not been at all unusual throughout the ministry of Brother Thomas for
religious people of every hue and stripe to attempt to "straighten him
out." Sometimes they feel he is in outright error -- in their assessment
-- and at other times that there is not a sufficient emphasis upon their
"pet doctrine" or practice. Often
following ministry Brother Thomas has had to endure the well-meaning zeal
of someone who would corner him to explain what he ought to say and do and
emphasize. Not a few letters over the years have arrived, often with
enclosed literature, sent not with a free spirit to bless and encourage,
but with a subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, spirit to correct, to
contend for their version of Christianity. There is such a diversity of opinion that prevails under the
umbrella of what passes for Christianity that it can only be characterized
as "Babylon." "Babylon" means confusion. Its meaning is rooted in the
confusion of language that God brought about at the Tower of Babel (Gen.
11) to thwart men's efforts to unite in rebellion against Him.
confusion we see today is the result of men's own, uncalled by
God, efforts to build and preserve their concepts of the Kingdom of
God. Men contend, not for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3),
but for that of the Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Holiness, Satan,
God the author of confusion (I Cor. 14:33)? What is it that causes
God the author of confusion (I Cor. 14:33)? What is it that causes men to
hold and contend for such obviously conflicting religious views?
We are shaped more by our environment
than we realize. If we are exposed to a particular belief long enough we
tend to believe it. To us it becomes "the law and the gospel." In addition
it becomes a yard stick by which we measure and evaluate others. Unless
God intervenes it never occurs to us to question whether our ideas are
really so or not. To us, we're right and others who differ are wrong.
Religious ideas not of God are
undoubtedly the worst prison in our world (Is. 42:22). Few
escape from this prison. It offers men the delusion that they are thereby
acceptable to God when in fact they are being bound into bundles and made
ready for the fire (Matt. 13:30).
Most religious men are
simply a product of their religious environment, conditioned to believe
and promote whatever ideas hold sway in that environment. Whatever measure
of tradition and error is there is taken in and forms the unconscious
foundation of their thinking.
We are constituted as
human beings in such a way that there are ideas so deeply rooted in us
that we are not even conscious that they are there. When we work out a
simple arithmetic problem we do not stop to question whether 1 + 1 = 2.
That is assumed. It is the foundation of mathematics. It is something we
"know" and no longer have to think about. What would happen if someone
tried to become a math teacher whose basic assumption was that 1 + 1 = 3?
All human thought and
reasoning works this way. Certain things are "known" to be true and just
accepted. At one time reasonable men "knew" that the earth was flat and
that if you went far enough you'd fall off! Today we laugh at such a
notion and take pride in all the things we "know" as a result of modern
In every religious
group, they similarly "know" many things that are transmitted from
generation to generation without serious question. Yet down the street is
another group that "knows" very differently.
Take a look around.
How do you know you are right? How do you know anything? Are you wise and
prudent -- a serious pursuer of religious knowledge? Jesus said that his
Father had "hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed
them unto babes." Matt. 11:25. Can you discover what God has hidden? Paul
said "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not
God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that
believe." I Cor. 1:21.
"But," you say, "I've
been taught by Rev. so-and-so. He's a real sincere, spiritual man who can
explain the Bible well. He's been to school and ..." (You fill in the
qualifications that impress you and cause you to receive someone as God's
How do you know? What
qualifies you to judge whether something or someone is of God or not? Your
intelligence? Your religious sincerity? Bible study? A religious teacher
you heard and were impressed by? Things you "know" to be true? Why are you
any more qualified than the fellow down the street who is just like you
and yet "knows" differently?
Are you afraid to
question? Do you prefer to plunge ahead, blindly contending for "your"
faith? Will your spiritual foundation stand?
This is no time for
uncertainty. Christ is coming and only those who are ready will go in with
him. Matt. 25:10. Multitudes will be shocked on that day to discover that
the religion, of which they had been so sure, had been in vain. Matt.
7:21-23. Where will you be on that day? How can you know?
Is there any reason to
believe we can know, or has God deliberately left us in a state of
uncertainty? Are we each to pursue his own conception of truth? Is one way
as good as another?
You cannot read the
book of Ephesians without being aware of the great desire of the Lord
toward His people, expressed through Paul, that "... we all come in the
unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect
man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we
henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with
every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness,
whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may
grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ." Eph.
Eph. 5:25-27 tells us
that "... Christ ... loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he
might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 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
traditions of men will never prepare the church for Christ's coming. Only
an ever-more-pure stream of revelation from Christ, the Head of the Church
can accomplish that.
Yet the condition of
the world in general is a desperate one. Isaiah 60:2 says, "For behold,
the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people ..."
Rom. 3:11 says, "There is none that
understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God."
God is not the
author of confusion. Make no mistake, however: there is an
author. Satan. The diversity
and confusion we observe in religion did not just happen.
In II Cor.
4:4, Paul says that "... the god of this world hath
blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the
glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto
The "god of this
world" is, of course, Satan. When Satan fell, he led one third of the
angels with him (Rev. 12:3-4). Jude 6 refers to them as being "reserved in
everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day."
This expresses their hopeless condition before God. Their "chains" in no
way prevent them from blinding, deceiving, corrupting, and leading lost
mankind down the road to destruction.
Especially in our day,
Satan and his hosts are loose as never before and men are defenseless
without truth. As the coming of the Lord draws near we can expect the hold
of darkness to grow greater and stronger upon the world as a whole. Rev.
12:12. Matt. 24:37-39. Gen. 6:5.
When Satan realized
the absolute victory that Christ won at the cross, his only recourse was
to do all in his power to oppose and hinder the outworking of that
victory. The only arena in which he is free to operate is this earth
realm. Those who have died in Christ are forever beyond his reach! Praise
Over the centuries,
outright persecution of believers has not been unusual. Fox's Book of
Martyrs chronicles some of Satan's efforts in this regard. Of course
it also chronicles God's great faithfulness to those who have been called
to glory by that route!
However, by far Satan's most
effective tactic has been to join and then to corrupt the
church. He has come to man masquerading as Christ,
presenting himself as a spiritual friend. Paul said, "... Satan
himself is transformed into an angel of light." II Cor. 11:14. The next
verse refers to "his ministers." Satan has ministers who undoubtedly
appear to be ministers of Christ.
II Cor. 11:4 speaks of
"another Jesus," "another spirit," and "another gospel." This is a pretty
good description of what is symbolically pictured in Rev. 12:15 as a flood
coming from the serpent's mouth.
Even as Christ is
purifying the Church by the "washing of water by the word," so is Satan
corrupting and deceiving mankind with a flood of doctrines and
philosophies that come from his mouth. Much of this flood is religious in
nature and is designed to subvert the influence of truth.
The reason Satan is so
successful is that his ideas appeal to the fallen nature of man. This is
pictured in Rev. 12:16 where it says that "... the earth opened her mouth,
and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth."
Satan's ideas are easily "drunk in" by the natural or "earth" man.
The truth of God
confronts the desperate condition of man without compromise. It offers
nothing but the absolute sentence of death to the old nature while it
gives newness of life and everlasting hope to the repentant sinner. Rom.
Satan, on the other
hand, accommodates human nature, allowing it to live and flourish. It is
the same as if a supposed doctor were to treat a terrible disease by
feeding and encouraging the disease while covering up some of the more
obvious symptoms. Jer. 6:13-14.
Mankind is "infected"
with sin, a self-willed, self-pleasing rebellion against divine authority.
This rebellion is especially manifest when that authority is expressed
What religion does is
to clean up the outward man and make him appear to be righteous while
leaving the inward man unchanged and, in time, unchangeable. Matt.
23:2-39. There comes a time when God ceases to deal with those who receive
not "the love of the truth." The result is not simply delusion but
strong delusion. II Thess. 2:10-12.
Strong delusion is
being absolutely sure you are right, but you are wrong.
Invasion of the Church
When Christianity came
on the scene, the Roman Empire was in power. Rome was also the spiritual
center of the religion that had its roots in Babylon. The religious life
of Rome was dominated by a hierarchy of priests who led the people in
pagan idolatry. Behind the priests ruled wicked religious spirits,
appointed to their tasks by Lucifer himself. These were the same spirits
that had once operated in ancient Babylon when that was a political power.
three centuries, Satan stirred up ten major periods of severe persecution
against Christians. Then, early in the 4th century, there was an
astonishing turnaround. One Caesar persecuted the church; the next,
Constantine, supposedly was converted and joined the church; then one of
Constantine's successors in a relatively short time actually made
Christianity the exclusive state religion of Rome and persecuted others!
What actually happened
was the wholesale invasion of the church by Lucifer and his hosts. The
religious demons from Babylon swarmed in, outwardly adopting Christianity.
They established under the banner of Christ many doctrines and practices
that can only be described as thinly disguised paganism while sucking out
the heart of the "Church." Multitudes of pagans were baptized, submitting,
not to the authority of Christ, but to the authority of Rome and its
Over the centuries
many daughters have been born to this mother (Rev. 17:5). Despite some
promising beginnings, none to date have escaped this Babylonian captivity.
Satan has a great host of wicked spirits with 2000
years of experience in promoting the wide variety of religion operating
under the banner of "Christianity" while causing men to sidestep the
Lordship of Christ and the new birth.
Demons are real beings with individual personalities
and abilities. Some spirits have become adept at being Baptist, Methodist,
Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Holiness, etc. -- that is, they promote those
forms of religion apart from the true power of Christ.
Some spirits seek out people who are impressed by
dignified formal religion with a lot of ritual and ceremony. Others seek
those who are intellectual and puffed up with their supposed knowledge
while despising the ignorance of others. Other spirits seek out those who
crave feelings and experiences.
There are many warnings in the scriptures of religious
deception, specially toward the end of the age. Matt. 24:3-5, Matt.
24:23-26, II Peter 2, II Thess. 2:9-12, II Tim. 3:1-8, I John 4:1, II John
7, Rev. 12:12.
I Tim. 4:1-2 says, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that
in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to
seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy;
having their conscience seared with a hot iron."
The foundation of spiritual knowledge is expressed in
Prov. 1:7. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools
despise wisdom and instruction."
nature, does not fear God (Rom. 3:18). He is proud, arrogant, rebellious,
self-reliant, presumptious and a long list of similar attributes. Some
brands of religion teach their followers a kind of fear of God but it is a
fear "taught by the precept of men" (Is. 29:13). This kind of "fear" only
produces religious professors who draw nigh to God with their lips but
whose hearts are far from Him.
The only fear that is of any value whatsoever is that
taught by God himself. Job reached a place where he said to God, "I have
heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.
Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Job 42:5-6.
Job was allowed by God to go through a place of deep
and heart-rending trial. The Lord waited while Job and his friends tried
in vain to use their religious knowledge to explain what had happened to
him. Then, at the proper time, the Lord intervened and Job acquired a
different kind of knowledge -- a knowledge that only comes when God steps
in and reveals Himself in some measure to a human heart.
This kind of revelation isn't necessarily a phenomenal
experience. Most often it is simply an inward awareness that there is a
God who is great and over all and that we are small, weak, ignorant and
needy before Him.
Such knowledge comes only from God Himself and creates
a fear -- a deep respect for this great Being that works to restrain our
sinful presumption. It is not salvation but it is the beginning of true
spiritual knowledge that starts God's elect on the road to salvation.
Whenever one of God's elect encounters Him in any
measure, there is a corresponding degree of awareness of what we as human
beings are in contrast. We are naturally prone to measuring ourselves by
other human beings. We are so corrupt that we are even secretly glad at
the weakness of others because it feeds the pride that causes us to feel
that we are better than they are.
But when we see ourselves in the light of God's
greatness, holiness, wisdom, power, etc., our perception changes
dramatically. Job said, "I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes." Job
42:6. Isaiah said, "... Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of
unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for
mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." Is. 6:5.
Paul is a classic example first of a religious man,
then later on of a man who came into possession of true spiritual
knowledge. He recounts his religious qualifications in Phil. 3:4-6. It is
an impressive list and shows the degree to which he excelled in the
religion of the Pharisees.
No one could deny that he was very zealous and
sincere. He himself wrote in Rom. 10:2 of those who had a zeal for God but
not according to knowledge.
Sincerity is good but it is no guarantee of spiritual
success. Suppose a man is traveling along a road that leads to New York.
But suppose also that his sincere belief and intention is to go to
Chicago. All the sincerity in the world will not alter his destination. If
his ignorance and error are not corrected he will most surely arrive in
New York if he continues his present course.
This is a picture of most religion. Had God not
sovereignly intervened, Paul (or Saul as he was then known) would most
certainly have continued on his Pharisaical course. He probably would have
perished when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. He would have perished
certain of his standing before God. But he was wrong!
Are you as zealous and sincere as Saul of Tarsus was?
If he could be as sincerely wrong as he was, how do you know you are
Dependence Upon God
One of the key truths revealed in the life of Paul is
that of the sovereignty of God. Nothing but a sovereign act of God could
have stopped Saul. One minute he was a self-righteous, self-confident
Pharisee, zealously seeking to stamp out what he thought was heresy
against God; the next he was reduced to blindness and utter need.
For three days he waited in darkness for someone sent
by the Christ he had formerly hated to come and tell him what to do! What
Closely coupled with this truth is the knowledge of
our utter and complete dependence upon God. How helpless we are if He does
not first make Himself known to us and work with our proud, hard hearts.
Prov. 16:5 says, "Every one that is proud in heart is
an abomination to the Lord..." God has seen to it that we all occupy the
place of blind, helpless, needy sinners totally dependent on His grace.
There is no room for boasting. Rom. 3:27. Eph. 2:8-9.
If anyone is "in Christ" it is because God has taken
the initiative. There is no room for "flesh" to glory in God's presence. I
In John 5:30, Jesus said, "I can of mine own self do
nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not
mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." How is it
that so many religious people today are so sure of themselves? What kind
of a spirit is it that produces such presumption?
The only reasonable place for us is one of humility
and submission before a great and holy God before whom we will one day
stand and give an account. "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto
the humble." James 4:6.
I Cor. 8:2 says, "And if any man think that he knoweth
any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know." There is no room
for being cocksure and complacent in God.
One key ingredient of true spiritual knowledge is the
keen awareness that we are helpless undeserving sinners. We have touched
on this but it needs further emphasis.
When any human being truly encounters God and is
allowed to "see" Him in any measure as He is, that person also sees
himself for what he is. Job abhored himself. Isaiah saw himself and all
his people as "unclean."
When Jesus revealed himself to Peter and his fellow
fishermen in a miraculous fish catch, Peter's response is described in
Luke 5:8: "When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying,
Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord."
As surely as we are utterly dependent upon God for
spiritual knowledge, so are we dependent upon God for our righteousness.
Any approach to God based on any righteousness we might think we possess
is wasted effort. God has no respect for any man who imagines that he is
acceptable and qualified to approach Him through anything he is, or
anything he has done, is doing or intends to do. Read Luke 18:9-14 about
the Pharisee and Publican who went to the temple to pray.
What Kind of Man?
God desires to reveal Himself and to enter into a
relationship with men, but He is looking for a certain kind of man. Is.
66:2 says, "... but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and
of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word." See also Is. 57:15.
Jesus said in Matt. 18:3, "And said, Verily I say unto
you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not
enter into the kingdom of heaven." Most men are far too proud to take the
place of a child before God. Yet, in reality, what are we before His
Read Solomon's prayer for wisdom (I Kings 3:6-9). In
particular he said in verse 7, "...I am but a little child: I know not how
to go out or come in." That is a good place to occupy.
False religious knowledge produces evil fruit in all
who are influenced by it in any measure -- even God's elect. That fruit
includes such things as pride, presumption, complacency, spirits of
division, zeal, ambition and other such things.
It's good if we can say from our hearts, "Lord, I
don't know anything as I ought to know it and I'm totally dependent upon
you. I desire to know what you want me to know, whatever will bring glory
to you and help to fulfill your sovereign will in my life."
The central key to all spiritual knowledge is set
forth in Matt. 16:13-20. Jesus first asked his disciples, "Whom do men say
that I the Son of man am?" They responded, "Some say that thou art John
the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets."
Then Jesus wanted to know what they thought. Peter's
answer is recorded in verse 16: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the
In verse 17 Jesus highlighted the difference between
Peter's understanding and that of men in general. Peter was a blessed man
because God Himself had revealed it to him. The alternative source of
"revelation" was flesh and blood -- the opinions and ideas of men.
This difference is critical because revelation is the
rock upon which Christ is building his church (vs. 18). It is the only
foundation that will stand. All else is shifting sand that can only lead
to spiritual ruin in the end (Lk. 6:46-49).
For any communication of knowledge to qualify as
revelation there must be a personal active present tense involvement by
Man in his natural state knows nothing about God nor
does he care. All he cares about is following his natural inclinations and
seeking to gratify his natural desires. Rom. 3:9-18. I John 2:15-17. All
that he is and knows and does is corrupted by sin and spiritual blindness.
II Cor. 4:3-4. He calls evil good and good evil. Is. 5:20.
No man ever comes into possession of spiritual
knowledge without divine revealtion, the direct personal intervention of
God. I Cor. 2:9-14.
This is the reason men respond differently to the
gospel. In John 6:44-45 Jesus said, "No man can come to me, except the
Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last
day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God.
Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father,
cometh unto me." The natural man hates this truth because he is a rebel,
but it is the truth nonetheless.
Jesus was certainly God's voice to his generation. The
only ones able to recognize him and receive his ministry were those
sovereignly prepared by God.
In Jesus' day the primary means God used to prepare
men for Christ was the ministry of John the Baptist. Luke 1:17. Luke
3:3-6. The effect of John's ministry on those who heard Jesus is noted in
Luke 7:29-30: "And all the people that heard him, and the publicans,
justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees
and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not
baptized of him."
In general, the work of God to prepare men's hearts is
as varied as are those who experience that work. Even among God's elect we
differ one from another as does God's purpose and plan for each
In broad terms, however, this work is one of
revelation -- God making Himself known in some measure perhaps through the
creation, or in some experience, or in someone who has Christ in them.
There may be exposure, perhaps as a child, to some anointed ministry of
the word that makes a lasting impression upon the heart, an awareness of
It is not the circumstances themselves that bring
about this awareness, however. Two people could travel life's road side by
side and experience similar things yet one be softened and prepared for
the gospel and the other untouched or even hardened.
Jacob and Esau were brothers -- they had the same
environment, the same father and mother -- yet see how differently they
turned out. Though Jacob was by nature a schemer, yet God brought him to a
place where he became Israel, a prince of God (Gen. 32:28).
Esau was a profane man, interested solely in what his
flesh needed and desired. He saw no real value in his birthright. He
totally missed the spiritual significance of being heir to Abraham and
Isaac. Even when he realized he had lost out and begged for his father's
blessing, I doubt he understood what he had lost. He saw only the natural
blessing of being heir to a wealthy man. Gen. 27:34. Heb. 12:16-17.
God has, down through the ages, similarly separated
men and women unto himself, revealing Himself by various means --
according to His own schedule -- that their hearts might be made ready to
receive the King, who died and rose again that we might live and reign
with him forever! Hallelujah!
Seeing the Kingdom
One thing needs to be made clear, however. Unless a
man is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3). Even one
prepared of God is still a natural man until he experiences the new birth.
I Cor. 2:14 says, "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the
Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know
them, because they are spiritually discerned."
He may be around a true ministry of the word. He may
be able, through his natural intellect, to grasp in a measure many of the
ideas and teachings that pertain to God's kingdom and its citizens. He may
even seem to be able to put them into words in such a way that you would
think he truly understood. Yet, unless he is born again, such a religious
profession -- in reality a religious effort -- is in vain. Like the house
built upon the sand it may appear to be very solid and impressive, but let
just the right conditions arise and it will be evident that the necessary
foundation is lacking. The house will fall and the ruin will be great
No religious "house" will succeed that is built upon
that which is merely human. No amount of intellect, will power, zeal,
resolve, self-righteousness or human effort of any kind will avail.
(Psa 94:17 KJV) Unless the LORD had been my
help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence.
(Ps(Gal 4:11 KJV) I am afraid of you, lest I
have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
a 127:1 KJV) Except the LORD build the house,
they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the
watchman waketh but in vain.
(Isa 65:23 KJV) They shall not labour in vain,
nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the
LORD, and their offspring with them.
(Isa 65:24 KJV) And it shall come to pass, that
before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will
Luke 13:24 makes it obvious that that is the case:
"Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will
seek to enter in, and shall not be able."
Multitudes are putting forth a religious effort of
some kind believing that they can thereby be acceptable to God. Paul spoke
in Rom. 10:2-3 of his fellow Jews: "For I bear them record that they have
a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of
God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness,
have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God."
If the fear of God is the beginning of spiritual
knowledge and a work of separation and preparation is a necessary part of
the foundation, then the new birth is the door. Only after we pass through
that door do we begin to see God's Kingdom as it truly is -- and even
then, seeing is a process.
This is why Jesus stressed the need of those who
professed belief to become disciples -- learners -- thereby coming into
possession of truth that would make them free. John 8:31-32. In reality
many of them were children of the devil (John 8:44).
John said this of Jesus in John 1:11-13: "He came unto
his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to
them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on
his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor
of the will of man, but of God."
This truth is greatly misunderstood in our day. The
modern concept of "receiving Christ" as praying a little prayer to Jesus
in the sky to invite Him into one's heart fits in well with the
easy-believism that has filled churches with lost men and women who know
nothing of the new birth. Make no mistake, however -- there is no new
birth unless Christ, by the Spirit, takes up both residence and possession
of our hearts.
The tragedy in our day is that most religious
conversion has nothing to do with Christ, but is an empty form devoid of
spiritual reality. It has a form of godliness but denies (or resists) the
power thereof. II Tim. 3:5.
I rightfully still do not endorse any Christians adds, anyone, any person,
any organization, any Church now trying to make any money from
the gospel, or begging, asking for money or even any of the
adds here. I also do not endorse any of Bibles, books,
tapes listed here for sale too. Jesus said as we have freely received so
we are freely to give. Hirelings in their greed and visible lack of faith
don't do that. I do believe we should have the faith for God to supply
what anyone needs freely to anyone who needs it.