This is an article which, no matter who you are, is almost sure to offend you. The reason is that the answer strikes at the very heart of your comfort zone, and threatens to rock the foundation of all that you believe in. But… oh well. Deal with it.
See, today, the church stinks. Oh, I don’t care if you go to Living, or United, or if you follow Fred or Ted or Flurry or, for that matter, if you go to a Baptist, Methodist, or a Pentecostal church. The church stinks. It’s dirty. In every way imaginable to describe it or measure it, it is just filthy.
Oh, your church isn’t? Ok, well, here are a few tests:
- How many people presently attending your congregation are known to be committing adultery, or have within the past year?
- How many people attend your congregation who break the sabbath (even only once in awhile)?
- How many scandals and obvious mis-managements of people, sins, or funds, involve the minister or the higher-ups in your church?
- How many of the “diseases of Egypt” (Exodus 15:26) has God placed upon your church and its ministry? Such as Cancer, Tumors, Heart Disease – all of which Archaeologists have shown were rampant in Ancient Egypt at the time of the Exodus?
- How many Bona-fide answers to prayer does your church get? (Note that by answers to prayer, I mean an actual ANSWER, not a person who was prayed for, went to the hospital, had an organ transplant, and survived? An ANSWER is a person who was prayed for and was HEALED). And how many people on your church’s prayer list continue in misery or simply up and die, instead of God answering?
- How many people in your church have even read their entire Bible ONCE? (a task that only requires 45 minutes a day for 4 months to complete, and yet people who have been in your church for 40 years have never done it… have they?)
- How many people go to your church and discuss GOD, and how many people go there and discuss operations, jobs, illnesses, who’s-sleeping-with-who, sports, celebrities, and how much money some famous person makes?
- How many people could even name the ten commandments – much less name them in order?
- How many people know for certain that there is no book of Hezekiah without checking?
- Does your church want your committed obedience to it (and your tithes!), in spite of the flaws I’ve already mentioned here, plus hundreds of others too varied and numerous to mention, and neither the ministry nor the membership show the slightest interest in changing?
If you can’t give your church an honest, whole-hearted, before-God ten-of-ten in that test, your church is dirty. And there are literally HUNDREDS of other things I could mention that are wrong with the church today. And those are the problems in a GOOD church today! I’m not talking about places that are blatantly soft-on-sin and allow all sorts of sins in their memberships in the name of “love”, and the places that don’t even pay lip-service to the law!
But… you’ve GOT to go to church SOMEWHERE!
And no matter what I tell someone about their church, and no matter who I tell, this is ALWAYS the answer I get! It seems that even a bad church is better than no church. Well… let’s see if that’s what the Bible says, or what YOUR CHURCH, indeed, EVERY CHURCH WANTS YOU TO BELIEVE!
Churches want you to believe that because if you HAVE to continue going to a sin-ridden, self-satisfied, self-serving, God-forsaken church, and there is NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT, then you will feel obligated just shut your mouth and go to that church and just ACCEPT its faults, because “you’ve GOT TO GO TO CHURCH SOMEWHERE!”
So before we can begin, we need to briefly discuss who is your brother. Who is he? Is everyone your brother? Or is everyone who names the name of Christ, I.E., every professing Christian from Catholic to United Methodist your brother? Or is everyone in the Churches of God your brother?
This is a question most people never stop to ask, but it is SO critical to your life and indeed, your salvation. I heard Garner Ted Armstrong, about 5 years back, say that ALL these members of all the churches of God were brethren. But let’s see if that’s true or not, shall we?
Christ Himself had to deal with this problem, you know. His physical mother and brothers came to see Him, and they couldn’t get to see Him because of the crowd, so they passed a message along through His disciples, saying:
Matthew 12:47-48 …Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?
Notice right there, that’s the question I just asked you – who IS my mother, and who are my brothers – my TRUE brothers in Christ?
Matthew 12:49-50 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
And there is your answer! A faithful Catholic is NOT my brother – Christ just said so – because He is NOT doing my Father’s will. Neither then, is my Baptist neighbor my brother – is he? Is he keeping the ten commandments – the most basic expression of my Father’s will? I think not. So then, it’s everyone who keeps the sabbath, right?
Well, there are TEN commandments – yes, there are TEN. The sabbath is ONE. But doing the WILL of my Father, and presumably, yours as well, involves obeying ALL TEN!
So if you keep the sabbath, yet if you are sleeping around, you’re not doing my Father’s will, which means… YOU ARE NOT MY BROTHER! Now that is clearly what the Bible says, isn’t it? I didn’t make one word of that up, did I? Good. Then let’s expand this reasoning a bit.
If you keep the sabbath PERFECTLY – as well as the other 9 commandments – but your boss MAKES you work 15 minutes late on Friday night once a month… are you my brother? Well, are you? Are you doing my Father’s will? Is it His will that you break the sabbath only once in a while? No, we both know it’s not. And that means that you, if you do such things, are not my brother.
This is so simple and plain that a child can apply this reasoning to siphoning church funds, to cheating on your tithes, to the various facets of adultery, to eating pork (even only once in awhile!), and any other sin that you know is going on right this second in your church, and most of its members.
But wait a moment. I hear you saying “But nobody is perfect! You can’t expect someone to be GOD before you can fellowship with them!” And I wasn’t saying that they had to be. What I’ve been dealing with here are sins that PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT, and REFUSE TO CHANGE!
Romans 5:13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
If someone is in the church, and doesn’t realize that, say, downloading illegal music is wrong, that sin is not imputed! Because there is no law – they don’t realize that it is wrong! And so, since they are *honestly* ignorant about this subject, they ARE doing God’s will – to the best of their knowledge, and so they ARE my brother! (Assuming of course, that they are obeying the other commandments as well.)
But see here there is a responsibility on YOU. See, if you know that what they are doing is wrong, it is your JOB to tell them so – if you don’t, YOU are bearing that sin for them, and it is on YOUR head!
Leviticus 19:17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.
Or, as the KJV marginal rendering has it, “Rebuke your brother, that you bear not sin for him“! If you see your brother sin a sin, and don’t tell him, that blame is on your head, as the Watchman, and as your brother’s keeper! (Ezekiel 33:6)
So now we have an ignorant sinner, who is my brother, and whom I have told that he is sinning – and shown them clearly so that they understand. And now they know that what they were doing is wrong. Now they repent, and stop sinning, and they remain my brother!
But what if they DON’T? What if, instead, they rebel, and say I WILL NOT stop doing this, because I like it, and WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE to tell me what to do, anyway??
Romans 7:8-9 … For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin REVIVED, and I DIED.
Well, my brother was my brother as long as He did my Father’s will, or as long as he sincerely tried to do so in ignorance. But once the commandment came, which I showed unto him, and he rebelled against it – my brother died! He no longer does the will of my Father, and he KNOWINGLY rebels, so I ask you, is he my brother? Come on, be honest, is he, after he has knowingly rejected the will of my Father? I think not.
Of course, the door is open for him to repent, if he wants to, and if he decides to humble himself before the will of God and once again obey Dad’s will, we’ll be brethren again! That’s simple, isn’t it? Of course it is. So now we can get to the heart of the matter. The first scripture people point to (after they say “you’ve GOT to go to church SOMEPLACE, no matter how bad it is, just pick the best one!”), is this one…
Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
And that certainly commands you to go to church! … or does it? Does it command you to go to a church that is full of rebellious people? We’ll see. Meanwhile, let’s check the context and get the background on this scripture:
Hebrews 10:24-26 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of OURSELVES together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
Now let’s go through this scripture very slowly. It says, in verse 25, not to forsake the assembling of OURSELVES together. What does that mean? Who is the “US” in this context? Who are you supposed to assemble with on Sabbath? The brethren, right? OURSELVES could then, only refer to MY brothers, those who obey the WILL of MY Father! So right there, we are already talking about people who are obeying the ten commandments, and the other commands of God, to the best of their knowledge, right? That is what it says, isn’t it?
It doesn’t say “not forsaking the assembling of the rebellious, sin-laden God-forsaken church which has already sold their soul to the church leadership”, does it? I didn’t read that there, did you? It seems that most people who quote the scripture do think that that is what it says, but it said “OURSELVES”. Those of “US” who do the will of “OUR” Father! That is who we are commanded to assemble with! Does that describe YOUR church? (See questionnaire first page.)
Ok, that said; what does it say to do at this church which is honestly trying to do the will of God? It says to PROVOKE the membership unto LOVE and GOOD works! What are good works, and what is love? Keeping the commandments (Romans 13:8-10)! So there are people in this church who needed PROVOKED to keep the commandments! This means that this church isn’t perfect, right? Right!
But in order to be even CONSIDERED as one of “US”, doing the will of my Father, they have to already be doing EVERYTHING THEY KNOW! Perhaps no one has told them that holding hands in a circle while praying is as pagan a custom as ever existed! That’s a sin, but they didn’t know that! So it is my job – and YOURS – to go to this church that’s trying to do the will of God, and PROVOKE them to do GOOD works, and reject the evil works!
That’s simple enough isn’t it? We’re not to ignore them because they aren’t perfect, “after the manner of SOME is”, but to EXHORT them and show them their sins so that God can be closer to them, and to all of us! But now look at the next verse – it says that if we sin WILLFULLY, or KNOWING that what we do is wrong, that there is NO sacrifice for sins!
Isn’t it odd that verse is presented in the context of correcting people in a church, and provoking them to love and good works? Do you suppose it’s a coincidence that it starts the sentence with “For IF we sin willfully…” after receiving a knowledge of truth… implying that it is a continuation of the previous verse, where it talks about GIVING them a knowledge of the truth? I doubt it.
See, as you’ll find if you try to do this (and I have), that when you provoke someone to love and good works by telling them that, say, watching Charmed on TV or hanging dreamcatchers over their child’s bed is wrong, that people don’t like that. And if you go back week after week and provoke them to love and good works, and give them a KNOWLEDGE of this truth that they were in ignorance about up until now, why, they’ll get quite upset with you! Probably even ask you not to come back!
And so God said, in the very next verse, that IF, after they have been informed of their sins, after the commandment has come and they reject it, that they “die” and there is no more sacrifice for their sins!
But what other option do we have? “You HAVE to go to church somewhere!” “Even a marginal church is better than no church!” “We attend church with a group we don’t totally agree with, but we’ve just agreed to disagree for the sake of fellowship!”
THIS IS THE ATTITUDE THAT HAS BROUGHT THE SCATTERED, SPLINTERED, GODLESS CHURCHES OF GOD TO THE PATHETIC, CORRUPT, SELF-SERVING, PROUD, TOLERANT, SIN-RIDDLED CONDITION THAT THEY ARE IN TODAY!
God does NOT want you to fellowship with “brethren” who ARE NOT BRETHREN! He doesn’t want you to hang around people who have already proved to YOU that they are not doing, and WILL NOT do, the will of YOUR Father! And where does He command you to go to church with rebellious people, and “agree to disagree” and tolerate sin in your midst?? Go look for that scripture!
I boldly state, with scriptural authority, that if you remain in a church that is as I have described, and simply “settle for what you can get” in a church, and “agree to disagree”, and tolerate sin, and don’t EXHORT and PROVOKE the brethren to LOVE and GOOD WORKS, and don’t INSIST on righteousness from your ministry and your “brethren”, YOU WILL NOT BE IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD!
Psalms 26:4-5 I have not SAT with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers. I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and WILL NOT SIT with the wicked.
And you will NOT be in the Kingdom of God unless you can, as David, say that you have HATED the congregation of evildoers, and tell God that you have not SAT in the congregation of the wicked Sabbath after Sabbath, and if you cannot loudly proclaim to all the world that you have NOT shared seats every Sabbath with empty, vain persons, who only cared about talking about shallow sports and empty jobs and covetous conversations about how much money this person or that makes, YOU ARE NOT DOING THE WILL OF GOD, and YOU ARE NOT A BROTHER OF CHRIST YOURSELF!
Exodus 23:2 Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil;…
You are commanded not to FOLLOW a multitude to do evil! If your church is EVIL, and I know of none – no, not one – that is not riddled with corruption, adultery, and blatant, unrepented-of sin, then you are NOT to follow them to do EVIL! If GOD is not in such a church, then WHY SHOULD YOU BE??
Isaiah 59:3-4 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness. None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.
Is this your church? How many people lie on almost every level, gossip, and put up with blatant misconduct from everyone in the church? (See questionnaire first page.)
Isaiah 58:2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation (or CHURCH) that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.
Oh, your church has a lot of people who take delight in approaching to God – don’t get me wrong. They LOVE to pray, they LOVE to sing praises to God, and they LOVE to worship Him! The more devoted ones even seek Him DAILY – but those things are NOT WHAT MAKES A PERSON A BROTHER OF CHRIST!
Matthew 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and HONOURETH ME WITH THEIR LIPS; but THEIR HEART IS FAR FROM ME.
That’s not GOOD ENOUGH! It’s time you took your blinders off, and looked at your “brethren” for who they actually ARE, not looking at how much they love to pray and speak God’s name, but looking at WHETHER OR NOT THEY DO the will of your Father!
Luke 8:21 And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and DO IT.
So all I’m telling you is to LOOK at the person sitting next to you at church – do you want him ruling 10 cities with ABSOLUTE power in the Kingdom of God? And would YOU want to live in those cities? Look at the sin in your church, and ask yourself “if the ministry can’t get rid of sin in a church now, and put sin out of the very HOUSE OF GOD, how can they lead millions of people into righteousness in the Kingdom of God?”
Finally, ask yourself if that rebellious sinner next to you is doing the will of your Father – and if he isn’t – then have you provoked him to love and good works? Has he rejected you? Have you tried again? Has he rejected you? Has the rest of the congregation the same careless attitude? Then why are you fellowshipping with them?
Because “You’ve got to go to church somewhere”? Why? Show me that scripture. Show me where, after the church has rejected the truth, you are obligated to continue attending somewhere, however unclean it is! Of course, you can try another church – but you will soon find the same situation you left. And if you stay clean yourself, and PROVOKE them to love and good works – you will soon find yourself unwelcome there as well.
And so by all means, go to church and EXHORT the brethren! PROVOKE them unto love and good works – and INSIST on what is right, and don’t settle for less! And once you’ve told them the truth and they reject you, find a different church!
But ultimately (and it won’t take as long as you think), you will have gone through all the churches in your area, and find yourself alone, with only you and God, and perhaps your family. Don’t ask me how I know. But… I am willing to sit alone on a rooftop rather than assemble with people who are not my brothers and sisters, and who hate my Father – and frankly, I’m kind of surprised that you aren’t. Or are you?
All I can tell you is that if you can’t find any true brethren, then it is better to dwell in a corner on a housetop, and have God be with you, than be in a vibrant church of 5,000 people and have God tell you “I never knew you”. Isn’t it?
I’ve said some harsh things about the churches today. I’ve not pulled any punches about your church, or you yourself. You might say that I’ve provoked you to love and good works. Does all this make you mad – maybe even offend you? Well, I say again; deal with it. We haven’t got time for pussyfooting around about this anymore. If this offends you, well … I say, with Christ as my example…
Matthew 15:12-14 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were OFFENDED, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father HATH NOT PLANTED, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
If this offends you, then maybe your soul belongs to the Church, and not to God. Because every plant that God hasn’t planted, all those who aren’t doing HIS will, WILL be rooted up, and sorted out. So, go your way! Follow the blind leaders, as blind yourself, and enjoy the view from the ditch!
The only option they give you is to leave that defiled group for yet another God-forsaken Church of God, only to repeat the process time and again. Each time you join a new church it tells you that IT is the “one and only true church” – and you are expected to believe this wholeheartedly – and most do! In fact, I know people who are in their FIFTH “one and only true church”!!