Saturday, January 14, 2012

This Idol Called "Institutional Church"

Are We Finally Ready to Be Free From Babylon?

"Idolatry is committed, not merely by setting up false gods, but also by setting up false devils." – G.K. Chesterton

A brother called me this week about the article on Biblical, Godly authority.  I mentioned that many church folks do not understand this topic because of idolatry.  What do they idolize?  The very system which enslaved them.

People mistakenly think that you can only idolize that which you adore, want to be like, or desire to attain.  However, you can also idolize that which you hate or fear.  How do you know something has become an idol to you?  It begins to take a place in your life that only God should have.  You begin to be molded by IT (either your attraction to it or your repulsion from it) instead of by the Lord.

A young girl might say, "I don't want to be anything like my mother when I grow up."  So she spends her whole life trying not to be like her mother.  Guess what?  Her mother is her idol.  Everything she does or says is calculated to "not be like her mother"; as a result, she remains bound.  She is not free to be conformed to the image of Christ because the image of her mother is the standard by which she measures herself.  This is what people have done with the church.

The world is full of all kinds of religion - even within what is called 'Christianity' - where man does good works to become a better person or to be accepted by God.  Yet, the problem is that such is impossible.  Good works do not change who you are on the inside.  No amount of feeding the poor is going to make you stop wanting to fornicate.  No matter how much time you spend caring for the elderly, it won't remove the urge to lie. We are only changed inwardly as we abide in relationship with Jesus Christ.

The thing to remember is this: Religion concentrates on the external (outward performance). but relationship with God deals with what is internal (inward transformation) (I Samuel 16:7; Matthew 23:27; John 7:24).  However, there are plenty of people who are willing to let you try to work up your redemption in servitude to them (their opinions, rules, etc.).  You will often find such persons in a place around the corner called "church".  This is why abuse - emotional, sexual, financial, spiritual, etc. -  abounds in many "church" settings.  Until we are ready for God to deal with who we are on the inside (not just how we appear before men), we will stumble around circling in that wilderness of religion, trying to be pleasers & worshipers of men.

In coming out of such situations, it is not uncommon for folks to focus on what they think was wrong with the "church".  Yet, the truth which many fail to realize is this: You were never in the church of GodSuch was not "the church", nor was it the "institutional church" was simply Babylon.

The issue is not that church has become a business, that wolves are abusing authority, or that men are trying to bind people to themselves.  The issue is that people falsely believe that Babylon is the church.

Let's Come Out of Babylon & Get Babylon Out of Us!

As the young girl trying desperately to not be like her mother, we now have multitudes of church folks trying desperately not to be like the "institutional church" (IC).  Instead of looking to the word of God to determine the standard for truth, beliefs are erected or eradicated based upon what seems unlike that idol.  This has resulted in Biblical attributes of the church being demonized and perverted.

A frequent cry of some who fight against the IC is that 'The church is not a building.' or "I am the church."   Yet these assertions are not completely accurate. The word translated "church" in the New Testament refers primarily to those whom God has called out of the world unto Himself; the ekklÄ“sia or "called out ones".
ekklēsia: a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting; the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth; those who anywhere, in a city, village, constitute such a company and are united into one body.
The word "church" is a corporate word.  While our bodies are each individually the temple of the Lord, the "church" is a gathering of those bodies; an assembly or company of the saints united into one body.  One person is not the "church", but is a part of the church.  The church as a whole is the Body of Christ, and we are all members of that Body; but no one member constitutes the Body of Christ by itself (Romans 12:4-5; I Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 5:23, 30; Colossians 1:18, 24).

The "church" is not only those whom God has called out, it is also a reference to the "place" where these "called out ones" fellowship, gather, assemble, and meet.  So we see that whether such gatherings occur in a building or not is a non-issue.  In fact, those who focus on how the "church is not a building", are still often trapped in the very realm of religion (Babylon) that they claim to fight against.

If "going TO a building" does not make one a member of the church of God, then how does "coming OUT of a building" make one a member of the church of God?  Do we not see how ludicrous that is?

When God commands us to come out of Babylon, He is speaking of turning away from all false religion (including our false ideals about it) to experience life in Him through relationship with Jesus.  Fellowship within buildings does not make you a Christian any more than staying away from fellowships in buildings makes you a Christian (both external works), but being born again by the Spirit of the Living God (an internal work).

In glancing at the Scriptures, we can see that the church is:
  • Those people who have been called out of the world in reconciliation to God through His Son Jesus Christ (Acts 2:47; Ephesians 2:19-20)
  • The place where such people gather, assemble, and meet for worship (Acts 11:22; Romans 16:1,5; I Corinthians 1:2, 4:7, 11:18-22, 14:19, 16:19; Colossians 4:15, 16; I Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 12:23)
  • One Body with many members and one head, namely Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:22, 5:23; Colossians 1:18, 24)
  • Endowed with patriarchal authority from God to serve as leadership in providing order and oversight  (I Timothy 3:5; Acts 14:23; Acts 20:28; Hebrews 13:7,17; I Corinthians 12:18, 14:35, 15:16-17; I Thessalonians 5:12,17; )
  • Given spiritual power to trample over the enemy (Satan), spoil his kingdom, and set his captives free (Matthew 16:18-19; Mark 16:16-18)
  • Purposed with perfecting the individual saints so that they in turn can do the works of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12)
There is government, there is order, there is accountability, there is power, and yes, there is even liberty in the church of God.

We must stop trying to reform Babylon and calling it "church".  Babylon has been a harlot from the beginning and will continue to be until it is judged by God.  The answer to Babylon is to be transformed into the image of Christ so that YOU can then do the works of the ministry as a living member of His Body. 

Stand Up & Reclaim Your Anointing

The story of Samson & Delilah is a depiction of the spiritual reality behind Babylon.  You lay your head in the lap of a harlot as she lulls you to sleep.  She then cuts off the source of your anointing, leaving you spiritually blind and imprisoned in a lifestyle of servitude unto men.

And consider as well, the problem was not Delilah; the problem was with Samson!  Delilah's immorality should have been apparent to Samson because he was fornicating with her and she had repeatedly tried to abuse him.  If he had not been filled and drawn away with his own diverse lusts, Delilah wouldn't have been appealing to him (James 1:14).  This teaches us an important lesson.  When we are attracted to the harlot, the problem is never outside of us, but within.  Likewise, the solution to the problem is never outside of us, but within. 

BUT, Samson's hair eventually grew back and his anointing returned; although not because he kept focusing on Delilah and what she had done to him.  Samson's anointing returned when he turned his whole heart to God.  No longer driven by his carnal lusts, he didn't even care about his own life in this world.  It was then that he could stand in the midst of the Philistine's pagan temple and be a channel of God's power to demolish it.

Why am I harping on this?  Because too many church folk are being deceived thinking that ascribing to something that doesn't look like the "IC" equates to freedom in Christ.  It doesn't!  Since folks don't want to deal with what is wrong within themselves, it easier to simply blame the harlot.  Yet the harlot did exactly what she was supposed to do: hunt for unstable souls (Proverbs 6:26, 7:10-15, 23:28; II Peter 2:14).  Folks are saying they are "free from religion" but are still very much religious because they base their freedom on what they do or don't do (external works). 

Many times, church folks are being led out of the "IC" and into the same bondage of religious performance because their souls have not been made whole.  Unless the pattern we have for defining the church is based on the whole counsel of Scripture, then even our answer for addressing perceived ills is in error.  If what we wind up with once we have left the "IC" is at odds with Scripture, then we are still in Babylon.

Do you have to attend a local fellowship to be a Christian?  No.  However, if you are born again, you will have a desire for fellowship with the saints.  Further, you will understand that such is a mechanism chosen by God to grow you up so that you in turn can then go forth and preach the Gospel yourself. 

Some assert that every Christian has to attend local fellowships or else they are rebellious, lazy, proud, and not a believer.  This perspective is just as skewed as those who fight against joining local fellowships.  While it is true that those who reject the Biblical outline & benefits of church fellowship are in error, we must set our sights higher folks!

The purpose of "church" is not to offer us a place where we can socialize from week to week for years on end as some 'proof' that we are Christians.  The purpose of church is to be a training ground & source of edification for the saints while representing the Kingdom of Heaven to those around us who are lost.  In other words, the church is to be about the Father's business.

When Jesus came, He did not run around trying to fight the Pharisees & Sadduccees.  While He dealt with these religious leaders when they approached him, they were not the focus of His ministry.  Why?  Because He was about the Father's business (Luke 2:49; John 4:34, 5:17, 6:38, 8:29, 9:4) and what is the chaff to the wheat?  This is our answer as well.  We need to be about the Father's business, and we cannot do that while trying to protect & defend these idols we have about "church" (whether positive or negative).

To be completely whole, we must do more than know & talk about that which is wrong; we must be conformed to that which is right.  The true sign that you belong to Christ - and thereby His church - is that the life of Jesus is flowing through you and being imparted to others to draw them into the faith.  Such must be our goal.

"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." Matthew 24:14

For an example of how some are endeavoring to uphold the biblical pattern of church to reach the lost, see the following video about Omega Church & Ministries Center's global evangelical outreach.


  1. This is awesome teaching and I learned something today! Thank you, I have emailed this blog to friends. God bless!

  2. This is a much needed article. It has LAYERS of topics for correction and instruction within that will surely help us all grow up and attain unity, if we will just yield and obey. Praise God for speaking through His servants as He is preparing us in grace and mercy for these end times.

    On a lighter note, how yall been? LOL!

    1. Please google search "protestantiems refute dbyS cripture" & "salvation by faith alone refuted by scripture".

    2. Hi Fox,

      It is way too late in the day to be worried about religious arguments of Protestantism vs. Catholicism. Either someone personally knows the Lord and can hear from Him personally to fulfill His will or not. You really need to forget about religious strivings and seek to know the Lord for real as we are in the last days.

      We must be born again if we have any hope of seeing the Lord.

  3. This is discipling ... this is church.
    A picture is worth 1000 words!

    A disciple of Christ ~ Susan

  4. Hi Susan,

    I really LOVE the video! My only thoughts would be that, in some ways, it typifies the issues discussed here.

    For example, in order for the church to look like people coming "out" to disciple, people must first come "in" to church to be taught.

    While the church (people) should certainly about doing the works of the ministry, there is also according to Scripture a church (gathering place) where the saints are perfected in order to do the works of the ministry.

    The problem is not buildings, services, meetings, etc. The problem is when people settle there and never grow up to become disciples themselves.

    The place is not irrelevant, but should be a vehicle for training and sending members of the church out to do the Father's work.

    God Bless!

  5. Hey sis!

    I really like this article, (and all of your articles) because it challenges me to think about topics and my own beliefs in a biblical way.

    While there are points of disagreement I have concerning whether church is a "place" vs. a people gathered in a specific place locally and universally (there is a difference) your points are well heeded.

    You articulated something I have known for a while... therefore I have simply stopped calling many places "church" because they simply do not fit the characteristics of church of God.

    I also figured out very quickly, coming out of an institutional church does not make one free, as a matter of fact one can be bound to the same mentality of which enslaved them to their false church to begin with. This is why I have made videos and blogs with this sentiment... point people to Christ, and from Christ all good those things will flow.

    Godly leadership and accountability is needed in the body, however I believe most leaders model their leadership after the world, and have little to no idea how to be a servant leader as Christ was before them. Reformation and renewing of the mind needs to come from the "top" so to speak. Jesus' leadership is radical and profound, and validated by his service to ALL, not the want to be served.

    Excellent points on how the IC can become an idol whether you are enslaved to it or not. This is why the mentality of being part of this system (which we will both agree is indeed part of the Babylonian harlot structure) is essential. It all depends on how you define the IC, because I have said and still believe that not every organized church fits the IC model, nor is local assembly wrong... it is NEEDED! The disagreement is based on HOW we meet vs. not meeting at all.

    I also watched the video presentation made by Pastor Price, and while I agree with us going back to the basics concerning what we do as the kingdom of God, building these big edifices IMHO is NOT the answer. I know this is well intentioned, but it may be creating more of the same issues that much of the IC currently has thinking building more buildings will make people do the work it takes.

    The laborers are few sis, and while again well intentioned, I just wonder.

    Psalm 20:4
    May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.

    Proverbs 16:9
    In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.

    Proverbs 19:21
    Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.

    Grace and peace to you and your ministry sis.

  6. Hi SetFreeFromTheIC,

    I know that you understand where I am coming from as we have both been there and done that. :-)

    I am not too much into semantics. The bottom line for me is that God's word does indicate that there was the regular gathering of saints locally where there were elders, teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, collection of donations, etc. Scripture also sets forth a government and order for these gatherings with the goal of perfecting the saints themselves to go out and minister. We can call that "church" or any word we choose, but there is a place for such in the life of a believer, particularly a new one.

    Pastor Price is a pretty practical guy. I am not saying that this is you, but we cannot be so set against what we were delivered from that we cripple ourselves in actually doing the works of God.

    Once people come to the Lord, how do we help them practically? It has to be more than spiritual because people need to survive down here while they are growing in the Lord. There should be a place they can come anytime for help, for prayer, for daycare, for job assistance, for counseling, for food, for financial help...While we certainly have the primary desire to minister to the souls of men, we also need to be a real help in a time of need for the daily struggles people are dealing with.

    There is a prostitute I know who was interested in giving her life to the Lord. However, turning tricks was all she knew. While she wanted to give up that life, she also had children to care for. What was I to do? Just tell her to trust and wait upon the Lord because He will provide? And I am not saying that He won't provide, but I am saying that we need to be able to offer practical assistance to folks so that they don't wind up going back to a life of sin (which this young lady did). It would have been wonderful if I could send her to a shelter where housing could be provided, care for his children give, training for her to obtain another profession, etc.

    Just like there are reasons why a family needs a physical home, there are similar reasons why the church needs a physical home. While I am sure that we could survive without it, I am very thankful to have a place to call home as it makes caring and providing for my children that much easier. When they grow up, they may very well venture out and get homes of their own. But while I am charged with raising them, our home is a God-send in doing the very things God is charging me to do for their care.

    While doctors and nurses could certainly go on the road and offer assistance to the sick and wounded, is there not a benefit in having a "place" to tend to such persons? Anyway, I am sure you see what I mean.

    God has always arranged for such for His people and that is continued in the New Testament. It is not for man's glory, but to the glory of God so that His people are made whole in every way.

    As you say sister, it is all in the Lord's hands. I know that this is a vision God has given Pastor Price many years ago. As such, He alone can bring it to pass. Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers about it. I would hope that there would be such places all around - whether part of Omega or not - which could be a beacon of light and hope to the lost.

    Many ills we see all around us is because the church is not doing what it is called to do and be to the lost. May God guide us all and lead us to the purpose He has set before us, for the sake of the harvest and His great name's sake.

    God Bless You sister!!

  7. Also, one more thing.

    The issue is not that there are already too many church buildings. The issue is that there are many 'buildings' and almost none of them are the church.

    There is many a "mega-church" in this city, but these are merely citadels to man's ego. They are not doing the works of the ministry, but establishing man-centered empires built on perversion.

    The building is not the answer and is certainly not going to inspire anyone to do the works of God. A building is merely a tool through which the Gospel can be propagated and ministers supported as people are brought through, trained, and sent forth to heal others.

  8. What do you say after you have one more thing once you have already said you had "one more thing"? LOL

    Anyway, for all, the solution is not for the church to try and be unlike the IC.

    The problem with the IC is not that they had "buildings", or leadership, or services, etc. The problem with what is called the IC is that such was never the church, but Babylon.

    If the IC has buildings, are we going to shun all buildings? If the IC has elders, are we going to shun elders? If the IC has music, will we shun from all music?

    The standard for the church is not what man does or does not do. The standard is the word of God. Unless this is our guide in all things, we will be led into deception.

    Okay, I really think that is all for now. :-)

  9. Hey Mia! I really like the article. I also don't like not being able to PHYSICALLY help those trying to come out of the world (referring to your prostitute story). I think that's the part that struck me the most because while I certainly offer Jesus, I sure would like to offer more to help those transitioning from the world or even those transitioning from the IC. Good article, will watch the video later as it is late here. Will call you back later this week! :-)

  10. Hi Octavia,

    Offering practical help to people is what the early church did, in addition to providing spiritual nourishment. And again - being practical - there were "places" they used to accomplish this.

    There were places where they assembled to meet and worship, such even physically shook at times when prayers and praise were lifted up.

    When Ananias & Sapphira sold their house and pretended to have given everything, their bodies were carried "out" of the place to be buried. Peter even told Sapphira, the men who buried your husband are now at the door. They were in a "building".

    When a dispute arose about the care of widows as the disciples multiplied, they appointed deacons to handle the matter as it was not appropriate for them to leave the dedication to God's word in order to "serve tables". So this place had "tables" where people were served food.

    No need to go on I suppose, but to go back to my old days for just a minute, "We have got to stop tripping." LOL How is that? You'll likely never hear me say that again. :-)

    The early church used physical places to provide practical help to people. They didn't just preach the word, save souls, and say, "Okay, we don't know how you will meet your daily needs, but God speed to ya!"

    The church was a living, functioning Body doing the works of God, and they used all resources available to them to do that. Just think even of the donations. People sold their homes and gave that money to the disciples. What were the disciples doing with all of that money? Providing for the needs of the people. Our minds have been so messed up in Babylon (much more than I think we understand) that we are even missing the basics.

    And this may be a shocker for some, but even a house is a building. :-)

    You know, for example, how we often open our home up for others to stay when needed and for ministry to others. But, we are still limited by what we can provide through this one family in this one place. I would love to see a home for the church where multiple people/families could be supported.

    Anyway, that is why I posted that quote at the top of the article. People have made buildings, services, leadership, etc. "false devils". Even is men abuse such, that doesn't make these things wrong. If Satan perverts that which is right and true, then that which is right and true doesn't become wrong because of it.

    Lord, please lift our eyes to see YOU and forget about all else. Let us do your works and get about your business, because that is what servants do.

  11. Yes I agree! I pray the Lord shows us ways we can help in meeting the daily needs of the Saints! Because it just seems like our house is running out of room! LOL! :-D

  12. Awww Man! Your house was the next one on the list for our expansion. :-)

  13. *blank stare after that comment* LOL!

  14. There definitely is a spiritual ( MYSTERY ) Babylon but if u read Revelation 18 there is also ( MYSTERY( COMMERCIAL ) babylon who decieves the whole world with her sorceries ( unrestrained corrupt Capitalism perhaps ?? ) and seems to be the leader of world trade & commerce who God calls a whore and an abomination.
    Heres in these videos is an idea u might consider or @ least look @ .........


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