“My Journey Out” (Part 14)

moses-parting-red-sea

Click on following for earlier articles: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12 and Part 13.

What peerage titles come to mind when you think about the Kingdom of God? Prince? Princess? Duke? Duchess? Baron? Baroness? Earl? Countess? Lord? Lady?

Probably none of these, right?

We only think about the King, the Lord Jesus, when we consider the Kingdom of God.

But as you know, the Kingdom of God is not a democracy or a dictatorship. No one is ever elected to head it or can take it over by a coup d’etat. It is an ongoing, never-ending kingdom with the King being the supreme ruler and authority over His royal monarchy. And royal monarchies usually have peerage titles, right?

So, this being the case, what are the various titles for all the different citizens of the kingdom of God?

But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)

The only title given in Scripture for a citizen of the Kingdom of God is son. No other hierarchical or peerage titles are mentioned at all, as in none, zero, nada and zip.

And guess what?

Then the King will say to those on His right, “Come you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”  (Matthew 25:34)

The Kingdom of God was a part of the Father’s plan when He created the world, even before the creation of the first man.  How awesome is that?

And yet, the Father’s plan only includes a King and His sons. No other hierarchical levels were ever envisioned by our Father, as in never-ever-never!

Every believing reader, or at least 99.9% of you, would most likely agree with me so far, right?

Then, if the above is true, why would the King allow feudal fiefdoms known as traditional churches to exist in His kingdom, with lords in the pulpits and peasants in the pews? Is it possible the Kingdom and the Church oppose each other, as in America’s separation of church and state policies?

The answers are simple: the Church was created along the same lines as the Kingdom of God without any artificial hierarchical separation known as the clergy classes or the laity classes. Period.

After all, what is the message of the Church?

This gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)

The word gospel is a shortened form of the phrase the gospel of the Kingdom of God. This is the church’s message to a hopeless world.

So, admittedly, we Christians do not really understand the calling of pastor or the role of leaders in the Kingdom of God or the Church, right?

(Continued in Part 15.)

13 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Christians, Church, church planting, Emergent Church, Faith, Gifts of the Spirit, God, grace, Home Church, jesus, Kingdom of God, Prayer, Prophecy, Red Letter Christians, reformation, Religion, spiritual warfare

13 responses to ““My Journey Out” (Part 14)

  1. I know I’m just going to get something else started here…..

    The Gospel… and the Bible as a whole unit is the word of God.
    As the Gospels were being written and pulled together, even before their ‘canonization’ and even before a few of the authors were dead, ‘churches’ were being formed.

    The Apostles recognized that with the gifts spreading like wildfire, people, in our humanness, were forgetting to take care of the widows and orphans. This was EXTREMELY important to Jesus. Taking care of each other and community was an important teaching Jesus taught over and over. ….. and over.

    there was a need for administration. a need for a role of leadership to keep these communities moving progressively forward in their spirituality.

    Of course we messed it up.
    then after almost 1500 years some of these scholars, monks… the ‘elite’ realized what was in the church wasn’t a reflection of the Bible. massive efforts went into getting the gospel into the hands of all. People died for it.

    and to their credit, the Bible IS translated into more languages than any other book. That is exciting!
    But. as years pass, we screwed up that movement too. The problem IS the church because the ‘church’ IS US.

    The structural, administrative side of the church is of itself a response to the Gospel. It is a response to what Christ teaches us. Gospel needs response to work. Not response to create a perceived grid of administrational heirarchies that move our way to heaven, but a network of real people, who organically work together to a specific and needed job within the community.

    So what I believe needs to happen is that congregations need to be listening to the spirit when they call into vote a leader. Someone that is on the same page of what role that particular church needs to play in the knigdom of God… equally. To be the hands and feet of Christ on earth.

    When my car is broken, I bring it someone who knows how to fix cars. He identifies the problem, or in my cars case, it’s usually a series of problems, and he fixes that for me. I pay him. Then I drive away, drive my kids to school, drive to work, drive to church… I use it… ME. Not the mechanic. Perhaps what is happening is we as believers are WILLINGLY handing over the drivers seat to leaders. People are becoming so used to having all their thoughts laid out for them through the media and entertainment, we are content to do the same spiritually.

    I think that is a bad idea.

    A great post Larry. As always.

  2. Cindy,

    Gutsy comments.

    Just so you and everyone knows, I’m not against leadership. There will always be leaders, in some form or another; Paul recognized them as elders. These were the people who were older and more mature in the faith. Thus, the name – elders.

    Also, what we now call the four Gospels were not called that by their writers; they were in fact letters written, more or less, to specific groups. The gospel as stated by Jesus is in fact “the gospel of the Kingdom of God.”

    Now, think about it! All of Israel was waiting for Israel’s kingdom to be restored and along comes Jesus, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God. You can readily see the dynamics of the spiritual realities butting heads with the natural hopes of Israel.

  3. Pingback: “My Journey Out” (Part 15) « Larry Who

  4. “grid of administrational hierarchies ” as in old liners e.g. Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, and let us not forget the original, Catholic. I will not categorize these under one column heading unless it’s “we use Jesus’ name once in a while and on our terms.”

    The reputation of the aforementioned denominations do indeed have creeds, hierarchies, structure, rules, and traditions to control and in some instances, rule.

    The rest of us? Varying degrees of some of their ingredients but thousands — millions of individuals and huge numbers of congregations are Biblical in their efforts, outreach, missionary support.

    Oh, but then, because of a few bad apple, a few hypocrites and failed leaders, why not scrap it all? Shut the doors! Let the muslims take over the buildings and tear down the crosses! Christians BLEW IT!! They had their chance and couldn’t be perfect! So much for them!

    BTW, that eventually will happen. But the big surprise to her critics is that the Bride of Christ, the very screw-ups that to the outsiders failed in their blind sheeplehood, will be the very ones who will survive and find new depth and holiness through adversity. Yes, many will fall away. Jesus said that. In spite of them…

    …those who will shine tomorrow are sitting in pews today. Deal.

  5. Jane,

    The church will survive whether anyone chooses to change or not. This is a promise from Jesus in Matthew 16:18.

    But my heart and desire is to see as many believers as possible fulfill their destinies of being a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and a people for God’s own possession (1 Peter 2:9).

    And obviously, it’s tough to break ingrained traditions. It was for me. Just the thought of turning my back on all our forefathers who have been a part of the traditional church system caused me problems. But it was just as tough for the Jews to leave the Temple system, but supposedly a third of them did just that.

    Do I believe 100% of the traditional church system will switch over to the simple church/home church/reformation movement? Probably not.

    But I sincerely believe – especially for the West Coast – that every believer who does not switch over will wish they had at some time in the future.

    Jane says:

    “..those who will shine tomorrow are sitting in pews today. Deal.”

    Maybe a few here and there will because God’s grace is far beyond my comprehension. But a whole bunch more will shine tomorrow because they began making some tough choices today.

  6. I love Jane. I just do.

    I wonder, Larry, these choices. Isn’t this ‘something’ you are trying to change, more internal than communal??? Check out the entire book of 1 Peter and look at it as a whole piece.
    you said, “being a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and a people for God’s own possession (1 Peter 2:9).”

    The nature of this verse was to support the premise of “the true grace of God” 1Peter 5:12, the original intent of this letter. It was not written to contextualize into the dismantling of a church state as it was to lift up individual believers in their existing church states (large and small)among pagan societies.

    The apostles WERE building meta churches, but understood each ‘church’ state would include their human and very corporate sins. (i.e. the 7 churches in revelation) The apostles, the writers, never called the churches to dismantle, they encouraged them to listen. That the ones who can ‘hear’ will indeed come from the church.

    Just so you and everyone knows I am not a dying defender of men! however

    you said, “Also, what we now call the four Gospels were not called that by their writers; they were in fact letters written, more or less, to specific groups.” These groups were churches, designed and developed by the apostles and their joint and appointed leaders. And many of these letters, we have learned were actually meant to be circulated between the churches, uh, sorry, groups, and not meant for only one church.

    If what you’d prefer is call my church a group, go for it. But if I were to have a home ‘church’, I would include all that we do in worship minus the music… unless someone brought a guitar… and I’d invite the same people I already worship with… and do the same things. These bring to me a venue to be closer to God. A way to seperate myself from the society I live in and just immerse myself in God’s Grace.

    so why would I change that? If you are closer to God by not participating, I think that’s GREAT! REALLY!! Go for it! I’m not going to stand between you and God. That’s a choice a person needs to make on their own, internally. Getting involved in a home church takes an internal decision as well. Why does one need to fulfill the needs of all… THAT is Christ’s job.

    Is Christ NOT so big to already have expected the differences, and to have a plan to bring us together, because WE can’t? If there is one thing the human race has proven itself, is we know how to build walls, physical and metaphorical!!

    Christ is the keystone that reconciles differences and makes ONE body, reconciling both to God through the cross. Eph 3:15
    This was referring to jews and gentiles… unfortunately, it seems to be a message lost between christians of all lineage.

    Since this has gotten so long and am already choosing to brew a second pot of coffee, I best not get into the creeds and where they came from and their resolute purpose. I will end with a statement of Jane’s that I believe is a clear picture of what is:

    “the big surprise to her critics is that the Bride of Christ, the very screw-ups that to the outsiders failed in their blind sheeplehood, will be the very ones who will survive and find new depth and holiness through adversity.”

    Amen, sister!

  7. Cindy,

    I love Jane, too; and you likewise.

    The apostles never envisioned what we call churches today. At best, they would declare it an Old Testament Temple-type system; and at worst, a pagan, Greek temple-type system.

    And also, I guarantee the Apostle Paul would have no problem with dismantling the present traditional church system. He would declare, “O foolish traditional church-ites, who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? (Galatians 3:1-3)

    The apostles (except John) died for the Kingdom of God and the Church. They are not the easy-going, seminary-trained, politically-correct, seeker-friendly types of guys who now fill the pulpits of today.

    They fought for the individual rights of the believers and never envisioned clergy having authority over believers. Period.

  8. lest we forget they were bar mitvahed!

    Maybe it’s the region I live in, but it’s been in my experience that religious leaders more often than not, would RATHER the congregation engage in internalizing the Word and become involved in the work of Christ.

    Do you have ideas as to how to inspire the asleep sheep to get up and internalize the Word with the rest of us? To dig in and get dirty? I have as of yet to meet (in person) a leader that doesn’t give a hoot about the eternal salvation of the mindless.

    On the contrary, everyone I have met challenges their peers to grow spiritually. To become that priesthood.

    I’ve said it once, I will say it a thousand times. It isn’t the leaders. It is who sits in the pews to make the church, drive the church, define the church. If you find yourself in a church that is astray, it is YOU who must change things… from the inside.

    To simply leave and call the whole thing a sham is heretical. If you have been given eyes to see, ears to hear… these are gifts given to enlighten the church, not rip it apart.

    and I beg to differ. Paul would SO join the church I go to. He’d say, “This place is the bomb! but I see we could use a little work over here, lets go….”
    and then he’d probably ask me to “be quiet, woman!” : )

  9. Cindy,

    Do you know that when many slaves were set free after the Civil War, they chose to stay on the plantations anyway? Why? Because it was a new world outside the gates, and they were unprepared for it. No education. Little money. Color of skin. How could they survive?

    So, do I believe that members sitting in pews can be compared to plantation slaves? Yes, in part; but not totally. (Okay? This is an analogy.)

    For instance, what do you call a person who is held in bondage on a plantation by a mean owner who treats him terribly? A slave.

    Now, what do you call a person who is held in bondage on a plantation by a Christian owner who treats him kindly and with respect? A slave.

    A slave is a slave. Bondage is bondage.

    The church has been revived and revived and revived and revived; and yet, it has never changed wineskins. It still hangs onto the Old Testament wineskin which is a Temple system with a division between clergy and laity.

    Paul would not tell you to keep quiet. He would say, “Talk on.”

  10. ownership!!! now we’re making headway! we are slaves to God and God alone. The cost of discipleship means we are bound to do God’s will and live out a righteous (or as righteous as it can be) life. We are to continually mature as christians and to become more ‘christ like’. It gives us an opportunity to develop the gifs of faith, peace, truth, spirit and righteousness under the helmet of salvation… aka… Christ.

    Can this happen outside the church? Yes! you bet! Can the church assist people in a way that can’t be done on your own? Yes, that is certainly true as well.

    The church is not my nor anyone else’s master. It IS a gift given to help us, and anyone else who needs a hand, along in this life.

    Priests, Pastors, Bishops, Preachers, whatever we decide we’ll call them today do not and never will own the the church. Whether it be a home group of believers or the Lakewood Megachurch in Texas…

    … well, NONE of us ‘own’ anything. Once we become christian, we surrender all that we are and have to God and to God alone.

    I wish I had time to look up the passage, but Paul does distinctly say women are to be quiet. now, he was more progressive in using women in ministry, so perhaps the authorship of whichever book that was is in question. I know some are. But women of that time usually were not allowed so much ‘air time’! Thank you kindly, sir, for the great discussion today!

  11. Cindy,

    As usual, it has certainly been a pleasure for me.

  12. Pingback: “My Journey Out” (Conclusion) « Larry Who

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