Amos 5:4-5 ESV
For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel:
“Seek me and live;
but do not seek Bethel,
and do not enter into Gilgal
or cross over to Beersheba;
for Gilgal shall surely go into exile,
and Bethel shall come to nothing.”
If we are going to be followers of Jesus Christ we need to be those who are seeking after the Lord and who are not going after the gods of this world. For, these places mentioned here are symbolic of places of idolatrous worship. We are to seek (pursue, go after, aim for) the Lord in all that we are and do and say. And we are not to pursue the pleasures, values, philosophies, culture, attitudes, thinking, and behaviors of the world.
So what are some places of idolatrous worship today? For Christians the biggest place of idolatrous worship today is the institutional church. For it is called “the church,” but it isn’t the church. It is a business of man, created in the minds of human beings, which is being run just like a business and it is being marketed to the world just like any other commodity. And so the meaning of “church” has been altered to conform to the ways of the world.
Now, not every gathering of what is called “church” is following the ways of this sinful world and is altering the meaning of church and the gospel in order to conform to the ways of this world, and in order to attract the world to their gatherings and to keep them coming back. There is a remnant who are still holding to the truths of the Scriptures and who are conducting themselves in the order of the New Testament church with EVERY PART doing its work.
But finding such a gathering today is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. I am sure they exist, and I have been told that they exist, but I am not seeing them, and I have searched far and wide. But every search ends up with a gathering that is following after the ways of man and/or which is compromising truth and righteousness in one way or another in order to appeal to human flesh and to attract the world to their gatherings.
To begin with, if “the church” has partnered with the government and with big business and with “church” denominations, it isn’t the true church. For the true church is the body of Christ – all those who have died with Christ to sin and who are living to God and to his righteousness and who are walking no longer according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. We are the people of God, not a building, and not a location. And our purpose in gathering together is for the edification and exhorting and encouragement of the body of Christ toward holy living and away from living in sin.
[Ac. 2:42-47; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Rom 12:1-8; Gal 5:16-21; 1 Co 3:9,16-17; 1 Co 6:19-20; 1 Co. 12:1-31; 2 Co 5:1; 2 Co 6:14-16; Eph 1:4,22; Eph 2:19-22; Eph 4:1-32; Eph 5:17-30; Col 1:18-24; Col 2:19; Col 3:12-16; 2 Tim 1:9; 2 Tim 2:21; 1 Pet 1:13-16; 1 Pet 2:4-9; Titus 2:11-14; Heb 3:13; Lu 9:23-26; Jude 1:20-21; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10]
So, don’t go after what is not of God and which is contrary to the teachings of Scripture. Don’t get caught up in the ways of sinful man and with marketing schemes, tricks, and manipulations of man which are intended to attract the world to the gatherings of what is falsely being called “church.” Read these Scriptures above and become familiar with what it means to be the church (the body of Christ) and with the purpose of our gatherings.
And please don’t misquote Hebrews 10:25 by taking it out of its context in order to try to guilt-trip people into attending the gatherings of institutional “churches.” The verses before this one and the verses following this one are all about holy living and not living in sin and about exhorting one another daily so that none of us may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Heb 3:13), which is the purpose for us not neglecting to meet together (read Hebrews 10:19-31).
“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26-27).
[See Also: Lu 9:23-26; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Jn 15:1-11; Matt 7:21-23; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
Amos 5:10,12 ESV
“They hate him who reproves in the gate,
and they abhor him who speaks the truth.”
“For I know how many are your transgressions
and how great are your sins—
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
and turn aside the needy in the gate.”
If you are following Jesus Christ in wholehearted devotion to him, and sin is not your practice, but righteousness, holiness, and obedience to the Lord are your practice, and if you are at all verbal about your faith and about the truth of the gospel as Jesus and as his New Testament apostles taught it, you are going to be hated, and not just by non-professers of faith in Jesus Christ, but probably mainly by those who profess to believe in Jesus.
For, who were Jesus’ biggest persecutors? And who were Paul’s greatest persecutors? They were the rulers in the Jewish temple or in the Jewish synagogues, who were the learned of the Scriptures (Old Testament), and who were the teachers of the Scriptures, but who did not believe in Jesus, and who were opposed to Jesus and to his gospel message. And some of our biggest persecutors may be pastors of “churches.”
And why may our greatest persecution come from within the walls of institutional Christianity? Because most of what is a part of institutional religion is not of God, and is not under the headship of Christ, but is of man, and is following after the ways of man. Thus, it is diluting the truth of the gospel to make it more acceptable to the flesh of man and more appealing to the people of the world. And so they don’t want to hear the truth, for the truth offends human flesh, and it offends the people of the world.
Amos 5:14-15 ESV
“Seek good, and not evil,
that you may live;
and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you,
as you have said.
Hate evil, and love good,
and establish justice in the gate;
it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts,
will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.”
Now, when it says here to seek good and not evil that you may live, this is not just Old Testament teaching. It is what the New Testament reverberates. All throughout the New Testament we are taught that we must die with Christ to sin and live to God and to his righteousness, that we must forsake our lives of sin and we must follow our Lord in obedience. For if we continue in deliberate and habitual sin and not in obedience to God, we will die in our sins. We will not inherit eternal life with God (see Scriptures noted above).
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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