Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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June 5, 2018
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June 5, 2018
True Christian Worship Is Not Bound By A Building Place Or Time, A Spiritual Temple, Jesus Was Rejected By His Jewish Brethren, Blindness Of Jews, False Shepherds And Hirelings, The Lord's Table, Apostasy From The Truth, Left With Just The Bible's Covers, Doctrinal Dangers Of Organized Religion, Leaven Of The Pharisees, Twisting Meaning Of The Scriptures, False Prosperity Gospel, Pervasive Materialism In The Church, Church Of Laodicea, The Apostasy Of Ancient Israel And Pagan Temple Building, Israelites Choose Saul To Be Their Own King, Jews Choose A Temple Of Stone And Mortar Over A Temple Of The Heart, A Divided Kingdom Due To Sin, War And Selfish False Shepherds, God Never Desired A Temple, God Honors People Who Are Of A Contrite Obedient Spirit, Saul Is Rejected As King, Meaningless Rituals Hollow Traditions And Vain Repetitions
As I point out in articles such as "Gargoyles: Satan Loves Church Buildings!", "Churchianity or Christianity: Which Do You Practice?" and "Is the KJV Bible the Inerrant Word of God?", contrary to what was believed by many of the ancient Jews, and contrary to what is likewise believed by a lot of modern Christians, worship of our Heavenly Father has never been, is not, and should not, be bound by or attached to a physical place or building. Furthermore, our worship is not limited by -- or dictated by -- particular time constraints, so that we must worship God on a particular day, or follow a predetermined schedule. As the Lord informed the Samaritan woman at the well in the fourth chapter of the Gospel of John, true worship of the Father is in Spirit and in Truth. It is free from any shackles placed upon it by human and church traditions, or by any other human convention, as we see by the following verses:
"Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."
John 4:21-24, KJV
In his first Epistle, the Apostle Peter reiterated what he had learned from the Lord concerning the spiritual nature of our Temple when he wrote the following to the brethren:
"To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner . . ."
1 Peter 2:4-7, KJV
Finally, concerning whether Christians should worship God on Sunday or on Saturday, or on some other day of the week, the Apostle Paul wrote the following wise counsel in his Epistle to the Romans:
"One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind."
Romans 14:5, KJV
In other words, Paul's clear message appears to be that what day(s) we choose to worship the Lord is a matter of personal conscience; that we should operate according to our personal degree of faith; and that we should not allow this issue to cause division amongst the Body of Christ. When all things are considered, what day Christians should worship is really a minor point which was not even brought to the table at the meeting which was held by the First Century Church Elders in Jerusalem in Acts chapter fifteen. For a deeper look at this issue regarding Sabbath day worship, please consider reading my article entitled "Are Christians Obligated to Keep the Sabbath?".
As the previous verses clearly demonstrate, collectively, we, the worldwide Body of Believers, form the Lord's Spiritual Temple. Each one of us is a living stone cemented together in Faith and in Love, and Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone, or Foundation Stone, upon which our entire structure rests. You will notice that Peter says that this Chief Cornerstone was disallowed, or rejected, by the builders. He is referring to the fact that even though Jesus came to His own people first -- that is, to His Jewish brethren and the religious elders of His day -- many of them did not receive Him. In fact, they deemed Him unworthy to be the foundation of their faith. Not only that, but they accused Him of being a false prophet, a deceiver, and a man possessed by the Devil. This is because they were blinded and deceived by Satan himself, who is the Father of Lies. Consider the following verses which describe the spiritual blindness of both the unbelieving Jews, and the unbelieving Gentiles:
"And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear."
Matthew 13:10-16, KJV
"Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch."
Matthew 15:14, KJV
"Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! . . . Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel."
Matthew 23:16, 24, KJV
"And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other."
Mark 3:5, KJV
"And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth."
John 9:39-41, KJV
"(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day . . . For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in."
Romans 11:8, 25, KJV
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
1 Corinthians 2:14, KJV
"This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness."
Ephesians 4:17-19, KJV
Thus, precisely as John wrote at the beginning of his Gospel, Jesus took His message of Love, Forgiveness and Salvation to those people who would gladly hear and receive it. That is, to the common people, and eventually to the Gentiles as well. That is, to you and I, as we can see by these verses:
"He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:"
John 1:11-12, KJV
". . . And the common people heard him gladly."
Mark 12:37, KJV
"And in his name shall the Gentiles trust."
Matthew 12:21, KJV
While they may not realize it yet, people who place their faith and trust in organized religion, and in the buildings which are associated with organized religion, may be headed for difficult times. Someday in the future, it is possible that the physical church system may no longer exist. There are many sinister forces in the world today -- both human and spiritual -- which are slowly working towards achieving just such an ungodly objective. It may take them time, but they are gradually gaining ground. Even if the physical church system is allowed to remain, based on what we already see happening within it now, will it truly be God's Church?
As many of you will already know, even now there are many denominations and congregations that have been taken over by false shepherds, priests and pastors who are poisoning their flocks with false doctrines, liberalism and secular humanist ideas. Such churches are merely hollow shells. They are a facade without the real Spirit of God dwelling within them. Such false shepherds pretend to fulfill the spiritual needs of their congregations, while in reality they only enrich themselves, and leave their flocks hungry and naked. You will find this topic discussed in greater detail in articles such as "Money-Making Bible Hucksters and Mammon". As the Lord said, these are not true shepherds. They are really just hirelings, as we see by the following verses:
"But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep."
John 10:12-13, KJV
It is important that the modern Christian learns to feed himself spiritually; or better said, that he learns to be fed directly by the Lord. As the young shepherd David wrote in the twenty-third Psalm, the Lord will not only care for us and provide for us, but He will also meet our spiritual needs by preparing a spiritual banquet before us, if we take the time to dwell upon His Word. In the following verse, the word "want" is translated from the Hebrew word "chacer", and actually means to be lacking or to be without something:
"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters . . . Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over."
Psalms 23:1-2, 5, KJV
As I point out in other articles, it is extremely important that the foundation of the modern Christian's faith be built directly upon the Word of God, and not solely upon what he is hearing or being taught in his local church building, or in a Sunday School class. While this may come as a surprise to some of you, you need to realize that not everything one hears within the four walls of his local church is true and accurate. In fact, some of it is absolutely wrong, and maybe even meant to pervert his perception of the Truth, or else to totally alienate him from the Truth. Let us not forget some of the strong warnings that the Apostle Paul included in some of his Epistles, such as the following:
"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;"
2 Thessalonians 2:3, KJV
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;"
1 Timothy 4:1-2, KJV
"But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived."
2 Timothy 3:13, KJV
Some people are falling away from the Truth of the Gospel and don't even realize it. This is because it can be a slow, gradual process. I have told the story before concerning the poor woman who after many years of listening to her pastor tell her that a certain group of Scriptures didn't mean what they said, or that a particular passage no longer applied to our modern day, was left with nothing but the front and back covers of her Bible. The woman was wondering if she should just throw those away as well.
I honestly don't know whether or not that is a true story. However, the main lesson that it conveys is that we must all be very cautious. We should not just blindly place our faith in organized religion; especially not in priests, pastors, elders and teachers who quote very little Scriptures during the mass or service, or in their Bible classes. We should also beware of those people who twist the meaning of God's Word in order to support their own wayward doctrines. As you may recall, almost two thousand years ago, Jesus issued the same warning concerning the teachings of the Scribes and the Pharisees. Consider the following verses:
". . . Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."
Luke 12:1, KJV
"Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees."
Matthew 16:6-12, KJV
Following that same line of thought, the Apostle Peter, in referring to the writings of the Apostle Paul, also wrote in his second letter regarding those people who distorted the meaning of some of Paul's Epistles. In the following verses, the word "wrest" means to distort or divert to an unnatural or inappropriate use or meaning, to pervert something. It is derived from the Greek word "strebloo":
"And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."
2 Peter 3:15-16, KJV
Of course, unbiblical doctrines are not the only danger that exists within modern organized religion. As many of you will already know, it is also extremely easy to be led astray by the materialistic, worldly spirit which has taken over so many churches today. The so-called "prosperity gospel" is heard everywhere. It is so sad that some people view going to church as nothing more than a bothersome necessity which they must endure in order to maintain their social status in the local community. During my lifetime, I have attended a number of churches which boasted of an all-white membership that was comprised for the most part of the local community's successful business and political leaders. Such churches are nothing more than social clubs for the elite.
No one can deny that the pleasant decor that is found in so many churches today can have a very mesmerizing effect on the congregants. The plush, comfortable pews, the wall-to-wall carpet, the colorful stained-glass windows, the very elegant woodwork, the expensive organ, the stereo sound system, etc., appeal to one's physical senses. One can be overtaken with a sense of well-being, while his spiritual perception remains dull. While some affluent Christians claim that the so-called "abundant life" is a Biblical principle, as I explain in the article "Abundant Life Doctrine: Scripturally Exposed!", I am convinced from the Scriptures that succumbing to worldliness and materialism is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Apostles. I am reminded of the prophecy against the Church at Laodicea that is found in the Book of Revelation:
"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent."
Revelation 3:15-19, KJV
You may find it rather interesting to note that similar to Christianity today, in which a lot of church leaders have become obsessed with building larger and grander buildings in order to impress their members, and outdo their religious competitors down the street, once she had forsaken the one true God of Heaven, Israel also became involved in building temples. Sadly, as I point out in the series "The Fruits of Disobedience", those temples were actually dedicated to the false gods of the heathen nations which the Israelites had failed to destroy, as per the commandment which the Lord had first given to Moses and Joshua. In the eighth chapter of the Book of Hosea, we find the following strong rebuke:
"They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off. Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast thee off; mine anger is kindled against them: how long will it be ere they attain to innocency? For from Israel was it also: the workman made it; therefore it is not God: but the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces . . . For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth temples . . ."
Hosea 8:4-6, 14, KJV
In chapter eight of the first Book of Samuel, we find the story regarding how the Israelites petitioned the Prophet Samuel to anoint a king over them. Why? Because they were motivated by a desire to be just like the heathen nations around them. Even though it was not God's highest will for them -- He obviously desired to be their one true King -- because of their stubborn insistence, the Lord eventually granted them their request, and gave them stubborn King Saul. I discuss this topic in more detail in the article entitled "The Children of God and Politics".
Less than one hundred years later, even though the Lord only wanted to dwell in the temple of their hearts, He again gave them their desire, and conceded in allowing King Solomon to build an elegant temple of stone, mortar and wood. Of course, the Lord was already fully aware of what this decision would eventually lead to. In other words, total abandonment of the one true God. As a result, not even four hundred and eighty years had passed since the time that they had been liberated from the bondage of Egypt, before the Israelites had gone astray.
However, the truth of the matter -- as I point out in other articles -- is that they had been going astray from the time when they had first left Egypt. Murmuring in the wilderness, constructing a golden calf, and choosing King Saul were just some of the more prominent manifestations of their ongoing rebellion against the Lord. Consider this verse:
"And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD."
1 Kings 6:1, KJV
From the moment that Saul became Israel's first king, things began to go wrong. By the end of Solomon's reign, Israel had totally gone astray, and was worshipping many false gods and building temples and altars to them. It was for this reason that the Lord rent the kingdom from Solomon's son, Rehoboam, and divided it in two, leaving only Judah and Benjamin in the south, while the remaining tribes became part of Israel -- or Ephraim -- to the north. This became the era of the Divided Kingdom.
From that point forward, even though there were a few worthy kings who still feared the Lord, and who endeavored to obey Him, Israel and Judah were constantly at war with each other, and both continued to slide deeper and deeper into apostasy. This development becomes quite evident in the writings of the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah, as well as in chapter two of the Book of Jeremiah, in chapter thirty-four of the Book of Ezekiel, and in others where the Lord rebukes the religious elders of Israel for becoming selfish, fat and lazy, and for neglecting the spiritual needs of their flocks. For example, consider the following verses:
"And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock . . . Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them."
Ezekiel 34:1-3, 10, KJV
While many modern preachers fail or purposely refuse to talk about this issue in their comfortable church buildings, you should know that at the time that King David petitioned the Lord to build a Temple in His honor, the king was living in a cedar home, while the Ark of the Covenant was still kept in a tabernacle, or tent. Thus, while David's intentions were good in wanting to build a Temple to house the Ark, as we read in the following verses, this was not what the Lord wanted done. In fact, He questioned David regarding why he wanted to build a Temple when the Lord had never required it of him:
"Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the LORD, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in? Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle. In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build ye not me an house of cedar?"
2 Samuel 7:5-7, KJV
It is rather clear from the above verses that the Lord only wanted to dwell in the midst of the people; that is, in the spiritual temple of their hearts. He wanted to be a living God to the Israelites, and not a dead god who is bound by time and place in a physical structure, as was the custom of the heathen nations. Like other Prophets which had stood in Jerusalem and warned Israel of her whoredoms in worshipping false gods, the young Prophet Jeremiah declared these words in the seventh chapter of his book:
"Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these."
Jeremiah 7:4, KJV
About two hundred years earlier, the Lord had issued a very similar warning through the mouth of the Prophet Isaiah when He said the following:
"Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word."
Isaiah 66:1-2, KJV
As the previous verses make clear, God is more impressed by people who honor and fear Him, and who obey His Word, than by luxurious edifices which are built in His honor. Because quite often, such buildings house the spiritually dead who walk not in the ways of the Lord. This applies just as much today as it did thousands of years ago. God continues to be more interested in the condition of our hearts than in the place we choose to worship. In the verses from the Book of Isaiah, the Lord informs us that He honors "him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word." It is interesting to note that several hundred years before during a time of great repentance, after he had murdered Uriah the Hittite and committed adultery with Uriah's beautiful wife, Bathsheba, King David wrote the very same thing, as we see here:
"For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."
Psalms 51:16-17, KJV
So again we see that God does not delight in our own burnt offerings. He does not delight in our self-righteous works which are no better than the sacrifice of Cain. Rather, the Lord delights in a broken, contrite and obedient heart and spirit. That was the lesson that blundering King Saul never learned. Saul trusted in his own instincts and abilities, in his own works, and in his own strength and wisdom. By doing so, he failed to obey the Lord; and that is precisely why he was rejected by the Lord and lost the kingdom, as we see by the following verses:
"And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD. And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel."
1 Samuel 15:22-26, KJV
It wasn't long after Solomon's Temple was constructed, that its beauty and luxury actually became quite a hindrance and a great distraction. The daily Temple sacrifices and rituals became meaningless, hollow traditions long before Jesus had even been born. The prayers and supplications of the Temple priests were reduced to vain repetitions. In short, now that the Israelites had their own king and a physical Temple, they were content and they soon became self-satisfied. Before long they abandoned the one true God, and were just going through the motions of pretending to be holy, just like so many of the churches today.
Please go to part two for the continuation of this series.
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