The Substitutes For The Church

by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)

How art thou fallen from heaven, 0 Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou host said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, and did shake kingdoms; Isaiah 14:12-16

1. Satan wanted to become king. Satan was one of the three archangels, along with Michael and Gabriel. Satan even had authority and rank over the other two. The Bible calls him the anointed cherub. Lucifer was perhaps God's deputy. Nobody knew God like Lucifer did. However, he decided that he wanted to become king. He wanted to be equal with God and take over God's throne.

2. He fought to be king. The angels were divided into three groups. Michael had his group, Lucifer had his group, and Gabriel had his group. Lucifer took his group of angels and rebelled against God and fought a war in Heaven, trying to take over Heaven.

3. He was defeated and cast out of Heaven.

4. He then wanted to hurt God. Nobody has ever wanted to hurt God like the Devil. He decided to find God's most vulnerable spot to do so. What is it that would hurt God the most?

5. He knew that the best way to hurt God was through His children. If you really want to hurt somebody, hurt them through their children. You will not find a more painful way to hurt a person than that. Satan knew he was defeated, and that he was consigned to Hell: Matthew 25:41 says that he and his angels will be in the lake of fire forever, so he decided to do as much destruction as he could by striking at God where it would hurt him the most.

6. Satan does not have a way for you to go. Satan has no plan for your life. He has no alternative plan that he has devised for your life.

7. He wants you to go any way but God's way. Satan knows that we will not consciously do what he tells us. The Devil is not concerned about which way we go as long as it is not God's way. He is not dedicated to making us do what he wants us to do; he is dedicated to making us do anything but what God wants us to do. God has a purpose for our lives. Satan has set out to keep us from fulfilling that purpose. For example, God has a person he wants an individual to marry. The Devil is not concerned about his marrying a prostitute or a harlot, as long as he does not marry the person God has chosen.

8. His best shot is to get you to go your own way.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way Isaiah 53:6a

We go astray when we go our own way. The Devil does not want us to follow his path. He wants us to follow our own path. He wants us to do our own thing. He wants us to choose the profession we want, or go to the college of our own choice. That is the devil's plan. He knows that we are more likely to satisfy our desires than we are to satisfy his, so he tries to keep us away from God's plan.

A man came to me and said, "Brother Hyles, I have four children. I am proud of them. All of my children have turned out good. My son is a coach in a Christian high school. He always liked sports, so he chose to be a Christian coach. My daughter always liked music, so she chose to go to college to study music and is an organist in a church. Another son always enjoyed working with cars, so he chose to go to mechanics school and become a mechanic. I am proud of my children."

In each case, his children had chosen to do what they wanted to do. In that case they did not turn out right. In fact, they turned out for the Devil because they turned each to his own way. That is exactly what the Devil wants us to do.

The devil's way is not what most Christians think is. The devil's way is our own way. The Devil does not care what we do as long as we do not do what God wants us to do. His best shot is to get us to go our own way. We are not a success in life unless we find what God wants us to do and do it.

9. In every area of the Christian life, he makes a counterfeit that we can choose without having to yield to God's plan. The devil's counterfeits are not bad. They look good. But, each of them is designed to get us to do something other that what God wants us to do. Let consider some examples.

1. Baptism. Baptism is to be by immersion after salvation, so the Devil gives us a counterfeit baptism. It looks sweet. The grandparents are there, and the godfather and godmother are there. Little Johnny is going to get baptized or confirmed. That looks and sounds good because church is considered to be good. But, it is the devil's counterfeit. Satan does not offer a wicked alternative. He offers an alternative that looks like the real thing.

2. Lord's Supper. God gave the Lord's Supper to the local church. It was to be a time to remember that Jesus died for us. The Devil made a counterfeit called the Sacrament.

3. Spirit fullness. God wants us to be filled with the Spirit so we can be witnesses unto Him. God has given us a power to be soul winners. That power is called the fullness of the Holy Spirit. The devil's counterfeit is the charismatic nonsense, where people babble in some unknown tongue and nobody gets saved. That is the devil's counterfeit. God gives His power in order to keep people out of hell, not to give us some type of emotional high.

4. Tongues. God gave a wonderful thing to the church in Jerusalem. Peter preached at Pentecost to people from every nation under Heaven. Many people could not understand the language in which Peter was preaching, so God miraculously gave these people the ability to hear the Gospel in their own languages making it possible for more people to hear the Gospel and be saved. That is the purpose of it. Christ Jesus came in the world to save sinners. The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost. The purpose of tongues is to get people saved. Satan has produced a counterfeit in the charismatic movement.

5. Bibles. The Devil has a lot of Bibles which are counterfeits.

6. Love. Lust is Satan's counterfeit for love.

7. The church. In order for something to be Satan's counterfeit, it must have several qualities.

(1) It must be something close to the real thing.

(2) It must be something we can choose.

(3) It must not in itself be bad.

The Devil knows that most Christians will not leave a fundamental Baptist church and go to a Buddhist church. He knows that he must have something as near to a fundamental Baptist church as possible in order to get us to leave a New Testament church and go our own way. How does he accomplish that?

I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Revelation 2:9

Notice the words synagogue of Satan. That word synagogue is not capitalized, so it is not talking about a particular synagogue of Satan.

Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan.

Revelation 3:9a

The word synagogue means assembly. The word church means a called-out assembly. If God's people belong to an institution that is not out of the world, it is not a church. To be a church it has to be a called-out assembly. A group of people who are religious and assemble, but are not called out of the world, are a synagogue. There are two types of groups that call themselves churches, an assembly and a called-out assembly. An assembly of people calling itself a church, but is living like the world, is not a church. It is a synagogue or assembly. No group has a right to call themselves a church, if it is not separated from the world. It are merely an assembly.

The synagogue of Satan is a religious assembly other than the church. The Devil is not proud of his worshippers who are killing little babies on altars. The Devil is trying to make us believe that it does not matter where we go to church, as long as we go somewhere. He will really try to get us to go to a church which is not a church at all. The Devil will try to get us to join something that accomplishes some good in order to get us out of the local church. These institutions are sometimes good institutions, but they are not local New Testament churches. I am not implying that these institutions are of the Devil, but the Devil uses these institutions to get us away from the church.

Consider a few of the institutions that Satan uses as substitutes for the church.

1. Non-church organizations. No matter how good an organization is, there is no substitute for the local New Testament church. It is not bad, but it not a called-out assembly. The Devil wants to prevent us from building our lives and the lives of our families around the church. He knows the church is where God wants us to be, so he will do anything to cause us to substitute something else in its place. He does not want our children's lives to be built around the programs of the church. He does not want us to hear preaching three times a week. He wants us to join something that looks like a New Testament church, but which is really not a New Testament church to get us out of the institution that Jesus started.

Regardless of how spiritually mature a person is, he needs to be active in a local New Testament church. We cannot be the Christians we ought to be if we are not.

2. Home Bible studies. Wealthy people are especially prone to fall for these, because they think they have risen above hell-fire and damnation preaching. Athletes are also big for these. They have chapel services on Sunday morning to salve their consciences for no being in church, where they belong. There is some good done a these, and some people get saved at them, but much more good can be done in the local New Testament church. The Devil is afraid o the church, so he will look for any organization he can, including Christian one to keep us out of the church. He wants us to settle for good instead of best. It is not wrong to have a Bible study in the home if we are faithful to the church.

3. Radio preachers and television preachers. It is tragic how many preachers are struggling and having a hard time making ends meet, because their church members sending money to these nationwide preachers. These pastors are being bypassed for the glamour boys. Why not put the money in an institution that Jesus started? There is no such thing as the electronic church.

4. Schools. College students often go to colleges which have their own Sunday morning services. They require the students to go there instead of going to a local New Testament church. That is no a church. I am not opposed to colleges having services. We have five chapel services a week at Hyles-Anderson College, but we do not cal them church. We do not have them during church to compete with church. It is a disgrace for a student to go to college for four years and never darken the door of a church. The Devil is trying to keep these young people out of the church. Where we go to get out of the church does not concern him. He just wants us to go our own way.

There is no such thing as a college church, but there is a church college. When a college runs a church it is not a church. Jesus is head of the church, not the college.

5. Non-church churches.

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent Revelation 2 :4, 5

. . and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches. Revelation 1 :20c

If a religious meeting is not a soul-winning group, it is a synagogue. It is just an assembly. If it is a Biblical, New Testament soulwinning church, it is an ekklesia, or a called-out assembly.

What is the devil's church? Any church we choose. We have no right to choose where we want go to church. God is to lead us to the church. We are not to join a church just because we like the choir, the youth program, or the children's activities. That is not in the Bible.

Fundamentalism has left the great doctrine of the church. We have allowed the inter-denominational doctrine to infiltrate. We go to their schools, we get their literature and they have indoctrinated us to believe that the church is not a really important institution.

Many years ago I pastored a little church in the country, outside of Marshall, Texas. I was still a student in college when they called me. It was the policy when school opened each year, for all of the local pastors to come, sit on the platform and take a few minutes to tell about their church. I was a local pastor, but I was considered to be a renegade. They saved me until last, hoping that time would run out before I could speak. The pastor of one got up and said, "We are having a hayride Saturday night. We want you to come to our hayride. We are going to have hot dogs, barbecue and baked beans."

Next, the pastor of another church got up and said, "We are having a big party at the church Friday night. We are going to show some movies, play some games, and have a banquet."

Every pastor got up and told the students of some fun activities they were having at their church, trying to lure them to their church. Reluctantly, they finally came to me. I stood up and said, "I would hike to welcome you to East Texas Baptist College and to our area. Grange Hall Baptist church will not be having a hayride Saturday night, we will serve no hot dogs, we will serve no hamburgers, and we will have no barbecue. We are not going to have a party or a banquet. I am not going to try to get you to come to our church that way. But, as far as I am concerned, there is only one church in this area that you ought to attend. It is the one the Holy Spirit leads you to attend. Next Sunday morning there will be a bus here, and anybody who feels that God wants you to attend our church can come on that bus."

Sunday morning I received a call from the bus driver asking me what to do. There were enough people waiting to fill three buses. I pastored more students at East Texas Baptist College than any other pastor. The wisest thing a Christian will ever decide to do is to build his life around a true local New Testament church, the only institution other than the home that Jesus never started.

For many years the Bible belt has been in the south. There has been just as much religion in the north as there is in the south. What's the difference? The influence of Christianity in the north during the last one hundred years has been inter-denominational, not emphasizing the church. The emphasis in the south has been on the church That is the difference. Every one of these institutions that try to substitute for the church are parasites off the church and could not operate if there were no real churches.

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