Jer. 1:4-5 π Mt. 15:3 π Mt. 23:13 π Lk. 16:8 π 1 Cor. 3:1 π 1 Cor. 3:4 π 1 Cor. 11:1 π 1 Cor. 12:25-28 π Gal. 5:17 π Eph. 4:11 π Eph. 4:12 π Eph. 4:13-16 π Eph. 6:12 π 3 Jn. 9 π Rev. 2:6 π Rev. 2:15
A study of war would do many a Christian a lot of good. For, though many Christians act and live otherwise, the Christian life is one of war. "For the flesh wars against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another..." ( Gal. 5:17; top ) "For we wrestle...against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." ( Eph. 6:12; top ) There is no middle ground, no neutral zone, no demilitarized zone. The soul of each individual is the battleground and one either walks in the flesh or in the Spirit.
One of the world's most brilliant generals was Napoleon Bonaparte. His chief weapon in war was his unconventional use of cannon. His strategy revolved around mobile artillery units which could move quickly and rain down lethal carnage on troops and fortifications alike. And it can be argued that it was not the generals who opposed him that ultimately defeated him but it was God Himself who opposed Napoleon and brought about his downfall. For in his attack on Russia, it was the combination of severe winter and lack of food that ultimately turned him back, not superior battle tactics on the part of his enemy. In the battle of Waterloo, the rain the night before had left the ground too muddy for his mobile artillery units to maneuver and the battle was not begun for several hours - the time the Prussian army needed to arrive on the battlefield just before the English were overrun. The time was not yet ripe for there to be one ruler over Europe so God interrupted Napoleon's plans for world conquest.
But we Christians could learn much from this great general. In his Military Maxims and Thoughts, Napoleon wrote,
"It follows that any commander in chief who undertakes to carry out a plan which he considers defective is at fault; he must put forth his reasons, insist on the plan being changed, and finally tender his resignation rather than be the instrument of his army's downfall."
Look carefully at the personal responsibility he placed on himself and those who were in battlefield command positions! If he or one of his generals knew that a battle plan was defective and went ahead with it anyway, he or that general was the direct and proximate cause of the destruction of the army and surely there would be a stiff penalty for such negligence.
This is the world's wisdom in warfare. As Jesus said, "The sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light." ( Lk. 16:8; top )
There are many denominations masquerading as the body of Christ today who insist on personal loyalty to their leader(s). Such loyalty is antagonistic to the life of the body of Christ, that is, that walk by and in the Spirit of God whereby His life is manifest in us. "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal... For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not carnal?" ( 1 Cor. 3:1 , 4; top ) One cannot even hope to be a spiritual man if his loyalty is to any man other than Christ Jesus.
Now that is not to say there is no place for godly leadership. Paul wrote, "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." ( 1 Cor. 11:1; top ) From the many times Paul denounces someone who was not imitating Christ, we can easily infer that Paul would say, "If I stop imitating Christ, stop imitating me!"
Whenever our loyalty to a man is greater than our loyalty to Christ, we have erred. Our responsibility in this war is to obey the commands of our Captain, General and Commander-in-Chief, the Lord Jesus Christ. If any man's directives cause us to be in contradiction to His directives, then it is we, ourselves, who will bear the responsibility for the destruction that occurs to His army around us.
We all know this. It is common sense. What we most often refuse to do is to apply it to everything that we do in the name of the Lord. We will apply it to some things but not to all. We will apply it to gross sin in our life but we will not apply this same principle to how or where we attend "church."
The truth is that "attending church" cannot be found anywhere in the New Testament! The "church" is built on man-made traditions that are making God's Word of no effect. When asked why He did not obey the traditions of the rabbis, Jesus retorted, "Why do you use the traditions of the rabbis as an excuse to disobey God?" ( Mt. 15:3; top ) Jesus sternly rebuked the Pharisees for standing in front of the door to the kingdom of heaven, neither going in themselves nor letting anyone else in. ( Mt. 23:13; top ) The leaders of the "church" have largely taken up this same position - blockading the entrance to the kingdom of God - and they see nothing wrong with it!
When confronted with this, they will deny it. They will hide behind their doctrines of theocracy and ecclesiology. But the simple truth is that the "church," from the traditional pointed roof and steeple to the pulpit to the choir to the man standing between the congregation and God to the graven images above the "altar" to the parking lot, is all a construct of the devil. Christ is indeed building His ekklesia and indeed the very gates of hell, the "church," cannot overcome the true remnant of Christ.
Has no one ever considered why "pastor burnout" is so prevalent? Has no one noticed that only 10% regularly do the work of the "church," keeping it alive, while 90% feed off their labors like bloated leeches? Has no one ever noticed that spiritual maturity is virtually non-existent in the "churches" while gossip, backbiting, slander, fornication, lust, adultery, greed, covetousness, drunkenness and idolatry are rampant? Has no one even bothered to check the concordance and the original Greek for words like "pastor," "sermon," "pulpit," "choir," "worship leader," "worship team," "pew," "church," "church buildings," or "steeple"? And if you can't find them in the New Testament, has no one bothered to check the history books to see where these things come from? Some have done so - and have quickly left the "church" to be united in joyous full liberty with the ekklesia.
The reason all this sin and deception persist in the "church" is because the "church" is no construct of Christ's. When Christ planned how He was going to build His ekklesia - a company of His people translated from the kingdom of darkness into His kingdom of light, a people who could not be stopped by the powers of darkness - do you imagine that He forgot how to overcome these issues which cripple the "church"? Do you suppose that He intended for the leader to become burnt out in trying to serve the needs of the people? Do you suppose that He intended for there to be a large percentage of camp followers who cause nothing but problems? Do you suppose He forgot to incorporate some method whereby those caught up in the sins of gossip, lust, greed, etc. would be set free of these things? Do you suppose that He neglected to include any important element of corporate body life in His written instructions? No! God forbid even such a notion - for, if He committed any of these errors, He is no longer the infallible God of the Bible and the Christ we worship is but a fable, a faint shadow of the true Christ!
The ekklesia, when led by the Spirit of God is eminently, even vastly capable of leading the people of God to spiritual maturity. The workload is spread across everyone, each individual believer being a royal priest with both the right and responsibility to press into the intimate presence of God - and the right and responsibility to minister the Spirit of Christ to everyone he comes into contact with. There is no need for paid, professional staff because each believer is equipped to carry on the business, the war, of the kingdom of light.
The battle plan of the "church" is defective. It cannot produce mature believers for several very simple reasons.
1) The ministry of the "church" is most often focused on the role of the paid "pastor" and his paid "assistant-pastors." This is completely foreign to the New Testament. Eph. 4:13-16 (top) describes the mature body - unified in faith and knowledge of God's Son, mature, unswayed by false doctrines and men's cunning deceits, speaking the truth to one another in love, edifying and being edified by one another. Eph. 4:12 (top) tells us that the body was equipped and edified so as to be like this - so that the body, the saints, could do the work of the ministry. Eph. 4:11 (top) tells us how this equipping and edifying is accomplished. "Christ Himself gave some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers for the equipping of the saints and the edifying of the body of Christ until we reach maturity..." That's five ministries that are required, not one. And these five ministries need to work in harmony and conjunction with one another - not in competition with one another, not vying for control of the people receiving the other ministries.
2) The authority structure of the "church" is based on that of the Roman empire, not that of the New Testament. The leadership of the ekklesia is a number of elders (overseers or bishops) who provide direction and example for the local flock . These elders are appointed by extra-local apostles, apostles who have been clearly approved by God. These elders then nurture the local flock so that many servants (ministers or deacons) are raised up and recognized by their faithful service to Christ and His people (the saints and new converts). The "church" has popes, cardinals, priests, "pastors" and assistant "pastors" who lord it over their flocks, making command decisions based on cost, affordability, tradition and human logic, discarding the leading of the Holy Spirit. What is frightening are those "churches" who believe they are being led by the Holy Spirit to build and have bigger and better "churches." Why would the Holy Spirit, whose job it is to glorify Christ and lead us into all truth, ever lead someone to pursue an avenue that contradicts Scripture? The truth is, He never will. And the question remains, which spirit are these people listening to then?
The authority structure is completely skewed and thus rebellious against God. Rather than a top- down hierarchical authority structure, ekklesia moves, lives and breathes with order. To prevent division (schisms, sects, denominations), God set certain giftings in the body: first apostles, then prophets, then teachers and then workers of miracles. ( 1 Cor. 12:25-28; top ) The end times will be characterized by the heaping up of teachers who tickle the ears. These teachers will not recognize the apostles or prophets just as Diotrephes would not recognize John. ( 3 Jn. 9; top ) These teachers are rogues - rebellious breakaways from the body of Christ - intent on building their own empires under the pretense of building Christ's kingdom. The two are mutually exclusive. If a man has a "church," it is his "church." It is not the ekklesia of Christ.
Because there is a man who stands over the congregation, a Nicolaitan (see Rev. 2:6 , 15; top ), the people are trained to become passive listeners, filled to the point of obesity with spiritual facts but dry to the bone when it comes to spiritual power to overcome sin. The subliminal message given off by the man in the pulpit is that he alone is capable of hearing what God has to say. This is an abominable lie! Let us consign it back to the pit from which it came! Every child of God needs to hear the voice of his or her heavenly Father. It is their birthright and only a thief or robber will take it from them!
3) The disobedience these two simple facts cause creates a ripple effect throughout the congregation of a "church." Because the man at the top is a bottleneck, filling up a large portion of the place of ministry in the congregation, the people are content to listen to him. They don't think they need to listen to the Holy Spirit because that's his job - so they never hear Christ's commands with any impetus to obey them. They quickly become hearers of the Word and not doers and are quickly deceived. They have no power to overcome the other sins which plague them and they have no power to deal with the problems that erupt in their relationships with others as a result. Thus they devolve into cliques and segments which, if the "church" is big enough, can practice their divisiveness right within the "church" walls. Where the "churches" are smaller or the splits more intense, the divisiveness is accomplished by starting yet another denominational franchise.
This is not the battle plan of the Captain of the Armies of the Lord. His battle plan is that, once a person has been released from the prison of darkness behind the gates of hell and set on the narrowing path that leads to eternal life, he is to be equipped and built up to become that specific character which God planned for him to become before the world was created. Jeremiah is not the only one whom God knew before he was created. ( Jer. 1:4-5; top ) All of us who have received new life in Christ have a destiny in Christ - and we have the responsibility to pursue that individual destiny in Him.
As for the "church," it is our responsibility to put forth our reasons, insist on the plan being changed, and finally tender our resignation in the "churches" so that we bear no responsibility in the downfall of anyone who is truly within the army of God. It is that 10% - those who do 100% of the work - most likely people who have truly been born again from above and graced by Christ Himself with the attitudes of a servant's heart - that keeps the denominational abominations alive and functional. What would be the effect if this core backbone, the true ekklesia remnant within the "church," forsook all the man-made traditions and the demonically-inspired deceptions and embraced the full freedom of Christ's company of called-out free citizens of His kingdom of light?
We would see a bride, without spot or wrinkle, saying, "Come, Lord Jesus. Come now. I am ready for You."
Let it be so.
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