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I think that 'church' is the word that is most misunderstood in the Christian world.

There are those who think that the church is a building, largely because Catholic buildings are called churches in our everyday language.

Then there are those who have understood that the church of which the Bible speaks is not a building. These people have understood that the church is a gathering of people. It is true that this is already a good step forward in understanding this word, but most are still far from the real definition of the church.

We could say that it does not make much difference to have a correct definition of the church, as long as we understand that it is not a building, but that the church represents the born again people on earth.

Well, to those, I would say that not knowing the true definition of the church will directly affect not only our daily Christian life, but also our relationship with God, and the rewards we may have in eternity. 

Just as there are two sides of ourselves, there are naturally two sides of the church.

We know that we have our physical life on this earth. This consists of a tangible domain which is our physical life. This corresponds to our social position, our family status, our professional or educational activity, etc...

Then there is also, since our new birth, a spiritual domain. This domain corresponds to our person who is connected to the spiritual world, through faith, prayer, the renewal of our soul, and everything that has to do with our relationship with God.

The church, which we are, also has two facets. One that is active in this tangible world on earth in which we live, which we will call the earthly church. And a second which is in the kingdom of God which we will call the bride of Christ.

We mention these two facets of the church here simply to highlight the fact that in the vast majority of cases, Christians only refer to the church as the "bride of Christ". Yet the Bible tells us of both, but it seems that few Christians have understood that the church of Jesus Christ is not only the bride in the kingdom who will be reunited with Him at the end of time.

There is a lot of teaching on this subject of the church as a bride in the spiritual world, so we will deal with this tangible part of the earthly church that is active in our world.

The first time we hear about the church in the Bible is through a word of Jesus.

Matthew 16:18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

This is the first time Jesus speaks of the church in the Bible. But just because Jesus speaks about the church for the first time does not mean that it did not exist before.

It was about 600 years before Jesus came to earth that the church (EKKLESIA) was established by the Greeks.

The church was a political assembly of people. There was a church in every major city, and regularly this church met once or twice a month to create laws, enforce these laws, decide on the political and social course for the good of the city in accordance with the kingdom it represented. The Greek church (EKKLESIA) was a kind of group of people who governed the city and made sure that the laws, in line with the Greek kingdom, were applied.

Through the different eras, the church changed, but it kept its purpose as an assembly enforcing the laws of the kingdom. There was a leader in charge of each church. Nothing could be done without him. The church dealt not only with the enforcement of the laws of the kingdom, but also with the courts, the finances of the city etc.

At the time Jesus spoke of the church, we were under the Roman Empire. Not only had all of Israel been conquered and was under Roman dictatorship, but many other kingdoms too, including Greece. The Greek Church system had continued even in the Roman kingdom. So there were churches (EKKLESIA) at the time of Jesus, according to the norm at that time, in all the major cities.

It is easy to realise that when Jesus spoke to Peter about His Church, Peter had no idea of the earthly church, let alone as a bride, as we may know it today. It is very likely that Peter was referring to the political church he knew.

The church in the time of the Roman Empire was the government. It represented the government in every major region or city. Whenever the Romans invaded a kingdom, they established a governor. The Romans drew on many of the organisational systems of the Greek Church.

The senate was called the church (EKKLESIA). So we see that the earthly church of which Jesus spoke was taken from an existing model of over 600 years.

The Greek or Roman church was the government

We can see in this passage, for example, where Paul speaks of a lawful assembly when preaching in Ephesus, that the word in the original translated as "lawful assembly" is EKKLESIA.

 Acts 19:38-39

Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another. But if ye inquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.

This passage follows an uprising of the crowd because many had lost their jobs, following Paul's intervention saying that the statues were false gods.

Now let's look at this model of government that Jesus took saying to Peter that he would be its builder on earth.  It is obvious that Jesus in speaking to Peter was not talking about the church as a bride in the kingdom of God, but about the earthly church, for otherwise Peter would have had difficulty being the builder of the church as a bride in heaven.   

Jesus therefore took a model of government existing on earth to establish His own on that same basis on earth, which government will endure into eternity. 

The earthly church is the government of God on earth!

The word EKKLESIA means "the called", or "those who have answered a call". In the same way that those who were part of a Greek or Roman church were called, all those who accepted the new birth into their lives accepted the call of Jesus to be part of God's government on this earth, and then to continue that government into eternity.

It is clear that all those who say that the church of Jesus should not be involved in politics have not understood that the church is a political institution in itself. The whole Bible in its vast majority speaks of earthly and heavenly politics. The roles of the various kings and queens, the various senates, the Sanhedrin, the various kingdoms mentioned, the judges, etc... are all in the realm of pure politics.

Sometimes we may find it hard to relate to this, but over 80% of the books of the Bible deal with the politics of their time.

Jesus spoke more than 90% about the kingdom, not the gospel. The Gospel (Good News) is part of the kingdom of God, but God's primary purpose was to establish His own government on earth. Jesus being the head, and the Holy Spirit being the governor in every place where there is an earthly church.

Jesus had this model of an existing church in the Roman Empire when He said to Peter, "I will build my church". Jesus was saying in other words to Peter, "I will build my government on this earth, and I will set up a governor after I am gone".

The earthly church today is still under the same pattern. We are the church, the government of God's kingdom on earth.

At this point we begin to understand that as part of the church, the government of God on earth, we have responsibilities. Just as the members of the Greek or Roman church (EKKLESIA) had responsibilities, we also have responsibilities today.

What do you think it would have said about a member of the Greek church who, on the one hand, deliberately did not respect the laws of his kingdom himself, and who, on the other hand, demanded that others follow them to the letter?

This was (and still is) called corruption. 

If, therefore, we consider ourselves members of the church of Jesus Christ, then I announce to you that we have accepted certain responsibilities. If I deliberately turn away from the laws of God's kingdom, in other words, if I deliberately sin, then I am acting corruptly in my kingdom.

We have duties as members of the church, of the government of the kingdom of heaven. We are to uphold the laws of our kingdom, expanding that kingdom over the whole face of the earth (Mark 16:17-18).

We have the responsibility to subdue the earth, and we have all the power to do so. Our governor, the Holy Spirit, is there with us all the time to give us the kingdom power we need for that same kingdom on earth. Everything that is the effect of sin has already been brought under our control by our King Jesus who came to establish the kingdom of heaven on earth. It is now our responsibility to subdue all the effects of sin on earth. 

For more than 2000 years satan has partly succeeded in distorting the image and purpose of the church of Jesus Christ on earth. And it is not by chance that he has chosen to focus on giving a false image of the earthly church. If we think about it a little more deeply, we realise that satan's goal after Jesus' death on the cross was to prevent this nascent church from growing.

The best way to achieve this goal was to make sure that a majority of Christians were not aware of their responsibilities in this government of God that is the church.

Today it is more common to hear that we "go to church", rather than to hear that we are part of a government of God and that we have responsibilities in it.

The purpose of this teaching is to give you back the right and true vision of the church to which you have accepted to belong.

We never agree to be part of a government without considering that there are rights and duties, one cannot go without the other.

The problem today is that a majority of Christians want their rights in the church but not their duties. This is also why a majority of Christians are not satisfied with their physical and spiritual lives.

Therefore, satan has tried to change one important point of the church so that it develops much more slowly.

If we consider the potential of the church in its growth, we are far from it. If only every child of a Christian father and mother continued their life of faith and passed it on to their children and so on from generation to generation, we would have a church today with millions and millions more members. 

Our number one responsibility is to enable as many people as possible to regain the image of God that they have lost (through Adam's heredity), by leading them through the new birth.

A study in the United States shows that 50% of Christians never talk about the gospel around them.

Of the remaining half, one third of Christians have spoken about the Gospel only once in their lives to another person.

This leads us to realise, in a balanced way that no more than a third of Christians speak about the Gospel to those around them.

God's government on earth, which is the church, also has the responsibility to remove disease, poverty, insecurity, for those who are concerned and desire it. This is what Jesus was talking about every time He told a person that they were saved by their faith. The original word translated 'saved' carries with it not only eternity, but good health, provision for our needs, and security.

We need to activate in ourselves the mentality of God's government, of His kingdom.

I know a brother who, when asked, "But why don't you participate in this or that?”or, "Why don't you think like everybody else?", he answered, "In the kingdom where I come from we don't think like that", or, "In the kingdom where I come from we don't do that". 

How many of us are part of the government of God, and do not think like that government?

 

This teaching is not meant to discourage you, but to make you realise that you have accepted to be part of an eternal government of which you are the representatives for the time being on this earth. The members of the church are the Christians and no one else. That is, we are the only ones who can organise and administer the government of God on this earth. The church is the one and only government that represents and looks after the interests of God on earth. 

Jesus, who is the King of kings (we are "kings" here), has asked us to begin a personal transformation, to become like Him, to think like Him, to act like Him, to speak like Him.

John 14:12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.

If you are a member of the government of the kingdom of God, of this church that Jesus has built on earth and that will endure into eternity, and you are not fulfilling some of the responsibilities that you have, God does not condemn you. He does not judge you, He does not love you any less, and He is not angry with you.

But knowing and understanding this attitude of God's unconditional love for you should cause you to change your attitude so that you can be an active and proactive member of the church on earth.


Bye for now...