The Philadelphia Church

And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Matt 4:19)"

The following Scripture passages are offered to aid beginning fellowships. The readings and commentary for this week are more in line with what has become usual; for the following will most likely be familiar observations. The concept behind this Sabbath’s selection is the invisibility of women.

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Weekly Readings

For the Sabbath of October 31, 2009

The person conducting the Sabbath service should open services with two or three hymns, or psalms, followed by an opening prayer acknowledging that two or three (or more) are gathered together in Christ Jesus’ name, and inviting the Lord to be with them.


What if the terror a girl faces at twenty-one is the terror of freedom to decide her own life, with no one to order which path she will take, the freedom and necessity to take paths women before were not able to take?

— Betty Friedan (The Feminine Mystique. 1963)


What if the terror a Christian faces when born of God is the terror of freedom to decide whether he or she will be saved, with the visible Church telling this Christian that he or she is not to keep the commandments that were spoken from atop Mount Sinai, that no one orders which path this Christian must take, that obeying God is legalism, bondage from which Jesus freed the disciple? What if this Christian as the Bride of Christ chooses the path of, in Betty Friedan’s words, “‘feminine adjustment”—evading this terror [of freedom] by marrying at eighteen, losing [herself] in having babies and the details of housekeeping” — for the Christian, losing him or herself in keeping the commandments, the high Sabbaths, new moons, and the details of righteousness, of doing what the Christian knows is “right” whenever confronted with a choice?

The role of women in a patriarchal culture has importance, but comes at the price of social invisibility. Likewise, the role of genuine disciples in this world has importance, but comes with invisibility: this world celebrates and rewards its own, not those disciples who are of God. Those teachers of spiritual Israel who preach a prosperity gospel are not of God, but are ministers of the prince of this world. So too are the priests and preachers that would have “Christians” govern this world as participating agents of the Adversary.

The role of genuine disciples in this present world is analogous to the role of women in patriarchal cultures as well as the role of angels in the kingdom of heaven: today, among the sons of God, with born of God disciples being heirs of the Most High, angels are invisible despite the importance of the work they do. The writer of Hebrews says, “Are they [angels] not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation” (1:14). In patriarchal cultures, are not women (whether rightfully or not) ministering human beings serving males … before God, there is neither male nor female: every glorified disciple will be of the Bride, the helpmate to the Son, as the Logos was with the God in the beginning, and was one with the God, forming one deity as Adam and Eve formed one flesh. But the Logos who “was in the form of God” and who “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” (Phil 2:6) was the Creator of everything that was made physically (John 1:3) as Eve is the mother of every human being born of the womb.

The role of women in ancient Israel has been problematic for modern women, groomed on the feminism of gender equality. With a few exceptions, women in ancient Israel are historically invisible. They were obviously present for each generation replaced preceding generations, but the social importance of women seems minimized by their invisibility. Likewise, the role of angels in human salvation seems minimal because of their invisibility in this present world … oh, prayers are routinely uttered in which God is asked to set His angels around so-and-so as the person travels, but how many non-incidences occur because of unseen angelic intervention cannot be humanly known. The prayers are too often a matter of habit; the words have been said so many times that they are really without meaning. Yet as a son in this world will never know how many times a mother or grandmother intervenes on his behalf to keep him safe when an infant or a toddler, a disciple doesn’t know how many times God through His angels (and by giving responsibility for His sons to His angels) has intervened in the disciple’s life. The prayers are answered by nothing remarkable occurring in this world so the prayers themselves become unremarkable when in reality angles as servants of God have been diligently doing the will of God, exercising the responsibilities which have been given to them, going about their work in a manner invisible to human eyes.

Disciples cannot know what angels do for them for these angels are invisible to human eyes. Likewise, in patriarchal cultures women as human beings are invisible to the male gaze, which tends to see women as sexualized objects … whereas the feminism of Betty Friedan’s generation sought to abolish the male gaze by demanding respect for female personhood, the post-feminism of Madonna seeks to use that male gaze as the basis of empowering females by using overt sexuality as an economic tool: the attire of prostitutes has become fashionable as post-feminist women trade upon the male gaze as if lust were a commodity like corn, traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

But lust isn’t really like corn, for even hybrid corn has life within each kernel: there is no life in lust. There is only death (Matt 5:27–28). Nevertheless, a generation and now a second generation of Western culture have bought into the lie that female appearance equates to female worth, that women are really like livestock; e.g., bought and sold on the basis of their appearance, their conformation, their worth as flesh. And yes, both young females as well as males have swallowed this lie.

Borrowing from the title of Betty Friedan’s 1963 book, Courtney E. Martin wrote the anthologized essay, “The Famine Mystique” (Signs of Life in the USA. Ed. Sonia Maasik, Jack Solomon. Boston; Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009. 607–612) in which she argues, “As our mothers were trapped in their homes, we [third wave feminists] are trapped in our own bodies … we feel entitled to medical degrees and vice-presidencies, we accept these honors with growling, unsatisfied stomachs; our most fundamental needs unmet. Though we feel confident making speeches on the floor of the United Nations, declaring our truth in national media columns and classrooms across the country, our deepest desires—to eat, to feel full, to love our own forms—are never spoken” (610).

What Martin addresses (the psychology of female eating disorders, a serious concern for women subject to the male gaze), serves as an apt analogy for Christians starved for the meat of Scripture—

Post-feminism’s demands have caused a multitude of young and middle aged women to tighten their LAP-BANDs®, forego diets high in vegetables, and live on caloric dense foods such as meat, so that they can visually please boyfriends and husbands. These females lose pounds in multiples of tens, and the national government tells them they are healthier for doing so, but when the fat is lost the lie remains, and on slimmer bodies go more revealing attire as the male gaze continues to dictate female self image to women who don’t want to remain invisible in a patriarchal culture.

Although Christians have historically been fed milk and if lucky Pabulum when they should have, long ago, matured to meat and the weightier matters of the law, Christians gained enough weight in this world that they were able to participate with the Adversary in the governance of his kingdom. But the Body of Christ was spiritually dead at or just after the end of the 1st-Century CE. Genuine disciples became historically invisible if they continued to exist. They hid their observance of the Sabbath and the Passover, and they went about their lives as crypto-Jews [new Christians] hidden within the Spanish Church during the Inquisition.

In her essay, “The Famine Mystique,” Martin sees women hiding inside their own bodies in a manner analogous to when, fifty years earlier, Friedan saw women hiding inside their own homes instead of taking to the world (which isn’t to say that women should take to the world). And endtime Philadelphians see Christians hiding in disobedience for fear of angering the prince of this world and his ministers (2 Cor 11:14–15); Philadelphians see infant sons of God hiding in the churches of visible Christendom to keep from being labeled legalists, hiding in the holidays and traditions of this world to keep from appearing abnormal. And on this particular day, October 31st, Philadelphians do not see any genuine sons of God participating in Halloween although there will be some who, by masking their true identities, hid among the revelers, the trick-or-treaters, the witches and warlocks that foreshadow Satan and his angels being cast to earth when the kingdom of this world is given to the Son of Man.


The person conducting the service should read or assign to be read Deuteronomy chapter 18, verses 9 through 14; followed by chapter 12, verse 29 through chapter 13, verse 18.

Commentary: Far too many Christians condemn the inner son of God that dwells within them to the lake of fire in a manner analogous to ancient Israelites, borrowing the practices of the Canaanites they dispossessed, passing their firstborn sons and daughters through the fires of Molech, with this “passing through” meaning sacrificing their firstborns in fire.

Endtime disciples cannot really contemplate the thoughts of ancient Israelites that cast their firstborns into fires dedicated to Molech. It is as hard for an endtime disciple to think the thoughts of a lawless ancient Israelite as it is for an endtime disciple to imagine what a fundamentalist Islamic mother thinks when she celebrates her teenage son (or daughter) strapping on a suicide belt, knowing that her child will not return. Yet, endtime disciples daily see “other Christians” celebrating or preparing to celebrate Halloween or Valentine’s Day, or even the baptized pagan holidays of Christmas and Easter. It would have been as hard for the Apostle Paul to imagine Christians celebrating Christmas or Easter as it is for an endtime disciple to imagine why ancient Israel passed its firstborns through fire.

Betty Friedan saw women as housewives being women trapped in their homes from fear of participating in the world of material things and physical power, but what has participation—when it came—brought to women? Has it not brought post-feminism’s return to female objectification (i.e., turning women into objects to be bought and sold as if they were chattel), which when clocked in the myth of sexual empowerment causes the daughters of America to dress and behave as “public women”?

When Christendom, cloaked in the myth of Christian empowerment in this age, escaped its fear of disobedience and returned to the lawless ways of its Gentile neighbors, Christianity became a “public religion,” one to which anyone could belong by simply professing that Jesus is Lord. Laying its garment of obedience aside, shedding the mantle of Christ Jesus’ righteousness, Christendom played the whore with the prince of this world, becoming his favorite prostitute in Europe and in the Americas: Christendom, like the young women of this age, celebrated its freedom by trading upon “the gaze” of the prince of this world—and like too many young women of North America, Christendom demanded nothing from the prince of this world for its favors. Whereas Christendom in Europe had demanded political power from the prince for its favors, Christendom in the United States sought separation from political power while continuing to prostitute itself to the reigning power of this world … maybe late 18th-Century Christians thought religious authority could be separated from political authority, but no such separation is possible. All authority over humankind in this world comes from the present prince of this world. Thus, the genuine disciple lives in this world as a female lived in patriarchal ancient Israel.

Whenever present-day disciples organize themselves into worldly associations (churches), these associations inevitably derive their authority from the prince of this present age. While these disciples will believe that they are the Body of Christ, subject to the authority of the Head (Christ Jesus), they are not: until Jesus returns life to His Body following the second Passover liberation of Israel, disciples organized into worldly associations, especially ones with legal 501(c)(3) status, have presumptively taken authority upon themselves by allying themselves with the prince of this world. They might well be sincere; their purposes might well be noble and honorable; but they cannot take to themselves any authority over other men without making themselves agents of the one to whom all of humanity has been consigned. And because genuine disciples can have no authority over human beings in this world without making themselves into agents of the Adversary, they are like females in ancient Israel; they are like women in an absolutely rigid patriarchy; they must take upon themselves the lawlessness of this world (the trappings of masculinity) before they escape invisibility.

This world does not now belong to the Son of Man, but to the king of Babylon. Although there is no authority except from God (Rom 13:1), God has consigned all of humankind to disobedience so that He can have mercy on all (Rom 11:32). God has delivered all of humankind into the hand of the Adversary because of the unbelief of the first Adam. He has placed within every person sin and death, giving to the person no ability to escape sin until He draws the person from this world by giving to the person a second breath of life. And for the protection of His infant sons, God has given “invisibility” to genuine disciples as they quietly sculpt living stones into the living temple of God that will be assembled when Christ Jesus returns. These genuine disciples work as the women of ancient Israel worked; they work in invisibility as angels work in invisibility. Their time is not yet.

Because it is not yet time for disciples to be revealed (for it remains the time of the Gentiles, the nations), it is not yet time for all “Christians” to quit prostituting themselves through their observances of the holidays and celebrations of this world … of course, Christians should immediately quit their spiritual prostitution, but they will not do so until after the Son of Man is revealed or disrobed (Luke 17:30), and then most of them will not realize that participation in the holidays of this world, especially those that have been baptized, will get themselves condemned to the lake of fire.

A Christian participating in Halloween celebrations is spiritually analogous to a young woman of fair morals dressing in attire appropriate for prostitutes. And contrary to what is popularly assumed, the same applies to participation in any other holiday of this world, including Christmas and Easter.

Every young woman who knowingly dresses to please the male gaze does not necessarily have loose morals or low self-esteem. Many are simply immature, not realizing that they have swallowed the post-feminist cultural lie about females being empowered through their sexuality. What’s publicly displayed is, however, devalued as it is compared to airbrushed images of unattainable physical perfection; thus, no amount of dieting will ever produce the idealized body. Breast implants will not give mammary perfection. And immodest attire only advertises what shouldn’t be available to the public; for the dictates of modesty seem passé and prudishly old fashion … so it is with Christians and obedience to God.

The “public” Christian is on display in front of abortion clinics and at “tea parties”: he or she has a manger scene in the person’s yard at Christmas. Many have plaster statuary in backyard sanctuaries. These public Christians can be seen in their “church clothes” in grocery stores about 1:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoons: they buy and sell seven days a week, thereby making no distinction between days for they believe that they enter into God’s presence every day when in reality their lawlessness prevents God from hearing them—if they were ever born of God (most have not been), they were long ago pruned away for their lack of fruit. They have made the name of God a curse and a hissing in this world, but they blissfully continue on. They display their righteousness as a peacock fans its tail, and when their judgments are revealed, they will yell as a peacock yells.

The public Christian is for sale (as a public woman was during the American Civil War) to the politician that best spouts the jingoism of patriotic responsibility and the rhetoric of American exceptionalism. This public Christian feels the need to speak out against creeping sexual immorality; this public Christian feel compelled to take a firm stand on the sanctity of life. But this public Christian feels no need to walk in this world as Jesus walked; feels no need to obey the commandments and teach others to do likewise. This public Christian is really only a myth, one like the myth of the prostitute with a heart of gold; for to be a “Christian” requires a disciple to imitate Paul as he followed Jesus. If a disciple will not keep the commandments, this disciple is a son of the Adversary (1 John 3:4–10) and is no better off spiritually than a whore in a crib.

The public Christian needs to set his or her pretensions aside and look again at how Jesus lived, beginning with His ability to disappear into a crowd of assembled Jews: Jesus looked so much like the average Israelite in Judea that He could disappear (become invisible) into a crowd … how many Christians with their celebration of Halloween, Christmas, Easter; with their worship on Sunday; with their diet of unclean meats could spiritually disappear into a crowd of Israelites? Would not every one of them stand out because of his or her differing practices and traditions? They would, wouldn’t they?

If a former public Christian were to cease trying to be seen in this world, he or she would be unremarkable in Wal.mart on a Sunday afternoon. He or she would not be participating in the politics of this world (let the dead bury their own dead); nor would the person be protesting in front of an abortion clinic … it isn’t that the Christian condones abortion. Absolutely not! But until the kingdom of this world is given to the Son of Man, it is not the time for disciples to take action.

In ancient Israel, an Israelite was to sigh and cry (groan) about the abominations committed within the land, within Jerusalem, but not about the abominations committed in Babylon. A Christian is to sigh and cry about the abominations committed within the Church, but not about the abominations committed within spiritual Babylon. Paul writes,

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. (1 Cor 5:9–13 emphasis added)

God judges those who are of spiritual Babylon. A disciple really has nothing to do with those who are of Babylon—unless the disciple leaves God and begins to participate in the affairs of Babylon.

When a disciple ceases being of this world through the Father drawing the person from this world (John 6:44, 65), the disciple should also cease meddling in the affairs of this world. A disciple has the right to be horrified by gay marriage, but the matter only concerns the disciple when the matter enters the Church. Likewise, a disciple should be appalled by public displays of immorality, but these displays only become of concern to the disciple when they enter the Church … the sacraments are not to be taken by public Christians, who would eat and drink to their damnation. There are two world governing structures in play, with Babylon presenting having power and the Son of Man to receive dominion halfway through the seven endtime years of tribulation. For someone (a disciple) to try usurping authority from Babylon before this authority is given to the Son of Man makes the person into an agent of the prince of this world, who tried to usurp authority from God.

The test every disciple must pass at this time is that of patience, of waiting to be given dominion in this world, of not doing what Satan and his angels did. Yes, that is correct. As women in ancient Israel quietly abided their lack of power, their cultural invisibility, Christians are to patiently abide their lack of empowerment, their social invisibility. They are not to rebel when it would seem that rebellion against the evils of this world is justified, and even mandated by Scripture. Rather, Christians are not to participate in either the evils of this world or open rebellion against these evils. There will be time enough to rid the world of these evils when the kingdom is given to the Son of Man.

The disciple who would condemn God because of how women were treated in ancient Israel is without understanding; for these women form the enlivened shadow of disciples in this present world, and of angels as sons of God in relationship to born of God human beings as sons of God. The invisibility of women in ancient Israel is directly analogous to the invisibility of angels in this world—and as women were not invisible to Christ Jesus, angels were not invisible to Him.

While modern feminism of a half-century ago sought to eliminate the male gaze and while post-feminism seeks to turn the male gaze into a tool of female empowerment, females in ancient Israel endured invisibility and servant status for centuries. They suffered greatly. But what would rebellion have gained them? Euripides had the women of Athens rebel, and what happened? Did peace and prosperity come? Or did things shortly return to “normal” for a patriarchal culture?

The cultural logic for patriarchal societies lays in the relationship between visible sons of God and invisible sons, sons as heirs and sons as servants.

A public Christian can advocate for or against celebration of the holidays of this world, but what this public Christian says has no more merit spiritually than a public woman’s protestations of innocence: it is visibility in this world that destroys spiritual credibility.


The person conducting the Sabbath service should close services with two hymns, or psalms, followed by a prayer asking God’s dismissal.

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"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."