“Den of Thieves” (A Large Prosperous Church or a Den of Thieves?)

Matthew 21:12-17 New King James Version (NKJV)

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ”

NOTE:  Jesus needs to cleanse the large houses of prayer today, but He said leave the tares alone and let them grow with the wheat until the END and then He would take care of it!

And Jesus above is quoting from Jeremiah 7:11.

“Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD.”

Besides the intolerance toward sound doctrine (II Timothy 4:3,4) which naturally comes with and perhaps leads the Falling Away, along with the rising tide of the mystery of lawlessness, we must account for the large amount of unsound doctrine in Christianity today.  The prime reason is increased lack of respect for the Bible as the Word of God.  Perhaps there is more superficial respect for the Bible today; but rather as a book, or an inspired book like Shakespeare or Milton, not as the book through which God can and does speak to us every day.  It can also be considered as an academic book without proper regard for this “every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”.  Even as the can account for the Falling Away from the aspects of II Timothy 4:4,5 with “intolerance toward sound doctrine”, with  preferences for wants over needs and commands, with “itching ears” Bible teachers that are heaped up all over the world on TV and in churches faster than the Bible as the Word of God can keep up; so the vast multiplication of unsound doctrine and unsound living {almost the same} have the same foundations.  It just plain does not matter that much about the Bible as the Word of God to most religious leaders and church members. History can be substituted, their own wisdom, denominational documents given priority over the original, indifference, and attempts at interpretation from the natural and other than spiritually discerned.  As wisdom has grown in the United States, it has become harder and harder for the academically inclined to admit the source and preservation of the Bible, in fact to even admit the supernatural.  And since most Americans don’t want to admit that God cares and intervenes that much in world affairs, much less in their lives, it is very difficult for them to comprehend that God spent over one thousand years working through and with a diversity of over 40 authors, prophets and apostles, to formulate a book with which He could adequately communicate to the Creatures which He made.  That job is complete; the words that God has spoken, every word out of His own mouth, is once for all delivered as a God-given basis for “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).  There is no need for special revelation from the charismatics; in fact, their revelations divert us from sound doctrine and sound Christian living!  We just cannot get it in our head that after we are in the Falling Away, and that is now, popularity is a bad sign.

Yet in all intellectual honesty {to use a phrase coined by Elton Trueblood, the American philosopher of religion} this does not adequately describe Mr. Average Church Member.  You need to look carefully at II Timothy 3:16,17 in its 3 parts–(1) ”All Scripture is given by inspiration of God”, (2) “and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness”, and (3) “that the man of God may be complete, throughly furnished unto all good works”–and then with this foundation of (1) this single and most basic of foundational and doctrinal statements about the Bible as the Word of God: close the (2) close the church administration gap of inadequate teaching and preaching {that is half doctrine, with no reproof, little correction, and very incomplete instruction in righteousness by example and methology}; and (3) also close the gap on Christian living so that from the doctrine and church administration flows sound Christian living.  I never understood it completely but I think these two gaps between (1) the Bible and (2) church administration and (3) sound Christian living is what Henry Steele Commager {for you not into American Studies, Commager, former professor of American History at Amherst, made a great contribution to the History of American Thought in his book THE AMERICAN MIND} referred to as the “paranoid” nature of American fundamentalism.  But this takes a lot of Scripture and analysis to describe this problem, with solutions, in American churches where it is begged that you see ‘Den of Thieves” and “Hideout for Bad Habits {the real meaning of Jeremiah 7:11 as you will come to see} as a Scriptural generalization of what American churches are like in this time of the Falling Away.  Before a complete description, and possible solution, is offered in the last chapter, “God’s ‘Called’ People versus God’s ‘Chosen’ People”, you must come to appreciate the failures in churches and denominations on II Timothy 3:16,17 that have caused the historical transition in American churches from the “perilous times” and bad habits {“follies”} of II Timothy 3:1-8 to the Falling Away of II Timothy 4:45, “the time will come” which has come!

If the “last days” started with the Coming of the Holy Spirit in great power and glory on the first day of Pentecost after the Ascension of Christ, and it did according to the Apostle Peter and the Prophet Joel in Acts 2:16-21–Peter first said (2:16) that what you are seeing today is the beginning of the fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32 and then the Joel quote started with “it shall come to pass in the last days” (2:17); if the end of the last days is also given in Joel 2:32 and Acts 2:21 with signs in the heavens above and the earth beneath–which are certainly evident all over the world today in tornadoes, hurricanes, fires, floods,  global warming, and other acts of God {“blood and fire and vapor of smoke}, and who can deny these things are happening; and if immediately after these signs in the heavens above and the earth beneath it is the “coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD” as Christ comes again with legions of angels to gather and separate, and certainly the Second Coming is the great and notable One Day of the LORD and Lord that Jesus called “the last day”  (John 6:54), then we should right now be up to our necks in:  (1) The Falling Away of II Thessalonians, and we are with increased intolerance toward sound doctrine (II Timothy 4:3,4), with a waxing cold of church members for Christ, a Luke warmness that God cannot stand (Revelation 3:14-22), and a vast heaping up on TV, in churches, and in other meetings of “itching ears” Bible teachers; (2) the rising tide of the mystery of sin and lawlessness (II Thessalonians), and we are since America and our churches cannot escape this world wide movement.  It is a tribute to Satan, indifference and ignorance toward Bible, and to fundamentalism that many church members look for the Second Coming as if it could happen before the Falling Away.  More often the fundamentalists have so cluttered up the eschatology of the Falling Away, the withdrawal of the Holy Spirit from earth, and the new heavens and the new earth with special revelations based on the Scofield Bible Notes, that American church members hardly know what to think.  There is a certain advantage of fiction based on fiction as in many of the recent and popular books on eschatology where confusion can dominate over the clarity of the Scriptures like in II Thessalonians.  As surely as II Thessalonians is a book of the Bible, one of the 66 books of the Word of God, and as surely profitable as the “ALL {other} SCRIPTURE of II Timothy 3:16,17, so knowing about the Falling Away approximately 40-80 years before the Second Coming is a profitable–for “doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness” as are convictions and knowledge of the Second Coming itself.  {Who knows you may be up to your armpits in the Falling Away already along with the deacons, pastors, and other members of your church.  In fact, the probability is that you are already, based on the daily news and stories about bad habits of church members that are common knowledge in the community and your church.}  And this does not even include the cover ups that churches and church leaders, just like the government, do in order to maintain an appearance that is much shinier and cleaner than the spiritual realities.

This book works on the assumption that the problems of the Falling Away and unsound doctrine are somewhat alleviated in their impact on churches and individual Christians when they are faced up to, even as a physician like Jesus said cannot heal until the nature of the disease is comprehended.  All is well in Zion, and all things continue as they were from the beginning of Creation and the beginning of the United States, is not a bad habit, practice, and perspective of sceptics and scoffers alone (II Peter 3:3), it is more efficiently and effectively practiced by church members who have selectively learned to stick their heads in the sand on certain realities such as the Falling Away.  Even as other schools have problems but “not mine”, and other countries have problems but “not mine”, so also there is a certain weakness of human nature that sees problems in other countries and even other denominations without a recognition of the same or similar problems in their own church.

It takes a lot of courage, and perhaps some foolhardiness, to call any House of God a “Den of Thieves”, but Jesus did and Jeremiah before Him; however what you will find is a meaning much deeper than on the surface where some wealthy of companies like Enron and World Com have stolen from their own employees while hiding as respected members in their local churches. True Jesus criticized those of the House of God during His time that would buy and sell there, using the status of the House of God as a vehicle for profit much like mega-churches are doing today as well as these operating officers of large corporations are doing. But what Jeremiah referred to in 7:11, and Jesus used that as a basis to cleanse the Temple; was how the people of God treated the House of God as a hideout even as a Gang would that stole, murdered, etc. and then ran right back to the Den as a place of security and safety. In other words, at heart of what Jesus and Jeremiah meant was that the people of God were living as they wanted to all week contrary to the will and covenant of God, then coming on the Sabbath like church members today to say “We are Safe” because we are in the House and Temple of God! We are a member of the elite of God, and in the Temple that God Himself has chosen for His own people. This new book Project for 2008 entitled DEN OF THIEVES, REPORTS FOR CHURCHED AND UNCHURCHED UNBELIEVERS, having faced up to the well-known spiritual realities of religion today in American Society like the Falling Away, like the tares in the local churches and denominations, and keeping in mind that Jesus taught to make no effort to separate the tares from the wheat for fear of getting the wheat by mistake; still what must we do about the tares in the church: and further how about those on the way to becoming like Hebrews 3:12, “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.” These are the unbelievers in the church with certain common issues as unbelievers outside the church. What you will find attached to this newsletter is the second chapter of “Den of Thieves” on “Bible Reports for Unbelievers”, and with an introduction of what should be done about it since there should be no effort to shift the tares from the wheat in the kingdom or in the local church. All would admit that among our goals for 2008 should be efforts to make reports to unbelievers. Most generally we do not think about some of those unbelievers as in the local churches and denominations, yet we dare not neglect the tremendous influence which these “tares” have on the churches and the kingdom. Is it not possible to make efforts to neutralize the influences of these tare leaders without trying to separate them from their local church or kingdom; after all, the most influential of those tare-leaders are the false prophets and itching ears Bible teachers, the wolves in the sheep clothing of the local church that have the goals of personal profit and status by making disciples to themselves. Yes, Jesus, Paul, and the other Apostles warned us about these and about their influences; and the fact that we have so much trouble finding one of them today is not because there are none in the United States, it is because they are hidden in local churches and denominations too close to us to see or detect! As you read the attached chapter and as preparation continues on “Den of Thieves”, all your comments are appreciated. Simply email them to SunGrist at sungrist@gmail.com.

Whereas in the past, we have had such warnings as from Gambrell who said “we Baptists are many but not much”; and books like “In His Steps” by Charles Sheldon, also seminarians like the church administrator who said “you can fill a church with empty people”, and the more recent books like “Where Are the Converts”, it is hoped that “Den of Thieves” will find a comparable place in the understanding of current church history.  While the “Den of Thieves” book with its two offshoots of “Hideout for Bad Habits” and “Reports for Believing” will be generally somewhat limited by being available in only the computer software format of Adobe Reader PDF, you can see how these efforts will simultaneously make some Green effort to what is perhaps the second most crisis of this planet earth compared to the first of the Falling Away!  You can with SunGrist_Bible books like “Den of Thieves”, “Hideouts for Bad Habits”, and “Reports for Believing” then LIVE GREEN, THINK GREEN, AND READ GREEN.  If you are not presenting reading this copy, then you or friends and relatives can download them from the two websites of SunGrist_Bible,  http://www.biblecombibleman.com or http://www.SunGristBible.com.

Sincerely,

Jerry V. McMichael

Piney Woods

Lincoln National Forest

April 2008

By the way, it was not always comfortable writing the words of this book.  Like with Jeremiah it was both bitter and sweet.  I despise where we are as churches and church members–I especially hate the loss of the historical heritage of Baptist history and the history and traditions of Southern Baptists–but these are historical facts, with the inevitability of the Falling Away, that we must face up to.  Like in II Timothy 2:17,18, the faith of more around us will be overthrown and we neglect the nature and solutions of these two final and great world wise movements:  (1) the rising tide of the mystery of sin and lawlessness; and (2) the Falling Away with (a) the abounding of sin that causes a cold waxing toward Christ and God and the Bible and with (b) the intolerance and popularity toward unsound doctrine.  Regretfully this is where we are in history now, just not too long before a revelation of the man of Sin and the Second Coming of Christ; and it cannot be denied, only fought!  Oh yes, there is also the hope of the final House of God, where God finally agrees to dwell among men with Christ, themselves becoming the Temple of the New Jerusalem on the new earth.  Do not let the fundamentalists with their eschatological fictions based on fiction, rob the magnitude of this hope from you, and clutter the future.  Also pardon this long Preface and the introduction to follow after the Table of Contents!

NOTE:  You are going to have to get more serious about this matter of Christian faith, or the IN CHRIST of faith in what He did on the cross for forgiveness of sins as well as in the Resurrection of the dead to share eternal life, and for the faith once for all delivered to the saints in the Bible which is Word of God.  MTD will absolutely no do it, as that belief system is very close to no faith in God, Christ, and the Bible at all. As preachers like Peter Marshall prophesied (preached) in the 50’s, “If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything”, but not heeded by church members or American society during since  the falling away from real God, real Christ, and real Bible; and now fulfilled from the parents and teachers in the lives of the millenniums–a belief system in almost nothing except the American Democratic faith.  As American citizens of equality under the law, we can be grateful for that; however, for Christian life and living according to the ALL Scripture method and movement it is vastly inadequate.  Any Christian that strives to live life with only that faith in a Civic Religion is like an automobile firing on only one cylinder. And to assist as a guide sort of like Philip the evangelist was a guide into Isaiah and the Bible for the Ethiopian, recommended here are the All Scripture Christian Life and Living series of books, All Scripture method and movement because the church with the falling away has isolated itself to only a few favorites.

All Scripture Christian Life and Living Books:

1. Friends of Jesus in this Bible and Computer Age.

2.  One Commentary on Ephesians, Peace of Ultimate Integration.

3.  Some Sounds of Sound Faith.

4.  Snatching, Stumbling, and the Falling Away.

5.  What the Churches Don’t Want You to Hear.

6.  “Den of Thieves” from Jeremiah and Jesus.

7.  Hideout for Bad Habits.

8.  Technical Applications of Computers.

9.  American Thought for Christians.

How do you account for so much obvious success of many large churches like in the DFW metroplex when according to the Bible, Christianity is now in the great apostasy called the Falling Away, and that so many smaller churches without these leaders and methods of worldly success, mainly in number of numbers and size of buildings and well attended programs, are dying.  Well trained seminarians in psychology and theology more than Bible know how to build better churches, to borrow words from the outstanding teacher of church administration, Gaines Dobbins, who methods have been replaced by psychology and theology.  If you think labeling these churches as a Den of Thieves, like Jeremiah did of the Temple in Jerusalem and Jesus did of the Temple of the first century, then you would also be most startled by considered the main manual of church growth of Charles Stanley, perhaps the most popular preacher of such a large church today in Atlanta Georgia, with popular books, and with the In Touch TV programs; that guide for success that he admittedly reads each year and was given to him in his home church by a relative when he first started in the ministry IS—drum roll, are you ready for this, HOW TO GET RICH by Napoleon Hill.  Even to one such as myself as critical of those church leaders of the 10 year plan that destroyed the SBC, like Stanley, Criswell, Judge Pressler, and Page Patterson—the same men of the perilous times whose follies are now revealed of II Timothy, it was a shock to learn of the ungodly and gospel of wealth and success, and mystical guide for one once so honored in SB work.  And you are dreaming if you do not think that Stanley’s success and methods from Napoleon Hill have not affected churches that want to show numbers everywhere, like those large churches in the DFW region.  The church of Kenneth Copeland being such an obvious ministry.

Of course, even as the falling away is a grassroots movement of Christianity, such Den of Thieves leadership would not be possible without church members wanting it to be so, stronger than that from Bible lusting in the pride of life for it to be so.  If you think that is too unjustifiably strong, then read it straight from the Bible in II Timothy 4:4,5.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but out of their own desires shall they heap up teachers with itching ears; turn away from the truth and turn aside to fables.”  (II Timothy 4:4,5)

Large churches and large church members have sought out and found unsound doctrine, and what we are saying daily today in these large churches is a normalization of Christian fables, so accepted that human beings can not come to accept that large organizations can be wrong, not only wrong but apostate!

As normal, you are welcome to free download this blog/message from SunGrist at:

http://biblecombibleman.com/ALargeProsperousChurchOrADenOfThieves.pdf

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