The World System and the Church

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.

The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

1 John 2:15-17, 1 John 5:19 

In these passages the word “world” is kosmos in the original GreekThis literally means the “world system”.  It’s very important for us, as believers, to understand that this world that we live in is a system.  That is, there is definitely a mind behind the system.  Actually, the kosmos is made up of many systems.  You could say that the “system” is made up of many “sub-systems”.

For example, in this kosmos there are systems such as: the economic system, the governmental system, the political system, the media system, the military system, and on it goes.  But the most treacherous system for believers is the religious system!  Of course, there are many religions in the world, but we are focusing on the so called “Christian religious system”.  This is what I would call “institutional Christianity” or the “institutional church”.

Some History

Now, of course, this religious system is very ancient.  Actually, it began in the Garden of Eden.  You know, when Adam and Eve first ate of that other tree?  Now, it’s important that we understand that from Satan’s perspective those kids eating from his tree wasn’t just about sin.  It was about control!  He is the usurper who will always (well, not always!) try to gain control over God’s creation.  So… now we have a fallen creation and a fallen humanity.  So now, everything that mankind touches is corrupt because the whole race is corrupt.

A New Adam and a New Race

And we all (hopefully) know the story.

“So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”   1 Co 15:45   

However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual.

The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven.

As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly.

As we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.

1 Co 15:47-49

Here Paul discusses the two Men.  The first Adam (Man) became a living soul but the last Adam became a life giving Spirit.  And we who are in the last Adam (Christ) now bear the image of the heavenly.

So… now we can see that this is not about going to church, sitting in a pew, and listening to a sermon.  It is not about doing “good” or “religious things”.  It is not about memorizing scripture or “saying” your prayers.  No!  We are not talking about that realm at all.  Instead we are focusing on a whole new and different realm altogether.  It is a New Creation and a New Race.  And that creation is all about the New Man (or Adam).  That is, Jesus Christ Himself.  Not just things about Christ.  Not just things for Christ.  Not just things mentioning Christ.

                                      But Christ Himself!

That is the very Person of Christ.  He is the New Creation.  Those who are part of that New Creation live in and by that New Man who is Christ.  This is totally and utterly different and even directly opposed to the first Adam and his race.  Okay, so now this brings us back to 1 John and the fact that the whole world system (kosmos) lies under the power of the evil one.  And this includes all the “sub-systems” which includes the religious system.  But what exactly is the religious system?  Well, if you have read about church history at all you will know that as early on as the second century the Christian churches began to take on the forms and practices of the world system around them.

The centrality and headship of Jesus Christ were beginning to be replaced by man-made structures and organization.  The Church, who is the Family of God, stopped meeting in homes and looked toward lifeless buildings instead.  This was all instigated by men who were building their “ministries” instead of the kingdom of God.  This gave rise to humanism in the church.

One man or woman ministries became more popular than the Church herself.  Christian “superstars” began mega-churches built around their own ministries and personalities rather than Christ Himself.  The “every member functioning” that we see in the New Testament was almost totally lost.  The believers became spectators of the church “service” on Sunday morning.  If you aren’t the “Pastor” or part of “the staff” then you are simply an attendee and an audience.

Even the “church” buildings were designed and built to be auditoriums where you would only attend and watch the back of the heads of the people in the row in front of you!  Then, you would listen an oration (called a sermon) given by a trained speaker called a “pastor”.  There would also be some music with hymns or praise songs.  Many people I know have told me that the worship is their favorite part of the service because they get to participate.  By singing the songs!

Brothers and sisters, let’s be honest with ourselves and God.  Is this a picture of:

What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.

If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God.

Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment.

But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent.

For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted

1 Corinthians 14:26-31

Notice the phrases: “each one” and “one by one”

This doesn’t sound like a one-man show to me.

Not even close!

And what about the daily life of the church?  Is the church a loving family that loves to be together and share the life of Christ together?  Or are we too busy for that?  And that’s exactly why the Sunday morning service works so well for us.  There, we don’t actually have to lay down our lives for one another on a daily basis.  Isn’t living the church and being the church better than just going to church for a forty-five minute service?  Of course it’s better… it’s exactly what God designed for us.  It’s better for us, but more importantly, it’s better for Him.  Our God has an eternal purpose to have an expression of Himself on this earth and in this physical realm.  That expression is His church!

The Descriptors

The words or phrases used in the New Testament to describe the church of Jesus Christ are as follows:  Body of Christ, Family of God, Temple of the Holy Spirit, House of God, Bride of Christ, Kingdom of God, One New Man (humanity), New Race, New Creation, Priesthood of All Believers, Christ in You, the Mystery of God, the Eternal Purpose, the Saints (holy ones), His Inheritance, His Masterpiece, His Body, His Fullness, and many others!

Now… let me ask you a very penetrating question:

How in the world could such a group of people be so limited to actually sit in a pew and listen to a sermon on Sunday morning?

Dear brothers and sisters, there is so much more (incredibly more!) to this whole matter of being the church than we have ever imagined!

My wife, Mary and I have been working for the last thirty years to help believers realize their true calling as the Body of Christ.  If you are open to it, we have many resources and co-workers that could possibly help you.  All you have to do is respond to this email.

Here are the resources and contacts to help you:

Milt & Mary Rodriguez:

Website:  http://TheRebuilders.org       Blog:  http://MiltRodriguez.com/

The Rebuilders site has many resources such as articles, posts, audios, books, etc.

Also, here are a few FREE resources:

http://www.therebuilders.org/christ_in_3-DFreeDL.html

Some of our co-workers:

http://3rdrace.org/

http://terriorekklesia.blogspot.com/

http://searchingtogether.org

Aspects Through Angles

Seeing Christ from a Different Point of View

Introduction:

In this post I am sharing something which is very dear to my heart.  In fact, it’s so dear that I am in the process of writing a whole book on the subject!  (But more about that later on in this post.)  Knowing Christ deeply and intimately is the most important aspect of our walk with God.  Therefore, it is no wonder that the enemy of God has gone to great lengths to attempt to block and steal this from us.

The Current Situation

Dear brothers and sisters, please don’t misunderstand me at this point.  I am not making a judgement call here.  I am simply making an observation.

Most believers do not know their Lord in a deep way!  Sad to say that most believers are either steeped in religion, institutionalism, or guilt-driven, duty-motivated religious activity.

Most only know Him in an anemic, pathetically superficial way.  He is not really their All in all but rather a God that you “say your prayers to” and run to when help is needed.  In other words, He is a God of our convenience.

For many believers He is only a God that you ask, ask, and ask some more.  He is kind of like a big Santa Claus in the sky!  You want your “asking” to be answered so you go to a building on Sunday morning, sit in a pew and listen to a sermon.  Then you put something in the offering plate and feel better about yourself because you actually gave something!

Dear Brothers and Sisters, I am here to let you know that there is a much, much better way!  You can actually know this Lord more intimately than your closest friend and even your spouse.  You can actually walk in His presence all throughout your day and (in varying degrees) sense Him and touch Him continuously.  He is one who sticks closer to you than any brother or friend.  In fact, the scriptures tell us that if you have surrendered your life to Him then He has come to live inside of you!  Wow!  You can’t get any closer than that.

So I am asking you, dear reader, to open your heart, mind, and spirit to learn to see Him in (perhaps) a totally new way.

The True Diamond

He is like a great diamond.  As you hold this great jewel in your hand, you begin to notice something that is quite startling.  As you hold it up in your hand and begin to move it around in the light, you will see many different colors depending upon your point of view.

If you learn to view our Lord from many different angels and in many different ways then you will “behold” a Christ much greater than you ever thought possible.  In fact, there are literally endless ways to see Him.  You will discover many “new” aspects of this Christ as you view Him and experience Him in many new ways.

The Major Hindrance

This may sound very wonderful and all, I mean, who wouldn’t want to “behold” this incredible Christ?  But you need to know that there is a problem.  Paul calls it the veil.

Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech,
and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away.
But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ.
But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart;
but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.


Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:12-18

Here the veil is referring to the Law of Moses and our own old flesh natures.  In our time we can relate this to the religious (legalistic) nature of mankind and the power of the fallen soul-life.

Many Christians are driven by a sense of duty to God.  They are motivated by what I call the “should” of religion.

“I should get up in the morning to pray”

“I should share Christ with people at work”

“I should go to church on Sunday morning”

“I should read my bible every day”

And on and on it goes…

Many Christians need to be set free from the “shoulds!”

The key to the Christian life is not doing things out of a sense of guilt, or pressure, or duty.  This is not the Christian life!

The Christian life is simply one thing…

You and I living by the Life of Christ within us!

He IS the Christian life.

Now, you may be thinking, “yes, Milt, that’s all well and good but we need to know practically how to abide in this Christ.”

I understand.  However, that would take a whole book to explain.

But, guess what?  I’m writing such a book right now!  It will be titled “Eyes Wide Open” – Learning to see and Experience an Indwelling Christ.  In this book I am going into great detail both spiritually and practically to help believers to behold this wonderful Lord.  The book is broken down into three parts:

  • A life Changing Revelation of Jesus Christ
  • How you can know this Christ deeply and intimately
  • How groups of believers (churches) can know Him and live by His life together.

All of this help is given after over thirty-five years of experience helping believers in this way.

But we need your help!

You can help us get the word out about this unique book.  You can tell your friends, relatives, home groups, bible study groups, etc.

If you would like to be notified when this book is published then all you need to do is send us an email at: milt@therebuilders.org

In the subject line of the email type the words: Eyes Wide Open Book

We will add you to a special email list for those interested.  Even though this unique book probably won’t be available until late 2020 or early 2021, you can still tell others about it.  And we will work on making it available as soon as possible.

*Special Gift! Also, if you add your email to the list, I will send you a FREE copy of my ebook entitled: “Christ in 3-D.”  This ebook will give you a good introduction to seeing a Christ you have never known before.

The True Riches

Once, my wife and I and some friends went to visit Australia to share our precious Lord with some believers in the cities of Perth and Melbourne (Ballarat).  While we were in Ballarat we visited some of the old gold mines left from their gold rush in the 1850s.  Of course, they had a tour and so we took it.  We actually went down under ground into the mines to see what the miners experienced when when they dug for gold.  It absolutely amazed me how much these men had sacrificed with the hopes of “striking it rich” way down there in the mines.  It was definitely not a pleasant situation.  It was dark and cold and many times there would be a collapse of the caves and many would die.  The air was thin and everyone down there was out to make it rich for themselves and their families.  Basically, they sacrificed their very lives in the hopes of finding some gold.  Most of them never did.  Many of them died in the attempt.  Many families up on the surface lost sons, husbands, fathers, and brothers.  And for what?  Some rocks that had some very shiny metal inside!

While I was listening to this story being told by the tour guide I realized something.  People will do all kinds of crazy things to make it rich.  They will even risk their lives to hit the big one.  They will travel all over the world, go to extreme risk and expense to find some hope of making the big time and striking it rich.

But how many will sacrifice their lives for the True riches? 

“This grace was given to me, I being less than the least of all the saints, to preach the gospel of the unsearchable riches of Christ among the nations, and to bring to light all, what is the fellowship of the mystery having been hidden from eternity in God, the One creating all things through Jesus Christ”  (Eph 3:8,9)

Brothers and sisters, I can tell you without any doubt that this “mining” for the true riches of Christ will cost you.  What will it cost, you may ask?  Time?  Money?  Effort?  Family?  Convenience?  Leisure?  No, not at all.  It will not cost you any of those things.  It will only cost you one thing…

YOUR LIFE!

“And He said to all, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily. And let him follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life, he will lose it. But whoever loses his life for My sake, this one will save it.”  (Luke 9:23,24)

Read our New Radical Invitation Here

First and Foremost – Part III

Note: This is the third and final part of a three part post.  If you have not read parts 1 and 2 I recommend that you click here.

Fact: It is without a doubt that at no time in history has the church of Jesus Christ expressed more life and power than in the first century.

Question: Why is that?

Some Ideas:

* it was fresh and new

* Jesus was there

* Paul and the apostles were there

* first century people didn’t have all the distractions

* times were simpler then

* persecution kept the church pure

All true…but I believe we have missed the main reason —

Those people laid their lives down for Christ and the Church!

Needed: Men and Women of Vision

The scriptures say that without a vision the people perish. (Prov. 29:18)

In our day there seems to be no lack of believers who have a vision. It seems to be that there are “visions” abounding all over the place in Christian circles today. The question is: what vision do they have? Is it God’s vision? Oh, did you know that God has a vision?

Paul claimed that he received a “heavenly vision” (as he communicated to King Agrippa in Acts 26:12 – 20.)

“While so engaged as I was journeying to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, at midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me. “And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ “And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. ‘But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’ “So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.” (Acts 26:12-20)

Here we see that Paul said that he was not disobedient to that vision. In other words, this “vision” was the governing fact of his life!

Now let’s take a look at that vision. A few key points regarding the eternal purpose of God to which Paul was called.

  • Paul was persecuting Jesus! (verse 14) How could this be? Paul (Saul) had never met Jesus. yet the voice claimed that Paul had been persecuting Him. Paul was persecuting the church! Do you see how closely the Lord Jesus identifies with his Body? They are one. When you hurt his Body, you hurt him!
  • I think it’s really cool that God gave Paul a heavenly vision by making him blind! Blind to all else but Christ and His Church. And in Acts 9, we see that the Lord called a brother named Ananias to pray for Paul and the first sight Paul had after being blind was a brother; Ananias. Isn’t that beautiful? God could have just sovereignly healed Paul, but instead he sent a member of his Body to lay hands and pray for him. Here again, God is revealing his purpose to Paul.

Brothers and sisters, do you have a heavenly vision; a revelation of God’s eternal purpose? If not, you need to earnestly ask Him for it. And if you have received it, then has it become the governing force in your life? Is this what drives you to do everything you do? Does this vision determine what you do, where you go, and what you think and speak?

If you answered “yes!” to the above questions, then I would like to speak with you about a very special offer I am making. This offer is only for believers who are serious. I mean really serious!

To read about this special opportunity, click  here

The Master Craftsman

I have a good friend and brother who is an excellent builder and mechanic.  In fact, I would even say that he is a master craftsman.  He has grown up being exposed to the building trades and definitely knows what needs to be done and how to do it.

Recently, he came to visit us to help with some projects around our house.  As I watched him work, I was amazed at the accuracy, the speed, and the quality of his work.  I have honestly never seen such a worker who was totally committed to his work.  Getting the job done and getting it done right was evident in every move he made.  He would quite literally work sun up until sun down without taking many breaks at all.  All of this with the utmost integrity and quality of work I have ever seen.

This brother had a plan and then executed the plan with extreme precision.  Nothing could dissuade or distract this worker from fulfillment of the plan.  And not only that, but he has an unswerving commitment to the fulfillment of the vision no matter what it cost him.  The purpose and the plan are everything and the expression of that purpose is the ultimate goal.

Well, as you may have figured out by now, this post is not really about my friend.  Though I must say that God used my friend to show me some of these wonderful aspects of our Lord.

Builder

Our God is definitely a Builder.  He has had something in his mind to build since before eternity.  And that building is a house and a temple.  He “drew up” the plans for this House before he created anything.  The physical temple in physical Jerusalem was simply a fore-shadow of the Real House and the Real Temple!

Planner

Our God is a Planner!  He always has a plan for everything he does.  He plans it out in detail.  You could say that when he has a purpose, that is a building project, he always conceives it in his mind and then makes a detailed plan.  Of course, we know this is true because of His creation of the physical universe.  Every detail is pre-planned and fore ordained.  Not only of the physical universe but also the invisible universe, something Paul calls the “heavenly places”.

The Purpose

But what is the Plan for?  It is to execute the Purpose.  At my little house we had a purpose to build a deck.  My friend made a plan (a detailed map) on how to execute the purpose, or goal.  The ultimate goal was to have an outside space that would be relaxing and inviting to us and our guests.  That was the purpose.  But to see that purpose fulfilled we needed to have a plan to execute the purpose.

The Expression

Then, of course, after the building is complete the goal is realized of seeing and experiencing the fulfillment or expression of the purpose.  Stay with me folks, this post is about much more than my deck!  God definitely wants to have an awesome, beautiful, wonderful expression of His glorious Son.  That expression is also to bring heaven to earth and to reveal all that Christ is through a people, a new race, and a new humanity.

The Vision

Now, please understand me that the deck would never have been built if my wife and I didn’t have a “vision” of the deck.  This is also extremely important.  The scriptures tell us that “without a vision the people perish.” (Prov. 29:18)  What are we to have a vision of (for)?  The Purpose!

This is a major problem among believers today. 

There is no vision for God’s eternal purpose!

It all begins with the vision.  The vision can only come from God to the heart that is seeking Him.  And the vision will be the driving force behind everything you do in your life!  It will be the reason you get up in the morning…the reason you wash your face or comb your hair.  It will be the reason why you go to work, have a family, make a living.

It is the reason you are breathing air right now!

In other words, if you are a believer, the Purpose is the reason you are alive!

It’s also the reason why Jesus told us to pray, “Our Father who is in heaven, Holy is your name.

Your kingdom come…

Your kingdom come…

Your kingdom come!

On earth as it is in heaven.

There it is!  There is the Purpose!

And brothers and sisters you will find it all throughout the whole New Testament.

You know, we are always asking God for things, but does anyone ask him to fulfill his own desire and purpose?

So…putting it plainly…

God wants:         A Building, a house

A Family

A Bride

A City

A Body

A Kingdom

A Community

And this building will only be built upon one foundation

His Precious Son!

Only Christ will be the Foundation

Only Christ will be the walls

Only Christ will be the roof

Only Christ will be the windows and doors!

Only Christ will be everything in the House.

Bottom Line

Brothers and sisters, do you personally have a vision of this purpose?  Are you personally willing to live and die for this Purpose?  This Purpose should be the all-consuming drive in your life.  But is it?  I ask you to examine yourself, dear reader.  If your answer is “no” or “I don’t know” then I would advise you to spend some serious time with your Lord.  Ask him to give you a spiritual vision of his eternal purpose.  Give your life totally over to him for this purpose.

I can tell you in complete confidence that your Lord is waiting for that prayer!

If you follow through with this with a sincere heart, I would love to hear from you.  Please email me at milt@therebuilders.org.

I would also like to thank my good friend and brother (who is a builder) for showing me more of our Master Craftsman!

Note: If you liked this post then you will love this book!    Order Here

The Intentionality of God – Part 3

Three Colorful Figures Dance in a Shape of a Heart This is my third and final installment for this series on the “Intentionality of God”.  In this post I am going to get much more practical and to the point for the edification of the saints and the churches.  If you have not already read parts 1 and 2 please do so by clicking here.

So first of all, let me share my initial motivation for writing this series.

There is an erroneous teaching that is currently circulating throughout the following expressions of the church: house church, simple church, missional church, organic church.  All of these forms of church life share one thing in common; they have rejected the so called “institutional” forms of church.  This means the most prevalent church structure that has dominated the western world for the last 17 centuries or so.  I think it will become very clear to you why this erroneous teaching is becoming popular in some of these home churches who have rejected the traditional, institutional systems.

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.”  (2 Peter 2:1)

I really don’t know what to call this current wave of false teachings.  For the purpose of this blog post I am going to call it: “non-church” or perhaps “random-church”.  Though, of course, the proponents of this teaching would not like that name at all!

From what I can gather, this idea has come from folks who have left the institutional church system and now have rejected ALL structure, ALL planning, ALL leadership, and ALL order altogether.  It is definitely an over reaction to the religious system.  To these folks, church is something that just happens.  You happen to meet a friend at Starbucks who is a believer, you have some fellowship, that is “church”!  You have a “network” of friends in this city and in that other area, and in another part of town, or perhaps at work.  When you happen to be in that section of town you may visit with them … and that’s “church” as well!    It’s a willy-nilly, random, meet-by-chance situation.  There are no scheduled meetings.  Everything is left “up in the air”, or they would say, “by the Spirit”.  I have heard it said: “Well, if we all love Jesus then why do we have to plan, schedule meetings, and so on?”  They will also say things such as: “Why do we need church planters when the church already exists?”  “I’m the church, you’re the church, just be the church!”

Hopefully, this series of blog posts will irrevocably answer these questions.

The statements made above (and the like) reveal a mindset that is completely foreign to the New Testament.  As you read the story of the New Testament (if you are open and honest about it) you will see local churches or bodies of believers that were committed to one another and completely attendable.  In many instances Paul names people in the churches (see Romans 16; Philippians 4:2,22; Colossians 4:4-18; 1 Corinthians 16:15-19).

Now, let’s take a quick look at some clear and concise statements made in the scriptures about the Church of Jesus Christ.  And then, we will test those “images” or types used by God himself.

  • The Church is a Building (temple, house)

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.”  (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.”  (Ephesians 2:19-22)

So, let’s approach these concepts with “if… then” statements:

If the church is a building… then it would require structure.

It’s very clear from Paul’s statement here (especially in Ephesians 2) that the church is built together as in a physical structure (temple).  Everyone knows that without a purpose, plan (design), and an administration for that plan, you will never be able to build any kind of solid structure!  Notice with me that Paul gets very explicit in using words like “fitted together” and “being built together” to show us God’s intentionality for the church.  He actually “fits” the living stones together and into each other.  This is not some vague “cosmic” idea of church, but rather a very practical building and setting of people together by God!  He actually places the stones into the positions that He wants them.  In another place Paul uses the phrase: “being knit together in love” (Col. 2:2)  Now, I don’t know much about knitting, but I do know that in order to knit a sweater you need to have a pattern (design/plan) and some training on how to execute the pattern so that you end up with something that is both pleasing to the eye and functional (the expression).

How does the idea of “random church” fit into this?

  • The Church is the Body of Christ

“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. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.”  (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)

“But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.”  (1 Corinthians 12:18)

“Which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so adjusted (mingled, harmonized, and subtly proportioned the parts of) the whole body, giving the greater honor and richer endowment to the inferior parts which lack [apparent importance], so that there should be no division or discord or lack of adaptation [of the parts of the body to each other], but the members all alike should have a mutual interest in and care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the parts [share] the suffering; if one member is honored, all the members [share in] the enjoyment of it. Now you [collectively] are Christ’s body and [individually] you are members of it, each part severally and distinct [each with his own place and function].”
(1 Corinthians 12:24-27)

If the church is a body, then it would require structure.

The human body is made up of eleven major organ systems.  These include: circulatory, respiratory, digestive, excretory, nervous, endocrine, immune, integumentary, skeletal, muscle, and reproductive.  And this doesn’t even include microbiology!  What about our 30 billion cells?  What about our DNA?  All of these systems work to do a very specific function and yet all work together to express the person who lives inside.  What an incredible testimony to our intentional God!  And Paul called the Church the Body of Christ!

How does the idea of “random church” fit into this?

  • The Church is the Family of God

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”  (Ephesians 5:25-32)

If the church is a family, then it would require structure.

Obviously in any functional family there are certain requirements for it to meet in order for the family “life” to be expressed.  There needs to be a father and a mother.  They need to produce children.  The parents need to manage the household so that the children are protected, taught, and raised to be decent adults.

“He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.”   (Ephesians 1:9-10)

Did you know that your God has an administration?  He also has a purpose and a plan!  Actually, the administration (or economy) is the working out of His plan or purpose.  The purpose is to sum up all things in Christ!  He is going to do this in and through His Church, His Building, His Body, His Bride, and His Family.

“To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,”
(Ephesians 3:8-11)

The Greek word for “administration” here literally means the economy of a household.

How does the idea of “random church” fit into this?

  • The Church is the Community of God

“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”  (Genesis 1:26-27)

If the church is a community, then it would require structure.

Mankind was originally created to be a corporate entity.  That is, the image of the community life of God.  God is a community of three Persons who are one.  Each Person is distinct with their own characteristics and roles, but there is only ONE God.  God spoke in the plural when he created man because he wanted man to be, live, and function as many persons who are one.  Of course, we see this exemplified in John chapter 17.  Is there relationship in this community?  Is there structure in this community?  Is there mutual submission and love in this community?  Do the Father, Son, and Spirit meet randomly and without purpose?

Can you image if the community of the Godhead was run like a “random-church”?  Wow!  We would all be in a heap of trouble!

How does the idea of “random church” fit into this?

What About Meetings?

Should we have regularly scheduled meetings of the church?  Is God concerned about the content and expression of our gatherings?  Should we take the time and effort to actually plan before hand for the assembly?  Should we spiritually prepare to bring our portion of Christ? Interestingly enough the word “church” (ekklesia) means the called out assembly.  It was a secular word used for town meetings or assemblies.  In a sense, Jesus told us that he would build his own “town meetings”!  These town meetings happened on a regular basis in the first century and always had a plan and purpose.  They were not random!  Besides that, it absolutely amazes me when I read the amount of detail that Paul goes into when he describes a meeting of the whole church.  Why not read it for yourself right now in 1 Corinthians 14?  He gets into incredible detail about what should happen and what should not happen in a meeting of the saints.  And then there is the clincher line at the end:

“let all things be done decently and in order.”  (1 Corinthians 14:40)

There is an order for every meeting!  Did you know that?  

Yes, God has a purpose, a plan, and an order for every single meeting of the church!

Now here is the BIG question:

How do we find out what His plan is for the church meetings, community life, work, seasons, and so on?

There is only one way…  by seeking Him together!

The Headship of Christ can only be executed by the Body as we find His Mind together!

So we can see that God definitely does have a purpose, plan, design, and detailed execution of that plan for every local church.  However, this requires the members of the Body to all seek God’s will (mind) together and then gather to make decisions according to His mind.

In Conclusion

There are some definite conclusions we can arrive at about “random church” after considering all of the overwhelming evidence in Scripture and in God’s creation.  Our God is definitely a purposeful planning God and the idea of a random church just doesn’t measure up at all to His nature or to His revelation found in the Bible.

In fact, this whole concept that is currently floating around  those who have left the institutional church system is playing right into the hand of God’s enemy!  It actually reeks of the “spirit of the age”.  I would call this spirit and culture the “whatever” culture.  There is no commitment, no responsibility, and no mutual submission.  Just do whatever!  Everyone is just too busy to actually spend the time required to be built together into a close knit community, house, body, bride, and family.  After all, social networks of friends don’t interfere with your busy lifestyle.  You don’t need to invest your life into others, just text them or Facebook them!

In other words:

The random church is a cross-less church!

The work of the cross in the life of believers is circumvented because they never have the opportunity and responsibility of laying down their lives for one another.  And yet it is this very life of the cross that transforms us into spiritual people!  (see the first letter to the carnal Corinthians)  The idea of the random church is actually and totally of the flesh and from the evil one!

Brothers and sisters, can I make it any clearer?

How can our precious Lord ever get His expression with such a loosely-knit and cross-less people?  Where are the believers who are totally sold out to Christ and his eternal purpose?  Where are the “reckless” ones who will throw all caution to the wind and believe God and totally live for Him and His Kingdom?

The Bottom Line

It seems to me that most Christians want to jump from one extreme to another.  First, we adopt hierarchical leadership forms and oppressive structures.  Then, we jump to the other extreme of absolutely no structure, no planning, and then jump onto the random church bandwagon.  When really the answer lies in the truth that our God is an intentional God who has an eternal purpose, and He has a plan and and administrative order to fulfill that plan.  The Church is to be His expression (image) so shouldn’t we also be very purposeful?

But Here is the Key to it All:

That purpose, plan, and administration must all come from His very own Life!!!

The institution is a result of human life.  The random church is a result of human life.

The true Church of Jesus Christ plans and functions only according to His Life.  She executes decisions only by the Life of the Head according to His will.  That only comes as we lose our own lives and come together to find His mind for the Church!

 

And I leave you with an excellent quote from T. Austin-Sparks:

From observation of the maladies which come upon the people of God and bring arrest to His work through them, we have been much impressed with the fact that the violation of a Divine order is the cause of much trouble. If it is true that what God is doing in this age is not just saving individuals as such but in constituting a “Body” and building a “House” by the addition of each saved one, then the right position in each is vital to its perfect functioning and its heavenly order. There is an order, and there is a position for each member. It is not given to us – let us say it with emphasis – it is not given to us to appoint the place or to manipulate into position. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. What we do say is that each member has his or her place and God knows what it is. Under the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit each member should come into that place. If they fail to do so or get into a wrong place, they fail in their essential ministry and upset the effectiveness of the Body.

“God hath set.” Articulation is essential to life. “Unto each is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ” (Eph. 4:7).

“Having therefore, gifts differing according to grace” (Rom. 12:6).

There are not a few illustrations of dislocation and irregularity in the Scriptures:-

Dathan and Abiram and their company (Numbers 6).
Aaron and Miriam (Numbers 12).
Saul going over the head of Samuel (1 Sam. 13:9).
Uzziah presuming into the priest’s office (2 Chron. 26).

Paul has very much to say on matters of order in the Church, and it is not merely the individual position which is of importance, but the relative factor and element. Independent action is as dangerous as dislocation, it robs of covering and protection and exposes to enemy forces. There is a heavenly order, a spiritual system, and the relationships and ministries of believers are to be upon those spiritual principles and a reflection of that heavenly order.

taken from:  Chapter 4 – The Paralysis of a Spiritual Irregularity

 

 

The Intentionality of God – Part 2

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This is part 2 of The Intentionality of God blog posts. If you have not read Part 1 I strongly suggest that you do so by going to this page: Intentionality Part 1.  (The link will open a new window so when you are done reading it you can come back to this page.)

In part one of this series I attempted to illustrate the intentional nature of our God by using several examples within the created (physical) universe. Obviously, the creation will reflect some of the aspects of the Creator Himself. As you read this post I am sure you can see how intentional God really is. He doesn’t do anything randomly or by accident. He always has an intention (or purpose), a plan (or administration), and an expression of that purpose, which is the fulfillment of the intention.

As I pointed out in part one, the first creation (of the physical universe) is just called “creation” in the scriptures. However, we see in the New Testament, that God also has a New Creation which was actually a precursor to the first creation.

“remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.” (Ephesians 2:12-16)

It is apparent through this passage (and many others) that what God wanted all along was one new man. The word “man” here can also be translated “mankind” or “humanity”. This is the new creation. God wanted a new race that was neither gentile or jew but a whole new creation. But was God still intentional with this new race? Did He have a specific purpose, plan, economy, and goal in mind with this new humanity?

YES!!! Even more so than the first creation. Remember I told you that the whole reason God created the physical universe was to “house” or provide an “environment” for the new creation (or humanity)? If this is true then wouldn’t it stand to reason that the shadows and types we see in the Old Testament would point us to the spiritual reality that we see in the New Testament?

For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” (Galatians 6:15)

Here, Paul is telling us in one sentence that God’s whole intention behind creation has to do with the New Creation. Here, he is pointing us to the spiritual reality behind God’s intention not merely the foreshadows we see in the Old Testament. However, those shadows (or types) can reveal to us the spiritual principles behind the New Creation, that is, the Body of Christ!

See Israel according to the flesh! are not those eating the sacrifices in the fellowship of the altar?” (1 Corinthians 10:18)

Here Paul is calling the physical nation of Israel: Israel according to the flesh.

“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.” (Romans 2:28-29)

Here, Paul reveals that the true Jew is a spiritual reality, not one of the physical, natural nation. So therefore, is it possible to see aspects of God’s intentionality with his new creation in the “shadow” of the natural Jewish nation? I believe that it is. All of the features that we see in the old physical nation of Israel show us spiritual principles and features that apply to the true new Israel, that is, the Church of Jesus Christ!

“Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.” (Galatians 3:16)

Features of the Nation:

Separation

God strictly forbade the intermarriage of the Jewish nation with any other people or nation. The main reason for this was the fact of the “other gods” and the opening up of the door of the spiritual realm concerning those “gods”. God considered this to be “fornication” because his relationship with Israel was one of a spiritual marriage. The nation of Israel was to be separate, they were to be distinct, they were to be wholly for God. This was to preserve the seed!

Cohesion

Because of their natural blood line, the nation of Israel was to be one. They were one (naturally speaking) because they were all natural born descendants of Abraham. They were from that same seed. They were from that one family. Even though they may be scattered all over the earth, yet when you meet them you can tell they are still of one clan, one family, one nation. This is because of the “seed” of Abraham. But remember that Paul tells us that the spiritual reality of Abraham’s seed is Christ! (Gal. 3:16). In the New Testament we see that spiritual seed having one origin, one source, and one life-principle. That is the meaning behind John 17!

A Common Food

Notice with me that Israel in the flesh has a common diet! They all eat the same things at the same time. Their diet is mainly determined by the law of Moses. It is a healthy diet that gives them all strength and vigor. We can see that through the eating of the lamb before leaving Egypt.

As spiritual Israel we all are to eat and drink the same thing… Christ Himself!

“For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:1-4)

“So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:53-58)

The Tabernacle, the offerings, and the priestly functions

Our very intentional God left nothing to chance! He gave them very detailed instructions on how to build and erect the tabernacle. He also gave explicit instructions on how to perform the priestly ministry along with all of the offerings. If you don’t believe me you can read it for yourselves in Exodus through Deuteronomy. God had a purpose, a plan, a design, and an execution. And all of those things speak to us of Jesus Christ and His Church!

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;” (John 5:39)

The Law of Moses

The law given to the nation of Israel in the flesh also speaks of our new life in Christ. It is the same law for all believers, for everyone who is part of the true spiritual Israel. In fact, it is the only way that any of the other features will be expressed in the nation of God’s people. Without this law, the Body of Christ will simply be another social club, “do-gooders”, or “network” of friends. This law is the glue that holds it all together. It’s the source by which all decisions are made. It’s the vehicle by which seasons and directions are determined. It’s the heart pulse of this corporate people.

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” (Romans 8:2-5)

You see we, as the new humanity, we live under a law as well. It’s not the law of Moses and it’s not written on tablets of stone. Rather, it is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. And it is by His Life within us that we find the mind of Christ to make decisions. And it is by this law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (who lives within us!) that we live our lives individually and corporately.

All of these features (and many more) concerning Israel in the flesh are “pictures” and “shadows” of the Israel of God, the true Israel, the New Humanity, the Church!

“For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.” (Galatians 6:15-16)

In the next blog post (part 3) we will look at the point of all of this intentionality and purpose and how this is practically worked out in the New Testament house of God, the true Israel.

You won’t want to miss this one!

Read Part 3

The Intentionality of God – Part 1

galaxies-597905_1280

May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be eulogized, the One who conferred benefactions upon us in the sphere of every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, even as He selected us out for himself in Him before the foundations of the universe were laid, to be holy ones and without blemish before His searching, penetrating gaze; in love having previously marked us out to be placed as adult sons through the intermediate agency of Jesus Christ for himself according to that which seemed good in His heart’s desire, resulting in praise of the glory of His grace which He freely bestowed upon us in the Beloved, in whom we are having our redemption through His blood, the putting away of our trespasses according to the wealth of His grace which He caused to superabound to us in the sphere of every wisdom and understanding, having made known to us the mystery of His will according to that which seemed good to Him, which good thing He purposed in himself, with respect to an administration of the completion of the epochs of time to bring back again to their original state all things in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth, in Him, in whom also we were made an inheritance, having been previously marked out according to the purpose of the One who operates all things according to the counsel of His will, with a view to our being to the praise of His glory who had previously placed our hope in the Christ, in whom also, as for you, having heard the word of the truth, the good news of your salvation, in whom also having believed, you were sealed with the Spirit of the promise, the Holy Spirit, who is the token payment of our inheritance guaranteeing the full payment of all, looking forward to the redemption of the possession which is being preserved with a view to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:3-14 Wuest Translation)

This blog post and the next will cover two aspects of the intentional nature of God. This first part will cover the intentionality of God’s nature and character. The second part will cover the intentionality of God’s eternal purpose in Christ. In essence, the way that I am going to show these two aspects is by referring to the two creations; the old creation (the physical universe), and the new creation (Christ and God’s purpose in Christ).

Our God has an intention. He has a purpose. You could say that he has a goal in mind. The above passage in Ephesian chapter one is absolutely mind boggling in both it’s fullness and it’s scope. It gives us an incredible insight into the very nature of our God. Everything God does is absolutely pregnant with purpose and intentionality. To make it easier to understand let’s map it out this way:

https://miltrodriguez.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/intentionality.jpg?w=1462

This basic map shows the process of having a purpose, designing and planning toward that purpose, taking practical steps towards the fulfillment of that purpose. And then the actual realization or consummation of that purpose. This is how we approach every project that we tackle. But where did we get this from? Did we just make it up? Of course not! Since we are made in the image of God we approach the completion of a project in a similar way. Now let’s take a look at how our endlessly creative God approached the creation of the physical universe. But before we do, it’s very important that you realize that God had a purpose before the physical universe. In fact, it was that purpose that motivated God to create the physical creation. We will call it the first creation for that is exactly what it is in the mind and heart of God. He created the second creation, that is the physical universe, in order to facilitate and create an environment for the first creation. This first creation is called the New Creation in the New Testament. However, it’s actually older than the Old Creation. Is that confusing or what? Let me put it this way: since the first(new) creation is eternal, that means that it actually existed inside of God before the Old Creation (the physical universe). This will make more sense in the next part of this blog post! For now, let’s just say that the physical universe that you see around you was created for this new creation.

Now, let’s take a very brief look at the degree of intensity of God’s intention, design, planning, and structure inherent in this created physical universe.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

Our Atmosphere and Outer Space

Did you know that during a lightning storm two gases are combined? The lightning bolt produces nitrogen and then combines it with the hydrogen in the water to produce fertilizer. The fertilizer falls to the earth to cause plants to grow!

“Lift up your eyes on high And see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one of them is missing.” (Isaiah 40:26)

Our sun produces more energy in one second than all of mankind has produced since Adam and Eve. The sun also drives all weather on the earth.

The visible universe contains more than one hundred billion galaxies. Each of these galaxies has a diameter of millions of trillions of miles wide. Each galaxy contains hundreds of billions of stars. And yet the scripture says that God has given them all names and calls them by their names! Just think, our God not only created all those stars, he also named them all and keeps them all in their places to function properly.

In the twentieth century it was discovered that the universe is expanding all the time. Scripture tells us that God stretches out the heavens like a garment. Isaiah 40:22

Inner Space

Look at the structure and intention behind a single atom! Or further yet, the properties of water. This one element supports all life upon the earth. It makes an excellent solvent, coolant, and transporter.

How about the complexity of a snow flake crystal? They are complex, symmetrical, and beautiful. And each one of them is unique! What an amazing and creative God! They are structured and patterned. Just like we humans are each unique and different.

DNA – the blueprint for all life

It is by far the most dense information system known to man. For example, the amount of information contained within one pinhead of DNA would fill a stack of books five hundred times higher than from here to the moon! The program code and design of such a system shows us a God who is an extremely intelligent and a structured designer.

All human life begins with one single cell. How does that tiny cell know how to reproduce itself and grow into a body of one hundred trillion cells? It is by the genetic code. This DNA is the manufacturer’s manual. Not only that, but there are also “editorial” enzymes that travel up and down the DNA strands checking for damage and repairing it.

Seeds

The seed is the reproductive structure that God made for all of life. All seeds (whether plant, animal, or human) are complex systems to reproduce life. Everything needed for the future life is contained within the tiny seed.

How does the seed know how or when to grow? How does it know which way the root is to grow and which way the stem is to grow? How does it know that it needs the soil, water and warmth in order to grow? Obviously, God purposed, planned, and designed these tiny “embryos” to do what was needed.

Animals

How does a school of fish know when to turn or to dart into another direction? How does a flock of starlings fly so close together and change direction so quickly? (These movements are called murmurations and you can view them on youtube.com). Actually, there is no one leader who controls the flock. Instead, they move together instinctively. It’s usually initiated by a predator nearby and each bird communicates (very quickly!) to the seven birds immediately around him. Then those seven birds communicate to the seven birds around each of them. This is how they can make a decision to move so quickly. It’s corporate communication!

Conclusion

Obviously, I could go on for pages and pages about seeing the nature of our God in his creation. But I think you get the point! Our God is extremely intentional and purposeful. He is an incredible planner and designer. He planned and planned and even micro-planned! This was all according to his divine intention. His Ultimate Intention which we will explore in part two of this post. Look for it soon. I am building toward something here folks so please stay with me!

Resources:

“God of Wonders” video:
Watch on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/God-of-Wonders-291921489991/

The Ultimate Intention
book by DeVern Fromke

Read Part 2

Is Christ Enough? Headship

 

The Body of Christ

And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”  Ephesians 1:22-23

but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,” Eph 4:15

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” Col. 1:17-19

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;” Colossians 2:9-10

Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, 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

The headship of Christ is not something you hear or read about very often.  Why?  I believe it’s because we really don’t understand what it means.  Obviously, why would you talk or write about something that you yourself don’t understand?

The Abuses

In my experience in the institutional church the only time I heard about the “headship” of Christ was when the preacher was referring to authority structures in the church.  Usually, they would be referring to some kind of hierarchical authority structure such as the clergy/laity system.  You would be instructed to submit to your pastor or elders as unto the Lord.  These people were the ones who would “run” the church.  Sometimes there would also be some kind of trans-local authority that you would need to submit to such as traveling “apostles” or “prophets”.  And then at very rare times you may hear about the headship of Christ referring to the authority of Christ over your life as a member of his body.  That was about it.

This post is an attempt to correct some of those ideas and add to our understanding of the fullness of Christ in reference to his headship.

The Meaning of “Head” in the New Testament

First of all, we need to understand the meaning of the word “head” in the Greek language.  This is no simple task and I am definitely no Greek scholar!  There is much controversy surrounding the original meaning of the Greek word: kephale (head).  Some say that it strictly means (authority, or person in command) and others say that it means “life source“.  I believe that it means BOTH!  And I think you will clearly see that as I bring out the context in a few of the passages I cited above.  There are a few important aspects of Christ and his Church that I would like to bring out of these passages.

Life Source

but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,” Eph 4:15

Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, 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

These passages clearly bring out the aspect that Christ, as the Head supplies the body with his Life.  First, we see in the Ephesian passage that we (the body) are to grow up into the head (Christ).  This obviously speaks of him as our Life Source.  We grow (by his life) into him.  Secondly, in the Colossian passage we see that the entire body is supplied and held together and grows with a growth (life) that comes from God.  Therefore, we can see that this word “head” clearly means life-source by the context of these passages (and others).

Authority

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” Col. 1:17-19

The idea of before, beginning, firstborn, and first permeates this passage.  The head comes before the body.  He is the head because he is first.  The other aspect is the idea of all things.  He is before all things; all things hold together in Him; He will come to have the first place in everything (all things).  He is the head because he is the “all things” of God!  He comes first because He is the Beginning!

He is definitely Large and in Charge!

Both Life Source and Authority

And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Eph. 1:22-23

Here we see both the authority of Christ AND the life flow (or source) of Christ.  Everything is under his feet (in subjection) which speaks of his absolute authority.  But that is to the church, his body, which is his fullness.  Christ filling all things with his fullness speak of the flow of his life source into the church.  He is definitely Lord of lords and King of kings.  Make no mistake about that.  But his authority can only be actuated by him being the Life Supply of the church.  Both work together!  We cannot have the King of kings unless we have the Vine!  We cannot have the Lord of lords unless we have the flow of Christ’s life throughout the Body.

The Most Beautiful Picture of Christ as Our Life Supply:

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Coming down upon the beard, Even Aaron’s beard, Coming down upon the edge of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon Coming down upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing–life forever.” Psalms 133:1-3

Wow! God, the Father’s life flows down (via the Spirit) from the Head (Christ) to every member of the Body (the Church).  Is this a picture of Life Source or what?

Practically Speaking

Okay, so this is all great and wonderful.  Jesus Christ is the Head of his Body, the church.  This means that he is both the Life-Source of the Body as well as the Lord (King) of his kingdom.  Both of these truths are wrapped up in the fact that he is the Head of the church.  I think that most Christians would agree with these statements.  However, here comes the clincher:

How does his headship play out practically within the life of the Body?

One thing is for sure; he does not express his headship through top-to-bottom or chain-of-command style leadership.  There is no one human person who leads or directs his church.

“But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
(Matthew 20:25-28)

What Jesus was saying here is that his church would not function the way that those in the world system function.  That is, with chain-of-command top down authority.  His kingdom would function in a totally different way.  And that way is that they would become the lowest, the least, and the servants of all.  This message from our Lord came about because the mother of the sons of Zebedee (James and John) wanted to know if her sons could be given the right hand and left hand place next to the king.  He told that she had no idea what she was asking.  This was her only concept of authority.  It’s a chain-of-command top to bottom system.  But this is not how the kingdom of God would function at all!

All of the Members Seeking the Mind of the Head

Paul said that “we have the mind of Christ” (1Cor.2:16).  Notice that he didn’t say “I have the mind of Christ”.  Having the mind of Christ is a WE thing!  We all together as the Body have the mind of Christ.  Did you know that the human brain sends a message to the whole body when it makes a decision?  Actually, its more accurate to say that the whole body has a part to play whenever the brain activates something.

In organic churches, we take the Headship of Christ very seriously.  We hold it in very high esteem by the practice of the whole body seeking the Head for his direction and decisions.  This is a very long and arduous task, believe me!  In fact, you may be asking how is this even possible?  Well, it’s actually very simple to explain but not simple to do.  The brothers and sisters in the church get together for a specific purpose of making decisions and planning.  If the church is healthy then the members of the body will have already been seeking the mind of Christ about the matters to be discussed ahead of time and will come to the gathering with a sense in their spirits of what the Lord is saying.  They will already have spent time in fellowship and prayer with the Lord about the matters to be discussed.  Sometimes these practically meetings can last a long time and sometimes not.  But they do not move ahead until the body agrees on what the Lord wants.

Is this difficult?  You bet!  Is there a battlefield happening?  Absolutely.  Why?  Because there is a whole realm of creatures who are resisting and even battling against the Lord Jesus having his full headship in his church!

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;” (Colossians 2:9-10)

We see the church seeking the mind of Christ together in Jerusalem concerning the decision to not place any additional burdens on the new believers who were Gentiles.  And the statement is made that:

Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas–Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren,”  (Acts 15:22)

And in another place:

For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials:” (Acts 15:28)

So there you have it!  Those who have itinerant ministries, the more mature saints (elders), the whole church, and the Holy Spirit all agreeing together on the mind of Christ!  That’s how decisions were made under the headship of Jesus Christ.  His mind was discovered in the midst of believers who had humbled themselves to the Lord and submitted themselves to one another (Eph. 5:21) under his direct Lordship and Headship.  Those who sought out his indwelling, eternal, uncreated, divine Life so that he would fully be expressed on the earth again!

Is this difficult?  NO!!!  It’s actually IMPOSSIBLE!!!  Only by God’s grace and in his Spirit and Life can this happen.  Will there still be problems in the church?  Absolutely!  Just read the New Testament letters!  I have come to the conclusion that problems in the churches are normal.  As long as they are the right kind of problems.  Notice with me that in the N.T. the problems are all people problems.  One guy was committing incest.  Another had problems getting along.  Some were dividing up over their favorite workers.  Some were following erroneous teachings.  But none of these problems were institutional in nature!  They were never fighting over who the next “pastor” was going to be.  There were no controversies over how much money to spend on the new building project.

But the kinds of problems an organic church will have are totally different.  One of them is laziness and atrophy.  The church may (at times) stop seeking the Lord together to find his mind for the seasons, decisions, and plans of the life of the church.  When this happens the headship of Christ is being circumvented.  Usually, those issues that need to be address won’t magically disappear and they will rear their ugly heads at the most inopportune times!

But when you have a bunch of crazy people who are simple enough to actually believe that Jesus Christ can in reality be the spiritual and practical Head over his church then all hell will break loose!

You may be asking: How in the world can this happen in reality?  I mean how can a group of believers get together and really be able to discern the mind of Christ in oneness?  How can this happen without a human leader (or group of leaders) running the show?

My answer would be to take a look at nature.  God has wonderfully built into creation this principle of corporate oneness under the headship of Christ.  Did you know that many species of animals and insects migrate to completely different areas of the world?  They all gather at the same time and at the same location!  Some travel thousands of miles and even to a different hemisphere!  How is this possible?  It’s something called “instinct“.  It’s actually built into their DNA by God himself.  Guess what?  God has also built into the spiritual DNA of his Church the instinct to gather.  Not only to gather but to express his Son and live by his Life-Source.

It’s there in your spirit, the deepest part of you.

It’s so that you will know him intimately and deeply.

It’s so that you will live by his life.

It’s so that you will live together with his people and display his kingdom!

This is our calling saints.

There is no compromise on this matter at all.

 

For more information on the headship of Christ:

Building Up the Body: One Man or One Another?

The Clergy/Laity Distinction: A Help or Hindrance?

Kephale (Head) by Laurie Fasullo

The Gathering Swarms

 

 

 

 

Is Christ Enough? Changes

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A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.”
(Acts 10:13-15)
“As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.”
(Acts 9:3-6)

The Lord has been dealing with us lately with such things as flexibility as opposed to rigidity.  Especially in the midst of change.  Now we have said for many years that the Lord deals with us (both individually and corporately) in “seasons”.  Just like in nature there are seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter; so there are seasons in God’s dealings with us and also in his work.  However, these “seasons” aren’t nearly as predictable as the natural ones!  At least not for us.  Obviously, God knows what is going on and planned these things from before time.  But the problem is that our vision just isn’t that eternal yet!  Our flesh, our natural man likes things that are predictable, revealed way in advance, and things that we are already comfortable with.  But God just doesn’t operate that way when he is dealing with us.  He operates in this completely “other”, eternal realm called faith.

Endless Variety

We must remember that our God is a God of endless variety and beauty. Just a look at the natural world will show you that! Just take a look at all of the varieties of plants, animals, and people. And that’s just the visible creation on this planet alone! Even within the seasons there is variety and changes. What about the “unseasonable” weather we have all experienced?  Even within the seasons that God takes us through there is variety.

Timing

Then there is the whole area of the timing of the Lord.  We know that his timing is not our timing and his ways are not our ways.  He does things his way and in his time!  Most of us reading this post right now agree with and understand these things.  But there is a huge problem.

We so quickly get settled, and even cemented, into the ways that we have been in or are in right now!

God is moving on and we are now stuck in the last movement or enlargement of God.  You see, I am not here even referring to missing the Lord in his timing or ways.  I am referring to getting “stuck” in the past (or current) situation that he himself took us through.

Comfort Zones

I find that the older I get the quicker I am to settle down into a comfort zone.  It’s really quite remarkable.  God is always moving us ahead in him.  But many times (especially if we like the season) we will want to stay where we’re at.

This reminds me of the children of Israel wandering in the desert.  God wanted them to take the promised Canaan land but they wandered around in a wilderness for forty years that only takes two weeks to cross!  Of course, the manna is a classic example.  God (for a season) fed them with the manna from heaven.  It would daily come down to provide their food.  However, they could not store it up for the future or even the next day!  They needed to trust God for their daily bread every single day.  Then, the time came when the manna was no longer being provided and now God was sending quail.  But they were used to manna!

Outside the Box

Then there was our friend Peter.  God wanted to include the Gentiles in his eternal purpose to have an expression of his Son on the earth (the Church).  Actually, he always had included the gentiles, but most of the Jews could not see the true spiritual Israel that Paul writes about in the letter to the Galatians.  Peter had to receive a dramatic rooftop vision to get the picture.  Even then, he was refusing to rise up and eat those “unclean” animals.  You see God was doing a new thing.  At least it was new in the eyes of Peter.  The apostle had always only thought within a very limited Jewish “box” and anything outside of that box was unthinkable.

But then there was our friend Paul! Now this guy was much more ingrained into the Jewish religion than Peter.  He was a real Pharisee, a Hebrew of Hebrews, as to the righteousness found in the Law, completely blameless (Philippians 3).  So you can see why God needed to knock him down and strike him with physical blindness in order that he would receive a vision!  He had to see that the church he was persecuting was the actual Christ Himself! (see Acts 9)  Saul was transformed into Paul and changed from a persecutor of the church to a master builder of the church.

In both of these examples (Peter and Paul) God had to break them out of their comfort zones in order for him to do something new.  It wasn’t something either of them expected or ever considered.

The Main Point

The main takeaway of this post is simply this:

God doesn’t want us to follow “ways”, he wants us to follow the Way!  Jesus Christ IS the Way.  Brothers and sisters, don’t get stuck in ways of knowing Him or doing things for Him.  Those “ways” will change and what worked today may not work tomorrow.  That’s because the way of the Lord is Christ, Himself, the Person!  Knowing Him and following Him and abiding Him is the key to every day and every work.  The true Foundation is only Christ and He is to be everything in our lives.  Not only individually but also corporately.  That’s why seeking him is so important for every step along the way.  Waiting upon him and not moving ahead of him is equally important.

Don’t be afraid of change

Don’t get stuck in a rut

Don’t get comfortable in past ways of doing things or systems of thought and procedure

Be flexible, be open

God’s change always brings about enlargement!

God’s new thing always brings in an abundance of Life!