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Jesus once said that anyone who was not against him must be for him. (Mark 9:40) He said it when his disciples pointed out that some other people were claiming to be Christians, and yet they were not in submission to the twelve apostles. The story illustrates the fact that Jesus was not against people serving God independently of other groups of believers. No so-called "apostles" have a monopoly on the kingdom of heaven.

However, on another occasion, Jesus said almost the opposite. He said that anyone who did not gather with him, was against him. (Matthew 12:30)

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At first glance, it appears that the two statements are contradictory, that they cannot both be true. But the only reason they appear to be contradictory is because we assume there is a big grey area between people who are totally sold out to Christ and those who are totally opposed to him. We assume that most people are more or less indifferent... undecided... neutral. Yet, the one way that both statements become true is when we accept that there is no such grey area. If anyone is not against Christ, they must be for him. And if anyone is not for him, they must be against him. Everyone is either in one camp or the other. No in-betweens.

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Add to this the statement that Jesus made to his apostles: He said that anyone who rejected them rejected him, and anyone who rejected him, rejected God. (Matthew 10:40, John 15:18-20)

The mere fact that someone was operating independently did not prove that they had rejected either the twelve apostles or the Lord himself. There are plenty of people who don't know any better, and there are also people whom God is leading through other means (like he did with the Apostle Paul). God makes allowances for both of these exceptions. In the first illustration (about not assuming too quickly that someone is wrong), Jesus wanted his apostles to see that they were not the absolute judges of who was right. But in his second statement (about not assuming too quickly that someone is right), he wanted them to know that a person does not need to consciously sell his or her soul to the devil to become an enemy of God. He was making it clear that, if the day ever came that the "independents" were personally confronted with a greater truth that God was revealing through Christ and through his apostles, then that would be the day on which their true colours would be tested and revealed.

Yesterday's sincerity (like yesterday's faith) isn't good enough for today. Our eternal destiny rests on how we deal with today's truth. Religious organisations and religious people often make the mistake of thinking they need only get enough truth to make themselves look better than the average counterfeit, and that will be enough to get them through the pearly gates and into God's presence. But there's a catch. God requires that you "gather" with Christ today, and every day. There is no freedom to skirt around the truth as God has revealed it to you, just because there is no apostle present to make you accountable. God knows how much you know, and he'll hold you accountable for it.

The moment that you stop "gathering" with Christ, the moment you stop growing, the moment you stop walking in all the spiritual light that you have, you become spiritually one with those who are against Christ. Your unity is with Satan, and you are just another pawn in his hands. All of your religious activity becomes a damnable counterfeit.

The world is full of people who think they can circumvent this inviolable truth. They think that they can reject the truths they don't like, and just take (or invent) those that suit themselves. They think they can cover up those areas of their life that they don't want to face. They think that they can just avoid the people they do not want to answer to, and that they can get away with it. But there is no human way around it. "Be sure," the Bible says, "that your sin will find you out." (Numbers 32:23)

(See also We're Right and They're Wrong.)

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