Frequently Asked Questions...
I read with great interest your article on tithing. I agree that tithing is definitely not a Christ ordained or initiated mandate. What I am wondering is if you would agree that Christ expects a person to give all they have to Him? For instance the early church when the apostles were meeting and gathering together and all gave as any had need. Acts 2, 3...etc. And when Ananias and Sapphira tried to lie about how much they sold their land for...we know what punishment befell them. The rich young ruler story, has Jesus telling the young man to go and sell all he has and give it to the poor.
So, my question is how much does Jesus expect of us?
As with all things Christian, the condition of the heart is inspected. Obviously God does not expect all of us to give 100%, although of some, he will require it. The point is, if we are asked, will we willing give it all up? That was the problem the rich ruler had, Jesus knew his heart...He wouldn't give it up even in the face of Jesus and sure eternal life.
On the other hand, if you reference Luke 19:8-10 Zachaeus stood up and said "Lord the half of my goods I give to the poor." Later on Jesus grants him salvation. He only gave 50%.
The Ananias and Sapphira thing was about the lie, not how much they gave.
Give as you can and as the holy spirit leads you.
I do believe Jesus never meant for there to be a million different factions of HIS church. (1 Cor. 1:10) I wish to get away from denominations, and from the teachings and traditions of men. There is one God, one Savior, and one church the body of Christ. But I believe Christ also intended for us to have fellowship with one another. We are to love one another, and lift each other spiritualy. Confess to each other, pray together and for each other, edify, and teach, and when nessecary, we are to correct each other. How can I do these things, and not go to church. But how can I go to church, and not be a part of a denomination? There are several areas in Scripture where the plural "churches" is used. (1 Cor. 14:33 says; For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.)
What should I do?
You are asking difficult questions. I know because I asked the same ones myself three short years ago. I’m here to tell you that, while the answers are also hard to hear, the very act of questioning the structure of known Christianity is even harder to bear.
I have answers that God gave me when I wanted to know how to escape the prison of Christendom. Please consider with prayer what I am going to share with you. I am your sister in Christ and would love nothing more than to see others free of the great delusion.
I first knew something was vastly wrong in my first few months as a believer. I couldn’t get enough of the bible and read it voraciously, especially the “forbidden” or untaught passages. One of those passages, the famous “works of the flesh” list, had a couple of archaic words I wasn’t familiar with, like “variance” and “seditions.” I was breath taken when I looked them up in the dictionary: they are both forms of division and strife, which is the condition of the so-called body of Christ. Every time I so much as saw a church building after that I could recognize the variance and sedition inherent in its very creation as a divided part of an original whole; when it occurred to me that they which DO such things will not inherit the kingdom of God, I wondered how anyone there could conceivably teach me anything or even be true believers.
It was from there that I entered a long and arduous process that continues to this day, and probably will continue for many more years, maybe even until I die. If there is one thing I have learned about the nature of truth, it is this: God refuses to share more with you than you can handle, on the grounds that it will make your mind go nuclear. Instead, he hands it to you in portions, sometimes bigger than what you think you can take, but if you keep asking him for more truth, more wisdom, and more patience, he will most certainly give it to you.
Briefly I will show you what he has shown me, and, as I said, consider this prayerfully:
In Rev. 2:6 and 2:15, Jesus refers to a mysterious group, known as the “Nicolaitanes,” in the sense that he HATES their deeds and their doctrine. Never before and never again will you read in the bible where Jesus says he hates anything, but these guys really make him ill. So who were they? It has been determined that there were no factions or groups at any time that actually referred to themselves as the Nicolaitanes, but it was instead a name that Jesus gave them, a compound word derived from two Greek words: “Nico,” meaning “to conquer,” and “laity,” meaning “the people.” Apparently, just a few decades after Jesus himself rose to heaven there were already people around claiming to have the exclusive truth and that everybody else was wrong (see 1 Cor 1:10-17; Gal 1:6-9; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 1 John 2:18-20, etc.), and it had gotten to the point where lots of people were following these prophet types and not relying on the very Spirit that Jesus had sent from the Father to guide us into all truth without any man teaching us (1 John 2:27). Did you know that you don’t need anybody to tell you anything, that God will tell you himself? I didn’t know that! I grew up in a society, which I’m sure you did as well, in which the ruling authorities on anything having to do with Jesus and God are preachers, not people like me and you. Only preachers are allowed to teach the scriptures, not me and you. Only preachers are allowed to baptize, not me and you. You and I are allowed to pray for people, so long as the preacher knows about it and they’re on the prayer list. You and I are required to be in the presence of the preacher every Sunday, no matter what, or we will be regarded as heathens and sinners, because the preacher is holy, the preacher walks and talks with God for us.
This is the Nicolaitane point of view, the antichrist religion, in which Jesus is not the way, the truth, and the life; instead, the church and subsequently the preacher are the way the truth and the life. What blasphemy! What heresy! Especially since a church will not so much as balk at spending tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars on a FOUNTAIN for crying out loud when there are obviously starving and destitute people in their own neighborhoods, on the very same block as the church!
In spite of my disgust, it was still painful and horrible to break away from what I have come to term the Whore that is Christendom--because I had grown up to believe that the Whore was the truth. No---Jesus is the Truth. He is the Way. He is the Life. And the Truth shall set you free, and you will be free indeed.
I’ve shared with you some of the things that got me started on my quest for the truth. I’m not going to tell you everything I learned, because I will be getting in God’s way if I do that. However, I am here to help you with the questions that you will have, simply because I have been where you are, not because I have more truth than other people. It’s sort of like a freshman in college asking a senior or grad student in the same major for help with a problem, you know?
It’s not easy to do, and it’s a really lonely road to walk, but oh it’s worth it to know the truth, to wake up every morning and know, really know, who God is.
My love and the love of all of us here goes to you, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
I would like to make an addendum to my original response to your question, as I’m not sure I answered you completely.
God will show you truths that will shake the very foundations of what we have been taught to believe is “godly” truths by the known church. When that happens, let everything fall, trusting God to preserve what is true and deliver you from the lies (see Hebrews 12:25-29). You will be so enraptured by what you are learning that you will want to share it with everyone you see, and you may very well learn, like us, that most people don’t want to hear it, while others pretend that they do, only to exploit you in some way. It is because of the very nature of truth that you will find your chances for fellowship with other believers to be VERY slim.
Please believe me when I say that I am not a cynic. What I have learned so far from God has served two purposes: first, to draw me closer to Him than I ever believed possible; and second, to separate me from those whom I see--in retrospect--were false brethren. Anytime I start to feel lonely, I think about how Elijah must have felt when he complained to God about being the only one in all of Israel that still worshipped Him--and God informed him that there were still 2,000 in Israel that hadn’t yet bowed their knees to Baal. I know that there are other True Believers out there like me, but we are so very pitifully few that most of us don’t even know about each other. At times like this I understand what Jesus meant when he asked if there would still be faith left on the earth when he returned.
Do you remember the parable about the wheat and the tares? To the wheat, it is beginning to be painfully obvious who the tares are. God is calling those who will listen away from the beasts of this current world, and he is somehow uniting us, either via net or chance meeting or remembering old, true Christian acquaintances. He will bring us together somehow.
The world doesn’t change very much in iniquity or attitudes, so I can’t really say that the world is different now than it was when the early church began--there were just a lot more sandals back then. However, I’m inclined to think we are far more tempted by greed, capitalism, and lust, and are more filled with shame for the truth, than the early Christians were. This might be why it’s getting harder to find each other.
Jesus is returning soon, my precious friend, and he will find faith, so strive and contend earnestly for the gospel once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). Come away from the great adulterous Whore that calls itself Christianity yet allows all manner of wickedness (2 Cor 6:17). We may not be getting fed to lions yet, but I have suspicions that the time is coming when we will see persecution that this world has never before known or will see after. We will trust the true Spirit of our mighty God to speak for us.
Pray for God to send believers to you that you can fellowship with safely and that will help you grow while you help them grow, too. Pray for God to give you discernment and wisdom when choosing those to fellowship with. I’m not one to say that you won’t find them in churches, because I became a believer in a fancy Lutheran church I had been to twice and didn’t know a soul. God knows when you are seeking, and the fervent prayers of a righteous man availeth much. Look for those who love their neighbors as themselves, those who bless the ones that curse them and pray for the ones who use them. Look for the ones who don’t worry and trust in God to meet their needs. Look for the ones who would give you the very shirt off their backs, even if you were their bitter enemy. THOSE are the Believers! Trust me--you’ll find them in the strangest places! (I myself work for Miller Brewing Company!)
Jesus will gladly help you through the lonely times by being the most faithful companion you can imagine. It’s not like he doesn’t know what it feels like to be lonely, used, or misunderstood. Jesus said: “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)” And remember, like Elijah, though we may appear to be alone, we’re really not.
Again, in Jesus Christ our Lord,
If the Apostle Paul were alive today, and wrote a letter to the Church in your city, who would get the letter?
Answer ! By: Anonymous
Think about that for a minute. No doubt several area bishops would quickly claim to be the mailing address of the Church in your area. But they'd be ignoring all those believers, like you perhaps, who don't belong to their church. Where then is the Church found? Quoting Tozer, "The church is found wherever the Holy Spirit has drawn together a few persons who trust Christ for their salvation, worship God in spirit and truth, and have no dealings with the flesh and devil." I would just add this qualification. You don't stop being the Church just because you're apart from other believers. Alone or gathered together with other believers, you're still the Church. If you were the only believer in town, then you alone would be the Church (and entitled to receive the letter).
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