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Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

By Mike Edwards

Believing God exists or doesn’t exist requires faith, but surely a loving Creator would love the way we were created to love. Is love controlling or manipulative? Then, God can’t be controlling or manipulate. What we think God is really like impacts everything we believe about God. Do we believe what a loving God is like though our moral intuitions, our consciences, or truths according to a Book?

Saying we must rely on “biblical truths” is misleading 

Supposed certainty has led to condemning gays, though biblical scholars don’t agree the Bible condemns same-gender loving relationships. See here. Some religions defend killing homosexuals because of their unprovable assumption that every word in a Book was inspired by God. They of course don’t question if their interpretation is inspired. Many claim the Bible says that women can’t fulfill the same roles as men in the worship or home setting. Yet it can be defended despite contrary opinions that Paul, a main writer of the New Testament, didn’t think roles should be chosen based on gender than gifts.  See here.

So, there are no absolute truths?

No reasonable God or non-God person doesn’t respect the golden rule in relationships. We aren’t always certain how to best love, but it seems our understandings must lead to loving others as we want to be loved. Certain laws are just common, moral sense. Who doesn’t believe physical or sexual abuse is wrong? What does your loving sense tell you if women can serve in the same roles as men if similarly gifted? Straights or gays don’t wake up one day and choose a lifestyle of acceptance or hostility. Treat others like you want to be treated if in their shoes.

How can we know God?

Only a perfectly good or loving God is worth believing in. Such a statement is nonsensical if we are clueless about perfect love. Even the Bible implies we can understand God’s love because perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). Do you wish to be judged for consensual sexual choices you don’t feel you can control? Do you wish to be considered based on your gender or gifts? Good news – God is a better lover than we are.

Even Bible-believing Christians suggest trusting your moral intuitions

Christians often say God’s spirit (aka Holy Spirit) does or can reside within you. Unless the Spirit talks to you audibly or visibly, we can only discern the Spirit’s voice by examining our intuitions. We can’t avoid judging interpretations of the Bible according to loving intuitions. We can’t always be certain how to best love, but we can strive to love others like we want to be loved. Unless you are a totally self-centered human being, believe about God what makes loving sense to you!

What you believe about God matters!

Mental images of God shape our relationship with God and how followers treat others. If God really created Hell, we may think we should emulate God in our attempts to judge and punish. If God condemns gays, we will condemn gays out of devotion to God. If we believe God thinks men have authority over women in some positions, that will filter down to your wives, daughters, and friends and stifle their gifts. Choose understandings of God that don’t contradict your intuitive sense of a loving God. You may be right!

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

There seems to be so much confusion among Christians in regard to law and grace. Most believe we are saved by grace, but many have a misunderstanding as to what part the law plays in our lives today. I think the mistake a lot of Christians make is that we do not truly accept or understand the whole concept of grace. Grace is a free gift given to us by God. When Jesus died, he took our sinful nature and destroyed it.

As stated in Galatians 2:16, 19-21, “nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified… For through the Law, I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly”.

Jesus restored our perfect, righteous nature and our fellowship as sons and daughters of God. Nothing we did, and nothing we can do can add to it or pay for it. It is a totally free gift provided by Christ. It is hard for us to accept this without feeling the need to do something to justify God’s love for us. We think we need to do something to make us worthy to come to God. This is performance-based living and not grace. Grace is a gift. Grace is God making us righteous and in fellowship with him, not of our own doing, but the free gift provided by Jesus.

Jesus lived and taught under the law. Yet, the important part to remember is that everything changed after the death and resurrection of Jesus.

As Jesus lived under the Old Covenant Law as Galatians 4:4,5 states, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons”. Jesus had to live by and obey all the commandments, ceremonial rules and laws so He could fulfill the old covenant. Jesus said on the cross, ‘it is finished’, meaning He had lived under the Old Covenant, lived a perfect life and fulfilled the law, thereby restoring our fellowship with our God.

Not until the time of His death and resurrection was the Law fulfilled and a New Agreement took effect. At this time, the new covenant took effect. A new agreement in which we live by grace and not by trying to fulfill the Law.

So, since the old covenant has been fulfilled and we live by grace, why do so many of us still feel a need to live by old covenant law? Why do we seem to want to put ourselves back under slavery to an old set of rules when Christ has fulfilled them and done away with that need?

Galatians 5:1-4 reads, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision” (a part of the law), “Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace”. With Christ as our sacrifice, we in a sense died also. And since we died, we can now live free from the law as written in Romans 7:1-8 “Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then, if while her husband is living, she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, you shall not covet. But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead”.

Before grace, we could not live up to the standards of the law because we are an imperfect people. Now that Jesus has fulfilled the law, we are restored to fellowship with God. Although we still fall from time to time in this life, it is all covered by the blood of Christ and where sin abounds, grace much more abounds. We are no longer required to live up to the Law that we could not live up to in the first place.

Now that we live by grace and faith in Jesus, the law, which was our tutor to point out our sin, is no longer needed. Galatians 3:23-26 states, “But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 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” (the law). “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus”. To say we need to live trying to obey the law and the ten commandments is saying that Jesus blood alone was not enough to cleanse us from our sins.

The Bible goes so far as to say that if we still try to live by obeying the old covenant law we live under a curse, as Galatians 3:10-13 reads, “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them. Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, the righteous man shall live by faith. However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, he who practices them shall live by them. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us, for it is written, cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”.

We are told in Matthew to be perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Obviously, there is no way we can do this on our own, but God would not have told us to be perfect if it were not possible to do so. Since we could not do it on our own, He made a way for us. The only way we can be perfect, is through grace. Accepting the free gift of grace through Christ will allow us to live out the new covenant commands of Christ, which are to accept Christ, love God and love others. The law that is mentioned under the new covenant is always to love God and love others stated in Galatians 5:14, “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

This is further pointed out in 1 John 3:23, “this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us”; 1 John 4:21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also”; and again in 2 John 1:6, “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love”. We are totally incapable of living up to the law and we are no longer required to do so. Christ died and by His grace, we were made righteousness and restored to proper fellowship with God.

God has provided such a fantastic gift of freedom for us, and most of us today just do not realize all that entails. Because of grace, it is as though we have never sinned and will never sin. Not because of anything we have done, or can do, but because God loves us enough that he sent his Son to take our sins, past, present and future, and because of His grace we stand perfect in the eyes of God.

Now we need to walk in that freedom and follow the Spirit, loving God, loving others and not worry about the old covenant law, but live a life for God through love. Galatians 5:16-18 reads, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law”.

Thanks be to God, we now live by grace, not trying to live up to rules and laws that we cannot do. We are free in Christ to live a life of love for God and for all we come in contact. We no longer do things out or obligation, but we do them out of love for God and want to 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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by Jim Gordon

Growing up in church was a fun time learning about God and meeting people who usually had pretty similar beliefs. Yet, it seems the more we learn about the grace of God and the freedom it brings, Christian life can be a little frustrating.

Is it just me, or do you find it frustrating to realize that some of the teachings we have grown up with in church may be wrong? Do you get confused with all the different doctrines and Bible interpretations, and hearing all the different opinions of others? Do you get tired of all the fighting and disagreements over different beliefs?

It can get pretty discouraging seeing all the postings on social media and all the arguments and disagreements, sometimes heatedly, about personal views and interpretations. Many are basic views we have grown up with, yet now we question whether they are from God or are they man’s wrong interpretation.

No matter how you interpret the scriptures, no matter how much you believe your way of thinking on spiritual matters, someone else will have a completely different view. No matter what church you attend, what doctrine you follow or if you have stopped attending a church at all, we know that Christians are not going to agree on everything. We all have a different view of biblical interpretations. Depending on which church or denomination you belong or grew up in, or which pastor you listen to, our views are usually slanted in that particular way.

I often wonder why we cannot accept each other, no matter what our interpretation. Truthfully, none of us can prove most of what we believe, be it faith in God, heaven, hell and a vast array of other topics. Our beliefs are all by faith. We cannot prove, or disprove, anything.

I think we should ask the Spirit daily for guidance into truth. Hold to what you believe, but be open enough to change when God gives a clearer view of the truth. When someone has a different way of looking at things, accept them as a fellow Christian. You do not have to agree with them, but who knows, they might be right.

I do not think any of us can say without a doubt who is completely right or wrong in our interpretations. We should seek for truth through the Spirit, and let everyone have their right to do the same. Quit fighting and arguing over who is right and who is wrong. God never said ‘by this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you agree with one another’. No, it is by love. We are to love God and love one another even in our disagreements.

One thought comes to mind in all this, ‘Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so’. The most basic and simple thing we learned long ago, yet seems to be one of the most consistent things of which we can all agree.

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

My wife and I have lived in our house for fifteen years now. As far as we are concerned, it is finished and complete. Other than the basic upkeep, we have no plans for remodeling or adding on.

The other night I had a dream about what I thought was our house, but it turned out being something different.

In my dream I was walking through the house and came to one of the rooms. I looked in and noticed there was a remodeling job in progress. There were tools sitting around and it was obvious the room that was going through a change.

I moved on to another side of the house and saw what looked like a big piece of plywood with a round hole where a door knob would go. I decided to pull on it and see if it would move. To my surprise, the plywood pulled back revealing a complete other room I had no idea was there. It was under construction, having bare wood floors and walls, cut-outs and several tools and a ladder sitting there.

When I woke up, I was thinking about this dream and it hit me that the house was not our house, but it was me. I was seeing that God is not finished with me, but constantly working in my life.

We are His Dwelling

All of us as followers of Christ are his dwelling place. God lives within us and even though we sometimes think we are mature and complete in Christ, God is busy working and changing us into His glory. Most of the time we do not even realize God is doing something in our lives.

You may have followed Christ for a long time and think you know all the answers. You may have been following Him for many, many years and think there is no more God can do with you. The truth is, God is continually working on His house (which is us), modifying, changing, remodeling and changing things throughout our life.

God’s dwelling place will not be finished or complete during our lifetime. He is constantly remodeling and changing us, conforming us into His image. Through His presence within us, we will display His love to a world that is in need of Him.

Do not give up and think God is finished with you. Do not think there is no more to know, or that God can no longer use you. Keep listening for the quiet leading of the Holy Spirit within you and know that God is busy in your life, changing you little by little to be more like 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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by Jim Gordon

Growing up in the institutional church and modern Christianity, my wife and I were taught that we are saved by grace but live by law. This seems to be a fairly common belief for the modern-day believer.

Over the past few years, we have come to see that 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 as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them’. (Galatians 3:10 KJV).

Why is it that we cannot accept the free gift provided through Christ and forget the performance-based way of 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).

We now live for God because of love, not out of obligation nor trying to do more and earn our salvation.

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, past, present and future 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 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 by love. There are plenty of things to do, but we do them because of love and by the strength and guidance of the Spirit.

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, we are still living in a fallen world. There will be times when we take our eyes off Christ and commit sins. Yet, in Christ our sins are already forgiven and there is no longer punishment for them, although there are still consequences in this world when we do wrong.

The fact is, that 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 fulfilled the requirements of the old covenant. ‘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 have been told for so long that we needed to do more for God. We were taught we needed to keep the commandments and strive to be good Christians. Fortunately, the Spirit guides us to the reality that we cannot keep the commands and in ourselves, we are powerless to do so. Christ came to fulfill the law and provide freedom to all of us.

We are now free to live by love for Him and we are 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 covenant began, one of living by grace. As children of God, He has now 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 old covenant law cannot make us holy, but the new covenant of grace is one of loving God and doing what pleases Him because of that love.

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 organized church, I was taught that we actually had enemies within the religious world and that certain groups of people were to be avoided. I do not think this was done openly but very subliminally; it was just something you picked up on over the years in the Christian religion.

I can say this because I spent well over fifty years in the organized Christian church and I know how I used to feel. Fortunately, not everyone in the church system feels this way, but it does seem to be a pretty normal way of thought for those of us who grew up in it.

In the church system I often found people felt that if you attend a certain denomination all the other denominations did not quite measure up. Fortunately, this does not happen in every church organization, but it does seem to be the norm more often than not.

Another thing we felt was that if you are a Christian then those outside of Christianity are to be avoided. Of course, we were to make sure to act like a friend so we can witness to them and try to convert them to Christianity. I think this is really a sneaky and unkind way to treat others. I know for a fact that friendship with ulterior motives can be very disheartening.

I also found that inside the Christian religion atheists are considered to be the enemy of our faith. We were told it is best for us to stay far away from them so that doubt does not creep into our own way of thinking.

People of other religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism. Confucianism, Gnosticism, Judaism, Islam or a host of other religions were considered confused and wrong in their beliefs. Nothing measured up except our way of Christianity. We were the enlightened ones, everyone else was mistaken.

Fortunately, I and many others no longer think this way. For me, I believe Jesus came to show the love of God to all people and he accepted and respected everyone. If you attend a church or if you are walking with God outside the walls of religion, hating or discriminating against anyone is not what God wants and is not at all Christ-like.

We need to remember that Christianity is just a religion created by men. Jesus did not come to start a religion and he is not the head of the Christian religion. Jesus came to show us what God may really be like , a God of love. Jesus loved and respected people no matter who they were or what they believed.

No matter what religion people choose to follow, it does not completely describe who they are. Each of us is a person who basically wants the same things and same goals in life. We all want to be happy, to be loved and accepted and to live a good life. We all go about it in different ways but the basics are the same.

Being outside the walls of religion, I have come to see people as people no matter the label or religion. I have come to know many people of all beliefs and ways of life and have found them to be good friends. We all have our different backgrounds and beliefs, but we are all basically the same.

Rather than judge and condemn others who do not see things the way we do, it is time we do what Jesus said to do. Love God and love others. We are not here to judge, condemn and try to force people into accepting things the way we see them. The Holy Spirit will draw, convict and change people if that is what is needed. We are only called to be loving and kind to all we meet.

Loving others does not always mean we agree, but we can show the love of God and be respectful even in our differences. Look past the labels and the different religions to see the human being who is not an enemy, but who was created in the image of God and who is loved by God just as much as anyone else.

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 church, we were always told it was our job to go out and convert others to our faith. We were often threatened with the statement, if we do not convert others their blood will be on our hands.

Looking back on it, is this really what God expects of us? Is it our job as followers of Christ to convert the unsaved? Are we to force our views and beliefs on others so that they might come to God?

Today, my answer would be a definite no. It is our job to follow Christ and love others, and the Holy Spirit’s job to convict and lead people to the Father.

We cannot convert others; we cannot make them come to Christ by forcing our views and beliefs on them. Only the Holy Spirit can convict the world of sin and lead them to repentance.

Jesus said in 1 John 3:23 – ‘And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us’. Apart from that, we have nothing more to do than to be available to Him and allow the Spirit to work and love through us.

Also, we are told in 1 Peter 3:15 – ‘But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear’. To me, this says we are to live a life of love and service to others so that they will notice a difference in our lives. When they ask, we should be ready to tell them that it is the love of God within us.

We are called to make disciples, but disciples would be those who already have a relationship with Christ. The dictionary describes a disciple as a professed follower of Christ. We are to be there to encourage and help one another into maturity in their walk following Jesus. This is done by regular fellowship (read more about fellowship here) and getting to know one another so that we can encourage, build up, and lead by example.

We are also told to go into all the world and preach the gospel. The gospel being the good news that God loves us, has provided freedom from our sinful nature and has restored fellowship with us. Again, this is done by loving God and loving others on a daily basis. It is showing God’s love by example. It is not by being judgmental, pointing fingers, using guilt and other means that are sometimes used to try to force others to accept Christ.

When we show the love of God to others and accept them as they are, people will be drawn to Christ through love rather than by using condemning and threatening ways. This does not mean we have to agree with everyone or say you can live anyway you want with no consequences, but we can show the love of Christ to non-believers and accept them without expecting them to change and start acting like we think they should. God accepted us as we were before we came to Him, we should do the same.

Share the good news of God’s love to those you meet by loving them. Encourage and make disciples out of those who have come to Christ by loving them. Stop trying to force salvation on non-believers out of obligation, guilt and condemnation. Just love them. Love is the answer. God is love.

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

This is the final part of my church history. Remember, I have been part of the traditional church organization for 40 some years at this point. Although it is the final part of my institutional church history, it is not the end of my story of being part of the Church and following Jesus.

After our last pastor moved out of state and that church faded into history, we found a church that had interested us and excited us for a year or two. A friend of mine had told me about it and it sounded great to us. It was a non-denominational church and since our last church was gone we decided to give it a try.

This church was a little larger than what we were used to but was not a mega-church. The people were very friendly and there were so many activities in which to participate. We really liked that they gave food to the homeless and the poor in the area, they handed out water at parades and did several community related activities. After some time we noticed that very few people tried to get to know us or spend time talking with us because they were so busy staying in groups with people they already knew. My wife actually called two different home group leaders and tried to find out information on joining the group but was met with resistance from leaders who did not seem to want ‘new’ people in their group.

More Dissatisfaction

It was at this time I was feeling a real dissatisfaction with the church system. I felt there must be something more, this did not seem to be what Jesus meant when he said he would build his church. There was so much division and separation, no one was allowed to talk or discuss anything and only a select few had control of the service yet what I saw in the bible said we should all have a word, or a song, or a prayer. I read that Jesus was the head and each of us are equally important parts of his body. And what about the verse telling us we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and he dwells within us. I kept thinking about this and wondering why so many said the building was the church and they kept saying come to our church because the Spirit is going to fall and God is going to show up at this particular meeting. Yet the bible said the Spirit fell a couple thousand years ago upon the Church which was the people not a building. The Kingdom of God is within us and God is always with us, he is not going to show up at a special service when He is already within us.

It took us ten years at this particular church of going through the motions of getting up on Sunday morning, going to a service where we sat quietly looking at the back of someone’s head, going through the typical three songs, prayer, offering and listening to one person tell us their view of God, then getting up and walking out the door not seeing or hearing from anyone until the next Sunday. After several years of questioning and much dissatisfaction with the way the organized church seemed to be, we made the decision to leave the system and look to God for guidance. We began seeking the Holy Spirit to teach us because the bible says with the Spirit we do not need anyone else to teach us.

Forsake not the assembling

Of course we were told by several people that we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves with other christians, yet I could not find in the bible where that meant we had to do so in a building on a specific day at a set time. I feel believers need one another for support, fellowship and encouragement, but I believe this is done on a daily basis outside the walls of a church building. How much real support, fellowship and encouragement do we get sitting in a scheduled service once a week looking at the back of the heads of the people in front of you and listening to a select few talk? My wife and I started asking God to lead us to people who we could encourage and who would encourage us. It was not long until we started having chance encounters with people, most of who were going through or had gone through the same thoughts and feelings we were having.

accept-differences

We have found we have been more open to meet and accept people who were outside our style of worship, belief or lifestyle. We read in the bible where Jesus loved people and he did not separate himself by denominations or beliefs. Jesus was God in human form and God is love. We certainly did not always see a lot of love within the system because many seemed to think they were better than others or they had to stay away from certain people. So many felt they needed to point out the sins and mistakes of others or they were denying God.

We feel the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin and it is not our job do point out where others may be wrong, if they are wrong at all. The Spirit will do the job of pointing out what needs to be changed and dealt with, we as followers of Christ are only called to love.

Out of the system

Since being out of the system for about two years now, neither of us have any reason to return. We have put our dependence on God and the Spirit for guidance and we are finding more and more believers to have fellowship with outside the walls of the traditional church. We would certainly not tell anyone not to go to church if that is what they want to do. For myself I had many years within the system that were good and meaningful. I learned many things and had many good experiences in the system. My wife and I were not abused or hurt by the church but we felt a real unrest with the system and after being out of it we have found more meaningful fellowship and a closer walk with God than we ever did in the past.

Will we ever return to the church system? I do not know. Right now I would say no because we have found a freedom and a dependence upon God that we never knew within the system. Yet we want to follow God and do what he leads us to, so if that would be where he wanted us sometime in the future then we would return.

I personally feel the system is wrong, not the people. There are many people within the organization that truly love God and are seeking to do what pleases him. There are many pastors and church workers who feel they are doing what they were called to do and I will not fault them for that. I think the organization is the problem. The organization is dependent on human leadership and human interpretation which causes division. I do not believe the church system is what Jesus was talking about when he said he would build his church. The Church is the people, not a building, not an organization.

church-people-or-building

If you are satisfied within the church system then stay where you are until you feel God leading you to something else. If you feel the same unrest in your soul that we did for many years and are thinking of leaving the organization then do so without any guilt. The Kingdom of God is within us. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We can have fellowship any day, any place, any time when God brings us together for a meal or a time of talking or praying with another person or two. We want to live each day of our lives in fellowship with the Spirit, listening for his guidance and showing the love of God to any he brings along our path.

So this brings us to the end of my church history as I knew it growing up. Yet it is not the end of my Church history because I am, along with every believer, part of the Church. It is not a building, it is not a system, not a man-run organization but it is each and every one of us equally functioning as parts of the body and following Jesus who is head of his Church.

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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The Spirit of God Lives in Us

by Jim Gordon

1 Corinthians 3:16,17 – Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.

The Old Covenant days of the temple are over. According to the New Covenant, we are now God’s house the Spirit of God lives within us. So many people say the organized church is where God lives, but this verse tells us that God is more personal than that. God can no longer be contained within a building. We are His dwelling place.

The church is not God’s temple

Each one of us who are saved by grace are now the temple of God. It is so hard to get away from the thought that God is up there somewhere, or that we have to go to church and wait for God to show up. This kind of thinking is now obsolete.

These verses point out that the temple of God is holy, and that is what we are. We are His temple, and that makes us holy. Not by any works we have done or can do, but by the work that Christ has done. It is hard for us to accept the fact that in Christ, we are holy and righteous. We are kings and priests. We were sinners, but the old sin nature was crucified with Christ on the cross. It is now dead and we are new creatures in Him.

We are Holy and Righteous

We need to stop being so negative and depressed because we feel like we have let God down and unable to live a holy life. Actually, we cannot live a holy life, but God, through the grace of Christ, makes us holy. We are the righteousness of God. It is Him, Jesus our all in all, living in us.

Our spirit is now holy and righteous. Our mind is still being transformed and our body is still a work in progress, but thanks be to God, our spirit has been made perfect.

Let’s start focusing on the fact that God is right here within us through His Spirit. We do not have to go somewhere looking for Him, we do not have to wait for Him to show up. Right now, we are in His presence. He is the vine, we are the branches. Rest in Him and allow the Spirit to love those around you each 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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It May Be Better to be Known for What They are For

by Jim Gordon

It seems that many Christian people are more known for what they are against rather than the good things of God they are for.

I am becoming increasingly aware of the fact that I do not want to be known as someone who is always against something. Whatever that may be, against this sin or that sin, this group or that group, against a particular denomination or Bible version, all the different ideas and subjects we can come up with that end up taking away our main focus, our love for Christ.

Be Known for Love

Jesus told us in the New Covenant that His commands were to love God and love others. We do not have to agree with everyone to love them. We obviously all have our convictions of right and wrong, yet we do not have to focus on those convictions or try to prove our reasoning to others. We are told to love others no matter what. We are not responsible for converting people, that is the Spirit’s job. We are told to love them.

When Jesus walked the earth, He did not spend a lot of time with the religious people. He was out with the sick, despised, neglected, and sinners of the day. Those who the religious people would not want to be around.

Obviously, God calls us to follow Him and that is going to be in different ways for each of us. Yet to spend more time arguing, condemning, trying to prove our interpretations of the Bible, pointing out people’s mistakes and shortcomings, does not help promote showing the love of God to others.

The Grace of Christ

When we begin to understand the freedom we have in Christ, and start living through grace that Christ provided, we can be free to love and accept all those we come in contact with each day. We can show them the love of Christ by allowing the Spirit to live through us.

We do not need to worry so much about who is right and who is wrong. Remember, do not always be against something. Be for Jesus. Be for love. Be for following Jesus daily by loving God and loving one another. Let Him be the central focus of your life and allow His love to flow out of you and touch those around you.

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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