Why Now?

Neil Girrard

Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Mt. 13:24-30 π Mt. 13:37-43 π Mt. 16:18 π Lk. 9:23-25 π Jn. 3:3 π Jn. 3:5-8 π Acts 7:48-50 π Rom. 8:9 π Rom. 14:17 π 1 Cor. 2:14 π 1 Cor. 5:11 π 1 Cor. 6:19-20 π 2 Pet. 3:17-18

When it comes to the question of "How could the 'church' be a deception?" the real question is, "Why now?" In other words, how is it that God could let His people endure centuries of deceptions that kept them from being all that they could have been? Perhaps this question, more so than any other, keeps many "church" people from recognizing the lies to which they are in bondage. To answer that question, we must understand just exactly what the people of God were supposed to be. The answer to that is found in the New Testament pattern of ekklesia.


Ekklesia is the Greek word that is used where Christ said that He would build His ekklesia and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. ( Mt. 16:18; top ) I use the Greek word here because there is no direct English equivalent. Though it was translated "church" and "assembly" in various English translations of the Bible, these words lack so much of the original meaning and have accumulated so much religious baggage that we need now to return to the original word in an attempt to grasp the original meaning.

Ekklesia is an important word to understand precisely because "church" and "assembly" are so inadequate. "Church" means "the house of the Lord" - but God doesn't live in houses made by human hands. ( Acts 7:48-50; top ) He lives within those who are truly His people. And "assembly" means "to gather together in one place" but does not speak of the requirements by which one is qualified to assemble. "Ekklesia" speaks of all these aspects simultaneously. Ekklesia is a word from the political realms and it speaks of the people of a particular city or region who are called together to attend to the business and needs of that city or region. When ekklesia is applied to those who follow Christ, it refers to those who are both qualified and called out to see to the business and needs of the kingdom of God.

Most people don't even know what the kingdom of God is, let alone how to attend to its business and needs. Paul wrote, "The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." ( Rom. 14:17 - emphasis added; top) We have no difficulty believing that God has something to do with righteousness, peace and joy - and we all desire these things to some degree - but we most often fail to recognize that this righteousness, peace and joy only comes in the Spirit. Any righteousness, peace or joy that comes from any other source is counterfeit Christianity. It is not the kingdom of God. Paul went so far as to say, "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His." ( Rom. 8:9; top )

Jesus said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God... Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit." ( Jn. 3:3 , 5-8; top )

If a person is not born again, Jesus said that he cannot even see the kingdom of God. And if a person is not born of the Spirit, Jesus said that he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Paul wrote, "The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." ( 1 Cor. 2:14; top ) Without spiritual discernment, even those who are born again and born of the Spirit cannot know which way the Spirit is moving at this precise moment in time. The utter dependence upon the Spirit of God for all things is of paramount importance - especially to those who hope to grow into "the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" that keeps us from falling from our secure position in Christ. ( 2 Pet. 3:17-18; top )

The ekklesia is those people who have been born again, who have also been born of the Spirit and who are walking in the Spirit of God. No others are qualified to attend to the business of God's kingdom. A person may be well-intentioned, he may be born again (that is, he can see the kingdom of God), he may be born of the Spirit (that is, he is in the kingdom of God) but if he is not walking in the things of the Spirit of God then he is out of step or out of line with God's will for the body of Christ because the ekklesia is the called-out people of God who attend to His kingdom. A herald, the Holy Spirit, calls them away from their previous activity so that they may attend to the business of the kingdom of God - which is found only in the Holy Spirit.

It is not enough that a person leave the world behind, he or she must also leave their self behind. Jesus said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what advantage is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?" ( Lk. 9:23-25; top ) Self-will, self-determination, selfishness - all must be forsaken. We are no longer our own - we have been bought with a great price, the life of Jesus Christ Himself. ( 1 Cor. 6:19-20; top )

This is the ekklesia - the people of Christ whom God has given new life by His Spirit and who follow only after the Spirit of God. Anyone else is a counterfeit, a fake, a fraud, a wannabe. Do not be deceived.

The Contrast

The "church," on the other hand, is the evolution of years, even centuries, of human traditions. It is an institution centered around a building, led by one or a few "men of God" who, by virtue of their superior knowledge of their formulating their particular division's creeds and doctrines, lord it over the majority of people who want to hear about God (to be religious) but who don't want to have to obey Him in all things. This abomination is nothing like the ekklesia but, because men have come to these "churches" looking for the Lord whom they think built and owns the house and because God has graciously met the sincere seekers there, most people believe the "church" is something the Lord Jesus Christ is doing and building.

Let me say that again. People have gone to "church" ("church" being "the house of the Lord") because they thought it was God's house and that they would meet Him there. And many did indeed meet God at a "church." But that meeting did not happen because God built the house. It happened because God is bigger than the house that men built. You can meet God in the middle of a bar, a porno-shop or a whorehouse if you sincerely cry out and repent of your sins - but that does not mean that God had anything to do with building or maintaining the bar, porno-shop or whorehouse.

The "church" is the culmination of the devil's schemes that are designed to prevent the ekklesia from becoming spiritually mature and powerful in its war against Satan's kingdom. It is the very gates of hell which have no chance of victory if the ekklesia attacks them. Let me briefly list the ways in which "church" is quite different from ekklesia.

Not every "church" fellowship has every extreme of "church" deception. But these twelve contrasts of the "church" deception with the ekklesia reality ought to be sufficient for those who have ears to hear.

Calling Things What They Are

That there are two extremes of false and true Christianity is not what most people object to. What most object to is calling one "church" and the other ekklesia. The "church," for many people, represents the best thing they have found on earth. Those who sincerely seek God have met God and have rubbed shoulders with other sincere seekers of God at a "church." They have recognized that there are elements of deceit and death within their "church" fellowship but they have never recognized the lethal nature of the overall pattern of Satan's work in their midst. They have simply dismissed those elements as part of the imperfections that are part of any and every "church" and they have refused to pass judgment on those who, though they claim to be brothers in Christ, are in truth fornicators, covetous, idolaters, revilers, drunkards, or extortioners. They refuse to separate themselves from these false brothers in spite of Paul's command to do so (see 1 Cor. 5:11; top ) and thus they perpetuate their "church" rather than the kingdom of God which is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Some who recognize the existence of the two opposing extremes still have difficulty understanding and then accepting how the "church" and the ekklesia could be so closely intertwined and for so many centuries. They have such difficulty in understanding this that they will deny the truth about the differences between "church" and ekklesia.

The answer is found in Jesus' parable of the wheat and the tares. When He explained what the different elements of the story represented, He said:

"He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" ( Mt. 13:37-43; top )

This is the cast of characters in the story that He has just previously told. Let us review who the players are:

Now let's hear the story again. Jesus said:

"The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?'

He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.'

The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?'

But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn."'" ( Mt. 13:24-30; top )

There are three things we need to recognize from this story:

  1. The tares, the sons of the devil, were sown by the devil among the wheat of the kingdom while men slept. When men were unwary of what was being done to them, the devil enacted one of his schemes. This is the origin of "church" doctrines and practices. Men were unwary about the origins of their practices and, through the centuries, turned them into time-honored traditions, the traditions of men that war against the word of God.
  2. The tares, the sons of the devil, were sown so closely among the wheat that, if they had been immediately uprooted, some of the wheat, the true sons of the kingdom of God, would have been uprooted as well. This is the close intertwining of "church" and ekklesia that has been transpiring over the centuries.
  3. God has permitted the tares and wheat to grow up together until the end of the age when, just before the harvest of the wheat, He will send angels to gather out of His kingdom all wickedness and all who are wicked - yes, the tares are currently within His kingdom! The removal of the tares will happen at the end of the age - not before (though just how long it takes for an age to end is a valid question and it should also be noted that, at the end of the closing age, some of the characteristics of the ensuing age are already being foreshadowed and embraced).

If God had shown His people the true nature of "church" centuries ago, do you suppose they would have perpetuated the "church" lies and errors? No! They would have discarded them just as quickly as those who recognize them now are doing. God has permitted this scheme of the devil to continue until it reaches maturity because the wheat also needed to mature. Now He is allowing us to see more clearly the distinction because, very soon, the angels will come to separate the tares from the wheat. Now is the time when our actions, our response to the truth, will clearly demonstrate to the angels which camp we belong to. Those who will reject all of man's traditions will be the wheat. Those who find themselves unable to let go of their manmade theologies and practices will be the tares.

An interesting fact about wheat and tares is that they look a great deal alike. While they are very young, only a very close examination by experts reveals the difference. But when they mature, each plant develops a very distinctive difference. The tare,.because it is a fluffy weed with no grainy head of substantial crop, stands erect. The wheat, precisely because it bears a grainy head of substantial crop, bows over. When the reapers come to remove the tares, they have a much easier time of recognizing which is which. The plants that are erect are to be uprooted - the plants that are bowed over are the ones to be left for the harvest.

While the "church" exalts itself and its methods and practices, the ekklesia will bow in simple humility before the Lord. The "church" will put up billboards and air advertisements seeking to draw people to themselves. The ekklesia has nothing to sell or promote, they simply give away what the Lord has given them as He directs them to do so. The tares, the sons of the devil, the "pastors" and false leaders within the "church," will continue to promote their own name, becoming the teachers that are heaped up to tickle the ears of those who want to hear fables about Jesus Christ and God - that He has now become a God who can be known about without being obeyed.

Don't let the time-honored traditions of the tares and of the "church" fool you. They are only the schemes of the devil designed to rob you of your inheritance in the kingdom of God.

I'd love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!

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