In Part 1 of this series the statement was made:
“Jesus is building something upon Himself as the foundation. He is building ONE BODY, though found throughout specific geographical regions. In whatever manner my building attempts to divide HIS ONE BODY, I can be sure I am out of sync with what Jesus is building”
The first two lines above are obviously proven through scripture. The third is mere common sense based upon the scriptural facts. If as an individual I want to participate in what Jesus is building, than I have no option other than to accept this. I may still be used by Him if I refuse to acknowledge the facts, nonetheless; my usefulness will be limited in scope and I will actually hinder my own spiritual progress as well as those who’s lives I intersect.
What I am about to share might be the most important thing that has ever proceeded from my heart and life. Although the seeds of these truths have been planted many years ago, a very present circumstance has brought me face to face with them once again and so I have been forced to “take a stand” in these matters. Although this has and continues to be difficult, I have an ongoing assurance that my actions derive in heaven and that if I am ever to know Jesus in His fullness I must never turn back despite what this may cost me. In other words, I must obey the leading of the Holy Spirit if I am ever to reap the blessings of the corporate expression of the one body in my life.
Many of you know that I participate in video-conferencing with several other believers around the world. At first I only saw these times as an additional avenue of fellowship and never really equated this online fellowship as anything more. One of the brothers kept telling me there was no less value in these times than any other fellowship group or local ekklesia. The reason I couldn’t see what he was saying is simple- I saw myself or “my group” or “your group” or “this group of believers” as separate from one another when in fact they are joined in perfect unison by none other than our Lord Himself. Yes, even the man who has been talking about the one body still lacked the deeper insight of this simple truth.
Since I “saw” and accepted this, my desire for this group and its participants grew intensely. I knew with absolute certainty that our Father had brought together these varied participants to be a part of something, though at first I could only speculate as to why and hesitated to do so. Although we each expressed our faith in many common ways and were relatively mature, I sensed that there was more behind the scenes than met the eye.
Over the last year my Father has allowed me to travel and meet several likeminded believers, three of which have been participating in this online group. It was almost beyond belief how unified each of us were one with another, how sensitive to the Holy Spirit and how willing to serve one another. In days past, I would have settled for even one out of the three. After fifteen years alone, I may have even settled for a dog-lol!
At first there were primarily five brothers who made up this group with others stopping by on occasion. I think those few would add a sixth committed brother these days. That isn’t meant to minimize each and every brother or sister’s occasional contribution, but these few “see” something or are beginning to see something that transcends this little online group. We’re starting to see that this isn’t really about “our group” after all but something far greater- the ONE BODY.
All Christians realize that we have an adversary the devil that continuously wants to both destroy the work of God as well as the saints themselves. Each of us have experienced various forms of his attacks among the brethren, and how uncrucified self in believers adds fuel to the fire of his vengeance. We know that wherever God’s work is truly progressing that our adversary is nearby and attempts to deceive as well as separate Christians one from another. No real believer will challenge these facts- we all know they’re true.
In our short time online, a few minor conflicts have arisen and been discussed, though presently we are dealing with a very serious concern. One of the brothers is an elder in a fellowship where the participants have decided to (in their own words) “name their church.” Acting as a representative of that fellowship, one of the elders persists in trying to convince us all that this is an acceptable practice among Christians and that our concerns about this are both trivial and unfounded. His arguments include such excuses as “every ekklesia is autonomous” (meaning self-governing) and that “their” actions don’t affect our online group or anyone else. Are these statements even remotely true? I’ll address both of these concerns later.
“For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” [1 Corinthians 12:12]
We have all read this passage in Corinthians many times although maybe our reading has been somewhat superficial. The context of course is not a local geographical ekklesia, but THE EKKLESIA or the ONE BODY.
“He is also head of the body, the ekklesia; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything” [Colossians 1:18]
Returning to the passage in Corinthians above we read things like:
- “For the body is not one member but many” (The emphasis upon the many or corporate expression)
- “But now God has placed the members just as He desired” (This is His work and choice)
- No one rightly says, “I have no need of you” (Another member anywhere within the corporate body)
- The weaker members are necessary (wherever they may be found)
- We as members exalt the less honorable members/gifts (within the local and corporate expression)
= “so that there be NO DIVISION in the body, but the members may have the same care for one another” An example of this would be:
“And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (verse 26)
Remember that these truths are within the context of the entire ONE BODY. And who is responsible for this first?
“He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” [Colossians 1:17] Then who else is responsible within the corporate body?
“And God has appointed in the ekklesia, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.” [1 Corinthians 12:28]
In other words, every professing believer is required by God to insure that NO DIVISION EXISTS within the entire corporate expression of Jesus Christ known as His Ekklesia.
The verse above lists apostles first as they (the original apostles) were responsible for laying; a) THE FOUNDATION for all ekklesias and b) they (present apostles) for replicating THAT FOUNDATION that was established for all time by the original sent ones of Jesus in local ekklesias. Can you imagine any genuine apostle naming any group of believers or starting a non-profit organization in light of the ONE TIME BIBLICAL PRECEDENT found here:
“For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every ekklesia” [1 Corinthians 4:17] and here:
“Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you” (11:2) and:
“But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the ekklesias of God” (11:16) and:
…..as in all the ekklesias of the saints” (14:33) and with this warning toward those who refuse to acknowledge this:
“If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment. But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not to be recognized” [1 Corinthians 14:37, 38]
Anyone who refuses to acknowledge this universal pattern/practices IS NOT TO BE RECOGNIZED- he is not to be listened to! That is the context of 1 Corinthians 14.
What has been happening for many, many years is that those whom God has never called to be apostles and prophets are attempting to lay foundations- foundations other than Jesus Christ! Those very foundations (they are foundations) are being laid IN THE NAME of this or that- a name that conflicts and competes with Jesus and His preeminence- His being first in all things. This is not a mere mistake or preference among believers- it is a willful display of rebellion and disobedience of the highest order! It is sin. 1800+ years of evidence has proven what every attempt of this nature produces and yet unqualified professing believers continue to take upon themselves responsibilities and functions they know nothing of. Do we really need to go through the list again of all the extra-biblical manmade traditions that have been established upon EVERY named foundation?
The beginning of walking faithfully within the one body STARTS with an acknowledgment of the verses above. There is ONE BODY and ONE EXPRESSION of that body. This does not negate local ekklesias being self governing (they are, this is true) but not so those believers can do whatever they want. God designed the local expression primarily for retaining intimacy and purity and to make it easier to contain errors and heresy. For example, the religious scandals of recent history would never have become known and exposed the way they are today- nor would anyone have even cared among unbelievers. It was those men’s personal kingdoms (laid upon their own foundations) that propped them up, exalted them and made them vulnerable to exposure. When God really calls a man to extra-local service, that call NEVER includes man’s additions nor mechanisms. God works through humble means and circumstances, man would trade that for the mountain top (or in today’s lingo- mega church or auditorium) and does.
What is to come
Just as it is written, “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND WHICH HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM”
Brothers and sisters, “Would you fall short of all our God has prepared for you?” Would you trade your spiritual inheritance for something- for anything that derives from this world?”
“For to US God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God”
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may (might) know the things freely given to us by God, things which we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words” [1 Corinthians 2:9-12]
It goes without saying that we all say we want to move forward one with another in the Spirit. That claim has little significance if it fails to recognize the greater spiritual body that exists and our need as individuals to act as “one man.” ANY decision that fails to recognize the ONE BODY dynamic cannot co-exist within the framework of what Jesus is building. It simply doesn’t belong there and in reality is a poison that will permeate the ONE BODY just like any other foreign object or entity. Do we really need to give examples here?
The decision to name any group of believers obviously does not consider how that decision might affect other members of the ONE BODY. It is a selfish decision, made for selfish reasons that could only benefit those who make it. The very nature of such a decision reeks of human reasoning, justification and the proponents thereof spew venom and disgust at any who would oppose them. If you don’t believe me, well, either open your eyes or go ask a religious professional why they allow it. Enough said.
Only God Himself can truly know the specifics of why any professing Christian would ever follow an unscriptural example of using any formal name for believers when faced with the horrific results of others having done so. In the least it is a dangerous precedent to follow and in all likelihood is being complicit with an adversary hell bent upon obscuring the truth of all Christians being ONE.
Friend, despite what you think and feel, consider the ONE BODY Jesus promises to build. You may be complete in Him yes, but the expression of that fullness is discovered and developed through the ONE BODY. Anything and anyone rejecting this truth is not to be recognized, that’s how you can help. That is not the word of some overly religious zealot, well, maybe it is…..but praise God I’m not alone anymore.
“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God, and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences. We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, so that you will have an answer for those who take pride in appearance and not in heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you” [2 Corinthians 5:11-13]