I have been addressing the subject of leading the ekklesia of God. That ekklesia is the called out assembly of members of the bride of Christ. She is the life-giving womb of God in the earth. She has been sent to bring the influence of the kingdom of heaven to the kingdoms of the earth. There is a great description of the function of Christ and His bride in chapter 5 of the book of Ephesians. The Scripture is referring to the function of husbands and wives, but more specifically it is a description of the function of Jesus Christ the head and Christ His bride. The secret to these verses is found in verse 32 of this chapter.
Ephesians 5:32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.
The first verses of this segment of Scripture describe the function of the bride of Christ in relationship to her husband Jesus Christ the eternal Adam of God. This is a description of a wife’s relationship with her husband, but it is more specifically a description of the body of Christ as the feminine expression of Christ in relationship with the masculine expression of Christ in His headship. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, God created mankind in the His own likeness and the image (Gen. 1:26,27). That likeness and image was expressed in that which was both masculine and feminine. Mankind was created both male and female. They were created to have dominion over the works of God’s hands in the earth (Ps. 8:3-8). Jesus came to redeem the human race. He came to restore the masculine and feminine expressions of God in mankind to their state of dominion in the earth. This is to be expressed in every family and in the family of God known as Christ’s church (ekklesia). Everyone must express the attributes of body membership and leadership must express the attributes of Christ’s headship.
Ephesians 5:22-24 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
In these verses the wife is instructed concerning her submission to her husband. She is to submit to him as to the Lord. She is to submit to him as the church does to Christ. She is to submit to him in everything. Under the paradigm of the curse of the fall this is a recipe for disaster. The curse of the fall left the wife bound to a condition of worry and pain, a desire for her husband, and a situation where the husband rules over the wife. Under the paradigm of the fall these words are words of a curse and not words of blessing.
Genesis 3:16 To the woman He said:
1“I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children;
2 Your desire shall be for your husband,
3 And he shall rule over you.”
Whereas the curse left the wife with a temptation to fear death, a suppressed identity, and bondage under dominant control, the blessings of Christ have brought an activation of life, a facilitation of life, and a release of life to the church in her fullness. This is the life given to the bride of Christ through the headship of Christ. This is the life of the body revealed as the feminine expression of mankind in Christ. The masculine expression is seen as that that activates life, facilitate life, and release life in the full expression of the family of God.
Godly leadership in the church must not dominate or control. It must seek to activate, facilitate, and release the members of the church to the true testimony of Christ’s life within them. The masculine expression of God is that of protecting life, while the feminine expression of God is that of being a life-giver. The verses in Ephesians reveal that there are three aspects to protecting life. The husband is to:
- Love as Christ and give himself for her
- Sanctify and cleanse her with washing by the word
- Present her to himself a glorious church
These are the very things that Jesus did for us. Husbands must do this for their wives, and the leadership aspect of Christ’s government must do the same in the church. To love and to give as Christ, is to provide and supply the needed resources for life. We love Jesus, because He first loved us. Church members will love leaders, because leaders first love them. New Covenant leadership seeks to provide each member with whatever is needed to bring them to faith in Christ. They do not rule them through natural tactics that promote fear to bondage. They seek to activate each member to the faith of life and function in Him.
Leaders must sanctify and cleanse church members with washing by the word. This is the “rhema” (GSRN 4487) word. These are God’s words from their mouths. This is not the letter of the Law, but Spirit-words of life! This sanctification is one of protection and shelter in the Spirit. Leaders must seek to “facilitate” the identity of each church member. They seek to help each member find their identity in the Father of lights. Only by this can they be the true light of Christ in the church. New Covenant leadership doesn’t seek to force church members to identify in them, but facilitates members to find their identity in Christ.
Leaders must seek to present church members ‘along side’ of them as a glorious church. This is a leadership role of propagating and expanding the destiny of the church. This is the “release” of every member to his or her role in ministry. New Covenant leaders don’t seek to control church members. They seek to release them for the purpose of Christ’s kingdom in the earth. The Greek word for “present” in Ephesians 5:27 is the GSRN 3936. “paristemi, par-is´-tay-mee, or prolonged paristano, par-is-tan´-o; from GSRN 3844 and GSRN 2476; to stand beside, i.e. (transitively) to exhibit, proffer, (specially), recommend, (figuratively) substantiate; or (intransitively) to be at hand (or ready), aid”. As you can see, this is everything but dominant control!
In order to lead in this way, every member of every leadership team must be empowered by God’s Spirit of Might. They must seek to love God and people more than ministry. Prickly things cannot distract them. New Covenant leaders must be empowered by the Spirit of Knowing. They must increasingly know the communion of the Spirit and of the saints. New Covenant leaders must also seek to be led by God’s Spirit. They cannot be circumstantially ruled. The Spirit of the Fear of the Lord must empower them to have an awe of God and His plan for every member entrusted to their leadership.
Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
It is important to understand that the submission is of a wife to a husband, not women to men. In every case, a wife’s submission is to her own source of life. Her submission is to the one who loves and gives love to her. It is to the one who sanctifies her with washing through life-giving words. Her subjection is to the one who presents her alongside of him as a glorious church. God joins a man and a woman for a corporate purpose and destiny. Within the church there is both a masculine and a feminine dynamic of life. Leadership is a masculine expression of Christ’s rule and membership is a feminine expression of Christ’s rule. These are not bound to men and women, but are expressed in both men and woman to reveal a mystery that is best depicted in the covenant of marriage of a man and a woman. Like the man and the woman in marriage, God makes them one flesh for His purposes. God also joins church members to church leaders. He does not join all leaders from everywhere to church members, nor does he join all members to all church leaders. God joins members to leaders and leaders to members so that His glorious church can be made manifest. So, what does New Covenant submission look like?
- The members are to submit to their “own leaders” – “as to the Lord”. These are the leaders who love them and give their lives to them. This brings their submission to become an activation of faith. Church members love their leaders, because their leaders first love them.
- The members are to submit to their own leaders as unto to the Lord. Our submission to the Lord is a direct connection to God as our Father. He has even given us His Holy Spirit that causes our hearts to cry out “Abba, Father”. Church members are to submit to their own leaders by being activated to know God their Father as the source of their own identity.
- The members are to be subject to their own leaders as those who cause them to come along side of them and serve with them in the corporate testimony of Christ and His glorious church. They are not controlled, but rather released to their full testimony of destiny in Christ.
The testimony of New Covenant will be to have a threefold attitude toward every member joined to them. They must confess from their hearts the desire to make others become who they in Christ. They must live for them and understand that the members of the Body live for them as well to be the communion of the saints in Christ. They must decide to bring church members alongside of them to live with them for the future generations of the church. New Covenant church members must have an attitude that professes to their God-given leadership that they will live from their hearts for them. They see themselves as one body with them and trust the God the Father of them all. New Covenant church members understand that their purpose is divinely joined to the leadership that God has given to them in Christ.
In doing these things, the life-protecting and life-giving image and likeness of God will be revealed in the earth. This is the testimony of the blessed Body of Christ and the true manifestation of the children of God. May we all grow in this grace and may the church become the glorious testimony of Christ!
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson
Leader 8 – Audio Teaching
Leader8 – Outline Notes