Copyright 1994 - 2023 Bill's Bible Basics
Authored By :
Published On :
November 11, 1998
Last Updated :
July 1, 2011
NOTE: This article or series has not been updated recently. As such, it may possibly contain some outdated information, and/or ideas and beliefs which I no longer embrace, or which have changed to some degree.
My Personal Vision, Disillusionment With Organized Religion, Glory In The Lord And Not In Ourselves, A Living Faith Will Result In Visible Works, Let Your Light So Shine, Dead And Blind Churches, Dead Church Of Sardis, Let The Dead Bury The Dead, Cliquish Churches, Wolves In Sheep's Clothing, New Wine Must Be Poured Into New Bottles, Abundant Life Materialism And Financial Blessings, The Sins Of The Church Of Laodicea, Start Your Own Church In The Home, Scriptural Basis For Home Fellowships, Baby Huey Cartoon, Are You Just A Baby Huey?, Spiritual Growth Or Stagnation?, Breastfed Babies vs Bottle, Nursing Fathers And Nursing Mothers, Our Goal: Spiritual Growth
In my 1998 article "My Personal Vision And Your Challenge", I endeavor to explain to my readers what motivated me to begin the Bill's Bible Basics online ministry. As those of you who have already read that article will know, aside from my personal desire to be a shepherd who faithfully feeds his online spiritual flock with the Word of God through the many articles which I have written, it is also my vision, and my hope, that some of you will likewise be motivated, and will be encouraged to do more for the Lord in your own lives. To assist you in accomplishing this goal, I've written a number of articles which delve into such subjects as Christian Discipleship and Early Church organization. These include "The Parable Of The Sower: Salvation And Service", as well as the eight-part series "Where Are The First Century Churches?". This current article will follow that same theme.
At the time that I first authored this article in 1998, I performed the first ever, mailing list purge. One of the reasons for this purge, was to hopefully reduce our numbers to only those members who possess a genuine interest in my writings, as well as a sincere desire to participate in our online fellowship. After conducting that purge, I prepared these interested members for a question which the Lord had laid on my heart to ask them some time earlier. The first step I took towards preparing EDGE mailing list members for this question, was to post the article "My Personal Vision And Your Challenge" directly to the list. After that, we began to discuss such topics as the differences between on-fire churches and fellowships and dead ones, spiritual growth beyond organized religion, witnessing and winning souls for the Lord, and our proper relationship with the world. Having set the stage, I then asked a theoretical question which would lead to my main question; although I didn't tell anyone this at that time.
The theoretical question which I posed to my readers was the following: Assuming that you all lived in the same town, and assuming that one day I came to that town, and began a home fellowship, how many of you would be willing to leave your current church or fellowship in order to join the one which I had started? As I explained to our mailing list members, this was only being posed as a theoretical question; after all, we all don't live in the same city or town; and unless the Lord shows me otherwise, I don't have any intentions of going to anyone's town in order to begin a fellowship.
As those of you who are members of our online fellowship will already know, similar to myself, we have a number of members who have become quite disappointed with organized religion. Some of them have grown tired of the widespread hypocrisy, the materialistic attitude, the spiritual coldness, the rigid legalism, the obvious lack of doing what the Scriptures teach us to do as bona fide members of Christ's true Church, and most recently, the serious compromise which a growing number of churches have made with the gay and lesbian agenda. Allow me to suggest that you read such articles as "The Gay And Lesbian Agenda: To The Point" and "When Sin Is No Longer A Sin".
Despite the fact that they feel this way towards organized religion, these people have found renewed faith in the Lord, and renewed faith in His Word, via this ministry. They have greatly enjoyed, and have been greatly blessed by our online fellowship. To even share the many positive responses which I have received since this online ministry began eighteen years ago, would require a lot of space; but that is not the main emphasis of this article, and I am not interested in tooting my own horn anyway. Far be it from me. As the Scriptures make perfectly clear, we are only to glory in the Lord. Consider the following verses:
"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."
1 Corinthians 1:27-31, KJV
"Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;"
1 Corinthians 3:21, KJV
"And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?"
1 Corinthians 4:6-7, KJV
"For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!"
1 Corinthians 9:16, KJV
"But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth . . . Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
1 Corinthians 10:17-18, 31, KJV
"For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake."
2 Corinthians 4:5, KJV
"But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."
2 Corinthians 10:17, KJV
"Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me."
2 Corinthians 12:5-6, KJV
"Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another."
Galatians 5:26, KJV
"But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
Galatians 6:14, KJV
"Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ."
1 Thessalonians 2:6, KJV
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
James 1:17, KJV
"How much less man, that is a worm? and the son of man, which is a worm?"
Job 25:6, KJV
"But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people."
Psalm 22:6, KJV
To continue, being as some of our EDGE Mailing List members had been with us for over a year at that time -- that is, in 1998 -- I felt that the Lord had been leading me to ask them a very important question, of which the previous question was merely a precursor. In fact, the following comments are really directed to anyone reading this article, who feels disillusioned with their current church or fellowship. When the Lord first presented this idea to me one night, I must admit that I was greatly inspired by the possibilities. Here then is what I presented to our members at that time. I hope that you too will take it to heart, and will give my ideas some consideration.
If you answered "yes" to the previous theoretical question, then you must obviously feel that by joining my fellowship, you would derive more spiritual benefit from it, than from your current church or fellowship. A positive response to my question would also seem to indicate that you must believe in and accept to some undetermined degree, the things which I teach. If that is the case, -- and I can only assume that it is -- then allow me to ask you something: If you are so dissatisfied with your current church or fellowship, to the point that you are even willing to consider joining another one -- albeit, a theoretical one -- what are you still doing there? Why haven't you done anything to better your personal situation?
If all your current church is doing is merely preaching the same dead message day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year; if your church is full of nothing but spiritually retarded people who don't want to go beyond sitting on their rumps and hearing the weekly sermon, but never really doing anything about it, why are you still there? A church or fellowship that talks about faith, but never really puts their words into action by showing their visible good works, is a dead church; just as the Apostle James informs us in the following verse:
"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."
James 2:26, KJV
As we all know, this is the very same message which our Lord Himself proclaimed during His famous Sermon on the Mount. In the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, the Lord said in part:
"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
Matthew 5:14-16, KJV
God wants the world to see our good works; and as I point out in "The Parable Of The Sower: Salvation And Service", "Where Are The First Century Churches?", "Are You A Burning Ember For The Lord" and similar articles, those good works include being faithful witnesses and soul winners for Jesus Christ. It is preaching the Gospel of Salvation in some way, to all who will hear. If you have realized that your church or fellowship is simply going through the motions like the dead Church of Sardis in the Book of Revelation, then why are you even still with them? Do you enjoy being a part of a dead, rotten, putrid corpse? The Lord certainly didn't mince His words when He had the Apostle John write the following to that Church:
"And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead."
Revelation 3:1, KJV
Similar to what the Lord says regarding the Church of Sardis, perhaps some of today's churches seem to be alive, when they are actually dead corpses which are merely convulsing with a few final twitches. As you may recall, in the Gospels, Jesus said to let the spiritually dead bury the physically dead; and that if the blind lead the blind, they shall both fall into the ditch. Instead of following in their footsteps, what did the Lord say to the man who was interested in following Him? Consider the following verses:
"But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead."
Matthew 8:22, KJV
"Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God."
Luke 9:60, KJV
"And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?"
Luke 6:39, KJV
Notice our Lord's clear response. He said to the man "Follow me . . . go thou and preach the kingdom of God". Did Jesus instruct us to remain with those dead corpses? Obviously not. There have been some people who have honestly and sincerely tried to infuse new life into some of those old dead corpses, but sadly, the majority of them have discovered that their honest attempt to rekindle the spiritual fire in their church or fellowship, has only resulted in harsh resentment from the spiritual overlords, as well as from their flocks, who prefer things just the way they are. In the past, I've been to some of those clique-like churches, so I speak from experience.
Just like the Scribes and the Pharisees of old, such churches have their laws, traditions, doctrines and weekly routine, and they don't want anyone challenging them in any way. Their traditions are sacred to them; and if you're smart, you won't mess with them if you know what is good for you. On the other hand, if you decide to challenge them and dare to cross their red line, don't be surprised if the people you now believe to be sheep, suddenly show their fangs and reveal themselves to actually be wolves in sheep's clothing. The Scriptures reveal that this has been a problem for God's true children for the past two thousand years. Consider the following verses:
"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."
Matthew 7:15, KJV
"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."
Matthew 10:16, KJV
"Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves."
Luke 10:3, KJV
"For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock."
Acts 20:29, KJV
As we can learn from the sad example of the Scribes and the Pharisees, and as Jesus explains in the Gospels, it simply is not a wise idea to try to pour new wine -- that is to say new doctrine -- into old bottles, because most religionists just are not able to handle it. Consider Jesus' words:
"Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved."
Matthew 9:17, KJV
In like manner, if your current church is only interested in the false gospel of the "abundant life", in materialism, in mammon, in "financial blessings" as many of these modern preachers refer to them, in maintaining the status quo, and in making a name for themselves, then it would probably be better for you to leave that church and start a fellowship of your own, if there is truly no hope for change. As some of you may recall, materialism was in fact the same problem which plagued the Church of Laodicea in Asia Minor during the First Century, and Jesus had some very pointed words to say to those Christians as well, as we see by the following verses that are also 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:"
Revelation 3:15-17, KJV
As I explain in the article "Are You A Burning Ember For The Lord?", if your present church or fellowship is spiritually dead, and if you personally are truly a burning ember for the Lord, then my advice to you is that you prayerfully consider starting your own Christian fellowship in your own home. Look for people who share the same love for the Lord and His Word, and who have a burden for lost souls. As the Apostle James advises us, look for other Christians who wish to be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, for they are hypocrites who only deceive themselves into thinking that they are genuine Christians:
"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."
James 1:22, KJV
Do it the right way -- that is, the Scriptural way -- as I explain in my series "Where Are The First Century Churches?". Follow the pattern of the First Century Church, and you may be surprised by the results. Leave your current spiritually dead church or fellowship, and start a home church of your own, with people who do want to obey the Scriptures, and who do want to be a real witness for Jesus. As the aforementioned series clearly explains, it was in people's homes where the First Century Christians originally held their fellowships. Allow me to share some of the verses which are included in that series:
"And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,"
Acts 2:46, KJV
"And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,"
Acts 20:20, KJV
"Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ."
Romans 16:5, KJV
"The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house."
1 Corinthians 16:19, KJV
"Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house."
Colossians 4:15, KJV
"And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:"
Philemon 1:2, KJV
It is truly amazing the way the Lord will often use things which happen to us in order to teach a valuable lesson. As I have mentioned before, sometimes certain things occur to me which seem insignificant at the time; but then later, lo and behold, they find their way into an article. As it turns out, at the time that I first wrote this article in 1998, I was reminded of a cartoon I used to watch a long time ago when I was a little boy. Maybe some of my American readers who are Baby Boomers will remember it. The main character of this particular cartoon was named Baby Huey.
As you can see by the image that I have included with this article, Baby Huey was an oversized, bungling, slobbering very naïve duckling character, who was dressed in a diaper held together with a large safety pin, had a bonnet on his head, and often had a milk bottle stuck in his mouth. This duckling's problem is that he was always running back to his mother; because every time he would try to fit in with the other ducklings, a hilarious disaster would occur, he would be rejected, and he would end up in tears; at least that is how I remember the cartoon. It has been fifty years, so my memory of Baby Huey may be a bit distorted.
If you would like to download a free copy of the 1950 Baby Huey cartoon "Quack-A-Doodle-Doo" which begins with the birth of Baby Huey, check out the archive.org website.
In short, Baby Huey didn't want to -- or just could not seem to -- grow up. He was naïve, socially awkward and an outcast, while at the same time, very sensitive and well-meaning. Poor Baby Huey just wanted to have fun and fit in, and eventually he actually did. As it turns out, as a result of his size and strength, he was able to protect the other ducklings from the wily fox who was always looking for his next meal, which was often Baby Huey himself.
No doubt some of you have probably already understood why I am sharing this story of Baby Huey with you. Allow me to ask you a question. In a spiritual sense, how many of you are also Baby Hueys? How many of you are way overdue for leaving the nest, but have simply refused to do so? How many of you want to just keep selfishly sucking on that spiritual milk bottle, when it is high time that you not only start eating meat yourselves, but that you start feeding and ministering to others as well? As the following verses make very clear, the Christian walk of faith is supposed to be marked by spiritual growth and maturity of the inner man:
"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."
1 Corinthians 13:11, KJV
"Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men."
1 Corinthians 14:20, KJV
"That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;"
Ephesians 3:16, KJV
"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving."
Colossians 2:6-7, KJV
"Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:"
Colossians 3:9-10, KJV
"As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:"
1 Peter 2:2, KJV
"Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen."
2 Peter 3:17-18, KJV
Please notice Peter's reference to "the sincere milk of the word". What is the purpose of this "milk of the Word"? Is it simply to selfishly enjoy year after year after year? No; it is so "that ye may grow thereby". Imagine a poor mother who is forced to breastfeed her baby year after year after year, because that baby simply refuses to eat anything else. While in some countries a child is nursed until he is about two years old, we all know that to continue nursing beyond that point would be considered quite abnormal.
Sadly, in our fast-paced world today, some babies are only breastfed for a few weeks, or for a few months; and some of them are never breastfed at all. In some cases, this is due to selfishness on the part of the mother, or perhaps due to medical problems, or maybe due to time constraints placed upon the mother by a busy work schedule. It is truly sad that the only thing some babies will ever know, is a chemical liquid placed in their mouths by a rubber nipple attached to a cold hard bottle. The comfort and assurance of warm skin against skin is gone; and the bond which is formed early in life may never be given a chance to develop.
Returning to the idea of a mother who is forced to nurse her child year after year after year due to her child's stubborn refusal to be weaned from the breast, not only would it be a physical drain on any mother just to try to keep up with her child's demands, but it would also no doubt be an eye-opener, an embarrassment, and downright odd to see a six-year-old, or a ten-year-old coming home from school and asking to suck on his mother's breast. Perhaps some of you are laughing, while others are even offended by such a graphic example, but it certainly emphasizes the point, doesn't it? There comes a time when we all need to be weaned from the milk of the Word, and begin to eat the meat of the Word. As with a human baby, a liquid diet alone will not suffice forever.
It might interest you to know that in the Bible, in writing about the return of the Jews, the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah also spoke of "nursing fathers" and "nursing mothers" who would take care of -- or support -- the Lord's scattered children until the time of their return to Israel. Consider the following verses:
"Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been? Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me."
Isaiah 49:21-23, KJV
In a spiritual sense, those of us who are called to shepherd and feed the Lord's flocks, are likewise nursing fathers and nursing mothers. As the Apostle Peter notes, we are feeding God's children with His spiritual milk, with the pure milk of His Word, so that they may grow by it; and thereby mature into responsible Christians who will also be able to witness to and win others to Christ. In his Epistle to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul also wrote about spiritual growth; not only individual spiritual growth, but growth as a body as well. Consider the following verses:
"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love . . . But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."
Ephesians 4:11-16, 20-24, KJV
Notice some of the terminology that Paul uses here to denote spiritual progress such as "perfect man", "unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ", and "henceforth be no more children". All of these phrases describe spiritual growth, and not spiritual stagnation.
Please go to part two for the continuation of this series.
⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .