The Line in the Sand

As the teachers of the Law threw the woman before Jesus’ feet to see what He’d do, I always imagined Jesus going back to the ground and drawing a line in front of himself, separating the pharisees from himself and the woman. I’d then picture Him saying the classic line: “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.”

Essentially we were called to judge her actions.

Well another fine line is still drawn today. When does the bride become the harlot? Should stones be cast at those caught in adultery today? More importantly, how do we know when a church becomes the harlot through their continual error or sin? The recent events of the Brisbane Christian Fellowship raises concern for all of us in the body of Christ. Whether we like it or not, the article on Four Corners last night would have indeed tarnished peoples views. That being the church is all about power and corruption (I’m stereotyping I know!).
I would like to think that the church has an ear for those individuals who have been abused , but this is too often not the case anymore. It seems like individuals don’t have power to be heard by the powers that abuse.

Is there something, we, as believers can accomplish what definitely defines a harlot church and what defines the bride church?

A few articles ago, we discovered that no one agreed that the covering doctrine was biblical. Is this a safe way to determine a church is a harlot church or bride church through ONE doctrinal issue or error? I’m not sure. But one would then have to ask how many false doctrines must need be preached before a specific church switches from it’s bride status to harlot status. Some controversial doctrines include the word/faith doctrine, prosperity doctrine, ‘ye are gods’ doctrine, covering doctrine, anointing doctrine, oneness doctrine, baptismal doctrine, tithing doctrine, etc.

Thinking bigger than life, should the universal church call together a global or online church meeting to judge what makes a ‘church ministry’ harlot or bride?

What would you call the limit in labeling a ministry a harlot ministry? How many false doctrines does it take to label and separate a harlot church from the true church. And which minor false doctrines should be ignored, (if any)… And what bold ministry is brave enough to throw the first stone at another man’s ministry?

It is clear that some churches and ministers are starting to whore after the spirit of this age. The imagery of the whore continually spoken about in the Old Testament was a women that was after centered desires and pleasure. What is the difference between the people of God then and the people of God now? Don’t we have the same type of false prophet prophesying false things that make us feel goods?

Aren’t we bowing to the Ashtera’s in the magazines we read? Or the Baal’s on television that enspire us to be powerful, influential and sexual? Aren’t we as bad as the world by bringing these Baal’s and Ashtera’s into the church under the guise it’s Jesus? Judgment is coming – but do we have the right to judge? Are we involved in this judgment?

Is God drawing the line so the church may judge correctly? Or are we drawing the line ourself and playing God? I don’t know. I hope we can discuss some of these questions here.

 

Consider the speck. Consider the plank.

S&P


16 thoughts on “The Line in the Sand

  1. I thought the harlot was already defined in Revelation.

    Well, the mother of all harlots, anyway. She’s named as Babylon. The mother of false religions.

    The defining fruit is the blood of martyrs of Jesus, the blood of saints.

    She sits upon may waters. The kings of the earth commit fornication with her, and the earth’s inhabitants drink the cup of her fornication.

    She carries the names of blasphemy, arrayed in purple and scarlet, decked with gold and pearls, holding a golden cup in her hand, full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornications.
    _________________________________

    What you describe as harlot churches are no more than churches with possible wrong teaching.

    This is no worse than the Corinthian Church, which Paul gt stuck into, or the churches of Revelation 2-3 which were told by Jesus to repent or lose their candle-stick, which is the anointing of God. So they are not harlots, but potentially dead, or tending to luke-warmth.

    Not only this, but these churches were city wide churches, not an individaul movement or local church.

    I don’t think God even bothers with our denominational tags, or local church names. Paul called them schisms and divisions – chasing after Paul or Apolos or Cephas as if there were some kind of separation between teachers and leaders.

    No, there is a candle-stick for each main city, according to Revelation, and that city is judged in its entrety for its works or lack of works, not just one little component o the city. God is more interested in the city, town or community the Church is impacting, so either the entire city is a harlot, or it is part of the Body.

    Plus, it is Jesus’ task to build the Church, and he is the one who is perfecting his Bride. He will let us know how we need to improve or repent to remain part of his Body. the thing is, will we hear? And will we obey?

    So now I challenge you to find a church anywhere which Jesus would consider to be completely on track.

  2. Ps joseph Prince has a take on the ‘sand-writing’ in that he believed that Gods finger was writing in the sand just as it once wrote on the tablets of stone; this time the law of ‘life & forgiveness’ rather than the’ law of sin and death’, if I recall rightly.- I reckon it a pretty good call contextually.

    Guys, you really need to remember what a ‘harlot’ gets up to, and plenty of female characters in the Bible get up to it- its about intercourse with many, and faithlessness to One.

    I feel you only need to take ‘Gods viewpoint’ as we say, to figure this out; A jealous husband like God wouldnt want his people practicing syncretism, or putting anything else before Him, and would strongly dislike it, or feel disheartened if they just didnt love Him. Jesus called his generation ‘Adulterous’;

    Matthew 16:4
    A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them.

    Mark 8:38
    If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

    -so,….what was so ‘adulterous’ about Jesus’ generation?

    In the basic sense, they seemed to be ‘unfaithful’ to their husband; God; by perverting his teaching on mercy & justice; denying the Messiah and following manmade traditions and ideas rather than the spirit of the ‘Law’ itself, which was always about love itself.

    It seems unsound to me to condemn entire ‘churches’ as “each man will be punished for his own sin”, even according to the Old Testament, and to me that would boil down to a failure to love God the Father from the heart; even a person who knew very little about God would be forgiven much if they simply loved him to the best of their understanding.

    [if this ‘understanding’ was pervered or ‘darkened’ and spiritually undiscerned, I wouldnt give them much hope in Gods judgement, but Im not God, eh!]

    The ‘Mother of harlots’ of Revelation was Rome, specifically because she sat “on seven hills”; so how did she practice intercourse with the nations?- Rome was pretty indiscriminate in her lust for power and trade; the God of heaven and earth did not figure much in her calculations!

    So….the fine-line?- the line of warm and very humane love my friends.

    Z.

  3. I’ve heard that interpretation too Zeppelin. I suppose the original post was a bit creative to help address a common church problem. The Harlot in revelations is different to the false brethren in the church. I’m also aware of the few theories of what Jesus was drawing on the sand.

    But to the crux about what I wrote before, what would you consider makes a church a a cult? How many false doctrines does it take before other local churches start warning people against cult churches?

  4. There is a difference between a church that has doctrines that can become abusive and a cult.

    First I would say that unless they teach salvation for all who accept Jesus as Lord through faith as a result of grace, they are not ‘Christian’. If they add any criteria, they lose the gospel and can’t be called a Christian church. Most cults are fond of adding criteria involving lots of obedience and submission, and claiming that affects people’s salvation somehow. Once they do that, I don’t think they can be called Christian.

    Other than that, here are some of the things that I think would make a church a ‘cult’:

    – controlling who the member spends time with
    – controlling what the member spends their money on
    – controlling a members behaviour by means of fear and threats
    – reducing the opportunity for members to hear input from sources outside the cult
    – rejecting any questioning and criticism from members
    – subjecting the member to vast numbers of meetings or programs
    – possibly including forms of physical deprivation as a means of weakening a members resistance to teaching – eg: sleep or food

    But these things can be subtle or extreme. I used the word ‘control’ because it is more extreme than just ‘influence’.

    When a church uses fear or guilt to manipulate members, even teachings which might be good can become oppressive. Yet to me this does not yet make the church a cult. When members start to be punished and coerced more strongly, by means of physical threats, or the threat of excommunication and social isolation, and when their contact with the outside world is restricted through these or other controlling means, then it becomes a cult.

    A cult-like tendency does not make a church a cult. Still, its worth churches or any gathering examining itself to make sure that cult like control tendencies don’t creep in, as a cult is not necessarily made overnight.

    This is another reason that its so important to do everything in love, and not motivate using fear, greed or guilt. Even where things are done imperfectly, if they are assessed in love, they can be improved or recovered from.

  5. I agree Ravingpente; here are a few more ‘rule of thumb’ about Cults:

    -They are ‘inward-looking’
    -They usually have a ‘mystery-figure’ at their core-[in this way, even the Christ can be turned into a ‘cult-centre’]
    -They are exclusive, not inclusive[ see how Christianity can again be abused]
    -usually characterised by ‘irrational mysticism’ again; still, Christianity can fall into this area.

    -But “how many false doctrines?”; –when A christian church starts to do things that are clearly ‘Bad’ or harmful for people, and this can be plainly seen by even non-christian people, then that place starts to become a place anyone would warn against, wouldnt we agree?
    This is what I mean by ‘humane’ love, and Im not merely being humanist, but describe love that can be clearly communicated and understood by people in the purest sense.

    [this could be a sort of corollary to the mass-conversions of the first century Non-christian world- even they could see plainly that Christ was good!]

    Christ never came to harm people, but to “give them abundant life”;–it follows then that when your’ life’ is being harmed, or sucked-out, then your religion has a serious health risk to your well-being!

    So Specks&planks, it may only take ONE false doctrine to disqualify a ‘Church’; Ravingpentes second paragraph would suffice!

    {Yeh, would like o know your other takes on the sand-writing SP!}

    Z.

  6. Here we go my friends-feel Ive nailed it this time;

    Revelation 22:15
    Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood [liars].

    These are the people excluded from the Kingdom.

    Z.

  7. zepp:
    “Christ never came to harm people, but to “give them abundant life”;–it follows then that when your’ life’ is being harmed, or sucked-out, then your religion has a serious health risk to your well-being!”

    I’m sure one of the merchants would say the same thing, now that he cradles a broken wrist, broken by a table threw at him. Lol!

    Just got an image of Jesus-HULK!

  8. ah Specks&planks,

    that huge log in your own eye [smirks] has blinded you to the simple truth that ;

    ‘Jesus is a complete and rounded personality’!

    Ah yes, and thus it is that “zeal for thy house consumes me” most righteously! he said, offering his sister Ravingpentes righteous indignation for impurity as example!

    …and looking closer at the dazed and repentant merchant nursing his wrist, one would notice that he is having second thoughts about being a parasite , and begins to rekindle his plans of profitable trade with Phonecia;”….I wonder if they want to buy my shipment of doves!…”

    Z.

  9. Are we saying here that “cult” is synonymous with “harlot” a la Revelation? If so why?

    (Great post by the way S&P – it is making me think 🙂 )

  10. Revelation tends to use cryptic terms but tends not to define the terms. You have to look elsewhere in scripture to find the definitions of the terms.

    Numbers 15:37-40 defines harlotry

    The LORD also spoke to Moses, saying,

    38″Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves (AA)tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue.

    39″It shall be a tassel for you to look at and (AB)remember all the commandments of the LORD, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot,

    40so that you may remember to do all My commandments and (AC)be holy to your God

    So being a harlot is following after your own heart and your own eyes and not heeding God (Hosea 4:10b “They will (AB)play the harlot, but not increase, Because they have (AC)stopped giving heed to the LORD.”)

    Playing the harlot in the OT referred to:
    1. Going after other gods,
    2. Seeking alegiances with other countries,
    3. Trusing in chariots et al
    4. General injustice in the land

    Generally harlotry was talked about with respect to leaders and princes in Hosea.

    Harotry is juxtoposed with what God does want … Hos 6:6 but God desires kindness and to know him. Hosea also points out that the Isreal is God’s betrothed but played the harlot.

    So the harlot is the betrothed that does not know God. Those that are supposed to be the people of God but do not know him and do not practice love. The harlot is not strange cults or strange religions as such.

    The question was, how wrong does church doctrine have to be to be a harlot? From 2Cor I would suggest that any addition to the gospel qualifies because it “adulterates the gospel” and takes us away from “simplicity of devotion to Christ”.

  11. Sorry Zepp! You have me completely lost as to what you are talking about.
    *racks brain*

    heretic said:
    “Harotry is juxtoposed with what God does want … Hos 6:6 but God desires kindness and to know him. Hosea also points out that the Isreal is God’s betrothed but played the harlot.
    So the harlot is the betrothed that does not know God. Those that are supposed to be the people of God but do not know him and do not practice love. The harlot is not strange cults or strange religions as such.
    The question was, how wrong does church doctrine have to be to be a harlot? From 2Cor I would suggest that any addition to the gospel qualifies because it “adulterates the gospel” and takes us away from “simplicity of devotion to Christ”.”

    I see where you are coming from. Yyee–eeess… But… hmm…
    I do agree with you but I was being more creative in the beginning blog. I was Christian-stereotyping (my-bad).

    “The question was, how wrong does church doctrine have to be to be a harlot?” This is the question I’m essentially asking.

  12. S&P:

    “The question was, how wrong does church doctrine have to be to be a harlot?” This is the question I’m essentially asking.

    Is the implication that I did not answer? I did eventually answer this

    From 2Cor I would suggest that any addition to the gospel qualifies because it “adulterates the gospel” and takes us away from “simplicity of devotion to Christ”

    but on second thoughts I think there is more to it. More thinking required on Rev’n.

  13. Simply responding to the Jesus-HULK imagery Specks&planks!- sorry to lose you there!

    I feel you are searching for accuracy & precision here, hence your response to Heretic above- though, excellent spotting in Numbers below!:

    39″It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot,”

    Let me explain;

    “Revelation 22:15
    Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood [liars].”- explicitly describes the whole SET of exclusion from Gods Kingdom.

    Harlotry is all about SEX!- the desire to find ‘physical-union’ with that which you “follow after your own heart and your own eyes,”as Moses [& Heretic] points out, rather than Gods commands, which are about a ‘faithful love to One’ as you have both identified.

    I believe all the ‘sets’ Heretic mentioned above are sub-sets of the types described in Rev22:15.

    ie. Dogs-Witches-sexually immoral-murderers-idolaters- liars.

    [Do I need to elaborate on definitions of the above people?]

    Clearly then, ‘churches’ play ‘the Harlot’ when they ‘followed their own heart & eyes’ into sinning by leading people into any of the above ways; though the terms are surprisingly interchangeable! [ie many of the above ‘deceive themselves’ hence, are liars!; or who by practicing sexual immorality, act like ‘dogs’, for instance.]

    So then, when a churches teaches a doctrine that cannot be supported by Gods Word [scripture, or ‘command’ in writing], then they have begun to believe a ‘lie’- hence, Specks&planks, it only takes ONE false doctrine!

    However, we’re talking about a Marriage-partner who is described thus:

    “4Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
    25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31″For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. [Eph 5]

    so then,

    If a Church DOES NOT ‘submit to Christ’, and wont accept ‘washing through the word’ as described above, then she will surely fall prey variously to the sins of Rev22:15; failing to love her husband, and thus failing to observe ‘the law & prophets’![Mt7:12-surprisingly!]

    I hope this is approaching the exactness we may be searching for.

    Therefore, Heretic your concluding statement above is accurate, though I feel the specifics are laid out above.

    Z.

  14. This may be useful guys,

    “Prov6:26 for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread,
    and the adulteress preys upon your very life.”

    – so it is also with the adulterous Church, I hazard!

    Z.

  15. The strong imagery that comes to mind is the phrase ‘A little leaven affects the whole dough/batch of bread’. The parable of the woman and the three loafs is about teaching. What she is doing in that parable is secret.

    The parable sugests that what she is doing is deceitful as she corrupts the three meals. Oddly enough, as an old scholar once pointed out, the three meals could actually be a fulfilling prophecy of the church of today and it’s three different classes- Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant.

    All were so good and pure to begin with! Now through the smallest and tiniest whims of false doctrines, over the times, look at the apostasy-like state the church is now in! The leaven indeed has done it’s job and look how empty the food/teaching is!

    God help us!

    So Zepp. One false doctrine that a church clings to and preaches is considered a harlot church? Hmm… If it’s out of ignorance, I would not disagree with it being classed as a harlot church. I’d say 3-4 heretical doctrines would make me not afraid to call a church a harlot church and encourage people not to go to it.

    But then again, if a church is preaching one heretical doctrine and it is quite damning by belittling God and the gospel message, then I’d warn people against it. I liked the idea on signposts of having an image on the side of different ministry titles with he face of the leading minister.

    Then depending on how many false gospels they continually re-inforce in their congregation, that’s how many leaven-wolf cookies you put up next to their ministry. The bigger the heresy, the bigger the wolf cookie!

    Mmm! *goes to get cuppa and buscuits*

  16. My dear friend Specks&planks,

    What Im not saying clearly enough is that Christ is desperately lovingly presenting his pretty wanton bride to himself as ‘perfect’, so that the very question of ‘harlot’-church appears in fact, pretty hard to actually BE!

    However what damages people [not just goads] is a pretty good sign enough to warn people away; thats just common-sense!

    Um about the ‘parable of 3 loaves– the parables seem to have good connotations about the Kingdom moving through the dough- the Epistles1 Corinthians 5:6& Galatians 5:9 have negative connotations about leaven & dough-

    You must mean Matt13:33- I dont believe it to be a bad connotation for this one, but a very good one; its the leaven or teaching of the Kingdom working its way through 3 lumps- these may be three ‘religious worlds’ as you describe, or may be a symbolic representation of a spiritually ‘complete’ amount of believers in the world; I suspect the latter myself!

    On this basis, I feel its unsound to say it is ‘Apostasy’ in the churches, and prefer the view yet again, that Christ sees the beautiful side of his bride!

    Z.

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