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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Lem asks some more great questions!

My good friend, Lem just posted a few more great questions on an earlier post and I'd like to address them here as a great practical way to "flesh out" how biblical apostolic traditions can be applied and really do work even when the people who compose the ekklesia are far from perfect!

Lem wrote:
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.

You are absolutely right, brother!  Every believer is accountable to God (i.e gets their assignments from Him and also receives from Him the evaluation of their tasks.)  We have messed up so often by seeking to get our assignments and evaluation from someone other than our real Master!  Worse though, is when we seek to make others accountable to ourselves and thus we assign tasks to others which the Head has never assigned and seek to usurp the place of the Head (Christ) by giving our (supposedly superior!) evaluation of some other Christian's service!  Scripture says, "To his own master he stands or falls!"

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.

This question gets right down to where "the rubber meets the road", Lem! But if simple divinely given instructions do not work practically, they are of no value whatsoever!  Truly, it seems, if we had no differences and everyone was amiable and agreeable and everyone thought the same we might just get along without too many problems!  (If only everyone thought like me!!!)  But that is NOT the way that God made us! He has made us of different genders (male and female), different ethnic backgrounds (Jews and Gentiles), has placed us in different families, where we have learned different perspectives, embraced different values, have widely differing needs (physical, emotional, financial, spiritual etc).  All of those differences were designed by God NOT the enemy!!!  But God has placed believers (every one of us unique and thus different from all of our brothers and sisters) all together in one Body!   Even in small gatherings of saints in homes, all six. sixteen or twenty six will all be different from the rest!  So God did not design His ekklesias to function well in situations where all are the same, agree on everything and have no difference of opinion!  he designed the Body of Christ with an infinite variety of different members who are vitally linked to Christ, our Head.  It is the vital (life-giving) nature of that union which makes it possible for a wide variety of body members to work together in unity and to be of one mind!  (It is NOT a matter of you "caving in" and having MY mind, or me unhappily conforming to YOUR mind because MOST of the others also think that way. Rather it is a matter of each member of the body having the mind of the Head, i.e the mind of Christ!

A couple of practical first century "church problems/potential church splits" to consider:
(1) In Acts 6, the Grecian believers were upset that their widows were being neglected in the daily ministration.  Ethnic, religious, cultural and financial differences were all involved in this situation. But read the account there and see how it was dealt with openly (before the whole church), lead by the apostles who voiced the problem and made a suggestion for a solution, but not monopolized by leaders (the actual decisions were made by the whole church as to who would be appointed to deal with the situation) and the resolution was by consensus (not by majority rule which always leaves a silent but fuming minority!!!)

(2) In Acts 15 a far more volatile problem was faced squarely and resolved happily even though there was tremendous potential for alienation and division to occur!  Jewish believers, who had been divinely instructed as God's chosen people to practie circumcision of all their males for ever.  Now Gentile believers (uncircumcised!!!!) were coming into the church, the Body of Christ  (shameful!!!)  Many of the Jewish believers, not yet fully appreciating the grace of God, felt that such Gentile believers should be required to be circumcised. So a "church split" was inevitable..Right?  WRONG! 

Again the apostles and elders met with the whole church to hash out the problem openly. Paul and Barnabas addressed the gathering telling how God had worked among many Gentiles who had believed even as the Jews had. James addressed the gathering and suggested a solution and suggested that the church at Jerusalem write a letter to the Gentile believers in other cities. Again, the decision was reached by consensus, the letter was written by the church and all, both Jews and Gentiles were happy with the outcome!   Such solutions are made abolutely impossible when you begin with the mindset that the church is a democracy!!!   (World politics has gone wrong ever since Israel rejected THEOCRACY(rule by God) and substituted a monarchy, like all the nations!

Monarchy (thinking that one man, like us, will be a better king than God) was rooted in man's rebellion against God.  But democracy (thinking that the majority of us knows better than God) is far worse!!!  The majority is almost always wrong!  But the ekklesia, the Body of Christ is neither a monarchy nor a democracy. It is a theocracy, for Christ is the Head, He is the Lord, He is the King. We are the members in His Body, we are the servants of our Lord and we are the subjects of the King!   So do you see how our learned traditions have all mitgated against a proper understanding of how God has designed for relationships to function in His ekklesia?

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). You are right again brother! And that's where it comes back to each bel;iever's accountability to God! But think of the alternatives which we have so commonly adopted....we assume it is not "normal" for each believer to hear God's voice and be guided by Him, and have thus appointed our own rulers, on our terms, so this whole system can work quite fine without anyone hearing from God. The result is a corporate church which functions just like any other corporation like "Bell",  "Mc Donalds" or "The Bay". We have asked for what we wanted and God has granted us our desire (just as God granted Israel's request for a king to judge them like all the nations) and we have suffered "leanness in our souls" as a direct result!

But what I am appealing for is a direct parallel to the time in Israel's history when Israel was reaping what they had sown in asking for a King....they had gotten Saul. Saul was hunting down David, (God's appointed King).  The true King was rejected by the majority while the nation had their king like all the nations but was suffering the sad consequences of their choice!  In the midst of that situation we read of David who was hiding out in a cave at Adullam, and a little band of "nobodies"..."Everyone that was in distress and every one that was in debt and everyone that was discontented gathered themselves unto him and He became a captain over them."

I believe that that is a prophectis description of what God is doing today as He gathers out a little remnant of nobodies (distressed, indebted, discontents!) who will gather around God's appointed KING, the Lord Jesus, and make Him their captain!   You can't have Him as Captain and still retain a democracy! I can't have Him as King and still have it "my way"!

 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. Lemuel

Lem, as noted above, all such gatherings will have lots of "warts and bumps and blemishes. But the central One is the One who has won our hearts, the Lord Jesus. If you drop me an e at I'd be happy to give you contact info for a few such simple gatherings here in S Ontario with which I am familiar.  May their Lord and His simple gatherings increase! To enjoy His increase, I must be willing to decrease!


  1. You've presented the picture of an ekklesia clear enough for me to understand. As I mentioned, I would love to visit one, not so much to see the people, but to see God's work among the people.

    There is another consideration I wish to address. Since you refer to the Book of Acts for an example of ekklesia, it would therefore follow that if such a church existed today, we would see the fruits of such a church. I'm specifically referring to the miracles (signs and wonders) that "follow them that believe".

    Many have told me not to focus on miracles because even the devil can counterfeit them or miracles don't change a person's heart, or some other excuse like that.

    However if we are to believe the Word of God, then it specifically says that "these signs will follow them that believe" (casting out demons, healing the sick,...etc), not the counterfiet ones, but the genuine ones.

    The book of Acts have many references to speaking in tongues. There are counterfiet ones and genuine ones. In other words, we would truly see God's glory a lot more in such a church.

    The book of Acts also says, number of believers were added daily. Can you imagine that..DAILY! Some churches only get one every year.

    Finally there is the self-sacrificing spirit of the poeple, willing to consecrate their entire lives, life savings and possessions for sole purpose of reaching the poor and needy, and spreading the gospel.

    Otherwise, if none of these fruits exists, I'll have a hard time believing that God is with such an ekklesia.


  2. Hey brother Lem!

    Thanks for your continued dialogue and excellent comments.

    Yours deserve a response so I hope, in the will of the Lord, to address your comments above in my next post. Could be tomorrow, Saturday, or by next Tuesday (my next time at the library here where we access the internet.)