Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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“What I say to you in the dark, speak in the light, and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops! Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body but can’t kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.”
Jesus, in Matthew 10:27—28
There are several reasons why I refuse to be part of a religious organization, but one of the most important has to do with what I have seen and heard from men who minister within the confines of religious sects.
In years past, I have spoken with ministers who confided to me some truth they had learned from God, but who would not dare to reveal to their congregations what Jesus had taught them. These were not wicked men. Some of them were good men whom I loved and respected for their moral integrity and their love for God and people. But they were in an incredibly difficult position. They had been hired by a religious organization to teach that sect’s brand of the gospel, and they knew that if they revealed to their congregation what Jesus had taught them, they would certainly be fired as pastor.
One such brother, a Pentecostal Holiness minister whom I still love, called me one evening to discuss what Jesus had shown him about communion. I could tell that he wanted to teach the truth to his congregation but that he feared to do so. So, he had come up with a clever plan. He would teach the truth about communion along with several other ideas about it, ideas that were taught by various sects around the world. That way, the congregation wouldn’t be able to say he was actually teaching it as the gospel, or that he really believed it himself. If the truth was taught as only one of several possible interpretations, he figured, people would see him as only doing his duty to educate his flock in what some people thought about the subject.
There are others here with the same testimony I have. One minister, for example, told Sister Lou that if he confessed before his congregation that he had received the holy Ghost baptism and spoke with tongues, they “would run me out of town.”
There have been others, men from the Church of God, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, and other sects, who received things from God and talked to me about it, but who could not muster the courage to confess the truth they knew to their flocks. And again, I am not speaking of evil men; I am talking about men with the light of life within them, though it was concealed, as it were, under a bushel. They had all been hired to teach only those things that fit within the doctrinal limits of their respective sects.
It was an awfully hard trial! They knew that their family’s financial security would be put at risk if they dared to tell the congregation what they had received from God, and it was heart-breaking to watch them bear that burden. In time, judging by what I saw in the lives of such dear brothers, I came to hate the whole idea of “religious organization”. Where is any such thing found in the Bible anyway?
I am free to tell my flock that I have been wrong and that they have been wrong because they have not hired me to do anything. They have no influence over what I preach or when. They, like me, are after the truth, no matter where it leads us. Doing the will of God is of first importance to all of us. And they are confident that if God shows me a better way, I will not hide it from them. They know that I am free to embrace it and that I will tell them about it, in case they want to come with me.
In truth, these precious souls are here with me because Jesus sent them here to help me, just as I am here to help them. I have never gone out looking for “members”. Jesus sends me the help I need. These sheep of God’s flock have simply heard the truth from me, and the truth has made them free. Moreover, God put it in their hearts to forward the work He gave me by joining with me in it, and by bringing in their tithes and offerings so that the good things we publish for God’s people everywhere may continue to be published, and so that I, their servant, can “live of the gospel”, as God has ordained (1Cor. 9:14). Tens of millions of gospel tracts, books, and audio/video productions have been produced and sent out by the people associated with this work over the decades. And as far as I can tell, they all “do it heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto man”, and would not stop living and giving as they do even if told to stop. They know the will of God, and doing His will is first in their lives. Following Jesus’ perfect example, we have never “taken up a collection”. Nor has anyone here ever heard me ask for money. If the congregation does the will of God, the shepherd does not have to beg for wool. Happy, well-fed sheep produce that without being told to.
This is the way it ought to be for God’s servants everywhere. The servant of God must be free from all forms of pressure to hide from God’s children what he hears from God. Every minister of Christ everywhere ought to renounce the system of pleasing a religious organization and be a true servant of God for His people — boldly and in love speaking the truth they hear from Jesus. They would be amazed at the results. Feeding the sheep in God’s pasture is the way to bless the sheep so that the sheep can feed the shepherd.
To hide children’s bread from them, for fear of their reaction to it, or for any other reason, cannot possibly be the way Christ wants us to live. It is the word of God that will unite us who believe. But how can that happen so long as His servants are afraid to tell His people what they have heard?