Updated: Apr 27
PART 1 – Scripture Passages 1-4
Hello – this is Doug Krieger of ONE BODY LIFE. This nearly one-hour soon-to-be released audio presentation is written as a blog article and is designed to give a concise overview of God’s eternal plan and purpose based on key Scriptures from the New Testament given at the March, 2022 Vacaville Conference co-sponsored by four ministries and our friends at the JOURNEY DOWNTOWN COFFEE CO. in Vacaville, California, USA.
Passages were taken from the NT and highlighted by nearly 20 speakers with a stress upon the vision and practice of Ekklesia. Since most folks aren’t going to listen to 20 speakers—well, maybe this would-be audio/CD will make it easier to absorb! This blog with pics. is the overall content of this nearly 7,300 word document (25 min. read).
The purpose of the conference was designed to give a summary on this most enlightening topic now sweeping across the USA and throughout many places on the globe—especially, noteworthy finding resonance among those Christians who now consider themselves as DONES/NONES or unaffiliated; having abandoned institutional or denominational Christianity; yet, who are seeking—still considering themselves as ardent believers in the finished work of Christ on the cross for our salvation.
Just what is Ekklesia and what does it look like according to the Bible’s rendition of it? Yes, we know you can burn a “church building” down but the people remain—the emphasis that you will hear is not upon buildings and what goes on inside these “centers of worship” but what takes place or should take place among the people that fill them—the living Body of Believers, or His Ekklesia, which we all affirm is God’s eternal plan and purpose for the ages. Yes, those worshipers who desire to worship the Father in “spirit and in truth.”
So, let’s continue with PART NO. 1 of - AN OVERVIEW OF EKKLESIA – It’s Meaning and Practice – later, you can listen, pause the audio, look up the Scriptures yourself (taken from the New KJV—in the main) and do your own study of the material—hopefully, this will stir in your heart a desire to delve into the PURPOSE-DRIVEN GOD by pursuing His Plan and Desire for all humanity! This first passage will be followed by 9 other segments – so, a total of 10 passages/segments.
1. Matt 16:15-26 – The revelation of the Lord’s mission to build up His ekklesia in order to defeat the Gates of Hades.
This cardinal text initially declares the EKKLESIA is God’s Eternal Plan and Purpose for the ages – the supernatural entry of the Incarnate Son of God in the form of a MAN, the MAN, CHRIST JESUS, announced His ultimate intention to Peter in this manner (We’ll take excerpts from these passages…)
“He (Jesus) said to them (His disciples), ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Ekklesia . . .”
(Please note that the word “church” is NOT found in the original text—but “Ekklesia” is the original word whose actual meaning connotes “the called out ones” but much more—it is NOT associated with a physical building but humanity—flesh and blood . . . more on this later.)
“ . . . and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven . . . From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!’ But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.’ Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matt. 16:15-26)
The revelation of Who is Jesus—the CHRIST, the Son of the Living God—is at the very core of what is true Christianity. Only the Father can reveal the person of Jesus as the Messiah, the Deliverer, to anyone, for that matter. Once one, like Peter, receives such a heavenly revelation, they too become, as Peter, “living stones” for the building or Temple of God: 1 Peter 2:5:
“And ye yourselves, as living stones, are built up, a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”
. . . without this revelation of Who Jesus is—there can be no living stones, no building up, no spiritual house, no holy priesthood, no offering up of spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God—it all must come from the Father through Jesus Christ!
This, as it did with Peter, triggers an additional response from Jesus: “And upon this rock I will build My Ekklesia and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” EKKLESIA is the operative word, once again, used here, not the word CHURCH which traditional Christianity has used—unfortunately, taking the emphasis off of the “living stones” or real people. The term EKKLESIA was taken from the Greek and ultimately the Roman practice of community engagement. The earliest forms of democratic involvement in society, in this case, Greek city-states wherein the various strata of society—like farmers, tradesmen, government, military, education, science, entertainment, business—would periodically come together to discuss and decide on what would be in the community’s best interest. A general consensus eventually shared by the majority wherein decisions were accordingly made concluded this Greco-Roman assembly.
Jesus’ disciples knew full-well after nearly 600 years of such a fundamental governmental practice at the local level of just what He was talking about – this would, however, be Jesus’ form of “spiritual democracy” – it would be far more inclusive than the Greek model which, for one, excluded women—it would likewise include slave and free, rich and poor, and all races of humanity (the nations). Furthermore, the very GATES OF HADES would not prevail against this “spiritual offensive” – it would NOT be stagnant or passive or defensive—to the contrary, it would be God’s OFFENSIVE WEAPON used against the very Gates of Hades and would utterly defeat them!
Moreover, it would unite “heaven and earth” by opening up the very keys of the Kingdom of Heaven so that “whatever His Ekklesia would bind on earth would be bound in heaven, and whatever would be loosed on earth would be loosed in heaven.” It would be the very weapon used by Jesus in bringing heaven to earth and earth into heaven . . . for this Jesus is, as Nathaniel said in John 1:49:
“You, Jesus, are the Son of God” (bringing God to earth) . . . and “You are the King of Israel!” (bringing earth, if you would, humanity, into heaven) – “Son of God” = HEAVEN and “King of Israel” = EARTH. Of course, this revelation compliments the one given in Matthew 16 resulting in YOU WILL SEE GREATER THINGS!
Finally, how the EKKLESIA would accomplish its destiny in defeating the GATES OF HADES would be found in Jesus’ suffering, death, and ultimate resurrection—His very experience of the Cross and Resurrection would be the very experience of the Ekklesia wherein we too would bear our cross—“take up his cross and follow me” – the crossing out of the self-life would produce the prevailing Ekklesia defeating the very Gates of Hades. The self is AN OFFENSE to Christ; it savors the “things of man” and not those of God – His way is the WAY OF THE CROSS – Satan is behind us – the CROSS BEFORE US!
Let’s move on to our second set of Scriptures found in John 13 and John 17 concerning Ekklesia. Allow me to read some of the most salient parts of these passages having to do with the New Commandment, serving one another, and the Lord’s prayer for the oneness of His people based on three gifts given to us in order that the world would believe the Father sent the Son . . .
2. John 13 & 17 – The new commandment of love, serving one another, and the Lord’s prayer for the oneness of His people (and giving three gifts) in order that the world will believe.
First, John 13 . . .
“ . . . when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end . . . (He) rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basis and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded . . . What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this . . . If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me . . . If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him,. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them . . . A NEW COMMANDMENT I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Now – John 17 . . .
“. . . as You (Father) have given Him (Jesus) authority over all flesh, that He should GIVE ETERNAL LIFE to as many as You have given Him . . . I have GIVEN TO THEM THE WORDS, which You have given Me . . . I have GIVEN THEM YOUR WORD . . . sanctify them by Your truth…Your word is truth . . . And the GLORY WHICH YOU GAVE ME I HAVE GIVEN THEM, that they may be one just as We are one . . . I in them, and You in Me, that they may be made perfect in ONE, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me . . ..”
Thus, He gave us the Father’s Life – the Son as the very Word, the Truth and through the Spirit of God in us He has given us His GLORY that we may be One, so that the world would know that the Father loved the Son Who was sent and Who loved us as the Father loved Him.
In sum: The NEW COMMANDMENT is in reality the outworking of the New Covenant promised in Matthew, Mark and Luke’s gospel; however, only in John’s Gospel the New Covenant is NOT mentioned—but the NEW COMMANDMENT is!
It is based upon the New Covenant and is the very expression of His New Covenant which is unilateral and based upon Jesus LOVING through us—we LOVE WITH THE LOVE OF JESUS not by our own effort but by His alone! This can be contrasted with the GREAT COMMANDMENT whereby we are called under the First Covenant to:
“Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength and to love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22, Mark 12).
But our natural strength simply fails in so loving the Lord and our neighbor as ourselves—however, via the New Commandment His love fulfills the greatest of commandments and through His Love we enter into a New Covenant whereby through His broken Body and His precious blood—He now lives in us to love through us!
This is the very BASIS of His Ekklesia—one of humility (washing of feet) and loving one another as He loved us.
But again—how can we accomplish such a love, if you would? If we are enabled to love as He loved based on the New Covenant of His Blood and Body—then such love would be sealed by His prayer in that Upper Room . . . THE LORD HAS GIVEN US ETERNAL GIFTS to become His LIVING EKKLESIA: The Father’s Life—we all have the same LIFE of the Father . . . it’s not “What church do you attend?” but, “Praise God, you and I have the same FATHER, the same LIFE! We are brothers and sisters, having the same Father.”
Furthermore, He has given us Himself as the Living Word, the very Truth for He said, “I am the truth” – His Word now abides in us – the TRUTH HAS SET US FREE and finally, we can express the Father’s Life and the Son’s Living Word because the SPIRIT OF GLORY is within us and through us all – thanks be to God for His UNSPEAKABLE GIFTS: Life, Truth, and Glory for now the world can believe the Father sent the Son into the World as the world beholds His love through us all. The very TRIUNE GOD has called us into His love and fellowship/communion—it is out from this unity and oneness that the world can see and believe the Father sent the Son into the world!
Our third set of Scriptures on Ekklesia is found in Ephesians 4:1-16 – the “seven one anothers” and the 5-fold gifts for equipping of believers to be one.
3. Eph. 4:1-16 – Endeavoring unity based on the seven "one-anothers" and the five-fold gifts for the equipping of believers to be one.
“. . . bearing with one another in love”. . . WHY or HOW?
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the UNITY OF THE SPIRIT in the bond of peace . . . FOR . . .
1. There is ONE BODY
2. ONE SPIRIT
3. ONE HOPE of your calling
4. ONE LORD
5. ONE FAITH
6. ONE baptism
7. ONE GOD AND FATHER OF ALL - - - Who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Ephesians 4 is at the heart of the vision of His Ekklesia. It is absolutely imperative to grasp that this ONENESS and/or these seven ones commence with the phrase: THERE IS ONE BODY and that in verse seven “to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Every member of His ONE BODY has been given grace—each one of us—based upon the “measure of Christ” – this verse is supplemented by Eph. 4:13 wherein we read:
“. . . till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the MEASURE OF THE STATURE OF THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST.”
This, in turn, is connected with Eph. 3:18-19 in which the dimensional measurements are given:
“To be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height . . . the fullness of God.”
The FULLNESS OF CHRIST is the FULLNESS OF GOD – it’s the full measure of Christ comprised of all His saints—each one of us has a “measure of Christ” and together with all saints we constitute the FULLNESS OF CHRIST. Recognition that Christ’s measure of grace is in each one of us is a revelatory vision. Increasing the measure, cultivating that grace, is the task of all those especially gifted by the Head of the Body, Christ:
“He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-12).
These offices or functions are commissioned by the Head of the Body (He Himself gave) to EQUIP God’s people to “do the work of the ministry” where these equipped members will “edify the body of Christ” in such a way that those so equipped will be able to “come to the unity of the faith” which is wholly based upon the knowledge of the Son of God—then they will constitute His PERFECT MAN and then they will be designated as the very FULLNESS OF CHRIST.
There is a chain of “spiritual events” witnessed here in which the “measure of Christ’s grace” in each one of us is further equipped by these gifted members of the ONE BODY to DO THE WORK of the ministry themselves—edifying and unifying the Body of Christ. If a gifted member is not equipping others with their gift, but simply building up his or her own ministry of equipping—then the focus is upon the minister, not those who should be equipped to do the work of the ministry which in turn is the building up of the Body of Christ whereby the greater unity of the ONE FAITH is achieved among God’s people.
How debilitating it is when a gifted one simply gathers God’s people around himself! Is this gifted one . . . let’s say an evangelist . . . equipping more evangelists who spread the gospel of God’s grace and salvation to others AND draws the Body of Christ together? Is this pastor equipping God’s people and raising up other pastors, other shepherds to care for the flock under the Great Shepherd of the Sheep—none of His sheep belong to us—they are all the “sheep of His pasture!”? If the five-fold ministry is not building up the General Assembly—if all the gifted one is doing is building up his/her ministry and does not equip them with the goal being the unity of the Body of Christ, then that “equipper” has failed in the gift the Lord has given to him/them! The five-fold ministry must result in the expression of His Ekklesia!
4. 1 Cor. 11:17 through 14:40 – The description of ekklesia in practice: believers from factions, remembering the Lord, and everyone speaking (participating) with no one dominating nor monopolizing the gathering.
In 1 Corinthians 11:17 through 1 Corinthians 14:40 is the most pragmatic expression of how the Ekklesia is expressed on the earth. Several highlights found in these passages can be enumerated and greatly amplified; however, since this is but an overview, we will go quickly: