Terminology makes a world of difference.
A lot of times we hear about the “apostate church.” I have used the term myself.
Jesus told Peter,
“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 also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My assembly (“Ekklesia,” not “church”), and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:17-18)
Christ’s ekklesia is NOT the Church.
Look up the word “church” and you will see it is defined as “a place of worship of any religion as a Jewish or heathen temple.”
Concerning the word “Church,” it is “Derived from the Middle English word chirch/kirke, which is derived from the Old English word cirice (and the Old Norse kirkja), which is derived from the Germanic kirika, which is derived from the Classical Greek kyriake (oikia) which means “lord’s house,” and kyriakos which means “belonging to the lord,” [secular lord] and kyrios which means “ruler,” and kyros which means “supreme power,” and all these words are derived from the Indo European base keu which means “a swelling, to be strong, hero,” whence is derived “cave.” 1. A building set apart or consecrated for public worship.” Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, 1988, page 251.
I read a status today that said, “The reason people are not experiencing God at church is because ‘it’s all about them and their needs’ – hardly about God Himself.”
Beside a few things wrong with this statement (I will get to later), this person referred to the church as brick and mortar, which is exactly what that word means and what comes to mind when we hear that word. (Note: “at church.”) So one must go to a certain denominational building called church on Sunday mornings in order to experience God! This may be the Pentecostal church, or maybe the Methodist church, Catholic church, Presbyterian church, Baptist church, Lutheran church, Episcopalian church, Mormon church, Church of Christ, Assemblies of God church, First Baptist church, Fundamentalist church, and the list goes on.
The word ekklesia (word #1577) is defined as “an assembly,” and it’s from the word “ek,” (word #1537) which means “out of”; and the word “klesis” (word #2821) which means “a calling.” So ekklesia means a called out assembly.
God is not building a church, He is building His ekklesia. It is not some man building it or some denomination building it. It is Jesus building it. His ekklesia are made up of people, not brick and mortar. WE are the ekklesia, people who have repented and forsaken their sins and now follow Christ, the Messiah. We are HIS temple made without hands.
“For he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God,” Heb. 11:10.
“We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands,'” Mark 14:58.
Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it…”
Do you want to see what a difference it makes when we use the correct terminology? Every time you see the word “church,” replace it with the word “ekklesia” while having in mind “called out assembly.” It may help take our minds off buildings made of brick and mortar.
As long as the ekklesia are faithful to Christ, the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
There is no such thing as an apostate ekklesia. Now, there is such a thing as “apostasy.” There are believers who will go back to unbelief, people who will fail to endure to the end. (Whether it is the end of their life or the end of the world; it does not matter to me how people want to argue over that issue.) There are many who will depart from the faith, as Paul said (1 Tim. 4:1). Because there will be believers who will become apostate and no longer part of the ekklesia, it does not mean the ekklesia ceases to exist. If it does, then Jesus lied about the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. God will always have His faithful remnant and Christ will gather his ekklesia at his return.
Called out, separate.
“Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. 2 Cor. 6:17
His ekklesia will not tolerate blatant false teachings, man-made denominational traditions, and sinners among them who call themselves brothers and sisters. If this is allowed and tolerated in the ekklesia, the ekklesia needs to walk away from them and be separate. God calls us out of that mess. God will judge those on the outside, but we must judge those in the inside. (1 Cor. 5:12…remember the word ekklesia).
And if no one wants to take a stand against ungodliness and blatant false teachings within the ekklesia, then it’s time to leave those people. I have had to do this myself. We must obey Jesus. Many will call you the wolf, thinking the wolves are the ones who are to leave. These are the people who tolerate sin among the assembly and don’t care about the ungodly teachings and the ungodly lovers of the world in their midst. No, the sheep must leave and follow and obey their Master.
There are those who complain that I am against the “church.” We already learned what “church” means. It has nothing to do with the ekklesia. I am never against the ekklesia. I just want people to take a closer look at the difference between the “church” and the “ekklesia.”
This leads me back to the statement I read today.
“The reason people are not experiencing God at church is because ‘it’s all about them and their needs’- hardly about God Himself.”
My case and point. Did you notice the difference? WE are not some brick and mortar. We can’t go to ekklesia, because we ARE the ekklesia. We also don’t need a building just to experience God. Sitting in a padded pew, listening to one man week after week, month after month, and year after year, is not God’s idea of how the ekklesia is to function. No one is more superior in rank, with titles attached to their names, in the ekklesia. We are a royal priesthood; there is no distinction between clergy and laity in the ekklesia. The ekklesia was not meant to sit for an hour on Sunday mornings to listen to one person who put a sermon together that week and then dismiss the crowd after he is through and then not see each other until the next meeting. This is not experiencing God.
The Body is not made up of one part.
We are told,
“How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.”1 Cor. 14:26
What is the purpose when we gather together, whether it be two, three or more people? To edify each other. Why? Because we do need it! If we didn’t have a need, we would not need edification. The goal of spiritual gifts is for mutual edification. When we edify each other, we express Christ and meet each other’s needs. To edify means, “to instruct and improve especially in moral and religious knowledge: uplift; also: enlighten, inform.” Is that only to be accomplished by one person? Jesus did not instruct His ekklesia to have one man in control of the whole gathering, because the one man cannot meets the needs of hundreds of people in the assembly. That man is stopping the Holy Spirit from operating in other believers! The ekklesia was not meant to sit in padded pews, to be entertained, listening to one man preach a sermon, who can’t be questioned, while looking at the back of the heads of others. No one is even facing each other! Remove the pastor and the pulpit and you will see a church go out of business. Would people even know how to function if there were no pastor or pulpit? God’s ekklesia is meant for ALL to participate in edifying one another with a psalm, a doctrine, a tongue, a revelation, and interpretation, and so on.
Where Two or Three
Above we have found the true meaning of “church.” And because of such terminology, people think they have to make a personal appearance in a building set apart or consecrated for public worship on a certain day. The truth is, when two, three, or more are gathered in His name, there is the ekklesia and there is Christ in their midst. (Matt. 18:20) It can be in a restaurant, a home, a park, and so on. It is not something we attend, but who we are. God is not interested in us gathering into a place with empty rituals, authoritarian leadership, misplaced priorities with irrelevant programs, a place where messages provoke guilt, begging for money, demanding performances for certain tasks to run those programs, to keep the church building operational, and having superficial relationships. Such does not foster honest relationships to share our spiritual growth in Christ.
Are You The Wolf Who Left The Building?
It seems the approval of others is tied to attending religious gatherings, whatever denomination one may attend, on a certain day of the week. If you leave them, you are accused of “forsaking the assembly” and your relationship with Jesus is in question, and as stated above by the person, it’s all about you.
When you question the pastor about what he is teaching or seek more information from him, you are put more under the microscope. If you go to share with your fellow brothers and sisters that what the pastor has taught in his sermon seems to contradict Scripture, most likely you will be charged with trying to undermine the pastor. If you are able to discuss something with the pastor, most likely the pastor has the final word and you must accept what he says as true, after all, he is the pastor, he has been educated and a graduate of some seminary college.
Deciding to leave.
When you decide to leave, and silently, you are considered the wolf that has left the building and you will find that when you do leave, you are not worth the time and energy to be sought after – not even by your pastor who is supposed to be caring for the flock. Why would he go after those who challenge him? False shepherds do not go after the true sheep. You will be considered the trouble maker and possibly shunned.
One does not have to be involved in religious performance to gain validation from the Father. God does not seek us to be tied to religious obligations, but to be in relationship with one another. (1 Cor. 14:26) Jesus-centered relationships out-weigh the empty man-made rituals. One cannot deny that there have been, and are, manipulative tactics in many churches today to get people involved in certain programs or ways to make money (even if it means teaching tithing to obtain it ) to get people involved. I have heard many guilt-inducing messages to help keep the institutional setting alive and active. Jesus does not want His ekklesia burdened with paying a mortgage for a church building with its fancy sound system, stained glassed windows, padded pews, paid staff, etc.. Cleaning the church building, toilets, and property does not mean you are showing your faithfulness to God and his kingdom. You simply show your faithfulness to the pastor and his kingdom. With all the millions spent on buildings and programs, this money could have gone to help the poor who are in need. In the Scriptures, whenever a collection was taken up, it was not to pay for the mortgage of an expensive building, utilities, and paying the pastor and his staff, but it went for the needs of the poor saints.
The “church” has nothing to do with the ekklesia. And it is not because of the ekklesia that the ‘Church’ or this ‘Country’ is in the state it is in. The church is filled with sinners with all their false teachings and rituals and acceptance of one another. This is not God’s church, this is the world’s church where you will find people who profess to be believers (Matt. 15:8) who can’t discern truth from error. They have a habit of inviting more sinners to join them and then conform them; to behave according to the standards they find socially acceptable while they are together on that certain day of the week and then go home free to live the way they have been living all along.
The church was never, nor part of, the true ekklesia. The world is in the state it is in because of sinners who will have nothing to do with God and who support each other in their ungodly ways and teachings and acceptance of their fellow sinners in their churches who proclaim a different Jesus and a different Gospel. In the mean time, God is building His ekklesia and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. God had and always will have His remnant, even in a dying world.
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,
“I will dwell in them and walk among them;
And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
“Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord.
“And do not touch what is unclean;
And I will welcome you.
“And I will be a father to you,
And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,”
Says the Lord Almighty. (1 Cor. 6:14-18)