Fire, Water and Blood:
Taking the Bride out of
Babylon the Great
Sabbath Say Sermon: Saturday 8 September 2001
"Therefore, since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his life for evil human desires but rather for the will of God" (1 Pet.14:1-2, NIV).
Brethren and sisters, little though most Christians realise it, judgement is at this very time coming to the House of God. And when judgement comes, it always suffers, for when it suffers it realises its true sinful condition and does away with sin, as the apostle Peter taught. This is true both for individual Christians and for the Body of Christ as a whole.
There are two Bodies of Christ. First, there is the spiritual Body of Christ which consists of all true believers, all those who through faith and suffering are "done with sin". The other Body is the visible Church - all those claiming the Name of Christ whether they are truly born again or not. Because this Body claims the Name of Christ - whether Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, or any other true or false group of claimants to the Name of Christ, Yahweh must judge them.
Peter said that "he who has suffered in body is done with sin" and this is as true for the individual as it is for that second Body of Christ. The only way that the Lord is going to separate the wheat from the tares is by making that Body suffer - those who do not want to suffer will repudiate the Master and go their own way to destruction. But those who are willing to suffer, know that it is for their own salvation, so that they will stop sinning.
I raise this subject today mostly because of all the suffering I have been noticing in the Remnant Church today. Yesterday a brother in America contacted me and poured out his soul to me - his sister had been murdered earlier that day. About two weeks ago a sister in Christ and were chatting and she poured out her soul to me, crying over the fact that her best friend had just been murdered by her boyfriend. All across the true Body of Christ, people all of a sudden have been suffering terribly. And in almost every case Satan has been at work on their families, hitting their soft underbellies by getting at their loved ones.
We've had a series of accidents here recently too. Broken necks, broken ribs, broken hips and most recently of all, I broke my toe. I didn't know I had broken it at first until the pain became excruciatingly bad and I went to see the doctor. The next 24 hours was hell. I wouldn't have minded if I hadn't been ill with other complaints at the same time, so I went to the Lord in protest to ask that age-old question, why? Much to my surprise, I got an answer to my prayer two nights ago but only after I had accepted that it was not accidental and that the Lord wanted to teach me something.
Actually, anyone who has listened to my sermons over the last year would easily be able to work out why I have a broken toe. The answer didn't take long coming. Yahweh reminded me of the sermon I had given about the Ten Commandments corresponding to the ten fingers of the hand and of the Two Commandments of Christ represented by our two wrists. You will remember that sermon I'm sure. But there is difference between the hands and the feet in function. With the hands we do and with the feet we go. With our hands we build. With our feel we move our bodies from one place to another. There is one set of Ten Commandments for building the Kingdom (our hands) and another set for moving our lives (our feet). And if our lives have come to a standstill in some way it usually has something to do with the feel on a symbolic level.
I broke the big toe on my left foot. That corresponds to the second commandment, because the right-hand side is always the primary side scripturally. And the second commandment says:
"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of their fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me; but showing the love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments" (Ex.29:4-6, NIV).
By permitting my big left toe Yahweh was telling Me in no uncertain terms that He was going to break idolatry in my life. Now idolatry, as you well know, does not simply consist of worshipping statues. Anything which we value as being higher or more important than the Most High constitutes idolatry, even if the thing or person we esteem highly is something lawful like a husband or a car. People find it hard to believe that idolatry is one of the commandments we most commonly break, even believers. And yet we do. Before you know it, you have got so absorbed in something that the importance of God in your life slips from first place to second, and then further down the ladder of priorities as your idolatry grows. The final result is He hits the bottom of the ladder and we aren't worshipping Him any more at all even though we make a nominal profession of belief.
I am absolutely sure that what is happening in the true Body of Christ today is idolatry-breaking. Because we claim and profess the Name of Christ, we have given Yahweh permission to refine us. And so He brings trouble across our path so that we may suffer and be done with sin once and for all. He wishes to bring us to the point where sin is no longer a pleasure and we must either choose Him or the path of sin and destruction.
Yah'shua (Jesus) never said that the Gospel would be comfortable. He never said it would be easy. Indeed, He never said that earth-life was going to be a party. This short earth-life, which sometimes seems as though it will last for ever, is not a vacation camp. It is a training ground. The trouble is, the vast majority of people don't treat it that way. And though the Lord may leave our lives alone for a while to give us the impression that it is a holiday, sooner or later He intervenes and brings us to our senses. He reminds us that life is not a picnic but an ordeal, that we are being watched by monitors called angels at all times, and that a careful record is being made of what we are doing. These records are then used at the end of life when we come under assessment. This assessment is called the Final Judgement.
But this training ground is not just for individuals but for groups of individuals. When it comes to believers, whole assemblies or churches are judged too. In addition to the final assessment at the end of life, there are lots of smaller assessments along the way. In some ways it's rather like the football league as teams vie for the highest divisions. There are, we are told, many degrees of glory in the next world and that once the salvation issue has been examined (the most important test of all), we are examined to see what kind of heavenly rewards we shall have. These, as we know, are determined by what sort of use we made with our lives in this world.
The Church or Assembly is Yahweh's collective witness of His redemption to the world. But it can't be of much use to Him if it is corrupted. So the Church is always the first to be shaken up. Christians start suffering. They experience accidents, deaths of loved ones, financial misfortune, marriage break-ups, loss of work, prolonged illnesses and the like. Yahweh permits Satan to do these thinks to waken them up for we are all naturally lazy even though we may not like to admit it.
So where will the Lord God of Israel start? Will He simply descend upon all denominations and start burning them? Will all Christians pass through the fire no matter what their position or stewardship?
"For non-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames" (1 Cor.3:11-15, NIV).
If you are a leader - a pastor, evangelist, elder, or whatever - are you ready to be put through the fire? Have you built your ministry on gold, silver and costly stones which are fire-resistant, or upon wood, hay and straw which will be burned up instantly? Do you even believe that "God is a consuming fire"? (Heb.12:29, NIV). There are many who are resistant to this idea, who believe that such statements pertain to the judgement and the next life. But they don't. They pertain as much to this as the next, and especially to leaders in the Christian community. Church leaders are always the first to be judged. Then come the ordinary members.
Before Yahweh raises up His end-time Church He is going to test the present Church to see if she will stand. Everything that is not purely from Yahweh will be consumed. If He does not do this, how can He prepare a spotless bride that is ready to go through the great persecutions - the Great Tribulation - that is to come? No believer is exempt from this testing so if you have been going through a really difficult time recently, understand that it is for your good, so that you will be able to endure that which is to come in terms of the judgement of the world. Yes, it will be painful. I'll not conceal that. You may experience both physical and spiritual privation. You may even feel that God has abandoned you and be tempted to question His very character or even His very existence. You will be tried like Job.
So if you have suddenly been hit by misfortune - a loss of work, home, wife, reputation, health or anything else - be aware that this is for your good, and for those you may be serving in the future. Over the last four years I have been amazed how true and faithful servants of the Lord have suddenly been struck down for no apparent reason. It has happened to me too. I am sure all of you will remember last winter and what we had to go through - I remember sitting in my home with a heavy cold in five layers of clothing, including a winter coat, because we had no money to heat our home. The last three years have been tough, and especially the last two years. But I am understanding so much more and getting a lot of rough spots in my character polished.
So do not be surprised if God's elect are suddenly struck by calamity and the rest of apostate Christendom goes on its merry way. The apostates, of course, will interpret the misfortunes of the Body as a vindication of their own false ways. What they do not realise is that they are next on the list and that if they do not repent they will not recover. For many of their ministries will be devastated. Others, in order to maintain their fame and power, will directly compromise with the Whore Church and abandon the true faith, admitting devilish doctrines. It's happened to world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham, one of God's true giants. But when put to the test he abandoned the faith and aligned himself with the counterfeit.
When the going gets tough you will appeal to something you may not have appealed to for a very long time - Yahweh's mercy. When the going is good - when the bank account is well stoked, the health is good, and the ministry is apparently prospering - who needs mercy? There are many who, thus blessed, turn away from the Lord and to self-sufficiency without realising it. Then the ministry falls apart. You've read about some big-shot American evangelists jailed for corruption or tumbled off their pedestals because of adultery, haven't you? They grew self-sufficient, and even started telling the Lord what to do for them! Money and power turned their heads.
So, yes, ministries will fall apart, many will be financially ruined. If it happens to you, remember this: "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty" (Ps.91:1, NIV). Though it may appear hard, if your world has tumbled down all around you, rest in Him and wait. Let Him do His work of purification within you without murmuring or resentment and understand why it is happening.
Here's the reason. "If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve Me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be My spokesman" (Jer.15:19, NIV). Is that clearly understood? If you are going to be a spokesman for the Lord, you have to repent of all sin and stop uttering nonsense. You must speak the truth only. The last great ingathering harvest will come because of the pristine quality and power of the end-time New Covenant Church. Do not be deceived. These judgements will be shocking and devastating: some will be private and some will be made public. "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows" (Gal.6:7, NIV).
The former pastors, evangelists and apostles are all going to go, even those who have heard the call from the Lord personally. The old order has to pass away so that the new order can come into being. There won't be dozens of private "ministries" or "denominations" when the fire has passed. There's only going to be One Church, one True Assembly. It won't be established by false angels as Mormonism was, or false men and women as the Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Scientists and others were. It will be established by Yahweh Himself. When those Yahweh has burned arise, they will know where to go and what to do. The end-time Church of God will establish itself everywhere. Twelve Apostles will appear, clothed in power, and a mighty host of anointed evangelists, pastors, elders and deacons. They won't be scattered in lots of different denominations but belong to one Body, visible and invisible. The Visible and the Invisible will join together as One as in New Testament times.
Every secret thing is being brought to light. If you hunt around cyberspace and in the bookstores you will find startling revelations on the true origins of Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventism, and astonishing disclosures even from within the evangelical movement. The charismatic movement is ripening into its true form - a devilish counterfeit of the truth - and the non-charismatic movement is showing its bare ribs.
"What?? How can you, a sabbatarian, speak ill of the Adventists??" you might ask. I don't speak ill of the Seventh-day Adventists, for there is much that is praiseworthy in them, but I do say that Ellen White's skeletons are out in the open. Did you know she was an admirer of Joseph Smith and believed in much of the Book of Mormon? That she and her early followers were rolling around on the floor in fits much as today's extreme charismatic movement is doing? That she was a vindictive dictator against all who would challenge her authority or scriptural interpretation like the Mormons' Brigham Young? And yet, it is true, she wrote some of the most sublime Christian literature ever.
We could, it is true, look at all the denominations and find fault, even our own. But that is not my point. My point is that everyone has to get cleaned out. Even our own New Covenant Church of God has been mercilessly burned for the last decade. All that God wants is that we should repent and be saved. He knows that Satan - the master deceiver and liar - knows that his time is short, and that he has to act quickly. And Yahweh has to forestall him by burning His own flock to prepare for the merciless assault that is coming on the faithful (Rom.13:11-14).
Those who believe they are instantly sanctified upon profession of faith will discover, to their horror, that they were unable to discern whether there was corruption festering in their hearts or not. They will be horrified. What do you imagine, for example, the deluded evangelical world will say when it discovers that the rapture doctrine is a giant satanic hoax concocted in the cauldrons of hell to lull people into a sense of false security and give them a mindframe which maintains that they don't need purifying at all!? What will all those "health and wealth" folk think when they discover they are getting ill and poor? What will they conclude? That they have lost their salvation? What will those poor deluded Mormons think when the overwhelming evidence that their early leaders taught the very things their present leaders deny, and have their noses rubbed into it like a dog's who has urinated in his own home? Think of all those disillusioned Jehovah's Witnesses who discovered that the Watchtower brethren had been false prophets more or lest consistently. What of the Baptist who suddenly wakes up to logic and sees that a former Baptist who becomes a mass-murdering Satanist has actually, lost his salvation, and the "once saved, always saved" dogma is thrown out of the window? What frightening revelations about Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy are about to surface? It's going to happen! And the visible Church is going to rock and fall. All of it!
Everywhere you look in the visible Church you will see idolatry in every form, obvious and subtle. Because the Church is self-deceived, it will be difficult for it to discern these hidden, secret idols of the heart. The worship of self, self-gratification and covetousness has attained to an astonishing profile, and will manifest itself in as many ways as there are people (2 Tim.3:1-5).
When the Mormons, those arch-protectors of family values and the ten commandments of God start permitting abortion for convenience and divorce because of perceived incompatibility, you know that something is wrong. Look around the churches and what do you see? Adultery, embezzlement, lust for power, a love of position and recognition, maligning of others ... and all in public. And these are just the outward manifestations of the depths of sin that the churches have fallen into.
The issue for the Church has become fundamental: Who is God and who has the final word? Is it the ministry? Church counsels? Church Boards? The democratic voice of the members? Politicians?
The cult of personality is everywhere. Ministers and evangelists are advertised like Hollywood heroes. The names of these people have been so well marketed that people don't judge their words any more but accept anything they say on the basis of their reputation alone. They're going to fall and then the people will wonder what they have believed in.
Christianity is under siege as in no previous time in history and whilst the sword remains a big threat in many parts of the world, without doubt its greatest enemy is our PAGAN CULTURE. You remember how those early New Testament churches struggled in Corinth, and Galatia, and other European and Asian places? The culture nearly drowned them. Indeed, by the time we get to the end of our Bible, how many genuine congregations are there left? Seven. And even they had major problems!
According to Revelation 18 the end-time Babylon and the whole system of culture that it represents which is based on money, materialism and hedonism, is the Church's greatest enemy. The Church is everywhere caught in its web. It imitates its ways to such an extent that it sometimes blends effortlessly into it! The newspapers are full of Church ads with photos of pastors in smart business suits and wearing their best smiles to attract Sunday customers like the ordinary commercials. They have to provide entertainment to attract the audiences who pay their salaries and help their maintenance bills. The result is that the thus Babylon-submerged churches have lost their spiritual power ... and their credibility. They have become mere market consumer products.
The Bible predicts a general economic collapse of the Babylonian system - the Western type of capitalism that dictates almost everything we do. You will be surprised just how much faith Christians have in this system. How many churches defend capitalism as though it were the partner of spirituality? Fortunately, more and more are beginning to see that it is an antichrist system through which the Antichrist will succeed in getting many believers to wear the mark of the beast. To not receive this mark, which will enable you top by and sell, means to be cut off from this system altogether. And that, the Scriptures teach us, is the only way that believers can survive not just physically but in eternity also. They sometimes forget that to receive that mark means a destination in the lake of fire. In the end you must choose to walk by faith like Elijah or die of starvation and possible exposure to the elements ... or miss your head on a guillotine (Rev.13:16-17).
So long as we love the materialist world capitalist system, so long as we are dependent on it in any way, we are prisoners of idolatry. The secret powers that be, know that the only way to control people is through food. So why not tackle the problem on the food-level? Try fasting and prayer? How about following Daniel's recipe of vegetables only for three weeks? Food is the foundation of all self-gratification of the appetites. I know for I have discovered it for myself. You see, when the Lord turned the heat on in my life to expose my idolatries, I did something I've never done before. I started eating more and putting on weight, something that has never happened before. I have always eaten simply and frugally. Then, when the weight started increasing, I started getting other problems like indigestion and heartburn. I compensated for the abandoning of one carnal lust by indulging in something I thought would never be a problem for me - eating! I used to be a fast sprinter - now I wobble along. The problem: "Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame" (Phil.3:19, NIV). Well, I'm no glutton, but I have slipped onto that path a little. So there remains only one remedy, as Peter said: ".. live ... for the will of God" 1 Pet.4:2, NIV).
In about a month's time, when the autumnal (fall) feasts are over, we shall be returning to this theme and looking at the way Yahweh is building the overcoming end-time church. In the meantime, may we closely search for any idolatries in our lives, ask the Lord to break them in whatever way he deems best, and pray for the anointing of the end-time church. What is coming will astonish everyone. Amen. q
This page was created on 18 October 2001
Last updated on 18 October 2001
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