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Narrow Way Chronicles: Exclusivity of Inclusion

In a recent tweet I shared:

#Pride, #Presumption, and #Partiality create a culture of self-righteousness and hidden agendas. #churchpolitics”.

I thought it appropriate to elaborate because intent can be misconstrued and I wanted to allow for robust discussion.

Today, the term “inclusivity” does not prompt ideas of church unity. Opponents of the Way continue to do a “bang-up” job in hijacking and perverting the Creator’s intent on certain ideologies that is designed to reflect His glory. The ideology of “Inclusivity” is no different. History teaches that diversity and inclusivity have existed since the beginning of time. The Old and New Testament scriptures clearly show examples of communities that included all races and social-economic backgrounds.  It is only after the coming of the Anointed One, Jesus the Christ, do we see intentionality of this idea of Inclusive Communities. ….so let’s not get it twisted. ;-).

The intention of the tweet; however, was addressing my limited time and experience with the subject with regard to church unity. My sincere hope and prayer is that the Holy Spirit will be active in guiding my hand to write; as well as an active guide to those who are reading these thoughts.

It is written, He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches:

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Compassion and True Fellowship

The issue: Are our churches TRULY inclusive? With our drive to expose evil, false doctrine and plant churches, have we created a culture of elite communities? Is the mission still about the Gospel or has the mission become about growing a denomination, positioning for political leverage or making your brand known? Do we reflect true Koinonia or is the local church another social construct that is intended have a “positive” effect on the community? If true Koinonia is the intent, what should it look like and how much of our application is modeled biblically?

I have often been engaged in conversations with persons that boastfully share that they are socially connected with”like-minded” Believers. Notice I didn’t say, fellowship; and, that gave me pause to think (Hence the #ChurchPolitics).

What does the idea of being like-minded mean?

Secular society uses this phrase often. Should I assume that this idea takes on a different connotation because I perceive a spin of conservative Christianity or It is safe to assume that being like-minded is a belief or series of beliefs that is shared commonly through a connection of cultural norms to one may be accustomed; and if not accustomed, Idolize?  We’ve seen this in Charismatic circles.

It is elitism; BKA partiality.

If you initiate a Google search the topic, you will find little teaching or exhortation that addresses this, especially in conservative circles. Largely because most of our siblings still have that big plank in their eye.

Partiality is a sin and it greatly displeases Elohim our God. Because it is hidden, it is easy to deny that we have issues. When we choose to “do life” with people that do not foster sanctification, we stifle growth. Not only of ourselves but others that desire true sanctification.  Jerry Bridges exhorts: “It is not the fact that we are united in common goals or purposes that make(s) us a community. Rather, it is the fact that we share a common life in Christ.

Partiality convinces us that God’s choice isn’t good enough, smart enough, pretty or handsome enough, not quiet enough, or charismatic enough. Partiality says this person is not acceptable to my standards. Partiality shows no grace and therefore, shows no love. This is wickedness.

When we opt in for partiality instead of inclusivity we become complacent in our relationships. We are not intentional with the put offs and put-ons, and we do no “one anothering”.  The result is isolation among the saints. This is a dichotomy of true fellowship. Koinonia and sharing the Gospel is what the Father wants and desires for His children. Lastly, partiality is hidden and presumptuous sins. Partiality is heinous and damaging to the Body of Christ.  In Psalm 19:13 the writer prays:

Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. 

The church is not as inclusive as we like to think we are. Partiality is a real issue, more than we would like to admit. People choose not to bind themselves to a local body because they do not feel loved or safe.  At any rate, Jesus teaches compassion. Though the Savior operated as a prophet, he was remarkably compassionate to sinners. Do we desire or display that same compassion or do we make assumptions about people based on limited information or gossip? Moreover, what are we willing to risk or sacrifice to engage in true Koinonia? If your local body struggles in this area please check out this teaching by Arturo Azurdia of TCP titled “The Antioch Paradigm”.

 

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Excellence of God’s People: Doing Our Best

I stumbled upon the below text in my studies. It orginates from a book called  “Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue” and thought..AMEN! See if you agree 😉

“In this spirit (of excellence), therefore, let us pursue excellence. As we have seen, far from being optional, excellence is in fact a divine mandate that applies to every aspect of our lives, for God himself is characterized by excellence. Mediocrity, sloppy workmanship, and a half-hearted effort do not bring glory to God or advance his kingdom”.

Powerful statement!

How many of us wake up with a focus to be excellent for God? The daily grind of employment, home-schooling, ministry commitments, and activities keeps us in a routine of tasks. Do we ever take a moment of pause and ask, “Am I doing my best?” More importantly, “Is my best a reflection of God’s glory here on the earth?” In the midst of the struggle to balance all of our activities, we often become distracted regarding our fellowship with the Spirit of God, especially throughout the day. He is our Beloved One, it is only fitting that He receives worship by way of mindful work in the Spirit of Excellence?

Included in Believer’s love for the Father through Christ our Lord, there should be a desire to do our best for Him; not from a works-based motive, but from a sincere organic closeness to engage with Him as the leader and active participant; and as the writer stated, of every aspect of our lives. If Emmanuel was with you every day, how would you operate? Would mediocrity be your norm?

The focus of Excellence in terms of it’s effect on the Church along with her individual members can be a bit blurry. Societial norms coupled with pride of life has had its effect on our efforts operate in excellence. The result is either an exaltation of excellence or a complete dismissal of the idea of Excellence in the life of the Believer. It can be viewed as legalistic, however, if we look closer to this idea we can soundly argue that excellence does not equate legalism.

For it is written:

Psalm 16:3 – As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.

Proverbs 12:4 – An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.

Daniel 6:3 – Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.

Secular vs. Sacred

Both secular and sacred(church) culture has provided contributions to the perversion of Excellence. I’m speaking specifically to the perception of our effectiveness in secular society, the tools we may use as expressions of worship, and our ability to execute in Faith.

Traditionally, secular society has tagged persons with exceptional abilities or talents as persons are “gifted”.  The same goes for American church culture. It’s often said that a person is “gifted” in things like accounting, or singing; we’ve even said that preachers are gifted. The perversion also includes exalting spiritual gifts above the Gospel. If we are truthful, God himself has not defined or delegated many of these skills as “gifts”. The result: A culture that exalts or worships exceptional skills, talents and abilities; or, we worship the person(s) with the skill. The perversion of Excellence happens when God the Creator and Soverign Lord is no longer the object of our affections.

On the flip side, you may have a church culture that unconciously surpresses the idea of Excellence, resulting in mediocrity. If Excellence is percieved as legalism the result will be sloppy workmanship and half-hearted efforts which can be as equally sinful. Mediocrity can’t be an option for God’s people….because He is Excellent!

Therefore, service unto the Lord and His people is done with joy and, with excellence. Whether working in secular society or ministry, inside the home or the Arts, the idea of serving the Lord and His people with excellence should be in consideration in all that we do. It’s a part of stewardship and it is worship!

 For it is written:

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Lastly, the idea of Excellence in the preaching of God’s word is not left out of this equation. The same issues of idolatry and lukewarmness is evident when Elohim is not the object of worship. Preaching is worship. Excellence in preaching is achived when the Holy Spirit is in charge and there is a resolve to trust God’s Word. Faith in God and full confience in His word (logos) by the Power of the Holy Spirit is the foundation of humility. Preparation is a key component because we know that the those that preach (teach) the Word will be judged with more strictness (James 3:1). I’d like to think that most preachers and teachers of the Word rely on God’s grace, the Word and the Holy Sprit, however, I still have an expectation that ministers of the Word are dilligent to ensure proper preparation that includes sound doctrine.

The Believer’s decision to be Excellent isn’t based on how we do things; but who we do it for.  More importantly, Excellence is a vehicle by which we reflect his glory during our exile here on earth.

Selah

click Propaganda’s Excellent

The Beauty of Hymns: Jesus, I my Cross I’ve Taken (Music written by Bill Moore, Lyrics Henry Lyte)

1. Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow Thee.
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou from hence my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition,
All I’ve sought or hoped or known.
Yet how rich is my condition!
God and heaven are still my own.

2. Let the world despise and leave me,
They have left my Savior, too.
Human hearts and looks deceive me;
Thou art not, like them, untrue.
O while Thou dost smile upon me,
God of wisdom, love, and might,
Foes may hate and friends disown me,
Show Thy face and all is bright.

3. Man may trouble and distress me,
’Twill but drive me to Thy breast.
Life with trials hard may press me;
Heaven will bring me sweeter rest.
Oh, ’tis not in grief to harm me
While Thy love is left to me;
Oh, ’twere not in joy to charm me,
Were that joy unmixed with Thee.

4. Go, then, earthly fame and treasure,
Come disaster, scorn and pain
In Thy service, pain is pleasure,
With Thy favor, loss is gain
I have called Thee Abba Father,
I have stayed my heart on Thee
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather;
All must work for good to me.

5. Soul, then know thy full salvation
Rise o’er sin and fear and care
Joy to find in every station,
Something still to do or bear.
Think what Spirit dwells within thee,
Think what Father’s smiles are thine,
Think that Jesus died to win thee,
Child of heaven, canst thou repine.

6. Haste thee on from grace to glory,
Armed by faith, and winged by prayer.
Heaven’s eternal days before thee,
God’s own hand shall guide us there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission,
Soon shall pass thy pilgrim days,
Hope shall change to glad fruition,
Faith to sight, and prayer to praise.

© 2001 Bill Moore Music.

Guest Blog: 3 FEMALE GHOSTS THAT HAUNT THE CHURCH

The following is from blogger Jen Wilkin of The Gospel Coalition. http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/3-female-ghosts-that-haunt-the-church

FEB 12, 2015

I will never forget the first time I met my pastor. Our family had been at the church for two years before a meeting with another staff member threw me into his path. The first words out of his mouth were, “Jen Wilkin. You’ve been hiding from me!” A giant grin on his face, he draped me in a friendly hug, and then proceeded to ask me about the people and things I cared about. He kept eye contact. He reflected back what I was saying. I was completely thrown off. I don’t remember what books were on his desk or what artwork hung on the walls, but I left his office that day with a critical piece of insight: this room is not haunted.

He was right—I had been hiding. Coming off several years of “part-time” ministry at our previous church, my husband, Jeff, and I were weary and in no hurry to know and be known by the staff at our new church. But as a woman with leadership background, I had other hesitations as well. Any woman in ministry can tell you that you never know when you’re walking into a haunted house.

If you’re a male staff member at a church, I ask you to consider a ghost story of sorts. I don’t think for a minute that you hate women. I know there are valid reasons to take a measured approach to how you interact with us in ministry settings. I absolutely want you to be wise, but I don’t want you to be haunted. Three female ghosts haunt most churches, and I want you to recognize them so you can banish them from yours.

These three ghosts glide into staff meetings where key decisions are made. They hover in classrooms where theology is taught. They linger in prayer rooms where the weakest among us give voice to hurt. They strike fear into the hearts of both men and women, and worse, they breathe fear into the interactions between them. Their every intent is to cripple the ability of men and women to minister to and with one another.

Though you may not always be aware these ghosts are hovering, the women you interact with in ministry frequently are. I hear ghost stories almost on a weekly basis in the e-mails I receive from blog readers.

The three female ghosts that haunt us are the Usurper, the Temptress, and the Child.

1. The Usurper

This ghost gains permission to haunt when women are seen as authority thieves. Men who have been taught that women are looking for a way to take what has been given to them are particularly susceptible to the fear this ghost can instill. If this is your ghost, you may behave in the following ways when you interact with a woman, particularly a strong one:

  • You find her thoughts or opinions vaguely threatening, even when she chooses soft words to express them.
  • You speculate that her husband is probably a weak man (or that her singleness is due to her strong personality).
  • You feel low-level concern that if you give an inch she will take a mile.
  • You avoid including her in meetings where you think a strong female perspective might rock the boat or ruin the masculine vibe.
  • You perceive her education level, hair length, or career path as potential red flags that she might want to control you in some way.
  • Your conversations with her feel like sparring matches rather than mutually respectful dialogue. You hesitate to ask questions, and you tend to hear her questions as veiled challenges rather than honest inquiry.
  • You silently question if her comfort in conversing with men may be a sign of disregard for gender roles.

2. The Temptress

This ghost gains permission to haunt when a concern for avoiding temptation or being above reproach morphs into a fear of women as sexual predators. Sometimes this ghost takes up residence because of a public leader’s moral failure, either within the church or within the broader Christian subculture. If this is your ghost, you may behave in the following ways when you interact with a woman, particularly an attractive one:

  • You go out of your way to ensure your behavior communicates nothing too emotionally approachable or empathetic for fear you’ll be misunderstood to be flirting.
  • You avoid prolonged eye contact.
  • You silently question whether her outfit was chosen to draw your attention to her figure.
  • You listen with heightened attention for innuendo in her words or gestures.
  • You bring your colleague or assistant to every meeting with her, even if the meeting setting leaves no room to be misconstrued.
  • You hesitate to offer physical contact of any kind, even (especially?) if she is in crisis.
  • You consciously limit the length of your interactions with her for fear she might think you overly familiar.
  • You feel compelled to include “safe” or formal phrasing in all your written and verbal interactions with her (“Tell your husband I said hello!” or “Many blessings on your ministry and family”).
  • You Cc a colleague (or her spouse) on all correspondence.
  • You silently question if her comfort in conversing with men may be a sign of sexual availability.

3. The Child

This ghost gains permission to haunt when women are seen as emotionally or intellectually weaker than men. If this is your ghost, you may behave in the following ways when you interact with a woman, particularly a younger one:

  • You speak to her in simpler terms than you might use with a man of the same age.
  • Your vocal tone modulates into “pastor voice” when you address her.
  • In your responses to her, you tend to address her emotions rather than her thoughts.
  • You view meetings with her as times where you have much insight to offer her but little insight to gain from her. You take few notes, or none at all.
  • You dismiss her when she disagrees, because she “probably doesn’t see the big picture.”
  • You feel constrained to smile beatifically and wear a “listening face” during your interactions with her.
  • You direct her to resources less scholarly than those you might recommend to a man.

These three ghosts don’t just haunt men; they haunt women as well, shaping our choice of words, tone, dress, and demeanor. When fear governs our interactions, both genders drift into role-playing that subverts our ability to interact as equals. In the un-haunted church where love trumps fear, women are viewed (and view themselves) as allies rather than antagonists, sisters rather than seductresses, co-laborers rather than children.

Surely Jesus models this church for us in how he relates to the role-challenging boldness of Mary of Bethany, the fragrant alabaster offering of a repentant seductress, the childlike faith of a woman with an issue of blood. We might have advised him to err on the side of caution with these women. Yet even when women appeared to fit a clear stereotype, he responded without fear. If we consistently err on the side of caution, it’s worth noting that we consistently err.

Do some women usurp authority? Yes. Do some seduce? Yes. Do some lack emotional or intellectual maturity? Yes. And so do some men. But we must move from a paradigm of wariness to one of trust, trading the labels of usurper, temptress, child for those of ally, sister, co-laborer. Only then will men and women share the burden and privilege of ministry as they were intended.

My most recent meeting with my pastor stands out in my memory as well. He’s often taken the time to speak affirming words about my ministry or gifting. On this occasion, he spoke words I needed to hear more than I realized: “Jen, I’m not afraid of you.” Offered not as a challenge or a reprimand, but as a firm and empathetic assurance. Those are the words that invite women in the church to flourish. Those are the words that put ghosts to flight.

“Five Marks of Excellence That Could End the Worship Wars” (in your church)

The following contain excerpts of an article written by Dr. Donald T Williams , PhD, is Professor of English and Director of the School of Arts and Sciences at Toccoa Falls College in Georgia. You can read the full writing on http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=22-06-019-v

“we cannot find, encourage, and preserve the best contemporary music without knowing those marks of excellence that made the best of the past stand out and survive so long.

What are those marks? There are at least five: (1) biblical truth; (2) theological profundity; (3) poetic richness; (4) musical beauty; and (5) the fitting of music to text in ways that enhance, rather than obscure or distort, its meaning.”

Please check out the full article..I particularly found the following to be true in many cases in today’s contemporary “gospel” or so-called “Christian” musicians and singers, and it reads:

“Fitness: A good fit between the words and their musical setting is essential to great worship music even when text and tune are both excellent in themselves. The most egregious violation of this principle may be A. B. Simpson’s “A Missionary Cry”: “A hundred thousand souls a day / Are marching one by one away. / They’re passing to their doom; / They’re passing to their doom.” If ever there was content demanding a minor key and a mournful, dirge-like tempo, this is it. But this song is set to a completely inappropriate snappy march tune, as if we were happy about the damnation of the unsaved!

Examples of a good fit between message and music are the quietly meditative, plainsong-derived melodies of Picardy in the contemplative “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” and Divinum Mysterium in “Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” or the sprightly and joyous rhythms of Ariel in “Oh, Could I Speak the Matchless Worth.” A contemporary song with a good fit is Don Francisco’s ballad, “I’ve Got to Tell Somebody.” Michael Card is especially good not only at writing worthwhile texts but also at giving them appropriate settings”.

For many of today’s American churches, Sunday services are a complete train-wreck when these marks of excellence are not recognized. Most do not feel the need to examine the process by which we follow. Tradition trumps scripture and the Holy Spirit is ignored. The result is performance and entertainment, which is idolatry.

Let’s tighten it up people and clean it up.

“Church Order” Deception: Deacons and Elders; Are they Modern Day Pharisees and Sadducees?

Many so-called Christians read accounts of Jesus’ run-ins with the modern day opposition known as the Pharisees and Sadducees…but who were these people? Most of us take a position of disdain towards them because of how Jesus addressed them; but., would you fit into that “Pharisaical” or Sadducee mold today? Judge not…lest you too be judged…let’s take a look.

He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches.

The Pharisees

*The Pharisees (from a Hebrew word meaning separate) were laymen(modern day deacons and elders) popular with the “common” people (the congregation). They were chiefly characterized by adherence to applying the law to daily life (works righteousness). After the (prophetic)ministry of the post-exilic(time after Babylonian captivity) prophets ceased, godly men called Chasidim (where we get the idea to be called saints) arouse and sought to keep alive reverence for the law among the descendants of the Jews who returned from the Babylonian captivity.  This movement degenerated into the Pharisaism of our Lord’s day—a letter-strictness which overlaid the law with traditional interpretations held to have been communicated by the lord to Moses as oral explanation with the Law itself.  The Pharisees were strictly a sect(as defined by Websters: sect: 1. a dissenting religious body, 2. A group adhering to a distinctive doctrine or to a leader). A member was a chaber (meaning “knit together” Jud. 20:11) and was obligated to remain true to the principles of Pharisaism (bka: The “vision or mission” of the said church/non-profit organization, not the body).

They were moral, zealous, and self-denying, but self-righteous and destitute of the sense of sin and need. They lacked grace and were full of pride. They were the foremost persecutors of Jesus Christ and the objects of His unsparing denunciation.

The Sadducee

*These were a Jewish sect (see above definition) that denied the existence of angels or other spirits, and all miracles, especially the resurrection of the body. They were the religious rationalists of the time, and were strongly entrenched in the Sanhedrin and priesthood.  The Sadducees are identified with no affirmative doctrine, but were mere deniers of the supernatural.

Bring it Forward

So …..It is written:

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. (Eccl 1:9)

Since there is nothing new under the sun, we can safely say that modern day Pharisees and Sadducees still exist. If one examines so-called “church order”, you will find both characteristics in most institutions known as “churches” today. This is far from the early examples found in history. Biblical instruction of so-called church order has been twisted to accommodate human desires and; in some cases, a money generating organism. This poison has continued to keep the church impure which is why the Spirit of God continues to be quenched…thus..no maturity, no deliverance, and no Power.

Today’s Pharisaical characteristics mirror traditional masonic and social “secret” organizations. They are encouraged or instructed to limit fellowship with anyone “outside” the sect. When vetted, they are given instructions on social order with a justification that the action is “tradition”. Much of this instruction is prior to becoming “ordained”. Much like Freemasons, frats, and other Gnostic organizations and cults, there is always an order that excludes people.

THIS IDEA CONTRADICTS THE WORD OF GOD!

“And He gave some, apostles, prophets, and some evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry(word origin: douleuo, meaning “to serve as a slave.” unto Christ)”. (Eph. 4:11) The word “Deacon” was not the original Greek translation, similar to the word “church”. Additionally, the word Elder does not denote an office. It simply means…an older person. Where do we get this foolishness!

True ministry is evident when the spiritual gifts are being exercised (1 Corinthians 12:1-31). The servants’ heart, mind, body, and soul is submitted to Elohim. Not to a church leader. Hebrews 13 gives full instruction on what this should look like. If one  chooses to “study to show thyself approved”, he will see that prior to the words “submit to your leaders” , we are instructed and exhorted to use wisdom via these words: “Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith”.

WOW. So…the question is? What kind of faith (spiritual fruit and manner of life you see and in respect the end game) will you follow?

CHRIST IS THE HEAD.  Whats-more, most people that serve in this capacity are not always aware they are participating in the deception. For them, it is more important to follow man; particularly the “bishop”, than to fear God. (John 12:36-43, Prov. 29:25)

Signs that you may be a Modern day Pharisee or Sadducee (not an exhaustive list)

1. Self-righteousness: The Pharisees, thought their own goodness was so impressive that it could not fail to make them acceptable to God. They held rigorously to the ceremonies and traditions of the law, making a public show of their religiosity, all to be seen by other men, many of whom they despised as being beneath them. Today’s Pharisee becomes prideful due adherence to “church” directives and goals. This is not a Spirit-lead ministry of Christ.

*2 Hearty agreement with error and remaining passive when there is wrongdoing: The modern day Pharisee is confused and lacks discernment. Much of this is due to a conflicted conscious. Though he/she understand the Word of God, they are apprehensive about their faith in obedience because they’ve taken a ungodly oath or un-biblical covenant.

3.Showing Partiality and straying away from real relationships: The modern day Pharisee and Saducee shows partiality (favoring one or a group of people over another). Though they give a facade of loving everyone they prefer to fellowship with other laymen or “preferred” members of the church. It is also encouraged that it is suggested by leadership to not allow their children to fellowship with children outside the laity.

*4. Deny the existence of the spiritual world: The modern day Sadducee ignores or does not speak about spiritual things. Unfortunately due to charismatics and demonic influence in the today’s church-culture, most are afraid to speak about it. The Holy Spirit of God is necessary fruit-bearing, deliverance, and understanding of God’s word.

5. Showing a lack of grace: Modern day Pharisees believe that God controls all things, yet they believe decisions made by individuals also contributed to the course of a person’s life. Thus they have an inability to show compassion, and they fail at times to extend grace and mercy. Modern day Pharisees have a tendency to become selfish and fearful. This contradicts the ministry of the Holy Spirit and Faith of the Holy one.

What do we see in Acts? Men and women living day by day in true freedom of love, looking for opportunities to share the Gospel to everyone. We see a community of all social-economic backgrounds, races, and professions doing the work of ministry to each other and for the glory of the Father. We see no one left to oneself during a struggle with deliverance issues and we see a genuine move of God’s Spirit showing in wonders, signs, and miracles…with Power. Selah

*sources: Scofield Reference Bible, Gotquestions.org, EVScrossway, Oxford University Press

“CHURCH” AND “ECCLESIA”…Lost in Translation

The following is an excerpt from http://www.aggressivechristianity.net

Let us make it clear from the very beginning that the established religious system, which manifests itself in the abomination called “church”, is NOT of God. We intend to make it very clear, by studying the Greek words found in the New Testament, that the pattern which God intends His people to follow and live by is the ECCLESIA system, and is RADICALLY different than that which calls itself “church” in our day. As you read this short study the truth will dawn on you that Christians today have been fed a LIE, and that they have been enslaved by the religious systems of men. If you truly love Jesus and desire to follow Him in total obedience then you must seriously consider the facts that follow. We encourage each and every person who names the name of Christ to PRAY, FAST AND SEEK GOD concerning the important differences between how the first Christians lived and how Christians live today.

THE CORRECT MEANING OF “CHURCH”

(The following information is from ACMTC Library and BenWilliamsLibrary.com)
Let’s start by defining the word. “Church” comes from the Old English and German word pronounced “kirche.” In Scotland, it was “kirk.”

The following entries are from the Oxford Universal English Dictionary:

Church [Old English cirice, circe; Middle English chereche, chiriche, chirche; whence churche, cherche, etc.: -Greek Kuriakon…]

Kirk The Northern English and Scottish form of CHURCH, in all its senses.

In the earlier Greek It was pronounced “ku-ri-a-kos” or “ku-ri-a-kon.” As you can see, this word doesn’t even resemble the Greek word “ecclesia” whose place it has usurped. The meaning of “Ku-ri-a-kos” is understood by its root: “Ku- ri-os,” which means “lord.” Thus, “kuriakos” (i.e., “church”) means “pertaining to the lord.” It refers to something that pertains to, or belongs to, a lord. The Greek “kuriakos” eventually came to be used in Old English form as “cirice” (Kee-ree-ke), then “churche” (kerke), and eventually “church” in its traditional pronunciation. A church, then, is correctly something that “pertains to, or belongs to, a lord.”

Now, as you can see, there is a major problem here. The translators broke the rules in a big way. When they inserted the word “church” in the English versions, they were not translating the Greek word “kuriakos”, as one might expect. Rather, they were substituting an entirely different Greek word. This was not honest! The word “church” would have been an acceptable translation for the Greek word “kuriakos.” However, not by the wildest imagination of the most liberal translator can it ever be an acceptable translation for the Greek word “ecclesia.” Are you following this? Consider it carefully. This truth will answer many questions you’ve had about churches, and the kingdom.

“Ecclesia” is an entirely different word with an entirely different meaning than “kuriakos.” In fact, the Greek word “kuriakos” appears in the New Testament only twice. It is found once in I Corinthians 11:20 where it refers to “the Lord’s supper,” and once again in Revelation 1:10 where it refers to “the Lord’s day.” In both of those cases, it is translated “the Lord’s…” – not “church.” This word does not appear again in the New Testament. Nonetheless, this is the unlikely and strange history of the word “church” as it came to the English language. Eventually, through the manipulation of organized religion “church” came to replace “ecclesia” by popular acceptance. Again, we must emphasize the importance of knowing word meanings in order to know the intent of those who wrote the Scriptures.

THE CORRECT MEANING OF “ECCLESIA”

Now, let’s look at the word, “ecclesia”. This Greek word appears in the New Testament approximately 115 times. That’s just in this one grammatical form. It appears also in other forms. And in every instance, except three, it is wrongly translated as “church” in the King James Version. Those three exceptions are found in Acts 19:32, 39, 41. In these instances the translators rendered it “assembly” instead of “church.” But, the Greek word is exactly the same as the other 112 entries where it was changed to “church” wrongly.

In Acts 19, “ecclesia” is a town council: a civil body in Ephesus. Thus, the translators were forced to abandon their fake translation in these three instances. Nonetheless, 112 times they changed it to “church.” This fact has been covered-up under centuries of misuse and ignorance. The Greek word “ecclesia” is correctly defined as: “The called-out (ones)” [ECC = out; KALEO = call]. Thus, you can see how this word was used to indicate a civil body of select (called, elected) people.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica:

In the New Testament, “ecclesia” (signifying convocation) is the only single word used for church. It (ecclesia) was the name given to the governmental assembly of the city of Athens, duly convoked (called out) by proper officers and possessing all political power including even juridical functions.

Obviously, in Greece an ecclesia had no resemblance to a church. An “ecclesia” was a civil assembly in Athens even before the writing of the New Testament. In the Oxford Universal English Dictionary (considered the standard for the English language) the word “ecclesia” is listed in its English form as used by our English forefathers. (Nowadays, only forms of the word appear – like, “ecclesiastical”).

Quoting from the Oxford Universal English Dictionary on the word “ecclesia”:

Ecclesia [mediaeval Latin, and Greek – from : SUMMONED] -A regularly convoked assembly, especially the general assembly of Athenians. Later, the regular word for church.

Thus, two of the most prestigious word resources in the English language confirm the fact that an “ecclesia” was originally a select civil body, summoned or convoked for a particular purpose. What, then, did the writers of the New Testament mean when they used the word “ecclesia” to describe a Christian body of people? We can assume that they intended to convey the original Greek meaning of the word: a body of Christians called out of the Roman and Judean system to come together into a separate civil community. It meant a politically autonomous body of Christians under no king but Jesus; under no other jurisdiction but that of Jesus. No man ruled them! Only Christ. And that was the reason these same Christians ran into trouble with kings and rulers; were arrested, crucified and martyred. They dropped Caesar as their King and took up Christ.

In Acts 17, verses 1-6 we see that Paul and Silas had a reputation that preceded them. They were “turning the world (system) upside down.” What was their inflaming message? Were they telling the people to find a minister and support him; go to church every weekend; be nice to their neighbors? Could this have been the message that set the city fathers against them? Or maybe they were asking people to send their tithes to them so they could build a nice church or develop a Christian recreation center? No? What then? What were these guys doing that was “turning the world system upside down”? The answer is found in verse 7:

“Whom Jason hath received (into his house): and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.”

Now is that clear? Do you see what they were doing? They were announcing ANOTHER KING! Not Caesar! This was a king who was bigger than Caesar. They were forming civil bodies that no longer looked to Caesar as their king. They were forming civil outposts for Christ’s conquering army! They were at war!

Paul and Silas weren’t “church builders” like preachers today claim. They weren’t proselytizing people from one church or synagogue to another. They were kingdom builders! They were dethroning rulers in the minds of the people and alienating them from the mental hold Caesar had upon them through heathenistic (central) government. They were teaching the principles of Christian government. They were putting forth the call of God to whomever would hear and obey, and those whose hearts responded to the call became citizens of Christ’s kingdom and joined themselves to the ecclesia, or community of believers.

CHURCH AND STATE DESTROY LIBERTY

The Oxford Dictionary also has an interesting entry under “congregation”:

…used by Tyndale* as a translation of ‘ecclesia’ in the New Testament, and by the sixteenth century reformers instead of “church.” (*William Tyndale was the fifteenth century reformer and Bible translator murdered by the church)

Tyndale was willing to die for God’s word and truth. He didn’t like the word “church.” Instead, he used the word “congregation.” Now that tells us something! Godly Tyndale, and other sixteenth-century reformers who were more reputable, did not like the word “church.” They used other words like “congregation,” “governmental assembly,” etc.

When you consider the fact that an “ecclesia” was “a civil body politic”, this is strong proof that the Christian ecclesias we read about in the New Testament were independent civil bodies of Christians -independent from worldly kings and governors, ruled by the Theocratic government of God’s Spirit. They wanted freedom to serve King Jesus. They weren’t building and attending churches! Please understand! The pattern laid down in the New Testament bears no resemblence to what we know today as “church”. God’s people are meant to live by the ecclesia pattern -together in communities, holding all things common, under the government of God through His anointed leaders. Quit saying “church” when it is supposed to be “ecclesia”! It’s an important step in retrieving your brain from the trap of religious confusion.

CHRISTIAN CIVIL BODY

Independent self-government under Christ! That is what the ecclesia represents – not a religious organization for meeting on weekends. The Bible does not indicate that churches would eventually take the place of ecclesias. The change of words was not sanctioned by Scripture. There is NO Scriptural authority for Christians to build churches, attend churches, or support churches! Churches are ungodly organizations designed for and by the heathen.

We should be forming and defending ecclesias instead of the disgusting churches with their con games, entertainment, cultic mystery, childishness, and heathenistic worldly nonsense. We once used the word “church” to describe ourselves, but no more thank God. We’re doing our best to break that image. It’s a slow process, but we’re putting the old church ways behind us.

THE IDOLATRY MUST STOP

If you profess to follow Christ, then it’s time you quit voluntarily feeding the anti-Christ beast. Men who want to sincerely follow Christ must wean themselves from worldly governments and churches. It is the height of absurdity for a Christian to attend and support the very institutions which are destroying his relationship with God. Those who voluntarily support man-made religious church systems, by believing and teaching that they are good in any way, or that they help us, or that we need them, are still living in a dream world of deception. The ecclesia system, with it’s Theocratic government and individual responsibility, is capable of freeing us from the bodage of religion. True peace and liberty cannot be found outside of Christ. Christ’s system is the ecclesia system. Freedom awaits all those who will break away from the religious slavery of church and become a humble bondslave of Jesus Christ. We must stop idolizing men in their religious hypocrisy and let Christ once and for all be our King!

So, there is really no other choice for those who would truly follow the pattern laid down for us in God’s Word. We must do the same thing the apostles did. We must form ourselves into actual communities under the guidance of God’s anointed and appointed leaders, called out and separated from the world, with none other than Jesus Christ as our ruler and King. In other words, ECCLESIAS!