At one time I subscribed to CCM magazine, which gives all the latest info on contemporary Christian music and artists and so forth. On the cover of an issue back in the ‘90s was advertised an article with the following title, “Does King’s X Hate the Church?” King’s X was a contemporary Christian music group of the day, but this article sounded intriguing, so I turned to it to see what it was talking about. I read that King’s X, which is a group made up of three guys, sounds like they are rather disillusioned with mainstream Christianity in general. In fact, they said in the article that only one of them will still use the adjective “Christian” to describe himself. One of the reasons they gave for their aversion to the church was how negative the reaction was whenever they talked to anyone who wasn’t saved and that person found out they were Christians. I guess they were disillusioned with all the hypocrisy and self-righteousness that drive so many people away from the church in general.

I don’t know what to say about King’s X. The article I read didn’t give enough information for me to really say what I think of King’s X or their views on God and Christianity. But I suppose after my message on “The Importance of Dispensationalism,” one might be left asking the same question of me, that is, “Does Nathan Johnson hate the church?”

The answer is not easily given. As I said last time, I do not suggest that churches are useless. They can provide us with an excellent opportunity to commune with fellow believers and to strengthen each other in the faith that many of us would never get otherwise. And I love getting together with fellow believers. In spite of all their problems, I’m convinced that they are the greatest people in the world!

But there is a terrible problem among our Christian churches. And that is that in the minds of many people the church is viewed as almost on an equal plane with God. These people think that in order to come to God, you have to come to the church, and that anyone who goes to a church is somehow made spiritual or right with God by doing so. Now I know that there are those in Christianity who speak out against ideas like this, but the fact is that many, many people believe this way. I have often heard a church building referred to as “God’s house,” and often I have heard it said that it is important for young Christians to “find a good, family-oriented (or Bible-oriented or whatever) church to start attending.”  And it is often our standard question to ask of fellow believers whom we’ve just met, “What church do you go to?” You see, this traditional meeting place of believers has taken on divine proportions in the minds of many!

The same is true, unfortunately, of pastors and ministers and other “men of the cloth.” They are looked on by people as a whole as somehow being “spiritual leaders” or “men of God.” I’ve heard them called this many a time! I remember when I was attending a church, a man was visiting from the Billy Graham organization. I was standing nearby when he walked up to one of our pastors and introduced himself. He said confidently, “Good to meet you, man of God!” I think his greeting caused our pastor to be rather uncomfortable. Nevertheless, I have heard members of that church refer to the pastors there as those “God has placed over us.” Is there really that much of a difference between these two viewpoints?

Does going to seminary and getting ordained as a minister or pastor really make someone deserving of being considered a representative of God? People look on pastors with a kind of awe, as if they are holy men. I myself went to school for six years, and graduated with my bachelor’s degree…two of them, in fact. But that does not mean that I am a God-ordained chemical engineer or chemist. How is going to a Bible school and getting a degree in theology or ministry or things of that nature any different? Men give out the one just as they do the other! There is no difference.

Now the calling of men in the Acts period…that was a different thing! Consider the calling of Paul in Acts 13. This was no ordination of men! Let men produce their God-given qualifications if they are to fancy themselves God’s representatives. If they cannot, if all they can produce is qualifications bestowed upon them by other men, then let them not tout themselves as God-given leaders!

And in no way less guilty of being exalted beyond due measure are all the rituals which have attached themselves to the Christian church. Whether confirmation or confession or communion or catechism, all rituals adopted by the church are useless for any true spiritual benefit, but instead satisfy the flesh, as God says in Colossians 2:20-23.

20. Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21. “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22. which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23. These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

So does Nathan Johnson hate the church? No! But I do hate anything which seeks to come between me and Christ, or which keeps those who are seeking Christ from coming to Him as they should. If the church does this (and it often does!), then in this context I certainly must hate the church. Remember what Christ said about hating your father and mother (and…church???)

As one final word, consider the witness of Matthew (17:1-9) as regards the Transfiguration of Christ.

1. Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2. and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
5. While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” 6. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. 7. But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” 8. When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

So Christ was seen glorified along with Elijah and Moses. This was just fine, and Christ didn’t mind that these two men shared place with Him in this incredible vision. However, when Peter spoke up and placed Christ on an equal plane with these men by suggesting that they make three booths, “One for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias,” then a bright cloud came up and covered the scene, and when it cleared they saw Jesus only (vs. 8). Jesus only! This is a powerful statement God has made to us about the exclusive and uncontested place He has given His Son. Other things, such as churches and pastors and rituals, may be fine, but as soon as we place them up next to Christ, then a cloud has covered our eyes and we do not see the truth. Would that the cloud would clear away from the eyes of His children, until they, too, would be left seeing Jesus only!

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