No man or organized church stands between you and God. Is the stench of religion deterring you from a walk with God? Is there some man claiming the authority that belongs only to God in your life?
I want to deal with one of the deadliest threats there is to a walk with God. What I say here will be truly shocking to some and seem angry. At the beginning of His ministry, and again toward its close, Jesus went into the Temple, His Father’s House, and with a whip in his hand (John 2:15), drove out the livestock and the money changers and overturned their tables:
“Jesus entered into the temple of God, and drove out all of those who sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the money changers’ tables and the seats of those who sold the doves 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers!” Matt 21:12-13 WEB
I have little doubt that Jesus came across as angry in His righteous rebuke of the sacrilege He encountered. Doubtless the Temple officials were complicit, making sure that they got their cut of the take. Today, religion is big business. It has become a stench in the nostrils of God that goes undetected by those entangled in it simply because they have become used to it. How does the Lord Himself describe much of the current Church?
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing;’ and don’t know that you are the wretched one, miserable, poor, blind, and naked;” Rev 3:15-17 WEB (emphasis added)
Unfortunately, that stench is obvious to those in the world. They point and sneer derisively every time the hypocrisy comes to light; when a mega preacher is exposed as an adulterer or a shocking pattern of widespread molestations of little boys is uncovered among Catholic priests. It gives those truly following Jesus a black eye as they are tarred with the same brush.
I fear it deters many who would otherwise come to the Lord because they identify a walk with the Lord with that stench. Please forgive me if I offend your sensibilities as I rip the dressing off this purulent, draining, festering wound that is poisoning and killing so many.
There are a number of articles on this website, but I want this one to be the primary focus; the welcome mat of freedom; of a relationship with the Lord that comes freely; NO religious strings attached. I want to cut through all of the religious bulls**t that may have been putting people off from coming into a wonderful loving relationship with Jesus; whether you have been steering your own path through the secular, godless world, or trapped in a cult like the Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA), Catholic, Jehovah’s Witness, or Mormon church. It also applies to those coming from backgrounds that are Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, et al. That list of people-playing-church goes on and on tediously, and sadly.
I had a very religious upbringing. As a little kid, continuing up through my teens, I attended Sabbath School and Church every week, dressed in a suit. I also attended SDA schools from first grade up to two years of college. Somehow, through the power of God and despite that upbringing, I found a walk with Jesus and a life of peace and joy that those who have not found Him cannot imagine or comprehend.
In order to pursue that walk with God, I had to leave Adventism and every other form of religion behind. With my Godly wife, we have walked alone, bereft of fellowship for decades. Despite our love for God and desire to worship Him, or more accurately, because of it, we were unable to find a single church that we fit into. And here’s the wonderful, amazing, stunning truth: YOU DO NOT NEED TO JOIN ANY CHURCH TO HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LORD. No man or religion stands between you and the Lord.
A life of peace and happiness can be achieved without ever going near a church building. All that is required is that you accept Jesus. “Lord, save me” spoken with a sincere heart gets you through the door and that’s it! That’s all it takes to be saved and adopted into the family of God; eternally and irrevocably!
The focus of many of the articles on this website are aimed at people who, like I was, are trapped by religion. The predominant gospel preached in all of churchdom today is the “another gospel” of which Paul spoke in Galatians 1:6. It is always some deadly combination of faith plus works to earn salvation.
In the SDA Church, the cult that I was freed from, it is established doctrine that the blood of Jesus is, by itself, inadequate to save you. You must also be trying with all your might to keep all ten of the Ten Commandments. It is Adventists’ purported adherence to the Sabbath commandment that makes them special to God and the only group of people that qualify for salvation. Jehovah’s Witnesses require you to go door-to-door, witnessing. Catholics require you to attend Mass, go to confession and do penance. Judaism requires strict adherence to the Mosaic Law, Atheism that you hate God, and Climate Changers that you believe we are destroying the planet. Religion comes in many forms and it’s all bulls**t!
Every group of people who have come together throughout all of human history, seeking to worship the Lord, have been faced with the almost irresistible temptation to play church. Though a movement may have been birthed by people with a genuine love for God, they all inevitably decline into the religious forms, rituals and sacraments required by their particular slant on religion. It is these bogus requirements for salvation that distinguish one false church from another.
Let me reiterate how easy it is to follow Jesus. You may or may not know about the conversation Jesus had with one of the men, a thief, who was crucified next to Him. There were two thieves, and where one shouted at the Lord to curse God and die, the other, recognizing that He was the Son of God:
“He said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” 43 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:42-43 WEB
Bang! That’s all it took to get that reprobate through the gates into glory! That’s all it would take for you, or anyone, no matter how bad you think you may be; a simple, heartfelt profession of your faith.
If you are trapped in some strict religion, or soothing lukewarm church, come out of it! Wake up and walk with God. Shed the chains and encumbrances that have been heaped on you and walk away. Once you are truly saved, talk to your new BFF (best friend forever) Jesus continuously; any time you have a need or see something nice that He did for you. You don’t have to get on your knees; just talk. Learn to feed on His Word. Get yourself a version of the Bible that speaks plainly to you and enjoy the wealth of comfort, guidance and encouragement that it holds.
At the judgement, which anyone can avoid simply by accepting the Lord, as I have described, there will be millions of lovable, kind, concerned people who faithfully attended their church, temple or mosque who are standing in the rejected section, outraged that their pursuit of religion failed to win them a place in Heaven:
“Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’ 22 Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.’” Matt7:22-23 WEB (emphasis added)
Jesus’ response to them: “I never knew you.” They adhered to a bunch of requirements for works and completely missed out on the whole point; a loving, personal relationship with the Lord. There will be, at the same time, millions of formerly wicked, sinful people standing in the presence of the Lord, simply because they chose Him.
The time is growing very short, very quickly! Even if the Lord does not come in my lifetime, although I am confident that He will, your clock might be stopped today or tomorrow by a bus, a car crash, a heart attack or brain aneurism. The day to accept that amazingly free gift is always today; the time always right now. It’s incredibly easy and comes with no strings attached.
When you accept Him, His Spirit enters inside of you, becoming a part of you. He goes to work, changing and perfecting you. You begin to act like one of the Lord’s sheep because you are being transformed into one by His power, not your own effort. Relax, He will do the driving. He will sustain you, even unto death.
If you are one who has come to Jesus in the coming Tribulation, you will likely pay for your faith with your life. Be encouraged. In the same way that He appeared with the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, He will be with you through the trial and the hand of the enemy can only send you to a place of rest and reward:
“Be faithful to death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Rev 2:10 WEB
Having come to the Lord, will you from that point be free of all pain, financial worry, all stress and distress? Nope. But all those things will serve to bring you closer to Jesus. You will never suffer needlessly or without some eternal dividend.
“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 WEB (emphasis added)
He’s talking about you there. You always have the Lord to take your cares to. Lay your needs and worries on Him, because He cares for you. His promises to provide for all your needs are absolute and irrevocable.
You will never be rejected for sinning. He came to save sinners, not punish them. It was for you that He became a human being, lived perfectly, and died horribly. That was for you.
I am reluctant at this point to add anything that will detract from the sublime simplicity of the Gospel of Grace; that direct and unmistakable path to salvation. But to prepare you for the lies that the enemy will inevitably throw at you, some clarification is in order.
Will you miraculously stop sinning after you accept Him? Not as long as you are in this body of flesh. You will be tempted to doubt His power to save you because of your willful, persistent sinful nature. Believe in Him and be patient, because He is patient. He knows you’re a sinner, that you will even choose to sin at times, and has made a provision for that. While we are being renovated, He covers us with His perfection by His blood. He pleads for us before the throne of His Father, conferring His righteousness on us:
“24 But he, because he lives forever, has his priesthood unchangeable. 25 Therefore he is also able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, seeing that he lives forever to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:24-25 WEB (emphasis added)
HE IS ABLE TO SAVE!
As many as I love, I reprove and chasten. Rev 3:12 WEB
The Lord is also faithful to chasten you if needed. That’s a part of the process of perfecting you. For example: Regardless of any disobedience, your child is always your child; never rejected. Any parent who does not discipline a child does not love that child. In His boundless love, the Lord will transform you into that perfect creation which will live in His presence for all eternity. The process is a mysterious one; above our ability to understand it. The burden on us though is to trust Him. It is faith that He rewards, not works. He transforms you; you cannot transform yourself! As the new creation grows, the old, sinful nature withers and dies.
“God deals with you as with children, for what son is there whom his father doesn’t discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have been made partakers, then are you illegitimate, and not children. 9 Furthermore, we had the fathers of our flesh to chasten us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they indeed, for a few days, punished us as seemed good to them; but he for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness. 11 All chastening seems for the present to be not joyous but grievous; yet afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been exercised thereby.” Hebrews 12:7-11 WEB (emphasis added)
Christian fellowship is a splendid, joyous thing, when you find it. The Lord said: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” Matt 18:20 WEB (emphasis added) You want that. The Lord inhabits the praises of His people, and the opportunity to raise your voice in worship, along with other believers is the closest thing to standing before His throne in Heaven that we can experience while we remain on Earth.
Consider also this direction from the Apostle Paul:
“Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good works, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as you see the Day approaching.” Heb 10:24 WEB (emphasis added)
While this may seem to contradict the recommendation to leave your old dead church behind, these scriptures are not referring to old, dead churches. Those edifices can no more feed you spiritually than smearing mud and pig blood on yourself in a pagan ritual and hopping enthusiastically around an open fire in a jungle somewhere.
This message is not a condemnation of church fellowship, but an invitation to a relationship with the Lord, unhindered by religion. By avoiding false religion or leaving it behind, you open the door to the true fellowship that always includes Him.
Like rare jewels, I believe some small churches may have just what the Lord desires. Though there will always be a mix of believers and unbelievers, the true faith holds sway in those fellowships. Only God knows for certain, but He will lead you if you let Him.
If the Lord leads you, leave your church in the dust. If there are other believers there, invite them to come with you. Leave your old fearful, frustrating and painful life behind and become a part of the family of God.
- Adapted from #91237724/Jankovoy-adobe stock.com
- Don’t Mess With Israel by Greg Lauer @alittlestrength.com
- Adapted from #70644732/kbose-adobe stock.com