Many call nature God’s second book.
Is it all right to substitute going to church
with going out into nature for the Sabbath Day?
Can you receive the same, or an equally rich blessing either way?
All church models fall into one of two categories. There are many reasons why people go to church and those reasons can determine what church they choose to attend. What do you think of when you hear the word church?
Does the word church conjure up good, bad or just hoe hum feelings?
Does it put a smile in your mind or a frown?
There’s the brick & mortar church, the universal church,
& then there’s a church where the members names
are all written in a book in heaven.
What was Jesus custom again?
Here, it looks like Jesus went to church to give,
or to share something by reading the words of God to the congregation.
He wasn’t just going to see what he could get,
but to see what he could give.
Jesus was all about the people He had come to save,
from every class of people,
and he wanted them to gain a personal relationship with God.
Insiders & Outsiders.
There are some insiders inside, and insiders outside,
& there are outsiders inside, and outsiders outside.
It’s not easy to tell who’s inside or who’s out,
because all we can see is the outside.
Almost all like to think they’re insiders,
and the best way to tell true insiders are in,
is when you see how they treat the outsiders.
Outsiders, on the outside, think it’s in to be out,
But insiders on the inside, want the outsiders in.
Now, if insiders don’t want the outsiders in,
then you know that insider’s on the outside again.
But when inside insider’s invite outsiders in,
Outsider’s who accept become insiders within.
So the motivation for a person who has caught a deeper glimpse of God
is to share the wonder of it all with those who have yet to experience it.
[a soon to be insider!]
Calvin Miller, in his “Philippian Fragment”, depicts two pastors writing to each other during the days of the arenas with the lions & gladiators. He tells about Helen The Healer who came to town. Helen The Healer was different from the rest of them. She seemed to have compassion for people.
He said that he himself watched her go past a blind man selling styluses on the side walk, and he had no legs. And so she said, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth grow back… grow back”.
“Well”, said Clement, ”I so wanted to see the legs grow back but they did not! I felt so sorry for Helen. What’s a faith healer to do when legs just won’t grow back on command?” She sat down with the little man, crossed her legs on the cold side walk and began selling styluses herself.
Soon she was talking to him and before very long they were both laughing together and by nightfall they were having an uproariously good time. When it was time to go, Helen’s legs were so stiff from disuse that they refused to move.
Her legless stylus selling friend cried in jest, “Grow strong, grow strong!” Helen just smiled and staggered up onto her unsteady legs. She looked down at her lowly friend and said, “I offer you healing, and you will see. It’s only one world away”.
“Someday”, she stopped and smiled, “you will enter a new life, and you will hear our Savior say to your legs with stumps, ‘grow long, grow long’, then you’ll know the glory that Sister Helen only dreamed for you”. He smiled and said, “Do you heal everyone this way?”
“It is better to heal with promises then to promise healing,” she replied. “You are right Sister Helen, but more than right, you are an evidence that our Father in Heaven heals the spirit of amputees even when they will not grow legs, and once the spirit is healed, the legs can be done without”.
Helen turned and walked on down the street. She was near the amphitheater where she holds her great crusade when she saw a girl without any arms. “Grow long, grow long, in the Glorious name of Jesus grow long”, she cried. The girl looked puzzled as she glanced at her shoulders where her arms refused to be. It didn’t seem to her that they were growing.
Was afraid of that”, said Helen. “Oh well, I can miss my meeting one night I guess. Young lady, how long has it been since anyone combed your hair?” She sat down beside her new friend and took out her comb.
For the first time in my life, Clement, I wanted to be a faith healer. After the crusade was over the last night, Helen came to our home for squab & honey comb and wouldn’t you know it; she brought a couple of hungry lepers.
I like stories of people reaching out to help people who are in need.
Now, Paul talks about the church as a body, Morris continues.
Paul is making the point that the many people that make up the church are all different members, many different parts, and all the parts are useful, just like on a body. If the tooth has an ache, the feet, legs, arms and hands, get it an aspirin from the cupboard.
As the body is organized to work together, so the church should also be organized and work together in harmony. Now, you can cut off a part of the body and the body can still live on. You can cut off a lizards tail & it will grow a new tail, but the tail cannot grow a new lizard.
There have been ‘tails’ that have tried to grow a ‘lizard’ before. They’re called ‘off shoots’ from the original church because they don’t qualify as a branch. They don’t bare the same fruit as the original vine. In the end the church goes on but the shoot dies.
Now Morris says,
“When people stop attending church they end up dying spiritually”!
What? That may happen for some, but for anyone to say that our relationship with God, or our eternal life is dependent upon whether or not we attend a church assembly, is reading into this verse a concept that isn’t taught here. Be careful with that! Saying that is limiting God. It’s saying Salvation is impossible without a connection to the church.
Exhorting = encouraging.
You can certainly receive that at church, but you can also receive that on line these days, with a “Virtual Assembling” of yourselves together. Encouragement isn’t unique to a church assembly.
Did Elijah’s spiritual experience with God die while he hid by the brook Cherith long enough for it to dry up? NO!
Did Noah’s spiritual experience with God die while he was the only man left in the world who believed? NO!
Did Abraham’s experience with God die because there was no such thing as a church? NO! He WAS the church.
They determined to maintain their relationship with God at all costs.
I maintain that if a relationship with God is dependent upon church attendance, it will die! In the last days, before Jesus comes there won’t be an organized church group to attend. Your faith had better be based upon a personal relationship with God or you will die.
I think that Morris is saying that he has seen many people stop coming to church and lose their relationship with Christ, but I believe that the reason they left the church in the first place is because they had already lost their connection with Jesus instead of the other way around.
Now we come to the true reasoning for the “assembling of ourselves together” as it was intended back in the days when this was written.
We need to go back to verse 8 to get the set up here.
Eph 4:8 Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” (NKJV)
Eph 4:11 And he gave [different gifts to different people] some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
WHY DID JESUS BESTOW THESE GIFTS?
12 For the perfecting of the saints,
for the work of the ministry,
for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith,
and of the knowledge of the Son of God,
unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness
Remember, the New Testament was still in the process of being written, and each of the many cities [where a church had been established] had their own version of ‘The Gospel’ according to whom ever it was that established the church.
“The Unity Of The Faith” is a key element here,
as different early churches were dealing with different ‘issues’
particular to their region of the world.
“For the edifying of the body of Christ”,
directly precedes the unity of the faith for this reason.
Edify = educate, instruct, teach, school, tutor, train, guide;
Brand new Christian Churches were in great need of education and training in the truth of the Gospel of Christ so that ALL the churches would be harmonious in their teaching of the message of truth.
New Christians are still in need of the same education that is provided by the church, but they had better grow beyond that dependence if they expect to survive the final conflict.
However, it is certainly a fact that the enjoyment of being in the company of people who share your beliefs is very encouraging, and beneficial in so many other ways that the question is “Why would you NOT want to assemble together with them? The primary answer may be because you don’t share their beliefs.
DL Moody was once asked if there was a perfect church. He answered, “If there is don’t join it. That would ruin it.” We have a description of the church of God in the last days in Rev 3:14-17.
In all honesty, why would anyone want to be associated with THAT church?
So, lukewarm ‘followers’ of Christ make God sick! He feels like spitting them out of his mouth like vomit. Using lukewarm & followers of Christ in a phrase together sounds like an oxymoron. You cannot be lukewarm if you are truly following Christ. It’s impossible!
Luke warm are those people who attend church & call themselves Christians solely because they were brought up that way and it is considered to be the proper thing to do, & they wouldn’t want to look bad in front of their parents friends etc., but they have no real, personal, ongoing daily relationship with God.
Morris sets our focus on the white garments that cover our nakedness.
What does that white raiment stand for? The Robe of Christ’s Righteousness.
Wuzzupwithat? Well that’s another free lifesaving gift of God to you. Nice, aye?
If I don’t want to be lukewarm,
but instead Hot,
then I’m going to be open to a free gift, the Righteousness of Christ,
that comes by Faith In Jesus!
Re 3:18 “I counsel you to buy from Me
gold refined in the fire,
that you may be rich;
and white garments,
that you may be clothed,
that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed;
and anoint your eyes with eye salve,
that you may see
19 “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.
Therefore be zealous and repent.
Pretty simple how Salvation works, aye? Everything’s free to those who repent.
Too simple for some of us to believe, let alone handle sometimes.
If it’s so easy why is it so hard?
“I don’t go to church because I’m just ‘turned off’ by all the hypocrites,” someone says, to which Morris replies, “It takes one to know one”! ;o)
The news paper had an add from a Cadillac dealership in San Francisco that was advertising a free give away. They were going to give away 40 Cadillacs to the first 40 people who showed up on Monday Morning, and Morris decided he was going to get his! He spent the night there on the side walk waiting for the 9 am opening.
He was at the front of the line when the doors opened, but as he turned to see the long line behind him he notice several hypocrites in line, and so he said, “Well, if they’re going to be giving free Cadillacs to people like that then I don’t want one,” an so he immediately left the line.
Sounds pretty silly aye, but this ‘parable’ certainly shows how foolish people are when making up excuses to cover up why they really don’t attend church. Lot’s of hypocrites in churches all over the place, aye? No perfect churches out there? Hmm…
Morris told that parable to a bunch of high school kids once and one of the guys said, “Oh no… You could have traded it for a Mercedes”! ;oP Why should I let a hypocrite keep me from getting my Cadillac? No way! But if I didn’t know what the Cadillac represents, I think I would take the guys advice and trade it. ;o)
Why anyone, would let the hypocrites keep them from enjoying the riches of Heaven is beyond me! Then Morris says,
“That reminds me,
“We have something that we often do…
“We get up and thank people for coming to the meeting.
“That’s ridiculous,” he continues,
“They aught to thank us for having the meetings!”
[laughter here please or this could feel a bit awkward]
“Do they thank people for coming to get their free Cadillacs”? He continues.
I love the sense of humor Morris has.
Sure wish he was still with us, but one day soon we’ll all be shouting
“Hey, wuzzupwithyuzz” across the ‘Sea of Glass’.
What a vision to behold,aye!?!
“Why would we thank people for coming to receive mega-millions worth of Heavens riches?”
We should be thanking God for giving us something worth while to talk about aye?
“So, now that we’ve gotten the victory over that (“thanking people for coming habit”), Morris continues…
[laughter allowed here thank you.]
Now, people have come up with all kinds of excuses for not going to church.
Now Morris gives us His list of reasons peeps give for not going to church
but he changes the word church with, “the movies”.
I don’t go to the movies because I don’t like crowds.
I don’t go to the movies because I can’t sit still very long.
I don’t go to the movies because they always ask for money.
I don’t go to the movies because I never seem to get a good seat.
I don’t go to the movies because there are a lot of hypocrites & sinners there.
I don’t go to the movies because the manager never comes to call on me.
I don’t go to the movies because when I’m not working I need to sleep.
How about we change ‘movies’ to ball game?
People go to the ball game despite the large crowds.
People go to the ball game and sit for half a day.
People sit In front of their TV for hours a day.
The reason people do it is because they’re enjoying what they are doing.
People go to the ball game in spite of all the difficulties involved. So, it sounds like a lot of our reasons for not attending church are kind of foolish aren’t they… lacking in common sense.
The flip side of this coin is the answer to this question. How am I going to be an on fire Christian instead of one of those lukewarm guys? How is it going to happen? @31:15 – 48:00 Morris tells a story about an old fashioned camp meeting where HMS Richards Sr. was supposed to speak. Go listen to it.
The sermon was entitled “The Three I Am’s of Paul”.
1. I am debtor, 2. I am ready to preach, 3. I am not ashamed.
He started out showing how we are all in debt to Christ, and it’s a debt we cant pay a cent on. Then, he said that we aren’t going to be ready to go and share & do for others until we realize our debt! Once we do realize our debt, that is when we will be willing to…
Go anywhere God leads
Do whatever He needs.
After the full realization of that, we will be like Paul, willing to go anywhere, and will not be “ashamed of the gospel of Christ:”! The fact that it is the power of God unto Salvation is the reason we will want to share it in order that, all we come into contact with, may share the hope that we have found.