“[The purpose is] that through the church the complicated, many-sided wisdom of God in all its infinite variety and innumerable aspects might now be made known to the angelic rulers and authorities (principalities and powers) in the heavenly sphere.”
(Eph. 3:10 AMP).
Depending on your affiliation with the church, some literally see the fruitful fulfilment of this key verse in Eph 3:10, while others are looking on in hope like spectators in an oceanarium to a distinct reality somewhere on the other side. As a matter of fact, the enmity between the true (born of the Spirit) and the false (born of the flesh) has been continuing from the beginning. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. (Gal 4:29)
The church can be one of the most marvellous and glorious examples of human togetherness and harmony. Literally Heaven on Earth. But unfortunately for too many people, the idea of the church brings painful memories of judgement, betrayal, corruption, moral failure of leaders, spiritual abuse and hypocrisy!
The ultimate challenge then is: One cannot be part of the Head – Christ without being part of His Body. One cannot point a finger, criticize, mock or despair over the church from a distance. There is but one body! (Eph 4:4) You either part or you are not!
A New Axiom – Christological Revelation
With these words “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19) Jesus declared the end of man-centred religion and the inception of a new movement of people who follow after the way of Christ. What exactly did Jesus intend to raise up in only three days, that is meant to supersede all the religious activity centred around the temple?
Some part of the answer we find in Mat 16:15-20, where Jesus asked His disciples “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Many interpret this scripture as to mean that Peter is the rock on which the new Jesus movement would be built. History is not kind to Peter, and particularly his compromise to play it safe with the circumcised Jews. Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. (Gal 2:11-16)
I suggest that the rock Jesus is referring to is the God-given gift of revelation of who Christ really is. This revelation of Jesus’ true identity is the focal and essential starting point of salvation in Christ alone.
The Samaritan Women “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.” (John 4:19)
The sinner on the cross “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42)
John entering the grave “he saw and believed” (John 20:8)
Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
The disciples travelling to Emmaus “Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him” (Luke 24:31) Paul: And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” (Acts 9:5-6)
All these examples and all forthcoming followers of Christ would have a personal revelation of Him being their Messiah, Saviour, Redeemer, Healer and become part of His family – the Church!
Membership to this movement, this supernatural agency of God, is no longer your cultural-religious traditions, or name written on the records of an institutional organisation called some or the other this or that church. One needs to be born again into this spiritual family. (John 3:3-5; 1 Pet 1:23)
Jesus Starts a Movement – Not a Formal Structure
The Followers Of “The Way”
The first name of this movement was: Those of the Way (Acts 9: 2; 24:14, 22). It implies a recognizable, differentiation in lifestyle. In modern terms, we would talk about people following a particular method of dieting like the banters or vegans. Today, churches are identified by their church building, type of music, doctrines and denominational determination of beliefs. Perhaps the church would have gained more traction among people if the distinction had merely been our Christ-centered lifestyle. But what made their particular lifestyle different? What made the early cultural diverse first believers stand out?
The number of Christians grew particularly rapidly in the first centuries. “And it came to pass after two years, that all the inhabitants of Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.” (Acts 19:10). The main reasons for this growth according to Dreyer’s historical perspective on the early church were the first-hand reliable testimonies of people who encountered Christ in a personal way, supernatural charismata of the gifts, the mission-driven focus and willingness to make sacrifices (even to be tortured). Footnote Dreyer, W., 2011. Praktiese ekklesiologie en bedieningspraktyk met verwysing na die Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk van Afrika (Afrikaans).
Internalised Christ-centred Value system
The value system of the Christian faith that Jesus taught His disciples was not preserved in scripture but lived out. Values such as mercy, mutual support, self-control, respect for life and practical love that shares have convinced many people that the Christian faith is valuable. One of the hallmarks of the early Christians was their respect for life as a gift from God. They did not participate in practices such as child murder, abortion or the sale of children to slave traders. In the first centuries after Christ, it was common practice to throw unwanted children out of town so that wild animal would eat them. In the Germanic world, the story of Hansie and Grietjie who were left in the woods because their parents could no longer take care of them is well known.
Their values were:
- Do good to each other.
- Avoid evil such as theft, fraud and jealousy.
- Show hospitality to strangers.
- Take care of each other and share food and belongings with each other.
- Show mercy to all people.
- Care for the carers and nursing of the sick.
- Households testify to dignity, responsibility, sense of duty, honor and obedience.
- Ethnic diversity is accepted.
- Women, children and slaves are treated with respect.
- Respect for life prevents abortion and infanticide.
- Martyrdom and the willingness to “take up your cross”.
Jesus introduced two novel Greek terms to discribe this new movement.
The Greek word apostle appears 81 times in the NT. The word does not appear in the OT, because the word did not yet exist then. This means ambassador, agent, envoy, messenger sent, on a mission, service, business, assignment or judicial, bearer of a commission
The second new word and concept He uses is the word ekklesia: “an assembly of called out ones.”
In the NT the word ekklesia in Hand. 19:32 and 40 used to describe the rioting crowd.
In the OT the people are referred to as:
- the meeting (1 Chron. 29:20)
- congregation of God (Neh. 13: 1)
- “… was there in the assembly of the people of God.” (Judg. 20: 2)
- “They must testify of His greatness in the people’s assembly.” (Ps. 107: 32)
- “… the assembly of His faithful servants.” (Ps. 149: 1). 
An Assembly / On a Mission
It is very instructive that Jesus’ description and designation of this new movement and revolution is merely an assembly / or gathering of people: “…when you come together as a church….” (1 Cor. 11:18); “How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification..” (1 Cor. 14:26).
- Gatherings in a given area such as Galatia (1 Cor. 16: 1).
- The churches of Christ in Judea (Gal. 1:22).
- “He traveled through Syria and Cilicia and strengthened the congregations spiritually.” (Acts 15:41).
Perhaps we will have less division amongst churches if we see different churches simply as different gatherings around the world, with one vision and mandate – to live and become Christ. 
- Ritual as “remembering” – i.e., the way in which ritual reminds both individuals and social groups about their heritage and past.
- Ritual as “social bonding” – i.e., the way in which ritual functions to bond persons together, increase levels of social cohesion and strengthen group solidarity
- Ritual as “regulating moral beha viour” – i.e., the way in which ritual regulates the behaviour of societal members and in the process maintains moral order
- Ritual as “socialization and changes in social statutes” – i.e., the way in which ritual enables the transition of an individual from one status to another (for example, marriage)
- Ritual as “psychological development” – i.e., the way in which ritual facilitates a sense of psychological wellbeing amongst individuals and groups
- Ritual as “bonding to nature”110 – i.e. the way in which ritual integrates people with nature
- Ritual as “empowerment” – i.e., the way in which ritual assists individuals and whole groups in feeling stronger, less disaffected and more ready to serve others
Footnote Swenson, Donald. Society, Spirituality, and the Sacred: A Social Scientific Introduction. Peterborough, Ont.; New York, ny: … Continue reading
Another Word For Church
Unfortunately, since the first tabernacle, the enemy has been trying to lead the followers of God to a static building and an impersonal human-oriented institution through religious practice.
“Thus says the Lord: “Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,” Says the Lord.“But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.“He who kills a bull is as if he slays a man; He who sacrifices a lamb, as if he breaks a dog’s neck; He who offers a grain offering, as if he offers swine’s blood; He who burns incense, as if he blesses an idol. Just as they have chosen their own ways, And their soul delights in their abominations,” (Is. 66:1-3).
The Problem With Bad Translations
“Thomas More’s criticism of Tyndale boils down mainly to the way Tyndale translated five words. He translated presbuterosas elder instead of priest. He translated ekklesiaas congregation instead of church. He translated metanoeoas repent instead of do penance. He translated exomologeoas acknowledge or admit instead of confess. And he translated agapeas love rather than charity”.  This is another example of how religion, the beast from the Sea persecute the church or water down the power of the truth.
Tyndale, like Jesus and the first followers, would eventually pay with his life when he was sentenced to death as a heretic. Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and Knox were the successors of this Reformation to return to the truth. It may then be necessary that today, in order to avoid confusion, we no longer use the word ‘church’ when we speak of the true body and community of believers:
Church presupposes the institutional, formal church. The problem, however, is that there are true believers in every formal church. That is, we can not throw the baby out with the bathwater. We have the same struggle that the early apostles had. Hence Paul’s writings, one after another, to abide in Christ (Gal. 4:19, Col. 1: 28-29; 2 Cor. 11: 2; 1 Cor. 2: 2; 2 Pet. 1: 8; Eph. 4:13). Sola Semter Reformata – the church should continue to reform to the Image of Christ. This is a never-ending focus, and premise to keep the church Christ-centred! Every church, congregation, organization, ministry, action and movement of the body of Christ is from the Head, Christ (Eph. 1: 22-23).
The church of the first century was:
- An organic unit – a living, breathing organism that has expressed itself very differently from the institutional church of today.
- An expression that Jesus Christ made known on this planet through the way each member of His Body functions. 
- Radically different from formal religion
- The growth was organic, centered around the belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ (John 2:22; Luke 24: 33-35; John 20: 8,18,26-28; Acts 2:32; 3 : 15; 4:33; Phil. 3:10; 1 Cor. 2: 2).
- The first church met in people’s homes, not in a church building or temple (Acts 20:20; Rom. 16: 3, 5; 1 Cor. 16:19).
- The growth network was relationship-centered. You were received because a celebrity recommended you. (See eg Philemon.)
- They enjoyed communion as a meal together (1 Cor. 11: 21-34). Communion proverbially reconciles the bread of the poor, and the wine for the rich in one meal, of fellowship, connectedness, and caring.
- All participated in assemblies (1 Cor. 14:26; Heb. 10: 24-25).
- Each one worked together according to their spiritual gifts and ministry (1 Cor. 12-14).
- They saw themselves as a family and relatives (Gal. 6:10; 1 Tim. 5: 1-2; Rom. 12: 5; Eph. 4:15; Rom. 12:13; 1 Cor. 12: 25-26; 2 Cor. 8: 12-15).
- Leadership was polarized and diverse (Acts 20:17, 28-29; 1 Tim. 1: 5-7).
- Traveling apostles and prophets ministered and strengthened congregations (Acts 13-21; all the apostolic letters).
- They functioned as one unit in one place (Acts 8: 1, 13: 1, 18:22; Rom. 16: 1; 1 Thess. 1: 1).
- They did not use titles and designations for positions of appointment and authority, merely as functions of their roles. Unlike the other religions of that time, where priests wore their own identifiable attire. The apostle and leaders of the Jesus movement mostly had to move in secret a.g.v. prosecution and could not make this distinction. (Matt. 23: 8-12).
- Leadership was not according to a hierarchical pyramid scheme (Matt. 20: 25-28; Luke 22: 25-26).
The Body of Jesus
One of God’s primary provisions to us, besides the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, is the Body of Christ. For God to become human, He needed a body (Heb. 10: 5). The omnipresent, almighty and omniscient God comes to dwell in a human body! It’s His first great act of love to us! His incarnation! (Heb. 4: 14-15.)
He needed a body to do good to mankind, to heal the sick, to defeat the power of evil, and to care for the orphan, the widow, and the poor.
Jesus becomes flesh today through His church. The church is His Body. The fullness of God is revealed in His Body (Eph. 4: 11-16; Eph. 5:30; Eph. 2: 19-22; 1 Cor. 12:12).
We also need a body to do God’s will. We can not bring the Kingdom of God to earth as it is in heaven without a body. “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (Eph. 4: 11-16 NLT).
“… And we are members of his body..” (Eph. 5:30, NLT).
“So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.” (Eph. 2:19-22, NLT).
“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.” (1 Cor. 12:12, NLT).
How is the Church Built?
God’s structure of growth is family. When the church loses the character of a family, we lose the value and power of His Kingdom. God explains His Kingdom to us in terms of family, fathers, young people and children (1 John 2: 12-14).
In the same way, the body is connected as a family. On the contrary, the congregation to which you belong becomes your true family! Many of us who are converted no longer feel so at home and comfortable around our blood family because our heart has changed in essence. Even Jesus called His spiritual friends and disciples His true family to His own mother and brothers (Matt. 12: 46-50).
• you have to get involved in people’s lives. There is a wonderful dynamic that begins to apply when people who serve the Lord become involved in each other’s lives.
You must be willing to:
- get behind the masks
- learn to love one another without pretense.
- exposing yourself, exposing yourself and opening yourself up.
- to see Christ in one another and it addresses us many times more than a sermon could ever do.
- recognize each other.
- passing several, complex and “non-positive” tests for the relationship to grow. It is sometimes precisely in these negative aspects of relationships that we can grow the most. Many people do not see the chance and run away before turning the negative into a positive.
Agents who help us through “negative” processes to gain wisdom:
- Confrontation and transparency
- Authenticity and honesty
There is Only One Body
“For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.” (Eph. 4:4).
The glory of God is already locked up in His Body.
We can only live in the fullness of this glory when we see the Christ in one another and unlock the gifts in one another. Just as Jesus was born in a body that had to grow before the time for His ministry, so the church is in the process of preparing for the final hour of her glory! Just as people did not want to acknowledge or accept Him and eventually crucify Him, the church will attain its greatest glory in its darkest hour. May God open your eyes like Peter’s to see salvation in His church!
The one-body truth also means that the people known to you in your local part of the Body are not the only Body. A large part of Jesus’ Body is unknown to you, but still an essential part of you and can be reciprocal to blessing on a particular day. Although one must engage and be part of a particular part of the body, such as a tibia connected to the femur by the knee, there are other functions in the body that we do not even know about. Yet the bone receives life and provision throughout the body.
The Body as The Temple of the Holy Spirit
There are three verses in the NT that declare that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. When one reads these passages in context, Paul speaks to a different audience each time:
• In 1 Corinthians 3:16 he talks to the Corinthian church about sectarianism and division, in other words, the church in the place in question.
• In 1 Corinthians 6:19 he speaks to the prostitute.
• In 2 Corinthians 6:16 he speaks to the church of the Corinthians, but he is actually talking to the universal church: They must refrain from idolatry and must be holy.
The United Rule of the Body
At the Feast of Tabernacles, the priest raises ŉetrog (citrus fruit) in his hand and points it out in the four directions, heaven and earth, and declares the rule of God over all. ŉ Etrog is a unique fruit because it is a cell inside a cell, inside a cell. The Jews explain that the Etrog is a symbol of the church – Jew and Gentile are united in a new entity.
Church is therefore you as an individual. But you are part of a body in your area or town and together our church is in the universal Body. When we miss the one, there is no more unity. A church where people are members without being truly born again leads to a sacralist system. ŉ Congregation that isolates itself from the larger Body of Christ is in danger of becoming sectarian. ŉ Individual who isolates himself or herself from a local body without protection and safety. Every believer must submit to himself / herself and be part of a Body that is not perfect, because in the process we grow spiritually. To isolate yourself for whatever reason is a form of pride and superiority, and a search for self-gain (Prov. 18: 1). Growth occurs when we work through our differences and constantly choose to stay together.
The Holy Spirit Is The Breath Of His Body
The origin of Jesus’ Body took place on the day of Pentecost when God blew through His Spirit – this time not into one man, Adam – but collectively into His body, bride, priesthood, nation, people, representatives.
The Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost as most Christian churches call it, is the second most important feast on the Jewish calendar:
• The feast commemorates the time when Moses received the Law on Mount Sinai. It fell on the fiftieth day, seven full weeks after the sickle was first cut into the uncut grain (Deut. 16: 9). The number 50 is calculated as the number of days it took to move from the deliverance from Egypt to Sinai (Ex. 19: 1), where they received the law.
• They calculated this day from the second day of Easter. The name Pentecost comes from the Greek word hè pentekostè = the fiftieth. The feast is instituted by the Lord and the precepts of the feast are passed on to Moses (Lev. 23: 15-21). This feast was fulfilled on the fiftieth day, after the resurrection when the Holy Spirit was poured out on those who were waiting in the upper room for the fulfillment of the promise (Compare Acts 1: 5,8 and Matt. 3:11).
• It is on this day that the Holy Spirit fulfills the new covenant and the law is now written on our hearts (Jer. 31: 31-34).
Similarities between Sinai and Pentecost:
Wind and Fire:Ex. 19:16-18: “On the morning of the third day, thunder roared and lightning flashed, and a dense cloud came down on the mountain. There was a long, loud blast from a ram’s horn, and all the people trembled. Moses led them out from the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. All of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord had descended on it in the form of fire. The smoke billowed into the sky like smoke from a brick kiln, and the whole mountain shook violently.”
Acts 2:2: “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
3000 people: In Ex. 32:28 3,000 men are killed as punishment for their fear, unbelief and the making of a false god.
After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, 3,000 people are converted!
Physical and Spiritual Temple: During Moses’ time at Sinai, instructions were given to build a tent of meeting. Later the people are called to offer voluntary sacrifices for the erection of a sanctuary (Ex. 25: 1). “And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” (Ex. 25: 8).
After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we as believers are referred to as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Cor. 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; 1 Cor. 6:19). The church of Jesus Christ becomes the building and temple of God, built with living stones (Eph. 2:21).
Two Breads: The custom of waving two loaves before the Lord in the OT is very interesting. Especially when you consider that no sacrifice to the Lord may have contained leaven (Lev. 2:11). But in this case, the two loaves are baked from the produce of the harvest, with leaven, and waved before the Lord. The Jews see the two loaves as the Jews and the Gentiles.
This is a mystery that is only later explained by Paul that God through Christ removed the middle wall between Jew and Gentile. (Eph. 2: 11-22). Remember, when the Jews fled from Egypt, there were those of mixed blood who came out together (Ex. 12:37, 38). In other words, all who heard the word and had blood on their doorposts in faith and obedience were spared.
God’s heart is that all nations will be saved (Ps. 72:11; Matt. 28:19; Rev. 22: 2). But Gentiles as well as Jews have an inherent heart problem with sin. Both are trapped in the power of sin and cannot liberate themselves. On the day of Pentecost, every nation under heaven hears the disciples testify in their own language about the miracles of God!
Separation Removed: The author of Hebrews sheds even more light on the fulfillment of the feast and how God placed His true intention of what was to happen at Sinai in Acts. 2 on Pentecost. Unlike the Israelites who came to Mount Sinai when God gave them His Law, they did not arrive at a physical mountain with burning fire, thunderclouds, darkness, stormy wind, trumpet blasts and a speaking voice. At Sinai, those who heard it begged God not to speak to them. God’s command that even an animal that touched the mountain with its paw should be put to death, caused them to stumble. Yes, so frightening was the sight of everything that Moses exclaimed, “I am absolutely terrified, I tremble with fear!” (Heb. 12: 18-21). God wanted to reveal Himself personally to a group of people, His people, His elect, but man could not stand or handle the glory. In fear and disobedience they will make an idol for themselves.
On the day of Pentecost, the Lord pours out His Spirit in us, and the culmination of hundreds of years of promise and divine expectation occurs when man sees and experiences God face to face. This is the climax and true meaning of what happens during the filling with the Holy Spirit. The first encounter of the first followers with the living God is the birthplace of the movement that will change the world. “For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. (For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.” And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”) But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.” (Heb. 12: 18-24).
The Glory of Complicated Diversity
Everyone has a different ministry, focus and right to exist, but all for the sake of the Body. The eye exists to be able to see for the sake of the body. It is precisely this difference that cultivates the most growth in us.
The person you sometimes like the least is the tool God uses to change you the most. Sometimes the eye wants to judge the body because they do not see, but they most likely have a different function. Let everyone fulfill their function without murmur. We sometimes feel, “Only I make sacrifices!” Rather, do not make comparisons, but serve the Lord (John 21:22). There is no way you can separate and distance yourself from the Body. Only sin and someone who sows division and deviates from sound doctrine can be avoided.
No cell in the body can exist outside the body. We need each other. Please read this beautiful article, a summary of one of the chapters in Macolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, about the Rosetta effect that deals with a small Italian community in New York: http://yocuzlawyers.com/2011/06 / the-roseto-effect-the-valley-of-the-roses /
God has decided to reveal to them how blessed and glorious this mystery is to the nations. Its content is: “Christ is in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27, NW).
The word “you” is a collective pronoun and can be translated as “Christ among you and in you”. Christ is in you but there will never again be a Christ manifested in His fullness in one person. Christ’s fullness can only be glorified by a body of people. The church is His Body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Eph. 1:23).
As the new wine is found in the cluster, And one says, “Do not destroy it, For a blessing is in it.” (Isa. 65: 8).
The Glory’s Evident in the New Covenant
Unity is the New Covenant and proves that God’s glory fills the temple. The awareness and revelation of the Holy Spirit in group context.
History is made when the right people come together and make a decision. All movements and revolutions originated at a gathering of people who maintain and pursue the same sentiments and values. Community is therefore not one kind of gathering. It’s every time we get together.
God’s glory is revealed either in you as an individual (the temple of the Holy Spirit) or in the gathering of believers. God’s glory rests on the gathering, not the institution of church. God blesses a body of believers because together they do His will on earth. But the church as an organization is merely a name to identify a collection of believers. You receive no benefit if you are only part of a church in name and never attend any activities. The word ekklesia can best be translated as “congregation” or gathering.
“not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb. 10:25).
v.16: “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them”
v. 19-20: “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,” (Matt. 18:16, 20)
God’s Power Evident in Unity
Our unity as a church is important! “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me..” (John 17:21).
You cannot have unity with God without being in unity with His Body. Unity and connection with each other is unity with God. The operation is reciprocal and absolute! (1 John 4:20).
It is extremely important for God’s Spirit to work in the gathering so that we are in unity with one another. The power of the Church of Acts was in their unity.
” These all continued with one [a]accord in prayer…” (Acts 1:14).
“They were all together in one place.” (Acts 2: 1).
They all faithfully gathered at the temple every day and held the communal meal from house to house. (Acts 2:46).
And all the faithful assembled together at the going up of Solomon’s pillar. (Acts 5:12).
The multitude obeyed the words of Philip. (Acts 8: 6).
When they heard this, they all prayed to God together, saying… Acts 4:24.
The great number who became believers were one of heart and soul. (Acts 4:32).
Therefore, we have unanimously decided to select men and send them to you. (Acts 15:25).
God’s Plan His Body
God’s eternal plan “but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Tim. 3:15).
The church is therefore the foundation of the Truth that is Christ. Just as the temple in the OT was central to the life of the Israelites, so the church is central to our lives. The full course of our lives, from infancy, education, work, marriage, having children, raising them, to our old age is intertwined in the church.
We cannot have Jesus as Head without accepting His Body.
When Paul persecuted the church, Jesus said, “I am Jesus whom you persecute.” (Acts 9: 5).
You cannot have the headship of Christ without His Body. “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Eph. 1: 22-23).
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” (Eph. 5:25; Acts 20:28).
The Eternal Church
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect” (Heb. 12: 22-23).
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” (1 Pet. 2: 9).
The Benefits of Each Level’s Participation:
“Without wise leadership, a nation falls;there is safety in having many advisers. ” (Prov. 11:14, NLT). There is so much protection to make decisions within a body because one can so easily deceive one’s own heart (Jer. 19: 9).
2. Stronger Together:
Our battle against the authorities (“principalities”) in a certain area can never take place as individuals, but only through a body of believers (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 3:10). It is an age-old principle that five hundred enemies will flee, but one hundred men will flee ten thousand (Lev. 26: 8). The Accurate Church, like any other organization, needs a critical mass of people to truly make a difference in an environment. Note that we are not talking here about congregations that draw a thousand people as crowds but only a hundred members are collaborators. An accurate church, where each member understands and lives out his role and ministry, is a powerful weapon in God’s hand.
Caring for people in the NT is not the job of the pastor alone. … “but that the members should have equal care for one another” (1 Cor. 12:25), “… from whom the whole Body promotes the growth of the Body for its own building up in love.” (Eph. 4:16).
This Body is well put together and connected by the support that each member gives according to the operation of each individual part. It is in this church where there was no shortage.
Why? Because everyone shared everything they owned with others. Refraining from being part of a local body weakens the church’s ability to be truly effective in this endeavor.
It also involves the aspect of your contributions to the church. Promoting God’s work and Kingdom on a global scale costs money. Most churches experience that only 20% of the members pay their tithes. Once again, it weakens the church’s ability to give effectively, serve and help!
If everyone just decides not to be part of a local body and does their own thing, we will end up damaging our own ranks. Everyone’s involvement, even your differences with a certain church, is necessary for growth.
A special “impartation” occurs when a service is driven by the Holy Spirit. It can be obtained in no other way than to be there. “For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord.” (Rom 1:11, NLT). This is especially true when we experience services as Paul does in 1 Cor. 14:26 prescribes to the church: “When you come together then everyone has…” One can obtain the participation of acertain gifted preacher through DVD, but not the participation of a Body.
5. Grace Gifts
In every home there is a certain inherent empowerment and security as well as a special gift of grace that God gives to a specific congregation that cannot be obtained without being part of the family. You can visit services, but the grace and divine ability come through being part of the specific family. We have seen so many times how certain people experience a degree of protection in the home, and when one day they leave home and cut themselves off, everything falls apart and falls apart in their lives. Being part of a dynamic congregation also gives each individual purpose. You feel you not only exist, you are part of a plan and the execution of that plan and vision!
6. Growth through Discipline
The fastest growth period in my life came through correction. I received guidance. “I have been discipled.” So many believers are converted and live only on their own where they can choose the sermons and input they want to listen to from TBN, but are never led by a spiritual father or mother and are personally taught the truth. This is a great shortcoming in the church and also one of the reasons why so many Christians sit in a church for years and still do not reach maturity.
Again: God’s model is family and families. After all, that’s also how nature works. All are grouped into families and function within a specific family. We have many instructors in the Spirit but not many fathers (1 Cor. 4:15). The result is that we have a lot of head knowledge that has not yet become part of our value system and way of life. Because a dad walks with you a path, he teaches and corrects you all the time! The most important thing, however, is that a dad SHOWS you how! Mentorship and empowerment.
7. Confront Evil
Only satan wins if people do not want to be part of a congregation. There is no such thing as a perfect church. Each congregation functions as a family involved and you feel inherently part of it or not. That is why it is important that you find a congregation where you feel involved, are comfortable and know that you will be able to make a contribution. Get a home! That is why there are so many churches, all with different focus and mandate. Hear from God where He has sent you. Where has God added you, because one does not just become part of a congregation and “join” church (Acts 2:47; 5:14; 11:24).
“Unfriendly people care only about themselves; they lash out at common sense.” (Prov. 18:1, NLT).
The church cannot confront the culture of the day without the influence and momentum of joint and focused action. It is the collective number of true believers who truly live every day like Jesus that changes a community / town / city. This is our greatest weapon, and also the reason why satan is trying so hard to bring the church into disrepute.
8. Submission Brings Authority
Even Jesus was under authority, and so we must put ourselves under authority (Eph. 5:21). Why the encouragement to leaders to look after the people among them nicely and with dignity when no one wants to be led anymore? We must respect them (1 Thess. 5: 12-13), and honor (1 Tim. 5:17), and be obedient and submissive to them (Heb. 13:17). The zeitgeist (particular mood or spirit of our time) focuses on the self: we live to feel good and do not want to be predicted. Even Jesus was obedient to earthly parents until the age of 30. Good leaders will not rule over their people (1 Pet. 5: 3). Jesus was also an example to leaders in this.
9. Self-Denial For the Whole
Belonging to a congregation and getting involved requires that you renounce yourself. Self-denial is not easy or comfortable, it costs you your life, your everything. We are afraid of this type of commitment. We know the price. The truth is, however, that the resurrection after death far exceeds the price and sacrifice. The joy and satisfaction of being part, being cared for, loving and caring far outweighs the sacrifice.
The dynamics of community essentially have an unwritten rule: What you put in is what you get out of it. If you give love, care, help carry burdens, focus on others, serve, help and support, you will never be short of what you have given away. Your investment is made in a perpetual bank account. And if you are in need and need to make withdrawals, you will find there are plenty. One can not take advantage of watching a TV preacher’s services on Sunday. You have to be involved somewhere.
Growth does not happen in gathering information or inspiration, it is the execution, practice and perfection that make you grow.
The Price of Togetherness
- This new movement did not have it easy:
- Persecution: (Acts 8: 1; 11:19; 20:23; Rom. 8:35; 2 Cor. 12:10),
- False teachings: (Phil. 3: 2; 1 Tim. 1: 15-16; 2 Tim. 2: 2),
- Factions: (1 Cor. 11:19),
- Apostasy: (1 Tim. 4: 1),
- Competition: (Phil. 1: 16-18),
- Sanctification: (1 Cor. 5).Tog was hierdie beweging aantreklik, en dit het gegroei en in ’n baie kort tydjie die hele bekende wêreld volgelinge van Jesus gemaak.
The End of Religion
However, the church as an institution cannot say the same. Countries that were once Christian are today secular or worship other gods. In the name of religion, people were persecuted, sentenced to death, and wars of strife and discord were fought for centuries.
Which of the first churches, Ephesus, Galatia, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Constantinople, Antioch, Rome, are still today Jesus Christ-centered, missionary, spirit-filled communities? As the movement became institutionalized, it became human-driven and human-centered. Not to mention Tertullian’s work in North Africa, Philip of Serene in Carthage, which today completely replaces Islam
As already mentioned: “For the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the children of God” (Rom. 8:19). “ For [even the whole] creation (all nature) waits expectantly and longs earnestly for God’s sons to be made known [waits for the revealing, the disclosing of their sonship].“ (Amp.) There is a hungry world out there, longing for truth, guidance and solutions.
It is given to us as the church / body of Jesus Christ to show Jesus to them through our words, lives and example. It’s even more than that: it’s our duty and responsibility, because Jesus has already done and given everything to make it possible! All it asks of us is that we go through die geloof, Sy voorbeeld sal volg in alles wat ons doen en sê. Lééf Sy lewe!
 Stark, R., 2007, Discovering God: The origins of great religions and the evolution of belief, Harper Collins, New York. Bl 161-162 Barna, G., 2005, The state of the church, The Barna Group, Ventura, CA. Bl 246-250 Hirsch, A., 2006, The forgotten ways: Reactivating the missional church, Brazos, Grand Rapids, MI. Bl 18-22
 Everett Ferguson the church of Christ a biblical ecclesiology for today Bl 129 – 134
|↑1||Footnote Dreyer, W., 2011. Praktiese ekklesiologie en bedieningspraktyk met verwysing na die Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk van Afrika (Afrikaans).|
|↑2||Footnote Swenson, Donald. Society, Spirituality, and the Sacred: A Social Scientific Introduction. Peterborough, Ont.; New York, ny: Broadview Press, 1999 Sacred , 188 – 190|