Just read an older article called the “Isolated Christian” (link will be posted at the bottom). It was written in 2004 and I was surprised at how civil it was to those of us who are outside the institutional church. It is not my intent to critic the entire article. Just some sections of it has reminded me of so many conversations I have had in the past, and I’m sure I’ll have again in the future; of those who still attend church and try so hard to pull me/us back in. While the article has some kind things to say concerning those of us who no longer attend a church; due to the glut of false teachers filling the pulpits. The author also doesn’t, outright, condemn those of us who are outside the camp/church. He says some very true things. However, it is still tilted and laced with some cold comfort with a splash of guilt. Listed below are some of the statements from the article I’d like to address:
- “Of course there are many people today who are out of fellowship because the churches they have belonged to are now teaching false doctrine (or no doctrine). They long for fellowship but they don’t know where to go. They try different churches and yet like Jesus they find “nowhere to lay their head” (Matthew 8 v 20). They are out of fellowship.”
- “What about those who God has caused to be isolated while He works in their life? I am thinking of the Apostle Paul. After becoming a Christian he went into Arabia and conferred not with flesh and blood so that he might learn of God (Galatians 1 v 16-17).”
- “Also of course there is the Apostle John who was exiled to the Isle of Patmos.”
Actually, these verses in context don’t apply to the topic, which is Christians, who over all, have left the church due to false teaching. The apostle’s Paul and John were not and did not become separated or isolated due to false doctrine being taught. So these scriptures are used out of context, even Matthew 8, referring to Jesus having nowhere to lay his head is the same, a rather long jump to tie into the topic. Although rather comforting at first glance; but still scripture out of context and then it becomes a pretext.
pre•text(ˈpri tɛkst) n.
- something put forward to conceal a true purpose or object; ostensible reason; excuse.
- the misleading appearance or behavior assumed with this intention; subterfuge.
So using scripture out of context is, for me, one of the bedrocks of warnings, bells, whistles, flashing lights and sirens. When I came out of the false teaching we had been under for years, I soon discovered that pretty much all of what I had been taught and believed was in fact “pretext” twisted and cherry picked verses. The deprogramming still continues to this day as I still will find a section of the Word I think I know and when I read it, now in context, it doesn’t mean what I had thought at all. I have to start all over again. Over time I have come to actually look forward to this process because I know God is still, to this day, delivering me from the past false doctrines. I also know that this is how I learned to study and put teachings together; so even today it takes me longer to put an article together because I’m constantly checking and rechecking what I say concerning scripture. The author then goes on to list the scriptures that speak on fellowship and not forsaking that. Those we all know well and most often are used to condemn or guilt us because we are outside the institutional church:
- “Hebrews 10 v 25 says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another: and so much more as you see the day approaching”.
- “ Acts 2 v 42 tells us that the new converts “continued steadfastly in the Apostles doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers”.
- “ Let the isolated Christians remember the body. Each member has its function, we need you and you need us, neither of us can say we don’t need the other. I doubt that you will find a church to meet your need in every aspect, but the church still needs you. If the church gathered together on a scriptural basis, then your ministry would be missed. Unfortunately, at the moment people are missed for not filling the empty pews rather than for their ministry input.”
Even if we are past the guilt trips that have been laid on us for not attending church, this still tugs at our heart strings, because we all desire to have communion and fellowship with the body, just not the parts that are swimming in deception rampant within the church walls. While the article truly does have some good points here is my take on some of what it fails to address. “We (the church) need you and you need us (the church)…” …maybe not so much. So what of the following scriptures?
2 Corinthians 6:16-17 What agreement can exist between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and the will be My people. Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing and I will receive you.
Revelation 18:4 Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins or contract any of her plagues. Matthew 18:6,8-9 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off and cast them from thee; it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee; it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
Christ is speaking of the body i.e. the church/corporate. While most have possibly heard this preached as cutting things out or our own lives as it pertains to our own failings and temptations, that would reference:
Matthew 5:28-30 But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
The word for offend in both chapters has the same definition:
To scandalize; from G4625; to entrap, that is, trip up (figuratively stumble [transitively] or entice to sin, apostasy or displeasure): – (make to) offend. It becomes obvious that the two chapters, 8 and 5, are speaking about very different “members of the body”. Clearly, Matthew 5 speaks of cutting out or off; the temptations and desires within ourselves that cause us to sin and stumble. Matthew 18 is referencing the body as the church, those who would deceive you, cause you to stumble in your walk and faith and cause you to apostatize, fall away. While looking at both sets of scriptures in these chapters. In the commentary for Matt.5 it references Zec. 11:17 which speaks of the worthless shepherds.
Zechariah 11:16-17 For I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that are cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that, that is broken, nor feed that, that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces. Woe to the idol/worthless shepherd that leaves the flock! The sword shall be upon his arm and upon his right eye: his arm shall be dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened. I thought how interesting the description is of these shepherds as it mirrors so many in the pulpits today and fits them like a glove. Time truly is short. Aren’t we to mark those and separate from those who teach false doctrine? Yes! While there are many more verses that speak to this subject. I think that it’s clear that there are times and conditions that mandate separation and “coming out from”. And as the end of the age draws ever closer, the call to come forth rings louder. The very foundational verses used in creating this blog support that also. I would also like to add that I do know some believers that have gone come out of false doctrine and have after a time found a church body that they felt lead to enter back into. I think that’s wonderful but those are not whom I’m speaking to.