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Introduction

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GWR02
Religious Paradigms


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GWR03
Religious Attributes

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GWR04
Religion Divides

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GWR05
Denominational Empires

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GWR06
It is Finished

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GWR07
Clergy vs Laity


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INTRODUCTION
click below for

AUTHOR'S VIDEOS ON YOUTUBE

Author's Brief Testimony

Did You Know that human beings in their natural state are not interested in God. They are really not interested in learning about deeper spiritual matters. It is not part of our natures that we are inclined to live in Godly ways or to seek after Him!

HOW THEN DOES ANYONE BEGIN TO DRAW CLOSE TO THE ALMIGHTY, HOLY, GOD OF HEAVEN? HOW CAN SOME DARE TO TO SAY THAT THEY PERSONALLY KNOW HIM? HOW CAN WE HAVE PERSONAL FELLOWSHIP OR INTIMACY WITH HIM?

PREFACE to "The Gospel Without Religion"

What do you think it means to be a Christian? How does Christianity differ from other religious beliefs and worship practices? Are you a Christian? What is your basis for making this statement? Perhaps you are among those who has rejected Christianity because you have found the forms and rituals of the institutional church empty or uninspiring. Have you searched for proof that God is real? Where will that search take you? What will be the end of all of this? What will be the ultimate destiny of your soul? To what extent does religion impact eternity?

Anyone who has ever entered a book store knows that there are thousands of books written to address the questions above. Hundreds more are produced and sold each year adding to the already glutted archive called RELIGION. The motivations of such writers, however motivated, mostly support traditional doctrines while sharing a new precept or two that may have arisen through study or self discovery. I believe that what I share here echoes many new voices who are beginning to view the "spiritual life" as something that can and should exist and flourish outside of religion. But, make no mistake, I am one who became a Christian through the grace and power of God, who has become a believer and student of the Bible. Prior to this time I spent a life of being a partaker of traditional institutional Christianity.

You can find also find links to several of my video commentaries on essentials of the faith at http://www.youtube.com/user/cornetcharlie - - Do not consider these sermons. I would rather these short passages be regarded as person to person sharing in a voice and manner which is without sounding 'churchy.'

In the Gospel Without Religion, I will examine some of the topics below:

Disparity and Contradictions in the World of Christian Religion
Redefining: What is A Christian
The Search For God
Recognizing Features of the True Gospel?

It is my wish not to go too far to discredit traditional forms of Christianity. It has been the sustaining foundation and moral backbone of this great American nation and elsewhere in the world. For generations the values system of Christian teachings and beliefs have provided a positive moral framework that has brought light to many nations. It is apparent that Christianity as Religion, even despite its detriments, has provided moral goodness and a righteous social foundation for millions for generations. Children are best nurtured in a home where traditions of Bible based life values are practiced. This firm social foundation is seriously diminished today with serious consequences in society.

Unfortunately the social foundations established from Christian values are rapidly dissolving as this nation speeds toward secularism. The media for some reason has chosen to disregard moral standards of past generations. It would appear they are in collusion with the agenda of omitting any allusions to the guiding truths of Christianity. Fewer each passing year, will say, I am a Christian believer. Too few even understand what that means. Church houses are losing membership and seek new ways to attract congregants. In so doing churches move further from the essentials of the Gospel. Knowledge about God will will not replace knowing God. Those who know God may testify that they've personally tasted of the Grace and goodness of God through Jesus Christ the Messiah.

Today, tens of millions of nominal Christians can be called faithful church goers, but how many are really passionately interested in God? There is little evidence their lives are different from the secular-unbelieving masses. The fact that few understand is that no one turns to seek God unless God personally draws him/her by His Spirit.

If there is one thing that has become more and more clear to me in the last few years, it is the fact that our churches are filled with people who have never had a bonafide conversion. There are those who have made a choice to attend some kind of a congregation for a variety of reasons. I too attended church services all of my life, but for most of these years, as an unbeliever! It takes more than a half-hearted assent to be involved in a church to be one of God's chosen and elect. And here is the crux of the matter; It must be the work of God to call you from the world and to prepare your heart (your inner self) to believe. It is God who supplies believers with the appropriate "measure of faith." Those who God calls have their names written in the 'Book of Life.' They are the recipient of the non corruptible seed of the Holy Spirit of God and are preserved and kept through Him. Becoming a Christian is not something that you choose to casually participate in or not, like joining a bowling league or like selecting a certain church to attend.

I have heard the testimonies of many who were converted dramatically. Many have a history that is not unlike mine. I found God or should I say God allowed me to find Him - at a time in my life when I was experiencing a spiritual emptiness, a hunger, a desperate need. It is at such times that we make our first serious effort to seek after God desperately, to ask, and to knock! The quickening of this inner desire to know God may well be the result of another believer's prayers on our behalf. The Grace of God is set in motion by these prayers. It is this Divine Grace (an enabling gift) from God which brings us to a new human state of awakening. It only takes a moment for God to answer our heart's cry and bring us from darkness into light; but, in my case, it took years to prepare my soul to be ready for this to occur. Pride and idolatry have many forms that first need to be addressed.

God's Love for Humanity

God has always loved us. John 3:16 is often used to verify God's love toward us: God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, That whoever believes in Him should not die but have afterlasting life.” Yet, not all will acknowledge and receive this redeeming love. (They are left with the consequences of this decision, (John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

He loves us all. He grieves humanity's loss of understanding and weakness. He has made a way of rectifying this fallen and alienated state. The way is through Jesus the Messiah. God provides a necessary 'measure of faith' to help those who seek to find the answer to their spiritual hunger. This measure of faith is what draws us to him and gives us the power to believe. A supernatural transformation is available once someone believes in the Gift of God with assurance. If you believe in the Yeshua (The Hebrew name of Jesus meaning Jehovah is Salvation,) God's Son he will open your eyes. He will speak to you. It is through him and him only that you will partake in the wonders of the world to come. Through the Grace (free gift of God) we experience that supernatural event, the miraculous change in our spirits called regeneration into "the new man, the regenerated spirit, or the new creation. So re-quickened by Almighty God, we are inwardly compelled to grow in the knowledge of this life giver and lover of our souls. We seize the life ring thrown to us. This is the beginning of the Spiritual life. We have opened the door of the Kingdom of heaven and begin gradually discovering our status as a Son or Daughter of God.

From this supernatural beginning we new believers, are as tender saplings and can be bent many ways: Since we have so little understanding of the Word of God, we can be easily be taken prisoner by those who preach other gospels. We can be snared by an incomplete "Gospel" or we can follow the spirit of Christ with the spirit of liberty accessing the Word of Truth with proper mentors who have spiritual experience and knowledge. There is a whole new spiritual world OF LIFE to discover. There is a life of blessing and hope to access. (2 Corinthians 11:3)

The true Gospel hasn't changed but it has been dangerously distorted or in some cases nearly lost by religious tradition. The Gospel of the Kingdom of God remains that which was first taught to the disciples by Jesus Christ. I will attempt to share meekly and with simplicity. I shall do so without motive of gain, what I consider the simplicity of being a Christian. I hope it is not too simple, for historically religion has made believing in Christ into matters of theology and formalism. Such things need not be so.

The teachings I share on these pages will appear didactic, meaning that it presented as accurate and factual. While derived from study, this knowledge has not accrued from second hand accounts or through religious indoctrination, but from serious study of scripture as well and experiences that bear witness to the realities of Christ and the "Kingdom" he rules. Study of Scripture illuminates the believer as the Holy Spirit brings light and understanding.

These commentaries are not the product of religious indoctrination, nor of a denominational slant. I believe these precepts and understandings reflect the truths revealed by the apostles and prophets of Israel who proclaimed the True and Living Way. For my part, these writings are only a part of the great revelations of Truth contained in the Bible. These introduce Christianity in its basic but essential form. (The faith first delivered to the saints - - the faith for which we must contend. (Jude 3)

Worldly Viewpoints

Today, modern societies have grown to reject a world governed by facts in favor of a cornucopia of opinions. Black and white notions are rejected in favor of the nuanced blend of infinite points of view. The Gospel however, is born out by first hand experience but more importantly is verified by reliable witnesses. These witnesses are the holy and long standing voices of the Christian faith, recorded in Scripture. These voices are a more sure testimony and become the litmus test of any doctrine or experience that one might promote.

The truth of God is known in varying degrees by many, though shockingly too few. The masses have been victims of religious paradigms that have grown all too familiar over the past 17 centuries. Christian theology today is becoming increasingly a repudiation of Apostolic doctrine.

The religious paradigm is now being challenged and is slowly passing away. There is more hunger and thirst for spiritual fellowship, more liberty, more simplicity and more power. Traditions are being replaced by the living presence of God. Simply being a spectator at a church service (program) is being replaced by the desire to participate directly as a disciple following the Spirit of God.

No doubt what I write here will be challenged by religious experts, theologians. academicians, and others who can embrace the doctrines and dogma they were taught. Religious people respond vehemently to any message that assails their religious paradigm. Here is a profound Gospel fact, shared by the apostle called Paul in his first letter to Corinth, "Man through knowledge can not know God." But the Spirit of God can turn ordinary people into instruments of His Glory!

Awakening Faith and Belief

Is God an interesting subject? Yes, Infinitely. Do questions about the reality of God affect us or impact our lives? Yes, absolutely and eternally! Is the subject one that we should resolve within ourselves? Yes, absolutely! Religion abounds in the societies of the world. It is inextricable in the cultures of every nation. It is a full time concern to many who see religion as a life style or a career path. My definition of Religion is a codified belief system.  It is the platform from which debates and disagreements launch with the result too often being from vehement disagreement to genocide.

Thousands of books continue to be written about God in an attempt to offer spiritual answers to those who are seeking a spiritual life. Subjects might range from World Religions, Comparative Theology, Biblical Study or Analysis, and of course prescribed pathways to enlightenment by self promoting gurus. This is not a book about theology. I am not a theologian, I have none of the required credentials, nor do I have any desire to become one, to seek certification or to be validated or approved by theologians. I am, therefore, one tiny voice in the marketplace of ideas.. another voice, crying out in the wilderness, So now I give thanks to God the Father for allowing me to experience His living presence and guiding hand. This is a testimony of God's interaction with the human race we call 'grace.' Moreover, his love and grace have empowered me both to seek him and to know him and draw wisdom from His Word. Moreover, I believe that this message can encourage and aid those thousands who, like myself, were never given answers to deep spiritual questions but who remain hungry, asking, "Is there is a God, and if He is, how can I get Him to notice me."

Reared in Dead Religious Tradition

My questions and spiritual curiosity were not answered by denominational churches that I attended from my youth to adulthood. The services or ceremonies that were offered on meeting days revealed nothing of God's reality nor demonstrated his 'presumed' love and power. It was however, God whom I ultimately met and who impacted my life, outside of religion, personally and powerfully. I hope sharing these experiences bring hope and assurance to others.

Receiving this message

I don't know how you will respond, whether with indifference or interest. Some who are perfectly happy with their beliefs may register mere disinterest, indifference; Others who have already established their own theological conclusions, particularly through formal theological training, may register disdain believing that my assertions are un-scholarly, presumptuous, misleading or even dangerous. Yet there may be some who have been looking for a spiritual life without the flimflam of religion who will receive this account with gratitude.

The Gospel (good news) has always been gentle and peaceable, it none the less, always been met with resistance and "offense." It appears that a simple gift is too often rejected even when wrapped in the promise of hope, love and comfort.

Opposing belief systems do not give up without a fight. Our highly charged human egos are born and nurtured within the domain of materialism, worldliness, and self-absorption. Religious institutions today, are deeply imbued with values derived from worldliness, worldly power, worldly recognition, and earthly reward. The world's religious systems have their own vested interests. To be blunt, religion as we know it represents a significant economic and political power.

This book is written principally for both unbelievers outside of church experience and within the church. There is such a thing as theological unbelief. Unbelief is still rampant in church-goers to the extent that they have been blinded by orthodoxy. For unbelief is the enemy of God's people as much as for 'unbelievers.' Unbelief is not limited to the un-churched but also remains a constant foe in living the Christian life. For church house Christians, both laity and clergy it is a terrible thing to know only religion and not God! The Lord declares, "Many will say in that day, Lord, Lord -, but I will say, "Depart from me I do not know you." Matt. 25

Among all the billions of people upon the face of the earth, it is ultimately a matter of knowing God. Scripture teaches that everyone will eventually be confronted by this reality as every knee will bow before Him, the Lord of all life. But for millions this knowledge will come too late and the door of life will have been closed. There is a difference between knowing about God and knowing God.

The Confusing Disparities of Christian Religion

The world of religion, What a world! Almost everyone is in their own particular place regarding a search for a personal belief system. How would we graph our place as a believer or an unbeliever? Do you know what you believe? Do you know why you hold these beliefs? Some have a belief in a God of some description, others may not. Some pray, some believe in an afterlife, while others have no faith in any God nor any life following this one. There are so many religions inside and outside of Christianity. There are so many named Gods and paths to appeasing them. Within these myriad forms of belief or worship some have developed a set of moral values in accord with these beliefs. Indeed many of these values promote peace and brotherhood toward the greater community. Meanwhile, other religious beliefs may generate hatred and intolerance toward those outside of that faith. Now some religions compel its followers to convert the world to their viewpoint and to, in a word, cause the whole world to believe according to that religion.

Religion may be an intellectual study for some, a vocational indoctrination for others. From an anthropologist's point of view, religion simply revolves around the belief in "spirits" as defined by Margaret Mead. Religions lead to wars and conflict The crusades were a demonstration of wrong Christian beliefs. The inhumanities done were executed through a form of religion and not in conformity to the Gospel of Christ. The crusades and the inquisition were chapters in Catholicism that further demonstrated an abuse of power that is presumed when the rule of God on earth is already manifest in a political church on earth.

Christianity in the age of grace presents a message of love, acceptance and forgiveness. There is no violence or reprisal allowed in the practice of Christianity. Destruction and judgment against unbelievers has never been a part of the true Gospel. Where this has occurred was not a conformity to Bible teaching. In the Gospel of Grace, there is an invitation to come freely and receive. We partake in the power of Jesus' love, and forgiveness. There is no sword to convert the unbeliever, but rather the demonstration of the supernatural power of God motivated by Love. It is this power that converts the heart and persuades each that there is a loving God in heaven. This is the loving Father who desires that no one dies under condemnation. "God so loved the world - - ," John 3:16 is the often quoted basic text.

Discernment is to reveal those who you can pray for. Condemnation never comes from the hand of a believer who is commanded to walk in the same love and forgiveness that Jesus modeled to all.

There is still great ignorance and confusion about Christianity. Christianity is something that has come to be viewed within the limiting frame of institutional religion not its true spiritual aspect which is both simple and profound. The world knows Christianity as a system of belief but more than that as traditions and lifestyles which surround particular churches. America was founded as a Christian nation as our founding fathers made clear testimony. The United States has a history of goodness founded on the belief in, and standards of, Biblical truth. But at the present time, if the truth were known, I believe that we would have far fewer who would qualify as Christians than census documentation reveals. Those who are called Christians in polls and surveys most often reflect an involvement with church organizations through membership and activities. This, I assert, is quite irrelevant to the nature of being or not being a Christian. Among those who profess to believe in Christianity I denote three distinct breeds:

Kinds of Christians

Political Christians: This category designates to distinguish them from other ethnic or cultural sects. We see these referred to frequently in the media to designate the sects within countries or political regions. Most of the time these are contrasted with contrary ideologies; often at war, or embroiled in strife with other groups. Typical of political religious rivalry is that of the current 1990s conflict in the former Yugoslavia, dated back to the factional disputes of the 15th century. Here were three ethnic factions, Muslims, Serbs and Croats, religious- political groups seemingly without true knowledge of a spiritual life that brings peace. In Ireland divisions remain after generations of religious and political strife, Irish Catholics in hatred and strife continue to war against Irish Protestants and Protestants against Catholics. In the decade prior to World War 2, so-called German Christians began to commit outrages against German Jews in the name of racial purity. A practice that was totally UN-Christian spirit. in Earlier in the 12 and 13th centuries 'Christian' crusaders waged Holy Wars against the Muslim Turks in the Holy Land and at the same time thought it was pleasing to God to torture and destroy any called Jews.

Religious Christians are actively involved with some form of institutional Christianity. Within this group are tens of millions of churchgoers who fill the pews in myriads of church congregations each week. Each of these religious 'churches' or denominations follows long-held traditions of their respective denomination. Christian denominations have extensive power and interests both social and economic. The business of religion founded in an orthodoxy that is morally well founded and righteous. These traditions are rarely questioned within the established tradition.

The clergy, religious leadership, has long been esteemed has a high and noble calling, although an occasional skeleton may turn up in the closet of some clergy person now and then. The lands and real estate assets of churches are immense. Each denomination builds great

buildings as centers of worship and strictly supervise and train their clergy to act as priests or overseers of the faith. The sad reality is that the denominations of today are little different from any ancient priesthood, the Scribes, and Pharisees of Jesus' day, of whom the Lord Jesus had little good to say.

Today I believe that traditional forms of religious Christianity may be the single greatest hindrance to effectively experiencing God in this nation as well as in all the nations where that institutional Christianity has been exported. Why? Because the Gospel is not philosophy nor an intellectual concept. It is rather the Power of God that impacts lives at the deepest possible level; transforming a man or woman into an adopted son or daughter of God. Church is not meant to be a place where Christianity is practiced and administered by priests but a means of growing through sharing your life and experience with others as our knowledge of God increases (edification by/of the body.)

Religion: a metaphor: It seems as though religious Christians have been injected with something, call it religious formalism, which seems to make them immune to experiencing the authentic Spiritual Life of the Kingdom of God. Let me hasten to say however, that there are believers among the denominations, these men, women and children have received the knowledge of God through the Lord Jesus Christ in a profound and intimate way, not because of their religious affiliations necessarily, but in spite of that affiliation. The kingdom and the power of God are not the privy to any brand of religion but work around and through it.

Third Category: True Christians

What is A Christian? Are we born Christians, Are we Christians because we were not born Buddhist or Muslim? Are we Christians because our parents were Christians? Are we Christians because of a religious rite? The Bible reveals that we become Christians not by a religious rite, but by a spiritual encounter with God. God receives us in "friendship" and extends fellowship to us. This fellowship is granted in the name of the only begotten son of God, Jesus, Jeshua of Nazareth. This knowledge is one thing but the actualizing power of Grace is quite another. The Gospel is a gospel not only conceptual fact but actualized in power. It is a life-changing, spirit-renewing power, that sets on fire the love and life of God within a believer. This life-changing encounter is central to what I hope to present in this writing, and I will cover it broadly if the following pages. A believer, in actuality, has no religious rites or obligations or rules to follow in order to win God's approval. A believer's job is to believe. Faith is choked by unbelief! Through faith we gain access to the scriptural promises of God. These promises are awesome and spectacular and when apprehended can lead us to experiencing the kindnesses of God and entering into our divine inheritance. That is the long and the short of it. Religion in any of its many aspects has entered in obtrusively to complicate or confound the simple way and truth that Christ has declared and made known for all; that each man, woman, and child can know God and experience wholeness through Him.

My hope and prayer is - - May those seeking truth, both religious and non religious, Christian and non Christian, continue in the Word which can open the door to the Kingdom of God, with its power and glory. May the God of all creation reveal Himself to you, draw you into His family, and bring forth his kingdom, his love, his life and liberty in your life.

Reconstruction of the Human Spirit

Spiritual Christians are created and established only by Divine will and action. Those who constitute the membership of the Kingdom of God, without regard to any earthly institutional affiliation. The true church is a spiritual body, it is called the "Body of Christ. " This body is universal, apart from any designation of race, creed or nationality, it is without any denominational labels and without sectarian or geographical boundaries. The Bible reveals that we become Christians not by a religious rite, but by a Spiritual encounter with the person of God. God receives us in "friendship" and extends the fellowship of his family to us. This fellowship is granted in the name of the Begotten son of God, namely Jesus, Jeshua of Nazareth, Jesus the Messiah. Acknowledging this doctrine is one thing, the actualizing power of it is quite another. The Gospel is a gospel not only of historical fact but of power. It is a life changing, spirit-renewing power, that sets on fire the life of God within a believer.

Religion is an admixture that infuses the gospel that confounds the simple truth that Jesus Christ has made a way for each man, woman, and child to know God and experience wholeness in Him; to experience peace, joy and liberty in a meaningful life with Him. My hope and prayer is that those seeking truth, both Christian and non Christian will continue in the life giving word which opens the door to the Kingdom of God. May the God of all creation reveal Himself to you in order for you to continue to bring forth His kingdom.

Searching For God

Highways and Byways in the Quest Some of us, in our individual quest for truth, look for a religion that will accommodate our own world view or moral viewpoint, though in our natural state we are all morally distorted and unregenerate in nature. Some others search for a religious form which promises personal power and influence over others. This power quest has one end; corruption of the soul. Personal aggrandizement leads toward corruption and pride, the domain of the enemy of God, Lucifer. Power to control or influence others, power to get wealth for its own sake is as witchcraft, a rebellious snare. Some search for a religious program which accommodates fame, personal notoriety, adulation or self-worship. Self enhancement is acquired at the expense of coming under God's dominion.

For others the search is to find personal healing or inner contentment to salve the aching of their souls. In Him we find solace, peace, love and wholeness. There are numerous motivations which lend themselves to religious choices. While we say we search for God are we really sincere or insincere? In the final analysis it is we who must conform to God's book and acknowledge His rules and plan for ourselves and not visa-versa.

Beginning a Spiritual Search

While we are shopping this smorgasbord of religion there are many choices. How will you choose? What are your resources and criteria to make these choices? Can we choose using our own intellectual equipment? Those who are proud of their intellectual achievements will probably choose wrongly; since they will choose to remain in control of their own lives through the exalted faculty of reason. The wise of this world say, "Only a fool denies reason."

Some religions make no demands upon us to give up anything, idolatries, pride, sin, hatred, etc. When we are well satisfied with who we are; when we are pleased with ourselves, with our name, rank, and achievements; When we are puffed up with our own sense of superiority, looks, talents or strengths; How can we choose to believe something which asks us to, "deny yourself, take up a cross and follow me?" How do we choose a belief system which states, "In myself, I can do nothing;" or " - unless a seed falls and dies it abides alone, but if dies it brings forth much?" Is there any beauty in sacrificing our selves? How can we as 20th, soon to be 21st Century beings, choose to decrease to ourselves and choose that which is meek and lowly of heart, not arrayed the outward trappings of finery; not displaying intellectual cleverness, nor personal flamboyance. "He had no beauty that we should desire Him." (Isaiah 53:3) So we seek. We shop and we look and we ask about. During this time we continue to have as much power and self control, self satisfaction, and personal liberty as any other human seeker. When does the seeking come to an end? Is their a priceless pearl to be found? What is the nature of this pearl which beyond price? How do I begin my quest for God?

Scripture asks this question;

"What does a profit someone to gain the whole world but lose his or her soul?" There is a risk associated with a search thwarted or the search incomplete. There is a risk associated with substituting the true with the counterfeit and the living with something tainted with corruption and death. There is indeed a true Gospel, having the right Jesus, the right Gospel and the right Spirit. (2Cor 11:3) There is also a counterfeit gospel, awaiting any who choose an alternative to the previous 3 criteria. Among these alternatives lies the way to deception or possible destruction.

In the process of truth-seeking, some who hear the message, come to believe in the Lord Jesus, Jeshua of Nazareth called the Messiah or Christ.) The Word of God declares, "Those who seek will find." Those who seek and continue seeking, will find that pearl of inestimable value. It remains hidden to those who are lost. Great hunger is rewarded with satisfying 'manna' from God and great thirst is rewarded with a satisfying drink that Jesus called 'living water.'

Many others never come to believe in or profess biblical Christianity but another belief system. The way of the Christian life once discovered provides a feast for the body, soul and spirit, a feast that brings eternal satisfaction, the knowledge of the friendship of Jesus is thirst satisfying indeed.

The Way, however, remains a narrow one, it is self limiting. It does not accommodate those who wish to take their own intellectual baggage in, this burden of extraneous stuff must be unloaded. Who among the seekers is willing to do this? Who are really sincere and not looking on a superficial curiosity level. Jesus has counseled to walk the crucified life. Daily carrying our cross, dying to self, turning from the raucous cries that would distract us in this world.

I am reminded of the interview which King Herod of Judea attempted to have with Jesus on the occasion of Jesus' trial and Pilate's disposition of this matter of legality. What possible need or interest could this powerful, worldly, self indulgent, sensuous monarch have in questioning Jesus, the Messiah of the Jews? Herod had indeed heard of Jesus. He had heard of his influence upon the people and heard of the signs and wonders worked by his hand. Herod probably was reminded of John the Baptist whose head was the price paid for his stepdaughter Salome's sensuous dance performance. Vain curiosity was probably the motivating factor. Herod may have had some guilt or even fears associated with destroying the non conformist, unyielding, cooperative prophet, John the Baptist.

Herod interviews Jesus: The world against the spirit

It was time for a confrontation, though perhaps not yet a showdown, It was a face-off between worldliness, sensual opulence, and temporal power and the veiled spiritual wonders of the Kingdom of God; it was flesh against the Spirit. What happened in this confrontation of flesh and spirit? How did Jesus respond to the queries of the coarse and curious Herod, did they share an intellectual discourse? Jeshua remained silent not a word was offered. What place has the kingdom of God with worldliness or idolatry? Jesus had not one word to share. There was no dialogue. There was no effort made to plead the case for a religious or political agenda. No. Jesus answered not a word! The kingdom of God and Herod's world were irreconcilable, worlds apart, kingdoms apart. You see, Jesus will not respond to those whose lives are filled with surfeiting, with self importance or with insincere curiosity. Jesus answered the worldly Herod, not a word!

A doorway opens unto repentance

In my case, I had reached a crossroad in my middle years that led to 'an end of myself:' When my need was greatest, ground down to nothing, I finally believed, and was willing to take the next step to cry out, "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!" So? Let us see where the inquiry will take you. Will it be into the wilderness (outside of the distractions of worldly distractions, where intimacy with God is finally revealed? Or will you be lured into the another wilderness imbued with worldly values having no intimacy with God, having no power to fulfill Christ's hope and calling.

Contained in "The Gospel Without Religion" is a series of commentaries compiled from this believer's study of the "Word of God" and his personal spiritual insights and experiences thereafter. I was not always a believer. What was I before I became a believer, before becoming a Christian? I was the same as many of you are. Before becoming a believer I practiced a form of Godliness; I too was religious. I was actively involved in institutional forms of Christianity with its many traditions, forms, and flavors and yet without knowing Christ. Before becoming believers, we called ourselves by any of hundreds of denominational names, not realizing that Christ is One and can not be divided. If this state, we had no true witness of the reality of God; we had no true witness of our own spiritual nature and destiny. We may not have known that God is real or that He rewards those who seek him with wonderful gifts. Before becoming a partakers in the "gift of God", we called ourselves Christians.

Meantime, not knowing that being a Christian meant more than just attending church, more than learning a catechism, more than going through a rite of membership. Being a Christian is not an intellectual assent to a doctrine or belief where you can say, "Yes that sounds like it might be true, I guess I join up and become one of those. "You don't join an institution or a church to become a Christian, rather, you are "translated" into becoming a son or daughter of God. You are translated into a different kingdom and a different reality; You become a new order of being. You are translated from death into life, from darkness into light. We who once cared nothing for the life and properties of God now share in that life and are consumed by it. It is a work that God does in us and not one that we do on our own.

Discerning the True Gospel, 3 factors determine its authenticity:

The right Jesus: Jesus the Messiah is not an angel, not a mere prophet; not a great man, not merely a teacher of moral excellence; Not a highly evolved illuminate; but The only begotten Son of God, the Jewish Messiah.

The right gospel; The Gospel is a gospel of good news; that humanity may come to the giver of life to receive a supernatural gift; eternal life and forgiveness without cost, without the mediation of a priest; It is not a gospel of works, nor is it a gospel of faith and good works; the door is open to any who call upon the name of the Lord. The source of truth and understanding of this gospel is the Holy Bible.

The right Spirit; There are many spirits in the world, some of God, others demonic. Spirits abound in the atmosphere in individuals, in communities, of every nation. The church houses of religions can nurture or teach a doctrine which has a wrong, (un-Christ like) spirit. For example to preach that Christians to convert unbelievers by force or intimidation. Which is done in other religions and was once practiced in the Roman Catholic religion.

This sort of subtle spiritual influence has existed for thousands of years leading people away from the God-life. The reality of demonic spirits addressed by Jesus and his disciples are still present to seduce, impede, and steal from the life, liberty and spiritual potential of all.

The kingdom of darkness has this agenda; to steal, to kill and to destroy, especially a believer. The spirit of the world is a spirit of self exaltation and pride. Of course modern thought and psychology discredits belief in spirits as a primitive and obsolete belief system. However, it is to be noted that Jesus the Messiah came to "destroy the works of the devil," Satan, the ruler of all fallen beings. It is God's ultimate purpose to restore the proper line of earthly rule under the dominion of Jesus Christ. In due time, nations will recognize him as the Holy One of God, appointed Lord of all things. Evil or wrong spirits include, pride, rebellion, witchcraft, defilement, sensuality, gluttony, drunkenness, etc.

A common Secular Argument: One god equals any other?

The broad-minded, ecumenical world would like to assert that any God is essentially on a par with any other. They declare that there are many paths and they all eventually lead us to the sublime higher One. Today, I am a Christian believer, but was not always so. Disillusioned by religion, sensing its superficiality, the hypocrisies, and lacking any proof in the God of the Bible I went on searching and doubting, and trusting that I was good enough not to fall into condemnation in if and when I came face to face with my Creator. I had heard the term "Good News" referring the Gospel of the Messiah Jeshua (Jesus). But my experience in Christianity was valued only in a sentimental way. I had memories of church experiences with my family in youth. During these days I yearned to touch and experience something that was real, powerful and persuasive. This, I believe, is exactly where so many seeking people are at today. Hopeful, wanting to believe, but without proof that God is real or reachable. My religious experience offered no proof of God's reality. Any Gospel expressed as the Power of God able to transform human life, was outside of my religious experience.

The Gospel, is denoted as the power of God, (1Corinthians 1;2.5) powerfully persuades us to believe, in a God of love and a God who can impact human lives in remarkable life-changing ways that exist out of the realm of church life. This Gospel is not a shallow, tradition-ruled religion. Rather it teaches knowing God who reveals himself as Savior and sovereign of the universe. Even more amazingly, the Bible proves itself to be entirely believable and consistent in spite of its progressive detractors. Theologians who work continuously to discredit any belief in Biblical accuracy or consistency. Today when I hear of a God who walked with man in a spiritually perfect world, called Eden. I believe it; when I hear of a God who did wonders in the days of Moses or the prophets I do not doubt that fact for one moment; when I read the infallible prophecies of appointed men of God who declare the end from the beginning I have no doubt in the veracity of any of those words.

God spoke through prophets with inerrant accuracy to declare the coming Messiah and his mission to redeem fallen humanity and all these prophecies came to pass. Jesus as the lamb of God came to close the divide between God and humanity. The resurrection of Jeshua, as irrational scientifically unsound it sounds on the surface, remains the foundation of Christianity. Resurrection establishes the "Power of the Gospel" and enables any believer to partake in His divine nature.

Religions of the world may vary in name and beliefs but all seek to establish a worldly kingdom. They aspire to have a launching pad to promulgate their beliefs and in most cases, beliefs that are contrary to the Gospel. Christianity is certainly not the only religious system. Looking at the non Christian varieties there are probably dozens of pagan spiritual indentities found in practices like Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Shamanism, Santoria, Wicca, Bahai, or Jainism. They we must examine 'Christian' religions sects, including, Catholicism, LDS Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and don't exclude most of the protestant denominations which have distorted the simple Gospel bringing forth errant doctrines, formalism, and human authority. (See the characteristics of Religion in book two. "The attributes of Religion"

Churches (buildings with congregations) are what people usually think of when we imagine Christian practices. When ceremony and ritual are the practiced, and where obligations or extraneous demands are taught, these are contrary to the original Gospel, e.g. the Apostolic epistles found in the New Testament.

C. Pinkney, 1995-2017

E Book 1:
The Gospel Without Religion

E Book 2:

A Disciples Handbook

E Book 3:

Mysteries in the Bible Index to all Charles Pinkney Christian Titles
Index to all Charles Pinkney Christian Titles

 

2017 Edit of Introduction to The Gospel without Religion

There is an ongoing philosophical argument: "Is 'mankind' essentially good or essentially depraved?"I will make an assertion that you may not have heard. Human beings in their natural state are not interested in God! We are really not interested in pursuing deeper, spiritual matters. It is not part of our nature to live in Godly ways or to seek to know our Creator, God! In fact the Bible declares that human beings are fallen beings.' We come into this world, spiritually dead and totally incapable of experiencing anything but the basic instinctual behaviors.
As for the issue of "are we all God's chirldren?" We are not. We are the fallen children of Adam. Yes, the same Adam of the Garden of Eden account. In the Genesis account, Adam became cursed as was the earth. Satan thus became the "god of this world" where he exercises authority over all the human race. Adam was cursed by losing his immortal and glorious state. Thus Adam and those born after were subject to death and decay. You can discount this Biblical explanation as myth or silly fable but it is nevertheless true. The whole creation "groans" awaiting its full redemption.
(Romans 8:21-23)

We are born into this world without knowledge of God nor having any inclination to seek Him or pursue a godly life.
Humanity that has not been redeemed supernatually are identified as being "natural persons." The natural man is soulish self-centered, inward purposed, and blind to spiritual matters. They are the pawns of Satan, having his nature, pride and rebellion.

HOW THEN IS IT POSSIBLE FOR ANYONE TO DRAW CLOSE TO AN ALMIGHTY, HOLY, GOD? HOW CAN SOME DARE TO TO SAY THAT THEY PERSONALLY KNOW GOD? HOW CAN WE HAVE PERSONAL FELLOWSHIP OR INTIMACY WITH HIM?
Indeed, many will stop right here and say, "Rubbish! I can't believe in anything that requires me to believe in something I can't see, feel or handle! I am perfectly intelligent, perfectly rational, perfectly able to accomplish things. I am a good person, not a reprobate." The reality is that even 'good people' are still under the curse and subject to judgment. (John 3) Are you part of the human race that is ruled by their primal nature or are you one who has experienced the supernatural Grace of God, redemption?

There is a gift from God. A man, provided to redeem us from the curse. He himself was made "sin" so that we could become accounted sinless. Redemption is found in one divine man and only one, the Messiah Jesus which church tradition has identified as Jesus Christ. He did not come to demonstrate how to live, nor did he come to form a religion. He came to be a sacrifice for our sin on the cross. (It sounds like religious talk but is not. It is the first key to redemption.) We are focused on one thing here, the Truth, the rarest commodity on earth.

Can we make the transition from being among 'the unredeemed' to those who are 'the children of God' without following religious practices? Christian religion in its myriad versions has done more to distract us from the way than to direct us into becoming "reborn children of God." The following chapters are going to amplify on this theme.

Preface to "The Gospel Without Religion"

With respect to Christianity, what do you think it means to be a Christian? How does Christianity differ from other religious beliefs and worship practices? Are you a Christian? What is your basis for making this statement? Perhaps you are among those who has rejected Christianity because you have found the forms and rituals of the institutional church empty or uninspiring. Have you searched for proof that God is real? Where will that search take you? What will be the end of all of this? What will be the ultimate destiny of your soul? To what extent does religion impact eternity?

Anyone who has ever entered a book store knows that there are probably thousands of books written to address the questions above. Hundred more are produced and sold each year adding to the already glutted archive called RELIGION. The motivations of such writers however motivated, mostly support some traditional doctrines while sharing a new precept or two that may have arisen through study. I believe that what I will share here is one of the new voices who are beginning to view the "spiritual life" as something that can exist and flourish outside of religion. But, make no mistake, I am one who became a Christian who has become a believer and student of the Bible; and this has come after many years of being a partaker of traditional, institutional Christianity.

My account in writing is about the Christian faith which over a billion people profess to worship in some form or another. I am among those who hold to the belief that no one comes to the knowledge of Truth and eternal life except through the Son of God, Jesus the Messiah. See John 6:44 - - "No one can come to me accept the Father who sent me, draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day." I am writing this at a time in which that narrow, conservative view of Christianity is diminishing. Among the traditional denominations, the narrowness of the Gospel is being questioned and theologians are migrating to a more liberal, "universalist" belief that is more and more inclusive of the broad population. We can be assured that knowing this God in some way is not so easy, yet it is very easy. We have a heavenly Father who practices "hiding in plain sight." The problem comes from the condition of our individual minds and our soul. Our minds process the things we see and know, the tangible world we take for granted. The preparation of a soul, distinctive personality, is a matter to be discussed later.

Consider what it means to be a Christian. How does Christianity differ from other religious beliefs and worship practices? Are you a Christian? What is your basis for making this statement? Perhaps you are among those who have rejected Christianity because you find the formal rituals of the institutional church empty or uninspiring. Have you searched for proof that God is real? Where will that search take you? At the end of a life will any of this have meaning? What do you think will be the final destiny of your soul? Will religion or church attendance impact eternity? How about other religions, can they pay the dividend of "Eternal Life?"

Anyone who has ever entered a book store knows that there are thousands of books written to address the questions above. Hundreds more are produced each year adding to the already glutted archive called RELIGION. The motivations of such writers, asside from profit, will likely support some traditional doctrine while sharing a new precept or two that has arisen through study. I believe that what I will share here echoes many voices who are beginning to view the "spiritual life" as something that can exist and flourish outside of religion.
But, as for myself, I am one who became a Christian believer and student of the Bible late in life. This transformation came after many years of being a partaker of traditional institutional Christian religion.

Since there are so many disparities and contradictions in Christian religion; we must do some r
edefining on that question "What is A Christian" How do we come to God? The Christian identity has been equated sociologically with "Church life." If the truth be told, this experience is often at variance from the Gospel first brought to the world by the apostles.

Old Time Religion
First let me say at the onset that traditional forms of Christianity have sustained the foundation and moral backbone of American history. For generations the values and precepts of Christian teachings and beliefs have provided this moral framework. Its influence elevated the United States to preeminence. Clearly, the Christian Religion, despite in whatever form, has provided a moral foundation for families and individuals. Children are best nurtured in a home where Biblical values are practiced. Unfortunately these fundamental social foundations of Christian values are now rapidly dissolving with the onslaught of a secularism. We are bombarded with music, imagery and stories that omit any moral of truths of Christianity. Today, church houses too are losing membership and seek new ways to attract congregants and often in so doing move further from the essentials of the Gospel. Today, tens of millions of nominal "religious" Christians are 'faithful church goers,' but how many of them are really passionately interested in God? Few seek to know God unless God personally draws them by His Spirit. (A video commentary on http://www.youtube.com) I also share about how God worked to transform my life. Knowledge about God can not replace knowing God. The power of God is transformative. Those who truly know God may testify that they have personally tasted the Grace and goodness of God through Jesus Christ the Messiah.

Many have a story similar to mine. I found God or should I say, God allowed me to find Him - at a time when I was experiencing a desperate need, with emotional and spiritual emptiness. It is at such times that we often make our first serious effort to seek after God. It is a fact that humankind will give little thought to God when things are going great. But when firey trials come then we call out for some sustaining power beyond ourselves. I believe that this quickening of an inner desire to know God may be the result of another believer's prayers on our behalf. The Grace of God is set in motion by these prayers. It is this Divine Grace (an enabling gift) from God which brings us to a new human state of awakening. Once that our hearts are finally prepared, It only takes a moment for God to respond to our heart's cry. It brings us from darkness into light; but, in my case, it took years to prepare my soul to be ready for this to occur. Pride and idolatry flourish in everyone. That is the first need to address.

God has always loved us. ("God so loved the world... "Jn.3:16) He grieves humanity's lostness, our darkened minds and our weakness. The Gospel of Grace is how the Almighty has made a way of rectifying this fallen and alienated state. The way to this grace is through His Son, the Messiah. It is God who also provides a necessary 'measure of faith' to help those who seek and hunger. A supernatural transformation is available for those who believe in "the Gift of God." If you believe in that gift whose name is Yeshua (Jesus), God's Son, He will open your eyes. He will speak to you. (Jn. 10) His name, Yeshua means "Jehovah is salvation." The Greek version, Jesus, does not adequately communicate the meaning inherent in that name, nor adequately affirm the timeless connection to Israel, the Law and the Prophets. The path of life is through Him; he hears and responds to either name. He will let you partake in the gift and wonders of the eternal life to come. Through the Grace of God we experience that supernatural event, the miraculous change in our spirits called regeneration into "the new man, the regenerated spirit, or the new creation. This transformation is real not imagined. So re-quickened by Almighty God, we are inwardly compelled to grow in the knowledge of this life giver and lover of our souls. We seize the life ring thrown to us. This is the beginning of the Spiritual life. We have opened the door of the Kingdom of heaven and begin gradually discovering our status as a saint and disciple of God.

From this supernatural beginning we new believers, are tender saplings that can be bent many ways: "Baby Christians" can easily be misguided, even taken prisoner by those who preach other gospels. We can be snared by an incomplete "Gospel" and competing definitions of Godliness. We recognize the spirit of Christ as possessing the spirit of liberty. We need mature mentors to help us access the Word of Truth. There is a whole new Spiritual world to discover. There is a life of blessing and hope to access. (*2 Corinthians 11:2,3) Discernment from the Holy Spirit of Truth operates to provide discernment. Yet not all teachers have motives that are either true or honorable. *The true GOSPEL is defined by the Right Jesus; the Right Gospel; and The Right Spirit. The tension between Biblical authenticity and apostasy has been ongoing since the days of the first apostles. The true Gospel hasn't changed but it has been dangerously distorted or in some cases lost by religious tradition. The Gospel of the Kingdom of God remains that which was first taught to the disciples by Jesus Christ. I will attempt to share in simplicity and without any motive of gain, what it means to be a Christian. I hope it is not too simple, for historically religion has made believing in Christ into matters of theology and formalism. Such things need not be so.

The teachings I share on these pages will appear didactic, meaning that they're presented as accurate and factual. While derived from study, this knowledge has not accrued from second hand accounts, commentaries of other, or through religious indoctrination, but from serious study of scripture as well and experiences that bear witness to the realities of Christ and the "Kingdom" he rules. Study of Scripture illuminates the believer as the Holy Spirit brings light and understanding.

Commentaries on these pages are not the product of religious indoctrination, nor of any denominational slant. I believe these precepts and understandings reflect the same truths revealed by the apostles who first proclaimed the True and Living Way. For my part, these writings are but a tiny part of the great revelations of Truth contained in the Bible. Though incomplete, they are presented as valid. Any Spiritual experiences must be validated by the Word of Truth. (The faith first delivered to the saints - - the faith for which we must contend. (seeJude's epistle. vs.3)

WORLDLY VIEWPOINTS

Today, we live in a new post modern world view that has grown to reject a world governed by absolutes in favor of a cornucopia of opinions. 'Black and white' is rejected in favor of the 'nuanced' and of infinite points of view. Today as I write, we are witnessing the perilous times spoken of by Paul. In his second letter to Timothy (chapter 3) he describes the display of man's darkest nature that characterizes humanity in the last days. The demise of "truth" bears witness the belief that any view is valid and the greatest virtue is to be tolerant of people whose truth is different than our own. Christianity is viewed as the one religion that is characterized by intolerance to the degree that its followers must by surveiled and suppressed. Yet, strangely, Islam which holds that unbelieving infidels should die violently, is condoned, even given privilege by current government regimes.

The Gospel however, is not subject to change and updating. Its proofs are borne out by first-hand experience. According to ancient law, the truth is verified by the testimony of reliable witnesses. These witnesses remain the Holy and long-standing voices of the Word recorded in Scripture. These voices are a more sure testimony and become the litmus test of any doctrine or experience that one might promote. The truth of God is known in varying degrees by many, though shockingly too few. The masses have been victims of religious paradigms that have shaped belief over the past 17 centuries.

Yet, I believe there is a remnant today who are awakening a desire to return to the roots of Christendom. The paradigm of religious formalism is now being challenged. For these, there is a hunger for true spiritual fellowship, more liberty, more simplicity and more power. Traditions are being replaced by the living presence of God. Simply being a spectator in a church service (program) is being replaced by the desire to participate directly as a disciple following the life of God. The creature of religion is tenacious and change is always met with resistance. This is a creature of deeply invested interests. No doubt, what I write here will be challenged by religious experts, theologians. academicians, and others who benefit from the doctrines and dogma they were taught. But Truth is the final arbiter and it is upon that basis that each of us will be judged for what we have done and said.

How Do We Awaken Faith and Belief?

Who is God? Is God an interesting subject? Do questions about the reality of God affect us or impact our lives? Yes, absolutely and eternally! Is the subject one that we should resolve within ourselves? Yes, absolutely, without a doubt!

Religion abounds in the societies of the world. It is inextricable in the cultures of every nation. It is a full time concern to many who see religion as a life style or a career path. My definition of religion is a codified belief system. It is the platform from which debates and disagreements are launched often with the result of becoming vehement, and even leading to genocide.

Thousands of books continue to be written about God in an attempt to offer spiritual answers to those who are seeking a spiritual life. Subjects might range from World Religions, Comparative Theology, Biblical Study or Analysis, and of course prescribed pathways to enlightenment by self promoting gurus. This is not a book about theology. I am not a theologian, I have none of the required credentials, nor do I have any desire to become one, to seek certification or to be validated or approved by theologians. I am, therefore, one tiny voice in the marketplace of ideas.. another voice, crying out in the wilderness, So now I give thanks to God the Father for allowing me to experience His living presence and guiding hand. This is a testimony of God's interaction with the human race we call 'grace.' Moreover, his love and grace have empowered me both to seek him and to know him and draw wisdom from His Word. Moreover, I believe that this message can encourage and aid those thousands who, like myself, were never given answers to deep spiritual questions but who remain hungry, asking, "Is there is a God, and if He is, how can I get Him to notice me."

Breaking Out of Religious Tradition

My questions and spiritual curiosity were not answered by denominational churches that I attended from my youth through my adulthood. The services or ceremonies that were offered on meeting days revealed nothing of God's reality or demonstrated his 'presumed' love and power. It was however, God whom I ultimately met and who impacted my life, outside of religion, personally and powerfully. I hope sharing these experiences bring hope and assurance to others.

Receiving This Message

Those who read what I present here may have various responses: Some who are perfectly happy with who they are what they believe may register mere disinterest, indifference; Others who have established their own theological conclusions, particularly through formal theological training may register disdain (such persons believing that what I say here is un-scholarly, presumptuous, misleading or even dangerous); But there may be some who have been looking for a spiritual life without the flimflam of religion who will receive this account with gratitude. Inevitable criticism may result from view of the Christian life. It will no doubt be harsher from those situated in institutional religion. Of course, there is always that population of unbelieving secularists (most political quarters) who are disinclined to read anything of this topic in the first place. The heart of this Jesus Gospel (good news) is predicated on being, "gentle and peaceable, and easily entreated." None the less, it always meets with resistance and "offense" because of its spiritual nature.

Ingrained in human nature is the instinct to fight to defend one's own beliefs. People have been fighting and dying over what they consider to be "right and true" for thousands of years. Opposing belief systems do not give up without a fight. Our highly charged human egos are born and nurtured within the domain of materialism, worldliness, and self-serving, within the status-quo of its institutions. Religious institutions today, are imbued with most attributes of worldliness, worldly power, worldly recognition, earthly rewards. The world's religious systems have their own vested interests. To be blunt, religion as we know it represents a significant economic and political power. Christian theology today is becoming increasingly a repudiation of Apostolic doctrine. Emergent Christianity blends other faiths with Christian traditions and is quickly departing from affirming Biblical inerrancy.

This book is written principally for Christian unbelievers. I am aware that there is a world of "tares" who populate churches. There are unbelievers both in and outside of the church experience. Too many do not realize to what extent they have been blinded by orthodoxy. Unbelief is the enemy of church people as much as for pagans. For church house Christians, both laity and clergy it is a terrible thing to know only religion and not God! For the Lord has declared, "Many will say in that day, Lord, Lord -, but I will say, "Depart from me I do not know you." Matt. 25

Among all the billions of people upon the face of the earth, it is ultimately the purpose of this life to recognize the "gift" and know God. Everyone will eventually be confronted by this reality, one day every knee will bow before Him, the Lord of all life¯ but for millions this knowledge will come too late and the door to life will have been closed. Part of the purview of this book is to point out the difference between knowing about God and knowing God.

The Confusing Disparities of Christian Religion

The world of religion, What a world! Almost everyone is in their own particular place regarding a search for a personal belief system. How would we graph our place as a believer or an unbeliever? Do you know what you believe? Do you know why you hold these beliefs? Some have a belief in a God of some description, others may not. Some pray, some believe in an afterlife, while others have no faith in any God nor any life following this one. There are so many religions inside and outside of Christianity. There are so many named Gods and paths to appeasing them. Within these myriad forms of belief or worship some have developed a set of moral values in accord with these beliefs. Indeed many of these values promote peace and brotherhood toward the greater community. Meanwhile, other religious beliefs may generate hatred and intolerance toward those outside of that faith. Now some religions compel its followers to convert the world to their viewpoint and to, in a word, cause the whole world to believe according to that religion.

Religion may be an intellectual study for some, a mandatory career indoctrination for others. From an anthropologist's point of view, religion simply revolves around the belief in "spirits" as defined by Margaret Mead. Religions lead to wars and conflict The crusades were a demonstration of wrong Christian beliefs. The inhumanities done were executed through a form of religion and not in conformity to the Gospel of Christ. The crusades and the inquisition were chapters in Catholicism that further demonstrated an abuse of power that is presumed when the rule of God on earth is already manifest in a political church on earth.

Christianity in the age of grace presents a message of love, acceptance and forgiveness. Violence or reprisal is not allowed in the practice of Christianity. Destruction and judgment against unbelievers has never been a part of the true Gospel. When this has occurred it was not in conformity to Bible teaching. In the Gospel of Grace, there is an invitation to come freely and receive. We partake in the power of Jesus' love, and forgiveness. Christians will never wield a sword to convert the unbeliever, but rather the demonstration of the supernatural power of God motivated by Love. It is this power from God that converts the heart and persuades each that there is a loving God in heaven. This is the loving Father who desires that no one dies under condemnation. "God so loved the world - - ," John 3:16 is the often quoted basic text.

Discernment reveals those who we can pray for. Condemnation never comes from the hand of a believer who is commanded to walk in the same love and forgiveness that Jesus modeled to all.

There is still great ignorance and confusion about Christianity. Christianity is something that has come to be viewed within the limiting frame of institutional religion not its true spiritual aspect which is both more simple but profound. The world knows Christianity as a system of belief, but even more from its traditions and lifestyles associated with particular churches. America was founded as a Christian nation as our founding fathers made clear testimony. The United States has a history of goodness founded on the belief in, and standards of, Biblical truth. But at the present time, if the truth were known, I believe that we would have far fewer who would qualify as Christians than census documentation reveals. Those who are called Christians in polls and surveys most often reflect an involvement with church organizations through membership and activities. This, I assert, is quite irrelevant to the nature of being or not being a Christian. Among those who profess to believe in Christianity I denote three distinct breeds:

Kinds of Christians

Political Christians: This category designates to distinguish them from other ethnic or cultural sects. We see these referred to frequently in the media to designate the sects within countries or political regions. Most of the time these are contrasted with contrary ideologies; often at war, or embroiled in strife with other groups. Typical of political religious rivalry such as that of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, which dates back to the factional disputes of the 15th century. Here are three ethnic factions, Muslims, Serbs and Croats, religious- political groups seemingly without any knowledge of a spiritual life and peace. In Ireland divisions remain after generations of religious and political strife, Irish Catholics in hatred and strife continue to war against Irish Protestants and Protestants against Catholics. In the decade prior to World War 2, so-called German Christians began to commit outrages against German Jews in the name of racial purity. For over 2 centuries 'Christian' crusaders waged Holy Wars against the Muslim Turks in the Holy Land and at the same time thought it was pleasing to God to torture and destroy any called Jews.

Religious Christians are actively involved with some form of institutional Christianity. Within this group are tens of millions of churchgoers who fill the pews in the church congregations each week. Each of these religious 'churches' or denominations follow the long-held traditions of their respective sect. Christian denominations have extensive power and interests both social and economic. The business of religion is concealed in its orthodoxy and largely unquestioned in its ranks. The clergy, religious leadership, has long been esteemed has a high and noble calling, although an occasional skeleton may turn up in the closet of some clergy person now and then. The lands and real estate assets of churches are immense. Each denomination builds great buildings as centers of worship and strictly supervise and train their clergy to act as priests or overseers of the faith. The sad reality is that the denominations of today are little different from any ancient priesthood, the pagan as well as the Scribes, and Pharisees of Jesus' day, of whom the Lord Jesus had little good to say.

Today I believe that traditional forms of religious Christianity may be the single greatest hindrance to effectively experiencing God. In this nation and other nations formalistic Christianity is that mostly exported. Let us not be confused to believe that the Gospel is a philosophy or an intellectual concept. It is discovering that the Gospel of Grace demonstrates the Power of God that will transform our lives at the deepest possible level. In its true operation it has the power to transform us into an adopted son or daughter of God. Church is not meant to be a place where Christianity is practiced and administered by priests. Jesus called believers to become disciples each of whom grow through shared life experiences with others (Ministry through the edification by/of the body.)

Religion: a metaphor: It seems as though religious Christians have been injected with something, call it religious formalism, which seems to make them immune to experiencing the authentic Spiritual Life of the Kingdom of God. Let me hasten to say however, that there are believers among the denominations, these men, women and children have received the knowledge of God through the Lord Jesus Christ in a profound and intimate way, not because of their religious affiliations necessarily, but in spite of that affiliation. The kingdom and the power of God are not the privy to any brand of religion but work around and through it.

Third Category: Authentic Christians,

What is A Christian? Are we born Christians, Are we Christians because we were not born Buddhist or Muslim? Are we Christians because our parents were Christians? Are we Christians because of a religious rite? The Bible reveals that we become Christians not by a religious rite, but by a spiritual encounter with God. God receives us in "friendship" and extends fellowship to us. This fellowship is granted in the name of the only begotten son of God, Jesus, Yeshua of Nazareth. This

knowledge is one thing but the actualizing power of Grace is quite another. The Gospel is a gospel not only conceptual fact but actualized in power. It is a life-changing, spirit-renewing power, that sets on fire the love and life of God within a believer. This life-changing encounter is central to what I hope to present in this writing, and I will cover it broadly if the following pages. A believer, in actuality, has no religious rites or obligations or rules to follow in order to win God's approval. A believer's job is to believe. Faith is choked by unbelief! Through faith we gain access to the scriptural promises of God. These promises are awesome and spectacular and when apprehended can lead us to experiencing the kindnesses of God and entering into our divine inheritance. That is the long and the short of it. Religion in any of its many aspects has entered in obtrusively to complicate or confound the simple way and truth that Christ has declared and made known for all; that each man, woman, and child can know God and experience wholeness through Him.

My hope and prayer is - - that those seeking truth, both religious and non religious, Christian and non Christian, continue in the Word which will open the door to the Kingdom of God, with its power and glory of Eternal Life. May the God of all creation reveal Himself to you, draw you into His family, and bring forth His kingdom, love, and liberty in your life. (Luke 4:18)


Reconstruction of the Human Spirit, the New Creation

Spiritual Christians are created in no other way than by Divine will and action. Those who constitute the membership of the Kingdom of God, without regard to any earthly institutional affiliation. The true church is not a building or a piece of real estate. It is a spiritual body, it is called the "Body of Christ. " This body is universal, apart from any designation of race, creed or nationality, it is without any denominational label and without sectarian or geographical boundaries. The Bible reveals that we become Christians not by a religious rite, but by a Spiritual encounter with the person of God. God receives us in "friendship" and extends the fellowship of his family to us. This fellowship is granted in the name of the only begotten Son of God, namely Jesus, Yeshua of Nazareth. He is the Messiah of Israel who is coming again to rule over the world.

Mentally acknowledging this doctrine is one thing, but receiving the transformative power of it is quite another. The Gospel is a gospel not only of historical fact but of power. It is a life changing, spirit-renewing power, that sets on fire the life of God within a believer. Those who are born from above are transformed in an undeniable way. It does not have to happen in a church through a human mediator although this occurs often enough. One must believe and knows he believes and then ask for that gift from God. That is how it works. No one can force us to believe. It is a process that God guides within us.

Religion is an admixture of some of God's gospel and some that are human overlays and augmentations. This mixture serves to confound the simplicity and freedom that is in Christ. Jesus Christ by taking on the sins of all humanity on the cross, has made the way for each man, woman, and child to come to God and experience a new state of being in Him. Jesus does not force us to believe. It is a choice to be made. We can continue to bear our own sins and grief. Or we can bring them to the One who promises to bear our burdens. An exchange awaits to be made, hope for hopelessness, freedom from bondage, peace, joy and liberty in God's presence. My hope and prayer is that those seeking truth, both Christian and non Christian will continue in the life giving word which opens the door to the Kingdom of God. May the God of all creation reveal Himself to you in order for you to continue to bring forth His kingdom.

Searching For God

Highways and Byways in the Quest Some of us, in our individual quest for truth, look for a religion that will accommodate our own world view or moral viewpoint, though in our natural state we are all morally distorted and unregenerate in nature. Some others search for a religious form which promises personal power and influence over others. This power quest has one end; corruption of the soul. Personal aggrandizement leads toward corruption and pride, the domain of the enemy of God, Lucifer. Power to control or influence others, power to get wealth for its own sake is as witchcraft, a rebellious snare. Some search for a religious program which accommodates fame, personal notoriety, adulation or self-worship. Self enhancement is acquired at the expense of coming under God's dominion.

For others the search is to find personal healing or inner contentment to salve the aching of their souls. In Him we find solace, peace, love and wholeness. There are numerous motivations which lend themselves to religious choices. While we say we search for God are we really sincere or insincere? In the final analysis it is we who must conform to God's book and acknowledge His rules and plan for ourselves and not visa-versa.

Beginning a Spiritual Search

While we are shopping this smorgasbord of religion there are many choices. How will you choose? What are your resources and criteria to make these choices? Can we choose using our own intellectual equipment? Those who are proud of their intellectual achievements will probably choose wrongly; since they will choose to remain in control of their own lives through the exalted faculty of reason. The wise of this world say, "Only a fool denies reason."

Some religions make no demands upon us to give up anything, idolatries, pride, sin, hatred, etc. When we are well satisfied with who we are; when we are pleased with ourselves, with our name, rank, and achievements; When we are puffed up with our own sense of superiority, looks, talents or strengths; How can we choose to believe something which asks us to, "deny yourself, take up a cross and follow me?" How do we choose a belief system which states, "In myself, I can do nothing;" or " - unless a seed falls and dies it abides alone, but if dies it brings forth much?" Is there any beauty in sacrificing our selves? How can we as 20th, soon to be 21st Century beings, choose to decrease to ourselves and choose that which is meek and lowly of heart, not arrayed the outward trappings of finery; not displaying intellectual cleverness, nor personal flamboyance. "He had no beauty that we should desire Him." (Isaiah 53:3)

So we seek. We shop and we look and we ask about. During this time we continue to have as much power and self control, self satisfaction, and personal liberty as any other human seeker. When does the seeking come to an end? Is their a priceless pearl to be found? What is the nature of this pearl which beyond price? How do I begin my quest for God?

Scripture asks this question, "What does a profit someone to gain the whole world but lose his or her soul?" There is a risk associated with a search thwarted or the search incomplete. There is a risk associated with substituting the true with the counterfeit and the living with something tainted with corruption and death. There is indeed a true Gospel, having the right Jesus, the right Gospel and the right Spirit. (2Cor 11:3) There is also a counterfeit gospel, awaiting any who choose an alternative to the previous 3 criteria. Among these alternatives lies the way to deception or possible destruction.

In this process of seeking, some who hear the message, come to believe in the Lord Jesus, Yeshua of Nazareth called the Messiah or Christ.) The Word of God declares, "Those who seek will find." Those who seek and continue seeking, will find that pearl of inestimable value. It remains hidden to those who are lost. Great hunger is rewarded with satisfying 'manna' from God and great thirst is rewarded with a satisfying drink that Jesus called 'living water.'

Many others never come to believe in or profess biblical Christianity but another belief system. The way of the Christian life once discovered provides a feast for the body, soul and spirit, a feast that brings eternal satisfaction, the knowledge of the friendship of Jesus is thirst satisfying indeed.

The Way, however, remains a narrow one, it is self limiting. It does not accommodate those who wish to take their own intellectual baggage in, this burden of extraneous stuff must be unloaded. Who among the seekers is willing to do this? Who are really sincere and not looking on a superficial curiosity level. Jesus has counseled to walk the crucified life. Daily carrying our cross, dying to self, turning from the raucous cries that would distract us in this world.

I am reminded of the interview which King Herod of Judea attempted to have with Jesus on the occasion of Jesus' trial and Pilate's disposition of this matter of legality. What possible need or interest could this powerful, worldly, self indulgent, sensuous monarch have in questioning Jesus, the Messiah of the Jews? Herod had indeed heard of Jesus. He had heard of his influence upon the people and heard of the signs and wonders worked by his hand. Herod probably was reminded of John the Baptist whose head was the price paid for his stepdaughter Salome's sensuous dance performance. Vain curiosity was probably the motivating factor. Herod may have had some guilt or even fears associated with destroying the non conformist, unyielding, cooperative prophet, John the Baptist.

Herod interviews Jesus: The world against the spirit
It was time for a confrontation, though perhaps not yet a showdown, It was a face-off between worldliness, sensual opulence, and temporal power and the veiled spiritual wonders of the Kingdom of God; it was flesh against the Spirit. What happened in this confrontation of flesh and spirit? How did Jesus respond to the queries of the coarse and curious Herod, did they share an intellectual discourse? Yeshua remained silent not a word was offered. What place has the kingdom of God with worldliness or idolatry? Jesus had not one word to share. There was no dialogue. There was no effort made to plead the case for a religious or political agenda. No. Jesus answered not a word! The kingdom of God and Herod's world were irreconcilable, worlds apart, kingdoms apart. You see, Jesus will not respond to those whose lives are filled with surfeiting, with self importance or with insincere curiosity. Jesus answered the worldly Herod, not a word! (Luke 23:8)

A doorway opens unto repentance

In my case, I had reached a crossroad in my middle years that brought me to 'an end of myself:' When my need was greatest I was reduced to desperation. I finally was willing to take the next step to cry out, "Jesus, have mercy on me!" So? Where the inquiry will take you. Will it be into the wilderness (outside of the distractions of worldly distractions, where intimacy with God is finally revealed? Or will you be lured into the another wilderness imbued with worldly values having no intimacy with God, having no power to fulfill Christ's hope and calling.

"The Gospel Without Religion" is a series of commentaries compiled from this believer's study of the "Word of God" and his personal spiritual insights and experiences thereafter. I was not always a believer. What was I before I became a believer, before becoming a Christian? I was the same as many of you are. Before becoming a believer I practiced a form of Godliness that was merely religious. I was actively involved in institutional forms of Christianity with its many traditions, forms, and flavors and yet without knowing Christ. Before becoming believers, we called ourselves by any of hundreds of denominational names, not realizing that Christ is One and can not be divided. If this state, we had no true witness of the reality of God; we had no true witness of our own spiritual nature and destiny. We may not have known that God is real or that He rewards those who seek him with wonderful gifts. Before becoming a partakers in the "gift of God", we called ourselves Christians.

Meantime, not knowing that being a Christian meant more than just attending church, more than learning a catechism, more than going through a rite of membership. Being a Christian is not an intellectual assent to a doctrine or belief where you can say, "Yes that sounds like it might be true, I guess I join up and become one of those. "You don't join an institution or a church to become a Christian, rather, you are "translated" into becoming a son or daughter of God. You are translated into a different kingdom and a different reality; You become a new order of being. You are translated from death into life, from darkness into light. We who once cared nothing for the life and properties of God now share in that life and are consumed by it. It is a work that God does in us and not one that we do on our own.

Discerning the True Gospel, 3 factors determine its authenticity: (2 Corinthians 11:2)
The right Jesus: Jesus the Messiah is not an angel, not a mere prophet; not a great man, not merely a teacher of moral excellence; Not a highly evolved illuminate; but The only begotten Son of God, the Jewish Messiah.
The right gospel: The Gospel is a gospel of good news; that humanity may come to the giver of life to receive a supernatural gift; eternal life and forgiveness without cost, without the mediation of a priest; It is not a gospel of works, nor is it a gospel of faith and good works; the door is open to any who call upon the name of the Lord. The source of truth and understanding of this gospel is the Holy Bible.
The right Spirit: There are many spirits in the world, some of God, others demonic. Spirits abound in the atmosphere in individuals, in communities, of every nation. The church houses of religions can nurture or teach a doctrine which has a wrong, (un-Christlike) This sort of subtle spiritual influence has existed for thousands of years leading people away from the God-life. The reality of demonic spirits addressed by Jesus and his disciples are still present to seduce, impede, and steal from the life, liberty and spiritual potential of all.

The kingdom of darkness has this agenda; to steal, to kill and to destroy, especially a believer. The spirit of the world is a spirit of self exaltation and pride. Of course modern thought and psychology discredits belief in spirits as a primitive and obsolete belief system. However, it is to be noted that Jesus the Messiah came to "destroy the works of the devil," Satan, the ruler of all fallen beings. It is God's ultimate purpose to restore the proper line of earthly rule under the dominion of Jesus Christ. In due time, nations will recognize him as the Holy One of God, appointed Lord of all things. Evil or wrong spirits include, pride, rebellion, witchcraft, defilement, sensuality, gluttony, drunkenness, etc.

The Secular Argument: One god Equals Any Other!

The broad-minded, ecumenical world would like to assert that any God is essentially on a par with any other. They declare that there are many paths and they all eventually lead us to the sublime higher One. Today, I am a Christian believer, but was not always so. Disillusioned by religion, sensing its superficiality, the hypocrisies, and lacking any proof in the God of the Bible I went on searching and doubting, and trusting that I was good enough not to fall into condemnation in if and when I came face to face with my Creator. I had heard the term "Good News" referring the Gospel of the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). But my experience in Christianity was valued only in a sentimental way. I had memories of church experiences with my family in youth. During these days I yearned to touch and experience something that was real, powerful and persuasive. This, I believe, is exactly where so many seeking people are at today. Hopeful, wanting to believe, but without proof that God is real or reachable. My religious experience offered no proof of God's reality. Any Gospel expressed as the Power of God able to transform human life, was outside of my religious experience.

The Gospel, is denoted as the power of God, (1Corinthians 1;2.5) powerfully persuades us to believe, in a God of love and a God who can impact human lives in remarkable life-changing ways that exist out of the realm of church life. This Gospel is not a shallow, tradition-ruled religion. Rather it teaches knowing God who reveals himself as Savior and sovereign of the universe. Even more amazingly, the Bible proves itself to be entirely believable and consistent in spite of its progressive detractors. Theologians who work continuously to discredit any belief in Biblical accuracy or consistency. Today when I hear of a God who walked with man in a spiritually perfect world, called Eden. I believe it; when I hear of a God who did wonders in the days of Moses or the prophets I do not doubt that fact for one moment; when I read the infallible prophecies of appointed men of God who declare the end from the beginning I have no doubt in the veracity of any of those words.

God spoke through prophets with inerrant accuracy to declare the Messiah and his mission to redeem fallen humanity and all these prophecies came to pass. Jesus as the lamb of God came to close the divide between God and humanity. The resurrection of Yeshua, as irrational scientifically unsound it sounds on the surface, remains the foundation of Christianity. Resurrection establishes the "Power of the Gospel" and enables any believer to partake in His divine nature.

Religions of the world may vary in name and beliefs but all seek to establish a worldly kingdom. They aspire to have a launching pad to promulgate those beliefs and in many cases, beliefs that are contrary to the Gospel. Christian religions sects, including, Catholicism, LDS Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, and most of the protestant denominations distort the simple Gospel. They bring forth errant doctrines, formalism, and human authority. (See the characteristics of Religion in book two; "The attributes of Religion."

Think about religion. What usually comes to mind? Churches, temples, mosques, buildings and their congregations have something in common; formal ceremony and ritual are practiced. It is here that we learn obligations or extraneous formalities that are thought to be necessary to worship and believe properly. Most of this is contrary to the original Gospel, e.g. the Apostolic epistles found in the New Testament.


RELIGIOUS ATTRIBUTES

An important caveat:
There are degrees of spirituality and expression of heart-felt faith in the traditional churches today. People are faithful to these institutions that have sustained values that have laid the moral and social foundations of our nation. There has been a noble and historic inheritance of Christian Churches in America and other countries. Although there is a disturbing tendency today for institutional churches to depart from their roots allowing the tenets of worldly thought and values to enter in.

God, can and does find His way into the heart of people within churches who worship in more formal, liturgical ways. To the extent that the Word is taught and valued and the true worship of God is encouraged there is fruitfulness. The principle emphasis of these writings is that there is more, more, always more to be known and to be experienced. And these experiences are entirely consistent with apostolic teachings. The more freedom and liberty is given to the Holy Spirit, the more spiritual growth will be "experienced" when those believers gather together.

I will focus upon the negative attributes of the Religious paradigm in these writings which impact faith and spiritual growth in negative ways. There are doctrines and practices that can actually keep individuals from ever experiencing the Kingdom of God or the greatest gift of God, salvation.

Christianity was never intended to become a religion, - - -
NOR were believers ever intended to become religious. Jesus spoke a parable about a new fabric and a new wine skin, the old was not to built from or upon the old. I will attempt to set forth some of the attributes or activities which intrude to replace the spiritual life that Jesus Christ offers with worldly qualities. The hand of man forms religion. 

I hope the topics which follow will shed light upon things which most of us have seen or done which constitute "religion "or religious practices. Religion in its traditional forms, takes away from the fullness of the life of God, the "living way" by giving itself over to externals, superficial formalities and habitual practices modeled from human headship. Not only denominational churches but virtually all institutions of "Christian" worship have become encumbered with some form of religious traditionalism which begins to depart from the simplicity and authenticity of apostolic roots. 

God, nevertheless, can and does find His way into the churches and into formalized systems of worship on occasion and into some churches more than others. 

All of us whether we are "religious" or not need to evaluate our beliefs and especially our sense of really knowing God. If we are to be children of God we need more than just an assent to an idea, we need to experience. I believe that I can say with assurance that God does not favor religious institutions or traditions which substitute worldliness for spiritual fellowship or the liberating truth of God's Word for a human understanding.

Religion is Man's Idea of What God
wants us to do to Please Him

Church People versus The People of God

If religion were only pure and good and brought forth good fruits such as personal joy, and liberty, there would be no need for the Lord to issue an exhortation to religious people.

When Jesus (Jeshua of Nazareth) came to minister to the people of Israel in his generation he came with signs and manifestation of God's favor and He came with the impeccable credentials of prophetic fulfillment. Jesus brought a message that was Spiritual because God is Spirit. A spiritual message is always contradictory to worldly forms of worship or to tradition for its own sake. The Kingdom of God promotes spiritual relationships, sharing, and community within the body. The agency of the Spiritual life is partaking in God's "oneness."

The Messenger of the Kingdom of God, comes as Jesus came with a spiritual mission and a spiritual message. Jesus was a good man, a man sent from God, a man who was more than a man, more than an anointed prophet, he was the very Son of the Living God! Yes, he was all of these things, but in the face of this he was not received, he was not believed, he was called an imposter, the religious authorities confronted him and resisted his mission, his ministry and his message. "He came unto his own and his own did not receive him, but to as many that received him He gave the power to become the sons of God." (John 1:11,12.)

There is a force of resistance other than just contrary human wills, working to hinder the making of this unified family a reality. The force is not only the human resistance itself but a spiritual force which fuels this human resistance to God's divine purpose. God has taken this force of resistance into account and given us instruction how to persevere in the its face.

Jesus says, "Take my yoke upon your shoulders" Why? So that we can do what? So we can be more burdened? No. Because he intends to become the burden bearer on our behalf. "You will find rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11: 29:30)

Religion has among its attributes the tendency to establish duties or rules of conduct which are somehow supposed to please God.
However, these so called righteous deeds are not able to establish our righteousness before God. The hardest thing for a religious person to unlearn is that we are free from duties to perform, from obligations and from laws of any kind to establish our goodness and acceptance by God.

Works and obligations are not a factor in bringing us to God nor in determining if we receive any of the kindnesses which God has promised us in His word. We can't earn any gift. Once we go to Him to become forgiven and to be cleansed, our most fruitful Spiritual efforts would best be applied to thanksgiving and gratitude for His mercies.

The works of faith are a reality but they remain less our work than His work. It is not God's intention for us to do His work with our limited abilities. Once we become a child of God and establish a life of intimacy and familiarity with our Spiritual Source and Supply we are transformed sufficiently to be able to offer the kind of witness to the world which can be of value to God.

Christians are always trying to do things for God. It is He who wishes to do things for us. (a foreign notion to religious thinking.) It is Christ in us who is to do the work though he chooses to work through us.

Jesus says, "Take my yoke upon your shoulders" --so that we can do what, be burdened? No. Because he intends to become the burden bearer. "You will find rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Jesus declares. (Matthew 11: 29:30)