Revelation chapter 18 concerns the Lord calling His people out of spiritual Babylon and its ultimate destruction by fire. I believe one day spiritual Babylon will be destroyed, literally, but until then, each of us who have heard and responded to the Lord’s call to “come out of her, My people” (Revelation 18:4), must overcome the strongholds religious Babylon has within us. To that end, the Lord has often challenged me to examine what I believe and throw down to destruction that which is not of Him and His Truth.
One of the most unsettling things I’ve done to examine my beliefs, is to compare the 4 books of the gospel, with the rest of the new testament. Take for example the word “church”; Jesus used it just 3 times (Matthew 16:18 and 18:17), whereas it is used 113 times in Acts through Revelation (KJV translation). The Greek word “ekklesia”, which translators have rendered “church”, actually means “assembly”, yet it is translated “assembly” just 3 times out of 116 occurrences in the New Testament; Acts 19:32, :39 and :41. That passage refers to a gathering of the Ephesians in a civic hall to address the threat that The Way posed to their profitable business of making and selling silver shrines for the idol Artemis (Diana).
About whether Jesus even used the word “ekklesia” (church), consider whether He would have spoken Greek, the language of Rome, Aramaic, the regional dialect at the time, or Hebrew, the sacred language of God’s people. Matthew 16:18 is such a solemn moment in Jesus’ earthly ministry, it’s difficult for me to imagine Him speaking any language other than Hebrew in front of the 12. Remember too, that Jesus said “I was sent ONLY to the lost sheep of Israel” (Matthew 15:24), so why would He have spoken in Greek, the language of Israel’s earthly oppressor?
Personally, I believe putting the word “church” into Jesus’ mouth is not honest of the translators. And for men to undertake “church” building programs, based on Jesus’ comment “I will build MY church”, is nothing less than man usurping Jesus responsibility. How great the vanity, how monumental the error, when men try to build on the earth, that which only Jesus can build in and by the Spirit (1 Peter 2:4-9)?
NEWS FLASH! Jesus told us to “make disciples”, not “build churches” (Matthew 28:19).
T. Austin-Sparks, in his book The Risen Lord and the Things Which Cannot be Shaken writes in chapter 11:
The Lord has not called upon us to form churches. That is not our business. Would to God men had recognized the fact! A very different situation would obtain today from what exists, if that had been recognized. It is the Lord Who expands His Church, Who governs its growth. What we have to do is to live in the place of His appointment in the power of His resurrection. If, in the midst of others, the Lord can get but two of His children, in whom His Life is full and free, to live on the basis of that Life, and not to seek to gather others to themselves or to get them to congregate together on the basis of their acceptance of certain truths or teaching, but simply to witness to what Christ means and is to them, then He has an open way….
Even worse than the word “church”, is the plural of the word: “churches”. Jesus desires our oneness with Him and for His people. To that end, there is only ONE body, ONE Spirit, ONE hope, ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism, ONE GOD! Surely then the word “churches” is a lie in and of itself!
… that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (John 17:21-23 ESV)
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6 KJV)
Accordingly, I do not believe that the so-called “church age” was ever intended by our Savior, although He has allowed it, while quietly and invisibly going about the work of building HIS spiritual temple and royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:4-9).
For years now I have struggled with the verbal expression of my faith in the Messiah, for the simple reason that even our language has been co-opted by the enemy. If I say the word “church”, most everyone thinks of a building which is in direct conflict with scripture (Acts 7:48, 17:24, et al). I left all that years ago to cleave to Messiah! So how can I call myself a “Christian” when I know the Messiah’s name was NOT “Christ”, NOT “Jesus” and it was the Roman oppressors in Antioch, who began calling followers of The Way (Acts 9:2, 19:23) by the derisive name “Christians” (Acts 11:26)? I reject the Romanizing of The Way and follow Messiah alone, which is difficult because even the scriptures which tell us of Messiah are polluted with Roman influence.
How is a believer to even speak of their faith, when the enemy has stolen our language?
Another of the struggles I still have with religious Babylon, concerns the people who remain in it and are deceived. For them, my heart aches which has driven me to labor for its reformation, but I have only been lumped for my efforts. Delivering me from any feeling of obligation to reform her, the Lord has shown me not only was religious Babylon (aka man’s church) not of Him in the first place, but also His intent to utterly destroy it (Revelation 18:8, :21). And I think we can agree that laboring to repair that which the Lord intends to destroy is the epitome of a “vain work” 😉
One morning while waking up, the Lord brought to mind:
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)
While that passage is written to the “church in Laodicea”, upon whose door the Lord is knocking, it is individuals He enters into and sups with, not the Laodicean church as a whole (or institution).
If indeed man’s church is engaged in whoredom, where the Lord says His people are “in her” and He is calling them “out of her” (Revelation 18:4), then to ask the Lord to “come in” is akin to asking Him to enter into the whore as well. Hence, the Lord remains on the outside looking in and calling His people out unto Himself. Any effort by His people to go into her and reform her, or to “usher in revival”, or any other such nonsense, is futile. Religious Babylon can NOT be reformed, revived, saved or salvaged; only destroyed.
There is but one call, and that is to “come out of her, My people”. Anyone who hears otherwise, is listening to their own religious nature.