Major Kingdom/Apostolic Articles
We don't go to the church - We are the church - Ron McGatlin
We owe much to the past models of church and the faithful leaders and saints who have birthed multitudes into salvation and created a foundation of believers that are now bringing forth further reformation toward the original New Testament church model.
The word church has a very uncertain definition in many minds today. When one person says church they mean one thing and when someone else says church it means a different thing. God is lifting up a new/old standard and many are seeking to see through their own personal religious fog to discover the new/old reality of New Testament style relationship with God and with one another.
One of the most difficult concepts for our minds to digest is that we don't go to the church, we are the church. The practical reality of this is indeed a large hurdle yet many are absorbing it. If we don't get this, then changing the size of the meeting or the location of the meeting or switching around some titles and so on may only lead to the same imperfect concepts that have led to where we have already been.
When we look without religious glasses or fog to the New Testament model of the church that Jesus really started in its embryo form and the disciples brought into being by Jesus working with them by the Holy Spirit, we find it looks much different from most church systems of today.
A great transition began at that time as the old covenant "church" or temple/synagogue was no longer to be the center or primary presentation of the kingdom of God on earth. A new covenant "called out people" (church) were to be the gathering that would become a living organism flowing the very continuation of resurrected life of Jesus Christ on earth by the Holy Spirit, forming Christ in gatherings of people joined by the Holy Spirit in spiritual relational networks (body).
Jesus went to the temple/synagogue in fulfillment of old covenant living before His baptism - before the Holy Spirit descended and remained upon Him. As His ministry matured He went to these institutions and revealed Himself as Messiah. At that point serious opposition to the transition began. The decision was made to throw him off a cliff instead of receiving the new covenant reality of Jesus the Messiah. The transition to new covenant church was not made in the old covenant institutions.
Jesus gathered disciples and began to model and bring forth the church "called out gatherings". Jesus gave his life on the cross, was resurrected, taken up into heaven, and returned to earth in the Holy Spirit to indwell His people thus establishing the NEW COVENANT reality of church.
Some of the early apostles continued to go to the old covenant institutions again and again to attempt to lead them to Jesus and the new covenant. Some people did make the transition with them. But the institution continued in the old covenant with Priest standing before the people offering sacrifices for the people and maintaining the old covenant way of form and shadow rather than transition into the reality of Jesus and the new covenant.
A great falling away occurred in the new covenant church. After a few centuries men began to change the ways of the church from what Jesus and the disciples had begun. Portions of the old covenant form began to be reestablished in the new covenant church.
A hierarchy of men ruling over the people was again brought forth and the division of clergy and laity was erroneously formed in the new covenant church. The new covenant was to include a nation of priests and kings. The headship of Christ living within the people by the Holy Spirit was replaced by a structure of men and their rules and rituals. This was a partial return to the old covenant system of Priest standing between the people and God. The resulting "church" was a perverted mixture of old and new. This created an opening for traditions of men and doctrines of demons to infiltrate the church.
Over a thousand years later the "great reformation" began a process of eliminating some of the old covenant ways as well as some traditions of men and doctrines of demons, from the new covenant church. We now can clearly see that it was not a complete reformation. In recent centuries and very recent decades, we have begun to see giant steps of more complete reformation toward becoming as the church that Jesus began.
One of the old covenant practices carried forward into the reformed church was the clergy laity division. The function and office of Priest was renamed the office of Pastor in most expressions of "Protestant Church". High Priest became Senior Pastor or Bishop and a hierarchy of men with various titles continued to stand before the people and rule over them. This old covenant practice mixed into the new covenant church hindered the power. love, and gifts of the Holy Spirit from flowing directly through the mature saints (elders) to the less mature saints.
The mature expression of the true new covenant church may not necessarily include the temples of brick and will surely not include a hierarchy of men standing as Priest between God and the people. We must not continue the old covenant ways in the new covenant church. Yes we will continue to reach out to the so called "institutional church" and continue to present the true Messiah, Christ Jesus our High Priest, Savior and King who lives now in His temple on earth. Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Cor 3:16)
Many unnecessary burdens are spawned by the perversions of the erroneous continuation of the old covenant headship concept of clergy over laity. In the new covenant church there are indeed spiritually mature people (elders) and spiritually immature people and there are servant gifts to mature and equip the people. It is always the work of Christ flowing by the Holy Spirit to do the work of these ministries. The clergy laity deception causes a few to stand as "Priest" to attempt to do the work of many that are only sitting in the pew and can therefore never mature. We are to all become priest and kings as Christ by the Holy Spirit is formed in us. We are to all mature and become "equippers" for the less mature around us by the work of the Holy Spirit.
The central foundation of the new covenant church is the believer in intimate relationship with God and with those around him or her. This means that the prayer closet and the living and dining rooms can become the main facilities of church. From there the church can flow to the office or shop and the mall or wherever. When the homes become the primary assembly then additional meetings can be held in rented halls, stadiums, brick buildings or any where as the many expressions of the city church can come together in glorious meetings of praise, prayer, and worship.
If we can get this, it is really good news, especially for many godly men seeking to serve God with all their heart as a Pastor (Priest) ruling over a congregation of pew sitters who have been trained to pay the Pastor to do the spiritual stuff for them. Why keep pumping a dry hole? It may be time to move to a new/old well with living water and return to the way Jesus and the disciples began.
God loves His church too much to allow the old covenant ways to exist forever robbing the church of the reality of the fulfillment of "Christ in you the hope of Glory."
I've recently discovered a good book written by David Newby from Australia. David has done research on the reality of the old covenant ways carried into the new covenant church and has good insight into this matter and some help in dealing with it. I am not trying to sell books but I believe this book to be a genuine help in bringing forth understanding of the history and the potential of the New Testament church. The book is called, "The Bubble Will Burst" by David Newby. You can get a copy here: http://archive.openheaven.com/bookstore/
Pursue Love It Never Fails,