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.

 
 
 

Going to Jesus

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5-28

The Trap

From a sermon by Preacher Clark in 1972 or 1973.

Reel 17, CD-51

Preacher Clark’s lifetime (1901 – 1989) spanned a remarkable time for God’s people in America. He participated in the early days of the Pentecostal revival, and then witnessed the drying up of the movement as God’s people tried to make God’s glory fit into the ceremonial forms of Christianity. In his youth, along with a number of other Pentecostal ministers, he was anointed with power to heal the sick and work miracles. Then, as he aged and his travels were curtailed, he decried the fall of God’s people into Christian sects, and the lack of power and faith in the new generation of saints. By the time he fell asleep in Jesus, there was little difference between Pentecostal and non-Pentecostal churches.

Pentecostals never knew what hit them. The following excerpt from my book, God Had a Son before Mary Did, explains the trap into which they fell:

People have a saying: “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Satan’s version of that old saying is this: “If you can’t beat ‘em, then invite ‘em to join you.” His thinking is, if you can’t stop God from sending servants to His people, then invite them to join an institution, which means they will leave true men of God behind because God’s men will not go that way. Astonishingly, this tactic has often succeeded, the tragic events at Baal-Peor being one of the chief Old Testament examples:

Numbers 25

2. And the Moabites invited the people [Israel] to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people feasted, and bowed down to [the Moabites’] gods.

3. And Israel joined himself unto Baal-Peor, and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel.

Satan had used Pharaoh to try to stamp out the fire of God, but Pharaoh’s persecution of the Israelites only helped encourage them to leave Egypt and draw close to God at Mount Sinai. Then, as they approached Canaan’s land, Satan won them over with friendship where brutality had failed, a crafty tactic described in another place as “destroying with peace” (Dan. 8:25). Satan has been far more successful in destroying faith and fellowship with friendship than with cruel persecution. This is why the apostle James warned the saints that “the friendship of the world is enmity against God” (Jas. 4:4). Israel was taken in by the friendship of Satan, forsook God’s law, and joined in a covenant with the Moabites’ god.

Later, when the prophets labored among the people of God, false prophets, usually on the payroll of the institution (represented by the king), slandered them and praised “father Abraham”, who had been in his grave a long time. Later, in the Gospels, men of the same spirit praised both Abraham and the prophets whom their forebears cursed, but they slandered Jesus. Within a generation or two, false teachers among God’s people were praising Abraham, the prophets, and Jesus, but were persecuting Paul. Within a few generations more, when Satan realized he had failed to thwart God’s work in Christ, he inspired men to praise Abraham, the prophets, Jesus, and his apostles, but to slander and persecute the humble souls whom Christ was sending at that time.

Institutional men always praise dead servants of God and persecute the living ones. The ministers whom Jesus described as “children of the devil” hated the light and killed him. Nevertheless, the Son succeeded in his mission to purchase the Spirit, and Satan could not undo that holy work. He quickly learned that to brutalize Spirit-filled saints had the same effect as it did with those under the first covenant. It was like trying to stamp out a fire in dry brush; it only spread the flames: “And on that day, a great persecution broke out against the Assembly in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria” (Acts 8:1).

Seeing this, Satan resorted again to the deadly weapon of friendship and began working among believers to form an institution, the Institution that would eventually develop into the religion called Christianity. Paul hated the early buds of institutionalized religion among the saints:

1Corinthians 1

10. I urge you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing and that there not be divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in the same mind and in the same judgment.

11. For it has been reported to me concerning you, my brothers, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are quarrels among you.

12. What I mean is that each of you says, “I am of Paul”; “I am of Apollos”; “I am of Cephas”; “I am of Christ.”

What is the difference in saying, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” and saying, “I am a Baptist”, or “I am a Catholic”, or “I am a Pentecostal”? If it was ungodly in Paul’s day for believers to separate themselves into various religious clubs, is it not ungodly now? And how much more ungodly must it be for modern believers to join various Christian clubs that have their own distinct doctrines and their own set of ceremonies and customs?

Paul lost the battle, and Satan won. Paul’s converts everywhere turned from him before he died and followed men who led them into faith in ceremonial forms. Early victims of this deception were Paul’s converts in Galatia and Corinth: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth? . . . Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now perfected by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:1, 3).

That is what happened to the Pentecostal movement in 20th century America, including what was called the “Charismatic movement” of the 1960s and 70s. It was started by Jesus in the power of the Spirit and was put to death by Satan with Christian, fleshly form.

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