Strategy 3 The Ekklesia Session 4 Finding the Ekklesia

Characteristics of the Ekklesia in our day of institutional failure

List of characteristics that we discovered over the last 3 weeks – this is NOT a checklist so we can judge churches to see if they match up before we can join them! This is not a magnifying glass to examine other people and churches, but a mirror to reflect back to us what we ought to be! We need to have the Father’s Heart, and the mentality of a Bride longing for her Bridegroom and preparing herself for her marriage.

If this is a checklist for anything, it’s a list to check our own hearts and lives with – are we being the Ekklesia wherever we are and whatever we’re doing? As we relate to one another? For us, in our search, this all starts with us individually – the church after all is only what the people make it, and we are the people making up the Ekklesia!

  • Relationship – with the Head and with each other, through the Holy Spirit
    • The Ekklesia first and foremost, beginning, middle and end, is a body of people in relationship with Jesus Christ, and first and foremost He calls us to Himself before He calls us to a task.
    • The Ekklesia is characterised by the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
    • The Ekklesia expresses the Saviour’s heart
    • The Ekklesia keeps hold of the Head
    • The Ekklesia keeps hold of each other – members of the Body, the fellowship of the saints – which is only truly known when we come together under the Head (you can’t have the Head without the Body)
  • The Father’s Purpose is Family – a home for God and for Disciples
    • The Christian family is the basic unit of the Ekklesia (the early church met house to house)
    • God is creating a Family and the Ekklesia is a home for it – a place where God feels at home
    • The Ekklesia-Family environment is where discipleship takes place, the right environment for Spiritual Growth
  • The Father’s Business – producing sons in the image of His Son
    • The Ekklesia’s mission is The Father Business
    • Jesus has gifted the Ekklesia with the people and gifts that will build it up
    • Every member has a part to play
    • The Ekklesia will only be built up and perfected as every member plays its part – only practical in small groups

The Lord’s Promise of victory over Hell is made to the Ekklesia only, not to man-made institutions calling themselves ‘church’ (the visible church), which are merely scaffolding around the real church that Jesus is building.

The Ekklesia brings “glory to the Father, testimony to Christ, hope to the lost, and selfless fellowship to their comrades in arms” (David Andrew).

How to find the Ekklesia (remembering that we ARE the Ekklesia!)

We have to be the change we want to see. Our society has become an ‘entitlement’ society where people expect everything to be done for them by others. We are the Ekklesia so we are called to live all this out!

  • The Ekklesia is an organism not an organisation. It is dynamic and organic, difficult for the authorities to pin down as it doesn’t consist of visible structures and hence is dangerous to the enemy!
    • Not by starting a new stream as the solution. This will inevitably become an institution and part of the problem – denominations – a tactic of the enemy
    • Not by reforming the visible church – Luther failed spectacularly – new wine requires new wineskins (but not more denominations!)
  • The call is to individuals – He that has an ear – a call to the remnant to live as the Ekklesia (remember our list above – how much of that do we live out?), to be the Ekklesia and not to assess others’ failures! I believe we will find others of like mind, maybe within our local church or maybe outside of it, or even both at the same time, and we will be drawn together

How to find the Remnant

Lessons from The 7 Churches in Revelation 2-3, particularly the last 4, which can represent Christendom in our day:

  • Thyatira Rev. 2:24-25 Faithfulness to the Word
  • Sardis Rev. 3:2-4 Holiness
  • Philadelphia Rev. 3:8-11 Weakness with endurance
  • Laodicea Rev. 3:19-20 Faithfulness to the Lord

Looks like a remnant, particularly in the last one (which may represent the last of the Last Days?)

  • Recognising the Remnant where it exists:
    • 1 Kin. 18:3-4 The remnant know one another
    • Mal. 3:15-18 The remnant fear the Lord, love His Name and speak to one another about Him as often as they can
    • John 10:26-27 where the Shepherd’s voice is heard and you find pasture but not going hither and thither as –
  • It consists of people who are committed to one another, probably in small units as in an Army – made up of regiments with units, not lone soldiers doing their own thing!

Characteristics of the Remnant Church (the Persecuted Church)

Remember, this is us, folks!

1.      They will become more entrenched in the Word of God the more the world opposes them

The more resistance they face, the more the remnant church will become resolute in their faith (sort of like the way the muscles in our body get harder with resistance training). Instead of compromising the message of the Word, they may change their method of presenting the gospel but will never even consider watering down biblical ethics, values and the message of the cross of Jesus Christ.

2.      They will become the vilified in society

The remnant church used to be merely unpopular in the past but has now got to the point where they are hated. It is very apparent that Christian values are constantly mocked by society, and increasingly within the institutional churches.

3.      They will preach a countercultural Biblical message

The remnant church will continue to preach the gospel of Christ; they apply the gospel to cultural issues in a wiser, more winsome way. The remnant church will remain faithful in preaching the gospel in spite of the possible backlash they can receive from church attendees and or the public.

4.      They will produce the most committed Christians and make disciples

It is able to produce disciples because it takes great sacrifice to believe in Jesus in the midst of hostile environments. Consider the Christians still living in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Northern Nigeria, Sudan and similar persecuted regions. Compromising churches produce wimpy believers and the remnant church produces committed disciples.

5.      They will experience a greater presence and power of God

The first-century church was a hated minority, yet great power and the presence of God accompanied its ministry! (Acts 3:7-10; 4:3-4, 31-33; 5:13-14)

6.      They will be more excluded and separated from mainstream churches and denominations.

The more uncool it becomes to be a biblical church, the more the so-called cool (or, compromising!) churches will distance themselves from the remnant church. Presently, it is still not as easy for the average person to discern between remnant and compromising churches. (Most folks still lump us all together.)

However, as the heat gets turned up more and more, compromising pastors and churches (and individuals) will choose to accommodate culture and compromise Scripture, thus making a clearer distinction between the remnant and mainstream church. Not only that, these (compromising) pastors and churches will continue to do their best to distance themselves in public from the remnant. (This is what happened in Nazi Germany when the nationalistic churches separated from the confessing churches to avoid persecution and death.)

Importance for Spiritual Warfare

If you want to know what’s important to God look at what the devil is attacking! He’s attacking family in particular and he attacks the church in particular. Just look at where he’s focusing if you want to know and that’s where we have got to mount, not just defensive action, but offensive.

We’ve got to be offensive Christians! (John 2 Jesus cleansing the Temple – loved righteousness and hated iniquity – are we like Him?) We are in a battle and you may have to defend for a certain time but, in the end, the army which wins is the one which advances and so we’ve got to go on the offense in these things – to be proactive rather then reactive most of the time!