There are many reasons why I believe this. And there are many people who agree with me. And there are just as many people who disagree with me; and they continue to go to church and support that religious system, and they believe they are doing what God would have them to do.
Let me emphasize: our heart is for God’s people, wherever they are – both inside the religious system and outside the religious system. In fact, part of our three-fold mission is “to provide for the spiritual growth and maturity of all believers.” Assuming “all believers” means real, true followers of Jesus (not hypocrites and counterfeits, but genuine believers in the Biblical sense of the word), then we are here for God’s people, both inside the Institutional Church, and outside the Institutional Church.
Now, since I believe that “Church” is the greatest hindrance to spiritual growth and maturity, naturally I’m going to encourage God’s people to think seriously about where they go, and what they support, and why; and I’m going to challenge this religious system that we have created. If I didn’t speak out against it, and challenge it, and question it (while all the while I believed it was hurting more people than it helped) then I wouldn’t be honest. The reason we speak these things is because of our love and concern for God’s people. And it’s that love and concern that motivates us to speak out against abusive leadership, and abusive groups, and abusive pastors and prophets, and the entire religious system that keeps God’s people in a kind of spiritual ghetto – keeping them down, holding them back, or worse, lulling them into a false sense of security and fellowship that is based on something other than the Lord Jesus Christ.
So the other part of our three-fold mission is: we’re here to bring healing to those hurt by church, those wounded by the religious system; and help them get back on track towards a Christ-Centered Faith. See, that’s what we emphasize. Not a Self-Centered Faith, not a Church-Centered Faith, but a Christ-Centered Faith. And we are radically committed to the idea that Jesus must have the preeminence, in every disciple, in the Ekklesia (the True Body of Christ) and ultimately, in all Creation. This is the fulfillment of God’s Eternal Purpose, “to gather together in one all things in Christ.” In the meantime, we have many people who have been hurt, abused, taken advantage of, manipulated, and controlled by a religious system that God never created, that Jesus never endorsed – a system that was made by carnal men, for carnal men. And the fact that some people gather together and say “Lord, Lord” does not mean they actually represent the Lord Jesus.
Sometimes people say to me, “Well brother Chip, I like all the Christ-centered teaching you bring, and I wish you would just stick to that, and cut out all of this anti-church rhetoric.” Well, I wish I could stick to just talking about the Lord and overlook every false, misleading, counterfeit thing that is said and done in His Name, but how is that Spirit and Truth? That’s like saying, “I want you to talk about how wonderful marriage is, but I don’t want you to talk about the fact that I’m cheating on my husband.”
I mean the Book of Revelation starts out talking about Jesus, and then this same Jesus starts talking about each of the churches in Asia, and he points out the things they are doing well, and the things He is not pleased with. In the case of Laodicea, He had nothing good to say about them. It was all rebuke. He said you are lukewarm and I’m going to vomit you out of my mouth – a bunch of arrogant, poor, blind, miserable naked people. And I take the view of Revelation that says those seven churches in Asia represent seven distinct ages of history; and if you believe we are living in the last of those ages, then we are living in the Laodicean Age, when God has nothing good to say about the state of things in the Church.
So, what? Am I supposed to ignore that? Pretend like it doesn’t exist? Do you want me to join you in sticking my head in the sand like an ostrich and just talk about Jesus and never bring up what He thinks about what’s going on? Well, that would make us all feel warm and fuzzy and cozy – but I’m not interested in making anyone feel warm and fuzzy and cozy! I’m interested in our eyes being opened to the truth, because I believe the truth will make you free, but first it will make you mad.
I’m not a reformer, I’m a revolutionary. I’m not interested in fixing the church system; I’m interested in bringing healing and health and wholeness and wellness to the Body of Christ, to the Ekklesia, the people of God. The people! I don’t care about the system. The system can rot for all I care. Jesus said He will build His Ekklesia, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. It seems those in charge of the system are more concerned with preserving and fixing the system that they are with helping and healing God’s people.
Well… I didn’t mean to go off in that direction… but you need to know my heart. If we didn’t care about God’s people we would just say, “Go and do whatever makes you happy, whatever seems right in your own eyes.” But the Spirit of Jesus doesn’t allow me to do that. Believe me, I have tried. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to harp on it. But every day I hear from people who have been beat up by the system, beat up by the pastor, beat up by some of God’s so-called children, and it burns me up. Something has to be done. Who’s going to speak up? Who’s going to speak out? Who will defend the weak? Who will pour in the oil and the wine? Who will teach them the difference between a religion and a relationship?
You’re so concerned about fellowship and getting your needs met! I’m concerned with meeting the Lord’s Need. And what does the Lord Need and want right now, in this lukewarm age? He needs people who can speak the truth in love, who know how to recognize the truth when they see it – first of all, who are not so blinded by their own prejudice and opinion and tradition that they can see and recognize the truth; and then, they can speak the truth in love. Because the Truth is all we have.
The Truth will make you free, and our heart is to see God’s people set free. I want all people, everyone, to experience the joy and freedom of a Christ-Centered Faith that is based on relationship, not religion. And brothers and sisters, the path to that kind of relationship and intimacy with God takes you outside the camp. It always has. Get out of your father’s house Abram, and go to a new land I’ll show you, and I’m going to change your name to Abraham. Let My people go, that they can serve Me in the desert. Get out of Egypt, and into the Promised Land. Get out of Babylon, and into Jerusalem, to rebuild the City and the Temple. Come out of her, My people. Get out of this Religion-About-Jesus, and get into this Relationship-With-Jesus.
Those pursuing Spirit and Truth have always been at odds with the religious system. This is nothing unique or new. When the Catholic priests told William Tyndale that they were better off to be without God’s Laws than the Pope’s Laws, Tyndale said, “I defy the Pope and all his laws! If God spares my life ere many years, I will cause the boy that drives the plow to know more of the Scriptures than you!” And he went into hiding and began translating the Bible from the original languages into English. Oh, the Roman Catholics wanted him dead. The Church in England wanted him dead. Because he spoke the truth. He not only translated the Scriptures, he helped people understand what they meant, and he exposed the Catholic Church and the Church of England in the process, and became an enemy of the state. And he knew the best way to help the people was to get the Word of God in their own language and in their own hands, so they would could have direct access to God’s Word, and not be beholden to the church, or the pope, or the priest, or the preacher, or the king, to tell them what to think and how to behave. They could have a real relationship with God that was not based on religion. And God did spare his life, long enough for him to finish his work; and then they caught him and burned him at the stake. But the seeds were planted, and they couldn’t stop what he had started.
But that’s the religious system, my friend. That’s the same spirit of religion that condemns you for not going to church, for not paying your tithes, not supporting the pastor and the denomination. It’s that same religious spirit that keeps God’s people in bondage to this very day and tries to kill the prophets and stifle any flicker of Spirit and Truth. And it’s why God’s people are leaving by the tens of thousands and millions. I didn’t start this. It’s not new. Read your Bibles. Read your history books. This has been going on for a few thousand years now. It is a sovereign move of God.
And to my friends in the house church movement? You’ve got nothing to do with this. It didn’t start with you, either. You don’t have a monopoly on this. This is God’s movement, not yours. We are privileged to witness something the Lord is doing, and it is a wonderful thing, but you guys keep messing with it and putting your hands all over it and defiling it for your own agenda. Some of you don’t know any better. You just don’t have enough maturity to realize you’ve just created a new religious system. And the rest of you know exactly what you’re doing, you’re just building something for yourself, taking advantage of people’s discontent, building a name for yourselves in the process.
Well, you’ll learn soon enough. Eventually you’ll figure it out the hard way, I suppose. Meanwhile, I’m just coming along behind you, picking up the broken pieces, and helping people see that what’s missing in their lives is not a meeting, or a different way to “do” church. What’s missing is, they came out of religion, but religion didn’t come out of them yet. They’ve got some unlearning to do. They’ve got some great big knots that need to be untangled before they can really experience Spirit and Truth.
So that’s what we’re here to do. We’re passionate about it, we’re committed to it, and if you see it and get it, then I pray you will help us. Pray for us. Support us. Send the hurting and wounded and the depressed and the outcasts to us. We’ll take them. What are we going to do with them? I don’t have all the answers. All I can tell you is, I’ve been down the road before, I know where it leads, and I’ve come out on the other side, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. It’s time to get serious, stop goofing off, stop wasting time, and figure out where you stand on these things.
I’m telling you, the time is short. The doors are closing. The window of opportunity will not be open forever. Jesus said the time is coming when you will long to see the days of the Son of Man, but you won’t see them. The night is coming when no man can work. Wicked men and seducers will become worse and worse. The direction of this world is downward, and everything connected to it, including the religious system, is heading down with it. Stop defending and protecting what God has already judged and set apart for destruction. Don’t be destroyed with it. Build your house on a rock so you can withstand this flood that’s coming upon the whole earth; or, just keep frittering your life away on stuff that doesn’t matter, and see where that leaves you when all hell breaks loose.
It’s for your sake that these things are spoken. It’s not about me. I don’t need any convincing. I already see it. I’m ready. I’m waiting. I’m praying for it to come to pass! I’m praying for the Day of the Lord, and the fulfillment of God’s Eternal Will and Purpose in Christ. Every day I’m praying that God will prepare, preserve, protect, and provide a Remnant of Overcomers who will have the Revelation of Christ and will bear the Testimony of Jesus in this Earth, who will demonstrate the preeminence of Christ over all things, and will ensure the continuity of a Christ-Centered Faith when life, and society, and government, and the religious system, and the Internet, and everything else you take for granted, collapses and falls.
But today – right now – our goal is to redeem the time, and make the most of every opportunity we have, to encourage, edify, support, build up, and help God’s people. It’s a day for deliverance. A day for healing. A day to lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily besets us. A day to get ourselves out of ourselves and press on towards the mark for the goal of the high call of God. A day for finding where you’re supposed to be, and what you’re supposed to do, and then doing it with all your might – not to please man or get the praises of man, but to please God – and to live your life in such a way that when the door is shut, and the window is closed, you can say, “I fought a good fight, I finished the race, I kept the faith.”
This is a transcripted excerpt from a recorded message. You can listen to the original recording here.