We have all been born into a world already steeped in traditions. The Church is no exception. Forms and rituals, beliefs and interpretations have all been well established long ago. Consider if you will, what we are accepting as being ordained of God. If you are pressing into a personal, one on one relationship with Christ, you will discover that the traditions we have been given only allow you to grow to a certain point. Your Spiritual development must be kept under control, for you to be able to continue functioning in an acceptable capacity within the confines of the churches men have established. Church is a very broad term, and includes both those things that are of God, as well as those things that are corrupt and are an abomination to God. We must be walking in communion with God, to be able to recognize the difference. In the opening verse, Jesus made an interesting statement in prelude to the main point. Take heed therefore how ye hear: The concordance expounds these words as: Look, pay attention accordingly, to how you understand. For whoever possesses, to him shall more be bestowed or given, to him that lacks, even that which he thinks he possesses shall be taken away.
We need to bear in mind that what is in the heart and mind of God is what makes all the difference; what 'we think' is of little consequence. Just as in the days of old, many today are puffed up with their own importance. Many claim to have an inside track with God, and have built great ministries proclaiming they should be followed. They use the name of Jesus as it suits their need, but they are not walking with God. The people who are confused and hungry for the truth fall prey to these charlatans; just as they have down through the ages. We as a people, can become so locked into the concept of church as we know it, that we accept it as being ordained of God. We need to recognize that we are walking in traditions that men have established, not that which God commanded. Evidence of that are the thousands of denominations and divisions between all those who claim to be Christian. Because we have been born into the end of the church age, we see the depths of religion manifest all around us. Man trying to control man, using the name of Jesus as a tool, to justify their own ends. [I realize that this is a very sensitive subject, and many are easily offended. Ignorance will not be a legitimate defense however, when Jesus Christ comes to Judge His Church. The sole intent of this article is to cause us all to examine with an honest heart the condition we are in, while there is still time to do something about it].
1 John 4:17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. The day of judgment is at hand. It is because of God's love for His people, that He is warning them to wake up and discern the time. God is desirous of a people that love Him, not all the things about Him. God desires to raise up individuals that will walk in this world completely controlled by the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus walked this earth, with Christ being the head of His corporate body. Our love can only be perfected, as we become one with Christ. As we come to the full knowledge, (understanding, comprehension) of Christ within, we can have boldness. We will not be operating in our own strength; following our own or someone else's agenda. We will speak that which we hear the Spirit speak; we will do that which the Lord instructs us to do; and we will see results. Because as he is, so are we in this world.
We have been called to follow Christ, to become one with Him, to walk as he walked. The full manifestation of the Sons of God will soon to come to pass. Jesus Christ is coming back; first to judge His Church. Is it any wonder that the heart of God is grieved over the condition His Church is in? Ephesians 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. Eph.5:16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Religion does more to separate man from God than it does to bring man to God. By promoting methods and formulas, forms and rituals men create their own justification, light their own fires, yet fail to come to the knowledge of the Holy. Jesus came against the religious leaders of his day for their lack throughout his entire ministry.
Mark 7: 6-8 Well hath E-sai-as prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they teach for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandments of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
Mark 7:13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things ye do. Will we be so brazen as to claim that this does not apply to us today? Can we really convince ourselves that our programs are somehow different? That we have the truth and everyone else is in error? That we are just so special, we are exempt from all those things that the Lord commanded us? Many are doing just that. Many are puffed up in their own dogmas and doctrines, blind to the condition of their own situation. 2 Tim. 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (7) Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. A form of godliness will not stand up to judgment. We must have an intimate relationship; a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ; anything less will be destroyed at His coming.
Consider Jesus' parable of the great supper:
Luke 14:16-24 A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: and sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come: for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou commanded and yet there is room. And the lord said unto his servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste my supper.
When the Lord comes to many churches today, and calls those within to come to His supper, the responses could go as follows:
"I would love to sir, but I have already committed to attend a leadership seminar held by one of the country's leading teachers, so I couldn't possibly come."
"You understand that I would like to come, but we are having a mission outreach for third world countries, I have to be faithful to my own Church."
"My church is putting on a 'Pageant for the Lost' and I have to operate the sound system, maybe next time."
"Our choir is practicing for the Christmas cantata. I'm the music director, everyone will see it, we're expecting a record breaking crowd, so you see I really can't get away right now."
Our focus can be misdirected from the Lord of the work; to the work of the Lord. So much so, that we fail to recognize the LORD when he comes. Our efforts, our agendas, our visions for future growth, are all but wood, hay and stubble if they are not in line with what God is doing. Many are so caught up in the methods and activities man has devised, they are unaware that God is not in it. They are using His name, they are claiming His ordination, they have been doing it for so long that they have not even noticed that He is no longer present. When the Son comes to your church and calls, will you be able to hear Him, or will you be too busy? Do you still believe that modern man is not ensnared in traditions?
What is coming is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, first to the Church, and then to the world. He has already come as Savior, now He is coming as Judge. Now is the time to get our house in order. Now is the time to prepare our hearts for His appearing. May we all grasp the seriousness of the hour. The Kingdom of God is at hand.