The State of the Church Today
THE STATE OF THE CHURCH TODAY, PART 3
ARE THE APOSTATES?
In my previous writings on this subject, I have attempted, in my own poor fashion to show that the Church as we know it today, which exists in various garbs and forms will be superceded by a totally different organization, which will be very different, in that it will return to the
ancient practices of Christian Initiation. In this issue, I hope to draw a line of distinction between the ancient Christian methods of Initiation and some of the methods used by groups today. I also hope to answer a few of the arguments made by those who oppose what I have to say on this subject, contending for what they believe to be the simple ‘old-time gospel’.
There are many today, who cry for Revival but their vision of Revival knows nothing of the need for Reformation. Here I do not mean reformation in the same sense that the Protestants mean with regard to Rome. I fear that those who cry for Revival rely too much upon emotions, which are no substitute for form and substance. Here, I am
reminded of those poor souls who head for altar every time the pastor or evangelist gives an altar call, in an attempt to find grace or healing or whatever it is they seek. What we need is a return to those methods which assist struggling souls to Know themselves and to strengthen their will power through love of God.
WHO ARE THE APOSTATES?
Occasionally, I receive letters from so-called leaders, who inform me that the Church has totally apostatized and cannot be reformed, therefore, there is no need for the process of Initiation. They are quite forward to tell me that all one has to do is be ‘born again’ and to
espouse an easy-believism, which requires little or nothing of their converts. They ignore Paul’s admonition to "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling"1 To me Initiation is the equivalent of what Paul talked about when he spoke of putting on the whole armor of god. We
can only put it on, one piece at a time. First comes the breastplate and helmet, then shield and sword. But sometimes it takes years for an individual to be fully dressed, much less trained for battle.
John Bunyan wrote a wonderful book two hundred years ago, entitled ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, which I was required to read as part of my training (at age thirteen). In it he shows Pilgrim coming to the Gate of Salvation. He went through it and might have sat down on the road, believing himself saved - which he was. But he must need go on to the
Celestial City, so he started down the road and encountering many hardships along the way - doubt, sorrow, fear, weariness, etc and had to learn how to get through them. Fortunately, there were those along the way to warn and comfort him.
I would agree with those who tell us that the Church has in many respects apostatized but I would attribute it to our failure to maintain the stringent discipline upheld by the early Church. On the other hand, they point to the new converts which they are adding to their churches daily. Which raises another interesting question: Who, then are the apostates, which they tell us about - their followers or someone else’s?
Today we see thousands of people associating themselves with large mega-churches. I thank God for those who are genuine believers but this raises another question. How do we reconcile great numbers of new converts with the statement of Jesus Christ, where he says, "When the Son of Man returns shall he find Faith on the earth?"2 Those who
contend for a Salvation based on ‘easy-believism’ and the rapture of the Church before the ‘tribulation’ also tell us that there is to be one- hundred-forty-four-thousand Jewish preachers during the ‘tribulation’ who will convert thousands to the Lord. Really? Indeed there will be persecution before the return of the Lord, but there is another reason
why the kind of Faith which Jesus spoke of may be hard to find and that has to do with the current methods of teaching used by many evangelists and pastors. We see the fruits of their labors when their converts continue to live hedonistic lives. They are like the dog which returned to its own vomit and the pig which was washed, to its wallowing in the mire. This is why we are not to cast pearls before swine. They will turn against us.
But, I think there is another reason why some rebel against advanced Initiation. They want every one to be equal and fail to realize that there are differences among men in their abilities and their destinies.
A WARNING AGAINST THOSE WHO CLAIM TO BE ANOINTED
Another question we need to ask, is why there is a great Apostasy from the Faith? We find the answer in another warning given by Jesus. "Many shall come in my name, declaring I am christ and shall deceive many."3 So many mistakenly believe this passage refers to the coming of
‘anti-Christ's but not so. These are preachers who ‘come in his Name’ claiming to be ‘Anointed’ for that is the meaning of the Greek word ‘christ’.
These preachers, that Jesus warns us about will be popular because he says they will deceive ‘many’ by the miracles which they are able to do by using his Name. Did not Jesus warn, "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not preached in your Name? and in your
Name, have we not cast out devils? and in your Name done many wonderful works? then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you who work lawlessness."4
These preachers cry "Lord, Lord" but do not build the House in the way Christ wants it built; therefore, their labors will be washed away. Conversely, "He that hears my sayings and does them - I will show you what he is like: He is like a man who built a house and digged deep to lay the foundation on a rock." 5
We can build on this foundation works that correspond to wood, hay or stubble, which will be burned or we can build with gold, silver and precious stones.
Not only do these false preachers refuse to use the methods of Initiation which Jesus taught his Apostles, but they are motivated strictly by greed, as Peter, the Apostle warned us. "There were false prophets among the people [in those days] just as there shall be false teachers
among you, who shall bring in damnable heresies . . . and many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom, the Way of Truth shall be spoken evil of. Through covetousness and feigned words, shall they make merchandise of you . . . [for they] have forsaken the right
Way and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam, who loved the wages of unrighteousness . . . These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mists of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure
through the lusts of the flesh . . . while they promise them liberty, they are themselves the servants of corruption: for by whom a man is overcome, by the same is he brought into slavery."6
I have never claimed that faith-healers and T.V. evangelists do not have the power to heal people or do other interesting things. Even the first Apostles didn’t have a monopoly on the Name of Jesus, the holy Prophet and Son of the Most High. His name was used by others outside his camp to do miracles.7 But these come claiming to be ‘Anointed’ (christs) to heal and cast out devils.
These preachers unabashedly ask their followers to go into debt so that they can build great buildings as a monument to their pride. They preach a ‘prosperity gospel’ promising their followers a ten-fold or hundred- fold return on their money, if they will give them their tithes and offerings. Malachi found himself preaching to a large number of disillusioned people, who had also been exposed to a form of this
‘prosperity gospel’. They were discouraged, saying, "It is vain to serve God: What profit is there, [for] we have kept his ordinances . . ." These people no doubt had brought God their first fruit tithes but they were ignoring the second tithe for the poor. Yet, they still expected to be rewarded as if God were an investment banker. We must serve God out of love, not out of some expectation of reward.
But, God answered them, "Will a man rob God? Yet, you have robbed me, but you ask, How have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings . . . Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my House and prove me says the LORD of armies, if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing so that there will not be room enough to receive it."
The second tithe which the people were asked to pay each year was intended for the poor people but the priests could also go to the storehouse and take what they needed. There was no shame to those who partook of this tithe. But many of the preachers of our day, invite
their followers to give them their tithes and offerings. After they have taken out a generous salary for themselves and built themselves some kind of beautiful office complex, then, they may be inclined to give a portion to the poor and needy. These follow the way of Balaam.
A WARNING TO THOSE WHO FAIL TO DISCERN THE BODY OF CHRIST
One of the main reasons why so many of the people at Corinth were sick, is because they had failed to discern the body of Christ. In the first place, they were not observing the ‘Love Feast’ which Jesus had instituted, but were eating in their private homes. Paul rebuked them,
saying, "When you come together, therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. For in eating, every one eats his own supper before hand and one is hungry and another is drunk . . . Therefore, whoever eats bread [of the Lord’s Supper] and drinks the Cup of the
Lord [in an] unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord . . . For this reason, many [of you] are weak and sickly and many have died."8
THE PRACTICE OF INITIATION PRESUPPOSES THE ABILITY TO DISCERN THE BODY OF CHRIST
When Jesus instructed Peter to feed his sheep, he drew some distinctions not easily seen in our Bibles. To Peter’s first affirmation of love for his master, Jesus said, "Feed my lambs". To Peter’s second
affirmation, he said, "Feed my sheep". And to Peter’s third affirmation, Jesus again instructed him to feed his sheep, but he used a word which means sheep which have been set aside and marked for death, and in so doing referred to Peter’s own death.9
How many of God’s servants have endured the ritual death - sometimes actual death or an experience equal to death. The Irish monks who volunteered for this experience were cast adrift on the ocean in small boats. Wherever they landed was to be their mission field. If they remained adrift, they went to the arms of God.
All through this series of writings, I have tried to show that Jesus established three rings of discipleship around himself. The first ring of disciples were the common people (lambs), who needed signs to bolster their faith. The second ring consisted of a more intimate group, including
many of the Seventy-two, to whom he was able to give the Lesser Mysteries, while the third group consisted of those, whom he was able to commit the High Mysteries.
We must teach those who would ‘feed the sheep’ to learn how to distinguish between the three levels of discipleship. These are things not taught in our ‘divinity schools’. As Malachi prophesied, "Then shall you return and discern between the righteous and the
wicked; between him who serves me and him who does not."10 Once again, the followers of Christ must be distinguished by the Pure, the Holy and the Perfect. Even many pastors misunderstand the meaning of the distinction ‘perfect’, thinking that we mean something else. We
must be like the Scribe trained in the Kingdom of Heaven, who brings out of his treasures, things new and old.11 In other words, to re-establish the practice of advanced Initiation, we must use some of the ancient methods and some new methods.
THE PURPOSE OF WALLS
Walls serve us in many ways. We have walls around our homes to keep out the elements and thieves. We have walls inside our homes that serve various purposes. A father will certainly try to protect his family in every way he can but the sad truth is that today our homes are being
invaded and our young ones assaulted by in instrument called television. No matter what the father and mother may try to teach their young ones, television often serves to teach them just the opposite.
Institutions such as Freemasonry certainly have walls to keep out the non-initiated. Even within its body of members, they make distinctions through the use of graded Initiation. Generally, the Masons recognize thirty-three degrees. To progress through these degrees, especially the
lower ones, I am told that they require a good deal of memorization of rituals before advancement is possible. I am also told that some of the higher degrees require a sum of money to be paid, in order to progress.
Since I am not a Mason, I can only go by things I am told and things I read for myself. If this be true, then Masonry differs greatly from the ancient practices of Initiation used by Christians groups down through the centuries. One does not buy his way through Initiation. He may be
required to learn, even memorize certain things but we do not have thirty-two degrees to traverse. To my knowledge, we only have nine realms. Since I covered these in great detail in my book, "Forbidden Truths Revealed", I shall not try to cover them here.
Ezekiel gives us details of a future Temple, which he saw in a vision. It was not intended as a blueprint to be followed by returning exiles to Jerusalem. In fact, it would be impossible to build, because he does not supply enough details for actual construction. God had already given our father, King David a book which contained written instructions for building a temple, which Solomon did build.12
But God also promised King David that one of his descendants would build an even greater temple, saying, "And when your days are accomplished, you shall sleep with your fathers, I will establish your seed after you, which will be sired from your loins and I will establish his
Kingdom. He will build a House for my Name and I will establish the throne of his Kingdom forever. I will be his Father and he shall be my Son. . ."13
The temple which Ezekiel saw was to be built by the Messiah. It is significant that it had no wall of partition to separate the Gentiles, no court for women, no table for the showbread, no lampstand, no incense altar and no ark. Paul, the Apostle commented on this, saying that Jesus
Christ had broken down the middle wall of partition which separated the natural Jew for the Gentile.14 Furthermore, neither is their distinction between male and female in the Kingdom of God. 15 However, this does not mean that there are no distinctions within the House of God.
Ezekiel advised his own people, that if they would understand the meaning of his vision, they must ‘count the numbers’. "Son of man show the House to the house of Israel that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the Pattern [or count the numbers]. And if they become ashamed of all that they have done, show them the Form of the House and the Fashion thereof, with its goings out and its comings in. . . ."16
When we come to the Book of Revelation as recorded by John the Beloved, we see another temple with a wall around it and twelve Gates, coming down from Heaven. This is our future temple which is even now descending from God. This temple represents a Church somewhat
different from that which exists today. But it is already coming down. When our pastors and priests have learned the true psychology of the soul and the techniques of advanced Initiation with its twelve Gates, we will have arrived.
May God bless you. Love, your father, Jeffrey Brackeen
1 Phil. 2:12
2 Luke 18:8
3 Matt. 24:5
4 Matt. 7:22, 23
5 Luke 6:46-48
6 II Peter 2:1-3
7 Mark 9:38
8 I Cor. 11:20,21, 27
9 John 21:15-19
10 Mal. 3:18
12 I Chron. 28:19
13 II Sam. 7. 12-14
14 Eph. 2:14
15 Gal. 3:28
16 Ezek. 43:10, 11