People of The Living God

Isaiah 4

 

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CHRISTIANITY – WHAT IS IT?

Harry R. Miller

“I AM A CHRISTIAN”

            Down through the history of the world no other religion has ever enjoyed so much popularity or suffered such great reproach as has the faith of Christ.  The advocates of the Christian faith have received every conceivable form and degree of treatment from the citizens of this world.  Over centuries of time they have fallen under the sword; they have been torn limb from limb by the wrath of the evil ones; yet the light of their testimony has never gone out.

            Nineteen hundred years of wanton persecution seems to have finally convinced the forces of evil that persecution is a poor tool against the church of Jesus Christ.  Instead of destroying God’s people the wrath of the enemy has helped to deepen the consecration of the saints.

            Now in this, our twentieth century, a different approach is being MADE against the people of God.  Instead of more tribulation and persecution, in many parts of the earth the enemy has opened wide the arms of the world and the world is made to love the church.  So popular has the Christian faith become, in America, that there is no town of any size which does not have a number of buildings dedicated to the cause of Christianity.  As a nation we are known as a Christian people – BUT ARE WE TRULY CHRISTIAN?

            As a nation we have had the genius to invent some of the greatest forces of destruction that humanity has ever known.  We boast of owning enough explosives to destroy the whole earth.  Our money controls the markets of the world: we can make financiers of almost any nation tremble.  This great Babylon that we Americans have built is the force that controls the world.

            Not only have we conquered forces of nature and finances of men, we have virtually stolen the seats of learning and the salons of fashion.

            Nothing can compare with OUR Hollywood: her glamour, her violence, and her sex sway nations.

            Our literature, our radio and TV are incomparable from any worldly point of view.

            Not only do we educate adults, but nightly we brain-wash the minds of millions of our children with violence and corruption.  The American home is no longer a home; it is merely a residence, a place, a piece of property.  More contention and strife can be found in the pressure-charged atmosphere of the American home than in almost any other place in the world.  Under such circumstances juveniles soon reach the age of “unaccountability,” and then we have what is known as child tyranny.  If parents refuse to obey, their children sometimes shoot them down.  Are such things products of a “Christian” country?

            Dare we examine the faith (if that is the correct term to employ) of the nominal church member?  Doctrinally there are many great differences among all Christian organizations, but doctrinal beliefs can be accepted as mere abstractions, which have little or no bearing upon one’s life.  Experimentally and practically, comparatively few PROFESSING CHRISTIANS are Christians in actuality; but they are rather, mere professors of a religion that they are pleased to call Christianity.

            We all accept the teachings of the historians of Western civilization, yet none of us ever saw Washington, Lincoln, General Lee, or General Grant.  But we have accepted the historical account, and we believe the record.  However, our belief in the historical record has made no particular change in our WAY OF LIFE.  Intellectually we feel enlightened, but morally and practically this knowledge has made no change in us.  To believe in Christ in a historical sense only, is no different from believing in Buddha or Mohammed.

            If a man claiming to be a Mohammedan said that he had accepted all of the teachings of Mohammed, yet NEVER PRACTICED or obeyed Mohammed’s commands, what sort of a disciple would this individual be?  Certainly Mohammed would get no honor from such a follower.  But there are many people who claim that they have accepted the teachings of Jesus Christ; they state that they have complete faith in Him; they confess that the Bible is the Word of God; they claim to have complete faith in the Book, and in the man Christ Jesus; they highly approve all the promises of good, and heartily accept every scriptural benefit; but with one accord they refuse all of the commands that are an inconvenience, or not compatible with their own particular WAY OF LIFE.  Those absolute DEMANDS of Christ they either ignore, or openly reject.

            What would you say to a person who claimed to be a Christian and made the statement that he believed in Christ and the Bible, but because of circumstances he was just not able to practice Christ’s teachings?

            Recently a man who claimed to be a Christian was asked if he was walking with God.  He answered that he was not “doing right,” but he said that he still believed!  This man “believed,” but he preferred to live in a world of his own making!

            Some time ago we asked a certain Jewish man why it was that he did not observe the Sabbath day.  He said that he would like to, but because of his business it was impossible for him to close up on the Sabbath day!

            Many find it IMPOSSIBLE to obey Christ so they choose a WAY OF LIFE of their own making.  The “rich young ruler” was very sad to think that he could not follow Jesus, but he felt that the Lord’s demands were just too severe.  There was one commendable thing about the “rich young ruler,” however.  He DID NOT BECOME A HYPOCRITE.  He did not claim to follow Christ, yet hold to the world.

            The idea of being a genuine CHRISTIAN implies more than just being a believer in a historical Christ.  The Greek word for “church” is “ekkleesia.”  The meaning of this word has nothing to do with an institution or building, as we currently employ the term.  The word “church,” as used in the Scriptures refers not to a building, but to a people.  The Greek word “klases” comes from a root which means “to call.”  The preposition “ek” means “from out of the midst.”  Therefore, those who are of the CHURCH are those who have heard THE CALL (of the Holy Spirit) and HAVE COME OUT.  (Not out of the world, but out of every thing worldly.)

            TRUE CHRISTIANITY has a very definite objective.  It is a movement with specific designs to an end.  God, the Creator of all flesh, has a purpose in the processes of earth’s affairs.  God wants a FAMILY.  His family is a product of the creative ability of His own Holy Spirit.  His family will have the divine nature just as He has that nature: they “shall be like Him.”  Those who are accounted worthy subjects of the Father’s family are they who submit to the COMMANDS AND DEMANDS of His Son Jesus.

            TRUE CHRISTIANITY is not a gift of divine providence, but is, rather, a product of the Spirit’s work which takes time and the co-operation of mankind.  Christian character is not inherited from one’s parents; it is something that is wrought in the rolling mill of time.  It is a quality that is developed by the heat of the furnace and the blows of the hammer.  No novice has depth of Christian learning: babes know not the order of a well disciplined spirit.  Most people play truant from God’s school: the lessons concerning the acquiring of divine nature appear too hard, so they run away from the Lord and seek the “pleasures of sin” in preference to His halls of correction.

            CHRISTIANITY, as practiced by many religious denominations in America today, is actually very little more than a cheap mimic of the faith of Jesus.  This may appear to be a very shocking statement, but by scriptural standards, much of our American Christianity bears little resemblance to that of the early church.  The only proof we have for this statement is the Word of God itself.  We appeal to you to consider the COMMANDS of Jesus, and then see if His words are being obeyed or ignored by most of modern Christendom.

There are few religious organizations today which would DARE advocate that their members practice ALL THE COMMANDS OF OUR LORD!  This is astonishing! Think of it: we have a faith that we claim to believe in, yet we do not OBEY those things required of the believers.  Consider this statement of Christ recorded in the fourteenth chapter of Luke: “Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (vs. 27).  Here is one of the MUSTS for any follower of Jesus.  The believer MUST bear a certain thing that is known as his own personal cross.  There is no dodging this; it is an absolute requisite.  Escape it if you will, but you CANNOT BE A DISCIPLE.  The second requirement is no easier than the first: “COME AFTER ME.”  This, also, is “a hard saying,” and how many men can hear it?

            To “come after” Christ is to follow Him, walk as He leads, walk where He leads, walk when He leads.  “As many as are LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14).  So revolutionary is this walk with Christ that one’s whole manner of life is completely changed.  It is not a case of the believer fitting Christ into his WAY OF LIFE; it means that the believer gives himself over to the Lord to such an extent that his life is placed in the hands of the Saviour and he no more directs his own walk but lets his Lord fit his life into the divine plan.

            Verse 33 in the 14th chapter of Luke is the real STONE OF STUMBLING for most people.  Here again the Master makes an absolute statement concerning the MUSTS of discipleship.  “Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple.”  Notice that He did not say “consecrateth” all that he hath.  He said, “FORSAKETH.”  Many people glibly say that all they have belongs to the Lord. They have made themselves believe that it lies loosely in their hands, and any time the Lord wants it, all He must do is to take it.  Of course, in the meantime they have the use of it!

            A few years ago we met a man in Alabama who had been greatly prospered financially.  He said he had fifty thousand dollars, of which five thousand dollars was tithe that belonged to the Lord, but he was keeping it for Him!  He said that he wouldn’t give it to any of these money-grabbing preachers,” and so he was acting as God’s custodian, until the day He asked for it!

            The Lord never did thunder from heaven for men to give Him their funds, and He never will.  It is absolutely ridiculous for a man to assume such an attitude.  You either give to God, or you hold from God.  For a man to keep things for himself and claim that they are the Lord’s is absolute nonsense.

            The COMMAND of Christ is to FORSAKE.  To forsake is to GIVE UP, get rid of, dispose of, have no more.  Lest there be some who think much is being made from one isolated verse of Scripture, we turn to another gospel.  These words also came from the lips of our Saviour: “Go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow Me” (Matthew 19:21).

            This same thing is recorded in three of the gospels.  There may be some who think that this COMMAND was only for the rich young ruler, but consider the gospel of Luke where our Lord, in speaking to His disciples, said: “Fear not little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not” (Luke 12:32,33).

            Individual poverty is a New Testament doctrine.  The Saviour said, “Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt.1 9:23).  Yet consider the feverish activity of many so-called Christians as they rush about trying to make another dollar.  Jesus COMMANDED, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth … ye cannot serve God and mammon.  Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on” (Matthew 6:19-25).  These are not SUGGESTIONS for a good way to live: they are THE COMMANDS OF THE MASTER OF THE HOUSE.

            The forsaking of individual possessions is an important step on the path to eternal life.  After THINGS have been disposed of in the name of the Lord, one finds himself with a complete new outlook on things eternal.  The apostle Paul said, “Let us lay aside EVERY WEIGHT.”  The reason for this was that we might “run with patience the race that is set before us.”

            In the apostle’s letter to Timothy he said, “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:4).

            The Saviour Himself warned this generation, saying, “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with … CARES OF THIS LIFE, and so that day come upon you unawares” (Luke 21:34).

            Jesus said: “If any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not … He that rejecteth  Me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:47,48).

            Are YOU a PROFESSING CHRISTIAN with only a profession, or are you a SCRIPTURAL CHRISTIAN with a possession?

PRACTICAL CHRISTIANITY

            “Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, His spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.  Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.  Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him.  And some said, What will this babbler say? … And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus (Mars’ Hill), saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?” (Acts 17:16-19).

            “Mars’ Hill” was not a mound of earth on the outskirts of the city; it was the place of the high court of the city of Athens.  It was equivalent to having a speaker invited to the city stadium, today.

            It isn’t at all likely that the apostle Paul was highly elated about this invitation.  Surely he was not so naïve that he would think that the men of the world were truly interested in the message of the cross!  The men of influence in this city considered Paul to be a “babbler,” and out of curiosity they wanted to hear a slant on religion, a different phase, a new approach.  They had hope of having their “ears tickled.”  A “new doctrine” had promise of intellectual entertainment that might be a diversion from the old rote: a mental picnic into the fresh green pastures of fancy.

            The apostle presented a fine argument about “the unknown God,” and as long as he spoke of the historical side of Christianity his congregation remained attentive.  But as soon as he began to preach OBLIGATION, many “mocked” him; and others, turning away, said: “We will hear thee again of this matter.”

            Abstract preaching is the order of the day: clever illustrations, beautiful comparisons, wonderful ideals; any sinner will give ear to these.  But let an Elijah come forth to cry out that men must SERVE GOD, and there is a great scattering of the worldlings.

            True Christianity must be a PRACTICAL religion.  It is a WAY OF LIFE, not merely a conglomeration of beliefs.

            When the apostle Paul told his audience that in view of the judgment men ought to REPENT and SEEK God, they immediately called the meeting to an end.  They had very much the same attitude as the old woman who used snuff.  As long as the “parson” told pretty stories or made remarks that she could apply to her neighbors she sat back and enjoyed the sermon.  But when he began to talk about the evils of tobacco she became terribly incensed and declared, “Now he’s quit preachin’ and gone to meddlin’!”

            A great many religious Americans today are like the philosophers of Athens: they are interested in only the abstract teachings of religion.  The abstract BELIEFS of Christianity have become a fetish with multitudes.  It is astounding what people can accept and believe to be truth, as long as that belief makes no other demand except mental assent!

            “THIS KNOW also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, … heady, highminded, … having a form of godliness, … Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:1-7).

            These are the people who love to speculate in religious doctrines.  They enjoy cunningly devised interpretations of the book of Daniel or Revelation.  They have an answer for all the mysteries, and with the smug satisfaction of the hypocrite, they parade their superior knowledge before poor mortals who are unable to comprehend their marvelous and profound deductions.

            Many religious philosophical adventurers are “NEVER ABLE TO COME TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH” because they try to find and approach God only through the mind, but “The world by wisdom knew not God.”

            “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Corinthians 2:14).  No amount of Biblical research will REVEAL GOD TO HUMANITY.  God can only be found through the Spirit of Jesus Christ.  He who would find God MUST SEEK HIM.  No amount of mental activity can possibly draw back the veil and reveal the Lord of Glory.  The Father seeks to know the soul that longs to know Him.  Such a person develops a love for God, and in love seeks to please God by OBEDIENCE.  This attitude leads through the “STRAIT GATE AND THE NARROW WAY,” and such a soul will be found of Him, for God Himself has promised to come and make His abode with such a soul (John 14:23).

            “Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries …  and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” (I Corinthians 13:2).  Think of it!  Knowledge COMPLETE: not mere speculation!  But, actually, a complete understanding of ALL OF THE MYSTERIES is NOT THE ANSWER.  When you search the Scriptures, do you search them merely for intellectual entertainment?  Or do you search that you might become acquainted with Him who is the author of the Word?

            “Charity,” as it is used in this chapter of Corinthians, is actually not an ACT, but it is a PERSON.  “Charity” as shown here has all of the attributes of a person.  But only the person, Jesus Christ, could fit this description.  So if a man have ALL KNOWLEDGE and yet does not KNOW Jesus, “IT PROFITETH HIM NOTHING.”

            There is something far more precious than gold and far sweeter than the honeycomb: it is the knowledge of the PRESENCE OF JESUS.  Man need not be ignorant concerning his relationship with the Lord.  It is possible to KNOW HIM.  The apostle Paul said: “I KNOW HIM whom I have believed.”

            Seek the Lord in deep earnest prayer until you have this KNOWLEDGE OF GOD.  Then, after you have contacted Him, WALK IN COMPLETE OBEDIENCE TO HIS SPIRIT and you will know the joys of an abundant Christian life.

CHRISTIAN OCCUPATION

            Most brands of twentieth century Christianity are Christian in name only.  There is very little similarity or likeness between this modern “believism” and the apostolic faith.  The religion of this day must fulfil the desires of its clientele: it must not hinder nor cramp their style and it dare not be “negative” nor demand restraint, but must add to the luster of their glittering existence.  It should also contribute various features of excitement to their lives to be extremely entertaining if it is to be at all acceptable to the pleasure-loving masses.

            Many of the professional ministers, hired by apostates, are filling the empty heads of the rebellious with all manner of abstract theological concepts.  Millions of dollars are pouring into the world’s greatest “evangelistic” efforts.  The Federal Council of churches recently sponsored a mammoth campaign in New York City which they tell us cost over one million dollars.  The results of this great effort are what?  Were the people driven to their knees in deep prayer and repentance?  Did men actually find God?  Or were multitudes of people converted to church membership: made professors, claiming and assuming the Christian status?

            “Accept the Lord Jesus Christ” is an unscriptural phrase from every standpoint.  Judging from the way this new type of religion is pictured by many, you might imagine that the Creator is somewhat like a great sales promoter who is pressing all mankind to accept samples of some new kind of soap!  Jesus Himself said, “No man can come to Me, except THE FATHER … DRAW him.”  True Christianity never has had much appeal for the multitudes.  The “WAY TO LIFE EVERLASTING” has not been the “broad” way, for “strait is the gate and narrow is the way.” 

            The early church did not believe in any such nonsense as “accept” and merely “believe,” for in those days the Holy Ghost power was such that NO MAN DURST “JOIN HIMSELF TO THEM” (Acts 5:13).

            When the church walked with God “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47).  Take cognizance of the fact that God was discriminating!  He does not want the rebellious, the lawless, and the proud in His church: He saved only that certain kind who “SHOULD BE SAVED.”

            The “believism” of numerous religious sectarians is a most deceptive false covering which the masses have chosen in preference to the truth.  Men have cried out for a religion that would not bind them or obligate them to the PLAIN SPOKEN COMMANDS OF JESUS CHRIST, and for this cause God has sent them “STRONG DELUSION” (2 Thessalonians 2:10,11).

            More than a hundred million people in America CLAIM CHRIST as their SAVIOUR.  To most of them He is a sort of insurance policy, or “fire escape.”  Their consciences are stilled and their fears allayed by their proud CLAIMS.  The masses are so happy in the thought that He has been made compatible to the American way-of-life!

            “In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Matthew 13:14,15).  Mark well the words, “LEST AT ANY TIME THEY SHOULD SEE … UNDERSTAND … BE CONVERTED … HEALED.”  When men and nations have deliberately shut their eyes and ears to the words of God, the Lord will neither CONVERT nor HEAL such a people.

            In America, long lines of conscience hardened, self-willed and pleasure-loving men and women stream to the super-duper altars of the celebrities of evangelism where they are told that they are CONVERTED and HEALED. The high pressure methods of the “spellbinders” move upon the masses to accept a lie that is in direct contradiction to the PLAIN STATEMENTS OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.  The Saviour said that certain individuals should not be converted or healed: the great evangelist declares that “God is good” and His blessings are now open to ALL MEN if they will only “BELIEVE” and “ACCEPT.”

            The first preacher of New Testament doctrine was John the Baptist.  He refused any mere “believism” and “acceptism” of those of religious bent.  “Bring forth fruits worthy of REPENTANCE,” he shouted to the triflers.  He shocked them further by calling the mere believers and accepters a “generation of vipers and hypocrites.”

            CHRISTIANITY IS MORE THAN A PROFESSION: IT IS AN OCCUPATION.  If any man “follow” Christ, that man’s complete WAY OF LIFE will be changed to fit a precise pattern which the Saviour Himself has laid down.  In order to separate the “just” from the “unjust” our God has devised ways and means that are just as effective today as they were two thousand years ago.  His people were left IN THE WORLD, but certain marks of distinction stamp them as being definitely not OF THE WORLD.

            OCCUPATIONAL OBLIGATIONS of true Christianity are clearly set forth by the PLAIN COMMANDS of the Lord Jesus in the four gospels.  It is not necessary to dig into the mysteries of Revelation, or the obscure prophecies of Daniel and Zechariah, in order to learn about our duties to God, as His servants.  The PLAIN WORDS of Christ set forth the complete plan.  Strange as it may seem, His words are the ones which have been rejected; and very few men of our day have any real desire to OBEY the very one whom they call LORD.

            Every follower of Jesus Christ has been given in the gospels a “divine manifesto,” the tenets of which are as plain as the nose on any man’s face.

            “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Mark 8:34); this is divine instruction.  Any man who shuts his eyes to these words will certainly lose his way with God.

            SELF-DENIAL is a must for every one who expects to meet the Saviour with joy in “that day.”  The first and foremost “Goliath” in every convert’s life is the giant of SELF.  A definite stand must be taken against this uncircumcised Philistine, for only by the grace of God and the help of His Spirit can this warped SELF-nature be kept underfoot.  Constant vigilance on the part of saints is necessary if the SELF-evil within us is to be kept in subjection.  Through the wise providence of God He saw fit to “subject the creature to vanity” (Romans 8:20), with the object in view of disciplining the stubborn spirit of man.  The disgusting and humiliating manifestations of the self-life are a constant source of grief to the Christian.  But as self is overcome the saint develops in character, the divine nature is imparted, and thus the true follower of Christ is changed for the glory of God.

            SELF-DENIAL leads the believer to COMPLETE SURRENDER TO CHRIST.  First, one “counts the cost,” and then step by step the Spirit and the Word lead to “suffering the loss.”  Many people believe that ALL belongs to the Lord, and actually think that in their hearts they have committed ALL to Him; but it is not until one has “suffered the loss of ALL things” that he truly knows the meaning of commitment to Christ.

            “THE CROSS” in the life of a Christian is far more than a sentimental belief in that instrument of torture which stood on Golgotha’s hill.  Numerous “crocodile tears” have wet the cheeks of many hypocrites as they have sung that well-known hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross.”  The modern religious world has glorified this old cross of Calvary, for there, they say, all discomfort and everything evil was removed forever.

            But the CROSS that is “despised by the world” is the one which we are told to “TAKE UP DAILY.”  It is that personal CROSS that requires each one of us to CONFORM OUR LIVES TO THE PLAIN COMMANDS OF JESUS.

            The OBJECTIVE of Christianity is not only to save mankind from the fires of hell: it is to prepare a people to be received into the Presence of the Father.  Earth is the PLACE of preparation.  The “day of salvation” is the time of this divine effort, and the MEANS of bringing about this transformation and regeneration is COMPLIANCE TO BOTH THE WORD AND THE SPIRIT.

            God has offered THE PROCESS of recreation: man of his own volition must make the choice and then willingly submit to THE PROCESS.  Jesus prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17).  Sanctification is the state of being separated unto God.  This state is brought about, not by any instantaneous work of divine grace, but by the slow and painful process of daily surrender to the divine will as revealed by the written Word and confirmed by the Holy Spirit within.

            The natural or carnal man resists the urging of the Holy Spirit and considers the LORDSHIP OF CHRIST a form of tyranny.  Such are those who say: “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14).  The mob that tries to enter by way of the “broad gate” loves to claim Christ as their SAVIOUR, but refuses to obey Him as their LORD and MASTER.

            The gospel of Jesus, and of all of the apostles, was THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.  That kingdom is ruled by Jesus, THE ABSOLUTE MONARCH.  His word is LAW, and those who disregard His word do dishonor to the King, and are guilty of offending the dignity of His throne.  Christ’s COMMANDS given in the gospels are the precepts of the constitution of that kingdom which is “not of this world.”  The disregard that men exercise concerning His COMMANDS is evident proof that they reject Him as a sovereign and despise His law as a means to a way of life.  “If we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation” (Hebrews 10:26,27).

            Following are listed a few of the most common COMMANDS of Christ that are both despised and rejected of men.

            “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth” (Matthew 6:19).  In the face of such a COMMAND how can Christians LAY UP any wealth?  There is much talk about SOCIAL SECURITY and OLD AGE PENSIONS and many other slave-creating devices which men are devoted to in their effort TO SAVE THEIR LIVES, but the Lord has said that such people will lose their lives.  “Take no thought for your life” (Matthew 6:25).

And again, in verse 34:  “Take … no thought for the morrow.”  Ministers and laymen alike are guilty before God, of the complete disregard for these COMMANDING words of the Lord.  Man thinks he knows better; so he takes out insurance policies against fire, theft, storm, flood, earthquake, liability, old age, and even burial insurance.  Next comes health and hospital insurance, as well as an insured job.  Men feel that they no more need to be subject to the vagaries of PROVIDENCE!  They feel that they are now self-sufficient and well able to withstand the storms of life.

            Jesus said that men could not serve both “God AND mammon” (Matthew 6:24), but this generation of believers seem to think that it can be done.  And they most certainly are putting up an all-out effort to do it!

            “Sell that ye have, and give alms” (Luke 12:33) - another COMMAND of the Lord’s that is hated by most of the Christian-professing masses.  There is no getting around the fact that Jesus taught a complete surrender of personal property and things.  “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor” (Matthew 19:21).  This was the instruction given to the rich young ruler; but the apostles must have obeyed this command long before He spoke it to the young ruler, for Peter said: “we have forsaken ALL, and followed Thee” (verse 27).

            It is evident from the Word that the forsaking of ALL was not only for the twelve apostles, for Jesus made the statement: “whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not ALL THAT HE HATH, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke14:33).  Here is a condition of discipleship: take it or leave it, it is a very plain statement.

            When the Holy Spirit set the apostolic church in order, one of the first changes made among the new believers was an economic change.  They were made to know that they were now brethren, and all that they owned belonged to Christ.  Also, every Christian was one with Christ.  Each individual “I” was now to be submerged in the “we” of the Christian body.  It was the mind of the Spirit “That there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care one for another.  And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it” (I Corinthians 12:25,26).

            Individual “ownership” ended with conversion to Christ, and properties were sold and the proceeds turned into the common treasury (Acts 2:44-46; 4:32-35).  In those days when the church was fully OBEYING THE COMMANDS of the Lord, “great grace was upon them all.  Neither was there any among them that lacked.”  This plan of the Lord WORKS.  It worked then, and it can work NOW.

            As Jesus said, “he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).  Those who follow Christ practice OBEDIENCE to the COMMANDS of Christ.  “A certain Jew named Aquila” was a disciple of Christ who practiced the Christian community plan and brotherhood, for the church was “IN THEIR HOUSE”  (Romans 16:3-5; I Corinthians 16:19; Acts 18:1-3).  The great apostle Paul contributed to the income of this small community in Corinth by working with them in their occupation as tentmakers.

            Many people contend that it cannot work today; but the fact that there are successful Christian communities even now in operation repudiates such a claim.  There are some who say that the community plan was only tried in Jerusalem and because of its impracticability it failed and was forever discontinued.  The apostolic church failed God just as ancient Israel failed Him: the whole history of mankind is one of failure.  The church soon lost not only the community, but even many of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, as well.  The “Dark Ages” are a testimony to the depths of dearth and ignorance to which it is possible for men to sink.

            The New Testament Scriptures plainly teach that all of the early Christians were completely dedicated to the cause of Christ.  If we are to follow the example of the apostolic church we will also enlist our all for our Lord, and be not satisfied until we are serving Him according to the manner spoken of in His Sermon on the Mount.