Tower of Bable, from Dore’s English Bible
17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.
18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
You have probably heard of the “Great Commission”. It is usually taken as a command to preach the Gospel, but is it?
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Interestingly, the word “Gospel” nowhere appears in this verse! Earlier in the Book of Matthew, we see a prophecy that is often tied to this verse, however.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
~ Mt 24:14
I submit to you that the relationship between them is a rather loose one.
Both mention “the end” of this age. However, one is a sign of the end, whereas the other is something that is supposed to be done up unto the end.
Another difference is also subtle. Preaching the Gospel is a requirement, but Matthew 28 is much broader. It says to “teach all nations”. Other versions say to “make disciples of all the nations” (NKJV). It is like the difference between having a job and having a career. A job may last an hour, a day, a week or a few months. A job may last years. However, a career is something much larger. It may consist of many jobs, just as making disciples may require preacing the Gospel over and over in different locations.
A disciple didn’t just go and listen to a sermon once a week. Jesus’ disciples followed Him — literally everywhere. In His day, disciples walked with the Rabbi, talked with the Rabbi, ate with the Rabbi and slept with the Rabbi. They had to be devoted to the Rabbi.
This is reflected in Jesus’ many statements about denying one’s self, taking up the cross that is given to you (a hard one, isn’t it?), “hating” mother and father (in relation to your love for the Rabbi) and be willing to forsake it all, even as Abraham was willing to forsake his only legal heir.
Exercise is good for a while. Preaching the Gospel is good for a while. It is an event. It’s effects can wear after a time.
Fitness is a long term goal. Discipleship is a long term goal. The goal is a permanent way of life, living, thinking, speaking and acting.
So, Why Do It?
Seriously, though, why bother preaching the Gospel? Look around you! How many of these church organizations really delve into discipleship?
If everyone in your congregation goes out and manages to share the Good News with at least one other person, and that person responds, then what? Think about it! Then what?
That’s an important question! Because if it is anything less than initiating them into discipleship then it is not following Jesus’ commands!
More than likely, they will be brought in to disputes over head coverings, calendars and perhaps even church governance.
Is that what Christ said should occur?
Laodicea = “the people decide”. If it is a “governance” issue, it is a self-governance issue! It is everyone doing what is right in their own eyes!
Satan’s attitude of doing what you want, of thinking you know better than even the Creator God, of deciding what is right in your own eyes (leaning on your own understanding) has infected the Church!
Do you really think Satan is unable to attend one of your church services?
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.
~ Job 1:6
This is in contrast with Chapter 2:
2 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord.
~ Job 2:1
In this latter account, the intent is for Satan to present himself before God. He was summoned before The King! However, you get the impression in the first event that he sort of slipped in the back door, as though perhaps he had something to be ashamed of or to attempt to hide.
The point is he appeared along with the rest of the angels. Again, could he attend one of your church services unawares? Could he be stirring up dissent, causing division in the membership like Korah stirred up the Israelites against Moses and Aaron?
So, what will people see when they walk through the door? Will they see division? Arguing over the lesser things of the Law?
24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
~ Mt 23:24
Will they see wrangling over word definitions? Will someone point out that it is the month of THE green ears (thus showing their ignorance of language) and insist on an extrabiblical search for green ears of barley, thus causing confusion about any potential plans coming up?
14 Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.
33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
Instead, what did Jesus say others would find? The correct form (the shell, the appearance) of government? How about proper doctrine? You know, even that was not the sign to outsiders because they don’t know proper doctrine!
35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
~ Jn 13:35
You know, the Pharisees made disciples. They evangelized. What good was it? They had knowledge, but they did not have the love of God.
13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels [even if it is the Gospel!], and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
Sifting and Sorting Before the Tribulation
I’ve never really worried about the Place of Safety. In fact, worrying about it is a sure sign that you probably aren’t going! God did not call us to look out for #1! God did not call use to be “Save Your Behind Christians”!
However, I have long suspected a sifting and sorting going on, and even more of late. My assumption was that it was sorting out the tares and the wheat, but that may not be so! After all, there will definitely be a sorting out of who goes into the Place of Safety and who does not at some point.
I believe that point is now, long before the actual event. God thinks long term, so even 10 years or more is not too early to sift and sort.
And, from everything I see, it isn’t God Who is defining who is going and who is not.
No, people are disqualifying themselves.
If the bus pulls up next Sabbath to take you to the Place of Safety, would you get on it? What if Rod Meredith were on the bus? What if Bob Thiel were on the bus? What if some “higher ups” in COGWA or UCG were there?
How many will say, “I cannot go with these people, for they do not…”
- “have the right form of governance.”
- “observe new moons.”
- “use a calculated calendar.”
- “look for green ears of barley in the spring.”
- “look for a new moon every month.”
- “define a new moon correctly.”
- “make their women wear head coverings.”
- etc., etc., etc.
We are called to come out of “Babylon”! What is “Babylon”?
Babel or Babylon = “confusion (by mixing)”
~ Strong’s, Babel, H894
33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
If there are divisions in the Body of Christ, it is not of God. God is the author of peace. Yet, some people want to return to Babylon! They want to go back to the confusion where everyone does what is right in his own eyes!
Jesus had a warning about turning back. It is very short, but it is a sermon in a sentence.
32 Remember Lot’s wife.
~ Lk 17:32
Excellent analysis, John. Like you, I’ve never worried about a place of safety either, because only God knows what I need to go through in this physical life to be completely transformed to His way of being, thinking, speaking, and doing – a mirror image spiritually of Him and Jesus Christ – and that is the goal of discipleship.
You summed it up well with this paragraph (very big-picture, which you did not specify as the essential missing ingredient, but I believe it is): “Fitness is a long term goal. Discipleship is a long term goal. The goal is a permanent way of life, living, thinking, speaking and acting.”
All of us will – and I see this in myself continually – falter and lose focus sometimes, but through our continual and sustained relationships with God and Jesus Christ, we get up from some pretty nasty falls and keep going, aware that we have a responsibility to Them, the Kingdom, to our spiritual brothers and sisters, as well as our physical brothers and sisters (all humanity), and those who have gone before us and are fully expecting us to be there. That is the overarching reminder that stays in the front of mind.
This is where I would start with someone, John:
This is where it always has to start. We have to start with obeying God, and every person should prove that A) the law isn’t done away with and B) it should be followed today …. AND THEN they should be reading the Bible and trying to DO what it says!
Those of us that believe differently on the calendar, at least the “honest” ones, recognize that it isn’t clearly nailed down in the Bible. We believe we have solid verses that support our point of view, but it IS NOT nailed down the same way it is to not murder, not commit adultery, keep the Sabbath, etc. are nailed down.
That said, we each have to be proving things and asking for discernment to be able to tell right from wrong, and some of us at different times have different amounts of discernment than other people do. Others completely relinquish their responsibility to grow in discernment and expect their ministers to do it for them.
We each should be doing what we’re fully convinced of in our own mind, and yet still be willing to be corrected by God on whatever we may be wrong about — but we must be PRACTICING discernment in order to be able to see when something is of God, versus when something is not.
How does that explain you and I differing on the calendar? I don’t know, but I do believe you’re studying your Bible, and I believe I’m studying mine, and I believe we’re both seeking God’s will and trying to obey the things that ARE CLEAR, such as not having servants work for us on the Sabbath (in reference to eating out in restaurants).
Thanks for your blog. It’s a pleasure to read. Appreciate Alex’s reply. Fwiw, we don’t believe that the commission about which you write was given en masse, which seems to be a big push in some groups. The scriptures at the end of Matthew 28 show that Jesus gave that commission to the 11 – those weren’t His only disciples at that time, they were the ones He’d worked with and ordained as apostles. Hence, we believe, based on scripture, it is an apostolic commission, and therefore, not something we are to take on ourselves.
Matthew 24:14 is a prophecy – it is not a commission; and may be referring to the work of the two witnesses.
Does that mean it’s wrong for COG groups to preach the gospel? No. God will sort all of that out.
There have been many attempts to try to “solve” the perceived problems of the Laodicean Church by various groups and leaders, all of whom seem to think that it is a government problem; that there’s just too many people doing their own thing and not getting under the right government and backing the right work/group.
The word “Laodicean” isn’t the problem with the Laodicean Church – the conditions listed by Christ are the problem. And, everything about that letter indicates that the solutions are individual, meaning that there isn’t going to be some great revival or back on track or collective work that everyone gets to see and say “Hey look! There’s the Laodicean Church!”
We have a responsibility to discern, but it is not our place to stand in judgment or condemnation of others. We don’t make “the decision.”
Deborah wrote: “Fwiw, we don’t believe that the commission about which you write was given en masse, which seems to be a big push in some groups. The scriptures at the end of Matthew 28 show that Jesus gave that commission to the 11 – those weren’t His only disciples at that time, they were the ones He’d worked with and ordained as apostles. Hence, we believe, based on scripture, it is an apostolic commission, and therefore, not something we are to take on ourselves.”
Sorry, but that is wrong. It nowhere says He was speaking only to the 11 apostles. If that were the case, then Paul preached in vain.
We are specifically told to be prepared to give an answer. How can you if it is not your responsibility? It nowhere says you are supposed to hand someone a booklet and tell them to read it. They probably won’t. They will want to know why you do what you do!
Even people in the world understand the laziness behind the excuse “it’s not my job”. Laziness is not a virtue. If someone is offended at that remark, then they should look in the mirror. I will not relent upon calling to task where God’s own people have gotten it so wrong!
How many people of the world have been turned off because people gave some poor teacher, supervisor or other person the “what for” about themselves or their child being absent for 8 – 9 days? They missed their opportunity to let their light shine because “it’s not my job”.
It is always your job to preach the Gospel by what you say, what you do and how you do and say it. Those who refuse and bury their talent will not make it into the Kingdom!