Upon This Rock I will Build My Church

Jesus built the church. But what is church, and how did we get the wrong understanding of the organization structure?

Many will fill the blank with the word “church” because it is the translated word traditionally accepted used by the KJV and other translations.

Let us look at a verse Jesus said using the Greek.

ἐπὶ ταύτῃ τῇ πέτρᾳ οἰκοδομήσω μου τὴν ἐκκλησίαν

“Upon this Rock I will build my ekklesia.”

In Matthew 16:18 of the Greek the word “church” isn’t found. “Of course it isn’t,” you say, “because the Greek doesn’t use the English word “church.” Yes, the word in Greek is ekklesia, and neither is the word ekklesia translated correctly as “church.” Jesus didn’t build something material, nor even something institutional. Ekklesia does NOT refer to facility, building, temple, house, or anything of the sort. Neither does it mean organization, institution, community center, or anything of that manner.

So why does the word “church” appear here, and why was it translated as such in places as Matthew 16:18? Because that word “church” was recognized and handed down from tradition of the Catholic Church that used the pagan temple model and its hierarchy leadership for its structure. And it was the best word to use to form the idea that the Catholic Church held an authoritative institution so it can imply an organization that has a hierarchy structure in which the Papacy is Head. In Protestant circles, it was the best word used to hold the English authoritative institution of the King so it can imply an organization that has a hierarchy structure in which would enforce the King as Head of the Church of England. Both Pope and King maintained they were the Head of the institution called “The Church.”

Hope you are starting to get the picture.

What was Jesus building? Jesus was building a temple NOT made with hands, one that isn’t a physical facility, nor an organization as an institution. This one was crafted in the Spirit as a body of His living temple; the Saints (2 Cor 6:16). The ekklesia are the “called-out ones gathered.” In other words, Matthew 16:18 refers to the saints assembled. It is an organism, not an organization and its facility.

So then why do we consider the PLACE we go the “CHURCH?” Because of the misappropriation of the word ekklesia giving a wrong connotation of its meaning. And likely the adoption of the pagan example, that’s obviously why. By thinking that because Jesus is building his church, we must build it by erecting physical churches to represent the place in which we meet Jesus. However, that violates scripture:

[Act 7:48-51] 48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, 49 Heaven [is] my throne, and earth [is] my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what [is] the place of my rest? 50 Hath not my hand made all these things? 51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers [did], so [do] ye.

You “stiffnecked!!!” That is what Jesus calls you. Because you think you can make a shrine for Him to meet you when He doesn’t ask for that. Man’s attempt is to reach God by building something that we can make for Him to dwell. But Jesus meets us as a body assembled. Called-out ones together, whether on the street, in a barn, at a home, in a warehouse, in a facility, at a hotel, on the beach, in the nearest Cafe, or at the Mall. And the gathering of spirit-filled saints is what the “gates of hades cannot prevail” against in Matthew 16:18, not the building in which is the shelter. Jesus does not require us to make something with our hands to attempt to please Him to dwell with us.

[Jhn 4:21-24] 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God [is] a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth.

That does NOT mean a facility is not necessary. We need shelter. An established place is convenient. But the manner in which we make the church building the primary focus is attempting to make it a specific dwelling place, and organism in itself. We have put too much emphasis on the PLACE of worship rather than on the people whom are gathered. And instead of gathering saints to serve one another and to give as each has in need, we have our focus on serving the BUILDING, being laborers of the facility instead, and all our expenses given to build it rather than care for those in need who are in our midst.

Here is another truth, folks. For those who question this charge (as if the example was not clear enough), many say they know what “church” really means; that it is the people? Then WHY do you think church is considered a facility in a community used as a beacon to draw neighbors in?  Pulling in saved as well as the UNSAVED? If the ekklesia are the “called-out ones,” then who are the ones inside who are NOT called-out? They are still UNDER the church and think they are included as the Church. Isn’t that what they are told Sunday after Sunday? But if the ekklesia is ONLY the called-out ones, they are not yet ready to join the body to be the “church.” Unless in application it still is referring to the facility, organization, and institution in your minds. But you have contaminated the meeting supposed to be of the SAINTS.

What fellowship does light have with darkness? How can two walk together unless they agree? The unbelievers are not suppose to represent the “church.” Besides that many have them functioning roles IN the church organization. Some even serving on THE WORSHIP TEAM in some places. Wrong! How can someone who doesn’t yet have a relationship with God be leading the corporate body (of believers supposedly to the place of worship? How can the unsaved members of the congregation who aren’t yet saved worship God in spirit and truth? Yet they are encouraged to do so, perhaps given a false impression they are proxied in or assimilated.

So then the question we get is “Then how do we expect to reach people if they don’t come in?” And they argue, We shouldn’t prohibit unbelievers to come inside if they want.” They say that just isn’t love, and we cannot hold back anyone from receiving the gospel. Well the “outside / in” model was emphasized n the 1970s and 1980s by a business model promoted by Peter Drucker along with recruiting a team of clergy to promote this. His business model of assimilation, social reform, and merging both society and church was a tactic of New Age to blur the lines and bring an ecumenical social gospel. It is considered “dominions.” And believes this world and its auspices State and Government will be occupied by Christians to transform this world. That is another story for another article.

How about doing it the way Jesus told, to GO OUT in the world and preach the gospel, be a witness where you are, and tell them the good news. And to make disciples by teaching them the faith as they have confessed, having been converted by God and been made “born-again.” NOW they should see the Kingdom, which transcends this worldly one. And they are made citizens of the heavenly. By now joining the congregation, they can be nurtured, edified, encouraged, and matured. The assembly of believers function for that purpose (Ephesians 2 and 4).

But if the assembly meant for the saints is occupied with unbelievers among the believers, the message has to be different. It must be more evangelistic. The message must change from edification of living the Christian life, and sorting out the problems, and teaching, to sowing the seed, apologetics, and persuasion. The two different places of belief cannot get a benefit from the same common message.

But it is obvious a seeker-sensitive service must be watered down to be inviting. The teaching is reduced to milk for others to “catch up.” You may as well invite Tony Robbins to your pulpit to reach a positive encouraging worldly message of success. The meat is not ready to be taught, as Paul addressed, some are not able to receive it. And terms like sin, hell, and repentance are also omitted. For the believers this is expected since they already should know these things. But by not catering specifically to the unsaved and their condition of being in enmity against God, and omitting the reason for why they need a savior, they are misled and expected to “fall in place” assimilated into the faith rather than be converted. Some might. But that is not the norm. The soil is not tendered, and the Word falls on rocky ground. When the troubles of the world come, the tribulation may choke the Word out.

A Solution

What is the solution? Perhaps the connotation of “church” has to change. But that means your mindset has to accept the truth of what it was meant, which requires a surrender of tradition. However, maybe it is too late and the concept we accept as “church” has stuck. So since the community recognizes it, maybe the Sunday meeting SHOULD be more a community evangelistic project rather than the meet of the meeting of saints.

If unbeliever come in, or someone needing milk is present, perhaps someone with the gift of an EVANGELIST or SHEPHERD take them under their wing, where they can be matured in the faith to receive the Word. The roles of the church have been narrowed to the professional person behind the pulpit, when the body should be sharing in the gifts. But that is impossible when the Pastors and congregates, divided by denominations, have not determined yet if gifts are operative today, or to what extent they should be authorized. Some denominations teach the the five-fold gifts are left to the Pastor to hold. Others that progressively they have been ceased and the one left is the prestigious role of the Office of Pastor/Teacher. That also has to be addressed.

According to books such as Ephesians, the functions of the body work together for the benefit of the assembly. Some will go out and evangelize (as we all should be a witness and share our light). Others will form fellowships and bring them to order (elders), some will shepherd others to nurture, guide, instruct, and protect them as they get up to speed to be weened from milk and learn to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and feed on meat. Then they will be matured and likewise able to teach as well (Hebrews 5:12). The role of Shepherd (Pastor in Latin phrase) should never be a dependent role where the people are kept reliant upon. But the clergy occupation mindset has made it a business with the Pastor functioning as manager. And all the people dependent on his instruction, guidance, and authority.Perhaps this also has to change. But how many Pastors are willing to admit they have relied upon the church as their paid occupation? Perhaps some should read 1Pet 5 about how to not use it for self gain or to lord it over.

Is the church meant to be a plant of the vision of a sole Pastor who has a project he is recruiting for his program? Or should he simply be a nurturing guide to shepherd those under his wing who are novices and who need an elder for teaching the faith and maturing? Is he expected to plant a church (facility) and promote his building in its fancy title to the community? And advertise it to lure others into HIS vision? Or is he supposed to simply shepherd? I wonder if a whole congregation was meant to forever be under the authority of the Pastor and be forever dependent. perhaps that is a personal conviction.

I once spoke to a Pastor who didn’t have a church. He was in “transition” so to speak. I asked him what he was waiting for. He said he cannot Pastor until he was assigned to, or could start a church. I told him his function (gift) was not dependent on the facility, but upon the gift to shepherd and teach. So why not go out, preach the gospel and get converts under your wing to teach. ANYWHERE. Or if you are not an evangelist, hook up with those who are, and take upon the role of shepherding them. This notion of the facility to be established first is the very grievance I have, and proving my suspicions are correct about this mindset. If everything functioned as given example of the scriptures, we have enough instruction to take care of the situations that arise. We just have to get back to the correct model.

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