Hear Jesus

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them.”

“And He was saying, 'He who has ears to hear, let him hear'.”

Non-Catholic     Non-Protestant     Non-Ecumenical

Christian!

theodore@hearjesus.net

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If you haven't read the introductory starting point on page one, please do so before you continue.

THE FATAL CONDITION OF THE CHURCHES

For the sake of clarity, suppose for a moment that mankind does not posses any written record of the Life of Jesus and His teachings. Suppose that the Faith professed as Christianity is, then, made known only by the beliefs, confessions, and morals of its professors. What would you have?  You would have a “Christianity” composed of a multiplicity of factional conditions with an abundance of negating contradictions.  Those who reveal this “Christianity” would constitute a disjointed mass of people.  Now, take leave of supposing because we do, indeed, have the written record.  Even so, in spite of having the scriptures, the scenario stated above is exactly the condition of things!  When, by the Word of God alone you honestly and objectively weigh the condition of the mass of confessors who make up all the churches, one inescapable conclusion only can be made. The churches are light years from Christianity. 

From this point on until the end of this web site, I will use the word “church” to designate the people in this condition. For centuries the word church has been used to designate the people of God, the body of Christ, the functional condition of their meetings, or the physical location of their meetings.  It is a Middle English word which has its roots in the Greek word for “Lord” in the meaning “from or of the Lord”. Assembly is a much closer translation of the word that is used in the Scripture for the above designations. I will use the word “assembly” for these designations and to distinguish the two groups.

How did the churches get in this tragic condition?  Two things had to occur.  First, the Word of God had to undergo significant alteration.  It was so altered in its interpretation and application.  Second, Jesus Himself, the embodiment and giver of the Word, had to undergo significant alteration. This also happened.  Jesus became another Jesus at the hands of the churches.  He was assigned his place by them as the singular philosopher-god at the head of the new religious order, in effect, “triumphantly” assimilating and replacing the plurality of philosophies and Mystery-Religion gods of His era that vied with Him for the souls of men. The utter tragedy is not only that these alterations ever occurred, but also how very early they occurred and how very long lasting they have been. Within one generation after the end of the Mosaic age and the realization of the strength of the Kingdom of God through the grace of Jesus Christ, this tragedy was well underway.  This fact is incredible!  It happened simply, yet completely, because of unbelief and alteration, as stated above. While there have been rumblings and stirrings down to our own times, there has never been an at-large healthy, complete and lasting recovery of the assemblies of God in Christianity. The people of God have been decimated, existing like Elijah at the refuge brook, finding nourishment in abnormal ways, without healthy witness and without due strength. Meanwhile, the churches have gone on, marching to the tune of their own devising, ever proclaiming with all fervor the teachings of men as the commandments of God, with every faction standing self-assured, doing what they deem “right” in their own eyes.

While the churches consist of very many factions operating under very many different belief systems, they can be characterized by the three main categories named at the top of this page - Catholic, Protestant, and Ecumenical.  The first two represent large groups of churches and the last one is an attitude or agenda of certain churches. Each of these constitutes hyper-Christianity, which in reality is a Christianizing of all things.  Here Christianizing means adapting and applying certain partial features of Christianity to the religious, philosophical, and moral lives of people.  These features fall short of the absolute demands of Jesus and the correspondingly high standards of Christianity. This is branded by the Scriptures as fatal, that is, eternally fatal. It is teaching another Jesus who proclaims another gospel in contradistinction from The Lord Jesus Christ and the Gospel of His kingdom.

As indicated earlier, I will deal later on in an extended manner and in more detail with important subjects related to churches that come under the three categories. However, some things need to be said now. Of the two large groups named, Catholicism is the oldest.  Unless it's otherwise stated, on this web site Catholicism is not restricted to western Catholicism only, better known as Roman Catholicism, but also includes eastern Catholicism, better known as Eastern Orthodoxy. All of the Catholic factions, western and eastern, are also included. Keep in mind that not all Catholics hold to exactly the same doctrine and practice and since the Roman Catholic Church has made the greatest mark on history, it will be addressed more than the other factions of Catholicism. In its earliest form, Catholicism was really localized Episcopalianism. Over the centuries Catholicism has evolved into an elaborate religious system.  However, it is its first fatal doctrines that now concern us. They are as relevant today as when they first appeared at the beginning of the second century, and they are summed up in two issues.  While not in any way minimizing the fact that other Catholic positions are just as lethal – for example, its doctrine that declares adulterous marriages pure and its idolatry of materialism, my focus now is on two primal and perpetual teachings. These are not unique to Catholicism, but they are very highly emphasized in it. The first has to do with how a person stands justified or is declared accepted before the face of Almighty God. In its teaching about this major Christian subject, Catholicism departs swiftly and completely from Jesus Christ. Jesus teaches that salvation is completely a gift of the grace of God. Catholicism teaches that it is merited through the works of law, although it endeavors to lessen the rigidity of this position by restating its teaching in misapplied scriptural terms. All the declaring in the world cannot change the true nature of its doctrine. Catholicism clearly and emphatically teaches that mankind stands justified before God through the merit of sanctified human good works.  It teaches that this salvation is earned. By pitting the Scriptures against the Scriptures, and, to name two examples, by pitting Paul against himself and James against Paul, Catholicism unashamedly declares that humanity is saved by or justified before God through faith and good works. According to Paul, this teaching cuts off all who hold it from the grace and mercy of God. Also, according to Paul, who is one of Catholicism's self-claimed pillars, this teaching annihilates faith, grounds all who hold it in a merit-only-salvation system, and emphatically obligates all of them, as long as they live, to keep and obey all of the commandments of God without any failure – that is, without any sin. Any sin committed by those who hold to such a system of doctrine, teaching that salvation is gained through faith and good works, can never be atoned for.  In fact, they who propagate this doctrine merit one thing only -- eternal death. The second issue of fatal doctrine regards Catholicism’s exclusiveness. It firmly teaches that all who are willingly outside of the major teachings of the Catholic Church are not and cannot be saved. This is the case, in spite of the recent activity of The Second Vatican Council. In reality, Vatican II effectively was and is a smoke screen. A large part of its agenda was to modernize Catholicism and soften its reputation in order to make it more acceptable and appealing. Through Vatican II, Catholicism became somewhat ecumenical. Its tone became both inwardly adaptive and outwardly conciliatory, although in this posturing, no real issue of importance truly changed. Outwardly, formerly lost Protestants became erring “separated brethren”, simply needing to regain their righteousness or fullness of salvation by being reclaimed to the light of the Catholic Church. Yet, all the rhetoric did not and cannot change the essence of its position. Indeed, it was not even meant to do so! The Pope who called for Vatican II was himself a doctrinal conservative. Catholicism’s exclusive-salvation doctrine was formulated early in the second century and was articulated in a witty saying of a major Catholic leader in the mid-third century: “No one can have God as his father who does not have the Catholic Church as his mother”. This teaching still holds. Just before The First Vatican Council, Catholicism perpetually declared that there is no salvation outside of The Catholic Church. The rhetoric of Vatican II was only meant to woo. It can be likened to changing the bait in the mouse trap. Catholicism simply replaced the old and hardened sour cheese with sweet and savory bait. The killing trap still functions. At this point, in addition to the two features just considered, another aspect of Catholicism should be considered. This one isn’t fatal per se, but its existence guarantees that Catholicism’s doctrines will forever remain deceptive and lethal. This church has an apparatus in place which solidifies and perpetuates its massive error and also insulates it from any true, corrective remedy. It is called the Magisterium. Simply put, the Magisterium is the teaching authority of the Catholic Church. It is, though, much more than that. It is the Catholic - and Catholic only - corpus of the interpretation of the Scriptures. In its original form in the early second century it was called “The Rule of Faith" or “The Rule of Truth". Furthermore, this doctrine teaches that only in the Catholic churches and only in submission to the bishops who rule over those churches can the interpretation of the word of God be found and understood. In the course of time, this prerogative of interpretation and teaching came to be summed up in the Pope alone. The result of authority and power that this monopoly produced was not without its various degrees of tension within the Catholic Church throughout its history.  One of the adaptive inward glosses of Vatican II, enacted to relieve this tension, was to spread out this authority within the hierarchy of the church. The Magisterium, which had come to be supremely summed up in the Pope, was now spread throughout the bishops of the churches and even among the priests, the representatives of the bishops of the churches. However, as previously stated, this adaptation was simply cosmetic.  All western Catholic authority still truly resides only in the Bishop of Rome. The Magisterium is the Catholic interpretation of the Scriptures of God which has always stood right alongside of the Word of God, supposedly sharing equal authority with it, so that all people will know exactly what and how to believe in God. Without any equivocation, Catholicism claims that the Magisterium has equal authority with the Word of God. In fact, by the Magisterium, Catholicism trumps the Word of God, effectively making the Magisterium superior to it. The depth and power of the Magisterium can be readily seen in this example. Through His apostle John, Jesus said that all of His children received from Himself the abiding unction of His Spirit and that they, thereby, stand under no necessity to be taught by a man. In another place He said through John that all who follow Him are taught by God. Now, Catholicism puts its own exclusive and authoritative interpretation upon these words. It has its own interpretation of what the unction of the Spirit is and in what sense that unction abides. It has its own interpretation of who are taught by God and how they are taught by Him. Immediately the decision must be made. Who do you believe?  Do you believe the simple and direct words of Jesus, Who also said just prior to His statement about all believers possessing the teaching unction of the Spirit, that He promised eternal life to all of his people?  This promise was also made without there being any intermediary involved. Like the unction of the Spirit, eternal life is a direct endowment from Jesus Christ. Do you rather believe Catholicism, which claims that only by the intermediary of its Magisterium can these words or any other words of the Scriptures be understood and believed? Catholicism claims that the basis for its Magisterium is found in the Word of God.  This claim is patently false. This is a classic case of begging the question. Such an extra-authoritative function does not stand up under the test of the Word of God. The Catholic Magisterium has an historical parallel in the religion of Judaism. It parallels very closely with certain aspects of the oral law of ancient Judaism. It will be highly beneficial to compare these two. The same function that operates in the Magisterium and guarantees its perpetual error also functions in the oral law of the Jews. Like the Magisterium, the Jewish oral law has an ancient history. It is claimed that when God gave Moses the written law on Mount Sinai, He also gave to him the oral law for Israel. As the story goes, when Moses died, the Israelites were so filled with grief that they forgot the oral law that He gave to them. But as time went by, Israel began to recover the oral law. During the time of Jesus, the oral law had a powerful function in Israel. At that time it was known as the tradition of the elders or simply, the tradition. Jesus lived under and directly dealt with certain strong aspects of this tradition or oral law. Approximately 200 years after Jesus, the oral law was codified and named the Mishnah. The Jews before and at the time of Jesus did precisely the same thing through their oral law that the Catholics did after His time through their Magisterium. Jesus declared to them that through their tradition they nullified the Word of God. Precisely the same thing is true of Catholicism.  Take into account these parallels. Allegedly - God gave Moses the oral law at the same time that He gave him the written law. Jesus gave His apostles the Magisterium around the same time that His teachings were being written down by them and their associates. The oral law was passed down from Moses through mighty men in Israel and then through their true leaders. The Magisterium was passed down from Jesus through the apostles and then through their appointed bishops. The oral law is unique to Israel. The Magisterium is unique to the Catholic Church.  The oral law has equal authority with the written law. The Magisterium has equal authority with the Scriptures. The oral law serves to interpret, highlight, and defend the written law.  The Magisterium serves to interpret, highlight, and defend the Scriptures. The oral law completes the written law and without it, the latter cannot be understood. The Magisterium completes the written word and without it, the latter cannot be understood. All who resist the oral law do it to their own peril. All who resist the Magisterium do it to their own peril. The result of all of this is that the same tragedy which happened to ancient and present Israel has also happened to Catholicism. All who hold to these nullifying traditions of men have grounded themselves in a state of perpetual and eternal blindness. The same remedy that applied to ancient Israel also applies to Catholicism. Paul said that ancient Israel was blind to the Gospel because of their understanding of God's law, but whenever a person truly turned to the Lord, his blindness was taken away by God's Spirit. Likewise, Catholics will never see beyond their Magisterium, but only in turning from it by the Spirit of Jesus will their blindness ever be taken away. Before moving to the second main subdivision of the churches, I wish to say one more thing. In recent times, among Protestants especially, there has been a significant amount of movement into Catholicism. Sometimes this is characterized as "going home" or as "returning to our roots". This is supposed to be a returning to the original positions of earliest Christianity. Actually, it is a partial returning to the ancient positions of the Catholic Church. In assuming this venture, some unite with Western Catholicism and some unite with its eastern counterpart.  Both groups contend with each other as to which one represents true Christianity. Both claim that they do.  Neither of them does.  This supposed return is a remarkable folly. I say this because these things are done in the light of day for all to see.  All this activity can be likened to the running of a marathon.  For those who do not know, a marathon is a race that covers a little over 26 miles. All of those who claim that in returning to Catholicism they are returning to earliest Christianity are like marathon runners who stop running the race at the 25th mile and forthwith congratulate each other and declare that they finished the course, having arrived at the goal. All their claims of originality and ancient recovery amount to utter nonsense. For, what is more ancient, the second century or the first? Who are earliest, the church fathers or the apostles of Jesus? What are to be more relied upon to represent originality, documents which had their beginning in the second century or those that were produced in the first? All of those who make this particular claim that they have returned to the beginning of Christianity have tragically fallen short of it, having not gone far enough.

The second main group is comprised of Protestantism. The fatal errors of this group are not unique to it either, but they do stand out through it.  Nor in listing certain lethal positions now am I minimizing other deadly traits of these churches, for example, their nullification of holiness or their idolatry of materialism. Remember, everything will be considered in detail in due course. Unless otherwise indicated, on this web site Protestantism means all non-Catholic churches that make up the classic, historical denominations and include all other formal and informal subdivisions of the church. I realize that many people will be surprised that Protestantism is listed along with Catholicism as false churches. In the thinking of the masses, if one chooses Catholicism, then he necessarily rejects Protestantism and vice versa. This position presupposes that only one of the two is the correct place to stand. It is true that they both contradict and invalidate each other. However, it is also true that along with Catholicism, Protestantism does not represent Christianity. The myth that one of the two represents Christianity has fixed itself in the human mindset since the 16th century. At this point, two lethal positions of Protestantism will be considered. But before considering these, it must be said that, indeed, there is much greater variety in doctrine and practice among Protestants than there is among Catholics. The things now named are not necessarily the positions and teachings of all the Protestant churches. In fact, they are not, but they are generally characteristic of them. Furthermore, where one faction of Protestantism may not teach and/or practice an error now named, it will be found to hold to another deadly doctrine and/or position. The first fatal outcome to consider is that Protestantism is infected with the sin of adultery. By this I do not mean extramarital affairs, but other marriages entered into that are subsequent to the original marriage while the original, now divorced spouses are alive. While the same iniquity is found securely lodged within Catholicism due to its doctrine and position of annulments of marriages, it is especially blatant and manifested in Protestantism. Many different teachings claiming to instruct about scripturally acceptable divorce and remarriage are found within these churches. All of them are false. The end result of all of them is that they establish and perpetuate adultery. Added to this death blow is the tragic fact that if one disagrees with any particular church's position while being a member of that church, to get his remedy, he simply needs to change churches. This last fact actually leads to the next fatal error of Protestantism. These churches are not unified. They are highly divided. This, however, is viewed like a divine right within Protestantism. They who comprise these churches do not so much as bat an eye about their real disunion with one another. This feature, that is, these churches’ individualism, their separateness, their independence from one another is a leading feature of Protestantism. In speaking of unity, I am not referring to unity within any particular faction of Protestantism. That kind of unity is insignificant. Rather, I speak of the unity of God. The iniquity of Protestantism here is its utter failure regarding the eternal purpose of God realized in the true oneness and doctrinal and moral unity of His people. These groups of churches are so far removed from God's will concerning this mighty purpose of His that they speak in terms of "my church" - "your church" - "his church" - "her church" - "my pastor" - "your pastor", etc., when they speak about one another in the same geographical locale. The utter failure of Protestantism in this matter is that it has not understood or submitted to the truth that all of God's blessings in eternal life, love, and holiness are grounded in and realized through the essential oneness that He has with His Son Jesus and are made known only through all of the commandments that He instructed Jesus to give to humanity. Only in this way do His people have His appointed unity with one another. Only in this way is He glorified through His people as His people in the world. This unity excludes all meaningful division. This unity is declared to be the unity of a living body, and that body is the body of Christ with Jesus himself being the commanding, unifying, and summing head over His own body. The reproof that Jesus spoke through Paul to His assembly in Corinth, Greece, has not landed among Protestants. At that time He effectively reproved the following positions that were found among the believers in that city: "I am of Paul", "I am of Peter", "I am of Apollos". Conversely, for hundreds of years it has been boasted everywhere, "I am of Luther", "I am of Calvin", or "I am of Cranmer", etc. To underscore the gravity of this tragedy, when Paul wrote to the assemblies in Asia Minor, he summed up the deadly works of the flesh in five categories. They were: sexual sins, idolatrous sins, sins of hatred, sins of disunion, and sins of drunkenness. Although all are eternally deadly, of these five groups, those of hatred along with those of disunion were most emphasized.

Ecumenism is the third subdivision. As stated earlier, it is a position or platform of operation and it is held to from one degree to another by Catholics and some Protestants. Its deadliness consists in its compromise. While it often holds itself out to be the best of love, mercy, and unity, in reality it annihilates these. It seeks to unite all of the churches, and in its extreme form, all religions, into one unified group by, in effect, finding the lowest common denominator for human togetherness through emphasizing the spiritual things that people approve and agree upon and by emphasizing common humanitarian objectives that are Christianized to one degree or another. Thus, it tries to unify all in the love of God, but it fails to do so because of this misunderstanding of that love. This misunderstanding is further revealed in its rejection of many of the particular and holy demands of God through Jesus and in its false versions of forgiveness, peace, and unity. As already shown when considering Protestantism, any unity that establishes itself at the expense of God's nature, love, and holiness as manifested in the life and teachings of Jesus is no unity at all. Ecumenism is, in reality, a religion of human idealism and often there is a correspondingly significant amount of hypocrisy within the Ecumenical movement. For example, at the time of Vatican II the Catholic bishop of Rome and the Catholic patriarch of Constantinople, in the name of Ecumenism, consigned to oblivion the former and long-standing mutual excommunications of one another. Again, this was done in the name of forgiveness, peace, and unity. The practical outcome is that this has not been the case. While these two groups tolerate one another because of this outward posturing and their many agreeable doctrines, in all reality they never attained to, nor presently have true and vital unity with one another. To this day, they make divisive claims and boasts against one another. To sum up the position of Ecumenism, it engenders compromise, weakness, humanism, hypocrisy, and disunity. In short, it begets ungodliness. I'll finish this section with a quote, a self revealing quote, by a leading and very influential ecumenical churchman of the 19th-century.  It at once reveals the epitome, misguided hope, and perpetual dilemma of Ecumenism. He taught that “the Protestant Reformation was the flower (meaning the essence) of Catholicism”. For anyone with even a limited knowledge of the essential doctrines that define and divide these two churches, what more needs to be said? The unity of man cannot attain to the unity of the Father and the Son and the body of the Son of God.

What happened to produce the present state of so-called Christianity? Approximately one generation after the death of the last of the apostles Christianity underwent drastic alteration. The changes were accumulative, thorough, and permanent. At first they had more to do with doctrinal issues rather than with moral or ethical issues. As time passed by the changes gained in mass and momentum. The end result is that today, the churches represent full-blown variant, multifaceted and Christianized fatal religion or Neo-Christianity. The Christianized churches of today are light years from Christianity. The Jesus of these churches is not Jesus Christ, Lord of Christianity. Their righteousness is not His righteousness. Their holiness is not His holiness. Their forgiveness is not His forgiveness, and their love is not His love. These things were true at the departure point and have grown in degree and kind since then. The result is that what we now find in the churches is a corrupted and feeble reenactment of Christianity. 

Now, in saying these things I am not saying that certain people in the churches have not experienced or do not experience happiness, satisfaction, or even deep conviction. As highly desirable as these things are, they do not make doctrine or moral positions valid.  There have been many people who possessed these things throughout their lives who ended up eternally condemned. Nor am I saying that most people knowingly and willingly submit themselves to substitute, Neo-Christianity. The tragedy here is that most people have entered into this other-Christianity by way of religious inheritance. After all, this is the Christianity that is taught to everyone by the leaders of the churches. It has been handed down from leader to leader throughout the churches almost from the beginning of the Christian era. Although the due weight of guilt rests upon the leadership of the churches, everyone is culpable. Ignorance is no place to stand. It does not transform error into truth, nor does it make the guilty innocent. Indeed, it is one of the many sins of the churches. In one real way, it’s a leading iniquity, for it guarantees the continuation of the errors that have transformed apostolic Christianity into hetero-Christianity.

Now, having said these things, what is the comparatively distinctive nature of true Christianity that is found within the true assemblies?  True Christianity has this essential characteristic as one of its prominent features: All of its positions, expectations, and demands are solidly grounded in the reality of the Scriptures, without man-made modifications, additions, or substitutions. The written Word of God is the sure foundation and anchor, separating forever the true from the false and the wheat from the chaff. That is what separates it from the pseudo substitutes named above. No man-made doctrine or position can stand up under its scrutiny, nor can any position of man be established without its authority. Jesus did not speak in terms of theory but in terms of singular and direct reality. Everything that He said was and is true and real. He demanded and demands complete submission to His teachings!

All of Christianity is summed up in one attribute as "faith working itself out through love." Jesus said that there was one great commandment and that is to love God with all of one's thoughts and deep mental processes and emotions and personality and strength. This is the meaning of the words that translate “to love God with all the heart, mind, soul, and strength”. Then He said that the second commandment was like this first one, and it is to love one's neighbor as oneself. The second one is like the first one because it demands nothing less than the compete self-dedication as well as the complete self-emptying of those who submit.

The love of God revealed in Jesus and demanded by Him, while it operates through these two main avenues, has strong definition in all of His commandments. It is precisely this thoroughgoing defined love that is not found within the churches. It is this fact that constitutes them as pseudo-Christian and in a fatal condition. Jesus said that anyone who loves Him does so only by keeping His commandments.  This defined love of God as possessed by people really and primarily reveals itself in two ways. First, it is the love of Jesus that operates within each individual believer, and it is the opposite of hating or purposefully neglecting one's fellow man. It resides on all levels within a person and only makes itself known through inward attitudes and acts of honor and loving-kindness. It is the kind of love that cannot always be properly judged, for in its first movements, it has to do with the inner thoughts and intentions of people. The Scripture declares that no one among men can know the thoughts of a man except the man in whom those thoughts reside. However, this love does manifest itself in recurring, outward deeds of righteousness that can be judged by all. Jesus said that you will know a tree by the fruit that it bears. So this first aspect of love can and sometimes cannot properly be judged by people. The second way that this love of God really and primarily reveals itself is manifestly outward. Therefore, its presence or absence can often be properly judged by others. This outward love, this good fruit is declared by Jesus to show itself constantly in two primary areas of life according to the will of God. First, it manifests itself regarding all marriages and, secondly, it manifests itself regarding all material possessions. Both of these areas are esteemed and honored ones in which the love of God in humanity highly functions and is realistically revealed as genuine.

Because the Scriptures emphasize the love of God in these three areas (as revealed inwardly and also through marriage and possessions) arranged differently from the way that I have listed them, we will follow the Word of God in order that His express will be declared and emphasized according to His purposes. All Christians, without exception, will possess these attributes of the love of Jesus. All those who make up the true and faithful assemblies of Jesus will walk in this love of His and will grow in it and will bear much fruit in it until their final day.

"He who has ears to hear, let him hear." Hear now in more detail the definition of Christianity, revealed in the indispensable fruit of the Spirit of Jesus concerning God’s love and marriage. - The commandments of God about divorce and remarriage.