Church = Building
Ekklesia = Sold out body of Messiah
I was in a false religious system until Elohim opened my eyes. I saw how those at the top elevated themselves above the laity which is not even scriptural. These are the goats that scatter the flock. I have learned far more in a few short years simply reading the scriptures for myself than I have in the countless years I heard lies delivered from the pulpit of the false church established by man. I wanted to have fellowship here in my area, but the false church could never make it happen. Once I walked away from them, read the scriptures for myself I have found fellow believing Sabbath keepers all over here. Imagine that! When the Holy Spirit does the work, the real thing happens.
And the word of יהוה came to me, saying, “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Yisra’ěl, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus said the Master יהוה to the shepherds, “Woe to the shepherds of Yisra’ěl who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? You eat the fat and you put on the wool. You slaughter the fatlings – you do not feed the flock. You have not strengthened the weak, nor have you healed the sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back the straying, nor sought what was lost; but you have ruled them with might and harshness. And they were scattered because there was no shepherd. And they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill. And My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them. Ezekiel 34:1-6 (TS2009)
There will always be people who claim to love Messiah but whose heart is far from Him. Many, Yeshua says, will say on that day, did we not do this and that in your name? Yeshua will then say, “I never knew you”. These are descriptions of some people now sitting in your local church and Yeshua says of them that he “never knew them!!!” Some are only in church for show, to be seen by men as pious, others perhaps for a social club or to show of their ability to wax eloquent when discussing theology. These people’s hearts are completely invisible to us, but of course, they are not invisible to Elohim and only He can know who is truly regenerate, so we must be generous in our judgements.
Most professing believers do not realize that the central concepts and practices associated with what is commonly called “the church” are not rooted in the New Testament Ekklesia, nor do they mirror the early Ekklesia. There are four undeniable shifts that will be examined in this article. Church historians of all theological and ecclesiastical backgrounds observe in their writings these following four shifts:
1. The early Ekklesia was a dynamic organism, a living body with many parts. The church from around 180 A.D. onward became an increasingly hardened institution with a fixed and complex chain of command.
2. The early Ekklesia was marked by; the manifestation of a united ministry by which edification and the meeting of needs were accomplished through the gifts of ALL the brethren. After the apostolic era the church moved more and more toward a fixed representation of church offices which separates ministry from the “congregation” and limited significant ministry to the “clergy.”
3. The Renewed Covenant Ekklesia up to much of the second century was characterized by periods of extreme difficulty and persecution – it was a suffering body. With the arrival of Constantine the church became sheltered, favored and in due time empowered as the state religion by the Roman state, and thus became an establishment at ease.
4. The early Ekklesia, with no small measure of vulnerability, depended on the Holy Spirit to unite the brethren and to lead them in ministry. Later on, the church trusted in itself as a very powerful organization, along with its many regulations, procedures and offices to secure “visible” cohesiveness among those devoted to its thinking.
The Visible Church vs The Invisible Body (Ekklesia)
The visible church is in many ways carnal, only putting on the image of righteousness. The visible church is more obvious than the invisible Ekklesia because of it’s buildings and real estate it owns. Many people are under the delusion that they are legitimate because they are registered with the government and are organized and established in this world. However, the invisible Ekklesia is not under the influence of man but rather the Ruach (Holy Spirit) just as the early Ekklesia was and even in our day is under persecution. The invisible Ekklesia does not conform to the ways of this world and therefore endures hardship because they choose to lay down their life completely and follow Messiah.
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 10:37-39
The invisible Ekklesia are those who have actually been regenerated or quickened by the Ruach, Elohim’s elect or true believers.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of Elohim, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto Elohim, which is your reasonable service. 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of Elohim. Romans 12:1,2
Take a good, long look at the early Ekklesia and you will find they were not conformed to this world. They were persecuted constantly and even when admonished not to preach Yeshua the Messiah they continued to do so contrary to the laws of the land.
But you did closely follow my teaching, the way of life, the purpose, the belief, the patience, the love, the endurance, the persecutions, the sufferings, which came to me at Antioch, at Ikonion, and at Lustra – what persecutions I bore. Yet out of them all the Master delivered me. And indeed, all those wishing to live reverently in Messiah יהושע, shall be persecuted. But evil men and impostors shall go on to the worse, leading astray and being led astray. But you, stay in what you have learned and trusted, having known from whom you have learned, and that from a babe you have known the Set-apart Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for deliverance through belief in Messiah יהושע. All Scripture is breathed out by Elohim and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for setting straight, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of Elohim might be fitted, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:10-17 (TS2009)
The visible church conforms to the ways of this world, lead by the government and men who have many times erred in the faith. Seeking rather to rule under their own establishment rather than submitting to the leading of the Ruach and headship of Yeshua HaMashiach. They elevate themselves above the laity, separating themselves and limit significant ministry to the clergy. This is in stark defiance to the word of Elohim and leading of the Holy Spirit. Elohim places gifts within the body where he sees fit and these are not only present in the clergy. The trouble with many of the churches in this day is when someone in the laity is actually lead by the Ruach and doing the will of Elohim they are buffeted for their righteousness by the clergy! One example is baptism, any male saint can baptize a person who chooses to repent and serve Yeshua HaMashiach. Yet in our day so much of the clergy thinks this rite is limited to them as though they are the only ones who are born again or ordained to this work. In many cases only a pastor can give the Sabbath message or other important messages at special occasions. Wrong!
There is a move in many organized churches that almost brain washes its members and theology students because before they can preach from behind any of their pulpits they must go through their schooling (brain washing system) and be approved by their administration. Moshe would have been considered rebellious in our day, and a trouble maker because he did not conform to the present day church establishment. Yeshua HaMashiach would be considered a heretic because he defied the church leaders, rebuked them and opened the truth about them. Walking into the temple and physically over throwing the money changers he would have been considered violent, abusive and in need of help for his anger management problems.
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Ephesians 4:26
True Ekklesia in our day are part of the invisible body of HaMashiach. They are lead by the Ruach and not conformed to this worlds establishment or organized churches (false religious systems of man). They seek Elohim and lay down their life and understand what it means to pick up your cross and follow Messiah. Then יהושע said to His taught ones, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his stake, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it. For what is a man profited if he gains all the world, and loses his own life? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Adam is going to come in the esteem of His Father with His messengers, and then He shall reward each according to his works. Matthew 16:24-27 (TS2009)
Beginning around the 4th century – the expression “Visible Church” (or literally the Beast system) was refered to by theologians, not to a building, but to the members on the rolls of a local church. In other words, all persons who are members of a local church are considered to be a part of the visible church. With the growth of the United States and its wide spread influence in the world, the churches established within its borders are becoming more influential also and working under their own power to increase the church. This was never the job of any man or church leader but is the work of Elohim through the Holy Spirit.
I have planted, Apollos watered; but Elohim gave the increase. 1 Corinthians 3:6
The invisible Ekklesia refers to those persons who have actually been regenerated or quickened by the Ruach, Elohim’s elect or true believers. They are not ruled by this worlds government but rather are under the direct leading of the Ruach. They will endure persecution not only from this world but from their own “clergy” as well.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. 2 Corinthians 6:17,18
The visible church holds people in high esteem who speak smooth things about them, yet look unfavorably on the true followers of HaMashiach who actually stand for the truth and show them the error of their ways. They are scorned as heretics and trouble makers because they have not conformed to the ways of this man’s world and religious establishment within it. Many are labeled as “insane” and rejected as extreme. Yeshua HaMashiach was labeled much the same way. What many consider insane is nothing less than the love of Elohim working in the heart of Elohim’s children.
A taught one is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the taught one to become like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Be‛elzebul, how much more those of his household! Matthew 10:24-25 (TS2009)
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. John 15:18-21 (TS2009)
Therefore, Come out from among them and be separate, says יהוה, and do not touch what is unclean, and I shall receive you. And I shall be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says יהוה the Almighty. 2 Corinthians 6:17-18 (TS2009)
in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know Elohim, and on those who do not obey the Good News of our Master יהושע Messiah, 2 Thessalonians 1:8 (TS2009)
Let’s not be so blind that we walk in the path of the blind. I will leave you with this closing passage of scripture:
I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I would that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘Rich I am, and I am made rich, Hos_12:8 and need none at all,’ and do not know that you are wretched, and pitiable, and poor, and blind, and naked. “I advise you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, so that you become rich; and white garments, so that you become dressed, so that the shame of your nakedness might not be shown; and anoint your eyes with ointment, so that you see. As many as I love, I reprove and discipline. So be ardent and repent. See, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I shall come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I shall give to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. Revelation 3:15-22 (TS2009)