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The Authentic vs. the Counterfeit
15 January 2015
For decades I have agonized over the state of the church: its worldliness, its sinfulness, its disunity, its lack of Christlikeness, and more. After being involved in the man-made institutional religion commonly called Christianity for about 40 years, I finally stopped attending what is commonly called church in 2003.
But that didn’t stop my agonizing over the church — if anything, my concern over the deplorable state of Christianity has increased over the past 12 years. That’s why I write so many of the articles on this Web site, as well as on its companion Your Islamic Future Web site.
For the past 1,700 years, ever since the empire struck back, the Harlot Church System has thrived. From the time of the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago, schisms, sectarianism and denominations have all multiplied like mushrooms in manure.
Ekklesia (Church), a bride worthy of her Husband, Yeshua (Jesus)?
Messiah loved the Ekklesia and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant Ekklesia, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25b‑27)And what about the prospect of a single, united, loving Ekklesia?
I promised you to one Husband, to Messiah, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to Him. (2 Corinthians 11:2b)
Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people. (Revelation 19:7‑8)
Yeshua looked towards Heaven and prayed ... “that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one — I in them and You in Me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.” (John 17:1a,21‑23)Why is it that what is known as the church has been defiled and divided for SO many centuries, so that its condition has been the opposite of what the New Testament states the Ekklesia should be? Why has the church seemed more like a sullied slut than a chaste virgin?
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Master, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:3‑6)
Just as a human body is one yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so also is the body of Messiah. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or non-Jews, slaves or free, and we were all infused with one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:12‑13)
For the three decades of my adult life in the Charismatic church system, I have often heard the statement: “Jesus is not coming back for a harlot, but for a pure virgin bride.” By this, they mean that although the church is in a deplorable state similar to that of a prostitute, before Yeshua returns, He is going to transform her, through whatever means, into a pure, blameless, holy, radiant church that is worthy to be His bride.
So for many years this has been my hope and dream, and the subject of many anguished prayers. But recently it has been dawning on me that my expectations have been misplaced, and my anguish has been unnecessary. Last month I wrote in The Pilgrim Church — Sergius and Others:
After Satan’s hostile takeover of the Church via the false conversion of Constantine in the early fourth century — see The Empire Strikes Back for all the tragic details — there became two parallel, opposing church systems on earth.All of these years, I have been concerned about and in anguish over the man-made, institutional, counterfeit church. But Yeshua never promised that He would purify and unify Satan’s Harlot church! In contrast, He HAS been, and still IS, perfecting HIS Church, the Ekklesia.
There was, and still is, the man-made, satanically-inspired, institutional, counterfeit church — which is the primary, dominant church mankind has known for the past 1,700 years. In other articles, I refer to this as the Harlot Church System.
In opposition, there were, and still are, followers of Yeshua (Jesus) who have tried, with greater or lesser success, to remain faithful to the pattern for the Church given in the New Testament. In other articles I refer to this as the Ekklesia. Mr. Broadbent calls it the Pilgrim Church in his book of the same title.
I think the fact that the visible institutional church has been and continues to be in such a defiled and divided condition is proof enough that it is NOT Yeshua’s Ekklesia. The New Testament indicates that purity and unity would be the hallmarks of the Ekklesia, brought about by the Head of the Ekklesia, Yeshua. Because Yeshua is NOT the head of the counterfeit church, but Satan is its head, it is natural that it would be hallmarked by impurity and disunity.
Some years ago I wrote in What IS the Church? (I strongly encourage you to read the entire article):
The Church of Yeshua is a spiritual entity, because our individual relationship with God is spiritual — as it is written: “He who unites himself with the Lord is one with Him in spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17). Each individual follower of Yeshua — each “living stone” — is placed by God into His spiritual Temple (1 Peter 2:5a). Likewise, each individual follower of Yeshua — each “part of the body” — God has arranged in the spiritual Body just as He wants them to be (1 Corinthians 12:18).Please don’t misunderstand me! There are true followers of Yeshua who still participate in the man-made, demonically-inspired, institutional, counterfeit church. The authors of Pagan Christianity? made this point in their book:
Because the Church of Yeshua is a spiritual entity, it would be a serious error to think of the man-made, external denominational expressions of the Christian religion as the Biblical Body of Messiah. True, individual followers of Yeshua who are part of the spiritual Church do participate in these man-made, institutional organizations of Christianity, but that in no way makes those man-made, institutional organizations of Christianity the Body of Messiah itself.
We do not doubt that God can, and undoubtedly does, work through practices invented by humans, that have no Scriptural basis. That God still works through people in the institutional church is beyond dispute. But just because God may use His people in a particular system does not mean that He approves of that system.And Mr. Broadbent in chapter 3 of The Pilgrim Church wrote:
It is a mark of the power of the revelation of Christ contained in the Scriptures that even when pagan idolatry and superstition had succeeded in gaining possession of the Catholic churches, there were to be found in them, then as now, great numbers of believers whose hope of salvation was in Christ and whose lives were pious and godly. They, however, were a remnant, hidden in the mass of those who had been misled into the system of idolatry with its accompanying sin and ignorance, and their protests were raised in vain.Whether God wants an individual believer to be His witness within or without the institutional, counterfeit church is a matter that is between God and that person. No matter if they are participating in the counterfeit church or not, all true followers of Yeshua make up His authentic, spiritual Church, the Ekklesia, which can also be referred to as the Pilgrim Church.
THIS is the Church which Yeshua is purifying, uniting and perfecting. As we read above, the apostle Paul triumphantly proclaimed: “There is ONE body ... ONE Spirit ... ONE hope ... ONE Master, ONE faith, ONE baptism, and ONE God and Father of all. (I love the John Michael Talbot song which sets these truths to music!)
WOW! What a glorious reality Paul is describing! That is a great antidote to the anguish and despair over the visible institutional counterfeit church that too often occupies so much of our energy and attention.
Meanwhile, the wheat (the authentic Church) and the weeds (the counterfeit church) will continue to mature together — see Yeshua’s parable. They will continue to be a miserable, confusing intermixture until the Harvest at the end of the age, when Yeshua returns as King of the whole world, and separates the wheat from the weeds.
Until then, as the spiritual darkness on earth increases, the counterfeit, Harlot church will continue to go from bad to worse, while the pilgrim Ekklesia will shine like stars in the night. Then when Yeshua returns, His followers “will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear” (Matthew 13:43).
This article is 65th a series of articles on this Web site related to Modern Christianity and the Church which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
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