Several months ago I attended a
continuing professional education
seminar. There were about a three hundred people in attendance,
with multiple speakers who are experts in their various fields.
It caught my attention when each speaker invited questions OR comments
DURING his or her presentation! The thought struck me, "I wonder
what would happen if that procedure was instituted in Christian
Years ago when our son was small he
asked me this question, "Dad, who
is Naaman?" I was a young Christian and very surprised that our
son knew the name of Naaman, and it took some time for me to find the
story of Naaman n 2 Kings chapter 5. But it gave me a key
insight into the purpose and reality of water baptism, and I noted that
God used my little boy rather than some Bible teacher to guide me to
Now, back to the topic:
I am adding this new paragraph
because I have come to the conclusion
that one must be a disciple of Jesus
on order to receive and understand that which follows in this
page. Most Christians believe that they are disciples of Jesus,
but Jesus had certain conditions which anyone who wants to be His
disciple must meet:
anyone comes to Me
and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and
brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My
Luk_14:27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me,
he cannot be My disciple.
Luk_14:33 So then, everyone of you who does not forsake all his
possessions, he cannot be My disciple.
Now, if you meet these
qualifications every day, you may read on. Otherwise you will
simply be wasting your time. If you do not meet these condition,
it means that you are a disciple of someone other than Jesus.
Perhaps you are a disciple of Peter or Paul or Luther or Calvin or the
Pope or Wesley or some other person or organization. But only
Jesus Christ can teach us and transform us into the child of God whom
God the Father wants us to be! He alone can set us free from all
delusions and deceptions and every other thing which hinders us from
being all that we can be In Him.
The word 'church' is commonly
used to describe local congregations of
Christians and larger organizations of local congregations. There
are a variety of webpages which address the distinction between the
words 'church' and 'ekklesia', but I just want to make several
First, the word 'church' is derived
from the Greek work 'kuriakos',
which means 'a
This word is used only twice in the New
Testament, both times in reference to the Lord's supper. A
related Greek word 'kurieuo', which means 'to exercise dominion', is
used seven times in the New Testament, almost always with a negative
connotation. Another related Greek word is 'kuriotees', which
means 'a domain', and is used four times in the New Testament epistles.
Second, the Greek word 'ekklesia'
is used 115 times in the New
and means 'a called-out
group'. It is generally used by Jesus and
others to describe groups of Christians, and was used in Acts 7:38 -
the out-called group in the desert - when referring to the children of
Abraham whom God called out of Egypt.
I find it interesting that Jesus gave
clear instructions to His
disciples concerning whether to exercise lordship over others:
Luke 22:24 A
dispute also arose
among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.
Luke 22:25 And he said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles
exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are
Luke 22:26 But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among
become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.
It seems to me that translations of
the Bible which use the English
word 'church' to describe groups of Christians are incorrect and
misleading, and are
the result of carnal church leaders or theologians who improperly rule
over God's people rather than serving them, and want to continue to do
so as did the Pharisees in
Jesus had more to say about
relationships among His people. For
Then Jesus said to the
crowds and to his disciples,
Mat 23:2 "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat,
Mat 23:3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the
works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.
Mat 23:4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on
people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them
with their finger.
Mat 23:5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they
make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long,
Mat 23:6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best
seats in the synagogues
Mat 23:7 and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi
[teacher] by others.
Mat 23:8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one
teacher, and you are all brothers.
Mat 23:9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one
Father, who is in heaven.
Mat 23:10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one
instructor, the Christ.
Mat 23:11 The greatest among you shall be your servant.
Mat 23:12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever
humbles himself will be exalted.
Jesus says to not be called teacher
or father or instructor, because He
alone is to be our instructor, and we are all brothers, implying
equality. He also equates the use of such titles as
manifestations of pride.
I hear many Christians lamenting the
present condition of the Christian
population, saying that we need 'revival'. I believe that what we
really need is to obey the
clear commandment of Jesus by
humbling ourselves before God and
each other, denying
ourselves daily, taking up our crosses daily (as did Paul, who said
he died daily), and taking the yoke of Jesus upon ourselves so that we
can learn from Him and receive His meekness and lowliness of
heart. The result, I suspect, will be the radical reformation of
the body of Christ into the holy 'ekklesia' which we are meant to be!
When we get ourselves cleansed of the
pride which so easily besets us,
then we can begin to be the vessels of grace and truth which we are
meant to be to each other, and we will be able to receive grace and
truth from each other - to the glory of God our Father!
SO, WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE?
Whether you are a part of a 'church'
or part of an 'ekklesia' is a very
important question because it will affect your whole life.
'How?', you may ask.
If you, in your heart, are a part of
a church, that means that you have
submitted yourself to the teachings and practices of a local
church and/or its parent denomination. You not only get to know
people you meet with regularly, but you also 'inherit' the spiritual
traditions and practices of whomever you submit yourself to. For
example, by hearing the sermons of one pastor or a small number
of pastors or teachers or one denomination, you tend to receive that
person or persons' or denomination's strengths and weaknesses. The
effect is that a congregation eventually becomes the 'disciple' of
their pastor or teacher or denomination. You also demote other
Christians to being cousins rather than brothers or sister.
If, on the other hand, your heart's
desire is to be a disciple of Jesus
Christ, then you are not relying on any one pastor or teacher or
denomination for your sustenance, you are relying on the One True God
and Jesus Christ Whom He has sent to be your Leader and Teacher and
your All in All. He may plant you in a certain congregation or
denomination, but He is also free (and you are free as well) to be
moved to wherever your Master wants you to be.
This is particularly important to me,
because I had a major prophetic
experience on this subject. If you are interested in the rest of
the story, see Three Questions
The real issue here is that God calls
His people out to be separate
from the rest of the unbelieving and disobeying world so that He can be
6:14-18 Do not be
yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership does righteousness have
with lawlessness? And what fellowship does light have with darkness?
And what agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what part does a
believer have with an unbeliever? And what agreement does a temple of
God have with idols? For you are a temple of the living God, even as
God said, "I will" dwell in them and "walk among them, and I will be
their God, and they shall be My people." (Lev. 26:12; Ezek. 37:27)
Because of this, "come out from among them" "and be separated," says
the Lord, "and do not touch the unclean thing," and I will receive you.
(Isa. 52:11) "And I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons" and
daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty. (2 Sam. 7:8, 14; Isa. 43:6 ).
I have noticed that few Christians
have a real relationship with God
the Father. Most seem only to have a relationship with
Jesus. I suspect that the reason why few Christians know God as
Father is because they have failed to answer to call to come out and be
separate from the world.
Have you, dear reader, answered God's
call to come out of the world so
that He can receive You to Himself and be your Father? If not,
why not do so now??? By claiming the cross and death of Jesus as
your own death you can be crucified to the world so that you can truly
'come out' of the world and be separate not only in practice but more
importantly in your heart. Then you will find that God will be
your Father, and you can really be His son or daughter!
PS: In my experience, the
'church' is typically a lecture-hall in
which a pastor attempts to 'renew the minds' of the people in the
congregation by his or her teaching.
Also in my experience the
'called-out' Christians tend to be those who
want to minister to others using the spiritual gifts and talents which
they have, and they are willing and able to receive ministry from
others regardless of who they are or what their experience has been -
all for the common good. They see the need for each of us to not
only have our minds renewed, but also to have our hearts circumcised by
the 'Heart-Knowing God'!
I have heard that there are more
Christians outside 'the church' than
in the church, and I would not be surprised to find that this is a true
statement. I hope to encourage every person, both those 'in the
church' and those 'outside the church' that our heavenly Father has a
great plan for each and every one of our lives, and we all need to let
Him rule and reign in our lives as He sees fit, and not according to
the rules and regulations of people or organizations, no matter how
good their intentions may be.
Finally, we need to recognize that
Jesus pointed out that the religious
leaders of His time had set aside the Word of God with their traditions:
7:13 making the Word of God of no effect through your tradition
which you have delivered. And you do many such things.
I want to challenge you, dear
reader, to ask Jesus to show you
any traditions by which you have made the Word of God of no effect in
your life. I was amazed at what He showed me in response to that
prayer, and found great freedom, peace and opposition when I renounced
all traditions of men which were nullifying the Word of God in my
I suspect that you too will desire to
experience and find a true
'called-out fellowship' rather than a 'church' experience when you have
been set free from the traditions of men by our Lord Jesus!!