The Church of Christ
The Church of Christ
by Leo Virgo
Unity Tract Society
Unity Building, 913 Tracy Avenue
Kansas City, MO
[Note: this tract is believed to be dated 1901. But that is not possible, given that the cover refers to 913 Tracy Avenue. Other places in the document refer to 1315 McGee Street. It is possible that a supply of tracts were assembled with an earlier printing of the contents.]
He came to his own and his own received him not.— John 1:11.
The pure doctrine of Jesus Christ has never been popular with those who like formality and rites in religion.
The disciples of Jesus Christ were from the ranks of the common people, unlearned in the lore of the Scribes and without reputation, religiously or otherwise. They in their turn became filled with the Holy Spirit and did unusual works in healing and teaching, yet their converts were not largely from orthodox circles. It was the "common people" who heard them and their Master gladly. The aristocracy and the organized church opposed them at every turn. They were stoned, quartered and burned, and their doctrine never became the popular religion. Pure Christianity was literally killed out in less than three hundred years after the crucifixion. What is called Christianity is a combination of paganism, Israelit-ism, and the letter of Jesus' doctrine without the spirit.
This heterogeneous mass became acceptable because it was sanctioned by kings and enforced as the church of the state. As it had a little from all the religions, it offered balm to the forced worshippers from each sect, and thus became quickly popular.
It is not the doctrine of Jesus Christ, however, and never has been in any of its many forms and sects. Here and there a gleam of truth has come to spiritually awakened devotees, and they have broken away from the institution and formed newer and higher standards of truth, but all have been far short of the original doctrine set forth by Jesus and his disciples.
Jesus Christ never organized a church on earth, nor did he authorize anyone else to do so. He said to Peter, "On this rock I will build my church." He did not tell Peter that he was to be the head of the church with a line of popes to follow. He said, "I will build my church." Jesus Christ is still the head of his church, and its only organization is in Spirit. Whoever attempts to organize it on earth with creeds, tenets or text books of any kind or description as authority is in direct opposition to his word and example. He gave but one guide, one source from which his followers should receive their inspiration, "the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
The puerile claim that this was for his immediate disciples only is hardly worth considering because of so many texts in which he plainly states his ministry and words are for the world. In the very chapter with this he said, "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself to him."
It was this same Spirit of Truth in Peter that perceived the Christ and of which he said, "Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto you but my Father in heaven." This revealment of Truth direct from the Spirit is the rock upon which the one and only church of Jesus Christ is built — all other authorities are spurious.
That the one and only true church of Christ is without authority or head on earth is evident from the accepted words of Jesus himself. He never authorized the history of his life as recorded in the gospels, so far as known; yet, accepting them as such history, on their face they bear out the claim of a spiritual church, with only the Holy Ghost as meditator between man and God. It is evident that Jesus saw the tendency in the past among men to make idols of the scriptures, and it was his aim to do away with that sort of idolatry. He sarcastically said to the Jews, "Ye search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."
It is this eternal binding the thoughts to some external authority in book, creed or tradition that keeps men in bondage to the lower world. When the mind is perfectly free to search out the higher truths of existence there flows into the consciousness a vigor and virility that sets in motion all the crystalized thoughts, and fresh life stirs the whole man. Instead of confining the Infinite God into the little being of parts and passions conceived by some good but ignorant church father of by-gone ages, the open mind flows forth in its own native freedom, and its God is a whole universe larger in every way than was his of the limited concept. So with all the questions of doctrine that form the stock in trade of hereditary religion. What our forefathers discussed a lifetime and fought bitter battles over, and left undecided, the free mind sees through in a moment's consideration. He sees through it with unerring accuracy because his point of view is far removed from the narrow bigotry engrafted by creeds and dogmas into the susceptible mind of the infant churchman.
The mind of man is like a clear stream that flows from some lofty mountain. It has nothing at its point of origin to corrupt or distort it, but as it flows out into the plain of experience it meets the obstruction of doubt and fear. It is here that dams are built and its course turned in many ways.
Whoever formulates a creed, whoever writes a book claiming to be an infallible guide for mankind, whoever organizes a church in which it is attempted by rules and tenets to save men from their evil ways, whoever attempts to offer in any way a substitute for the one Omnipresent Spirit of God dwelling in each of us, is an enemy to mankind.
But those very things are the first that the mentality not in constant touch with the influx from the Father attempts. Man is by nature an organizer. It is his function in the God-head to formulate the potentialities of the Principle. It is through man's conscious ego that the Father makes Himself manifest to him as Infinite Externality. The within and without are one only when man recognizes that he draws all his life substance and intelligence from the Infinite Spirit welling up within him.
When he does this, creation is a perfect, homogeneous symphony of life, light and love. Discord is eliminated; sin, sorrow and everything that in any way interferes with his highest ideal of existence is dissolved, and he realizes that his dominion is to be the obedient exit of an inexhaustible inlet. Herein is God glorified, that His inexhaustible resources are not limited by man, but allowed full and free flow into a universe without height or depth, beginning or end.
He who becomes a member of the true church of Jesus Christ, and recognizes the Holy Spirit as his only authority, is immediately branded by the worshippers of scriptures and creeds as "heterodox." The Scribes and Pharisees exist in every age and among all peoples. They ever cry out against the true christian, "He hath Belzebub; it is the work of the devil, beware of him." The orthodox christian applies this to the Christian Scientist, and the Christian Scientist, in his turn, applies it to those who refuse to bow their necks to the creed which he has formulated, or the leader he has deified.
The true church of Christ is never organized upon the earth, because the minute that man organizes his religion he ceases to be guided wholly by the free Spirit of Truth, and to that extent he falls away from the true church.
Many of the protestant sects were in their incipiency very close to the original church. Wesley was led by the Spirit, and his ministry was characterized by a spiritual glow and power that was felt all over the religious world. He was free, and had the freedom of Jesus Christ back of him, yet he and his followers were despised by the organized church, and it was a stinging epithet to be called a "Methodist." A compromise in creeds, rituals and formulas for the guidance of members, instead of the Spirit, led to their final external popularity — and spiritual death.
When Mrs. Eddy gave forth "Science and Health" and her practical application of Jesus Christ's doctrine, it was confidently announced that primitive Christianity had been revived; that the inspiration of the Almighty was at last to be the only guide for men; that the doors had been thrown wide open and all might freely enter in. But this hope has not been realized. The builder of creeds, organizations and limitations has been unusually active in this remarkably promising movement. Instead of becoming the church of Christ — the Bride of the Lamb — it has but added another to the sects of Christendom in the earth.
The church of Jesus Christ still waits for a ministry that will represent it as it is — an organization in heaven without a head in earth, without a creed, without a line of written authority. This church exists and must be set up in its rightful place — the minds and hearts of men. It can never be confined in any external organization, and whoever attempts such movement by that act ceases to represent the true church of Christ.
There is need of such a church, and it is imperative that it be set up. Whoever advocates such a setting up may for a season expect the opposition of the organized institutions on every hand, but the final outcome must be victorious.
There can be but one leader for man in his search for God — the Spirit within him. When he unreservedly gives himself up to this Spirit he finds that the old world of forms and their limitations is no longer of interest. A new world is opened to his vision. What was the goal of his human life becomes a mere toy to his expanded concepts of God and the destiny of man.
He finds that the church of Jesus Christ is not a church at all under the new definition. He has looked upon his religion as having to do with the salvation of his soul — a sort of school in which he is coached in catechism and creed that he may be prepared to go to a place called heaven after death.
When the true church is revealed to his soul all this illusion of the animal man is dissolved. He finds that the church of Jesus Christ has to do with the world right here and now. That it is not a religion as he has been accustomed to regard religion; that it is an organic principle in nature working along definite lines of growth in the building up of a state of consciousness for the whole human race.
Thus the church of Jesus Christ is an exact science. It has its part in the economy of Being as the organizer of the unorganized. It does not refer things abstract but to things concrete. Whoever looks upon it as an abstraction has wholly misconceived it.
God never performs miracles, if by this is meant a departure from universal law. Whatever the prophets did was through the operation of laws inherent in Being and open to the discovery of every man.
Whatever Jesus of Nazareth did it is likewise the privilege of every man to do. It is simply a question of discernment. This discernment comes through an orderly organic structure in the soul of every man. It is first a state of consciousness, a perception of what is in the potential; this then formulates itself into a working structure that becomes in every man the permanent church of Christ.
Thus the church of Christ covers every department of man's existence and enters into every fibre of his being. He carries it with him day and night, seven days of the week. He lives in it as a fish lives in water, and he becomes a new creature. Life becomes an ecstacy, and his cup is full to overflowing.
The burdens of the human drop out of sight just as fast as the organic church is constructed. The construction of this church is orderly, definite and exact. It is not done in a moment, but brick by brick the man is built from the within to the without, a new creature in consciousness and body.
Many have caught sight of the fact that the true church of Christ is a state of consciousness in man, but few have gone so far in the realization as to know that a temple is also constructed in the very body of each man and woman in which the Christ holds religious services at all times. "Ye are the temple of the living God" was not a symbolical appellation, but a statement of architectual truth. Through a conversion of the organic substance of the body the thinking faculty in man constructs under the direction of the Christ a new body that becomes alive in the material body. It breathes an atmosphere, and is thrilled with a life energy more real than that of the external form. When he who has come into the church of Christ in this ultimate feels the stirring within him of this body of the Spirit he knows what Paul meant when he said, "There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body."
Most of the opposition to the church of Christ comes from those who have never felt the stirring within them of this spiritual body, and they refuse to believe the experiences of those who have. They live in the intellectual-spiritual, and when the Holy Spirit proceeds to organize within them an abiding place they refuse it recognition and call it "mortal mind,""the devil," or "an unclean spirit. "
It is this blasphemy against the Holy Ghost that Jesus said could not be forgiven. Everything that a man does or has done the Father freely forgives except the cursing of His Holy Spirit by calling it an unclean spirit. He who understands the law of mental action can easily see why this cannot be forgiven. Mind organizes its states of consciousness according to methods inherent in Being. First is the idea, which is the centre in which the form is generated. This form is projected from that centre to a circumference, and in its line of structure in the consciousness of man it proceeds to occupy the place of pre-existing forms. The idea of perfection held in the mind will build a body having for its attributes all the harmony possible to the organism in which it is born. "God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body." That "seed" is the idea held in your mind, and which the Holy Spirit comes to you to nourish and through its ministrations grow in you a new body.
If you refuse to receive the sensible ministrations of this Holy Spirit you of course cut off the builder of the eternal temple in which God makes his permanent dwelling place in you.
When you refuse to receive this baptism of the Holy Ghost your flesh is not quickened and must eventually go back to dust; and you are again sent to school to learn the lesson in another earthly experience ages hence.
This is the law. Let him who has ears hear it, and not oppose the structure of that temple of the living God when the Father in His own way proceeds to build it in obedience to the thought held in man's mind of a more enduring, a deathless habitation. Let us, each one of us, see to it that this opposition to Christ and His methods is not found within us.
If our teaching has been, such as to disparage the entertainment of the new sensations in the body when in prayer or the silence, let us cast those ideas out of our minds and throw ourselves wholly on the care of the Spirit. The mind of the flesh vigorously opposes this newcomer in its domain, and if you side with it and cast out the Spirit as unclean, you will find yourself eventually without a body — you have sinned against the Holy Ghost and are homeless in consequence.
Pronounce every experience as good and of God, and by that mental attitude you will call forth only the good. What was error will disappear and only the good remain. This is the law, and no one can break it. The adversary always flees before the mind that is fixed on the pure, the just and the upright. There is no error in all the universe that can stand for one moment in the presence of the innocent mind. Innocence is its own defense, and he who invokes the Father with pure motive and upright heart need not fear any experience. God has not forgotten His world nor the children of light. It is His will to build in you His eternal habitation, and He will do it in a manner so attractive that you will be delighted with the process after the first few moves have been made. It is not always pleasant to tear down old brick and mortar, but when the new structure commences to go up there is rejoicing.
So you will find in your experience with the work of the Holy Spirit in reconstructing your organism the present structure must be literally torn down atom by atom. It is in its present state temporary and without the conscious life of the indwelling Spirit. You, with the race, have separated yourself from God in consciousness; that separation extends to the body, which is the most remote plane of your cousciousness.
In returning, the Father, the innermost of you, the Spirit which is and ever has been pure, first recognizes its true estate. This recognition is on the plane of causes, the ideal, and may remain there for a long time. But the law of seed time and harvest prevails here as in the natural world, and the idea is the "seed" that will spring forth from its subjective realm, and when watered by the Holy Spirit through your receptive thought, grow a new organism, which will be a permanent battery from which you will radiate the transcendent powers of the Spirit forever and forever.
This means that your body will be so transformed within and even without that it will never go through the change called death. It will be a resurrected body, becoming more and more refined as you catch sight of the free truths of Being, until it will literally disappear from the sight of those who see with the eye of sense.
This is the way in which the last enemy, "death," is to be overcome. The corruptible shall put on incorruption right here and now. Be careful not to defer this change to some future state, some "day of judgment," some sound of a "last trump," but recognize it in the light of an organic change going on in and through your very body from day to day until you literally shine with the glory of the noon-day sun.
This is the promised New Jerusalem, a city in which neither the sun nor the moon is necessary. This is the city of God within you, and your very body shall become so illuminated by the brilliancy of your mind that the light streaming forth will be brighter than that of the sun. This is not a fancy sketch, but a statement of facts based upon spiritual dynamics, of which the body is part.
Metaphysicians in this age have caught sight of these possibilities of man when he consciously recognizes his relation to God, and proceeds to carry out in thought and act right here that which he perceives to be true in Spirit, but many of them are not wise in their methods of attaining the ultimate inorganic building. They have made connection with the realm of ideas, and are loth to comply with the requirements of organic growth from the generative idea to its concrete structure. This growth is the construction of the church of Jesus Christ in each one of us, and it is a most delicate and intricate process. No external architect is here allowed; the Spirit only can tell what is necessary from day to day, and the Spirit can be heard only by the attentive ego.
If you have any ideas of your own as to how this new body is to be constructed, drop them immediately. If you have been before the public as a teacher of Divine Science and have set up in consciousness abstract theories as to the unreality of the body and its sensations, you must be willing to give them all up before you can be received into the regeneration. Although you may have served the Truth long and faithfully, do not be rebellious if all your labors seem as "dust and ashes." The rebellious Israelites never got into the Promised Land. You must be meek and lowly. You must be obedient. You must be willing to give up all your plans, your hopes and your ambitions. The Spirit wants your attention only. If you have done good you will be rewarded in the process for it, but you must not claim your good as a merit card which gives you any preference in the regeneration. You must be willing to become as nothing in the sight of men — literally crucified for your good works. Then the personal mentality loses its centre, the atoms of your being swiftly change their polarization from the material to the spiritual plane, and you come forth from the tomb of sense with a body of light. Then you can in truth and word repeat with an understanding heart:
" I believe in the Holy Catholic Church, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting."
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The Only Good and Other Talks.
By Leo Virgo.
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Able expositions of various phases of the New Thought on the following subjects: "The Only Good," "The Ministry of the Word," "Ye Must be Born Again," and "Intelligent Substance." It is a fine companion booklet to "Talks on Truth."
By Leo Virgo.
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Philosophy of Denial.
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Wee Wisdom's Way.
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Christ the Emancipator.
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The most remarkable sermon ever delivered by the great New York reformer. Full of metaphysical suggestions.
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The Bible and Eternal Punishment
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Neither do I Condemn Thee, 50c
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None of These Things Move Me... 5c
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