As I look at the intentions of God to provide for the advancement of the kingdom I started a journey of reflection of the early church. As the early church was put in place in the earth they were positioned to be a voice of authority in the spiritual realm of cities and regions. The true church defined by kingdom definition is the one moving in authority, carrying Gods breath with a fresh life-giving flow, ones esteeming each other and ones who love the lost that are longing for hope to be free. All the churches related to Paul as an apostolic father and he allowed each to have their own expression of spiritual life. There was not a central form of government but a kingdom structure and relationship alignment that allowed freedom of expression to be formed.
I wonder how today Paul would view the current church structures we have built with over 600 denominations and so many expressions with the bulk not relating to any apostolic father and having such diverse believe systems. It seems to me Paul would probably be rebuking them openly, and then if not repentant would be dis-fellowshipping many churches that would reject Gods ordained means of oversight. Paul would probably look at these religious positions as equal to Sadducees and Pharisees and forms of religion but denying the power of God to work through them. Disconnected to the kingdom and thus really not fully Christian or Christ like. Perhaps they would be looked at as new young believers but not truly disciples.
During the time of Christ and the New Testament era, the Sadducees were aristocrats. They tended to be wealthy and held powerful positions, including that of chief priests and high priest, and they held the majority of the 70 seats of the ruling council called the Sanhedrin. They seemed to be more concerned with politics than religion and being seen. They did not relate to the common man. This seems to be somewhat how the church today is viewed with the Hollywood style preacher with all the glitz’s and glamour. The other group the Sadducees who were legalistic only considered the written word to be true. The common person would relate the Pharisees who looked at oral traditions as equal to the written word. Both of these group put demands of offerings and giving upon people to support both of their traditions and to increase their positions of influence. This group to is easily seen in the current religious structures we have as well. The striving for position, jealousy, and the ladder of succession has created a great division and a spirit of competition, much like the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Paul even saw many who tried to imitate the apostles and even spoke the same messages. For these he accepted them as long as truth was presented but when truth was twisted or screwed he then would call them out and rebuke them. The woman declaring who Paul was for three days until Paul turned and rebuked her is a great example. The woman’s intention was to draw people after her and not Paul. Her insights and words were right but her intentions and motive was wrong, a self promotion to make converts to follow her. She was stating I also have this believe system to add to my own so if you join me you also are joining into Christianity.
So am I saying that many places need to be rebuked? Am I saying we disassociate with many churches? I know this may not be very popular but have we allowed so many belief systems to be formed because of us not wanting to confront what we know to be false doctrine or partial doctrine? The question always comes… who has made you the spiritual police? What I am saying is we are trying so hard to fit into the overall belief systems and expressions current in our culture, instead of realizing the Kingdom stands separated from all of these. Perhaps we should be more focused on birthing new kingdom focused apostolically connected churches. What if there truly was a network of these types of churches across our nation. What if apostles and prophets were being funded by these networks? What if apostles and prophets were truly accepted and embraced by these churches and had the freedom to travel to these to encourage them? We have spent so much in America on buildings and furnishings and not on supporting leaders and those really doing the work of the kingdom. Culturally in the church we are pretty messed up in our priorities and what we deem important. Culturally we want spotless bathrooms, 4” foam chairs, light shows, bible apps instead of written word, a condensed gathering, and no real confrontation that would create change. We want a soft word to create huge returns and to do ministry when it is convenient so we can feel good about ourselves. The formula is pretty simple to have success as a ministry. Don’t confront, don’t rebuke, don’t speak on repentance, holiness, sin and above all don’t have an expectation of change. As those from China years ago said America is the only nation you can have a successful ministry and God is nowhere to be found involved in what you are doing. Dutch Sheets said a couple of years ago “We know what to say and when to say it. We know how to cheer people on and have become real good at scheming instead of strategically planning.”
As we look backward longing for “old time revival”, we look at the outcomes but seldom look at the messages. Messages that were uncompromising and demanded responses. Messages that went for 2 hours not 30 minutes. Messages that came from preachers who had been through the heart dealings like Peter did so when they delivered it came from experience and not just correct exegesis.
The apostles traveled and their needs were provided by the church as a whole. Offerings were collected before they came and presented by laying them at the apostle’s feet. The life-giving flow of their messages they brought was confronting and convicting. They were in your face and pulled no punches, yet the people appreciated the honesty they presented and also the grace they brought that enabled them to go from glory to glory. They did not withhold their offerings as we do today, if something is not to our liking, but they gave and gave abundantly. By today’s standards Paul’s ministry endeavors and team traveling with him would cost over a million dollars a year! Nobody is moving to this degree of kingdom provision.
So some real questions arise. How much time will be spent on trying to convince those who really don’t what to change and come into more of a kingdom expression? I for one am so tired of going to so many pastoral driven leadership meetings and seeing so little revelation, truth, and life-giving flow being presented. I look for the breath of God that creates and seldom find the anointing to speak for a few minutes under the spirits unction. It’s time we decide to let go of any religious connection and begin to truly spend our time on what we know to be true kingdom.