Friday, 20 April 2018

T The governing congregation

The Church and The Ecclesia (Part 4)

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When it regards persons, whether talking about God, humans, angels, fallen angels or demons, the Bible always presents us an identity, a name. The greatest and most powerful example is, of course, the way God made Himself known to us. There is no way to avoid that in the Scriptures. It’s everywhere. God wants to make Himself known to us. God wants us to know Him for Who He is, not for what He does. Yet those two things are connected, for Who He is determines what He does. When He presents Himself in the Bible and when He wants to deal with a situation, He always gives us one of His names, a name that involves the solution for the problem. Examples are Yahweh-Jireh (Genesis 22:14, the Lord Who provides), Yahweh-Rapha (Exodus 15:26, the Lord Who heals), Yahweh-Shalom (Judges 6:24, the Lord our peace) etc. So whenever God makes a part of Himself known, He does so by revealing a part of His identity. 

Names are a big deal to God. In a name is identity. And that identity reveals the kind of power you are dealing with. Not only does He presents His names, He is also incredibly interested in how we name things. A beautiful example of that can be found in the book of Genesis, like we’ve mentioned in the first part of this study. In this part of the Bible God presents Himself as Yahweh Elohim (Meaning “Lord God”, a reference to the fact that He is the Lord of lords). First He said that it was not good that the man was alone. Directly afterwards He said that He would make an equal helper, after which He created all the animals. Then He brought all the animals to Adam to “see what he would call them”. So God was watching to see what names, what identity, Adam would give the animals. As we all know, Adam named all the animals, but none of them was the “equal helper” God wanted him to have. Even after He created the woman, He brought her to Adam and he (Adam) named her. From the very beginning, names were a big deal. Identity is revealed by a name. 

The Bible also shows us the opposite. There is a specific place where God takes identity away. That can be found in Ezekiel 28:19. It is the part where the Bible describes the fall of Lucifer. But that wasn’t his biggest defeat. The fact that he lost the war, was banned from God’s presence and was banned from heaven were all not his biggest defeat. It was the part where God took his identity away. He took his name away when He told him “there is no more you”. That is most powerful and destructive thing you can do to your enemy. It is total rejection. A bigger form of rejection does not exist. By taking his name away, God made him powerless. So when you ask me if it is a big deal what or how we call people, places or things, I say “Yes!”. Even more, the name makes all the difference. The name carries the purpose and destination. 

Now that we understand how important names are, we can continue with the aim of this study. God gave us His names. He gave us Yeshua HaMashiach, better known as Jesus Christ, which means “the Anointed One”. Name. Identity. By His sacrifice Jesus prepared Himself a bride. That’s us! We who have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Messiah, and we who are living for Him. So when talking about something that important, the bride of Christ, it is easy to conclude that the name of the bride is a BIG deal. In these days we know the body of Christ as “the church”. 

The name “church” was added in the Bible by the people who’ve translated the Word. But is that translation correct? The word church originates from the Greek word “ku-ri-a-kos” or “ku-ri-a-kon”, in our Dutch and English languages translated as “Kerk” and “Church”. These Greek words are coming from the root word “Kurios”, which means “lord”. The literal meaning of the name “church” is “pertains to, or belongs to, a lord”. Now the question is if these words, that can be translated as “church”, do appear in the Bible. The answer is yes, they do appear. Twice. In 1 Corinthians 11:20 and in Revelation 1:10. Oh, then what’s the problem? First of all, the two times that these words do appear, they point to something that belongs to the Lord. In the case of 1 Corinthians 11:20 it points to the Lord’s supper. In Revelation 1:10 it points to the day of the Lord. But in both cases it is certainly not pointing to the body of Christ. Secondly, in the other 115 times the translation “church” is used, it actually says something completely different. A different name and a totally different meaning. In the other 115 times the translation “church” is used, it actually says “ecclesia” (or related words) and not “ku-ri-a-kos” or “ku-ri-a-kon”. 

In the time that the New Testament was written, an ecclesia was a governing body. It was not the type of governing body that had the authority to make laws, but they had the authority to execute the laws that were set by the higher governing body, the “boule”, a counsel of 500 people. The ecclesia was allowed to submit a decree or law proposal before the boule, but it was the boule who decided and approved the decrees or proposals. In our Dutch system the Ecclesia can be compared with the Second Chamber (I believe in other nations this is known as the House or Parliament) and the Boule with the First Chamber (the Senate or Upper House). The parliament is reigning, but nothing happens unless the senate has approved it. The ecclesia was formed of (and open for) all native and free male citizens, with two years of military service. The agenda of the ecclesia was established by the Boule. 

The meaning of the word “ecclesia” is best defined as “the called-out (ones)”, coming from the word “ecc” (= out) and “kaleo” (= call). Putting all of this in context, it leads to the meaning of a group of people who are called out of another group of people, as a governing body, with the obvious aim to reign. Now compare that meaning with the meaning of the word “church” (belongs to the Lord). There is nothing wrong with belonging to the Lord, in fact it is an honor. But God wants us to understand the task and privilege we have, as a governing body of Christ, for which we will be held accountable. And as we know by now, name is identity. So name is a big deal. By renaming “the governing body of Christ” (ecclesia) to  “belongs to the Lord” (kuriakos/kuriakon/church), it has been stripped (in name) of its true identity, the true aim and the true authority. Every time we call the governing body of Christ “the church” it is a proclamation of degradation. 

The name ecclesia was carefully chosen to point out what our position is. At the same time it is a comparison, not an exact copy of the governing system of that time. As we all know, the laws are already made and established. Not by men, but by God. By the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, grace was added to it (Ephesians 2:8-9), but no law was removed (Matthew 5:17-20). The ecclesia is to execute the law and grace. Not as part of the worldly “politics”, but as an independent body, with Jesus Christ as the (only) Head and highest authority, under the leadership of His appointed and anointed leaders. 

The body of Christ, the governing congregation, is not something you built, it is something you are, along with the other true followers of Jesus. It has nothing to do with entertainment, motivational speeches, programs etc. It has everything to do with following in the footsteps of Jesus, doing the will of the Father and reigning under His headship. That can include awesome gatherings with beautiful music, powerful encouragement and other great stuff, but the difference is that that is not the aim but an accessory. We are that body, we the people, not a building or a place. When it is our deepest aim and motivation to follow Jesus Christ in everything and to do the will of the Father from the heart, He will always meet our needs and the Holy Spirit will help us to get at the point where the Father wants us to be. Being part of the body of Christ does not guaranty immediate success. In fact it is a way of much learning and falling. But the difference between the righteous and the unrighteous is that the righteous always gets up again, while the unrighteous shall fall by calamity (Proverbs 24:16). If it doesn’t work the first time, go for it again. Still doesn’t work? Try again. And again. While keeping your focus on Jesus Christ. He is the One Who will do the change in us, not our own efforts. We move in faith, not to succeed, but to obey. The succeeding part is where Jesus steps in. 

The way how to reign was also made clear in the Word. God is a spirit. His “world” is spiritual. Our enemies are spiritual. So the only effective way to reign is to reign spiritual. The natural world is subject to the spiritual world. If we have victory in the spirit, the result will become visible in the natural. But having victory in the spirit can only be accomplished as long as we’re in line with the Word of God. That starts with obeying the natural governments and their laws. Although we are no longer part of this world, we do still live in this world and it pleases God when we are subject to the authorities.

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
Romans 13:1

Wait a minute. But what if the things that are happening in the natural are going against the will of God? What are we supposed to do then? What we see in the natural is a result of what happened in the spiritual world. So we should always keep in mind that the problems in the natural world did not originate in the natural world, but in the spiritual places. So problems should be dealt with spiritually, until we see the change in the natural. 

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12

Being the Ecclesia is basically that God established His law, judgment and grace. As the “Boule” established the agenda of the Ecclesia, in the same way God wants to give us His agenda on how to execute His law, judgment and grace in the spirit. It is through His appointed and anointed leaders that He will share this agenda with us, just like it works with the ranks in an army. When each warrior knows what to do, they go into the battle. They pray, they fast, they proclaim, they rebuke. Each in their own position, with their own spiritual gifts, knowledge, insights and wisdom. As one. United they stand. And they will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. That is if they take their position and use their God given authority.

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