Thursday 19 August 2010

Attending Church - Fred Pruitt

Attending Church?
from Fred's blog
By Fred Pruitt

Someone wrote me last year because members of local churches were telling him he was out of the will of God because he did not belong to a church or attend church regularly. He wrote me twice asking about the issue. This is the first answer.
As far as your question is concerned, let me give you my brief touch on that.
I think it is true that the Spirit brings many of us up in our beginning days in that church structure you have described, giving ourselves over to those authorities within those structures.
But when you grow up, then you are free to go and develop as you see fit. Inside or outside the established structure. If what Paul had set up still continued to exist in the form in which Paul originally built it, we might be hard-pressed to abandon it. But he was setting up structures to fit his particular time in particular places he visited. I do not think anything close to a duplicate of what Paul built, structurally, has come down to us in our time, though everybody on every street corner claims it does church “the Bible way.”
It is also clear to me that, had the Lord wanted to build a particular order and church structure that would persist throughout time, the instructions would have been clear and concise, like the minutely specific instructions
he gave Moses for the tabernacle. The reason there are so many different ones doing so many different things is obvious: we have been left with no such clarity. The only clarity we have now is the answer Jesus gave the woman at the well: God is Spirit, and they who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.” People of course think because they have services in which they worship in a particular “way” is that worship in Spirit and Truth, but to me Jesus is not talking about Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night, but an every-moment-of-every-day way of life. Every moment “to live IS Christ.” THAT is church.
Back to this growing up thing. I believe we are free to do as we please. Yes, that will shock anyone who doesn’t know the freedom we are living in, but no matter. Either it will intrigue them and cause them to want to find out about it, or it will enrage them out of envy, and they will seek to destroy us one way or another.
Those imprisoned by the law and self-effort cannot see the freedom of oneness in Christ. They can only view it as a threat to the structures and man-made doctrines and traditions they hold dear. So it’s no wonder Pastors and elders speak against you and warn their flocks about you. Rejoice! “For if they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more his servants?” (Matt 10:25)
We are free from the structures of the past, and may build new ones in our lifetime, which will also pass away when we are gone. Paul built a foundation, of Christ in us. We build on that foundation. Paul’s only warning was that what we build must also be Christ. So noted, Paul.
We live by the principles of the New Testament, not the dead letter of the words. So we don’t always have to flip open our Bibles to find out what “they” did, and how they did it. The Spirit is new in our time and is doing new things.
He is throwing off the old structures of men. Sometimes figuratively, by wiping out physical and organizational structures in men’s hearts and minds, while leaving them functioning in the temporal world. Some are called to be
“in the structure, but not of it.” The structure isn’t evil — only the “self-effort” to maintain and propagate the structure.
Or He may throw off for some of us the structures and authorities in quite a literal fashion. But we are certainly under authority to Christ and it is His structure (the household of the saints) we are actively building. This
may have no temporal counterpart, but be visible and viable only in the Spirit.
The thing is, is for you to continue in the freedom in which the Lord has set you free. You are free from the law — and all its structures and authorities. You may “go to church” if you wish or not if you wish not. You are an expression of the will of God, who has joined Himself to you as one person with you, so your “will” now expresses His will in all you do. That’s a big pill to swallow and they will fight you tooth and nail on that one, pointing out to you all your inconsistencies and evidences in your life why that could not possibly be so, but you see “in a way they know not,” and
what you see is true! Stay with the truth!
Because how you live by the inner law of an indestructible Life Who is willing and doing of His good pleasure in you. Do not doubt! You are walking around as He every moment of every day. How can you get any more “in church”
than that?
I am very sorry that there are those around you who are saying, “You are probably still saved … but you must be knit in somewhere and currently because you are not knit in a church fellowship at the moment you are out of the will of God.” Actually, it is GOOD FOR YOU to hear that, so that by that contrast you might know and walk in the Truth.
Well, brother, the first thing I will say to you is those brothers are full of shite!!!
ACW Comment - this, in the true Biblical tradition of I count all things as dung(polite word) except for knowing Christ.
RUBBISH!!! Trash talk!!!! They are full of themselves and think too highly of themselves and have taken it upon themselves to declare who is or who is not in the will of God, something which has not been given to men, and much will be required of them for this presumption. Has a new pope been elected and is he Irish now? These fellows must think they speak “ex cathedra!” Unless God kept me for a reason I would walk away from such brethren and have no more to do with them until they have been broken by the Lord of such foolishness and presumption! Your problem in yourself is not that you are not walking in who you are, but you have not yet the confidence in that reality which has overtaken you, and so they can dig at you with these ludicrous accusations and words which do not come from the Lord, by reminding you of their traditions of men which they are saying are the laws of God. So let’s look to what we can do about that!
My brother, the New Testament is first and foremost a deliverance from the bondage of self-orientation which may masquerade as “good,” but at heart is really self-looking-after-self, into the unbounded joyous liberty of LOVE. No bondage or compulsion is of the New Covenant!
Now listen to this. Here you are, more excited about Christ than you’ve ever been, more turned on, more alive, than perhaps anytime you’ve been in Christ except maybe your first euphoria of new birth. (I don’t know that about you but it has been that way with me, and I’m thinking to some degree, knowing what has gone on with you these past two years, that it has been that way with you, too.) But back to what I am saying. You have gotten so excited about the things of God and His life in you, that not only have you not forsaken fellowship, but you have TWICE flown over the Atlantic Ocean to another country, in order to be with people who are feeding you, finally, with the True Bread of Life, instead of the pablum and starvation diet you have been getting in your local churches over the years. Now, brother, that is what it is all about — about LOVE!!! You came over here to the US, not out of compulsion, of obeying some “scriptural precept,” but because LOVE drove you to it, and you could do no other!
Now that IS the New Testament. Nothing about the New Testament is about compulsion or obeying “scriptural principles.” It is, from start to finish, Alpha to Omega, about the Love of God and love of the brethren. We start living immediately, from day one, out of “the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given unto us.” We don’t choose with whom we are knit in Christ, but God is the One Who chooses this for us, and when He does, we cannot help ourselves but be with those whom we love in any way we can.
Oh, I know all those arguments — “you must be in a local fellowship, you must this, you must that,” and all those things have their time and place, but when God calls us to something else, He brings it out of us through our own desires (that are His in us) and through the circumstances of our lives.
Several things from my own life come into mind. When I was first born again, I was not in a church, and was under no one’s direct influence. But I immediately began seeking the fellowship of other believers, never thinking I was doing it to be “obedient,” but rather because it was the drive of my heart at the time. I experimented with a few churches and groups, but finally the Lord moved us from Georgia to California and put Janis and I in the same local fellowship for a few years, and at least in the beginning, I was happy as a pig in a wallow to be there. I loved everything about it. I wanted to go every time the doors were open. I didn’t want to miss anything they had there. I ate it up!
One time when we were still attending that church in California we came home to Georgia and visited Janis’ sister, who went to a very legalistic pentecostal church. It was a denomination that normally had very small congregations, but one of them, in the Atlanta area, had in the previous few years grown phenomenally large, almost as big as one of today’s “mega-churches,” and it was having a true revival there. Hundreds were coming from all over north GA, not just from that denomination but from every one, for their Sunday night service where many were finding Christ for the first time or for great infillings of the Holy Spirit and demonstations of gifts. It was the most exciting thing happening in north Georgia in those days, and thousands upon thousands were affected wonderfully for and by the Lord. Knowing my sister-in-law went to the same kind of church, I asked her one day what she thought of that church in Atlanta. She replied, “Well, our pastor warned us against it, because women are wearing pants there.” All that tremendous move of Christ, and all her pastor could think of to say, was to run it down because women were “wearing pants!” That reminds me of your situation, and also what Jesus described in Luke 7:31-35. Anybody with eyes to see could tell God is mightily moving in you! But all they can think of to speak against it is “from the weak and beggarly elements,” and to bring up some made-up rule of church attendance, to bring you back into the bondage of legalism once again. Did they never read in Colossians that Jesus took the law of shoulds and oughts (which was against us by testifying to continually what we were not by constantly telling us what we “should” or “ought” to be and do), and NAILED IT TO HIS CROSS???? (Col 2:12-23) How did these people miss that????
The Lord eventually took us 3000 miles away back to our hometown in Rome GA. And then other desires and situations arose in our lives, and we gave ourselves with all our hearts to them, as unto the Lord. One thing we began participating in was a movement called Cursillo, a wonderful weekend-retreat movement which worked in main-line churches and took people apart for a weekend of talks and devotions, with some wonderful effects on many of the participants, giving many who had never had a living relationship with Christ a first-time experience of that. It was a great time, filled with LOVE and JOY. And again, nobody made us do it. We wanted to!
It was the early 1980s, which was also the time of the heyday of Union Life Magazine. In 1980 I met for the first time personally with Norman Grubb, (I had met him in a meeting once in 1973 but had no conversation with him), and that one conversation totally reoriented my life from outer things to the inner realities of the Spirit. And we immediately were as excited about Union Life and being with other UL-ers that we did the same things you have done — we left our home in Georgia and went wherever we could to meet with others who were seeing this same truth, too. First we went to Louisville, which is about 500 miles from our home, then to other meetings in others places throughout the next few years. I tried to make it to every meeting that was feasible to go to, and in those days they were having “Union Life Conferences” all over the country, from California to New York and New England, and I went to them in nearly every part of the country.
Now during that time, Janis was invited to be a guest musician at a local church in our area. It was a “mainline” denominational church, that was newly experiencing a small revival in its midst. So the pastor was doing some different things, one of them inviting Janis to come in and share her music for a few Sundays. At the time I had just read a passage in Jacob Boehme, where he describes a disciple whose excitement and loving desire is so strong that he cannot keep away from finding the depth of fellowship in the deep things of God, so strong that he crosses sea and land to be with others who are sharing Life with him. We go to church one Sunday at this local church and the pastor has started “taking roll” of those who were not in attendance, rebuking the congregation sharply for even thinking of not attending Sunday services, and expressing the intent of visits with the absentees to bring them back into obedience. Having just read that article, and thinking about how during those days nobody “made me” go to the UL conferences or seek fellowship with them, that it just came out of the love bubbling up in my heart, I saw this principle clearly. If you have to “make people” do it, then it is out of compulsion and not love, and that is what you will get. Love wilts under intimidation.
Let us get this straight! You are no longer under the law. The law of Moses was supplanted by the New Covenant, and no new “new testament law system” was instituted in its place. You are dead to the law. This is plain in almost all of the epistles of Paul. Through Christ you ARE walking in the Spirit, and you know that you are doing so by a simple faith-recognition of that fact. It IS your truth! You are moved, motivated, by the LOVE of God, and not by the compulsion of men. I do not say these are not well-intentioned people. They may be. But they are bringing people into horrible bondage by saying God has commanded something which He has not commanded.
In Christ you are made FREE! This freedom goes along with and is both a product of and result of (paradoxically) the LOVE OF GOD, which is now your inner motivator of your entire life. You are free to love and because of love you are free. God forces no one. The New Testament is not about blessings and curses if you obey or disobey the law, but about all the Promises of God in Christ Jesus being now fulfilled and in Him it is all YES and AMEN! It IS Done! It IS Finished!
“As you have received Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him!” (Col 2:6). Now, of course, the first thing we do with that is turn it into a “commandment,” i.e., something which is demanded of us.
But HEAR the words: “AS you have received Christ Jesus the Lord —”
What does “AS” mean? It means “like” or “in the same manner,” doesn’t it?
So then, HOW did you receive Christ Jesus the Lord?
By faith. By simple recognition that He is Lord, that He has come into you to live in you and be your life.
You know this BY FAITH — by receiving it as fact, right?
Now then, this scripture changes from a “commandment” to walk or behave a certain way, but into an admonition to live and walk in Him the same way that we received Him — BY FAITH!!!! By simple receiving it as fact that He has come into you, and as you received Him in that manner, now you walk in Him in the same way — “receiving” by faith that He is walking in you as you.
It’s probably best you walk away from those folks and don’t contend with them, but if you do, please feel free to quote me! They don’t know what they are talking about, and have little clue what real LIFE is in the New Testament. They are in the same situation as those Pharisees to whom Jesus said, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they testify of Me. And ye will not come to me, that ye may have life.” (John 5:39).
Now, I am not making a pronouncement that these folks are not born again — I never make that statement, but always leave that to God. But I do say they are walking in this same false spirit that denies Christ by wrongly applying the law. And though they may be (and probably are) His, still they are disconnected in consciousness from the fullness of His Life in them by wrongly going around through “obedience to precepts and scriptural principles” are trying to establish their own righteousness. We have all gone through that, and we can only pray for those brothers that God will use the law to slay that false consciousness of flesh in them, that they might know themselves as great big nothings, as Paul speaks of in Gal 6:3. May they find their own nothingness, and in that total descent into zero, find the All in all of God that has been there all along.

Truly the Truth is living and functioning in us all, but perhaps for a time we don’t see it, like people in an airplane may not see the approaching city which is there and always has been, because they are separated in sight by a layer of clouds which give the appearance that there are only clouds below. But descending through the clouds, we can instantly see what was ALWAYS there, the city of our destination. Now in the same way this truth of Christ in us as us is functioning in us as God wills from the moment we wake up to Christ in any way, though it may be some time before we are in sight of what is always there, due to a cloud cover of an old consciousness which gives a false appearance in our vision, but like the plane descends through the clouds to open a whole newly seen reality, God peels back the layers of our misunderstanding and blazes the Light of Christ into our vision, burning us forever with the vision of One only, God in Christ as All in all in all in all.
So that’s it! Live in it. Be BOLD!
Pablum is a processed cereal for infants originally marketed by the Mead Johnson Company in 1931. The trademarked name is a contracted form of the Latin word pabulum, meaning "foodstuff". The name is also used metaphorically, especially in literary criticism, to refer to something bland, unappetizing, or with little content value.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks for such a wonderful discussion. I loved each of the deployment in your blog. The church loans in USA refinancing is saving many churches from being foreclosed.