The man God is making/How I can help/Part 3

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.

What was

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.

What is

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]

-the end

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The man God is making/How can I help/Part 2

An ongoing discussion in relation to calling groups of believers by particular names reminded me of something I wrote a while back called, “The Right and Wrong Questions.” I aimed to encourage other believers to discover the roots of why they actually make the decisions they do as they relate to their beliefs and practice of what is called Christianity. For example, why is the question “Where do you go to church?” so common and not “Why do you go to church?” Should not the latter be a prerequisite to the former.

I want to use the next couple of posts to skip over “What do you call (name) yourselves?” and get to the deeper issue of “Why do you name yourselves?” I aim to write this within the context of our current subject matter of “How can I help?” Unlike other posts, I will include several statements of others who have contributed to this discussion already. All quotes will remain anonymous for now.

Quote: “Beloved, have things really changed? As the adage goes, “The more things change, the more they stay the same……”  (From a fellow blogger completely oblivious to the above discussion though spiritually in tune with the season and need of the hour-obviously)

It was some years ago when I first started thinking about the issue of “names” and whether God sanctioned using them in any form for a group of individual Christians. Like many of you, I had been attending a particular “brand” of religion and the members therein had chosen a name to describe “themselves and their” fellowship. If these words in quotes don’t get your attention, well, maybe they should. Just as back in that day, our recent written dialogue has included the words “it,” (referring to a particular group of Christians) and “our fellowship” (referring to a select group of believers in a particular area). It also goes without saying that people are not “its” (“it” can only describe an entity separate and distinct from people) and “our fellowship” in most cases fails to discern the dynamic of the one body of believers. Although we could easily shrug these words off as relatively insignificant, in reality, both are the seedbeds from which a hostile adversary has and continues to sow deception of the highest order.

I think those in this conversation will agree with this:

Quote: “What matters is what do the scriptures say? Is what we’re doing forbidden by scripture, endorsed by scripture or is it not spoken about?

I think we also would agree that no specific command forbids us to name our fellowship. But may I ask, “Does scripture forbid you to call members of His body “its” when in fact they are people? Does scripture forbid to call any group of Christians “yours” despite them actually being His? Do we need a verse to specifically prohibit the above to show us both are inappropriate? In reality, the first is a lie and over and over in this conversation the word “it” for people has been used to describe their totality- a totality which is also a lie for it fails to recognize through both words and actions that only one body of believers exists before God.

“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

In what primary context are we called to practice such?

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all and through all and in all” [Ephesians 4:1-6]

When individual Christians fail to both rightly discern the body or refuse to live in a manner consistent with that one body, they cannot walk worthy of their calling. This is all the more true for those God has called to build up the body, ie; apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers for they are to be the example of all of the above character qualities to those dependent upon their guidance.

Most Christians would agree that creating denominations has fractured the spirit of the one body and are preventing the unity above from occurring. That should prompt this question among them- “When does a denomination actually begin?”

Quote: “Denominate” means  ‘to give a name to’ and to ‘designate a value.’ Exactly.

It’s easy for us to condemn the hierarchies of the large institutions and yet fail to see that we practice the very same things when we decide to name ourselves. Actually in reality, just like any particular sin, that sin occurs the moment my heart turns from the truth and embraces the lie. The act in and of itself is only the result of the sin in my heart. In relation to our subject, denominating begins the moment any group of believers decides that they have or desire an identity separate from other believers. That’s when the sin of being sectarian is committed, the actual choice of a name simply the fruit of the sin in one’s heart. Which name men choose is irrelevant, the damage continues as long as the members refuse to repent of their desire to be separate. Therefore, the following cannot possibly be true:

Quote: “What you call “your fellowship” has no bearing, in reality on whether you are sectarian in nature”

nor can this:

Quote: “In relation to the issue of denominations we are in total agreement and that has no relation to this issue”

In fact, there is absolutely no agreement between those who use names and those who don’t.

Quote: “How does calling “it” _____ infer that we are not meeting in Jesus’ name? It doesn’t. Quote: Does the label affect whether you are meeting in Jesus’ name? No it doesn’t. But it does create a divided affection which 1800+ years have been proven to be the case. Once again, we find ourselves asking why?

In my original article on this subject called “The consequences of a name,” I detailed some of the things that compete with Jesus and how that happens. I showed how religious men will quickly choose to identify with a cause or an organization promoting some particular concern or need. Why is that?

Men are always seeking out fulfillment and despite what they say want to take credit for their accomplishments. This is why non-profit organizations exist (men can create “their own” “ministry”) appoint themselves the leaders and direct them however they choose. All of this is sin. Why do churches advertise “their name,” “their ministries” and “their leaders” among men? Why do they sell themselves and their wares? It’s obvious is it not?

Quote: “My main concern is that once a name is given it can open the door for others to bring in their own creed”

In reality, a name is a creed in itself. Obviously some names such as Catholic and Protestant make this clear, though all names start with an emphasis (the name being a seed sown) and the fruit of that name becoming known over time and through various avenues of exposure (such as advertising). We all know what happens every time a new “ministry” begins- everybody wants in, all the more if they think they can exercise their gifts in it and harness some degree of authority in it. The more the entity itself grows the more men will attempt to control the affairs of it and the people who support it. Little do these people realize they are merely using the name of Jesus to get what they really want and desire.

It’s easy to overlook the initial and long term results of choosing a name, even as we ourselves become results oriented in choosing that very same name. We come up with all kinds of reasons and excuses “why” this is a good idea and convince ourselves that “we” won’t go where others have or end up like they did. Such statements prove that we are being reliant upon our own self confidence (we won’t or don’t do it that way or make that mistake) or:

Quote: “We will always make it very clear that we are called by Jesus’ name and explain that any other name is meaningless”

We fail to realize that we are equating “it” with ourselves (an impossibility) as any created entity is always separate from who we are. Just like any business owner knows, the owners primary responsibility is to keep their identity separate from “their” business all the while overseeing it and ensuring it’s survival. Unless the business (or in our case named institution) grows and reaps tangible results it will not survive. That’s why each and every religious institution must periodically reinvent itself, recruit new blood and keep things currently relevant. The bigger the business, the more the above rings true.

Every name forges an identity

From the outset, every named institution begins with a form of identity. The name of the institution may give clues to who it is, or the creator of the institution clues to its identity by way of various practices. Either way or both, the identity will come to light and people will be gathered around the purposes for which the institution was created. The more the institution grows by way of money, resources and people, the stronger the “spiritual” attachment to the institution will become. Personally, I’ve had many great talks about the ekklesia of God with young people (I can’t recall much if any opposition) but receive anger, resentment and defense from those who for years have invested in “names.” Professing Christians will rarely defend Jesus or the gospel, though vehemently defend their religious institution. Little do they realize that their once simple devotion to Jesus has been subtly and coercively transferred to a competing religious institution. They have been taken captive to do the devils will.

The religious identity forges the individual

Every institution has its founder or group of founders. There are people behind the identity and those people carry the authority of the institutional mindset and direct the affairs of God’s people through “their” created identity. A simple example is James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. If you do the research it is easily discovered “how and why” James became who he is through the mechanisms he chose to create. The very things he created propped him up as an idol before men, allowed him to propagate many falsehoods and continue almost unabated. To this day, Focus on the Family continues to spread lies and false doctrines worldwide and is heartily supported by many of the well known Christian self-professed leaders of our day. James was swallowed up by his own named inventions and deceived untold millions of people and continues to do so to this day.

“These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm (of their own making), for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires (such as self esteem), by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom (a temporal earthly freedom) while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man has overcome, by this is he enslaved” [2 Peter 2:17-19]

Note the three things in parenthesis above closely. Sounds like what most religious institutions offer people; “the opportunity for their own ministry,” recognition and worth for “their good works” in it and the opportunity to promise any who join up freedom in Jesus if they only join up and help out.

Quote: “It is rightly said that naming an assembly is not a sin or a step away from Christ”

This may be true, though the reason one names a fellowship that does not belong to them is because they have already sinned. The fruit of their sectarian sin is the choosing and implementing of a name. No one can sin without some degree of consequence resulting. The above verse shows in graphic and tragic detail the end of one’s desire to abandoned Jesus’ building His own Ekklesia for one’s own ingenuity and methodologies. After a few seasons of deception, James and Focus have become synonymous one with another- to speak of one is to speak of the other. Jesus has been reduced to the means to James Dobson’s ends.

First, minimizing what Jesus promised

Quote: “The fact that NT churches were named after the locality didn’t dishonor Jesus….”

Quote: “There is no scripture that forbids the naming of a fellowship”

NO, NO, NO. No New Testament ekklesias were ever named! This is a lie that compounds an already difficult discussion. I’m not calling anyone a liar but we must stop speaking like this. It’s a lie of our adversary!

Quote: “There is no apostolic example of naming any group of believers” Correct and important.

Quote: “Though there isn’t an absolute clear command against naming the local group I think the testimony, or weight of scripture leans in the direction of simple, practical, geographical descriptions rather than names” Exactly.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Quote: “If we please the Lord corporately in all His ways, but the only objection is that our fellowship has a name…then in that light that sole objection is going to look petty, right?”

For one, calling a group of believers by a name does not please the Lord corporately but does the exact opposite of that, it greatly displeases Him. It further displeases Him whenever we as individuals or a group of believers draw a line around ourselves and acts as if our actions don’t or won’t affect the rest of the body of Christ. Every decision we make affects the entire body whether we or they realize it or not.

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” [1 Corinthians 12:4-7]

We have liberty in Christ, but only as that liberty brings edification and good to my neighbor in the Spirit. Our fellowship has never been about “our” as in a local assembly but about “our” as in corporate growth in Christ. The verse in Ephesians 4 that talks about those who build up others isn’t a reference to a local ekklesia- it refers to the entire body being built up as we each do our part. Sadly, and due to “local decisions” that rarely ever think outside their own self defined parameters, Christians everywhere are not only adding to the confusion but literally opposing their brothers and sisters, not to mention God’s true heart and intentions.

Quote: “Sunday we had our best meeting ever. Having the name _____ didn’t grieve the Holy Spirit in the slightest”

This statement simply isn’t true and once again is indicative of those who either fail or refuse to see beyond “their own” fellowship. The Holy Spirit was grieved in at least four different individuals I know personally from the very moment this practiced was initiated. The Holy Spirit in us will continue to be grieved until this unscriptural practice is abandoned and the proponents of it acknowledge their failure to discern the body rightly.

As we know, the Holy Spirit isn’t confined to one geographical location or body of Christians.

Second, abandoning what Jesus promised

“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Ekklesia; and the gates of hades will not overpower it” (IT obviously referring to the totality of all believing Christians) (Matthew 16:18)

….but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, the pillar and support of the truth” [1 Timothy 3:15]

Read the above verse closely. What is the truth? It is what we are called to speak and live out in our generation- the practice of living one to another Jesus and Him Crucified. Where? In the household of faith, among one another. What is the pillar and support of this truth? Churches, institutions, self-made ministry, para-church organizations, NGO’s? – God forbid! WE TOGETHER ARE THE SUPPORT OF THE TRUTH, JESUS IN OUR MIDST!

To interject any entity on any scale for the people of God is in the least to water down and suppress God’s intentions and in the worst to promote outright lies and deception. A man cannot serve God and one’s own creation. He must choose the one and abandon the other. A man cannot serve God and his church, and his “ministry” and his anything. If you have truly died with Christ, than He’s your only means, He alone is your resource.

Third, replacing what Jesus promised

Quote: “It’s what people actually are and believe that matter to Jesus”

Yes, but not what they believe intellectually but what they actually speak and live. To pick one’s own name, implement it for a group of believers and say I oppose denominationalism and/or sectarianism is hypocrisy.

Every single individual Christian is called to accept the fact that Jesus has one primary means for building His kingdom and that this means is through local fellowships of individual Christians where He remains preeminent. Anyone who refuses to acknowledge this will by default practice dividing usunder what Jesus in His atonement has brought together to one degree or another. They may not purposefully be attempting to build Babel, though they are nonetheless promoting that very thing. In the end, all religious institutionalism is the result of placing “man’s own methods and their results” as more valuable than our faith which God says is more precious than gold.

The reasons so many justify religious institutions are many, though one seems to trump them all. The participants become convinced that “they” (the institutions) do so much good. In reality, an institution can do nothing for it is simply a created entity that has no power whatsoever of its own- its power comes in the form of those who willingly subject themselves to it- those who become subservient to it. This initial well meaning service breeds among other things (results in):

  •  Service which is thought to be equated with God’s service
  •   Institutional authority that leaders have been given is thought to be God’s authority over other believers
  • Self- appointed “positions and leadership titles” through the institution for leaders
  • Leaders taking a salary from the institution
  • = Draws them into an unhealthy dependency which can only be continued as the institution grows and survives.

The first two above prove just how deceptive an institutional mindset can become. The lie becomes the truth. The second two show how the institution becomes self-serving and feeding off the individuals who are most dependent upon it. Sadly, now they must feed off those in whom they are called to care for. The exact opposite of what God desires transpires as the institution has now become master and lord.

It is true that much service is accomplished in the places where religious institutions exist. That is only the result of the few Christians indwelt by the Holy Spirit who remain in those places. It is not, it could not be due to the institutions themselves. In reality, all these entities directly compete with what Jesus is building and direct genuine service, resources and people away from His intentions. That is the testimony of everyone who has ever been led outside the camp to meet Jesus in the wilderness. This testimony is true.

Quote: “The fact that God poured out His Spirit on people in institutionalized churches is not an affirmation of everything they do”

I have talked with a few brothers who were once “professional Christians.” In every instance, it was eventually discovered that everything tied to those systems must be abandoned (not every practice per say, but everything not being ruled and directed by Jesus Christ Himself. In order to walk unstained, a clean break had to be made, a cost counted and a point of no return reached. It was only at that final point that Jesus would really have free reign to use that individual in the manner He had originally intended- in helping to build Jesus’ one ekklesia.

Summation

Quote: “The issue at work in 1 Corinthians 1:12 was that they were not viewing themselves (identifying themselves) as one body; therefore, they were misrepresenting what Christ had done”

Although other issues may have also been involved, this is the proper context as verse 13 makes clear.

Quote: “Can we say that if a group of people implement a name they are laying aside a commandment of God?”  

Absolutely. In at least these two obvious ways:

1.  Failing to keep the unity of the Spirit as a result of…see 2 below.

2.  Failing to rightfully discern the one body (in words and through one’s actions such as naming what is God’s alone)

No one can be certain of the extent of the damage to individual Christians and the corporate expression of Christ for the last 1800+ years. It is more than obvious that Jesus’ one body continues to be divided by both well meaning men as well as deceivers among us (meaning the body itself). Many of us see this carnage very clearly and most of us have even contributed to it. It is long overdue that we abandon every single practice or even questionable pursuits and live as if we really believe our lives are hidden with Christ in God.  Isn’t Jesus worth our undivided attention and affection without adding to what He has done?

If one looks over the nearest horizon, many such “Christian” institutions are likely to be seen along the roads we’re likely to travel. Many if not most of those institutions were started by well meaning and godly believers whose intent was to serve God as they knew best. Sometimes that expression became a “Christian hospital,” a “Christian college” or a “Christian church.” We don’t need to question these men’s sincerity or devotion, but we do, we must question the results of their “good” intentions and yes, even our own and those dear to us. This is representative of a Christian who loves and cares for all men, none more than his Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Have you ever considered what has become of the once “Christian” hospitals around you? Yes, the ones filled with holistic practices, many if not most of which are new age. Have you considered what has become of the “Christian colleges” around you? Yes, the ones filled with teachings such as Contemplative Prayer, Yoga and all forms of Spiritual Formation via the Occult. What about the dozens, if not hundreds of thousands of “Christian churches” polluted with streams such as the “Church Growth Movement,” “Purpose Driven Life,” “New Apostolic Reformation,” “Word Faith” and “Emergent Church” philosophies? Were these once acceptable to God but have now become rejected and corrupted or were they corrupted in seed form from the beginning? I think you know that answer.

Like produces like. Simple words with a simple message a child could understand. What once was now still is, just more grown up these days. As it was said, “the more things change, the more they stay the same”

From beginning to end, God has determined what constitutes the proper habitation of His people. It is from these habitats that all life is discovered, shared and lived as He originally designed. Within these habitations certain things are prohibited while other things are welcomed. It is the duty of every professing saint to discover what our Father accepts and live in a manner entirely and exclusively pleasing to Him. It is clear throughout scripture what happened to those who refused to stay within the place where God had situated His people or who brought foreign objects among the people of God- those people were destroyed. That isn’t meant to be a threat to anyone, but it is an admonishment for any who might need to hear one. (1 Corinthians 3:16-20)

I know well the heart of a man who desperately longs to make a difference for His Lord in those places we find ourselves. I know the pain of doing everything I could to create a ministry to have God crush my best of intentions. I know well the pain of those who walked away from me- trading the truth for compromise and worldly recognition. I know the pain of being alone and the frustration of standing where it seemed no one else would. I think we all do. Finally, I know the pain I am causing those of you who disagree with this position and ultimately, the pain that will result as I continue to stand for the truth and against those who won’t or don’t.

Ultimately friends, we’re each called to die to anything and everything that stems from our own nature and resources. As we know, that isn’t easy or enjoyable though it is necessary. My hope and prayer for us all in this season and every season is this:

“For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” [1 Corinthians 2:2]

We don’t need to see to believe, but this world does, and only a crucified life will convince anyone of the reality of who He is.

Let’s make it our aim to stay within the habitation of the Spirit in which we’ve been granted. I for one aim to be pressing forward as He’s leading me. I do hope you will come along, that is, if you find my words to be true, and my life true to my words.

-the end of this discussion, part 3 of How can I help to be continued