What is the Institutional Church?

Pews in the church
Pews in the church

Sum­mary: The in­sti­tu­tion­al church is the col­lec­ted group of Chris­ti­ans who don’t want a re­la­tion­ship with Je­sus Christ on his terms, but on their terms. There­fore, they cre­ate and serve a false Christ which leads to bond­age, a lack of power and a de­lu­sion­al mind­set that be­lieves he/she will in­her­it etern­al life when in fact will be damned to hell if there’s no re­pent­ance.

The bible warned us about the in­sti­tu­tion­al church ex­plain­ing that it would be a Chris­ti­an’s de­par­ture from the faith:

Now the Spir­it speak­eth ex­pressly, that in the lat­ter times some shall de­part from the faith, giv­ing heed to se­du­cing spir­its, and doc­trines of dev­ils; speak­ing lies in hy­po­crisy; hav­ing their con­science seared with a hot iron … (1 Tim 4:1-2)

What is “the faith”? It is the true teach­ings of Je­sus Christ, the found­a­tion of what was ori­gin­ally taught. Any­one can open the gos­pels right now and hold it up against the main­stream teach­ings of Chris­tian­ity and see that there’s been a de­vi­ation from the truth. And how did they de­vi­ate? Be­cause they were se­duced and led away by doc­trines of demons. The bible con­tin­ues to fore­tell:

For the time will come when they will not en­dure sound doc­trine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to them­selves teach­ers, hav­ing itch­ing ears (2 Tim 4:3).

The in­sti­tu­tion­al church is a group of people who de­sire teach­ings that ap­peal to their own lusts (or de­sires) — they’ve got itch­ing ears wait­ing to be scratched. So the bible re­veals that they were led away be­cause they wanted to be! So it’s not just the church lead­er­ship who are at fault, it’s also the people them­selves who lift up these false teach­ers. This is why it’s so hard to wit­ness to people in the in­sti­tu­tion­al church, most of them want to be there.

So why do they re­ject the mes­sage of Christ? Be­cause Je­sus’ mes­sage of self-deni­al is a hard thing to hear. Giv­ing up for­nic­a­tion, the love of money and all oth­er sin­ful pleas­ures is a hard mes­sage. Be­ing taught that only the humble will make it in­to the king­dom of God is of­fens­ive de­mand­ing a change to many who live in pride. Hear­ing a mes­sage that com­mands you to for­give oth­ers or be re­jec­ted by God is too hard to bear for some. So men have taken the words of Je­sus and ad­ded, twis­ted and down­right re­moved them to suit their sin­ful life­styles.

A form of god­li­ness, but no power

With the de­sec­ra­tion of the teach­ings of Je­sus comes a lost of power. If you read the gos­pels and the book of Acts, you’ll find the be­liev­ers had power to raise the dead, heal the sick, cast out dev­ils, do mir­acles and, most im­port­antly, over­come sin. But the in­sti­tu­tion­al church has re­placed the raw power of God with emo­tion­al­ism, per­form­ance and light shows. This is why the bible also fore­tells:

1 This know also, that in the last days per­il­ous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lov­ers of their own selves, cov­et­ous, boast­ers, proud, blas­phemers, dis­obedi­ent to par­ents, un­thank­ful, un­holy, 3 without nat­ur­al af­fec­tion, trucebreak­ers, false ac­cusers, in­con­tin­ent, fierce, des­pisers of those that are good, 4 trait­ors, heady, high­minded, lov­ers of pleas­ures more than lov­ers of God; 5 hav­ing a form of god­li­ness, but deny­ing the power there­of: from such turn away (2 Tim 3:1-5)

It says they will have a “form of god­li­ness”. In oth­er words: all the right re­li­gious talk and out­ward ap­pear­ances, but no power. The in­sti­tu­tion­al church is power­less over sin, power­less over demons, power­less to heal the sick, power­less to do all the things Je­sus said be­liev­ers in him would do (Mark 16:17-18). And why, be­cause they denied the source of the power which is Je­sus Christ.

Sub­sti­tut­ing Je­sus and the con­sequences

Man’s nat­ur­al in­clin­a­tion is to serve something — for we were cre­ated to wor­ship. So when the true God comes to the hu­man race and says this is the cri­ter­ia for eternal life, these people rebel and say, “No, that doesn’t quite fit the way I want to live, Je­sus, so I’ll do it my way” and they set up a false god in their minds and wor­ship that in­stead of the real one. So be­cause us all this, God has a re­sponse for the in­sti­tu­tion­al church:

10be­cause they re­ceived not the love of the truth, that they might be saved11 And for this cause God shall send them strong de­lu­sion, that they should be­lieve a lie12 That they all might be damned who be­lieved not the truth, but had pleas­ure in un­right­eous­ness (2 Thes­sa­lo­ni­ans 2:10b-12).

He says, “be­cause you don’t love the truth, (which is Je­sus Christ) and you have pleas­ure in un­right­eous­ness, I will let the demons de­ceive you; you’ll gladly ac­cept their false doc­trines and you will be damned be­cause of it!” God is not play­ing with these folks! And I don’t blame him. Here’s a holy God of­fer­ing etern­al life in holi­ness and these people re­ject it for their tem­por­al, sin­ful de­sires?!! Well, it’s their choice.

An or­gan­iz­a­tion rather than an or­gan­ism

The in­sti­tu­tion­al church is of­ten called the “IC” for short, the “False Church” and the “Babylon/Har­lot Church” But the reas­on why it’s most com­monly labeled “in­sti­tu­tion” is be­cause of the mean­ing of the word:

An es­tab­lish­ment con­sist­ing of a build­ing or com­plex of build­ings where an or­gan­iz­a­tion for the pro­mo­tion of some cause is situ­ated.

This church is or­gan­ized by car­nal men and wo­men who don’t fol­low Je­sus Christ. The real church is an or­gan­ism rather than an or­gan­iz­a­tion or in­sti­tu­tion. You wouldn’t call a hu­man be­ing an or­gan­iz­a­tion, but rather a liv­ing or­gan­ism. There­fore, the body of Christ is the same, an or­gan­ism with its head as Je­sus call­ing the shots and dir­ect­ing the body as he sees fit.

I want to make clear that the in­sti­tu­tion is a mind­set and not ne­ces­sar­ily a church build­ing struc­ture, or a de­nom­in­a­tion, al­though, em­phas­is on mem­ber­ship and at­tend­ance is apart of the ways of the in­sti­tu­tion. One could have church at home, on­line, with­in a se­greg­ated min­istry and still be con­sidered apart of the in­sti­tu­tion­al church. The prob­lem with the in­sti­tu­tion­al church is its lack of obed­i­ence and faith in Je­sus Christ.

A com­plic­ated Je­sus bathed in leg­al­ism & Calvin­ism

2 For I am jeal­ous for you with godly jeal­ousy. For I have be­trothed you to one hus­band, that I may present you as a chaste vir­gin to Christ. 3 But I fear, lest some­how, as the ser­pent de­ceived Eve by his craft­i­ness, so your minds may be cor­rup­ted from the sim­pli­city that is in Christ. 4 For if he who comes preaches an­oth­er Je­sus whom we have not preached, or if you re­ceive a dif­fer­ent spir­it which you have not re­ceived, or a dif­fer­ent gos­pel which you have not ac­cep­ted—you may well put up with it! (2 Cor 11:2-4)

Paul warned us about a coun­ter­feit Je­sus, a coun­ter­feit Holy Spir­it and a coun­ter­feit gos­pel mes­sage; and it’s already here! But it’s im­port­ant to note the lat­ter part of verse 4, that our minds can be cor­rup­ted from the sim­pli­city that is in Christ which comes from those coun­ter­feits.

What Paul is say­ing is: Je­sus is simple, his mes­sage is simple but when things get com­plic­ated, you can know that some cor­rup­tion has taken place. Re­li­gion is man’s bridge to God. Be­lief and obed­i­ence to Je­sus is God’s bridge to him­self. The in­sti­tu­tion’s re­li­gion falls in­to two cat­egor­ies:

Leg­al­ism is the set of doc­trines that teach a per­son that they must work their way in­to Heav­en — it’s all about what you do for God. God al­lows them in­to Heav­en based off their amount of works. As long as the be­liev­er stays busy, “work­ing for God” they will go to Heav­en — this all gets really com­plic­ated; but Je­sus says: Re­pent from sin, trust and obey me and al­low the Holy Spir­it to guide and con­form you to my im­age – not fol­low a set of rules made by men.

Calvin­ism is the set of doc­trines that say you can do noth­ing to be saved. You have no choice or freewill. God elects you and that’s it, you will in­her­it etern­al life no mat­ter if you con­tin­ue in sin. Many have sub­scribed to this be­lief be­cause they don’t have to give up their sins. How far from the truth. Je­sus died be­cause sin was of­fens­ive and through his blood we can be cleansed. God didn’t cre­ate ro­bots but men with choice. God only wants to fel­low­ship with those who will­ingly love him.

You will know the in­sti­tu­tion­al church by it’s works:

  • pro­mo­tion of church activ­ity over dis­play­ing the char­ac­ter of Christ
  • prais­ing God rather than obey­ing God first
  • glor­i­fy­ing men as God rather than the true God
  • fol­low­ing emo­tions rather than the Holy Spir­it
  • uni­fy­ing the world or the things of the word with Je­sus

It is a crafty, cun­ning, killing trap

The in­sti­tute draws you in with the hopes of fam­ily, ful­fill­ment, heal­ing, sal­va­tion and a re­la­tion­ship with God – only to rob you of your gifts, suck you dry of your zeal, sexu­ally or spir­itu­ally ab­use you, kill your con­fid­ence, make Je­sus look like a genie rather than a lord, and keep you dis­trac­ted just long enough that you be­come worn out, com­pla­cent and com­fort­able. Then, when the truth comes, you’re too “fat” and lazy to get up and do any­thing about it.

It’s highly de­cept­ive be­cause it’s as­so­ci­ated with the true God – not some ran­dom false god. The most de­cept­ive lies are the ones mixed with truth. It’s the dev­il’s web for all those who don’t love God, the truth, or his ways, but still want to fill the spir­itu­al holes in their souls with a god.

It is a test for God’s chil­dren

Many of God’s people are com­ing out of the in­sti­tu­tion­al church and some are still there. Those there are na­ive, young in the faith, and haven’t yet tested the preach­er’s ser­mons against scrip­ture. These people can get free, but only if they love the truth.

We’ve all been de­ceived, but like a good shep­herd, God will guide us in­to all truth (John 16:13). I was one of them who made the ex­odus from the in­sti­tu­tion­al church. I asked God why he al­lowed me to be in such an ab­om­in­a­tion. He said it’s a test to see if my chil­dren really want the true Je­sus or not.

If a per­son stays in the in­sti­tu­tion­al church, it’s evid­ent that they love the world and its iniquity rather than the right­eous­ness and holi­ness of the true Je­sus Christ. God may al­low the dev­il to keep them de­ceived and they will be damned (2 Thes­sa­lo­ni­ans 2:11-12).

The in­sti­tu­tion­al church can be a group of people, an ex­tern­al min­istry, a house church, or an as­semble of people in a build­ing. If you are apart of the in­sti­tu­tion­al church,  get out be­fore it’s too late. God refers to the in­sti­tu­tion­al church as a whor­ish wife and the fol­low­ing words he has for his people who are in her:

Come away from her, my people. Do not take part in her sins, or you will be pun­ished with her (Rev 18:4).