Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
April 2, 2000
Last Updated :
March 29, 2011
Cold Handshakes And Pats On The Back, Love Of Many Shall Wax Cold, Home Fellowships And Kindred Spirits, Lack Of Fellowship And Condemnation, Greedy Shepherds, Filthy Lucre And Fleecing God's Sheep, A Life Blessed Of The Lord, Survival Outside Of The Church System, God's Loners And Persecution Of The Lord's Servants, Testimony Of The Apostle Paul, The Threat Of Home Fellowships, Methods That Religionists Use To Stamp Out Home Fellowships, Jewish Persecution Of Early Christian Church, The Whorish Marriage Of Churchianity And The Worldly System, God Will Teach You And Empower You, Paul's View Of His Former Life As A Pharisee, Trust The Lord And Start Out Small, God Is Not Impressed With Numbers, Mega-Churches vs Small, Home Fellowships, Freely Use Study Materials Available On Our Web Site, Rivers Of Living Water, Look To God's Word And Divine Inspiration, Importance Of Spiritual And Physical Unity In Marriage Relationships, Women Should Submit To Their Husbands
Sadly, the heartfelt demonstration of brotherly affection which was shared by the Christian Disciples of the First Century has now devolved into a cold handshake, a pat on the back, and mumbling a few words to our neighbor in the pew, if even that. In the past -- decades ago -- I was involved in such behavior, and it was so mechanical and emotionless. Like a bunch of mindless robots, everyone would do as they were told, and then turn again to face the priest or pastor. As I point out in other articles, this is precisely how Jesus said it would be during the Endtime; because not only do our sins separate us from God, but they separate us from each other as well; and one of the primary sins is the sin of pride. As Jesus said:
"And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold."
Matthew 24:12, KJV
Returning to the couple which inspired this article, as I stated earlier, if they are not happy in their church, then perhaps they should consider establishing their own home fellowship with people with whom they feel a kindred spirit. Who knows; they might be pleasantly surprised to discover that some of the others who also left their church, might be interested in coming to their home -- or wherever it might be convenient -- in order to have some real fellowship in the Spirit, where they can share the Word together, have prayer and counsel, perhaps share a potluck dinner, or whatever the Lord leads them to do.
Now, suppose that rather than deciding to start their own fellowship, this couple chooses to look for another church where they feel comfortable, but it takes a while for them to find a good quality church where Bible-based doctrine is preached? What if, as a result of their prayerful search for a new church home, they are left out of fellowship for some time? Or suppose that they do choose to start their own home fellowship, but it takes some time for them to find other Christians who may be interested in attending, and who share their same vision? Should this couple feel condemned due to their lack of fellowship?
Well, if we accept churchianity's mantra, that is, the mantra of organized religion and the sermons of church preachers and pastors who are only interested in packing people into their mega-churches by the droves -- they have to keep their church coffers full after all -- then yes, this couple could indeed feel quite condemned. In fact, they might possibly be led to believe that God is going to strike them dead if they don't return to church as soon as possible!
Now, obviously, I realize that I'm being overly dramatic, but it is to emphasize a certain point; and that is that certain church leaders are experts when it comes to exerting control over their flocks, and making them feel like they are totally backslidden from the Lord if they fail to attend services for even a week or two. Some of these false shepherds simply do not like their members gaining any kind of spiritual freedom, or escaping from their grasp. Not only does it make them look bad when members of the congregation start leaving the church in droves -- as seems to be the case in this couple's church where three quarters of the original congregation has already left -- but as I said, it hurts them financially as well; and that is probably what raises their ire the most. The smaller their flock, the less sheep they have to fleece.
As I explain in articles such as "Money-Making Bible Hucksters And Mammon", this practice of fleecing the sheep for personal gain -- or "filthy lucre" -- is nothing new. In fact, it has been going on for literally thousands of years. It was a very big problem in both the Old Testament, and the New Testament. Thus the Lord said through the Prophet Ezekiel:
"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 . . . Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 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 34:2-3, 7-10, KJV
In the New Testament, we also find a number of verses where the Apostles admonish their followers not to teach and share God's Word for personal gain -- or filthy lucre -- as we see here:
"Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous . . . Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;"
1 Timothy 3:3, 8, KJV
"For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre . . . Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake."
Titus 1:7, 11, KJV
"Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;"
1 Peter 5:2, KJV
As some of my longtime readers already know, I have not been a regular church member in more than forty years. Based upon what is taught by some of the leaders of organized religion, I must be totally backslidden from the faith, and an absolute sinner of the worst kind. Oddly enough, I don't feel that way at all. In fact, while I live a rather simple life, with only my basic necessities being met, plus the tools that I need to carry on this ministry, in a spiritual sense, I feel that I have been greatly blessed by the Lord. Not only has He been faithful to provide our daily needs, but He has also provided me with a knowledge and understanding of His Word which I honestly don't believe I could have acquired, had I remained a part of organized religion; because their entire objective seems to be to teach the Word of God from a perspective that will justify everything that they do; while at the same time condemning those who do not go along with their program of control and indoctrination.
Another deception of churchianity and organized religion is that a Christian simply cannot survive outside of the church system. The claim is that any attempt to do this will result in a Christian growing weak spiritually, backsliding, and in a worse-case scenario, maybe even denying the Lord. Well, while that may be true with some people, it certainly has not been true in my life. I don't claim to be a spiritual giant of any kind, but I do know what I believe, and why I believe it, and my faith in the Lord and His Word is quite strong. I am not saying that I haven't made mistakes along the way; but when I do err, and if I do begin to stray from the Lord due to worldly enticements and other temptations, the conviction of God's Spirit is strong in my life, and I eventually get back on track again.
If we study the Bible closely, we discover that many of the Prophets and servants of the Lord were in fact loners who were rejected by the religious order of their day. They were social outcasts who were ridiculed, verbally warned, accused of committing treason, said to be liars, described as being crazy or demon-possessed, thrown into prison, tortured in a variety of ways, thrown out of town, and quite often killed, by the very ones who claimed to be the religion established by God. For example, Jesus and the Apostle Paul made it very clear that persecution would be the fate of Believers, as we see by these verses:
"But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. But there shall not an hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls."
Luke 21:12-19, KJV
"If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me."
John 15:18-21, KJV
"They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service."
John 16:2, KJV
"Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
2 Timothy 3:12, KJV
In the previous verses, Jesus clearly states that the very ones who claim to be members of the religion of God, would persecute and kill the true followers of the Lord; thinking all the while that they were obeying the Lord by committing such heinous acts. The Apostle Paul -- who in former times was known as Saul of Tarsus -- was a classic example of this. Thus, in two of his Epistles, upon reflecting back on his former life as a devout, Law-bound Pharisee, Paul writes the following:
"For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God."
1 Corinthians 15:9, KJV
"For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:"
Galatians 1:13, KJV
Satan does not change, and his tactics do not change. What he did in times past against the Lord's children he continues to do today as well. That being the case, if you decide that you have the faith to start your own home fellowship, and if you are successful at it, don't be the least bit surprised if you are suddenly faced with some degree of opposition from your local church leaders, who are afraid that you might draw away members from their flocks. In their minds, you are a threat, plain and simple.
They will start to slander you in their Sunday sermons. They will inform their flocks that you are backslidden from the Lord, and warn them to stay away from you. They may even find ways to motivate the local authorities to move against you. In fact, in recent years, I've read a number of news reports where this has already begun to happen. No matter how quiet you may try to be, unsympathetic neighbors might complain to the authorities that you are making too much noise. I recall one report where a Christian couple who was holding Christian fellowships in their home was accused of parking violations, due to the number of cars that were parked in front of their house during an evening of fellowship. So my point is, they will find all kinds of technical reasons to try to prevent you from holding home fellowships; that is, church in the home.
What is so alarming about these incidents is the fact that they aren't happening in Russia, or in Communist China, or in some Muslim country where Christianity is prohibited by law; they are occurring in the so-called Christian United States of America!
The pompous, self-righteous Jewish leadership of two thousand years ago was likewise concerned with this very same issue. They viewed the fledgling Christian Church as a major threat to their false religious system, their hold on power, and the cozy relationship that they had with Rome. Thus it was that they not only eventually succeeded in killing Jesus by using the Romans as their pawns, but they also repeatedly warned the First Century Apostles to stop their preaching as well. This they did verbally, and physically, by beating them, and by throwing them into prison on a number of occasions, as we see by these example verses:
"Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not."
John 11:47-50, KJV
"But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus."
Acts 4:15-18, KJV
"Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison."
Acts 5:17-18, KJV
"Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men."
Acts 5:26-29, KJV
So again, be advised that you may face serious resistance if you attempt to establish any kind of home fellowship which is not blessed by and sanctioned by the local religious and government authorities. In this day and age where everyone has been thoroughly conditioned against anything which even slightly resembles a cult, the potential for persecution is even more of a reality. The powers that be have effectively used the mass media to publish stories occasionally, which will shock the general public into submission, and cause them to accept their way of thinking, so that they are even willing to surrender some of their personal freedoms, all supposedly for the sake of peace and personal security.
As I explain in other articles, organized religion is tightly controlled by the government through tax deductions and their non-profit status; so most church preachers are very careful about what they preach, so that they don't lose their prized status. In short, they have compromised the radical nature of the Gospel message, in order to receive the blessings of the corrupt system with which they love to fornicate. In reality, they aren't that much different from Babylon riding the Beast in the Book of Revelation, because Babylon the Great is also a false religious system. In contrast, the authorities don't have such direct control over private Christian fellowships; thus, they prefer to simply stamp you out, before you even get started. So much for religious freedom in America!
Now obviously, I realize that for some of my readers, I am probably presenting a rather large challenge by proposing the idea of forming a home fellowship. Undoubtedly, some of you are thinking to yourselves, "Well, I would really like to try something like this, but I have no experience. I don't have any formal theological training, so where would I start? What would we do? What would I teach?". The fact that you even feel that way reveals how much you have been indoctrinated by the church system. Organized religion has purposely made you feel and think that way, so that you remain totally dependent on them. In a word, they want you to keep going to church.
However, believe it or not, the very fact that you feel so helpless and incapable is actually in your favor, because it will force you to depend entirely on the Lord for guidance. But, to give you some assistance, allow me to again suggest that you consider reading such articles as "Where Are The First Century Churches?", "The Only Credentials You Need!", and "The Wisdom Of God vs The Philosophy Of Men". It is my personal conviction that with the Spirit of God, and a love for His Word, you are just as prepared for this task as the ignorant fishermen and hated tax collectors that Jesus chose for His Disciples almost two thousand years ago. God will empower you by His Holy Spirit, just as He empowered them. Consider what Luke wrote in the Acts of the Apostles:
"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus."
Acts 4:13, KJV
If you possess the Spirit of God, that is all you need. As I also point out in other articles, after Paul came to Christ, he arrived at a point in his life where he viewed his former life -- which apparently also included a lot of theological head-stuffing at the feet of the Pharisee Gamaliel -- as dung. It became worthless in his sight. In fact, he basically tells us that he had to unlearn much of it, and learn anew during his quiet time of personal revelation with the Lord, as we see by these verses:
"But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."
Galatians 1:11-12, KJV
"Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,"
Philippians 3:8, KJV
So my advice to you is that you just trust the Lord. Simply go in the direction in which you believe He wants you to go, and He will take care of the rest. Simply start out small, and start out simple. Maybe in the beginning, it will just be you and a friend or two talking about the Bible together in the privacy of your home. Perhaps they will mention your weekend get-togethers to a friend, and then a few more folks will be added to your fellowship; and thus it will grow as the Lord leads. As we read in the Book of Acts:
". . . And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."
Acts 2:47b, KJV
All I can tell you is that when a few people get together to honour the Lord and His Word, Jesus told us that He would be in the midst of them, right? That is your fellowship, and it is as blessed of God as one of those large churches. Who is to say otherwise? What makes your small home fellowship any less legitimate than one of those overstuffed mega-churches? I have said it before, and I will say it again: God is not impressed by large numbers; He is interested in quality; and He is touched by a heart which is sincere, and dedicated to Him. In my view, that most certainly leaves out some of the big fancy churches which are filled with worldly spiritless people who honour Him with their lips, but whose hearts are far from Him, and who have very little interest in obeying Him in their lives, by being faithful witnesses of His Word.
If you require some study materials for your home fellowship, I invite you to use the over two hundred and sixty topical King James Version Bible verse lists which are available on our website, as well as the hundreds of articles which I've written over the years which contain a wealth of Scriptural and historical information. Maybe someone will bring up a certain topic during one of your fellowships, and you won't quite know how to respond; but then the Lord will remind you of something I wrote on the subject. You could say something like, "Well, I don't really know how to answer your question properly, but I have a friend who wrote a very interesting article regarding this very topic. Would you like to read it together?". You don't have to do that of course; and I hope that it doesn't appear as if I am trying to promote myself; but I just know that there is a lot of good material in my articles which will feed and inspire God's sheep; because most of it is centered around His Word. The choice is really up to you.
I am simply convinced that if you get together with one or more people, and begin to uplift the Lord and His Word, He will take it from there. He will inspire you by His Spirit, and you will have a wonderful time together! Believe me; it is much better than attending church service every Sunday, and sitting through the same, boring, monotonous, mechanical, spiritless routine. I know that in my personal life, when I start discussing the Bible with someone, it is hard to shut me up! I just love discussing His Word, and you will too! As you inspire other people with the truth of His Word, it will inspire you in return. It seems that sharing the Word has a reciprocal effect on those sharing it. As you begin to pour out to others, the Lord will fill you up in return. That is just the way it works; which is why Jesus clearly said:
"He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."
John 7:38, KJV
Before concluding this series, there is one more important detail which we need to cover, and I have purposely left it until last, because for the woman who was involved in this particular situation, it may have proved to be the most difficult part of my answer for her to receive.
As some of you will have undoubtedly noticed, I approached this issue as if this couple were in agreement. Sadly, the truth of the matter is that they were not. The woman was not at all happy with their church, while the husband seemed to be quite content; so much so that he appeared to be telling her to look for another church, while he remained in the same one; at least that is how I understood her email message at the time. So in a similar situation where a Christian couple is not in agreement, how should they proceed? What does the Lord expect of them in such a situation?
As I stressed earlier in this series, when I am confronted with such difficult questions, in order to avoid doctrinal error, my inclination is to look directly to God's Word, in order to determine what it has to say regarding a certain issue. I just pray, open up my mind and heart to the Spirit, and start typing, and expect the Lord to give me whatever I am supposed to share with a person. That is normally how it happens. I simply accept by faith that what I'm receiving is of Him. Of course, the Lord realizes that due to my cautious nature, He has to speak to me directly from His Word; and so quite often, Bible verses will come to me as I type. That is the basic mechanics of how I write my articles. There is never an outline. They are simply a moment by moment work of inspiration, for those of you who can receive it.
To begin with, while the husband involved may disagree with me, I do not believe that this woman going to one church, while he attends another, is by any means the solution which would be most pleasing to the Lord. This kind of situation could prove to be extremely detrimental to their marriage relationship, and could result in some serious repercussions in the future. In fact, such an arrangement could easily end up ripping their marriage apart, because once spiritual unity is lost, physical unity soon follows on its heels. I am sure that there are some of you reading this who can testify to this very fact.
In all honesty, I believe that the Lord has already spoken to this woman regarding what He expects of her; and it is for this reason that she mentioned about them being one in spirit in her message to me. This is obviously of concern to her. In essence then, all I can really do is build upon what it seems the Lord has already shown her. While the remainder of my answer will not be very popular with some modern-day feminists, and while I will undoubtedly be accused by some women of being just another male chauvinist, in looking to the Holy Scriptures, and what they say concerning marriage relationships, the answer becomes very clear. I can only stand upon the authority of God's Word, and here is what it has to say concerning this issue:
"Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."
Genesis 3:16, KJV
"And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."
Mark 10:4-9, KJV
"Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband."
Ephesians 5:21-33, KJV
"And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them."
Colossians 3:17-19, KJV
"In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression."
1 Timothy 2:9-14, KJV
"Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:"
1 Peter 3:1-5, KJV
Please go to part three for the conclusion of this series.
⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .