Thy Kingdom Come.... Part 2
THE KINGDOM BEGETS THE CHURCH
The Birth of the ChurchAccording to the writings of Paul, the church was something that had been hidden from View through history. It was a mystery even to the religious community; yet it was always predominant in the mind and purposes of God. He planned for the church to become the Body of Christ and His eventual Bride. The coming into existence of the church — its God-ordained function, ministry and place in His eternal order — must be of primary consideration for the believer in the Word of God. But where does the church come from? Does it issue from the plans and working of men? Is it some kind of a human organization intended to operate at high moral and ethical standards? Is it to be considered as a fraternity established for the purpose of social fellowship? Let’s see.
The opening declaration of the New Testament is, “Repent FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND.” God’s Kingdom is the main issue in the gospels . We have already taught that the substance of this Kingdom is submission to the authority and government of Christ. Remember that this submission consists of Christ-in—me reigning over me-in-me. The actualization of this divine relationship comprises the very material out of which the church was and is built.
Then when the church is established and is ministering in God’s will and order, the Kingdom will be continuously extended — not to take over the governments of earth, but to build people into God’s eternal economy in spiritual reality. In Matthew 16 Jesus refers to the church for the first time. The Lord has asked His disciples how people, in general, had been identifying Him. They said that He was considered to be the reincarnation of various former religious personages. Then He asked, “But Whom say ye that I am?” (verse 15), “And Simon Peter answered, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (verse 16), “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven.” (verse 17), “And I say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (verse 18). Note carefully, the “rock” of which Jesus speaks is not Peter; that is for certain. Nor is it the Lord Himself — IT IS THE DIVINE REVELATION OF WHO JESUS CHRIST REALLY IS, and it is the sole work of the Holy Spirit. It is upon this supernatural unveiling of the Son of God to a human heart and spirit that Jesus Christ builds His church.
The Church Established. . .
Under Heaven’s Government
This is the first reference to the church in the New Testament. Immediately in verse 19 Matthew relates it to the Kingdom, “And I will give unto thee the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. ” The correct translation of this verse reads, “and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth SHALL HAVE BEEN BOUND IN HEAVEN, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth SHALL HAVE BEEN LOOSED IN HEAVEN .”
The binding and loosing does not originate with man on earth; it is first determined in heaven, then communicated to man on earth. This man is Under the authority of God and functions completely in His will. Under heaven’s government the Will of God “is done on earth as it is in heaven”. This sequence is an absolute with God:
125]1. A seeker of the Lord, through repentance, comes into the light of God and receives the revelation of who Jesus Christ really is.
125]2. Such an experience brings the believer fully under the authority of Christ. He is genuinely born again. He SEES the Kingdom of God and enters IN. Christ-in—him begins His sovereign reign over himself-in-him.
125]3. Thus God communicates His will to that person in terms of heavenly order with spiritual authority. The believer responds accordingly. All of this is in the Word of God.Because such a saint has come under authority, he has authority in the heavenly, spiritual realm. He is a submissive and obedient child of God (knowing who Jesus Christ is) and now serves and ministers in the power of God. When believers of this faith quality assemble together under the headship of the Lord Jesus Christ we have the formation of a corporate union which is HIS CHURCH and is the result of the operation of God’s Kingdom. Once again, remember the order — first, being born again, the person must have the Kingdom of God firmly established in the heart; second, the church is formed as a number of individuals of the same mind and commitment assemble together; third, they learn to live in a holy togetherness under the headship of Jesus Christ and function in obedience to the word of God.
The phrase, “Keys to the Kingdom” speaks of spiritual authority, and where this heavenly government is absent, there will be no real church. There may be a building; there may be an organized group of religious people, but there is no church. Believers who refuse to submit to heaven’s authority may be saved people, but remain unfit material for church building. However, wherever and whenever an assembly of people receive the government of God and submit to His Word — there a church will be built; the Kingdom of God has come. This is a church which Christ is building and they will understand what it means to have “the Keys to the Kingdom”. Because they function and live under His authority they will have this priceless divine authority in their whole range of activity and ministry.
— The Church —
God’s Army to Deal with His EnemyOne of the vital areas of service, which God purposed for the Church, is warfare against His enemy. The Church is the army of the Kingdom, and there is an enemy in the universe with vast hordes of demons operating under his authority. God needed fighting troops to counter the vicious attacks against His Kingdom. The enemy is Satan; his domain is the kingdom of darkness; his relentless goal is to defeat, damage, and destroy the work of God in the earth. His chief tool is sin in the human nature, and his strategy is temptation. He allures by appealing to the self-life the flesh and human ego — through lust and pride. His battle ground is the fallen race of Adam — humankind. He is wily and very skillful in his attacks. He is persistent and super cunning — using all kinds of traps, methods, and pitfalls. He is well organized, and his subjugated cohorts never question his methods and judgement.
They remain ever ready to carry out his directives. The Church is called of God to deal with this enemy and his legions. She is to effect his defeat through faith in Christ and obedience to His word, thereby taking command in every encounter. There is armor for the saint to wear, a weapon for him to use, a battle plan for him to follow, and an assurance on which he can firmly stand. By persevering trust in God, the Christian will be undefeated in his encounters with the enemy. He will enjoy triumphant victory and ultimately win the day in every conflict. He will never settle for neutral ground. He cannot, under any circumstance, compromise or capitulate. The believer in Christ is a winner. It may sometimes require long periods of patience, but victory can always be his. It is of this kind of building material that Christ seeks to build His Church.
In Matthew 12:24 we read how the pharisees accused Jesus of casting out devils by Beelzebub. In verse 25 the Lord explains that if such were the case He would be making a grave mistake. He tells them that if a kingdom or house is divided against itself, only destruction or desolation would result. He is saying that the prince of demons (Satan) is not of His Kingdom or house. In verse 28 He climaxes this teaching — we read, “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God is come unto you.” He goes on in the next verse to articulate the clear principle, which states that in the spiritual realm it demands a more powerful force (which is God) to overcome a less powerful force (which is Satan); to bind him and destroy his works. This shows the imperative necessity of the presence of God and authority of His Kingdom, to establish the Church as the divine agent to deal with His enemy.
The End of History According to GodSomewhere in the ancient past, one of the head angels in heaven’s host was a beautiful being named Lucifer. This mighty angel planned a rebellion against God. He took the step and violated God’s authority in the universe. He led an insurrection against the Almighty but was utterly defeated. He was cast out of God’s economy and went down to the pit. This glorious being became the devil (Satan) , the old serpent. It is all recorded in Isaiah 14. This action of God’s archenemy tended to frustrate the accomplishing of God’s purpose in the universe. In order for Him to govern, it was imperative that He be able to wield authority as the Sovereign of the Kingdom. In Numbers 14:21 God Himself declares, “But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.” This is something of His eternal purpose. To date, it has never happened in history. It will come to pass in some future day. In Ephesians 1:9-10 we read, “Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath PURPOSED IN HIMSELF: That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather in one ALL THINGS IN CHRIST, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him (Christ).” Everything outside of Christ will be disposed of in God’s eternal incinerator. Everything and everyone in Christ will be the total composition of existence — that will be the fullness of the glory age.
God’s Unchanging PlanGod began to implement this plan toward His goal when He created man and woman, as recorded in Genesis one and two. But here at the first, His work was rendered static by the work of the enemy, who induced Adam and Eve to listen to his seductive logic.
They entered into complicity with him, and thus God’s plan was stalled —temporarily, for God had sovereignly determined for an event to take place 4000 years ahead. That event was the coming of His Son, Jesus Christ, to be the Redeemer of mankind. Out of that glorious happening, a Kingdom would be formed which would bring forth a corporate-man called THE CHURCH, THE BODY OF CHRIST. Through this spiritual organism, God predestinated to prepare His creation for a return to earth of His resurrected and glorified Son. Through this spiritual organism (the Church), a message was given — that message is called THE GOSPEL. By believing and receiving this message a person will be saved; thus he can share in the glorious end-time program which God will bring to pass. God’s goal for Himself is the ultimate reality of eternity with His family, who all share in the life and Spirit of His Son, Jesus Christ. Yes, the Lord is coming back with His Body — His Bride, the Church. He will set up a divine, absolute, sovereign government. He will rule over the entire earth, from His Throne in Jerusalem, for a thousand years. Then there will be a short period of time when Satan will be loosed from his prison. He will be free to test the nations with a terminal finality. After that there will be what the Bible calls, THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGEMENT. When that judgement is over eternity will begin. The faithful — those who were built by Christ into His Church on earth — will participate in the everlasting Government Of God.
God Will Achieve His Ultimate GoalBy the scriptural function of His Kingdom’s citizens, God has been able to secure a corporate creation through Which He could wield authority. These are believers in Christ who give God right-of-way to carry His will into effect. Because God has dominion over them, He has dominion THROUGH THEM.
In Ephesians 4:11, We have the areas of leadership ministry which Christ has set in the Church. The purpose of these personnel is for the training and equipping of the saints in order that they may carry out the work of the ministry :
075](verse 12) 1. “for the edifying (building up) of the saints”;
075](verse 13) 2. “Till we all come to the unity of the faith”;
075] 3. “and of the knowledge of the Son of God”;
075] 4. “Unto a perfect MAN”;
075] 5. “Unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”True members of Christ’s Body are destined to experience the reality of this relationship by full faith identification with Him. They will participate in the divine implementation of God’s eternal government. They have become part of the Holy Vehicle through which God exercises His dominion over the entire universe now and forever.
THE CHURCH CONSTRUCTED
The Construction Imperative . . .
BUILT TOGETHERWhen sinners are saved they become material of which the Church is built. If, however, they fail to come under the sovereign rule of Christ, they can never become a part of the true Church. You see, this “building material” must be built up together with all other building material BY CHRIST as His Church. The Church, as a living building, is a body — His Body. In I Peter 2:3 5 we read, “If so be that ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious, to whom coming, as a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as living stones are built up (together) a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” The Church consists of the family of God. It is His house as we read in Hebrews 3:6, “But Christ as a Son over His own house; Whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” The Church is a temple; it is God’s dwelling place. It is a corporate spiritual being. Each piece of building material has to be built into its divinely designated place by the Builder. The Lord is not concerned with a permanent pile of building material. The material must be free and available for Him to use as He needs it. It must be submissive and willing for Him to fix and fit it into the building along with all other material. As a body, the Church is similar to a human body.
The many bones in the body of man, by the creative POW” of God, have all been properly arranged and connected as the basic part of the human being. A pile of bones can no more comprise the human skeleton than a pile of lumber can be the actual frame of a house.
How the Bible Sees the StructureRemember, the initial purpose of the new birth is to bring people into the Kingdom of God. This means that they come under the headship of Christ, along with others who share this same spiritual relationship, so that numbers can be built up together to form His Church, His Body. The bottom line is this — the Church is not simply a collection of saved individuals, but of saved individuals who are framed and built together by the Lord. In Ephesians 2:20-22 we have this confirmed. Paul writes, “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
The ultimate name for this structure which Jesus is building is found in Revelation 21. It is referred to as “The Holy City”, “The New Jerusalem”, “That Great City”, “The Holy Jerusalem”, “The Bride”,or “The Lamb’s Wife”. In Galatians, chapter 4, Paul mentions it as “Jerusalem which is above”. That is, it is above the mundane, the earthly, or the worldly. It is the spiritual Jerusalem, and it will constitute the center of God’s eternal dwelling estate. It is not a city constructed of brick and mortar, of timber and concrete. It is composed of human lives redeemed by the blood of Christ; who are brought under the government of God and into His Kingdom. It is a living city, teeming with sanctified vibrancy, which will continue forever.
The natural mind of man is incapable of grasping the glory, the magnificence, and splendor of that prepared place. The word “Jerusalem” means “founded in peace”; no doubt this is why God has instructed His children to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem”. The enemy, who has challenged God’s authority in the universe, throughout history has sought to make Jerusalem the center of war, friction and hostility. But the time is coming when this city, where God has chosen to place His Name, will be the city of universal peace. Jesus will have returned and established His rule on “the throne of His Father David”.
The Church as a CityJerusalem was known by the ancients as “The City of David”. But what was that city; in fact, what is any city? It is people living in community under the authority of government. It consists of a governing body and the people who are governed. There must be order and there must be authority; otherwise, the community would be a scrambled chaos. A city is not streets, homes, buildings, power plants, businesses, etc.; such are simply the means by which a city lives and operates. A city does not accidently come into existence, and it certainly is not merely a collection of people. The order and authority are planned; a government is established, and the building process begins. A city is where a community of people function together under the authoritative headship of the ruling body. Thus they will be built up together according to the blueprint of the Architect.
The Greek word for “build”, “edify”, etc. comes from the root word that conveys the thought of “a home”, “a house”, or “a temple builder”. It does not mean to “improve” anything. It means to construct; to take the material which is provided, and, cut it, shape it, bend it — to do whatever it takes, to make it fit together according to the divine design.
Jesus is the Builder of the Church and of the City. He makes it from “Kingdom of God” material only. Any “saved” material which has not become “Kingdom of God” material will never stand the strain of being processed so as to fit into the “together structure”.
No Kingdom Authority - No ChurchJesus taught His disciples to pray, “. . . Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It is imperative that His Kingdom be set up in the heart and life of the saved individual in order that His Will be done. It is the only Way. How important and how imperative is true Bible study but if it does not minister to that commitment which brings the believer under the reign of Christ, it is in vain. This is a “must” it is a divine absolute in order for me to be built up with other true believers; otherwise, I will never stand the process. Self-determination and self-will must be wholly broken if I am to come under Christ’s dominion, where He can place me beside any other member of His family, with no complaining on my part. Spirituality is Christ-in-me, behaving Himself normally through my wholly committed life. Spirituality is not some type of spooky religious activity; it is loving submission to Him wherever He decides to place my body in His Body. Jesus once asked the question as to whether He would find faith on the earth when He returned. To complement His question, we ask Him where can one find a “built-up-together” People on earth today? Yes, they are out there perhaps mostly on the mission fields where Christianity is “sink or swim, survive or perish”.
Perhaps that’s what we need in America, where religion seems so cheap and costless. But make no mistake, Christ is coming for the Church of His own building. God grant that every reader of this would reevaluate his relationship to the Lord Jesus, and make “his calling and election sure”. Christ has a place for . you in His Church, His Body — find that place and live there with joy; loving every privilege and opportunity to serve God, to love Him, and to worship Him.
The Union of Church Members . . .
Together With the Head
In Colossians 2:18 Paul speaks of some who have taken religious positions that are totally unscriptural, and simply minister to their own flesh. In verse 19 he clearly points out the error, then he sets forth Christ’s solitary headship, with the imperative necessity of being solidly connected. He writes, “And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.” Everything depends on submissive relationship to the Head, because every part is “knit together” in the Body while, at the same time, “being connected to the Head”. This is how the whole grows in God. True spiritual maturity is produced no other way. The Kingdom-of-God-principle is here presented as an absolute “must” in the proper and beautiful function of the Body.
In Ephesians, chapter 4, we have the apostle’s parallel teaching with added emphasis on some parts. In verses 11 and 12 he gives the five-fold echelon of leadership that Christ ordained for the Church in order to train the saints for inner-body ministry. The end purpose for this order of ministry was so that the body members, (1) all come to the unity of the faith; (2) all come to the knowledge of the Son of God; (3) all come into one full grown man, and (4) all come unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. That the saints no longer be spiritual infants (verse 14) “. . . tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”
The ministry of the God-ordained leadership is to establish the saints in Christ, that they no longer be in a state of religious flux, ignorance, or deception. But (verse 15) “speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ.” (verse 16) “From whom the whole Body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the Body unto the edifying of itself in love.” That scripture says it all, and, according to I Cor. 14:37, these instructions are commandments of the Lord. These are not merely guidelines for the operation of the Church. These are the absolutes of God for church building and ministry. To do it any other way is humanism and rebellion against God. So much current church business is being conducted according to “Roberts’ rules of order”, and not according to Christ. This is the reason for its spiritual and moral impotency, especially in lands where affluence has peaked.
The Ministry and Power . . .
of the True Heavenly Organism
Where a company of born again people come under the headship of Christ — there the Kingdom of God is a reality. Out of that reality comes the Church. The government and authority of the Lord is unquestioned and unchallenged. The ruling mind of Christ is displayed in the harmonious function of the body members. The thoughts, attitudes, affections, and decisions of each individual all come under His Headship. Evangelism, spiritual fruit, spiritual gifts, godliness, righteousness, missions, property management, and buildings — everything good — will be developed under His Headship.
Refer to Ephesians 4:16 again, “From whom (Christ, the Head) the WHOLE Body . . . maketh increase of the Body unto the building up of itself in love.” How foreign is all this to the status-quo religion of today where committees and organizations are dominated and controlled by men. One will say “I think this”, another will say “No, I think that”. Democracy has replaced theocracy, resulting in neo-christianity, which is nothing other than religious humanism.
In the real experience of salvation, Jesus Christ enters the heart and spirit of a human being. This Divine entry is not simply some spirit-essence which comes into a man. It is ETERNAL LIFE SUBSTANCE in the Person of Jesus Christ. God in Christ is wrought into man by the work of the Holy Spirit. This wonderful and blessed gift has been given to us so that we may have power to submit to the nature and disposition of His Life within us. Of course, this Life will someday bring us to heaven when we depart this planet, but this is a result and not the immediate purpose. Through the Person and power of the Gift, Christ-in-me may replace me-in-me as the dominant force of inner control. Thus I will fit into God’s plan for His Son and for His Body, the Church. The miracle and mystery of Life in Christ is glorious beyond comprehension. But for the one who experiences the reality of His Life in the on-going accomplishment of its purpose, there comes a knowledge that “passeth knowledge”.
The Kingdom in the Book of ActsIt is interesting to note the place of “Kingdom of God” ministry in the book of Acts, as the Church was beginning to emerge. The Kingdom message was predominant in the ministry of Jesus in His post-resurrection preaching. In Acts 1:3, as part of the introduction to the book we read, speaking of Christ, “To whom also He shewed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to THE KINGDOM OF GOD.”
Certainly the Lord knew that nothing could compensate for the absence of Divine government Jesus stressed the place and importance of the Kingdom. The dominion of God over the dominion of self in human flesh was absolutely obligatory if the Church, His Body, was to properly and correctly come forth.
In Acts, chapter 8, we have the account of the Samaritan revival under the ministry of Philip. Tremendous things happened — salvation, deliverance, healing, and great blessings of many varieties. In verse 12 we have the content of his message, “But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ . . ..” He ministered the consistent truth of submission and salvation. To preach the Name of Jesus Christ apart from the basic foundation of all divine relationship is only to minister to the human ego — to “get for self”. God’s will can never be done in natural man by the effort of the flesh. There must be a divine work, in which the self-life is broken and replaced by the Christ-life, as the inner government. God can bring any seeker after Himself to that place of submission and surrender where he yields up to God every right to himself, and fully embraces the cross. As this kind of saint identifies with Christ, by faith, in death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, he provides the Holy Spirit with ground upon which He can witness to eternal reality. This is the Kingdom of God; this is Christ-in-me reigning over me-in-me. This was Philip’s message, and what a great revival eventuated.
In Acts 19, We read of the glorious far-reaching revival that extended from Ephesus to the borders of Asia. Paul was the preacher and the theme of his ministry is given in verse 8, “And he went into the synagogue and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing (to say thoroughly, beyond argument) and persuading (convincing) the things concerning the Kingdom of God.”
Reading between the lines, on through verse 20, one can see the depth of commitment into which these Ephesian believers had entered. The Kingdom of God message had brought them fully under the dominion of Jesus Christ. They displayed a mutual harmony, along with a willingness to sacrifice themselves in love, that they might get the job done for God. There is nothing cheap about this challenging ministry. When believers are confronted at the outset with the cost of entering into the Kingdom of God, the Church will be brought forth in great power. Personal sacrifice, and demonstrations of Christian love will be manifest on every hand — particularly when the mighty influence of the Holy Spirit is in full operation.
In chapter 20, we find Paul bidding farewell to the Elders of the Ephesian Church. It is a very touching account. In verse 25 he reminds them of the emphasis in his preaching, “and now behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the Kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.” In verse 27 he indicates that “all the council of God” is included in the Kingdom message. Only when a company of believers are under one headship (the government of the Lord Jesus Christ) will there be a real Church, with all the love (for one another) which Jesus said would exist. There was no attempt to manipulate people or circumstances in order to obtain some high position; no competition for self-glory. In verses 29 and 30 Paul inferred that such would come to pass later; but at present the Church was pure because Kingdom-of-God-government prevailed. The specific Gospel of the Kingdom of God should never be deleted from all forms of general ministry. The Holy Spirit will always bless where the Kingdom message is emphasized.
Paul’s Closing WordThe conclusion of Paul’s ministry is recorded in the last chapter of Acts 28:23. He is teaching in his own living quarters in Rome. The Word says, “and when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him in his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the KINGDOM OF GOD, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.” Paul was well able to draw from the entire body of biblical truth the matter of divine positive stress — the Kingdom-of-God-message. He sought, “to persuade them concerning Jesus”. Obviously, he set Jesus before them as the King of the Kingdom, as the Ruling and Governing Authority. Paul saw Jesus Christ as God Almighty, Majesty of Eternity. He saw His single Headship, His sole dominion over creation. This was a point of division, for in verse 24 we have the results, “some believed . . . some believed not.” Paul never changed nor softened the great Kingdom-of-God-message, and in the last verse of this chapter (verse 31) we see again how it is inseparably united to Jesus, the Son of God. The Word reads, “Preaching the Kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” Never did the apostle make the Kingdom message palatable to human flesh. Had he softened it up or watered it down to suit natural carnality, he would have been a traitor to God — disloyal and unfaithful. Paul was not concerned about quantity; he was always after quality. His goal was to get men detached from every other headship, from every counter authority, from every alien government, and bring them totally under the glorious rule of the Sovereign Christ.
SINGLE HEADSHIP CONTINUED
Saved People at Best...
Are Still Only Body Material — Not Headship
Recently, I was in conversation with a brother concerning a very popular minister who had lived over the past several decades. This minister was killed in an auto accident sometime around 1980, and he had had one of the most powerful ministries in America at that time. His success seemed to “go to his head” and he proceeded to assume a “headship” position. Such is totally disallowed by scripture for any earthly member of the Body of Christ. This man (the subject of our discussion) made some very inflationary remarks about himself and eventually set himself up as some sort of super authority, especially in matters of prophecy. He drew a very large following and was literally worshipped by some. It was at this time that he lost his life. The brother, with whom I was talking, had previously been involved with this man. However, he had forsaken that relationship and was now truly serving the Lord. I have said all this in order to bring the right conclusion to the whole issue of headship. I told him that there was only ONE HEAD TO THE BODY OF CHRIST. Every saved person on earth, at best, is only a member of Christ’s Body. According to Ephesians 5:23, “. . . Christ is the (one and only) Head of the Church: and the Savior of the body.”
Furthermore, in I Cor. 12:23 we understand that the more honorable a member is — the less honor is bestowed on him; and the less comely a member is — the more honor is bestowed on him.
Follow-ship In Right Order Is GoodWhen a member of the Body is walking in truth, love, and righteousness, it is scripturally right to follow him for he is following Christ. However, if a professed believer displays actions and attitudes that are anti-Bible, selfish, and contrary to love and holiness — that person’s example is NOT only NOT to be followed, but he is to be disciplined and restored to proper body relationship. Ego is powerful in natural man and, if unchecked, will replace God as Ultimate Opinion in the human heart. Carnality delights to play God and display its wisdom and intelligence. Its supreme joy is to be free to “throw its weight around” in commanding the actions of others; to be the final authority in matters of vital decision. Obviously, this is all out of order. The Headship in the Body of Christ is ONE, and He is the Lord Jesus Christ — the permanent Head and the eternal Head. There is a plurality of eldership in the Church, but the Headship is single — Jesus Christ the Son of God. In Matthew 12:25 Jesus established this fact as a divine absolute. We read, “And Jesus knew their thoughts and said unto them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand’.” When one contests the authority of the Head, it is in a spirit of rebellion. Obversely, authority, with power to enforce its word, will prevent or end rebellion.
This is why God provided the cross in experience, for His children. He knew the existence of the spirit of rebellion in the human heart, so in His wonderful order, He wrought death for the rebel in the death of Christ. The resurrected “new man” joyously submits to the authority of the Head.
Self, the Avowed Adversary of ChristIn Matthew 5:25,26 Jesus throws precious light on this very process. He says, “Agree with thine adversary quickly whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.” The “old man”, with his carnal nature, is a rebel against Christ and Christ will remain the adversary of that sinful nature. So you — the “new man” with the divine nature — must learn to agree quickly with Christ in the issues of life. In fact, the Christian must agree with Christ against his own selfish self, and he must learn to do so ‘quickly’. Such faith action is demonstrated by his obedience to the truth; for a child of God to continue in rebellion, after light has come to him, will invoke severe discipline. God will chasten such children again and again in order to finally bring them under His authority. Failure to agree with Christ, the Adversary of our sinful flesh, will, sooner or later, bring the discipline that will land the rebel in the God-ordained prison. There he will remain in the turmoil of his own manufactured shackles until he has learned In Hebrews 12:1 1 we read, “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them which are exercised thereby.”
This is being delivered to the judge, the officer, and being thrown into jail — UNTIL the lesson has been learned and the spirit of rebellion broken. Then the cross has done its work. The believer is being secured under the Headship of Christ. He has entered into true harmony and rectified relatedness with the Head and with the Body — the Church. God will always press His children to obedience through sanctifying experience. He is determined to reproduce the image of His Son in the life of every saint. The flow of life from Christ’s Headship is the absolute primary requirement for church building. The on-going acceptance of His Government by believers is what makes the way for His life-power to flow. In Isaiah 9:6 we read that, “the government shall be on His shoulder”, and when that condition prevails other matters follow in right order.
Kingdom Submission . . .
Must Be Witnessed By Visible Evidence
In His word, God has spelled out in intricate detail how believers are to act and react in every life situation. He tells us how we must feel about all types of people. He instructs us concerning disposition and attitude, regardless of circumstances. The total solutions to the problems of life are found between the covers of the Bible. The world has its way of dealing with human difficulties; usually employing psychological techniques, intellectual counseling, etc. However, God is not in man-made methodology. The fullness of life is in Christ and in being under His Headship. In submission to His Authority, the believer will experience living answers to his problems; he will enjoy the discovery of vital solutions to every difficulty which will ever confront him.
How blessed is this procedure right in the Church where problem people become opportunities to prove the wisdom and power of our omniscient Head. God has ordained that the Church be a glorious, living, functioning organism where every member learns to flow together in the same direction under One Head; where each individual, from the least to the greatest, will make a blessed contribution for growth and ministry under the Lord; where the whole church will be built up together.
Christ’s Judgement of HumanismIn Revelation 3:14-20 we have Jesus making a solemn and final appeal to the members of the Laodicean church. This church, by its own testimony, reveals that its doctrine is one of humanistic religion. Self and self-interest is enthroned in its constituents. A heart that God made for Himself is occupied by His adversary. This is the rebel church, and today it has become a great institution with Jesus Christ on the outside. The government of the Laodicean church is in the hands of men, not God. Its authority springs from the imagination of carnal minds. The very word ‘Laodiceans’ (referring to the religious citizens of Laodicea) in the Greek means ‘the people’s right’ (not God), ‘the justice of the people’ (not God). Its organizational structure is democratic, not theocratic. This church, as a corporate whole will never be revived. It will continue as it is until anti-christ takes over.
However, Jesus extends His personal invitation for members of this church to leave it and renounce it, and come to Him in repentance and faith — to receive forgiveness of sins and to have eternal life. In verse 20 He promises, “Behold I stand at the door and knock (outside the door of this church): if ANY MAN hear My voice, and open the door (from the inside), I will come in to HIM and sup with Him, and he with Me.”
Obviously, there are those in the Laodicean church who see the error and are out of step with the main body. They are reaching for the reality of divine life. These are the ones spoken of in verse 19, who experience rebuke and chastening by the Lord. They are brought to “zealous” repentance and become the “any ones” of verse 20. Only the door of the Laodice an church separates these “ones” from the Lord.
The Eternal Value of . . .
Dealing with the Door
Jesus demands that their faith action must deal with the “door”. What is that action? It is to renounce and utterly repudiate their liberal, anti-christ, religious doctrines concerning Jesus Christ. It is to embrace and fully believe in the Trinity; in the absolute authenticity of the Word of God; in the sacrificial atoning blood of Jesus Christ; in the reality of eternal heaven and hell, etc. To deal with the Laodicean door by faith is to radically and fully turn from everything concerning religion that has its source in man. It must be repented of and forsaken. Jesus Christ must be received as very God of very God, co-equal, and co-eternal with the Father and with the Holy Spirit from the un-begun beginning. He, as King, must be established in the heart as Lord and Savior. The life of the ex-Laodicean person must be brought under Christ’s Government, in recognition that he has become a member of the Lord’s Body, and a vital part of His Church. He must see that he has become united in Spirit to the Son of God, Who is the One and Only Head of the one and only Church.
ADDENDUMThe Bible has many warnings against spiritual declension. God does not threaten, but to move away from the place of implicit trust in Him is most serious. God, knowing this, has given clear and firm warnings. The cooling off of Christian faith is often the result of erroneous teaching and ministry within the church. I wish to take the time and space to quote three scriptures which give the clarion call to BEWARE of any kind of seduction that would terminate in spiritual disaster.
First: Acts 20:28-31. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For this I know, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”
Second: II Peter 3:15-17. “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation: even as our beloved brother Paul according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore beloved, seeing ye know these things before, BEWARE LEST YE ALSO, being led away with the error of the Wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.”
Third: II Peter 2: 1-3. “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even deny the Lord that bought them, and shall bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words MAKE MERCHANDISE of you: Whose judgement now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”
The knowledge which this book has brought to you produces a higher dimension of responsibility to truth than you ever had before. To stand with God at this level of spiritual life is costly and is sometimes painful. However, in so doing, you will experience true fulfillment. You will become a rich blessing to other honest seekers of God while your own spiritual stature is being increased.
Along with the thousands of believers who love God, I long to see a genuine revival poured out on the church . . . a divine moving that will extend from the church into every area of society. If and when revival comes, the whole world will know it. Revival will impact society totally. Negative forces of sin and evil will diminish, while righteousness will blossom and be universally increased. The tragedy today is that we in the church have become complacent with “sub-spiritual religion.” We are witnessing the replacement of gospel ministry with “churchie theatrics”, charismatic entertainment, and pseudo spiritual performances. All of this plays right into the hands of the evil one. Spectators may be thrilled with the use of superficial scriptural rhetoric. Exciting the emotions, by dramatic sensational methods will charge an audience to a nervous “height”— they will call this “experiencing the presence of God.” Clever psychologists can bring the mind to a level of senescent elation and delineate the sensation as being “spiritual.”
The final test of all ministry and religious experience is: DOES IT FULLY CONFORM TO THE TRUTH — TO THE BIBLE — TO GOD’S WHOLE WORD — IS IT REALLY SOMETHING LIVINGLY OF JESUS CHRIST?
Through His death, burial, and resurrection the Son of God was translated from flesh into Spirit, today He is embodied in the Word. There is no such thing as receiving God or anything from God that cannot be found in the Word. So called spiritual testimony that is either short of the Word or beyond it must be discarded no matter how lilting it may sound to the human ear. To receive Jesus Christ is to receive His life IN HIS SPIRIT AND IN HIS WORD. This is the test of all charismatic experience and communication. In John 6:63 Jesus said, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh proﬁteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life” (Gk. ZOE — His life). The Lord’s life is not only in Him the Lord’s life is Him. Thus to have Him is to have Him in His living Word. TO FAIL TO HAVE HIM leaves a spiritually oriented person vulnerable to all manner of ecstatic, pseudo religious experience, with never even a token of the Word to back it up. God disciplines the believer in many ways but His goal always remains the same — to produce the beauty and the glory of His Son’s image in the saint. Nevertheless, BEWARE — keep the scriptures given in this addendum ever at hand. Plead the blood of the Lamb as your daily shield and protection from every work of the enemy — keep Christ, in His redemptive work, as your covering; thus permitting the Holy Spirit to minister Him to you, redemptively in a daily on-going relationship. In Jesus Christ, plus nothing, you are a winner.