Chapter 2

Whose Church is it?

[2.1]

It’s sunny, it’s Saturday, and it’s springtime when the thoughts of the pre-teen neighborhood kids turn to baseball. Most of the usual rag tag assemblies have made their way to the local vacant lot for the first day of the sandlot season. Drawing closer to this jabbering group of all stars, we discover that they’ve just completed the choosing up of sides.

[2.2]

The captain of one of the teams is engaged in a furious confrontation with his teammates over what position each will play. It appears unanimous; all team members including the team captain want to pitch. Suddenly, the voice of one small lad rises above the rest and with one declaration the matter is settled. What was it he said you wonder? Above the din of the other voices he screamed, “My bat, my ball, I pitch.” And with that the matter was ended.

[2.3]

Today’s church faces a similar problem. It would seem that most assemblies have decided that authority to establish church government, make rules, set policy and determine requirements for membership belongs to them. Many even go as far as to determine the very requirements necessary to be saved as though salvation is something to be voted on. They feel they can attach their own list of parameters apart from God’s word. They also believe it’s within their power to deny salvation by denying church membership to anyone who fails to obey their rules.

[2.4]

Salvation comes as a result of Christ’s completed work on the cross; a work which could not be shared with any other. He, through His sinless blood is able to wash from the soul of mankind the sin which separates man from God. He and He alone.

[2.5]

The Lord, through His word has revealed His exclusive position as head and sole authority of His church.

Colossians 1:18-19
18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; (KJV)

[2.6]

What can we, as members of it do, especially if we have been chosen by Him to be His delegated authorities? If we have been delegated then we must represent Him; not ourselves. If we represent Him, then we must carry out His plan; the blueprint He has placed in our hands to follow. We cannot add anything to this blueprint nor can we take anything from it without betraying the trust of the one we represent.

[2.7]

Like the young ballplayer who cried, “My bat, my ball, I pitch,” we must listen to our Lord’s voice as He lifts it above the objections of the crowd to say “My blood, my resurrection, my church, I make the rules!” If you have been searching for the first century church, that warm, simple, loving church family that gathered about the Lord’s Table, you’ve found it.

[2.8]

The Word of God was given as a plan, a spiritual blueprint for the building of God’s kingdom on earth. The Bible is not only God’s blueprint but details all of the builder’s specifications.

[2.9]

Was God, through His son and the apostles, building the church for Himself or for those who would become the material that form its structure? Was the structure of the church to be built of physical things such as gold, silver, precious gems, wood, hay or stubble or was it to be built of spiritual material? What form would it take? Would it follow the contour of its foundation or could it exceed its foundation? Would its corner stone set the lines and limits of the structure or would another rule apply? We need to ask ourselves one all important question; whose church is it?

[2.10]

To arrive at the proper conclusion we must go back to the blueprint and specifications found only in God’s Word.

[2.11]

One thing is clear from Christ’s teaching; it must be built on a rock, not sand. Sand is always shifting. It must be built on firm unchanging ground, immovable and strong. The parable of the house built upon the rock makes this abundantly clear. (Matthew 7:24 – 27)

[2.12]

1. Who is the rock upon which the church is built? (I Corinthians. 10:4 Ro 9:33)
2. Who is unchanging, steady and sure? (Hebrews. 13:8)
3. Who is the chief corner stone? (Ephesians. 2:20)
4. Who is the foundation? (Ephesians. 2:20)
5. Whose church is it? (Ephesians. 5:27)
6. Is it a physical or spiritual house? (I Peter. 2:5)
7. Can we build upon any foundations we choose? 

1 Corinthians 3:11-13
11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.      
12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. (KJV)

[2.13]

If we, who call ourselves Christians (those who obey and follow Christ) attempt to modify, redesign or reduce any part of the Christ’s church we make ourselves equal with Him. The church is a purchased possession bought and paid for with the sinless blood of Christ.

Acts 20:28
28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. (KJV)

[2.14]

He and He alone has the authority of ownership, authority to add, subtract or keep unchanged that which He has established. He has declared that the blueprint given in His Word will not change.

Matthew 24:35
35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. (KJV)

[2.15]

He paid for the church with his own blood; we didn’t and couldn’t because we don’t have the right blood type: sinless!

[2.16]

He declares that no man can lay any other foundation for the church than the one He has already established. If we change the frame or form that He through the apostles gave it by adding our own rules and regulations, we compromise His blueprint. We say that we are qualified to further define God’s Word; that God didn’t finish His Word because man’s clarification is necessary. We must not presume to take upon ourselves the task of correcting God. We can add nothing to traditions, doctrines, or the gospel of Jesus Christ.

II Thessalonians. 1:7-8
7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on themthat know not God, and that obey not the gospelof our Lord Jesus Christ: (KJV)

II Thessalonians. 2:15
15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. (KJV)

II Thessalonians. 3:6
6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. (KJV)

II John 1:9
9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. (KJV) 

1 Timothy. 4:16
16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them:for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. (KJV) 

1 Peter. 4:17
17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (KJV)

Galatians. 1:8
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospelunto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (KJV)

[2.17]

Those who would push aside the Holy Spirit, the teacher and guide to all truth (John 16:13-14), have been a thorn in the side of the church from the beginning. (Galatians. 2:11-16) They always want to add or clarify or change something. They claim to be working on behalf of God but always create division within the church body with their so-called Spirit-led insights. They feel that it’s their ministry to tell us what God means. If this is so then why is the Holy Spirit given to all in the family of God instead of just these special few? It would seem if we had them to advise us we wouldn’t need the Holy Spirit. Certainly no one should exchange the revelation of God’s Spirit for the dribble or babble of men.

[2.18]

Like the Pharisees who came before them, they seek to elevate themselves by enslaving others; by taking away the liberty which is ours in Christ. (Galatians. 3:1-5, 5:1) These modern day Pharisees, like their predecessors, add heavy burdens to the shoulders of God’s flock; burdens too heavy to be carried. (Matthew 23:4-7) But the yoke Christ intended for us is easy and the burden light. (Matthew11:29-30)

[2.19]

We must not allow ourselves to be deceived into thinking that God needs our help to define, refine or interpret anything. No matter how well intentioned such leaders may be such teaching is counter productive to the work of God and only produces strife and division in the church.  If you don't believe this, just look around.

[2.20]

In days past, during the period known as the Dark Ages or Middle Ages the church underwent great change through reform. This reform or reformation produced two great movements toward truth and were largely guided by the Holy Spirit.

[2.21]

The first began with Martin Luther in Germany who defied the institution called the Church of Rome. The church of Rome thought it had the power to act in authority above the Word of God. It sought to, and did impose its self-righteous man-made doctrines on God’s people and called all failures to obey these man-made rules sin.  

Matthew 15:8-9
8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (KJV)

[2.22]

Leaving the Church of Rome in peril of their lives, Martin Luther and those with him determined to elevate the Word of God to its rightful position as God’s governing authority and example for the Church. These courageous reformers, Luther, Tyndale, Wycliffe and others too numerous to mention, poured their lives into the reformation and succeeded in elevating God’s Word to its proper position within the Church but not before they paid a heavy price in martyr’s blood. 

[2.23]

Though they elevated the Word of God they continued many of the lofty customs and traditions they had grown up with in the confines of the Roman Church. They adopted from Rome the use of large elaborate buildings with spires on top (steeples). These buildings contained altars: pedestals which raised its appointed leaders above the congregation. It divided the congregation from its leadership. Leaders now sat above the congregation and were called clergy. Though no such practice took place in Scripture the traditions of pew, steeple, altar, stained glass and clergy continue to this very day. So accepted did these traditions become that even the building became known as the Church. People began to believe that the building was the house of God and called it so. No thought was given to Scripture on this matter or it would have been clearly seen that each of God’s people is His house. (Hebrews. 3:6; I Corinthians. 3:16) They would have known that God does not dwell in temples made with hands.  Yes on occasion, the apostles met in the temple or synagogues with converted Jews to proselytize, but never gave a thought to meeting in one or building one.

Acts 7:48-49
48Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands;as saith the prophet,
49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord:or what is the place of my rest? (KJV)

[2.24]

If the Reformers had read the admonishment given in the second chapter of the book of Revelation to the Church of Ephesus, especially verses four and five, they might have avoided this apostasy. 

Revelation 2:4-5
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works;or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. (KJV)

[2.25]

Perhaps they might have even found their way back to the simple loving church of the Apostles.

Acts 2:46
46 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, (KJV)

Acts 8:3
3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. (KJV)

Acts 20:20
20 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, (KJV)

Romans. 16:3-5
3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:
4 Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.
5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ. (KJV)

1 Corinthians. 16:19
19 The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. (KJV)

Colossians. 4:15
15 Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house. (KJV)

Philemon. 1:2
2 And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house: (KJV)

[2.26]

When did the meeting place for God’s church move from the loving simplicity of a house to a building or temple or cathedral? Who authorized such a move? When did Christ order church buildings built?

1 Kings 8:27
27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded? (KJV)

Mal. 3:6 For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. (KJV)

[2.27]

If God doesn’t change then He didn’t authorize this move; so who did? Whose church is it?

[2.28]

While the Protestant Reformation was growing in intensity, another group had also felt the oppressive hand of Rome. They too had grown tired of obeying its non-biblical dictates so they separated, seeking to return to the truth of God’s Word and the simple church life of the first century.

[2.29]

This second movement became known as Anabaptist because they required those who had been baptized in the Church of Rome to now be baptized again. They believed that baptism was a matter of choice and one had to become a believer before they could make this choice. The term for this became known as “believer’s baptism” and those who practiced it became known as Anabaptists, meaning baptized twice.

[2.30]

Their rejection of infant baptism made them hated enemies of the Roman Church and of many Protestant Churches which continued the practice of infant baptism. So hated were these peaceful, non-violent Anabaptists that they were pursued from both fronts, hunted down, and executed all across Northern Europe for a period in excess of two hundred years.

[2.31]

The Protestant reformation continued to grow and divide under a variety of leaders and also continued to practice the customs of the Roman Church with one exception: it now taught the Word of God to its members allowing all who could read access to the sacred texts.

[2.32]

The Anabaptists also made the Scriptures available to their people but had returned in large part to meeting in homes and enjoying the simple worship of the first century. These shared what they had and though severely persecuted, they were rich in understanding of the Word and the fellowship of Christ.

[2.33]

There was however, one small crack in their beliefs that went unnoticed until it eventually led to the complete breakdown of this promising work of God. As hard as it may be to believe, these beautiful followers of our Lord began to do the same thing that the Church of Rome had done to them: the same thing that caused them to separate in the beginning. They began to place the church and its mortal leaders above the Word of God. They began to make rules and regulations not found in God’s Word. They justified these additions by saying that these things were not forbidden in the Word and would help to define it. Do you think God needs our help?

[2.34]

Like the Roman Church before them, they sought to legislate eating, drinking and especially dress and appearance. Their attitude was, “If we don’t define the dress code then how far will the people go?” They failed to see that the final interpretation of such things must be left to the conscience and the ultimate revealer of truth: the Holy Spirit.

John 16:13-14
13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. (KJV)

Matthew. 15:8-9
8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (KJV)

[2.35]

Dictating not only the style of the garments worn but the color in many cases. This led of course to an increase in opinion which led to the usual division and ultimately to the breakdown of the solid and simple structure it once had. 

Matthew. 23:4-5; 25-28
4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries,
25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. (KJV)

1 Samuel 16:7
7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. (KJV)

[2.36]

Later, the Anabaptist also adopted church buildings, pews and altars like the Roman Church before and so had become nothing more than a legalistic reflection of the Protestant church, with a membership that stood out by the wearing of prescribed dress. Quaint and interesting but void of the life, truth and unity it once had.

[2.37]

Does the church belong to its members or does it belong to our Lord Jesus Christ? Perhaps we should all answer these thirteen questions for ourselves.

[2.38]

1. Who should pick the meeting place of the church?
2. Who should supply and apportion its finances; indeed, whose finances are they?
3. Who should set the standard for eating food, drinking, dress or holy days?
4. Who should have the authority to establish the requirements for membership?
5. Who has the right to set customs and traditions for the Church?
6. Who has the authority to delegate those who will serve as leaders?
7. What form if any will the structure of leadership follow?
8. Who will set the standards by which leaders are qualified?
9. Who will recognize these qualifications?
10. Is the office created for a man to fill or does the qualified servant carry within himself, by reason of conduct and gifting, the authority of the office. (Do we have the office of the prophet because we have a prophet or do we appoint someone to be our prophet or deacon or pastor or evangelist?)
11. Who should lead and teach its members?
12. Who should supply the blueprint and materials?
13. Where may this blueprint, this plan for the structure of the church, be found?

[2.39]

What is a Church?

1. Is it a club?
2. Is it an organization?
3. Is it a denomination?
4. Is it a living organism?
5. Is it a building?

[2.40]

According to Strong’s Concordance #1577 Greek ekklesia, translated church, is a calling out, a popular meeting, a religious congregation of members on earth or saints in heaven or both, assembly, church.

[2.41]

The Biblical definition given in Scripture is so much more.

[2.42]

The Church is a holy priesthood. (I Peter. 2:5)
The Church is a spiritual house built as living stones. (I Peter. 2:5)
The Church is the Body of Christ. (Ephesians. 1:22-23)
The Church is a Bride. (Ephesians. 5:22-23)
The Church is God’s building. (I Corinthians. 3:9)
The Church is the household of God. (Ephesians. 2:19)
The Church is a flock. (I Peter. 5:2)
The Church is the temple of God. (I Corinthians. 3:16)
The Church is the people of God. (I Peter. 2:10)
The Church is the Lamb’s wife. (Revelation. 19:7)

This is not a complete list; the church is so much more.

To determine once and for all whose church it is, we must answer the following:

If we are a holy priest hood then who is the high priest?
If we are living stones then on what foundation do we sit?
If we are the body of Christ then who is our head?
If we are the bride then who is the bridegroom?
If we are a building then who is the chief cornerstone?
If we are a household then who is the Father?
If we are a flock then who is our shepherd?
If we are the temple what God do we serve?
If we are the people of God then to whom do we belong?
If we are the Lamb’s wife then who is the Lamb?

[2.43]

The answer to all the previous questions is the same; it is the Lord Jesus Christ. Now that we’ve determined whose church it is we must now realize that as His Church:

[2.44]

A. We can have no other doctrine than His. (Matthew 15:9)
B. No other traditions than those established in His Word. (II Thessalonians. 2:15, 3:6; Colossians. 2:8, 14, 20, 22)
C. No other gospel than His. (Galatians. 1:8-10)
D. No other foundation than what He has already built and revealed in His Word. (Ephesians. 2:20; I Corinthians. 3:11-13)

[2.45]

The Church is and always will be a living organism like the cell of the physical body. Just as every healthy cell must have a genetic program to determine its place in the body and a nucleus to allow for growth, so every cell in the body of Christ, the local fellowship, must have as its nucleus, Christ, and a place in His body that we’re guided to by the Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians. 3:6, 7; John 16:13)

[2.46]

The following poem is a revelation of the condition of the church today.

[2.47]

The Church and The World

   The Church and the world walked far apart
On the changing shores of time:
   The world was singing a giddy song,
And the Church a hymn sublime.
   “Come, give me your hand”, cried the merry world,
“And walk with me this way.”
   But the good Church hid her snowy hand,
And solemnly answered “Nay!”
   “Nay, walk with me but a little space”,
Said the world with a kindly air,
   “The road I walk is a pleasant road,
And the sun shines always there.
   “My path, you see, is a broad, fair path,
And my gate is high and wide;
   “There is room enough for you and for me
To travel side by side”,
  Half-shyly the Church approached the world
And gave him her hand of snow;
   The old world grasped it and walked along,
Saying in accents low:
   “Your dress is too simple to suit my taste;
I will give you pearls to wear;
   “Rich velvet and silk for your graceful form
And diamonds to deck your hair.”
   The church looked down on her plain, white robes
And then at the dazzling world,
   And blushed as she saw his handsome lip
With a smile contemptuous curled.
   “I will change my dress for a costlier one”,
Said the Church with a smile of grace;
   Then her pure white garments drifted away,
And the world gave her in place
   Beautiful satins and shining silks,
And roses, and gems and pearls;
   And over her forehead her bright hair fell,
Crisped in a thousand curls.
   “Your house is too plain”, said the proud old world,
“I’ll build you one like mine;
   Carpets of Brussels and curtains of lace,
And furniture ever so fine.
   And he bought her a costly and beautiful home;
Splendid it was to behold;
   Her sons and her beautiful daughters dwelt there,
Gleaming in purple and gold.
   And fairs and shows in the halls were held,
And the world and his children were there;
   And laughter and music and feasts were heard
In the place that was meant for prayer.
   The Angel of Mercy flew over the Church,
And whispered, “I know thy sin.”
   The Church looked back with a sigh
And longed to gather her children in.
   “Your preachers are all too old and plain”,
Said the gay old world with a sneer.
   “They frighten my children with dreadful tales
Which I like not for them to hear.
   “They talk of brimstone and fire and pain,
And the horrors of endless night;
   “They talk of a place that should never at all
Be mentioned in ears polite.
   “I shall send you some of the better stamp,
Brilliant and gay and fast,
   “Who will tell them that people may live as they list?
And go to heaven at last.”
   “The sons of the world and the sons of the church walked closely,
Hand and heart,
   And only the Master Who knoweth all
Could tell the two apart.
   Then the church sat down at her ease and said,
“I am rich and in goods increased;
   “I have need of nothing, have nought to do
But to laugh and dance and feast.”
   The sly world heard her and laughed in his sleeve,
And mockingly said aside,
   “The church is fallen, the beautiful church,
And her shame is her boast and pride.”

[2.48]

Pulpits and pews, stained glass and carpeting, altars and steeples; is today’s church dressed any better than when she was young and new? (Revelation 2:4-5)

[2.49]

Before you decide to challenge the strength of your own faith by taking a step toward becoming a practicing member of the first century church you should first understand a few things. Any move you make in God’s direction is a move away from Satan. If you think this move will go unnoticed, you’re deceiving yourself. If you think those who protest will be those who knowingly serve the world or Satan, then you’re in for a great surprise. You will be surprised to learn that those who oppose you most will be those of your own family. Yes, you can expect opposition from both your church family and your natural family.

Matthew. 10:34-37
34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (KJV)

[2.50]

Many of these will encourage you not to leave your present church. They will admit that some changes are necessary but will suggest that you stay and help bring about these changes. Brethren, if this were possible we’d still be under the authority of the Church of Rome.

How can we support or correct a system that we have no real voice in. If we protest we will be seen as a trouble maker and nothing will change. We could spend all our lives trying to turn our local assembly back to the truth and after that, the denomination and never accomplish a thing but to waste the only life God gave us.

2 Corinthians. 6:16-17
16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God;as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, (KJV)

[2.51]

How often have we heard the phrase “go to church”? If it’s not a building then you can’t go to it; you must be part of it. Christians are part of Christ’s body the church. I can’t go to the human race once or twice a week and I can’t go to church once or twice a week. I am either part of the body of Christ or I’m not; I am either part of the human race or I’m not.

[2.52]

The church is not a material structure but rather a spiritual house. Neither Christ nor the apostles ever intended to use resources meant to take care of the family of God, on elaborate temples or cathedrals or for that matter simple buildings. Not one cent was ever spent in the entire New Testament to build any structure, church building or seminary.

[2.53]

We hear the cries of the needy saying, “Why doesn’t God provide for us?

[2.54]

Doesn’t God care? Can God truly exist and not help us?” If we were to sell every church building built in the name of Christ at fair market value the interest on the amount returned would feed all the hungry on this planet now and until the day of Christ’s return.

[2.55]

One poor American missionary felt the call of God to go to Mexico and there to attend to the physical and spiritual needs of the Mexican people in Juarez, just across the border from El Paso. In El Paso there could be found many beautiful church buildings that lay just on the other side of the Rio Grande; a literal stones throw away. An aerial view of El Paso with all its high church steeples would make El Paso appear like a spike bed.

[2.56]

The missionary failed to understand how so many could go hungry so close to these so called houses of worship. The missionary was so troubled over this, that he found it affected his sleep, causing him to rest uneasily.

[2.57]

One night as he slept he dreamed. He dreamed that he was standing in front of a large gray stone church building with a bell tower that rose high above the street below. All the stones of this structure were huge but varied greatly in size. Some stones were smaller than others, some were greater in size and still others even greater. In his dream the missionary saw a ladder extending from the street and reaching to the bell tower.

[2.58]

At the top of the ladder, dressed in sandals and robe stood Jesus. He was writing something on each of the various stones which made up the structure. The missionary called to Him and asked what He was writing.

[2.59]

Jesus looked down at him with tears in His eyes and explained that each stone in the wall was different in size and therefore different in value.

[2.60]

Some stones were worth ten dollars, others twelve, still others twenty, etc. Then he explained that on each stone he was writing the name of a child that died for the want of the cost of the stone which bore the child’s name.

[2.61]

In other words, if the stone cost ten dollars the child whose name appeared on it died for the want of ten dollars. If the stone cost twenty then the child whose name was inscribed on it died for the lack of twenty dollars etc. When the missionary awoke he couldn’t forget his dream and it changed him forever.

[2.62]

How dare we invest God’s money in buildings. How dare we ignore His explicit directions?

1 Corinthians. 3:11-13
11 For other foundation can no man laythan that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's workof what sort it is. (KJV)

Matthew. 25:31-46
31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat:I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink:I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me:I was sick, and ye visited me:I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it notto one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.(KJV)

Acts 7:48-49
48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands;as saith the prophet,
49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me?saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? (KJV)

[2.63]

Unfortunately many feel that they have invested too much money, time and education in doing it wrong to now turn and walk away to do it right. It’s easier to justify or ignore conscience-provoking material like this. After all, what ever will they do with all these buildings? It’s to late now to change, isn’t it? Or is it? It all depends on how serious their love and commitment is to Christ and His Word.

[2.64]

As a part of the church you must live and walk in the true faith of God. Church is a way of life not a place to visit. (I John 1:7)

[2.65]

To take a step toward early church worship is to invoke Satan’s anger like nothing else. Against this church he can’t win. (Matthew16:18) But if he can keep you from becoming part of the true church he can keep you spiritually impotent for a lifetime. The church began with Peter’s first sermon just as Jesus said it would (Matthew 16:18) and though the enemy has tried to destroy it, it still stands. (Acts 2:38-42)

[2.66]

There will be those who seek to hold you back; those from your family, your church and those among your friends. They will accuse you of heresy, of joining a cult, of abandoning your friends and family. It will get plenty rough before it gets better. Your choice to live by God’s Word will reveal enemies and persecution from source’s you never dreamed of.

2 Timothy. 3:12
12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (KJV)

[2.67]

Hold on, don’t let go, don’t give up! Remember, God understands and will reward you for your faithfulness if you continue steadfast in the faith.

(I Corinthians. 15:58; Philippians. 3:13, 14) Some will say that God only makes His will known to you through family or clergy but this is not so. No man in any page of God’s Word was called through another.

[2.68]

While it is true that God does speak to us through others, His call to step out and serve always comes to the one called, even if they’re only children at the time. (I Samuel 3:4-10)

[2.69]

The final decision rests with you; follow God or follow man.

[2.70]

Just remember to count the cost before you begin, for unless you’re willing to put aside all that you have you can not be his disciple. (Luke 14:33) Count the cost.

[2.71]

You will be required to take up your cross daily. (Luke 9:23) Count the cost.

[2.72]

If they have hated Him they will also hate you. (John 15:18-20) Count the cost.

[2.73]

Count the cost first so that you will be able to finish what you have started (Luke 14:28)

[2.74]

God will be with you; He will sustain you; you can do all things through Him. (Philippians. 4:13) Do not try to reason out God’s call: just follow.

Proverbs. 3:5-6
5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (KJV)

[2.75]

Once you start back; once you seek to do the first work, you will discover your first love.

Revelation. 2:4-5
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen,and repent,and do the first works;or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.(KJV)

[2.76]

Once you have counted the cost and started back to the true Church of Christ there can be no turning back.

Luke 9:62
62 And Jesus said unto him, No man,having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. (KJV)

[2.77]

Think of the words to that old familiar chorus, “I have decided to follow Jesus”.

“I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back.”
“The world behind me the cross before me, no turning back”.
“Tho’ none go with me still I will follow, no turning back”.
“Will you decide now to follow Jesus; no turning back, no turning back?”