To Those with Ears to Hear
"Do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ."
We are seeing, in these latter days, the rise of "Internet Churches", and seeing such institutions rise in preference to that which tradition has long passed down to us from antiquity. But such churches, while possessing inevitable merit for preaching the gospel of Christ, nevertheless have an innate and crucial failing in their inability to adequately supply the personal elements of close Christian relationships, going, typically, only so far as the published words may immediately and fugaciously inspire, the listener otherwise remaining isolated in their daily life, left to struggle privately in their sins without accountability to such Christian brethren as God may use, like Nathan with David, in restoring the straying soul to Christ; furthermore lacking local ministries of work to keep hands and minds from the idleness Satan so cleverly manipulates to his degenerate purposes. These assemblies likewise comparatively fail, significantly so, with respect to unifying Christians in matrimony, and therefore fail to promote the natural growth of Christianity via the counsel, "be fruitful and multiply", as the Lord naturally seeks from us "godly offspring"(Malachi 2:15)—a conformity to Scripture portrayed by the subjugated Israelites which ultimately boasted of no small advantage over their pagan, Egyptian taskmasters.
That being said, at large, Christian "churches"—(what have mistakenly come to be considered but a public building, so designated)—have long been failing to regard God with the reverence due Him as a daily—(which may be better expressed as a week-long)—reality, Sovereign over all aspects of life, not merely to be regarded for the length of the sermon preached by the pastor, but to fill our conversations, whatever we discuss, directly afterwards and to be found seasoning our speech, whether obviously or otherwise, with whomever we find ourselves talking to, unmindful of place, let alone adorning our worldly actions and transactions with the fairness, humility, loving rebuke, and compassion of Christ's righteousness.
As a man having attended many churches—(far too many frankly)—and attaining unto a respectable distinction in all, being even sought for the office of elder, among others, despite my youth, and now finding surpassingly finer nourishment for my Christian development in such impersonal fellowship as is inherent of the internet ministries, I subsequently find myself at no loss to account for the rapid growth of such online assemblies, where seekers of truth can finally discover its fullness, unobstructed and undiscouraged, if only among numerous unassociated and disembodied teachers as the internet readily supplies. Alas, physical 'churches' teach more of man's tradition than of God's instruction, (congregants hearing more from a pastor than from the reading of God's Word), and indulge such carnal routines as the Lord sternly forbids indulging, caring more for banquets, performances, and general frivolity (Amos 5:21-22; Amos 5:23-24), as well as the care and decor of the building they themselves have consecrated, doing so in place of the temple, which tabernacle they personally are, consecrated by God Himself (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 6:19).
It would be nice to see a return to the way God established His church, making the faithful move back to undenominational localities, with elders being appointed in strict accordance with the qualifications laid out for them in Titus and Timothy, and there not being one overly-regarded pastor singled out for headship in the place of the true Head and Shepherd Who is Christ; with the churches being the people, and so meeting in one another's houses (Romans 16:5; Philemon 1:2; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15), the members being given to acts of hospitality, which begets healthy community and indirectly addresses all manner of social weaknesses, instead of having a separate building, requiring all the additional funds for its maintenance, with concern for the exemptions, rights and benefits which the pagan state may or may not award it or possibly revoke from it; with husbands teaching their wives and children, and disciplining the latter, commanding respect at home and among the fellowship, and so exercising the abilities which might make them into proper Christian teachers and leaders.
Congregants in these modern denominations remain weak, as concerns a knowledge of and dependency on Scripture, and the hardest thing to discuss with others in traditional 'church' is the Word of God, and His impact on one's regular life and thoughts, which conversation, if promoted among believers, would only prepare one for witnessing and sharing the Gospel to those lost persons which a believer invariably befriends or associates with in their life. My heart laments the long, slow, stubborn rejection of what God, Who alone is wise (1 Timothy 1:17), has given us. It would seem, sadly, that the internet churches are the last stronghold for the communal believers of Christ, which won't take much for the government to squelch with its ever-growing censorship; and then what will have become of Christ's great Church, which He in His great wisdom has given to believers due to the fact that, much like the secular adage of there being "strength in numbers", "it is not good that man should be alone"?
So to those who have ears to hear, I would exhort you—you godly men of Christ who are spoken highly of by those around you and in your life, who are knowledgeable of the Word, and love the Father, and who are able to judge whether or not you fulfill the leadership qualifications which the Word lays out for you to measure yourself against—I would exhort such Spirit-filled vessels, as have their homes in order, to take it upon yourselves personally and intimately to tell as many as have ears themselves to hear and obey, to fellowship with you in your homes on a regular basis, for the reading of the Word, (despising no one and turning no one away), and thereby “renewing men's minds” (Romans 12:2) and so recognizing the home-based fellowship which has come to be termed merely a 'Bible study' as no less an assembly than the God-ordained Church itself, committing yourselves fully in obedience to the Scriptures, and so exercising, in the private hospitality and freedom of your own homes, the fruits and gifts of the Spirit, which have long been neglected by the 'corporate church', which public institution is prone to wearing“a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5); the majority of their teachers biasedly teaching merely consolatory scriptures for their own financial security and profit (2 Corinthians 2:17, and enjoying their preeminence over their devoted congregations, as Diotrephes did (3 John 1:9) and many others of the like, whom God repeatedly warned us would do so, and which self-serving conduct is only reasonable among the carnally minded. Such men defy the words of Christ in Matthew 10:8, and sell the word of the Lord for profit at highly-esteemed pharasitical-like establishments such as seminary (1 timothy 6:5), and thus inadvertantly encourage men, who must borrow loans to pay such steep scholastic costs, to become slaves, as Proverbs 22:7 apprises us; these advocates behaving as though the Holy Spirit were something money could buy, such as the accursed Simon the sorceror did, whose nascent belief in God was of a twisted and worldly understanding and therefore completely perverse and defective (Acts 8:20-21).
Yes, yes, a worker is worthy of his wages (1 Timothy 5:18),—(mind you, generally speaking, economic wages are set in proportion to the citizen’s need: how much more should be the case with God!) We should learn from Paul who showed himself conscientious with regard to the use of his ministerial privileges by not seeking to burden the people of God and so hinder the Gospel (1 Corinthians 9:12), certainly never encouraging the people of God to practice borrowing—far from it! as he Scripturally discouraged such behavior (Romans 13:8)—, neither to waste money on building costs for the Lord (Acts 7:48-49), and to therefore rely, as men presently do, rather on a towering steeple and elaborate sign to bring in the spritual harvest that their own preaching mouths and godly lifestyles should properly draw in. He sought instead, as did other members of the early, house-meeting churches, to relieve material stress among the spiritual attendees (Acts 4:34-35), so that men could enjoy God and love one another in good works, and so be recognized by the world as belonging to God by the hospitable display of their love for one another (John 13:35).
And so I urge you—you godly men of Christ—to be as David, who kept the Scriptures in his heart, and so boldly defeated the unrighteous, heathen giant, who the greater part of Israel forgot had been delivered to them for destruction in the promises of the very Word of God, which they had evidently neglected to read and know and believe in. Do not wait for another man to do what you know God wants you to do, but "be wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove" (Matthew 10:16), as we are advised, and go forth in the conviction of “[letting] God be true and every man a liar", (Romans 3:4)—that is every man who opposes what God says in His Holy Word, regardless of their self-proclaimed 'expertise',—being yourself as noble minded as the Bereans (Acts 17:11), who measured even Jesus's apostle's words against what they themselves read in the Scriptures as opposed to blindly following the words given them from men. I am doing the same in my life, with meager success so far, but with success all the same. Pray for me, as I will pray for you. "We must decrease and He increase!" (John 3:30), for "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord" (2 Corinthians 10:17). Glory to God our Father and to the Lord Jesus Christ!