Posts filed under ‘The Church’

Acts 15 – Edict or Consensus?

Who was at the Meeting?

The question at hand is who was in the meeting of Acts 15?

We know that Apostles and Elders were there (Acts 15:6).

We know that Peter addressed “Men and brethren” (Acts 15:7) Possibly two phrases for the same group, or maybe even believers and unbelievers were present?

We know that Barnabas and Paul were there (Acts 15:12).

We know a MULTITUDE kept silence and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul. (Acts 15:12) “Multitude” is translated a “great number” in all of the other instances where it is used in scripture. Could it be that the entire group of believers and possibly even some unbelievers were present at this meeting? Is it possible that meetings were always open door meetings and that anyone and everyone was allowed to participate?

We know it pleased the apostles, elders, and the whole assembly (Ekklesia) to send men to Antioch (Acts 15:22)
And here’s what was written: It seemed good unto us BEING ASSEMBLED in one accord (Acts 15:25). Was the Ekklesia (the whole church) in this meeting – or did they just send a letter saying they were part of the assembly? Obviously – the whole church was in the meeting. 

Could Acts 15 then be a picture of the Ekklesia being gathered in order to make a governmental decision?

In my opinion, this was a legal assembly (see Acts 19:39) – the very heart of the word “church” (Ekklesia)

How did they come to a decision?

 There was much disputing – open discussion – back and forth – many people coming forth with their arguments. (Acts 15:7)

Peter gave a testimony of what God did at Cornelius’ house – and gave his opinion that the law was a yoke on the Gentile’s necks that they could not follow. (Acts 15:7)

Barnabas and Paul gave testimony to what God had done among the Gentiles thru their ministry. (Acts 15:12)  Notably, Paul is a complete outsider to the Jerusalem church – and he is one of the main players in this meeting.

James brought a passage of scripture testifying that God was going to move on the Gentiles – and then gave his opinion on laying down some guidelines about eating that would make it a whole lot easier for the Jews to not be completely offended by what the Gentiles were eating – thus opening up the real possibility that Jews and Gentiles could eat together. (Acts 15:14-21).

Decision by consensus or decision by the “HEAD” of the church at Jerusalem?

If you look at James as the head of the church at Jerusalem – and see that he talked last – then you will probably conclude that the decision was a unilateral decision made by James and dictated to the rest of the group. But…… let me present to you another alternative….

A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. (Deut 19:15)

But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.‘ (Matt 18:16) Jesus

This will be my third visit to you. “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses”. (2 Cor 13:1) Paul.

The law taught, Jesus taught, and Paul taught that every matter must be established by two or three witnesses.

In John 5:31-47 Jesus outlines what a true “witness” is.

  1. NOT your own testimony about yourself (not even Jesus could do that)
  2. The prophetic word (given to John the Baptist) was a “human witness” , subject to caution but a witness. (prophecy can be manipulated)
  3. The signs and wonders (works) that Jesus did was a “God witness”.
  4. The voice from heaven that the disciples heard was a “God witness”.
  5. The scriptures (that the teachers of the law mishandled) was a “God witness” (not man’s interpretation of the scriptures).

In Acts 15 – we have two “God witnesses” – signs and wonders thru Peter, Barnabas and Paul, and we have a third “God witness” – the scripture given thru James.

Now the whole group had been taught about “Witnesses” (by the law, by Jesus, and by Paul) and could say a hardy amen when the third witness (James) came forward. James kind of put the icing on the cake – and with a stroke of Godly wisdom to bring the Gentiles and Jews together – not divide them!

Once the group caught sight of the third witness – the meeting was over.  The testimony of scripture sealed the deal.  If this passage says anything – it says that scripture has the final say – not James.  But even Scripture, when misused, or misapplied is not a valid witness.   (see John 5:39)

James was not the “head” in this meeting – Jesus was and the testimony of what Jesus was doing ruled the day and trumped the opinions of the circumcision party.

Which is right to follow – the witness of God – or the authority of man? It’s easy when they are the same – but what if James would have sided with the circumcision party?

My opinion is that – the witness of God ruled the day in the early church – not the authority of man. In fact, they knew no such thing as a man in authority over them dictating to them what he thought God was saying. The leaders were well respected and actually led the people – but the governmental decision was a consensus on the evidence at hand – not an edict from the “head man”.

The vast majority of time that a “sola pastora” rules over an assembly or even a meeting, the context of two or three witnesses is totally destroyed. This slaps the command of God in the face. The scriptures never said – put a pastor in charge and let him establish every matter. No, no, no, indeed. Let every matter be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Do you want to know what God is doing in your midst right now? Ask the person next to you. You might be surprised what a group will come up with – and how it all fits so wonderfully together. Instead – we ignore (or assign to some other time or setting) whole passages of scripture (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12, 13, and 14; Acts 15; John 5, etc) – and instead replace these practices with stuff that’s nowhere to be found even in a single scripture. (Senior pastor, Assistant Pastor, the authority of the pastor, Senior Elder, covering, Marketplace Apostle, Foundational Apostle, Sunday Service, pulpits, A non-participatory meeting, etc). Is it any wonder that moves of God are so rare in the traditional western setting?

“The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” (Jer 5:31 NIV)

The question at hand is this: even if you think everything I’ve written here is total error – and that the church is a hierarchy led by a single pastor and advised by a group of elders – then how does the concept of two or three witnesses come into play – in a meeting – in governmental decisions – in EVERY MATTER?


December 24, 2009 at 5:32 am Leave a comment

Super Apostles or The Church?

Jesus made a bold proclamation to Peter – You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church (Ekklesia) and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. (Matt 16:18)

Why did Jesus use the word “Ekklesia” and what’s so special about that word?

Why didn’t Jesus set his apostles in place in territories and proclaim – the gates of hell will not prevail against my apostles? Isn’t that the way western apostolic networks think? In fact most western apostolic literature turns the church into the one conquered (by church leaders), and not the ones doing the conquering.

If you want to take a territory – you just bring in the super apostle – he says a few words to the skies – and leaves town proclaiming the territories have been taken (never mind they’ve not taken any territory yet – the church has actually shrunk in the west).

Okay – let’s look at Ekklesia. Jesus didn’t use the word for “gathering” (episunagoge) – he used the word Ekklesia – a word all of the disciples knew.

 Acts 19:39 gives us the clue:

“You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess. If, then, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges. If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly.” (Ac 19:37-39 NIV)

 “Legal assembly” in Acts 19:39 is the word Ekklesia. Ekklesia by definition is the “Called out ones” – in Greek society – they were called out of their homes into a public place to make governmental decisions. The government of God rests squarely in the Ekklesia – not in the hands of a select few leaders. Leaders are there to help mature and care for the saints, not to be their government or Lords. The leaders greatly influence the Ekklesia, but they cannot usurp the Ekklesia’s governmental authority given by God.

In the end, if territory is to be taken – it is taken thru the Ekklesia – with her leaders building her up and ultimately her members building one another up to accomplish the task.

“His intent was that now, through the church (Ekklesia), the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Eph 3:10-11 NIV)

I have to admit, I don’t know much about Ekklesia – I have very limited experience.  I’ve seen her there, tied to a chair with someone shouting to her how ugly she is – and I really can’t handle much more of that!  Even on a good day – she’s been tied to that chair with someone declaring prophetic destinies over her.  Those prophecies made me cry – but she’s still just sitting there (in the west).   I don’t really know how she is built, how she functions, how she governs.  I know she’s the most stunningly beautiful thing the world has ever seen – more stunning to Jesus than Eve was to Adam.  I know she’s the most powerful force this earth has ever known – the exact representation of Jesus Himself – and yet I know so very little of her.  This is my mission right now – find out about Ekklesia.  Can anyone help me?

December 21, 2009 at 6:17 am Leave a comment

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