Dear Man Made
Which is riskier: Leaving
church or staying?
Abandoning the accountability of an earthly spiritual leader is not
biblical. Paul was admonishing the early churches to get back to their
"first love" and strengthen the church. Paul never wanted a church to
disband, but to grow. Church is not just for you, you know. Those who
don’t know the Lord or are new to the faith need strong believers to
help them grow.
When I was new to the faith, I was on my own and had no one around to
help me grow. Lone Rangers who pick up (or pick off) these people are
potentially very dangerous. Maybe. Maybe it works for you right now, but
there is just not a New Testament model of what you are doing, and Lone
Rangers have a history of miserable failure.
You told me that your wife and kids are your "accountability partners,"
but that’s a cop-out. You are their biblical leader; they are not your
peers. Who will confront you when you get off track biblically? A
"spiritual friend" probably is not someone who is confrontational.
Leaders and teachers are going to be judged more strictly. Without a
non-partisan earthly boss, you will get yourself in trouble. You are a
sinful man (just as I am) who will get off track without this authority.
I myself have seen those who abandon the church and seem to thrive
temporarily, but always go off on some weird non-biblical rabbit trail
and become ineffective for Christ, or even dangerous. Satan wants us to
abandon the church setting and has "picked off" many of those who see
the failings of the church. Of course the church is imperfect, because
you and I are a part of it. But we are called biblically to make it
strong and to glorify God, not trash it.
I have been burned by the church badly in the past. But that does not
cause me to abandon it. In fact, I have learned much and God has been
graceful. He gives me insight and ability to be the person I need to be
within His church to make it and others around me stronger in Him.
Remember, this is not all about you.
Dear Man-Made Church Defender,
First of all, it was not Paul who admonished the early churches to get
back to their first love, which you claim to be synonymous with,
"strengthening the church." The verse you refer to is Revelation 2:4,
and it was written by John to an ecclesia yet future. Even if you were
correct about who the letter was from and who it is was penned to, you
miss the purpose of it. In fact, the purpose is the opposite of what you
The ecclesia of Ephesus in Revelation is commended because: "You cannot
bear evil men, and you try those saying that they themselves are
apostles, and they are not, and you found them false; and you have
endurance, and you bear because of My name, and are not wearied."
You seem oblivious of the fact that false apostles are found in the
Christian church today, and that Satan is being transfigured today into
a messenger of light, and his servants as dispensers of righteousness (2
Cor. 11:13-14). I wrote of two demonic teachings put forth by the
Christian church today: eternal torment and salvation by human will
power (free will). You did not comment. Are you not impressed by the
fact that demonic teachings are today being forwarded by the Christian
church? I cannot imagine such a non-reaction as yours. No shock? No
dismay? No discomfort in the least? Your apathy is alarming. I assume by
this that you are either swallowing these doctrines of demons whole or
that you just don’t care. Here’s your case: You’re either deceived or
spiritually ambivalent—neither is a commendable thing.
The ecclesia of Revelation 2:4 is, at first, neither deceived nor
careless. Rather, it tests and tries those who claim to be apostles,
finding many of them false. You do not do this. Rather, you consider
human organization and hierarchy more important than truth. But the
ecclesia of Revelation slips back into non-critical acceptance of
apostolic wannabees. For this, the spirit of God rebukes them. The
"first love" they are exhorted to return to is not "strengthening the
church," but testing those who claim apostolic authority.
I exhort you to begin this testing yourself. I exhort you to take a
harder look at your church’s doctrines; sniff them and seek their
source. Well, let me save you some trouble: the doctrines of eternal
torment and free will stink, and their relative source is Satan.
I had to chuckle when you wrote: "Satan wants us to abandon the church
setting." It’s precisely the opposite. Satan is delighted when people
join churches. Church is where all the institutionally trained,
seminary-produced preachers come from. Seminary is where the standard,
denominational, uncriticized, unanalyzed and darkest doctrines of Satan
get taught. It is where Satan continues to distribute his greatest feats
of deception, namely, eternal torment and salvation by human will power.
It is in church where people learn that salvation does not depend,
ultimately, upon the sacrifice of Christ, but upon the will of human
beings. It is in church where people learn that the love of God
miraculously includes the burning of fathers and mothers and sons and
daughters in eternal fire. It is in church where people learn to feel
proud and smugly possessive of their accomplishments for Christ. And you
say Satan wants us to abandon the church setting? Why would he? He
Today’s church setting is far from that which Paul spoke of in 1 Timothy
chapters 3 and 5, where you get your church accountability/spiritual
hierarchy texts. I exhort you to take a close look at the beginning of
chapter 4 of this chapter. There, you will hear Paul predicting a time
when people would be "withdrawing from the faith, giving heed to
deceiving spirits and the teachings of demons, in the hypocrisy of false
expressions." This occurred in Paul’s lifetime and continues today. In
fact, it occurred by the time Paul penned his second letter to Timothy
many years later.
What Paul calls "the pillar and base of the truth" in 1 Tim. 3:15 has
become the "great house" of 2 Tim. 2:20, which contains not only gold
and silver, but "wooden and earthenware also." I believe that, by the
time Paul writes 2 Timothy, the apostasy has set in, and the organized
ecclesia is no longer the pillar and base of the truth. The scriptures,
at that time, became the pillar and base of the truth, and it is the
scriptures that are able to make Timothy "wise for salvation through
faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 3:15); the scriptures,
not the church.
It is the scriptures that are able to keep me on track, and they do. I
am not blown about by every wind of teaching, and the reason is careful
study of and firm grasp upon scripture. Lone Rangers who study the Word
of God are far, far better off than brainwashed churchgoers blindly
following the blind.
You’re right. I did cop out when naming my wife and children as
accountability partners. I was speaking of life-accountability, not
necessarily accountability to God. In accountability to God, I can do no
better than naming Jesus Christ and the sacred scriptures as my
"accountability partners." If you require anything higher of me than
this—in this day of ecclesiastical apostasy—then that’s your problem. As
for me, I’m at peace.
Have you studied the scriptures carefully enough to show yourself
approved unto God? It is the scriptures that are able to make you wise
for salvation, not institutionally-trained human beings. You suffer the
same malady that the spirit rebukes the Ephesian ecclesia for in
Revelation 2:4: you uncritically accept demonic doctrines and those who
teach them. I exhort you to leave the man-made institutional assembly
and come under the tutelage and headship of the true ecclesia of Christ.
It has no outward organization, but it is bound together by something
far greater and more powerful: the spirit of God. You will be then
accountable, as I am, not to misled and unspiritual human beings, but to
Christ Jesus and the sacred scriptures, correctly translated. Get
yourself a Concordant Literal New Testament and study, study, study.
Nothing less than your spiritual well-being is at stake.
I wish the best for you.