RELIGION AND CHRIST
Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The Spirit of revelation rested on the Apostles, prophets, and teachers of the first century. Finally they all died, some as martyrs and some of old age. Then men began to construct the Christian religion. They used passages from the Bible and constructed principles by which we are to live. In some instances they were worthy efforts, but the head of man now was on the Body of Christ.
The Christian religion has persisted for two thousand years to the present time. No doubt there were some people who actually heard from God, and have ministered accordingly. But the majority of those who professed faith in Christ merely belonged to a religious organization, beginning with the Catholic Church and other orthodox institutions, and then to the Protestant denominations.
As I stated, this pattern of serving Christ apart from the Spirit of revelation has persisted to the present hour. There is talk of following the Spirit of God or hearing from the Spirit of God. But the true Christian life of living by the Life of the Lord Jesus is not commonly understood. It is vastly more than asking the Spirit of God to anoint our efforts. It is life lived in and directed by the Spirit of Christ.
Being an older person, the legacy I would like to leave is that it is time for the Christian people to return to the Lord Jesus for all aspects of their lives, including ministry. “Christian principles” should continue to be taught, especially to the younger people. But the thrust of our teaching and preaching should be that of encouraging people of all ages to come to Jesus at all times and to learn to live by and walk with Him.
Have you ever wondered about the following passage?
And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
(II Peter 1:19)
The “morning star” is, of course, the Lord Jesus.
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” (Revelation 22:16)
The “word of the prophets” is referring to the Old Testament. We are to pay attention to it. Peter’s words here were written before the New Testament was published.
Notice that the dawning of the day is not referring to the New Testament. It is speaking of the “Morning Star,” Christ, rising in our heart.
The New Testament was written by men in whom Christ, the Morning Star, was living. The words of the New Testament are meant to be a guide and encouragement to us. They never were meant to be another book of laws like the Old Testament. This is how the New Testament differs from the Old Testament.
Likewise the new covenant differs from the Law of Moses in that the new covenant is not a series of laws that we are to obey. The new covenant is the placing of the eternal moral laws of God (which is God’s personality) in our mind and heart until we obey them by nature. This is the new creation of which Paul wrote.
When a conflict arose in the territory of Galatia about circumcision and the keeping of the Law of Moses. Paul resolved the conflict in the following manner:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
Now, how does the passage above resolve the issue of whether or not Christian people should be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses? If we are alive and living as a flesh and blood human being, and desire to be part of Israel, we assuredly are obligated to be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses. But if we are “dead,” and Christ is living in us, then we no longer are obligated to be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses governs the living descendant of Adam. The Law of Moses does not govern Christ. If it is Christ who is living in us, if we actually are living by His Life, then the Law of Moses no longer governs us.
This is how the Apostle Paul resolved the conflict in Galatia.
The Christian religion, the principles of which have been developed by godly men from their study of the Scriptures, govern the flesh and blood descendants of Adam. They do not govern Christ.
Now here is a problem, and I have been accused of this. Am I teaching that we can ignore the Bible and trust how we feel the Lord is leading us? No, I am not teaching this. In fact, I hold that if an individual is to lead a successful Christian discipleship, he or she must meditate in the Scriptures daily, if a Bible is available. The Scriptures cannot err. They shall remain inviolable after the heavens and the earth pass away.
The problem with claiming that we can ignore the verses of the Scriptures and be “led by the Spirit” is, first of all, that being led by the Spirit is an art that is learned during a lifetime of following the Lord. It is very easy to think we know what Christ is saying when what we are hearing actually is the enemy. Being a member of a fervent local assembling helps because the elders will be able to guide us when we are going astray.
The second problem is not understanding the role of the Scriptures. The role of the Scriptures is to keep us from believing a lie. The Holy Spirit never tells us to act in defiance of the moral imperatives of the Scriptures. Christ will not guide us into fornication or adultery.
The best shield against deception is the personal cross of the believer. It is when we attempt to make the present world Paradise that we become deceived. The cross of the believer is deferred gratification. We have fervent desires—sometimes for a lifetime. But in order to gratify our desire, we may need to break God’s eternal moral law. It is right here that the enemy attacks us by informing us that God has made an exception in our case, and we can grasp the desire of our heart and still please God.
We must understand that in the present world, we face a great deal of deferred desire. There are fiery temptations and ordeals. The believer who would live a victorious Christian life must set his or her face like a flint toward Christ. We must never yield to temptation if we expect to be a member of the Royal Priesthood.
As Jesus said to the bustling church of Sardis, “You have a few names who will walk with Me in white,” this is to say, who will be members of the Royal Priesthood that will be resurrected and ascend to meet Me when I appear.
Think of it! A “few names” from a large, active assembly. Most of us do not believe this. We cannot believe that Christ will limit the government of His Kingdom to a few people. But of the millions in Israel, only three people were with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration!
What I am teaching here is that people have created the Christian religion. But true salvation is crucifixion with Christ and living by Christ’s life. Our conversion to the Life of Christ must occur in the coming days of America, or we will not be able to stand with the Consuming Fire as Divine judgment falls on our nation.
The following passage helps us understand the error in current Christian teaching:
In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)
The popular teaching of our Christian religion is, “If we ‘accept Christ,’ we need not fear Divine condemnation. God sees us through Christ. We now are clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Our mansion in Heaven is assured.” That is our religious faith.
But we are ignoring the qualifying statement: who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. What does it mean to “live according to the sinful nature”? It means to live as an ordinary human being, yielding continually to the appetites of our flesh and blood nature.
We receive the righteousness that Christ earned for us provided we live a crucified life, each day growing in the moral nature of God. If we do not live the crucified-risen life, we are judged as is true of any other human being, Christian or not. When we sin, we are condemned in the sight of God.
Since it appears that there are few who attend the Christian churches who are even aware that they are supposed to be crucified with Christ and living by the Life of Christ, we can say with confidence that most members of the Christian religion, although they adhere faithfully to the doctrines of their church, are under Divine condemnation.
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:13,14)
If we truly are living according to the Spirit, we are confessing and turning away from the misdeeds of our bodies. We are putting them to death. The Spirit always is leading us to put to death the practices of our sinful nature because this is the work of salvation.
Salvation is not a pass into Heaven. Salvation is deliverance from our sinful nature. We are not delivered from our sinful nature so we can go to Heaven when we die. We are delivered from our sinful nature so we can have fellowship with God whether we are on the earth or in Heaven.
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (I John 1:3)
Notice the following description of the new covenant:
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (II Corinthians 3:6)
The passage above shows us the difference between the Law of Moses and the new covenant. The Law of Moses operates as we obey what is written. We gain life and prosperity by obeying what Moses declared.
The new covenant does not operate that way. Rather, we obey the commands of Christ and His Apostles, living by the body and blood of the Lord, until Christ is formed in us. He Himself is the Resurrection and the Life. We enter the resurrection from the dead as Christ is formed in us, leaving only the resurrection of our body to take place, which shall occur when the Lord returns.
The new covenant is not that of obeying what is written in the New Testament. The new covenant is the forming of Christ in our mind and heart.
The way of religion is presented as “Babylon.” A description of Babylon occupies chapters 17 and 18 in Revelation. Nothing good is said about Babylon. From what I read in the Scriptures, I believe all the religious organizations of the world will combine into one huge world church, having its headquarters in Iraq, at the site of the original Tower of Babel.
The rulership of the world of the future will be divided between Babylon and Antichrist. This is the rule of man in the religious realm, and the rule of man in the secular realm. This division of power was true in Europe hundreds of years ago.
Ultimately the secular realm will destroy Babylon.
The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. (Revelation 17:16)
I was taught in Bible School that missionary work is to be carried out as an analysis of the needs of the world is made, and then the efforts of the Great Commission are conducted in terms of the results of the analysis. However, the record of the Book of Acts reveals that the Spirit of God directed Paul and his companions. They did not make an assessment of the needs of the world, but obeyed the Holy Spirit.
Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” (Acts 16:6-9)
Religion is the head of man on the Body of Christ.
The Kingdom of God is Christ as the Head of the Body of Christ.
At the time of my writing, November 2012, the Christian religion still is the prevailing force in Christendom. It is necessary, I believe, that the believers be taught that they are to confess and turn away from their sins, and learn to live as those who are crucified and now are living by the very Life of the Lord Jesus.
The events taking place in the world today are ominous. Self-seeking men are in the ascendancy and are not giving glory to God. As in the case of King Herod, they soon shall perish. It appears that spiritual darkness first must cover the earth before the eternal Light comes to us.
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. (Isaiah 60:1-3)
(“Religion and Christ”, 3650-1, proofed 20210926)