"ESCAPING BACK TO GOD"
"In the beginning God . . ." Genesis 1:1
This is where it all began: "In the beginning God." He was, He is, and He's there for you! Very simple! There were no 45,000 denominations to sort through, n
o logos, brands
, or jerseys to support, no complicated competing doctrines or theologies-just God and the first couple. God met with them. They walked and talked together. They had time for each other. He gave them a simple set of rules for living and promised to meet with them daily.
That's my God! He kept it very simple for the sinless couple. He provided everything they needed and essentially said, "Obey and live, disobey and accept the consequences."
Lucifer complicated it all. He always distorts, adds on, subtracts, divides, multiplies, and confuses God's simple plan of life. The first couple fell for it, and we are still falling for it today. Satan loves to divide and conquer. Then he again divides and conquerors what he just divided and conquered. He does this again and again until you've got 45,000 denominations globally-all claiming they are the one true religion. Really!
Satan uses religion to spoil the innocence and simplicity of our fellowship with God. If we are honest with ourselves, we are no different from the Corinthians. "For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, 'I am of Paul,' and another, 'I am of Apollos,' are you not carnal?" 1 Corinthians 3:3, 4 In other words, the self-exalting spirit of Satan dominates many institutional churches-demonstrated by their indifference towards others, in house arguing, backbiting towards those they consider inferior, and self-centeredness, as well as promoting their own agendas, logos, and egos rather than teaching their members the simplicity of coming '
' in their daily living. They even propagate and promote the spirit of division and competition just like the world does and turn their members' minds away from God when they claim, "I'm Adventist, I'
m Baptist, I
'm Catholic, I'm Charismatic, I'm E
vangelical, I'm Mennonite, I
" Shouldn't they first and formost be identified as, "Belonging to God", being conduits of His to bring us firmly and solidly back to an "In Christ" experience instead of belonging to an organization and living life in their own cultures and traditions?
With the first couple before the fall, there was no religion. There were no temples made with human hands; there were no religious groups or denominations; no men or institutions taking God's place. In the original purpose of the Godhead, there was not to be a division among men concerning religious persuasion or doctrine. These 45,000 institutional structures are a product of man's falling for Lucifer'
s propaganda. Doesn't the church really constitute all those who truly manifest a daily, hourly abiding experience in and through Jesus Christ?
One of the greatest idols in the last days that will bow its knee to God's presence is the idol of religion. Religiosity-forms, ceremonies, and reforms-apart from God, have a subtle way of counterfeiting and spoiling the simplicity of a daily walk with God. Isn't it man using God's Word to follow his own devising? God has warned us against this in His Word: "If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book ..." Revelation 22:18-19 ... So, are you an adder or a subtractor?
After the first couple fell, God gave very simple instructions for His worship. But Cain had his own ideas. Abel honored God, but Cain devised his own plan of worship. He added to and subtracted from God's simple instructions. Notice he didn't refuse to worship. No, he simply devised his own self-focused way. Thus, God's simple will and way was replaced by man's manipulating and devising will and way.
In God's Spirit and Truth there is no division. If all men and organizations would learn to humble themselves and bow their wills to God's life and Word, the Spirit of Truth would teach them. Instead of meekness and humility, we end up with the changeable will of man quenching the simplicity of the gospel by the many muddy, deceptive and murky waters of man's religion.
The greatest evidence of this is witnessed by the impure hands of religion crucifying the innocent life of the Son of God on the cruel cross. It is still the impure hands of religion today (often in and through the churches) that crucify, crowd out, and kill, inch by inch, the simplicity of the life of the Son of God living in and through the believer.
This oneness God calls us to is not a fleshly, dogmatic, political, or organizational unity, but rather a personal, spiritual, caring unity with the Father through the Son in the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. It was the last prayer of Jesus found in John 17:21: "That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me."
Satan so opposes this spiritual life and individual liberty in Jesus that he has raised up a 'counterfeit
' against it as a substitute and replacement. Lucifer desired exultation. (Isaiah 14:13, 14) Therefore, he has penetrated many churches to cunningly exult his clever counterfeits in place of God's glorious life in the believer.
The outward show of religion has taken the place of true spiritual regeneration. Theoretical and theological knowledge has become a substitute for the new heart. Until God's plan of sanctification and transformation takes place in us, everything else constitutes a substitute form of self-righteousness.
- To go to church on the right day, while treating others in that church wrongly, amounts to a perversion and absolutely no saving good!
- Many believe they are Christians because they know who the beast of Revelation is, but can't conquer the beast in their own hearts, especially behind closed doors. This is merely first base religion, never taking you to home plate!
- Millions of Christians profess faith 'in the truth' while holding those truths in unrighteousness. Romans 1:18 Their truth does not make them patient, kind, and tenderhearted at home nor with their own church members. I believe that's called hypocrisy!
- Most church goers, instead of being "swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger" James 1:19, are "swift to gossip, slow to listen to God's still small voice, and slow to forgive." The book of James calls that vanity.
- The church's divorce rate and loss of their precious youth is alarmingly close to the world's-little demonstration of God's life in us!
- Church membership and attendance is in a huge decline-not surprisingly, as institutional church authority erroneously and carnally assumes God's place as the head.
Missing the Mark
I share this not to condemn, but to wake us up to the reality that we aren't who we think we are. If a person has a fever, it tells them they are in a sick and weakened condition. Extra measures are then needed to restore them to good health.
The fruit of the Christian churches says we are missing the mark and are diseased. It's time we realize our need to go back to the simplicity of Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God . . ." He was there for the first couple, and He is there for you and me, calling us to the glorious life, knocking on the door of our hearts, and beckoning us to let Him in-permanently and continuously!
Coming back '
' is the first and greatest of all our needs. Until we do so, there will never be harmony in our lives, our marriages, our families, and consequently, in our churches.
I was out hiking with a pastor from our local church when he asked me:
"Jim what do you think is the problem in our church?"
I thought a while and responded. "The leadership and the members are not 'Under God.' They are 'In Charge,' and from the disunity and strife in the church, it is evident that few, if any, filter their thoughts, words, and actions through God."
The pastor thought for a while, then responded, "You're right, but I don't have a 1000 years to bring them, as you say, 'Under God.'"
He was satisfied to simply keep them corralled under their church logo, policy, authority, and standards. But church logos, policies, authorities, and standards have no power over the fleshly heart. Only Christ reigning over a church and its members can end the strife, and bring true harmony and Christ-centered unity. Jesus, not wanting anyone to misunderstand, exclaimed, "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
John 13:35. In other words we are NOT truly His, unless in our daily lives we manifest sacrificial attitudes and actions to those around us. Is that you? (1 John 4:7-11).
Ten simple commandments, guidelines, and boundaries are you safely within their borders? (
17). These timeless principles give us the direction we need to live a simple life 'Under God.' Step outside of them, and you have trouble and bondage. Stay within their borders, and you have a life of freedom. Obey and live, disobey and die, is still the issue of true worship. So, are you Abel or Cain in your worship?
I'll never forget a luncheon I had with my older brother,
"Jim, I hate your religion; you can't do anything."
"Really, Karl? Give me one of your cigarettes."
I took the cigarette, stuck it in my mouth, lit it up, took a puff on it, and then put it out. My brother's eyes were as big as cherries. He couldn't believe what was happening.
Then I looked at Karl and said, "I'm free to smoke or not smoke. You can't stop smoking. You are in bondage-smoking owns you. God's simple principles have freed me. Following your own will and way has made you a slave."
My brother died of emphysema at age sixty-seven-how sad. I sure miss him! I'm seventy this year, and I find myself hiking up to ten miles twice a week with an elevation gain of a couple thousand feet, and climbing 14,000 foot peaks for enjoyment. God's health principles lived out have tremendous benefit!
I have yet to find a community of believers where a representative number of its members truly live out the Ten Commandments. The world and the Christian community are starving for such a demonstration-how sad! Why is that? Because their members have not been taught practically how to '
Come Under God.
' That's why it is imperative that we each rediscover how to 'Escape Back to God.'
Questions for Discussion
- If you were to have an audience with Jesus in the middle of the night, as Nicodemus did, and ask Him your three top questions, would He avoid your questions and say you need a new heart and a true born-again experience?
- Would those closest to you say you belong to a church, a doctrine, or God?
- Are you more into the forms, doctrines, and offices of religion, or the substance of abiding in Christ daily?
- Is your pastor more concerned about you being under church governance and attendance, or under God's authority?
- Has John 17:21-Oneness with God-been accomplished in your life?
- Has the outward counterfeit cloak of religion taken the place of true spiritual regeneration in your life?
- Do you honestly understand what it means to be daily 'Under God'?
- Are you truly free to live life as God ordained it, or are you still in bondage to the flesh and to the world?
- Would your spouse and children say you are "swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger"? James 1:19