Come with me to the first century A.D. to consider some of the relevant foundational teachings handed down by the leaders of that day, called apostles, ones sent into their world to call out a people for God. I suggest that the mission of that early church is our mission today. As Christians it is our job to permeate our society with the Life we have to offer. And it is our job to call out a people for God.
One of the apostles of Jesus, Matthew, has an important revelation in the seventh chapter of his book: (verse 15)
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.”
Jesus knew that his day was not the end of the prophets. Many more would come, mostly false. He tells us here how to judge what they say.
Matthew’s account of Jesus’ “seed and weed” story (13:24-30) lets us know that the church and something looking very much like it are to grow together, side by side. We should be challenged here to pray for discernment.
Another important word from the Holy Spirit through Matthew is the famous interaction between Jesus and Peter found in the sixteenth chapter.
A Greek scholar I am not. But I will not have trouble explaining the difference between two Greek words: petros means ” a stone”; petra, “a massive rock.”Both words are used in this verse. Jesus says to Peter, ” You are petros, and on this petra I will build my church.”
Yes, Greek words have various endings. I remember being tormented in Bible college, having to learn them. I have long forgotten them all, but my dust-covered text reminds me that petros and petra are NOT two forms of the same word. They are two different words!
So what was Jesus saying, following Peter’s declaration of Jesus’ Messiahship, Jesus’ Sonship, and Jesus’ divinity? Simply this:
“Peter, you are a little stone, and on the Rock from which you were hewn, those very facts that just came out of your mouth, I will build my church.”
Here is what Jesus did NOT say, either by the Greek text or in any plausible English rendering:
“You are Peter, and on YOU I will build my church.”
Granted, the Greek is close. But it is in these close matters that people can be deceived.Had Satan said to the world, “Worship Satan, the enemy of God and all that is called God, ” he might not have had many takers. His reliance is on deceit.
Peter well knew what Jesus was saying. No trace of “lording it over” God’s people in this man, and he forbids it in his followers. (see I Peter 5:3)
Bible students will remember Peter’s response to a worshiping Cornelius, suddenly the subject of visions and other strange events in his life. Peter says firmly to him:
“Stand up! I am also a man!” (Acts 10:26)
The so-called “successors of Peter” will allow Request personal prophetic word the worship to continue, yea, and to be greatly embellished, proving of course that they are not Peter‘s successors at all. (The truth of course is that no physical successors were ever promised!)
Continuing with Matthew, in chapter 23, Jesus requests that His followers call no man “father”, well knowing that the fourth commandment of Moses calls upon God’s people to honor our fathers. We recognize that Jesus here is speaking of spiritual fatherhood.
But in Babylon’s system, all priests are “father”, and the priest of all priests is called “Pope”, or “Papa”, or…Father. To conclude the blasphemy, the term “Holy” is usually appended. The phrase that Jesus used exclusively of His Father in Heaven is thus given to a man. (John 17:11)
Moving on to Luke, a close associate of the apostle Paul, we read in the early portions of his Gospel, and of Matthew’s, the simple account of a young Jewish girl named Mary. You will find traces of her story also in John 2, John 19, Acts 1, and Matthew 14. Here are the seven pictures thus portrayed of her:
1) at the birth of Jesus. She is impregnated by the Holy Ghost while yet a virgin. She is submissive to God, and thus an example for us all. She exalts, though, in her “Saviour”, which she needs as much as anyone, for “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” says Paul in Romans 3:23.
2) when Jesus is 12. A somewhat frustrated, definitely not all-knowing young mother, to whom Jesus submitted, though His Father’s business was top priority.
3) at the wedding of Cana. An untimely request which Jesus was gracious enough to honor shows again a nature in need of fine tuning, like our own. Here are spoken the words last recorded of Mary: “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
4) on the outside of the crowd. Wanting an audience with her Son, she is, for all time, put on an equality with all believers.
5) at Jesus’ death. She is told that John will care for her now, and she for him. No hidden message here.
6) at the resurrection. Definitely “upstaged” in the narrative of the Gospel writers by another Mary, the one who received His great forgiveness and loved Him so dearly, the Magdalene.
7) at Pentecost. One of many filled with the Holy Ghost.
One picture the Bible does not paint of Mary is a woman clothed with the sun and surrounded by a crown of stars. A careful reading of Revelation 12 reveals that this woman is none other than Israel, as seen by Joseph (Genesis 37:9).
My friends, this is the Bible’s picture of Mary! All else you may have heard comes from the traditions of man, as found especially in the heart of Babylonian worship!
We will talk more of this at later times in this story.
In chapter 8 of Luke,as we continue our trek through the New Testament, we see one of the saddest accounts ever recorded. Here Jesus is requested to leave an area because some exorcized demons have ruined the means of gain of a group of pig farmers. The striking thing to one who has seen Jesus represented as a power-monger through the centuries, is that He simply walks away! No attempt to force His will on the unwilling and unwanting.
This same spirit of meekness is recorded in chapter 9, where He must rebuke His zealous disciples, fresh from the mount of transfiguration and imbued with visions of power. They desire to use their new-found authority to crush opposition to Jesus. Jesus says to them, ” The Son of man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. ”
In “Babylon” it is not like this.
What Jesus taught, He lived. What He lived, He desires His followers to live. We see Him in John, chapter 13, literally taking upon Himself the form of a servant, washing the feet of His followers. Thus He sets the pattern for all future leaders in the church.