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Archive for the ‘institutional church’ Category

but not Necessarily Religious

by Jim Gordon

There actually is a difference between being spiritual and being religious, although many people think of the two as being the same thing.

Being religious is basically following the rules and doctrines of a specific organization or denomination, or what we usually call church.

Being spiritual can bring to mind all kinds of strange thoughts and ideas. Yet, when I say spiritual, I am talking about a daily life following Christ and allowing His love to flow through us, apart from the doctrines and teachings of any specific religious organization.

My wife and I are no longer religious. We left the weekly meeting at a local building and no longer follow any particular doctrine. Yet being outside the walls of religion, we are more aware of the spiritual, day-to-day life of following the example of Jesus.

We realize that God is not a being up in heaven, coming down to visit us only when the conditions are right, or when we are in a certain building, or when we have been extremely good over the past week.

God is spirit and He is with us constantly. As a quote by Michael Beckwith states “God is a presence that’s never in absence. This presence is everywhere, so, you would never pray for God to come here, because the presence of God is infinite.”

Or as it reads in 1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

I am not sure why it is we have always been taught that God is way up there somewhere. Jesus says that we are one with God in John 17:21 ‘that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me’. God is not somewhere off in Heaven waiting on us. He lives within us and will never leave us.

We seem to think that the Kingdom of God is a place we go one of these days when this life on earth is over. I think this is also a big misconception. God says His Kingdom is within us. That means right now, not some future date. That is what Jesus spent so much time teaching about, the Kingdom of God.

If we could only get these truths in our head and in our spirit, I think we could live a life that would really make a difference. Rather than see religious people who fight and argue over their differences in doctrine and interpretation, they could see spiritual people living a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness, all in the power of the Spirit.

Unfortunately, we have been taught by religion to rely on trying to work hard, follow the rules and just survive until we get to heaven. We go from Sunday to Sunday, living life without the power of the Kingdom of God. We argue amongst ourselves over doctrine and belief, and by doing so, people see we really do not have anything to offer them that is meaningful and different.

Jesus was the perfect example of God living in man. Jesus came to show us what God may really be like.

We can be Jesus to the world today. We can show love, compassion, and acceptance to the world around us each day. We are not God, but we are one with God. The Spirit is within us and he will teach us, guide us and give us power to love all people.

Listen for the voice of the Spirit in every situation. Realize God is within you and allow His love to touch those around you every day.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Chris Kratzer Guest Blogger
www.chriskratzer.com/

That’s right, you don’t need it. At all.

You can live and do everything Jesus commanded and modeled without “church.”

In fact, often better.

With a steeple on nearly every corner, if churches are making such a positive difference in the world for Jesus, why do we see an increasingly far less positive world and why do we see increasingly far less of Jesus?

“Church” doesn’t work, that’s why. Not with a “gospel” of belief-dependent salvation from a torturous god-designed hell. Not to mention, sin-management, conditional love, a codependent god, reaching the so-called “lost,” and converting and colonizing the so-called “world.” That’s a gospel that is no Gospel at all. It makes people worse, not better; more fearful, not at peace; more self-centered, not humanity-serving. In fact, it’s evil. Anti-Christ to the core.

95 percent of Christianity… anti-Christ.

There, I said it.

Church was never the invention of Jesus, you are the invention of Jesus. You are the church. Each one of us, individually. The mind of Christ is within you. Enough Love to change the planet is within you. Everything of the Universe is within you. Yet, so often, “church” blinds, poisons, restricts, distorts, and kills this Light that is within all humanity. A blackhole to all that is good, holy, and right. It exchanges individual, spiritual freedom for communal conformity; divine affirmation for organizational condemnation; and hope and peace for tribal shame, fear, control, and human abuse. More often than not, “church” is the disease, not the cure. And we wonder why the world doesn’t get any better, especially Christians.

You don’t need “church” to find “like-minded” people.

You don’t need “church” to validate or authenticate your faith.

You don’t need “church” for spiritual growth and maturity.

You don’t need “church” to maximize your impact through a “team.”

You don’t need “church” for accountability or support.

You don’t need “church” to find and live your life with joy, significance, and purpose.

If church is a place you go, a service you attend, a creed you follow, or a people you gather with, you’ll never get there, you’ll never find it, and you’ll never have it.

Instead, church is you; you loving neighbor, selflessly serving the world, feeding the hungry, freeing the captive, welcoming the stranger, mending the brokenhearted, defending the least-of-these, and proclaiming the unconditional divine favor, affirmation, equality, and inclusion of all into All.

It’s you taking care of the needs in front of you. It’s you resisting and undoing systems of injustice, violence, greed, and oppression. It’s you being you in ways that honor Love and authenticity. It’s you disconnecting from a self-esteem that’s shackled to personal performance and production. It’s you closing the Bible searching for a perfect thread, answer, defense, meaning, truth, or justification and, instead, opening the Light within you revealing the perfect One, Mind, Spirit, and Universe.

That’s the Church we need.

It’s you. You, and only you.

You are the renewal God is bringing to the earth.

The church we need can’t be contained in a building.

The church we need can’t be confined to a creed.

The church we need can’t be conformed by fear.

The church we need can’t be caged into the Bible.

The church we need can’t be compromised by racism, greed, power, and hate.

The church we need can’t be coerced into judgment, pride, supremacy, and ignorance.

The church we need can’t be controlled by leaders.

The church we need can’t be chaperoned by patriarchy.

The church we need can’t be converted through guilt.

The church we need can’t be calculated in numbers.

The church we need can’t be commissioned by vision.

It needs no defense.

It needs no pastor.

It needs no committee.

It needs no membership covenant.

It needs no budget.

It needs no conferences, books, or celebrity.

It needs no light systems, branding, or worship choruses.

It needs no gathering of the like-minded.

It needs no team-work to make the dream-work.

The church we need is… you.

Everything else is the “church” we don’t need. Everything else is the “church” that isn’t Church at all.

In fact, for far too many, “church” is the crutch and disguise that keeps them from actually following Jesus. It’s the spiritual pacifier of the spiritually restricted and resistant.

For what does most every church and church leader hate and fear the most?

The revelation and reality that you don’t need “church” at all. That you can live and do everything Jesus commanded and modeled without “church.” In fact, often better. And very likely, not until you’ve walked away from all of it.

It’s true. You don’t need “church,” and God doesn’t either.

Your move.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

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By Mike Edwards

If you are a butt according to your friends, I highly recommend going all in with God. God is anxious to help you be less self-centered. But we know people who claim to be Christians or God-followers and it’s easy to doubt their depth of spirituality. Just don’t always expect saints. Moving forward is better than backwards. We know those who don’t consider God a part of their life and they treat others as well or better than us God followers. Are there good reasons to follow God anyway?

Following God has never been about avoiding Hell and getting into Heaven

Many of us who grew up and attended the institutional church were taught that God main mission was to save us from hell so we could go to heaven after death here on earth. All we had to do was say a prayer: “Thank you Jesus for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive me. I receive You as my Lord and Savior. Help me to live for you.” I can find no place in the Bible where Jesus advised such a prayer or demanding certain confessions to follow Him. The Good News couldn’t be about escaping a fiery, torturous God if such a hell isn’t biblical. See here

What was the Good News claimed by Jesus?

Mark 1:14,15 says “Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. The time has come, he said. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent, and believe the good news.” Repent refers to a changing of your mind, not dropping to your knees and never sinning again. The kingdom of God “has come upon you” (Mt 12:28) and “is in your midst” (Lk 17:21).  God seeks to empower one to live a life worth living. When Scriptures talks about being saved from sin, it is not referring to escaping hell and going to heaven when we die, but God helping to avoid the devastating and destructive consequences of sin in this life.”  See here.  

Whether you want to follow God may depend on your view of God 

Atheists and believers agree. The only God worth believing in and following is a perfect, loving God. Such a statement is nonsensical if we are clueless what perfect love it. Can a loving God really condemn gays for a choice they don’t feel they can control any more than straights can control being attracted to the opposite sex; can a loving God really create a literal Hell to burn non-followers after death for their decisions while living a short time on earth; can a loving God really encourage women to be more submissive to men than men should be to women when the dangers are obvious? God may be the God you think worth following. Beliefs About God

What do you have to lose taking the leap of faith?

I dare you to challenge God. If God claims to love us and guide us, God should be able to convince you over time They are worth following. I suppose if you aren’t interested in being the person you want to be deep down, bag it. You may be able to love others perfectly, but I need all the help I can get. The only God worth believing in surely seeks to influence to do all the good we can, in all the places we can, at all the times we can, to all the people we can, as long as we can. God through their influence has made me a better man, husband, father, and friend or at least better than if on my own. I have experienced God’s encouragement to continually strive to be better. I got nothing to lose except selfishness and a lousy legacy. A godly life lived is not in vain!

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

I remember when I was young, I was in a church service just about any time the doors were open. My whole spiritual life depended on whether I was at church or not. If I did not go, I felt guilty and made sure I was there the next time.

I was always active and participated in many church activities. I felt it was my duty and responsibility to do all I could for the church. I felt that was the only way I could serve God and do what pleased Him.

After many years of being in the organized church system, my wife and I became disillusioned with the religious organization and became a part of ‘The Dones’. We no longer attend a traditional or organized church, and no longer put any hope or trust in religion.

Does this mean we no longer think it is right to be part of a church? Not at all, yet for us, we are satisfied no longer being part of it and we are happy with the decision we made to leave. Yet, that does not mean we expect everyone else to think the same way. We have several friends who are satisfied with the church system and want to continue to attend services.

In our case, after leaving the organized church we have noticed a feeling of separation between church goers and non-church goers. After all the years we spent in the organization and all the friends we made, once we left, we noticed the struggle many people have to overcome a feeling of us and them. Obviously, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and there should be love and acceptance between us no matter if we attend church or not.

If you still feel drawn to the weekly organized meeting, I do not see anything wrong with it. Although we do not believe the church system is designed as God intended, there were many good things that came out of our time being involved. If you are going to be a part of a local church, keep in mind some important facts.

When going to church, you are not going to God’s house. God does not live in buildings made by human hands, but He builds His Church from living stones, which is us.

The Bible is not to be held in the same regard as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The written word is inspired by God but written by men. All the translating men have done over the years, and men deciding which books are inspired and which are not, make it pretty clear that the bible is going to be flawed.  It is clearly stated that Jesus is the living, inerrant Word of God. The written word is a guide to lead us to Christ, but as Jesus told the Pharisees in John 5:39, You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me. They put the scriptures (written word) above the Living Word (Jesus).

The pastor is not God’s mouthpiece. He or she is only a brother or sister in Christ who is to walk alongside us to encourage and build one another up. We have the Holy Spirit within us who is our teacher and guide. We need no one else. It is good to hear other opinions and ideas, yet it is the Spirit that is to be our teacher and guide.

Bringing the tithe into the storehouse is not giving money to the church, and is no longer a requirement. We give from love as we determine in our heart to give. If you give at the church you attend, you are not giving to God but to support the organization and pay the bills.

Sunday is not the “Lord’s Day”. Every day is the day the Lord has made, and no particular day is more important than another.

When we are told not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, it is not talking about an organized church meeting. It is talking about loving and accepting one another, and depending on one another. It is supporting and encouraging one another on our daily walk with God and one another. We do this in many different ways each and every day, not just on one particular day.

When you go to church, do not fall for someone telling you God is going to show up and the Spirit is going to fall on this place. God is everywhere and the Spirit fell upon mankind 2000 years ago. The Spirit of God is within us and with us all the time. He is not sitting on a throne up in heaven waiting for us. He goes with us each and every day, everywhere we go.

Realize that worship is not singing a few songs, raising your hands when the worship leader tells you to and reading a few scripture verses together. Worship is daily praising God, trusting God and letting Him be Lord of your life. To worship God in spirit and truth involves loving Him with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.

And do not give way to a prideful spirit, thinking you are more spiritual or a “better” Christian because you went to church. Going to a service is a choice, not a requirement and you are no better if you go, and no worse off if you do not go.

Remember, each of us are living stones and equal parts of the body. We are the Church and Jesus is the head of his body. As his Church, we are to show God’s love every day to everyone we meet. If you want to attend a local group of believers there is nothing wrong with that. Enjoy meeting with other believers, enjoy the atmosphere but remember you are the Church, you have the mind of Christ and the Spirit of God lives within you. We are to go about our daily lives under the leading of the Spirit, loving God and loving others.

So, do not look down upon those who have left the organization as backsliders or who have walked away from God. Do not look at those who still attend church as stuck in a man-made institution and following doctrines and interpretations of man. Remember that we are brothers and sisters in Christ and each of us are loving God and doing what we feel is right and best at this point. We should be loving and accepting of one another and let the world see the love we have for one another. As it reads in John 13:35 by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

Those of us who were brought up in church were taught from an early age that God is up there in heaven somewhere, looking down on us who live here on earth.

When we would have a special meeting or a revival service, I can remember the pastor telling us that God was going to show up and the spirit would fall.

Why is it we are told that God is up there and we are down here? Why are we told God may show up now and then when the conditions are right? Why would God only show up at certain buildings and certain times?

The Bible states that God sent his Spirit to live within us all the time. The Kingdom of God is within us. Jesus prayed in John 17 that we would be one as he and the father are one. God now lives within us since we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are merged together with Him. We are one with God as Jesus is one with God.

When two people marry, God says they become one. It is the same with God and us. When we put our faith in him and accept his free gift of grace, we become one. We are no longer separate, but we are one with God. That does not mean we are God, but we are merged together as one. We are the temple or house of God. The Spirit lives within us.

We have to get the religious thinking out of us and begin living the truth. God is not up there somewhere, separated from us. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. God is within us. There is no separation, no waiting on God to come down. We do not have to follow Christ, we walk with him because he is within us.

We do not have to wait until Sunday to go to a building for God to show up, that is not his house. We are the body of Christ, each of us are equally important parts. We are his dwelling place, each and every day. We are one with God.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

The term Gospel is the translation of the Greek word “good news.” It seems only natural to look to the four Gospels in the Bible to see what is proclaimed as the good news or God’s main message. We could also point to our relational experience with God as to what is the main thing.  Many born never had a Bible. What have you heard is the Good News according to the Bible?

The Good News isn’t . . .

Many of us who grew up and attended the institutional church heard that God mainly wanted to save us from hell so we could go to heaven after death here on earth. All we had to do was say a prayer and mean it: “Thank you Jesus for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive me. I receive You as my Lord and Savior. Help me to live for you.”  You may think that is a bible verse. I can find no place in the Bible where Jesus advised followers of such a prayer or declared this the Good News. Jesus didn’t require confessions initially but simply asked people to follow Him.

Also, the Good News couldn’t be about escaping a fiery, torturous God if such a hell isn’t biblical. See here.

What do the Gospels claim the Good News about God is?

Mark 1:14,15 says “Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. The time has come, he said. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent, and believe the good news.” Repent refers to a changing of your mind, not dropping to your knees and never sinning again, or we are all screwed! The Good News throughout the Gospels refers to a Kingdom here on earth now. The kingdom of God “has come upon you” (Mt 12:28) and “is in your midst” (Lk 17:21).  God’s Spirit is available now, as it was back in the first century, to influence godly living here on earth.

But what about Jesus dying on the Cross for our sins 

It is said that the Apostle Paul claimed the Good News is to “believe in your heart God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rm 10:9) Paul recognized Jesus’ death and resurrection, but Jesus’ sacrifice was to draw attention to the Good News already proclaimed – God’s desire to empower unselfish living. Paul also preached about the Kingdom of God being here (Acts). The disciples were skeptical of any resurrection until witnessing Jesus alive again. The disciples aren’t going to preach as Good News what they didn’t believe in initially.   

When Jesus was asked by a religious expert how to have eternal life, He simply said to love God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25-37). Jesus’ focus wasn’t on quantity of life after death but about a life worth living here on earth. God seeks to empower such a life. Myers says it best: “When Scripture teaches about being saved from sin, it is not referring to escaping hell and going to heaven when we die, but to the deliverance from the devastating and destructive consequences of sin in this life.”  See here. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as in heaven.” (Mt 6:10) 

Challenge God to become real in your life

God seeks to encourage us to pursue heavenly than worldly ways here on earth. God seeks to empower us to be the unselfish people we deep down desire to be. This was the good news Jesus was willing to die for, rather than save Himself, to inspire us to seek God’s help in loving others. Jesus sought changes of the heart, with God’s help, for the good of the world. If I am right, then God should be able to make God real to you.

*See Podcast: Second Cup with Keith. November 15, 2021

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

When we think about Jesus, we automatically think of Christianity. Although the two are completely different. Christianity mostly means a religion that is based on the Bible and God. Yet it is more of things we do rather than who we are in Christ.

Jesus did not come to start Christianity. Jesus was not a Christian. We are missing the whole point when we focus on religion rather than the real reason Jesus came to live among us. He came to show us what God is really like, and the love God has for each and every one of us.

According to Wikipedia it is stated that there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Jewish, Christianity and every other religion, and in a sense, they are all actually related. They are all human based ways of trying to please the God (or gods) they believe in and serve.

In regard to just Christian denominations, World Christian Encyclopedia says that Christianity as a whole consists of 6 major ecclesiastical-cultural blocs, divided into 300 major ecclesiastical traditions, composed of over 33,000 distinct denominations in 238 countries. It certainly cannot be stated that people are not interested in some type of higher power.

The sad part is that we want to argue over which religion is right or wrong. We constantly argue over whose interpretations are right, and most often we do not even want to associate with those who feel differently.

Needless to say, we all have our interpretations, thoughts and ideas, but those just make us unique individuals. They were not intended to cause separations and divisions among us. We should be able to be ourselves and yet love and accept those who see things differently.

If we could get past the religious part of our beliefs and live in the freedom God provided, things would go much better. Rather than defend our denominational interpretations and our personal ideas, if we would love and accept others with the love of Christ, people would be more open to hear about our God.

Often, rather than love and accept one another, we are normally busy pointing out the mistakes of others and condemning those who we consider sinners. When we do so, the love Jesus told us to show everyone seems to get missed. I personally do not think it is our job to convict people of their sins. The Holy Spirit will convict those who need it, and will draw them to God. We are just told to love God and love others.

When we focus on the gospels and the life of Jesus and realize that he did not condemn people for their sins, we can see a distinct difference from the way we act today. He only had an issue with the religious leaders who thought they were better than everyone because of their works.

When it comes to saying I am a Christian, I am hesitant anymore because of the meaning it often has to many people. If being a Christian means being part of a religious organization, trying to live by following the law and being discriminatory, exclusive and condemning others, I am done with that. In that sense, Christianity is not the answer, nor is any other man-made religion. If being a Christian means a follower of Christ, someone who wants to be like Christ and show the love of God to everyone, then I am all in.

Jesus is not into religion. Jesus came to show the love of God to every human being no matter who they are or what they believe. Jesus crosses the barriers of religion and loves everyone. In the world today, we are the Jesus that people see. We should be ready to show the love and acceptance that God showed us to everyone we meet.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

Most of us have heard or read the bible verse found in Hebrews 10:25, which reads, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching. This verse gets quoted a lot when it comes to church attendance.

Once someone hears that my wife and I stopped attending an organized service each week, the first thing we usually hear is this verse quoted.

Truth of the matter is, I do not think this verse is even talking about what we call church.

As I have stated before, church is not a building or a place. Church is the people of God, those of us born into His kingdom by grace. Church is not an organization; it is an organism. Church is not a one-day event, it is a daily lifestyle of people loving God and loving others.

When reading the verses preceding Hebrews 10:25, you find it is talking about grace and how we are now granted permission to enter into the Holy place, not a building, but the very presence of God. This happened when Jesus died and the veil was torn from top to bottom.

To me, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together is saying that we need our brothers and sisters in Christ for encouragement and to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. It has nothing to do with an organized religious service in a building. It has everything to do with loving, communicating and encouraging other Christians as a daily norm.

Photo courtesy of Priscilla Du Preez
on unspash.com

When you think of countries where Christianity is against the law and churches are closed down, do we think the Christian people are wrong for not attending an organized service every week? They get together in small groups in houses or where-ever they feel they can meet safely. It may not be more than two or three people.

Jesus said where two or three gather together in my name, there I am in their midst. We do not need buildings or large groups of people to fulfill this verse about assembling. We do need each other, no matter if it is meeting at home, meeting for dinner at a restaurant, or getting together in a park. The important thing is to love God and love one another and be available to our brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage and build them up.

Let me make clear, I am not against church or those who attend. My wife and I were part of the weekly service for years, but over the past few years, we have found that for us, it makes more sense to be outside the walls of religion and seek meaningful fellowship each day with our brothers and sisters in Christ rather than to continue sitting in a pew listening to a select few participate. We believe in the priesthood of all believers, and that it is a daily lifestyle, not a weekly event. Every one of us are equally important parts of the body and we are to be ready each day to support, encourage and love our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

Growing up in the Christian church, my wife and I were taught that we were saved by grace. Yet, once we were saved by grace we needed to continue to live by the law. This seems to be a fairly common teaching for the modern-day believer.

Once we began questioning some things we were reading in the bible, we came to a new conclusion. The bible mentions that those of us who are saved by grace are now free from the old covenant law. If we still try to live by the commands of the old covenant, we are actually living under a curse. ‘For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’ (Galatians 3:10 NIV).

Why is it we cannot accept the free gift of grace that God provided? Why is it we are still living a performance-based life trying to please God? ‘For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ. You have fallen away from God’s grace’. (Galatians 5:4 NLT).

It became clear to us that we now live for God because of love, not out of obligation, not trying to do more and earn our salvation. The works of the law and the ten commandments no longer have a hold on us.

Now, am I saying because we are free of the law that we can just do whatever we want? Eat, drink and be merry? No, not at all. Even though we are free from the law, and even though by keeping our eyes on Christ we have the ability through him not to sin, we are still living in a fallen world. There will be times when we take our eyes off him and commit sins. Although in Christ our sins are already forgiven and there is no longer punishment for them, there are still consequences in this world when we do wrong.

The thing is, by trying to keep the law, we are led into death. ‘The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law’. (I Corinthians 15:56 NASB). The old way of doing things was only a temporary thing. The law showed us that we were completely powerless to live up to God’s standards. It was a tutor for us until Christ came and took our sinful nature to the cross. ‘Therefore, the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus’. (Galatians 3:24-26 NASB).

We had been taught that we needed to do more and more for God. We were taught to try to keep the commandments and strive to be ‘good Christians’. Fortunately, the Spirit has been guiding us into the reality that we cannot keep the commands. We, in ourselves, are powerless to do so, and so are you. Christ came to fulfill the law and provide freedom to all of us. We are now free to live by love for Him and free from trying to live by the law. When Jesus said ‘it is finished’, he was saying the old covenant, the old way of trying to live by the law, was finished. He accomplished what we could not do. When he was resurrected, a new way of life started, a new covenant based on grace.

It is time we realize God, out of His love for us, has provided all we need. He has done away with our old sinful nature. We are forgiven of all our sins by His grace. We can now enter into his rest and rely on what He has done. We no longer have to strive to keep all the rules and constantly try to do more and more to earn a relationship with Him. ‘We have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code’. (Romans 7:6).

Rest in Him, rely on the Spirit to teach you and guide you through love. There are plenty of things to do, but we do them when we are led by the Spirit, and we do them through love. Now that we live by the new covenant, we live in love because He has put His spirit within us to walk with us daily.

When we are in love with God, we do not need rules to tell us what to do. We do what is pleasing to Him because we love Him. The Law is no longer in effect. By grace we now live a life of love for God and for one another. It is by love that we will do what pleases Him.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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What Do They Really Mean?

by Jim Gordon

So often in Christianity we use words to describe spiritual things, yet what we say and what we mean are sometimes two different things.

Take for instance the word church. Most of us think of a building where Christians meet every Sunday for an organized, pre-planned service of music, prayer and a sermon by a pastor. In reality, true Church is better described by the word ekklesia. It is people who are following Christ and allowing Him to live and love through them. Church is not a place or a building, nor is it the house of God. It is not done on a specific day or at a set time. Church is the body of Christ, each of us equally functioning as parts of the body under Christ. We live each day by the power of the Spirit living within us, loving and accepting others.

How about the word Christian itself? We usually think of people who love God, go to a building each week and follow specific doctrines. Actually, Christian is a man-made word that originally was used to describe those who followed the teaching of Jesus and were doing the works of Jesus. Today, Christians are considered people who believe in God, go to church, follow specific rules, pray, read the bible and try to get more people to come to their church. Unfortunately, many times Christians seem to be known more by what they are against rather than sharing the love of Jesus. * 

Christianity today is more widely known as a religion, an organization led by a man or woman. Even more so, currently it is becoming known as a political action organization. Most people outside of Christianity see this as just another religious organization that really makes no difference in helping and sharing the love of God to those outside their particularly group.

When we talk about prayer, we generally think of a pastor or godly person saying spiritual sounding words to God. Many times, prayers are written out and followed word for word to make it sound more spiritual. Actually, prayer is just talking. Like you would talk to a friend or relative, prayer is talking to God. Not only talking, but being quiet and listening for God to speak to you. It is talking to God like we talk to anyone else.

What about the bible. Of course, our first thought is a book that God inspired men to write. If we look closer at John 1:1, we find that the bible is not a book at all. “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God”. We see that the Bible or Word of God, is Jesus. He is the inerrant, all powerful, living Word of God who became flesh and dwelt among us. The book we call the bible is God inspired and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness. It tells us about human beings who were trying to find God and figure out how to relate to God. It tells of how God dealt with his creation and shows how much he loves us. The bible is a book about God and man’s quest to find God, and we can learn a lot about God and ourselves by reading it. What we do not want to do is make the bible equal to God. The bible is not part of the trinity, it is a book. Again, God inspired, but humans still had their views and opinions in writing it.

The word worship is generally thought of as a time during the religious service when people are led into song and outward praise to God. This is usually done by a leader or group who are chosen or paid to lead in this way. The style of worship also varies greatly from group to group. Many people think worship are songs, or lifting of hands or dancing. Worship is actually a deep sense of reverence and adoring praise of our Father. It is personal and does not need a professional leader to bring us to this point. It is a sincere and earnest thankfulness we have for God and can be done whether with others or privately.

I am sure there are many other words we could come up with that would fit here, but the main point is it is not so much the word we use, but the true meaning behind it. Jesus is the all in all. It does not boil down to our doctrines, beliefs and man-made efforts. It is following Christ, allowing Him to live through us and giving Him the throne of our lives. Jesus is the head of the body, the rest of us are equal parts with equal functions in his body.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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