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Part II

Another of my friend’s in Jesus, Darren Smith, who heads up a street ministry in Galveston, TX recently sent out a Blog  I would call Darren a Free Believer, which simply means he is not bound to a religious system, but free to hear the Holy Spirit as He reveals Jesus to him.  In his article  “The Key of Knowledge” Darren makes this statement, “I’m at a point in my journey that I have found that I must lose my religion to follow Christ.  I have to leave the modern church to find Jesus.”  And again he says, “We have become so bound by religion that we will throw a drunk man out of the church and ask a stingy man to pray over the offering without even thinking twice about it! “  Please listen!  The religious mind will never understand the Gospel of Grace.  It is impossible because of his traditions learned from his forefathers handed down from that great religious system conceived by Satan. 

 

Now to address some Hyper-Grace horror stories as reported by another friend in ministry, one I had minister for me back in 2007 in Buras, LA.  His name is Andrew Strom.  He didn’t write the article, simply reprinted what another had said so I cannot speak about his position on this matter.  But like another friend of mine, Mike Fuselier,  recently said.  What is hyper grace?  How can one have too much grace?  Again I say, religious people do not understand grace. 

Here is a reported  horror story from those that accepted the so called Hyper-Grace message.  “I joined a small group 3 years ago that went from having regular prayer meetings and living holy connected lives together to stating ‘prayer is a work and denies grace and sin allows grace to do its great work.’  All of our prayer meetings and Bible studies were traded in for game-nights and nights out at the bar to witness where many from the group got plastered…all in the name of grace.”  One other story.  “I had a loved one who was an intense follower of hyper-grace start to lie and cheat in his business…He was a different person before he started following hyper grace…He wasn’t greedy, in fact he was selfless, humble and very much in integrity.  Also I can’t mention to him the fact that he lied and withheld info in order to steer people to invest…Why?  Because he says there is no condemnation in Christ.  So no one is allowed to mention that aspect of his behavior to him…or else.”  These are indeed horror stories.  Personally, and  by God’s grace, I have never experienced such people.  My walk before the Lord has not been perfect, and I will readily admit that there have been seasons where I have followed from afar, not wanting the Lord to be too much in my affairs, but never did I forsake Him and believe that the life I was living at that time was acceptable.  There was always the conviction of the Spirit, and as I allowed His grace to once more govern my life, I repented and turned back to Him.  

Since I first came to the Lord in 1972, I have had two driving passions; worship and unity of the Body of Christ and have worked tirelessly toward seeing that accomplished in the earth.  I do still believe in a Last Days revival in spite of the falling away.  I believe  that  an Elijah Company rise up and  cry out His righteousness, lift up His banner, and promote His Kingdom.  In 1974 out in far West Texas, I heard  a prophecy that a revival would start at the mouth of the Mississippi River and spread up the river to reach across our nation, calling many to repentance.  I still look for that day, and I will not cast aside that hope.  Without a vision, God’s people cast off restraint.  Perhaps that is the reason some are embracing the hyper-grace message.  They have no vision of His coming Kingdom, and so have cast off all restraint to do whatever seems right in their own eyes. The longer I live, the more I want to walk with my Lord.  Allowances that I have made in my life are no longer acceptable.  I want to be a gentler, kinder person that uses God’s gifts through a life that ministers grace to those that are hurting.  I desire to live more considerately with my wife and honoring her as I am commanded in the Word.  Allow me to speak from a mind grabbing fictional story I am reading now.  The Book is called “Bo’s Café”.  You can find it on Amazon, in paperback or Kindle, and is well worth your reading.  It is the story of a man who was abusive to his wife and family, of her leaving him, and his journey to restoration.  He meets up with some very interesting people who help to guide him into a path of redemption.  Here is a conversation between Cynthia and Steven, our disjointed man.  “Steven, my friend, would you be offended if I told you that you sound to me like the one with the religious platitudes?”  “Meaning?”  “Meaning,” she continues, “you sound like one who’s using religious concepts, and promoting them to others when they haven’t even worked for yourself.”  “Meaning?”  I repeat.  “Meaning, grace is a gift only the nonreligious can accept.  They’re the only ones who can get it.  They’re the only ones who can use it.  Religious folks see grace as soft.  So they keep trying to manage their junk with their own will power and tenacity.  Nothing defines religion quite as well as a bunch of people trying to do impossible tasks with limited power while bluffing to themselves that it’s working.”  She leans even closer.  “I just took in a lot of churches and religious institutions with that last statement.”  Another line from Cynthia to Steven:  “You’ll hear this next statement a lot around here, Steven,”  Cynthia says.  “ ‘What if there was a place safe enough to tell the worst about you and still be loved just as much, if not more, for sharing it?’ Do you know what happens?”  “Carlos says your stuff starts to get fixed.”  “Resolved, “  Cynthia corrects.  “And do you know what that safety is called?  It’s called an environment of grace.  An environment where you can even say stuff as ridiculously naïve and tired as the propaganda you’ve been holding onto.” 

And that dear friends, is the message I have preached from the beginning.  The church we planted in Plaquemines parish in 2006 with a remnant of people who returned after Hurricane Katrina is alive and well even to this day.  Among that remnant, we have an understanding with one another.  That bond we share is that if any should stumble so as to fall, that we who are spiritual will help to restore that one with grace.  We don’t step on them when they are down.  We don’t blab their sin around town, and we aren’t in horror of anything they might have done, because we have all sinned, and none of us is exempt from any sin.  BUT this I know;  for the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”  When one slips, it’s because that belief has been weakened.  We who are strong are to help restore that faith.  “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”  Romans 10:15  NKJV 

And finally:

“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.  For there is no difference:  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation  (mercy seat)

By His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

 Romans 3:21-26

Summing up:  God’s moral laws are not done away with by the gospel.  His moral laws are eternally valid.  However if you will carefully study the Old Testament, you will find that redemption even in that day was by faith and not works.  Abraham was justified not by works or obedience to the law,  but by faith.  Do not let the N.T.  Book of James stumble you.  Even James agrees with Paul that justification comes by faith, but he points out  that later in Abraham’s life his salvation was testified to by his good works.  Please  remember, even Abraham’s faith faltered.  He had a son that was born not of promise but by fleshly works.  Beloved, true salvation, true righteousness, true sanctification has a witness of works that are seen. Our faith is not dead.  Our works will be a SIGN of that salvation. 

Amen

 

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Abiding in the Vine—Grace? or Law?

This will be at least a two part Blog.  My purpose in this writing is to hopefully shed some light on the Word of God to any that are still walking in darkness.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most awesome and liberating truth of God to those who will accept it.  Unfortunately, the Church has hidden the Gospel of Grace from the world since the days on Constantine.  There have been groups and movements through the centuries that have discovered the truth, but have been squashed by the religious crowd, or have fallen into licentiousness (extravagance).  I have no patience with either extreme.  To allow Satan to put dim one’s light, or distinguish it through loose  or legalistic living is one in the same error.  We must stand up for the gospel once delivered to the saints when the Church, the ecclesia, was established.  May my words be guided by the Holy Spirit as I set forth this unapologetic dissertation for the Faith. 

Part I

In the past month, I have received numerous articles of praise and condemnation of grace.  Some extol it; some slam it and in my estimation would return us to living under the guilt of law again.  Some call the Gospel of Grace Hyper Grace in reference to I suppose the preachers that tell their congregations it’s OK to live it up and do anything their heart desires, because you are under grace.  Up front, I do not support such a message, but just as evil is the one that would put Christians back under the Law again.  The New Testament speaks more about this extreme than it does the unrestrained life style.

Here are some quotes from an article entitled “Christ is the End” by Gary Wilkerson on March 18, 2013. 

“Jesus is our source for both justification and sanctification; we attain both through His gift of grace.”

So many in the Church today receive the gift of justification, but then try to attain sanctification by their deeds.  Beloved, we are put right with God, matured in God and made righteous through the blood of Jesus on the cross and by nothing else.  Many churches preach grace today, but practice works.  You need to tithe, give more offerings, pray more, evangelize more, and any other works based righteousness they can get one to accept.  Quoting Gary Wilkerson again, “This mindset leads straight to a life of bondage.  How many times have you driven by a church marquee that reads, ‘CHRIST DIED FOR YOU.  WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR HIM?’  Romans 10:4 reads, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”  NKJV  Please read the remaining verses of Chapter 10 to cement this truth in your heart.  Do the religious preachers that minister a gospel of condemnation understand this verse?  Even they, pick and choose which part of the Law one must adhere to.  Do they not understand that to dismiss even one jot or title is to make their entire walk null and void?

I have followed and supported David Wilkerson’s ministry since the early 1970’s.  He never claimed a prophetic ministry, but I believe he was a true prophet of  God.  In his early ministry, he was very rigid and condemning of those that didn’t walk the straight and narrow, but in his later years, I witnessed a transformation in his writings and ministry to the bruised, abused, and cast a ways.  I believe the man began to understand the true message of grace.  He does speak of an abiding Believer.  Jesus said that if we keep His commandments, we will abide in His love.  We are not given the option of picking  and choosing which commands of Christ we will obey.  The Church is weak today on both sides of the coin—works & grace.  Some are afraid of anything that smacks of legalism, therefore obedience is given a bad name.  Others are so afraid of grace that they put themselves back under the Law.  If we truly abide in Christ, then we must understand John 15, “The True Vine”.  Do we not understand that a branch draws its life from the vine?  I once preached a message on John 15, and illustrated it by plucking off a part of an Ivy plant and throwing it across the sanctuary.  Woe was me!  I lost a few from the church on that message.  And probably me motive was legalistic in that action.  But again,  let me categorically say.  I am not a legalist, but if we will not abide in the Word, we cannot bear fruit, and Father will take out His pruning knife. 

“The Watchmen On The Walls” an article previously written by David Wilkerson speaks of the Elijah Company.  I desire to be a part of that company of believers.  Here is the passage from Isaiah 58:1 that describes what these Believers will do.  “Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins.”  NKJV  And Isaiah 62:6-7  “I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They shall never hold their peace day or night.  You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent, And give Him no rest till He establishes And till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.”  NKJV  Two things jump out from these verses.  First, it is God who will establish.  It is Him who will make His Church a praise in the earth.  Our job is to cry out against the sins of the flesh, and call people back to righteous living; not legalistic living.  Second, in these verses I see that Jerusalem (the Church) will never be a praise in the earth until it walks in unity of the Spirit and love toward all men of faith, and the ministers preach the true Gospel of Grace, not legalism, not guilt, not condemnation but grace which comes from abiding in Christ, the head of the His Body the Church. 

I will mention one more of Mr. Wilkerson’s writings entitled  “AN UNUSUAL WORD” which was re-posted on March 22, 2013.  You can read this article and all David’s  writings @ http://www.worldchallenge.org   Here is the opening paragraph from that article:  “Recently the Holy Spirit gave me an unusual word, one that I did not want to hear!  He said, “You are bound to a very limited vision of the Lord’s ocean of tender, loving mercies.  You have endured much guilt, condemnation and fear because you have not allowed the Holy Spirit to reveal the vastness of My forgiving, healing, reconciling mercies.  You do not know Me for My tenderness!”  All too often, the sincere Believer is brought under condemnation by men or Satan because of failures in his walk.  “You may as well give up and quit.  You can never live this life.  You continually go back to that sin that you have confessed hundreds of times.”   Saints, your sanctification, just as your justification is a grace gift of God.  He will accomplish it.  Do you believe that?  I truly believe that all too many are stunted in their grown in holiness by those that slam them every time they attend a Believer’s meeting.  YES! AMEN! Sin must be exposed and confessed, but God’s grace must be there to lift up and restore.  Conclusion coming tomorrow.

 

Never-Never-Never

In much of institutional Christianity today, we find so much of man and his doctrines which are no different that what Jesus encountered with the religious rulers of His day.  Touch not, eat not, drink not, and don’t run with the girls that do.  If you forsake us, God will forsake you.  Do it our way or find yourself in serious error and possible loss of salvation.  It all boils down to a works salvation.  Paul made it abundantly clear that it was God working in you to do His good will, not you nor your efforts.  Salvation is a gift placed in you.  Now it is your responsibility to work out that salvation.  Php 2:12  Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Php 2:13  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Our Father has told us in no uncertain terms, I will never leave you nor forsake you.  Therefore, I can be bold to say, The Lord is my helper, I will have no fear.  Hebrews 13:5-6  I love that word NEVER.  I will never forsake you.  He won’t leave you if you display selfishness, stubbornness, or sometimes fall by the wayside of life.  He won’t forsake you even when you sin.  He is still there holding on to you.  My assurance is not build on my assurance, nor my ability to follow some man-made theology or doctrine.  My assurance is based on His assurance.  His Word.  So often, people will begin to stumble when something or someone gets between them and God.  Saints, please understand how foolish it is, and how feeble you are to rely on your own thoughts about anything.  God has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  Is the Lord truly your helper or are you yielding to fear.  Please stop listening to man and religion.  In and of yourself, you are not right with God and never will be.  It is not you that God is accepting, it is Christ in you that makes you acceptable.  Rom 3:10  As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:  Do you think that verse only applies to those who have not yet come to Christ?  NO, by no means.  It applies to all.  No one is nor will ever be righteous.  Our righteousness is in Christ as He is in us.  If you are Born of the Spirit, and He dwells in you, then that is your assurance of your dwelling in Christ.  HE WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU.  Am I a Calvinists?  No.  Calvinism is a man made doctrine. The Armenians don’t have it correct either.  I am simply stating and have assurance in what my God has said.  Trust Him, not your thoughts about Him, or anything another has told you about how to stay connected to Christ.  You are secure in Jesus, but it is your responsibility to work out that salvation that has been placed in you.  Let your life be guided and controlled by LOVE.   When we follow after love, our life will truly reflect the life of Jesus who indwells us.  We have died, and our life is hidden in Him.  Let Him shine through.  Let Him live His life through you.  This is your work and your ministry.  Simply let Jesus have your life for His purpose.  Each and every day, we must decrease and He must increase.  Be Blessed in Him, Amen.

HOW DO YOU MEET?

Religious—Strong  G2357

θρῆσκος

thrēskos

thrace’-kos

Probably from the base of G2360; ceremonious in worship (as demonstrative), that is, pious: – religious.

Religion—Strong  G2356

θρησκεία

thrēskeia

thrace-ki’-ah

From a derivative of G2357; ceremonial observance: – religion, worshipping.

This word will deal with religion as we know it today. 

I am unashamedly an out of church Christian.  I was released from institutional churchianity after Katrina in 2005.  That is not a point of bitterness.  It was probably the most freeing moment in my walk with Jesus.  As my wife and I began to meet with a remnant folk that came back to Plaquemines Parish after the Storm, we soon found that Father God was doing something new in us.  As we studied the Scriptures, we came to the unanimous conclusion that what we had been doing in our Building was not at all what we saw in the New Testament.  Really now!  Did Jesus train his disciples and then when He got ready to leave, call them to come together in a central place to sit in pews while someone in a costume or fine suit presided before them?  Were they commanded to stand, kneel, sit, and sing on command and only speak when the leader in front told them to?  Saints, this is the view and understanding that the world has of Christianity, be it Catholic, Protestant, or Evangelical.   There really isn’t much difference. 

I have recently noticed a peculiar telling aspect of institutional church.  First, let me say, that I am not calling into question their love for our Lord, or that they are second class Believers.  What I am objecting to is the way they meet and function in the real world. 

When I talk to church people, the conversation always centers around their programs, their building, how many were in attendance on a given Sunday, and how wonderful their pastor is.  All those things may be true, but I have to ask one pertinent question.  If your form of Christianity is so wonderful, why aren’t your buildings overflowing?  Why aren’t people flocking to your services, and why aren’t you changing the culture and society around you.  As I remember, the first century church turned the world upside down.  And they did that from simple house meetings scattered around each town and community.  These early Christians did not know what a full time job was.  They worked in some rich man’s field when he hired them.  They did not have much in the way of this world’s goods.  But do you know what they did have.  They had each other.  They had relationship with the Father and the Son, and they were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.  When persecution came to the church in Jerusalem, they scattered and wherever they went, they called together new Believers and established a church in that town. 

These people didn’t have trained musicians, overheads, power point preachers, and video projected music.  They didn’t have silver and gold, but they did have the power of God in their lives. 

Our current President has acknowledged that we have freedom of worship.  Hear me.  That is not what our Constitution says.  Mr. Obama doesn’t care what we do as long as it’s confined to a building.  But he does not want you practicing your faith in the community and work place. 

I say, if your faith doesn’t carry over into every aspect of your life, then you are simply deceived and your faith is meaningless.  I predict that in the not too distant future, that true Believers in this country will  have to learn to meet secretly in homes.  Oh, there will still be the government approved places of worship, but Jesus won’t be there. 

Comments Welcome

 

James 1:27  What God the Father considers to be pure and genuine religion is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their suffering and to keep oneself from being corrupted by the world.

 

 

All for Jesus,

michael

Psalm 84:11-12

 

CLOUDS WITHOUT WATER

“When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing; when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors; when you see that men get rich more easily by graft than by work, and your laws no longer protect you against them, but protect them against you. . . you may know that your society is doomed.”
Ayn Rand – Atlas Shrugged

If you have read Atlas Shrugged or seen the movie this statement becomes tragically clear. And yes, this does seem to describe our society today, but I want to apply this statement to the spiritual condition of the Church in the West. In many churches across America and throughout Europe, we see an elite class of individuals called clergy. Those they lead are called laity. And this laity Christian must submit to the rule of those that preside over them, be he called pastor, prophet, or apostle or pope. In some extreme cases, the laity must even obtain permission to socialize with certain people, go to a movie or leave town for some reason. There are many Believers that have a desire to do what Jesus said to do, “Go and make disciples” but they have no idea how to do that because all they have been taught is “Bring the lost to the church house and we the clergy will get them saved and plugged in.” But in truth, these so called leaders produce nothing. As for money; it seems to flow into the coffers of those who are non producers and in turn, they offer you simple favors like prayers for your family, burial and marriage services along with baptisms.
Now in the televangelist arena, we see many of them getting rich, not through good works that are ordained of the Lord, but through outright lies and trickery; leading the blind souls through flattering words that are empty. Now for the Law portion of that quotation, we see that some so called servants of God use His Law against those they are leading. It is as the Bible states.

Mat 23:13 But 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. 23:14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
Mat 23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Mat 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Mat 23:24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
Mat 23:25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
Mat 23:26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
Mat 23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.
Mat 23:28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Saints, the Church is not nor has it ever been a building where we bring the lost. A Church meeting is simply that; a gathering of Believers who come together to learn Jesus, worship Jesus, and be trained to go out and do the work of the ministry. The giftings are for the training of the people of God so that they in turn might win some and train others. The Bible teaches that we are all priests before God. ( I Peter 2:9, Rev. 1:6, Rev. 5:10) Each of us has the opportunity and responsibility to minister unto the Lord and sanctify the Lord before the lost and dying. If you are unsure how to lead another to the Lord, you can always start by praying for some one. Today, ask a friend, acquaintance, or fellow worker this simple question. How may I pray for you? Or if you wonder what the will of God is for another, I have a perfect answer for you right from Scripture. It is Colossians 1-11. I have changed a few nouns and pronouns to make it personal to the individual you are praying for.

Col 1:9-11 For this reason I pray for you, ever since I heard about you. I ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will, with all the wisdom and understanding that his Spirit gives.
Then you will be able to live as the Lord wants and will always do what pleases him. Your lives will produce all kinds of good deeds, and you will grow in your knowledge of God.
May you be made strong with all the strength which comes from his glorious power, so that you may be able to endure everything with patience. And with joy give thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to have your share of what God has reserved for his people in the kingdom of light. GNB modified.

Disclaimer:  This article will be highly controversial.  Read at your own risk or your own benefit; whichever the case!

2Timothy 3:5  Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. This verse speaks of people who profess religion, or have a connection with the church.  They have an appearance of holiness, but manifest none of the fruit of the Spirit, and have no power with God nor man.  They maintain a form of religion that began with the Emperor Constantine, when he declared Christianity the state religion of Rome. You may argue that he began what is the modern day Catholic Church, but if you  compare Catholicism with Protestantism, you will find very little difference in form or substance.  I am not prepared to go into that discussion in this short article, but invite you to do a study of your own.  The thing that is so sad is that  many so called Christians have religion, but they do not allow it to have any influence over their lives.  Their hearts have never been regenerated by the Holy Spirit.  Often these church goers will doggedly support their religious denomination with great furor but when asked about their relationship to Jesus, the usual answer is Oh! I’m a ___________.  (Insert one of several thousands of denominations or sects in that blank.  It is so easy to follow some form of religion while never bringing the soul under the control of the Holy Spirit.

Personal story:  The group that I first heard the Gospel under did not believe in the Gifts of the Spirit, or a life of power in God.  They preached a lot about holiness of life, but it always seemed to be focused on externals; speech, manner of dress, drinking, smoking, and such.  Once when I went to the alter for prayer and was having trouble with a passage of Scripture about the old things being passed away, and all things becoming new, 2 Cor. 5:17.  I was told to just try harder.  Saints, I know by the Word of God that I was indeed born again.  But do you know that unless a soul is discipled to truth, God’s truth, he/she can still be in bondage to old things?  When I discovered there was a life that could be lived in the Spirit and I could obtain the power to live that life, I began to search for it with all my heart.  Know what?  God filled me with his Spirit and then little by little, began to move me out of man’s religion and into Jesus and a life of true liberty in the Spirit.

Now for the second half of that verse; “from such turn away”  This is one that I still struggle over, because I do not want to reject any, but increasingly I find that they have rejected Elaine and me.  I have less and less fellowship with those in the institutional church today.  That is not to say that God doesn’t have a remnant still in the institution, and one of my goals is to help them see the light so that they may come out and experience the ekklesia as Jesus means it to be.  I find that sharing this truth  is even more difficult than when I received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and tried to talk of the Gifts of the Spirit to nominal denominational church goers.  We have been so devoid of God’s  truth for so long, that it sounds like a lie to many.  But God is faithful.  When one searches for Him with ALL his heart, He will be found. Jer. 29:13.

A renowned preacher of yesteryear had this to say concerning the institutional church.

 John Wesley’s observation of how the Constantine structure affected the church, was made in the late 1700’s!  Nothing much has changed in the last 300 years.

“It does not appear that these extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost
were common in the Church for more than two or three centuries. We
seldom hear of them after that fatal period when the Emperor
Constantine called himself a Christian;…From this time they almost
totally ceased;…The Christians had no more of the Spirit of Christ
than the other heathens….This was the real cause why the
extraordinary fits of the Holy Ghost were no longer to be found in the
Christian Church; because the Christians were turned Heathens again,
and had only a dead form left.” – John Wesley

Wesley was directly referring to the Spiritual gifts, but the institutional form of worship that Constantine established had direct influence on denying the power of God, the freedom in God, and the ability to hear from God and not have to rely on a professional clergy person.   They now had a form of worship, but the power had departed.  The Gospel of John tells us that Jesus became flesh and dwelt, (tabernacled) among us.  He did not come to build another temple of stone as so many preachers are still trying to do today, but He  came to dwell in His people.  Man still wants a monument to himself in structure that can be seen.  God wants a movement of His Spirit in a people that He calls ekklesia (those that are called out of the world system and the religious systems built by men.)