Jesus Christ informed His listeners that in order to be true disciples they would have to continue in His word.
That's mighty thought-provoking, especially if we consider that standing on elevated platforms across America are numerous well-paid "reverends" and "doctors" who won't even read, much less preach, all of Jesus' words.
Jesus also declared that His sheep hear His voice; they know His voice, and they follow Him. Yet disturbingly, the subject of Jesus's voice is given very little time and consideration. Why?
A pastor recently fumbled, "We don't hear God's voice today because we have His written word." But many so-called "shepherds" won't teach all of God's Word because they don't want to offend anyone, including themselves.
There is a lot I don't understand, but I am able to read what the written word says about sin, repentance, and our Lord's voice:
To the blind church of the Laodiceans, our risen Savior says, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me" (Revelation 4:19-20).
Sobering passage, huh? And did you notice where Jesus is standing as He preaches to this particular church? He's on the outside.
Furthermore, it's not a fancy building per se that Christ desires to enter, but rather the heart of anyone who will let Him in.
Some of us, perhaps, must learn what Christ's Gospel is not before we can experience what it truly is.
As for myself, I am learning that God's gospel is not a dead religious routine wherein excessive salaries and pompous buildings are funded by the "tithes and offerings" of poor souls searching for God.
I am also learning that where the Holy Spirit is not being grieved or quenched, there is no need to place yet another person on the church payroll as so-called "worship leader." The Holy Spirit is our worship leader.
Christ's Gospel is not a vain repetition; it is not a form of godliness without power, but neither is it a show of signs and wonders minus His word.
True Christianity does not idolize buildings, objects or sinful human beings. Hence, Christ's true church cannot possibly resemble the "den of thieves" and "house of merchandise" that Jesus said the temple in Jerusalem had become.
The Apostle Paul warned that in the last days there would be plenty of teachers who would refuse to teach sound doctrine (solid biblical truth). Jude also warned of those who would slip into leadership positions and turn God's grace into a license to sin.
Today, we Americans see evidence of this everywhere, not only in churches, but also in our government and public school system.
The 34th chapter of Ezekiel addresses this matter of "shepherds" (leaders, both spiritual and governmental) that have been feeding themselves at the expense of God's sheep.
Verse 10 reads, "Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves anymore, for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them."
Verse 12 reads, "...so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day."
A drastic change is likely coming. Yet what looks like a terrible collapse of all we are accustomed to, may in fact be the very means by which Christ's bride is made ready for His return.
Contrary to what some "rapture" theorists may believe, it could be that Christ will take the world out of His church before He takes His church out of this world.
God, help us, especially me.