• Let My People Go!
Let My People Go!
Outreach Letters

Let My People Go!

  • Let My People Go!

Let My People Go!

The Christian system is a prison. Worse than that, it is a deceptive prison, for it offers ‘protective custody’ to those who were once the devil’s captives – whereas Jesus came to set them free.

When Jesus came into this world, He emphatically did not come to the heathen, and He went to great pains to make that clear. He had a specific mandate from His Father and He was determined to carry it out.

His mission was to the only people on the face of the earth who could truly claim the title ‘God’s people’. But Jesus also gave them another title. He called them ‘the lost sheep of the house of Israel’.

Why? Why did Jesus classify them, of all people, as lost? After all, as He himself admitted, they were the house of Israel. To acknowledge that and then, in the same breath, refer to them as lost was surely a contradiction in terms.

How could the Israelites be lost sheep when they, of all this earth’s dwellers, possessed and observed God’s law and the writings of His revered prophets? And were not they, and they alone, the very ones who dwelt in the one place on earth where God had promised to make His presence known: the land of Israel with the holy city of Jerusalem at its heart? What’s more, they were the children of Abraham, the friend of God, and as such were the inheritors of the great promises given by God to their illustrious forefather, How could the privileged descendants of Abraham be lost sheep to God?

Yet that’s how Jesus saw them. God’s people, yes, but unloved, uncared for, deprived, used and abused. Not by ‘the world, the flesh and the devil’ but by the religious system which was supposed to set them free but had, instead, become their prison; and by the men who should have been their shepherds but were, instead, their jailers.

On the occasion when He first publicly related His calling to the scripture, Jesus chose a passage from the book of Isaiah. Standing before the congregation in the synagogue at Nazareth, His home town, He opened the scroll and read out these words:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

Fine words, till Jesus fixed His listeners with a steady eye and went on to say: “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”. He was the very one Isaiah had spoken of all those centuries before, the one anointed by the Spirit of God to perform such wonderful works in the lives of people. Do I hear some amens from the Christians? Then meditate on this also: This same Jesus, anointed as He was for this very purpose, equated the poor, the prisoners, the blind and the oppressed, not with the heathen in Africa nor with the drug-crazed addict in New York, not even with your average, everyday, unsaved, non- Christian. So far as Jesus was concerned the neediest people on the face of the earth were also the devoted adherents of the most correct, God-centred religious system in existence!

Jesus died for the whole world, yes, and it’s certainly true that ‘whosoever will may come’ to Him and be saved. But let’s get this absolutely straight: Jesus came for and to the people of God for they were as sheep being fleeced and slaughtered by those who were supposed to be their shepherds. The very men who claimed to be leading them into God’s ways had so perverted those same ways that God had to send his Son to liberate His people from their religious prison.

And what have the guardians of the Christian faith done since those days when Jesus came to God’s people as their God-sent liberator? Have they carried on what He began? Have they faithfully and selflessly continued to lead all who seek God along the path of life and liberty, spurning the very thought of once again constructing religious prisons? Have they seen the care and leadership of God’s people as a sacred charge? Have they, as good shepherds, emulated the Good Shepherd in laying down their lives for God’s sheep? The record, alas, is not a happy one.

For an ever-so-brief period after He left them, the followers of Jesus succeeded in keeping His way (which, in those days of the Early Church, was often referred to as The Way) from becoming another religious system. But how brief that time was. As surely as it gained ground and popularity, so Christianity became just that: Christianity. It was no longer The Way of Jesus. That was too nebulous for those who love to control the hearts and minds of men. Instead it emerged as Christianity the System. In no time it grew into The Holy Roman Empire, dominating the hearts, minds and lives of millions – a huge prison indeed. And to this present day the Christian system continues to spawn many more such prisons, both large and small.

There have, of course, been numerous spiritual movements, revivals and reformations throughout the history of the Church. These have occurred whenever the Spirit of God has found hearts crying out to be set free from man’s religious ways, who longed instead to walk in his way. God always hears such cries and he never fails to respond. But the eventual outcome of such revival movements – even the greatest of them – has, in time, proved to be but a repetition of the same old Antichrist scenario.

What’s that? Did I say antichrist? Yes I did. And, what’s more, I meant it. That word, which conjures up all sorts of ugly visions in the minds of many Christians has, unfortunately, been much misunderstood. After all, what does ‘antichrist’ literally mean? It is, in fact, a straightforward combination of two Greek words. Contrary to our normal English usage, ‘anti’, does not mean ‘in opposition to’, rather it means ‘in place of’. The term ‘antichrist’, then, simply means that which is put in the place of Christ. It refers not to that which opposes Christ – the ‘Anointed One of God’ – but to that which replaces Him.

An antichrist is a substitute Christ. To put it more graphically, an antichrist is a counterfeit Christ, and no counterfeiter worth his salt produces anything that is not eminently convincing. Can you imagine the devil’s substitute for God’s real thing being any less plausible than a cleverly counterfeited banknote?

Again and again throughout history, whenever God has moved through men to lead his people into life, love and liberty, an ‘anti’ or substitute way has soon sprung up – not from outside but, rather, from within the move of God. Remember, this is not an ‘opposition party’. It is to all appearances authentically of God and it is always at the very centre of ‘the real thing’.

The fact that such substitutes succeed so well in luring away so many from the way of Jesus, is evidence in itself of what effective counterfeits they are. For them to succeed it is imperative that their authenticity cannot be faulted.

Because Jesus – once incarnate in one human body – is now intended to be seen and known in the Body which is His Church, a convincing antichrist must also come in such a body. So, instead of trying to identity ‘the spirit of antichrist’ as some sinister, Christ-hating individual, I suggest you look for the plausible counterfeit – that body which appears to be the Body of Christ. But remember, that counterfeit body will be recognised not by its words or its works (for they will be very convincing) but by its fruit. Just as Jesus said it would.

Like it or not, we are faced with a consistent and frightening human tendency: that of taking God’s word, God’s ways, God’s desires and – worst of all – God’s people and creating a perversion which makes God’s truth into a lie, declares the commandments of men to be the commandments of God, and turns God’s people into captives instead of free men.

Freedom, though, is not always attractive, for it brings with it responsibilities, choices and risks which are not always palatable to ex-prisoners. And many of us come into that category. We know what it is to be in the devil’s prison and we also know what it means to be delivered out of that prison by Jesus.

So what went wrong?

Well, to start with, prison was all we knew. We were unfamiliar with the trappings of freedom, even though it looked so attractive when we were in prison. So we were susceptible.

No sooner, then, were we out of the devil’s prison than the keepers of the Christian penitentiary came along rattling their keys and telling us how they had a wonderful place prepared for us. It wasn’t punitive like that other prison, it was more a matter of “protective custody”.

Not bad really, after all prison does have its good points You get three meals a day, you’re spared many of the difficulties and dangers of life on the ‘outside’ and your responsibilities, and the anxieties which accompany them, are greatly diminished. It does have its attractions. Only in the case of the Christian prison nobody tells you the price of the benefits.

The Christian system promises riches but creates poverty. It promises freedom but imprisons its adherents, It promises revelation but creates blindness. It promises liberty but brings oppression. Because it has its roots in, and draws its credibility from, that which truly is of God – not least of which is Jesus himself – it is also under the greatest of judgements.

Believe me when I say that the judgement reserved for apostate, antichrist, Christianity is far greater and more dreadful than that which will be meted out to the Communists or to the most immoral of men.

“Woe to you!” cried Jesus to the hypocritical religious leaders, “You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are!” If you think a zeal to win souls is the same thing as Godliness, think again. They didn’t come more zealous than the Pharisees!

The system – any man-made, freedom depriving system, be it Communism or Christianity – has to keep making converts. It is a prison that must be filled a monster with a voracious appetite, and to maintain its momentum and its success it needs new blood. But the Christian system has a distinct advantage: it has God’s free gift to offer, and it’s a gift that works. What cleverer and subtler way can there be to misrepresent Jesus and to enslave His people than to ensnare them with God’s soul-saving free gift? It’s like using an expensive fillet steak to trap a wild animal. The steak is authentic, but it’s still a trap.

It’s not what’s on offer that counts, but who’s offering it!

Jesus knew that the system He spoke against was wrong because He knew the hearts and motives of the men who ran it. Their fruit was there for all to see – provided, of course, one could see through the smokescreen of frenetic activity, Bible-knowledge, prayer, fasting and spiritual superiority. An effective smokescreen indeed, and one which is especially successful in deceiving the young, the tender, the impressionable and the sincere. All of whom so readily become grist for the Christian mill.

Not a pretty sight, – is it? God’s lost sheep being sought with zeal by those whose real aim is to ensnare and imprison them. But there is a bright side, for God knows those who are truly His and He is committed to their liberation.

But which ones are truly His? Certainly not the merely born again, nor even the spirit-filled. God seeks those who are His not because He has blessed them but because they choose to love Him. His heart goes out to these who freely give themselves to Him. He responds to those who value Him, not his benefits and blessings. Though there were literally thousands who followed Jesus – temporarily – because of what He did for them, there was but a mere handful who gave themselves to Him.

He alone knows who, among the many prisoners of Christianity, are reaching out and giving themselves to Him in love. But rest assured that they are the ones He intends to set free. And it is on their behalf that He cries out to their self-seeking jailers: