The Apostolilc Church Essential
Some say there’s a Church revolution underway that’s making the Church as we know it obsolete. They say Bible studies and house groups are going to become the Church of the future. They say that believers can grow spiritually and experience more of God without ever stepping foot inside a local church. They even say that not going to church is “healthy.”
What do they know? I am here to say that the devil is a liar. I beg to differ with that voice because nothing will ever equal or replace the local church. The local church is essential!
No, Church isn’t a Bible study at Pizza Hut, nor is a sermon a spiritual conversation over a round of golf. The Church is God’s governing seat of authority. The Church is where we find the ladder in Jacob’s dream that connected heaven and earth so Jesus could dispatch His angels with Kingdom assignments. The Church is the house of prayer, the place where He chooses to place His name and the gathering place of His sent ones. In Jesus' Church you find a five-fold ministry gift that God has called and put His anointing to His vision to reach a particular territory and people with the powerful Gospel of the Kingdom.
The definition of the Church is not merely some place – any place – where two people come together and pray. That’s a bit too simplistic because the Church is way more than that. Two people praying together or a small group meeting together is not “the Church.” It might be an opportunity for two believers to agree together in prayer and shine some light in a dark place. It might be a place to hold a Bible study. I’m certainly not against prayer meetings or Bible studies, but that is not the Church that Jesus is building. No, you can’t find God’s governing Church over at Barnes & Noble during your coffee break while you share your faith with two Christian friends. You might find some members of His Church there, but you won’t find “the Church.”
“So how do we identify the Church,” you ask?
I am convinced there is a pattern for building the Church of Jesus Christ and it must be built according to that pattern. Sometimes we need to be reminded that God has a blueprint; a specific way of doing things. There is a spiritual house God is building by His Holy Spirit. What does that pattern look like? First of all, nowhere in the Scriptures do we see a committee of hirelings called to build Christ’s Church. All the churches built in the New Testament, for example, were pioneered by apostles. Apostles are part of the five-fold ascension gifts that include apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. All these are called to perfect the saints for the work of ministry.
The Church that Jesus is building has to start somewhere and it always starts with a five-fold ascension gift. Scripture declares that, "Now, therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord: In whom you also are built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22). Nobody is getting built without God’s ascension gifts and no church is being built without one of God’s five-fold ascension gifts at the helm.
Every five-fold ascension minister is chosen by the sovereign will of God alone. It doesn’t matter how much status a person may have, how good a person can sing, or how much education a person may have attained. God alone is the one that calls His man and assembles His team of equippers. Scripture declares, “And he gave some apostles, and some, prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12). He and only He does the calling. Then Jesus begins to build His Church around His gift.
The only thing an ascension gift has in the beginning of his ministry is a calling, a vision, an anointing, a territory, and a consuming passion to preach. Christ is the only begotten Son of God sent to save a dying world from its sins through His shed blood on Calvary to those who would repent.
I will never forget when God called me into ministry. All I had was a supernatural encounter with Jesus on my road to Damascus. Jesus was very specific when He told me to start a church. Years passed with my wife and I serving our local church and pastor but then one day God said it was time to pioneer a new work. So we rented a little room that cost us $50 for each service. We went down to the local music store and bought a black music stand for $30 that would serve as a makeshift pulpit. Our praise and worship team was a boom box and some anointed cassette tapes. We told everybody we knew that God had called us to start a church.
That first Sunday came and about 15 people attended. My message spoke of Moses climbing up the mountain of God to receive a mandate to confront Pharaoh and set the captives free. The anointing showed up and the next Sunday the church grew all the way down to seven people. But that didn’t stop us. I knew who called us and what He wanted us to do. If I had to preach to the paint it didn’t matter because the anointing would make a way for what Jesus wanted to build in South Florida.
Then, I started decreeing Christ' vision for our church. This brings me to the next thing, a church must have a godly vision. You can’t build outside God’s pattern and expect the Holy Spirit to inhabit it. That’s why church growth seminars can only take you so far. You might get a big crowd together but does the Holy Ghost show up? Scripture says, “Except the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it” (Psalm 127:1). What God wanted in Hallandale Beach didn’t come from me it came from Him. As I preached Christ's vision people started responding. Before you knew it we started to grow, little by little at first, and later more.
NO SOCIAL CLUB
So I don’t agree that house churches, cyber-communities, and golf course prayer encounters are the Church that Jesus is building. No, that’s not a prophetic vision of the future for Christ’s Church. The Church that Jesus is building will be a glorious Church without spot or wrinkle. Don’t tell me that Holy Ghost on-fire Christians are leaving Jesus’ churches by the thousands. There might be people leaving, but it’s not the on-fire ones trading the local church dynamic for a coffee shop fellowship. No way! Let’s get real.
People leaving a church does not make a revolution. In fact, there can never be a revolution without the Church. I’m not saying that house churches like those found in Cuba and China aren’t necessary at times, but when freedom of worship arrives blossom into fullness.
There is a spiritual revolution on the way. The lukewarm are starting to freeze but the hot are getting hotter. I am convinced that God has a people who will not forsake the assembling of themselves together (Hebrews 10:25). I understand why some people get discouraged. I did, but let me give you this promise. If you seek God with all your heart He will let you know what He’s doing, where He’s at, and where He’s going. Jesus won’t leave anybody out of His plans who wants to walk in His will. His Kingdom will be established and He wants to use you to be a part of it.
LET THE REVOLUTION BEGIN
Let me share how the Holy Spirit ministered to me about a spiritual revolution. In 1999 I was ready to quit the ministry. Like many others, I looked around and saw that “church” wasn’t anything like what I read in the Book of Acts. You see, friend, I had the opportunity to look behind the curtain into the lives of some of the bigwigs of the day, only to see some that were not really living the Christian life. I also saw others in churches that were not living the life, either. You know what I am saying.
So in 1999 I was walking through Piccadilly Circus in London, England after leaving a mid-week prayer meeting. It was around midnight when I heard the Holy Ghost say, “Son, that’s not my Church you are seeing. That’s religion.” He continued, “I have a people who feel just like you that are sick and tired of dead lifeless religion and are ready to come out of the wilderness and enter the Promised Land.” He went on to commission me to, “Go back to America encouraged and start preaching about the coming apostolic revolution.” He also told me to, “Bring an apostolic identity to the Body of Christ and know that thousands will listen to the sound of the trumpet.”
Notice He didn’t tell me to abandon His Church. No sir, the Church that Jesus is building is not dead, boring, and lifeless. His Church is alive! There is a spiritual revolution taking place but it won’t be found over at Starbucks. It will be in His strong local governing churches in every city across this nation and around the world.
THE CHURCH IS THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD
We need a different perspective of Christ’s Church. The Church is not just a hospital or a worship center. It is also the government of God. It is a place where all can be equipped to do what they are called to do. It is a place to hear what the Spirit of God is saying to our generation. It is a place where you can listen to the wisdom of God and a place to receive instructions in righteousness.
The Church (Greek ecclesia) means “called out.” The word “church” is found in Scripture 77 times, “congregation” 364 times, and “assembly” 49 times. Ecclesia is a really interesting word. The Greeks used the word to describe their governing assembly. The Romans later picked up the term and used it to refer to the Roman Senate. Jesus chose to use this same word to describe His Church. So when you hear the word church you should also hear the word government. Jesus said He would build His Church (government) and the gates of hell (demonic government) shall not prevail against it.
Granted the Church is not found in the elements of a building, but it can be found in the elements of those gathering together in that local church building. Those elements consist of born again sons and daughters, the called-out ones. When they come together under the leading of a five-fold ascension gift, their joints (gifts), and provide an increase in that body (Ephesians 4:18).
Let me ask you this question, "Is a school a school when two students meet in the classroom without a teacher? Is a school a school with no books, teachers or a principal? What would a hospital be like without doctors, nurses, and medicine? What would it be like to have passengers on an aircraft without a pilot?" Are you getting it yet? Yet some still insist that two believers are the Church when they meet over coffee at Starbucks or pray together in the Wal-Mart parking lot.
Christ’s Church is a governing church. It is a house of revelation and a place to hear God’s voice. It is a place of healing, deliverance, worship and equipping of every believer. It is a place to hear the plan of God for yesterday, today and tomorrow. It is a place of salvation and a place of God’s glory! It has apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, priests, and kings. It has psalmists, minstrels, dancers, artists, spiritual fathers, chroniclers, porters, overcomers, anointing, communion, baptisms, ambassadors – and God in its midst. You can get married, baptized, and even buried. It has counselors, elders, and deacons. It has the Holy Ghost, signs, and wonders, healing for your body and miracles for your life. You can even find some challenges, chastisement, and correction, too. Oh, I better not go too far down that road! That’s the Church, my Brothers, and Sisters.
I don’t care what they say. I say it’s not the house church or the cyber-church that’s going to emerge in the future, but a glorious Church made up of a congregation of governing believers we call the ecclesia. So next time you hear somebody tell you the revolution can be found in the abandonment of Christ’s Church just say, “Get behind me, Satan!”
(c) Jonas Clark STAY INFORMED
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