In my book Theology Reconsidered I offer a question which has offended some but it was necessary to point out that not everything we do in the modern "church" is Scriptural. Much is based on the traditions or teachings we have inherited from previous generations. This is not to say they left us nothing but lies, but if we take the time to study things we have been given, we will inevitably find it doesn't all line up with what we can now prove Scripture teaches. Future generations will be able to do the same with us, no doubt, so the responsibility to minimize this falls squarely on our shoulders.
Before I forget, the question I posed was: "The Church - God's most ingenious invention, or man's greatest achievement in the advancement of controlling the masses?"
As we, the Body-Bride, step into a new season evidenced by an increase in the supernatural within the daily lives of believers everywhere, it becomes obvious that God is truly doing something unique with and within this generation. When I say "this generation" I am not referring to Generation Z or the Gen-X'ers, the baby boomers or any other singular generation which currently has members living on this earth. I am referring to those who are willing to step out and into what God is currently doing. Step out of their self-made comfort zones and out of the previous patterns of ministry. To step out of the structure they have been raised to recognize as how "church" is supposed to be done. Not just with the weekly service itinerary, but the entire idea of who leads what, and how. To step out of what has been taught if it does not line up with Scripture and Scripture alone. To step INTO a totally different (but not yet totally new) paradigm. To step into letting Holy Spirit control every facet of every service in ways which have all but been forgotten or unseen by most who attend "church" these days. To learn to step into His Comfort Zone and to get comfortable being there.
This paradigm will bring about a number of shifts within the Body-Bride and it will be proven to be God doing the changing by a number of factors. We have already begun to see/hear a shift in the sound coming from the worshipers. A whole new and different poetry is being brought forth in the psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs we worship Abba with. The emergence of a desire to seek Him and know Him in intimacy is spreading like a Holy pathogen, being caught by all who truly hunger for His presence. An eagerness to learn more about the function and cooperation of the Trinity has come to the forefront, once more, as many called to Ephesians 4:11 'Ascension Gifts' are recognizing their true place and the need to emulate the shared authority of the Trinity in how matters of local, regional, international, and global ministry are concerned. Please note I purposely neglected to write "in how matters of local, regional, international, and global church government is concerned".
This small difference is to emphasize something many in "ministry" have forgotten. The word "minister" is a verb first and means "to serve". It becomes a noun when those who live the verb are then called "ministers". It is not a title or calling, we are all expected to be servants/ministers. The Ephesians 4:7-11 Ascension Gifts are callings of God as evidenced by the fact that Scripture tells us "He gave to some" each of those callings for the Body-Bride - to perfect her for the work of the ministry (serving). So the Ascension Gifts are servants to servants. While there is a governing aspect to them, they are to lead in service FIRST - verb - then they can truly be called ministers - noun. More on the governing of the 5-Fold in later chapters.
Acts 3:20-21 "and when God will send him who now before is preached to you; that is to say, Jesus Christ, who must receive heaven until the time that all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began, are restored again." (Tyndale's NT for the 21st Century - noted as TNT 21 from here on)
Acts 3:20-21 And that he may send the Christ who was marked out for you from the first, even Jesus: Who is to be kept in heaven till the time when all things are put right, of which God has given word by the mouth of his holy prophets, who have been from the earliest times. (BBE)
If you have ever read any of my work, you'll know I refer to the above Scripture often. You'll also know that I believe in allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture. I reject the addition of any man-made theoretical theology as is often added to Scripture. Let me reiterate a point form my book Theology Reconsidered - "if Scripture is indeed the inspired word of God and not just a collection of 66 book written by 40 authors, then it alone is worthy of interpreting its meaning and is fully capable of doing so. In letting Scripture interpret Scripture, by learning to rightly divide the Word, keeping it in proper historical, cultural, and authorial context all while maintaining the Hebraic understanding of the Gospels, Pauline revelation, and other Apostolic Epistles..... well THEN we will not need any man-made theoretical theology or dogmatic doctrine to understand Scripture!".
This is not to say that we cannot listen to and even believe the assessments of others upon Scripture. But rather that Scripture should serve as a plumb line for what those assessments say. We must learn to discern and rightly divide Scripture for ourselves. EVERY believer, must be trained to do this. In fact, this is another decidedly powerful shift taking place in the Body. As each member of the Ephesians 4:11 Ascension Gifts is established in their place of shared authority; learning to prefer and defer to one another in the Grace(s) of Authority each is given, and they learn to co-operate or co-labor instead of resenting and competing with one another, we are going to see an exponential increase in the snowball effect these shifts will synergistically bring to the Move(s) of God. THAT is the point of this study....
Author's Note: The paragraph above cites the basis for the Biblical Authority/Governance of the Ephesians 4:11 Gifts. If we consider that Yeshua operated in all 5 of these Gifts simultaneously and He is the Apostle of our Faith (Hebrews 3:1*), and according to Ephesians 4:7 He seemingly divided His ministry (service) to the 5-Fold of Ephesians 4:11, then the totality of ministry (service) of the 5 combined is the ministry of Christ to the Body-Bride! It is all the more imperative they learn to prefer and defer to one another in the areas in which Grace (empowerment) has been given to each based on the calling to the respective Gift to which they are appointed by Abba.
* Hebrews 3:1 "My friends, God has chosen you to be his holy people. So think about Jesus, the one we call our apostle and high priest!" (CEV)
As a reminder, we started this study in Part 1 with the notion of the word Ekklesia/Ecclesia (often translated "church") which has gotten a lot of attention of late. I believe this is only the beginning. I believe entire ministries will be built on a singular doctrine, based on theology which will grow from this one word. Indeed, some already have, but few realize what those who have already done so really even mean by it. That will change... soon. As it does, we will see many grab hold of the revelation of those who are currently working this out, refining their presentation and diligently increasing their understanding of "ekklesia". Once a sufficient amount of text is written, podcasts recorded, or ministerial support has been released the ones waiting in the wings will rapidly assemble and disseminate the message(s) of others. Sadly, many will do so without much (if any) revelation of their own. As a result a great number of ministries will be built upon the revelation of others without a personal responsibility being taken by those who regurgitate the message. This will result in a lack of proper context and many falsities will be followed as if Scriptural. Yet another reason it is so important for every believer to become proficient at "rightly dividing the Word of truth". (2 Timothy 2:15)
This isn't all bad, and my message in this treatise is not one of gloom and doom. Rather it is a dissemination of the extremes and a search for the median truth. An education of what many believe to be truth from the opposite ends of the same spectrum, and an examination of them. I pray that as I put this to text your heart will begin to burn with a white hot passion to truly see the ekklesia arise as God intends. But before we get to that place, where we are fully prepared to see this happen, are we not obligated to fully examine the various sides of this magnificent subject? Mustn't we do so in order to correctly adhere to the advice of Shaul/Paul in 2 Timothy 2:15?Should we not, for ourselves and posterity, seek to fully understand what we are expected to do before we embark on the journey? Shouldn't it be with a clear vision? Should we not write it down and make it plain so those that read it may run with it? (Habakkuk 2:2 paraphrased)
Digging this out, I searched through hundreds of sources including:
Video Sermons and Lectures,
Bible Reference Manuals,
Reviewing Bible College Courses all the way back to my Associate's Degree,
even a DVD with over 14,000 references of all of the above.
My goal in doing so was to determine what the most extreme views are. As I've mentioned before, when researching a subject in which you aren't sure where to start, a valid method is to find the extremes and determine where they agree. If you can find where they intersect, you will often find truth. Those intersections may not be all truth, but they may give you a nugget or two.
I also consider it academically honest to look at the extremes in order to rule out any personal bias by including them in my research and subsequent writings on the matter. If I know anything for certain, it is that no one knows everything there is to know about any one subject. Reminding myself of this often keeps my work humble, realizing that even though I may ardently disagree with something someone says or has written, this does not mean they are devoid of any understanding, revelation, or truth on the matter.
So to keep this ball rolling, let's discuss some of the extremes I found. I will share two in their entirety and pieces of others as we go along.
In many circles, in fact most circles in Christendom, the word ekklesia is translated as "church". It is believed and taught that the hierarchy within a religious organization serve as the governing members of the ekklesia/church. In fact, they are the "head" of the ekklesia/church by way of vicarious leadership for Christ in the earth and the "laity" are the Body of Christ. The Body must therefore take the instructions of the head. Since leadership vicariously rules on earth in Christ's stead, their words then carry the weight of heaven and and thus have the authority of Scripture itself. This is a doctrine often referred to as "infallibility". It stems from a 3rd or 4th Century doctrine from the theologian Eusebius and was part of what appears to be a re-writing of Greek manuscripts as they were copied during the time Eusebius served as a counselor of sorts to the emperor Constantine. It seems many of the Greek scrolls/manuscripts prior to Eusebius' time did not show a Passover in what has been labeled John 6:4*. In fact, if we include a Passover in that part of John's Gospel, then it would make a timeline which shows Yeshua skipping Shabbat (the Sabbath) and some Feasts to miraculously feed the multitudes, or do other ministry. This would then mean He did NOT keep Torah, but did come to destroy it instead of fulfilling it - making Him a liar also. Would these then not negate Him as a Lamb of the First Year without spot or blemish and also an unqualified sacrifice for the sins of the world? These points need to be understood. So I will go into them here a bit in order to quantify the above reference to the "Vicar of Christ".
Much of Eusebian theology was designed to create a favorable atmosphere for the teachings of the early Roman Catholic Church. In and of itself, this could be tolerable, IF they were also upheld by Scripture. Most however are not. In fact, his theology was so pervasive that even the false teachings of Praeterism and Futurism were heavily influenced by his work centuries later.
*John 6:4 "And the passover, a feast of the Jews (not even Scriptural), was nigh." (KJV - insert the author's)
NOTE: The Feasts were God's (YHVH), He created and instituted them, not the "Jews".
In short, where Eusebian theology is concerned regarding our current direction is in part with this potentially "added" Passover in John 6:4. Not to mention that John 5:1** is also typically taught to be Passover though there is no indication of such.
** John 5:1 "After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem." (KJV)
*** You see, if you use the feeding of the 5,000 plus women and children as the aligning tool for the timelines in the 4 Gospels , you find that this Passover simply doesn't fit with the other Gospel accounts, not to mention it extends the ministry of Yeshua to about 3.5 years with absolutely NOTHING done in His ministry for approximately 1 year. While this is possible, it is so incredibly unlikely, it makes little sense to the rational mind and much less than the awakened spirit of a believer and follower of Yeshua. The simple fact is that John himself wrote:
John 21:25 "There are many more things that Jesus did. If all of them were written down, I suppose that not even the world itself would have space for the books that would be written." (Berean Study Bible - BSB)
***(extrapolated from The Chronological Gospels: The Acceptable Year of the LORD - The Life and Seventy Week Ministry of the Messiah: Aviv Moon Publishing Copyright 2001)
John would seemingly negate such a thought of Yeshua sitting idle for a year. Eusebius inadequately justified this gap in his apologetic works by creating a timeline which justified teaching(s) that any occupant of the Papal office served as the vicarious ruler on earth in place of Christ Himself. They needed to create a 3.5 year ministry of Jesus to qualify the teachings that all of history to 70CE (70AD) proved we are now in the post millennial kingdom and Christ came to rule through a "vicar" whose throne is in the "Holy City" of Rome (though in Eusebius' time it had been believed to be in Constantinople). Frankly, Eusebian simply appears to be a paid puppet in the pocket of Constantine - his work greatly supports such a theory and his influence on later Vatican theology does also.
Continuing this synopsis of the Eusebian influence on both the Protestant and Catholic movements, let's discuss this 3.5 year ministry theory and where it likely comes from. Eusebian postulated that the missing week from Daniel's 70 weeks of years was in two parts. Daniel even appears to support such a possibility in his pause after the 69th week (Daniel 9). Eusebius paralleled the two periods of 3.5 years with the "Tribulation" and "Great Tribulation" using a proposed 3.5 year ministry of Christ. The 3.5 year war over Jerusalem, in which it was essentially destroyed, was the other 3.5 years of Daniel's 70th week - according ot Eusebius. He alluded to, and later the heretical theology of Praeterism solidified this (in the minds of the Jesuits appointed to create a theological answer to the accusations of the Reformers). His teaching insisted that indeed all prophecy necessary for the return of Christ had occurred and the millennial reign was established when the Vicar of Christ was thusly vindicated in his role as Pope and leader of the Body of Christ (the "Church"). This further justified the Pope's guiding the "Church" as he sees fit according to his understanding of God's eternal Plan. The idea of a papalship is simply in the root of the word papal itself. "Papa" - priests are the "father" of the "local church" and the Pope is the father of the "Universal/Global/Catholic Church". This of course stems from the misguided interpretation that Yeshua was calling Peter the one upon whom He would build His "church" (ekklesia). Let's examine that Scripture a bit...
Matthew 16:18 "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (KJV)
This is probably one of the most quoted and least Hermeneutically examined Scriptures I know of. We simply take the ancient party line and go with it. Like so many other teachings which the Reformers simply accepted without question (along with tithing, local assembly structure and government, and global church leadership to name a few) they seemingly didn't have the needed information to discover the simple truth of this discourse of Yeshua with the disciple Peter (he was not yet a "sent one/apostle" - that's a clue). Kefa/Peter was a follower of the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Just as all of us who claim Him as Savior and LORD now. That said, let's not confuse the issue by assuming that Apostle, which means "sent one" are the only ones who comprise the totality of the Ekklesia which means "called out ones".
This discussion was really about the revelatory knowledge Peter had been given by YHVH Himself. When Yeshua said this, He was essentially saying:
Matthew 16:18 "I tell you now, your nickname will be Kefa (Peter) meaning stone or pebble, and upon this revelatory knowledge, I will build my assembly, and the gate of hell will not prevail against this revelatory knowledge." (paraphrased by the author)
Kefa/Peter had had an encounter with Father God (YHVH) our one and only true Papa. In this encounter he'd heard to leading of the Father in revealing to him that Yeshua/Jesus was Messiah AND the Son of the Living God. Kefa had a revelation of the reality of who Yeshua was and His relationship within the Godhead. Yeshua was simplifying the process by which He would establish his assembly/ekklesia - by revealing Himself and His Plan in His timing and by His Way. Does it not then only make sense that we at least attempt to search out what that may be by returning to the structure and methods we find in Scripture and allow Scripture itself to reveal what it will to us about the ekklesia? Should we not yearn for a return to First Century Church Authority to discern what our individual and collective parts are in this unfolding of God's Will and Plan for humanity?
We have to look passed the surface and realize Yeshua was teaching them something and He rarely said things of this nature directly. He was a typical Jewish teacher of His era .He often used parables in His teaching, known mashal in Hebrew. Traditionally there are 4 ascending levels of teaching. Ascending in that they are supposedly for those of higher understanding as you go, levels of education if you will. In ascending order they are:
P'Shat - “means simple. This teaching method is easiest to understand for people in the Western world since it is plainly saying what you want to convey”
Rememz - “a word, phrase or other element in the text hints at a truth not conveyed by the p’shat.” Jesus or the gospel writers used remez to hint at Old Testament passages, especially messianic passages to claim, affirm or prove Jesus’s Messiahship.
Drash - “short for MiDrash, The Hebrew word drash or midrash means to search. It denotes “an allegorical or homiletical application of a text. This is a species of eisegesis - reading one’s own thoughts into the text.”
Sod -“this method the following way: “a mystical or hidden meaning arrived at by operating on the numerical values of the Hebrew letters, noting unusual spellings, transposing letters, and the like.”
Mashal/parable was obviously then not considered the most difficult to understand method of instruction. It was however...
...in the words of Matthew's account of Yeshua's teaching...
Matthew 13:35 “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world”.
Yet Yeshua Himself in answering His disciples also said in:
Luke 8:9 & 10 “And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.”
There would seem to be a contradiction here, or else Yeshua was calling His followers blind, deaf and lacking in understanding. This may very well be true; spiritually speaking anyways. His followers had been "educated" by the Pharisaic structure established in the Second Temple era. Many of them, including Kefa/Peter, had little actual instruction beyond what they received from the religious orders who heavily emphasized takkanot (defined below) above Scripture. This particular sect of Judaism had become the dominant group within religious, political, and socio-economic government over the Jewish sector of Roman Society. Their teachings included a lot of takkanot (takkanah in the singular). Loosely defined as "instructions added to Torah by those in religious authority to do so" the takkanot essentially and categorically changed the interpretation of Scripture in part and in whole by devising rules not supported by Scripture itself, but considered to supersede Scripture. That said, Yeshua's head to head debates with the religious elite of His day was always over a takkanah or multiple takkanot.
As for who Matthew 13:35 is referring to, I believe our Hermeneutics graphic/picture leads us to the conclusion of that mystery. Number 2 tells us the historical, cultural, and linguistic context will lend to the interpretation of any one Scripture in context with surrounding Scriptures. Number 4 says "when we are faced with an obscure verse, we find a clear verse to interpret it". Combined these two principles show us that it is likely Matthew 13:35 is referring to Yeshua's debates with and utter destruction of the teachings from the purveyors of the takkanot.
The reason I am bringing all this into the discussion is to point out that this is exactly what has occurred with Eusebianism, and the subsequent false teachings established either in part or in whole because of the work(s) of Eusebius in the late 3rd - early 4th Century. Many teachings which were adopted during this time period have been granted a pass, a kind of grandfathering of acceptance among all of Christendom. The Body-Bride has been inundated with the falsities of theological academics without much of it being tested and tried against the knowledge we now have access to via the many historical, archaeological, cultural, linguistic, and other sources of revelation previously not known, or which we have had limited access to. Our access to information is at a unprecedented high, and most believers still simply believe what they have been taught without checking it for themselves. The Reformers did their level best with what they had access to. I propose it is time for another Theological Reformation and my work is poised in that very direction. This is not an indictment, to the contrary, it is an URGING. Please do not simply accept anything I say, or anyone else says, without knowing for yourself it lines up with Scripture according to the Hermeneutics graphic/picture included in this chapter.
In the coming chapters, we will examine the other side of the extremes being taught by some who have a very differing view of the ekklesia from what I presented in this chapter. We will also discuss the information now available from the many sources of information noted in the above paragraph.
As I encouraged you before, I will reiterate now, hold on! The ride will get a bit bumpier before it smoothes out and we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Guard your heart from offense as we valiantly press on toward the mark of the high calling in Yeshua by studying to show ourselves approved, as workers who need not to be ashamed because we have learned to rightly divide the Word of Truth. Who is that Word? Who is that Truth?
It is exactly He who had led you to this work and exactly He upon whom I depend to guide my research. Shall we press on?
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