Posts Tagged ‘deception’

The Silent Church in the Day of Apostasy

By Warren B. Smith
(author of False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care? )

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Traditional Christian believers frequently mention the analogy of the frog that is so slowly and gradually boiled in a kettle of water that it dies before ever realizing what is going on. Yet many believers fail to realize that the very same thing is happening to them as they tell that story. How else do you explain the rapid rise of the “new gospel” movement with hardly a word of concern within the church about what’s been happening? As “new gospel” advocates continue to publish bestselling books and flock to the airwaves in ever-increasing numbers to advance their cause, there is a strange silence in the church. Does the church have any idea what is going on?

So often we have heard the impassioned refrain, “We can never let what happened in Germany ever happen again.” And with all of the Holocaust memorials, survivor testimonies, and multitudinous books on the subject, we have done a pretty good job of convincing ourselves that we will never make the same mistakes the German people did in allowing someone like Hitler to rise in their midst. We think that Americans would never stand by and allow something like that to happen here in our country. Our democratic processes and old-fashioned common sense would never allow it.

In the introduction to a 1999 publication (Sixth Pressing) of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, Konrad Heiden describes how everything that Hitler was about to do was telegraphed in his early writings:

For years Mein Kampf stood as proof of the blindness and complacency of the world. For in its pages Hitler announced – long before he came to power – a program of blood and terror in a self-revelation of such overwhelming frankness that few among its readers had the courage to believe it. Once again it was demonstrated that there was no more effective method of concealment than the broadest publicity.2
Somehow, Christians don’t seem to grasp Jesus’ warnings about the tremendous deception that characterizes the time of the end. Perhaps deceived into thinking that we can’t be deceived, we don’t take seriously enough His warnings that a Hitler-like antichrist figure will one day rise to rule the world – and that many people calling themselves “Christians” will support this spiritual counterfeit who will actually come in the name of Christ. Our adversary wants us to believe that these warnings are for another people at another time. Yet through Scripture, and in our heart of hearts, the Spirit of God tells us that they are not. As we study the Bible, and as we watch and pray and observe the events all around us, we come to understand that these future times described by Jesus are now suddenly and undeniably upon us.

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul warns of their vulnerability and susceptibility to false teaching in the name of Jesus. He suggests that if someone approached them with “another gospel,” “another Jesus” and “another spirit” they might very well go along with it (2 Corinthians 11:3-4). Earlier in that same letter Paul had indirectly encouraged the Corinthians not to be ignorant of their adversary’s schemes and devices, lest they be taken advantage of (2 Corinthians 2:11). Paul told the Ephesians that it is a shame that we even have to talk about the things of darkness, but when we expose them they are brought into the light (Ephesians 5:12-13). He also told them that he had not ceased to warn them night and day for three years that men who were “grievous wolves” would “arise” in the Church “speaking perverse things” as they attempted to lead men away from their faith and into the enemy’s camp (Acts 20:29-31). Let us beware of these same warnings today.

And it is, indeed, very disturbing to see many Christian leaders today using many of the same words and expressions commonly used by their “new gospel” counterparts. “New revelation” describing how a great “move of God” is going to take believers “pregnant with destiny” to “a new spiritual level” and into a “new dimension” sounds a lot more like the “new gospel” than the traditional Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Are Christian leaders leading the church ever closer to the cross, or ever closer to the “Planetary Pentecost”? Why is there almost no call for spiritual discernment within the Church (except to warn believers not to be deceived into doubting their appointed Christian leaders)? Why is spiritual experience taking precedence over spiritual discernment? Why are there so few warnings about a counterfeit “new gospel” movement that maligns the person of Jesus Christ and threatens the lives of His followers? Why is “new revelation” in many ministries starting to supersede God’s written Word? Why are Christians only being prepared for blessings and not for persecution? What in the world is going on?

Expecting only revival, will the church be deceived by one who will come in the name of Christ and pretend to be Christ? Caught unawares, will the church mistake the counterfeit Christ’s “Planetary Pentecost” for the great “move of God” they had been told to expect? Are we getting set up for the great delusion described in the Bible? Is there any good reason not at least to consider that possibility?

The prophet Daniel makes mention of the God of “forces” in conjunction with antichrist (Daniel 11:38). The “God” of the “new gospel” asks [New Ager] Neale Donald Walsch, “What if I am not a ‘man’ at all, but rather, a Force?”3 The “Christ” of A Course in Miracles states that there is an “irresistible Force” within each person.4 Marianne Williamson explains that this “universal force” can be “activated” within each person and has “the power to make all things right.”5 The “new gospel Christ” tells Barbara Marx Hubbard that on the day of “Planetary Pentecost” a “planetary smile” will flash across the face of all mankind; that an “uncontrollable joy” that he describes as the “joy of the force” will “ripple” through the one body of humanity.6 Benjamin Creme describes the event “as a Pentecostal experience for all.”7 The “Christ” of A Course in Miracles tells how the world ends in “peace” and “laughter.”8

Has anyone wondered whether this same “Force” may be counterfeiting the Holy Spirit in churches and may be producing “revivals” and “moves of God” that are not really “revivals” or “moves of God” at all? Is the “God of forces” in the process of preparing the Church for the “Planetary Pentecost”? Should we not be doing a more thorough job of testing the spirits? Have we put our faith and trust in Christian “leaders” rather than in God? Have we all talked ourselves out of the end times? Have we all agreed that persecution is not something we need to be concerned about? Have we prayed to God that we would not be deluded or deceived?

Several years ago in my book, The Light That Was Dark, I wrote the following: “Clearly many who said they were of ‘the faith’ would soon become a part of the deception too, if they weren’t already.”

Were we already witnessing the great “falling away” predicted in the Bible? Was the “mystery of iniquity” talked about in the Scriptures already doing its deceptive work with “all power and signs and lying wonders” . . . ? Would people calling themselves Christians abandon their faith in the Bible and the Bible’s Christ? Would they join an ecumenical movement that in the name of love and God and unity would sacrifice the truth of the Bible and perhaps one day merge with the new age itself?

Jesus warned that such a faith would lead not to life but to ultimate destruction: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).9

Could it be that the reason the church is so unaware of the “new gospel” movement is because it is being led by that same spirit and heading down that same broad way? Is it happening now, right in front of our very own eyes?

(For more information, read False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care by Warren B. Smith)

Notes:
1. NBC News “Special Report: America on Alert,” Tom Brokaw hosting Marianne Williamson as guest, September 16, 2001 broadcast transcript (Livingston, New Jersey: Burrelle’s Information Services).
2. Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf (Sixth Pressing), translated by Ralph Manheim (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.: Mariner Books, 1999), p.xv.
3. Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God: Book 3, p. 325.
4. A Course in Miracles: Combined Volume, (Text) p. 479.
5. Marianne Williamson, Healing the Soul of America, p. 13.
6. Barbara Marx Hubbard, The Revelation, p. 243.
7. Benjamin Creme, Maitreya’s Mission: Volume Two (Los Angeles: Share International Foundation, 1993), p. 239.
8. A Course in Miracles: Combined Volume, (Manual for Teachers) p. 37.
9. Warren B.  Smith, The Light That Was Dark, p. 150.

Letter to the Editor: In Search of a Church – One Family’s Painful Journey

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

When I met my husband in 2005, I was attending a nondenominational church while he attended a local megachurch. During our attendance at his church, it was discovered that sexual sin was being allowed by the leadership among servers in the children’s ministry, so we went back to what had been my home church. What happened there turned out to be the test of our Christian lives.

My nondenominational home church started making changes, mostly subtle, a tad unusual, but nothing overtly alarming or distressing. For example, they started reading from The Book of Common Prayers. Popular authors like John Ortberg and Gary Thomas were taught, and since they sounded good and got the stamp of approval from our leaders, we followed along. Here’s a surprising change, coming from a nondenominational church with Missionary denominational roots: they started practicing Lent and even had an Ash Wednesday service. My mother was raised Roman Catholic and hates that religion (not Catholics). I was raised to avoid any and all things Catholic (except Catholics!) So I listened intently when a pastor informed us about the Ash Wednesday service. It was justified with “our church fathers did it, so we will.” Naively, a friend and I decided that reasoning was fine. I was heavily pregnant with my second child that evening. As they were calling people up to get ashes on their forehead, pew by pew, I was having contractions. When they were just a few pews away, we had to leave due to my contractions. The Lord was working to reveal something to my heart, something about WHY He would prevent me from participating in this ceremony, but I couldn’t connect the dots at the time.

Sometime soon after our second child was born, my mom became practically unhinged with concern. She was listening to radio teaching while she was driving, and someone reported that Lynne Hybels said she had no problem with referring to Mary as “Queen of Heaven.” Ma pulled over to the side of the road, the sensation being like a punch in the stomach. See, this title is given by Catholics to Mary and is unabashedly heretical. Lynne Hybels, however, is the wife of Bill Hybels, the pastor of Willow Creek Community Church.

The broadcast recommended a book for understanding this movement within Christendom: Faith Undone by Roger Oakland. She was truly alarmed as she finished this book. She begged George (my husband) and I to read it. Quite honestly, we made excuses and dragged our feet about reading it because we knew there was something seriously wrong. When I finally read just the first chapter, the awful feeling in my gut gave way to tears: I could see my beloved home church in just the first few pages. Faith Undone (and then A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen) gave us the worldview “lens” through which we will view Christianity and these times in which we live until the day we see Jesus.

Sober and grieving, we had to address the issues at my church. We penned a letter to all the pastors, buying and sharing informational books on this movement, and asking for answers. We were ignored. A year later, a respected person there raised concerns about us, and then we were called. That meeting with the senior and another pastor revealed that the senior pastor did breath prayers (mystical prayer), and their pride was palpable. It was our second blow dealt by leaders we had loved and trusted.

Then we tried a small satellite campus church of a large, local Missionary church. This time we had books ready and interviewed the pastor. He assured us he wouldn’t do anything to bring in bad teaching or hurt the church, being dismissive of our concerns. That church lasted a few months until, and this was after our thorough warning of this apostasy was given to the pastor, he allowed blatant Catholic imagery during the worship time. We got up and left.

Ma had found our next church home. Life was good at this new Missionary church. Then came the new, permanent pastor. Dutifully, we met with him, explaining this heretical movement, offering books, discussing as much as we could. We had three meetings with him and various church leaders. We gave lists of compromised teachers, too. We were assured—again—that our church body wouldn’t be led astray. Soon thereafter, our pastor unashamedly started teaching Rick Warren material. He made it clear that he admired that original megachurch we had attended and wanted our current Missionary church to be like theirs. We were told privately in a meeting with him and his wife that a church like that megachurch could reach many more people than George and I ever could.

Ma had left before us and had found what would turn out to be our last home church, a fundamental Bible church north of town. Ma pointedly asked this new pastor about the Emergent Church movement. Essentially, he said it was wrong and wouldn’t allow it, so we headed there next.

We cautiously considered membership after truly getting to know the pastor and doctrines. We did become members, which was no small decision for a family having been repeatedly betrayed by several churches in the recent past. We were absolutely serious about this new fundamental Bible church being our church home and fighting this apostasy as much as possible. It was even agreed upon by the pastor that me and Ma, knowledgeable about the Emergent movement, would be “watchmen on the wall” for our leaders. Then came Priscilla Shirer’s third book study in January. This started a whole domino effect in our household. We all three researched her. Shirer is definitely contemplative. We all agreed that none of us could sit under her teaching.

Ma compiled her evidence for the leaders, but they decided her warning was unfounded. The Lord has since made it clear that the elders did not have unity about allowing Shirer’s material. We wondered how the numerous articles warning against Shirer would give them peace about allowing her material.

As we researched Shirer, we discovered trouble with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, who is the popular teacher/author of Revive Our Hearts, a sub-organization under Life Action Ministries. She promoted circle-making prayer, and she favorably quoted Richard Foster and Brother Lawrence. Those men are/were mystics, and circle-making prayer echoes the pagan, occultic practice of circle-making/power circles.

“Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit” (Matthew 12:33). Also, “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?” (James 3:11). If we see this rotten fruit and taste the bitter water of this apostasy, we cannot sit under that authority any longer.

George’s and my decision to leave our last church home came down to 1) the leadership was acting in disunity, which is sin, and 2) compromised, heretical teaching was coming in to our church through Life Action Ministries.

We fully believe that if you are wondering for yourself if you are being called to take a stand against this apostasy, just humbly ask the Lord for wisdom. Humility is essential here. Yet this stand we are proposing is no small task. In Matthew 10, the Lord warns that He did not come to bring peace but a sword, dividing people from those whom they love most dearly for His namesake. Everything and everyone must be laid down at the altar; we can hold nothing back. Personally, we cannot count the relationships that have been lost or damaged due to our stand, nor can we express the personal toll this has taken on us. But by God’s grace, we endeavor to surrender all. Jesus is worth it!

Our last pastor looked us straight in the eye and said he was not willing to consider that Life Action Ministries is compromised; he “knows their heart,” that they are good. We said we will come back in a heartbeat if/when he is willing to objectively research them. Until then, we cannot submit to his (or by association, their) authority. It’s just that simple for us.

We contend that this is THE end times’ apostasy that Jesus warned of in Mark 13:22, where, if possible, even the very elect will be led astray. How in the world could we knowingly participate in this?

B.J.

News Article Highlights Lighthouse Trails: “A Book Publisher’s Beacon Shining in the Dark”

LTRP Note: The following article written by veteran journalist Jim Fletcher is highlighting Lighthouse Trails. While we are so encouraged by such an article, we hesitated in posting it on our own site because we don’t want to be guilty of taking glory for ourselves when God is the one who should receive glory for anything good that comes out of this ministry. But because we’ve heard so many stories from readers trying to share our material with pastors, leaders, family, and church members only to be told “don’t listen to Lighthouse Trails,” we thought this article might help  readers share information from Lighthouse Trails. We count it a privilege to stand with you in the defense of the Gospel when doing so in today’s church and world can be very difficult.

“A Book Publisher’s Beacon Shining in the Dark”

Jim Fletcher

By Jim Fletcher

In my previous life as a book publisher editor, it was my privilege to work with important authors like Henry Morris (the “father” of the modern creationism movement) and Berit Kjos (a leading researcher into cults).

In the past two decades, Christian book publishing has descended into an ideological abyss. A willingness by that community’s leadership to allow non-believers into the fold ensured that Christian publishing would decline. Sure, record sales came from a handful of (mostly dreadful) titles (like “Jesus Calling”). Overall, though, it is quite ironic that strategic decisions made decades ago, for business reasons, signaled the beginning of the end for Christian book publishing.

Of course it exists today; dozens of publishing houses remain, and if you listen to biased researchers like Ed Stetzer, you would believe evangelical leadership is still surging, still strong.

The proof is there to see, however. Leading Christian retail bookstore chain Family Christian Stores just ended and the shockwaves from that exit will be felt for a long time.

Recently I had a publishing representative tell me that selling books to a bookstore is now “almost impossible.”

Only the most innovative houses will continue to live. One I admire greatly is the team at Lighthouse Trails Publishing. A West Coast-based company, Lighthouse Trails exists to equip the saints. There can be no greater agenda, especially today as terrible influences are flooding the American church. Click here to continue reading.

Is It a Solution or a Snow Job?

By Cedric Fisher
Truth Keepers

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One of the most effective methods of satanic deception operates as a straw man argument. Of course, a straw man argument is a dishonest debate trick where an individual attributes a false position to his or her opponent and then defeats that position. It gives the false perception that he or she has won a point.

It is as a man wanting to impress a lady. So he burglarizes her house when she is away. Then he shows up with sympathy and offers to use his contacts and abilities to recover her cherished belongings. After a few days he shows up with her valuables. He explains that one of his contacts was able to recover the stuff, but he is not privy to the details. That trick makes a hero out of a thief and perhaps worse.

A similar example occurred in California concerning arson investigator and novelist John Orr. Orr rose up through the ranks to become a distinguished arson investigator because of his uncanny ability to discover the cause of arson fires. However, he was responsible for setting many of the arson fires he had investigated. Eventually, he was arrested, charged, and convicted of arson and murder. Click here to continue reading.

Cedric Fisher is the director of Truth Keepers ministry and the author of three Lighthouse Trails booklets.

They Love Error More Than Truth

By Cedric Fisher

Professing Christians are fawning over every heretic, heresy, heretical book, and blasphemous movie. They will race off to conferences with a speaker lineup that reads like a “Who’s Who” in false “ministers of righteousness.” The truth floats on by them, but they eagerly reach out, grab, and gush over every falsehood.  But they will not rejoice over or promote truth. Further, they refuse to invest any time and energy defending anyone who presents truth when they are under attack.

So God sends His messengers to warn them just as He sent prophets to apostate Israel. But will they listen? They will not listen. We are in the last of the last days before this earth is shaken by the consequences of its rebellion. God knows their hearts are hard, their ears are dull, and their eyes refuse to see, but He sends His messengers anyway. Why?

He sends them because God is just, He is merciful, and God is love.  He is not willing that the wicked should perish.  He sends His messengers because He wants people to heed, return to Him, surrender, reject wickedness and accept righteousness, and be spared the consequences of their sinfulness.

But they reject God’s messengers. They call them mean-spirited, hateful, ignorant, self-righteous, and even diabolical, for the sole reason that His messengers pierce their fickle and carnal hearts with anointed truth.

When they speak harsh rebukes to God’s messengers, they are speaking against Him. Condemning God’s messengers is as condemning the message and the One who sent it. It is as rejecting His righteous authority. Click here to continue reading.

This is Not a Review of “The Shack”

Cedric Fisher

By Cedric Fisher
Truth Keepers

I’m not going to write a review or detailed critique of William P. Young’s book or movie both titled The Shack. The reason is because there are already a number of good reviews available. You can access plenty of information on Lighthouse Trails Research. What I will do is present a warning.

First, I want to point out that there are some heresies and deceptions that one should not need a review to recognize and reject. The televangelist selling God’s favor, which increases with the size of the donation, is one. Another one is a preacher smoking pot or getting drunk on video while claiming that it is the way to get closer to God. One more is the preacher that declares that God has entrusted only him with new revelation essential to understanding the Bible. Likewise, does anyone really need to inform a true Christian about what is wrong with The Shack?

Now for the warning. God’s word declares that the end times will be very dangerous for Christians. There will be many spiritually wicked individuals masquerading as servants of God. They will present heresies and other lies for the purpose of deceiving God’s people. However, some professing Christians declare that it is impossible for Christians to be deceived and apostatize. If that is true, then who is Satan deceiving and who is apostatizing? The lost are already deceived and cannot apostatize from faith that they do not have.

Obviously, the deception has to be very clever. If it were disguised as an orange, it would appear exactly as a genuine orange. Therefore, we can expect lies disguised exactly as truth. However, if people accept enough false oranges loaded with a mind-numbing drug, it stands to reason that false oranges will no longer be needed. Then whatever is being disguised by the falseness will be offered without pretense. Click here to continue reading.

THE CALLING OF THE CHURCH

By Harry Ironside

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1·3)

I. THE FOUNDING OF THE CHURCH

IN VIEW of the exhortation of our text above, we naturally raise the question, What is the vocation wherewith we are called? And that leads us to turn to various portions of the New Testament to consider what the Spirit of God has been pleased to reveal concerning that marvelous society to which every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ has been joined by the Holy Spirit.

What is the church? How do we become members of the church? What are our responsibilities as belonging to the church? What is the destiny of the church of God?

I want to be very elementary and shall begin at the beginning by turning to the first place in the New Testament, where we read of the church—Matthew 16. Here, immediately after Peter’s remarkable confession, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” we read:

[A]nd Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven, and I say also unto thee that thou art Peter [thou art a piece of rock] and upon this rock [I take it this rock refers to the blessed truth that Christ is the Son of God] I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:17-18)

Notice, “I will build My church.” Observe, our Lord Jesus Christ did not here speak of something that was in the process of building. He did not say, “I am building My church,” or “I have been building My church,” as though it had been in course of construction either throughout the centuries before Christ came into the world or during the time He was on earth as man, but He spoke of the building of the church as something still in the future.

The gates of hell [that is, the gates of the unseen world] shall not prevail against it.

I get great encouragement from that statement of my Lord, that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church that Jesus builds. Sometimes people are very pessimistic regarding the future of the church. They see atheism and unbelief rolling in like a flood and the cults and isms appearing like mushrooms, and they are afraid that the true faith of the church of God will be overthrown by all these things, but we have the assurance of the Lord Jesus Christ that so long as the church of God shall remain in this scene, it will remain undefeated.

An army does not take the gates of the city out to war with it, and the church does not sit on a hill and the gates of hell surround her, but the church of God is a conquering spiritual army carrying on a battle against the powers of hell, and they shall not prevail against her. A right-thinking man does not shut his eyes to the signs of the times and will not be ignorant of Satan’s devices, but he knows that greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world, and the church of Jesus Christ will not retire from the scene a defeated company.

Here Christ called it “My church” for the first time. He was not speaking of any separate company. He was not speaking of any particular sect or denomination. He was speaking of the aggregate of the redeemed in this time of grace and called them “My church.”

Now let us look further: there were saints of God in the world from the beginning, right down to the time Jesus uttered these words. In a sense, these saints constituted churches. Stephen spoke of the people in the wilderness as a church, an assembly, but we must distinguish between any such companies and that unique company that Christ called “My church.” This church of which He spoke could not come into being until He had died on the Cross, had been raised from the dead, was received up into glory, and sent the Spirit down into the earth, which He did at Pentecost.

Matthew 18 records the next place Christ spoke of the church, and this time it is about discipline in the church, and it would apply just as well to the congregation of Israel. He used the word “church” here in a narrower sense than He did in chapter 16. He spoke of trespass:

[I]f thy brother trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone-if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more . . . if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church. (Matthew 18:15, 17)

This is not very often done now. The command is to tell it to the called out company, not to the whole world. The church here is not the aggregate of all the redeemed but a local company in any given place. We are not able to tell it to the whole church of Jesus, but, meeting with a company of believers in a given place, which company of Christian people is an assembly of saints, we should go to them and bring the matter before them, and they will act on behalf of their glorified Lord.

There is not one other word regarding the church in Matthew.

II. THE CHURCH AS THE BODY OF CHRIST

The apostle Paul was the one chosen of God to unfold the teaching of the church as the body of Christ in the largest way. He was not the only one to whom this truth was revealed, but he received the largest revelation (see Ephesians 3:1-6). Paul did not write by consultation with other believers, not even with the original twelve, but he received his message as a direct revelation from Christ. The word rendered “mystery” here means, not something peculiarly difficult and mystical, but a sacred secret. The mystery Paul speaks of is something not found in the Old Testament, not proclaimed by the former prophets; it is something new. It was revealed to a body of holy apostles and prophets. In God’s due time, it was opened up to the other members of the apostolic band and those associated with, them. It is the special truth of what God is doing in this age, taking people from among the Jews and Gentiles and uniting them by the Spirit’s baptism into one body. Into what body? The body that had been formed on the Day of Pentecost.

There was no other body into which the Gentiles could be brought.

“That the Gentiles should be made fellow heirs.” Fellow heirs with whom? Those Jews who were already converted. They entered into partnership with the Jews. Paul said, “whereof I was made a minister [of this].” It was to tell the Gentiles who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ that they are no longer strangers and foreigners to the covenant promises of God but are made fellow citizens with the Jews of the household of God.

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. (Ephesians 3:8)

I like the humility of Paul. What a lowly place this mighty man of God was willing to take!

The implication is clear: the Gospel had already been preached among the Jews and many had believed, and now in a special sense it was given to him to go out and proclaim it among the Gentiles that they might enter into the same testimony and have the same blessing.

To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.(Ephesians 3:10)

This is unto angelic hosts, unfallen beings, who look on redeemed men and women and learn the riches of Christ.

Here are saints on earth, since the Cross and Pentecost—many Jews, others Gentiles, come to the same common ground, God meeting them all as sinners approaching Him through the redeeming blood of Christ, which are cleansed from every stain, given a new life and nature, and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit Himself, and then everyone is linked up by the Spirit with their risen, glorified Head in Heaven; and so intimate is that union that they are as close to Him as the members of my body are to each other.
The principalities and powers looking down on the world and seeing the work of God here, that is, grace picking up sinful Jews and Gentiles and making them one in Christ, are the angels who glorify God for the work He is doing, and they learn the wisdom of God. This is what God is doing now. This body relationship is spoken of in Ephesians 4:

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16)

There you have this corporate union with Christ. He is the Head, and every believer is occupying some place in that body.

I do not know what part of the body I am. The members of my physical body do not know what part they are. The consciousness is in the head; so with the spiritual body, the consciousness is in the Head up yonder, and He knows what each one is placed there for. My brethren, what a wonderful thing it is for each member to be in good working order! If one member of our body is not functioning right, the whole body suffers, and so Scripture says of Christ’s body, if one member suffers all the members suffer with it, and if one be honored, all the members rejoice together. If you are not going on with God and living for Him, if your life is not a godly life, you are like some member of the body out of order and failing to function. If you are living for God and walking with God, you may not be conscious of it, but you are a help and blessing to all the other members.

III. THE CHURCH AS A BUILDING

We are not only pictured in this wonderful epistle as members of the body of Christ, but in Ephesians 2, we are pictured as each one part of a building. Here we have our heavenly citizenship. Here is a new household:

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)

Believers constitute that spiritual house.

Notice how he used the word “fitly.” In chapter 4, “fitly joined together,” and in chapter 2, “fitly framed together.”

A master builder is very careful that every stone fits properly, that every board is properly fitted together; otherwise the beauty and perhaps the safety is marred. It is the work of the Spirit of God to fitly frame the building together. Peter speaks of us as lively stones come to the Living Stone and thus are builded together into an house of God.

IV. THE CHURCH AS THE BRIDE OF CHRIST

Ephesians 5:22-27, 30, 32:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 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 . . . For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones . . . This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Here, he has changed the figure. You do not sanctify and cleanse your body to present it to yourself; it is part of you. He has changed the figure from the body to the bride, and I dare say as he penned these words, he thought of Hosea when he was commanded by God to do something that was most repugnant, to illustrate God’s dealings with Israel, and typically the Lord’s dealing with the church. He had to go to the slave market to buy his wife, and the Spirit pointed her out. She was vile, filthy, contaminated, and a slave, but he took her and cleansed and clothed her, and presented her to himself, and yet she was not faithful to him, and he had to buy her back again. This is a picture of Israel. She is called the bride of God, and later on the wife. These are just symbols. Christ has to cleanse the church in order to present her to Himself a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle. It is a figure of a wife presented to her husband.

[W]e are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.

This reminds us that when Adam received Eve, he said, “she is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” Paul is now quoting (in verse 31) from Genesis. Paul is here telling us that the mystery of marriage illustrates the relationship between Christ and the church.

We have seen the church then as a redeemed company, as the body of Christ, as a glorious building in which the Spirit of God dwells, and as the bride soon to be presented to the Lamb, Who died to redeem her. That in itself speaks of her destiny.

V. THE CALLING OF THE CHURCH

What, then, is the calling of the church of God?

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4- 7)

Sitting in heavenly places does not mean we are now sitting together “with” Christ Jesus.

Now we are sitting “in” Christ, not “with.” “With” Christ will be our happy portion by and by when Christ comes and takes us home, that in the ages to come He may show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. Show means that He might exhibit. The church, then, called out of sin and darkness, redeemed to God with the precious Blood of Christ, and linked to the Head with the Spirit, will be one with Christ throughout all the ages to come, and so whatever experiences our Lord may be called upon to go through we shall go through with Him. We shall reign with Him and be with Him when He is all and in all. Our portion will be with Him through all eternity.

Let us, therefore, walk worthy of the calling wherewith we are called.

(You may read more by Harry Ironside at www.harryironside.com.)


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