Updated: Jan 16
AN UNFEDERATED WILDFIRE By Doug Krieger Another in the Series on EKKLESIA I hate to entitle this article on Ekklesia “another in the series” because it sounds like I’m organizing this thing, when actually, this “series” is anything but antithetical to that phrase when it comes to the Ekklesia—perhaps it’s as close to something done “decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40) but that’s as far as it goes! On occasion I’ve asked my associate, Henry Hon:“Is this ‘Ekklesia business’ just another movement ‘in a series’ of revivals that starts out as “times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord’ (Acts 3:20) – then matures, gets ‘organized” – “institutionalized” – and then fizzles out as per normal? Kinda burns itself out? THE FINAL HARVEST Many of us speak in terms of a “great end-times’ revival” – a FINAL HARVEST of souls – the “latter-day rain” – that final burst of Holy Ghost outpouring that shakes the foundations of the world and brings forth His REMNANT in the spirit of Elijah, the prophet who would be sent forth upon the earth before that “great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Mal. 4:5) – YES! We’re looking with John, the Revelator, when we hear: “Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a SHARP SICKLE. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, ‘Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’ So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped” (Rev. 14:14-16).
THE SON OF MAN REAPS THE FINAL HARVEST OF THE EARTH
Now, many of us view Revelation 14:14-16 as the final end-time’s harvest of souls to be gathered into the Kingdom of His Dear Son – with Revelation 14:17-20 seen as “another angel” who gathered “the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe” to be cast “into the great winepress of the wrath of God” – the one harvest unto eternal life and glory and the other just the opposite, into the winepress of the wrath of God. I know, sounds like I’m off on one of my numerous rabbit trails—but I assure you, I’m not. What does revival look like? Well, a lot like the Son of Man reaping the final harvest of the earth! When the early Ekklesia “took off” it was a “mighty, rushing wind” with “tongues of fire” appearing over the heads of 120 disciples of Jesus in the Upper Room—they began to speak in other languages (Acts 2:4). Folks outside heard the SOUND and then heard them speaking in all the languages who had gathered from around the Roman Empire to Jerusalem’s feast days and heard in their own languages “the wonderful works of God” (Acts 2:11). FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT – NOT “SPIRITS” But, keeping with the theme of an uncontrolled burn (viz., a “wildfire”): “Others mocking said, ‘They are full of wine’” (otherwise known as DRUNK). (Acts 2:13). Now, most drunks I’ve known or met don’t seem to have their “act together” – slurred speech, with some being very talkative and somewhat delirious – hardly the epitome of a “controlled burn” (if you would). So, the early Ekklesia, you know, the one Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 . . . “I will build My Ekklesia, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” . . . seemed to be akin to a bunch of out of control drunks (according to the folks viewing this from around the world gathered in Jerusalem during the Feast of Weeks [aka, Pentecost]).
THE FIRE FELL!
I like Peter’s retort to this drunken charge: “For these are not drunk as you suppose” . . . since it’s only 9:00 A.M. in the morning! (Acts 2:15). Don’t you love it? The first evangelistic outburst of the Ekklesia Jesus was building was accused of BEING a bunch of drunks spouting off in other languages declaring the “wonderful works of God” – I know, seems a bit incongruous—but don’t be surprised if, during the final end-time’s harvest things get OUT OF CONTROL! Then Peter, after making it plain he and the others were not drunk (although, I’ve witnessed some drunks at 9 A.M.), launched into Joel 2:28-32 and the rest is history.
RISE PETER - KILL AND EAT
KILL & EAT – NO WAY – NO PARTIALITY!! The spontaneity of things in the early Ekklesia took a radical turn when Peter was told three times to “kill and eat” a rather un-kosher meal full of “four-footed animals, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air” (Acts 10:12) – of course, Peter was in a trance-like state when he heard the Almighty declare: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat” . . . with Peter’s repeated reply: “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” But God was setting Peter up to preach the gospel to the House of Cornelius in Caesarea. Think about it. You can’t get any more Gentile than that: Caesar (Caesarea) with an “Italian Band” and a Roman Centurion controlling a repressive Roman Regiment—good grief, WHAT WAS GOD THINKING! Interestingly enough, this Cornelius fellow was a very devout man who had been praying and fasting (go figure) and about the same time of the day (the Ninth Hour, or 3:00 P.M.—Acts 10:30) that our Lord cried out: IT IS FINISHED (Matt. 27:45-50) . . . now I ask you: Did not our Savior die for the sins of the world – not just the sins of the Jews? Sounds like there is a connection of these NINTH hours—His crucifixion and the answer to the prayer of Cornelius at the ninth hour. In any event, Peter put it this way—as “things” were getting out of control: “Then he (Peter) said to them (the Gentiles gathered together by Cornelius), ‘You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean” . . . then later, after Peter asked Cornelius why Cornelius sent for him in the first place, uttered a most profound out-of-control statement: “In truth I perceive that God shows NO PARTIALITY . . . But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him . . . the word which God sent to the sons of Israel, PREACHING PEACE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST—He is Lord of all.” (Acts 10:28, 34-36). Could it be this is the PEACE spoken about in Ephesians 2:14-18? “For He Himself is our PEACE, who has made (viz., Jew and Gentile/the Nations), BOTH ONE, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.” Listen up, the emphasis here was not necessarily the Gospel of the Grace of God (Acts 20:24) unto repentance—which it was most definitely so preached by Peter and they of the household of Cornelius did repent of their sins and turn to the Lord Jesus for salvation (Acts 11:17)—no, the emphasis was upon the breakdown of the MIDDLE WALL OF SEPARATION between Jew and Gentile . . . two of the most separated peoples on the planet! (Ref. Acts 10:34-36; Eph. 2:14-18) Thus, the Gospel of Salvation was directly tied to the Gospel of Peace! NO PARTIALITY… “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich unto all who call upon Him” (Rom. 10:12; Acts 3:25; Gal. 2:6; Eph. 6:9; 1 Peter 1:17). Got it?When things are out of control THERE IS NO PARTIALITY.You don’t get to pick and choose who you want to show up at an Ekklesia-style “I will build My Ekklesia” gathering! (Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 14:23).There’s no distinction, no partiality – stop calling so-and-so common and unclean when God Almighty has declared everyone CLEAN – folks, it’s time to KILL AND EAT. UNCONTROLLED BURN – FIRES JUST FLARE UP!
PETER IN THE HOUSE OF CORNELIUS
Furthermore, during an uncontrolled burn, fires have a tendency to “flare up” out of nowhere! And just as you think you got this whole thing under control—while giving a most dynamic, even Spirit-filled sermon, you are rudely interrupted as sparks break out and the Holy Spirit “fell upon all those who heard the word . . . and those of the circumcision (aka, Jews) who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Nations also” (Acts 10:44-45). How dare the Holy Spirit interrupt Peter’s amazing sermon! That’s what happens in an uncontrolled burn—big time—for this time the whole place is set ablaze . . . not just our little compartmentalized elite, or those with whom we’re sort of “used to” – those least expected to respond, do so, and we’re left with: I had no idea so-and-so would ever find the Lord! Imagine, Holy Ghost revival striking the Catholic Church or a bunch of Russian Orthodox believers—it can and has happened—notwithstanding what impossibility you might conjecture! THE EVANGELISTIC CRUSADE THAT WASN’T Well, that’s what happens when the Son of Man intends to thrust in His sickle to reap the harvest of the earth. Meanwhile, however, we’re desperately about trying to crank up the most recent evangelistic crusade—pouring over countless organizational meetings and lots of money to pull it off . . . thinking, even with “organized prayer and fasting” we’ll be able to see the “fruits of our labor.” Recently, in my own backyard, an immense effort was made wherein local pastors and earnest Christian workers in the gospel, sought out and succeeded in bringing a famous evangelist to our area for a huge “evangelistic crusade”—a one-day rally that would turn our town upside down (and that’s saying a whole lot for this California stronghold of bureaucratic tax and spend, liberal bastion—just sayin’).
EVANGELISTIC CRUSADE THAT WASN’T
Well, virtually an entire year went into the planning of the effort—over 300 churches were engaged in some way. Lots of concerts, extraneous endeavors were put in place with sundry tents, things to do for the kids, special music, prayer rallies, counseling trainings – you name it, we’re PREPARED! Only problem was this: On the day of the “Great Crusade” it was 106F (scores were treated for heat stroke) . . . no kidding, couldn’t wait to get out of that place. Tens of thousands of dollars were spent to pull this off. In all, a whooping six people found Jesus! Oh, I’m sure, a lot more went down at that gathering, but that was the final tally. One could speculate: We organized that “thing” to death. Yes, one soul is indeed worthy of all our efforts—but I think you’re getting the picture here, right? WHAT DOES AN AWAKENING LOOK LIKE? Getting back to our Ekklesia issues . . . what does that look like or what doesn’t it look like? Well, in past AWAKENINGS and/or REVIVALS or MOVES OF GOD upon the earth (even the early Ekklesia) – things sort of “fall apart” and get institutionalized very quickly. Look at the “Early Church” – by the time John, the Beloved, passed from this earthly clod around 100 A.D. things had gotten more and more institutionalized (aka, DEAD) until 325 A.D. when Emperor Constantine utterly institutionalized the Roman Catholic Church leading to the so-called Dark Ages. We bogged down into ceremony, rituals, basilicas, hierarchical systems, utter separation of Jew and Gentile (OT Feast Days were replaced with quasi-pagan, do-over Christian holidays), relics, “having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof” (2 Tim. 3:5) – in sum: DEAD RELIGION. Honestly, I don’t think my distant relative, Martin Luther (I being a direct descendant) had any idea he would be creating the Lutheran State Church(es)—but he did—then when “sparks broke out” and new fires (Anabaptist) raged, Luther found himself and his “followers” trying to put out these unco