep in his spirit - although outwardly, in his soul, he was often bewildered and distressed. Some have likened it to a storm raging on the ocean; but if we go down beneath the waves we find rest and peace. How often we forget, and try to ride out the storm on the surface (in our soul) where the raging waves of confusion and fear predominate, instead of trusting Christ in our spirits. It's in our spirits where "the peace that passes all understanding" is to be found (Phil. 4:7) - the peace which is ours because Christ dwells there. It was in our spirit where we first met God when the Holy Spirit convicted us of our sin. Wasn't it glorious when we first came to know Christ? It might not have made sense in our mind or soul, but down deep inside we knew the gospel was true and that we needed a Savior. That was God speaking to us in our spirit.

BEHOLDING AND REFLECTING THE LORD

It is in our spirits where the consciousness of God is found. Some have said that our spirit is where we are conscious of God, our soul is where we are conscious of self, and our bodies are where we are conscious of the physical world of the senses. Sanctification means bringing our soul into submission to our spirit which is beholding and reflecting God. When we do this, we reflect God to the world. This is what Paul meant when he said that -

"... we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Cor. 3:18)

Now in all of this it is extremely important to understand what the Bible means by being "one with God;" for example, what Jesus means when He says,

"That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." (John 17:21)

It does NOT mean that when we "behold and reflect God" in our spirit, we fall into some kind of trance-like state and "channel" God as the "New Agers" seem to think, and as some "Latter Rain" and "Restoration" devotees seem to imply. When the Bible speaks of oneness with God, it is speaking about a oneness in FELLOWSHIP; it does not mean "intrinsic" oneness; God and man do not meld together and become intrinsically one. They become one in FELLOWSHIP [the kind of fellowship that demands the active and vibrant participation of our minds and intellect - an intellect that is set upon God's Word (i.e., the Bible)]. For example, in Eph 5:25-32, Paul writes:

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
"That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
"That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
"So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
"For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
"For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
"For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
"This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (Eph. 5:25-32)

Now, it is important to note in all this, that a husband and wife do not "meld" together and become one thereby. Both continue to maintain their own distinct qualities. The wife remains a woman, and the husband remains a man - both continue to maintain their own separate identities; they do not become "unisexual."

Then how do they become one? - they become one in FELLOWSHIP! And this is what happens with God and man - that just as a husband and wife become one in marriage, so also God and man become one - one in FELLOWSHIP! [And this is precisely why the Bible says, "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be ONE flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church." (Eph. 5:31-32)]. Man does NOT meld into God [and become thereby "little gods" or "little Jesuses" (as Kenneth Hagin and Bennie Hinn imply)], and God does NOT meld into man. It is a oneness in FELLOWSHIP (a "fellowship" in which our own minds and own separate identities are fully involved!).

This is what true godliness is all about. It is NOT about achieving Nirvana with God, nor is it about learning formulas from "how to" books promoted by "Christian" psychologists and counselors on how to have a good marriage, to be a loving father or wife, to be a caring parent, etc. It's about FELLOWSHIP with God - especially as that FELLOWSHIP relates to God's Word, by which we mean the Bible! Our need isn't for more books and seminars, our need is to FELLOWSHIP with God in our spirit by "feeding on His Word" (the Bible) - and as we do so, we will begin to find ourselves reflecting Him to those who touch us in our daily lives.

Thus, as we "behold and reflect" God in our spirit, we will automatically find ourselves becoming a loving father, because He is a loving father; we will automatically find ourselves becoming a loving mother because He is a loving mother; we will automatically find ourselves becoming a loving husband or wife because He is a loving husband or wife; we will automatically find ourselves becoming a caring parent because He is a caring parent. This is exactly the practice of our Lord insofar as His walk with the Father is concerned. Jesus said,

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." (John 5:19)

ABIDING IN THE LORD

And this is what Jesus told us to do:

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
"If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
"If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
"Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." (John 15:4-8)

It's not working for Christ, but "abiding" in Christ; it's not doing, but "beholding and reflecting."

POST-MILLENNIALISM & DICHOTOMY vs.
PRE-MILLENNIALISM & TRICHOTOMY

Finally we come to one last very important matter. I very much suspect that it is not without cause that pre-millennialism and trichotomy go together just as post-millennialism and dichotomy go together. I don't believe that it is a matter of simple happen-chance that historically, whenever pre-millennialism has predominated in the church, trichotomy has also prevailed; and whenever post-millennialism has predominated, dichotomy has likewise flourished. There is a connection between pre-millennialism and trichotomy; and there is a connection between post-millennialism and dichotomy.

Post-millennialism is the effort by Christians (as a corporate body - i.e., the church) to do a work for Christ, specifically to bring in the kingdom of Christ. The arrogance and aggrandizement of self which is implicit in such thinking is overwhelming - this kind of thinking could never take place in the human mind which is fixed upon Christ. It doesn't emanate from a spirit which is "beholding and reflecting" Christ, but from a soul which at best has only a nodding acquaintance with the Lord. Those who truly behold God in their spirit would never countenance the kind of arrogance which could say, "I will do a work for God." This kind of thinking is born of "the pride of life" which is altogether a thing of this world (i.e., it's worldliness). The Bible says,

"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." (1 John 2:16)

Those who have truly touched the Lord would never be so arrogant and pretentious. Moses saw God, and he hid his face in fear:

"And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
"And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
"Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. (Ex. 3:4-6)

Where is there any "pride of life" here?

Isaiah too saw the Lord, and he recognized immediately how small and insignificant he really was:

"In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple ...
"Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. (Is. 6:1, 5)

Where is there any pride here? Where is there any thought of "doing a work for the Lord?" - unless the Lord did the work through him.

And John the Apostle also saw the Lord, and even he - the one who had leaned on Jesus's breast at the "Last Supper" - fell on his face "as if dead:"

"I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet,
"And I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me.
"And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as a dead man ..." (Rev. 1:10, 11, 17)


  OUR GOD IS AN AWESOME GOD

Yes, the Almighty is our loving Father, but He also is an awesome God! There is no room for impertinence and shallow familiarity with the Lord such as Bennie Hinn so arrogantly exhibits in his preaching - and that is so even with those who enjoy a loving relationship with Him (which is certainly not the case with Hinn). He is not called "Lord" (i.e., master, sovereign) for nothing! Job, God's "friend," had to learn this lesson the hard way! - who are we, then, to tell God that we will do a work for Him? - the titanic arrogance of it all! Those who say such things only reveal that they have no real relationship with God at all - that their presumed relationship with God is nothing more than an empty pretense.

"Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
"Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?
"Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
"Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. "Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?
"Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place;
"Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?
"Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if thou knowest it all.
"Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail,
"Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high?
"Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.
"Then Job answered the LORD, and said,
"Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.
"Then answered the LORD unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
"Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.
"Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous ...?
"Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty (if you can).
"(Can you) cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him.
"(Can you) look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place.
"Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret.
"(If you can do these things) then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee. (Job 38, 39, and 40)


  THE POST-MILLENNIAL "MINDSET"

Post-millennialists, nonetheless, say that they are going to conquer the world for Christ - and in saying this, they reveal that they have never really known God at all. Indeed, it's not without cause that someday they may very will hear those dreadful words, "I never knew you" (i.e., "I never had an intimate relationship with you"):

"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matt. 7:22-23) [And one must bear in mind here, that these people are not "outright" sinners, but people who evidently thought they were "doing a work for God."]

Their relationship with the Lord is all of self (soul) and nothing of the spirit. Because they know nothing of the spirit - nothing about "beholding and reflecting" the Lord - it's altogether natural for them to have a dichotomous view of man. How could it be otherwise?

TO POST-MILLENNIALISTS, THE CHURCH IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN CHRIST

Post-millennialism (and, ipso facto, dichotomy) emphasizes "doing" over "beholding;" "works" over "reflecting" - and, more than that, it approaches the matter of the church in an entirely different way than does pre-millennialism. Post-millennialists begin with the church and end with the individual. The individual is seen as something which is ancillary to the church. How one relates to the church determines one's intimacy with God. Put another way, post-millennialism begins with the collectivity and ends with the particular. Not so with trichotomy and pre-millennialism. Trichotomy begins with the individual (i.e., the particular) and ends with the church (i.e., the collectivity).

While it might seem trite to say, it's important to understand how Christ inhabits the church: He inhabits the church because He inhabits the individuals who make up the church. Christ does not inhabit the church as some kind of separate entity unto itself. He inhabits the church through us as individuals! Now, it's important to note that we are not taking a swipe at the church here - nor are we de-emphasizing the church in "God's Plan and Purpose in the Ages." It's simply to say that first comes the individual Christians, then the church.

In post-millennialism, however, it's the church that is going to bring in the kingdom, not Christ. Christ is seen as merely an observer in heaven while Christians on earth do all the work. And more than that, in the post-millennial scheme of things, the individual is de-emphasized, and the collectivity is emphasized

.

In post-millennialism, the collectivity is everything - and, as a result, unity is stressed; but it's not the unity which flows out of the individual as a natural consequence of "beholding and reflecting" Christ in one's individual spirit, it's the unity that is brought about by outward control - a control which flows from church officers (elders, pastors, "apostles," "prophets," etc). It's the kind of unity that is brought about by "outward conformity," not the inner leading of Christ in our spirits.

UNITY IN THE POST-MILLENNIAL SCHEME
OF THINGS IS DEPENDENT ON HIERARCHY

The unity that post-millennialism brings is dependent on hierarchy - the orderly arrangement of church officers in a kind of giant pyramid which emphasizes rank and position (which is precisely the way the world organizes itself [please see our article on the "Elite Establishment")]. How high up one is in this pyramid determines how "close" one is to God. One is required to "submit" to those who are "above," and to "rule over" those who are "below" - and one's spirituality is measured by one's submission to authority (i.e., to one's submission to control).

The order which post-millennialism promotes is based on a military-like discipline, a discipline which is enforced by an outward chain of command. The thought that all men have equal access to God through the Holy Spirit who indwells their spirit (trichotomy) is anathema to post-millennialism - it strikes at the military-like order which post-millennialism promotes. The belief that each individual Christian has a spirit and can be led individually by the Holy Spirit who indwells their spirit without resort to "outward authority" is a threat to post-millennialism's pyramid-like structure and scheme of things. For post-millennialists to admit that man is a trichotomous being and ipso facto not dependent on hierarchy to guide and direct him is tantamount to destroying the necessity for post-millennialism's rigid pyramid. The thought that each individual Christian can "know" God in his spirit independent of those "above" him in the hierarchy is an abomination and sacrilege to post-millennialists.

THE TRICHOTOMOUS VIEW OF MAN
IS IN OPPOSITION TO HIERARCHY

But Jesus promoted no such hierarchical scheme of things. Jesus taught the exact opposite. He said,

"Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
"But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister (i.e., servant);
"And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant (i.e., slave):
"Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto (i.e., served), but to minister (i.e., serve), and to give his life a ransom for many." (Matt. 20:25-28)

Instead of teaching man to be dependent on an outward hierarchy, Jesus said,

"... ye need not that any man teach you: but ... the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie [i.e., the same anointing (which is truth and no lie) teaches all of you the same things]. (I John 2:27)

And exactly what is this anointing? Jesus said that it is -

"... the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)

And again, Jesus said,

"But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me ..." (John 15:26)

So important did Jesus believe the "Comforter's" ministry to be to the individual Christian - a ministry which stands totally outside any form of hierarchy - that Jesus said,

"... It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. (John 16:5-7)

THE IMPORTANCE OF OUR
INDIVIDUAL WALK WITH CHRIST

Trichotomy emphasizes the importance of the individual believer's walk with Christ - it's not that our "corporate" walk with other believers isn't important, but that the starting point for all our relationships in the church is our individual walk with Christ. Trichotomy teaches that all believers - regardless of intellect and regardless of their station in life or their position in the church - have equal access to God through the Holy Spirit which indwells their human spirit, just as all the branches in the vine have equal access to the nourishment which the vine alone provides; Jesus said,

"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." (John 15:5)

And John the Apostle said,

"And now, little children, abide in him ..." (I John 2:27-28)

The secret is abiding in Him! - that's where everything begins. It's not intellect that counts, nor even seminary training (and we are not here demeaning the intellect or sound Bible training), nor worldly success, nor your sex, nor your "station" in the church or in life that counts - but abiding in Him and abiding in His Word (i.e., the Bible). If a Christian does these things, everything else will follow, including a vibrant loving relationship with others as well as a fulfilling life in the church.

THE INDIVIDUAL & THE CHURCH

Yes! - a thousand times, yes! - the church is important. Indeed, the Bible says that the church is the "Bride of Christ" (Rev. 21:9); but we must always bear in mind that the church flows out of the Lord, not the Lord out of the church. The Lord comes first, then the church. Out of our individual relationships with the Lord flows the life of the church. If our individual walk with the Lord is wrong, then our life in the church will be wrong, and all the seminars, and all the books, and all the sermons aren't going to help; but when the individual believer "beholds and reflects" the glory of the Lord, then the church also will reflect and mirror the Lord's splendor - and not until. Put another way, the health of the human body depends on the health of the individual cells of the body, not visa versa. When all the cells of the body are healthy, then the whole body will be healthy - and not the other way around.

Some people speak of the church as if it somehow had its own identity apart from its individual members; but the church has no life of its own. It has life only because we - as individual members - have life. The church has no life apart from the individual members which compose it. The church reflects the glory of the Lord only insofar as its individual members are "beholding and reflecting" the glory of the Lord. Paul put it this way:

"And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near;
"for through Him we (as individual members) ... have our access in one Spirit (i.e., the Holy Spirit) to the Father.
"So then you (as individual members) are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household,
"having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,
"in whom the whole building (i.e., the church as a corporate body of believers), being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord ..." (Eph. 2:17-21 - NASB)

According to Paul, the order is this: first there are the individual members, who as individual members are touching and communing (having fellowship) in their individual spirits with the one and only God-given Holy Spirit (i.e., the Comforter), and it's through each individual member's touch with the one and only Spirit of God that we are quite effortlessly brought into oneness and then built together into a holy Temple (habitation) unto the Lord.

SUMMING UP

Now it's not without reason that we have spent a lot of time on the importance of our individual walk with Christ, and our trichotomous nature which makes that walk possible; and the reason is this: THE CHURCH BEGINS NOT WITH THE "COLLECTIVITY;" IT STARTS, RATHER, WITH US AS INDIVIUSALS

Our individual walk with Christ makes the church-life possible, not the other way around. Contrary to what so many teach today, the church is not something that must be organized; it's not something that comes "alive" when you get your 501(c)3 approved by the Feds; it emanates from us as individuals.

First there is the individual Christian; then there is the church!! It's we - as individual Christians - who are born again, not some collective entity called "the church." It's we - as individual Christians - who contain the life of Christ, not some airy abstraction we call Christianity. It's, therefore, with us - as individual Christians - that the church-life begins. The church has no standing apart from its individual members. It does not exist as some kind of separate entity which we must strive to enter. If we are Christians, we are already there.

This, of course, runs counter to the spirit of the age - where the stress is on the collectivity, and individuals are valued only insofar as they fit into that collectivity (whether that collectivity is a corporation, a club, a religious denomination, etc); where the trend of the era is from the particular to the aggregate, and from the small to the big; where mergers are the order of the day, which lead to larger mergers, which lead to even larger mergers ad infinitum; a place where man becomes simply a cog in a machine, and where a person's individuality is looked upon as something divisive and hateful; and where "fitting into the mold" or "corporate culture" is the way to get ahead.

WHAT PRACTICALITY IS THIS TO US

And what practicality is all this to us? - it's this, dear Christian: it doesn't matter how alone and cut off you may feel yourself to be right now! Take care of your individual walk with Christ, learn to "behold and reflect Him," and eventually - in due course of time - you will begin to produce the church. Other people - believers and non-believers alike - will be drawn to you, and as you begin to meet with these people, the Gospel will be preached (indeed, you will find it quite impossible not to preach the Gospel), and the church-life will be effortlessly produced - in your home, on your job, in your after-hours, etc.

And it all starts with "beholding and reflecting." As Mary, we must all learn to "practice the presence of Christ:"

"Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
"And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.
"But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
"And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
"But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:38-42)

Again we say, the church-life is not produced by our strivings; it is produced as each of us as individual Christians "practice the presence of Christ." As each of us "behold and reflect Him" in our individual lives, the church will be produced, just as surely as grapes are produced by the vine in the course of time - and it is, therefore, not without reason that Jesus said,

"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." (John 15:5)

This is why Jesus said, " Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: "But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part."

What God did in Mary's life - and in the lives of the early apostles - He can do in your life as well. It all begins with you as an individual!! God is calling you - and all you have to do is answer that call. But no one can answer it for you - that is an individual matter, just as it was so many thousands of years ago when Isaiah heard God call him:

"Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?"

And Isaiah answered and said:

"Here am I: send me." (Isaiah 6:8)

Now with regard to this particular calling, we need to be clear that God did not necessarily address this call specifically to Isaiah. Then how did Isaiah hear it? He heard it because he had been in the presence of God and - as a result - he happened to overhear God ask, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Isaiah had been in the habit (so to speak) of being in close and intimate FELLOWSHIP with God; as a result, he heard God's calling. As Oswald Chambers has said, it is not a question of God singling out a strong man and saying, "Now, you go." Isaiah had been in the presence of God and because of that he overheard the call, and realized that there was nothing else for him to do but to say, in conscious freedom, "Here am I, send me."7

As Chambers said, get out of your mind the idea of expecting God to come with compulsions and pleadings. When our Lord called His disciples there was no irresistible compulsion from outside. The quiet passionate insistence of His, "Follow Me" (Matthew 4:19) was spoken to men and women with every power wide awake. If we let the Spirit of God bring us face to face with God in our individual spirits, we too shall hear something akin to what Isaiah heard, the still small voice of God; and in perfect freedom will say, "Hear am I; send me."

God will never force a decision on us - it's up to us to answer. But Paul says that how we answer that call will determine whether we feel ashamed at His appearing or not. He writes,

"My eager desire and hope is that I may never feel ashamed, but that now as ever I may do honor to Christ in my own person by fearless courage - whether that means life or death, no matter!" (Phil. i, 20-21 (Moffatt)

Yes, the church needs to be produced! But it is not produced by outward conformity and by 501(c)3 organizations; it is not produced by hierarchies and bureaucracies; it is not produced by strivings and compulsions. It flows out of our individual walk with Christ.

Yes, God is raising up a testimony in these "Last Days" - a corporate WITNESS which will produce the "Great Harvest of the Lamb." The Bible says:

"After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
"And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
"And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,
"Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
"And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
"And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Rev. 7:9-14)

But it begins with our individual walk with Christ. More about all this later. Suffice it to say, you will want to be a part of all this! The Bible says:

"... Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said,
"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,
"And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.
"Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.
"But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:
"Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.
"Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. (Matt. 22:1-5, 8-9)

Remember this, the church, God's testimony, begins not with organizations and hierarchies, it begins with our individual walk with Christ. If each and everyone of us simply take care of our individual walk with Christ - if we "practice the presence of Christ (as Brother Lawrence put it hundreds and hundreds of years ago as he humbly washed his pots and pans and went about the daily routines of his life), the church will be produced.

God bless all of you!!
  S.R. Shearer Antipas Ministries

 

FOOTNOTES
  1. Dale Vargas, Sacramento Bee, March 30, 1994, pg. A-16
  2. In 1095, the Council of Clermont confirmed the adoration and veneration of Mary as the "Mother of God" [note: not the mother of Christ - but the "Mother of God," the subtlety here is important!] Some Romanists may affect to deny that they honor Mary with the worship due to God only, but in their books of devotion, it's quite another thing, and prayers to the "Virgin" occupy a prominent place. Consider the following prayers, and then judge for yourself whether Mary is being worshipped or not, the protestations of certain charismatic Catholics notwithstanding. "If the winds of temptation arise, if thou run upon the rocks of tribulation, look to the star, call upon Mary. If thou art tossed on the waves of pride, of ambition, of distraction, of envy, look to the star, call upon Mary. If anger or avarice or the temptation of the flesh toss the barque of thy mind, look to Mary. If disturbed with the greatness of thy sins, troubled at the defilement of thy conscience, affrighted at the horrors of the judgment, thou beginnest to be swallowed up in the gulf of sadness, the abyss of despair, think upon Mary - in dangers, in difficulties, in doubts, think upon Mary, invoke Mary. If this isn't worship, I don't know what is. Indeed, what it really is, is idolatry - and the Bible has some very serious things to say about idolatry: "Cursed is the man who makes an idol ..." (Deut. 27:15 ). One should be very careful here because the curse falls on those who even countenance such things - and isn't that what evangelicals are doing when they go along with this kind of thinking? - countenancing it? And again: "We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God, despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us from all dangers, O ever glorious and blessed Virgin." And again: "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and in the hour of death ..." And again: "Hail, holy Queen Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope! - to thee we cry, poor banished sons of Eve, to thee we send up our sighs, mourning, and weeping in this valley of tears; turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us, etc." Indeed, the deification of Mary has reached such heights of idolatry today that even the Protestant Reformers would now be astounded; Vatican II, rather than reversing this process, accelerated it by reaffirming the Virgin Mary as the "Mother of God" (not Jesus). She was also declared the "Mother of the Church." As a matter of fact (and as we have just noted in the "mysteries of the Rosary"), the Roman Church now teaches that Mary herself was conceived without original sin (immaculate), was bodily received into heaven just like Jesus (the Assumption), and is now "Co-Redemptrix" (Savior or Redeemer) with Christ.
  3. The doctrine of the "Mass" or "Transubstantiation" occurs nowhere in the New Testament, or even the so-called "Greek" or "Latin Fathers" of the Church. Nonetheless, in the year 1215 the Lateran Council held it to be among the settled doctrines of the Church. By a cannon (decree or edict) of that council it was affirmed that when the officiating priest utters the words of consecration at the Lord's Table (or "Mass"), the "Bread" and "Wine" are converted literally and actually (not just symbolically) into the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ - the bread being "transubstantiated" into the actual body of the Lord, and the wine into His actual blood. This is witchcraft of the worst kind. From this belief, an untold amount of superstition results. The now "consecrated" bread and wine receive divine honors. When the wafer (the bread) is held aloft, the people in most Catholic countries fall down and worship it (which is idolatry). On some occasions - especially in Latin countries - the wafer is placed in a casket, and carried in solemn procession in the church, and sometimes in the streets, and as it passes, the people are required to bow down in worship and admiration. So far have these superstitions been carried, that the wine is not even passed to the people anymore for fear that it will be profaned.
  4. Quote taken from Dave Hunt's CIB Bulletin, Vol. 7, No. 7, July, 1991.
  5. Why did Christ give apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers? - for the "PERFECTING" OF THE "SAINTS" (i.e., the "average," "everyday" people of God). And why were the saints to be perfected? - so that they might grow up "... unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ," and so that they would "... henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they (i.e., the "flockless shepherds") lie in wait to deceive ..." Yes, pastors must learn to let go! (By that I mean, they must learn not to hold on to the saints so tightly.) They must learn to bring their flock to maturity, and then let go! That doesn't mean that they should ever be out of work; nor does it mean that they shouldn't carry on as "full-time" workers; nor does it relieve the saints of God from providing financially for them. By no means! But what it does mean is that they must not hold on so tightly. Someday, they will have to let go anyway; the situation of the times will demand it. They had better get the saints ready for that day now, while there is still time - this is the best thing that they can do for them! The best! This is what happened in China - and the magnification of the work of the church there has been without precedent anywhere in the world! And why is that? - because all the saints, including the women, have been brought into maturity in Christ. And concerning the women, would it surprise you to learn that almost half the "house churches" in China are led by women? Does this mean that where men are available to lead, they shouldn't have the lead? No, of course not. But where mature men are not available (either because of the exigencies of their jobs, or because they simply are not that mature in the Lord, or because they are not willing) does that mean that there should be no church-life? - no! That's silly. Men, I must tell you the truth; some of the most courageous people I have ever met, the most learned, and - yes - some of the best leaders (taking the lead when most men withdrew in fear), have been women - Constance Cumbey, Jewel Van der Merwe, Pauline MacPherson - to name only a few of the ones I have known personally. These are true heros of the faith, and we would all do well to learn from their example! I remember once in Vietnam (1969), I was at a "fire base" near the Cambodian border when we were attacked by the NVA. We were being overwhelmed and the situation became so desperate that it looked like we would be over run. At that time, we ordered everyone to "the line" (i.e., the perimeter) to defend the base. EVERYONE!! The cooks, the medical personnel (which to a certain extent was "illegal"), supply personnel, "visitors," everyone, whether that was their job normally or not. It was an emergency! So also today. We are in the "End of Days!" We are in an emergency situation! Everyone has to get up to "the line!" No one is excused! Sisters should not hide behind their sex, men should not hide behind their careers - no one is exempt! All the saints - not just the "chosen few" - have been made "fully functioning members" of the body of Christ - i.e., the church! It's time for all of us to "get up to the line."
  6. The play, Waiting for Godot, was written by the Irish playwright Samuel Beckett. It was written in French and first appeared in the Theatre de Babylone in Paris in 1953. It is about two people who waste their life away waiting for a man named Godot. They believed that they could do nothing until Godot came along and showed them the way.
  7. Please see MY Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers (Dodd. Mead, & Co, 1935), pgs. 1 and 14

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