What is the Church, really?
In the preceeding article on this subject I asked the question, "Who's Church is it, really?" The obvious implication is that there can only be one Church and that someone must own and have control over that Church.
To most of you reading this article the above statement must seem or at least look a little crazy from the outside. After all, are their not countless expressions of what we have come to know as "church" these days? Yes, of course their are. In my home town I have visited, attended or been a member of many of these places over the years. I'm quite sure that is true for many of you as well. But have you ever thought, "What is the Church, really?"
Hopefully as one who has trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation, you have learned to seek His truth through the reading and studying of the Bible. For without some universal source of truth for direction, without an authorative standard as the guideline for all men, we would find ourselves left to our own wisdom, ingenuity and imagination in our search for the truth- and that on any level or in relation to any subject matter. All men would be left to their own devices and resources. Sadly, that is exactly what has happened for hundreds of years of religious history among men. Although God has made plain what His Church really is, men everywhere have and continue to subvert what God has called His Ekklesia.
Why it matters
Over the years I occasionally speak with others about what I have discovered about Jesus' Ekklesia. I attempt to show them some glaring differences between what the Bible calls God's Ekklesia and what people for years have called "church." In most cases they could care less and in some instances these people become very angry. It seems few will even listen to what I'm attempting to show them. They want no part of it. How can this be?
In our last study I showed you how what man calls Church cannot be synonomous with Jesus' Ekklesia for one simple reason, that of origins. What God calls Ekklesia is from above, it is heavenly in nature. This cannot be said of what men call church today. Its origins are obviously earthly in nature and utilize earthly and worldly resources.
Like everything God has created or allowed men to create, each has a specific purpose for its creation. This is certainly true for what God refers to as His Ekklesia. It has a purpose and those purposes can only be fulfilled through a proper expression of what God Himself has set in motion. That is why a proper understanding and application of Jesus' Ekklesia is so important. We can't alter what God has created and expect the same results that He promises can we? Yet that is exactly what we have done and are expecting to happen.
First English uses of "church"
For most of those claiming to be Christians, they have little reason to question what they have always known as church. As far as they, their parents or grandparents remember, things have always been done this particular way. In fact, for hundreds of years things have been done this particular way!
The word "church" originally entered the pages of what we've come to know as the Bible around 1557ad with the English version of the Scriptures, the Geneva New Testament. Following that version came the Bishops Bible and the King James Version. Most of us are familiar with the latter version today as it is easily accessible. It was first published in 1611ad. Note that these latter two translations also used the word "church" as well. Also note that at least two other English versions preceded these three, William Tyndale's English translation and Matthew's Bible which was also based upon much of Tyndale's work. Both of these earlier translations properly rendered the Greek word ekklesia as "congregation" or "assembly" instead of using the word "church."
Definitions of "church"
Websters defines Church:
Etymology: Middle English chirche, from Old English cirice, ultimately from Late Greek Kyriako, from Greek neuter of kyriakos of the Lord, from kyrios- lord, master…
- A building for public and especially Christian worship
- The clergy or officialdom of a religious body
- A body or organization of religious believers- denomination
- The clerical profession
Easton's Bible Dictionary:
Derived probably from the Greek Kyriako (the Lord's house) which was used by the author's for the place of worship. In the New Testament it is the translation of the word ekklesia which is synonomous with the Hebrew kahal of the Old Testament, both words meaning simply an assembly, the character of which can only be known from the connection in which the word is found. There is no clear instance of its being used for a place of meetings or worship…
The Greek word ekklesia, which came to mean church, was originally applied in the classical period to an official assembly of citizens. In the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament, 3rd-2nd century bc) the term ekklesia is used for the general assembly of the Jewish people, especially when gathered for a religious purpose such as hearing the Law (Deuteronomy 9:10, 18:16). In the New Testament it is used of the entire body of believing Christians throughout the world…
Smith's Bible Name's Dictionary:
The derivation of the word is generally said to be from the Greek kuriakon, "belonging to the Lord." But the derivation has been too hastily assumed. It is probably connected with kirk, the Latin circus, circulus, the Greek kuklos because the congregations were gathered in circles.
Ekklesia, the Greek word for church, originally meant an assembly called out by the magistrate or by legitimate authority. It was in this last sense that the word was adopted and applied by the writers of the New Testament to the congregation.
Notice what is and isn't consistent among the sources above:
1) There is some confusion as to where the word church originated. There was no English equivalent to ekklesia in the 1st century.
2) All agree that the word "church" has an altogether different definition than ekklesia. Church means "the Lord's house," ekklesia means "assembly" or "congregation." It literally means a called out assembly (of people).
3) Although ekklesia has been translated "church" in all Bibles since the Geneva Bible in 1557ad, it is not the proper translation of the word. Therefore, neither is it the word the original apostles used or that of Jesus Himself. In total, the word ekklesia is mistranslated as "church" over one hundred times in the New Testament alone in our modern versions of the Bible.
Why the recent mistranslations?
There is much speculation as to the reasons behind the change from the word ekklesia to the word "church." That is an altogether different subject matter that I cannot address here now. If you choose to continue along with this study and discover the many differences between the two words, I'm quite sure you can piece together some likely scenarios.
In the preceding article I asked you, ""Who's Church is it, really?" To answer that we addressed a few things that categorized both ekklesias and churches. I'll list them again below with a few additions.
|God promises to build His own||Is built by men|
|Is heavenly in nature/origin||Is earthly in nature/origin|
|It's head and ruler is Christ||Is ruled by appointed/elected men|
|Comprised of only Christians||Everyone welcome|
|Led by the Holy Spirit||Led and organized by men|
|Is a living spiritual organism||Is a physical organization|
|All are united in Christ||Is sectarian in nature|
|All believers share equality||Exhibit obvious hierarchy|
|Guided by apostle's doctrine||Guided by religious tradition|
God calls members through new
Members join voluntarily if they
accept man's rules/statements etc.
For those who believe the previous definitions, it is plainly obvious that ekkklesia and church are not just different but exactly the opposite! Think about that deeply. Do you realize the ramifications of that!
Now that you've heard it from me, let's here it from a more reliable source, God's Word, The Bible.
#1 God promises to build His own Ekklesia
"I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock [Jesus Himself] I will build My Ekklesia; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it"
Several things can be seen here:
1) Jesus will build His Ekklesia upon Himself as the foundation.
2) The gates of hell will not overpower it. Are the gates of hell overpowering your marriages, youth group or church? At least now you know why. It matters how we build.
#2 God's Ekklesia is heavenly in nature and origin
"My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews, but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm" [John 18:36]
"But you have come to Mt. Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavely Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and ekklesia of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and the God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel." [Hebrews 12:22-24]
#3 The head and ruler of His Ekklesia is Jesus
"I will build My Ekklesia…." [Matthew 16:18]
"And He [God the Father] put all things in subjection under His [Jesus'] feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the ekklesia, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all" [Ephesians 1:22, 23]
"He is also the head of the body, the ekklesia; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything." [Colossians 1:18]
#4 His Ekklesia is comprised of only Christians
"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, [spiritually] not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" [John 1:12, 13]
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water [natural birth] and the Spirit [spiritual birth] he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" [John 3:5, 6]
#5 His Ekklesia is led of the Holy Spirit
"But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. [John 16:13, 14]
"However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him." [God] Romans 8:9]
"And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" [Acts 2:4]
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit ,said…..[Acts 4:8-12]
"O' Lord, it is YOU MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA, AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM, who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said…..[Acts 4:23-26]
"They were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which He was speaking" [Acts 16:10]
Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go up and join this chariot." [Acts 8:26-40]
"The Spirit told me….." [Acts 11:1-18]
"They passed through the Phyrgian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they came down to Troas" [Acts 16:6-8]
"Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols." [Acts 17]
"Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted with only the baptism of John; and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue." [Acts 18:24-28]
"And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me." [Acts 20:22, 23]
"After looking up the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem." [Acts 21:4]
"This is what the Holy Spirit says….." [Acts 21:11]
"For all who are led of the Spirit, these are the sons of God" [Romans 8:14]
"The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit….."[Romans 8:16, 17]
"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God" [1 Corinthians 2:12, 13]
"But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good" [1 Corinthians 12:7]
"Now you are Christ's body and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the ekklesia, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues." [1 Corinthians 12:27, 28]
"So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound to the edification of the ekklesia" [1 Corinthians 14:12]
Just in the few verses above we find the Spirit of God guiding men into all truth, led some to speak in tongues, led others to prophesy, tells men to "go" or "not to go," speaks truth through ignorant men, testifies to men, reveals what God freely gave, distributes spiritual gifts and glorifies Jesus. The Spirit of God has many functions and those above are only indicative of a few of them. My point: His Ekklesia is led by His Spirit as each of His children is led by His Spirit.
#6 God's Ekklesia is a living spiritual organism
"In Him was life, and the life was the light of men" [John 1:4]
"It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life" [John 6:63]
"I am the resurrection and the life; who who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" [John 11:25, 26]
"The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit" [John 3:8]
Jesus' Ekklesia is permeated with LIFE because He is the light within them. At any given moment spontaneity may erupt as the Spirit guides, empowers and controls all things- including God's own children.
#7 All Christians are united in Christ/through His finished work
"The glory which you [God the Father] have given Me [Jesus] I have given to them, that they may be one, just as we are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that you sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me" [John 17:22, 23]
This perfect unity of all believers is now a finished fact. Based upon what Jesus accomplished for us in His resurrection and ascension, we are now called to walk in the practical working out of this unity based upon what He did.
#8 All believers share equality
"For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another." [Romans 12:3-8]
"However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman." [1 Corinthians 11:11]
"But you are, A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR GOD'S OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY." [1 Peter 2:9, 10]
Equality means just that, equality. Men and women are equal in Christ. Some men or women are not more important than other women or men. No one can say "I have no need of you" referring to another genuine believer.
Note: Equality does not negate the specific headship roles God established in creation. Women must not assume men's roles or men woman's roles. To do so is plainly disobedient and rebellious.
#9 His Ekklesia guided by the apostles' doctrine
"They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayer" [Acts 2:42]
"And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as shepherds and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ" [Ephesians 4:11-13]
It is by no means our intent to equate the apostles' doctrine found in the New Testament with the so-called extra-biblical revelatory claims of today's false apostles and prophets. God can and does occasionally speak to individuals in our day although He is not adding to the foundational doctrines that comprise Christianity- those once delivered unto the saints. That said, the doctrine of Christ and all He established through His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension cannot be minimized nor neglected. The basis of our faith is founded upon these very truths and guiding principles. To ignore them or fail to appropriate them is to place one's life upon shifting sand where we fail to acknowledge and receive our inheritance as sons.
#10 God elects members into His Ekklesia
"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" [John 1:12, 13]
"For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father" [John 6:65]
"You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you" [John 15:16]
God alone adds individuals to His Ekklesia. The only requirement is for one to be born again spiritually, to see the revelation of what God has done in Christ and place one's trust in Him as a result"
The Universal Ekklesia
On many fronts there appears to be an assault upon the belief of a universal Ekklesia that encompasses all believers, past and present. This is predominately for two reasons. First, the manner in which the Ekklesia is normally described is as a body with individual parts that work together. These parts or members have different functions and yet they are supposed to work together harmoniously as one man:
"For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ" [1 Corinthians 12:12]
"Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it. And God has appointed in His ekklesia, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues" [1 Corinthians 12:27, 28]
It is quite plain here that God's Ekklesia is synonomous with what the Bible calls the Body of Christ, that which is made up of many members or living stones. Because these stones worldwide do not "appear" to be working together many would say the Ekklesia can only have a local expression. They would not recognize a universal Ekklesia that encompasses all believers, past and present. If this is true, then what do we do with this verse:
"He is also the head of the body, the Ekklesia; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything." [Colossians 1:18]
This verse obviously says that God's Ekklesia IS the body of Christ. There are many other instances where this can be shown to be true.
A second reason many attempt to exempt the ekklesia from being universal is due to mankind attempting to have control over it. This is plainly obvious in Catholicism. Official Catholic doctrine states that Catholicism is the only true and valid expression of Christianity. It further states that all those outside of this church are not true believers and are considered "the separated brethren." Therefore, if there was no such thing as a universal ekklesia no man would attempt to garner such control for that would appear silly. In a similar manner, if people were to realize the utter contradiction of what a physical "church' represents verses a heavenly ekklesia, they would immediately see this power play for what it is, a usurpation of Jesus Christ's authority as Head of His Ekklesia. On a smaller scale, the various Protestant denominations are equally to blame. They have also attempted to hijack Jesus' authority and hinder the priesthood of all believers as well. A classic example of attempting to remove a speck all the while being blinded by a log in one's own eye. Actually, neither a speck nor a log describe the magnitude of the error. It would more adequately be described as forest of error with fires that continue to spread unabated. We'll drop the part about the participants being brothers.
It needs to be said that the Catholic Church does not accept what I am saying here, that there is only One spiritual or heavenly Ekklesia. Instead, they believe and teach that the universal ekklesia the Bible talks about is a physical manifestation of Christ's body here on earth as evidenced in Catholicism alone. Now that's silly.
Man has jurisdiction, over the work of his hands
Jurisdiction: Webster's definition:
1) The power, right or authority to interpret and apply the law.
2) The authority of a sovereign power to govern or legislate the power or right to express authority.
3) The limits or territory with which authority may be exercized.
As an example, let's consider the place you attend and call "church." Ask yourself a simple question. Who has jurisdiction in that place? Now ask a leader in that same place the same question. Now ask a ten year old kid. Now ask me. How can we come to different conclusions and yet all say we believe in God? We all know who owns heaven do we not? Surely we would all agree with that one. Yet despite God's Ekklesia originating in, and operating upon a heavenly plane we still argue over who's church it is. Really?
The truth be told, regardless of our claims that Jesus has the authority and runs our church, we really do need to be a little more honest do we not? If for no other reason, no liars will enter the kingdom of heaven.
Think about this for a minute. Have you ever heard of any of these sayings before?
- We built this church
- We've always done it this way
- We don't do that around here
- We want a professional minister
- We need a bigger building
- We need to be culturally relevant
Really? Where do these sayings come from? Are these statements actually from God or do they originate within man's own desires? Out of the overflow of the heart…..the mouth speaks.
A typical institutionalized church in America is structured as a 5013c (an abbreviation for a tax exempt non-profit organization says the IRS) and therefore has a degree of jurisdiction over it. There are rules for 5013c's and that means the government has some control over what God's people can and cannot lawfully do. Did God authorize these laws over His Ekklesia?
This same organization has chosen a name [means denomination] in direct defiance to the one body principle and thus acts out a sectarian spirit before other believers. Then they must have a tax ID# to open a business bank account to "do business" as a "church." Despite what men say, the government views churches as businesses and our choices prove we accept that declaration towards us furthering the the deception of what God's Ekklesia actually is. Did God give us the right to do such things?
In due time, if not already, the participants will choose leaders and give them religious titles and spiritual positions within the church. Then they will exalt these individuals as more important and valuable than the other believers by paying them a salary, home allowance or any number of other special "perks." One might ask who gave these leaders this "right" or who sanctioned such practices. Does God?
Before long, and provided the church is successful, a need for a building will arise which will set in stone (literally) the name they have chosen for themselves. If only this were the end, but sadly they have just begun.
In addition to all of the above, the primary indication of who has jurisdiction is the manner in which things are done among the people. If men are the primary leaders, man has jurisdiction. If men are the primary organizers, man has jurisdiction. If men are the primary "anything" then man is in control, authority is vested in men's hands. Despite some "real" or apparently "good' motives, man is still sovereign and that is totally unacceptable whether we utilize Jesus' name in our midst or not. A manmade caricature of Jesus' Ekklesia called "church" is no more than an empty shell of religious formality with Jesus as the means to our end. It won't be the end the builders imagine either.
When men abandon God's manner of building adverse consequences soon appear. At first, bitterness may cause a rift. Then a tussel over who controls or spends the money and on what. Then a doctrinal dispute which ushers in a doctrinal statement of what we do and don't believe. Then another related to what we "do" and "don't do" as Christians. Resisters are silenced, rebels are ousted. The saints jockey for position and take sides. More and more power is transferred to less and less men. Wars are fought, believers are killed. In the end, a false peace arises in the midst as one man claims to hold power over the entire world's Church! Is this not where we find ourselves today?
History tells all
Even a cursory study of history shows the above paragraph to be true. From the earliest followers of Jesus, to Constantine's state church, to the Dark Ages, to the Protestant Reformation, to the Inquisitions and to all manner of persecution of believers in between, it is all there to see for those who care to discover the sad truth. Sadder yet, very few choose to do so, nor would most believe what they found even if they did.
"What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source of your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious an cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
You adultresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" [James 4:1-4]
Where does God say the source of our conflicts arise? In ourselves, and as a result of our own desires. That problem is sin. Until that problem is resolved within me, I cannot either become an active part of God's Ekklesia, nor can I help participate in what God is building. The source of my pleasures will disrupt all as I attempt to inject my earthly efforts within a heavenly framework. God cannot and will not accept that.
The second problem, tied with the first is an external one. It relates to the manner in which we each choose to build. That problem is friendship with the world. We're not talking here about enjoying God's creation or even hanging out with friends who are unbelievers. We are talking about befriending the spirit of this world and all that stands for. That (worldly) spirit is the antithesis of God's Holy Spirit in every way. The spirit of this world system stems from our old nature and basically pleases ourselves and functions under our own direction and authority. Because it is fueled by hell itself, it is independent of God. It is the source of all conflict and sin. It is the spirit of the natural man Jesus died to rid us of.
To befriend the world is to enjoy its passing pleasures of sin but also to cater to the spirit of the world within humanity itself. The latter is the very thing man's churches have and continue to do. They cater to the wants and desires of the natural man when Jesus died to rid them of those very things. They cater to this world as if they could be part of God's Ekklesia. Not only is that impossible, it is friendship with the spirit of this world which crucified Jesus Christ. Do you really want to befriend that spirit?
|Rejecting the world system||Befriending the world system|
|Test the spirits in people||Not possible to test the spirits|
|Never invite unbelievers||Naaively inviting everyone|
Hold believers to proper Christian
attitudes and conduct
Rarely possible to hold believers to
any standards. Many unbelievers
attend function & services.
Cannot remove leaven
Open door policy
|Spirit led fellowship||
Pre-planned and man
|Nothing to compete over||
Compete with all other churches
for members and money.
|Never use worldly advertising||
Use worldly advertising to promote
"their" name, programs, functions etc.
|God's qualifications for leadership||
Man's education and standards as
qualifications for leadership
Freewill giving toward leaders and
others as led by the Spirit.
|Salaries, tithing, resumes & offers|
Glorify God through His heavenly
Ekklesia and heavenly resources
Glorify man's churches, names,
organizations through men and their
gifts, talents and tricks.
|FRIENDS OF GOD||
ENEMIES OF GOD
Man's excuses for Church
"Every man's way is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weigh's the hearts" [or motives] [Proverbs 21:2]
For some people, all they think matters is motive or sincerity. That is, they mean well, therefore, all will be well with God. These folk might want to read the history of how the tabernacle in the Old Testament was constructed. Were not God's building instructions down to the very minute detail? The materials mattered then and the materials matter now. Jesus' Ekklesia will only be comprised with living stones. Anything else brought defilement and His eventual judgment.
"The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him" [Proverbs 18:17]
For others, they base what they think or believe upon what others have told them is true. Maybe it's time to consider what others are saying, like maybe God Himself?
Then the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah; and they said ti him, "Behold you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations." But the thing was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us." And Samuel prayed to the Lord. [1 Samuel 8:4-6]
A classic case of wanting to be like everyone else. In fact they wanted to have a king like the worldly nations around them! Later, The Lord said to Samuel, "Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them." (verse 7)
Just as in past history, professing Christians still want some man (usually today's version of a pastor or priest] to be judge over them. God also gives them what they want as they also don't trust God Himself to lead them nor would they prefer that. They would rather do whatever everyone else around them is doing. Most would rather be disobedient than different.
"For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God." [Romans 10:1-3]
One of man's favorite excuses for having church or participating in church is because it helps so many people. Does it really? By who's standard are you reaching your conclusion? What we think is "right" or "righteous" isn't necessarily so. Even though the above passage here is addressing the Jews, it is just as applicable to all human beings. The point here is simple: Our standard of righteousness is not God's standard. Even where some true believers attend these churches (quite likely) and affect others due to their Spirit led actions, that doesn't in any way sanction what God never instituted or created through man's churches.
"Let no one keep defrauding your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, [Christ] from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God." [Colossians 2:18, 19]
I've experienced God in Church
When professing believers do not continually focus upon and live Christ Crucified, they will go looking for something else or someone else to fill the void. This almost always involves some kind of type of physical experience that cannot be validated. All sorts of wild claims are made as if supposedly from God. Keep in mind that God is building us into a holy temple of Himself as we mutually serve and build up one another through our various spiritual gifts. That is altogether different than having an individual experience that's supposedly from God. One might question just how such an experience might help mutually build up one another in Christ.
We build what we believe
For those of you who attend a "church," you will continue to use that vehicle and its resources in an attempt to "do" God's work. Although your life may indeed impact others for "good," you can ultimately only lead people to where you yourself have been led, to reliance upon a physical organization, it's leadership (authority) and ultimately the abuses which stem from men being in control. Depending upon which particular expression you participate within, many different religious trappings will be levied upon you either forcefully or unwittingly.
- You will find yourself promoting "your church" and its current expression of Christianity.
- You will find your understanding of the Scriptures based predominately upon what "your church leaders" express as the truth.
- You will become convinced that you must continue to "do" and "do more" in order to live as a faithful Christian.
- You will become convinced that certain religious traditions are necessary for today and for salvation although most people would never admit this.
- Eventually the above lies will become solidified within you as a result of suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.
- You will find yourself defending "your church," its leaders and goals in ways that are uncharacteristic of Jesus Himself. This may even include, as past history has made evident, the killing of other professing believers who disagree with your particular religious beliefs.
For those who have left institutionalized religion or are considering doing so, for you alone has a light arisen upon your path. That is of course, if you desire to move forward as He is leading you at present. You will no doubt become like many before you:
- The rebel, radical or lone ranger believer who just can't or won't get along with everyone else.
- The thorn in everybody'e else's flesh because of your refusal to accept the status quo.
- Those dependent upon God's Word and His ability to grant you revelation in understanding it.
- Those blessed of God as a result of experiencing Christ in His humiliation, trials, suffering and death through personally embracing the cross of Christ.
- The called out assembly of believers…..the remnant of God.
Over the years, various leaders of institutions have chosen willingly how they will choose to define the word ekklesia. Most have known and do know that ekklesia was wrongly translated into "church" but most of these men have not made that fact known to you. While most retain and promote the newer English word "church" as the norm these days for what God has established and is building, the facts prove otherwise as due the results. Ekklesia is neither an "it" nor can it be built with human hands.
The primary reason for the neglect and failure to expose "church" as a mistranslation of "ekklesia" is obvious. Remove what man has falsely promoted as "Church" here on earth and you must also remove the supposed authority tied to it as well as the seat of that authority. That would leave every single religious institution and its leaders with no special authority to either speak or impart God's truth. It would reveal to the entire world and its citizens the complete worthlessness of all we have come to know as "church" in every form for over 1800 years!
This is the very thing man refuses to acknowledge, yet that does not prevent God from revealing it to men Himself, men who are free to approach God alone through the merits of Christ alone. I sincerely hope that includes you my friend.
Sooner or later all men will be forced to choose between a national, visible state Church built by men or a universal, invisible, heavenly Ekklesia built by God Himself. How you define and live out ekklesia is what will make that difference.
In history past Reformers killed Catholics and Anabaptists. Then the Catholics did the same in retun, only more so. Just what was the source of these quarrels and murders etc. It was lust over what they did not have, lust over what God says they cannot have- control over His Ekklesia!
"See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, YET ONCE MORE WILL I SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN." This expression, "Yet once more," denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire." [Hebrews 12:25-29]
"So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, [church or home] but we are seeking the city which is to come" [Hebrews 13:13, 14]
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