CHURCH

The foundation of a church is the divine calling of God, the hearing and doing of what the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ says. The Greek word “ekklesia” is simply means ” called out.”

The church is the home of Jesus Christ and the Father. Whoever hears His voice and follow Him becomes their residence. Only Jesus can build his church for His own. He never delegated this responsibility to any other person, not even to His disciples. The Lord commanded His disciples to teach and make disciples. There was no clear mandate for them to build a church of any kind, whether it is physical or spiritual. He didn’t say, “Go and build my Church.”

Discipling is more important than church building. Let us leave the task of forming a church to our Lord Himself while we continue teaching and making disciples for Him. The Word is as solid as a rock. His words are the foundation of life. Upon His teachings, the church will grow out like the branches from the Vine.

 

 “And I also say to you that you are Peter,

and on this rock I will build My church,

and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

Matt 16:18

 “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word;

and My Father will love him,

and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

John 14:23

(Saturday, 28 August 2004)

——————————————————————————————————————-

“I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH”

Matt 16:18

“And I also say to you that you are Peter,

and on this rock

I will build My church,

and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

Jesus spoke only two times in the Gospel about the Church. The first and the most important reference about the Church was when Jesus Himself declared to Peter,

“I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH”

This is clear enough to understand that Jesus would build His own church. The message about the church was short and complete. What part of “I will build my Church” we don’t understand? How do we interpret a simple declaration?

“I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH”

There were no direct instructions to anybody to build a church for Him because He wanted to build HIS church Himself. He can do exactly what He promised to do. No one is allowed to mess up with His building project. No help is needed this time. There are things He would like to do Himself and one of them is,

“I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH”

It is surprising enough that many are trying to give meaning to what a church is; this is irrelevant and fruitless due to the fact that the church is His project and not ours. The issue is not about Peter, the rock or the gates of hell. The main point of Jesus was made clear to his disciples that He will without doubt build HIS own Church. How dare we now build churches for Christ when He Himself said?

“I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH’

Guess what? If Christ is preparing a place for us in heaven as promised, why do we need to help Him prepare that place in heaven for ourselves? Can we help Him at all in preparing a place as stated in John 14:2 promise? Likewise, can we build His Church for Him? He builds His Church according to His master plan, a church that Christ alone knows what she looks like, what is the sense of making a church of any kind for Christ? Make no mistake and listen to His voice when He said in five words,

“I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH”

You can build a mosque, temple, chapel or a cathedral but not a Church. The Church is a pure by-product of the Lord Jesus Christ. If it is not perfect, it is not of the Lord. Furthermore, you form a club and call it a church. You gather an assembly and call it a church. You divide a group into factions and say the church is divided. You moved from group to group to find a perfect church on earth without success. Let us leave the task of church building, spiritual or material in the hand of the Lord and devote our time obeying the words of Christ for He says clearly,

“I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH

(Tuesday, 19 August 2003)

——————————————————————————————————————–

SEVEN CHURCHES IN ASIA


I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and,

What thou seest, write in a book, and

send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia;

unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna,

 and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira,

and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia,

and unto Laodicea.

 

Jesus Christ who resurrected from the grave and went back to His Father revealed Himself to John. He spoke about the Seven Churches in Asia. These churches were not part of the Church Christ promised to build. They were rather representative or replica of the churches of today. These seven churches were worldly and man made, except for the church in Philadelphia who kept the Word of the Lord.  (Revelation 3:8) The  Lord expressed His love to them because of their perseverance to keep and obey His commands.

It is possible to have a church on this earth that follows the words of Christ. However, it is the people who were committed in obeying the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was not the building or edifice that was the church in Philadelphia but the followers of His beloved words.

We recommend that you read the characteristic of every church in Asia. You will notice that these churches were full of imperfection though they were the offshoot of the missionary endeavor of the Apostolic Church. Shall we continue to build churches for Christ though the odds of making it right is one to seven. Are we really sure Christ wanted to build churches of Him?

1. The Loveless Church

“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write,

‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand,

who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:

 “I know your works, your labor, your patience,

and that you cannot bear those who are evil.

And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not,

and have found them liars;

 and you have persevered and have patience,

and have labored for My name’s sake

and have not become weary.

 Nevertheless I have this against you,

 that you have left your first love.

 Remember therefore from where you have fallen;

 repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly

 and remove your lampstand from its place — unless you repent.

 But this you have,

that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life,

which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”‘

 

2. The Persecuted Church

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write,

‘These things says the First and the Last,

who was dead, and came to life:

 “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich);

and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not,

but are a synagogue of Satan.

 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer.

Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison,

that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days.

 Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”‘

3. The Compromising Church

 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write,

                      ‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword:

“I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is.

And you hold fast to My name,

and did not deny My faith even in the days in which

Antipas was My faithful martyr,

who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.

But I have a few things against you,

because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam,

who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children ofIsrael,

to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.

Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans,

which thing I hate.

Repent, or else I will come to you quickly

and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.

 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat.

And I will give him a white stone,

and on the stone a new name written

which no one knows except him who receives it.”‘

 4. The Corrupt Church

“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write,

‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire,

and His feet like fine brass:

“I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience;

and as for your works, the last are more than the first.

Nevertheless I have a few things against you,

because you allow that woman Jezebel,

who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and

seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and

eat things sacrificed to idols.

And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality,

and she did not repent.   Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed,

and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation,

unless they repent of their deeds.

I will kill her children with death, and

all the churches shall know that

I am He who searches the minds and hearts.

And I will give to each one of you according to your works.

“Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira,

as many as do not have this doctrine,

 who have not known the depths of Satan,

as they say, I will put on you no other burden.

But hold fast what you have till I come.

And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end,

to him I will give power over the nations —

‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron;

They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’ —

as I also have received from My Father;

 and I will give him the morning star.

“He who has an ear, let him hear

what the Spirit says to the churches.”‘

 5. The Dead Church

 

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write,

‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars:

“I know your works, that you have a name

that you are alive, but you are dead.

 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain,

that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.

Remember therefore how you have received and heard;

hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch,

I will come upon you as a thief,

 and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.

You have a few names even inSardiswho have not defiled their garments;

and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.

He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments,

and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life;

 but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”‘

6. The Faithful Church 

 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,

‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true,

“He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts,

and shuts and no one opens”:

“I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door,

and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength,

have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan,

who say they are Jews and are not, but lie —

indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet,

and to know that I have loved you.

Because you have kept My command to persevere,

I also will keep you from the hour of trial which

shall come upon the whole world,

to test those who dwell on the earth.

Behold, I am coming quickly!

Hold fast what you have,

that no one may take your crown.

He who overcomes,

I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God,

and he shall go out no more.

I will write on him the name of My God and

the name of the city of My God,

the New Jerusalem, which comes

down out of heaven from My God.

And I will write on him My new name.

“He who has an ear, let him hear

 what the Spirit says to the churches.”‘

7. The Lukewarm Church

“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,

‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness,

the Beginning of the creation of God:

“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot.

I could wish you were cold or hot.

So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,

I will vomit you out of My mouth.

Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy,

and have need of nothing’ —

and do not know that you are wretched,

miserable, poor, blind, and naked —

I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire,

that you may be rich; and white garments,

that you may be clothed,

that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed;

and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.

Therefore be zealous and repent.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock.

If anyone hears My voice and opens the door,

I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne,

as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”.

What is a Church?

 “Church” is an interesting word in that Jesus apparently never uttered its New Testament Greek equivalent; a word that is not used anywhere in the record of his utterances in the Greek gospels.  It occurs only twice in the entire Greek New Testament and that to refer to things unrelated to what we normally think of as “church.”  Now, you are thinking that this is a ridiculous statement, seeing that your New Testament is literally peppered with this word?  Let me explain.

The English word derives, according to The Oxford English Dictionary, from a Greek word, kuriakos, that means “house of the Lord.”  This does not necessarily imply “belonging to the Lord Jesus.”  Rather, it apples to any lord, whether a landlord, a master, a lord of slaves or any other lord.  It is this word, from which “church” is derived, that occurs only twice in the Greek New Testament.  In I Corinthians. 11:20, it is used to identify the “Lord’s Supper” as belonging to the Lord.  In Rev. 1:10, it is used to refer to the “Lord’s Day” as belonging to the Lord.  There is no record that Jesus ever used this word,kuriakos, and it is not found in the Gospels.

Of course, I am aware that “church” occurs many times in the English New Testament.  We find it more than one hundred times, primarily in the Acts and the Epistles, and always as translated from the Greek word that, transliterated, becomes in English ekklesia.  This word in turn derives from a Greek verb that means “to summon forth,” or “to call out from.”  It apparently has no etymological relation to church.  Ekklesia is not a uniquely Christian word.  In the Greek world it had numerous applications, often indicating an assembly of citizens, such as a town meeting.

Even in the New Testament it is not uniquely Christian.  When Paul was at Ephesus (Acts 19:23-41), Demetrius, the silversmith, vigorously opposed him and gathered together silversmiths and other craftsmen and started a riot that enveloped the whole city, for “the city was filled with confusion.”  Then a great mass of pagan citizens, crying out “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” laid hold of Paul’s companions, Gaius and Aristarchus, and dragged them into the theater.  Some cried out one thing, some another, for the “ekklesia” was in confusion.  Then the town clerk took charge of the assembly, rebuked the mob and urged them to bring such charges as they might have before the courts, which were open.  “But,” he said, “if you seek anything further, it shall be settled in the regular ekklesia.”  Then, after a few more words, “he dismissed the ekklesia.

Here we have the word used to specify a rioting mob of pagan citizens of the city of Ephesus, and also to apply to a legal assemblage of citizens.  Luke in Acts also used the same word in relating the speech of Stephen that resulted in his martyrdom.  Speaking of the great congregation of the children of Israel that gathered with Moses at Sinai, Stephen said, “This is he who was in the ekklesia in the wilderness . . .” (Acts 7:38). In the first case, we have a rioting mob called out from the city of Ephesus by Demetrius, the silversmith.  In the second case, we have the Israelites whom God had called out from Egypt, and assembled with Moses at Sinai.  Finally, Luke also used ekklesia to refer to the assembly of disciples, in many references such as Acts 5:11, where he related,  “And great fear came upon the whole ekklesia and upon all who heard of these things.”

In the Septuagint, it is used in place of the Hebrew, qahal, for the assembly of the Israelites, especially when gathered for religious purposes.  Thus, below, we will find it used in this way in Acts 7:38 (by Stephen, based on his reading of the Septuagint) to define such an assemblage, and in Hebrews 2:12.

Jesus used ekklesia only twice in the gospels.  After eliciting Peter’s confession of himself as the Christ, the Son of the living God, he said:

Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jonah!  For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  And I tell you, you are Peter (petros – stone, little rock) and upon this rock (petra – crag, cliff, large rock) I will build my ekklesia (Matthew 16:17,18).

Later, giving instructions to the disciples as to how to respond to a brother who had sinned against them, he said:

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.  If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.  But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the ekklesia; and if he refuses to listen even to the ekklesia, let him be to you as a gentile and a tax collector (Matthew 18:15-17).

It is interesting to note that if we did not have Matthew’s Gospel, we would have no record whatsoever of any direct reference of Jesus to the ekklesia, for neither Mark, nor Luke, nor John use this word in relating his utterances.  At the very least, this tells us that the apostles and other earliest disciples, who heard Jesus and later recorded his utterances, had very little recollection of any special significance that this word might have in the doctrine of their Lord.  I believe it means that the church, as we know it, had absolutely no place in the message of Jesus.

Why is church used to translate ekklesia into English, when it derives from a completely different Greek word? Ekklesia was carried over into Latin and all the romance languages, but not into English, German, or any Teutonic or Slavonic language (see Oxford Dictionary of the English Language).  We have no sure answer to this question, so I can only suggest one.  Consider that you are native to the British Isles at an early time when Christian missionaries were first preaching the Gospel in Britain, or when the first church buildings were being erected.  You might ask, concerning a new building under construction, whose is that?  And an appropriate answer would be, perhaps, “It is the Lord’s house.”  Or, in a single word, “that is a church,” for the word from whichchurch is derived, kuriakos, means “belonging to the Lord.”  It may have applied generally to the house of “the lord of the manor.” Then it is an easy step to apply church also to the assembly of persons who met in, and maintained the building, then to the larger institution consisting of the union of local congregations.  Thus it may have been that the use of church evolved through history with no reference to scriptural usage or precedents.  I have suggested the setting as Britain, for I am suggesting the origin of an English word; however, it may have been some other location where the word resembled the English church, such as in Germany where the corresponding word would have been kirche.  Carried over into English, it would naturally have become the corresponding church.   So while I do not know the answer to this question and can only suggest possibilities, I do believe it is very significant, for it seems symbolic of a transition from the Truth to the sham gospels that the modern church proclaims in the name of Jesus, both in the English speaking world and throughout Christendom.

There may be a another reason for the switch from ekklesia to church.  Ekklesia generally applies to an assembly or congregation of people who are “called out” or summoned to come together.  When applied to a gathering of the disciples of the Lord, this is properly interpreted to indicate a summoning of people to come out of the world and to congregate in his name, apart from the people of the world.  This was most appropriate in the early years of Christianity, when people were intensely aware of their uniqueness in having been called out of the world and set apart for the service of the Lord.  But their organization became worldly, particularly after Constantine, the Roman Emperor, converted to Christianity, legalized and protected the gatherings of the Christians and appropriated their movement to use on behalf of governing the empire.  Centuries passed during which the Christians, oftentimes forcibly “converted,” lost their sense of being called out from the world, and related more to the building in which they met to worship, to the local congregation, or to the multi-national institution ruling over them, than to a gathering of “called out individuals.”  Thereafter, it was natural for them to refer proudly to their great buildings as “belonging to the Lord,” and to refer to themselves, to their local gatherings, and their institution, in another sense as also belonging to the Lord, even though the Lord did not possess them!  In my mind, at least, this word switch according to which church comes to describe the buildings, gatherings, and local, national, and institutional religious organizations in English speaking Christendom, as also the mystical “body of Christ,” in contrast to ekklesia, the general, or nonspecific,  word used by Jesus and his disciples is symbolic of the tragic march of heresy through the centuries.  The “church experience” is therefore one that genuine disciples are well advised to avoid as being fraught with frustration, compromise, and all spiritual conflicts.  I do not mean that individuals are condemned by belonging to a church, only that it is an association that will being much tribulation to a true follower of Jesus.

Again, suppose church, as derived from kuriakos (lord’s house), and ekklesia (called out assembly) are each valid descriptions of separate but related entities.  In this case, I suppose that church is properly applied exactly as we apply it: to the behemoth that we call “the church,” But ekklesia may well apply to that worldwide assembly of individual children of the Father who are genuine disciples whose faith rests on the love of the Father and the hatred of life, and who listen to the Good Shepherd.  Many, perhaps most of them, are members of the churches and they will not be sorted out until the Judgment Day, when the Lord will gather and sort them at the Great Assize.  That final assemblage may be one thing that Jesus had in mind when he made his reference to the ekklesia in saying, “On this rock I will build my ekklesia.”  Then, in the early years, when the apostles were assembling small groups, little flocks, of disciples in the various cities of the Roman Empire, and when they were predominately genuine disciples, they would have been representative of the final gathering into the ekklesia.  As genuine representatives of that great and final assembly, these groups would have been properly called “the ekklesia” in whatever city they gathered, exactly as we read in the New Testament.  Later, that is, today, when the multitudes who congregate in the Lord’s name throughout the world no longer listen to his voice and so are not his true sheep – except for those few scattered through them who do listen – it is no longer appropriate to refer to them as the ekklesia, seeing that few of them will join that entity in the Great Assize and neither do they exhibit a separatist conscience as they must if called out from the world.  Thus, in English and Germanic speaking nations at least, they have another name, kuriakos, or church.

So, just what is in the word?  Apparently not much, at least from the perspectives of Jesus and the early disciples.  Based on its New Testament usage, the state assemblies and the House of Representatives in Washington are all churches!  Likewise are the mosques and the synagogues.

(Written by ED Jones)

Leave a Reply