Tag Archives: religion

OH, THAT WRETCHED WORD ‘CHURCH’

English translators of the scriptures saw the New Testament with religious (catholic) lenses. So these obeyed the politico-religious powers and consistently translated the Greek word ekklesia into a current religious word, ‘church’ which everyone already knew, being taught and accepted as truth, instead of the real meaning of the Greek word, which is assembly or gathering—a word in the Ancient World which had no religious or institutional connotations at all. None.

This is clearly shown by the translators’ inconsistency in translating the same Greek word by assembly or gathering three times in Acts 19—the story of Paul’s gospel stirring up the silversmiths in Ephesus—instead of the c… word! Check me out. I kid you not.

Ekklesia always meant assembly or gathering in the Ancient World of the New Testament period. When Paul wrote to those gatherings of Jesus’ people in the New Testament period, he qualified the word ekklesia by e.g., the ekklesia in God the Father and His son at . . . . (wherever—Corinth, etc) or similar language. It had to be distinguished from all the other local gatherings—religious, political or commercial which abounded in great numbers.  Get it?

And if Paul was talking about more than one gathering of believers, he used the plural, ekklesiai, gatherings. So we read about the “assemblies or gatherings of Judea” and not “the gathering of Judea”. John does not address any “assembly of or in Asia” in the Book of Revelation but as “the seven gatherings in Asia”. Seven! And that’s because they are assemblies not denominations or institutional religious organisations.

In fact, a strong case can be made that ekklesia originally meant “a gathering actually gathered” so that when the assembly broke up there was no longer a gathering. For example the riotous assembly, Acts 19:41. Naturally for a group of believers meeting regularly it would continue in their minds as a spiritual gathering, a virtual one, which had a (hopeful) continuity while not meeting—though could never be guaranteed that it would gather again exactly the same as it did the previous time.

So it’s like our parliaments which sit for a period but then when not sitting, there is no parliament. And a city council is really only a council when it is meeting. The employees are not the actual council, are they?

William Tyndale in his groundbreaking 16th Century English New Testament translation, rendered ekklesia as ‘congregation’ which then had no traditional religious connotation. This led to his being persecuted and strangulated by the religious establishment—that’s 1534 English history.

So why did the English Bible translators three times translate ekklesia as ‘assembly’ in the story in Acts (Acts 19:32, 39, 41)? The word church clearly wouldn’t fit these three meeting contexts. But wearing their religious glasses, they consistently translated the Greek word in other contexts as ‘church’ as if this Roman Catholic term was its equivalent and not as the word was understood in the Ancient World.

A century later, the translators of the King James Version (KJV)  were commanded by James the King of England to abide by about 14 conditions one of which the Greek word ekklesia had to be translated as church. They had no option but to do what James wanted so he could maintain his political agenda. They did translate the word as assembly in the Acts 19 story.

You may be interested to know that now we can use a recent scholarly translation called World English Bible (WEB) which translates the Greek word ekklesia with the English word assembly in the New Testament. In this version, the word ‘church’ cannot be found.

What has kept English translators so long to correct this?

Tradition! which obscures the word of God.

We may ask: why did the apostles use the Greek word ekklesia (gathering) and not other words which had a similar meaning? They did not use the word synagogue for the obvious reason that their gatherings were distinguished from those of the Jews.

Now, the Hebrew word qahal (=gathering, assembly) had been used in the Old Testament over 100 times and in the Greek translation of the OT (called the Septuagint or “LXX”) this Hebrew word was translated ekklesia (gathering). The early New Testament writers widely used the LXX and so probably chose this word which was also used by Jesus (see Matthew 16:18 and 18:17—the only places in the 4 gospels).

Simplicity: Hold fast what you received

How simple it all is!

But so much has been added to the simplicity of Christ and as a result, that simplicity has disappeared.

In robbing us of that simplicity and embracing instead the religious ideas of human thinking, what has not been given to us, we have lost just about all.

I invite you to consider with me the utter simplicity of what was revealed to the first communities of Jesus.

For starters, consider these words from the mouth of Jesus to believers recorded for us in the book, Revelation.

 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus . . . . . ‘You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.’” Rev 2:4-5.

“I say to the rest of you in Thyatira ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, except to hold on to what you have until I come.’”  Rev 2:24-25

 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write  . . . . . . ‘I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.  Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.  Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.’”  Rev 3:1-3.

And “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia . . . .  ‘I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.’” Rev 3:1, 11

Consider also these words from the pen of apostle John . . .

Let what you have heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you have heard from the beginning abides in you, you will abide in the Son and the Father. 1 John 2:24

Need I comment?

Dare I comment?

If you have ears to hear, then please join me in hearing, that is, obeying.

One Together in God and His Christ

Having prayed to the Father first for his disciples that they may be one “as We are”, Jesus then prayed for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me (John 17:20-23). He therefore prays for you and me —we believers are included in His prayer and ongoing intercessions!

So what is He praying for us, we who have believed in Him through their word? The answer follows with some staggering ‘purpose clauses’. In this post, we look at the first of these.

That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You;

This is the same request he made for the original disciples: that they may be one “as we are”, the Father in Jesus and Jesus in the Father. This is undoubtedly the will of God for you and me, for all followers. Nothing has changed, though we have changed and not for the better.

We are thus connected to the original disciples in the Spirit by the same will of God in Christ! We are meant to be together with them, immersed in the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. No change!  There is no change in covenantal privileges and responsibilities from them to us despite the passage of 2000 years. We live in the fellowship of the saints!

This awesome connection, oneness, S. Paul calls the Body of Christ. Jesus calls it My ekklesia.

This is of critical importance in how we understand our relationship with other believers, and how we look at ekklesia. That’s the original word used and badly translated into English as church, where it comes across as a religious concept. The word ekklesia in the original simply meant a gathering of people for a purpose. It had no religious connotation whatsoever. None.

The only ekklesia that is actually of God is the one Jesus is constructing—Matthew 16:18. Humans cannot build this. And we must not try. We are not commanded to do so.  And yet we fail to do what we are instructed—to bring in the harvest, to teach others to be disciples, to love one another and to be ONE together as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You.

But we can be so busy trying to help Him build churches, we fail to experience the glory He wants to display in us. He, not us, is the Architect and the Builder of His ekklesia. We are together members of His glorious Body, the living stones in this spiritual building. Together in Him.  ONE.

And in this glorious fellowship, this temple of God, we are to be one together. One not many.

Jesus’ prayer for you and me, all believers, constantly before the Father, is for our oneness. Do you see that excludes so much activity taken for granted in today’s religious organisations? Thus denominational exclusiveness is a grave error. Control of others is anathema. Selfishness, vainglory, hatred, self-righteousness, arguments, self-justifications, dogmatism causing splits, must all be thrown out.

When we are united together in actually doing what he has commanded—rather than what our precious theology or doctrines or opinions or religious organisations want—when we are abounding in the actual work of the Lord, filled with the Holy Spirit, bearing witness to Him, participating in the making of disciples, reminding, teaching, urging, persuading, encouraging others—in our joy and gladness in serving Him and one another, we leave behind those obstacles to oneness.  We forget our own agendas in favour of His agenda—our ONENESS.

 

It’s not about you. It’s not about us. It’s all about the Father and His Christ. Right?

A New Covenant—Ignored?

God’s first agreement (covenant) with His people, Israel, was defective, wrote the author of the New Testament book The Letter to the Hebrews (8:7-8) so a better was needed. This author shows how much more serious is our attitude and response to the New Covenant (how shall we escape if we ignore its implications, Hebrews 2:1-4).

The new must not be ignored. God’s design practices for corporate worship revealed in the New Covenant/New Testament must be followed. We must not lose His words or replace them by worldly or pagan ideas and practices like clergy—laity, pastor—people.

In this better covenant Jesus is not prevented by death and we are ALL called into the experience of the Lord Jesus in the power of his endless, indestructible life in which he works in us who draw near. He promises to energise within us, in our own life, breathing his life in us, so that it becomes our new nature to love him, delight to do his will—his own life in us.

Have believers gone backwards since Judaism with corporate matters?  In many ways our practices in churches as Christ’s people today are often more bound and institutional and domineering to that of many devout Jews in Jesus’ own day. Jews did not have a pastor or priest ruling over them. Nor did they meet in ‘house-of-the-Lord’ type buildings. Nor was the sharing of the word of God jealously guarded by one (or two) leaders.  The synagogue was a place of discussion and sharing of scriptures by the several.  Common meals were frequently shared together. Plus each synagogue was independently managed. They did not have to toe the line of any outside superintendent, C.E.O., denomination, statement of faith, or any head office!

These churchy practices plainly ignore the New Covenant.

How far we have drifted from the apostles’ teaching and practice! They were liberated from the practices of Judaism, yes, of religion and the Holy Spirit was living in each one! Yet today Christendom is weak, divided up into competing denominations, living “in the flesh” and generally not experiencing the New Covenant. It seems we have a similar situation today to that which our Hebrews author was addressing  (Heb 8:7-8) . . . .

 If the first covenant with God had been all right, there would not have been any need for another one. But the Lord found fault with them and said . . . . . .  (quoting Jer 31:31-34)

I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God, and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach or say to one another, “Know the Lord,”
because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.
For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’

Can we just go on and on ignoring the New Covenant made at the most tremendous cost to the Father by Jesus?

“If you love me you will keep my commands”  John 14:15

To be continued

BLIND GUIDES

Jesus’ disciples usually had to hold their breath as their master kept pulling down the teachings of the religious leaders, as we read in the gospel narratives.

“Here he goes again … what will he say this time?” they might have been thinking, as they braced themselves to his scathing denunciations.

Matthew 15 records Jesus’ devastating criticism of the leaders and teachers of the Jewish Law in one of these confrontations. These men were the backbone of First Century Judaism and were the ones to whom the ordinary people in the villages of Israel looked for guidance. Jesus had torn strips off them for their adherence to human traditions which obscured or even nullified the true meaning of the word of God. The disciples, anxious to maintain religious diplomacy and not rock the boat, came to him and anxiously asked,

“Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”

Then there is this truly unexpected reply from Jesus, ignoring their concerns (as he does so often) . . . .

“Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”   Mat 15:12-14 (NIV)

Just imagine the ramifications of that!

These men taught and practised many things which were like “plants that my heavenly Father has not planted”.  Remember, these were the teachers whose teachings and practices most closely resembled those who would follow Jesus. But the bottom line in the Kingdom of God, Jesus was bringing in is :

Only what the Father has planted will survive

If the Pharisees were blind guides, who was there left to guide the people? And who is there today to show us what the Father has planted?

And who in our current world of 2016 then is not blind? We have countless teachers who will lead untold thousands to fall into a pit of destruction and lostness. Are you following a blind guide?

Our guide must be Jesus. Jesus alone, and his Holy Spirit who speaks to us the things of Christ.

Is your guide your favourite preacher or writer? Or the dogmas of your precious religious party? Or your accumulated assumptions about what God wants from you but which God has never planted?

Many have decided themselves what to plant, what courses of action they will take, but have not heard from the Holy Spirit, from the Lord Jesus, who alone will show what the Father desires.

If the King, is not your guide won’t you “fall into a pit”? If you are not hearing and obeying Him, then are you not obeying a different “father”, like the Pharisees were?

What will be left of all our efforts and strivings if with all our good intentions, our futile plantings will be ripped out by the Father? Take care lest you assume what you are doing is from God.

“We must examine ourselves to see whether we still are in the faith” warns the apostle Paul. What faith? He is referring to the deposit of truth and practice left to us by Jesus and his apostles. Nothing more, nothing less.

We listen to what Jesus teaches, the living word of God, the voice of the Holy Spirit, and obey that, and not the vain traditions of men or what “life teaches us”. If your theology is not Jesus’ theology, cut it off. We must lead people into Jesus not into religious ghettos. Knowing Jesus. Loving him. Right?

A SOUND AND FULL GOSPEL

Sound doctrine must be encouraged right from the start for the newly baptised. That means the teaching of Jesus and the apostles recorded for us in the New Testament documents. An intensive approach is necessary until a foundation and unity in Christ is experienced to bring maturity and stops the person being tossed around by every wind of doctrine. Ephesians 4:1-16 says it all.

The Gospel is enough if it is the full message and based on sound apostolic teaching.

Paul’s letters are packed with warnings to people about losing what has been given at the start. It’s a constant theme. also Peter’s and James and John. The lot.

Sound doctrine in Jesus must replace everything else. Must replace all the additions and sacred cows that have gathered momentum and weight and accumulation by teachers in Christendom and away from the simplicity of Jesus and life, oneness and love centred only in him.

But what tends to happen amounts to adding to what people have already learned.

No. We must start from scratch—from Jesus only. That’s what the first disciples had to do. That’s what we must teach— the New Covenant and what that means, and stress its importance—the simple teaching of who we are in Christ—new men and women—who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. Cant serve two masters.

You cannot live the New Covenant life in Jesus’ blood while remaining in some other covenant, like a covenant of Churchianity or of a man-made organisation, or of a denomination—or one of your own choice.

The whole understanding of doctrine in current historic Churchianity is sick, stuck in a kind of poor renovation of Old Covenant shadows, yet fraught with splits, competitiveness, unbelief, envy, lust for power, desire to make a name for ourselves  . . . . . .

For example, what did Jesus teach about “the church”? Nothing. Just 2 passages in Mathew alone which today do not have the meaning anywhere near what he meant.

Instead Christendom is all about this imported c….. word.

Most people have no idea what the original Greek word (ekklesia) means because its translation to c….. in all English bibles is religious, Romish, worldly, even pagan.  Jesus gave NO command about forming churches. Instead he told us to love one another and sure, that means togetherness, yes. It means caring, service, sacrifice for others, being servants and above all, loving one another. Gathering like they did originally.

He told us to make disciples, heal the sick, set the oppressed free, love one another, lead a holy life, receive the Holy Spirit, walk in the Spirit . . . . . . . . . .

Christendom and its micro offshoots continue to do what he did not command and ignore what He DID command.

Christendom is in most places, a mere shadow of the Old Covenant—and without even the wonderful glory of the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant is a shadow of the New Covenant. But we have made the Old Covenant look by comparison far more glorious than what we see today—at least it had a supernatural glory.

The apostles declared that the glory of the New Covenant makes the old look a mere shadow. New Covenant life makes the old seem to have no glory at all says Paul (see 2 Corinthians 3).

You and I must start obeying the sound doctrine of the new covenant! Today.

No time to lose.

THE ANTI-GOSPEL

Whatever happened to the simplicity of Jesus and his Gospel? Now we have full-blown Christendom instead.

Sadly, my wife and I know many who have departed from the original faith of the apostles by going on sideshows, men’s ideas. Some turning back to Judaism, to Rome, to mysticism, to mediaeval teachings and practices–people who once walked in close fellowship with us. There are 1000s of sidetracks.

As if the Jesus of the gospels is insufficient! As if the Holy Spirit is not there to show us, to supply us with the power and authority from the Throne. As if we need more than what we have received from the mouth of the living God as given by the writers of the New Testament!

As if it is up to us to decide what commands of Jesus to obey—or ignore.

As if it is up to us to decide how to build the Kingdom of God!

Jesus, referring to the church leaders of his day said “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind . . .” (Matthew 15).

All your efforts, all those works of yours, will be rooted up if they are not planted by the Father. Examine your life—is what you are doing “in Jesus’ name”, planted by the Father? Are you helping God?  As if we could!

Are we, are you, bored with the true gospel, with the simplicity of faith given to us by those who learned from Jesus and the Holy Spirit? Is there something secret in these deviations and systems which you practice that is hidden to everyone else and especially those who are determined to stick with the New Testament?

When you fail to stay, persist with, persevere in and fight for the “faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” you are in grave danger of drifting into side issues, sideshows, blind alleys, instead of going straight ahead. The Holy Spirit goes straight ahead, takes no detour, constantly points to Jesus and the cross. Where else?

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. Jude 3-4

Jude was compelled to write about this knowing the addition and substitution of error for truth, even in those early days. Paul consistently warned about numerous false teachers and prophets to come. Jude goes on . . .

But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.  These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

The people who divide you! These are those who follow natural instincts and the result is the 30,000 to 40,000 denominations we have today in the world. And they all claim to be the truth!

But in Jesus there can be no division, none. We must be one with one another and our oneness comes from being in Him and He in us, one in the Father and the Son as Jesus prayed (John 17). There can be no other way.

But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.(1st Timothy 6)

Christendom began to ignore Jesus and his words and has lived according to natural instincts to this day. But it is time to stop and to turn to the real Jesus, the one who has proved himself as the one to obey, to follow.

THE GREAT OMISSION

THE GREAT COMMISSION  OMISSION

Consider with me Jesus’ words, we call “the Great Commission” set in Matthew 28:18-20.

All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth, therefore …..

This authority given to the risen, glorified, Jesus is what makes such an impossibly huge and risky task set before his stunned and vulnerable followers, not only possible but doable! It is only on the basis that the Father has given Jesus all authority, not only in the heavenly places but also on earth. Right where they were. Right where we are.

Such an authority has been given to the man Jesus who is risen from death and is gloriously Lord! The authority is given to Jesus alone, but will flow through to those who are joined to him and when the Holy Spirit is at last poured out upon them.

This promise to his followers was given well before the coming of the Holy Spirit upon them. It is this coming of the Holy Spirit that will make all the difference: the authority given him, and only to him, will flow onto them. Why? For what purpose?

……… make disciples of all the nations …….

This means making disciples of Jesus, and not of us, our ideas or our agendas. It is his kingdom not ours. They must follow Jesus, be like him, reproducing, sowing seeds.

What is meant by “the nations”? For a Jew, typically it meant going to the Gentiles. It means peoples everywhere, Jews, Gentiles, Greeks, Romans, Africans, Asians, Chinese, Americans, Westerners, East and West Europeans, indigenous. It means rich, poor, males and females, young, old, everyone. The whole world.

… baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit …

The consistent practice of the first followers was to baptise in the name of Jesus. But Jesus’ emphasis in this context is about plunging disciples into a relationship with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and not merely into water. True baptism involves becoming children of the Heavenly Father and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

….. teaching them to observe all that I commanded you….

It is Jesus’ commands that are important. In the hearts of his disciples Jesus’ words must take the place of all others, previous and yet to come: receive the Holy Spirit, make disciples, bear witness to me, proclaim the Kingdom of God, serve one another, humble yourselves, love one another, glorify the Father …. to mention only a few.

In fact, dare we add to what he asks? Dare we introduce practices, traditions and religion now we have such a momentous and perfect revelation of the mind of the Father in the person of Jesus?

Have we so quickly turned away from the great commission and instead pursued agendas of our own – a great omission – and now we have the great substitution, mere religion?

Instead of rules and regulations

The first covenant had regulations—lots, as well as the amazing earthly sanctuary, says the author of the Letter to the Hebrews, (chapter 9, verses 1 to 5). The spectacular tent with its out-of-this world design, specially crafted furniture, consecrated unrefrigerated food, the Most Holy Place, incense, the gold covered covenant box, not to mention the hundreds of rules governing the ceremonial work of the priests.

So, what are the regulations of the New Covenant? The setting up of numerous different kind of earthly sanctuaries called “churches”? A worldwide institution “the Church”? Pulpits, pews and altars? Mystical foods? A new order of priesthood? Transcendent sacrifices?  Better smelling incense? A priestcraft elite? Excited audiences and religious entertainment?

None of the above. Definitely. Absolutely not. Full stop.

But as you know, tragically, all too soon, men set up such things which were not even a shadow of the real. These survive today after a long history of slowly evolving forms: Catholicism, Anglicanism, sacramentalism, mysticism, countless other isms, formality, liturgy, clergy driven—old, superseded models but without any of the glory of God, no cherubim, no stone tablets written with the finger of God, no budding rod, and no true sacrifice for our atonement, and without any mandate whatsoever from the Lord of Hosts for the shabby substitutes men instituted. Empty. God has left this kind of house.

Under the Old Covenant, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry.  But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance, as it says in Heb 9:6-7.

But today in so many earthly temples, earthly priests regularly enter their sanctuaries to carry on their ministry and without any Aaronic authority, imagining they re-crucify the Lord of glory on some pathetic copy of an altar. In a mockery of the real, the true, they imagine wine is magically changed to blood by their mumbo-jumbo mantra instead of directing needy souls to see that Jesus has finished his work once for all and ensure the people of receive their inheritance, now.

In the old Jewish order, sins committed in ignorance were atoned—wonderful grace assuring worshippers that it did not depend on them dotting every ‘i’.  But the so-called sacrifice of the mass keeps people in perpetual dependence on a mediatorial priesthood, for they must come continually to maintain the believed benefits of forgiveness.

But what can really cleanse from sin? And what about sin not done in ignorance–deliberate?  What can cleanse my conscience? –nothing in the old covenant arrangement, glorious though it is. A better deal awaited God’s people, now come in the Christ and his offering for us.

So again you may ask, what are the regulations of the New Covenant?

Well there are none. There are patterns to guide us and above all the example of the Lord Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. The habits, practices and attitudes he demonstrated to his little band of followers are there for us to practice towards one another : love, forgiveness, joy, patience, service, cooperation, togetherness, thanksgiving. Here we are not remotely on the same planet as Law, rules and regulations.

Jesus has gone from us to a place where he is constantly at work for us.

And there is the glorious gift of his Spirit! In his place he sends the Holy Spirit! People in the NT era knew they had received the Spirit from Jesus. They knew because they could abound in the work of the Lord (1 Cor 15:26). They knew because they were members of a functioning body all joined together, each with manifestations of the Holy Spirit to encourage one another. They knew because the Word of God flowed from their hearts and through their lips. They were bold, courageous.

Yes. There is also the eternal Word of God by which we continually hear His voice. What marvellous resources!

Surely we have such abundance in this great design plan that Jesus has inaugurated! What need then do we have of formalised institutions and commercialised religion? Of priestcraft and liturgical magic?

To hang on to such substitutions instead of God’s creative, revealed ways is to dishonour Him. To hear and put into practice His ways is to honour Him, to hallow His name.

Hear!

You doing God’s stuff?

As we read in Hebrews 8:1-2, we do have a high priest, who sits in the place of absolute majesty in the Universe, and who serves in the real sanctuary, the most holy place, the true tent set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being. Under the Covenant with Israel long ago, God commanded an earthly, temporary, mobile sanctuary, a tent! a copy of the real sanctuary to be established by Moses with priests appointed under the law of Moses to offer up gifts and sacrifices.

But when Jesus came, he could not even approach the Tent of meeting—he was a layman! He was not even an acclaimed rabbi, let alone a priest (8:4).

Did you get that? He was a layman, not a priest! Yet in that humble form, with no religious or institutional status, he showed perfectly the character, the face, the loving-kindness and compassion of God! And by his life and death in that lowly status, he entered the TRUE sanctuary and forever abolished the whole system of exclusive priestcraft. He smashed for all time the clergy–laity hierarchy divide. So why does it still persist even in evangelical Protestant churches?

Look at Hebrews 8:5: that earthly tent made by Moses was just a copy, a shadow of the real, of what is actually in Heaven. Yet it had to be done kosher, right? So Moses was strictly warned by God:

 ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’(Exodus 25:40

God gave Moses the pattern, the design plans, for the tent of meeting and the worship to be made by Israel, which was to be visible, not just virtual. These plans could not be compromised in any detail. Understand the seriousness of following the exact plans given by the Lord Architect, even under a temporary covenant. Moses was allowed to see the transcendent, glorious form and then was instructed to materialise what he saw. No additions. No subtractions.

Following God’s instructions, Moses fabricated, erected and furnished the Tent, not a permanent structure like the worldly religions everywhere else. God was on the move with his people! The living God cannot be compromised, cannot be reduced to images or reproduced in buildings.

Now, if it was so important for Moses and Israel, under an inferior and temporary covenant arrangement, to implement exactly the Lord’s design, how much more critical it was that the apostles correctly implement the Lord’s plans for the Body of Christ to be visible on the Earth and be on the move!

And the followers of Jesus, without any Jewish authority, did so, as our letter under review and the rest of the New Testament shows. They obeyed Jesus’ words and in the power of the Holy Spirit their obedience turned the world upside down. The evidence is there in all the New Testament scriptures. We have the Lord of glory on the move in his gathered people. We see Almighty God reproduced in the face of Jesus and visibly in his gathered people: God’s pattern!

Many Christian leaders tell us they cannot see the Lord’s design for gathering of God’s people which he handed down to the apostles, and which was then implemented under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. What! The pattern’s on every page of the New Testament. But we are so used to having a D.I.Y. religion based on human thinking, founded on worldly ideas, we just assume that what we have always done is right.

If the Lord is to be honoured and given the ‘worth-ship’ He deserves, a serious, radical and unbiased approach to the New Testament is needed to see  God’s pattern for his Body. But we must remove our churchy, religious glasses to see it, and to throw out both the baby and the bathwater.

Even more so, since Jesus’ own ministry is carried out, not in a mere replica of the heavenly, but in the dwelling place of God. His work is astronomically superior to the old Mosaic order. The new arrangement Jesus has made with his people is much superior to the old one as it is established on better promises. And itcalls for even closer attention from you and me, to what God wants and the careful putting into visible form, God’s perfect design for his people.

Notice Jesus’ terrifying answer  to the troubled question his politically correct and concerned disciples put to him after he had rebuked the Pharisees over what defiles a person (Mt 15:12-14): Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up!

God is jealous for his plans and designs for his work to be followed by his servants, including us. Look carefully and thoughtfully at what Jude wrote (Jude 3):

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

Are you prepared to see how proud arrogance, abysmal ignorance, sheer blindness, rank disobedience and shoulder-shrugging complacency has subjugated God’s perfect design in the totally controlled, commercialised, industrialised, entertainment-based, consumer oriented  Churchianity of today?  Stay tuned.