Many millions of people believe that "going to church" is what God wants. Is it? How would you know? Well, the best way to know would be to listen to the one for whom the people say they 'go to church'. Said another way, the thing which calls itself 'the church' says they do their church stuff for "Jesus Christ". So, therefore, shouldn't those people look to "Jesus Christ" and his teachings in order to justify their 'church going'?
The simple fact is that Joshua of Nazareth (the one they call 'Jesus Christ') has only two teachings were he uses the term "church" and neither of those teachings can be reasonably used to support the organizations the religious world calls 'the church'. The simple truth is that 'going to church' is a substitute for actually doing what God and Joshua want, as this article will show.
The thing which calls itself 'the church' is based on Paul's teachings, not Joshua of Nazareth's teachings. In general, 'church goers' are no different than Mosque-goers or Synagogue-goers or Nights of Columbus-goers or Masonic lodge-goers or thousands of other social groups - both religious and non-religious. The only difference is the name they call god, some differences in their rituals, and some god-beliefs which have little to no bearing on how they live their daily lives.
'The church' as defined by the world is merely a religious social group with some god-beliefs, traditions, rituals and activities, and nothing more.
Those who lead the world's version of 'the church' serve as substitutes for the Light of the world. Those who attend and support the religious organization do so not because they are listening to Joshua of Nazareth, but rather because their religious traditions tell them they ought to 'go to church'. In addition, their religious leaders tell them in so many words and in some version, that if they don't 'go to church' they are displeasing God to some degree...from deserving to 'go to hell' to 'it would be better for you if you did go to church' and everything in between. The religious leaders benefit by people giving them money to perform the rituals and tell the people what they want to hear.
Finally - and related to the last point - the religious organizations have the wrong standard to know God and what God wants. The Christian religious system is built on the bible and many other 'sacred books or writings' that many of the sects/divisions revere; as well as the most popular religious leaders of the day. Instead of listening to the Light of the world, they spend millions of hours looking to - and studying - other people's opinions about God...and they spend millions of hours listening to the talented speakers and entertainers and story tellers of the contemporary religious system. They do this because they don't want to listen to The Light of the world.
demonstrates that the religious organizations that people call 'the church' or some version of that, are not doing what Joshua of Nazareth teaches.
For those who might be new in trying to follow Joshua of Nazareth (or those even trying to understand what it means to follow Joshua), the answer to this question about 'going to church' will seem ludicrous. If you have been exposed to Christianity, which claims to represent Joshua of Nazareth, you have been taught that the essence of being a Christian involves being a member of 'the church', attending its 'services' and somehow serving God through that organization.
But is this what Joshua of Nazareth actually teaches? In truth, it is not.
Let's start with the basics. The English word translated 'church' in the new testament is based on the Greek word transliterated 'ekklesia'. If one looks up that word in a Greek dictionary, one will find a definition that says something to the effect of 'the called out ones', plural. Some say the word carries with it an actual gathering or meeting of people, but this author's opinion is that the plurality of 'the called out ones' is sufficient.
What is absolutely certain is that the word itself does not mean - nor does it support the concepts of - a building, an organization, a leadership structure, religious or social programs, or a place to worship God.
What is equally certain, by knowing Joshua' other teachings, is that the 'out' that is referred to in ekklesia's definition of 'the called out ones' is the world.
"If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you." John 15:19
"I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." John 17:14
"For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil." (John 3:17-19)
And so the term "church" is defined by Joshua of Nazareth as his collective followers who are called out of the world. And yet Christians almost universally refer to 'the church' as the building on the corner where they go each Sunday to hear a clergyman give a speech, partake in rituals regarding 'the last supper', and sing songs about God.
Even at this basic level, there is error.
There is no commonality between what the word's actual definition is (and the context in which Joshua uses it as we will see shortly), and what Christian's say it means. Many Christian leaders of sects that say they are careful to follow the bible will say, 'oh, no, we know that the building is only the place where the church meets'. But even in these organizations, if you listen to the words of the people as they speak about 'the church' during the week, you will find that the normal usage of the term 'church' means the building, the clergy, the Sunday meeting, and the programs. This is because the world's 'church' is in fact the building, the clergy, the Sunday meeting and the other programs.
Sadly, the people of the religious organizations don't see themselves called out of anything (except perhaps gross moral sin), but rather called into a building for the weekly 'service' and a few good works that fit into their schedule. In fact, that building, leadership and organization is very much a part of the world, accepted by the world as a good thing in general. It is merely another religio-social organization no different than any other religious or social organizations. The government in the US even grants them a special tax status so that they don't have to give to 'Caesar what is Caesars' ie. pay their taxes!
How is it that a visible organization which is supposedly representing the kingdom of God is accepted and blessed by the world's governments? How does that fit in with all of Joshua' teachings that his called out ones will be hated, rejected and persecuted by the world?
It should be startling to the reader that Joshua of Nazareth, the one whom the Christian's say is the founder of 'the church', not only says very little about 'the church', but gives teachings that go against what 'the church' has come to stand for and practice.
Here is all that Joshua of Nazareth has to say about 'the church':
"I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it." Matthew 16:18
So here in the sixteenth chapter of the gospel of Matthew, Joshua simply says that Peter's confession of faith that Joshua of Nazareth is the promised Messiah is what Joshua will build his Family (called out ones) on the rock of himself and those who have true faith in him and confess him for who HE SAYS he is. He also says that the gates of hades will not overpower his called out ones, although it will obviously try, and perhaps come close to succeeding - please consider the following saying in that regard:
"When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:8
As you can plainly see in the Matt. 16 passage above, there are no buildings, clergy, programs or meeting there in those words of Joshua.
Let's look at the only other time Joshua uses the term 'ekklesia'.
"If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector." Matthew 18:17
In Matthew chapter 18, Joshua leaves his followers instructions on how to handle the situation of someone claiming to be a follower of Joshua, yet who continues in sin (harmful behavior that Joshua defines). Joshua gives a simple instruction of how to correct such a person. He says escalate the correction if the person doesn't respond to the correction of the originally offended person. If they don't respond, bring a few other followers with that original person. If they again don't respond to that, finally bring the matter before the whole little flock (God's Family) in that particular area ' the called out one's of Joshua. If they don't respond to the collective little flock's (church's)correction, then that person is to be put outside the Family and not trusted, even while they remain loved and witnessed to.
When Joshua says to bring them before the ekklesia, he is teaching that his followers will have a collective life of following him in any given geographical area - this is the little flock he teaches about elsewhere. However, how that gathering takes place - where it takes place, the format of the meeting, the place of the meeting, the details of how it is organized - and most important why it takes place - is where Christianity morph's (twists) this teaching of Joshua to fit their traditions. What is left after the traditions nullifying Joshua's teachings is merely another religious-based social club. One thing is for certain - this teaching of Joshua in Matt. 18 cannot reasonably and rationally be used to justify the buildings, clergy, the Sunday meeting (that contain no disciplinary actions) and programs. In fact those things are not taught by Joshua ANYWHERE in all his teachings addressing the kingdom of God and how his followers are to live, and he has many such teachings.
So, there you have it - all the teachings of Joshua of Nazareth on 'the church'.
And yet Joshua has many dozens of teachings regarding the kingdom of God and how his followers are to live while in the world. Many dozen's of teachings on eternal life - how one attains to, and remains in - eternal life. Yet only two statements about 'the church' and those two statements have nothing in common with how the term 'church' is currently defined in Christianity.
Does this trouble the reader at all?
Again, I hope this startles the reader, because if you listen to, have participated in, or watch Christianity and its words and practices regarding 'the church', you will see two things. First, that the actual meaning of the word ekklesia has been re-defined and twisted to mean something it is not. Instead of being the called out ones of Joshua ' called out of the world and its ways and called into the kingdom of God and living life differently than those around us - it has come to mean the building, clergy, Sunday meeting and programs...a religious social club.
Second, that Joshua of Nazareth cared little to teach about the called out ones collectively as the ekklesia, and thus he only does so twice. This is a great contrast to what Christianity makes of 'the church'.
Who are you going to believe, dear reader, Joshua or your religious leaders who say they represent 'Jesus Christ' even while they contradict the real, historical Joshua of Nazareth and practice their religious traditions which nullify his teachings?
"Many will come in my name and will deceive many." Matt. 24:5, 11
Just who exactly is Joshua warning his followers about in the above saying? Who are the "many" who come in his name? Certainly not the agnostics or atheists...
Who Should the Follower of Joshua of Nazareth Follow???
First and foremost, Joshua plainly teaches that he is to be his follower's only Teacher and Leader, Master and Lord. Please listen to him:
"But do not be called Teacher (Rabbi); for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, me. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted." (Matthew 23:8-12)
“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the churches and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your closet, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you." (Matt. 6:5-6)
"You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am." (John 13:13)
"I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd." (John 10:16)
"Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also." (John 15:20)
"But Joshua called them to himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave." (Matt. 20:25-27)
Very simple, dear reader, if you have ears to hear...
Truly be servant-like.
Do NOT exercise authority over one another.
Don't pray in public.
Is this what is represented in the Christian or bible based organization? In truth, no. But the deceit comes in the form of, 'Oh, but God told us through Paul that there are leaders in between Joshua and his followers'. For those not blinded by their religious bible dogma, that would obviously make those who believe that statement followers of Paul, since Paul directly contradicts Joshua on this most important matter. See The Stranger Paul. Or another favorite one is, 'oh, but my pastor is a great servant of all'. Really? First of all, who is he serving if he disobeys Joshua of Nazareth? If he or she disobeys Joshua, then clearly they are serving themselves or someone else to some degree.
When Joshua says his followers will have "One Shepherd/Pastor" that does NOT mean two, dear reader. In addition, at what time in history and in what culture did/do servant's stand up on a stage/pedestal and teach the people? Talk about turning something up-side-down on its head! If your shepherd/pastor is the lowest servant, why does he bless the hiring of the custodians to clean the toilets?! (and even if he did clean the toilets, that would not justify his disobeying Joshua's commands).
"I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd (Greek poimen)." (John 10:16)
How many shepherds, dear reader?
Isn't it interesting that translators at some point decided to translate the Greek transliterated term 'poimen' as 'shepherd' in John chapter 10, and as 'pastor' in Ephesians chapter 4:11. It is the same exact term used in both places and the contexts are the same - they are both talking about leadership. Now why would those translators do that? Perhaps because the Way was too narrow for them and they liked Paul more than Joshua? Perhaps faithfulness to their religious system or prior translation traditions? Whatever the reason, it is simply dishonest to translate the same Greek word used in the same or similar contexts, differently.
I ask again, how many shepherds will the followers of Joshua have? Joshua says 'one'. Paul - and the religion founded on his person and/or teachings (and the rest of the bible apart from Joshua' teachings), Christianity, - says 'millions'.
Who are you going to believe? To say both when they contradict each other is at best to be very confused and a person who does not care about what is true.
Moreover, if you believe Joshua, how could you attend an organization which openly has teachers, leaders and shepherds/pastors? If you are a new follower of Joshua, you would approach the organization's leaders and share Joshua's Words with them and ask them to turn away from their great error of usurping Joshua's roles of Teacher and Leader and instead follow Joshua. If they look at you like you are crazy, or belittle you as an ignorant laymen, then what are you going to do? Continue attending that religious organization that thus explicitly endorsing those leaders (by your participating in their teaching sessions) who not only refuse to obey Joshua' plain teaching, but who claim to represent him? How could you, in good conscience, listen to the Words of your Master be disobeyed under the guise of actually representing him? How could you participate in the deceiving of others?
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments." (John 14:15) says the Real Master.
Please dear reader, he mean's what he says, and to think we are "loving" people by watching his commands be contradicted and/or nullified by those who claim to represent him, is to be deceived. The Real Joshua of Nazareth never said it would be easy or pleasant to follow him - in fact, he said just the opposite. And the only Way we will have his joy and peace in our heart, is to have him, HIS words and HIS voice ONLY as our sole spiritual authority.
This one major contradiction would lead the sincere follower of Joshua to not participate in the Christian religious organizations (known as "the churches"). This should be especially true since he warns his followers plainly to not be deceived or misled by those who come in his name and claim to represent him.
And what about the very simple command given by Joshua for his followers not to pray publicly? Is that hard to understand? Didn't he make it perfectly clear when he said, "...and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you." What don't the Christians understand about "secret" or "go into your private closet"??? Well, when Joshua's teachings don't fit into the traditions of men or when they get in the way of the religious leaders controlling the people, it needs to be explained away or ignored.
The most important teaching of Joshua of Nazareth regarding how his followers ought to be living and behaving is love.
Joshua defines love as selfless behavior motivated by a heart of compassion. He never defines love as feelings, emotions, romance, sexuality, etc. Those are all the SUBSTITUTES people use instead of Real Love.
Joshua' most important command to his followers regarding love is this:
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, IF you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35)
How did Joshua love his first followers? He spent each day with them, helping them with life's problems. He shared all the material things he had with them, since they all had the same Father. He guided them into the Truth, which was himself. He served them by helping them each day (even washing their feet). And finally, he laid down his physical life for his friends in order to do two very important things. First, to demonstrate he and his Fathers love for them and thus show them the Way Home. Second, to pay the ransom so that they might be set free from the darkness and instead walk in and after the Light.
So, just how is the local Christian/bible religious organization's members living out the love that Joshua taught and demonstrated? Through the several times a week meetings? By paying 10 percent of their income to pay the staff's wages and overhead of running the business/organization? Just how much is the pastor/shepherd involved in the daily lives of those he says he shepherds?
The contrast between the love Joshua taught, lived and demonstrated and the love the Christians have for one another is great for those with eyes to see. Truly, the love of most has grown cold.
Is the Christian organization significantly different that the local synagogue or the local mosque? Is it significantly different than the social/religious clubs like the masons or the elks lodge or the knights of Columbus? The Christians will vehemently say, very different'. But what they mean by that is their doctrine and beliefs about things - which doctrines and beliefs have virtually no bearing on how they live their lives - is different.
In truth, the Christian's lives are not significantly different from "non-believers" or other religious people, only what they say they believe.
How sad the difference between reality and how Joshua says it ought to be.
Why, dear reader, would you want to participate in empty, cold, shallow, hypocritical religion when you could be part of the Father's Family instead? (See Becoming the Family). Please, dear reader, ask yourself that question. Are you really going to try and convince yourself that your religious social organization's people are truly sharing each other's lives like actual brothers and sisters and caring for each other in daily life?
In fact, it would be better to be alone than part of that which make's one's heart hard by practicing hypocrisy.
For a more thorough explanation of love, see What is Love?
Sadly, Christianity as well as its messianic brethren, very much like their mutually self-serving system. They choose, hire and bless their leaders who essentially tell them they are accepted by God if they believe a certain set of doctrine and if they participate in the organization's meetings and rituals - or at least give them money to support and run it. And of course the leaders are only too glad to tell the people what they want to hear and at the same time be provided a living by making weekly speeches called, 'sermons' or 'the teaching of God's Word' or some other such label. Their leaders also very much like having people say to them in the market place, 'oh, pastor, minister, reverend, bishop' ad nausea. They also get the seats of honor at all the important life events like baby christenings, marriages and funerals - heck, most even get paid for presiding over those events they are so esteemed! Of course many of their leaders actually think they are helping the people of their flock by substituting for the Good Shepherd, but oh how horribly deceived they are. They think that their counsel to their members is wise and good as it comes from 'a calling', experience, education, or 'God's Word' ' all the while they ignore the most important person and teachings of the real and living Word or only repeat the teachings that can be twisted to allow people to continue loving their life in this world.
Please listen to what Joshua calls those leaders who accept money to 'pastor the flock':
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep." (John 10:11-13)
For those willing to receive it, Joshua calls all men who usurp his role of the 'One Good Shepherd' and accept money to do so, 'hirelings'. And what does he say of the hireling? That when real trouble comes, you can expect him or her to say, 'well, it's been good knowing you, I'll pray for you, trust in the Lord!' When it really comes to laying down their literal life for you, they will run...they will fail, because they love themselves and their life in the world more than they love you. This is why the Real Joshua of Nazareth is the only true "good Shepherd". He will not fail you for he already proved his love for his people by laying down his life for them. Only the faithful Shepherd can lead you to his Father and Life eternal IF you are willing to "listen to HIM" (Matt. 17:5).
Pointing out the other rituals and traditions of men which nullify Joshua and his teachings under the guise of 'the church' will not help the reader, if the reader is not willing to receive the critically important one's above.
If a person brings this article (even though it is based on the teachings of Joshua) to their religious leader(s) for his/her consideration, what they will typically hear is a psychologically based defense. It goes something like this - 'oh my, where did you get that sad (or confused or even silly) article? You know there is a lot of junk on the internet. The person who wrote that article is very bitter and probably had a bad experience with a church. The only thing you will learn from bitter people is to be bitter yourself, and you don't want to be a bitter, negative or judgmental person, do you?'
If a person just brings the teachings of Joshua' in this article to their religious leaders, then they will hear the usual nullification, 'oh, he doesn't mean that, he means...', as the religious leader explains away simple and basic teachings of Joshua that would require significant life changes that neither the religious leader nor his her followers are willing to do.
Notice how the former in the previous paragraph is a personal attack on the article's author without any reasoned arguments regarding the article's contents. The response does not deal with the content of the article, nor the points which the article makes. Rather, it attributes bad characteristics or motivations to the article's author and then suggests that the person who shared the article with them might have the same characteristics. It also suggests that all content on the internet is junk or at least unreliable. A very clever way to avoid the truths in this article. After all, who wants to be 'bitter, negative or judgmental'? Or who wants to be the sucker believing everything they read on the internet?
So, dear reader, you have a choice of the voice or voices you listen to, and you must make the judgments as to what is true and what is false. You also need to know that you will be held responsible for those decisions and judgments you make in response to the Light's truths in this article. We all get to choose our after-death destiny, and our choices will be openly evaluated and judged by the Light.
If you have the Light and his teachings as your standard to judge truth, then you will know that the following Words come from the true and living God.
"Many false prophets (those who claim to speak for God or claim to represent God) will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased (Joshua is the 'Law-giver' of love), most people's love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved." (Matthew 24:11-13)
"I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to little children." (Matthew 11:25)
"For many are called, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:14)
"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)
"For false anointed ones and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect." (Matthew 24:24)
"He who has ears to hear, let him hear." (Matthew 11:15)
Are YOU, dear reader, willing to trade Life Everlasting for some empty and easy religion?
Are YOU going to continue 'going to church' even though you know at some level it does not match up with the truth in this article or on this web site, which truths are simply repeated from the one who says, "I am the truth". Does this saying of the Light concern you, "He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day."?
You say, "I don't reject Jesus" even while you don't listen to nor do what he says or you substitute other people for the real Joshua of Nazareth???
So, dear reader, how exactly are you living out the new command? Do you even know what the "new command" is? Is it not true that you only learned about it from this web site where I repeat it many dozens of times? Are you sure he is 'your lord' when you don't care enough to actually read and consider Joshua's teachings? Are you SURE you are not deceived and misled?
Let's repeat it again, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."