Great building of God [my 2nd book]
[BOOK] ‘THE GREAT BUILDING OF GOD’ a prophetic look at the Church and her ministries today.
COPYRIGHT 2004 JOHN CHIARELLO
Chapter 1 the gates of hell shall not prevail against her.
Chapter 2 forbid them not, if they are not against us, they are for us.
Chapter 3 the building and its stones.
Chapter 4 the church Jesus built.
Chapter 5 bring all the tithes into the storehouse.
Chapter 6 the garden of God, authority in the church.
Chapter 7 the Babylonian captivity of the church, a contemporary look.
Chapter 8 the 1’st century church.
Chapter 9 the plural voice of ecclesia.
Chapter 10 trying to fit the building of God into the building of man.
Chapter 11 the tabernacle of Moses/David.
Feel free to copy this book in part or whole for free distribution, as long as you don’t sell it for profit!
Greetings in Jesus name. This second book is in some ways ‘part 2’ of ‘HOUSE OF PRAYER OR DEN OF THIEVES’, our first book. In our first book we dealt with the last part of this verse ‘DEN OF THIEVES’, in this book we will deal with the phrase ‘HOUSE OF PRAYER’. What is Gods house? The N.T. teaches us that Gods house, or habitation, is the church of God [the dwelling place of God, where God resides]. The church is the Ecclesia of God. This term not only speaks of a community of people, but also a called out assembly. The church therefore as defined in the N.T. are all of Gods people in any given community [city, region, country, etc.] at any specific time in history in any given location in the earth. This community of people is what Jesus referred to when he said ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against her’.
The church began as a community of people free-flowing as the Spirit led them with elders and leaders springing up in a natural atmosphere of community and family. She lost her family mentality and power when she became heavily institutionalized during the first 3 centuries of her existence. She then plunged into a state of lethargy of which church historians refer to as ‘the dark ages’. Over the past 2 thousand years God has been reforming and restoring her back to the original form of a free-flowing family of people once again. This restoration includes the restoring of apostles/prophets, which is a subject heavily written about and discussed over the last few years.
We will look at how the original apostles/prophets functioned as gifted ones in the midst of Gods prophetic community, as opposed to heavily handed authoritarian figures in the church! If we don’t see the church through a correct lens, then we will also misunderstand her gifted ones. If you try to place checker pieces on a monopoly board you will get a distorted and perverted game. You might be able to play something on this board, but it would not be the right game! So likewise when we try to place Gods unique gifted ones [the chess pieces] into a setting that isn’t the original design, you not only distort the game, but actually do more harm to it! So we will look at the proper roles and responsibilities that Gods gifted ones play in the community of God [I want to stress that all Gods people are gifted and the mindset that looks to the 5-fold and tries to place them as ‘pulpit’ ministers does more harm than good!].
As we examine and look at what the church is we will be tearing down mindsets in the church that have existed for more than 1700 years. This type of truth telling will obviously challenge many modern churches and concepts of ministry. Our purpose IS NOT TO COME AGAINST ANY PARICULAR CHURCH OR MINISTRY, but to pull down false opinions [mindsets], and to build what is true. This is what the apostle Paul spoke about when dealing with ‘spiritual warfare’, He was not talking about casting down territorial spirits from the sky, but about casting down false opinions and mindsets that come against the knowledge of God [Corinthians].
Lets therefore begin this study with an open heart and mind to what the ‘SPIRIT SAITH TO THE CHURCHES’.
CHAPTER 1; THE GATES OF HELL SHALL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST HER.
The best way to understand and study any subject is to understand as best as possible the original intent and environment of its creator/founder when he first created it. This is why you will find political leaders and judges continually referring to past precedent and the original intent of the founding fathers when dealing with contemporary issues of govt. in the present day. This concept is biblical and helpful in trying to understand what the church is and how she functions. When Jesus told Peter ‘upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against her’ he was responding to peters confession concerning Christ [Mat;16:18]. Much has been said about this verse and it has been used by both Catholics and Protestants to defend their mindset for what the church is.
The Catholic Church historically applies this verse to mean that Jesus was telling Peter that God would build his future church on the man Peter, that is on his apostolic office. This is also why you will find various people actually debate where Peters grave is located, as they believe if you could pinpoint the actual place where his bones remain that this would lend legitimacy to their institution. While this is obviously a silly way to literally interpret Jesus words, it is just as silly for Protestants to interpret the verse in rev. [Rev;21:14] to mean the actual physical city of God has the names of the apostles written in stone. Both of these ways of looking at church are simply a symptom that results from having a distorted view of ecclesia. When Jesus spoke these words to Peter, what did Jesus mean? Well if you look at Peter’s writings you will get insight into the way he understood it [1Peter;2:5].
He saw the church as a spiritual temple consisting of the community of believers that would exist in every generation for all time. His confession of Jesus as the Christ qualified him as a living stone from which Jesus would take and build with many other living stones to erect a spiritual temple for God to dwell in. As an apostle Peter also played a special role as a foundation layer in this spiritual building [Eph;2:20] apostles are foundation layers in this building, they carry a special gifting to ground and stabilize this building of God. They are not the foundation themselves, but simply relate to the chief cornerstone in such a way as to have special ability to present Christ and bring long-lasting stability to this structure. The foundation they lay is Christ himself. The building is erected not with brick and mortar, but with living stones. Brick and mortar symbolize the work of men’s hands, while stones symbolize a natural building material. This signifies that while apostles and prophets are builders, they are not creators of this supernatural structure.
Brick and mortar represent manmade institutions that men have built as opposed to Gods spiritual temple. In every generation these 2 structures co-exist and co-mingle at various times. There were even seasons where mans structure turned against and killed the living stones which helped build her. Some have attempted to write about this before [Augustine’s city of God and many other writers through the ages] though some of these books are insightful, many of them co-mingled the building of God and the building of man and actually came against Gods building without even knowing it. But thank God that the prophecy of Jesus has come true and the gates of hell have not been able to prevail against her!
Paul wrote the church at Corinth and rebuked them for not rightly discerning the lord’s body, he told them that because of this many were sick and some even died. What were the Corinthians doing that caused this? How were they not rightly discerning Christ’s body? They were coming together [ecclesia/called out assembly of people] for the Lord’s Table and some were getting drunk while others were being gluttons. They were disrespecting their brothers and sisters in the assembly and being selfish. They were sinning against one another as co-equal members in the body of Christ. There is a present day application to this when we question the legitimacy of our fellow brethren because they do not fit into the institutional church of our day. As I have taught on our radio show over the years that there have always been a remnant of believers in each generation that carried the witness of Christ who were not part of the institutional church. Often times the man made structure persecuted unto death those brethren who would not come under her authority. This was not only seen in the catholic system, but in the protestant one as well. No denomination had a corner on this market!
This in no way means that our catholic and protestant brothers are not Christians, nor am I advocating the destruction of any Christian denomination. But rather trying to present a true picture of what the church is for the benefit of the church at large. I am such a strong believer in the prophecy of Jesus [Mat;16:18] that I see the organic body of Christ overcoming in each of these generations and mightily prevailing to this very day! The body of Christ is so prevalent in the earth today that she finds herself being represented in all of these various denominations. No denomination contains all the church, nor are any void of true Christians either. Our seeing the church as a spiritual temple built together as a habitation of God transcends all human institutions without singularly targeting any one of them as the only ‘building of man’, because in a sense they all have a degree of brick and mortar in their structures [organizations]. Our purpose is not to tell believers to leave their churches and forsake meeting on Sundays, but rather to free them from a limited mindset of church and ministry and call them into seeing themselves as members of the church that Jesus spoke of when he told Peter the gates of hell will not prevail against her!
CHAPTER 2; FORBID THEM NOT, IF THEY ARE NOT AGAINST US THEY ARE FOR US [Mark 9:40].
I remember how in the early days of our ministry I enjoyed going to the local jails and preaching to the inmates, I also enjoyed the hands on aspect of getting together with the brothers and spending quality time with them when they were released from jail or prison. While at the same time working as a full time firefighter and pastoring our local church, which consisted mainly of the families of the guys who were in prison, the give and take between the brothers who were recently saved and the functions of ‘pastoral’ ministry meshed well together.
During this season of our ministry I would speak with other people who believed that I was wasting time by simply spending time with the brothers who were ex-cons. This same mentality was later expressed when I moved to Corpus Christi and started an outreach to the homeless guys. I would either speak or teach through radio or in person and those who were blessed through some teaching would later express a concern that somehow I was wasting time with the homeless people while instead I could be ‘honing’ my giftings for ‘true’ professional ministry. While I understood the brothers who expressed these types of feelings were viewing ‘ministry’ as being a non-profit corporate entity with a donor base and mailing list, which would build a financial support base which then could launch my speaking/pulpit ministry, I understood that true ministry takes place in a community atmosphere, without the prestige of professional ‘pastor’ or full time minister to interfere with true community friendships.
This brief example shows how viewing the building of God [the church], as opposed to the building of man [the manmade system of ministry] can deeply affect the way we function and see our roles in the kingdom of God. The pressure we put on young ministers to fit some type of expectation of what we see as ‘fulltime ministry’ versus what the N.T. actually teaches often derails Gods true desire for his people. The example above shows us how the building of man not only hinders true kingdom relationships, but actually fights against them by accusing the brothers of being illegitimate if they are actually spending their time with people, which after all is what building the church is all about!
The language used in the N.T. to describe Gods house is referring to the community of God in a symbolic way. While most believers understand that the buildings we meet in are not the church, they often overlook this aspect of it. We in the church often try to devalue others who are doing kingdom work by questioning their legitimacy. How often have you heard a para-church ministry [a misnomer] challenged on the grounds that it is not a local church, or its ministers are not under authority. If what there doing is a divinely inspired work of God [that is Gods in it] then who are we to say its not ‘church’. Often times we don’t realize that when we make judgments like this we are not rightly discerning the lord’s body!
The church isn’t the place where we meet on Sunday, most of us agree, but it also isn’t limited to the organized group to which you personally affiliate with. In each city she consists of all believers in your city! Some of these believers gather during the week with no Sunday service, others associate mainly with the people they are ministering to, still others have an apostolic call to work in an itinerant way. All of these various expressions are part of the church, even the ones who 'belong’ to no outward organization at all! If they are truly believers they are part of the church! No such thing as para-church. It’s either of God or not! Now comes the tricky part, when theologians study the nature of the church and what she is, they often have some truth but sometimes use it to narrowly define and limit the true church [once again the building of God versus the building of man].
The term for church in the N.T. is ecclesia; this term has various applications in different settings. In N.T. times it could actually refer to what we would call today a city council or commission meeting. This term itself was not a spiritual word during the first century, but simply a practical term used to describe Gods called out assembly. While some theologians focus on the local aspect of this term [local church], others focus on the universal aspect [worldwide church]. Both are true. Where we often confuse the building of God with the building of man is in our application of this word. Because the word ecclesia means called out ones we often condemn those believers in our area who don’t ‘go to church on Sunday’ or ‘join the church’. While it is true that in the book of acts the believers were recognizable, and belonged to a called out assembly, this in no way resembles our 21st century American spin that we put on it. We condemn Christians who often times are right in the heart of Gods will [so called para church ministries or extra local ministries] all under the guise of ‘church’. Remember if any believer in your region is doing Gods will he is doing church! Simple isn’t it. He should and will associate with fellow believers as God wills, but we should not try to make everyone fit into our limited view of ‘legitimate’ ministry.
CHAPTER 3; THE BUILDING AND ITS STONES.
What I am attempting to say and show in this book is a different paradigm [that is the way we see things] concerning the church and the people who make up the church. The scripture says that without a vision the people perish [Prvb;29:18]. This does not only speak of vision in a motivational sense, but also in a prophetic sense. By this I mean a new way of seeing things. Prophetic vision is not only a gift that sees future events, but it also grasps the character of Jesus and reveals who he is [Rev;19:10]. As we look at the church through prophetic eyes we behold the nature of Christ in his body. We see Christ through our brothers and sisters. Because of this reality, when we do harm or mistreat our brothers we are disrespecting Christ. This applies to the way we ‘do’ church as well. When we limit ‘church’ to the 21st century American model of ministry we wrongly discern Christ’s body. When we label other believers as illegitimate because they do not fit the mold that we feel to be ‘true’ local church, we disrespect the body of Christ and its diversity [1Cor;12].
The N.T. church consists of all the believers in your city [or region, state, country, etc.] that are called out of the world and to God and each other [ecclesia]. This ecclesia may not meet in your church building or any church building, she might have no ‘pastor’ over her [in the modern sense], she might have no earthly organization at all, but this still does not make her illegitimate! We must see this bride through a prophetic lens if we are to rightly discern her. We must be careful that we do not classify her as illegitimate simply because she does not fit into our limited perspective of who she is and what we think she should look like. For when we do judge her through natural eyes we often come against her unwittingly and are lending ourselves as stones in the building of man who always comes against the building of God!
The spiritual stones that make up this temple are very diverse and special to the Father. The apostles and prophets relate to this temple in a special way as they lay the foundations upon which she is erected. These 2 gifted ones are NOT priests or kings in this temple, nor does the temple exist for their financial well-being or for a platform from which they can find success and fame in ministry. Oh no, this temple is very special to them and these are willing to lay down their lives [and have at certain times!] in order to see her built. The pastors, evangelists and teachers also play a vital role in her construction, in that after the foundations are laid they Labor to build her up in such a way so when she is fully established she will no longer be blown about by every wind and doctrine, but will stand strong during times of shaking and storm.
These 3 stones [evangelist, pastor, teacher] also labor in its construction unselfishly as co-equals in the temple. No one of them is more important than the other, and at times you will even find the same stone placed in a different wall of the building to fit interchangeably with each other. These stones do not see themselves as priests in this structure, for all are priests and can function in this temple equally. These stones are simply co-equals with all the other stones, but they bare a special burden and gifting from God to make sure the temple is constructed properly so its king can enter into to her and rule from her throne! Then when this beautiful building of God is fully developed with her king reigning and ruling from her throne all men will come and do homage at the feet of him who sits on her throne!
CHAPTER 4; THE CHURCH JESUS BUILT.
What pattern of church did Jesus leaves us? Did he leave us one at all? It would seem that a leader who told his disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature under heaven would at least lay down a rough blueprint on what to do in order to establish some type of structure for those who would later believe. Many books have been written on this subject and many learned theologians have spoken on this. W hat I will attempt to do in this chapter is simply look at what Jesus did and how the early apostles patterned church planting after his example. Remember the church is not an institution or organization in terms of our present mindset, but rather a community of free flowing believers. A family in spiritual terms. She has spiritual children and spiritual parents [we must be careful here because some have used this to lord it over the flock in a wrong way] who flow together as one entity with various gifts and abilities. The elders [more mature ones] in this spiritual community are not paid [salaried] priests who the children hire to perform ritualistic functions on their behalf [weddings, funerals, etc.], but rather mature believers who give guidance and direction to the flock in a voluntary loving atmosphere [1Peter 5:2].
As these communities of people have been a reality in every generation since Jesus left us, this body has often taken different forms and expressions as society interacted with her. Some of these forms have severely hindered her witness in the earth while others have sidetracked the main purpose of her existence from the beginning. Though these different expressions of church are not the ideal, we should not label them [that is those believers in them] as illegitimate or lost, but rather strive together for the unity of the faith found in Christ. The many groups who operate outside these organized structures often later fall prey to the frailty of man and create their own structures, not realizing that this is no different than the church systems they often criticize. Some refer to these movements as apostolic or post denominational churches. Others feel that the post-denominational churches are simply denominations at an early stage of development and therefore are post nothing! All of these brothers have taken hold of truth and I hold to the position that they are all fellow Christians, but this shouldn’t stop us from continuing to strive for the ideal while maintaining fellowship with all those involved.
Now what church pattern did Jesus leave us? Did he leave us any at all? If you simply read the 3 years of Jesus earthly ministry along with the book of acts you will catch glimpses of it. It exists in simple form beneath all the other activities going on around it. It is simply a pattern of people coming to the reality of the gospel and living out their lives in Christian community with each other. They gather around the great reality of the resurrection of their leader and joyfully witness for him through the way they live and speak. In this community of people [ecclesia, church, body, temple, etc.] there reside believers with various roles and responsibilities. Some are apostles; others are prophetic in their gifting, while others have gifts of giving, charity and a whole variety of different gifts. In this community there are no paid pastors/priests, though provisions are made for those that labor in the word [acts]. There is no concept of professional ministry at all. To the contrary those with apostolic gifts find themselves working regular jobs as they travel around speaking about Jesus.
When they do collect money it is for the purpose of sharing it with their brothers and sisters who are in need [Acts 6:1, 1Cor;16:1,2Cor;9:1]. They viewed themselves as the followers of Jesus in a simple way. The church at Jerusalem had structure, but that was primarily because they were still meeting at the temple and the leadership structure of worship and service was not totally abandoned after the Jews became believers. The gentile church in Antioch [acts 13] did not have a hierarchal system at all. There were apostles and prophets, but they were simply gifted ones in a voluntary society of believers. We must not read the N.T. through the paradigm of 21st century glasses. When they speak of ‘church’ and apostle and pastor [a term only found once in the N.T.] they are not speaking of them in terms that we see them today. But simply gifted people in a community of people of whom all are priests and kings. There is no laity versus clergy mentality! That didn’t exist! Jesus spent 3 years with his disciples and then left. Why couldn’t it have been 5 years or 7? While there is no magical number to it, he did say it was expedient for him to deposit truth into them and leave [John 16:7] The concept is if he leaves them, they by necessity will grow and mature!
This pattern is later seen with Paul in acts, he goes to areas and preaches the gospel of grace and then leaves! Sometimes he stays for a short time, and other times a few years. But he never stays for good! He doesn’t set up paid pastors over these communities, though he does tell his disciples [Timothy and Titus] to recognize elders in these communities [that’s what ordination is]. These communities of believers continue in the doctrines of the apostles and are left alone to grow up. None of these churches [communities] had leaders who functioned as pastors in the modern sense. It’s amazing how we can read the bible over and over again and never see this. There are verses speaking of leaders and elders in the N.T., but we often translate that to fit into our present mindset of ministry. Remember the example of Christ, the church he built [with the disciples for 3 years] was a community of people who lived, ate and experienced life together over a period of time and then sent into the great commission. This simple pattern is what Paul and others followed in order to spread Gods kingdom in the earth. The great building of God!
CHAPTER 5; BRING ALL THE TITHES INTO THE STOREHOUSE.
Over the years through various avenues of teaching ministry I have dealt with the area of giving. I have learned that the way we see ‘church’ affects how we see everything else, especially in the area of giving! While a new believer in Christ I soon was introduced to the concept of tithing to the storehouse on Sunday. The people who believe this are not bad people, but rather dedicated Christians who believe in honoring God with the firstfruits of all their increase. While practicing giving as a new believer I had no problem with giving 10% of my income to the Lord. Till this very day we give large amounts of money to the kingdom of God and I personally believe all the verses in the bible dealing with giving and receiving. I just believe that the New Testament storehouse/temple are the people of God [once again you see how we view ‘church’ affects everything we do!] and giving into the storehouse is actually giving to meet the needs of the Christian community all around you.
So true New Testament giving would consist of giving cheerfully to meet the needs of people around you as opposed to only putting money in ‘church’ on Sunday. All the verses that we use to justify putting money into the Sunday basket are truly speaking of meeting the needs of believers. Go check it out if you don’t believe me. The times when Paul talks about giving in 1st and 2nd Corinthians he is taking up a collection for the poor saints [Gods storehouse] in Jerusalem. The verses when he speaks on giving are not speaking about him receiving a tithe to finance his salary, but giving to meet the needs of people. When he speaks about giving to support those who labor in the word, once again this is meeting the basic needs of the leaders, and not speaking about a tithe system to support pastors [like a New Testament Levite, this concept is foreign to the New Testament].
Even when Paul speaks about giving to support elders in your community he speaks about not muzzling the ox that’s treading out the corn [1Cor;9:9]. Why not use a verse referring to the Levitical tithe? Because that would be the last verse you would use to convince a gentile church to give, while at the same time teaching them they were not under Jewish law and coming against the judiazers who were always trying to bring Paul’s churches back under Jewish law! Even the silly justification we use to teach tithing [like if its in Hebrews its New Testament] actually teaches the opposite.
The fact that tithing is mentioned in Hebrews in no way means we should tithe! Hebrews is simply showing the superiority of the new covenant over the old and this reference [Hebrews 7] is not speaking about New Testament giving at all, but about the new covenant being better than the old. When Jesus rebuked the Pharisees of his day because they were giving to the temple and neglecting the needs of their fathers and mothers, he was giving us a prophetic sign that we should give with the focus on community rather than temple [Mark 7:11]. All the New Testament references dealing with giving as New Testament gentile believers speak about giving freely to meet the basic needs of the Christian community around them, even when dealing with support for the spiritual leaders among them.
The concept of tithing on Sunday to your church organization [American corporate entity] as telling people if they don’t they will be under a curse is ridiculous! Where free from the law and that’s It. Oh but some will say the tithe was before the law, which is true. The Sabbath was before the tithe and the law [God instituted the concept of the Sabbath in the first 7 days of creation], but yet we know that the New Testament gentile believers are not under the Sabbath [Col;2:16], but yet we use this argument to justify the tithe. LET ME MAKE MYSELF CLEAR, I AM NOT AGAINST CHRISTIANS PUTTING IN MONEY TO THE OFFERING ON SUNDAY, I am not even against supporting those who labor in the word among you. But I am against telling people if they don’t put 10% of their money in the offering plate on Sunday that they are under a curse!
The New Testament clearly teaches the concept of giving of your finances to advance the work of God. The New Testament also teaches giving to meet the needs of people. In all of these cases it is always taught in a way that is voluntary and without compulsion. I don’t have the time to reference all the various verses dealing with these issues, but invite you to either order our cassette teaching catalog, or if you live in the Corpus Christi area to listen to our radio program [currently on K.C.T.A. radio, AM 1030 every Sunday at 9:45 a.m.], either way you will find plenty of teaching on new testament giving that I’ve done in the past. I would encourage you to simply re-read all the verses you are familiar with on this subject and see how they always refer to meeting the needs of people [either poor saints or laboring elders] and never deal with actual building programs for ‘churches’. Don’t forget you will find Old Testament examples of giving for the construction of the temple, but like I said the New Testament temple today are the ecclesia! That’s why giving in the New Testament is always focused on meeting the needs of people.
I would also like to stress that no New Testament minister became rich off the ‘tithes’of the people, but rather trusted God to meet their needs. Either through the generosity of others or through manual labor [God forbid we teach this doctrine in 21st century Christendom!]. Today’s mentality of going into ‘ministry’ for the sake of becoming rich off the giving of people to your ministry is way off base of what the New Testament teaches. Young ministers going into ministry and telling people to sow into their ministry so they can reap a reward is a distorted use of the concept of sowing and reaping. Remember that even though Paul did use these concepts to appeal to Christians to give, and he also spoke about God blessing them in return, yet Paul himself was collecting money for poor Christians in these scenarios! He was actually supporting himself by manual labor at the time he penned these scriptures [tent making]. So for the modern day minister to go into ministry and use these verses to rake in a personal financial harvest is wrong! Get our first book [house of prayer or den of thieves] for a more in depth look at this subject.
When dealing with this issue in general there are lots of areas of manipulation that leaders use, often unconsciously, in order to get people to give into their visions for God. Many times the leaders are acting themselves out of a fear to compete and live up to the expectations of modern ministry. They are motivated out of a sincere, but misguided desire to fulfill Gods will and because of this they believe if people would be more faithful to God then surely the finances for their visions for God would come in. Thus the references to Achan [withholding that which is Gods] and other verses [Malachi] dealing with being cursed if you don’t give the required amount, actually become a means of unconscious manipulation in the hands of the leaders. When we do not rightly discern the Lords body [ecclesia] a whole host of wrong actions grow out of this. We bring guilt and oppression on Gods people that goes 100% against the spirit and intent of New Testament giving.
CHAPTER 6; THE GARDEN OF GOD, AUTHORITY IN THE CHURCH.
When God made man he put him in a garden atmosphere with the mandate to care for it. He put man over all of his creation and allowed him to rule it [steward it]. The only thing that God did not put under mans rule, was man himself! God instead put Adam as a husband, and later a father, in a family environment. Eve and the future children that they would have were not originally designed to be ruled by each other. The concept of submission and respect for authority were only to be seen in this type of family relationship. As the family of man would grow and eventually inhabit and have dominion over the earth [not each other!] they would then be fulfilling Gods desire for man, corporately, to rule together. Well as you know Adam blew it and basically everything got thrown out of whack, including the original design for man to rule together as Gods creation. This one area of perverting Gods original design is the root cause of all future problems including false authority and slavery. This one area of sin was the major issue of the most harmful war that America has ever fought, a war amongst ourselves [the civil war]! This false submission that Americans called slavery continues to exist in society in subtle, and at times not so subtle ways.
Even as I pen this chapter I am in San Antonio for a soccer tournament for one of my kids. We went out last night to a favorite buffet, while going up for my plate I was served by a young black man. It seemed as if he was in the minority of this mostly white business. Whether he has ever been mistreated or abused as an employee I don’t know. But I do know that when he served me my steak [I like to get my moneys worth at the buffets!] I simply said thank-you. You could tell how much he appreciated being recognized in a voluntary way like this. Every time I got up again to fill the plate [with fruits and salads of course] this young brother wanted to go out of his way to give me another steak! When people are not forced to serve, but feel appreciated for the service they do, they will serve and submit with joy most of the time. True servant leadership is what Jesus taught the future leaders of His church [John 13]. Jesus rebuked false authority when he said the Pharisees were blind leaders of the blind. He stated that they were leading all right, but it had nothing to do with kingdom leadership. True authority in Gods kingdom does not work like the worlds system. Jesus told us that his kingdom operated along different lines [Luke 22:26].
The garden of God was a natural environment that God placed man into in which man and God would commune together, man would love and honor God willfully while submitting to each other in love. The fall affected all of this and plunged man into a sinful state that would cause him to rule over other people instead of creation only. This tragic sequence of events has affected man since the beginning and still exists in man today. Through the great redemptive work of Christ it is being removed, but often at a slow pace. Man doesn’t see all the ways that false authority affects him, especially in the ‘church’ world. Because he yet doesn’t fully see how even our modern mindsets of leadership in the church are at times a product of this false authority, he therefore cannot repent of a sin that he feels is actually a service to God! When church leaders rule with the mindset that the people are simply tools who need to be motivated in order to fulfill the great vision of the leader, and when the people don’t respond properly that they are all rebels who if they were right with God would submit and help bring the vision to pass, this mindset is often a product of false authority.
There are times when leaders will inspire people to act and do great things for the kingdom, but it must be free from manipulation and hypocrisy. The Pharisees saw themselves as a ruling class in the religious community of their day. Jesus said they were hypocrites because they used guilt and manipulation to accomplish religious goals. They laid burdens on people instead of freeing them [an act of slavery]. True kingdom leadership is not the mindset or vocabulary of submission and authority. Though these concepts are taught in the New Testament they were intended to function in a family/garden environment. When we put them into the building of man they will have devastating results!
CHAPTER 7; THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY OF THE CHURCH, A CONTEMPORAY LOOK.
Historians have referred to the Babylonian captivity of the church in regards to the Roman catholic influence over the church in past centuries. John referred to Babylon in the book of revelation as a force that would come against the church and ultimately be judged by God himself because of her persecution of the church. While there are many ways you could apply the verses speaking about Babylon and how she is an enemy of the church, I would like to deal with one area relevant to ecclesia. When the children of Israel were captives in the land of Babylon they came up with the idea of starting synagogues as a way that they could encapsulate their culture and heritage in a ‘local place’ during their captivity so as to not forget their history with God. On the surface this would seem to be a noble goal, after all there intentions were well meaning. Well this ‘place’ that they set up later became a good way to administrate their duties as good Jews [Christians] and they eventually built their whole religious society around this well-meaning institution.
They set up their religious leaders [Pharisees] and began to use this well-meaning system to judge any one in their community according to the standards that surrounded this ‘place’ [sounds familiar doesn’t it]. They lost sight of Gods original purpose for them to be a kingdom of priests who would influence all society around them with the reality of Jehovah. They forgot their true calling as a holy nation and digressed into this small-minded society of religious people who were so hung up on the dotting of I’s and crossing of T’s that they didn’t even recognize their own messiah when he showed up in their midst! Well as you can see the culture of worship that they set up while captives in Babylon eventually became their plumb line that not only judged everyone else around them, but also was used to condemn the very messiah whom they were waiting for. Often times we establish systems of religion and worship that might have served a noble purpose in its beginning stages, but later it grows into a system that has a mind and voice of its own. This system [the building of man] can take on a life of its own and even get to a stage were it can persecute unto death the very one[s] that it was intended to benefit.
When we don’t see the true picture of what God originally intended [without a vision the people perish] we unconsciously persecute the very ones whom God sends to bring his original purpose to pass [Christ and those whom he sends]. When we view ‘church’ as only that which takes place in our buildings on Sunday [synagogue mentality] or even if we extend our view to that which is being accomplished through the society of people who we associate with in our group, this is still only a small limited view of what ‘church’ is. We often times cannot see that those who are part of the body of Christ in our communities are vital parts of ‘church’. Even those who have not technically ‘joined’ a church. Even when we use the term ‘joining’ church, we usually mean the group who meets on our block, or area of our city. While these groups of believers who meet in our cities on any given Sunday across this nation and the world are for the most part true Christians, this in no way is the only aspect of New Testament ecclesia. The gathering of believers is a scriptural element of New Testament Christianity to be sure, be we often perceive this to be the primary purpose of Christianity.
We have all heard of people being spoken of as in sin because they do not associate with any particular building in their city. We say that they don’t go to ‘church’. We don’t even realize what were saying when we judge people after the standard of our concepts of ‘church’. I believe it is o.k. for believers to meet on Sunday and worship and associate with other believers for a common cause [like sending missionaries to the world], but we must be willing to see the bigger picture and stop judging others according to a plumb line that at times is no different than the one the first century Pharisees used to condemn Christ!
CHAPTER 8; THE 1ST CENUTURY CHURCH.
When the ecclesia gathered in the 1st century, they did not have church buildings. They had no paid pastoral office. They did not take up offerings every time a minister was done speaking. They had no one individual who was considered the main leader of the congregation, who the people saw as their hired minister. There were no traveling evangelists or speakers who made a living by setting up a regular schedule of ‘churches’ in which he would hold meetings to finance his ‘full’ time ministry. There were certainly no big name teachers who would travel around to various cities and receive large 10,ooo dollar offerings from average Christians in order to finance their 200,ooo dollar and upward salaries, especially while appealing to poor saints and widows on a mass scale [through Christian TV.].
While all these practices [traveling, TV, meeting in buildings, etc.] are not in and of themselves bad, but if we use them to measure the faithfulness of other Christians [like always appealing for funds every time we meet or speak, and then insinuating that those who don’t give in this environment are backslidden or even lost!], then what we have done is elevated present day Christianity to a standard of how ‘faithful’ we are to tithe to a ‘church’ on Sunday and whether or not we give money to the speakers who visit our ‘churches’ on a rotating basis throughout the life of our ‘church’. Those who don’t operate in this limited perspective of ‘church’ are deemed in sin and rebellious, even the ones who are faithfully serving Christ in all other areas of life. I personally have given time, money and material goods on a regular basis to meet the real needs of people around me [like feeding homeless guys], I have given money into offerings on Sundays and have financed out of pocket our radio programs and book writing ministry. I have never received a salary from our ministry and don’t appeal for funds. I have supported myself as a fulltime firefighter for over 20 years, and have given many thousands of dollars into ministry.
My primary focus on giving has been patterned after Jesus teaching [give to him that asks of you, meet the needs of you brothers all around you mentality]. But my critics over the years have tried to look at a tithing statement from a ‘church’ to judge whether or not we give. I have even refused to deduct our giving from the income tax we pay [this is out of personal preference, its much easier for me to directly meet the needs of the people I work with, without having to justify and save receipts every time I take a homeless guy out to eat!]. Because of this people could read a ‘church’ record of our giving and judge us on a criterion that does not measure up to their understanding of giving. Remember Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for using their giving to a building [the temple] as an excuse to not meet the real needs of their family [the true temple made up of people].
I have found that those who give under law truly don’t take the words of Jesus concerning giving as serious as the words of Malachi. They feel if they don’t put 10% in the basket on Sunday they might be cursed, but whether or not they give to him that asks of them is sort of a little moral teaching from Jesus that we view with a take it or leave it mentality. The law always robs us of the true joy and intent of grace living. This very area [giving of money] is the area that Jesus was speaking about when he said ‘your traditions make void the commands of God’ [Mark 7:13]. Their dedicating of the tithe to the temple was a tradition that they used to by-pass true grace giving.
I understand that tithers will read these verses and say that Jesus never told them not to tithe, but that they should have done both [giving to their parents and tithe]. While this is true, you must recognize that Jesus also never told the 1st century Jew not to keep Sabbath, but we know now that Sabbath keeping is not for gentile Christians either . The mindset of Jesus was not to tell the 1st century Jewish community to stop all their religious traditions [tithing, Sabbath keeping, etc.], but to show them a better way through grace. Eventually the gentile church would grow into its own unique organism, not mimicking Jewish tradition [tithing, Sabbath, temple worship, etc.]. This was the tension you saw in the churches of Paul as opposed to the church at Jerusalem [acts 13,15]. The church at Jerusalem continued to meet at the temple and followed tithing and many other Jewish teachings [circumcision], while the gentile churches had none of this baggage at all [read acts 13 and 15].
The gentile churches established by Paul didn’t tithe, keep Sabbath or circumcise themselves. The church at Jerusalem did! We need to understand that the words of Jesus concerning Christian living have the highest priority for us today. While the whole bible is the inspired word of God, even the passages that speak about circumcision, Jewish dietary law, Sabbath keeping and tithing. Yet we don’t observe every ordinance we find spoken about. Just because you can find a subject spoken about in the law, before the law, and in the New Testament it doesn’t mean it applies to us today! The Sabbath was in the law, before the law, and in the New Testament as well. Yet Jesus never told the Jews of his day not to keep Sabbath, but we know that the Sabbath is not for us today.
The Sabbath even has more authority than the tithe because it is in the 10 commandments and is found in the 2nd chapter of genesis, long before the tithe and the law! But yet we know we are not under this law! So to be clear and consistent we must understand that it is o.k. to meet on Saturday or Sunday or any other day of the week. Its o.k. to give 10% on Sunday or any other day, but its also o.k. to meet on Tuesday and give 6 or 12 % of your money. Its o.k. to meet on no special day and to simply give as God leads and to commune with other believers from house to house on a weekly basis and never take an offering at all [you simply don’t find Jesus or Paul taking offerings every-time they preach!]. So while my purpose is not to condemn any one for their service to God, we certainly don’t want to condemn others because of what we judge to be their lack of obedience to ‘new testament Christianity’!
CHAPTER 9;THE PLURAL VOICE OF ECCLESIA.
The modern pattern of ‘American’ church not only silences the corporate voice of true ecclesia, but also gives a distorted platform/forum for individuals to have too much of a singular voice and influence in the local church. Because the church originally was to function in a community atmosphere, when she digressed into a ‘place’ where Christians meet on Sunday this silenced the corporate voice and exalted the individual voice. This is also why you see so many seminars and counseling courses on ‘pastor’ burnout. We are trying to fit pastors into a role of ‘C.E.O’ which was never intended from the start. This is also why you have so much immature teaching in the church [the prosperity gospel and other distorted stuff!] because this false way of seeing church allows for one man to have way too much influence and voice that the Lord never intended any one person to have.
While I’m not against teachers having a lot of influence [look at Paul’s influence on us today], I am against the concept that anyone who feels called into ministry begins a lifelong pursuit to raise money from people every Sunday with the intent on creating a bigger voice with bigger influence no matter who he is. God simply hasn’t called ministers to function as C.E.O's who are in this type of rat race to see who could become more famous than the next guy! This false way of seeing church also stifles the true corporate voice of the believers in the congregational setting [when they meet!]. The only N.T. book that actually deals with ‘church’ attendance is Corinthians. The book is written by Paul to all the believers corporately. You will notice that he never addressed his letters to the ‘pastors’ of these churches, because there were none according to our present understanding of the word ‘pastor’. If there were such an office in the N.T. churches, it would be unthinkable for Paul not to directly address and rebuke the ‘pastors’ for what they’re ‘allowing’ to happen in ‘their churches’.
The N.T. simply doesn’t have the role of ‘pastor’ as we’ve come to define it today! When Paul does address the churches he writes directly to the brothers in Christ. In Corinthians he rebukes them for having disorderly meetings and tells them that when they get together they should all take turns speaking, one by one in order. What! You mean he doesn’t tell them to be quiet and submit to their pastor! Paul you must be in rebellion! Who do you think you are? Writing the brothers in the first place, and then you tell them they can all speak and prophesy and have a collective voice! Poor Paul just didn’t understand church etiquette! As you can see when we don’t ‘see’ the church as a community of people we distort everything else that we call ‘church’ in today’s modern setting!
The pressures of modern day ‘pastors/CEO’s’ are absent from New Testament thought. Paul and other New Testament ministers were under pressure to be sure, but the types of pressure were of a different sort. Paul was under pressure over his concerns for the spiritual development of the communities [churches] he was planting. He did not know the pressures of big budgets and great physical building programs. Absent from Paul’s vocabulary were fears of not raising enough money to complete the buildings, or the brothers showing up on Saturday to paint the ‘church’ and things of this nature. Paul’s pressures and burdens consisted mainly over the spiritual character and well being of the communities he planted. Never do you find him collecting money for his big project for God, or using scriptures on sowing to raise funds for his own financial empire!
While I know this type of language is strong, yet I believe if I don’t use it you guys might not truly see the depth of our wrong understanding of what the church truly is! The language of ‘church’ today is so far removed from that of the 1st century ecclesia. Today we are ‘building-centric’ instead of ‘Christ-centric’. That which flows from our lips and hearts is centered around modern day professional ministry. We speak of raising huge amounts of money to fulfill our leaders God given dreams. It’s all about high powered egos competing with each other to prove who is the most gifted or most anointed among us. The same spirit of the disciples when they were fighting over who would be the greatest in Gods kingdom. Much of modern day church is simply a means by which men with great egos manipulate the saints into doing things that God never intended, and much of it is simply fueled by a competitive spirit that is no different than climbing up the ladder in the corporate world!
CHAPTER 10; TRYING TO FIT THE BUILDING OF GOD INTO THE BUILDING OF MAN.
I recently picked up a copy of a Christian magazine, while briefly looking through it to see if anything would catch my interest, I saw that they were dedicating an entire year to the subject of apostles/prophets and the 5-fold ministry today. They explained how they were going to devote an entire year to the subject because of the various questions arising out of this teaching. Some of the areas they would cover included things like ‘how the 5-fold operates in the congregational setting’ and ‘should every church have the 5- fold operating in it’ and ‘how do they fit into the Sunday church service’. The ‘5-fold’ were NEVER INTENDED TO FIT INTO THE BUILDING OF MAN! Trying to restore gifts into a limited setting only creates more problems than it solves. All Gods gifted ones were meant to function in the community of believers [ecclesia] and not in a limited Sunday morning setting. If you don’t ‘see’ church in the true sense you will not ‘see’ the 5-fold in a true functioning way. All of Gods people were created to flow in community, the 5-fold are simply gifted people in your city who have a calling to relate to your community in effective ways. They are not to compete with each other on Sunday morning to see if we can have all the 5-fold operating in our ‘churches’. Our ‘churches’ are communities of believers in our cities! Not the Sunday morning service!
I have read articles on churches who saw the truths of ‘city wide church’ and have attempted once again to fit the building of man into the building of God. While most of these efforts are well meaning, the perspective is still flawed. Many modern movements have ‘started churches’ in more than one location and refer to themselves as one church in 2 or 3 locations. While there’s nothing really bad about this, it in no way is what the N.T. speaks about when referring to the church in your city! The church in your city are all the believers who reside in your city. The 5-fold operating in the ‘church’ are simply all the 5-fold carrying out fathers plan for the kingdom in your city. Trying to see the 5-fold restored or the ‘city church’ through the lens of the building of man only does more harm than good!
CHAPTER 11; THE TABERNACLE OF MOSES/DAVID.
One of the most interesting studies I have ever done was on the tabernacle of David. When I first heard of ‘the tabernacle of David’ I thought it was referring to Moses tabernacle. I never knew that there were 2 tabernacles, and that both existed at the same time! What a contrast between law and grace contained right in the O.T. and we look right past it and don’t ‘see’ the significance of the pattern! I am not going to give you all the references to where these tabernacles are mentioned in scripture, because it would take too much time to look them up right now, and being I don’t make a profit personally from our ministry [NO SALARIES FOR ME BROTHER!] I’ll have you guys look the verses up for yourselves. It will take an in depth study to ‘see’ everything I am about to show you.
During Moses time as a leader of Gods people, God instituted the tabernacle system [the tabernacle of Moses]. This system of worship and service was simply a way to show a type of Christ’s future ministry and sacrifice on our behalf. The high priest and sacrificial system surrounding this tabernacle showed how hard it was for sinful man to approach a holy God without atonement and a priest to serve as a ‘stand in’ for man. Those of you who know the bible are familiar with this. The 2 tablets of the 10 commandments were contained in the ark [box] in the back room of this 2-room movable tent structure. The reason the tabernacle was moveable as a tent that would be set up and taken down as God led, was for a type of Gods progressive revelation for the ages to come. God was showing whenever the cloud by day or fire by night would move so like wise the people of God [a fluent group of followers as opposed to a stagnant place/ ecclesia verses temple!] would be able to move and follow the Spirits direction. The reason God wanted a MOBILE STRUCTURE AS OPPOSED TO A TEMPLE WAS TO SHOW THE ORGANIC NATURE OF ECCLESIA AS OPPOSED TO A STAGNANT TEMPLE CONCEPT!
Well later on in Jewish history the people blew it over and over again [a type of the laws inability to change mans nature] and eventually the ark of the covenant [the box with the 10 commandments in it] was taken captive by Israel’s enemy and what you had left was an empty tent, with structure and priest [pastor] and all the ritual of ministry without God! The ark also represented Gods presence because the law is simply a little glimpse of Gods character enclosed in an earthly vessel [which is a type of the incarnation of Jesus too!]. Well as you can imagine the system of ‘church’ continued to go on without a hitch. The fact that God left their tent a long time ago didn’t stop these ministry focused Jews one bit! They kept going strong for God even though He wasn’t in their tent [church] anymore. They had too much riding on the tent system of church in order to shut things down and seek God! After all the Levitical priests would loose their salaries and the tithers would have no were to put their tithes on Sabbath day!
Well as Israel managed to keep the tent system alive [absent God] The Lord would eventually raise up a new king after Gods own heart whose name was David. This king was different than all the others. He would be a type of Christ for all future generations. This king rose to power and wanted to know why the people were so willing to carry on church [tent] without that ark! After all God was in that thing [or so they thought]. Well king David would have none of this and quickly devises a scheme to return the ark back to Gods people. In his zeal he goes after the ark to recapture it again, and well you know the story, the poor brother who was picked to go on this ministry assignment accidentally touches the ark when it is about to fall and the brother is slightly rebuked by the Lord [he gets killed!]. Well much to David’s dismay the ark gets sidetracked at some brothers house for a while, and low and behold the brother whose house the ark is at is so blessed that all his neighbors think he hit the Texas lotto [its all right to joke a little, after all 99% of Christendom is still stuck with the tent and no ark and yet God hasn’t killed us yet].
So after David sees this he goes back to the scripture and realizes that God only killed poor brother so and so because he didn’t follow the right tent carrying procedure that is supposed to be used when retrieving a captive ark from hostile territory [wow, who would have known that there was a manual on that one!]. So David calls the ministry team together again and explains to them that the reason old brother so and so died was because he messed up on some little technicality and David’s willing to give it another try! Well as you can imagine the brothers weren’t fighting over this ministry opportunity. Hey send me to the nursing home or something. Well lo and behold they get a team together and go get that ark and no one gets slain in the Spirit.
David now builds a brand new tent to put this ark in. I never saw this before. This tent [Davids tabernacle] is set up by David and is a complete violation of the entire system regulating tent-etiquette! You would think they would have learned not to stray from that rule anymore! But bless God this new tent system is greater than the old mosaic one by 1000 %! David sets up his worshippers and praisers who even start their own worship ministry, writing famous music and all [where did you think psalms came from!]. This tent [church] is way better than old Moses tent [church]. All the people in town cant wait to go to David’s tent, and he even picks up some members from Moses tent and as you can imagine there is a little tension between David’s ministry and the tent Moses started way before this David ever came on the seen [who does David think he is starting this new tent in town, doesn’t he know that the Moses tent people were here long before him!].
Well David goes ahead anyway and has the most successful tent ministry in the region. He has the coveted ark, no formal worship service, just free flowing access to the ark! No 2-room system anymore brother, and the praise and worship service, well you cant beat it with a stick [or should we be scriptural and say rod]. Well this new tent is so daring that David even thinks he’s a priest. He has the nerve to put on an ephod! This is something only priests can do! [That’s if your under law, but in this new tent all are priests, and after all David is a type of Jesus and if I remember I think he has something to do with being a priest and king, doesn’t He?]. Well this new tent is so good people started calling it a mega-tent. It’s definitely the tent to be at. If they had Christian TV back then you would be able to pick this tent service up 7 days a week. Things are going so good David’s not about to change things now. WRONG! David is so excited about the great success he’s finding in ministry that he comes up with this great idea. Lets build a temple for God. Surely God would like this permanent structure, after all I’m doing it to glorify Him. Well just to be sure let me call old brother Nathan [he has a great prophetic ministry you know! Very accurate]. Well old Nathan finds time in his very active ministry schedule to meet with David. David floats his plan, and lo and behold Nathan prophesies some great sounding words and the deal is done! Surely a prophet as accurate as Nathan cant go wrong?
Well Nathan goes back to his international ministry headquarters and God tells him he was wrong! What, I’m a national level prophet! I can’t go back on what I said, it will ruin my ministry! Old David already went and told everyone about my great sounding prophetic word and this will utterly ruin my income! I must prosper so I can finance my prophetic ministry or else I wont be able to keep up with the big boys! Nevertheless Nathan does God this one favor and tells David he was wrong. The Lord actually tells David that He never wanted a temple in the first place! Could it be that the tent David was ruling over was a better picture of the NEW TESTAMENT community of believers who were yet to come [I think so!]. Could it be that David’s rule as a king and priest over Gods prophetic community would have been fulfilled better if they stuck with the moveable [organic] tent system than a permanent building? Well the rest is history. Let me get a little serious here. I am not saying your church building is wrong. I am saying God is more concerned with the organic nature and growth of ecclesia than he is with your church building program!
The church continually is in a state of reform and restoration until we all come into the unity of the faith and maturity in Christ. During each generation of church history God had people and groups of believers who were flowing in greater truth than those around them. This is not to say they were a special or elite class, but simply a remnant who were moving ahead of the status quoi! God will only allow the church to recover so much truth and experience as much change as she can handle in any one generation. This principle is found in the story of the children of Israel only being able to take so much land at a time as they were entering their inheritance [Deut;7:22]. God told them if they took too much at one time the wild animals would overtake the land faster than the children of Israel could settle in it.
So likewise the Lord allows certain amounts of truth and restoration to take hold in each generation of church history. The reformation of the 15th/16th century restored the lost truth of justification, but Luther didn’t deal with the truth of ecclesia being a community as opposed to a place of meeting. The Lord allowed Luther to go so far and then stop. You can see this pattern in all areas of Gods restoration of truth in every generation of believers. The Protestants moved into truth concerning justification by faith, but they simply replaced the concept of the catholic priest with the role of pastor. They never dealt with the ‘way’ we do church, but only with certain doctrines concerning church. The old tradition of a priest/pastor mentality never changed. This mentality is not found in the book of acts or the gospels, but was introduced sometime around the 4th century when the emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. The well-meaning emperor wanted stability for his realm and slowly introduced the ‘church’ building concept with the role of the ‘priest/pastor’ as the person in charge who is ‘hired’ to perform certain functions for the people whom he works for. The pagan concept of funerals and weddings and so forth were now the responsibility of this new office instituted by Constantine.
This is not to say that weddings and funerals are wrong, the bible contains stories dealing with weddings and funerals, but to simply show how the church began to loose the community mentality and digressed into a professional clergy/laity mindset. Over the generations the Lord has been in the process of restoring us back to a family mentality as opposed to an institutional mindset. All the things I’ve dealt with in this book are open and free for anyone to see while reading through the New Testament, but we overlooked them because of the grid that we all view scripture through. We all approach scripture with certain preconceived mindsets that cause us to read the word in order to justify our own preconceived prejudices!
We have a tendency to read past the story and find the ‘jots and tittles’ of truth to fit into our mindsets of church and ministry. We unconsciously read verses on ‘how to behave ourselves in the house of God’ and apply that to how we act in the ‘church building’ on Sunday! We look right past the family mindset. We don’t realize it really means ‘how to behave ourselves in Gods family’. We see church as a place we go on Sunday and this mindset unconsciously interprets everything we read in scripture! We cant ‘see’ church as a family of people who live in our city. We see church as the ‘church’ we attend on Sunday. Then those around us who don’t fit into our mindset are looked upon as in rebellion. We see church as a place where our ‘pastor’ preaches to us every Sunday forever, world without end. We don’t realize what a co-dependency we developed in the church.
No New Testament minister was ever supposed to be the ‘life-long’ minister of a ‘congregation’. They were all to speak and share and love in an atmosphere of community. No paid ministers, no hired pastors, no church buildings, no co-dependant Christians who vote on who they will hire to perform religious functions on their behalf! Radical isn’t it! Can you handle truth! We often think we can until it challenges us to our core. There is always a cost involved in true reformation. To some you will have to go back to your bibles and do some real soul-searching, it will cost you prestige, a salary, respect amongst fellow clergy and many other unforeseen 'costs’ involved with going on with new truth. To others you are now released into the reality of being and doing all that father has called you to.
The apostles and prophets can go and function in their callings today! Go and be witnesses, if father has called you your free to do his will! To the evangelists, pastors and teachers you are now released to bless and build the body around you. You mean John that we don’t have to raise a lot of money and rent a building and go to college and get ordained and marry and bury and visit the nursing home and everything else associated with professional ministry? You got it brother, that’s EXACTLY what I mean! You are all free to fulfill father’s call where you are at right now. Don’t live up to the expectations of men. Simply please father and find contentment in his will. You will know the truth and it will set you free! God bless you guys and may I meet you one day in the simple setting of ecclesia!