Updated: Jan 16, 2021
Most people who believe in the existence of God, including Christians, may consider that God might be a kind of a judge watching over humanity to see whom He would condemn or reward, maybe a “Santa Claus” to provide gifts and favors for those with enough faith to ask, or even a loving God who would provide celestial heaven where His people could enjoy for eternity.
These are self-centered views of God, viewing Him purely from a human perspective. It takes a revelation to perceive God as a God of purpose. His purpose is beyond man’s imagination. It is a mystery hidden from the ages, which was fully unveiled in the New Testament and confirmed from the Prophetic Scriptures (Rom. 16:25-26).
The apostle Paul wrote that God’s will or purpose is based on His own good pleasure. Have you considered God needs pleasure? His purpose is eternal, which means it started before time and creation; it didn’t change over the epoch of time, and it will be the same throughout all in eternity.
“. . . have made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ . . .. And He put all things under His [Jesus Christ] feet and gave Him to be head over all things to the church [ekklesia], which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Eph. 1:9-10, 22-23).
How awesome is God’s eternal purpose! He formulated His unique purpose in Himself before there was anything. He worked it out in Himself according to His plan through creation, the fall of humanity into sin, disobedience/sin, redemption, regeneration, and glorification of humanity as His One Body. For eternity God’s ekklesia, a called-out people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation, is the increase and expression of Himself. Though diverse people, they have become one by being in God and having God in them. God’s ekklesia is the joining of Himself with humanity in eternal fellowship. This is God’s eternal purpose, His pleasure, and the defeat and shaming of His enemy, Satan (Eph. 3:10-11).
God’s ekklesia: diversity in unity expresses the Trinity
First, there is only One God. The manifestation of God in a bodily form throughout the Bible both in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures is always One, a singular manifestation. However, God is distinctly Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—inseparable—from eternity to eternity. He is wonderfully mysterious: THREE-ONE!
When God created man in His own image; He said:
Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness . . . So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Gen. 1:26-27)
In creating man, God’s plurality was involved. Man was created in His image; therefore, man is both male and female. Just as within God there is the Father and the Son, so too within man there is male and female. Just as there are a clear distinction and fellowship between the Father and the Son, there is clear distinction and fellowship between male and female. Nevertheless, this One God created one man. Furthermore, out of this one man (male and female), there was a multiplication of man; thus, all these men are distinct individuals no matter their color of skin or language is spoken, etc.
Satan’s strategy is designed to undermine God’s purpose by dividing man; therefore, after sin came into man, the result was Cain murdered Abel. Killing one another is the ultimate expression of hatred and division. It shattered and desecrated God’s image.
Jesus Christ came to rid man of sin: the result was to remove barriers of hatred and separation between (historically) two of the most segregated and divided peoples on the planet (Jews and Gentiles—a division orchestrated by God’s election). Through the “blood of His cross” He created a New Man (Eph. 2:14-17)—by annihilating this “wall of separation.” This One New Man is created in the Image of God, and is composed of individuals from a wide variety of diverse and even opposing backgrounds (Col. 3:10-11).
Christians have fallen into Satan’s deception to fight and divide with each other over differences: race, politics, doctrines, spiritual practices, and much more. Let’s declare the death and resurrection of Christ by loving and intentionally fellowshipping with those who are different from ourselves. It is in God’s family, His ekklesia, where diversity is truly celebrated and accepted. In Christ, our diversity in unity expresses the Trinity, His Image.
Jesus appropriated “ekklesia” from the Greeks
I will build my church [ekklesia] (Matt. 16:18).
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the ekklesia and gave Himself for her . . . that He might present her to Himself a glorious ekklesia [Eph 5:25, 27].
Democracy as we know it today was founded by the Greeks in about 600 BC. Their form for democracy was called “ekklesia,” where citizens representing diverse elements of a city came together to discuss and ultimately legislate those issues affecting the whole city. Each person had an opportunity to freely speak their various perspectives before voting to take a particular action. This form of democracy was adopted by the Romans for local governments and continues to this day in the form of a “town hall meeting” in America and in many nations today with similar venues.
Jesus said: “I will build my ekklesia” [intentionally mistranslated to “church”]. Jesus appropriated a secular forum (term) and declared that He would have His own ekklesia. What a contrast His ekklesia/democracy is when compared to the secular democracy of today!
One can witness democracy today—it is full of divisiveness, hatred, confusion, and corruption. The more secular society stresses equality, inclusion, diversity . . . the more it seems the result is more inequality, segregation, strife, and aversion to those different than oneself. Christians, unfortunately, have fallen into this same attitude with each other by adopting the world’s methodologies by condemning and opposing those with different perspectives and understanding.
God’s ekklesia (democratic legislative assembly) which the Lord is building is one where there is the freedom to be unique by being different in Christ, with each believer being able to voice their perspectives of life in Jesus Christ according to their own experiences, reflections, and understanding.
The Lord’s ekklesia is given a full description between 1 Corinthians 11:17 through 1 Corinthians 14:40.
Unlike this world’s democracy, God’s ekklesia is one where individuals who may be considered undesirable are honored (1 Cor. 12); where love between those contrary to each other is experienced and manifested (1 Cor. 13); and where there is the liberty to share—to exercise their gifts; to give their input in the assembly—this oneness causes the world to believe and worship God (1 Cor. 14).
God’s ekklesia, His eternal purpose, shows His chief adversary (Satan) that out of this fallen, sinful, and divided humanity people can love one another in unity (Eph. 3:10-11)—having “peace through the blood of His cross” – that is “peace between hostile peoples” (Eph. 2:14-18). This can only happen because God’s children have His eternal divine life, nature, peace, and love. What a testimony to the universe is expressed on behalf of Jesus Christ living in His believers!
Now is the time for ekklesia: demonstrating His love, kindness, and forgiveness starting from within the household of God.
The conspiracy to mistranslate “ekklesia” to “church”
William Tyndale, credited as the first translator of the Bible directly from Hebrew and Greek to English, translated “ekklesia” to “congregation.” (Tyndale’s translation stressed the organic “people” – not the inorganic “building”). The Roman Church at the time objected and demanded “ekklesia” be translated to “church.” Tyndale refused to submit; therefore, he was eventually burned at the stake for his conviction.
Eighty years or so later, King James decreed that an Authorized Version of the Bible in English be made available. Although over 80% of his version was directly lifted from Tyndale, his rule #3 of this “authorized version” read: ekklesia must be “church” and not “congregation.” The subversion of the actual translation was overt—the prelates knew precisely what and why they were translating ekklesia to church instead of either keeping the word as “ekklesia” or congregation/assembly.
“Church” is literally referring to the physical building where Christians are to go to “worship” and be taught by the clergy—if you would, “a House of Worship” organized by the ministry controlling the activities within such buildings. Whereas “ekklesia” is where all kinds of believers assemble with each having the freedom to utilize their gifts and speak their perspectives regarding of Jesus Christ being Lord.
The Roman Church at the time of Tyndale owned all the churches (buildings) in Europe; and King James, being the head of the Church of England, acquired all the churches in England. Both wanted their subjects to go to a church where all could be taught the Bible from their perspective (indoctrination). Whoever owns the building, determines what is taught and practiced in that building (church). What better way to control the populace than to make sure they all go to church, to the building, where their “ministry” takes place.
This tradition continues to this very day even when there are literally thousands of different churches. They are still owed by certain ministers, ministerial alliances, or ministries. Every “church” expresses its own perspective from the Bible. The owners continue to determine what is taught and practiced in their churches. Unlike the times of King James, today’s “church explosion” offers scores of services to attend instead of just one or two (e.g., “the Mass”).
The benefit of having so many different kinds of churches today is that no matter what the proclivity of a person: language, race, culture, doctrinal or ministerial preference, even musical genre, one can find such a church “of their choice.” Even in the same “Church” one can go to the “classic/traditional service” or to the “modern service.”
Generally, Jesus Christ is preached, and the Bible read. Nevertheless, if not vigilant by the grace of God, you too will become biased and controlled by only one perspective from Scripture.
Appreciating and receiving the things of Christ which are beneficial from a wide variety of churches should be the norm, but, likewise, we should be aware of taking in all things: hook, line, and sinker resulting in suppression and rejection of fellowship with other genuine believers having differing views and experiences.
Now is the time for God’s ekklesia
For centuries, most of God’s gifted ministers, intentionally or unintentionally, have been building up their own churches or ministries. Due to the lack of understanding concerning God’s ekklesia and the proliferation of churches/ministries, it has caused much confusion, divisions, and disappointment among God’s people. However, Jesus’ prayer for His people to be as one as the Father and the Son in John 17 remains unanswered. He specifically prayed for an oneness while His followers were still in the world, which would cause the world to believe in the reality of Jesus Christ (John 17:21).
There have also been notable men of God who have also trumpeted and promoted Christian unity over the last couple of centuries. They can be categorized in the context as two different movements: ecumenism and restoration (recovery).
Ecumenism is an organizational unity between leading Christian churches; however, this has led to many compromises relating to Biblical truth in order to achieve this unity. Therefore, many evangelical Christians view such ecumenical movements with cynicism. On the other hand, those who have initiated restoration (recovery) movements supposing that their leadership and ministry will set up a pattern of Christian oneness have historically established churches that are even more factious and elitist than the denominational churches which they condemned for being divisive.