From Which “Plan” Shall We Build?
A real estate developer approached a builder he knew and trusted with a set of blueprints, and said, “This is a house plan I want you to build on a lot in a subdivision I am developing. I will provide the finances to pay for the materials and labor, plus a small stipend for yourself during the construction phase, and then split the profits with you, 40/60, when the house sells.” The builder agreed, they shook hands, and the project commenced.
In the meantime, the builder noticed that all of the other houses going up around the one he was building had gabled roof designs; the plan he was given required a hip roof design. So, he decided to consult a local real estate agent he knew who was familiar with what was selling in the local market. The agent confirmed what he had already suspected; gabled roofs were in and hips were out. Armed with this information, he decided that it would be in the best interest of both himself and his boss, the developer, to alter the roof design of the plan from a hip to a gabled roof.
When the house was completed, he called the developer to let him know that it was ready to be placed on the market. The developer suggested they meet at the job sight. When the builder arrived, the developer was standing in front of the house, his arms crossed over his chest, with a very unhappy look on his face. He turned to the builder and said, “what is this? This isn’t the plan I gave you to build.” The builder quickly explained why he had made the change in the roof design, how he had done it with the developer’s best interest in mind, but the developer’s displeasure was not assuaged. He bluntly informed the builder that he didn’t care what the “market” demanded, his instructions were to build the house exactly as the plan he had provided called for. Furthermore, he told the builder that because he had taken it upon himself to do this without his consent, he had breached their agreement and would not share in any profits at the sale of the house.
Of course, this is an analogy designed to explain God’s attitude toward those who alter “the plan,” or instructions from which he has given them to build. A prime example of one who did this is Saul, chosen and anointed to be the first human king over Israel:
Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.
Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
This is a pretty straightforward command; take them out, and everything they possess. But this isn’t what Saul did (my emphasis):
And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt.
But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.
God’s response to this was blunt and straightforward:
Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying,
It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.
For those of you not familiar with “the rest of the story,” when confronted by Samuel, Saul explained,
the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God
And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou. (my emphasis)1
This story should give pause to Christians2, under whatever label they have placed themselves (e.g., Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal, Evangelical, etc.) to consider where the plan is for “the church” in the world today. If asked, most would exclaim, with the most ardent certainty, that the plan is found in the new testament, primarily in the four “gospels”, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the doctrine of which is supported, they will say, by the rest of the books/letters of the NT.
If you are one who believes this, please consider the following declaration from the Apostle Paul:
Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel… Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to by ashamed; rightly dividing the word of truth. (my emphasis)
Notice he didn’t say to consider what any of the other writers of the NT wrote. He pointedly says to consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. Moreover, he says that anyone (Christian) who desires God’s approval must rightly divide the word of truth. The word divide means to separate3, as in separate out his (“my”) gospel4 from the other gospel5 Supportive of this is the declarations he makes in the letters to the Corinthians and the Romans:
According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. 1 Cor 3:10-15
Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen. Rom 16:25-27
The “Amen” at the end of this passage means “so be it!,” or in modern vernacular, from nowon, it’s this way or the highway, folks! By claiming this plan of his to be a “mystery, kept secret since the world began….in other ages…not made known unto the sons of men” (Eph. 3:5), Paul is plainly and unequivocally saying it could not have been revealed prior to his revelation of it.
Yes, Gertrude, that means it is not in the four gospels, and teaching that they (the gospels) are the primary section of the NT in which Christians are to find their marching orders, “for the obedience of faith,” is flatly wrong, and those that teach and follow this doctrine, according to what Paul declares in 1 Corinthians 3:15 and 2 Timothy 2:15, will be “ashamed”, and “suffer loss” when they appear to give an account of what they said and did at “the judgment seat of Christ.”6
The “Bandwagon” Mentality
Christians, by and large, say this certainly can’t be true, because it contradicts, as more than one has informed me, 20 centuries of church teachings. In other words, it is a “majority rules” kind of thing. How, they say, could God allow all these systems to exist and flourish for so long if they were teaching the wrong thing?
The simple answer to this is found in Paul’s claim, in Colossians 1:25, to have completed the word of God:
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
This is it, and the world has it in a King James Bible. It started about 1500 years earlier with Moses’ penning of the five books of the law, and ended with the above declaration by Paul. The final instructions “for the obedience of faith” are in it in Paul’s 13 letters, written in plain sixth grade reading level English for anyone to see, if they will.
And herein lies the problem; they simply refuse to acknowledge it. The plain fact is, God has said it, and he is finished with it. He is therefore not in the business (as men are) of running “to and fro” in the earth passing judgment. The judgment is the word itself, and there are plenty of prophets issuing forth the warning (and, for the most part, being ignored and ridiculed, just as they were in olden times) that religions aren’t following the right plan.
The error of religions is the same error of the builder; they have convinced themselves that God has given them the latitude to choose the plan (or mix the plans, as they see fit) that produces the best results (the biggest crowd of followers). What this says is, they are far more concerned with earthly success, and the approval of their fellow humans, than they are with being “approved unto God”, and securing a heavenly reward.
“Well, we’re naming the name of Christ, brother; that’s all that really matters.” I’m afraid not. This is the same attitude the builder took when he altered the developers plan. I’m sure he thought, “what’s the beef? I didn’t change the foundation, or the layout, or cut corners on the materials? And I was acting in the best interest of the developer?”
The “bottom line” is, what is achieved here on earth, in the so-called “name of Christ,” may very well be at the expense of the truth, and thus result in the loss of heavenly rewards. If we say that the foundation of our doctrine is Christ, then we had better “take heed” what we “buildeth thereupon,” looking to “the wise masterbuilder for the plan from which we are to build, for “at the judgment seat of Christ…he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.”7Amen.
Please feel free to re-print and/or publish this article. All Scripture references are from the King James Bible.
Are you saved? Jesus Christ—“who knew no sin”—and his sacrificial death on the Cross, has made the way for “everyone that believeth…to be reconciled to God. History has shown that whatever peace man has achieved in the world can only be temporary. The Bible says that individual men and women can know, beyond a doubt, that they are saved and bound for heaven, and therefore have absolute and permanent peace, regardless of what is going on in the world, by trusting Jesus Christ and his death on the cross for their eternal salvation. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Have you done this? If not, why not now?
|1||1 Sam 15:1-29|
|2||That is, those who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior, and what he did for them (died for their sins). Being a member of a Christian denominational system has nothing to do with this. (Ref. the article “Ekklesia” for more information on the topic of “the church”)|
|3||This cannot mean “correctly handle”, as the NIV renders it. This rendering is a plain corruption of both the Greek and the English.|
|4||I believe this includes all thirteen of his letters, Romans through Philemon.|
|5||Indeed, there are two “gospels” in the NT section of the Bible; the “gospel of the circumcision” (Peter’s gospel), and the “gospel of the uncircumcision” (Paul’s gospel). Ref. Galatians 2:7,8|
|6||2 Cor. 5:10|