Thursday, May 9, 2019

Remove Not the Ancient Landmarks (Landmarks Part Two)

(We Are The Hands Of God)
To serve God is to serve others, wether believers in God, or the people of this world, to truly serve God is to serve His people. As for myself, it is an honor to be in a position which allows me to reach out to those in need of assistance, regardless of what that actually need is. Why you ask? Because to be the hands and feet of the Father is to honor His Word, and according to James 1:27, it is the purest form of religion. Adhering to the scriptures contained within the pages of the Bible, and by following the instructions of those God has given charge over us, we are cleave to the Landmarks established by God and the elders who have gone before us.

James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction…

(Orphaned Children From Africa)
In just over twelve years attending the same local church here in Austin, TX, the pastor was never forced to request of me to perform a certain task or duty more than once; why, its simple, because the respect and reverence I had for him required that I honor his request, direction, and expectations, to do otherwise was to ignore God’s design for my life. The Bishop of the house in which I served, had his own expectations, which included excellence in all things, all areas of ministry and the church as a whole, a five star experience was not merely expected, it was demanded. These expectations of excellence were to be an area of focus in all areas of the Christian’s life, including the way we carried ourselves, ministered to others, and represented the church. 

Whether we were at home, work, or anywhere else, it was understood that the rules and  standards set forth by our pastor were to be strictly clung to without question. Unfortunately; in today’s liberal and hedonistic climate, these Landmarks and standards have begun to fade away at an alarming rate, replaced by the ways of the world, just as the light snow on a sunny day, our traditions and standards are evaporating into just a memory before our eyes. Frighteningly; the “will of the people” has replaced the ways of God and has now allowed the plumb line of God to be replaced by the wavering ways of the unstable mind. As the children of God, it is imperative that we always remember and understand that even Peter, one of the greatest of the apostles, and the one Jesus called a rock, was used by the devil, completely unaware.

Proverbs 22:28
Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set...

Today, so many have decided to let go of the Faith, everything we have been taught throughout the years has so easily been set aside, but why? How is it that so many have effortlessly turned away from the scriptures and teachings go God? The Word repeatedly advises us against the disregarding of God’s Word; yet, so many times we openly decide to do just that, we remove the standards what we do not like, choosing the path of less resistance, which often times, leads back into the world. Today’s church no longer celebrates the Living God, but instead it has become the church of the ”modern era,” a church of man pleasers, who have replaced the God chasers of times past. The Landmarks of old were put in place to help Christians maintain the straight and narrow path as described in Matthew chapter seven; however, it would seem that we have all decided that as man kind, we know best, we are the makers of the rules, and no more are we to follow the instructions left for us by the prophets and preachers, nor must we look upon the Acts of the Apostles as our guides. The modern church, will no longer operate according to the Word of The Lord, instead it is the word of "man" that leads the way. In this hour, it is of the utmost importance that we are not caught with our candles under the bushel, or our lanterns unlit, because as we know, the day of the Lord’s return is known by no man: this is the importance, of maintaining the ancient landmarks.

Remove not the old landmark...

(King Herod's Caste, Iraeli Landmark)
Holiness has always been an anchor, pillar, and foundation of the Church; nonetheless, today, the word holiness has, to some, become an outdated, undesirable, and divisive set of ideals, no longer needed in today’s assemblies. In the past, the word Holiness, and all associated connotations, were once exemplified, an example of man’s desire to follow in the footsteps of Christ, and yet now, the mere mention of the word breeds anger, claims of legalism, and oppression. Godliness, devotion, and dedication to God, the desire to attain spiritual purification, throughout our daily lives, within the confines of our homes, and in the workplace, has somehow been replaced by a “Sunday morning only” doctrine, as if consecrating oneself to God is of no importance. 

For the past 2000 years since Christ ascended into the heavens, as well as the many thousands of years that preceded that Glorious day, Holiness before God has been an integral part of the Judeo-Christian faith and an expression of one’s love for God, and dedication to His Word. The Landmarks of our faith have been established since before the stars shown bright in the midnight skies, and the sandy seashores welcomed the fishes of the ocean’s deep and the birds that soar above. From those very beginnings, Holiness was to be the standard in which all of creation was to  agree, a holy people, set apart by a Holy God, and for that same Holy God. According to the Bible Holiness is the expected standard by which we all must live, it is the key by which we are to see God, and it is the outward sign of an inward desire to be like God, a benchmark to indicate that we are His possession: the children, and redeemed of Christ Jesus our Lord. In the book of Hebrews chapter twelve, we find the following statement, Follow peace with all men, and Holiness, without which no man shall see God.”  Clearly, the Lord expects us to live a way that exemplifies an ever increasing and acceptable level of Holiness which displays to others that we are the children of God; thereby, assuring our acceptance and entrance into the Kingdom. 

As the great apostle Paul stated in II Corinthians 12:9, God’s “Grace is sufficient for thee,” He accepts us for who we are, and as we are, we can come to the Cross heartbroken, shattered, and full of pain; yet, God will still come to us, comfort us, and forgive, carefully lifting us up out of the muck and mire. However, we must also acknowledge that God is also, indeed Himself Holy; accordingly, He cannot be in the presence of unholiness, which indicates to us, those that believe, that we must ourselves be transformed into the image of Holiness if we are to live with Him on that great day of the Lord. Yes, Jesus Christ will accept us as we are; even so, we have a responsibility as well, we are to adhere to the Word of God, we must cast out the old, and become new, in other words, there must be transformation in our lives. You see, we must not remain the same, we must exhibit a change that divides and separates the old from the new, not even Jesus remained the same after His encounter with the Power of the Holy Ghost atop the mount of transfiguration, Abram became Abraham, Sarai became Sarah, Jacob became Israel, Saul became Paul, and Peter became the Rock, no longer a pebble, but a mighty mountain who preached the Gospel on the Day of Pentecost, clearly, if these mighty Biblical characters had to change, so must we.

Romans 12:2 ...Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that ye may prove what is good, and acceptable, and the perfect will of God…

We as the people of God, must understand that Christ Jesus does not only want us to enter into the kingdom of God, but He wants us to become the kingdom God. Clearly, it isn’t the Lord’s desire to simply accrue a massive amount of church members, if that was the end goal, Christ would not have sacrificed Himself on the cross, instead He would have called down angels from to defend Him, and conquer the earth. Instead, He did the opposite, the Messiah, our Lord and King, gave up His life freely, a ransom in exchange for ours. The church, that is who we are to become, this is why God gave up His only Begotten Flesh for each and every one of us, but how do we become the church if we are not willing to be transformed into the image of the Living God, the image of Holiness? The answer is clear, we cannot. 

If we as individuals, and as the church as a whole, are to become more like Paul, and less like Saul, we are going to have make a choice, we must completely change the way we talk, the language we choose, and the words we speak. By voluntarily making these choices, by showing love, and by extending kindness to others, we show the world around us that we are the children of God. To be transformed into the image of the Living God, there must be a shift, we must change how we dress, we must change how we act, and we must change every other aspect of our lives that is not of God, simple put, if we are to enter the Holy of Holy’s, we must change. The church of today must work to reestablish the landmarks of old, the days of compromising the Word in an effort to appease the itching ears must be placed aside as we put on modesty, moderation, and morality; thereby, assuring all, that we are no longer followers of the world, but followers of Christ, and workers in His kingdom.

Amos 7:7-8
(The Ancient Plumb-Line)
Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand. And the Lord said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people…

“The famous words of Amos the prophet,” said no one ever, in spite of that, these are very important words, a set of verses that we should perhaps look at a bit more closely, but first, what in the world is a plumb-line? According to the internet, a plumb-line is a tool used by craftsman, such as carpenters and plumbers to ensure that walls, pipes, boards, and other things are perfectly in line, and without corruption according to required standards, and measures, much as it was used in the days of Amos. Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, as well as Jesus Christ Himself would have used this device in their work as carpenters, as well as many of the tradesman of today. Here in the scriptures above, the Holy Spirit, through the writings of Amos, uses the word plumb-line to describe to his contemporaries, the people of Judah, the importance of adhering to the Word of God and the established Landmarks of the Faith at that time. As a prophet of God, and minister to the people, it was Amos’ job to inform the congregation of the Lord’s law, instructions, and desires for His people, just as it is the duty of God’s ministers today. Unfortunately, in the church communities of today, many have forgotten this verse, turning away from the standards of the plumb-line, removing the Landmarks that have guided us for so many years, Landmarks such as maturity, moderation, modesty and faithfulness to the house of God. It is of the utmost importance that the Amos’ of today cry out in the wilderness, encouraging all of creation to repent, and return unto the Lord. 

Proverbs 23:10
Remove not the old landmark…

Sadly, the modern church has strayed away from the standards, customs, and traditions established before us by the saints of old, leaving us instead with a church that looks much like the world we claim to have left behind in our quest for God. In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 16, Jesus, speaking to Simon Bar-jona, declared that, “thou art Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church,”  the original word used here, transcribed as church, is the Greek word ekklÄ“sia, which in it’s original language means to be called out, an assembly of saints, or a gathering of men. This definition of the root word for church, indicates that we, as the living church, are to be called out from the world, a gathering of saints and men, dedicated to God, along with Holiness, this is yet another foundation of the faith, and a Landmark for us all.


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