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Sword Of Truth Church Of The First Century

Stepping On YOUR Toes, NOT GOD'S!
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Pastor Steve's Corner


Greetings in the glorious Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus! 

 

Greetings!



Do I Have to Attend A Certain Denomination To Be Counted As “Real” A Christian?



Wow, just wow.

You hear so many people saying that if you are not a member of their church then you’re not saved.

Wow, just wow.

I was told once that if I didn’t read this certain version of The Bible I was going to burn in Hell.

Where does this stuff come from?

It comes from pride.

It comes from the need to be right.

It comes from that need to prove everyone else is wrong.

Now before I get too far into this I must point out that I am not saying it’s okay to not worship God.

He is worthy of our worship. If we love God we will worship God, but how is the issue here.

I’m not saying that we don’t need to worship God, His Son Yeshua or The Holy Spirit. We do.

What I am going to touch on is the manner in which we worship.

Many denominations today have changed from worship to warship.

You do not have to look very hard at all to spot them, they are the “churches” who speak out on hot button political topics that stand in direct opposition The Word of God all the while condemning those who adhere to The Word of God.

If we watch the news we hear of entire Denominations denying God by accepting and promoting the worldly view. And if we leave a church that teaches that sin is okay we may find yourself in a church that if so judgmental and divisive that you see a few “on top” judging the many “on the bottom”.

These are the two types of “churches” that seem to make up the majority of those in America today.

And we wonder why nothing gets done, so many needs are not met and many have grown to believe that it’s the governments job to do that which The Church is called by God to do.

So many churches get fat and rich while so many go homeless and hungry.

Take a look around many churches and think about that question.

Do you know that the money that any Christian Church collects from its members is not theirs? It belongs to God. On a personal note, would God be pleased with how your church spends His money?

We are the hands and feet of Yeshua.

What are we doing?

Let’s see what Yeshua has to say about the divisions within The Church today, open your Bibles to Matthew chapter 12 starting in verse 33 from the NRSV:

“ ‘Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure. I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.’

So, now we can understand why so many are leaving church and some are even leaving The Faith. We have all witnessed backbiting, gossip and division in churches and we have all seen entire families leave because of a callus few. Why do we allow a few to destroy the faith of many?

Now, let’s focus on if a person has to attend a certain denomination or if one has to attend church at all.

What does Scripture say?

If we look in the Old Testament, we see God calling for Israel to gather at the Tent of Meeting and later the Temple during His festivals and to observe The Sabbath.

Gods rules, not mans, are found in Leviticus 23, From the NRSV:


The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: These are the appointed festivals of the Lord that you shall proclaim as holy convocations, my appointed festivals.


For six days shall work be done; but the seventh day is a Sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation; you shall do no work: it is a sabbath to the Lord throughout your settlements.


These are the appointed festivals of the Lord, the holy convocations, which you shall celebrate at the time appointed for them. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight, there shall be a passover-offering to the Lord, and on the fifteenth day of the same month is the festival of unleavened bread to the Lord; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not work at your occupations. For seven days you shall present the Lord’s offerings by fire; on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation: you shall not work at your occupations.


The Lord spoke to Moses: Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving you and you reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall raise the sheaf before the Lord, so that you may find acceptance; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall raise it. On the day when you raise the sheaf, you shall offer a lamb a year old, without blemish, as a burnt-offering to the Lord. And the grain-offering with it shall be two-tenths of an ephah of choice flour mixed with oil, an offering by fire of pleasing odor to the Lord; and the drink-offering with it shall be of wine, one-fourth of a hin. You shall eat no bread or parched grain or fresh ears until that very day, until you have brought the offering of your God: it is a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your settlements.


And from the day after the Sabbath, from the day on which you bring the sheaf of the elevation-offering, you shall count off seven weeks; they shall be complete. You shall count until the day after the seventh sabbath, fifty days; then you shall present an offering of new grain to the Lord. You shall bring from your settlements two loaves of bread as an elevation-offering, each made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of choice flour, baked with leaven, as first fruits to the Lord. You shall present with the bread seven lambs a year old without blemish, one young bull, and two rams; they shall be a burnt-offering to the Lord, along with their grain-offering and their drink-offerings, an offering by fire of pleasing odor to the Lord. You shall also offer one male goat for a sin-offering, and two male lambs a year old as a sacrifice of well-being. The priest shall raise them with the bread of the first fruits as an elevation-offering before the Lord, together with the two lambs; they shall be holy to the Lord for the priest. On that same day you shall make proclamation; you shall hold a holy convocation; you shall not work at your occupations. This is a statute for ever in all your settlements throughout your generations.


When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and for the alien: I am the Lord your God.

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the people of Israel, saying: In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of complete rest, a holy convocation commemorated with trumpet blasts. You shall not work at your occupations; and you shall present the Lord’s offering by fire.

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Now, the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you: you shall deny yourselves and present the Lord’s offering by fire; and you shall do no work during that entire day; for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the Lord your God. For anyone who does not practice self-denial during that entire day shall be cut off from the people. And anyone who does any work during that entire day, such a one I will destroy from the midst of the people. You shall do no work: it is a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your settlements. It shall be to you a Sabbath of complete rest, and you shall deny yourselves; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening you shall keep your Sabbath.

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the people of Israel, saying: On the fifteenth day of this seventh month, and lasting seven days, there shall be the festival of booths to the Lord. The first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall not work at your occupations. For seven days you shall present the Lord’s offerings by fire; on the eighth day you shall observe a holy convocation and present the Lord’s offerings by fire; it is a solemn assembly; you shall not work at your occupations.


These are the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you shall celebrate as times of holy convocation, for presenting to the Lord offerings by fire—burnt-offerings and grain-offerings, sacrifices and drink-offerings, each on its proper day— apart from the Sabbaths of the Lord, and apart from your gifts, and apart from all your votive offerings, and apart from all your freewill-offerings, which you give to the Lord.


Now, the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall keep the festival of the Lord, lasting seven days; a complete rest on the first day, and a complete rest on the eighth day. On the first day you shall take the fruit of majestic trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. You shall keep it as a festival to the Lord seven days in the year; you shall keep it in the seventh month as a statute for ever throughout your generations. You shall live in booths for seven days; all that are citizens in Israel shall live in booths, so that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.


Thus Moses declared to the people of Israel the appointed festivals of the Lord.”

Here we read of times we are called to go before God, but aren’t these of the old covenant?

Aren’t they “just a shadow”?

Well, if we turn our attention to the New Testament we find a thief and assorted fishermen, tax collectors, a Pharisee and our Lord Yeshua.

Matthew 5:17, from the NRSV reads:


“‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’


Question: What does that last sentence speak to us today? Do we permit and affirm that which God forbids so we can be “accepted”, seats full, offering plates full and the pastors “career” secure?

So, now we see where the question actually comes from. Folks come to worship and get chewed up.

But so far in Scripture we see no command to weekly worship service…

Mark records the reaction Yeshua had to the legalistic folks of the day in Chapter 2, let’s start in verse 16 and read to verse 28. From the NRSV:


And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax-collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples—for there were many who followed him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax-collectors, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax-collectors and sinners?’ When Jesus heard this, he said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’


Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, ‘Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?’ Jesus said to them, ‘The wedding-guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.



No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.’


One sabbath he was going through the cornfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, ‘Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?’ And he said to them, ‘Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.’ Then he said to them, ‘The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.’


Who is Lord over The Sabbath? And yet how few observe The Sabbath.

And yet observance of The Sabbath still does not demand “Church Attendance”. The weekly Sabbath requires that we do not work for profit, and this is explained further as we get deeper into Gods Word.

Paul teaches us in Romans 14 that all we do we do for The Lord:


Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God.

We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written,
‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall give praise to God.’

So then, each of us will be accountable to God.

Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling-block or hindrance in the way of another.

I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. So do not let your good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual edification.

Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat; it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble. The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they approve. But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”


We read about observing days, but what days are they speaking of? The days Paul are speaking of are nothing less than the Sabbath days, and there are actually more than just the weekly Sabbath. There are new moon Sabbaths and High Holy Sabbaths such as the Day of Atonement.

When Paul states that some view some days while others view all days as Holy to God. But, still no mention as to required church or denomination attendance. Those are rules man added.

Now, honestly, I believe fellowship with other believers is important. Very important.

I also believe that a church body can do more to help a hurting world. But I also have to admit that there are too many being missed and too many hurting. There needs to be more done to help the hurting, and not by the government.

I also believe that fellowship is not restricted to a single church or a certain denomination.

Fellowship can be at home with a family gathering to study Gods Holy Word, at work reaching out to a co-worker who is having troubles or is searching for truth.

Why can’t some accept the words of our Savior recorded in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

Two or three, not such a large number is it?

So, how big does a church need to be? Large enough to act, small enough to care. Personally.

Is church attendance required to be saved? The answer depends on how you view the title “Church”.

Yeshua says the Church is the body of believers, not a building.

Yeshua gave us the size requirement, “where two or three...”

There are Godly Church bodies out there, but the question was “do I have to attend...” and we have seen that Scripture guides us to the answer “no”. Although many find strength in the gathering for weekly service it is not a requirement for salvation.

Faith. Faith in Yeshua as The lamb of God, whose life, death and resurrection offers to cleans us from our sins depending on the condition of ones heart. By the term “condition” I mean does one accept Yeshua as their personal Savior and have they confessed their sin and repented of them? Have they surrendered all to Him? If the answers are “yes” then they are The Church.




In HIS service


pastor steve