Nothing New

Neil Girrard

Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Dt. 5:27 π Mt. 13:30 π Mt. 20:25-26 π Mk. 10:42 π Mk. 10:42-43 π Lk. 5:38-39 π Jn. 1:1 π Jn. 1:14 π Jn. 5:39 π Acts 7:48 π Acts 17:24 π Acts 19:37 π Rom. 15:4 π 1 Cor. 2:14 π 1 Cor. 11:20 π 1 Cor. 12:28 π 1 Cor. 15:45 π Eph. 4:11 π Phlp. 1:1 π 2 Ths. 2:1 π 2 Ths. 2:1-2 π 2 Tim. 2:15 π 2 Tim. 3:16-17 π Heb. 4:12 π Heb. 10:25; 2nd π Heb. 13:7 π Jas. 1:27 π Jas. 2:2; 2nd π 2 Pet. 1:4 π 1 Jn. 2:16 π Rev. 1:10 π Rev. 2:6 π Rev. 2:9 π Rev. 2:15 π Rev. 3:9
Greek Words Mentioned in This Article
Belonging to a Lordkuriakos – [2960]

“If it ain’t broke,” the saying goes, “don’t fix it.” This piece of conventional wisdom, if not actually started by the devil, is certainly one of his chief precepts. And this only makes sense. He has found various schemes which enable him to thwart a believer from realizing the complete and perfect will of God for his or her life. They work - and they are working exceedingly well. There is no need to change his strategy for it is succeeding admirably well in filling up the vast emptiness of Hell.

Consider Satan’s success in his encounter with Adam and Eve. Was this his first experience with tempting another to do evil in the sight of God? By no means! By the time the serpent struck up a conversation with Eve, he had already beguiled a third of the angels. What worked well on them worked well on Eve.

And what was that deception? “You shall be as God” is still the ultimate temptation for the self-willed creature. We have seen this same lie brought forth in the New Age Movement where nearly everything centers around the godlike powers of self. Nothing new here.

But most believers, if they believe in a personal devil, often seem to assume that there is only an extremely obvious frontal assault being made on their faith - a faith which they most often perceive as piteously weak anyway. That is to say, they act as if the devil will take only the most obvious and gross temptations to sin - lust, fornication, theft, murder, gossip, lies, etc. (known in Scripture as “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” - 1 Jn. 2:16; top ) - and blatantly, in full view of the believer so that there is no possibility of surprise, lay it across the believer’s path as if expecting the weak believer (who often secretly longs and intends to indulge that aspect of his flesh anyway) to be unable to resist the obvious temptation to gross sin.

Now it cannot be argued that the devil does not do this - for indeed he does. But when he does something blatant and obvious, you can rest assured that it is only a diversionary tactic designed to keep you from seeing the real trap which you did not see him set and which is cleverly camouflaged under a slick coating of many things which are or which seem to be true.

God has graciously revealed to the body of Christ some of the major deceptions that Satan is currently using to ensnare the body and prevent it from reaching spiritual maturity. And, like all good (or effective) lies, they contain great portions of truth.

Lie # 1

First, there is the simple error of calling the body of Christ the “church.” The word “church” has a very interesting etymology. It is originally derived from the word “kuriakos” [ 2960 ] which means “of the Lord” (“kurios” being Greek for “lord”). In late Greek this became “kuriakon” and in Old English was “cirice” and in Middle English “chirche.” It is this word “chirche” that found its way into the 1611 King James Bible (KJV). Its meaning is “house of the Lord.”

The word “church” or “churches” is found 114 times in the KJV New Testament. Of those 114 times the English word “church” is used, it translates two Greek words - neither of which are “kuriakos.” 113 times “church” is used for the Greek word “ekklesia” and 1 time it is used for the Greek word “hierosulous” which refers to robbers of temples. When we re-insert the word “church” into the two places where it rightly belongs ( 1 Cor. 11:20 ; Rev. 1:10; top ), the shallowness of our understanding of the New Testament writers’ original intent begins to become apparent.

There is a Greek word for temples. It is “hieron” and is the root word of this one usage of the word “church” in Acts 19:37 (top) referring to those who rob temples. So, if the writers of the New Testament had wanted to refer to the temple, the building in which God (or a god) was to be worshiped, they certainly had a word to do so. And in fact, the writers of the New Testament do indeed use this word 67 times - 66 times referring to the temple in Jerusalem and 1 time referring to a pagan temple. But it never has the same meaning as “ekklesia.”

In addition to “hieron” which referred to the physical structure, the edifice, of a temple, there was another Greek word which referred to the temple as a home or dwelling place for God or a god. This word is “naos” and it is used 9 times to refer to the temple in Jerusalem, 6 times to refer to Jesus’ own body which would be destroyed and raised again in 3 days, 2 times to emphasize that God does not dwell in temples made with human hands, 1 time to refer to the shrines of the goddess Diana, 6 times to refer to the body of believers as the dwelling place of God, 1 time to refer to the body of the individual believer and 15 times to refer to the temple in heaven. And this word too never has the same meaning as does “ekklesia.”

In addition to “hieron” and “naos,” there was still yet another Greek word which could mean the house or household of God. This word is “oikos” and, when it is used in reference to “God’s house,” it is used 3 times to refer to the incident in which David entered the temple to eat the showbread, 9 times to refer to the house of prayer, the temple, which the moneychangers had transformed into a den of thieves, 1 time to refer to Zechariah’s death between the altar and the temple, 1 time to refer to Solomon’s temple, 1 time to refer to the impossibility of building God an appropriate house with human hands, 1 time by Paul in his instruction to Timothy how he ought to behave amongst the people of God, 2 times to refer to the tabernacle of Moses, 5 times to refer to the body of believers as the house of God, and 4 times to refer to houses in which an ekklesia was. Anyone who could confuse the ekklesia that was in the oikos would have difficulty differentiating between the water in the pitcher and the pitcher that contains the water.

The point is, there were a plethora of Greek words that carried the meaning of the English word “church.” In fact, the English word “church” had a Greek equivalent - “kuriakon.” But instead of using the somewhat more accurate “assembly” or even using “the called-out people,” the KJV translators chose to use “church” - the “house,” the building, the sanctuary, the temple of God. And what a sad legacy this poor word choice has left us with.

”Ekklesia” is derived from two Greek words: “ek” meaning “out of” or “from” and “kaleo” which means “to call.” About “ekklesia,” Spiros Zodhiates, himself a misuser of the word “church,” writes:

“from ekkletos (not used in the New Testament), called out, which is from ekkaleo (not used in the New Testament), to call out. It was a common term for a congregation of the ekkletoi (not used in the New Testament), the called people, or those called out or assembled in the public affairs of a free state, the body of free citizens called together by a herald (kerux) which constituted the ekklesia... The term ekklesia denotes the New Testament community of the redeemed in its twofold aspect. First, all who were called by and to Christ in the fellowship of His salvation, the church worldwide of all times, and only secondarily, to an individual church.” (Complete Word Study Dictionary)

There are two words used in the New Testament to refer to the gathering of people in the name of God. First is “ekklesia” which has no direct English equivalent and the other is “sunagoge” from which we derive words like “synagogue” and “synergy.” In the Greek New Testament, the word “sunagoge” is used to refer to the people of Israel in contrast to all other nations. Interestingly enough, this word is used 57 times - only 3 times is this outside of the Gospels and Acts (wherein it is used exclusively to refer to local synagogues of the Jews). 2 of those 3 times it is a prophetic reference to the “synagogue of Satan.” ( Rev. 2:9 ; 3:9; top ) The only time this word is used to refer to the assembly of the saints is found in Jas. 2:2; top . Most scholars believe James to have been the first book written in the New Testament and it is easy to see how Jesus’ brother, in a time when being a believer made you a part of “the Nazarene’s sect,” would still consider the “assembly” to be synonymous with the “synagogue.” The usage of this word in the New Testament is quite consistent with the historical fact that the early believers quickly forsook even the Jewish synagogue to embrace the Christian assembly of the called out ones, to be the “ekklesia.”

This simple substitution of one word for another is responsible for many errors and misconceptions in the body of Christ today. Where ekklesia refers to the people who worship God with their lives, church refers to a building in which God is to be worshiped. The notion of worshiping God in a building is clearly refuted in the New Testament. God simply does not live in buildings made by human hands. ( Acts 7:48 ; 17:24; top ) And the diversion of resources to build and maintain such an artificial and unScriptural building is contrary to what God considers acceptable and pure religion. ( Jas. 1:27; top )

This simple substitution of one word for the other is seen as the sinister Satanic plot that it really is when one discovers the roots and history of where the church building comes from. A church building was wholly unknown to Christians until a.d. 200 - only a generation or so after the apostles and prophets had carelessly been replaced by scholars and bishops. Thus in the 4th century, when the emperor Constantine mandated “Christianity” to be the official religion of the Roman empire, many hailed it as a tremendous victory for Christianity. But it has proven only to be a source of great contamination to the faith of every believer since that time.

When Constantine “Christianized” the Roman empire, he transferred the Roman system of government onto the people of God and, in so doing, officially replaced the system of God-given apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers with a hierarchy of bishops and priests, placing them in the authority structure with which he was most familiar - that of the Roman empire. Further, many priests of Roman gods, faced with the choice of becoming Christian or becoming unemployed, chose to outwardly change their allegiance without ever once changing their heart toward the one true God. Thus many pagan practices, including holiday celebrations much like our modern Christmas and Easter and the use of local temples in which to worship one’s god, were incorporated into Christianity. Where the original ekklesia spiritually thrived by meeting in homes where the size of the gathering could never grow too large and the environment was conducive to the intimacy and accountability required to grow in grace and knowledge of the truth, the church now provided a place of anonymity and religious rites and rituals which, though these have the appearance of godliness, lack its requisite power.

Further confusion has been incorporated by the very architecture of the church building. The reason for the high arches, the pointed ceiling and the steeple are to represent the unreachable heights of God. Scripture, on the other hand, speaks of the invisible God who dwells intimately within the believer and thus He is neither in some faraway heights nor is He unreachable. The raised platform upon which one man or a few men stand over the crowd of common people was also incorporated into the design - in spite of the fact that the design originally came from the pagan temples where the god to be worshiped sat center stage on the raised platform.

Calling the body of Christ - the ekklesia, the assembly of people called out of the darkness of sin and of the world and translated into the kingdom of light belonging to the only Son of God - calling this group the church is to submit to a subtle lie of the devil and to become ensnared in the first of his schemes to entrap the body of Christ and to prevent the kingdom of God from being established in this world.

Lie # 2

This second lie is closely related to the first and it is rooted in the modern error of assuming that what we do now is exactly what they did 2,000 years ago when the New Testament was written. This lie is based in a misunderstanding of the Greek word “episunagoge.”

This is the word that is found in Heb. 10:25 (top) which reads: “ not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together “ The modern error is to assume that the “assembling of ourselves together” means to come together for a Sunday morning “worship service.” Because we do it this way now it is assumed that this is the way it was done then. This too is a subtle device of the enemy to keep us from a pure faith.

The word “sunagoge,” as was already discussed, referred to the congregation of Jewish people. The word, for a short time came to refer to the congregation of believers as is seen in Jas. 2:2; top . But because the word referred to the building and the people, as well as to practicing the Jewish faith outside of Jesus as the Messiah, the Christians forsook calling themselves a synagogue and took on the word ekklesia.

But this word “episunagoge” remained. And it is most important that we understand what is really being said in the original Greek. This word appears only twice in the New Testament. Once in Heb. 10:25 and once in 2 Ths. 2:1; top . As has already been quoted, the writer of Hebrews uses it to warn his readers not to forsake the assembling together.

When Paul uses it in writing to the Thessalonians, he says, “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.” ( 2 Ths. 2:1-2; top ) On the day of Christ, Paul says, when He returns and gathers us all to Himself, we will have been “episunagoge-d” to Him.

So what is being referred to here? Is it the regular weekly gathering to which we come and from which we leave after it is concluded? That would be inconsistent with the New Testament usage of the term. When Jesus returns and gathers us to Himself, we will never again be separated from Him. And if the Hebrews passage refers to a weekly gathering why is it then that the warning is not to forsake the gathering? For, if we were to ever leave our weekly meeting, we will have forsaken the gathering. Furthermore, the writer of Hebrews then goes on to state that those who do not heed his warning but continue to put themselves in opposition to God in this manner can only expect fearful and fiery judgment from God! All this because someone doesn’t come to a Sunday morning meeting which is often spiritually dead or dull anyway? That would be preposterous.

This is why it is important to know what the word means. “Episunagoge,” according to Spiros Zodhiates,

“has the meaning of not betraying one’s attachment to Jesus Christ and other believers and of not avoiding one’s own personal responsibility as part of the body of Christ.” (Complete Word Study Dictionary)

That is something that is of much greater significance than making one’s weekly public appearance at some local “church.” It refers to the very core and essence of being a believer in Christ and a grafted-in member of God’s family. And this is why the writer of Hebrews could say that those who forsake this assembly are those who oppose God and can only expect judgment.

The picture of being assembled, in its proper context, is that of being placed where the Holy Spirit has placed you in the body of Christ. And just as importantly as where is the concept of what He has made you to be. That is, you are to be associating with those believers with whom He has assembled you and you are to be whatever gifting and calling He has placed upon your life. Only in this way will the group of individual parts of the body become a working whole. It is the assembly of all the various parts to form one working whole which is in view in this Greek word “episunagoge.”

So, how does one betray one’s attachment to Jesus Christ? By betraying or being ashamed of Him or His words and by refusing to obey His commands. How does one betray one’s attachment to other believers? By refusing to fellowship and be in unity with them. How does one avoid one’s own personal responsibility as part of the body of Christ? By refusing to obey the commands that Christ gave us to love one another as He has loved us.

In the New Testament there are nearly 60 commands as to how we are to treat one another. We are to love one another, serve one another, build up one another, bear one another’s burdens, etc. This is the personal responsibility we are not to avoid. And yet, what do we do at the Sunday morning meeting? We let the preacher do these things for us! And then we are astonished when he either proves incapable of the task or burns himself out trying! It is in this light that we can see that not only is the Sunday morning meeting not the equivalent of the Greek “episunagoge,” we can see clearly that it the Sunday morning routine and its attendant guilt for absence is only a scheme of the devil purposefully designed to prevent the believer from actively participating in the divine nature of God towards one another. Unlike being assembled - episunagoge - the Sunday morning meeting is the perfect place in which to practice a ritual which has the appearance of godliness but which, by the very practice of it, prevents the power of godliness (which changes lives) from being unleashed into the lives of those who seek the things of God - all this while it simultaneously gives those who seek to be anonymous in their sinful lifestyle a place to be comfortable in “worshiping” “God” in their own preferred ways.

A more perfect trap to ensnare the people of God is hard to come by.

Lie # 3

This next subtle lie from the devil is also aimed at keeping the people of God from walking in the power of God. It is another simple substitution of words and it causes us to refrain from experiencing the reality of the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ and trains us to settle for our own understanding and intellectual abilities. It goes a long way in reinforcing the notion that we are our own gods in control of our own destinies.

This simple substitution is the modern confusion between the Book and the Word. The Book is those 66 books inspired by the Holy Spirit and written by over 40 authors across 3 continents in 3 languages over a period of 1500 years - in whatever order we prefer, we know them as Genesis through Revelation. It is the written testimony of the Holy Spirit of the works and actions of God towards certain men during a certain period of time. It is useful for reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness, equipping for good works, for bringing hope, and it is the written source of all of God’s great and precious promises to us. ( 2 Tim. 3:16-17 ; Rom. 15:4 ; 2 Pet. 1:4; top )

But it is not God. It is not the Word. The Book is only words written on a piece of paper. The Word, in contrast to the Book, is alive and powerful, separating between that which is soulish and spiritual, between that which is of the flesh and that which is of the Spirit. ( Heb. 4:12; top ) The Word became flesh and lived among us - and we beheld His glory as of the glory of the unique Son of God. ( Jn. 1:14; top ) In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. ( Jn. 1:1; top )

The Book is the Book and the Word is Jesus Christ who became a life-giving spirit, ( 1 Cor. 15:45; top ) When we embrace the Book as if it were the living Word of God, we subordinate the words of God to the powers of our intellect - an area of the soul in which it is impossible to spiritually know the things of the Spirit - and we spurn the Person of the Word, the Person who is the truth - the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is in this light that we see that those who intellectually embrace the Book as the final arbitrator and standard for all of life and conduct are misguided. The Pharisees did this and Jesus rebuked them soundly by saying, “You study the Scripture because you think that in them you possess eternal life. But I tell you that it is these Scriptures which point to Me.” ( Jn. 5:39; top - emphasis added) Without the Holy Spirit to spiritually illuminate the words He spiritually inspired, there is no hope that we, through the use of our natural minds, could ever rightly divide the word of truth. (see 1 Cor. 2:14 ; 2 Tim. 2:15; top )

If the Holy Spirit does not cause the words of the Book to be filled with the Spirit of truth, the life-giving Spirit of the second Adam, then it is only a dead letter administered in the life-quenching energies of the soul. There is no hope that it will ever produce a life that brings glory to God. Unanointed words - that is, words devoid of the Spirit of life - even when read directly from the printed pages of the Book, will only administer death.

Thus, as the people of the end times heap up to themselves teachers, they will hear much of the words of God - but they will never, through the soulish administrations of these unanointed and spiritually dead teachers, become personally acquainted with the living Word of God, the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. They will be greatly acquainted with fables, many of them about God and about Jesus Christ and many containing a great deal of factual data, but they will be fables nonetheless because they were not brought to life in the heart of the individual by the Spirit of life and truth.

Lie # 4

Of all the lies exposed so far, this next one is the oldest and the most prevalent. It has its roots in paganism and is roundly denounced in many a church - roundly denounced, that is, by someone who practices this lie but refuses to acknowledge that what he is doing is participating in this pagan system. This pagan system is the system that was incorporated into “Christianity” in the time of Constantine and is commonly called the clerical system. It is the system by which the clergy (priests, bishops, patriarchs, cardinals, elders, pastors, deacons, whatever title they misappropriate to themselves) are elevated above the laity (the common people). There is absolutely no basis for this system in the Scriptures and yet it is widely practiced in every branch of Christianity. It is so widely accepted that anyone speaking against this system is immediately branded a heretic and a schismatic when, in truth, it is the clergy, by the very nature of the position they assume, who are the divisive heretics and schismatics.

The historical roots of this pagan system are so obvious that anyone can find the truth if they are so inclined - and there are many ways to approach this subject. One way is to compare the hierarchical structure of the Roman empire with that of the “church” and simply observe the similarities. Another is to take the titles that the “church” uses and look at their etymologies.

To understand how we have inherited this lie through the centuries, we must have an historical framework in which to place the progression. In the 1st - 3rd centuries, the ekklesia had a world-wide impact on the Roman empire - so much so that the emperors of the 4th century and after called themselves “Christian” emperors. In the 4th century, Constantine made Christianity the official religion and introduced many compromises into the faith. From this official religion emerged two branches, two schisms: the Roman Catholic Church (based in Rome and under the control of the bishop of Rome, the pope) and the Eastern Orthodox Church (based in Constantinople and under the control of the patriarch of Constantinople). Both had essentially the same Roman hierarchical structure of the Roman empire.

In the 15th century, reformers like Martin Luther, John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli brought many new ideas to the faith - and many new schisms as well. Actually the ideas they introduced were truly old ideas that were more closely linked to the Scriptures than the Roman Catholic Church of that time was putting into practice. But while the reformers did much to restore the doctrines of the Scriptures, they did little to restore the practice of the New Testament ekklesia. So where the German Catholic priests embraced the Lutheran doctrines, for example, they became Lutheran clergy. And when the Anglican church broke away from the Catholic Church and subsequently the Puritans broke away from the Anglicans (who became the Episcopalians), each group (schism) still often retained the practice of a priest or pastor as the head of the local group of believers. But none of this is Scriptural by any stretch of the imagination.

To see this, we need only look at the first branch (schism) of Christianity, the Roman Catholic Church. To this day, the highest position, that of the pope, is still given the title “Pontifex Maximus.” That this title comes straight from the pagan practices of Rome and not from any Scriptural source is easily verified. A little bit of historical reading will reveal, for example, that the emperor who reigned at the time Jesus was born, Octavius Augustus Caesar, nearly caused a civil war in Rome because he took this title unto himself.

So what’s so special about this title? The answer to this is found in the meaning of the Latin words. “Pontifex” is the combination of two words: “pons” which means “a bridge” and “facere” which means “to do.” Thus a pontifex is a bridge maker or bridge facilitator. “Maximus” simply means “maximum” or “ultimate.” Thus, “Pontifex Maximus” is simply the “ultimate bridge maker.”

But the question is, what is he making a bridge between? In the Roman system, the College or Association of Pontiffs were the priests who stood behind the ambo (pulpit) on the raised platform of the pagan temple between the god or goddess being worshiped and the people doing the worshiping. They were the bridges between the gods and men. And this is the system that has been incorporated into every church system down through the centuries.

Wherever a man has the ability to exercise authority over another in the name of Christian religion, it is this same pontifical system. Whether the title is pope, cardinal, bishop, patriarch or pastor, the act of exercising authority is the key symbol of the clergy/laity system. It is this exercising of authority which Christ forbade ( Mt. 20:25-26 ; Mk. 10:42-43; top ) and it is the deeds and doctrine of the Nicolaitans (those who rule over - Greek nikao - the people, the laity - Greek laos) that He hates. ( Rev. 2:6 , 15; top )

Where the modern error is made is in failing to recognize that God has a different system of government than did the Roman empire. God’s governmental system involves apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelists, shepherds, elders and deacons working together (see Eph. 4:11 ; 1 Cor. 12:28 ; Phlp. 1:1; top ) and is a system of servants, not rulers. And this is apparent even where, in the English rendition, we are called upon to obey those who rule over us. ( Heb. 13:7 - a poor translation at best; compare Mk. 10:42; top ) A more accurate rendering of the sense of that passage would be for us to obey the truth that those who watch over us speak into our lives. As they speak the truth, that is, words filled with the Spirit of life, we are to receive and obey Him, the Person of truth, as He is conveyed through those who have the responsibility to watch over our younger walks with the Lord.

God’s kingdom is so radically different from the Romish system that one has to wonder why the people of God have been deceived for so many centuries. Perhaps it is because this divisive system has so ripened that it is virtually impossible not to recognize its rotten fruit. Perhaps it is simply because Christ is preparing His bride to be a spotless bride without spot or wrinkle that He is now restoring this revelation to His people. In the parable of the wheat and tares, the owner of the field said, “Let both [the wheat and the tares] grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” ( Mt. 13:30; top ) God has so permitted the simultaneous growth of both truth and error - it is only as we near the time when the angels will be sent to harvest that we are being clearly called upon to choose which we shall be. Unless we allow the Holy Spirit to do His work of leading us into all truth - which, to do so, He must lead us out of all lies, even the lies called church - we will not be spotless and therefore we will not be the bride.

The reason the clergy/laity system remains so entrenched can be seen in the Israelites’ response to Moses at Mt. Sinai. When the Lord came down in smoke and fire, even the mountain trembled and tried to run away. The people were terrified and said to Moses, “Uh, Moses, you go up the mountain and meet with God for us - and whatever He tells you, that we will do.” ( Dt. 5:27; top )

There is within the human heart that recognizes the awesome holiness of God an appropriate fear of coming into His presence. But when we find a representative to go up the holy mountain for us, we are spurning the work of Christ in that regard. Christ has already gone up that mountain first. He has pierced the veil that separates us from God. He is the sacrifice of perfect love that removes all fear. When we look to another to do what He has already done, we have succumbed to this lie of Satan’s that says we are unworthy and unacceptable in the presence of God. The truth is that we, that is, every believer, are a royal priesthood made acceptable by the shed blood of the Beloved. We not only have the right to stand in the holy place of God, we have the responsibility to do so.

To do any less is to believe a lie.

Perpetuating the Error

The point of all this is that there is nothing new happening here. Century after century, leaders have been able to recognize what is wrong in their time but they often seem unable to apply it to themselves. Martin Luther (Lutheranism) could easily see sins and errors of the Pope (Catholicism) - and John Wesley (Methodism) could easily see sins and errors of Martin Luther - and Chuck Smith (Calvary Chapel) can easily see the sins and errors of John Wesley. And those who see and hear now can easily see the sins and errors of Chuck Smith. But none of these could see where their own doctrines were merely forming yet another hardened old wineskin incapable of containing the new wine of the Holy Spirit. ( Lk. 5:38-39; top )

But this is nothing new. The schemes of the devil are old and, while occasionally being refined, they never need to be rejected or scrapped. They work and they work very well.

But to show you that all this is nothing new, consider what Augustine wrote in the 4th century. He wrote:

I ask: Who is so dull-witted as not to perceive that these oracles [purportedly by the god Apollo and the goddess Hecate] were either made up by this clever and implacable enemy of the Christians or were actually uttered by impure demons. In either case, the purpose was the same, namely, by praising Christ to win a confident hearing in their slanderous abuse of His followers, and this, if possible, to block that road to eternal salvation upon which one who becomes a Christian enters. The demons realize that it falls in well with their astute resourcefulness in doing harm, if they gain credit by praising Christ, and consequent credit in calumniating [slandering] Christians. In this way they can make a man who swallows both tales the kind of Christ-eulogizer who is loathe to be a Christian, with the result that the Christ whom he extols is rendered incapable of setting him free from the domination of the demons. This is all the more true when you reflect that their praise of Christ is so shaped that anyone accepting Christ on their testimony would not be a genuine Christian anyway, but a Photinian heretic who accepts Christ as a man while rejecting Him as God, and thus can neither be saved by Him nor avoid, or escape from, the snares of these lying devils. (The City of God, 19.23)

And so it is today that anyone who is brought to the Christ of the “church” has not come to the living Word of God. And even should a genuine seeker manage to find the real Christ (who is much greater than the inhibiting environment of the “church”), so long as he holds tightly to the deceptive “church” system, he will never get free of the oppression of the demons who rule and reign over that system.

The lies and schemes of the devil are still so shaped that anyone who believes the “church” stories about the Christ will become one who gives great lip service to Christ but never comes to the point of actually obeying His commands given through His Holy Spirit. Such a one who is led to believe that he is a Christian though there is no liberating power in his life will always remain in bondage to the demonic spirits. He will be one who verbally acknowledges that Christ is God but one who habitually and experientially denies the reality and lordship of the living God in his life.

Such a condition of frustrating impotence could not make the devil happier.

I’d love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!

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