One day as I stood behind the counter at the business where I was employed, a man sauntered in and leaned across the counter; and smiling with self satisfaction, he said, "I have one of those rare, blue and white, short shank, ultra cool, limited production gizmos that everyone wants, but no one can get any more." I assured him that he was correct: that he indeed had something that everyone else wanted, but couldn't get any more. He rested his elbow on the counter, looked away, and sighed, "If only I could get one of those BI-FANGLED THINGAMAJIGGERS for it!" He turned and stared me right in the face, and said, "I suppose you never even heard of a BI- FANGLED THINGAMAJIGGER!" I said, "I sure have! We have been selling them here for years. There's one hanging right there, and it's only $200.00". He BLUSHED with shame and dismay, and began to make small talk on some other subject until I was distracted by another customer. The moment I turned away from him, he slunk QUIETLY out the door. I never saw him again.
Thus it is with religious questions. Most of the people that I meet like to ask questions for which they DON'T want any answers. They have their "religion", but they justify their failure to GO ALL THE WAY with it because of this or that unanswered question. Should someone propose that there is an answer to their question, they become dismayed: for if their question be ANSWERED, there is nothing left to do but go ahead and complete what they PROFESS to want to do. They say they want to SERVE GOD; and they could IF their question was answered. They say they want to BE HOLY; and they could IF their question was answered. The say they want to be A GOOD TESTIMONY; and they could IF their question was answered. They say they want to BE LIKE JESUS; and they could IF their question was answered. They announce their willingness to preach Christ to others; and they WOULD if THEIR QUESTION WAS ANSWERED. They admit that they should change their ways; and they WOULD if THEIR QUESTION WAS ANSWERED. They declare that they are WILLING to take a firm stand for Truth; AS SOON AS THEIR QUESTION IS ANSWERED.
Well, in what you are about to read, you will find THE ANSWER to one of those "questions" that everyone in Christendom likes to ASK, but they DON'T really want TO BE ANSWERED. The God of Heaven is watching you.....to see if you are going to "slink away" to some other place where you're sure that NO ONE will be able to answer YOUR QUESTION. To YOU; O Pretenders to True Religion, I dedicate: THE HIRELINGS.
|Matt.7:21||Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven.|
|22.||Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, HAVE WE NOT PROPHESIED IN THY NAME? AND IN THY NAME HAVE CAST OUT DEVILS? AND IN THY NAME DONE MANY WONDERFUL WORKS?|
|23.||And then will I profess unto them, I NEVER KNEW YOU: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.|
May I presume that the God of Heaven has seen to it that the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ are preserved for us faithfully? May I presume, that if Jesus DIDN'T SAY SOMETHING, or even imply it, that we are not to attempt to "fill in" what may appear to be missing dialogue? With this in mind, carefully review that above statement which was made by Our Lord at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, AND NOTICE:
The scene is evidently the Day of Judgement. These men produce their "list" of things they "did for God" BEFORE they are rejected. There is no mention, or intimation of ANY PREVIOUS CONVERSATION. It is not reasonable, and insults God's Dignity to suggest, that AFTER these men are condemned, that they still are given time to argue and make excuses; therefore, it must be concluded that THEY SPOKE FIRST. The first thing they say is, "Lord, Lord". There are only 2 other times in the Bible where people are said to address Our Lord Jesus Christ as "Lord, Lord".
|Matt.25:11||Afterward also came the other virgins, saying, LORD, LORD, open to us.|
|12.||But He answered and said, Verily, I say unto you, I KNOW YOU NOT.|
|Luke.6:46||And why call ye Me, LORD, LORD, and do not the things which I say?|
NOTICE the similarity between these 2 verses, when taken together, to Matt. 7:21-23, which is quoted at the beginning of this article.
The fact that these are virgins, which are shut out of the Kingdom of God, corresponds to the claims made by the many to have done good works. In the case of the many, the appeal is made on the basis of services rendered. In the case of the virgins, there is a "presumption of acceptance" based on a claim to MORAL PURITY. Both groups have FAILED TO DO THE WILL OF GOD, even though they have "works of piety" and "moral purity" to their credit. They know who the Lord is, too, but even that does not help them. What we have here, are two types of false brethren whose claim to righteousness is going to be repudiated by Jesus Christ. He says, I never knew you.
The Day of Reckoning has arrived for the many in Matt. 7:21-23. After a lifetime of PROPHESYING, CASTING OUT DEMONS, and WONDERFUL WORKS; all done IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, these men are about to meet that Lord.
As "that Lord" approaches them, they are suddenly filled with fear, and begin to say Lord, Lord! This is an appeal for mercy. Permit my paraphrase: "I'm calling You the Lord aren't I? HAVEN'T I SAID THAT YOU ARE THE LORD? Didn't You say that if I admitted that You were the Lord that everything would be alright?" BUT STILL, they are filled with fear, and so they say, "Didn't I preach the gospel? Didn't I undo the works of evil? Didn't I bring credit and attention to your name?"
Let me ask you: Is this appropriate: for these men to recite the works of righteousness which WE have done (Titus 3:5) to Jesus Christ?
IS THIS THE JOYOUS GREETING to be given to Our Lord Jesus by those who profess that He is their SAVIOR, their RESCUER, and the SOURCE OF ALL THEIR HOPE? Is THIS, what you think to say when you finally meet Him, to Whom has been given all power in heaven and in earth? (Matt. 28:18) I HOPE NOT.
WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? There are many of them, and as I mentioned earlier, this word many usually means "most of them". MOST OF WHO?
I was recently informed that by one estimate, there are more than one billion professing Christians in the world. While there may be one billion souls in China, they are one billion relatively impoverished people. It turns out that the vast majority of the worlds wealth and weapons are held by the "Christian" nations. Think of all the land holdings, schools, church buildings, parsonages, cathedrals, universities, campgrounds, hospitals, orphanages, rest homes, publishing companies, television stations, radio stations, and whatever else there may be, that are OWNED by Institutional Christendom. Add to that the millions of businesses that are owned by professing Christians, who regularly give a portion of their income to their church. Add to that the ONE BILLION people, who regularly donate of their time and their money to "the cause". Let's be conservative, and say that each one of these people is only good for a "buck a week". That means that every week ONE BILLION DOLLARS is going to support and expand Christendom. Just one of the major U.S. Televangelists reported OVER 50 million dollars in income last year, so you can see, that what we are talking about here is BIG BIG MONEY. And where there is BIG MONEY, there is power. The population and the national budgets of the WHOLE OF NORTH AMERICA are less than the population and budget of Christendom. It seems as if Christianity has been an overwhelming success; AND IT HAS. No other group of any designation on the earth has this much real wealth. A UNIFIED Christendom could easily dominate the whole world.
Let's forget, if we can, for a moment, the one billion dollars that will come into Christendom this week alone, and remember that we are at the end of 2000 years of Christianity. This MIGHTY EMPIRE didn't appear overnight, but was built on the labors and generosity of MILLIONS AND MILLIONS of people for THOUSANDS of years. NOTHING in history can be compared to it: NOTHING in all the annals of humanity is even REMOTELY comparable to it, and until Our Lord comes to establish His Millennial Kingdom on the earth, NOTHING will ever be even near the equal to it.
|Ps.68:11||The Lord gave the word; great was the company of those that published it.|
Oh no! We are not done yet with extolling the MIGHTY EMPIRE that has arisen in the NAME of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If only I could present to you in one pile, all the Bibles that will be published this year alone! Do you have any idea what you would be looking at? Do you know, that the Bible IS, and HAS BEEN the BEST SELLING BOOK in all the world? Think about it. I have no figures before me, but I have been patronizing Christian bookstores for years, and watching what goes on there. People buy MORE THAN ONE BIBLE. I myself have bought scores of Bibles or New Testaments to give away. Every day, Bible societies send thousands of Bibles to foreign lands. The Gideon Bible Society alone has place MILLIONS and MILLIONS of Bibles in jails, prisons, hotels, and schools. The Bible is translated into more languages than any other book on earth. Every day, in the Christian bookstores, people pay $20, $30, $60, OH YES! And even $70, or even $80 for JUST ONE COPY of God's Bible! Even people who do not attend church or read the Bible still buy Bibles: for that wedding; for that christening; for that graduation. BELIEVE ME, MY FRIEND, the NUMBER ONE publishing business in the world always has been, and always will be, THE BIBLE BUSINESS. The worlds first widely circulated book was a Greek version of the Old Testament called the Septuagint. The first book to ever come off a printing press was a Bible. Forgive me, I just can't make my point clear enough. If you add to these MILLIONS of Bibles, the MILLIONS and MILLIONS of hymnals, Sunday school books, commentaries, reference works, doctrinal works, gospel tracts, and all those little booklets, pamphlets, newsletters, bulletins, magazines, and YES, this piece of paper that you are holding in your hand right now, you are beholding THE MIGHTIEST PUBLISHING AND PRINTING CONCERN ON THE FACE OF THE WHOLE EARTH. This months "best seller" is a flea, a nothing, compared to the Bible. The famous "classics" by Shakespeare, or Homer, or Dickens, or Hemingway, ARE NOTHING when compared to the Christian classics, like Pilgrims Progress, or the Confessions of St. Augustine, or even the works of lesser known Christian authors. Stand back, my friend, AND SHOW SOME RESPECT, for the GREATEST and MIGHTIEST EMPIRE that ever existed; and this great and mighty empire is CHRISTENDOM.
Should I stop now? Or should I go on to mention the money that is spent on Christmas and Easter? Let's not forget the greeting card business. Let's not forget the religious music business. Let's not forget the religious jewelry business (you have seen a few people wearing gold and silver crosses haven't you?) What about the knick-knack, art, and ceramic figure business? Am I done? Are there any questions? DO YOU GET THE PICTURE? To think: that all this has come from ONE MAN Who went public for only 3 1/2 years! Our Lord Jesus Christ said: I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18). No matter how you want to define what "the church" is, you certainly have to admit that Our Lords words have been fulfilled.
Like any empire, Christendom is populated by many different types of people. There are those who are born into religious families, that continue to attend church out of habit as they grow older. There are those who get drawn in by their friends, and continue to hang around as long as the religious crowd can supply a social life for them. There are those who, after abandoning church attendance in their youth, return when they are older; hoping that the "moral influence" of the church will keep their children out of trouble or hold down the crime rate in their neighborhood. And of course, there are those who participate because they believe that religion is important for it's own sake.
Among these folks there are some "unsavory" individuals who are there for less honorable reasons. There are impoverished people, who hope to prevail upon the "sense of duty" that haunts every Christian. These will be going from church to church, and hanging around as long as the hand-outs continue. There are odious persons, who, because of unpleasant personal habits or offensive personality traits, hope to force themselves on a captive audience. There are "predatorial" persons, who are looking for a husband or a wife, or maybe just some sex. I have seen many of these "predators" through the years. They become very religious and attend church faithfully until they "catch" their prey, or until they give up the chase. My "favorite" bunch are those, who having failed to achieve preeminence in the world, then offer their "services" and their "talents" to the church. Among this "inferior crowd", they think of themselves as superior persons who will finally get the "recognition" they deserve. This is especially true with musicians.
AND THEN, there are those who see religion as a "career". They long after the respect that is shown to religious leaders. They like that "freedom of schedule" that most pastors have. They see that the pastor gets to travel more often than the average guy, and that the pastor gets applauded and respected by the local folks, and at other churches in far off cities.
Once upon a time, many years ago, I was invited to preach at a church in a "far off city". They paid for my airline tickets in advance. I was chauffeured to the airport, and didn't have to pay for gas or parking. When I arrived, I was picked up by friendly people in a nice car, and taken out to eat in a nice restaurant. I was then driven to a nice motel where I spent the night. The next morning I was picked up again by a different group of friendly people in another nice new car and taken to breakfast. After breakfast I was taken on a tour of the city until lunch time. Once again, I was taken to a nice restaurant, and of course, my hosts insisted on paying for everything. I was then returned to my motel to "pray and prepare" for the evening service. Several hours later I was picked up again by the pastor of the church, in another nice, new car, and taken out to dinner, in another nice restaurant, and of course, he picked up the bill. Next, I was driven to a large metropolitan church, and seated in one of those "big chairs" in the front with all the elders. After receiving a flattering introduction, I "took the stage" and spoke for 45 minutes. After I finished speaking, the pastor stood up and heaped some more flattery on me while he took "the offering". When the "service" was over, I was handed the biggest pile of money I had seen in years. Then, the assistant pastor, the chief elder, and their wives took me out to have coffee, before they returned me to my motel. The next morning, I was taken out to breakfast again before being driven to the airport. Tough life, ain't it? I remember standing in the kitchen in the trailer that I lived in after I got home and contemplating this big handful of money. I knew that the average member of that congregation worked all week long for less than I had received for just 45 minutes of my time. It felt erie. Little wonder, that so many people want to go into "the ministry". I knew one man, a prominent man in his denomination, who was GUARANTEED at least $1000 per "revival" by his denomination. Tough life, ain't it? Everyone "must get a living" by some means, and the "professional ministry" is one of the more gratifying ways to "get that living".
|Matt.13:31||Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field:|
|32.||Which indeed is the least of all seeds; but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.|
When Our Lord was asked why He spoke in parables, He said: Unto you is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing, they might not see, and hearing they might not understand (Luke 8:10). It is evidently Our Lord's intention to DECEIVE some people by the use of parables. The TRUE DISCIPLES would understand. Not that Our Lord uses misleading language, but that those who are UNTEACHABLE and INSINCERE would find the "message" in the parable so offensive that they REFUSE TO SEE WHAT IS BEING SAID. Instead, they derive another meaning from the parable that leads them to COOPERATE IN IGNORANCE with the plan of God anyway. This is why Our Lord said: Take heed therefore HOW ye hear (Luke 8:18). Those who would not listen carefully, and those who attempted to verify their presuppositions, would not only be deceived: but they would all be deceived in precisely the same way. This is a testimony to how He taketh the wise in their own craftiness (1 Cor.3:19).
All that you may immediately see in this parable is that the Kingdom of heaven would start out small, but get real big. Even on the surface, this "interpretation" seems ludicrous to me. Why would the fact that the "Jesus movement" was going to grow large need to be called a "mystery"? The word MYSTERY means SECRET. Besides, it's obvious that something small is becoming big: anyone can see that; WHERE'S THE MYSTERY?
Consider, now, that this is just 1 of 7 such parables that are given in the 13th chapter of Matthew. When Our Lord uses the same word more than once in a single speech, it is not unreasonable to suppose that He means the same thing every time He uses that word. The field is the world (Matt. 13:38). Our Lord plainly says so. The birds are DEVILS, (or demons, same word). This is not plainly said, but explicitly implied. Compare Matt. 13:4 with 13:19. Go ahead, check it out. The BIRDS represent the action of "the" Devil, through his agents the DEMONS. The grain of mustard seed is not the same "seeds" as are mentioned in The parable of the sower (13:18), for in this parable Our Lord plainly says that the "seeds" are the word of the kingdom (13:19). In the next parable, that of the tares of the field (13:36), we are told that the seeds represent EITHER the children of the kingdom, or the children of the wicked one (13:38). In the parable of the mustard seed, the seed is the KINGDOM ITSELF. Thus, where Our Lord does not REDEFINE the meaning of any symbolic word that HE uses, we must assume that He means for us to interpret that particular symbolic word according to whatever definition that He has supplied WITHIN THAT PARTICULAR DISCOURSE. Thus, so far we have this: The birds represent the Devil. The field is the world. The mustard seed is the kingdom of heaven. I believe that all will concede that the man who sowed the mustard seed is the Lord Himself. That will leave only one "mystery" in the parable to be solved: HOW IS IT, THAT A MUSTARD PLANT MANAGES TO BECOME A TREE? The common mustard plant, if left to grow, will only achieve about 4 feet in height, AND IT NEVER BECOMES WHAT WE WOULD CALL A TREE! I know that some commentators try to "apologize" for Our Lords supposed ignorance of botany by citing reports of mustard plants as much as 12 feet high. Neither you nor I have seen any such thing, and EVEN if it were so that such a mustard plant "once existed somewhere", it could not establish a standard for mustard plants. The fact that some people have grown 20 pound tomatoes does not change the common, public perception about the size of the average tomato. No, a 20 pound tomato is ABNORMAL, and BIGGER THAN IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE. So it is with a lowly mustard plant that becomes as big as a tree. It's not normal. Just as a tomato cannot grow to 20 pounds without some "meddling with nature" by the gardener; a mustard plant cannot become a TREE without some "meddling" with it's nature. In this case, the mustard plant represents the kingdom of heaven in it's earthly dominions, for it is rooted in the earth; that is: in the WORLD. Let's go on now to see the "mystery" or hidden message in the parable of the mustard seed: THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN WILL GET BIGGER THAN IT IS SUPPOSED TO, AND BE INFESTED WITH DEMONS. Ouch! I knew that would be hard to come right out and say! BUT IT'S THE TRUTH. Someone will say, "How can you say that there is evil in the kingdom of heaven"? Easy, Our Lord said so Himself:
|Matt.13:41||The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity.|
The Greek word for KINGDOM is BASILIEA, and it means "things, people, and territories that are subject to and/or characterized by a single and particular influence or person". Thus, we may speak of a "kingdom of evil", or a "kingdom of fools". The Greek word for HEAVEN is UORANON, from which we have named the planet URANUS. UORANON simply means "the sky, or space above you". The same exact word is used by Our Lord in Luke 12:56, where it is obvious that what we call "the sky" is what would have been understood by everyone who heard Him speak. Furthermore, UORANON is the plural word for "sky, or heaven", and actually means HEAVENS, indicating that more than one heaven is in view. What we have then, is "the things, people, and territories that are subject to and/or characterized by the HEAVENS".
In Amos 9:6, we are told that God has built the HEAVENS in stories, like a tall building with many stories, or levels. Each "floor" of the building is it's own "realm", having it's own bottom and top. So it is with the HEAVENS. That the Devil occupies and controls one of these stories in the heavens is plainly stated in Eph. 2:2, where the Devil is called the prince of the power of the air. The "air" is the atmospheric heavens that immediately surround the earth. Our Lord said, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven (Luke 9:18). But, Satan has not come "all the way down" to the earth yet, for this does not happen until during the GREAT TRIBULATION.
|Rev.12:12||Therefore rejoice, ye HEAVENS, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, and of the sea! for the DEVIL is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.|
For the present, Satan is "stuck" between the "material world" and the "heaven of heavens" (1 Kings 8:27, 2 Chr. 2:6, 6:18). The Apostle Paul was caught up to the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:2). Paul's use of the term "third heaven" takes for granted that there are ascending "realms" of heavens. It is within the lowest of the "realms"; which corresponds to the atmospheric heavens; that the Devil and all his demons are trapped.
By calling the Devil the prince of the power the air, the Apostle Paul indicates that the Devils "realm" is the one closest to us, and the one with which we are "by nature" in contact with, in the same way that we are in direct contact with the air, or atmosphere of earth. This first, or lowest "realm" is THE SPIRIT WORLD, out of which come all the supernatural manifestations of the occult, including poltergeist phenomena. I think it is worth noting also, that radio and television transmissions are said to be "on the air"
It simply cannot be denied that the term "Kingdom of Heaven" is meant to include ALL the activities that go on in the INVISIBLE WORLD, including those workings of the prince of the power of the air.
The term KINGDOM OF THE HEAVENS means: ALL THOSE THINGS, PEOPLES, AND TERRITORIES WHICH ARE SUBJECT TO AND/OR CHARACTERIZED BY ALL OF THE VARIOUS HEAVENS. Since the True God and the Real Devil are enemies, there is conflict between them when and where they meet. The only place where the True God and the Real Devil directly cross paths is in Christendom. Wherever the message of Christ is proclaimed, it comes into conflict with the kingdom of the Devil, which was already in place. Thus, Our Lord said: Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18). The gates of hell are those barriers that the Devil, his demons, and his human disciples, erect to hinder the progress of the church. Gates don't come to you, you must go to the gates; Therefore the TRUE CHURCH which carries the TRUE TRUTH is always the INTRUSIVE ELEMENT that INTRUDES upon territory already held by the Devil, his demons, and his human disciples. It should be clear to you by now, that the term kingdom of heaven, does not mean "some blissful place where everything is wonderful all the time". This ought to be obvious, for while the Apostle Paul asserts that we who are BORN AGAIN are already translated into the kingdom of His dear Son (Col. 1:13), we all know by experience that the conflict is not over yet. Neither THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, or it's cognate term, THE KINGDOM OF GOD are meant to imply that there are no evil elements in them, and as I pointed out earlier, Jesus Himself says so. In the last of the 7 parables of the kingdom, Our Lord likens the kingdom of heaven to a net, that gathered of EVERY kind; which when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast THE BAD away (Matt. 13:47-48). In the present age, there are both the good, and the bad, in the kingdom of heaven. The same thing is said in the parable of the tares of the field, where the tares are seen to be so mingled with the wheat, that they are nearly indistinguishable (Matt. 13:29). During this present age, the Kingdom of Heaven is wherever the TRUTH OF GOD collides with the LIE OF SATAN. This place of collision is Christendom, for the word Christendom simply means CHRIST'S KINGDOM. The individual churches are positionally at The Gates of Hell, for it is there that the majority of the conflict takes place. THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS CHRISTENDOM, and once you understand this, the difficulty of interpreting all the "Kingdom Parables" is greatly diminished.
Christendom is TOO BIG TO BE TRUE; and that it would become larger than is "right" or "normal" or "natural" is clearly predicted in the parable of the mustard seed. Furthermore, we see that even the birds have now moved into it, and the birds represent demons. WHAT? You're not convinced yet?
|Matt.13:33||Another parable spake He unto them: The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.|
Leaven is yeast. Yeast makes things swell up, and get bigger then they would be if left to themselves. Every single symbolic use of leaven in the New Testament indicates that leaven represents evil (Matt. 16:6, 11-12). The evil influence is what makes Christendom get TOO BIG TO BE TRUE, and as we can see in this parable, eventually the WHOLE LUMP is corrupted. This parable not only tells of the unhealthy OBESITY of Christendom, but also predicts total corruption: APOSTASY to be the final stage of the history of Christendom. But that is another matter.
I believe that I have proven that Christendom is bigger than it would be if it were not infiltrated by tares (false brethren). These tares have swelled the ranks of professing Christians into the multi-millions. The figure that I reported near the beginning of this article (one billion) represents the total number of those who identify themselves nominally as Christians. That is, they make concession to Christianity. Of course, not all of these people are true BORN AGAIN believers. I am sure that you will concede that at least SOME of these people are not really "God's children". Another evidence that Christendom is TOO BIG TO BE TRUE can be found in Our Lord's description of His Church as a little flock (Luke 12:32). The word "little", used here, is the Greek word MIKROS, from which we get MICROBE, and MICROSCOPE. MIKROS means "distinctly and obviously small", not just "small in comparison". 100 million "true BORN AGAIN believers" all living at the same time on the earth simply cannot be called a "little" flock. There is no such use of the word MIKRO in the Greek language, that it could ever mean MILLIONS AND MILLIONS of anything. If there were 100 million TRUE BELIEVERS among one billion professing Christians, then only 1 out of 10 are the children of God. This means that 9 out of 10 are tares, that is; the children of the wicked one (Matt. 13:38). The number I have used, (one billion), is actually a conservative estimate. The publication I consulted asserted that there are actually one billion, four hundred and forty million professing Christians in the present world. Even if there are only one billion, everything I have said above would still be true. I am pretty sure there are at least 1,000,000,000 professing Christians in the world today.
My purpose in writing this article IS NOT to try and predict how many are saved, or to estimate percentages, but only to point out that Christendom is much, much bigger than it would be if it were not so full of tares. Our Lord has not only predicted that Christendom would become TOO BIG TO BE TRUE, but He has said nothing (in the Bible) to prevent it from becoming so big. Rather, He has hidden the fact that Christendom would become ABNORMALLY OBESE through the infiltration of LEAVEN (false doctrine), and TARES (false brethren), from the lazy and inattentive mind through the use of PARABLES. You are about to find out why.
If it is true, (and it is), that Christendom is TOO BIG TO BE TRUE; and if the reason that Christendom got so big is because the "ranks" have been swelled by the infiltration of false brethren: WHY HASN'T GOD DONE ANYTHING TO STOP IT? This is a legitimate question; but falls short of the SHOCKING REALITY of the situation. God has NOT DONE ANYTHING TO STOP IT, and actually; GOD HAS ENCOURAGED IT!
|John.9:38||And John answered Him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.|
|39.||But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in My name, that can lightly speak evil of me.|
|40.||For he that is not against us, is on our part.|
Please don't suggest that Our Lord Jesus Christ, who said, There shall be one fold, and one shepherd (John 10:16) is justifying denominationalism in this verse. All the Lord says about this man is that he is not likely to speak evil of Our Lord after using the power of His name to work miracles. The words on our part, mean that this man, by broadcasting the name of Jesus, is helping the cause. The Lord Jesus knows that He is the Savior of the world, and because He would save as many as will cry to Him, He'll make use of all the publicity He gets. Besides, anyone who SAYS "Jesus is the Savior" is telling the truth, no matter what he thinks that really means. The Apostle Paul says the same thing:
|Phil.1:15||Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife, and some also of good will.|
|16.||The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds;|
|17.||But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel.|
|18.||What then, notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, and will rejoice.|
Paul says that some preach of Christ out of envy, strife, contention and pretence. In other words, some people are COMPETING with Paul as preachers of the gospel of Christ. They have their "own version" of the gospel, which they imagine to be superior to Paul's version. Others preach of Christ in pretence; that is, they are preaching to others what they are not fully convinced of themselves, and are using the gospel to advance some other agenda. Paul doesn't mind if they do this. Paul doesn't care if they disagree with him on "this or that" point of doctrine. Paul doesn't care if some of them have ulterior motives. If you believe that the New Testament was INSPIRED and PRESERVED by God for us, then this must also represent the mind of God in the matter. Let me explain.
There are many different "versions" of Christianity being preached in our world. Everyone can name a DENOMINATION or a PERSON that preaches a "version" that they don't approve of. Maybe you don't like the Catholic version. Maybe you don't like the Jehovah's Witness version. Maybe you don't like the Pentecostal version. BUT REMEMBER, wherever these preachers of the various "versions" go, THEY BRING A BIBLE WITH THEM. And, wherever any "version" of Christianity is preached, the STORY OF JESUS is told. Many of you may have started out in one "version" of the faith, and later migrated to another. There is nothing to prevent anyone who has hoped in Christ for their salvation from sorting out the facts from the fables on their own. If they settle for a heretical version of the faith, then it is only because they lacked SINCERITY in the matter. There is a Holy Spirit you know; and He is there to attend, guide, and correct any who call upon God in truth. Our Lord said, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15), and He will have this done. It takes a LOT OF PEOPLE, and a LOT OF MONEY to evangelize the WHOLE WORLD, and THE MIGHTY EMPIRE of Christendom has been very effective to get this accomplished; even if, most of the work has been done by the HIRELINGS. And then, there is this other reason.
|2Tim.3:12||Yea, and all that will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.|
This, and many other such statements of a similar nature, were made by Our Lord Himself and the Apostles. We are ASSURED, that if we live like real Christians, that the world will hate us (John 15:19). Now: HOW is a "little flock" that is HATED by the WHOLE WORLD going to survive? To this very day, in countries where professing Christians are a minority, there is persecution against them. In many cases, this persecution arises from cultural and racial conflicts rather than SPIRITUAL HATRED. But if there were less of them, and if they were all living Godly in Christ Jesus, they would be murdered out of existence. Most of you will acknowledge that there are SOME TRUE BELIEVERS in every "version" of Christianity. If these FEW TRUE BELIEVERS were not "surrounded" by a large mass of people who "call themselves Christians", they would be wiped out. Consider how weak and vulnerable a man is who will NOT LIE to defend himself, or, who will TURN THE OTHER CHEEK when struck. Our Gracious God takes this "weakness" into account; and protects us by surrounding us with a large number of people to protect us. You will remember, in the parable of the tares of the field, that the tares and the wheat are hard to distinguish. This works to our advantage; for we, as those few stalks of wheat, are hidden from the eyes of the world. The world knoweth us not (1 John 3:1), said the Apostle John. If they knew us, they would kill us.
As I mentioned earlier, this MIGHTY EMPIRE called Christendom has achieved it's size, wealth, and strength through the labors and the contributions of MILLIONS of people. The fact that many of these people were not truly the children of God has contributed greatly to the SUCCESS and the SECURITY of Christendom. Almost everyone knows that most of the "territory" that was "Christianized" during the Middle Ages was taken by the POWER OF THE SWORD. Just as the children of Israel DROVE OUT, WIPED OUT, or ENSLAVED the occupants of Canaan when they "went to possess the land"; the Christendom of the Middle Ages DROVE OUT, WIPED OUT, or ENSLAVED all the peoples of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, that resisted it's progress. This fact, well known throughout the world, has given the enemies of Christianity something to point at and accuse us of, for which we can offer no defense. UNLESS. . . . you are prepared to deny that the people who did these things were really Christians. Yet, even if we say this, we still have received the benefits of their atrocities, and we are not about to "give back Denmark" to the Vikings, now are we? Much of the power, prestige, and security of modern Christendom is maintained in the same way. There are some UNSCRUPULOUS persons in our ranks, who are willing to LIE, to CONSPIRE, and to BEHAVE IN A MOST UNCHRISTIAN MANNER in order to protect their "corner" of Christendom from the rest of the world. When the armies of the Holy Roman Empire marched through Poland, over a thousand years ago, they had a Bible in one hand and a sword in the other hand. They literally massacred all who wouldn't convert. Those soldiers and priests have all died, and gone to meet THE JUDGE. Their swords have rusted, their names are forgotten, but the BIBLE they brought with them has remained. The "version" of Christianity that took root in Poland has stood UNSHAKABLE for well over a thousand years. The barbarian hordes couldn't annihilate it. The Saracens and the Turks couldn't get rid of it. The followers of Mohammed couldn't overwhelm it. The Nazis couldn't exterminate it. AND, 40 years of Communist oppression and brainwashing has UTTERLY COLLAPSED in the face of it. How GREAT and MIGHTY is this religion! The Religion of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; which has motivated multitudes of peoples to face great dangers, make great sacrifices, and endure great trials! YET, we know, that not all those who contributed to the cause were TRUE BELIEVERS. During the Reformation, several of the dukes, princes, and lesser kings rallied to the defense of Martin Luther and "The Faith". Most of these men had little interest in "theology", but they saw how the success of Luther's cause could assist them in their own political and financial aspirations. Without the assistance of the RICH and the POWERFUL, there would have been no Reformation. Luther never lifted a sword, but armies marched in his behalf. Luther didn't have any money, but great sums were invested to guarantee his success. When "the Revolution" was successful, all these RICH MEN and POLITICIANS got to stand in the limelight and be called "Heros of the Faith". Their conduct after the "victory parade" though, does little to suggest that they fared well at the JUDGEMENT OF GOD. These, and many others who have lent their time, their talents, and their money to the propagation of Christianity and the security of Christendom have been HIRELINGS.
As we proceed now to look more carefully at these HIRELINGS, to see just who they are and why they do what they do, you will begin to see the answer to that QUESTION, that everyone in Christendom likes to ask, BUT NOBODY WANTS TO BE ANSWERED. For, it shall turn out, that MOST OF THE MONEY, and MOST OF THE LABOR, that has built and protected THE MIGHTY EMPIRE we call Christendom, has COME FROM THEM.
|1Kings.22:20||And the Lord said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-Gilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.|
|21.||And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him.|
|22.||And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And He (The Lord) said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.|
What we have here my friend, is God Almighty; sending an evil spirit to deceive 400 prophets, so that Ahab will go to fight a battle in which he will be killed.
|1Sam.16:14||But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.|
And what we have here, is another instance where the Lord is sending an evil spirit, to harass King Saul.
|2Cor.12:7||And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger (Grk. ANGEL) of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.|
AND, what we have HERE, is the Lord sending an ANGEL OF SATAN to harass and humble the Apostle Paul, lest he exalted above measure.
THE QUESTION IS: If the Lord wanted Ahab to be deceived, and if He wanted King Saul to be harassed, and if the Lord wanted the Apostle Paul to be humbled; Why didn't the Lord send a HOLY ANGEL to do these things? THE ANSWER: The "work" that these evil spirits were to perform was OUT OF CHARACTER for one of the HOLY ANGELS OF GOD.
This, of course, BEGS A BIGGER QUESTION: Does God Almighty have the right to do what He forbids us to do? The answer is YES. We have received the commandment thou shalt not kill, but God reserves the right to kill, AND SEND TO HELL, anyone He wants to.
|Deut.32:39||See now that I, even I am He, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand.|
Reconsider now; that as I mentioned earlier, the armies of the Holy Roman Empire DROVE OUT, WIPED OUT, or ENSLAVED all who would not convert to Christianity. God had the right to kill any of these people any time He wanted to, AND ESPECIALLY if they refused to accept and acknowledge Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, it is the righteous prerogative of Our Holy and Sinless God to wipe out entire populations and cultures if He wants to. He has done this by natural disasters, and He has done this by the hands of EVIL MEN. There is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel against the Lord (Prov. 21:30). Even when the wicked runs out in his wicked fury to work evil, he is restricted and steered, so that his wicked work cannot thwart the plan of God. There is what has the character of "DIRTY WORK" in the plan of God, and GOD ALWAYS SENDS THE WICKED TO DO THE DIRTY WORK. Consider this prayer of King David:
|Psalm.17:13||Deliver my soul from the wicked, WHICH IS THY SWORD:|
|14.||From men which ARE THY HAND, O Lord, from MEN OF THIS WORLD, which have their portion in this life.|
Even the observation of our own society will reveal this. Generally, criminals are killed by other criminals. The carnal mind will see all sorts of supposed "injustice" wrought by the wicked against what are called "the innocent": BUT REMEMBER, NO ONE IS INNOCENT unless they have BELIEVED IN and SUBMITTED TO Our Lord Jesus Christ in God's sight. That VAGUE PROFESSION that passes for faith in our day IS NOT, and WILL NOT be counted as a "saving faith" in God's sight. You need not be confused, or find fault with God in these matters, UNLESS YOU WANT TO. Those who are TRULY RIGHTEOUS in God's sight, who must yield up their lives as a testimony to the TRUTH and suffer abuse from the wicked to SHOW THE WORLD THE STRENGTH OF THE TRUE FAITH, always receive sufficient consolation and strength from God to compensate them in the hour of trial (Acts 7:54-60).
That God will use the wicked as well as the righteous to accomplish His purposes is plainly illustrated throughout the Bible.
EXAMPLE: In the book of 2 Kings, chapters 9 & 10, is the story of a man named Jehu. A prophet is sent from God to Jehu, ordering Jehu to wipe out the entire family of the evil King Ahab. Jehu not only does this, but also kills all of Ahab's friends, and all of the priests of Baal, the false God introduced into Israel by Jezebel, Ahab's wife. Jehu accomplishes all this in a relentless and merciless fury, and then becomes the King of Israel himself. Jehu faithfully accomplishes all of this "DIRTY WORK" for God; but in the end, Jehu is guilty of the SAME SINS as King Ahab (2 Kings 10:31). Read this story in 2 Kings chapters 9 & 10.
Jehu was a HIRELING. Jehu HEARD FROM GOD. Jehu OBEYED GOD in the thing he was sent to do. Jehu WAS PAID FOR HIS SERVICES by getting to be the king of Israel for 28 years. It's unlikely that Jehu fared any better than Ahab at the JUDGEMENT OF GOD, for he committed THE SAME SINS. There are many such examples in the Bible that I could bring to your attention; but rather than belabor the point, I will presume that I have proven that God uses HIRELINGS to accomplish his will, as well as THE RIGHTEOUS.
If you have been reading this article straight through until now, NOW is the time to take a break and think about all these things; for as we now go on to examine the various types of HIRELINGS that are currently at work in Christendom, you may just find out that YOU YOURSELF ARE ONE OF THE HIRELINGS. This is an eternally serious matter, so THINK ABOUT IT.
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See part 2 of Chapter 18: THE HIRELINGS
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