Part 1 – Victims of Religious Bait and Switch
I was saved in 1968 through the preaching of salvation in Christ that I first heard at Hydewood Park Baptist Church, in New Jersey. It was a rigid fundamentalist Bible believing church. Thankfully, many are saved in and through first hearing the word of salvation in a denominational church setting, hearing a message of God’s grace and the free gift of salvation “through faith” alone in Christ alone.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
But not too long after that wonderful day when they were saved the new believer is told… in order to really have God’s continued blessing and to please Him you must begin to “do this and don’t do that,” and with that religious performance requirement the die is set… sooner or later thereafter … the initial joy and glow of salvation begins to fade… as they fail in meeting the religious standard that was demanded.
This I call ‘religious bait and switch’ whereby part of God’s grace gospel is preached as the ‘bait’ for one’s conversion, but then after comes the ‘switch’ … to work and support the programs of the religious organization or denomination. So, the switch is accomplished by telling the new believer; “Yes, it’s wonderful that you are now saved, but now what you need to do is this and that in order to really make God happy with you; and then you will be blessed of God.”
Without realizing what is actually happening, this ‘switch’ takes the new believer from the joy and power God’s pure “grace” program (His free-gift system) to a ‘works-based performance acceptance system.’ Of course, the Apostle Paul clearly tells us we are not only saved by grace but we are also to conduct our whole life thereafter in the same way of simple grace and faith… without a ‘works requirement.’
“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. (Galatians 3:10)
“As (in the same way that) ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:” (Col. 2:6)
“… ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:14b)
After this ‘switch’ occurs many stay trapped in a man-controlled Christian religious system, while others may begin to inwardly realize that something has changed and that there must be more. So, they begin to search by trying other churches. But they find the same system throughout most of Bible believing Christendom.
My search initially led me to the Pentecostal wing of Christendom, where I learned of the reality of the Holy Spirit as the One who inwardly touches the heart, convicting and teaching, and I learned that God really is all-powerful. This was a necessary building block in my faith, but I still knew there was more.
God then faithfully moved me on to be involved in several other wings of the organized Church. I moved on sometimes due to job changes and other times due to being kicked out of institutional denominational and independent churches mainly due to my questioning the status quo and searching. I suppose God put in my heart something like was in Abraham’s heart as he “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (Heb. 11:10).
Then, 26 years after first receiving the Lord’s salvation and years of Bible Study on my own, after being a principal in founding a Bible church and teaching “the word of God” most of that time, I heard and realized that there was much more to God’s word than that which I had heard and seen until then. I came across a book called ‘How to Enjoy the Bible’ by E.W. Bullinger. In it I learned for the very first time that there is such a thing as Paul’s pure and simple “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) as seen in the Paul’s thirteen epistles (Romans through Philemon) for the Gentile “church… which is the body of Christ.”
I learned that Paul is “the (one) Apostle to the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:13) and that he in his preaching and writing distinguishes that which in the Bible applies to the Nation Israel from… that which applies to “the church, which is His body.” With this I had the key as to ‘how to study the Bible’… by “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2Tim. 2:15). Now I could study on my own and get out of it what God really intends for me and for every person today living during today’s age of God’s pure grace.
When I embraced this, I at last found the long-sought satisfaction, joy, peace and rest that it brought to my soul... now for the first time I had clear understanding of “the word of God.” All the seeming Bible contradictions and confusion was gone.
I was thrilled to note verses that told me I am in fact in a secure eternal union with Christ - I in Him and He in me. “But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.” (1 Cor. 6:17) I now knew that I was “sealed with the Holy Spirit” (Eph. 1:13) unto the day of my rapture to dwell and “co-reign with Him (Christ)” (2Tim. 2:12) “eternal in the heavens” (2Cor. 5:1b, cf. Philippians 3:20-21).
Often, soon after first seeing and understanding what Paul calls the “revelation of the mystery (God’s secret plan)” (Rom. 16:25), which reveals the total sufficiency of “Christ in you,” personally, as our “hope of Glory,” most of us go on to share all these simple new-found Bible truths with other believing friends. These friends likely are still under the dictates of organized religion’s teaching. But then, sadly, we may be amazed and disappointed that our new-found pure grace truth is actually rejected and often opposed by those who we had thought to be ‘spiritual,’ not knowing till then that these friends actually were not ‘spiritual’ but rather… they were ‘religious.’
You see, being truly “spiritual” and being ‘religious’ are very different. We may define ‘religious’ as having to do with what man’s religion tells him we must ‘do’ toward and for God in order to gain and keep his salvation, and have His ‘blessing.’ By contrast, true ‘spirituality’ is to live in utter dependence upon what Christ has done at the Cross for us, trusting Him and His ongoing work within us.
We must come to realize that He Is Doing the Work in our lives! Just as we trusted in what Christ did to save us via the cross, we must continue to trust His ongoing work … “It Is God Which Worketh In You both to Will and to Do of His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)
The religious leaders of Israel outright attacked Paul by lies, slander and they even attacked him physically. Today’s detractors, from the so-called Bible churches, mainly marginalize Paul’s pure grace gospel, saying Paul was just one of “the twelve.” Erroneously, they say Paul preached the same gospel as “the twelve” did. But “the twelve” were sent to Israel only (cf. Matt. 10:5-6), whereas Paul’s gospel was and is “for ye Gentiles” (Eph. 3:1-5) and it is very different than that of Jesus and “the twelve” who were sent to Israel only.
“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matt. 10:5-6)
“But he (Jesus) answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matt. 15:24)
By contrast, Paul’s “gospel of the grace of God” is for all men of all races. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)