Will a "Do It Yourself" (DIY) Religion Work?

By looking at the many Christian religions available in the world today, it is obvious that most Christians want, like, expect, even demand, that another man act as a "go-between" between themselves and God. There are some small groups that don't, but these are a minority.

So to suggest a "do it yourself" religion is going to sound absurd to the majority of Christians today. Yet it has strong backing from the Bible, once the errors are isolated.

Before I go too far, it might help if I try to define what I mean by a DIY Christian religion.

Christians in general, do the following things.

Points 1 and 2 are done by the individual and have nothing to do with the type of Church you attend.

In a DIY religion, point 3 also becomes personal, and you have to buy the books and computer programs (some of the best are free) to do your own study.

Points 4, 5, 6 and 7 are where the main differences come in.

Point 4 (Sabbath) - Because most churches that exist today, incorporate some of the errors in our English translations, you can't become a "member in good standing" without compromising your own beliefs -  if you are trying to put God's will first. However, there are many Sabbath keeping churches that are happy to have you attend as a visitor - provided you don't cause trouble by bringing out your own "different" beliefs. The alternative is to come up with your own traditions of making the Sabbath "different", and keep the Sabbath at home.

Point 5 (Anointing and counsel) - In your average Christian group, this is all taken care of by someone who is an elder in the group. For DIY people, you have to find someone who will do it for you, and/or use government provided counselors, or people who are available for a fee. Financial advice from a bank advisor could be the best advice you can get - so why not use it. For anointings, the Bible uses the word "elder", which just means a senior person. A simple definition of an elder is someone usualy over 40, mature, a sincere Christian, and can demonstrate some of the fruits of the Spirit. Many men serving in the office of "minister" or "pastor" also qualify.

Point 6 (Holy Days) - Is much like the the Sabbath, but harder to find a group who keeps the Holy Days on the correct day - as per the Biblical calendar. However, you can keep them at home.

Point 7 (Tithes) - This one is a bit hard, as tithes are for supporting a group providing religious services. If you use e-Sword, then you can use tithes to support that group. Likewise, if you have a NET Bible, you can use tithes to support them. Two worthy organisations  who are trying to provide a service to others - but I am sure there are more.

Plus and minus.

The minus of having a DIY religion is that you have to do a lot more work yourself, and take the time to check out the people you want to deal with in life. Another minus is that you do not have a ready made group with which to fellowship.

The plus is that you don't have a man or organization standing between you and Christ - the Head of the Church. The concept - of looking to Christ for our teaching (Mat 23:8) - takes some getting used to, but once you see it happening, you wouldn't want it any other way. I'll explain that a little more later.

Why organized religion?

As I see it, there are three main reasons why most Christian religions of today have  priests/ministers/pastors standing between the people and God. The first reason that helps to bring this about is the fact that many men - and women - want to hold this position. This desire has been given extra "authority", by the Bible being mistranslated in certain places to make it look like "ordination" into a hierarchy has God's approval. The only hierarchy I can find described in the original Bible is, God - Christ - Husband - Wife - Children.

The next reason is that most people have just accepted the situation. They have been brought up with an established "tradition" and have made little or no effort to find out if that is God's will. 

The third reason comes about because of an urge deep within humans to have something they can "see" when they come before God. This human urge comes out in a number of different ways. The most basic is idol worship, but it also extends to having "religious objects" to "help" with their worship, and with having another human (usually dressed in a particular way) lead in the worship service.

These pressures make it difficult for people to understand that it is possible to have an invisible force - Christ - as our High Priest, and the only one operating between us and God. This is the situation described in 1 Cor 11:3, and is a form of hierarchy that has God's approval.

1Co 11:3 NET. "But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ."

If we take a composite of a number of translations, and change the word order a bit, we can come up with the following.

1 Cor 11:13 [God is the head of Christ. Christ is the head of men. Husbands are the head of their wives] (Eph 5:23).

This means that all married men answer directly to Christ. Wives look to their husbands for leadership, unless the husband does not reflect the values of Christ - then, on those issues she has to look to Christ  (Acts 5:29). Young males and females should look to their physical father, but it that is not appropriate, they too should look to Christ.  For those families that do not have a physical father present, then certainly look to Christ and our heavenly Father for leadership, but also listen to the advice and counsel from close family, and people in responsible positions (school principals, bank managers, police, and so on). 

If young people looking to God and Christ for leadership is a new concept for you, you may want to review how God worked with Samuel (1 Sam 2,3) Jeremiah (Jer 1:5) and David (1 Sam 17:33-37) - notice he was just a "boy" (NET).

We Need Balance.

As in all things, we need to keep the concept of a "do it yourself" religion in balance. We need someone to tell us about God and Christ in the first place. We need other people to baptize and lay hands on us, and we may need elders for anointing if we are sick. The big difference between a DIY religion and mainstream Christianity is in the qualifications of who can "serve" other Christians in these capacities, and the way they go about doing that.

Lines of Authority.

Our Lord is subject to His Father. That is simple and straight forward. Men are subject to Christ - also called our High Priest (Heb 7:17-28). That also is simple and straight forward. Wives are subject to their husband. While the husband upholds the values of God and Christ, that too is easy to understand. The complications arise when a husband does not - or ceases to - uphold the right values. In these cases the wife has no option but to look to Christ, or continue to look to Christ if the husband has never been converted (accepted Jesus's sacrifice).

When Jesus was on earth, He was quite specific that men were NOT to put themselves into positions of authority. We are to look to Christ, not to men.

Mat 23:8-11 NET. But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have one Teacher and you are all brothers. (9) And call no one your 'father' on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. (10) Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one teacher, the Christ. (11) The greatest among you will be your servant.

Joh 13:13 NET. You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and do so correctly, for that is what I am.

How does Christ teach?

I can't give you a total answer to this question, as there will be differences between individuals and situations. However, some basic things to look for are these.

Theory then practical.

As you read about certain Biblical principles each day [if you are not reading some of the OT and NT each day, then you are automatically rejecting much of Christ's teaching], you will find situations often will come up that require those principles to understand them correctly. Or you will be talking to another Christian, and the principle you read about in the past week will come to mind, and it will fit right into the conversation.

Another example. You might be reading about usury (charging excessive interest) being banned by God within the country, and then on TV one night (as I did) you might see a current affair type program showing how loan sharks are charging over 100% for a loan.

Reading about a Biblical principle, and then being presented with a practical example, is a common way Christ teaches, and it helps to make the principle "stick" in our mind.

Pieces of the jig-saw.

When you see this method working, you just have to shake you head in wonderment.

Christ, at different times and in different ways, and through different people, will give you pieces of information. It comes in such a way that you remember it. Then - often years later - the piece of information will fit into the jig-saw.

In trying to track down the truth that was in the original Bible, I have read many articles posted by people on the Net. Some of the articles were helpful in their own right. Some seemed to be incorrect. But often in those articles I could not agree with, there would often be a point of truth, or a Scripture mentioned, that I would find helpful later on. By doing my part by searching (Mat 13:45), Christ was doing His by leading me to pick up the gems that had been scattered across the Internet.

I find that talking to older people - the "elders" - is a great way to pick up some wisdom. Often they can summarize an aspect of life in a single sentence. Their life experiences finally come down to the core of the matter. If our Lord leads you to meet new people, don't miss the opportunity to engage in some deep discussion.

Pointing out our mistakes.

It may not be the nicest way to learn, but it probably is the most common way. We learn how not to do things by making mistakes. Christ will then use circumstances to bring these mistakes to our notice. If we deny our mistake, or try to ignore it, we miss out on a great learning opportunity. If we recognize our mistake, repent, and try to correct it if we can, we make positive forward progress, despite taking some backward steps to start with.

People following a DIY religion, can't afford to act like they "know it all" or are already "perfect". We all carry human nature to the day we die, and there will always be a conflict between our human side wanting the ways of the world, and spiritual side wanting to be like Jesus Christ.

Gal 5:17 NET. "For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other, so that you cannot do what you want".

Therefore all of us will make mistakes at some time or other. But we need to be willing to learn from those mistakes.  Admit them, repent of them, learn from them, then move on.

Christ will use circumstances.

An example that comes to mind, though I now forget some of the finer details. An acquaintance gave me an address where you could send away for a free monthly news letter - which I did. This introduced me to Jonathan Gray - an author. Then it just so happened that we went to Trash and Treasure the day some people were selling some of his books at a stall. I bought a book written by Jonathan and got more information about the location of Mount Sinai and the Red Sea crossing, and so on. Without the prior contact, and some knowledge of who Jonathan Gray was, it is most unlikely that we would have bought the book - "The Ark of the Covenant".

There have been a number of times when I have met someone, and then some time later - in one case years - we start communicatiing and then a pearl of truth is given (or where to find a pearl is given) and then the person just disappears back into the woodwork - as they say. Sometimes they don't give a pearl of truth, but they ask a question that requires further research to answer, which in turn leads to a pearl of truth.

The bottom line.

At the end of the day, if we are looking to Christ to lead and teach us, He will supply the knowledge and understanding we need, if we are willing to do our part.

New ground.

Since I have never tried a DIY religion before, and I don't know anyone else who has, this is breaking new ground for me. As I move away from the "normal" organized religion, and step out into a closer relationship with Christ as Head of the Church, and away from men holding positions of power, I am finding a new freedom to explore the Bible.  One of the most important "freedoms", I feel,  is that you can change on a point of doctrine as soon as you are convinced that it is correct.  This "freedom" is rarely found in organized religions.

This greater understanding of the Bible that has come through this process, makes the extra effort required for a DIY religion worthwhile in my book. However, I can understand that there will be many who don't want to walk down this road. It has to be a personal decission.

Points about what has to be done.

To make a DIY religion work, I would suggest you will have to consider, and put into practice, the following points.

  1. Each day you will need to get in a reasonable amount of prayer - in a quiet place and on your knees, if possible. It helps if your prayer can be split up into two or three sessions through out the day. Many times, thoughts and solutions to problems have come to me while praying. I have no doubt that God can just "put" thoughts into our minds.

  2. Also on each day, you will need to read something out of the Old Testament and the New Testament. It doesn't matter if it is a chapter or a page, or a certain number of verses - what ever suits you and your particular Bible. Currently I am reading the NT in a Life Application Bible, and find that a page a day is best. For the OT I am using the NLT with cross references at the bottom, and again, a page a day suits.

  3. Find a way to make the Sabbath special. When God created the Sabbath, He "ceased" from work. We too should cease our normal work, but doesn't mean that we have to sit around and do nothing all day. Walks that get us back to nature, extra time for study, communication with family and friends, are some of the positive things we can do on the Sabbath. If you are able to attend a service with other Sabbath keepers, and there is no pressure put on you to "conform" to the group, then that can be a good thing to do as well.

  4. Keep the Holy Days according to the Biblical Calendar. Atonement is a yearly Sabbath, and as such is kept as a Sabbath. The other Holy Days have a higher standard than the weekly Sabbath, and should be kept with the least amount of physical things being done as possible.  Ex 12:16 tells us that things to do with  food preparation and eating on the Holy Days are OK.

  5. This may sound a little strange if you haven't looked into it before, but you need to be aware of when the new months start in God's calendar. The "New Moon" or new month can be observed in a number of ways, and it doesn't need to be a "big deal". Christ may reveal more about what should happen on a New Moon as time goes on, but for now the main thing is to have them on your calendar and be aware of when they come round.  It is good to make mention of them when you give thanks for the first meal of the new month. To help highlight the new moon, use the new month to keep track of a maintenance job, or when certain things need to be done.  We round up the sheep and check their hoofs, give them a supplement, and see if any wool needs trimming.  The phase of the moon is also a reminder of how far through the month time has progressed.
  6. As I mentioned before, we are dependant on people bringing us news of the gospel in the first place (Rom 10:14).  Since it requires an ongoing learning effort to understand the gospel better, we do need to read books and search out articles. As you are able to afford it, build up a library of reference books, and books written on a specific subject. If you have a computer, many books can be downloaded for free, or at a reasonable price. It is a good idea to subscribe to a couple of monthly religious magazines, if you are able to sort out truth from error. If you are just going to read them and believe everything, then you would be best to stay away from them. Two examples would be the "Good News" and "Tomorrow's World". While both are free, we should follow the principle of Gal 6:6, and help out with the cost if we can. 

  7. You need to keep in mind that your DIY religion is on display and under test from the moment you open your eyes in the morning till you go to sleep at night.  It should be a factor behind every thought and every action - especially when no one is looking (1 Pet 2:12, Rom 12:9,10).  Every interaction between other people - regardless of the position they hold - should be carried out according to God's Law of love.  Our primary concern should be to do them no harm (Rom 13:10) but it is much better if we can do them some good. Make the check-out person's job as easy as you can, along with some uplifting conversation - but only bring religion into it if you are asked, and then keep it short.

This point is a difficult one.

There are not many greater joys than to be able to talk to someone with a like mind about spiritual things, and the truth of the Bible.  Finding people with "a like mind" is often the hard bit.

One thing I can say at this point in time, is that I have a feeling, that if we do our part and first do what is required to educate ourselves about what God's will is, then God will allow us to join with others.  To put it another way, we first have to build a sure foundation, so that when we do have conversation with others, we will not be swayed by slick arguments. Paul has much to say to the Galatians about this very problem. Paul laid the correct foundation in the first place, but it had not strengthened enough over time to stand the onslaught of people deliberately putting a "twist" on the truth.

As nice as fellowship is, unless we are very familiar as to what is truth and what is error (teaching against God's will) in the Bible, it can be used to take us off on tangents and destroy the good work that has been started.

If you are able to find people to fellowship with, then value the experience.  However, move away from anyone who insists that a particular point has to be followed - especially about something that is not clear cut. The big example of the New Testament is physical circumcision, which was raised to a cult status - this one point became more important than the rest of the Bible.  If you read the Old Testament carefully, it is clear that circumcision was only the "token" of the covenant, and as such it is no where as important as the Covenant it self.  If you read the OT carelessly, then you can make it say that circumcision was a part of the Covenant. There is a big difference.  We need to be sure what is truth in our own mind, and what is the trunk of the tree, before we start discussing information about twigs.

If you are not able to find people to fellowship with, then use the Sabbath time to read and study and pray, and build the foundation stronger.

What is the role of Church leaders/servants?  And do we need them?
This is one area where some of the errors of the Bible have been taken as truth, and it has had major consequences for the Christian churches.

What is wrong?

The original Bible contains no equivalent word to our English word "ordain" - as far as men giving another man an "office' is concerned. The Geneva Bible (1587) only uses the word three times. Twice it is God  doing the ordaining, and once it is the Apostle Paul giving his advice. However, in the KJV, the word ordain is used 44 times, and is used in the context of men "ordaining" someone to an office - 12 times.  The Bishops of 1611 had a great time - writing their own requirements into their new translation of the Bible. The ability to "ordain" others gives men great power - which God never intended - and leads to the creation of a "hierarchy".

Let me try and give you a summary of my experiences with a hierarchy.  In a hierarchy, you have different levels of "office".  The man at the top is overall in charge, and then the men under him have decreasing levels of responsibility.  Usually, the men in all those positions want to "climb the ladder" and move into a higher position, but they can't do that until they are "ordained" by someone above them.  Once raised in rank, they are then in a position to "ordain" their supporters who are under them.

Obviously you can't attack or correct the man above you, because that will block your next "move up". Those towards the top of the chain are not all that interested in what is happening several levels below them, as long as they don't bring their own office into disrepute.  So, a hierarchy is a system of power that is virtually  unregulated, apart from some overall direction from the man at the top.

Depending on the nature of the group, a hierarchy can vary from a system of organization to a system of iron-fisted control.  It is used in the armed forces today because it is a good system to control large numbers of people. While Moses did use such a system for the unconverted Israelites, there are no instructions - in the original Bible - to use such a system with converted Christians living under the New Covenant.  In fact, our Lord's instructions make it very clear that we are not to do so (Mat 23:8-11, John 13:12-15 + 2 Cor 1:24, 2 Cor 4:5, 1 Pet 5:3).

Without the power of "ordination" (or ladder of promotion), hierarchies find it hard to exist. Since having power over others is such a desired position by men (and some women), it is easy to see why Satan was able to tempt men to write the word into the KJV - which was then followed by most (but not all) other translations.

What is right?

Before we talk about the two positions that are allowed in a New  Covenant church, I would like to make a couple of points clear.

While the Bible does give us examples of men laying their hands on other men, we need to realize that there is a vast difference between what was originally done and what is claimed to be done today.

The original intention was to ask God for a blessing to be imparted to the person so that he could carry out a particular mission, or hold a position of responsibility for a limited period of time. It was also used to ask God for strength for a person to carry a particular responsibility throughout their life time (Gen 48, Israel laying hands on Joseph's sons).  In short, the laying on of hands is to ask for a blessing from God for that particular person.

Today, the laying on of hands is taken to be men giving another man a position of authority for the rest of his life. There is a big difference. Of course, the original intention is also used in the asking for the Holy Spirit after baptism, and for healing.

We also need to understand that some responsibilities (which can be given a title) are given by Christ, and some are given by men.

We can see the positions given by Christ outlined in the following verses.
Eph 4:10-12 NET. " He, the very one who descended [into the grave], is also the one who ascended above all the heavens, in order to fill all things.  (11)  It was he [Christ] who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,  (12)  to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ,"

When Christ gives these positions to men, it is made obvious by the fruits that Christ provides to go with the position. We do not put men into positions and then expect Christ to add the fruits. Instead we look for the fruits to see where Christ - as Head of the Church - is working.

The positions that can be appointed by men are found in,

1Ti 3:1 NET.  "This saying is trustworthy: "If someone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a good work."

1Ti 3:8 NET.  "Deacons likewise must be dignified, not two-faced, not given to excessive drinking, not greedy for gain,"

Both of these positions are followed by instructions to those who appoint men to fill these offices - showing that men have to make the decision, not Christ.

Clearly, men have taken onto themselves the responsibilities that are reserved for Christ, and appointed men to positions that they have no authority to do - such as Apostle and Evangelist and so on. One example of how men get it wrong is shown by the office of Apostle. In 1 Cor 15:1-8 Paul shows that all the Apostles had seen the risen Christ, and in 2 Cor 12:12 that true apostles - that is appointed and backed up by Christ - are capable of "signs, wonders and mighty deeds".  I know of no man doing this today, so we have to conclude that Christ has not appointed an apostle in this day and age - though there are men who claim such a position.

The two positions that men can appoint other men to, are that of "Overseer" and "Deacon". These positions are one of service, and not for power.  In today's language, an Overseer could be called a facilitator.  In service to the rest of the Church, someone takes on the job of organizing things.  People need to know the time and place for services, and the men giving messages need to know when they will speak so that they have time to prepare.  Everything needs to be done decently and in order, and the Overseer/Shepherd/Pastor has the responsibility of making sure that this happens.

The two offices can somewhat overlap, but in general the Overseer has the responsibility for spiritual condition of the group and the Deacon has the physical details to take care of. Both offices are elected by the group, and both report to the group, but of course there should be a great deal of cooperation between the two.  To put it another way, the deacon is not there just to take orders from the overseer.  The men selected to serve the church in this way are only concerned with the local issues.  A "Counsel of Elders" group of men are required to make any decisions affecting the groups world wide, but again, are not in positions of power.

Yes, we do need men in positions of responsibility - but only if they have a "servant" mentality - and only when a group is big enough to require them.

The "position" is not for life, and either the men or the church congregation can terminate the arrangement at any time.  It is NOT a hierarchy.  It is not a position to lord it over others. They are positions of service as Christ said they should be.

Men can be involved - but are not required.
If we can understand what the original Bible is trying to tell us about positions in a church, we should be able to see that men have shifted the original instructions to an almost extreme. Ministers thinking that they have the "power" to correct, order people around and disfellowship is - I feel - one of the major causes why people have been "hurt" by religion.  It is not the original Bible's fault - but rather the way men have twisted the truth over the years.

A DIY religion is possible.
By force of circumstances, we have been following a DIY religion for a number of years, which proves that it is possible.  Over that time our knowledge of what we believe Christ wants for His Church has grown, so in no way do we feel "cut off" from spiritual growth.

Do we miss the fellowship with others?  We most certainly do.

But while we wait for that to happen, we are trying to use the time we have as profitably as possible.  I very much doubt that this web site would exist if we had been busy with a local church group these past few years.

Bob Orchard Dec 2015 (Revised) Dec 2017

While this information is made freely available (Mat 10:8b) , and can be printed out, it is done with the understanding that there will only be fair and honest use of the material, and that it will be copied in full with no alterations.

Miscellaneous Index                        Index