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We struggle to UNDERSTAND the Kingdom because the local church cannot be the Ekklesia

It is the close of one week and the opening of the next.

Last week was such a feast of understanding and revelation. We prepare to offer family and household training to others. Part of that preparation included a detailed analysis. Using the 7 levels of the 5 x 7 model: Globe, Nation, State, Community, Congregation, Small Group, and Individual, we looked at the responsibility of believers at each level. This created a model that told us some things.

Here is what the model showed so clearly...

You and I, as believers gathered in my living room cannot be all the Lord intended for the Ekklesia. Neither can we, as we gather in local churches be all He intended for the Ekklesia.

Why? Just what did He intend?

Let’s take a look at the word Ekklesia. It was a common Greek word used to describe a common Greek function. It described the form of government that the Greek city states used. For some interesting research to confirm this to yourself – on the web, type into a web search ‘government of ancient Greek city states.’ You may (or may not if you have already done the research!) be surprised to see that the government of the Greek city states was the Ekklesia. Jesus used a word that had a known and commonly understood application. What was the Ekklesia responsible for? It was responsible for the things that we commonly associate with government. The Ekklesia was a democratic body that oversaw civic, economic, judicial and common social and welfare issues. When Jesus said he was going to build his Ekklesia, he was talking about something they fully understood. And, not surprisingly, this is exactly what happened... the early believers were CALLED OUT to BECOME the Ekklesia - they were called out to take responsibility for the areas above. They were called out to this and it is exactly what they did...

1. Our common Social Values and welfare – often called CommonWealth

They taught each other. They provided social welfare services. They took care of the widows and orphans. Scripture says that there was not a poor person among them.

2. Economic

Just as people groups today often give preference to trading with each other, for instance, the Jews, the Amish, etc., the Ekklesia traded with each other, they were an independent and self sufficient people!

3. Civic

The Greek Ekklesia was the governing body for the people. As the believers formed their own Ekklesia, or governance, the civic responsibility of the 'state' (as we might call it) was replaced by the governance of the Spiritual City State: The Ekklesia. We see this clearly in scripture, the Ekklesia of Corinth, the Ekklesia of Rome. The Ekklesia of Ephesus. And so forth..

4. Judicial/Rule of Law

Roman rule SPECIFIED who was supposed to hear and settle disputes: the Roman magistrate. However, the Ekklesia took matters into their own hands. They heard and settled disputes among themselves. Their law was the Rule of Law given by the King. This King was a new King - the Lord Jesus Christ. They became part of a very real but invisible place: the King's dominion, the Kingdom.

The result? It was abject hostility from the 'State'. Who were these people who dare set up their own laws, courts, governance? They were not loyal to Caesar. Indeed, they were loyal to a new King who was higher than and more powerful than Caesar: Jesus Christ, King of Kings, Lord of Lords.

We sometimes struggle to understand the Kingdom. Part of this is because we do not understand the authority and responsibly of the Ekklesia. Unfortunately for those of us in the United States, we have -WILLINGLY and in advisedly given over the some of the functions of the Ekklesia to the State. We find ourselves not only struggling to UNDERSTAND the Kingdom; we find ourselves bound by law in opposition to our mandate. Our mandate is to be the Ekklesia, the spiritual City State in our regions.

How have we given up our authority and responsibility?

1. Our common Social Values and welfare – often called CommonWealth

We have supported government sponsored taxes to create schools to train our children and create social welfare programs to take care of the poor and needy, including those among us, the believers.

2. Economic. Believers often do not encourage, support or recognize each other in trade. The American Way, is often to simply find the "Best Deal."

3. and 4. Civic and Rule of Law

The State hears our disputes and sets the laws by which we must abide. No doubt, it is good to have State laws that are good, but these cannot be taken as the law to use within the Ekklesia - the Rule of Law of the State is not the same as the Law of Love that governs the body of Christ. Indeed, the Law of Love is not DESIGNED to rule unbelievers. The two governances must be separate and distinct, each operating in its area of jurisdiction.

Not only have we allowed the State to take responsibility for the areas above, we have limited the 501c-3 local church…

1. Our common Social Values and welfare – often called CommonWealth.

As we said above, education is based on giving our money over to the State which then controls what our children are taught in school. Those who want Christian schooling are left to home school or to pay twice for education: taxes and private tuition. We have set up a system that gives over a large portion of our income to be distributed through the State, the government for social welfare programs.

2. Business

It is illegal for a 501c-3 churches to participate in profit making business activities.

3. Civic

It is illegal for 501c-3 churches to participate in our civic process.

4. Rule of Law

More and more the Rule of Law that governs our land does not reflect the Law of Love given by our King.

What shall we do?

We must build the Ekklesia: the spiritual City State of called out ones who take deliberate responsibility in the areas that He has, from the beginning, expected us to handle. This will allow local churches to fulfill their responsibility in making skilled disciples and providing worship services.

What a great time of life, what great things we are seeing emerge!

P.S. Added March 27, 2010. Johnny and I just visited a good friend and Bible translator - Stanley Morris. We discussed in depth the challenge with translating the Greek word, ecclesia. Stanley said that there was no English equivelant word! Yes, we use 'church', but that does not describe ecclesia. Ecclesia, as shared above was the government of the local city/states. Under Jesus -it is how he intends for us to govern ourselves in his Kingdom!

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Comment by Juanita on March 12, 2010 at 2:22am
Joshua
That is a GREAT question!

Comment by Joshua Robison: Is "God's ecclesia" a spiritual city state or a local congregation or christians?

All three.

The early Christians were familiar with the ecclesia - it was the way the Greek city states governed their affairs. So, they immediately began taking that type of responsibility for themselves, they took care of their social welfare issues (numerous references to this in Acts and various letters), they heard and settled disputes. The dimension that Christ added to their understanding was this: He is the King and the Kingdom is within them (and us) - they learned what this meant - they taught and they worshipped.

Today we have the undestand that we are 'called out' down, but we aren't very clear on what we are called out to. I hear Christians say, 'Is this IT? -Going to church, daily devotions and witnessing when the opportunity arises?" I think that is because we don't understand what to do largely becaue we don't understand what the role of ecclesia that existed at the time fulfilled. It was the way they took responsibilty for their affairs. We want to tell 'the world' how to run its affairs. It only makes sense that we should run our affairs properly and THEN we will be the salt and light we should be.
Comment by Juanita on February 23, 2010 at 9:43pm
Steve!
Thanks so much for your comment!

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