Do Not Depart Out!

Reasons to Remain in Your Church

By Dr. Ken Matto

Well here we go again! Here is probably the most dangerous teaching that has come out of Family Radio yet, specifically from Harold Camping. He is counseling people to leave their churches for any biblical infraction. For example, if a church believes that remarriage after divorce is fine, then he says it is a high place and the person should leave. He is not just counseling people to leave dead or apostate churches (which I agree with) but he is also counseling true believers to leave faithful churches as well.
This is because he has become a dispensationalist. For many years he has denounced dispensationalism as a contrived teaching. Now in conjunction with his book 1994, claims that the time paths did not lead to the end of the world but instead to the end of the church age. I am writing this article in September 2001 and it seems quite interesting that the church age ended in September 1994 but no one knew about it until recently. That is until Harold Camping began to announce this at Bible Conferences and on his programs. To endorse this new "revelation" he and his disciples are claiming that many times God has used a single person to bring truth. One such comparison he and his disciples make is that he is like Micaiah in 1 Kings 22:8:
(1 Ki 22:7-19 KJV) And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might inquire of him? {8} And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so. {9} Then the king of Israel called an officer, and said, Hasten hither Micaiah the son of Imlah. {10} And the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah sat each on his throne, having put on their robes, in a void place in the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets prophesied before them. {11} And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made him horns of iron: and he said, Thus saith the LORD, With these shalt thou push the Syrians, until thou have consumed them. {12} And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramothgilead, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the king's hand. {13} And the messenger that was gone to call Micaiah spake unto him, saying, Behold now, the words of the prophets declare good unto the king with one mouth: let thy word, I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak that which is good. {14} And Micaiah said, As the LORD liveth, what the LORD saith unto me, that will I speak. {15} So he came to the king. And the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall we forbear? And he answered him, Go, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the hand of the king. {16} And the king said unto him, How many times shall I adjure thee that thou tell me nothing but that which is true in the name of the LORD? {17} And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the LORD said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace. {18} And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil? {19} And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.
If you notice carefully in these passages that Micaiah is receiving a word directly from the Lord concerning the impending battle. He is not sitting there pulling out Scriptures and then presenting it to the Kings and saying "well when we compare these Scriptures we find that there will be a battle, etc." Micaiah is revealing the straight forward word of God concerning the battle which is to take place and the results. If you notice verse 19, you will also see that Micaiah is receiving a vision of heaven. These words are not causing strife and consternation to Jehoshaphat who is a true believer but only to Ahab who is not a true believer. Unless Harold is receiving visions and new revelation about his "end of the church age" theory, then he is not represented by Micaiah. This comparison is not strengthened instead it dissolves as we look at these passages.
Now let us ask the question concerning the single man truth and what it represents in the Bible. Whenever we see a prophet such as Micaiah, John the Baptist who was the voice in the wilderness (Matt 3:3), Jeremiah ( Jer. 1:1-12), Isaiah (Isa. 6:8), Jonah (Jonah 1:1-2) et al, they represent all the true believers who bring the true word of God to a wilderness known as the world. Whenever a true believer proclaims or teaches the true word of God without manipulation, they are represented by the true prophets of God. Incidentally, the Bible characters who proclaimed the truth of Godís Word are no different than any other believers who promulgate the word of God today except we take our teachings from the Word of God and not from revelations or visions. No one believer today stands out any different than any other true believer. As long as a person is not twisting the Scriptures or over-spiritualizing to make them fit their teaching. The idea that certain teachers are easily compared to certain Bible characters is foreign to Scripture and is a favorite method cults use to draw people into their cult. Here are some examples:
David Koresh - Koresh (Khoresh) is the Hebrew translation of the word for the name "Cyrus." Cyrus was the one who allowed the Jews to go back and build the Temple. He was prophesied about 300 years before he came on the scene.
Jim Jones - The reincarnation of Jesus
Sun Myung Moon - believed he was the second coming of Jesus and his wife was the Holy Spirit.
Now I am not saying that Harold Camping is starting a personal cult. The term "cult" means a strict adherence to a system of religion or beliefs. However, I do see this pattern in those who are following and also disseminating the "leave your church" and "dead church teaching." Those who are following this are not looking at any other Scriptures in the New Testament which deal directly with the church issues and the commands which God has for the church. The only Scriptures they are twisting to fit this belief are found in Matthew 24; Luke 21; and Mark 13 prophecy sections which are linked to other spiritualized verses in the Old Testament.
In the Third Quarter issue of the New Life Digest which is a Family Radio Publication, the Editor, Tom Holt wrote an article entitled "Flee to the Mountains" which presented a horrible distortion of Scripture. Here are some quotes in which I e-mailed him back but never received a specific response. You can read the entire article on the Internet by just entering New Life Digest in your search engine. This article was a parrot of Harold Campingís teachings as are all those who are following this teaching. This is why I place a cultish slant on it. After all, every cult had a start. Here are the quotes:
(Acts 28:30-31 KJV) And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, {31} Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
"Recorded at the tail end of Acts, the two years that Paul preached in "his own hired house" represent the short period before Judgment Day when God uses para-church ministries to feed us."
I have yet to find para-church ministries mentioned in the Bible. The scripture twisting on this passage is horrible. Where is the biblical justification and harmony on this passage? This is a cultic approach to scripture in ripping a verse out of context and then applying it to whatever you want. This is a deceptive method of drawing people to Family Radio because we all know that is what is in view here.
"God has been using false prophets to take over the corporate church. "
Here is another blanket statement which needs to be defined. Is every church dead? Does every church have a false prophet in the pulpit? A false prophet in the Bible is one who steered the people away from Christ. If a person does not understand election, does that make them less of a redeemed Christian? No it doesn't because whether a person acknowledges election or not has no effect on their salvation, if it does then it is a works gospel. I have visited many good churches and have not found anyone leading anyone intentionally to false gods. This is what the false prophets did, they led people away from God.
"Para-church ministries. It's true that we believers have the indwelling Holy Spirit to teach us spiritual things. But for the work of the ministry, God specifically give some to be prophets; some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers. Most of us still need one or more gifted persons to guide us. Thankfully, bypassing the traditional corporate church, God has raised up in these end-time days ministries like Family Radio by which we can be faithfully taught the truths of God wherever we are."
This is a dangerous blanket statement to make. Since when does a man guide us. God is the ultimate guide for the believer. Whenever guidance is sought it should be sought not from just one person, but from multiple sources. (Prov 15:22 KJV) Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.
(Psa 31:3 KJV) For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me.
(Psa 48:14 KJV) For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.
(Psa 73:24 KJV) Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.
(Jer 33:3 KJV) Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
I guess everyone who has locked themselves into following the Latter Rain/High Place/dead church teaching has to make general statements and avoid any specifics. To say that God has bypassed the corporate church is to say that He has ignored those congregations which are still faithful and has pulled all the truth out of them and sent it to Oakland, California. God is still using the corporate church today. If most of these Family Radio groupies would see that God has also been increasing the use of nationals in areas of the world in which there are no satellite dishes, Short Wave radios, or computers.
According to Wycliffe Translators 60% of the people in the world have never made a phone call. So all those who think that Family Radio is the final voice to the nations better factor in that 3 billion people have never used a phone. In Africa, the average yearly salary is $410 American. Do you think these people are going to have elaborate set-ups of electronic equipment to hear even short-wave? No my friends, word of mouth is still the most widely used method of gospel sharing. God is still using the corporate church to send forth the gospel and He has not bypassed it. This is a lie right from Hell and belongs in the Valley of Tophet to be burned. Just because it shows up in the New Life Digest or comes from the Open Forum does not mean it is truth. Isnít it strange that only Harold Camping and his followers know the church age is over? If the church age ended in 1994 as he now proclaims, then how come he didnít know this for the last 6 years? Now that you know that this teaching is a man-centered teaching, let us get on with some biblical reasons from the Bible whereby you should remain in your church if it is reasonably faithful to the Word of God.
1) Communion or the Lordís Supper
(1 Cor 11:23-26 KJV) For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: {24} And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. {25} After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. {26} For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come.
In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the Lord Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples right before He went to the cross. He was showing that the bread and the cup were symbols of His sacrifice which was about to happen. It was not until the book of First Corinthians was written that we see it was a command of the Lord for His children to partake in the symbolic Lordís Supper. The reason we celebrate it is two-fold, to remember His sacrifice and the looking for His return on the clouds of glory on the last day. We must keep in mind that even though the Lord Jesus gave us the method in the gospels, it was not until He wrote to the CHURCH in Corinth that He made it a command. The Lordís Supper was to be partaken of, in the church, until the Lord returns.
It is interesting to note that because this was written to the church, there was also a warning that unbelievers were not to partake of it because the consequence could be death because that would be profaning the Lordís Supper which was only meant for the true believer. Now this warning also reveals to us that there were unbelievers in the Corinthian church as there are in todayís churches. This is why many churches take the warnings very seriously and practice closed communion so the elders have an opportunity to speak to all the those in the congregation and spiritually assess to see if all are truly saved. If they deem someone to be unsaved, they will tell the person to let the elements pass by. If a person is unsure of their salvation, it is better to let the elements go by, for there is no sin in not taking the Lordís Supper but to take it as an unbeliever (unworthily) then that is a sin which carries consequences. The essence of these statements in 1 Corinthians is that the Lordís Supper is to be observed until the Lord returns which means there must be a church in assembly until He returns. This also tells us that the church age will end on the last day.
2) The use of Spiritual Gifts
(1 Tim 4:14 KJV) Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
All true Christians are given spiritual gifts for the following purpose :
(Eph 4:11-12 KJV) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; {12} For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Perfecting - This word means to equip or to make with complete furnishing. This is the only place in the New Testament this word is used. God is using the offices of the church to grow, mature, and ground the Saints.
Work - This word means works, tasks, or occupation. When a person finds and hones their spiritual gift, they are able to begin working in the sphere God has empowered them to work in. Normally each believer begins their Christian work life within the context of their local church under the supervision of those who are more mature in the faith.
Edifying - This word means to literally build the body of Christ. It carries the meaning of a building. We see this principle more clearly in Ephesians 2:21-22. The word "building" in Verse 21 is the same word as edifying in Eph 4:12.
(Eph 2:21-22 KJV) In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: {22} In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
When the Holy Spirit implants spiritual gifts into new believers, the first place that a Christian would normally begin to use those gifts would be in the local church. It could be as a teacher, organizer, evangelism, etc. When a new Christian works side by side with someone who is older in the faith, they can begin to teach and help that Christian develop their gift and then begin work in some sphere of Christian service. If a Christian never mingles with other Christians, they may never find their spiritual gift nor their sphere of service. When one is in a decent local church, they may begin to grow and develop and mature in the faith. Then they would become a good soldier of Christ.
3) Commit to Faithful Men
(2 Tim 2:2 KJV) And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
One of the chief responsibilities of every Christian is to grow in the faith and then hand down what they know to the next generation. If Christians are running amok and have no intercourse with older Christians, there will be no faithful Christians to hand down the true teachings and the true teachings to. This is when the church will go out of existence but that situation is not in view here. Timothy was a young pastor and in the first chapter of 1 Timothy, Paul is exhorting Timothy to be on the lookout for false teachers and teachings. He is doing this in the context of a local church. God is showing us that false teachings can be exposed and controlled by the local church if the leaders are biblically astute. If a Christian is running around without any attachment to a local church, they will become prey to every kind of false teaching out there. At least, when there are more mature Christians around, they are able to spot and rebuke false teachings and guide the younger Christian back to truth. Anyway, if there are no churches, then how would the command to commit to faithful men the true gospel be accomplished? How would one be judged as a faithful Christian? Do we send out a questionnaire to their houses and have them fill it out? The only way to tell if there is a faithful Christian who is qualified for leadership is to see their Christian lives unfold, especially during tough times, and their understanding of Godís Word. That is the way we are able to commit to faithful Christians.
4) The Great Commission
(Mark 16:15 KJV) And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
The primary reason of existence for the church is to preach the gospel to the entire world so God may begin to reclaim His elect from all the nations. This proclaiming continues until the last named one is saved and then the end shall come. The local church is normally where the Christian has their introduction to world missions and many churches have missionary conferences where missionaries come and tell the people about the mission field and what God is doing on the field, especially in foreign countries. For almost 2,000 years the method of evangelism was the personal sending forth of the gospel with missionaries who would dedicate their lives to a certain field and would also normally translate the Bible into the indigenous languages.
Since 1906 God began to use other methods beside personal missionaries to bring the gospel to other countries. He began with AM Radio, then Short-wave Radio, then Television, then FM radio, then Satellite, and now the Internet. But as I mentioned before according to Wycliffe Bible Translators, 60% of the world have never even used the telephone. This means that well over three billion people would never be able to hear the gospel because of lack of some type of receiving device. Mission societies have always been tuned into the needs of the foreign fields and the local church still has a major impact on world missions. Since many countries have become closed to the ministry, mission societies have begun to place a heavy emphasis on the support of nationals. This is a wise decision because it cuts down training time for language skills and since the nationals already live there, it cuts down on expenses of moving and culture shock. For example, Gospel for Asia can support a national pastor in India for between $90-150 per month.
Because of severe poverty in many countries, word of mouth is still the cheapest way to communicate the gospel. So it seems that God is using the electronic medium to reach one half of the world and He is using word of mouth to reach the other half. God blesses the local church that reaches out with the gospel beyond their own walls. A missions minded church is a blessed church which has its priorities in order.
5) No Elders or Pastors
(Heb 13:17 KJV) Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
One of the reasons God gave the local church was to allow a pecking order to exist for the purpose of keeping Christians in line. While Christians are redeemed people, they still exist in the flesh and can go awry in their walk. This is the reason that God gave Pastors and Elders to the local church so there would be a system of accountability. The primary function of these offices is found in the above verse. "They watch for your souls." Their principal duty is to watch over the flock in the area of spiritual growth. They are set there to be a guide to the sheep. (Prov 15:22 KJV) "Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established." Remember this verse in the area of guidance. The Bible tells us that in the church there should be a plurality of elders and not just one man. One man can be very subjective to personal ideas but if a teaching or situation is laid out before many elders, then an objective opinion could be more easily given because even the elders could check each other while they search.
What scares me about the "Depart Out" teaching is that the same situation is going to happen to the church as it did to Israel during the time of the Judges. (Judg 21:25 KJV) "In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes." Without accountability leadership, even Christians can go astray when left to the mercy of the world. The idea of "fellowshipping" around a radio is foreign to the Scripture because God wants His church to interact plus we read in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 that Paul was expecting the Corinthian church to take up a collection and have it waiting for him when he arrived. This was to be done in the context of the local church.
There is not one shred of evidence in the Scriptures which teach the system of Pastors and Elders has come to the end. As a matter of fact, without any official leadership sad situations could arise, such as a person may come into the assembly who is living in sin with another person and without leaders to deal with the situation, the person could tell the other Christians in the assembly to take a hike since they are not leaders. It is a fact of life that leadership is needed in the church to deal with problems that will arise in the spiritual realm. Can you imagine a corporation that dissolves its board of directors and management staff and places everyone on the same footing? Can you imagine the absentee rate? What about productivity? 4 hour lunches? How long would that company survive? It is the same with the local church. If the leadership offices are done away with and all you have is a Bible teacher, then what makes you think that your assembly will last? If accountability is done away with, do you honestly expect people to come every week? If there is no accountability, the sin nature will capitalize on it and will eventually dissolve that assembly and destroy the testimony of many. This idea of deleting the Pastor and Elders is a sinful act and is found nowhere in Scripture. This is the contrived teaching of a man placing his own ideas into the Bible.
6) Weaker Christians
(Rom 14:1 KJV) Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.
The word "weak" here from the original Greek carries with it the meaning of "unhealthy, in need," along with "weak." Paul wrote this command to the Roman Church under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that weaker Christians were to be extended a welcome in the assembly. In contemporary Christianity that need is still there. Those who are weak in the faith, not necessarily new to the faith, need a place where they can ask questions and pour their hearts out. You cannot do this in front of a radio. The Bible is a spiritually complex book and many Christians are not able to grasp many of the truths and therefore need a place where they can be taught so understanding may come. Weaker Christians need to have a place where they can gain counsel on sensitive issues such as those we encounter in our daily lives. If weaker Christians have no place to turn and have no interaction with stronger Christians, they may face problems and fall.
God commands those who are stronger in the faith to bear the burdens of those who are weaker in the faith. (Rom 15:1 KJV) "We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves." The word "infirmities" in this verse is a cognate of the word "weak" in Romans 14:1. Those who have been trained well in the Scriptures are able to cope with lifeís problems and should pass on what they know to those who are weak in the faith so they may begin to see victories in their Christian walk. When weaker Christians begin to see victories in their walk, they begin to be strengthened in the faith and then defeats will be far and few in between. When they do come, that Christian will be able to cope. The local church is still the best place to train a believer. Many have been trained in the local church and have gone on to be missionaries, bible teachers, pastors, etc., all because the local church was there to help.
7) Occupy Till I Come
(Luke 19:13 KJV) And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
The word "occupy" here carries with it the idea of doing a diligent business with a good outcome. While this command was not given directly to any church, yet it was given to all Christians. Now the majority of Christians occupy themselves with spiritual work, not outside the church, but within the context of the local church. The first Bible study I ever taught was in my local church. The first sermon I ever preached was in my local church. The first message I ever delivered to an elders conference was in my local church. I became an elder in my local church (this was before I knew about the marriage requirement). The Lord then opened the door to speak to a National Elders Conference. So to capsulize this principle, if I was not a member of a local church when I first became saved, I would not have had the initial opportunity for preaching and teaching. Just an aside, the church I was in was a dead church but there was a group of about 7 believers there who became my cheerleaders and encouraged me in these things. I am sure that many have the same story to tell that it was in the local church where they became initially involved and the Lord began to widen their ministries. So when the Lord gave the command to occupy till He comes back, it is not just to go to work, but we are to occupy in the realm of His work and normally that is within the local church. Incidentally, all the para-church ministries out there have gotten their help through and from the local church from where people learn of their needs and job openings. Intercristo doesnít cover them all.
8) Donít Forsake the Assembling Together
(Heb 10:24-25 KJV) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: {25} Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
One of the first places the Lord Jesus and Apostle Paul went in their journeys was to the local synagogue where they would reason with those who were gathered. This gives us a little insight into the importance of the local gathering if both the Lord and Paul visited them. When Paul went to Athens he visited Mars Hill and unfortunately in that location there was nothing but false teachings being taught such as philosophy and false religion.
Let us take a look at some of the words in Hebrews 10:25 and see if we can retrieve a better understanding of this verse and how it relates to the idea of leaving or dissolving a church.
Forsaking - It carries with it the meaning of abandoning or deserting. It does not carry a voluntary sense nor does it carry a positive meaning. A parallel usage of the word which gives a good understanding of the word is found in 2 Timothy 4:10:
(2 Tim 4:10 KJV) For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.
Assembling - This word is used only twice in the New Testament. This verse and 2 Thessalonians 2:1
(2 Th 2:1 KJV) Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
It is interesting to note that the assembling together of the true believers on the Lordís Day and the return of Christ are related. In 2 Thess. 2:1, the word describes the rapture of the church in another manner, "gathering together." When the church gathers on Sunday it is a foreshadow of the return of Christ when we shall be gathered unto Him but until that time we are to gather together as a congregation. The weekly gathering is like a mini-rapture as we see the believers come out of the world and away into their churches, thus leaving the unbelievers in the world behind for a few hours. On the last day, we shall leave the unbelievers behind forever when we are gathered to our people.
Exhorting - This word actually means encouraging one another. This would be impossible to do if every one was staying home by their radio. When believers meet together it is not only for fellowship and learning but to encourage each other in the Lord. Most of what I hear on the radio is gloom and doom which is fine for evangelism but a steady diet of that does not grow a Christian instead it beats them down making them feel guilty for being Christians and going to heaven.
The day approaching - This phrase may be translated "the day drawing near." This phrase is speaking of the approaching of the last day and the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is interesting to note that as we get closer to the last day God makes it a point that believers should not forsake or abandon their churches. This is probably because of all the false teachings and theories which would characterize the last years prior to the Lordís return.
This verse is very explicit and whether you call the "assembling" a church or a fellowship, it does not matter. This verse is teaching that Christians are to gather until the last day and that order has not been rescinded by any directives in Scripture. Spiritualized verses are never to exceed the authority of the direct commands of Scripture. The direct commands are plain while spiritualized verses are subjective to the teaching at hand.
We have looked at quite a large number of verses and all have harmonized that the Christian is to remain in their church if it is still reasonably faithful to Godís Word. The idea of all Christians abandoning their churches because of someoneís personal belief that the church age ended in 1994 and we just found out about it this year is erroneous. This is a contrived and dangerous teaching which would be like asking Christians to drink spiritual kool-aid. He who has ears to hear.
The idea that God has bypassed or ignored the churches is not taught in Scripture. Those churches which have become apostate have had their candlesticks removed but faithful churches are still in existence today. There is not one verse in Scripture which teaches that God has removed His truth from faithful churches and has transferred it all to electronic media such as Family Radio, for this is where this false teaching was spawned.
Personally, I would pay no attention to this teaching since there are too many unanswered questions and too many scripture passages which do not harmonize with this teaching and that means since it is not harmonious through all Scripture, this teaching must be abandoned not your church.

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