Years ago, when Bill Clinton occupied the White House, people questioned him about his strategy.
If you remember, Clinton, along with his wife, was guilty of innumerable crimes and ethics violations. He literally had nothing positive going for him.
One time, when asked about his strategy, he responded, “It’s the economy, Stupid!”
What he was saying is that, as long as the economy was good…
— I have to stop and rephrase that, because under Clinton, the economy was utterly catastrophic —
…What Clinton was saying is that if people thought that the economy was good, he could behave however he wanted with no repercussions on his political career.
As part of his plan, he redefined inflation and instantly eliminated it, along with inflation-related news headlines.
Although Bill Clinton literally and intentionally called people stupid, I’m not doing that. I’m using a parallel to his words to help you understand a point that’s even more obvious than his point was.
Religion works the same way. People want to build mega churches. They want to expand their influence. So, like Bill Clinton, they redefine God’s Word and His message. They eliminate the “negatives” that prevent the multitudes from flocking to the church.
As believers, we’re trying to get people to God by introducing them to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
When people don’t come to Christ, some people blame our methods. They say that we are the one’s that prevent people from getting saved.
Here’s how God explains the situation:
Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence:Romans 9:33
The Gospel offends people. That’s why the masses don’t come to Christ.
Modern “ministers” say that we have “too many rules.”
I’m here to reprove that thought pattern. The problem is not that:
- We have too many rules.
- We don’t have enough rules.
- We focus too much on Hell.
- We focus too much on Heaven.
- We talk too much about holiness.
- We talk too little about God’s love.
None of those (or similar) issues are the problem. Don’t fall for the lies of denominational religion:
This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.James 3:15
If you want to reach the world for Christ effectively, we need to identify the true problem.
I’m telling you that it’s…
Jesus’ ministry was opposed to organized religion. He, for good reasons, had a serious beef with religious leaders.
People thought the priests and the Pharisees were there to lead them to God. They trusted them, but the religious leaders betrayed and exploited that trust.
The religious leaders were there to make merchandise of the people and to damn their souls to Hell.
Here’s how Jesus spoke to the religious leaders of His day:
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.John 8:44.
Guess what? Modern religious leaders still serve their father, The Devil. That’s why God bypasses them and warns us against them.
Ignore the gatekeepers.
In scripture, Jesus offends the denominations by bypassing their gatekeepers. Jesus presents a direct way to God that made irrelevant the entire religious industry of His day.
Still, Jesus never disregards basic principles. For example, He never invites the Gentiles into the holy places of the temple. Instead, he offers “a more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31) that makes born again believers part of a local assembly.
You might hear a denominational pastor preach that the exclusion of the common people by the religious insiders was the problem: That’s wrong. You see, religious insiders have nothing that people need.
In other words, denominational…
Exclusion is not the problem.
When you hear sermons calling for blanket…
What you’re hearing is…
Error with a grain of truth.
Have you ever heard a “pastor” blame the priests for not allowing everyone on in the outer court to come inside to the holy places?
Such flawed teaching extends to their view of “the church.”
The true Christian Assembly isn’t for everyone. It’s for believers.
Some “preachers” might say that, rather than leaving people on the outside, we should bring them all in.
Such appalling doctrine seems to fit well in denominational churches. No wonder so few people understand God and His Word!
According to progressive “ministers,” the takeaway from the message is as follows:
God’s people become so obsessed with rules and standards that they focus their lives and their rules to the exclusion of the people on the “outside” who need God’s love.
To an extent, that sounds nice. BUT, that’s not the message Jesus wants us to receive.
The real message is that Jesus is 100% against the religious establishment.
I want to describe what I believe are some….
First, some religious “intellectuals” have determined that true Christian assemblies have become inwardly focused and exclusionary to where they care nothing about the people left on the “outside.”
That message has some validity. Some assemblies have become social clubs and cliques, filled with believers (aka, “Christians”) who have no vision for the lost.
I’m asking you, “Do you think that’s the message from Jesus’ behavior in the Temple?”
No, it isn’t.
Jesus’ message was that Satan controls organized religion. To get to God, therefore, you must escape denominational traps.
I’m asking you
Have God’s people become exclusionary?
In Jesus’ day, the Jews restrict the Gentiles to the outer court because of their rules. Many of those rules come from Old Testament scripture.
I’m asking you, does obeying scripture make a person judgmental?
I don’t think so. I advise you to proceed with caution whenever you hear someone condemn another as being “judgmental.”
In many contexts, “judgemental” is a derogatory code word for “bible-believing.”
According to some, the religious leaders were good people, serving God. They intended to bring people to God, but enforcing their rules meant more to them than exhibiting God’s love.
That’s not true. The religion that Jesus and the Apostles condemn is organized, manmade religion. The leaders thereof have no interest in bringing people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
That’s why they have…
No standards for entry.
In response to this foundation, you’ll hear a “pastor” preach a message that says that we should welcome, with no validation, prerequisites, or criteria, everyone into God’s house.
Presumably, those brought into God’s House include sodomites, pedophiles, gender-rejecting perverts, and other reprobates.
Rejecting standards doesn’t bring people to God.
Today, God wants you to…
Understand the Motive behind the message.
The chief priests and Pharisees whom Jesus chided didn’t care about the needs of the lost. Those religious figures were concerned about strengthening their authority and power. They wanted to enrich themselves while controlling the “common people.”
But, God loves everyone. Right?
Jesus doesn’t expose the problem with God’s people as their restriction of access to the Lost.
Instead, Jesus exposes the problem of devlish people leveraging religious practices to damn souls to Hell.
Jesus’ message for the religious leaders of His day remains the same for organized religion of our day:
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.Matthew 23:13
We have, in our society, “religious” leaders who do not know God. Their mission is to keep people away from God.
I want to remind you of the urgency of…
Exposing the Truth.
People all across the country hear false doctrine every week. Sometimes, they hear it every day.
You and I must do all we can to…
Here’s our mission as articulated by Apostle Paul:
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.2 Timothy 4:2
I believe in love. God loves the world. I believe in reaching out to the lost. I believe that the Gospel is for “whosoever will.”
God’s love includes everyone. God’s salvation, however, does not.
Everyone whom God loves does not go to Heaven: Most of them go to Hell.
Getting back to the “church,” you need to understand that…
The Body of Christ is God’s chosen people. It’s a body of believers.
You also need to know that…
The religious establishment are not…
Not good people.
Not in Jesus’ day. Not in our day.
The message of Jesus’ ministry in the Temple is that we must, in God’s name, decry Satan’s denominational religious structure.
Sure, complacent “Christians” are a problem: We should preach about that, but not in this context. Definitely, rules-based religion and judgmentalism is bad. We should condemn those practices and preach about them. BUT, those things aren’t God’s message from Jesus’ Temple experience.
In the light of Jesus’ ministry in the temple, we decry Satan’s religious establishment, not complacent believers.
We must rightly divide the Word of Truth.
The Bible tells us to…
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.2 Timothy 2:15
To rightly divide God’s Word regarding Jesus’ message to religious leaders, I must tell you that…
It’s organized religion, stupid!
Denominations are the force that keeps people away from Jesus.
As in Jesus’ Day, a manmade religious hierarchical structure now exists, in our day, for the sole purpose of enriching and empowering men and women in privileged positions while keeping common people away from Jesus.
I’m telling you that the problem with…
…in Jesus’ Day is the same problem we have with Religious Insiders of our day: The Religious Insiders were working for Satan, not for God.
Let’s talk about the point about…
The religious establishment wasn’t trying to keep children away from Jesus because the “establishment” wanted to maintain an exclusive grasp on salvation. No!
The religious establishment didn’t want anyone , including the children, to believe in Jesus.
Jesus wants everyone, including children to come to Him:
Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 19:14.
Jesus isn’t calling pseudo intellectuals who have Master’s degrees from seminary. That’s why the Pharisees hated Jesus’ message.
There is no respect of persons with God.Romans 2:11
Everyone who believes threatens the world’s religious system.
Do you see the difference?
We’re not dealing with people who got so wrapped up in their religious service that they didn’t want anyone to join their club.
The religious leaders hated Jesus because they hated God. The religious establishment existed to keep people away from God because organized religion hates God.
The religious leaders enriched themselves at the cost of people who sought after God.
The leaders built a social and political power structure that benefited themselves: They had no interest in bringing people to God because they were not of God.
Let’s set the record straight:
- Jesus didn’t need to cleanse the temple (Mark 11:15–17) because “good leaders went bad.” The religious leaders were bad. They served Satan while pretending to serve God.
- NOT QUITE RIGHT: The religious people on the inside are keeping non-religious people on the outside.
- RIGHT: The reprobate leaders of organized religion, on the inside, do everything possible to prevent lost people, who want to find God, from finding God. The “religious people on the inside” are not good people.
- TRUE: “God has been doing everything in his power, while not violating your power to choose, to get close to you.”
- ALSO TRUE: Organized religion does everything in its power to keep you from accepting God’s salvation.
- TRUE: “Jesus broke religious rules to build personal relationships.”
- ALSO TRUE: Jesus broke religious rules to demonstrate that our hope is only in Him. Organized religion offers no hope.
- FALSE: Jesus became an outsider so we could become an insider.
- TRUE: Jesus showed that manmade religious leaders are outsiders. Jesus doesn’t want to make us insiders within religious denominations. Instead, He wants us to receive the New Birth directly, bypassing manmade religious rules and hierarchy.
God rejects intellectual religion.
We don’t need people with Master’s Degrees and Doctorates. Here’s what the Bible says:
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:1 Corinthians 1:26-28
Let me mention, again, another key takeaway:
Jesus disavows compromise.
Jesus taught in the outer court because that’s where the multitudes were. He made no effort to change the rules, allowing them into the inner parts of the temple.
You see, Jesus taught that the people didn’t need the temple. He told them they didn’t need the religious gatekeepers who were damning them to Hell.
I want you to…
…by first recognizing that Satan uses religious denominations to prevent people from accepting God’s salvation.
Organized religion is a major roadblock and stumbling stone to those who want to come to God through Christ Jesus.
I also warn you against the false doctrine that says that everyone belongs in God’s House. That’s a lie. God never brought the heathen and the reprobates with Him into the holy places.
For the most part, the local church is an assembly of born again believers. Generally, we should reach the lost on the outside. As people receive the New Birth, we welcome them into a healthy role as members of the Christian assembly.