Seeking Jesus First - June 29, 2023

Seeking Jesus First - June 29, 2023
Photo by Cosmic Timetraveler / Unsplash

What is the difference between “a church” and “the church”? Why are there so many churches? Are they in competition with each other? Isn’t there really only one church?  Does it matter which assembly and denomination I go to? Do I need to go to a church?

The word church comes from the Greek word ekklesia. It means called out ones. It also means assembly. It also means the elect. The word church is used as a focus on assembly as a definition. But there is more to it than an assembly of believers.

Apostles and prophets and evangelists, or those doing the word of apostles, prophets and evangelists, went into a city or region as sent ones and proclaimed the message of Christ - the good news of the kingdom of God and forgiveness and family. Those who responded were called out of their previous lifestyle into the lifestyle of the kingdom of God. They were then taught and trained by people operating in the five fold ministry gifts how they could relate to God as Father and to each other as a loving family.

This training and equipping took place in homes and assemblies. They began to learn how to walk by faith, hope and love to overcome the world. They faced persecution because they left their former lifestyles and became the anointed people of God. Christian means the anointed people of God. They began operating in power and love and started living a life of joy in spite of their circumstances. They started growing in faith and started acting more like they were not merely human. They called themselves sons of God in the same manner that Jesus was called the son of God. They talked differently. They acted differently. They began reigning in life through the one Christ Jesus. They even gloried in their troubles and persecution honoring God for the privilege of suffering with Christ Jesus. All of this was because they believed the apostle’s gospel regarding Jesus and became the elect, the called out ones, and started assembling together in churches.

There are churches and there is “the church”. The Church” is the elect body of Christ as a whole. Every Christ believer is both a member of Christ’s Body and a member of His elect church (“elect church” is redundant).

Churches are the groups that gather together in one place as a tribe or family of believers untied around a common vision.

The Bible is clear that there are many churches and it is clear that there is one church.

John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,” (Revelation 1:4, NKJV) Jesus had a message to seven churches in Asia. It was not necessarily a message to the entire body of Christ for every future generation. I don’t mean this as a controversial statement. I simply want to point out that both the resurrected Christ Jesus and the Apostle John saw the unified body of Christ as individual assemblies of believers.

The New Testament uses the plural form, “churches” twenty-six times. Paul talks about the “churches” in Galatia, indicating that there was more than one assembly in Galatia. The plural form is used to specifically talk about the many assemblies of believers. So it is right to call one assembly a church.

There are so many churches because there are so many people. Simple. There are so many people who are called into the five-fold ministries because there are so many people who need to be trained. There are so many denominations because there are so many visions of how people should believe and follow Christ. There are so many churches because God does not call every five-fold minister to carry the same vision. We are all carrying the kingdom of God but some are called to specific groups of people.

Each church has a visionary leader. That leader imparts what God has given to him to as many people as possible. That leader assembles as many people as he can lead and impart vision to. Some visionary leaders assemble visionary leaders and help them grow their vision. Some visionary leaders have such similar visions that they partner up.

Apostolic visionary leaders should gather those who share vision and not criticize those who do not share the same vision. We are not in competition with each other. God is the one who adds to our churches. God is building the house through our faith and corresponding actions. Visionary leaders want to grow or add new people  and they want to keep those who have partnered with them in vision but they have no authority to mandate or manipulate agreement or alignment.

Why should I join a local church? There are so many verses that encourage us to be a part of a local church that I would not try to list them all. However, let me give you a parable. There was a man who wanted to grow a tree, so he planted a small cutting in a pot so they he could watch over it and manage it. He would move the pot to different places trying to find the best place for it to grow. When he found the perfect place on his property for the tree, he left it there in the pot but the tree did not grow very big. He watered it and made sure it was nurtured in every way and received the proper amount of sunlight but it would not get very big. Finally, the man researched the tree on line and realized that the pot limited the growth. So he planted the tree in the ground and it began to grown wonderfully and beautifully. Before too long, the tree began to produce fruit and shade and became a blessing to the family.

You are that tree. When God finds the right family for you, he will plant you and you will flourish in that family. Don’t dig yourself up and move around a whole lot. This will limit your growth and your ability to be a blessing to the family of God.

Which church or denomination should you join? You should join the church that fathers you into the kingdom of God. You should join the church with vision that you can support who heartedly. You should join the church that you are willing to serve with your time, effort and treasure. Mature believers do not pick a church that will meet their needs or so that someone else will read and study the Bible for them. They pick a church with a vision that they can serve. The thing is, when mature believers pick a church in this manner, immature believers are served and blessed and are discipled into mature believers.