Should We Have Churches?
Jesus declared emphatically: “I will build My Church...” (Matthew 16:18).
But you won’t find any command in the Bible for man to establish
organisations misleadingly termed ‘churches’.
In reading the New Testament you see many references to “the church” which Jesus promised He would establish. For example:
So, great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things (Acts 5:11).
The people were in awe about the sudden death of Ananias and Sapphira – struck dead by God for trying to deceive the apostles. It was a very salient lesson, learned through bitter experience! (Heb 10:30-31.)
Another mention of “the church” was this – when Barnabas went to Tarshish to look for Saul:
And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch (Acts 11:26).
What is noteworthy is that “the church” is merely a collective term for the believers or disciples. It was not the building in which they met. Very often that was a large private home of believers who were relatively well-off in society. For instance, Paul wrote to wealthy Philemon saying:
...and to the church in your house (Philemon 2).
And Paul wrote to the Roman believers:
Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house... (Rom 16:3-5).
It was not a large organisation that was meeting in their home. Nor was it a group with the label “The Church of God, of Priscilla and Aquila”. To put a label on a group belonging to God is to redefine part of “the Church” which is founded by Jesus, not by man. (I use the term “Church” with a capital ‘C’ to denote the true believers, as opposed to false believers who tag along but whose hearts are not truly converted.)
Putting a human label on a group of people, calling it a “Church of God” or “Church of... (something else)” does not make it the Church. The Church (the believers) is the Body of Christ (see Col 1:24; Eph 1:22,23). That is not a physical organisation; it is a spiritual organism. To label part of the spiritual organism that is the Church by giving it some appellation or designation coupled with ‘church’ is to redefine it by human terms.
The Body of Christ is defined by the indwelling presence of His Spirit, because “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ he is not His” (Rom 8:9). Paul stated:
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God (Rom 8:14).
There are many people who consider themselves Christians but who are not led by the Spirit. Moreover, there are many church leaders who are not led by the Spirit, and such men are “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ” (1 Cor 11:13).
Have you ever thought that a similar (but inverse) transformation occurs when a man takes part of the Body of Christ, gives it a human label (usually stuck onto the word ‘church’), and then rules it by his terms? A Board of Trustees or Governors decide doctrine, programmes, etc., and thereby supplant the function of God’s Spirit. This is a blasphemy.
How Churches Arise
Jesus said HE would establish HIS Church. This is through the activity of His Spirit. But we see Christendom studded with churches established by men! Joseph Smith began the Mormons – “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints”; William Booth founded The Salvation Army; John Wesley began Methodism, out of which formed the humanly defined Methodist Church after his death; and if you study a tome like Handbook of the Denominations by Frank S Mead, you see that human leaders with religious fervour began movements that later developed into human institutions called ‘churches’.
But the term is a misnomer, for Jesus used the term ‘church’ (Greek ekklesia) to identify HIS chosen ones under the New Covenant, and it excludes those who are false – who call themselves Christian but who “are a synagogue of Satan” (Rev 2:9).
The man or woman, following whom a church has arisen, may or may not have been used by God. Many were definitely led by the Spirit in their evangelism – like John Wesley and William Booth. But what developed later, as people tried to organise converts, or contain what had developed physically, shut out the Spirit through human control. They weren’t led by the Spirit to set up a church organisation and name it. God never said to organise people under human leaders. An overseer is very different from an overlord in spiritual terms, but often hard to discern on the physical level.
As men led those bodies of people under their particular banner, what went unseen was the transfer of loyalties, and the demonic substitution that took place.
A transfer of loyalty occurs as people follow the leader they can see instead of the Leader they cannot see. It is idolatry!
A demonic substitution occurs when ‘clerics’ usurp Jesus’ place – it is usually false ministers who do this – and lead the people in a wrong direction, teaching them false ideas. All this is instigated by evil spirits. The doctrines of demons (1 Tim 4:1) may only be a slight digression from the straight and narrow (to begin with), but a minor deviation is enough to begin the process of apostasy and lead unsuspecting people very much astray. False teaching replaces divine precept with a human substitute. That human alternative or alteration is demonic in origin.
Thus, today we see a babylon of ‘churches’ that are led by Satan!
Human organisation shuts out the Spirit of God. This subject is covered in much greater detail in God’s Church – Whose Authority?
Man’s churches have become a substitute for Jesus’ Church!
That sounds radical, and it is! Jesus IS radical! But He did warn believers many times to BEWARE OF MEN WHO WOULD DECEIVE (Matt 24:4-5, 11; Rev 2:14-15, 20; Rev 6:2; Jn 16:1-3).
There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies… MANY will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be evil spoken of. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words (2 Pet 2:1-3).
The Great Apostasy!
Bible students know of the prophetic warnings of apostasy to engulf the Church:
Let no one deceive you by any means; for [that Day will not come] unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition (2 Thes 2:3, NKJV).
This prophecy has various fulfilments. It is not singular. We see the falling away that happened in the first century, when impostors began to beguile unstable souls and lead them into erroneous teachings. We see that apostasy continuing in the ecclesiastical monoliths like the Catholic Church, Anglican Church and other mainline denominations. (See Why The Church of England Is a FALSE Church! In using a capital ‘C’ in these titles, I am merely following the grammatical custom of using capitals for names, not to designate trueness.) And we now have a situation where many thousands of different churches exist touting the name of Jesus but with compromised teachings through misunderstanding.
Surely, one of the greatest apostasies is evidenced by the very existence of all these churches, unrecognised as the human substitutes they have become.
The Church needs to get back to the faith once delivered to the saints, which did not put ecclesiastics on a pedestal in front of their laity. There was no laity-or-ecclesiastic differential. All were brethren (Matt 23:8) – albeit with different functions and spiritual gifts necessary for those tasks – there was no human lordship over other believers.
It has been the presence of false ministers arising among believers that has led to this corruption of the Church. If no false teachers had risen up (a ridiculously hypothetical scenario) we would still have a Church today undivided, pure and not apostatised. The very existence of all these differing ‘church’ groups, with conflicting exposition of the Bible, is evidence of this universal apostasy right before your eyes.
Isaiah’s prophecy (Is 52:1,2) of a Church in spiritual captivity confirms the cause – leaders who led the people into error through subtly wrong teachings, which brought people into captivity to them and demons. And Jeremiah’s lament (Jer 5:1-6, 21, 26-27, 30-31) seconds it. The so-called spiritual leaders of these churches have “healed the hurt of My people superficially, saying ‘Peace, peace!’ when there is no peace” (Jer 6:14). Jesus declared:
You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (Jn 8:32).
But churches do not possess all available truth. In churches, people are prevented from knowing all they need for complete deliverance. Only part of the truth is provided. The complete restoration of biblical truth is OUTSIDE the churches, because the churches are an apostate, unbiblical consequence of satanic elements.
Do you remember Queen Jezebel and all the apostate elements that flourished under her evil reign with Ahab? (1 Kings 18 & 19.) Have you seen the false prophetess Jezebel, predicted by Jesus in Revelation 2:20? She teaches subtle heresy, which seduces unsuspecting believers into liaisons with demons, instead of staying faithful to Him.
Have you seen these compromises? No, you won’t have done if you are in a ‘church’, because that ‘church’ holds you psychologically captive. It all takes place with extreme subtlety!
When Benny Hinn and his wife were both given dreams by God about the presence of Jezebel on stage beside them, they didn’t know what God was referring to. (Explained in Benny Hinn’s Dream of Jezebel.) A deceived person cannot recognise the truth.
Deception is artfully orchestrated by Satan. He has deceived the whole world (Rev 12:9), and he has deceived MOST OF THE CHURCH! And he is continuing to develop his cunning deceptions with ever greater subtlety. The alterations are so slight they are not noticed or appreciated. Worse still, the damage they do can be very devastating. That’s why Peter said such doctrines of demons are extremely “destructive heresies” – even denying the Lord who bought them! (2 Pet 2:1.)
By denying the lead of the Spirit, and accepting a substitute in church leadership or wrong church teaching, you deny the Lord who bought you. This is a very serious matter!
Truth Is Resisted In Churches!
Over the past two decades, we have presented further biblical truth to countless churches and church leaders. ALL have resisted what has been presented to them! They don’t want purity of doctrine. They don’t want their established set-up challenged or upset.
Yet God prophesied of a massive shaking to come before the End. And presentation of pure truth is part of that shaking. God is calling to repentance, but church leaders resist that call. They see no need to repent further. They think they have all that is necessary and they play down the need for any reform in relation to this Last Restoration of Truth.
They fulfil Jesus’ words to Laodicea in Revelation 3:15 onwards.
The Bible also says that the complacency of fools will destroy them (Prov 1:32). Churches rebel against ‘new’ truth coming from prophets outside their doors. In this, they rebel against God. They are not listening to God, except minimally. Those who ignore the ‘Elijahs’ whom God sends to challenge the ecclesiastical system will earn themselves the same fate that the prophets of Baal and Asherah earned on Mount Carmel when they sided with Jezebel against Elijah (1 Ki 18:40).
Churches will be sucked into the Great Tribulation and punished alongside the nations who resist God.
Is It Wrong To Be Part Of A Church?
“But,” you may object, “surely all churches can’t be in serious error? And surely it’s not wrong to just BE ‘a church’?! After all, God has done so much to revive and renew people in the churches. We have seen many people come to Christ, be renewed by the Spirit, accept spiritual gifts, move in the power of the Spirit, and do marvellous works inside churches. Surely that is not to be condemned?”
You’re right. That’s not to be condemned. God HAS done much to renew people within these man-made structures. But it doesn’t make the structure right. God is moving individually among churches through His people. But His people are trapped inside these prison houses (Is 42:7). They are in bondage to men who are unclean (Is 52:1). The structure IS wrong! Church organisation is corrupt. Believers are subject to overlords. Men ordained by the organisation have an ascendancy OVER the ‘common’ people, and spiritual subjugation takes place. Church leaders dominate, to the detriment of the ultimate objective of Jesus with His people. Church leaders are blocking Reformation; they are blocking the Spirit’s flow and progress; they are standing in the way, preventing Jesus’ prophets from opening the Door for the sheep so they can come out and follow Him fully (Jn 10:2-4).
Christianity has become churchianity. Members of churches are very often no longer members of the Body of Christ. (Remember it is only those who are LED BY the Spirit of God who are part of the Body.) Their focus has been taken off Christ as the centre, and deflected onto the church or its leader or its activities. This is idolatry. It’s very subtle, mind you. You won’t perceive it without a pure heart.
Even while you think you are looking at Christ, and having Him as the centre of your focus, He (your concept of Him) is so much entwined with the church you can see and the demons behind it, that your vision of Him is impaired. His image before your eyes is blurred. You only see Him through the prism of your church. It has corrupted your view of Him.
You will only see Him clearly when you can get out from the semi- darkness of your spiritual prison (which men have formed in your mind) and behold Him in the full light of Day – surrounded by the complete Restoration of His Truth in this End Time.
Who Is Authorised To Start A Church?
No one is authorised to start a church (meaning a human organisation that bears that in its title) except Jesus, and He doesn’t give His Church any human title because it is not a human organisation. It is a spiritual ‘organism’, not a human organisation. It carries a divine title, which should not be appropriated by any person who thinks it is OK to start a church organisation. It is not OK to do that. Any person who establishes a church with himself as its head is supplanting Jesus and committing a blasphemy.
Of course, it’s OK to start a ministry – when God has called you to that function. Ministries are there to feed the Church.
Paul outlined how Jesus works with His Church:
He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers (Eph 4:11).
For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ... (Eph 4:12).
In most churches founded by man the saints are not being properly equipped spiritually. Most churches keep members in spiritual mediocrity, and do not want them to go out from under their ‘umbrella’ or authority. However, Jesus calls His own out (Jn 10:3).
And when He brings out His own sheep, He goes before them; and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice (Jn 10:4).
That is the ideal: for each member of the body of Christ to be led directly by Him, listening to His Spirit, receiving dreams from Him for guidance and direction. This happens with those whom Jesus calls to minister alongside our ministry. They receive dreams. Jesus sometimes appears to them, either in dreams or in some spiritual manifestation, so that they are not alone. And as they continue to rely upon Him, He leads in this very direct manner.
That is how it is meant to be, but churches have corrupted the divine partnership by becoming a third party in this relationship. In life it is called adultery or sexual immorality. Jesus calls it that, too (Rev 2:20).
He wants you to come out of such a perverse situation:
At midnight a cry [clamour, CLNT] was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out [come out, CLNT and Panin] to meet Him!’ (Matt 25:6).
Dream Of The Apostate Church
On 23rd April 1997, God gave me a dream. In this dream I was walking into a WCG meeting on a Feast day. The people were all sitting at tables covered with tablecloths and were engrossed in their physical rituals of eating and socialising. No one took any notice of me. They totally ignored me.
I met a deacon who knows me, but his demeanour was not pleasant or agreeable. In a friendly manner I asked him if we could resolve our differences. There is division between us and I said to him that this situation is not right. I want it resolved, but because he will not concede to any wrong on his part, reconciliation does not take place.
The dream conveyed all this and more. He continued to blame me for the division between us and wouldn't discuss anything objectively. He just argued.
The meaning of this dream was shown. This man's present implacable state of mind is symptomatic of those who refuse to stop worshipping at the high places of human organisations. They put their church organisations before God, and want nothing to do with those who have severed themselves from man worship in order to worship God more fully in Spirit and in truth.
For those still in human dominated systems of worship, the human set-up becomes their messiah, their god, their idol. When they reject a call to come out, they have compromised true worship, compromised truth, and substituted the true Messiah for one who is false. They rely on their church instead of relying upon God. The transfer of loyalties is subtle, but deeply rooted. Those who fall prey to this trap of Satan have adopted the mark of the Beast without knowing. They have accepted the mark and number of MAN, not that of God. (Explained in God’s Church: Whose Authority?)
People in churches are generally reluctant to come out of such illicit systems of worship. (This is not just peculiar to the WCG. It is a problem in all human dominated ecclesiastical organisations.) The dream conveyed the blindness and physicality of WCG worship. God sends prophets to warn them of their blindness, but they ignore prophets, and so don't benefit from God’s exhortations they bring to spiritually help them.
Jesus Is The Author And Finisher
“Well, if humanly organised churches are not ideal, what do we do now in assembling, to fulfil Hebrews 10:24-25?”
Certainly, the early disciples established fellowships where believers could be nurtured and fed spiritually by those who were older in the faith (‘elders’) (Acts 14:23). But these groups were home-based, not the institutionalised bodies we see today where men take the place of the Spirit. A marked transition has occurred since the Church was founded.
Jesus spoke to me over a decade ago with this poignant statement: I am not found in the institutions of men.
Churches cap your spiritual development. They can only take you so far. Jesus can take you much, much further! He called you. He will perfect you (Heb 12:2); not a church, nor a church leader. Beware of them! (2 Pet 2:1-3.) There are so many who deceive!
Jesus called His people to disciple others (Matt 28:19), NOT to establish churches.
The ekklesias (‘churches’) mentioned in the NT (Phil 4:15; Acts 15:41; Rev 1:4,20; 22:16, etc) were local groups of followers of Jesus, called together by the Holy Spirit, not incorporated or organised like today’s humanly-formed masquerades, which are fashioned on the model of the great harlot in Rome, responsible for the martyrdom of millions of believers who would not submit to her illicit rule (Rev 17:5-9). Jesus says: “Come out of her, My people” (Rev 18:4). &
Malcolm B Heap
God’s Church – Whose Authority?(£3); Meetings With Jesus(£2) [these publications are not on this website]
Apostasy In God’s Church! (£2);
Our Sabbath Rest (£3); The Controversy Concerning Law and Grace (£2); The Faith Once Delivered To The Saints (£1);
Sunday Versus Sabbath: The Final World Crisis (£5); Revelations From God About The Judgement Of Britain (£1).