About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
1 - The
What I write in the
following pages concerns that which is traditionally and commonly called
church in our western world. I
use the term "that which is called church" to represent church
in general terms. That would
include all groups who consider themselves to be church, including
conservative Bible based groups to liberal groups who deny the deity of
Christ. I acknowledge that
within this generality there are some good Bible based groups and some
very fine godly believers. I
make this qualification because I know some will think I'm unreasonably
critical. I will speak to
the reason for my criticism later on.
You can clobber me then if my explanation doesn't sit well with
It's my opinion that over
the centuries the word "church" has consistently been robbed
of its Biblical meaning. If
you mention church to a non-church person, he'll think of the building
down the street, as do many Christians.
Our present day English
word "church" has gone through quite an evolution in spelling
over the centuries. It finds
its roots in the Old English word "cirice" that dates back
prior to the fourth century A D. The
word "cirice" evolved from the Greek word
"kuriakon", meaning "house of the Lord".
Even way back then "cirice" was associated with a brick
and mortar building.
Along with changes in
spelling, the meaning of church has gone through an evolutionary
process. Each evolutionary
step is a departure from what Jesus meant church to be when He
prophetically proclaimed, "I will build my church" in Matthew
The Greek word translated
into our English phrase "I will build" in Matthew 16:18 is
is made up of "oikos", meaning "a house", and,
"domeo" meaning "to build".
"Oikodomeo" literally means "to build a
house". Even though
Jesus wasn't thinking in terms of building a brick and mortar house for
Himself, we've taken His words literally.
Building houses for God has consumed much of our time, energy,
and finances, over the centuries. Many
of these historic structures are considered marvelous works of art, and
that they are. Ironically,
they are viewed by many as a testimony to the ingenuity of man.
The phrase "I will
build", or, "oikodomeo", is a future active indicative
Greek verb. Future means
that the building process will take place sometime after Jesus spoke
these words. Active means
that it is Jesus Himself who is actively doing the building.
Indicative means that this building project will be a guaranteed
As I study church
history, it's clear to me that the church Jesus intends to build has
been hijacked. In our fallen
wisdom we as Christians have decided to take matters into our own hands
to mold church as we see fit. Although
few realize it, the Roman Emperor Constantine in the fourth century A D,
along with a subsequent paganized Catholicism, have been the architects
of what we presently know as church.
Lest we Protestants become proud in our protest against
Catholicism, the Protestant Reformation of the 1500's did little to
nothing to remove this unbiblical and humanistic architectural design
from church that exists to this day.
This leads me to the
other important word in Mathew 16:18 and that's the word
"church". I hope
you realize that Jesus never spoke our English word church.
Matthew recorded Jesus' words in what is called Koine Greek.
The Greek word translated into English as "church" is
is made up of "ek", meaning "out of", and, "kaleo",
meaning "to call". "Ekklesia"
is a group of people who have been called out of the general population
for a specific purpose. "Ekklesia"
wasn't a religious word as our word "church" is today.
However, Jesus did put a religious spin on it when He said
"I will build my ekklesia".
In Matthew 16:18 Jesus predicted that at some future point in
history He Himself would call people out of the world and unto Himself
to be His representatives to the nations of the world.
Jesus didn't give His ekklesia a name.
He kept it nameless, and I believe for good reason.
Of course, in our fallen wisdom we've chosen to divide Jesus'
ekklesia up into a million named, separate, and distinct, parts.
Matthew recorded Jesus'
words in Greek, but it's highly unlikely that Jesus said "I will
build my church" in Greek. He
probably spoke these words in Aramaic, the commonly spoken language of
first century Jews. He would
have spoken the Aramaic word "synagoge", not the Greek word
means a gathering of people, and in first century Judaism meant a
gathering of Jewish people for worship.
The word "synagogue", a building for Jewish worship,
comes from the Aramaic word "synagoge".
It seems that no matter the culture, human nature tends to turn
the assembly of God's people into a place where God's people assemble,
as seen in the word "synagogue".
Any Jew hearing Jesus
saying "I will build my synagoge" would naturally associate
His words with their religious assemblies.
Many thought He was going to form a new Jewish sect.
That wasn't His intent. If
the Jews would have received Him as their Messiah, they would have been
His "synagoge", "ekklesia", or, "church",
but they didn't. They
preferred their paganized Judaism instead.
So Jesus' "synagoge" would be an assembly of people
that He'd call from all ethnicities, including Jews.
If you think about it, in one real sense of the word, "I
will build my church" was a counter-cultural response to a
paganized Jewish religious establishment.
No matter what word you
use, "ekklesia", "synagoge", or "church",
the point of Matthew 16:18 is simple.
Jesus will call people to Himself and place them into His
nameless counter-cultural assembly to be His representative to the
nations of the world. If you
think the term "counter-culture" sounds too sixtyish or too
hippie like; it's not. True
followers of Jesus have always, and always will, buck the established
systems of men, as Jesus Himself did.
The last mention of
church found in the Bible is seen in Revelation 3: 14 - 22.
It's the church at
Jesus hasn't anything
good to say about this expression of church.
He says that it's pathetically pitiful.
I'm sure this church does a lot of good.
It has the finances to support a myriad of humanitarian causes,
but it lacks one important thing, and that's Jesus.
We see Jesus standing
outside of this church knocking on its door.
It's not that Jesus wants into the church because He's about to
spit it out of His mouth. (Revelation 3:16)
If you read Revelation
3:20 carefully you'll note that Jesus is calling on individuals from
within the church to let Him into their lives.
He's not calling on the church as a whole but calling individuals
out of the church and unto Himself.
You might say He's fulfilling His prophecy of Matthew 16:18.
He and He alone, is seen building His church as He calls
individuals out of the Laodicean expression of church at the end of this
age. No more will the gates
of Hades advance against church, as Matthew 16:18 goes on to say.
Satan will eventually be imprisoned for a thousand years.
(Revelation 20:1 – 4)
If you're honest, I'd
think you'd agree; "that which is called church" today isn't
the Mathew 16:18 church we see Jesus speaking about.
This won't always be the case.
Be assured, Jesus will build His church as He predicted.
He will be triumphant. Until
then, let's submit ourselves to the rule of our Lord in all things.
When I say I was born and
raised in Christian Evangelicalism; I really was.
From the time I was conceived until I left home as a young adult
you'd find me in that which we call church at least three times a week.
That doesn't include the times when it was our family's turn to
dust the pews, vacuum the floor, and clean the washrooms, something
church pays people to do these days.
As a young adult you'd see me in coffee houses, homes, schools,
church buildings, parks, and on the streets, in the service of the Lord.
From dawn to dusk, Bible college in the mid 1970's was one
continuous meeting. Some of
us were beginning to feel "meetinged out".
For all of my 62 years of life I've been associated with church
in one shape or form, and there are numerous shapes and forms of church.
I estimate I've attended about 12,000 church meetings in my life.
It's not that I despise
my Evangelical roots because I don't.
Granted, I still believe the legalism preached to us stifled my
spiritual growth. All the
"do's and don'ts" kept me bound by my feelings associated with
guilt. I feared that hell's
fire could consume me at any given moment.
One slip would do me in. The
demonization of the gift of tongues Jesus gave me led me to a new
expression of church as seen in the "Jesus People Movement" of
the late 1960's and early 1970's.
For the most part I
consider my parent's generation to have been dedicated to Jesus.
Some of my friends will recall Edith Mainprize, our pastor during
the 1950's and early 1960's. She
was single, down to earth, and a dedicated servant of Jesus.
You couldn't have asked for a warmer hearted pastor.
Then there was Mr. Wanamaker.
He openly shared Jesus and was criticized by his co-workers for
doing so. There were many
godly people in the
After countless trips to
the altar as a youth, in February, 1970, during a five second prayer in
my bedroom, Jesus ripped away my feelings associated with guilt forever.
From then on I could serve Him without hesitation or fear.
Part of serving Jesus for me was giving myself to Biblical
instruction. No longer did I
read a few Bible verses each day to suppress and appease my feelings
associated with guilt. Instead,
the Bible formed the foundation for my life.
In less than one and a half years I had memorized more than 2000
Bible verses. I could quote
the whole book of Philippians by heart without stumbling over words.
Don't ask me to do that now.
I soon learned that the
Bible I grew to love didn't hide the faults of God's people.
Genesis 16 tells of Abraham's laps of faith.
Exodus 17 tells of Moses' sin that disqualified his entrance into
the Promised Land. 2 Samuel
11 tells of King David's adultery. Acts
5 describes Ananias and Sapphira lying to the Holy Spirit.
Acts 15 recalls the dispute that separated Paul and Barnabas.
1 Corinthians 1 points out factions in the church.
1 Corinthians 5 tells of a man having sex with his step mother.
1 Corinthians 6 describes Christians engaging in lawsuits with
each other. Galatians 2
recalls Paul rebuking Peter in public for his hypocrisy.
Revelation 2 and 3 shows Jesus calling on seven churches to
repent of their sin. On and
on it goes.
The church at
The fall of these seven
churches happened a long time ago, but their demise is relevant today.
With the rise of a secular anti-Christ culture in the western
world comes the rise of a renewed anti-Christianism.
Like the Muslim armies of the past, this anti-Christ culture is
pushing the church towards extinction. The Bible warns us of such things
in Matthew 24:9 – 10. Let
this be known as well; our conflict with the present anti-Christ culture
is God's tool to bring the western church into compliance to His will.
For that part of church that doesn't comply, this conflict will
do it in. Matthew 24:10 says
that many will turn from the faith under suffering caused by such
conflict. 2 Thessalonians
2:3 describes a falling away from the faith which in many respects is
taking place in the western church now.
By nature I'm always
looking ahead. I'm thinking
of the next step as I'm taking the present step.
That's why my vision of church may differ from your vision.
I envision a much different looking church in the days ahead.
We're now stepping into an uncharted future for the western
church some have been warning us about for years.
We're being pressured to conform to an unbiblical and illogical
doctrine of tolerance that if allowed, will undermine church as we've
known it. For this reason,
even though our expression of church has been relatively effective in
the past, it won't work in the days ahead.
We must decide now between the culturally correct church we're
being pressured to be or the counter cultural church Jesus wants us to
In 1 Corinthians 11:31
– 32 Paul says that it's better for us to judge ourselves than to be
judged by the Lord. The
seven churches of Revelation missed this point.
We can't afford to miss it. In
2 Corinthians 13:5 Paul tells the Corinthian believers to examine and
test themselves to see if they're really in the faith.
We should be doing the same.
The Bible doesn't hide
the faults of church and neither do I.
The Bible tells us to examine ourselves, and that I do.
The Bible calls us to repent and so I'm repeating the Biblical
call. Am I a bit critical of
church? I am.
So, from my tiny obscure corner of Christendom I join others in
the Body of Christ who sees the need for the western church to repent.
Jesus' church is far too precious to just sit back and let an
anti-Christ culture run it into the ground.
The outward expression of church as we've known it may, and
probably will, be run into the ground, but once underground, those who
are faithful will be the counter cultural church we were meant to be.
Our first step towards this church is genuine repentance, thus
the reason for my criticism of that which we call church.
The church in the western
world is being pressured into conforming to a secular doctrine of
tolerance. The Bible does
teach a form of tolerance; however, Biblical tolerance does not come at
the expense of Biblical truth. For
this reason conflict historically arises between culture and church,
Caesar and Christ. The
demand to conform is intensifying. Church
will eventually be forced to conform or cease to exist in its present
format. So we must ask;
"where do we go from here"?
To begin to answer this
question I refer you to Revelation 3:14 – 22 where in a letter Jesus
blasted the Laodicean church that exhibited all the outward appearances
of being a successful church. This
passage shows us that Jesus defines a successful church differently than
most of us.
Jesus addressed His
criticism to this church's messenger who I believe represented the
church as a whole. He ended
His criticism by addressing individuals within the church.
As we will see, this is important.
Jesus' anger towards this
luke-warm church was seen when He said, "I am about to spit you out
of my mouth". (Revelation 3:16)
The words "I am about to spit" are translated from the
present active indicative Greek verb "mello".
Present means that the saliva was already swirling around in
Jesus' mouth as He criticized this church.
Active means that He alone would spit.
Indicative means that Jesus' mind was made up.
He would spit this church out of his mouth.
This was a certainty.
The problem with this
spiritually spineless church was that it was consumed by its wealth
instead of Jesus as seen in verse 17.
It thought very highly of its self-sufficiency, but Jesus thought
differently. Despite the
church's wealth that could have funded all kinds of humanitarian
efforts, Jesus said it was wretched, poor, pitiful, blind, and naked.
It's funny how Jesus views church differently than us, but that's
usually the case.
In verse 18 Jesus advised
this church to find its wealth in Him.
The word "advised" is translated from the Greek present
active indicative verb "symbouleuo".
This means that Jesus' advice was a command that demanded an
immediate positive response.
As I noted earlier, Jesus
began His criticism by addressing the church as a whole.
He concluded it by addressing individuals within this church as
seen in verse 19. "Those
(individuals) whom I love I rebuke and discipline".
Jesus is then pictured
standing outside the church knocking on its door.
It's not that He wanted to come in and save the church because He
didn't. Remember, He was
about to spit it out of His mouth. His
intention is seen in verse 20. "If
anyone (any individual) hears my voice and opens the door I will come in
and eat with him". Jesus
wasn't intending on having a meal with the whole church in its
fellowship hall. He wanted
to eat with individuals within the church.
In Jewish terms, eating a meal with others was a matter of
personal relationships. Jesus
was inviting individuals into His life.
He wanted a workable personal relationship with them, which I
might add, was what Christian Evangelicalism was founded upon.
This brings me to the point of this chapter.
The first step in where
church goes from here is a step that the individual must take.
Church can't take this step for us.
The Apostle Paul told us
to examine ourselves to see if we're really in the faith. (2 Corinthians
13:5) If our devotion to
Jesus has died; if our love for Him has become lackadaisical; if our
commitment to Him has become casual; we must repent and return to the
heart felt love we had when we first met Him.
Jesus told the Ephesian Christians this very thing in Revelation
2:4. They worked hard for
Jesus but their work had become routine.
Repenting from this casual, hoe hum, routine faith, and returning
to our first love for Jesus is the next step we must take.
This will keep us from forsaking our faith and caving into our
anti-Christ culture as Jesus said would happen to some in Matthew 24:10.
Watchman Nee was a
Christian who didn't fall from faith despite his imprisonment in Chinese
prisons and labour camps for the last 20 years of his life.
He was executed and cremated in 1972 without his family knowing.
When his family was informed of his death they discovered a note
he had written with large letters and shaky hand writing.
"Christ is the Son of God who died for the redemption of
sinners and resurrected after three days.
This is the greatest truth in the universe.
I die because of my belief in Christ". (from "A Seer Of
The Divine Revelation Of The Present Age", by Witness Lee, 1991,
Living Stream Ministry) Watchman
Nee loved Jesus through all of his suffering, right up to his dying day.
If not for His heart felt love and devotion for Jesus and Jesus'
heart felt love and devotion for him, he would have caved into the
Chinese anti-Christ regime.
There are countless
Christians imprisoned, beaten, raped, and executed, in places like
Beyond returning to our
first love, there are steps that church leaders must take on behalf of
In the mid 1970's I
attended Elim Bible Institute, in
Acts 6:2 says, "It
would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the Word of God to
wait on tables". The
apostles distributed food to the poor in the early church.
As the church grew in numbers this job became unmanageable so
certain men were chosen for this job.
This allowed the apostles to devote themselves to the Word of
God. It wasn't that food
distribution wasn't important. It
just wasn't the apostles' calling. Food
distribution was important. That's
why specific men where chosen to distribute the food.
The Apostle Paul tells us
that pastors must be capable of teaching the Word of God. (1Timothy 3:2)
The first apostles were capable and that's why the believers
"devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching". (Acts 2:42)
Paul also told Timothy that he must "correctly handle the
Word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15) The
prerequisite for correctly handling the Word of truth is to approach the
Bible from a proper hermeneutical perspective.
This means that pastors must incorporate context, history,
culture, original languages, and more, into their Bible study.
Such study of Scripture is becoming noticeably absent these days.
Many Evangelicals are unknowingly buying into our culture's
dumbed down mentality that rejects intelligent thought.
I don't believe
Evangelicals don't seem to be taking the Bible as seriously as they once
did. Messages that are meant
to inspire are more popular than messages that are meant to instruct.
We've separated Biblical proclamation into inspirational
preaching and instructional teaching, a separation that the Bible knows
nothing of. In Biblical
terms, preaching is instructive. Preaching
is teaching. New Testament
leaders instructed the church in Biblical truth and left the inspiring
up to the Holy Spirit because that's His job.
Our emphases on inspiration and de-emphasis on instruction has
led many to be Biblically illiterate.
I call this "inspired ignorance".
Inspired ignorance won't
get us far in the days ahead. In
fact it is leading some astray right now.
Some Evangelical pastors are leading their congregation in joint
worship with Muslims. We know from countless Biblical passages that God
detests such paganization of His people.
Other pastors perform same sex weddings.
They clearly miss the meaning of Romans 1.
I know the word
"doctrine" has fallen out of fashion, but good doctrine, or
good Biblical teaching, is important to Jesus.
In Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, Jesus was so irritated with
certain church leaders' lack of sound doctrine and their tolerance of
false doctrine that He was about to wipe them off the spiritual map.
(Revelation 2:5 6, 2:14 – 16, and 20 - 23)
The Laodicean church of Revelation 3:14 – 22 was caught up in
the false doctrine that some of us call the "Prosperity
I think Evangelicals are
devaluing the Bible as liberal denominations did in the late 1800's by
adopting German liberalism. The
demythologizing of the Bible as it was called removed all supernatural
content from the Bible, leaving it a book of mere moral stories.
They believed the Bible was meant to inspire, not instruct.
Like the seven churches
of Revelation, Jesus has allowed liberal mainline denominations that
have decimated Biblical truth to dwindle away into obscurity.
Those groups that still exist entice newcomers by incorporating
humanistic elements into their meetings.
One group in
Don't take my word
concerning this. More
important Evangelicals than I hold to the same thinking.
You can search the internet for yourself to see men of God saying
the same thing.
In order for church to be
the counter-cultural movement that it needs to be in the days ahead,
pastors must devote themselves to the study and implementation of
Biblical truth. It's their
job to correctly handle the Word of truth as they teach God's people.
That being said, if I were you, I wouldn't wait around.
With all of your heart, soul, and intellect, devote yourself to
Biblical truth. It will save
you from believing the lie that Paul said would inflict many at the end
of this age. (2 Thessalonians 2:11)
The first step for church
towards our uncertain future is for individuals to reignite their love
for Jesus. The second step
is for both pastors and people to devote themselves whole heartedly to
what He has instructed. The
third step is to be the community of believers who are networked
together in functional relationships in the Body of Christ.
Church is meant to be a counter cultural movement that will
fearlessly stand strong in the face of an anti-Christ culture.
The Reformation of the
1500's was a reaction to an oppressive Catholicism that stifled
individual thought and creativity. Church
kept individuals in a darkened state of ignorance.
They were denied Bibles because they were considered too stupid
to read one. A brutal
religious regime forced individuals to submit to church doctrine,
practice, and politics. Reformers
certainly had their flaws, but the steps they took towards individual
freedom to think laid the foundation for what the western world has
become. Nations that
embraced the Reformation have excelled in areas such as law, education,
finance, science, and government. When
the individual is free to excel a nation is free to excel.
The influence of Biblical
thought that the Reformation and subsequent Christian movements brought
to western culture has blessed church with the freedom to express itself
as it has seen fit. Some
expressions of church have been good; others not so good.
Whatever the case, church has been blessed, but church tends to
turn blessings that were meant to serve Jesus into blessings that serve
church. We're often
preoccupied with the blessings of the Lord instead of the Lord of the
blessings. We differ little from the Laodicean
When church adores itself
more than Jesus, church must repent.
Jesus often uses an oppressive anti-Christ culture to bring
church to its knees. The
western church is entering an era of purification.
It's being pressured to conform to our anti-Christ culture's
demands or else cease to exist in its present form.
Will we cave into the
demands to become a culturally correct church or will we be the counter
culture church Jesus spoke of in Matthew 16:18?
When Jesus said "I will build my church", the words
"my church" are in direct contrast to the Jewish apostate
church of the day. This is
why I call Jesus' church a counter culture church.
We don't have to look far
to see what a counter culture church looks like.
We see one in
In 1978 I posed this
question to a Pentecostal church in a Sunday message.
"If this building and the regularly scheduled meetings held
in this building were taken from you, would you still have a
question is more relevant today than it was back then.
When the visible expression of church as we've come to know it is
taken from us, will you have a place of mutual support and ministry?
Many of us are so dependent on the traditional church providing
fellowship and ministry on our behalf that when the traditional church
no longer exists, many will have neither fellowship nor ministry.
I think we misunderstand
Jesus when He said "I will build my church and the gates of Hades
will not prevail against it". Jesus
wasn't guaranteeing the survival of any particular expression of church.
Both the Bible and history shows us that any given expression of
church can come and go. Matthew
16:18 is a prophetic proclamation of a vibrant movement of people who
are networked together under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ who
stands in stark contrast to the culture of any given society.
If there is no contrast, there is no church.
Our western culture is
rapidly moving away from any Judeo Christian influence it once had.
This isn't likely to change.
I actually believe the present anti-Christian sentiment is God's
will. Therefore, we must
respond to God's will in God's way.
Like the reformers, we must choose Christ over culture.
Like Christians in
I'm not proposing a
leaderless church. Church
structure should be based on personal and functional relationships in
the living Body of Christ instead of an impersonal ecclesiastical
hierarchy. I'm also not
being critical, negative, or lacking in faith that Jesus can't build His
church. I'm being realistic,
practical, and most of all Biblical.
I'm anticipating our future.
I'm joining others in preparing the way for Jesus' return by
proclaiming repentance and the coming of the
We can't afford to be
ignorant in this matter. In
light of our future, the next step church must take is to change our
present mindset about church. We
must begin to view church as a counter culture movement, a body of
believers, where individual relationships form the basis for both mutual
support and the specific work Jesus would have these relationships do.
Together we must form a network of disciples who stand in stark
contrast to the culture of our day.
We must prepare ourselves for the day when the outward trappings
of what we call church will be taken from us.
Finally, we must be willing to accept the unpleasant consequences
of being Jesus' counter culture church. When it's all said and done,
Jesus will have His church. There's
no doubt about that.
In 1 Corinthians 12:27
the Apostle Paul told individual believers in
The term "Body of
Christ" portrays exactly what the church is, and, it's in stark
contrast to much of the ecclesiastical world we see around us today.
In John 20:21 – 22 Jesus told His disciples that as the Father
had sent Him into the world to represent the Father, so He was sending
them into the world to represent Him.
He went as far to say that they could forgive sin, and, I believe
He meant, forgive sin on His behalf.
What Jesus was telling His disciples is that they would replace
Him on earth since He would no longer be on earth in physical form.
They would be joined together in a body of people who would go
forth and do His work in His name. This
is what the term "in the name of Jesus" means.
I do believe that Jesus
possessed the Holy Spirit from conception, but, when John the Baptist
baptized Him, He was anointed by the Holy Spirit for the task that was
before Him. In similar
fashion, after Jesus told His disciples to hang out in
This is my point.
Once the Holy Spirit entered the believers in Acts 2, the
lifeless group they were, became a living being.
They were more than an ecclesiastical organization.
They were in fact, through the Holy Spirit, the replacement body
for Jesus on earth. Herein
lays the importance of the term "Body of Christ".
Think of this in terms of
your own physical body. Look
at your hand. One bone in a
finger is joined to another. The
second bone is joined to yet another, and on it goes.
The bones in your finger and hand are joined together for two
specific reasons. One reason
is for mutual support. If
the bones in your finger weren't joined together, they would fall to the
ground and be worthless. The
second reason why the bones in your fingers are joined together is
because they have a job to do in the proper functioning of your hand and
the rest of your body. If
there is something wrong with one of these bones in your finger, or, if
there is something wrong with the joints between these bones, both the
hand and the rest of the body will suffer.
Most people over the age of 60 can attest to this arthritic
condition to be true.
This is how it works in
the Body of Christ. Each one
of us is an individual part in the living Spirit filled Body of Christ.
Some of us are bones. Some
of us are organs. Some of us
are strands of hair, and on it goes.
If we as individuals are disconnected from the body part we are
to be joined to, then we fall to the ground and become useless. If the
joint between us and the next member we are to be joined to in the Body
of Christ has problems with arthritis, then all the body parts around us
will suffer. The body itself
will suffer as it does in the church in general today.
A big issue in thinking
in terms of the Body of Christ this way is that when the joints in the
body become problematic and disjointed, the life flow of the Holy Spirit
from one body part to another through these joints is interrupted, and
the work of the Holy Spirit is hindered.
It's sad to say, but this is often the case in church today.
Problematic arthritic joints becomes a problem for the Holy
Spirit, thus Jesus is not properly represented here on earth.
The church does not go forth in the name of Jesus as it is
intended to do.
When thinking in terms of
the name of Jesus, imagine yourself a carpenter who works for Frank's
Construction Company. When
you go to the job site in the morning, you're working for Frank's
Construction Company. You
are not working for yourself. So,
when you put hammer in hand, you are hammering in the name of Frank's
Construction Company. The
work you do must be done in a way that best promotes the good name of
Frank. You must follow the
rules that Frank has mandated for his employees or else you'll be fired.
The same applies to the
work we do for Jesus here on earth.
In one real sense of the word, Jesus has employed us to do His
work because He is not here in physical form to do it. He has provided
us with all the tools necessary to do His work.
They're called the gifts of the Holy Spirit as seen in 1
Corinthians 12. So, just as
a carpenter who works for Frank's Construction Company must work in the
name of Frank, so we must follow Jesus' lead as we work for Him.
We must perform our duties as He wants, not as we want.
We're not self employed Christians hired to be subcontractors by
Jesus. We're employed by
Jesus. We work in the name
of Jesus and therefore our work should show this to be true.
As the living Body of
Christ, we as individual believers are employed by Jesus to carry out
His will on earth. I suggest
that over the centuries we've acted more like self employed
subcontractors than Jesus' employees.
This must change in order to survive the days ahead.
Like our physical bodies,
each body part in the Body of Christ must be individually healthy.
Then, as members in the Body of Christ, we must be joined to
another body part for mutual support as we carry out our jobs in the
service of the Lord together. I
call this "functional relationships" in the Body of Christ.
We are joined with a few others for both fellowship and function.
It is more important than
ever to understand church to be the living Body of Christ instead of a
well structured ecclesiastical system that differs little from any
corporation we see in the business world. The
day is fast approaching when our present system of church will no longer
exist in the western world. A
secular society will make sure of this through legal rulings and
government legislation. So,
each and every individual believer must be an active part of the living
Body of Christ who represents Jesus to the world.
We are joined to others in this body, not simply for the fun of
fellowship, but to function in a way that represents Jesus as we are
meant to represent Him. Both
fellowship and ministry must emanate from these personal and functional
relationships, and not from an ecclesiastical structure that has no
Much of our problem
concerning church over the centuries stems from the fact that we are not
joined as individuals in the Body of Christ.
We're joined organizationally in massive ecclesiastical
structures instead. These
structures have had some usefulness in the past.
On the other hand, they have been a detriment to what church
should really be. The focus
on denominational structures has broken the Body of Christ into a
thousand or more pieces that has crippled the Body of Christ.
My point is simple.
As this age comes to an end, that which we have known as the
traditional organized church will come to an end.
Church as we've come to know it will be demolished by the
anti-Christ culture that is now penetrating every fabric of society.
In order to survive; and there will be a surviving Body, we must
be the living body of Christ. May
that be our mindset in the days ahead.