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Friday, December 16, 2011

Lemuel asks how biblical ekklesias function and if they exist

Lemuel, a friend of mine, has recently written a number of excellent comments and questions in relation to the earliest posts on the blog relative to what an “ekklesia” is and how it is to function.  There I maintained that an ekklesia was a company of people called out with authority to make decisions together.  Biblical ekklesias did not have “boards”, committees or groups of leaders who gathered together to make decisions “for” the ekklesia!  There were apostles and elders but neither the apostles nor the elders made decisions for the churches! They gave counsel and advice but the authourity and responsibility for making decisions lay with the church gathered together.  See Acts 6:1-7 and Acts 15:1-31
It was in this context that Lemuel wrote the following and I’m going to take the liberty to comment (in blue) within his comments here:
“I see more of what you mean about "ekklesia".

You know, I've never seen such a thing in all my life, and with all my rational thinking behind me, I can't ever see it succeeding, unless the spirit of God is truly there controlling the whole situation.
(You are right, brother!  A biblical church cannot function properly unless the saints are willing to acknowledge practically, and not just theoretically, that Christ is the Head of His church and expect that He will guide His people!  How often have we (people) assumed control and thus usurped control which is not rightfully ours??

Can you imagine a group of drunkards, thieves, robbers, prostitutes,...etc that come to join the church and get saved, but they still have the old mind or old habits of thinking, getting together to make a decision? Most of them, if not all, wouldn't know how to discern His spirit or know His leading, because they don't know Him yet. (Heck, I'm not satisfied with my Christian walk for many times in my trials, I have no clue whatsoever what to do).
(I have often thought such things myself, brother! But when I do, I am actually denying many awesome truths that are stated in scripture regarding all believers, even the youngest convert:
-According to the divinely stated terms of the New Covenant, God who cannot lie (Titus 1:2) has guaranteed that He will do all of the following not only for the house of Israel and for the house of Judah (Hebrews 8:8), but also for all Gentile believers who are the epistle of Christ written with the Spirit of the living God in fleshly tables of the heart (II Cor.3:3):
(1) I will put my laws into their mind, (2) I will write them in their hearts: (3) I will be to them a God, (4) They shall be to me a people, (5)  They shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest, (6) I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and (7) Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

The only reason that a biblical church is possible is because God is faithful to His own covenant!!! If such was dependent on our “performance”, our “wisdom” or our “ingenuity” it would be a hopeless cause!  But I would suggest that our doubts that God really meant what He said, and our fears that such just could not work have been at the root of our losing confidence in Him and placing our confidence instead in our own institutions, our own traditions and our own programs! 

May we rather acknowledge to Him when we have no clue what to do and then lean hard upon Him for the wisdom which He has promised (James 1:5) and trust Him to do in us all that He has said He would do!

“And what happens to the elders and apostles? They ought to know God a lot more (and many don't). Do they participate in decision making? I'm assuming they are part of the church body, so they would be included. Instinctively and naturally, the new babes in Christ look to church elders for their leadership.”
You are absolutely right, brother. Elders and apostles are part of the Body and, because they have been longer on the road, they go before and set an example for others to follow, and can give wise counsel. So yes, younger ones have the benefit of their example to follow and their wisdom to heed. But they are not to be rulers who “lay down the law” requiring others to bow to their decisions!

In all probability, I'm completely in the dark as to what the TRUE meaning of God's "ekklesia", "group", "board meeting", "gathering", "meeting" or whatever you call it is (for I don't think it matters what it is called, but what ever God providentially ordains is meaningful).
So describe then what actually happens in such a TRUE ekklesia...

Brother, let me be clear in my terms… there are many TRUE ekklesias/churches composed of born again, blood bought children of God in just about every community across this great land and around the world. They are TRULY God’s people and members in Christ’s Body. But, sad to say, the practices of many true churches are not biblical practices.
But, for the last two millennia, the Lord has been building His church and where ever people have heard the Gospel, become disciples of the Lord Jesus and then listened to Him, obeyed what He has commanded and taught others to do the same, such ekklesias which are biblical in their practices have been the result!  They have always been known by the practices we find recorded in Acts 2:- they that gladly received his word are baptized,- they continue stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine, - they continue stedfastly in fellowship, - they continue stedfastly in breaking of bread, and - they continue stedfastly in prayers,- the Lord adds to the church those who are saved (men do not add anyone to a biblical church they simply receive those whom God has received Romans 15:7).
And, when they assemble together, practices like those described in Hebrews 10:24 & 25; I Peter 4:10,11 and I Corinthians 11:24-26 are common among them:
Rather than forsaking the assembling of themselves together as the manner of some is…..     
- they consider one another to provoke (or stir up) unto love and to good works and - they exhort one another: - as they see the day approaching they long to do these things more and more, - they have fervent love among themselves,- they gladly extend hospitality one to another,- as each one of them has received, they also minister those gifts one to another as good
stewards of the many-sided grace of God, (they do not look to one or a few to do all the ministering) - So whenever anyone speaks they are to do it as the speaking of God, and- As anyone serves, they are to do it out of the ability which God has given so that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ.- They eat meals together in their homes and as they do, they remember the Lord Jesus.

“Do you know where any such ekklesia exists?    Lemuel”
Yes, brother, I personally know of a few here in S. Ontario and have heard of many others and I have been praying for years that the Lord would multiply such gatherings across our county until there would be such gatherings within walking distance of everyone in our county!  Where ever there are brothers and sisters who long to embrace apostolic traditions, I long to encourage such to begin doing just that in their own homes with other saints who may live just down the block or around the corner!
Would you seriously consider that the Lord might want such an ekklesia in your home?


  1. I'm getting a clearer picture of what you mean. Thinking over it more, I realize now that the biblical model for ekklesia would be ideal, because in this way, everyone is accountable to God. This would lead to less blame or accusation.

    What happens if there are differences? I think the dynamics of communication between saints coming from all different sorts of backgrounds, cultures, temperaments,...etc. is much more complex than what you have described. I'm not saying such a ekklesia cannot exist. It's just that I cannot see it happening, unless every member is surrendered to God (which I find rare in my opinion).

    However, you said that you know of a few in S. Ontario. You got me curious now. I would at least like to personally attend a few of these churches.


  2. Hi Lem!
    Excellent comments! I'd like to address them in another post in a day or two so please check back soon.