Changes God requires in His church today in order to produce the perfected 'bride of Christ'




We will look at how the church has developed since the time of Jesus.







The full background to this teaching is available online at this link
DEFINITIONS (For serious students only)



Online links to scriptures (New International Version [NIV] unless otherwise stated) are shown in blue






We finished last week by saying: 'Yet, as we can see in the churches in Smyrna and Philadelphia, the characteristics of the churches Jesus praised are not those desired by most of the church, then and now. Principles of sacrifice, faithfulness, full reliance upon and submission to the will of God.'

These are principles we hear about in church. They are generally understood though, as being sacrifice (giving to and helping in the church), faithfulness (attending church and meetings of the church), reliance upon (the pastor or leadership), and submission to the will of God (as revealed through the vision of the pastor).

However, these are principles of 'kings' not 'kingdom'.

Let's go right back again to God's reluctant appointment of Israel's first king, King Saul. God warned the people:



1 Samuel 8:10-17



Of course, when we read this, we automatically think of ancient times with kings in crowns and robes leading foot soldiers into battle riding on a chariot pulled by horses. A king who had the power of life and death over his subjects. An autocratic leader whose word was law.

This is true. The situation today generally is different. We are more educated, most live in democracies, and we pride ourselves upon our independence. We say our government is 'of the people, by the people, for the people', the definition of democracy. However, we also know that the ideal does not always relate to the practice. Enough said!

When we look at church history through the ages, we see that the principle of kingship remains entrenched within the church. In fact, the darkest age of both church and society was in the days of the highly autocratic Papal system of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.




Much of the thrust of the Reformation was an attempt to break this rigid authority structure. However, after initial times of revelation and change, denominational structures again grew. Over the hundreds of years since then, God has used many different groups of 'dissenters' to further reform His church. Each group has received revelation from God, which they invariably, have taken to be the last and greatest revelation, and stuck with it through thick and thin, forming another structured grouping of 'spiritual kings' with their 'member subjects'. It is a truism that the greatest enemy of a new revival is the leadership of the previous one.




Sadly, with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the early 20th century, giving rise to the Pentecostal movement, this imposition of 'kingly structures' has become even more pronounced than in the traditional and evangelical churches that grew out of the reformation.

The spiritual giftings of leadership have been used and abused to put the people down rather than being used as instruments to grow and develop the congregation.

We need to see what God said about such behavior, way back in the time of Samuel.



1 Samuel 8:6-7



Reality is, 'religion' needs and breeds kings and structure, for ironically, that is what people want! 'Kingdom' though, is based on entirely different principles.

The heart of the problem of the church is mankind's (in particular 'menkind'!) desire to be organised and in our ability to compartmentalise areas of our lives.

'Religion' is based upon what people want to hear. Perform a particular, proven ritual in this specific way and you will be okay, irrespective of whatever else you do.

In a Christian setting, the extreme of this religious activity was found in the latter Middle Ages when 'indulgences' were sold by the priests of the church for money, as a means of obtaining forgiveness of sins. The excesses of this unbiblical religious action, based upon appealing to natural human instinct, was a huge motivating factor in the protestations of the Protestant Reformation.

However, it did not take long for the protestants to set up their own 'religious systems' of beliefs which, while more enlightened than the practice of indulgences, still organised people into 'doing religion' in certain defined ways. 'Follow our way and all will be well with you.' Denominations were born and continue to grow in numbers. It is estimated that there are between 9,000 and 34,000 Christian denominations in the world today! So much for unity in the church!

Maybe your grouping focuses upon communion, a particular creed, following certain behaviours, spiritual gifts, or many, many other different things. 'Follow our way and you will be okay with God.'

This is perfectly understandable, as it goes right back to the temptation, to which Eve succumbed, in the Garden of Eden.



Genesis 3:4-5



We still believe we can manipulate God through our human based religious actions.

Religion is based upon order, upon 'law', and this is the method kings use to control their subjects.

The kingdom of God however, works on an entirely different principle, one of 'relationship', the restoration of that which Adam and Eve had with their Maker as they walked with Him in the garden in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8)

As we see in these days when divorce is rampant, relationship is not easy, nor is it able to be programmed into a do this, don't do this, method that will work in all circumstances and conditions. If only married life was so easy!

Reality is, as man is different to woman, so too are humans different to God.

When we come into relationship with Jesus we have to learn His ways, the ways of the kingdom of God. While we have a textbook in the Bible, the application of the principles, of kingdom ways, can only be truly learned through the intimate guiding and teaching of the Holy Spirit and giving Him the authority to transform our life individually.

Our relationship is not to be with, or through, a 'king, but directly with the 'King of Kings'.




I was reading the Amplified Bible and realised that these verses of Jesus in Matthew hold the key to the kingdom.



Matthew 11:28-30



The primary difference between king and kingdom understanding is in the timing of the inheritance of the kingdom.

The standard teaching of 'kings' (the church, evangelists etc.) is centered on being 'born again' now in order to get to heaven when we die. The motivation and action required for the born again experience is beautifully described in verse 28. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. (I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.)




For me, this experience came when I was at the lowest point of my life. While I had spent much of my life in a Baptist church, therefore knowing all the theory of being 'born again', it wasn't until I truly reached the 'end of my tether' that I was really ready and willing to truly come to Jesus. A successful businessman, operating the largest mail order company in New Zealand, I lost everything in the 1987 share market crash. After the worst 18 months of my life, fighting against being declared bankrupt, I finally, and inevitably, lost the battle. I was no longer able to support my family. My self esteem was in tatters. I had to line up in the queue to sign up for 'the dole', the unemployment benefit, so that we could have some money to live on. In the Social Welfare Office that day in 1989, I placed my burden upon Jesus. He 'saved' me. I was 'born again'. I had my ticket to heaven!

In Baptist, and church circles generally, it was accepted that I should now live a good life while here on earth until the day I died and received my final inheritance, entry to heaven.

But my soul was heavy! Surely Lord, there has to be more!

I thought I had found it when I entered the realm of Holy Spirit anointing as experienced in the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. Yes, I did experience more of the reality of Jesus through the revelation and power of the Holy Spirit.

Yet my soul was still heavy! Surely Lord, there has to be more!

Over the years the Lord has gradually been revealing 'the more' to me. An understanding of verse 29. Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. The reality of the yoke.

The reality of two being joined together, in 'a bond of union, esp. the marriage tie' (yoke - Oxford Dictionary). I am to learn of and adopt His character in order to become as one with Him. For the inheritance of His kingdom is now.




We are to build His kingdom upon earth, as we (should!) always pray, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10) Yes, the kingdom of God is to be established upon the earth through His sold out people, those who are prepared to put aside everything to take on His yoke, to become as Jesus to the world.

This is not an event, such as being born again or receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but rather, a process that takes a lifetime to enter in to.

Some people ask, 'why were you running a second hand clothing business when your role is supposedly to be to build the end time church?' At the time we started, I too wondered if I was doing the right thing or being subtly distracted by the devil. For it is all to easy to embrace the 'kings' concept that 'ministry' is both different to, and a superior calling, to 'working in the world'. For kings are put on pedestals, whereas in the kingdom we are to be gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, as was Jesus.

What I, along with many others, are discovering, is that the reality of the kingdom is not found within the walls of a building or at a high powered conference or convention, but in the highways and byways of the world. It is found in being a reflection of Jesus to the people of your community - to you neighbours, to your workmates and friends, to the poor and to the needy. For this indeed, is the fertile ground in which the seeds of the kingdom will grow.




As we move away from disagreements over doctrine, building churches and running programmes, all in the realm of kings, and move individually into being lights to the world of our communities, following the example of Jesus by doing the will of the Father as communicated to us by the Holy Spirit, so we will truly discover; 30 For my yoke is wholesome (useful, good - not harsh, hard sharp or pressing, but comfortable, gracious and pleasant) and my burden is light and easy to be borne.

Gone is the striving, gone is the competition to become the 'greatest king'. (leader, minister, pastor, teacher, evangelist, prophet or apostle.) For there is to be only one king, king Jesus! In Him our very being is to be centered.

His kingdom is based upon love. His great love for us overrides all. He forgives me when I go astray. And I do! He loves me when I am unlovely. And I am! But in our imperfection He accepts us, both you and me. And He calls upon us to love others in the way He loves us.



1 John 4:21



It is upon the foundation of love, not competition, that God's kingdom on earth is built. 




....... as we look at Jesus as a leader.





The tendency of the church, both in the Old Testament and the New, has been to follow a man.

Under the Old Covenant, it was a priest, or later a Rabbi. Under the New, we tend to follow our leadership, whether Pastor, priest, minister or elder.

Such is the nature of man.

But under the teachings of Jesus, we are only to follow the will of the Father, as revealed by the Holy Spirit, through belief in Jesus.

May we indeed, 'walk with Jesus.'

Extra-Biblical Historical Evidence for the LIFE, DEATH, and RESURRECTION of JESUS


Ignatius, letter to the Smyrneans (110-115 AD):
"He is truly of the race of David according to the flesh, but Son of God by the Divine will and power, truly born of a virgin and baptised by John that all righteousness might be fulfilled by Him, truly nailed up in the flesh for our sakes under Pontius Pilate and Herod the tetrarch (of which fruit are we--that is, of his most blessed passion); that He might set up an ensign unto all ages through His resurrection."
"For I know and believe that He was in the flesh even after the resurrection; and when He came to Peter and his company, He said to them, 'Lay hold and handle me, and see that I am not a demon without body.' And straightway they touched him, and they believed, being joined unto His flesh and His blood. Wherefore also they despised death, nay they were found superior to death. And after His resurrection He ate with them and drank with them."

Ignatius, letter to the Magnesians (110-115 AD):
"Be ye fully persuaded concerning the birth and the passion and the resurrection, which took place in the time of the governorship of Pontius Pilate; for these things were truly and certainly done by Jesus Christ our hope."



So until next week.......

His servant and yours

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1019. While religion may desire to build Gods kingdom, it finally succeeds in building its own.

David Tait         




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