Parting of The Ways
Joseph Herrin (02-22-2010)
This is the most important post of this series, for in it I will address the motive behind the practice of syncretism. Without any doubt in my mind, understanding this matter will be a key issue for all who would walk as overcomers in these last days.
As I have meditated upon this subject, asking the Spirit of Christ to guide me, I have pondered what the root cause of this practice of syncretism, this leavening of the church could be. The conclusion I have arrived touches the very foundation of Christianity.
Those who fail to accept the cost of discipleship; those who reject The Way of the cross, are susceptible to the unclean practices of syncretism. A Christian who has not given his or her life wholly to Christ to live as He chooses, have already adopted a spirit of compromise. This compromise opens the door to further compromise in all areas of life.
The Way of Christ and His disciples is a very narrow way. It is an afflicted way. The way of Mystery Babylon, the Great Harlot, is a way of ease and self-indulgence.
Consider for a moment the contrast between Christ and His disciples, and Mystery Babylon, the Great Harlot described in Revelation.
Of Christ and His disciples we read:
For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows , and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
I Corinthians 4:9-13
For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.
Of Babylon, the Great Harlot, we read:
And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast… And the woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality, and upon her forehead a name was written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”
She glorified herself and lived sensuously… for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as a queen and I am not a widow, and will never see mourning…’ And the kings of the earth… committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her… And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their cargoes any more; cargoes of gold and silver and precious stones and pearls and fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet, and every kind of citron wood and every article of ivory and every article made from very costly wood and bronze and iron and marble, and cinnamon and spice and incense and perfume and frankincense and wine and olive oil and fine flour and wheat and cattle and sheep, and cargoes of horses and chariots and slaves and human lives… and all things that were luxurious and splendid… she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls.
Can a greater contrast be found between Christ and His disciples and the description of the Great Harlot, Mystery Babylon? Christ and His disciples had an afflicted path to walk. As men viewed their lives, they were judged to be stricken and smitten by God. They were strangers in the earth, without homes, without possessions, in many hardships and distresses. Their pathway was the way of the cross.
The Great Harlot, in contrast, has all the world’s goods. She says that she will never see mourning, for her heart is set to avoid all suffering. She is esteemed by the great people and merchants of the earth, where the true disciples were scorned. The harlot walks comfortably in the midst of this world system. Her path is broad, and multitudes join in her company, while the way of Christ is narrow, constricted and afflicted, and few are there who find it.
I will tell you what led to the compromises of the early church, and the corruption of the virgin Bride of Christ into a Great Harlot. It was a loathing of The Way, the narrow way, the way of the cross that all true disciples must follow.
Perhaps you have noticed that I have been capitalizing the words “The Way” throughout this series. This is the expression used to describe the early disciples of Christ. The early disciples were called “followers of The Way.”
Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the multitude, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.
And about that time there arose no small disturbance concerning the Way.
“But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers…”
The early disciples were referred to as The Way, more often than they were called Christians in the New Testament. These verses above reveal that those who belonged to The Way were persecuted; they were “the disciples”; disturbances followed them; and they were viewed as a sect of Judaism.
Strong’s Concordance defines the Greek word rendered as “Way” in the following manner:
hodos (hod-os’); apparently a primary word; a road; by implication a progress (the route, act or distance); figuratively, a mode or means:
KJV – journey, (high-) way.
We see that this Greek word can be used to signify both the route and road one takes, as well as the journey. The walk of those who were true disciples of Christ was very different from the path all other people around them were following. The disciples of The Way stood out in the society they found themselves in. Their priorities, values, and manner of living was altogether different from the pattern of the world.
Christ declared to those who gathered to hear Him that The Way to life was very different than the way of the world.
Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way (hodos) is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way (hodos) is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.
I want you to understand this post, if you do not understand anything else from this series. There is apparent today two bodies, both women, who are identified as the Bride of Christ. One body is small in number. It is described as “a pure virgin” that has been espoused to Christ (II Corinthians 11:2). There is another body comprised of vast multitudes. It too claims to be espoused to Christ, but she is a harlot in her affections. She has eyes for the world, and the things in it.
Both of these bodies are walking very different roads. The pure virgin, few in number, is set upon an afflicted path, a narrow and constricted way. They aspire to be led of the Spirit in all they do. They have counted the cost of following Christ, even to hating their own lives, and have accepted the cost. These are following The Way that leads to life.
The other body is walking together with the world on a very broad path. It is the path of least resistance. They walk hand in hand with the merchants and money changers. They are focused on buying and selling, on eating and drinking, on building and planting and marrying. Their lives are focused on satisfying the desires of their flesh and the dreams and passions of their souls. Although a great many profess to be followers of God, these are walking the way that leads to destruction.
Among the early believers, the cost of following Christ was very clear. The early disciples, and all the 120 gathered in the upper room during that first Pentecost of the virgin church, knew very well the path that Yahshua had walked. Many had been witnesses of His crucifixion. All knew of His suffering and persecution and death. They were aware that He was an outcast from the Jewish religious system, hunted by the leaders of the Temple and synagogues.
The early church proclaimed the cost of following Christ. The first disciples knew that it would cost them everything. Christ made it clear that even as He was persecuted, so too would they. Even as He did not possess this world’s goods, neither would they be promised the things of this world. They had to accept whatever provision their Father in Heaven chose for them, for Christ was their pattern, and they were to be conformed to His image.
When the rich young ruler approached Christ, we read the following:
Yahshua said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved; for he was one who owned much property.
When the Scribe approached Yahshua wanting to be His disciple, we read:
And Yahshua said to him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
In these words we read that Christ did not require a permanent dwelling place on this earth. He never owned a home. He went wherever His Father directed Him, and was content with whatever provision God chose for Him.
When Christ addressed the multitudes, He declared:
“So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”
From a strictly material point of view, there is nothing in The Way of Christ that would attract followers. One must choose The Way for no other reason than that it is the only path that leads to life. It was for this reason that Christ’s disciples continued to follow Him when the majority fell away.
Many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore. Yahshua said therefore to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of age-abiding life.”
Yes if you want to be a possessor of the life of the Son of God, there is only one Way to walk. It is The Way of the disciples. It is the narrow way that promises nothing in this world, but has laid up its treasure in heaven and in an inheritance imperishable and incorruptible. It was in recognizing the truth that the Christian’s reward is not in this present life that the apostle Paul penned the following:
I Corinthians 15:19
If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.
The Way to life is a costly way. It is a difficult way. It is a way that only those who embrace death to the natural life, to the desires and passions of the soul, alone can find.
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
What Christ is describing is the complete opposite of the broad path that “seems right unto a man.” Christ exhorted all who would be His disciples to count the cost first, to see if they could finish what they began. Were they willing to pay the full cost of what they began? Would they shrink back at anything?
People of God, the Spirit has instructed me in The Way during the past eleven years. In 1999 the Spirit of Christ challenged me to give all things I possessed over into His care, including my wife, my children, my home, my job, and even my own life. He asked me to commit to following Him wherever He would lead me, and to doing whatever He asked. I have written of this journey in the book Evidence of Things Unseen.
One thing I have fully discovered is that there truly are few who are willing to walk this narrow path. Many who are dear to me have fallen away, choosing a different course. Many trials, losses, suffering, and persecutions have been my lot over the past decade. These experience included the departure of my wife and son, of being rejected by fellow ministers, and having the doors to today’s synagogues, the churches, closed to me. It has led to my living as a wanderer in this earth, and even experiencing homelessness, and living at a Rescue Mission for a year. I have lived out of a car, in a tent, in a camper/van, and in other people’s homes. I have gone where the Father has led me, even when that included spending time in jail.
II Timothy 3:12
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
Let me share with you something I have discovered along The Way. When we count the cost of following Christ; when we accept the cost, setting our faces as flint to continue to the end; when we will bear every loss without seeking an easier path, then we will also find that our the compromises we once embraced in other areas of life will also fall away from us. These compromises include the doctrines and practices of an apostate church system who is walking on the way that is broad and leads to destruction.
The Way of Christ is an ever narrower Way. Yahweh is ever calling His people OUT of the world to be HOLY unto Him.
And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “COME OUT of her, my people, that you may not participate in her sins and that you may not receive of her plagues…”
The very word that is translated as “church” in our English Bibles speaks of this call of God upon those who would embrace The Way of Christ that leads to life. The Greek word “ekklesia” is translated into the English word “church.” Ekklesia is more literally translated as “called out assembly.” Those who would walk holy unto God are constantly being called OUT to a narrower place where there are fewer walking the path. This narrow place is a part of their journey. It is The Way, the narrow Way.
Consider now, what the inducement was among the early believers to look for another Way. The natural man despises the cross. The natural man does not desire to suffer, even if the suffering is necessary in order to fit sons and daughters to rule and reign with Christ. The natural man will seek a path of compromise where the way is not so difficult, and the most odious suffering can be avoided. Over time even the smaller acts of sacrifice and suffering will give way to a desire to be constantly at ease, endlessly entertained, and perpetually in a state of pleasure.
II Timothy 3:1-4
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…
These words describe the state of the visible church today. Today, ministers do not even mention that there is a cost to be counted before committing to becoming a disciple of Christ. People are told that Christ has done it all. They can get their “get out of hell free card” by making a confession and saying a prayer. Then they can continue to live for their own will and desires, and God will even help them to attain all that their soul lusts for.
Such ones will inevitably find themselves following a broad way upon which the teeming multitudes throng. Having embraced a life of compromise, they will find themselves embracing mixture in all areas of life. In their religion they will see no difficulty in mixing the holy and the profane, for in their commitment to Christ they have mixed the will of God with their own Adamic will. They will obey God as long as it is pleasing to their soul, but if it does not please them, if the will of Yahweh leads to some sacrifice or suffering they do not wish to make, then they will choose the profane leadership of the fallen nature over the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Have you heeded the command of Christ to count the cost of discipleship? Have you considered that following Christ means death to your own ways? Have you considered that you must let another lead you, and live for the pleasure of another, in order to be a disciple of Christ? Are you willing to go wherever He would lead, and do whatever He would ask you to do? Have you considered that your life is not your own, for you have been bought with a price? Are you willing to live as a bondservant of God, living daily to do His will?
If you have not yet made this commitment, then you are a candidate for Satan’s deceit of syncretism. God requires everything. There can be nothing held back. Yahweh will ask you to lay that which is most precious to you on the altar as He directed Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.
If you will not pay the cost, then you have already compromised your faith, and you are an open target for Satan to bring in more and more compromise and error until all is thoroughly leavened. Satan’s work is far advanced in the church today. The Spirit is calling His people to come out of Babylon, to come out of the world, to come out and be a people holy unto Him.
Syncretism is mixture. Syncretism is compromise.
Will you heed the call?
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