The prisoners have been bound up in chains for so long they have almost forgotten what it is like to be free. The prison guards have done their best to keep them locked away, but more and more are finding ways to escape.
The evidence is found in reading the comments posted on Joanie Stahl’s latest post, False Bridge Now Being Prepared to Embrace False Bridegroom. Person after person shared testimonies of their great escape. Most endured heartaches and wounds, but reported how it was well worth it because of how much they have grown and prospered in their new life as free men and women.
It is actually very heartbreaking to read so many testimonies of how people have been trampled on by prison guards disguised as church leaders, wolves in sheep’s clothing, even to the point where many have been forced to flee to avoid being devoured. It is very sad when we are no longer safe in our own sanctuaries!
I attended church faithfully for over 25 years, until the Lord told me to leave about 8 years ago. Like so many others have shared, my relationship with God began to grow like never before AFTER I left the local church. However, mine was a lonely and difficult escape.
Right after I left, my mind was struggling with how it could be right to be out of church. While I was praying one day, I saw a vision of the scene from the movie Shawshank Redemption when the man escapes from prison through a sewage pipe and comes up out of the water completely free. Then the Lord said to me, “Every now and then someone escapes.”
I could hardly believe He showed me that scene, but He did. He actually referred to my local church as a prison and my exit as an escape!
Now I am finding I was not alone. There are so many others. Rick Joyner saw a vision similar to what I saw, but his was much longer and far more detailed. I don’t currently have a copy, but I believe it was from his book, The Call.
I still struggled with leaving church because of so many years of hearing pastors quoting the well-known scripture from Hebrews 10:25 telling us, “We must not forsake our assembling together”. So I asked the Lord about it and was amazed by what I learned.
After all those years, no one had ever shared the whole verse, or the preceding verse, because the two verses together present a completely different message. All those years I was held in bondage by a misquoted part of one verse, not even one whole verse! When I finally took the time to read it, I saw it in a whole new light that set me free! The truth was there all along. All I had to do was read it.
24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,
25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Yes, Paul encouraged the Hebrews not to forsake assembling together, but he wrote that only for the purpose of achieving two objectives, which he stated as clearly as can be, which was:
- To stimulate one another to love and good deeds
- To encourage one another
Assembling together was important only as a means to achieve these objectives. Paul never intended to make assembling together the objective! He put the emphasis on the end result, which is so important because putting the emphasis in the right place produces liberty and fruit. Shifting the emphasis to the wrong place, focusing on how we achieve the objectives, produces bondage with little or no fruit. What a difference!
Now I know why they never shared the whole verses. It would no longer serve their agenda. We can’t have the prisoners hearing about so much freedom! So the guards use the first part of verse 25 to claim all prisoners must be physically present in a church building whenever services are offered. Being physically present allows us to check the box that says we fulfilled our prison duties, we did our church thing, but it means nothing unless we stimulate others to love and good deeds or find ways to encourage others.
We have been misled by a twisted interpretation, making us think we have done something to please God by attending church, when in reality we have done nothing yet. We have been misled into thinking we have displeased God by not attending church, when in reality He could be very pleased with us if we are stimulating one another to love and good deeds and encouraging one another. After years of misquoted scriptures, we now have prisoners chained to their church pew thinking they are right with God when in reality they are on their way to hell. At the same time, we have escapees still wearing shackles on their legs thinking they are not right with God when in reality they are earning great rewards in heaven. What a mess!
When Paul wrote his letters during the first century, the only way to achieve his two objectives was either through face to face contact or by writing letters. Paul actually reached far more people through his letters, including every generation since, than he ever reached by physically assembling together, which is further evidence of how Paul pursued these objectives. Today we have far more ways to connect with people than Paul did, including television, radio, and the Internet. So as long as we are pursuing the same objectives Paul pursued, we should never allow anyone to put us into bondage regarding the methods we use.
Anyone who tries to twist these verses for the purpose of controlling and manipulating others is nothing more than a prison guard, a false shepherd who does not truly care for the sheep. They are also hypocrites because they themselves are missing the mark by failing to act in love. How can they possibly be stimulating others to love and good deeds when they themselves are putting others in bondage? They should first remove the log from their own eye before worrying about the spec in anyone else’s eye.
As Joanie’s dream revealed, most of the prisoners don’t even know they are in prison. Only a small remnant has recognized the chains of bondage and succeeded in escaping to freedom, but I am glad to see the numbers are much bigger than I realized. I thank God for every person who escapes, but I also thank God for every pastor who is truly leading his people to liberty rather than bondage. Just as there is a remnant of faithful believers, there is also a remnant of faithful pastors. Anyone who has a pastor like that is truly blessed and has no need to escape. All of us need to be wherever God tells us to be.
The good news is God has exciting plans for His true church in the days ahead. I have been seeing it recently in dreams and I am very excited about what is coming. I have tried to share these dreams in blog articles, but they are just too long so I am now putting them together in a book. The short version is we are going to be united together as one body like never before. Big changes are coming soon. When God gets through, He is going to have the church of His dreams and we are going to feel right at home there.
Free at last, free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!
Author: James Bailey
James Bailey is a blogger, business owner, husband and father of two grown children. In 1982, he surrendered his life to the Lord Jesus Christ. In 2012, he founded Z3news.com to broadcast the message of salvation by reporting end time news before it happens.
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