The positive ‘LIKES’ were overwhelming. I am humbled. However, in one group my meme evoked a firestorm of conversation. There were some solid theological and historical support for what I said, but there were some who attacked both me and what I asserted. One respondent even called me a Facebook troll that needed to read the bible rather than write about it.
My purpose for writing this is not to defend myself, but rather to encourage all who read it to take a closer look into the precious Word of God. You may find, like I did, that over the years, men have tampered with portions of scripture to suit their pagan and political beliefs. Simply research why King James told his translators to misinterpret ekklesia and prayerfully you will understand my point. I offer a free resource that may point you in the right direction in my website. It is interesting to discover how ekklesia (what Jesus really said), was mistranslated as church.
Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my [ekklesia]; and the gates of [Hades] shall not prevail against it.
I've examined this verse in nearly twenty translations of the bible. A few Bible translations translate ekklesia as ‘congregation’ or ‘assembly’. These are closer to the actual meaning of ekklesia. However, it is the historical meaning of ekklesia that alerts us to Jesus intent when He used that word.
A simple review of the original language of the New Testament reveals that Jesus spoke of building His ekklesia – a word that was known and understood by His disciples and the people of His day. Some have tried to ‘Christianize’ the word ekklesia when in reality, it was a secular word, both in its history and practice. Why is important that we understand this?
The model Jesus chose was one with authority. From its Old Testament predecessor word qahal, to the New Testament word ekklesia, what He chose referred to a called-out body for the purpose of conducting official business. In many ways, the ekklesia could be considered a ruling council. The Romans borrowed the concept of ekklesia from the Greeks to the point that many in the earthly days of our Lord considered it to be an arm of the Roman government.
Immediately upon declaring that He would build His ekklesia, Jesus promised they would be equipped with the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and that they would have full authority to bind and loose on earth what heaven had declared to be lawful or unlawful. In other words, like the secular ekklesia, the Lord’s ekklesia would have authority to activate the policies of heaven into the earth. Like Jesus, I desire to see the Body of Christ empowered to impact their families, their neighborhoods, their cities, state and ultimately the world with the power of Jesus Christ.
When I wrote my latest book, Leaving Church Becoming Ekklesia, I was frighteningly aware that I would face those who would reject its message. Rejection is not the issue, failure to accept the Lord’s purpose is the greater tragedy. You must position yourself to not automatically reject what the Lord is doing, and at the same time be wise enough not to just accept anything. Here are four things that can help navigate this path.
- Study Of course 2Timothy 2:15 is the go to scripture when we tell people to study. I also find the story of the Jews in Berea quite interesting (Acts 17:11-18). The bible says they searched the scriptures to see if what Paul and Silas had taught them was accurate, and the result was many new believers. Believe for them was a result of scriptural validation rather than the apostles proclamation. Like those in Berea, your understanding of ekklesia will be confirmed when you 'search the scriptures' for yourself.
- Ask Questions This is important. Even if you don't know the right questions to ask, pursue answers for anything that you don't understand, or that is confusing to you. I believe in exhausting every detail. No question is off limits.
- Gather With Other Believers Studying, praying and fellowshipping with other believers can provide critical checks and balances in learning new things. No one has all the answers. But, as each believer shares what he or she understands, the mind of Christ will begin to emerge that will bring clarity to all. Watch for future blogs where I will discuss the importance of gathering with believers.
- Pray How you process what you learn is governed by either your presumptions or the Holy Spirit. If you try to measure everything by what you like or don't like, or by what makes you comfortable or uncomfortable, or by the advantanges or disadvantages to you, then you will rarely accept truth. It is only the Holy Spirit who will guide you into all truth. Therefore, prayer is the best way to process new information.
I encourage you to study, ask questions, gather with other believers and pray. You will find, that Jesus never said He would build a church. You will find the original language of the New Testament, and historical facts will confirm this fact. What Jesus actually said proves His intent to empower you and send you forth to impact your families, your neighborhoods, your cities, and beyond.
I believe Jesus is still building His ekklesia, and He’s doing it with believer like you!