As leaders in the Body of Christ it is important that we understand the purpose of the Church. Before we can understand the purpose of the Church, we must understand what the Church actually is. We often think of the Church as a group of Christian people gathered together to encourage one another in the Christian lifestyle and the principles of the Christian faith. This is not what the word “Church” means as Christ commissioned it as the New Testimony for a redeemed human race.
The word “Church” is taken from the Greek word “ekklesia”. It literally means a called out assembly. It comes from the Greek word “eke”, a primary preposition denoting origin (the point whence action or motion proceeds), from, out (of place, time, or cause; literal or figurative; direct or remote) and the Greek word “kaleo” meaning; to “call” (properly, aloud, but used in a variety of applications, directly or otherwise). In the time of Christ using this word it was a political term used in the Greek culture. It literally meant “an assembly of citizens summoned by the crier, the legislative assembly”.
Liddell and Scott define ekklesia as “an assembly of citizens summoned by the crier, the legislative assembly.” [R. Scott, and H.G. Liddell, A Greek-English Lexicon, p. 206.] Thayer’s lexicon states that the ekklesia is, “an assembly of the people convened at the public place of council for the purpose of deliberating” [J. H. Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 196]. Trench gives the meaning as “the lawful assembly in a free Greek city of all those possessed of the rights of citizenship, for the transaction of public affairs” [R.C. Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament, 7th ed., pp. 1-2]. Seyffert’s dictionary states, “The assembly of the people, which in Greek cities had the power of final decision in public affairs” [Oskar Seyffert, A Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, pp. 202-203]. From “fully after the LORD” by Steve Flinchum http://www.bryanstation.com/flinchum-fully.htm
Leadership is greatly affected by our definition of what we lead. If we lead for the purpose of the facilitation of a group of Christian people gathered together to encourage one another in the Christian lifestyle and the principles of the Christian faith we will carry some measure of significance, but we will miss the fuller picture of what Jesus meant. Let’s look at the verses that initiate this concept of “Church” for those that Jesus’ was commissioning as a New Testimony of a redeemed human race.
Jesus had gathered His disciples and He was asking them who men said He was. They responded by saying that many people believed He was a great prophet and even a further testimony of a great prophet of the past. Jesus then asked them who they said He was and Simon Peter received a revelation from heaven.
Matthew 16:16-19 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”
The revelation given to Peter was that Jesus was the Christ. He was actually the Son of the living God, the anointed Messiah of mankind. Jesus acknowledged that this understanding didn’t come by natural thought, but was in fact a revelation from His Father in heaven to the heart of Peter. One who heard by the Holy Spirit was defined as a rock that day. Peter means “little rock”, but Jesus said that upon a “huge rock” He would build His Church. I believe that that “huge rock” was not just Christ, but the revealing of Christ that came by hearing the revelation given by the Father in heaven. The thing that Jesus said would be build by that revelation was His Church. It was His called out assembly for governmental decision in the earth. It was His Bride, His Wife, His co-partner in heaven and earth. That Church would prevail against the gates of Hades. Hades is the realm of the dead. The testimony of the Church would be a greater power than the gates of death in the heavenlies and upon earth. Those who have a revelation of Christ would be like Peter and would be given the keys of the kingdom of heaven. They would be given the power of the government of heaven. They would be able to bind on earth things decreed from heaven to see them bound in heaven. They would be able to loose on earth things decreed from heaven to see them loosed in heaven. Those with a revelation of Christ in their midst would be a called out assembly of divinely empowered believers equipped to make heavenly decisions upon the earth for supernatural releases of heaven to the earth. The influences of the realm of the dead would meet the influence of life from the kingdom of heaven. The Church would be the testimony of Christ in the earth.
I will be addressing this subject for the month of November. For today, consider what it means to be the Church, the Body of Christ. Consider what it means to be called a leader in the Church of Jesus Christ. It is more than mere Christian gatherings and Christian encouragement. It is a matter of life to the world!
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson