Is Leaderless Christianity Possible?

Is leaderless Christianity possible?  Yes, if by “leader” we mean popes, bishops, pastors, elders, denominational heads or any other human leaders.  None of these human leaders are necessary for the exercise of true Christianity as presented in the Bible.  The only leader that Christianity needs is Jesus Christ.

The apostles of the New Testament refused to be treated as leaders.  Instead, they presented themselves as servants.  They kept pointing to the One who was greater than they.  Anyone who speaks in the name of Christ today should walk according to that pattern.  If anyone speaking in the name of Christ tries to exercise authority over you in any way, reject them.  Christ alone is the leader of His people.

If you would be a true Christian, follow Jesus Christ.  He is Lord.  Do His will.  The kingdoms of men will fail; the kingdom of God endures forever.

Bible notes on this post.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ for those who want to hear about Him without having to join a church, organization, mailing list, or anything else other than Him.

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84 Responses to Is Leaderless Christianity Possible?

  1. Nicholasmyra says:

    So you do not believe that there should be any leadership in Christianity whatsoever? Why, then, did the apostles appoint successors?

  2. Nicholasmyra says:

    So do you think that Paul of Tarsus warped the teachings of Christ?

  3. Nicholasmyra says:

    St. Paul said in his letter to the Philippians that St. Clement of Rome was “written in the Book of Life”. St. Clement of Rome wrote:

    “The Apostles received the Gospel for us from the Lord Jesus
    Christ; Jesus Christ was sent forth from God.

    So then Christ is from God, and the Apostles are from Christ. Both
    therefore came of the will of God in the appointed order.

    Having therefore received a charge, and having been fully assured
    through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and confirmed in
    the word of God with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went
    forth with the glad tidings that the kingdom of God should come.

    So preaching everywhere in country and town, they appointed their
    firstfruits, when they had proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops
    and deacons unto them that should believe.

    And this they did in no new fashion; for indeed it had been written
    concerning bishops and deacons from very ancient times; for thus
    saith the scripture in a certain place, I will appoint their
    bishops in righteousness and their deacons in faith.”

    Why would someone whose name is written in the Book of Life also be a liar and an apostate?

    • Mike Gantt says:

      Whether the Clement Paul mentioned ever so briefly in his letter to Philippi (Philippians 4:3) is the same St. Clement of Rome who wrote 1 Clement, I do not know.

      As for 1 Clement, it is indeed an interesting letter. It comes from the first post-apostolic generation and it asserts that church leaders inherited the apostles’ authority – something that the apostles never indicated in their letters. In fact, the coming of the Lord in His kingdom was the impending event to which the apostles consistently pointed their readers, and all the more so as the day was drawing nearer. By contrast, 1 Clement, which by all logic should have been utterly screaming about the imminence of that day, is strangely silent on the subject. I can only conclude that what happened in that generation was what the Lord and His apostles said would happen. That is, in the last days, especially as the apostles were dying for the faith, apostasy took hold in the churches and “a generation arose that knew not Joseph.”

      The Lord and His apostles were clear about two things: 1) the coming of the Lord would occur in their generation, and 2) an apostasy would come in the church just before the end. Whether the writer of 1 Clement was part of that apostasy or merely a victim of it, I am in no position to say. What I can say is that the New Testament lays no groundwork for apostolic succession as it is taught and practiced in the church.

  4. Nicholasmyra says:

    Many Messianic Jews, for example, and other protestant groups, believe that St. Paul messed things up. That’s the only reason I asked.

  5. Nicholasmyra says:

    But here you have the bible itself telling you that a man [Clement] is trustworthy. Shouldn’t we believe him?

    • Mike Gantt says:

      I will believe him as long as he doesn’t say something contrary to what the apostles say.

      As I mentioned before, I do not know whether the Clement of Philippians 4:3 is the Clement of Rome who wrote 1 Clement. But even if it is, consider this: Paul also affirmed Titus and sent him to minister to the churches. Yet later on, Paul had to sadly acknowledge that Titus had deserted him. Just because one is faithful in the beginning does not mean he will be faithful in the end.

      Paul wrote to the churches in Galatia warning them that “even though we…should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” Thus he declared that we should believe what the apostles preached…even if one of them subsequently preached contrary to it!

      The gospel as presented in the Bible is eternal. It cannot be changed. The Lord promised to return in that generation. He could not have lied.

  6. Nicholasmyra says:

    Where did he promise to return in that generation?

  7. Nicholasmyra says:

    In the Book of Acts, Luke writes: “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you bishops, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

    And in Philippians, Paul writes: “Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the bishops and deacons.”

    And in Timothy: “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A Bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)”

    And in Corinthians, Paul speaks regarding himself: “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

    • Mike Gantt says:

      In the Book of Acts, Luke writes: “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you bishops, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

      In this passage Luke is quoting Paul who goes on to say in the very next sentence, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” He is speaking of the apostasy that he also spoke of in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 and that Jesus had foretold in Matthew 24:10-12.

      And in Philippians, Paul writes: “Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the bishops and deacons.”

      I haven’t denied that the apostles appointed elders and deacons in the churches. Of course, they did. I’m saying that these roles existed to serve the churches until the Lord came in His kingdom. The churches were preparatory to the kingdom. That’s why, for example, Peter told the elders to be prepared to hand over leadership to the Lord – not other elders (1 Peter 5:4).

      And in Timothy: “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A Bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)”

      As I’ve said, the apostles appointed elders to help prepare the people for the coming of the Lord – not to rule over the people in case the Lord did not come. By the way, continue reading this passage and you will see that Paul speaks again of the apostasy that would occur in the “later times.”

      And in Corinthians, Paul speaks regarding himself: “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

      I’m not sure of the point you are trying to make by quoting this verse. The apostles had a unique role. They were commissioned by the Lord Himself as witnesses to the resurrection. That’s not the kind of role that can be delegated or passed on. You never hear the apostles speaking of needing successors for the coming generations; rather, you hear them speaking of the soon coming of the Lord.

  8. Nicholasmyra says:

    Clement is from the Apostolic era, not the post-apostolic. He, too, awaited the swift coming of the Lord.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      Clement is not from the apostolic era, for if he were, then 1 Clement would be part of the New Testament. Inclusion in the New Testament canon was a matter of whether or not a document was either written by, or had the blessing of, an apostle. Clement was of that first generation that followed the apostles.

      I’ve read 1 Clement and can recall no sense of urgency about the coming of the Lord. Rather, it speaks of submission to church leaders which sounds Nicolaitan (Revelation 2:6, 15). Again, I’m not casting stones at the writer because I don’t know if he was a perpetrator or victim of this doctrine. We are all certainly victims of it today. The very brother of Moses fell victim to this sort of spirit when he fainted in the wait for Moses to come down. Alas, it’s an all-too-human failing.

  9. NicholasMyra says:

    There are many verses in the New Testament that refer to the appointment of Bishops and deacons to shepherd the faithful.

    As for St. Clement, he is not post-apostolic, he is apostolic. He, too, looked forward to the swift coming of the Lord.

    What makes you think that “the coming of the Lord would occur in their generation”? Can you prove the occurrence of a Great Apostasy from facts, or are you just automatically assuming that the Church apostatized around 100 AD because all extra-biblical documents (plus the bible itself, but that’s another story) go against what you believe?

    • Mike Gantt says:

      There are many verses in the New Testament that refer to the appointment of Bishops and deacons to shepherd the faithful.

      I quite agree and have stated so in my responses to your questions above. As I’ve said, however, the bishops and deacons were appointed to help in the preparation for the coming of the Lord, not to stay in charge if the Lord failed to keep His promise.

      As for St. Clement, he is not post-apostolic, he is apostolic. He, too, looked forward to the swift coming of the Lord.

      As I’ve said, no one in those days saw Clement as being among the apostles for if they had, his letter(s) would be part of the New Testament (as is Luke’s who was an associate of Paul). Practically every generation of church leaders since that time has repeated the refrain of the apostles that the coming of the Lord is nigh. However, this belies the fact that the origial promise spoke of no such potential delay. On the contrary, the apostles kept saying His coming was soon. Revelation alone says it twice in the first chapter and five times in the last! 1 John says it was then “the last hour” (1 John 2:18). And so on. By the time Clement wrote he should have been testifying that the Lord indeed had come.

      What makes you think that “the coming of the Lord would occur in their generation”? Can you prove the occurrence of a Great Apostasy from facts, or are you just automatically assuming that the Church apostatized around 100 AD because all extra-biblical documents (plus the bible itself, but that’s another story) go against what you believe?

      I’ve given numerous New Testament verses that speak of the coming of the Lord in that generation. No one can read the New Testament with an open mind and come away with any other conclusion but that Jesus and the apostles believed they were living in the end times. Indeed they were – we’ve just misunderstood what they meant. It was the end of one age and the dawn of another. We live in that new age: called, among other things, the day of the Lord. Therefore, I believe that we live in the day of Christ because of Scripture and because of history.

      The Jews don’t believe their Messiah came and the Christians don’t believe He came again. They are two unwitting witnesses that He has done both, for their Scriptures (the Old Testament and the New Testament) testify to the faithfulness of God. Praise be to God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, who is faithful to keep all His promises!

  10. NicholasMyra says:

    What year did the Lord return for his Second Coming?

    • Mike Gantt says:

      I don’t know. It had to have been after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. based on the sequence of events Jesus laid out in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21). By this time, of course, it was almost 40 years after the resurrection. So it could not have been too much longer after that before His generation would be said to have passed away. Recall also that He said no man knew the day or hour. Therefore, I simply say it occurred sometime late in the 1st Century A.D.

  11. NicholasMyra says:

    “Matthew 16:28”

    The Apostles saw the Son of Man coming into his Kingdom on Mt. Tabor when they witnessed the uncreated presence of God himself, and they saw Him coming into his Kingdom on the Cross.

    You don’t need to believe that this is synonymous with the Second Coming unless you are willing to ignore 1970 years of people who were martyred for Christ and who kept the true faith, and trust only in yourself and your novel interpretation.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      “Matthew 16:28″ The Apostles saw the Son of Man coming into his Kingdom on Mt. Tabor when they witnessed the uncreated presence of God himself, and they saw Him coming into his Kingdom on the Cross.

      If that constituted His coming why did the apostles subsequently ask Him (in Matthew 24:3) “What will be the sign of Your coming?”

      You don’t need to believe that this is synonymous with the Second Coming unless you are willing to ignore 1970 years of people who were martyred for Christ and who kept the true faith, and trust only in yourself and your novel interpretation.

      I only believe this is synonymous with the Second Coming because it’s what the Lord taught and what the apostles believed.

      Martyrs for Christ bear witness to Him and we all should honor them for that.

  12. NicholasMyra says:

    “Clement is not from the apostolic era, for if he were, then 1 Clement would be part of the New Testament. Inclusion in the New Testament canon was a matter of whether or not a document was either written by, or had the blessing of, an apostle. Clement was of that first generation that followed the apostles.”

    Being part of the apostolic era does not mean that your writing was included in the NT canon. It means that you were a co-worker of the Apostles and lived during their time.

    The New Testament canon was not fixed until generations after the Apostles, and for generations before this, Revelation and 2 Peter were excluded, while the Shepherd of Hermas and 1 Clement were often included. Christ didn’t give us a book to guide us, he gave us a Body.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      Being part of the apostolic era does not mean that your writing was included in the NT canon. It means that you were a co-worker of the Apostles and lived during their time.

      Clement of Rome, along with Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna, were considered to have had contact with the apostles and therefore provide a link between the apostolic generation and those generations that followed. However, while 1 Clement was read in some of the churches along with other non-apostolic letters, it was never considered apostolic (as were Mark, Luke, and Acts which were written by co-workers of the apostles) and therefore never included in the New Testament canon.

      The New Testament canon was not fixed until generations after the Apostles, and for generations before this, Revelation and 2 Peter were excluded, while the Shepherd of Hermas and 1 Clement were often included.

      While the canon may not have been fixed until later, apostolic authenticity was known from the beginning and this is why 1 Clement was never included among those documents. You are right about Revelation and 2 Peter being accepted later than the other apostolic documents among all the churches. However, when they were finally and fully accepted, it was because of their apostolic authenticity – a distinction that Shepherd of Hermas and 1 Clement never attained. No apostle could have approved of 1 Clement because they were probably all dead by the time it was written.

      Christ didn’t give us a book to guide us, he gave us a Body.

      And where is this body? Oh, do you mean the body that has been dismembered into over 30,000 different denominations? And to which piece of this body do we go for guidance?

      By contrast, the Book you disregard has but one message…and it is Jesus Christ our Lord. That is, our Leader.

  13. NicholasMyra says:

    “I haven’t denied that the apostles appointed elders and deacons in the churches. Of course, they did. I’m saying that these roles existed to serve the churches until the Lord came in His kingdom. The churches were preparatory to the kingdom.”

    So when did this phase end? 90 AD? 100 AD? 33 AD? Some other strange extrapolation of numbers from biblical prophecy?

  14. NicholasMyra says:

    “the apostles believed they were living in the end times”

    Yes, they did. But as Peter says, “a day to God is 1000 Years.”

    • Mike Gantt says:

      Do you interpret Peter’s sentence as contradicting all that which the Lord, Peter, and all the apostles had taught about their living in the end times? If so, I think Peter would be aghast at your interpretation. ‘

      Peter goes on in that passage to say specifically that the Lord was “not slow about His promise” and that He would indeed come, as He Himself had promised, “like a thief in the night.” Indeed, that’s just how it happened.

  15. NicholasMyra says:

    So you think that sometime in the late first century, Jesus returned? What did he do when he returned?

  16. NicholasMyra says:

    “And where is this body? Oh, do you mean the body that has been dismembered into over 30,000 different denominations? And to which piece of this body do we go for guidance?”

    Why, to the one that’s right, of course! 😉

  17. NicholasMyra says:

    If Jesus has already returned, what do you make of these past 1900 years of history?

  18. NicholasMyra says:

    When will the eschaton occur? The end of history?

  19. NicholasMyra says:

    “I appreciate the humor, but after the laugh, what have you got?”

    Do you acknowledge that you interpret the bible according to a particular hermeneutic every time you read it, or do you believe that you are simply “reading the bible” when you come to these conclusions about the second coming and apostolic succession?

    • Mike Gantt says:

      I did not bring these conclusions to the Bible; the Bible brought me to these conclusions.

      (By the way, you didn’t answer my question.)

  20. NicholasMyra says:

    I can’t answer it until you provide proof of the great apostasy, I’m afraid.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      30,000 and counting divisions in the church of the type that Paul condemned so severely in 1 Corinthians 1-3 is not sufficient evidence of apostasy for you?

  21. NicholasMyra says:

    No, because that only means 30,000 groups have schismed away from the one undivided Body of Christ. Early schismatics and heretics are mentioned in the writings of St. John: They are called Docetists, and “denied that the Christ came in the flesh”. By their deliberate heresy and schism, they cut themselves off from the Body of Christ; but they did not divide it.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      So, over 30,000 groups, and innumerable non-denominational churches, “have schismed away from the one undivided Body of Christ.” Who then, or where then, is this true body of Christ?

  22. NicholasMyra says:

    Well, the one that has not changed the faith “once for all delivered to the saints.”

    The faith of The Apostles;

    The faith of the disciples of the Apostles; see the disciples of St. John for example.

    The faith of their disciples, and their disciples, and theirs, and theirs, and theirs, unto over 100 generations.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      I cannot think of a single one of the over 30,000 Christian denominations and the innumerable nondenominational churches who do not think this about themselves.

  23. NicholasMyra says:

    That is why one must examine the claims!

    • Mike Gantt says:

      You are saying that the soul who seeks Jesus must examine the claims over 30,000 Christian denominations and the innumerable nondenominational churches to find the one true body of the Lord?

      The Bible says, “Seek the Lord,” but you are saying, “Seek the church.”

  24. ordinis@gmail.com says:

    The Bible also says that the Church is the Pillar and Ground of Truth. To seek the Lord is to seek his body.

    And no, you can use those pesky interpretive grids you deny the existence of to narrow down your search.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      The Bible also says that the Church is the Pillar and Ground of Truth.

      It also says that Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship, but those times are past and the kingdom of God is here now. It replaced the church as the pillar and ground of the truth just as the church replaced Israel as the pillar and ground of the truth (John 4:20-24).

      To seek the Lord is to seek his body.

      On the contrary, to seek the Lord is to seek His kingdom (Matthew 6:33).

      And no, you can use those pesky interpretive grids you deny the existence of to narrow down your search.

      Interpretation of Scripture is not a matter of human will but of revelation by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21).

  25. ordinis@gmail.com says:

    If everyone who interprets is led by the Holy Spirit, there wouldn’t be 30,000 denominations.

    No scripture is of any private interpretation.

  26. ordinis@gmail.com says:

    And scripture is never supposed to be interpreted privately, nor individually. In fact, salvation is impossible to individuals, because God at his core is relational.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      Then why did Jesus say “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me”? If you as an individual do not love the individual God more than you love other individuals then you are not worthy of Him. God wants a personal relationship with every single person. He stopped dealing with groups with the old covenant gave way to the new.

  27. ordinis@gmail.com says:

    No-one is saved alone. God did not stop dealing with groups. He opened the vine up to anyone who wants to graft on; the New Israel is open to all mankind, but it is still a people.

    And “loving other individuals more than God” has nothing to do with being saved alongside others. You are setting up false dichotomies that make no sense.

  28. ordinis@gmail.com says:

    So Jesus forces everyone to be in heaven with Him? Jesus forces communion with himself on people?

    So much for “made in Our image” and “free will”, I suppose.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      Did God’s “forcing” us to be on earth in this life deprive us of free will in this life? Since it obviously didn’t, how can His “forcing” us to be in heaven for the afterlife deprive us of free will there?

  29. ordinis@gmail.com says:

    If you declare that universalism must occur, then you take away human free will and turn God into a rapist.

  30. NicholasMyra says:

    Heaven isn’t some far off land of paradise like the Muslims believe.

    Heaven is the very presence of God himself, and communion with Him. And if one hates God, then one will not want to be in communion with Him.

    Therefore, your god forces people into communion with Him, or forces people to choose him. One of the two.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      I’ve never studied the Muslim conception of heaven, so I don’t know how to comment on that.

      As for the biblical conception of heaven, it is, among other things, a vast expanse. When we find ourselves there, some of us will be closer to God than others of us. The degree of intimacy we enjoy with Him there will be a function of the love we have shown Him here.

  31. NicholasMyra says:

    If you believe that the physical resurrection of the dead is only a temporary phase, after which all of mankind will become disembodied spirits living in a far-off created place of spirit heaven, you are no better than the Gnostics. At least the Gnostics were consistent.

  32. NicholasMyra says:

    Ok, well that’s good.

  33. NicholasMyra says:

    “I’ve never studied the Muslim conception of heaven, so I don’t know how to comment on that.

    As for the biblical conception of heaven, it is, among other things, a vast expanse. When we find ourselves there, some of us will be closer to God than others of us. The degree of intimacy we enjoy with Him there will be a function of the love we have shown Him here.”

    But there’s no way to reject God?

    • Mike Gantt says:

      Who in heaven would want to reject God? The only reason anyone rejects Him here on earth is because of the blindness that sin can bring. Once we die, we leave this world…and the blinders come off.

  34. NicholasMyra says:

    “I’ve never studied the Muslim conception of heaven, so I don’t know how to comment on that.”

    “As for the biblical conception of heaven, it is, among other things, a vast expanse.”

    “The heavens” are a vast expanse. Unless you’re a Mormon who’s hoping for their own planet after death, descriptions of the firmament do not literally represent heaven.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      I’m not a Mormon. I’m just a person who can’t imagine heaven as small and confining.

      Moreover, descriptions of the firmament don’t have to literally represent heaven if they figuratively represent them.

  35. NicholasMyra says:

    Heaven and Hell are the same place: In the presence of God.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      Indeed, on this earth in this life there are some who acknowledge the presence of God and live in His kingdom while others walk by, denying the knowledge of God, and they experience hell. However, when people die there is only one place for all of them to go: up.

  36. NicholasMyra says:

    And that teaching is a clear departure from the apostolic faith, which has always affirmed man’s ability to choose or reject God.

    If Hell becomes impossible for man to experience “when people die” (I assume by this that you mean resurrection bodies are mortal and not immortal), as you say, then there is no ability to reject God. This means that God either pre-destined all men to eventually choose him, or that he removes man’s capacity not to choose him at some point. Both of these theories deny man’s free will and man’s creation in the image and likeness of God.

  37. Mike Gantt says:

    Our resurrection bodies are immortal, not mortal.

    No man in his right mind would choose a pit of flames over life with God. That people reject God in this life is a sign that they are not in their right minds. He who dies, however, is freed from the blinding power of sin (Romans 6:7). That is, in the life to come, no one rejects God. Many, however, will regret the way they lived on earth.

  38. NicholasMyra says:

    I disagree. Many of us choose a pit of flames over life with God every day. Hell is the presence of God to those who hate him, it is not a created place of suffering and torment.

  39. Mike Gantt says:

    “Hell is the presence of God to those who hate him, it is not a created place of suffering and torment.”

    This is a statement with which I can begin to agree. I think our only remaining difference then would be that I see it as a condition of this life, not the next.

  40. NicholasMyra says:

    There will be a new heaven and a new earth; we will not be resurrected in a far off land called heaven, but Christ will unite heaven and earth and his Kingdom shall have no end.

    You seem to believe that heaven is a place to which we will be resurrected, a place where everyone will accept God. If one hates God now, why won’t they hate him in your far off heaven? The only explanation is that God changes them into something that will accept him, or that they were all predestined to accept him. Both views destroy free will.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      There will be a new heaven and a new earth; we will not be resurrected in a far off land called heaven, but Christ will unite heaven and earth and his Kingdom shall have no end.

      As I have said, Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again. And The Kingdom of God Is Here and Now. Another way of saying this is that All Bible Prophecy HAS Been Fulfilled.

      You seem to believe that heaven is a place to which we will be resurrected, a place where everyone will accept God. If one hates God now, why won’t they hate him in your far off heaven? The only explanation is that God changes them into something that will accept him, or that they were all predestined to accept him. Both views destroy free will.

      If the only kind of free will that will satisfy you is one that allows a person to spend an eternity in the torment of flames and darkness, then I am afraid you are going to be dissatisfied. However, given the eternity you’ll spend in heaven, I think you’ll have time to get over the disappointment.

  41. NicholasMyra says:

    All bible prophecy has not been fulfilled. Ultra-preterism is heresy; but on this point I know you will not be easily moved.

    The key word you used is “allowed”. I *hope* that all people will choose and/or experience heaven. I also believe this is possible. But the possibility must remain, until the end of time, that man can “stretch forth his hand to whichever he wish”– toward God or away from Him.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      I encourage you to consider that life is not about making a decision to accept or reject God. It’s about making hundreds of decisions every day for Him, because that’s what it means to live for Christ instead of self. See 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.

  42. NicholasMyra says:

    I don’t disagree at all. I am not speaking of a single “saving” decision, as many OSAS and evangelicals often do; I am speaking of that very life in Christ, constantly choosing Christ and repenting when we fall; the proverbs say “for a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again”: This is what we call Theosis, becoming like God through grace, a never-ending process.

    I am speaking of human free will to, at each moment, either choose or reject God. I am not speaking of a single yes/no decision, but rather of eternity.

  43. NicholasMyra says:

    If your argument is that nobody will refuse to choose God forever, then my response would be this:

    I hope in the universal reconciliation of all; but, to declare it as an immovable, 100% inevitable dogma is to remove free will, and must not be done.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      There’s nothing quite so helpful to one’s argument as to call the other fellow’s position “dogma.”

      Nevertheless, let’s you and I agree on the hope you stated and leave it with God to decide which of us, if either, is right about the rest.

  44. Susanne Schuberth (Germany) says:

    I want to apologize in advance, Mike, since I didn’t read all of the more than 80 comments on this post, and, this is another blog bomb 🙂

    You are so right about ‘leaderless Christianity’.
    Everyone who claims to be a leader, but doesn’t know the only Head of the Body, can be considered as part of a body which already had died. It is so difficult, and often impossible, to share with people that there is no other guidance we need than the guidance of Christ’s Spirit.

    I do think that God created man with a natural inclination to bow (down) to somebody. But if we don’t obey Christ, who then is our Lord? Just a recent example here.

    Today someone told me to be much impressed by a German Christian “leader” who

    (1) has a likeable charisma and a modest, even humble appearance
    (2) is a gifted professional on TV
    (3) is famous and successful, and last but not least
    (4) has said something that was an answer to a personal prayer.

    There is not only one person, there are many male and female listeners who are deeply impressed by that eloquent speaker and writer. Though it is not my task to condemn anyone, I know that I have to judge everybody who claims to speak for the (visible) church.

    Since I know that God created every human being, and Jesus has been given ALL authority in heaven and on earth (Mt 28:18)… ALL, that is the east, west, north, and the south and not a small percent of ALL …I know and have experienced very often that God speaks through the mouth of anyone, be that a religious person such as a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew, or an atheist, or even a murderer, or another offender. But does that also mean those persons are God sent, only because God uses them?

    In this area, as in all others as well 😉 , I am completely dependent on Him. The guidance of God’s Spirit doesn’t reveal itself in being interested in human reason, in outer appearance, in success, or in the wisdom of this world. It is a very strange thing that happens when God wants to show me something that looks entirely different on the outside than on the inside which only God knows (the human heart, that is). It is difficult to describe but I try it nonetheless.

    As soon as I come to know about such a person, and maybe, in the beginning I keep on thinking that he or she (a female pastor for example) appears likeable, I suddenly begin to feel an uneasiness inside my heart which not only never vanishes into oblivion, quite the contrary, this feeling spreads over my whole being, my heart, my soul, even my body. There is no part inside of me that would not know that there must be something wrong with that person. Whatever I try, I cannot get rid of this power of God that somehow captures me at that time. And though I’m really trying (!), i.e. to feel better or to say to myself, “Susanne, you should love everybody, and not have such strange feelings,” I think I may start, indeed, going crazy by doing anything against the will of God.

    Sometimes I can feel “this” for days without interruption, and honestly, it is anything but pleasant, that effect of the fear of God. Perhaps it sounds weird for someone who is as thrilled by His love as I am to make such a statement, “The fear of God feels like a divine stranglehold. It is absolutely impossible to get away from it. One who lives continuously with the fear of God, like Jesus who really loved it [Isa 11:3], cannot help but obey. Then, and only then, sin is an impossible thing to do.”
    During such phases God reveals more and more of what I have only felt before, so that I can grasp it in the end intellectually too.

    But it does work the other way round as well. Perhaps, there is someone who is said to be a so-called “false teacher”, and people keep on nagging at him (or her), yet my heart “knows” without any doubt that this special man (or woman) is God sent though there may be some errors still. Through my own understanding alone I’ll never get what God might think and want [reminds me of Proverbs 3:5-6]. Only faith in Christ will reveal the whole truth. About God, about life, about people, i.e., about everything good and important you’ll ever need!

    Though I know that it’s never as bad as it seems, I’d do anything…indeed, I’d do anything whatever that maybe, to avoid grieving the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30) by not listening to His strong guidance, particularly in that area. Even if I stand all alone with my opinion, my heart knows the truth. And I always know whom I can trust because God continually reveals the truth to me. He can’t help doing so…for He is the Truth.

    I’m praying that this amazing grace that made everything go right in my life may come into others’ lives as well. Amen.

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