In Ephesians 5:25 we read, "Husbands love your wives, even as
Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it". After reading
this verse very carefully, stop for a moment and think just how precious
our Lord's church was, and still is to Him. Then when you have come to
see that, look around you on every side and see how His precious church
has been adulterated, defamed, besmirched and belittled in the eyes of
the world, and especially of the RELIGIOUS WORLD. Does it not make you
join with me in wondering how much longer our Lord will stay His fierce
anger and His great wrath?
He did not just give a good price for His church. The cattle on a thousand hills were His. He did not give His cattle for His church. The earth is His and the fullness thereof. But He did not consider this earth with all its great wealth an adequate price for something that was so dear to Him. His church is so precious to Him that nothing less than the greatest price this old universe has ever known would be considered a sufficient price. When He gave Himself, He gave the greatest price in the universe because He is the Lamb without spot or blemish, the Father's only begotten Son in whom He is well pleased, the lily of the valley, the bright and morning star and the fairest of ten thousand to our souls. It goes then without saying that the greatest price in the world would only be paid for the most valuable thing in the world. So the church is the most valuable thing in all the world to our dear Lord. She is espoused to Him and will someday, and I believe in the very near future, become His Bride. Any real husband can appreciate to some extent her value. A real husband may sell his farm, his business, his home, or even the clothes off his back, but never the wife he loves dearer than his own life. She is just not for sale.
But the old devil, the greatest imitator this old world has ever known, has used his very efficient co-workers to literally flood the market with cheap imitations of our Lord's church. But just as the counterfeit ten dollar bill is absolutely worthless, so are the counterfeit churches in our Lord's sight. And as the money counterfeiter suffers the penalty of the law, so will the counterfeiters of our Lord's churches. How terrible it will be when they meet the Lord at the great white throne judgment. If I had to go to hell, I would much rather go by way of the gutter than to go by way of a church.
These church counterfeiters have done such a marvelous job that the Lord's churches have become very common and insignificant in the eyes of the religious world, and I fear, in the eyes of some of the Lord's Saints as well. When you hear people say, "One church is just as good as another" you realize how well old Satan and his co-workers have done their job. That is just exactly what the old devil wants us to believe. If he can get us to believe that the church founded by the murderous adulterer Henry VIII is just as good as the one founded by our Lord Jesus Christ, he is a marvelous success in his field of endeavor. Old Henry VIII lived with six different wives during the first fourteen years of his church's existence.
During the first four months of this time he had two wives at the same time, one in the prison and one in the palace. One of these wives died in the prison where she had been thrown just to get her out of his way. Two of the others he had beheaded for the same reason. On the same day that his second wife was beheaded he proposed to Jane Seymour who became his third wife ten days later. After one short year she died, and so far as we know hers may have been a natural death. He married his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves for political reasons. After six months he learned this marriage was not necessary, so he divorced her, gave her a mansion to live in and three thousand pounds annually (about $15,000) to live on. He then turned around and had the man's head cut off who had made the match between them. This man was Thomas Cromwell in case some good Episcopalian should like to check up on his papa's deeds of valor.
For us to try to incorporate a church founded by a reprobate like that into the Bride of Christ is an insult to our precious Lord of the greatest magnitude. If there are any born gain, blood bought Saints in any of these man made churches, they are just as sure to go to Heaven as Peter, James or John, but they are certainly out of place. On the other hand, if there are those in a Baptist Church who are not born again, blood bought Saints they are just as sure to go to hell as Judas Iscariot if they die in this condition. If the Holy Spirit led Martin Luther, John Calvin, Henry VIII, John Wesley or any of the other men church founders in any way in their church building activities after telling our Lord's churches to have the same mind, to speak the same thing and to have no divisions among them (1 Corinthians 1:10), He is the world's greatest hypocrite.
The one doctrine that has done more harm and hurt to our Lord's churches than all others put together is the one promulgated by the devil himself to justify Martin Luther's church building activities. It is called the universal church, or the true church. When Scofield and his followers on the church question call this big universal, invisible, intangible, untouchable thing that can have neither pastor nor deacons the true church, they are automatically saying that the local churches that do have pastors, deacons and teachers are false. If you speak of one of two things as being true it goes without saying that the other one is false. But nowhere in God's Holy Word is there any hint of two kinds of churches. The big intangible church is the figment of the protestant mind whether that protestant be a Baptist or a Methodist. Real Baptists are not protestants and never have been. They have never been affiliated with either the Catholics or the protestants, but Baptists who make themselves protestants make mighty good ones.
There can be only one justification for all the conglomeration of churches in the world today, and that is that every one can believe and practice anything he wishes to believe and practice and still have a church that agrees with him. If you have a Lord that sanctions all these different and varied beliefs and practices, you just don't have the same Lord I know.
There are two infallible tests by which we can judge any church as to whether it is a church of our Lord Jesus Christ. If it had a Scriptural organization, or beginning, that is, if it was organized by the authority of another Scriptural church, and if it is Scriptural in its preaching, teaching, beliefs and practices, it is a New Testament church. On the other hand if it is popular with the religious world, if those of all the different church groups can visit your services and feel perfectly at ease, if their feathers are not ruffled by what is preached, taught and practiced, our Lord is just not there.
Religion was our Lord's greatest enemy during His earthly ministry, and it is His church's greatest enemy today.
Anything that our Lord is in is still persecuted by religion today just as it has always been. You see Christianity is not a religion, it is a revelation of God. So, if your church is popular with all these religious groups, there is something radically wrong with your church. It is true that our Lord's loaves and fishes drew great crowds, but it is just as true that His teaching dispersed the crowds. Many preachers and teachers have felt as our Lord must have felt in John 6:67 when He said, "Will ye also go away?". The doctrine of God's sovereignty and election, and now in these days of apostasy the doctrine of the church of our Lord Jesus Christ sends people away in droves, not rejoicing but fuming.
The New Testament churches and their individual members are strangers to the world, and especially to the religious world. Religious people are enemies of grace today just as they have always been. But what really hurts is for us to find that we are strangers to many of those who are near and dear to us. But, when we stop to consider how precious the church is to our Lord, and what a price He paid for her, we should be willing to be strangers even to our friends and loved ones if it takes that for us to be true to His precious and unadulterated church.
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