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Witnessing Without and Within
9 July 2013
Sometimes the Bible uses symbolism to communicate certain ideas. In the Old Testament, Babylon was a large and powerful empire which ended up conquering and exiling the Jewish nation. In the New Testament book of Revelation, Babylon is not referring to this ancient kingdom, but metaphorically to the evil world system. This concept is similar to the ideas expressed in the following verses, directed to followers of Yeshua (Jesus):
I hate all your show and pretense — the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.... Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps.... They have chosen their own ways, and their souls delight in their abominations.... How I wish one of you would shut the Temple doors so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered! I am not pleased with you, says Yahweh of Heaven's Armies, and I will not accept your offerings.In ancient times, God's people turned away from Him in their hearts, even though they still performed many of the God-ordained religious observances, and God rejected their degenerate religion. In the very same way, God's people in the Church, for the last 2,000 years, up through this very day, have often done, and still do, the exact same thing, with the exact same results. This should be a cause for concern and alarm for those who desire to relate to God in a way that pleases Him.
Because I have not participated in organized Christianity for the past 10 years, I sometimes am accused of willfully walking in sin and rebellion. I'm told that I need to repent, and get back "into fellowship" with other Christians. Specifically, I'm told that I'm not obeying this verse in the Bible:
Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25)
Although I don't believe that I'm walking in sin and rebellion, it IS possible, of course, that it's true, and that I'm in deception. By the very definition of the word, when you are deceived you don't know it. Once you realize you are deceived, then you aren't any more!
But it is equally possible that my concerned accusers are the ones walking in sin and deception, and need to repent, because they are participating in the degenerate, rancid religious system of man-made Pagan Christianity.
There is no way I can participate in such a religious system and still keep my conscience clear and my integrity intact. But what about those who insist that I'm completely out of God's will because I'm not an active part of a church? Well, that question begs another question: What IS the Church? I strongly encourage you to read that entire article, but I'll quote just a short portion here:
This is so, So, SO vitally important to understand: God's Kingdom, of which His Church is an integral part, CANNOT be equated with ANY human institution, church denomination, or organized religion (including Christianity). As I've said before, the Church of Yeshua is a SPIRITUAL entity! The Church of Yeshua may PARTICIPATE in these human institutions and religions, but these human institutions and religions ARE NOT the Church of Yeshua.From the point of view of the religious, my lack of participation in their system disqualifies me from being a true follower of Yeshua. From my point of view, their participation in the rancid religious system of modern Christianity disqualifies them from being true followers of Yeshua.
These two diametrically-opposed perspectives sometimes cause pain and conflict between myself and others I'm in relationship with. My convictions are totally unacceptable to them, and their convictions are totally unacceptable to me. There doesn't seem to be any common ground, or any way for both perspectives to be right.
One day as I was talking my daily neighborhood walk, I felt that God spoke to my heart and brought revelation and clarity. He told me that there is room for both perspectives, because He's called some people to be a witness against the system from without, while He has called some people to be a witness from within. Therefore, I have no right to judge the people who are following God on the inside, and those people have no right to judge me, who am following God on the outside.
This revelation really brought freedom and peace to my heart. I was in awe at the simplicity of it! These ideas reminded me strongly of the wisdom of Yeshua (Jesus) — see Matthew 22:15-22 — and the wisdom of Solomon — see 1 Kings 3:16-28.
I'm also put in mind of these words written by the Apostle Paul:
Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Master is able to make them stand.... You, then, why do you judge another believer? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat.... So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. (Romans 14:4,10,12,13)For those whom God is leading to be a witness against the Babylonian religious system from within, perhaps these verses would apply:
Make yourselves at home there and work for its welfare. Pray for Babylon's well-being. If things go well for Babylon, things will go well for you. I have it all planned out — plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. (Jeremiah 29:7,11)
And for those whom God is leading to be a witness against the Babylonian religious system from without, these could be applicable verses:
Flee from Babylon! Save yourselves! Don't get trapped in her punishment! It is the Lord's time for vengeance; He will repay her in full. Babylon has been a gold cup in the Yahweh's hands, a cup that made the whole earth drunk. The nations drank Babylon's wine, and it drove them all mad. But suddenly Babylon, too, has fallen. Weep for her. Give her medicine. Perhaps she can yet be healed. We would have helped her if we could, but nothing can save her now. Let her go; abandon her. Return now to your own land. For her punishment reaches to the heavens; it is so great it cannot be measured. Yahweh has vindicated us. Come, let us announce in Zion everything Yahweh our God has done. (Jeremiah 51:6-10)Two opposite messages from the same God through the same prophet! Which one applies to you? Are you called to be a witness from without or within?
This article is 20th 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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