By Jim Sparks
(The following is an exercise that I did in the Spring of 1996 when I left the denominational church that I was in. I was determined to study the Scriptures and find for myself God’s will and pattern for a New Testament Church. I had no intention in writing this book, but later did so when I took my study notes and put them into booklet form to give to my friends as an explanation of my findings. During the six months of my study, I was not aware that anyone else believed or practiced these church principles that you are about to read).
If you are saved, then you have the Spirit of Truth abiding in you and He will, according to Jesus, lead you into all truth. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth , is come, he will guide you into all truth (John 16:13). Not may guide or might guide, but He will guide you into all truth. Now, this doesn’t mean that you will obey the truth. It only means that if you are saved, you will know the truth when it is revealed to you. All I can do is to show you from God’s Word the truth, and what you do with it is between you and Him. You may not like it, you may get upset, and you may refuse to submit to the truth, but you will know that it is truth, if you are saved. Why? Because truth is from the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit will bear witness with your spirit that it is truth. I have tried to leave out my feelings and thoughts, being as subjective as possible. Whenever one is studying the truth, he must be careful to always use clear verses to build concepts upon. Always use the “verily, verily” verses over the “if” verses. Always use the clear verses over the obscure ones. I have also tried to use everything within the context it was written. Lastly, we should make our lives and thinking fit the Word of God rather than making the Word of God fit our lives and our way of thinking. The biggest problem we usually have is not that we don’t understand the truth, but that we don’t want to submit to what it says. We try to find ways to get around it or explain it away or even change it’s meaning. For example, if there is something in the Bible we don’t like, then we can pass it off by saying, “Well, that was cultural for that day, so it doesn’t apply for our day.” But, using this tactic, you can explain almost everything in the Bible away, so that the Bible becomes “watered down”. “Pick and choose” time, you know. The “Shopping Mall” approach, where you can shop around and take what appeals to you. But, hey, you can’t change the truth. Just because you don’t like it, or because nobody else believes it that way, that does not change what God has said. This is all I have attempted to do in this booklet; to show you what God has said. If God said it, then we ought to believe it just like He said it, and then do it. You may find it very unpopular, maybe even offensive, but so was it with Jesus in His day.
Most people disagreed and were offended by what He said. But, surely, a saved person should not be that way. Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them (Ps. 119:165). If you are saved, you love His law (Word), and nothing (in His Word) shall offend you. Now, if you find yourself getting hot under the collar, maybe you need to ask yourself why you are getting offended. ….”afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended. (Mark 4:17). Why does the Word of God offend you? If you’re saved, it shouldn’t. Is it because it might cause you some persecution or loss? Or, are you willing to believe His Word no matter what the price?
Friend, everyone knows that today, churches are not what they should be. This comes as no great surprise when we realize that the Bible said it would be this way before the end times. It says that in the last days there would be a great falling away. Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition (II Thes 2:3). This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come (II Tim 3:1). For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine ; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (II Tim 4:3-4). So, just before the tribulation, there will be a great falling away. Falling away from what? From the truth. From the Word of God. You can see it if you only look around. There seem to be very few churches today that follow the Word of God. Most do their own thing or they have gone into major false doctrine which forfeit their right to even be considered a Christian church. When major truths, such as repentance and salvation, are forsaken, these churches become filled with lost members. But, even the true churches today have forsaken the truth to some degree and have been filled with carnality.
In this paper, I will attempt to explain why today’s churches are so carnal in the last days according to the Word of God. Furthermore, I also want to point out from Scripture, that God does have a design for a New Testament church and it does apply for our day. If I could show you that many of the things about a modern day church are traditional and based on the commandments of men, and that God does have guidelines on how a church should be, would you believe it? If I showed you from Scripture how a New Testament Church should be, would you believe God and the Scriptures, or would you say, (1)” Well, that’s the way it’s always been done down through history,” and (2) “Everybody today does it that way”? Or, you might even say (3)”Well, I will agree that was the way the early church was, but today in our modern times, churches have to be different.” Then what you are really saying is that God gave guidelines for the early church, but He didn’t understand then how things were going to be different today in modern times. God does not change. He is the same in the past, today, and will be the same in the future concerning His Word. I believe that if He said in His word that churches ought to run a certain way during that time, then they ought to follow the same guidelines today. Has He changed His mind and given us new orders? No, His Word has not changed. Men are the ones who change.
Churches today have more money, resources, programs, and trained people than ever before, but do they have God? Is God moving in the churches today? Are churches having an impact on society today? No. Why? Because they do not follow the Word of God. That is why most churches are carnal today. You say, “It is because of sin.” That is true, but sinful living is the result of not following God’s Word. By the way, when I speak of churches in this study I am not referring to everything out there that has church in its name. I am excluding all those that preach a false Christ and false doctrines of salvation. When I speak of churches, I am speaking of those that assemble themselves together according to the correct doctrine of salvation, that by “grace through faith,” and not of works. But, if you take a good look, you will see that the true churches have been influenced by the false churches. Thus, the true churches are still churches, but they are carnal churches. Why? Because as Israel was always getting into trouble being influenced by the heathen around them, the true churches are being influenced by the wrong ways of the false churches. We are more interested in following man than God. We like the honor of man more than the honor of God. But, Jesus said, “How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that [cometh] from God only” (John 5:44)? How do you get His honor? Do what He says in His Word. Are you willing to do that? Are you willing to believe whatever God says? Even if you are the only one? Well, let’s see. Please ask God to help you. Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths . Lead me in thy truth, and teach me (Ps 25:4-5). Teach me thy way, O LORD , and lead me in a plain path (Ps 27:11). Teach me thy way, O LORD ; I will walk in thy truth…(Ps 86:11). Teach me , O LORD , the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it [unto] the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with [my] whole heart (Ps 119:33-34).
Please Note: In this book it may appear that I am picking on denominations, or have some kind of axe to grind with them, but believe me, this is not my purpose. I merely want to take a look at the scripturalness of denominations. We will let the Bible speak for itself. Also, my statements are not to be applied to any certain denomination, but to all denominations in general. Furthermore, my opposition is not against the people of any denomination, but the denominational system itself. I love the folks in the denominational system, but despise the system itself, because I believe it to be unscriptural). So, please, do not misunderstand me.