Capturing God’s Heart – Church – Volume 48

We use the word church to indicate the place where we gather. We know church to be the building in which we come for worship, for teaching, and for fellowship in the body of Christ.

When our Bibles tell us to ‘care for the church’, as we read in Acts 20:29, we may immediately think of taking care of the building, the gatherings, the programs, Sunday service, prayer meetings, and such.

“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” Acts 20:28

In this verse where we read ‘church’, it should read ‘congregation’.

What we have not known is that the original greek word, Ekklesia, that has been translated ‘church’ (in this verse and many others) means something completely different than how it is has been translated. The Greek word Ekklesia, is to be translated ‘congregation’, not ‘church’.

This term, Ekklesia, is used 115 times in the New Testament and 113 of those times it was mistranslated as ‘church’.

(Only two times in the New Testament is the word church used correctly and each time it is referring to buildings used for pagan worship and sacrifice, which is the original meaning of the word church. These two instances of correct translation are in Acts 14:13; Acts 19:37)

(from http://www.therealchurch.com/articles/the_word_that_changed_the_world.html )

The mis-translation came about in 1611 when the King James Bible was published. Those translating the Bible at that time did the translation work in accord with fourteen rules established by the Archbishop of the Anglican church, to keep the translation (the Bible) in line with the purposes and goals of the Anglican church.

This mistranslation, served the purposes of the king, not the people and certainly not God. Along with this mistranslation a paid clergy system of bishops and pastors was created that also secured the king’s control of the people and of which King James made himself head (of the church).

King James made himself ‘head’ of the church of England, and he required a translation that would facilitate his control over the church and the people. James understood “no building, no bishop, no king.” ( quoted from http://therealchurch.com/ )

Today, four-hundred years later, we gauge our Christianity on whether we attend church or not, whether we pay tithe or not, and whether we support and attend the programs and ordinances of the particular church where we attend, and in some places whether we obey our pastors and bishops!

Today, we have made a system of clergy, pastors who are the big people, the only ones to pray for us, the only ones who heal and the only ones who teach. We have stripped the common person of their God-ordained opportunity to know God for him or her self, to pray healing for each other (all members of the body being equipped), to operate out of the leading of the Spirit (in obedience to God and not man).

Here we are 400 years later still under this system that was never part of the early New Testament church and from what we can tell was never a part of God’s design for the body of Christ.

The New Testament writers spoke of the Body of Christ as an Ekklesia, a term used to indicate a body of people ‘called out or summoned for a particular purpose’.

“an “ecclesia” was originally a select civil body, summoned or convoked for a particular purpose” (from http://www.aggressivechristianity.net/articles/ecclesia.htm)

When we think about the Kingdom of God this understanding of Ekklesia makes more sense. Jesus did not die a horrible death on a cross so that we might attend church on Sundays, or maintain programs, or become a social center. How absurd would that be?

Rather, Jesus died a horrible death on a cross, to conquer death, to bring us to new life, and to call us into his Kingdom, able and ready to take on tasks and roles alongside our Lord so that the whole world might know the love, grace, freedom, forgiveness, and justice that marks the Kingdom of God; everything is to be brought into redemption and healing, a wholeness of all of creation, a restoration back to the original design and heart’s intention of God.

With this broadened understanding we begin to read scriptures much differently. Consider Acts 20:28 with the accurate translation,

“Take heed, therefore, to yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the assembly of the Lord and God which he purchased with his own blood.” Acts 20:28 WEB

Other verses too, begin to make more sense. (Why would God call us to build and maintain building? Is this what Christ died for, so that we might become building managers?)

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-20

We begin to realize that the body of Christ is the building of the Lord! 

Let me say that again, THE BODY OF CHRIST, the people of GOD, are THE BUILDING OF THE LORD.

Jesus himself is the cornerstone, he is the rock that is the foundation of His people.

It should read, “Upon this rock I will build my ekklesia*.” Matthew 16:18

for instance, “Upon this rock (my own self) I will build a body of people called out by my name, 

summoned for the purposes of the kingdom of God upon this earth”  – Jesus –

We go on to read that those called by God’s name are to be in relationship and community with each other in such a way that all the parts, each person, carries their part and edifies (builds up) each other.

“But speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, Christ; from whom all the body, being fitted and knit together through that which every joint supplies, according to the working in measure of each individual part, makes the body increase to the building up of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16

We come to understand that the Body of Christ is to be as a living organism, a functioning body of people much like a family, under one headship who is our Lord Jesus Christ, living by the direction of the Holy Spirit through each person.

Our assembling together is for each person to be brought to maturity in Christ with an understanding of his great love and forgiveness and grace to such an extent:

  • that families are transformed by this touch of God, where children are cared for, women are honoured, and men live out their strength
  • that communities and neighbours are loved on in such a way that people long to know God themselves
  • that nations are impacted in such a way that justice and right living filters through every level

We gather in fellowship for encouragement and praise, and for mutual giving and receiving of wisdom and knowledge in the Lord. As the house church movement in India stresses, there are to be “no special place, no special people, no special time”, rather a people learning and growing together in love and witness to our Lord, the “earth getting filled with the glory and the knowledge of her Lord”.

( find more at http://www.harvest-now.org/uploads/media/06_09_05_GREETTHEekklesia.pdf )

Each of us must learn how to share our faith, every single person can know how to pray healing for others, each one is to be equipped and taught how to baptize each other, and everyone is blessed to live and operate out of their particular spiritual gifting in sync with the other gifts around them. We teach the body to obey the voice of Jesus not ourselves.

As grow in the Lord together God is with us, breathing through us, transforming us and every aspect of our lives and as we are transformed our communities become transformed … if we are in community and not hiding in our churches.

The people of God are the dwelling place of God.

A church building is not the dwelling place of God.

It may help to think of it this way: Church is not a building, it is people, the people of God.

And so pastors were never meant to be church building managers or program overseers, rather, pastors are called to be shepherds of the people of God, looking at hearts and lives and then nurturing, like a mother with her child, good hearts, easy responses to God, gentle instruction, careful teaching, generous care, all wrapped in the bonds of love that mark the people of God.

As we gather together we, the people of God, become the temple of God. This is why the Bible speaks of the Body of Christ as a dynamic organism that is alive and working in sync with each other and the Holy Spirit.

“In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:22

“For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:9

It is the people of God, joined together in the Spirit, who are the holy dwelling place of the Lord. Buildings are not holy temples or God’s dwelling place. Buildings are buildings.

It is profoundly unfortunate that because of this mistranslation we have lived in much confusion. We have put our focus and our efforts on the wrong thing. We focus on the buildings, the programs, the upkeep of that building, and more, and too often we are not paying any attention to the spiritual and emotional health of the people who come to our buildings.

How are you building his people? How are his people building each other?

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16

“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” Romans 12:6-8

“Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.” Psalms  111:1

“I will build my assembly, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”  Matthew 16:18b WEB

Leave a Reply