One thing needs special emphasis in this day of rampant individualism: the pursuit of truth cannot be accomplished all by yourself. God does not call men to a private religion — just them and Jesus.
On the day of Pentecost, Christ did not anoint his followers to go everywhere independently, each to start them a church as they saw fit, subject to no judgment but their own. He inhabited and empowered His body, the church. It is the spirit of antichrist that refuses to recognize the presence and authority of Christ in His body. I John 4:1-3.
The converts, “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Acts 2:42. Verse 44 tells us that “all that believed were together.”
Jesus prayed for all who would believe, “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.
The present confusion and disunity is the result of Satan working through the corrupted nature of men — a nature that is proud, strongly self-willed and independent. However, the principle behind the words spoken by Moses to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 12:8-9 still applies to God’s people today: “Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes. For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the Lord your God giveth you.”
They were further instructed that God would establish a place where His name would dwell and that that is where they were to go. That same God is still in business today, manifesting Himself in those rare places where He is in charge, where His authority is expressed and honored.
The Father has given all authority in heaven and earth to His Son (Matt. 28:18). He has given Him a name which is above every name and decreed that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. Phil. 2:9-11.
Most will bow too late to do them any good. Those who are His will bow here and learn to acknowledge His Lordship.
In Matt. 18:15-20, Jesus described the authority of His church to bind and loose on earth. In matters of judgment, there is no higher court. Such authority is a result of verse 20: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
That is what the elect remnant desperately needs in this hour: to be gathered in His name where He is truly present and in charge. This gathering is not something we do; it is something Christ does by conferring His authority upon chosen vessels that His own should be brought together under His headship in a practical sense.
The result is a body of believers who enjoy an ongoing relationship one with another and with Him. The simplest and clearest expression of this is in Jesus’ own words in John 17:23: “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” Ponder these words!
That is the true nature of the Kingdom of God! God was in Christ (II Cor. 5:19). He was “the body of the Father,” if you will. The Father, who is an invisible spirit (John 4:24, Col. 1:15, John 1:18), walked and talked among men through Him.
The church is Christ’s body, not just in a mystical sense, but in a very practical one. The true ministry of Christ establishes His name, or authority, in a particular place and gathers His elect under that authority.
In I John 1:3, John wrote, “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”
Do you see the pattern? The Father and Son had a perfect fellowship, or relationship. John had been brought into that and his desire was to bring others into it — to expand the family of those truly joined to God through His Son and by His Spirit.
That is what the Spirit of God does. Where God’s Spirit is there is light and life and cleansing and fellowship and also judgment.
A key phrase from John 17:21 says, “…that they also may be one in us ….” True spiritual unity with the Father and Son can only happen by the anointing through the process described above.
Look around you. Did God’s Spirit gather what you see? Something did!
In every religious denomination or group or movement there is some inspiration behind it, some spirit that rules and is expressed. If it is not God’s Spirit then it is what Paul warned of in II Cor. 11:4: “another Jesus,” “another spirit,” “another gospel.”
These other spirits are certainly not heaven-sent. We live in a day of great lying signs and wonders (Matt. 24:24). Feelings, experiences, manifestations may seem very, very real and convincing and yet be from demons.
Rev. 18:1-4 says, “And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”
This is a picture of religion that, despite its appearance, has fallen under the dominion of demons. It holds men spiritually captive. Its only prospect is God’s judgment. God’s remnant is warned to flee.
You can know — if you love God more than your religion, more than your experience, more than “your knowledge,” more than your life.
Since we have God’s promise that we can know the responsibility is ours. We cannot blindly follow a blind leader into a ditch (Matt. 15:14) and on the judgment day blame the leader or blame God.
God sends “strong delusion” not to lead astray His own elect, but to ensnare those who “received not the love of the truth that they might be saved.” II Thess. 2:9-12.
Only sheep are able to hear the Shepherd’s voice (John 10:16; 26-29). The Shepherd knows where all of His sheep are and what condition they are in. At the appointed time He can speak where they can hear and know it is Him.
Every one called to the Kingdom of God is brought up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay whether they wish to admit it or not. Psalm 40:2. That pit may be one of gross sin but it also may be religious in nature. I believe the latter is far more horrible.
Religion fixes people where they feel no need of God. Jesus said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:32. It is easier for a prostitute to be saved than it is for a religious person. Matt. 21:31-32.
Most of the tiny remnant that constitutes God’s elect are asleep. The virgins of Matt. 25, both wise and foolish, were asleep when the time came for the midnight cry. They were unaware of the hour and of the need to be awake and preparing for the bridegroom’s return.
That message is going forth even now. The Lord is warning of the lateness of the hour, proclaiming the one true gospel of the grace of God, delivering His elect from religious prison houses (Is. 42:22), gathering them under the headship of Christ that the remnant church might stand as one — every member in their proper place — when Christ returns.