Many are getting an understanding of the meaning and the need to “come out of Babylon” (see Revelation 18:4-5). But there still seems to be a lot of confusion concerning “where do I go?”
“Come out of Babylon” in a “nut shell” means to forsake being just a nominal Christian. Quit playing the social religious game of being part of a Church where people still live with sin in their lives and hearts. The scripture describes the true Church as a completely faithful to Jesus, bride of Christ. A people who have been delivered from sin and live holy. Babylon describes an unfaithful church. A church that claims to be married to Jesus, but yet still takes pleasure in sin and the temptations that Satan offers.
So you say you have “come out of Babylon.” That is good, but now what? Perhaps you believe you have come to Jesus. That is certainly where we need to come to. But there are people still in Babylon that believe they have personally come to Jesus, but they can stay in a divided and lukewarm fellowship. So why should it matter where they congregate?
What would you tell them? And now that they have already come to Jesus, where else do they need to go? If they are going to “come out” you need to have a clear message as to where to go. Do you have one? Have you come to “that place?” Really, is it fair to ask someone to “come out” if you don’t have a clear message of where they should go!
In general in life, I find many who are able to clearly point out problems. But it is rare to find people who really know the solution to the problem. To often this is also true of those who are crying “come out of Babylon.” We can identify the problem, but we don’t have a clear solution. Why? Because we need a true revelation of Jesus Christ. Frankly, we need to see Jesus as John did in the first chapter of Revelation:
“And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead…” ~ Revelation 1:17
John’s will and ideas were “dead” before Jesus Christ. It was after this that John was able to receive the Revelation message, including “come out of Babylon.” Subsequent to that he also heard:
“…for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” ~ Revelation 19:7-8
John saw the true church and the solution as Jesus being the “King of kings and Lord of lords!” (see Revelation 19:11-16)
You might say “I see Jesus that way. I see him as the solution!” Really? Are we sure?
“…no man can say Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” ~ 1 Corinthians 12:3
You might say “I have the Holy Ghost.” Well if that was so, Jesus would be lord over everything in our life – right? Meaning, the most important things to Jesus would be fulfilled in our life – right? Just before Jesus was to die on the cross, he had a very earnest prayer in which he expressed the most important things on his heart as a request to his heavenly Father.
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” ~ John 17:20-23
OK, all of us that have “come out of Babylon” are we part of the solution, or are we part of the most confusing problem: the part that has “come out” but cannot “come together as one” so that the world might believe?
But of course with all our individual strong opinions about what we think the doctrine should be, and what the church should be: we are all being led of the Holy Ghost, right? Hmmm… I wonder?
Does Jesus get to have his way, or will it be our way? That fundamentally is the question for everyone of us today that say “I have come out of Babylon.”
“But how do we come together?” you might ask. A lot of strong opinions about this; and here in lies the problem. Most of these opinions in a “nut shell” are about creating an identity that separates us from the rest of the world, and from the corrupt, so-called “Christianity” of our day. (A very noble cause, by the way.) The methods of creating this identity have been many. Here are just a few that certain individuals and groups have used (there are many, many more):
- A hierarchy of trusted leadership and gifts. – Does God ordain leadership and gifts in the each local congregation? Of course he does. The scriptures clearly show this. But is that the “identity” of the church? (Now I realize some are fearful of leadership because of bad leadership and man appointed leadership. This is understandable. But it does not change the fact that God himself will appoint individuals as a servant to minister to the needs of souls. There is still a leadership that is ordained of God, but it should not become the “identity” that makes them “the church”.)
- A common practice of behavior and dress standards. – Do the scriptures teach the need for a local congregational administration to address the weaknesses and needs of the people through guidance on good behavior and how to maintain modesty. Of course it does. But by addressing this need do we create the “identity” of the whole church?
- Common opinions on particular teachings of the Bible. – The scriptures clearly teach that we should all endeavor to get the mind of the Lord to come to a common understanding. But does this common understanding actually create the “identity” of the whole church? “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till 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 fullness of Christ” ~ Ephesians 4:11-13 It sounds like they still had some needs for understanding to be worked on yet. I think we still do too.
- Being “anti-big” and “anti-organizational” – The irony: the gospel teaches us to labor to save the world. Now if you are really successful, you become big (like many of the congregations in the first century did.) And if you become big, you have to do some organizing to deal with the “logistics” and needs of being big. So does being small and fragmented create the “identity” of the whole church?
So what creates the “identity” of the whole church?
“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” ~ 2 Timothy 2:19
Only the Lord can identify the church! And the forsaking of all our sins and setting our purpose of life to live holy and obedient to Jesus Christ, has a lot to do with defining who we really are. We may not have clear understanding on many things yet, but God can lead us if we have a heart of sacrificial love like our Lord did. And if we have this heart, Jesus will lead us to his purpose and will of: “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” ~ John 17:21
Let us not claim to have “come out” and at the same time deny Jesus Christ the desire of his heart!
On the day of Pentecost when the church was sent the power of the Holy Ghost from above, did the Apostles and disciples then understand all doctrine? No! In fact, it took them many years yet to fully formulate all the teachings we now have in the New Testament. But many souls were saved, and they grew rapidly, and they came together as one and worshiped together prior to that.
Their oneness was so pleasing to God that he blessed them greatly! But their oneness was actually born of sacrificial love, not of great conceptual understanding and organization. All things are reconciled at the altar of sacrifice! First Jesus was sacrificed for their sins so they could be forgiven and reconciled to God. Then it was their turn to place their sacrifice together on the one altar of sacrifice; and that is what they did on the day of Pentecost:
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.” ~ Acts 2:1-3
Notice: the power of the Holy Ghost was sent when “they were all with one accord in one place.” They were pleasing God as they interceded in prayer together in agreement for the same purpose and in one place. They were blessed because they obeyed Jesus to come together as one – they were fulfilling Jesus’ original prayer request spoken of in John 17:21. They had identified themselves with Jesus and his sacrificial love. This truly was the identity of the church at that time!
“And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.” ~ Acts 4:31-33
They were not promoting a communistic society. Rather they were meeting a need among them at that time because many were suffering, having been put out by their families because of their devotion to Christ. They had true sacrificial love toward one another! They “were of one heart and of one soul” but it did not say they were of a single, clear understanding. For there has always been a need for clearer understanding among the people of God! The problem is that there has not always been long suffering with this need.
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” ~ John 13:34-35
But I know that all you who are reading this “get the concept.” You are all academically capable. But many of us are not a sacrifice, nor “get” sacrificial love. Otherwise, we would already have come together as they did. Sacrificial love does not come by study or an organized meeting, etc. It comes by becoming the sacrifice.
What drove the Apostles and disciples to become the sacrifice? All their ideas about how the Kingdom of God would come and be organized had to perish; and they largely did when Jesus died on the cross. In addition, they needed to become very vulnerable, to be moved to come together and stay together. And they were very vulnerable because they had been identified with Jesus, the one who was now the outcast of society, having been humiliated by the death of the cross. And the soldiers who guarded the tomb of Jesus, lied and said the Apostles had stolen the body of Jesus. Consequently, they had become the “bulls-eye” target of the then society they lived in.
It will again take the cross to get us to gather again as one sacrifice. There are just too many strong opinions in the way, and there are still too many that do not feel vulnerable enough to be moved to do anything significantly different. The world is on a full speed head-on collision course with the true gospel of Jesus Christ. The cross will become much more real to us in the days to come. I believe it is all happening in the will of God, with the purpose to get us where we need to be: gathered together at the same altar of sacrifice.
In the mean time: are you one who can be moved now by the Holy Spirit to agree in prayer, as one sacrifice at the altar? Let us be sure we have done our part, and not be waiting on another!
“Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” ~ Matthew 5:23-24