One of the things God is doing in this hour is liberating His people from the bondages created by the traditions of men within the structure of the church. More and more people are beginning to see that too much of what we do and call church is based on the traditions and pride of men and they are ready for change to bring the church back to its scriptural basis. Only when we operate according to the word of God do we have true liberty. We must examine the life and practices of the church in light of scripture to see how it measures up. Anything which is contrary to the word must be removed as it will always result in legalism and bondage.
Tradition tells us that Paul the Apostle was beheaded in Rome around 66 AD. This tells us that the Book of Acts covers approximately 34 years of church history from its inception on the Day of Pentecost. Together with the letters of Paul, Acts lays out the established life and practices of the church giving us a picture of church leadership, the functioning of the body of Christ, and the basic doctrines of salvation. Over the course of thirty some years, the life and practices of the church were well established. Much like today, church size varied from place to place from small to mega size. The church in Jerusalem had at least 5,000 members at one time according to Acts 4:4 and that number only included the men believers, not the women and children. So to say that today’s church cannot follow scriptural practice because of its size or any other reason is just not valid. If anything, today’s church (in America) has greater liberty to follow scripture as the New Testament church spent most of its years under severe persecution.
Most of the problems with today’s church are rooted in our wrong concept of the church. We have made the church an organization run by men rather than an organism run by the Holy Spirit. We have turned the church into a financial entity, a corporate institution, and a hierarchical organization. When the church is turned into an organization it requires positions, offices, titles, and all kinds of overhead expenses. It is then corrupted by power-mongering, greed, envy and jealousy. Most of the corruption we see in today’s church is due to a wrong structure of church.
God intended His church to be a community of believers living in divine love and fellowship with God and with one another. It was supposed to be a priesthood of believers serving God out of divine oneness and equality with each other, in a spirit of humility, mutual submission, and selflessness. It was to be modeled after Jesus Christ who was of no reputation, the bond servant of the Lord, in humility, and in obedience unto death.
The early church exemplified an intimate family community living and growing together in love into their head Jesus Christ. The scriptures picture a loving household, not a bureaucratic business; a living organism, not a hierarchical organization. The church is to be a corporate expression of Christ, not a religious corporation. It is an interdependent body, not a mechanical machine. The church is people, not buildings. We are the church and wherever two or three of us gather, we are the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The church begins with individual living stones, but ends up a spiritual house and a holy priesthood as we are knit together in love.
We need to be willing to look at the various facets of the church as we know it today and measure it against scripture. You will discover that much of what men have built is patterned after the Old Covenant Judaic system rather than the New Covenant Holy Spirit resulting in a system lacking the presence and power of the glory of God. The present church system is based on separation of God’s people by priestly classes, performer style meetings with a passive priesthood, programs, buildings, hierarchy government, and outward form. This has produced a nominal Christianity with an immature body, a money-driven organization, an elitist leadership, a professional worship, and very little true fruit.
God’s destiny for the church is to be the place of His glory. The church should be the place of the fullness of God’s presence and power. It should be dripping with the oil of His anointing. Its atmosphere should be flooded with the fragrance of His presence. It should be saturated with His love and compassion. It should be rich in His fellowship and communion. It should be charged with His joy and eternal pleasures. It should be exploding with His worship and praise and adoration. It should be constrained with His reverence and awe. It should be flowing in healing, deliverance, salvation, miracles, signs and wonders. It should be electrified with zeal, passion, and devotion. It should be knit together with bonds of demonstrable love, care, support, and respect. It should be an irresistible magnet drawing the lost, the poor, the destitute, the sick, the addict, the prostitute, and the needy, from the least to the greatest.
The only way the church can come into its God given destiny is to return to its scriptural roots in life and practice. Everything that has corrupted it must be rooted out and destroyed. The concept of a community of believers living in mutual love, unity, and fellowship must be restored. As Paul said, “From whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16). Every member must become a supplying joint of God’s grace and power so that the body can be knit together in love. A pile of bricks does not make a building. Only as each living stone is fitly joined to another can the body of Christ be “built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22).