Have Christians lost certain views from the Bible that slowly faded during the thousand years of the medieval Dark Ages? Is the traditional routine at your local assembly really the same one that early believers had?
Thankfully, we have the Bible which has been preserved for this very purpose as history and tradition have drastically changed over the past two thousand years, and far more in some sects than others. Many preach false gospels and have lost their purpose in the drone of formal, dry traditions or modern, lavish, contemporary self-centric purposes. However, in this article I hope to focus on just one aspect of the “fake news” preached in many pulpits. Some of these you may already have suspected such as the old “be sure to attend every service, give your tithe, and do something good this week and you’ll be good with GOD” routine. The New Testament speaks of giving “as GOD has prospered you”, and not “giving a tithe”. Tithing was in the Old Testament. Could it be applied to the New Testament? It’s possible, but it’s not absolutely clear. It’s definitely a great place to start, but in the New Testament, we are told that all we own is GOD’s to use, and we should be generous; however, Paul was taking up a one-time offering for the poor in Jerusalem when he mentioned taking a collection of money in 1 Corinthians 16. In other words,this gave purpose to members giving their money. It wasn’t an ongoing “tithe” that Paul mentioned for the expenses of cathedrals, nice organs, flowery robes, Greyhound buses, or Dolly world trips for the youth.
We are also told to give to the storehouse as GOD has blessed us. The Words of GOD in the Bible also never commanded us to “attend every service” – it simply says to not forsake the assembling together with other believers. And while “doing good” is always great to do, it won’t make you “good with GOD”. You can only be “good with GOD” when you are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ washing away your sins when you by His grace give your life to Him in repentant faith, at which time His Holy Spirit comes within you.
And then there’s this whole “fake news” in congregations today that emphasizes a building as the “house of GOD”, but the New Testament is chuck full of the apostles pointing to the body of Christians as the “Temple of GOD” (aka house of GOD). Hebrews shows clearly that the old Levitical system had passed and its old Temple. That was the whole purpose of the author of Hebrews saying that Christians should not “forsake the assembling of yourselves together”. With the old Temple system and its priests and sacrificial elements having passed, Paul wanted to be sure they realized that even though the building is no more, the sacred assembly should continue just as the Old Testament people of GOD did every sabbath, and as even the New Testament custom was, the Bible states.
Constantine the Great must not have gotten the memo, because he had priests, temples, and sacrifices (the sacrifice of Jesus every week when they pray over their Eucharist wafer). When Constantine usurped Jesus’ title as “Head of the Ekklesia” (or “Called Out”) and proclaimed himself Jesus, while starting his Catholic Empire from Rome, he also pushed the local bishop of Rome into the background and made himself the ‘Vicar of Christ’ (or substitute of Christ) on earth. This should be no surprise, because most emperors considered themselves to be ‘god’. As the existing Roman Emperor of the West and the Roman Pontiff of the pagan priesthood of the sun, it is no surprise that he also wanted to be the Messiah of the Christians as well, essentially making his office over all of Christendom and establishing the first throne and role of the Pope as head of all other leaders in Christianity, while pushing the bishop of Rome under his authority (these roles were later merged with Constantine’s papal role).
In the early centuries of Christian circles, the Eucharist that emanated from this Roman religion was anti-Scriptural and “fake news”. The author of Hebrews makes it abundantly clear, as any Greek scholar can see in the Greek language of the original text, that there is no more need of sacrifice for sins, because Jesus died once for all people and for all time – a theme reiterated in the Book of Hebrews very precisely and clearly. Besides, if the Eucharist wafer was “Jesus”, then anyone eating it would be a cannibal and also in violation of the basic moral rules set down by the apostles of not partaking of bloody sacrifices. Jesus would have also been guilty of partaking of His own blood at the Last Supper if the fruit of the vine (as Jesus called it) had been His literal blood. After all the Law of Moses strictly forbid the partaking of blood for obvious reasons, and Jesus stated that He came to fulfill the Law, not abolish it. He had to fulfill it perfectly in our place, since we were unable to fulfill it perfectly. Jesus referred to Himself as the Living Water to the woman at the well in Samaria – that didn’t mean He was really a “long drink of water”. He also said that the bread and fruit of the vine were His body and blood in a figurative sense.
Jesus also called Himself the Bread of Life in another passage. He is also the Lamb of GOD. To use these symbolic utterances as a way of teaching that Jesus was really a physical lamb or a literal loaf of bread or cup of grape juice is absurd to any reasonable human, but then again, there are many blind and unreasonable humans on this planet. So this idea of Jesus drinking blood or teaching others to drink blood was simply “fake news” handed down by the mouths of Romans who are not to be trusted as they are historically mass murderers, conducting the genocides of the Inquisitions, the Crusades, and many other murderous campaigns, including the backing of Hitler who led the Holocaust.
So the fake news of tradition in Catholic circles is fairly apparent to reasonable individuals, but the fake news of tradition in Protestant circles is not as apparent to some. What they don’t realize is that their traditions are often borrowed from the Catholics, so the “fake news” of how a congregation is to operate has often been a result of clergy and their members looking more at what “the Romans did” or what history says (controlled by the Romans for a thousand years), and far less about what GOD actually said in the Bible (which is what GOD has preserved as our source of Truth).
Let’s look at the “fake news” of Protestantism found in the narrative that our spiritual lives are based upon a quick incantation known as a “sinner’s prayer”, our cathedral attendance, “tithes”, and doing good and / or doing what the pastor says to do, and then we’re “once-saved, always saved”.
First, a sinner’s prayer is just the beginning of faith in Christ. Ephesians 2 and Titus 3, as well as a massive body of other Scripture, make it very clear that we are saved by faith – faith that continues and perseveres until the day of our death. This is not works salvation, but faith that works. Salvation is secured by faith, and then works are the evidence that faith actually exists within a person as the Book of James states (“I will show you my faith by my works”).
What type of works or fruit do the Romans of Constantine’s Catholic sect of “sun day” worshipers do? What type of works or fruit do true Christians do? Remember, by their fruits, you will know those in Truth from those in error.
Christians prays only to GOD, but Catholics pray to men in addition to GOD. Catholics uses rosary beads, nuns, monks, idols, relics, and sacred heart worship, all of which are found in paganism’s original Babylonian religion, but none of these are found in the Bible or true Christianity. So the Romans again are guilty of “fake news”. However, the Protestants have their own “fake news” and it isn’t pretty either. That’s why I prefer Christians and not some sect of “fake movements” such as Protestants, evangelicals, fundamentalists, and such. Either we’re Christian or we’re not – we’re obedient to GOD and faithful or we’re not. There’s not different brands of “Christian”. The traditions of Protestants include a lot of things that the early believers never did, but the Romans did do, such as building large cathedrals, and focusing on themselves with their rich anthems and nice suits, instead of focusing on the people in the congregation and the community like the early Christians.
I know of a godly woman whose husband had a heart attack. She had taught at a very conservative Christian school for years, but after her husband’s heart attack, she struggled to keep her head afloat. She needed financial help. I know of a pastor’s wife whose self-centered husband deserted her and left the country, leaving her all alone with her two daughters. She had spent her life helping him at his congregational appointments, but now had to suddenly get a job working, which she immediately did without the best resume. She is having to stay at her parents’ house to make it. Not everyone has parents. And then there’s a gentleman who is going through some sort of fibromyalgia that is messing with his body (i.e. cramps, etc) and he has a difficult time doing construction work anymore as a general contractor, so he’s attempting to start other side businesses. I know of a gentleman in a foreign country who needed financial help, because once the natives learned that he was a Christian, they pulled away his lucrative business from him and left him with nothing (the poor Christians in Jerusalem who the apostle Paul was helping were probably in a similar situation due to the persecution in Jerusalem). I know of a village where Christians were driven into the forest from their homes, and they needed financial aid, because they only had forest creatures to eat and no shelter. I know of a cop who wouldn’t be a cop today if it wasn’t for someone helping him out when his car broke down, just as he was about to be hired. He was thankfully hired, and got the job and was able to pay a portion of the tithe money back, so that it could be used for others in the future. The number of people like this is astounding.
When it comes to socialism, also known as involuntary, coerced removal of your money by a corrupt government for distribution to others, Paul the apostle stated that if a man didn’t work, then he shouldn’t eat. Such involuntary removal of money from citizens by governments is called theft.
However, there were also exceptions to that rule of “if a man doesn’t work, neither should he eat”. For example, acts of charity (or giving alms to the poor) is the voluntary giving of one’s money to others, based upon legitimate needs. Disability, involuntary unemployment, and other difficult circumstances and timing can leave a Christian person in great need, no matter how hard they have worked to provide for themselves and their families.
In 1 Corinthians 16, Paul the apostle was raising support for the poor who wanted to work, but who had been driven from their trade (i.e. idol makers) due to their new commitment to Christ and who perhaps needed job training (which happens today as well as fields of commerce become outdated). Some Christians today also work as hard as they can, but still can’t make ends meet. There are people who can work 2-3 jobs and still go negative at the end of each month due to the present economy and these are legitimate needs. In other words, there are more needs sometimes than just disability or the like.
The Body of Christ was encouraged in the Book of James to share charity along with the Gospel. It’s tough for a hungry or naked person to know your Christ until they see your Christ through your life. We must not just say “have faith”, and “hope you can find some food and clothing”, but while we are sharing the Gospel, we must help those who need food, clothing, and shelter as is reasonable based upon circumstances. However, you always see the Gospel involved when such charity is being performed for non-Christians. After all, what is more important? Spiritual needs or physical? We must also care for the Christians in our congregation, because if we say we love others, but close our bowels of compassion upon them, do we really love them? And if we don’t, how can we say we love GOD and are a disciple of Christ when we care more about building larger church campuses than our brothers and sisters in the LORD who have needs?
And yet church (i.e. circe) buildings keep rising more and more as church ‘campuses’ around the nation continue to expand and grow, almost in proportion with the unemployment rate. How ghastly to see such self-consumed individuals putting on such a show of religion without any true love for others!
Balconies and parking lots keep growing, almost in sync with the event calendars, activity schedules, and rock concerts. Loads of money continues being wasted by the church “leaders”. It’s a real shame. Congregations find ways to buy new Greyhound buses, trips to Dollywood, carnivals, sports teams, gymnasiums, large multi-million dollar cathedrals and campuses, and the list goes on. But the very purpose for a tithe in the Old Testament was the very purpose in the New Testament for giving money as the LORD has prospered you. Purpose is the key to giving, not just to continue an ongoing ritual. What was that purpose?
That purpose was two-fold: 1) spiritual ministry as the Levites ministered to the LORD in His holy temple and sacrificed to Yahweh and sang to Him, 2) physical/financial ministry – Levites distributed money to those with needs as each purpose had need from the Temple storehouse. In the New Testament, you see elders (also known as pastors or overseers) praising and sacrificing their own wishes for the Messiah and His body, while singing to Yahweh and caring for their flocks spiritually (as Christians now ARE the Temple of GOD), and deacons caring for the flocks physically and financially.
You also see in the Book of Acts, these Christians selling their lands and consolidating their money together to create a similar type of storehouse as that seen in the Old Testament Temple storehouse (most people don’t even get that from the story of Ananias and Sapphira – just the negative part of them dying), so they never put this alongside the whole storehouse that Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 16, a storehouse which Paul was intending to use for a specific one-time purpose of financial aid to believers. So today, most congregations are laughable at best and unjust and self-centered and stingy; yet, like the Laodiceans, they think they are very spiritual as they buy themselves new gymnasiums, fun times, travel buses, trips to amusement parks, youth activities, trips to beautiful tropical islands (i.e. ‘mission trips), and free rock concerts. Does this sound more like a social club using nonprofit status to do whatever they want and get a tax break for it? Indeed, it does. And this is done, while the true purpose of the money goes lacking. What a testimony the Body of Christ could have if they showed love to their own Christian families; after all, the early believers were known for their love.
If you see people in your congregation who are unemployed, take them out to eat. Help them with employment. Watch out for them. Ensure your pastor is caring for them, not as some type of tyrant over their shoulder, but truly caring for them like a brother. If your congregation just spends money on buildings, fun times, parking lots, big screens, and concerts, be sure to set your tithe aside in a separate account each month, and use it to help those poor who are doing their very best and struggling to make it. Only give to your congregation with an actual designation of your funds such as marking it “for the Backyard Bible Camp” where you know children are actually being evangelized, or “for the unemployment fund”. Otherwise, keep the money in your own separate account, and give it to those you know are hurting, instead of funding new parking lots, buses, sports and youth activities, and so much waste. Also, buy tracts with your tithe money. Help out Christian family or friends who find themselves in tough times. A few years ago, I heard my old congregation was selling their $3 million church campus and buying a $9 million campus. And their former campus was beautiful and brand new!!! That $6 million could have been used to send poor children to Christian school to hear about the Gospel for the first time or for a million other uses for Christ!! Let’s invest in the people, not the buildings.
My heart goes out to the actual followers of Christ who are struggling, but are not being helped by those in “churches”. In these last days, I pray that more believers will have far more compassion and far less judgment on their brothers and sisters in Christ. I pray they will truly be the “Body” of Jesus Christ by using their hands to do what His hands would have done; to use their money to do what He would have done for others, and so forth.
I believe we need to stop the greed in congregations, and split up the mega’churches’ into smaller house congregations, and then you would no longer need the big screen TVs, decorations, carpet, banners, kitchens, gymnasiums, greyhound buses, additional parking lots, and additional balconies; nor would you need the extra “shepherding groups” and “book-reading coffee groups” for more “intimacy” in congregational groups.
Also, the pastors of these smaller groups would more realistically be able get to know their members, care for them, eat lunch with them, and shepherd them. Most pastors don’t even know their flock, much less are they actually involved in their lives as a caretaker and a shepherd to them. Have you been out to lunch with your pastor lately? Does he know what is taking place in your life? If not, then perhaps you should invite him to lunch? If he’s always too busy, then perhaps you are better off going to a smaller congregation where the pastor truly cares for you.
Another advantage of house congregations is the intimacy you find. In most larger cathedral congregations, there are those who will say “we really missed you last week” or “you should really come to Sunday School” when what they really mean is “I’m better than you” or “we need you to increase our attendance rolls” or “we really miss your ‘tithe’ money in order to buy that new gymnasium we want’. When someone says they really “missed you” with that pious, snarky tone, I encourage you to say to them: “Oh really? Then why don’t we go out to lunch this week”. If they agree to do so, then you know they really care and you’ve gained a true friend, especially if they continue to go out with you on an ongoing basis and not just to be polite. If they keep making excuses, then don’t waste your time with them. They care only about themselves and are more concerned with looking good for others. You’ll be surprised at how many fall into this category, but better to find out now. You want to have brothers and sisters in Christ in your life who care about you, because when tough times come, you want to know who will be there for you. If they’re “too busy” now, it is not because they don’t have the time, but because they won’t make the time. Yet, they want you to make the time for their beloved “activities” and “services” which are usually anything but what they should be.
Has your congregation read through the Bible in the last seven years? Or do you just hear a traditional Roman “sermon” with a few Bible verses interspersed within it? Or do they hand out a “Bible Reading Guide” and expect members to just “self-serve” as though the pastor isn’t responsible for feeding GOD’s sheep? If he is not, then what is his job as a teacher, as Paul required them to be? Chief storyteller? Chief moralist and sermonizer? Chief lecturer? How long will it take your congregation to get through the entire Bible at your present pace? Never? Does your pastor seem to preach more to the lost than to the Christians in your congregation? Remember that the congregation was only for the believers in the New Testament, not the children of darkness. “Seeker friendly” congregations are in violation of Paul’s teaching if they invite the lost into their fellowship. What fellowship has light with darkness? Can you imagine the early believers inviting the lost into their house congregation? The lions in the Roman arenas would have had a real feast if that had taken place. Lost people aren’t interested in visiting your congregation if they’re normal. That’s like making a pig dress up in a tuxedo.
Do you have friends at your congregation who can’t wait to share the latest studies they had in the Bible that week or the latest testimonials of someone with whom they shared the Gospel that week? Do you have friends from your congregation with whom you pray on a regular basis? Do you have to turn down brothers asking to go on evangelistic endeavors with you? Or do you have to search your congregation for a partner to share your passion for wanting to reach the lost? Is your congregation really like family who enjoy talking Scripture? Or are they a bunch of fakes always talking instead about their latest business deal, television show, or social fun they had that week, and making a pretense of Christianity by sitting in their favorite seat and running through their church ritual each Sunday in order to have access to the gym, skate nights, Disneyland trips, and sports team activities? Are you attending a “family get-together” of like-minded believers or a social club?
Grace to you!