The life of old Israel always declined when they worshiped other gods. Centuries later, a similar thing happened to the early church. Isn't it amazing that no one says anything about it today?
"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me." Exodus 20:2-3
Anyone who knows even a little of the Scriptures and the history of Israel can see the great difficulty they had to not succumb to idolatry. Somehow, they always went astray after other gods. Israel would conform to the cultures of the nations around them instead of being a light to those same nations, thereby forsaking their covenant and purpose. Had they obeyed the commandment to not go after other gods, there would have been a guard set in their hearts to help them avoid what they might otherwise be inclined to do.
Why did they always go after other gods? Did they not realize what was happening? How could they have been so bold and brazen as to blatantly ignore the clearest and sternest of commandments that had come down to them? What would cause them to consciously reject the true God and receive a false one? Perhaps they were being led astray unwittingly. But how could they have been so unenlightened as to give themselves to abominations? How did they fail to realize that their subtle compromises had led them to a transformation of the gods?
Surely the Messiah was right when He said, "You shall know them by their fruits." Fruit is the clearest indicator of whether someone has exchanged gods. What one believes and who one believes in is made evident by what one does, by the fruit one bears. When Israel turned away, it was evident.
In the days of Yahshua, most of the Jews living in the land thought they were serving the one true God, the God of Israel, the God of their forefather Abraham. They saw themselves as the undisputed chosen people of God. But when John the Baptist came on the scene and boldly declared that the ax was laid at the root of any tree that did not bear fruit, the first unsettling tremors of doubt began to be felt. He proclaimed that they had been cut off for departing from the ways of righteousness and justice, the way of Abraham and the way of Abraham's God. The ones who were shaken by his words, who admitted their own internal conflict and hypocrisy, went to the waters and received John's baptism. They were thankful that they didn't have to pretend anymore.
Then came the Son of God. The standard of love that Yahshua spoke of led them to begin to understand how far they had drifted away from the God of Israel, the God of justice, righteousness, and mercy. A few were cut to the heart, but most hated the light of his words. Eventually, those that had drifted so far crucified the Holy and Righteous One sent to them by God, the One who was full of grace and truth.
Although Yahshua had spoken the word of God to them over and over again, it found no place in their fossilized hearts. They had plunged deeply into mere doctrines of men, empty traditions, purposeless debates over the Law, lame sacrifices, and incomplete tithes. The praise of God was on their lips, but true mercy, righteousness, and justice were far from their hearts. For years they had mingled the worship of their God with the gods and practices of the nations around them, preferring comfort, ease, accomplishments, prestige, and complacency. They had become conformed to the world.
That was when Yahshua came with a sword, a standard that revealed who was willing to serve God and who was not. He came to wipe away the confusion and division that had arisen among the lukewarm Jews that had departed from the God of Abraham. He came to find His lost sheep, lost in the confusion, but still having hearts that wanted to be true.
So, how can it be that among the 46,000 denominations of Christianity there is not a nagging question and a tremor of doubt as to whether there has once again been a transformation of the gods? How can it be possible that each one of the 46,000 denominations is truly following the same Savior? Does simply using the name Jesus protect one from idolatry? The Jews of Yahshua's day professed to serve the God of Israel, yet they were so very far away. Since the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome,1 how do Christians justify all their doctrinal debates, and since the members of Messiah are to have the same care one for another, how do they justify the inequities between rich and poor in their churches? What sort of mental gymnastics must they go through to reconcile the conflicting theories and divided camps among those who claim to follow the one Messiah and obey His commandments?
Yahshua cried out, "Father, let them be one!" How could anyone serving that same Father settle for anything less than being made perfectly one, without denying Him? "You shall know them by their fruits."2 So who is bearing the fruit? Yahshua said the fruit was love and unity - John 13:35 and 17:23 - the authentic proof.
In the year 1800 there were 500 denominations. Now, in 2016, the astonishing number is 46,000 denominations, and it is estimated to reach 55,000 by 2025. So which one is bearing the fruit? Is it the Catholics, the Orthodox, the Baptists, the Lutherans, the Episcopalians, the Messianics, the Mormons, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Charismatics, the Pentecostals, the Evangelicals, the Presbyterians, the Anabaptists, the Methodists, the Seventh Day Adventists, the Quakers, the Hutterites, the Wesleyans, the Sacred Namers, the Churches of Christ, the Unitarians, or the Christian Scientists, each with its many factions? Or perhaps it is the "non-denominational" denomination!
Or are the ones who are truly bearing the fruit of the Kingdom3 scattered among the schisms within the 46,000 denominations of Christianity and God will just have to sort them out? How could they all possibly be serving the same God, since they all have different beliefs and practices? Who decides what is acceptable doctrine and what is apostasy? What is the fruit that God is looking for?
The lack of love and unity is tantamount to the lack of the true God. And if Messiah's words are true, such a "kingdom" will not stand.
If a kingdom is divided against itself it cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself it will not be able to stand. (Mark 3:24-25)
So then, who is the crafty mastermind behind Christianity, with all is splintered fragments? Could anyone be so bold as to say there has not been a transformation of the gods?
For God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. (1 Corinthians 14:33)
The Kingdom will be given to the ones who bear the fruit of it.
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing its fruits. (Matthew 21:43)