Thursday, January 31, 2008

Who Are My Brethren?

The term"unity" is the new catchphrase in many churches today. We are told that Jesus wants us all to be united, the "us" being those who claim Jesus Christ as our Savior. We are told that it doesn't matter what our doctrinal differences are, as long as we all agree that Christ is the Messiah and we accept Him as our personal Lord and Savior.

I definitely agree that Jesus wants His Church to be united. We don't have to use conjecture on this, because He said it quite plainly when He prayed to the Father "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." (John 17:21)

But this then begs the questions: Who are we supposed to be one with? Is it anyone who claims to believe in Jesus Christ? Do the doctrinal differences between us make any difference?

Fortunately, Jesus answered these questions also.....

Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. (Matthew 12:47-50)

So Jesus is trying to point out here that our blood ties no longer matter too much, but rather, it is our spiritual ties that bind us together as one. But who are we to be one with?

Whosoever shall do the will of the Father which is in Heaven.

Doing the will of the Father certainly encompasses accepting Christ as your Savior, but it would seem that the wording implies that there is more to it than that. This is only the first step.

Which brings us to the doctrinal aspects of becoming one with one another. We know that God rejoices in the Truth, and that He desires His creation to know the Truth. In the Gospel of John, chapter 14, Jesus makes these profound statements:

If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:23-26)

These Scriptures are extremely important for several reasons:

1) Jesus clearly states that His Words are the Words of the Father. In other words, the teachings of Christ represent the will of the Father.

2) Jesus states that those who love Him will keep His words (teachings), but we will know those who do not love Him because they will not keep His sayings. (teachings)

3) Those that believe on Christ will receive the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, Who will teach us ALL things!

Notice that Jesus doesn't say that those who believe His words, but rather, those who keep His words. The original Greek word used there is tereo, which means "to attend to carefully, to observe, take care of, to guard."


Let me tell you something, can turn on any religious channel and very rarely will you find someone actually tereo-ing the teachings of Christ! They are very good at explaining them away, however.

"Jesus didn't really mean to love our enemies, what He meant was......"

"Jesus didn't really mean that it's hard for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, what He actually meant was....."

"Jesus didn't really mean that we're not to look at someone who is not our spouse and lust after them, what He meant was....."

"Jesus didn't really mean that we're not to store up our treasures here on earth, all He meant was......"

And I could, quite literally, go on and on here.

But the bottom line is this: Those that try to explain away the teachings of Christ, those that twist those teachings, pervert them, and try to make them more appealing to the flesh......According to Jesus Christ Himself, they do not truly love Him, and they are not His brothers and sisters. If they are not His brothers and sisters, then He surely doesn't want His followers, those that keep His teachings, to be united with those who don't!

So with that in mind, I will not be referring to those who pervert the Gospel as brothers or sisters. For clarification purposes, from this point forward I will be referring to these modern-day Pharisees as " apostates."

Webster's dictionary' defines apostasy as: "abandonment of a previous loyalty or defection." This reminds me of Jesus' warning to the church in Ephesus in Revelation chapter 2 when He said: thou hast left thy first love. 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.

Many Christians today have left their first love. They have defected from solid, simple teaching in the Words of Christ. They have abandoned their previous loyalty to Him, in order to make the Christian "lifestyle" more palatable to the flesh. According to Jesus Himself, this is not acceptable.

There are many well-meaning Christians out there right now who are trying to adhere to His teachings, but they become confused and frustrated with the churches. The problem now is that apostasy is so rampant, especially here in the U.S., that it's difficult to break free from it. In order to separate yourself from the apostasy, it usually means that you will be looked at as a radical, a malcontent, an "extreme fundamentalist." When you try to warn others of their apostasy, you will be called judgemental and divisive. Some day, it may even cost you your life. These are not easy things to endure, and so many Christians won't even attempt it because they don't want to "rock the boat."

Well, our goal is to rock the boat as hard as we can, so that hopefully some will have the scales removed from their eyes before it's too late for them. The Church is struggling badly right now, laden down with false teachers, bad doctrine, and fleshly adherents. We need to be about the call Jesus put on us which is preaching the Good News to the lost, even to those who are lost but claim to be found.

And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him. (1 John 2:28,29)