Isaiah 53:l -
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
So he went on, and Apollyon met him; now the monster was hideous to behold, he was clothed with scales like a fish, he had wings like a dragon, feet like a bear, out of his belly came fire and smoke, and his mouth was as the mouth of a lion.
- Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan
This book is dedicated to answering the age old question: did God create Man, or did Man create God? There are many people in either school of thought. This life is like a grain of sand on a seashore and eternity is the seashore. To those who feel that when life is over it is "ashes to ashes, dust to dust", they will sing: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" To those who feel there might be more to life than filthy lucre, they will look forward to paradise. What is remembered, if there is a paradise, if there is an eternal prison, the individual who refuses to acknowledge that these things exist is simply out of luck. The philosophers and the psychologists cheat themselves out of anything good beyond the grave - why should you? Most people want to deal with God on their deathbed, but untimely death makes a mess out of the plan. People think that God would not want to hurt "me", but they tend to forget that God is a benevolent dictator.
A lot of people say, "God is dead". The Gospels have been construed as being out of date. But Revelation is still a little ahead of its time. So we are, in a sense, in a transition period between the Gospels and Revelation. The Gospels are not out of date spiritually, but certain statements, such as, "A nobleman went into a far country" in a democratic age, Peter casting his net into the sea in an age of computerized fishing boats, Jesus walking up to Galilee in a mechanized age, are statements people cannot relate with in the 2lst century. The principle of religious leaders viciously attacking a godly person never changes. Then, Revelation is a little ahead of its time, for example the angel in Revelation 8 "...flying through the midst of heaven saying with a loud voice, 'Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth...'"
Jesus Christ said, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees (religious leaders), hypocrites; for ye devour widows' houses (evict widows from their homes)...ye shall receive the greater damnation." To bring this up to date, what this means is that certain ministers were raping the poor. In this case certain widows were possibly sleeping in their cars, after having been late on the rent. 2000 A.D. Pentecostals would tell the widow, "Touch not the Lord's anointed", "Forgive or your sins will not be forgiven," or "Nothing should have happened to you." Evangelicals of this same period would tell the widow, "You need to forgive," or "You need to let it go." Jesus went after those who were doing the raping, not the victim. In this day and age it is fashionable to harass and abuse the victim.
American religious leaders have a cure-all for all your problems - come to the church and submit to the pastor. But is this the way it is? Matthew 8:ll-l2 -
And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall
sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob,
in the kingdom of heaven.
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The "children of the kingdom" is the church crowd who are not genuine
and sincere. They shall be "cast into outer darkness". Many that come "from
east and west" are those, worldwide, who have let the spirit of the
God of the universe into their hearts, lived by a proper moral code, and
shown a little
compassion to their fellow beings.
Many civilizations have existed from the beginning of time. We have the early nations: Egypt, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Phoenicia, Syria, Asia Minor, Armenia, Medes, Persians, India, China. Then we have Greece, Rome. Then we have Europe in the Middle Ages, the Moslem world, Russia, China, India, Africa. Then we have the world during the time of the colonization of New World. Then we have the modern world as we see it today. Only a very small percentage has been "touched" by the church, say 3%, of world civilization. What about the other 97%?
Ninevah is a prime example, back in approximately 770 B.C., of a city where there were no churches and no one was paying their tithe. These are people who will sit with "Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob". This is proof that one need not attend a church to get into paradise. Their attitude was, "But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?"
Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon. Around 530 B.C. he had an experience. This man, who had never even heard of Jesus Christ said, "Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of Heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase." The thief at the cross never paid his tithe, never took communion in the church, and never was baptized. Yet he said, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thine kingdom." The response was, "Today thou shalt be with me in paradise."
God has said, "Behold I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." He did this with the American Indian in l300 A.D., with the cave man in pre-historic Europe, with the Russian in Siberia, with the Hindu in India, with the European during the height of European civilization, as examples. Revelation 7:9 says, "After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands." This is in heaven. It says, "...a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations..." All nations means all nations that have ever existed in history.
The woman at the well had five husbands
"and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband." When Jesus Christ got done
with her she told her
neighbors, "Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did:
is not this the Messiah?" Again, no involvement in the church. So, is the
church out of
date. The church is God's institution. God works through the church
in particular and world society in general, as God worked through ancient
particular and world society in general, in the past. However, the
American Christian church at the dawn of the 2lst century is sleeping.