By Gary Amirault
Have you ever cried out to God that He must get more real for you? Have you ever come to the place where your religious beliefs are just not carrying you through? I have – many times. On one of those occasions, the thought came to me, that it was I who needed to get more real, not God. God is always who He is and He does not change. It is me who needs to change to conform more to Him. I have to get real. I have to shed lies. I have to give up traditions of men and doctrines of demons and other things in me that don’t reflect His true nature and character. I have to leave the shadows and types of the Old Covenant and enter into the fullness of the New Covenant. I have to be healed first and reconciled to God before I can bring healing and reconciliation to others. My problem with God not being real enough in my life is in me, not in God.
How can we get more real?
There are thousands of denominations of Christianity that differ from each other in thousands of different ways. Each has their own set of rituals, own set of doctrines, own set of traditions, own set of foundational teachers, in other words, their own way of serving and worshipping the God they believe is true. Each of these denominations has certain beliefs they consider vital to their way of understanding Who God is and how He wants to be worshipped.
If one talks with a person within a particular denomination who is zealous for their beliefs, it won’t be long before one knows what the main focus of their denomination is. If they believe a particular form of water baptism is essential for salvation, it won’t be long before the subject comes up. Whatever the major tenets of the faith of that denomination are, those tenants will be the main thing its adherents will talk about regarding their understanding of what God requires of us. And anyone who challenges those tenets will quickly discover the passion with which they hold to them. The gnashing teeth and the popped veins in their necks will reveal that you have touched a sacred cow. You will discover their idolatry by simply handling their tenets in a way that they consider unholy. Forms of baptism, forms of communion, church government, trinity or unity, tongues, type of music, etc. – every denomination has a few major beliefs on which it majors – and woe to the person who questions whether those beliefs are actually the truth.
A set of beliefs, true or untrue or mixed do not make us real. They give no more life than a piece of stone. It is easy for us to see the sacred cows in other denominations and the lifelessness they give; it is NOT so easy to see our own idols which prevent the reality of God from manifesting in our own lives. Idols do not have to be made of sticks and stones. The most blinding of all idols are those we place in our minds and hearts.
If we have “traditions of men and/or doctrines of demons” in our hearts then we have “made the word of God of no effect” according to Jesus. (Matt. 15:6-9) Many Christians have been taught that the “word of God” is their Bible translation. But the very Bible tells us that the letter (Bible) kills, it is the Spirit that gives life. Furthermore, the “word of God” is NOT the Bible, it is the very person of Jesus Christ. Reality is not found in memorizing Scriptures – it is found in becoming one with the Truth, the Way and the Life, Jesus.
How can we know if the image of God that we hold is based upon mere empty traditions and memorized scriptures with no life in them which are actually hiding the reality of God from us rather than bringing us closer? E. Weeks and Andrew Jukes may have some answers for us.
A SAD REALITY OF LIFE
By E. Weeks
“For teachers to learn, is to unlearn; and that is not easy.”
Well-known Christian writer, Andrew Jukes, wrote a book in 1867 entitled, "Restitution Of All things." On page 149 we read: "Even with true souls, who have been teaching another doctrine, there must be special difficulties in receiving a truth that proves them to be in error...For teachers to learn is to unlearn; and that is not easy. Nor can we expect that those, who occupy the chief seats in the synagogue, will readily descend from them and humble themselves, not only to the place of learners, but to be reproached for doing so. How can masters of Israel eat their own words? Even those who are willing to be taught are fearful. The consciousness that they are liable to err and may be deceived, makes them cling to that which they are accustomed."
Since this was written 134 years ago, our question is: Could this possibly be true today? An honest answer to this question would have to be given in the affirmative. Human nature is the same today as it was 100 years ago or 2,000 years ago at the first advent of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we are told something that is contrary to our present understanding, rare is the person who is willing to take the time to honestly investigate the challenge to their beliefs. Why is this so? Some reasons might be: 1) They feel safe and comfortable with what they believe. 2) They are unwilling to take the chance that they might be wrong. 3) They feel that others are more adept students than they are and thus rely on their teachings. If anyone uses any one of these reasons, they are not following the clear dictates of the Scriptures.
We read in Acts 17:11, "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." What they were hearing from the Apostle Paul apparently was something with which they were unfamiliar, but note their attitude. They not only were willing to listen to the Apostle Paul, but they eagerly received his message. Then they took the time to prove out from the Word of God the truthfulness of his message. They were willing to "prove all things and to hold fast to what is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Are we willing to do the same? What attitude do we exercise? Is it that of the Bereans?
God has given us His Holy Spirit to be our guide in understanding His Word (John 16:13). Are we willing to let God's Holy Spirit do the work He is commissioned of God to do? The Apostle John tells us, "As for you, the anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit -- just as it has taught you, remain in Him" (1 John 2:27). Are we willing to trust God's Holy Spirit, which we have been given, to teach us? Or do we put our trust more in our leaders or pastors who we think are more knowledgeable than we are?
"For teachers to learn is to unlearn; and that is not easy." We are all teachers to some degree. For anyone to learn, they must first be willing to get rid of error in their understanding and beliefs. Error and truth cannot co-exist together. One or the other has to go. True, this is not easy. It seems, at first, a fearful thing. There could be repercussions that could occur if we decide to change. But when one comes to see something formerly held as truth to be error, a choice must be made. Are we willing to pay the price that loyalty to the Lord and His Word may cost, or will we hold back out of fear?
John 12:42 tells us, "Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue." Is our status among others more important than living with integrity and the truth of our proven understanding and beliefs? How honest are we? How truthful are we with others as to what we believe? Are we more concerned with being accepted than being loyal to our Heavenly Father and Lord Jesus Christ? Do we try to rationalize away our true understanding of God's Word so that we can continue to have influence among others who might reject us if they knew what we really believe? Are we putting God first, or are we being men-pleasers? Remember the judgment Jesus made upon the Pharisees who did not live truthful lives in Matthew 23.
Let us be true to ourselves and to our God. It is only then that we are truly free from bondage, whatever kind it may be. Only the truth will set us free (John 8:32). And if the Son shall set us free, we shall be free indeed! We must live the truth and be honest in all things; for only then can our lives be pleasing to our Heavenly Father. Let nothing come between us and our loyalty to our God, and then we will be living in the true freedom that the Lord Jesus Christ died to give us. –end of E. Weeks article.
As we can see, it is not easy “getting real” with God. And it doesn’t end with doctrines and traditions of men either. If we have something against our brother or vise-a-versus and we don’t try to reconcile the situation, we’ll have problems with “getting real.” If we have idols of nationalism, denominationalism, prejudice, bigotry, racism, or cultural bias in our hearts, we lock ourselves up in lies and untruth and therefore will not express reality as found in Christ. If we refuse to forgive and extend mercy, then we enslave ourselves to darkness in which there is no light. We know that “God is light.” If we let anger, rage, vengeance, hate, bitterness and/or and violence fester in our hearts (which comes from our flesh and not His Spirit), then we die to the truth and practice a lie. If we are envious and are full of self-ambition, then we inhibit the reality of God from manifesting in our lives. If we deny the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we deny the reality of the power of God in His Body. False humility can deny the reality of God as much as pride can.
The first generation of Israelites found leaks and onions more desirable than the food from God. The last generation of Israelites found the lies of the traditions of men and the doctrines of demons more desirable than Jesus, the Truth, the Bread of Life. God spent 2,000 long years preparing the nation of Israel to receive their Messiah. “He came to His own and His own received Him not.” (John 1:11) The church has been in existence for almost 2,000 years. Millions of Christians expect Jesus to come to them very soon. Will His real presence be so far from the concepts, ideas and traditions Christians have been taught about Him that they too will not receive Him because His reality does not line up with the image they have created of Him in their hearts and minds?
The beginning of “getting real,” is to acknowledge that we, presently, may be in the very same condition and position the Israelites were in. The lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life all cloud us from the reality found only in Christ. It requires tremendous humility to get real. After all, Jesus was the most humble man that ever walked this planet. The beginning of seeing Him as He really is is to become empty of everything that is not like Him. This requires humility, an openness to correction and a teachable spirit. Being retaught is diametrically opposed to our traditional beliefs which we have been told are the truth that we should never depart from. Our very foundations might have to be torn up if we are to “get real” with God.
So the next time you find yourself crying out for God to get more real for you, be willing to get really real with Him. Yahweh says He changes not. (Malachi 3:6) He is the Self-existing One. He will be what He will be. If we are going to be conformed to His image as the Bible says (Rom 8:29), and His image does not change, then it’s obvious who must do the changing.
“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18, NIV)
Most of us who have been raised in some form of church have been taught to “hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering.” (Heb. 10:23) But if our profession of faith is in an image of God which does not conform to His reality, it is all empty vanity; it is the same kind of idolatry the Israelites practiced. They lived in the types and shadows of reality, never coming to the knowledge of the truth.
The apostles warned 2,000 years ago that in their time there were already many antichrists, many false prophets, many false Christs and many different gospels. All these false images have not diminished since the apostles gave those warnings; they have greatly multiplied. That there are thousands of different denominations of Christianity, each with different concepts of God and what He requires of His people, is a good indication of how much idolatry exists in Christianity. Who is so vain to think that they have researched them all thoroughly and know that they are in the right denomination teaching the right image of God? Apparently most Christians do. Is it possible that the fate of the last generation of Christians during the church age who expect to shortly meet Jesus may not fair any better than the last generation of Jews under the Mosaic Covenant?
“He came to His own and His own received Him not.” (John 1:11)
The nation of Israel under the Mosaic Covenant was to serve as a sign and example for those who were to follow under the New Covenant. (Heb. 8:4-13;10:1; 1 Cor. 10:5, 6) Are you so confident in your heart that you know the reality of God so well that you could recognize Him if He visited you in your church? Let us learn the lesson left us by those who thought they were the most knowledgeable, the most righteous, the most certain that they would not only recognize the Messiah but also be found highly favored by Him because they were so zealous for Him. They thought they would recognize Him. They thought their lives were truly a reflection of Him. They thought all their traditions, rituals and teachings were correct. They thought their hearts were right. I’m sure they were utterly shocked when they heard,
“I knew you not: depart from Me, you workers of iniquity.” (Matt. 7:23)
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” (Matt. 16:24, 25)
Let us break ourselves open upon the Rock of our salvation. Let Him examine
all those things over the years which we have accumulated and made a part of “our life.” Many of these things may actually be acting as a veil prohibiting us from entering into and manifesting the reality found only in Him. Let us give Him room to remove everything within us that prevents us from getting real with Him, our neighbors and ourselves. Let’s “get real” so that we can see and manifest our heavenly Father and His Son as they really are.