Showing posts with label Church. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Church. Show all posts

Thursday, April 27, 2023

I Don’t Have to Go to Church – Lies of the Enemy #16– Purity 1028

I Don’t Have to Go to Church – Lies of the Enemy #16– Purity 1028

Purity 1028 04/27/2023 Purity 1028 Podcast

Purity 1028 on YouTube: Coming Soon!

Good morning,

Today’s photo a view of the Hudson River under blue skies comes to us from yours truly as I captured this scene while one of my many local exploration adventures that I set out on in the Summer of 2020. This one is from the fishing pier that I believe is located at the end of Ferry Rd in the Nutten Hook Tidal Wetlands Area off of State Route 9J South of Stuyvesant. I am a little vague on the directions because I discovered it after hiking through the forest trails that began over on, I believe Ice House Rd where a small park is located.  

I have an embarrassing confession to make in regards to this trip, and it is not the fact that I didn’t quite now where I was going and stumbled upon this awesome view of the river after emerging from a hiking trail to an “unknown road”.  I was really impressed with this quaint area and in the summer of 2020 I had several ideas in my head that I was thinking that were “from God” but turned out to be wishful thinking. 

At the time there was talk of my local church possibly doing a church plant in the Reformed church in Stuyvesant. One of our Pastor’s actually stepped into perform a service there one Sunday and there was speculation that he would plant a church there.  I was also in the possession of a new house and I was officially 8 months single after my divorce and I had ideas about marrying one of the young women who attended my local church, someone who I was fond of but who I had yet to even mention anything about dating, mind you. . So on that day in August, thinking about a possible church plant just down the road from where I live and thinking of the possibility of having a Christian wife, my imagination had me put 1 and 1 together to get 8. I know that math doesn’t work but it is indicative of the quantum leap of faith and assumptions my “prophetic vision” – or imagination was making.

 In my mind it was all “falling in place” – I would marry this young woman and together we would join the pastor in this new church plant and live happily ever after living at my place down by the River and serving the Lord at the nearby church in Stuyvesant! It “all made sense”!  I could see where the Lord was leading me and I liked it!

So pie in the sky were my thoughts that on the day I discovered this fishing pier, I thought I had stumbled upon the place I would propose to my future wife. I could see it all so clearly and I couldn’t wait for things to fall into place.  

But as Smokey Robinson sang: “It was just my imagination, running away with me.”  The church plant in Stuyvesant never happened. The pastor in question started a commercial roofing business and moved out of the Stuyvesant area. As for the young woman, I respectfully kept my distance and admiration a secret until I foolishly messaged her on Valentine’s Day of 2021 to get an idea if there was any possibility for a relationship that was more than friendship, because I just “had to know” and was politely informed that I was barking up the wrong tree.  

My “prophetic vision” was way off.   But the Lord was with me and was guiding me to my destiny all the same.  That same year I began a Community Freedom Ministry at my local church and decided to podcast the lessons to reach those who were too distant or fearful of Covid-19 to come to a local church meeting.  And it is through that ministry and podcast that the Lord introduced me to TammyLyn Sequin and by years end we were engaged and married on January 1st of 2022!   

And it is a really good thing the Lord came though because not only did I find the Christian wife and soulmate, but I was also delivered from the awkward situation from going to church with someone I had expressed romantic interest in and been rebuffed.  Because of the distance between us TammyLyn and I had to decide where we would worship and because of that awkward situation and other considerations, I decided to leave my local church for hers and was publicly blessed and “released” from my local church in December of 2021.   

So in this story and through my checkered religious past of 2 other liturgical denominational churches, I can understand how difficult it can be when there are awkward situations or problems at a local church and how it could cause some, like me in my 5 year journey into Buddhism,  to abandon church all together.  

And that brings us to our current series, which is an examination of some of the common lies, sometimes sneakily whispered into our minds as “first person” statements, that enemy tells us to cause us to doubt our faith, lose our peace, cause division, or influence us to not follow the Lord with the way we live our lives.   So today’s big lie is:  

Lie #16: “I Don’t Have to go to Church!”

In my experience, this lie was planted in my youth when I learned about God’s omnipresence.  I was paying enough attention in church one day to understand that God is everywhere and immediately thought that “If God is everywhere, that means I can worship Him anywhere.” And rather than rejoicing that I could have a close personal relationship with the Lord that went beyond the Sunday service, I thought, perhaps with demonic encouragement,: “I don’t have to go to church!”    

Of course I had no intention of worshiping the Lord somewhere else, on my own, I just thought that I could use the priest’s words against him and be free of the forced routine of my liturgical worship services.   I wasn’t abused at this church. I was only expected to sit quietly, behave myself, and conform to the ritualized responsse of the service. But I didn’t want to and could imagine that God would be fine with me staying home watching TV, playing with my toys, or resting.  

It was a childish rebellion born of ignorance and selfishness but unfortunately this attitude can and does extend to many people who would identify themselves as Christian or “spiritual” who have decided to forsake any assembly of corporate worship. 57% of Americans either never or seldom attend church,( or synagogue,) as opposed to the 20% of Americans that attend every week ( . 

So us regular church going folks are the minority. Most people have decided that church attendance is not required as part of their faith.  And technically, they are correct. They don’t “have to go to church to be a Christian”.  We can conceive of all kinds of scenarios and excuses where church attendance is either difficult or impossible and thus we will not declare that a Christian “Must” attend a church regularly. 

But the intention of this blog and current series is to encourage Christians to live out their faith as authentically as possible and the following bible verses indicate that “church” – membership, attendance, and service – should be something a Christian should want to be a part of.   

I am sharing a link to Open Bible.Info’s 100 Bible Verses about church for those who want to see some scripture on the matter ( ) but will share a few to make the point that we might want to enter into a local assembly of the saints.  

I think the go to verse on this subject has to be:

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT2) where The Apostle Paul writes:
24  Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.
25  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Even Paul had to acknowledge that some people blew off church in his day, but He encourages us to NOT neglect meeting together because the corporate gathering can motivate us to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  

Another go to verse for church is: 

Matthew 18:20 (NLT2) where Jesus said:
20  For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

Jesus indicates that there is something about our gathering together that is blessed by God. Jesus tells us that when we gather together, He is in our midst! He blesses us with His presence.

Corporate worship comes from our faith’s beginnings as God called the nation of Israel to be His people and to sacrifice and worship Him with songs.  David sung about what a joyful experience “church” could be in

Psalm 122:1 (NLT2)
1 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.”

And I can understand that may not be everyone’s church experience and I don’t mean to condemn anyone but merely want to encourage Christians that the church is the place where we can grow and meet our purpose in Christ.  

My skeptical faith became strong faith through my worshipping and serving in a local church. Through my former local church, I learned more about God, myself, and how to actually live a Christian life. And while sometimes the “iron sharpening iron” could be frustrating and painful, I know that the growth I have experience in my faith could have never happened without my church experiences and the growth opportunities that came from being a part of a local church.    

So I encourage you to not stand in your liberty to forsake the assembly of the local church and to instead seek out and find a body of Bible believers where you can worship the Lord in spirit and in truth, where you can increase your capacity to love your neighbor as yourself and where you can increase your faith and discover your purpose in Christ.   )

I know Satan loves it when we isolate. SO resist the devil by choosing to serve and worship at a local church.

I know my examination of this lie was mediocre and thus I am sharing links to several articles on the blog today for Biblical reasons to go to church form Bible ( ), the Billy Graham Evangelistic Associaton ( ) , ( and (


For those who want more evidence for Christianity than my simple apologetic will provide, I offer apologist, Frank Turek’s website, .


Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.

This morning’s meditation verse :

Isaiah 41:10 (NLT2)
10  Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Today’s verse confirms that the Lord is with those who have faith in Him.  We are not left alone on this island Earth. This verse reflects the truth of God’s presence in His people’s lives that really has come to bear with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit for those who have put their faith in Jesus.  

When we surrender our lives to do His will rather than our own and commune with Him regularly through Bible study, prayer, and worship – may be in a church setting – we learn of the experiential reality of the Lord’s presence in our lives. He encourages us. He strengthens us. He helps us.  And if we faithfully follow Him, He leads us to victory and in victory.  When we put our faith in Christ, we have won. We are accepted into God’s kingdom. Nothing can separate us from His love and nothing can harm us in the ultimate sense.  We are victorious in Christ for eternal life but when we repent and decide to live as Christians we also get to experience the victories that the Lord prepares for us here on the earth and all we have to do to experience them is to choose to go “His way” rather than our own.


As always, I invite all to go to where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.

Today we continue sharing from A.W. Pink’s “The Sovereignty of God.”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase A.W. Pink’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.




1 JOHN 2:2

There is one passage more than any other which is appealed to by those who believe in universal redemption, and which at first sight appears to teach that Christ died for the whole human race. We have therefore decided to give it a detailed examination and exposition.

“And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). This is the passage which, apparently, most favors the Arminian view of the Atonement, yet if it be considered attentively it will be seen that it does so only in appearance, and not in reality. Below we offer a number of conclusive proofs to show that this verse does not teach that Christ has propitiated God on behalf of all the sins of all men.

In the first place, the fact that this verse opens with “and” necessarily links it with what has gone before. We, therefore, give a literal word for word translation of 1 John 2:1 from Bagster’s Interlinear: “Little children my, these things I write to you, that ye may not sin; and if any one should sin, a Paraclete we have with the Father, Jesus Christ (the) righteous.” It will thus be seen that the apostle John is here writing to and about the saints of God. His immediate purpose was two-fold: first, to communicate a message that would keep God’s children from sinning; second, to supply comfort and assurance to those who might sin, and, in consequence, be cast down and fearful that the issue would prove fatal. He, therefore, makes known to them the provision which God has made for just such an emergency. This we find at the end of v. 1 and throughout v. 2. The ground of comfort is two-fold; let the downcast and repentant believer (1 John 1:9) be assured that, first, he has an “Advocate with the Father”; second, that this Advocate is “the propitiation for our sins.” Now believers only may take comfort from this, for they alone have an “Advocate,” for them alone is Christ the propitiation, as is proven by linking the Propitiation (“and”) with “the Advocate”!

In the second place, if other passages in the New Testament which speak of “propitiation” be compared with 1 John 2:2 it will be found that it is strictly limited in its scope. For example, in Rom. 3:25 we read that God set forth Christ “a propitiation through faith in His blood.” If Christ is a propitiation “through faith” then He is not a “propitiation” to those who have no faith! Again, in Heb. 2:17 we read “To make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17, R. V.).

In the third place, who are meant when John says, “He is the propitiation for our sins”? We answer, Jewish believers. And a part of the proof on which we base this assertion we now submit to the careful attention of the reader.

In Gal. 2:9 we are told that John, together with James and Cephas, were apostles “unto the circumcision” (i.e. Israel). In keeping with this the Epistle of James is addressed to “the twelve tribes, which are scattered abroad” (1:1). So, the first Epistle of Peter is addressed to “the elect who are sojourners of the Dispersion” (1 Pet. 1:1, R. V.). And John also is writing to saved Israelites, but for saved Jews and saved Gentiles.

Some of the evidences that John is writing to saved Jews are as follows. (a) In the opening verse he says of Christ, “Which we have seen with our eyes … and our hands have handled.” How impossible it would have been for the Apostle Paul to have commenced any of his epistles to Gentile saints with such language!

(b) “Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but anold commandment which we had from the beginning” (1 John 2:7). The “beginning” here referred to is the beginning of the public manifestation of Christ—in proof compare 1:1; 2:13, etc. Now these believers the apostle tells us had the “old commandment” from the beginning. This was true of Jewish believers, but it was not true of Gentile believers.

(c) “I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known Him from the beginning” (2:13). Here, again, it is evident that it is Jewish believers that are in view.

(d) “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us” (2:18, 19). These brethren to whom John wrote had “heard” from Christ Himself that Antichrist should come (see Matt. 24). The “many antichrists” whom John declares “went out from us” were all Jews, for during the first century none but a Jew posed as the Messiah. Therefore, when John says, “He is the propitiation for our sins” he can only mean for the sins of Jewish believers.[1]

---------------------------more tomorrow------------------------

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

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“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

[1] Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Swengel, PA: Bible Truth Depot, 1949), 269–271.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Held by Him – Called to Speak and Follow - Purity 914


Held by Him – Called to Speak and Follow -  Purity 914

Purity 914 12/14/2022 Purity 914 Podcast

Purity 914 on YouTube: 

Good morning,

Today’s original work of art of a shack-like tower and an old dead tree in the foreground of what appears to be the fading light of day over a lake comes to us from the artistic imaginations of our brother and friend in the UK, Philip Hand.    Philip sent me this back on November 30th via FB messenger, and I was surprised to see that He didn’t share it on his FB page. So I hope he will forgive me for sharing what he sent to me privately in such a public forum.   However, I’m sure he will and on contrary, I believe he will be pleased that I share his work on the blog today as he has expressed to me that I have the freedom to do so in the past.  

Well, It’s Wednesday again and as we approach the midpoint of another work week, I felt that Philip’s “fishing tower” situated in the middle of this landscape was “good enough” to visually represent our arrival at hump day. Also my using Philip’s work today is a way to draw close to the safety of a friend who understands the pain of loss and feeling low,.  I am in reflective mood this morning as a part of me feels burdened because I have a heavy heart over the  sudden and tragic death of a friend, which I wrote about yesterday, but I also have the pain of being rebuked by someone I respect for the manner in which I wrote about it.  

I stand by what I wrote, and always will, but I was reminded that my words could cause additional pain to others grieving the loss, because I reflected on the not so wholesome circumstances surrounding my friend’s death.  If I caused additional pain or offense by what I wrote yesterday, I humbly apologize and ask you for your forgiveness.  

Just last night in my presentation of Bonhoeffer’s Discipleship, Lesson 18, I made comments about how in our modern age, church discipline seems to be a thing of the past, only to discover that while I was making those comments, a friend in the body of Christ was privately reaching out to me via text to rebuke me for being thoughtless of the pain that my words could possibly cause to my departed friend’s family.  In truth, I didn’t consider how my musings over different aspects of my friend’s death could hurt his loved ones and my intention in discussing them was to point out the duality of man, the way we are perceived by others, and the importance of a continued walk of faith and having a good testimony.

I feel the sting of the rebuke because I respect the messenger and it challenged me with the basic principles of wise speaking. In essence the message asked me if I asked the three questions we must ask ourselves before we speak:

·       Does this need to be said?

·       Does this need to be said by me?

·       Does this need to be said by me now?

And as much as I am pained in my spirit at the thought that my writing could have caused additional pain to the grieving, I have to honestly say that the answer to all three of these questions would be: yes.  

The messages I produce on a semi daily basis to share my experience of life and to encourage others to live a life of faith are not planned out in advance, I share what’s on my heart and what I feel will encourage others to put their faith in Christ and to follow Him.  

Does any of what I say “need” to be said?   By me? Ever?  - You could easily make a case that, little old me with my track record of a broken life of 38 prior to coming to Christ, shouldn’t say ANYTHING, TO ANYONE? EVER?   

Who am I to speak on matters of faith? Who I am to speak about other people’s lives? Who am I to “judge” people?  

I am an imperfect person who found hope, freedom, love, peace, and victory over the darkness because of my faith in Jesus Christ and because of Him never letting me go.  I am held by Him.  And I am sharing on the blog, another drawing of Philip Hand’s that highlights the fact that we need to be held by Christ:

In His Hands, we are loved. Because of Christ alone, we are forgiven and free.  Because of Him, and the desperate need that the world has for Jesus Christ, I speak, and I will continue to speak.  

When you produce a semi daily message on the fly like I do, you don’t always know what you will say from one day to the next, and because I try to base my writings on the wisdom of God’s word, I often cringe over the things I write because I know that the truths that I am pointing out exposes our failures to follow God’s word.  

I don’t like to be rebuked. I don’t like to be thought of in a negative light. I want to be loved and accepted by all.  So when I get criticism, it hurts.  I don’t like confrontation and I never want to feel that I have done anything to cause someone pain or offense.  

However, everything I produce is intended to encourage others to follow the Lord and unfortunately because of the brokenness of this world corrupted by sin and shrouded in darkness, the light of God’s word is not welcomed and even Christians will encourage us not to shine a light on the dark places because they are too ugly or too painful to consider.  

But this is the message, I believe the Lord has directed me to continue to share: follow the Lord, repent of your worldly ways, and follow Him.  

So, do I “need to say all this”, nearly every day?, really?,  I believe I have been called to encourage people to “keep walking and talking with God”.  I don’t know how long this “calling” will last but until I am convinced by scripture or the Holy Spirit that I should stop, I will persist in trying to be a voice to encourage people to follow the Lord in Spirit and in truth, even if what I see and report on, isn’t something that you want to share in the polite society of the corporate gathering on Sunday morning.  

So, if I haven’t offended you thus far, let me encourage you to follow the Lord only, and to develop a daily spiritual practice of “walking and talking with Him” via prayer, Bible study, and trying to do what God’s word says.  

Also, I would encourage you to consider those three questions before you speak, but if you read the New Testament, you might be shocked at the things that Jesus said to the polite society of his day.  I can only imagine the pain and offense that He caused when he called respected members of the community “vipers”, but He said it anyway because He wanted to expose the darkness that was hidden in the systems that looked good on the outside but were sick, corrupted, and dead on the inside.  

So try to be kind and compassionate in your dealings, but if you feel lead to speak, speak, but know that you may be rebuked, you may be hated, and you may be persecuted for saying it:  all of which, Christ said would happen to you if you follow Him.  

So, while I appreciate the care and concerns of others over what I say and, am sensitive to the possibility of causing offense in my messages,  I am still going to say them because I feel that the Lord has called me to do so. And I would rather obey God than remain silent.  Because I have been set free by Jesus and am held by Him, I can do no other but to be faithful to encourage others to seek Him. 

He has led me through the fire and out of the darkness, and so I will follow Him, come what may.



Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Isaiah 58:10-11 (NLT2)
10  Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
11  The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.

Today’s verses encourage us to help others and to let our light shine, knowing that the Lord will guide us and restore us when we are drained.  

So, there is our call to action! Feed the hungry and help others in trouble and to let our light shine out from the darkness.  So out of the intention to help others, to learn from my own and others mistakes from walking in darkness, I shine a light to expose our deeds and to illuminate the word of God to encourage people in the way that God’s word tells us to go.  

As we do this in a world that rejects the Lord, we will suffer and we won’t always know if we are doing everything right but as I have attempted to follow the Lord, I have discovered that when you walk in the Spirit, God will guide you and restore your strength. This path I have taken, I wouldn’t pursue if it wasn’t for the guidance and strength I receive from doing so. And trust me, I don’t just keep “plugging along” out of some sense of self-righteousness.  I humbly and continually go to the Lord in prayer to receive guidance and from the direction that my life has taken, I have to believe that I am following His path for me because my journey has progressively and increasingly led to good things and new opportunities to serve his kingdom: to help those in trouble.  

So be wise and discerning, seek His guidance and ask for His strength, because I know that when you are walking and talking with God you will be restored “like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.”


As always, I invite all to go to where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.

Today we continue sharing from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.

The Church of Jesus Christ and Discipleship

Chapter Eleven

The Visible Church-Community, continues


The word of the apostles’ preaching is the same Word which has borne in his body the sins of the whole world; it is Christ present in the Holy Spirit. Christ in his church-community is what sums up the “teaching of the apostles,” the apostolic preaching. This teaching never makes itself superfluous. Rather, it creates by itself a church-community which remains constantly faithful to this teaching, a community that has been accepted by the Word, and is confirmed in this faith daily. This teaching creates by itself a visible church-community. Moreover, the body of Christ takes on visible form not only in the preaching of the word but also in baptism and the Lord’s Supper, both of which emanate from the true humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ. In both, Christ encounters us bodily and makes us participants in the community of his body. Both sacraments must be accompanied by the proclamation of the Word. In baptism as well as in the Lord’s Supper the content of that proclamation is the death of Christ for us (Rom. 6:3ff.; 1 Cor. 11:26). The gift we receive in both sacraments is the body of Christ. In baptism we are made members of Christ’s body. In the Lord’s Supper we receive the gift of bodily community (κοινωνία) with the body of the Lord, and through it bodily community with the members of this body. In receiving the gifts of Christ’s body, we become, thereby, one body with him. Neither the gift of baptism nor the gift of the Lord’s Supper is fully understood if we interpret them only in terms of the forgiveness of sin. The gift of the body conferred in the sacraments presents us with the Lord in bodily form dwelling in his church-community.[14] Forgiveness of sin is indeed a part of this gift of the body of Christ as church-community. This explains why, in direct contrast to our contemporary practice, baptism and the Lord’s Supper were originally not tied to the office of apostolic preaching, but were instead administered by the church-community itself (1 Cor. 1:1 and 14ff.; 11:17ff.). Baptism and the Lord’s Supper belong solely to the community of the body of Christ. Whereas the word of proclamation is addressed to believers and unbelievers alike, the sacraments have been given solely to the church-community. The Christian community is thus essentially the community gathered to celebrate baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and only then is it the community gathered to hear the word proclaimed.

That the community of Jesus Christ claims a space in this world for its proclamation is now clear. The body of Christ becomes visible in the church-community that gathers around word and sacrament.

This community is a differentiated whole. The body of Christ as church-community includes both differentiation and a common order. These are characteristics essential to the body itself. A body lacking differentiation is in the process of decomposition. According to Paul’s teaching, the form of the living body of Christ is that of differentiated members (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:12ff.). In this case it is impossible to make a distinction between content and form, essence and appearance. To make it would mean a denial of the body of Christ, that is, of the Christ who became flesh (1 John 4:3). Thus the body of Christ, in claiming a space for proclamation, at the same time claims a space for the order of the church-community.

The order of the church-community is of divine origin and character, though it is, of course, intended to serve and not to rule. The offices of the church-community are “ministries” (διακονίαι) (1 Cor. 12:4). They are appointed by God (1 Cor. 12:28), by Christ (Eph. 4:11), by the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:28) within but not by the church-community. Even where the church-community itself assigns offices, it does so in complete submission to the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:2 et passim). Both office and church-community have their origin in the triune God. The offices exist to serve the church-community; they can be justified spiritually only through this service. That is why different congregations require different offices or ministries. For example, the congregation in Jerusalem demanded different offices or ministries than those required in Paul’s mission churches. To be sure, the ordering as such is given by God, but its specific form is open to change, and to be determined only by the spiritual judgment of the church-community itself as it appoints its members for service. Even the charisms which the Holy Spirit confers upon individuals are in the same sense strictly subject to the discipline of serving the church-community, for God is not a God of disorder but of peace (1 Cor. 14:32f.). The Holy Spirit becomes visibly present (φανέρωσιζ, 1 Cor. 12:7) in the fact that everything is done for the benefit of the church-community. Apostles, prophets, teachers, overseers (bishops), deacons, elders, presiding officers, and leaders (1 Cor. 12:28ff.; Eph. 2:20 and 4:11) are all servants of the church-community, the body of Christ. Appointed to serve the church-community, their office is of divine origin and character. Only the church-community can release them from their service. Therefore, although the church-community is at liberty to modify the form of its order according to its needs, any tampering with the church’s order from the outside is an infringement on the visible form of Christ’s body itself.

Of special importance among the offices of the church-community in every age is the untainted administration of word and sacrament. Here the following must be considered. Proclamation will always vary and differ according to the commission and gifts of the preachers. However, whether it be the proclamation of Paul, or of Peter, or of Apollos, or of Christ, the one indivisible Christ must be recognized in them all (1 Cor. 1:11ff.). All are to work hand in hand (1 Cor. 3:6). The emergence of different schools of thought leads to divisive bickering, in which all involved promote their own self-interest (1 Tim. 6:5 and 6:20; 2 Tim. 2:16; 3:8; Titus 1:10). Here it is all too easy for ‘godliness’ to be mistaken for earthly gain, whether it be gain in honor, power, or wealth. The tendency to pose problems for the sake of posing problems also will blossom and divert people from the clear and simple truth (2 Tim. 3:7). It will lure into self-centered intransigence and disobedience toward God’s command. In contrast to this, genuine proclamation will always aim at a teaching which is sound and salutary (2 Tim. 4:3; 1 Tim. 1:10; 4:16; 6:1; Titus 1:9 and 1:13; 2:1; 3:8), and for safeguarding proper church order and unity.

It is not always easy to recognize where a legitimate theological interpretation ends and heresy begins. One congregation may still accept a particular teaching as legitimate, while another has already rejected it as heresy (Rev. 2:6 and 2:15ff.). However, once heresy has been identified, it must be rejected without compromise. The heretical teacher is cast out of the Christian community, and is excluded from any personal community with its members (Gal. 1:8; 1 Cor. 16:22; Titus 3:10; 2 John 10ff.). The word of authentic proclamation must therefore create both unity and separation in a visible way. It thus becomes clear that space for proclamation and for the order of the church-community are divinely ordained necessities.

We must now ask whether spaces of proclamation and order are already sufficient to describe the visible form of the community of the body of Christ, or whether this community claims yet another space in the world. The answer of the New Testament is unambiguous. It holds that the church-community claims a physical space here on earth not only for its worship and its order, but also for the daily life of its members. That is why we must now speak of the living space [Lebensraum] of the visible church-community.[1]

---------------------------more tomorrow------------------------

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

( The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and 

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel:

Email me at to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock ( ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 228–232.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Buildings, Systems, and Communities – Finding Authentic Faith – Purity 760

Buildings, Systems, and Communities – Finding Authentic Faith – Purity 760

Purity 760 06/17/2022 Purity 760 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a sunset just over the horizon under a canopy of clouds comes to us from a friend who captured this scene from their rural home near in Saugerties, New York. 

You know even though I was raised in a small town that was more urban and suburban than rural I have learned to appreciate the reason why so many people have chosen to live away from cities and the nearby suburbs, it’s peaceful and pretty out in the country.   Not only is there the natural beauty of the landscape and wildlife, there is also the beauty of what is not there, the noise and problems that come from our fellow man.   

So as much as I may gripe about the lack of optimal technological conditions at my countryside home, I often remind myself when I walk with my canine companion, Harley, down Waite Rd that the country sure is peaceful and the views of the “big sky” out there bring things into their proper perspective.  The problems and dramas we face in life can consume our thoughts and emotions but there is a great big world all around us that was made by a Great God who has more for us to see then just what is right before us. 

The heavens, the setting sun, and nature declare there is a God and when we look to them we can find peace and realize there are other things to consider other than our immediate pressing problems. There is a big picture and if we are focusing on our immediate concerns too much we might not see it and be blinded to its wonder and beauty. 

Last night, one of the participants in the Freedom in Christ course commented on the difficulty he had coming in to live out his faith in Jesus Christ because of all the various systems, denominations, and expressions of Christianity that are out there.  He also said that he noticed that often the members of the different systems of Christianity would deride other groups for having differing practices or traditions or would make claims to be the one true faith system of the Christian faith.  In his search for truth, this man wondered how people who all claimed to be followers of Jesus Christ could all have such different beliefs and practices and be so divided if they were all representing the same Lord.   

In my long search for truth and a personal relationship with my Lord, I encountered many of the same concerns and issues. When I came to faith in Christ in 2010, the ;last thing I wanted to do in my new life in Christ was to make a mistake and be led astray by an apostate church system, or false teacher.  I knew I was really saved by faith in Christ and now had a deep desire to be a “real” Christian and so I was very concerned of not being “blind” in my new found faith. 

Like this man, I was confused about which church I should go to and what I should make of all the different views on different points of doctrine. 

Thankfully, the Lord was with me and I credit the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit for giving me a deep desire to read God’s word, to read the Bible to know the truth about the Christian faith.  I wasn’t content to “just believe” or to “take it on faith” that a church system or pastor could be blindly obeyed or trusted without my knowing what they said, taught, and performed was right according to the Bible.  

I had seen “sketchy” people who quoted Bible verses or claimed religion but their faith didn’t give them a compassionate disposition or didn’t seem to change the way they lived. So I wanted to be able to discern if what people were preaching or teaching was consistent with God’s will. And the only way to spot a counterfeit was to know the real article.  The only way to spot a lie was to be familiar with the Truth.   

While I listened to tons of sermons and Christian teaching from various pastors and Christian teachers to learn about my Christian faith, I read the word of God for myself so I would be able to spot a phony or be able to see that the word of God was being twisted to support a particular view or buttress someone else’s personal agenda.  Arthur Cincotti, that one was for you. Buttress!

So to be safe and to not be led astray, I encourage everyone who are seeking a close relationship with God to read His word so they can know what they believe and why they believe it. Do your research. 

Choosing a church shouldn’t be a blind decision because the idea behind a local church is that you will worship and serve the Lord in that community.  We aren’t  looking for a system or a building. We are looking for a body of believers that respect God’s word and attempt to live by it. We want to be part of a community that seeks to do the Lord’s will and to represent Him on the earth. 

And we should be discerning in what church we decide to go to. We don’t have to give them all a chance. Some are based in error. Some churches support a modern view of what is acceptable or allowable for a Christian that contradicts what the Bible says. Some so called churches don’t revere the Bible as the only source of truth for our faith. They don’t consider the Bible to be God’s infallible, inerrant, word,  or they put the views of men or “church tradition” on equal footing with the Holy Scriptures which basically says that “only these divinely anointed servants” can interpret what the Bible really means and that “laymen” need not concern themselves with reading the Bible, and that reading the Bible could be dangerous in some way because these “laymen” may “be deceived” and develop an interpretation of the Bible’s content that differs from what the “church father’s”  have determined to be true.  

This is a problem.  God comes to us personally to show us the truth of who Christ is and  He wants us to come to Him personally.

So be wise and discerning when you decide to follow a system of faith, a group, or a person to make sure that the path you are taking is based on God’s word and will for your life.   

The best way to do that is to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth by reading His word and by applying what it says to your life.

And don’t worry about making mistakes. We are forgiven by God through our faith in Jesus Christ.  When we pursue the Lord through His word we will know the truth and the truth will set us free and lead us to experience the fruit of the Spirit as we walk and talk with God. 

We can run into trouble when we are lazy in our responsibility to be authentic in our faith and decide to trust a system, a group, or a person without question and without confirming what they say, and how they say it, against the letter and the principles established in God’s word.  

With that said, we also have to be humble. The people serving in churches have dedicated their lives to the work of ministry and should be given our trust and service.  If we are going to be “real” in our faith, we have to also be real in our support of the good work that Christians are doing by joining their efforts.  

So rather than a building, a system, or charismatic leader, seek to join a community of believers that are seeking to bring more people into God’s kingdom, who believe in and practice what the Bible teaches, and who are concerned with serving others and who are attempting to help one another grow in their relationship with God.   

It is my prayer that all my friends find a community of Christians where they can grow and find their purpose in Christ.  

So keep walking and talking with God. He will show the way to go. So trust and follow where He leads you to worship. And when you get there, worship and serve the Lord with your whole heart, mind, spirit, and body.


Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.

This morning’s meditation verse is:

1 John 4:19 (NLT2)
19  We love each other because he loved us first.

Today’s Bible verse indicates that we are given the capability to love because of the Lord.  

As Creator, God loved us enough to make us fearfully and wonderfully made.  In our bodies, we have the capability to do so many things to affect change and to accomplish tasks.  In our minds, God gave us the capability of imagining new things to create solutions to problems or just to inspire us with creative works of beauty.   In our hearts, He gave us the capacity to love.   

So God first loved us by creating us. 

But because of the free will God gave us, we could also choose to not fulfill our purpose in life by rejecting God and His ways for us.   Adam’s decision to disobey caused mankind to fall into sin and to be cursed with death as the consequence of sin.  

But God loved us enough to make a way to restore us, through Jesus Christ.  

So God oved us again to save us.  And when are redeemed, we realize our value and are given eternal life with God.  And now as brothers and sisters in Christ we can also love in the deepest sense of the word.   We can love others by sharing the truth of the gospel that will bring them from death to life.  We love because God first loved us, through creating us and saving us.   

So love the Lord with all your heart, mind, and soul and share that love the we received by loving others as yourself.



As always, I invite all to go to where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk. 

Today we continue sharing from Clinton E. Arnold’s “Powers of Darkness”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Clinton Arnold’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.

The Classical Mystery: The Rape of Kore by Hades

Fourteen miles west of Athens on the road to Corinth, the city of Eleusis was situated in a fertile agricultural area. For hundreds of years before the time of Christ, mystery rites were performed annually in the city celebrating the reunion of a mother goddess with her daughter, who had been abducted for three months by Hades, god of the underworld. According to the informing myth, Demeter, the distraught mother, wandered for days and ended the search for her daughter, Kore (also known as Persephone), in the city of Eleusis. While Demeter was at Eleusis, the supreme god Zeus finally intervened and promised to reunite Kore with her mother for eight months of every year. It turns out that Zeus had also consented for Hades (the Roman god Pluto) to take Kore as his wife. This compromise was struck between the mother and the daughter’s prospective husband.

In Eleusis mystery rites were held every year, involving a ritual enactment of many parts of this mythical drama. The “Lesser Mysteries,” held in honor of Kore, were conducted in the early spring; the “Greater Mysteries,” in honor of Demeter, were performed at the beginning of autumn. The mystery rites symbolized a happy afterlife in the other world, but they were also closely connected with raising a good corn crop in the area each year. The following two themes are very important in this respect.

First, after another deity informed Demeter (also known as the “corn maiden”) of the abduction of her daughter, Demeter caused a severe blight on the earth, which effectively twisted the arm of Zeus to intervene. This blight, induced by divine cosmic disharmony, devastated agricultural production. Part of the “Greater Mysteries” celebrate the cosmic harmony that ultimately occurred among the heavens (Zeus), the earth (Demeter) and the underworld (Hades). This harmony was essential to insure continued agricultural stability.

Second, the local interpretation of Kore’s annual journey back and forth from the underworld was thought to be related to the seed corn used in the local agriculture. Just as Kore spent four months of the year with Hades and eight months of the year with Demeter, the seed corn at Eleusis was preserved in underground silos for four months of the year and was then sown, cultivated and harvested during the rest of the year. The activities of these gods was believed to be closely intertwined with the local agricultural economy. It was therefore important to please the gods through the annual performance of these mystery rites.

It is difficult to know precisely the deeper spiritual significance given to the mystery rites at Eleusis during the time of Paul. These rites were variously interpreted according to the religious needs of every age. Although Hades was not a symbol of evil to the Greeks, he is often represented as “grim, unpitying, [and] a severe punisher of wrongdoers.” Possibly the mystery rites symbolized protection from the harmful influences of Hades. The desire for protection is probably why the dramatic enactment of descent to the underworld is important in connection with the Plutonion, an opening to the underworld, located next to the temple at Eleusis. It is also likely that at the height of the mystery initiation, the new devotees were the awed recipients of an epiphany of the goddess Demeter herself, who would bring them happiness and the hope of a pleasant afterlife in the underworld. Paul and all of his readers in Greece, no doubt, would have been quite familiar with this famous mystery religion.

Taurobolium: Initiation into Cybele

Across the Aegean Sea in Asia Minor where numerous Christian churches were coming into existence, a popular oriental cult observed annual mysteries in honor of the mother-goddess Cybele (pronounced ku-be’le). This Asian female deity, also known as the “Great Mother” and “Mother of the Gods,” came to be worshiped in Greece and even Rome before the beginning of the New Testament period.

The best-known part of her mystery rite is an event called the taurobolium. In this rite the initiate descends into an underground pit, which is partially covered with a series of wooden lattices. Walking out onto the latticework, the priests of Cybele would slaughter a young bull and allow its blood to pour through the openings of the wood, drenching the initiate in the pit below. The Latin Christian writer Prudentius vividly describes the rite:

Through the thousand crevices in the wood, the bloody dew runs down into the pit. The neophyte [initiate] receives the falling drops on his head, clothes and body. He leans backward to have his cheeks, his ears, his lips and his nostrils wetted; he pours the liquid over his eyes, and does not even spare his palate, for he moistens his tongue with blood and drinks it eagerly.

For the devotees of Cybele this gruesome rite was filled with deep spiritual significance. The bloody “baptism” was thought to purify the initiates from their faults. Franz Cumont contends that there was even a materialistic concept of a transfer of strength to the initiate. He comments: “by moistening his body with the blood of the slaughtered steer, the neophyte believed that he was transfusing the strength of the formidable beast into his own limbs.” As with other mysteries, the initiation probably also signified some mystical union with the deity.

The initiate could now live in greater security and peace. The taurobolium satisfied a spiritual yearning and brought the person closer to the deity. The new access to this deity’s cosmic power, symbolized by the blood of the bull, provided benefits, such as coping with malevolent hostile influences and assuring of immortality.

Asdepius: God of Healing

The best way to understand other religions during the time of the New Testament is to look carefully at a few. I have chosen three deities who were popular for different reasons during the time of Paul. Without a doubt many of Paul’s converts in Ephesus, Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth and elsewhere were devoted to these gods before turning to the gospel. The portraits of these three deities will give us some insight into the pre-Christian background of a large segment of Paul’s readership.

Often praised as a “savior,” the god Asclepius was one of the most popular deities among the masses during the New Testament era. Asclepius was honored throughout the Mediterranean world for his power to heal the sick and afflicted. His symbol was the staff with a snake coiled around it, similar to that of physicians today. He was perceived as a benevolent god, concerned with people’s needs. He identified with the feelings of the afflicted because he was believed to be a god-man. Many, in fact, believed Asclepius was half-human and half-divine. Because of these and other similarities to Christ, the cult of Asclepius proved to be a formidable opponent to Christianity.

Pergamum and Epidaurus were two major centers of the worship of Asclepius and were near Ephesus and Corinth, strategic centers of Paul’s missionary activities. While Paul never mentioned Asclepius (or any pagan deity) in his letters, he would undoubtedly have had a substantial number of converts who had some contact with the cult of Asclepius.

From all over the Hellenistic world, the sick and ailing flocked to Asclepian centers to seek healing from their diseases. Many reportedly received the divine healing intervention of Asclepius during the rite of “incubation,” sleeping in the precincts of the temple in order to receive a visionary epiphany from the god. When Asclepius appeared to the sick person, his healing powers were imparted and the person was healed. This appearance and the apparent healing constituted the essence of initiation into the divine mystery of Asclepius. Before sleeping in the temple, the afflicted individual needed to perform certain purification rites and offer sacrifices to Asclepius. After experiencing the healing powers of this god, it was then important to offer appropriate and acceptable thanksgiving. This rite would often take the form of a thank-offering, which the initiate commonly consumed while the god was in his temple. One writer has observed: “In the Asclepius cult the ancient concept of the sacrifice as a communion between god and man was upheld tenaciously.” This description illustrates a distinctive trait of the New Testament era in which the concept of a close personal relationship with a deity was common.

The cured were also encouraged to publicize to others what Asclepius had accomplished for them. We consequently have a number of accounts of people rendering praise to Asclepius for healing them of their illnesses. One papyrus text appears to be the introduction to a much longer document in which a man praises Asclepius because he had been healed of a terrible internal disorder during the incubation rite. Just before the text breaks off, the writer states his intention: “I now purpose to recount his miraculous manifestations, the greatness of his power, the gifts of his benefits. The history is this …”

Many of the early Christians did not dispute the evidence for supernatural events happening in connection with the cult of Asclepius. Rather, they attributed the source of the healing powers to Satan and his demons and pointed to its grave dangers. Among the church fathers, Eusebius regarded Asclepius as an evil spirit “who does not cure souls but destroys them” while Lactantius termed Asclepius an “archdemon.”

Hekate: Goddess of Witchcraft and Sorcery

The goddess Hekate (sometimes spelled Hecate) has much significance for our investigation into the powers of darkness. More than any other Hellenistic deity, Hekate was popularly known for her close connection with evil spirits, strange apparitions and things of danger. Long before the New Testament period, she was widely regarded as the mistress of evil spirits (or demons). Alois Kehl remarks, “In the common belief of Greco-Roman civilization, Hekate appeared above all as the ruler of darkness, of terror, of the dead, of demons, and of magic.”14 Because she was believed to be the ruler of the demons, she was frequently invoked in sorcery and magic; because she controlled the evil spirits, she gave magic its effective power. Because Hekate dispatched demons to carry out the magician’s wishes, her name appears repeatedly throughout the magical texts.

She was widely believed to be an underworld goddess; that is, she wielded control over the place of the dead or the disembodied souls. Her power over the various spirits of the underworld was represented by her title “key bearer,” meaning she possessed the keys to the fortress of Hades. Because she controlled the passageway to the underworld, she could enable people to communicate with the dead. Her custodianship of Hades also enabled her to control the apparitions or souls who ascend to do the magician’s bidding.17

Her power was not only limited to the underworld. As with so many other deities of the period, she was viewed as having cosmic power. Her rule extended over heaven, earth and sea. Some texts point to her connection with the lunar element, in which she becomes associated with the moon-goddess, Selene. A few ancient writers even emphasize her role as a cosmic soul.

People worshiped her and made offerings to her for protection from evil. She was called the “goddess of the crossroads.” In popular superstition, the intersection of two roads was viewed as haunted. A statue of Hekate was commonly erected at crossroads. Her function as an averter of evil influences reflects her popular title, “protector of the gate.”

While Hekate was worshiped throughout the Roman Empire, she was especially at home in Asia Minor, where she is thought to have originated Her primary cult center was at Lagina, not far from Ephesus. Hekate is closely connected with the Ephesian Artemis, so much so that distinctions between the two female goddesses become blurred in many respects.

During his travels throughout the empire, the apostle Paul probably encountered her image along Roman roads countless times. His converts would have found it difficult to completely forsake honoring her since she was perceived to be a primary source of protection from evil spirits in daily life. Her promise of protection from the underworld would also have posed a significant challenge to the Christian gospel’s promise of life after death.[1]

---------------------------more tomorrow------------------------

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

( The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and 

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel:

Email me at to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock ( ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

[1] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), 38–43.