I recently wrote an article demonstrating how the current church system is faulty compared to ecclesia. There I demonstrated how the church cannot fulfill God's desire in breeding mature sons for his glory. However, the predominant system is church, and there are those advocating ecclesia. But what about God's own system? How did we get here today? In this post I would be demonstrating what happened with God's system immediately it entered the earth, how it got corrupted by men, how we lost it through that corruption, and the quest to rediscover it?
There is a system that can harbor the kingdom of heaven on earth. A system designed to contain and anchor the kingdom of heaven on earth. And the new man is meant to exist in the kingdom of heaven. Salvation is all about a translation from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of heaven.
"Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:" (Col 1:13).
The whole saga in the Old Testament is level down to the great expectant of the Kingdom of heaven coming down on earth. And when John the Baptist went out the street, is only message was, "the Kingdom of heaven is at hand". But why the long delay? This was the same kingdom that Abraham left his family and home to search out for. Just look at it, from the time Abraham left his home to the time John the Baptist came to the picture—this took hundreds of years.
The kingdom cannot come until the system designed to harbor it is established. The time of John the Baptist had not even conclude before Jesus came into the picture and declared, "... the Kingdom of God has arrived among you." (Matt 12:28).bCan you see the shift from, "the Kingdom is at hand", to, "the Kingdom has arrived".
What was the difference? Jesus the embodiment of that system was on full operation. Then Jesus died, went into the group to birth this system. Throughout the book of Act we saw this system in play. Yes, we saw the kingdom of heaven on earth. The supernatural was breaking forth everywhere, angels were seen all about. In fact one could not differentiate the difference between angels and humans; "some have entertained angels unawares." (Heb 13:2).
But then a lot of people started coming in, bringing in there own ideas, trying to help God with their dirty hands. The Jews brought in their religiosity, the Greek brought in repackaged philosophies, the Roman brought in their hierarchical system of leadership, the Europeans introduced dogmatic traditions. And everything defied the very system that was meant to harbor the kingdom.
And just like that, the kingdom disappeared. No more supernatural happenings, the gifts of the Spirit, the power of God, the sightings of angels, everything disappeared. And we have spent over a thousand years trying to get back that kingdom. Yes, we keep trying with our dirty hands, putting all the efforts that we can to get back what we've lot. And God, in his faithfulness, has blessed our efforts to some degree. But we cannot truly get the kingdom, as it ought to be, as long as we continue to involve our dirty hands in it.
It's a tricky thing; how to reconstruct a system without allowing your hands touch it. But until we have that only system that is so pure, perfectly harboring the Kingdom of heaven, we would not get the glory that we were designed to have. Yes that glory that went with the death of the apostles, and even more. A greater than that, because the glory of the later shall be greater than the former.
Right from the book of Acts we see the dirty hands of man trying to meddle with what God was doing. The Jewish Christians kept insisting that the Law of Moses must be observed. The first theological council (or ecumenical council) in Christianity was held on this very bases (Acts 15:1-35). Before then, Christians saw no need to gather together to discuss theology. They only gather to discuss Christ.
Yes, it was all about Christ—yielding to the Christ who now indwell them by the Spirit. The Apostles do not fully understand what they were doing. They were just simply yielding to what the Spirit was doing in and through them. The council in Jerusalem was the first time they gathered together to construct a box around what the Spirit was doing. And it was all because of the agitation of the religious Jews.
Then the Gentile Greek started their own. They brought in their Socrates mentality of, "dare to question everything". You know that Philosophy madness. One would look at his second and ask, "how are you sure you are real? How are you sure you are a human being and not a frog?" They would ask all kinds of stupid questions. That was how they came into Christianity and started asking, "how are you sure Jesus was flesh? Was he really flesh or did he just look like flesh?"
Before you know it a trillion heresies was flying around (an exaggeration). It became a serious problem that many of the letters and books we now have in the Bible were written to address these heresies. The Apostles spent the rest of their lives fighting these heresies. Long after they died the Church decided to come together to have several other ecumenical council to deal with this heresy problem. The Nicene creed, the Bible, the Catholic church, were all a product of these councils.
Antioch was the first place believers were called Christian. The church in Antioch grew very powerful. It became the center of Christianity. But then the Romans came into Christianity with their political mentality. They began to look for a way to seize the power of the church in Antioch and become the head of Christianity. Antioch was not really the head in a formal sense. It was just like an elder brother that everyone likes and loves to listen to.
The Church in Rome wanted to establish themselves as the legit head of Christianity. They wanted to have a kind of legal authority over all the church. So they started by contending with Antioch. Later they came up with this story that the Bishop of Rome is the direct successor of Peter, whom Jesus said, "thou art Peter (rock), and upon this rock I will build my church;" So they used this statement of Jesus to legitimate their claim as head over all the churches. This was politics at play in the Church. In fact, this was how politics entered Christianity.
As head of the Church now, Rome began to reorganized Christianity into the image of the political system of the Roman Empire. They installed an hierarchical system of leadership, and turns the bishops eyes from tending to the sheep to handling political issues. Bishops became nothing but politicians, they had to assign another office of which they called "the priest", to take care of their spiritual responsibilities to the churches they were meant to serve.
The truth is that this system that has been defied by the intermingling of man's dirty hands is what is passed down to us. Till today we still have a hierarchical leadership structure that promotes the play of politics in the church. We still have men trying to subject spiritual truths with their carnal reasoning. And we still have the practice of many things pertaining to the Law of Moses. We have been preserving this perverse system. Well, it is all we know, so we hold on to it.
Jesus used an illustration to demonstrate what this system (that would harbor the kingdom of heaven) is; "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." (John 12:24). I would use this same illustration to demonstrate what God expected and what actually happened in the history of Christianity.
Jesus is the embodiment and the life of that system. Therefore, he is the seed that must be planted to grow into that system. God gave out this seed to be planted. Every feature that this system is suppose to have is encoded inside the seed. This seed came from heaven, and it is completely alien to man (man knows nothing about the seed or the plant it is meant to grow into).
What God expect is that we allow this seed grow into the plant that it is meant to grow into. Let's say it is meant to grow into a orange tree, and man have never seen an orange tree. We know the features of an orange tree; small thick leafs, thorny, short in height, etc. So what happened in the history of Church is that the Apostles were yielding to the Spirit and watching how the seed grows little by little. They didn't really know what to expect, they were just watching it grow.
But then the Jews came in and saw how the plant started growing thorns. And they were like, "Oh no, this is unholy, thorns are evil. Please, we need to cut off this thorns. The holy plant that God gave us is definitely not meant to have thorns." Indeed, based on common logic, thorns are bad, they pierce you and draw blood. How could God give us a plant with thorns? It could actually be a disease growing on our precious plant. So they decided to cut off the thorns.
Then the Greek came and were like, "Oh no, these leafs are too small. The plant would not look good with such small and ugly leafs." So they were all over the plants, adding materials to the leafs to make it look bigger and finer. They don't know that what they were adding to the leafs is killing the leafs and even the plants. When the apostles saw what was happening they tried to stop them from doing this. But the Greek were like, "We want a beautiful plants, let's add more colors to it, let's add this, let's add that".
Then the Romans came and were like, "Look at the way the branches are ordered, it's not even organized. And look at how short the tree is. No, we want a big, elegant, well organized, and flamboyant looking tree." So they started cutting some branches and adding beautiful looking artificial branches. They organized everything so perfectly, made the tree look bigger.
At the end what we have is mostly artificial and fake. The original leafs are dying, fruits are barely growing on it, even the ones that grew are not healthy. To human the tree looks beautiful. Everything looks so perfectly organize. It has beautiful colors on it, it is big and flamboyant. It looks pleasing to the eyes. Yet to God's eyes it is very alien from the actual plant he had in mind.
So much meddling on the plant that God gave us, and now it does look like an orange tree that it was originally meant to be. The various decoration that has been put on it is killing the plant. A plant that was meant to be nurtured and allowed to grow on its own. We foolish bring in our dirty hands and began to spoil everything.
To save the plant we must strip away all decorations that was added. Strip it to it most simplest form. Let nothing remain but Christ alone. And let's watch how Christ would grow on his own (without man's hands interfering) into that system that would harbor the kingdom of God on earth.
It's good to have the knowledge that what God gave us is an orange plant. However, it is wise to just allow it grow by itself into whatever plant that is it. The approach that most students of ecclesiology have is that we should figure out what the plant is, and then try to construct the plant into what it is meant to be. The problem with this approach is that it still involves meddling your dirty hands into what God is doing. And that is the very cause of the problem in the first place.
How are you sure that what you think the plant is, is actually what it is. You might think it is a mango tree, whereas it is an orange. This is the same problem we have with all Protestant churches, the so called reformed. This one comes and say it is a apple tree, and they try to construct apple tree on top of the plant. Another one comes and say, "no it is a pawpaw tree, so they try to construct pawpaw. Each one of them claiming they are following the Bible (Sola Scriptura), trying to practice the New Testament Church (the church that the Apostles practice).
What they don't understand is that even the church that the apostles practice has not fully taken form before it was disrupted by the hands of man. So copying what you see in the New Testament Bible does not equate getting the system right. Fine, even if you get it right, and figure out that the plant is an orange tree, you are still supposed to allow it grow on its own. It would be unwise to try to construct orange tree on an orange tree. Just allow the plant grow into whatever it is, stop interfering with your dirty hands.
Yes, the best approach is keep your knowledge of what you think the tree should look like. Focus on nurturing the plant and allow it to grow and form on its own. See, I know a lot about how ecclesia should look like. I can easily gather people, organize them together based on the pattern I have, and then start doing ecclesia. It is quite easy to go that way, in fact many people have been telling me to go that way. They can't wait, they want to do ecclesia. They can't understand why I am so sluggish about it
It would be wrong for me to use my own hands to form or construct ecclesia. I can only allow it to grow on its own, nurture it, supply water, remove the surrounding weeds, and trim it when it needs trimming. Nothing more than that. So rather than going about doing ecclesia, I have focused on growing the seed (Christ) in each believer. And from there watching how this seed in the believers would grow into the ecclesia—the rock cut not with the hands of man. Yeah, it's a very slow method, but it is the only right way to do it.