I am often asked why I am not interested in attending someone’s church, or why I ever quit attending church. I can only speak for myself, but believe that there is a remnant of others like me whose greatest desire is to know and love God and enjoy the fellowship and communion of His saints, but have found from too many past experiences that such is not to be found in what most people call “church” today, even conservative evangelical churches. Perhaps I am deceived, for the truth seems quite incredible, but I have come to believe that we are living in that time of apostasy foretold by the apostle Paul (2 Thess 2:3) so that hardly one stone remains upon another of what was once the great and glorious temple of Christ’s holy Church. “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him” (Tit 1:16). “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light; therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their deeds” (2 Cor 11:14-15). I have come to believe that just as Christ foretold, many false prophets have arisen to mislead many, and because of the increase of lawlessness the love of most has grown cold (Mat 24:11-12), so that we are now living in that terrible time Paul wrote about in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 when people have become lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, and lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, even while they hold to a form of godliness and faithfully attend “church” at the same time. I am uninterested in attending “church” because of Paul’s command to avoid such men as these.
Moreover, as so many in these last days have turned their ears away from the truth and accumulated teachers in accordance to their own desires who will tickle their ears for a price, I believe they have also fashioned their own temple—a false temple built of false stones as an image to the false god who has seated himself within (2 Thess 2:3-4). They call their false god Jesus, and they sincerely believe they are serving the true God, but in fact theirs is not the true Jesus. For just like the golden calf, that image of the beast which so many declared to be the god who delivered them from their bondage in Egypt and to whom they bowed down at the foot of the holy mount while awaiting Moses’ return—which things were written down for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come (1 Cor 10:11)—so is their god, that man of lawlessness, that spirit of antichrist whom they have declared to be the god who has delivered them from their bondage to sin (although they are yet slaves to sin) and bowed down to him at the foot of Mount Zion (Heb 12:22) while awaiting Jesus’ return. As the Scripture declares, God Himself has sent upon them this deluding influence because they have refused to love the truth and so be saved. They have refused to love the truth of the gospel that calls upon them to crucify their fleshly desires and be united with the true Jesus in His death so they may likewise be united with Him in His life and thus be truly saved from their sins. And so God Himself has given them over to believe the lie their hearts so earnestly desire: that they are saved and have peace although they walk in the stiff-necked, stubborn rebellion of their hearts. Thus shall all be condemned who have not believed the truth, but, in truth, have taken pleasure in wickedness (2 Thess 2:7-12). And it is for this reason that Jesus foretold of the day when so many would say to Him, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” But He shall reply, “I never knew you; depart from me you who practice lawlessness” (Mt 7:21-23).
Friend, I am no longer interested in attending “church” because in each of the churches I formerly attended they served a different Jesus than the one I’ve come to know in the Bible, and so great was the deception surrounding that Jesus that I consider myself most blessed to have ever escaped. My heart trembles with fear to recall the great danger my soul was in, or to even consider returning and so putting to the test Him who in His mercy and grace has wrought for me so great a salvation.
Because the Scriptures admonish us to not forsake our own assembling together, I am always in search of those of like faith with whom I might hold fast the confession of my hope without wavering and with whom together we might stimulate one another to love and good deeds. But, in truth I don’t find too many these days, owing, I believe, to the reasons mentioned above. Still, He who promised is faithful, and my heart longs for that day when the Lord Himself will gather His burnt and scattered stones to build anew His holy temple in the new Jerusalem. “As soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these events will be completed” (Dan 12:7). For now, though, I must also remind myself that the Scriptures admonish us equally, perhaps even moreso, about the need to avoid those who play the harlot against God. And surely those who claim to be the Bride of Christ—that pure virgin who is holy and blameless and without spot or wrinkle or any such thing (2 Cor 11:2, Eph 5:27), and for whom God has prepared a place in the wilderness so that the gates of hell shall not prevail against her—and yet at the same time indicate by their deeds that their greater love is for the world, surely these play the harlot and commit adultery against God (cf. James 4:4). Such may be compared to those who would come to the wedding feast of the King’s Son without removing their soiled garments of sin and allowing Him to dress them with the wedding clothes He provides.
Let me be quick to add that I do not consider myself in any way to have attained to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. Indeed, each new day I am reminded of my own cursed nature and the need to lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles and run with endurance the race set before me. I have not yet attained to the resurrection from the dead nor have I already become perfect, but like Paul and the early disciples I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. And yet one of the saddest realizations I ever made was that this same Spirit who lived in Paul and the early disciples had departed from the temple of what most people call “church” today so that as I pressed on toward that goal there were so very few who would join me, but so many who would prevent me. And though the Scripture implores us to “stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls,” I would only hear over and over again, “We will not walk in it”; indeed, though I myself would plead as a watchman, “Listen to the sound of the trumpet,” they would only respond, “We will not listen.” Thus the time came when the Lord said, “Do not pray for this people, and do not lift up cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with Me; for I do not hear you.” And it is for this reason that I am no longer interested in attending what most people call “church” today.
Friend, only you can know whether any of my words apply to you or your congregation. But if I were to know, I would ask when the last time was that you meditated on something like Hebrews 12:14 (“Without holiness no one will see the Lord”) or 2 Corinthians 13:5 (“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?”) I might also ask about the giftedness of your congregation and if each individual part is doing its work in the building up of one another in love, or if for the most part there is but one minister who is deceived to believe he can “bring along” a congregation of devils who in truth are paying him to tickle their ears. I might also ask about you and your congregation’s faith in God, if you really trust Him, or if you just say you do and in fact depend upon the world and its ways to provide what God has already promised in His word. I would want to know if there is even a hint of immorality or impurity or greed among you, as such are improper for God’s holy people; and I would want to know if your congregation is obedient to the whole counsel of God, or only to those parts which don’t cause their cursed flesh to suffer too much.
As I mentioned before, perhaps I am deceived, even quite deluded. If so, perhaps you will find some error, some place where I have misinterpreted the plain meaning of Scripture and gone astray. In this case I pray you would exercise a sincere Christian love and correct me to understand the true way of righteousness lest my soul perish in hell forever. For that I could only be eternally grateful. On the other hand, if I am correct, perhaps God’s grace would allow you to lay aside the wisdom of this world to discover that the foolishness of the message is true. In this case I pray God would also give you the grace to come out from the midst of the harlot Babylon and not share in her sins lest you also receive of her plagues.
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