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An Acceptable Religion

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In his letter to the twelve tribes of Israel, James the Younger wrote:  Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. [James 1.27]

That may be the case for those who are of the twelve tribes of Israel, who remain under the Old Covenant because they have adhered to the Law and have refused to drink the blood of Jesus and eat His flesh.

So then, what is an acceptable religion as far as God the Father is concerned when it comes to those whom He has called to Jesus by His grace?  Surely it is a religion, if you can call it that, that is based entirely on listening to His Son.  For the Father only ever commanded one thing for those He has called to Jesus – “Listen to Him.” [Matthew 17.5; Mark 9.7; Luke 9.35]  As such, if James were to write a letter to the churches, then he would have to write:  Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  One that practises the words of Jesus and to keep oneself from being polluted by the words of mere men.

As such, it is the work of the Holy Spirit’s Workshop to continue to be a venue through which the Holy Spirit can continue His work in reminding us about the words of Jesus and guiding us into all truth.  Indeed, the religion we should have, if we are to have a religion at all, is one that observes the words of Jesus to the total exclusion of all other words, even if they are the words of the apostles, for after all they did not obey, did not believe and only delayed the Lord in His plans in such a way that 2,000 years later He is still not back.  Until a disciple has mastered his practice of the words of Jesus, he has no business listening to anybody else’s recommendations, no matter how good it sounds.  Now that is the problem with recommendations from men like James.  They always make their recommendations seem good, but their teachings, unlike the teachings of the Lord, have no progression so that the practice of them leads to random and disorganised growth.  Whereas the Lord’s teachings progress from the beginning in leading men to believe in Him, to hearing and practising His words until they are mastered, so that servants, friends and brothers emerge who can do what He has been doing and even the greater things.

From the moment the Lord said, “Repent,” as He preached about the Kingdom of God, He was allowing men to change by their faith from sinners to believers.  And to the believers, He began to teach what they should put to practice so that they might become His disciples who are able to testify to the truth of His words by their testimony.  If one were to take the time and trouble to ask the Holy Spirit to show you the sequence of His teachings to His disciples, you will be able to see that His teachings carry you from a believer to a disciple, who are given the easy teachings first like “Love your enemies…” and then the harder teachings like the eating and drinking of His flesh and blood.  Even in the sequence of the miracles He did, He takes them from the healing of the sick and the raising of the dead, to the control of the elements and the multiplication of substance, to the control over time and space.

There is a progression in the teachings of the Lord, which when earnestly adhered to, leads anyone from a sinner to a son of God.  Whereas the teachings of men like James lead a person nowhere.  It just an adherent of a religion waiting for death, hoping for the best.

Because most who are in the churches are of the Kingdom of Heaven, for they are powerless, waiting for the moment of their death to enter into the presence of the Lord in Heaven, for them James is someone truly great.  For it is the Lord Himself who said concerning the Law, “…whoever practises and teaches these commands will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” [Matthew 5.19]  Since the recommendations of James in Acts 15 took the church back to the practice of the Law, so he became great in the Kingdom of Heaven.  However, when the Lord taught His disciples to eat His flesh and drink His blood, He was in truth teaching them to break the Law, [Leviticus 15.17] which was something the disciples realised.  That is why they said, “This is a hard teaching.  Who can accept it?” [John 6.60] and all but the twelve left Him. [John 6.66]  As such, the Lord Himself ‘fell’ victim to His own word and became ‘least in the Kingdom of Heaven,’ in the sense that His word is least practised and adhered to by those who are of the Kingdom of Heaven.  At least this explains the mystery as to why the words of James are held in such regard… why men prefer to do well by avoiding the eating of blood, the flesh of strangled animals, food sacrificed to idols and sexual immorality, rather than doing miracles by practising His words, by eating His flesh and drinking His blood at every opportunity, so that the Law has no power over them at all.

As such, what is acceptable to God depends on which of His kingdoms you prefer to belong to – the kingdom of Israel, the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God.  Since Jesus only spoke of the Kingdom of God after His resurrection, then all who look forward to His return should ensure that their allegiance is only to the Kingdom of God, where the only religion acceptable to God is one that hears and practises the words He gave Jesus until every one of them is fulfilled.  As the Kingdom of God is made manifest now, so the harvest of the Kingdom of Heaven will begin.  The sons of the devil will be first removed and then the sons of the Kingdom of Heaven, leaving only those who are of the Kingdom of God to prepare the world, that is, the field for the sowing and harvest of the millennium of Christ, the King.

Hr. Ed Kwan, manager of the Holy Spirit’s Workshop

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