Sunday Preview – ekklesia

The Church, the ekklesia

The word ‘church’ in the New Testament is translated from the Greek word ‘ekklesia’ which comes from two words ‘ek’ meaning ‘out’ and ‘kaleo’ meaning to ‘call.’ An ekklesia or ‘calling out’ was not just an assembly. The words agora andpaneguris as well as heorte, koinon, thiasos, sunagoge and sunago can all mean an assembly. The word ekklesia was a political term, not a religious term. Jesus was the King and the Bible used the term ekklesia for a good reason. In classical Greek “ekklesia” meant “an assembly of citizens summoned by the crier, the legislative assembly.”1

In Israel the the government assembly, like that of the early Roman Senate, had no power to make law. They were originally composed of the elders of each family group through a network of electors which chose titular representatives. By the time of Christ both the Senate of Rome and the Sanhedrin of Judea had become bodies of legislative rulers exercising authority over the people. They had become a corporate body of “lawmakers” ruling the people through vast bureaucratic systems under a central ruling office of executive power.

Since, the authority of the State in Israel was originally in the hands of the elders of each family the people did not usually gather together to overthrow the corruption of government, since the people had learned to govern themselves. The heads of every household were the princes of Israel. The heads of each family group, which was a true government of the people, for the people, and by the people, under the God of Heaven were free as long as they remained faithful to God’s law.

sanhedrinThere was, at first, no King in Israel and the original Sanhedrin mentioned in Numbers 11:16 was to stand as a sort of overseer of truthserving the will of God by serving the congregation of the people in righteousness. They were truly titular leaders who served the public and God under the foundational laws of the government, the Ten Commandments. But eventually the voice of the people sought a ruler who could exercise authorityand who appointed officers over the people from the top down making new laws of control and oppression. The need for an ekklesia steadily grew again as the people and their governments became more corrupt.

When the Greek city states found their governments had become too corrupt and oppressive, they would call for an ekklesia, an assembly outside the civil authority of the city. If enough people came out and refused to accept the existing centralized civil authority, that government would collapse. Non participation has been a successful and peaceful means to free mankind from oppressive civil authority throughout history.

Like the walk out strikes instituted by Gandhi in hope of freeing his people from oppression of colonization, the act of calling the people out could be a very effective method of obtaining freedom through nonviolence. Gandhi did not only encourage worker strikes, but also practical methods to free society from the need of the corporate benefits and its resulting oppressive civil state. Moses had done the same in Egypt when he taught the people how to live without the exercising authority and benefits of the Pharaoh while still maintaining a viable, cohesive and productive society.

Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem was a call for the people to stand against a corrupt oppressive government by offering them a legitimate government that operated differently than Herod the Great. John the Baptist had preached the kingdom of heaven at hand,2 which was nothing less than a government operating by freewill offerings,3 voluntary charitable participation4 and the perfect law of liberty.5 Jesus preached the same method of self government and proclaimed that right for all who would remain faithful to Him. It was a powerful and non violent movement of the people, by the people, and for the people to change the course of history by changing the hearts and minds of men, by altering their relationship with governments of the gentiles with their leaders who called themselves benefactors but who exercised authority.6

The use of the word Church was a poor choice in place of the Greek ekklesia but what men often mean unto evil God turns to good. That word Church has its origin in the meaning of lordship which may be accurate from a certain point of view.

The ekklesia or Church was founded and established by Jesus Christ, Yahshua, almost 2000 years ago. It was a government established by the anointed King and appointed to His “little flock” to look after His Kingdom. Jesus was the rightful king, the highest son of David, proclaimed by many of the people as the Anointed. The trial before the Sanhedrin was an attempt to impeach Him and therefore end His appointed government. The Pharisees had given the ultimate right to choose who should be king of God’s kingdom to the Romans back in the days of Pompey. [8]

Luke 22:29 “And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;”

Jesus was recognized as the king by the existing world government when Pontius Pilate nailed his official proclamation of Christ’s kingdom to the cross, which was sealed for all time in the blood of an innocent man. Jesus and His little flock of followers, the called out [ekklesia], were persecuted by the apostate church of that day who abandoned the house of David proclaiming they had no king but Caesar[9]

At Pentecost thousands of Jews, citizens of Judea, and others were baptized into that government by the appointed followers of the proclaimed and recognized king. All who became members of that kingdom of Heaven were cast out7 of the existing system of benefits offered through the Corban of the Pharisees and began to live a new life according to the precepts of God’s government, by faith, hope and charity, and the perfect law of liberty.

God is the same, man is the same, sin is the same. Abraham was called out and eventually brought out many souls. Moses was called back to Egypt, assisted the people through the famines, teaching them the ways of God. He and Israel were cast out of Egypt but had to learn the ways of liberty under God. The people returned to sin with their golden calf and the Levites were called out to become the church in the wilderness.[10]

Are we turning away from God’s ways and back to the sin of Cain?

The good news of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth has been shared with the world. His ekklesia was persecuted. Its chief executive officer is the Holy Spirit, its King is Jesus and its Ruling Judge is YHWH, God the Father. YaHWeH has given all power and authority to Jesus, Yahshua, who in turn has sent us the Holy Spirit to comfort us in our journey toward the kingdom of God.

Salvation is returning to the Character of the Father like the Son. It is self-sacrifice, service and obedience that we must get right.

What is not the CHURCH? 
There are a lot of things the Church is not but at least: It is not established by anyone but Jesus. It is not to hold lordship of one over the other. It is not to go under the authority of others nor lead men into bondage where some men will rule over mankind. It is not to scatter the flock but bring them together in charity and love. It is to serve the people so that they do not have to apply or pray to other fathers of the earth for gifts, gratuities and benefits that would bring the people back into the bondage of Egypt and make the word of God to non effect. The Church is servants of Christ to preach the kingdom, feed His flock under the perfect law of liberty.

Who can define His Holy Church?

CHURCH “In its most general sense, the religious society founded and established by Jesus Christ, to receive, preserve, and propagate his doctrines and ordinances.”

“A body or community of Christians, united under one form of government by the profession of one faith, and the observance of the same rituals and ceremonies.” Black’s Law Dictionary 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th eds.

How do we get into this government of Jesus Christ, this kingdom of Heaven on Earth? Must we die to get into the Kingdom of Heaven?

He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err. (Mark 12:27)

What and where is the key to the Kingdom of Heaven?

“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. And I say also unto thee, That thou art a rock, and upon this rock I will build my ekklesia (make my coming out); and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of 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.” (Matthew 16:17-19)

What is the form of His government? How does Heaven run its government, its ekklesia, here on earth?

“But Jesus called them [unto him], and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)

Are you in a government which exercises dominion over you? If you are, then you are not in a government established by Jesus the Christ and the form of your government is not Christian.

Let every man remain subject to his superior authority; but should you go under authority in exchange for benefits and gratuities?

“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body [is] not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power. Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make [them] the members of an harlot? God forbid.” (1 Corinthians 6:12-14)

Have you sold the sweat of your brow and gone under the authority and power of another?

Have you sold your land in exchange for gifts and benefits?

“Behold, we [are] servants this day, and [for] the land that thou gavest unto our fathers to eat the fruit thereof and the good thereof, behold, we [are] servants in it:” Nehemiah 9:36

And because of all this we make a sure covenant, and write it; and our princes, Levites, and priests, seal unto it. Nehemiah 9:38

Have we taken the mark of the beast?

“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward [is] with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed [are] they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without [are] dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, [and] the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. …” (Revelation 22:12-18)


Footnotes:

Return 1. Liddell and Scott define ekklesia as “an assembly of citizens summoned by the crier, the legislative assembly.” [R. Scott, and H.G. Liddell, A Greek-English Lexicon, p. 206.] Thayer’s lexicon says, “an assembly of the people convened at the public place of council for the purpose of deliberating” [J. H. Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 196]. Trench gives the meaning as “the lawful assembly in a free Greek city of all those possessed of the rights of citizenship, for the transaction of public affairs” [R.C. Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament, 7th ed., pp. 1-2]. Seyffert’s dictionary states, “The assembly of the people, which in Greek cities had the power of final decision in public affairs” [Oskar Seyffert, A Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, pp. 202-203].From “fully after the LORD” by Steve Flinchum http://www.bryanstation.com/flinchum-fully.htm

Return 2. .Matthew 3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Return 3. .Exodus 35:29 The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses.

Return 4. .Luke 3:11 He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.

Return5. . James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth [therein], he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

Return 6. . Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. Mark 10:42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. Luke 22:25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.

Return 7. . John 9:22 These [words] spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

[8] In 66 BC, two brothers, Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II, had begun to battle for the power of the king. Aristobulus appealed to the world of Rome, and a multi national military force was sent as peace keepers.

Discipleship: Saying Goodbye to World’s Toys – A.W.Tozer

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation…he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised……James 1:12

There is one kind of human suffering which can be known only to the believing Christian, and that is voluntary suffering deliberately and knowingly incurred for the sake of Jesus Christ!  Such voluntary suffering displayed among us in these times is a luxury, a treasure of fabulous value, a source of riches beyond the power of the mind to conceive. And it is rare as well as precious, for there are few in this decadent age who will of their own choice go down into this dark mine looking for jewels.

But of their own choice it must be, for there is no other way to get down. God will not force us into this kind of suffering; He will not lay this cross upon us nor embarrass us with riches we do not want.

Some riches are reserved for those who apply to serve in the legion of the expendables, who love not their lives unto the death, who volunteer to suffer for Christ’s sake and who follow up their application with lives that challenge the devil and invite the fury of hell.

Such as these have said goodbye to the world’s toys; they have chosen to suffer affliction with the people of God. They accept toil and suffering as their earthly portion. But where are they? Has this breed of Christian died out of the earth? Have saints of God joined the mad scramble for security?

Are we now afraid to suffer and unwilling to die? I hope not-but I wonder. And only God has the answer!

Gentlemen sermon recording

Listen to the “Gentlemen” sermon by clicking this link.  Previous sermons are also available on this page of our website.

Scripture readings for Jan. 27 – Feb. 2

Ignite scripture readings for January 27 – February 2

Acts 2:42-47

Ephesians 2:19-22; 4:1-16 (and Fire Bible notes on Ephesians 2:20; 4:3, 5)

Isaiah 56:7-8

Hebrews 12:22-23

Psalm 133:1

2 Chronicles 5, 29, 30 (and Fire Bible notes on 2 Chronicles 29:5, 30:6, 8)

1 Peter 2:4-12 (and Fire Bible notes on 1 Peter 2:5, 8-12)

Galatians 3:26-28

Romans 11-16

 

Fire Bible articles:

“The Church” (Matthew 16:18)

“Ministry Leadership Gifts for the Church” (Ephesians 4:11)

“The Temple” (2 Chronicles 5:1)

“The Kingdom of God” (Matthew 12:28)

Engage questions for January 30

1.  What do we learn about David’s youth from 1 Samuel 16:18?

2.  What changed in Saul’s life that led to his demise?  How can we avoid making the same mistakes? (I Samuel 15:22, 23)

3.  Refer to Sunday’s sermon points regarding solitude, obscurity, monotony and reality.  Has God used one of these training tools in your life?  Explain.

4.  Discuss ways to slay the giants in your life. (I Samuel 17:23-25)

5.  In what way can you support men of God to become what the Father intends?

Created For God

The greatest truth you can learn about life is that life is not about you, it is about God. You were created for God, you were made to live with God forever in eternity and you exist for God’s purposes. God does not exist for You!

SLED – Must Read!

1. Size or Physical Appearance – Do humans lose value when they don’t look right? Does size equal value? Men are generally larger than women. Does that mean men are more human than women? Shaquille O’Neil is larger than Hillary Clinton. Does that mean Hillary Clinton is less human than Shaq? The term used to describe the destruction of groups of people based on their physical appearance is ethnic cleansing or genocide. But human value transcends physical appearance. Therefore, “not looking right” cannot disqualify a human being from being valuable.
2. Level of Development – Is a person’s value defined by his abilities, by what he can or can’t do? Do we forfeit our rights as human persons because we don’t have the capabilities others have? Do stronger, more capable, more intelligent people have more rights than others? Do human beings become disposable simply because at their level of development they are helpless, defenseless, and dependent? Human value transcends abilities or the lack of abilities. Therefore, missing abilities cannot disqualify human value.
3. Environment – Do humans forfeit their worth when they change locations? Baby Rachel was born prematurely at 24 weeks. She weighed only 1 lb. 9 oz., but dropped to just under 1 lb. soon after. She was so small she could rest in the palm of her daddy’s hand. She was a tiny, living, person. Heroic measures were taken to save her life. If a doctor had killed Rachel we would have recoiled in horror. However, if this same little girl was inches away from the outside world, resting inside her mother’s womb, she could be legally killed by abortion. Clearly, one’s environment can’t be the deciding factor. Changing locations is morally trivial. Environment has no bearing on who we are.
4. Degree of Dependency – Is human value determined by our degree of dependency on others? The unborn’s dependency on his mother for sustenance is irrelevant to the baby’s value. No baby is “viable” if degree of dependency matters. All babies need their mothers for feeding whether via blood (an umbilical cord), breast, or bottle. Human beings may be dependent on others for their survival, but they aren’t dependent on others for their value. All physically dependent people are at risk if degree of dependency determines their value – those dependent on kidney machines, pacemakers, and insulin would have to be declared non-persons. Dependency does not determine worth.

Sanctity of Life sermon recording

If you missed yesterday’s sermon on Sanctity of Life, or would like to listen to it again, please click here.

Previous Sunday morning sermons may also be accessed on this page of our website.

Sanctity of Life & Capital Punishment

I did not have a chance to address this topic in my sermon today:

The Sermon on the Mount (Mat. 5-7) does not lay down rules for governments but principles for an upright heart.

  • “Blessed are the poor in spirit… You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder’… But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be in danger of the judgment… Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way… I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Mat. 5:3-28

In this very sermon Jesus made the distinction between individuals and governments:

  • “Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny. Mat. 5:25-26

Jesus did not tell the judge or the officer to turn the other cheek or to void the law. God wants the governing authorities to uphold the law without mercy (Heb. 10:28; Rom. 13:3-4).  Governmental application of capital punishment is not a contradiction to biblical principles of sanctity of life.