Jesus warned us, "Beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!'" Matthew 7:15-23
Regrettably, there are many who falsely believe they follow Jesus, but instead follow a counterfeit, today's local church system, guided by manmade doctrines and practices that lead its followers along the broad path that leads to destruction. In the end, they will proclaim, "Did we not follow you by going to church, reading our bibles, witnessing to others, and all the other things we did in your name?" Then Jesus will tell them plainly, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!" Today's local church system as an institution, with all of its outward godly principles, has become no different than the institutionalized religious minded Jews who confronted Jesus. They honestly believed what they were practicing was the truth, right up to the point when they crucified the real truth, Jesus. In fact, there are many who in reading this would feel the same toward me and would surely want me crucified for sharing these truths.
Therefore, a life in Christ is not about trying to be a good Christian as many suppose. In fact, it is not about us at all! It is all about Christ, and that we allow Him to use us how He wants to according to His will. Many who heard this truth in the beginning set out to be good and faithful servants. However, because of a lack of spiritual maturity and poor guidance from the local church system they tend to either settle into a religious life or they wander away altogether. In either case, they no longer remain in Christ. For those who do choose to live a Christian life, as defined by today's local churches, they cannot bear fruit because they are separated from the true vine. Jesus, the true vine, calls us to follow Him, and to do so by placing our full faith and trust in the Holy Spirit, our promised advocate, who will guide us and teach us all things. The local church has replaced the Holy Spirit with a counterfeit vine (their teachings, practices, and doctrines) based on religious thinking to guide and teach us how we should live and what we should follow.
Jesus said, "I am the true vine, and My Father is the keeper of the vineyard. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, and every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes to make it even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself unless it remains in the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine and you are the branches. The one who remains in Me, and I in him, will bear much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers. Such branches are gathered up, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to My Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, proving yourselves to be My disciples." John 15:1-8
The gospel is not complex, it tells us that if we turn away from our lives in this world to follow Jesus (daily) and become His faithful servants, He will place us in the vine and will provide us with the advocate (Holy Spirit), who will come to reside within us to guide us in all matters. Moreover, we will then be spiritually reborn (born-again) and gain citizenship in heaven. Yet, in spite of hearing this, and for many actually believing in this, many will find themselves getting caught up in the religious hoopla of the local church system. Others will decide to just walk away altogether. In both cases, they end up forgetting what they heard in the beginning, the simple gospel. The scriptures tell us, "We must pay closer attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every transgression and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? This salvation was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, and was affirmed by God through signs, wonders, various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will." Hebrews 2:1-4
Furthermore, we must acknowledge that the "Church" (Christ's house) is not a building made by man, but instead is a living entity made up of all those who choose to remain in the vine and follow what they heard from the beginning. "But Christ is faithful as the Son over God's house. And we are His house, if we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope of which we boast." Hebrews 3:6 It is Christ who is the author of all that is true. "Having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all those obeying Him." Hebrews 5:9 "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we profess." Hebrews 4:14 Hence, we must hold onto the simplicity of the true gospel and not get caught up in the many counterfeit teachings that lead the elect away from the true vine and the narrow path of Christ.
Consequently, we must follow Christ alone and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to learn how we should live for Him (see 1 John 2:26-29). "Let us hold resolutely to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to spur one another on to love and good deeds. Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. If we deliberately go on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no further sacrifice for sins remains, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume all adversaries. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think one deserves to be punished who has trampled on the Son of God, profaned the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge His people." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Hebrews 10:23-31
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