PART 2 – JUST SO YOU KNOW – THIS IS NOT AN EKKLESIA
PART 2 – JUST SO YOU KNOW – THIS IS NOT AN EKKLESIA by Doug Krieger
When I was in training in the US military, we “endured” hour after hour of indoctrination on survival and how to eliminate (aka “kill”) the enemy—an ethnic group I had never met in my life! Since I never was much of a “killer” it became obvious to the management (although I was given a medal as a “sharp shooter”), I’d better serve the “cause” if I were placed behind (at the time) a typewriter, rather than a rifle; although that option remained a present danger for me and all of us. I was impressed, however, with the overall success of the indoctrination, coupled with the intensity of the schedule—putting it mildly, the US military had it down; they knew what worked and what didn’t. Indeed, we were involved in a major “group think” effort that boggled the mind; and, if you from time to time “got out of line,” you would quickly be reminded through various activities that put you back on course, lest you forget how, where, when, why and in what manner you should be acting! A somewhat unforgettable experience. The distinction between one’s “ministry” and the Ekklesia experience must be kept in view here. If you would, the “civilian life” is akin to the Ekklesia; whereas military training can be likened to “ministry.” I know, a shockingly stark illustration—but it serves the purpose. There is a difference—a somewhat immense difference, come to think of it. The ministry experienced at a Bible Institute, for example, is done in accordance with the dictum of that school—whereas, the schedule of someone who longs for the experience of Ekklesia should be very different. If you find yourself grossly involved in what purports to be an Ekklesia, enduring hour after hour of “training” and lectures from the “group’s” leadership—you’re probably not in an Ekklesia, but engrossed in someone’s ministry. Now, if the leadership of said group is clever enough—they will try to align your little Ekklesia experience with that of their ministry’s experience. Let me illustrate: Initially, you find yourself at someone’s home gathering; let’s say, and after several hours of casual eating, accompanied by fellowship, prayer, worship, along with some Bible study shared by a multiplicity of brethren – then a “ministry hour” is held by an instructor of sorts. There’s clearly a demarcation in the timing of said “teaching”—and it is even declared as a time of “ministry” by the brother teaching. That may certainly take place; however, may I suggest that the proximity to an Ekklesia-style gathering—that is, “ministry” immediately following, by dent of its timing—inadvertently demands those gathering for the Ekklesia wherein all may share “one by one” and where “each one has” are not subjected (if you would) to the singularity of someone’s ministry. NOT FAIR! Why do I say this? Because the very purpose of a gathering of the Ekklesia is designed for general participation and contribution—whereas, the purpose of ministry is for (now don’t get upset with me here) INDOCTRINATION or, better said, personal edification by a pastor-teacher, evangelist, apostle, and/or even a prophet. Again, don’t get me wrong here. Gifted members of the Body of Christ—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors-teachers – or those identified as “workers of miracles” or having “gifts of healing” (1 Cor. 12:29-30) or other manifestations such as “a word of wisdom” or “the word of knowledge” or the manifestation of “faith” or of “tongues and interpretation” (1 Cor. 12:4-11)—such gifts and gifted ones can and should be manifested in part and/or in whole at a gathering of the Ekklesia – but the overall “appearance” of an Ekklesia gathering is not eclipsed by the endeavors of gifted ones nor of any one gift so manifesting! Thus, the proximity of a “minister/ministry” adjacent to an Ekklesia-style gathering should be avoided. God’s people need to come to grips with: “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function . . . having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, LET US USE THEM: if prophecy, LET US PROPHESY in proportion to our faith; or ministry, LET US USE IT in our ministering; who who teaches, IN TEACHING; he who exhorts, IN EXHORTATION; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, WITH DILIGENCE; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness” (Rom. 12:5-8). How will the Ekklesia have growing participation if, once again, the “pulpit/pew” becomes the norm? How will God’s people learn to FUNCTION if there is not abundant opportunity to do so. The Body of Christ has MANY MEMBERS and they all do NOT have the same function; however, the way things are today one should consider the current expression of the Body is this HUGE MOUTH committed to the pastor/priest-teacher who is given the main platform at all our “services”—services, which we will soon discover in a later chapter, have their roots in Medieval Christianity wherein tradition has bound us all! Let me clarify: An evangelist does not leave his/her gift at the door upon entering an Ekklesia-style gathering. For example, the ministry of a gifted prophet will from time to time within the context of an Ekklesia manifest his/her gift. I can’t imagine that Philip, the Evangelist, and his four virgin daughters . . . “. . . the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied” (Acts 21:8-9) simply sat around without exercising their gifts of evangelism and prophetic utterance while gathering with the saints in Philip’s house? Do you think? I doubt you could shut them up—for these gifted ones would “minister” whenever and wherever they found themselves . . . but, again, there’s a time and place for such “indoctrination” and/or singularity of the manifestation of a gift. How About “Deliverance Ministry?” Incidentally, issues of “deliverance” and of “casting out of demons” within the context of the New Testament experience, aside from the gospels (Matt. 4:23-24; Mark 5; Luke 9-10); and some mentioning in Acts 19:13-20; and although . . . “These signs shall follow them that believe” (Mark 16:17, KJV). “The Lord working with them and confirming the word with signs following” (Mark 16:20, KJV). The deliverance ministry is intended to follow the teaching and preaching of the cross. (I am aware that the validity of the texts just cited is questioned by some, but the principles inherent in them are underlined elsewhere in the Scripture: Acts 8:1-7; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; Hebrews 2:4.) (From: “Dangers in the Deliverance Ministry” by K. Neill Foster of the Alliance World Fellowship) . . . . . . such “deliverance ministry” is virtually non-existent within the context of an Ekklesia gathering and is certainly not mentioned, per se, as one of the “manifestations of the Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:7). Tragically, there are some who use Paul’s recitation of: “My preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:4) to highlight their own abilities; thereby, gaining authority and blatant control over their adherents.
YOU SHOULD BE UNDER MY REPUTABLE COVERING
The “indoctrination” of “specialized teachings” and “ministry” which draw attention to the gift—not the Giver—borders at times on idolatry whereby just as Simon Magus (Acts 8:9-24) sought to obtain the power of the Holy Spirit akin to Peter’s empowerment, and was summarily chastised for such a foolhardy effort, parallels those who justify their own efforts to “desire spiritual gifts” (1 Cor. 14:1) not realizing we should “especially” seek after the spiritual gift to “prophesy” (1 Cor. 14:1) for “he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men” – and this is spoken of immediately after Paul’s “more excellent way” of LOVE in 1 Cor. 13! Frankly, if anyone “stands out” at an Ekklesia, it should be inadvertent. ALL CAN PROPHESY—not just an elite few. That smarts with the Simon Magus types and may do some damage to the ego of certain gifted ones—but the “atmosphere” of an Ekklesia IS THE EKKLESIA, not Simon Magus, nor Doug Krieger, nor any one superlative individual with the gift of healing or someone running around prophesying over folks . . . can you follow me? Our attention should be focused upon the Lord Jesus Christ. I find it a bit disconcerting to behold the “ministry of deliverance” DURING an Ekklesia and the apparent “Special Knowledge” accorded the “exorcist” to perform the exorcism. Whenever such “specialists” show up to exercise their spiritual gift, it should be done without fanfare and without drawing attention to either the individual being exorcised and, especially, not to the one(s) involved in the deliverance. Again, if such “manifestations” were accorded such prominence, then why is this “alleged gift” of deliverance wholly omitted from the only abundant example found of an Ekklesia gathering in the New Testament—i.e., 1 Corinthians 11-14? Think about it. “Once Saved Always Saved” in our Church, Group, Click You can readily tell you’re not gathering as an Ekklesia if your big or little group somehow has achieved “exclusive rights” for doling out “salvation tickets.” In other words, you can’t participate in the “salvation raffle” unless you get a ticket at the door of the gathering—once you get a ticket, you enter into the bliss of our corner on salvation . . . but, once you leave the group by “hook or by crook” you leave your salvation experience. Some “churches” out there have the uncanny notion that without formal membership in their group—either through “confirmation” – “baptism” or some other methodology—you’re not saved, you’re not a part of the “chosen few” – because you haven’t been initiated into the group—THAT IS NOT AN EKKLESIA! Some churches actually initiate formal membership as a “covenant procedure” whereby the would-be member undergoes, not only a membership class, but must SIGN a document (virtually in blood) whereby they promise to swear allegiance to that particular church—somehow that church is able to squeeze such a “covenant relationship” out of their Bible’s amplified version. I am bemused at Protestants who accord as much, even at times more, significance to the “salvation experience” confined to their church roles—i.e., unless you are a member of “my church” you are not likely to experience heaven’s bliss! Face it: A doctrine, a church, a group of individuals did NOT save you, a Person did, and His Name is Jesus, having wrought so great a salvation by giving you the New Birth by the Spirit of Him Who raised Christ from the dead! As they say: “Being born in a barn doesn’t make you a chicken” - even so, being “born into the church” does not a Christian make. It is the Holy Spirit Who anoints and chooses—not the “Church of the Immaculate Perception” nor some “all-seeing Eye.” Playing God and determining who is and isn’t worthy of salvation is idolatrous. Jeremiah 17:10 still stands today: “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.” We don’t determine salvation’s gift—“it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).
“MY CHURCH CANNOT SAVE ME AND YOUR CHURCH CANNOT SAVE YOU”
Yet, what is all the more tragic is when you think you have arrived at the real experience of Ekklesia and find when someone “leaves the group” and then is shunned by the group’s members or is “distanced” through innuendo or rumor. “Where’s brother so-and-so?” “Oh, he had ‘issues’ and refused to SUBMIT or ‘go along with the ministry’ of brother so-and-so.” The somewhat slanderous use of 1 John 2:19 is often used out of context: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” The above verse immediately follows: “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:19). Do you see the connection? The ones leaving are directly connected to the spirit of Antichrist. So, why not attach that onerous label upon the person who leaves your “Ekklesia” by insinuating they left because they were ANTICHRIST? Can it get that bad? Yes sir! Any group which has such an “exodus” of an individual who finds themselves outside of a given group of believers, aside from overt sin and an unrepentant heart, and is adjudged by the group as some kind of Antichrist, is NOT an Ekklesia! And, if the group or “church” deigns to place a “curse” on any of its “followers” if they are to fellowship elsewhere or simply “go out into the world”—they have NOT the Spirit of Christ with such derogatory declarations foisted upon ex-members. Christians Who Sue Their Brothers and Sisters We might, at this juncture, for doctrinal reasons, disassociate ourselves as evangelicals from overt “cults” as the Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses but have you ever noticed: They do NOT sue their critics for defamation of their “churches” and/or “organizations?” “Libel” is a difficult thing to prove in a court of law—but Christians who practice and justify clamping down on their critics by going after them via expensive lawsuits to the point of financially breaking those who oppose them—has absolutely nothing to do with Christ and is NOT an Ekklesia in any sense of the word. We can dance around 1 Corinthians 6 all we want – but the plain text is unequivocal: “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters . . . Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!” (1 Cor. 6:1-11 excerpts). If your “Ekklesia experience” is involved in such lawsuits toward other Christians, I suggest you leave posthaste no matter what justifications are used by that group’s leadership if they persist in going to court with other believers! Clump Mentality If what’s keeping your Ekklesia or “group” together is a set of peculiarities, policies and “ways and means” dribbling down from a “council of ecclesiastical brethren”—however they are tagged (“the caring brethren” – “the council of 12” – “the united front” – “the 12 apostles of the church” – the “eldership” – the “board of deacons” – “those in authority” – “the blended few” – “the tribunal speaking on behalf of the Trinity”) – it’s probably NOT an Ekklesia.
WHAT’S UP WITH THE GUY NOT DOING THE “HEIL HITLER?”
A “ministry” may have its oversight board which can justify the anointing of a new member into their ministry—but know this: “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and YOU ALL KNOW all things . . . but the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him” (1 John 2:20, 27). I would be safe to state, such an “anointing from the Holy One” and YOU ALL KNOW ALL THINGS is intrinsically connected to the Ekklesia and is NOT consigned to any one ministry. Yes, it is the sole criteria for participation in an Ekklesia. Now, when Paul and Barnabas got to their impasse over the “profitability for the ministry” concerning John-Mark . . . THAT was a separate matter, having nothing whatsoever to do with the Ekklesia, but having everything to do with a ministry (Acts 15:36-41). John-Mark and Barnabas were NOT “kicked out” of the Ekklesia—“they departed from them . . . and had not gone with them to the work” (Acts 15:38). That’s as far as it goes—you cannot be removed from the Ekklesia aside from overt sinful practice (1 Cor. 5:1-13). The Witch Who Broke Up Our Gathering I once was involved in a most wondrous Ekklesia-style gathering of believers which eventually included nigh unto 300 or so brethren who gathered on Thursday mornings in what was called “the Upper Room” at a local business. The gathering grew to such an extent that they had to move the proceedings to a local community hall—meetings were held on Thursday morning and/or evening and then on Saturday evenings. A problem arose in the group—which group truly was an “Ekklesia experience.” A “witch” came into the assembly and would neither repent nor leave the gathering of the saints—in point of fact had joined herself to one of the “worship teams” in the leading of