Since God created man in His own image (Gen.1:27), every man seems to represent God, in some way. This is why it is so easy to think that popular approval is a sign of righteousness, and that popular disapproval is a sure sign of wickedness. We naturally suspect that worldly success and the approval of men also indicate the approval of God; and that because, there is a "standard of decency" that almost all men are willing to acknowledge. There are universal standards for our behavior, which are not only part of the Judaeo-Christian heritage, but are also well known among the heathen: Which shew the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another (Rom.2:15). In every society, this "universal code of common decency" so closely approximates the Ten Commandments, that it seems safe to presume that only One Law from One God is actually being acknowledged and enforced by the men of this world. In every society, disrespect of parents, murder, adultery, theft, lying, and blasphemy are punished. Because so many have learned to profit from conformity to the common standards for "public decency", even those who are NOT motivated by religious or ethical convictions are willing to conform; if only to escape from the sure consequences of offending the majority.
The almost universal emulation of the so-called historic virtues, such as civility, generosity, loyalty, tolerance, and the willingness to work, has, in the minds of many, divorced these things from any necessary connection to religion. We see apparent displays of these virtues in all sorts of people: even among those who don't believe in God at all. Thus, when we hear the Apostle say, Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous (1 John 3:7), we are tempted to believe that even those who do not believe in Jesus Christ ARE, in some way, righteous, as long as they "do" what commonly passes for righteousness! This idea, that there is a sort of "Godliness" and "righteousness" which is not necessarily connected to any PARTICULAR religion, denies that ANY particular religion or description of God has any ultimate significance. All religions, then, become superfluous, except as they may be used as props for these universal standards of righteousness. Thus, you will often hear people who are out to promote some political or social agenda, quote from the Bible to lend authority to their cause, even if they reject and utterly despise most of what the Bible says.
And then, because you don't wish for anyone that has any power over you to cast off all obligation to be friendly, tolerant, and generous; you hesitate to challenge their motivations in these things; for you are more concerned about HOW THEY ACT than WHY THEY DO WHAT THEY DO. You know that there are those who appear righteous unto men, but within are full of hypocrisy and iniquity (Matt.23:28); and you have even judged some people as such, even though you would never dare say such a thing to anyone who has the power to help or hurt you. And if your heart begins to accuse you of dishonesty and cowardice, you can always justify yourself by remembering that Jesus said, Judge not, lest ye be judged (Matt. 7:1). This statement is then "fetched aside" from the rest of the Bible, and those who love the praise of men more than the praise of God (John 12:43) feel justified about closing their eyes to all sorts of wickedness, in the presumption that they are being "righteously merciful" when they do so. Should you dare to suggest to them that this "tolerance" of their's amounts to the tacit approval of evil, in which they are also guilty by complicity, THE MASK OF CIVILITY FALLS OFF, and there is no more "tolerance" for you. And you, who are reading this, know exactly what I am talking about.
This optimistic presumption, that whatever is highly esteemed among men (Luke 16:15) is also "good" in God's sight, ignores the obvious reality of the world, AND denies the testimony of the Bible. Everywhere you look, you can see the exaltation of the wicked. The vile person, who is willing to wink at or justify immorality is called "liberal", and the churl (vain and greedy person) is said to be bountiful (Isaiah 32:5). Those who are rich or powerful in the world are surrounded by a gaggle of flatterers, who are willing to close their eyes to the worst of sins: having men's persons in admiration, for their own advantage (Jude 16). The notion that whatever "rises to the top" of society simply MUST be "good", is rooted in the belief that most men are good, or at least, that they wish to be "good"; but the Bible says:
|Romans.3:10.||...There is NONE righteous, no, NOT ONE:|
|11.||There is NONE that understandeth, there is NONE that seeketh after God.|
|12.||They are ALL gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is NONE that doeth good, no, NOT ONE.|
|13.||Their throat IS an open grave; with their tongues THEY HAVE used deceit; the poison of asps IS under their lips:|
|14.||Whose mouth IS full of cursing and bitterness:|
|15.||Their feet ARE swift to shed blood:|
|16.||Destruction and misery ARE in their ways:|
|17.||And the way of peace have they NOT known:|
|18.||There is no fear of God before their eyes.|
The Bible casts this awful inditement upon ALL the children of men (Psalm 14:2); and those who are tempted to see any "exceptions" in the people around them for their own advantage, ought then toconsider just how much more of the Bible they are willing to repudiate in order to escape persecution. For certainly, the reason why so many professing Christians will not face up to what Jesus said about the fate of The Righteous in this present world, is because they have no certainty about spiritual things, and are therefore afraid to risk the loss of ANY present comfort or advantage for Christ's sake and the gospel's (Mark 8:35). Jesus said, How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? (John 5:44) But this statement can have no meaning whatsoever if the approval of men is a "sign" of Godliness.
|Luke.16:15||And Jesus said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men, is abomination in the sight of God.|
Nothing could be more frustrating to the professing Christian whose life is filled with worldly ambition than these words of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We all understand what is highly esteemed among men: the sparkling personality that everyone adores, and that can enlist the aid of every man; the good looks that afford an unfair advantage in an evil world; the prestige that allows a man to mock at his critics and get away with arrogance; and the decorations of wealth, which are so often taken as evidence of virtue and wisdom. But since we are told that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness (1 John 5:19), it ought to be obvious that popularity is a SURE SIGN that one has compromised his faith. Jesus said:
|John.15:19||If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.|
There is nothing ambiguous in this statement. IF you are of (like) the world, the world will love you. IF you are of (like) Christ, the WORLD WILL HATE YOU. You are deceiving yourself if you then say, "Well, I GUESS the world MUST hate me then." If the world hates you, then the world will prove that it hates you, because all that will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall (most assuredly will) suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12).
Nothing is more ridiculous than that spectacle of church-folks who try to point out some little sub-group on the fringes of society and call it "THE WORLD". The World is ALWAYS the majority. Our Lord Jesus Christ said:
|Matt.7:14||. . .straight (hard to get through) is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life; and few there be that find it.|
Few means a very small percentage. The True Church ever was, and ever shall be a little flock (Luke 12:32) in comparison to the rest of the world.
The WORLD, then, is not only whatever constitutes The MAJORITY; it is the ORGANIZED MAJORITY. Of the 4 Greek words that are translated to "world" in the King James Bible, the most common is COSMOS. The other 3 words mean "earth", "inhabited land", and "age". COSMOS, a word that is in common usage today, means SYSTEM. When COSMOS is translated to "world" it always means THE SYSTEM OF THE WORLD; or, The World System. It doesn't take any stretching of the meaning of COSMOS to see that what Our Lord Jesus Christ and all the writers of the New Testament meant whenever they used this word "world" was what is popularly called "THE ESTABLISHMENT".
The Establishment is the SOCIETY OF THE MAJORITY; including the secular governments, and all the institutions that are subservient to and cooperative with the goals and purposes of THE MAJORITY. The Establishment includes the educational system, the police, the medical community, the postman, and the fireman. These all work together to advance the aims of THE STATE, and THE STATE always personifies the will and wisdom of the majority. Even when the reigns of government are in the hands of a brutal tyrant, that tyrant is the product of his own society: they allowed him to live and proceed without correction until he came to power. The churches and their leaders that make common cause with these institutions are also part of The Establishment. They WORK TOGETHER, and they COOPERATE with each other: THEY ARE THE ESTABLISHMENT. This is all the more obvious when you consider just how much the churches have gone into the business of turning out "good little citizens" instead of Saints who are hated by the world, and not of the world (John 17:14).
|Luke.6:26||Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.|
Of course, "all men" doesn't mean every single man that lives on the earth. "All men" in this context, is just the majority of those who know about you. This includes both the religious and the non-religious people with whom you have to do in your daily life. If you are the "darling" of society you obviously do not stand for Christ. The approval of the godless is a SURE SIGN that you are JUST LIKE THEM. The "godless" are all those who do not serve the Lord Christ (Col. 3:24). Serving the Lord Christ is not to be equated with either religious profession or church attendance, but is a matter of active and public obedience to the teachings of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who said, . . .why call ye Me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? (Luke 6:46)
And then, the Bible plainly declares that,
|1John.3:1||Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him (Jesus) not.|
Oh! How the carnal and ambitious among us seek after the world's recognition of their "saintliness". They love the uppermost seats at feasts, and the chief seats in the church buildings, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men Rabbi, Rabbi (teacher, teacher) (Matt. 23:6-7). Many Christians will try to certify their "testimony" by being inoffensive, mild mannered, and inconspicuous; BUT, by doing so they just "blend in" with the world. There are plenty of PUBLICLY MORAL and SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE people who do not live for Jesus Christ, and you do no service to the Lord by looking and acting just like them. I am afraid that you just have to face it: all that will live Godly in Christ Jesus SHALL suffer persecution (2 Tim.3:12).
|Matt.10:25||It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his Lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub (Lord of the Flies), how much more shall they call them of His household?|
If you are of His household, the world will not be eager to award you fine titles and honors. If the people around you, one and all, recognize and honor you as a "man of God"; then to them, you represent the god of this world (1 Cor. 4:4). You represent the "god" that The World believes in, and the world loves his own.
And now here we are in 1991, and the pulpits of Christendom are regularly occupied by people who are there for the wrong reasons. When you turn on religious television you are treated to a ridiculous parade of muscle men, movie stars, baseball players, and business tycoons: these have all become now the "experts" on how to live a victorious Christian life. No one seems to care that in order for these "idols" of society to get to their place of prominence in The World, that "the world" had to "love" them. Remember, Jesus said: the world will love it's own.
|Psalm.74:4||Thine enemies roar in the midst of thy congregations; they set up their ensigns for signs.|
|5.||A man was famous according as he had lifted up axes upon the thick trees.|
This ridiculous picture of the congregation holding some tree chopper in stupid admiration because he was the top tree chopper is a perfect picture of modern Christendom; except, the people that are admired in our churches today are even more ludicrous. SPORTS HEROS are our new tree choppers, and nothing could be more vain and pointless than sports. At least the tree chopper gets some useful work done, while the professional athlete accomplishes nothing of any practical value for anyone but himself. To roar in this context is to speak boldly, and with authority. Christendom has such an appetite for "endorsements" from these glamorous worldlings that they get "all-a-titter" if some guy that spent his whole life in bodily exercise that profiteth little (1 Tim. 4:8) condescends to speak to their churches. Their ensigns are their trophies, titles, and awards: these become their "signs" of spiritual superiority. THUS, worldly fame and approval in things that are meaningless in eternity are held up before the congregations, as if they conferred the right to speak for God. It's truly a sick situation, though not surprising to me. Entertainment and religion have a lot in common in these days. THINK ABOUT IT.
Another Sunday morning: millions of people will now put on special clothes that they think will make them look more spiritual, and run off to what will finally amount to a "pep-rally", followed by a dramatic performance; full of sound and fury; whose purpose is to confirm and motivate "the home team": their own church group. And of course, no church-meeting would be complete without a stage- show; in which their children and their friends get to display how well they can sing or play the drums. The notion that drives all this revelry is the belief that God is pleased with an uproar, and that when they have achieved sufficient fervor, God must pay attention and reward them with something they call, "the Spirit". Little thought is given to the fact every other church in town seems to be able to get this "same spirit" in their "pep-rally", no matter what their doctrines are. THINK ABOUT IT.
On the same Sunday, millions more will gather round the TV set and "root for the home team", and of course: it's a big bummer if "Big Joe" the sports hero doesn't score or the team loses. In either case, as spectators, neither the church members nor the sports fans really have much to do with these affairs. They have no intention to actually "do" any of the things they are so ready to shout about. They are content to let someone else do all the "doing", while they feel like they have been part of it all by doing the "cheering". It's just like watching an adventure story on television: they have RISKED NOTHING, they have DONE NOTHING, but they "felt" everything. After the show is over, they return to the petty struggle of their daily lives, feeling like heros and survivors. "Big Joe" goes home, feeling like he has accomplished some great thing; when all he has actually done is get into a fight with another man over a rubber ball: the preacher goes home with a feeling of significance as well, even if all he has done is flatter his audience for applauding his "performance". In both cases, they have made a "performance" for which they received applause. The people who got so excited at the football game are not changed or improved by their participation in the "big event". If the people in the church do not repent of their habitual sins or demonstrate an increased willingness to forsake all (Luke 14:33) for Christ's sake, it's the same thing.
The Bible tells us to,
|Prov.24:1||Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them.|
BUT, just what is an evil man? I guess that depends on how important religion is to you. If all that matters to you is whether or not a man is PUBLICLY MORAL and SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE, then all the evil men must be in the jails and the slums: anyone who openly despises the popular standards of civility and decency will not remain popular for long. It is possible, you know, for someone to "treat you like a king" (for their own advantage), even while they disregard and despise your religion.
|John.4:23||But the hour cometh, and now is, when the TRUE WORSHIPPERS shall worship the Father in [living contact with the] Spirit and in [obedience to the] truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.|
BUT: all it takes to get into the pulpits of our churches today is a lot of worldly fame plus a little bit of religious profession. When the "darling" of the Godless world condescends to dribble a little of his fleshly greatness on the church, no one puts him through any interrogation to see if he, and the church he addresses, really agree doctrinally. Should anyone else, who is not a "celebrity", seek permission to address their church, he must first pass a "doctrine test", or in some way prove that he can be depended on to stick to the party line. Then, after the "big hero" has spoken a couple of inane cliches like, "I always pray before the game" or "Isn't God good?" they clap their hands off and pretend that it's OH, SO PROFOUND! And if there is any other thing which can get you into the pulpit without having to pass a "doctrine test" first, it's the ability to dish out:
|Phil.3:13||...but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,|
|14.||I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.|
There is another way to get into the pulpits of Christendom without being a worldly BIG-SHOT: all you have to do is be a BIG SINNER. The EX-crowd gets a big audience today. Ex-drug addict. Ex-whoremonger. Ex-bank robber. Ex-Satanist. Ex-Mafia. EX- MURDERER. THINK ABOUT IT. There is a great crowd of EX-BIG SINNERS making the rounds among the churches today. They are not invited just to say "I was lost but now I'm found": NO, the congregations hunger to hear all sorts of "adventure stories" about things that it is a shame even to speak of (Eph. 5:12). These EX- MEN make a career out of foaming out their own shame (Jude 13). They wander from church to church, boasting about how miraculously they survived, while constantly committing outrageous sins. They tell dramatic stories about their "wild nights" of drunkenness and immorality. They lead us through evil conspiracies, gunfights, daring escapes from the police, and the times when they "had it all" while living in luxury and decadence. It is not their present testimony to Christ that is envied; but their sinful past. THIS IS "SANCTIFIED" PORNOGRAPHY. The audience laps up all this moral and spiritual abomination like thirsty dogs, as they get to VICARIOUSLY join with this "star" in his life of lust, greed, and pride. This just goes to show that if they (the audience) weren't such cowards, they would like to do a little "big-sinning" for themselves.
The worst part of this ADMIRATION OF THE WORLDLY BIG-SHOT and THE BIG SINNER is the effect that it has on the young people in the church. THINK ABOUT IT! The children in these churches are surely left with the impression that the BEST way to become a BIG-TIME PREACHER is to become a basketball player, or a rich man, or a REALLY BIG SINNER first. THINK ABOUT IT!!!!!!!!! But then of course, the surest way to get popular permission to "speak for God" is to produce some "paper credentials".
|2Cor.3:1||. . .or need we, as some others, letters of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?|
Now I am really going to "poke at the nerve"; for PAPER CREDENTIALS are nothing other than diplomas and licenses. Never in the Bible does any one of God's spokesmen ever certify his divine authority by producing or referring to some piece of paper. All a diploma means is that one has memorized enough answers to pass a test and had enough money to go to school. Of course, if one goes to a "Bible College", one must also learn how to SING THE PARTY LINE in order to make a "career" from it. AND, what is a license? Who, or what, gives a man permission and authority to speak for God? How is it, that someone who has a license to practice medicine or law is also regarded as an authority in spiritual matters? Does six years of education that are invested in one's own economic prospects make one more spiritual? Does having a license to practice law prove that one has divine light? Does a PAPER LICENSE from some denominational schism grant divine authority? Once again: carnal and worldly accomplishments are held up for the admiration of the Church. That which is highly esteemed among men, is ABOMINATION in the sight of God. But who is listening? Are you?
|James.4:4||Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God.|
The friendship of the world is the favor and approval of the Godless society; the ESTABLISHMENT. Those, who while claiming to be Christians, are seeking to keep the favor of men by refusing to insist on THE ABSOLUTE NECESSITY OF A TRUE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, are committing ADULTERY against Christ. You can only obtain the favor of the ESTABLISHMENT at a price; you must serve their purposes AND, you must COMPROMISE your preaching.
THINK ABOUT IT! The legalist preacher will thunder anathemas against cigarette smokers and beer drinkers from the pulpit, BUT, if that same preacher gets to have lunch with the mayor, and the mayor smokes. . . . .well, you know what I mean. I have heard many a Protestant preacher declare that one cannot be a member of any Lodge like the Masons and be saved. YET, these "preachers" fail to remember this if they get to see the President; most of our Presidents have been members of these "secret societies"; BUT THEY WOULD NEVER DARE CONDEMN THE PRESIDENT TO HIS FACE!
HYPOCRISY is really the only word that describes all this. These "preachers" are careful to distinguish between the weak and the powerful in how they handle people. If one is low on the totem pole, the "preacher" is quick to condemn or ignore him. On the other hand, if one is a BIG-SHOT in the world; and especially in the government; IT'S AMAZING how "broad minded" they can become. Their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having mens persons in admiration because of advantage (Jude 16). Those who are ambitious for worldly honor and privilege know who to flatter and who they can afford to insult. No matter how religious you claim to be and no matter how saintly someone else thinks you are, if you play this STEPPING STONE game with the ESTABLISHMENT, you are the enemy of God. In all of the 4000 years of Bible history only 2 Godly men made it to the top in a secular government: Joseph and Daniel. Neither one of these men ever compromised themselves to get there, AND, neither one of these men had any ambition to get there. They were both promoted to their positions by the providence of God. In the story of Daniel you can see how he constantly risked not only his position, but also his very life, in order to be FAITHFUL TO GOD.
|1John.2:15||Love not the world (ESTABLISHMENT), neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in Him.|
|16.||For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.|
|17.||And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.|
During the 1600's a fellow named John Bunyan was tried and imprisoned for PREACHING WITHOUT A LICENSE. While he was in prison, he wrote what was (at least until recently) the 2nd largest selling book in the history of the world. Pilgrim's Progress was an allegory to the Christian life; full of symbolic characters and places. One of those places was called VANITY FAIR. VANITY FAIR was a town; rather like a modern tourist trap, and it had all the atmosphere and trappings of a carnival. The hero of the book, "Christian", barely made it through that town, because in it were all the sinful pleasures, vain amusements, and pompous grandeur of the doomed world (ESTABLISHMENT).
I saw this same place in a vision many years ago. Both sides of the main street were haunted by hawkers and salesmen, who wanted me to turn aside from the path to look at everything from nude women to new cars, to 3 headed goats. I was so afraid that I wouldn't make it through this place because of my own lack of sanctification, that I refused to go until the ANGEL that attended me assured me that he would accompany me.
And now, at the end of the Church-Age, Christendom has become a religious version of VANITY FAIR. The only element from VANITY FAIR that is now lacking are the nude women, though there are enough so-called "Christian sex-counselors" around to make up for that. LOOK, FRIEND; at the procession of MOVIE STARS, ROCK STARS, ATHLETES, POLITICIANS, RICH MEN, and BIG SINNERS that are being paraded through our churches! The whole nauseating pomp and glory of the Godless multitude is exalted in front of the Congregation of Christ, and their accomplishments are made to be the standard of God's approval. A whole generation of children are being taught to love and admire people who reject and despise the teachings of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; and the classroom where they learn this LOVE OF THE WORLD is the local church!
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See Chapter 10: THE GREAT DREAM, part 1 of 2
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