If you listen to our messages or visit our gatherings at Impact Church, you may hear an unfamiliar word, “Ekklesia”. This is not a new fad or trend in the church world. Ekklesia is the word Jesus used in Mt 16:18 to describe His intentions with the group of people He would be calling out in the generations to follow. This word first came to my attention years ago as I was preparing to teach on Matthew 16:16-18. The Holy Spirit quickened me to look up in my Greek Lexicon what the word “church” that was found in vs 16 really meant. I was fascinated and quickly realized this looked nothing like we call church today.
Does it really matter if we use “ekklesia” or “church”? It really should not matter, however as we look at the world today and especially the organized structure called church, we see that it certainly falls short of the intentions of Jesus when He deliberately chose the word Ekklesia. He would not have used the word “church” since that was not a word understood or known in His day. He could have used the word “synagogue” which was a location for the gathering of Jews. Or, He could have used “temple” which is a place where dieties are housed. However, He intentionally chose to use the word “Ekklesia”. Ekklesia was a very common word for the culture of His day and literally means “called out ones” and it was understood that when “Ekklesias” were called to gather, it was for specific legislative purposes. It was understood that important decisions were made as leaders gathered.
Why would Jesus have used such a word? He tells us in the next verse when He says He will give to His Ekklesia the keys to the kingdom. These keys are governmental keys that bind what is unlawful in God’s Kingdom and sets loose what is the lawful will of God. Ekklesia is about establishing spiritual authority and releasing the will of God in the earth.
As we look at our nation, we see that the “church” has had very little influence in our culture and instead of having the Kingdom of God ruling and reigning, even in our church, we see the culture of darkness filling our religious assemblies, governments and schools. Churches have embraced the culture of darkness in order to be “inclusive” and not offend anyone. Those who oppose the evil cultural norms of the day are called bigoted or “hate-mongers”, even within the church.
We see the media filling the air waves with darkness and the entertainment riveting with filth and perversion. Christians help support these endeavors with attendance and finances, while proclaiming to be opposed to them. Where is the influence of church? It has been dormant because the church, in many cases but not all, became an organization concerned more with numbers and dollars rather than a powerful “ekklesia” whose purpose is to bring the will and rule of God into our nation.
We are past subtle hints as to why we do what we do. I am reminded of something Flannery O’Connor said years ago. Being a Roman Catholic female author in the south, she would write very alarming short stories with religious undertones. She was asked once why she wrote such graphic stories. Her reply was, “to the spiritually blind you must draw large and startling figures and to the spiritually deaf you must shout very loudly.” This is where we are today. The church has become blind and deaf to the cry of Holy Spirit desiring for the church to be what Jesus intended. Many good people are on the fringes of their faith because of weakness in the pulpits over the years. We no longer have time to be subtle and sweet but must aggressively oppose the doctrine of demons that is infiltrating our society. These doctrines must be called out and not hidden behind placating innuendos and “culturally relevant” Christian verbiage.
A recent Barna report says only 41% of senior pastors have a Biblical World view, while others who teach in churches and lead our youth plummet into the teen percentages. We have those teaching and leading the churches and the next generation, not in the Word of God, but in the “gospel” of the culture of the world.
Are all those who call themselves a “church” bad? Of course not. This is how most people relate but I’m afraid we are losing our appeal as we continue to see the “church of today” bow its knee to the gods of the world for the sake of numbers and budgets, rather than to the King of King for the sake of obedience to His Will. I’m afraid we have fallen asleep in the lap of the world, only to awaken and find that the Spirit of God has departed from our midst.
We are even divided among ourselves, as we see denominations within denominations formed due to lack of agreement on doctrinal issues. Can we agree on the Word of God? When we eliminate the validity of God’s Word from our life, we cannot fully know or understand God’s view on major issues like the sanctity of life, or marriage or family or even government. We begin to have human reasonings and come to our own conclusions and much like the people of the book of Judges, “we do what seems right in our own eyes.” Judges 17:6
I love the gathering of the saints into assemblies called church, ekklesia or home groups. What I don’t love is the damage that is being done by weak leadership who refuse to take a stand on the Word of God.
Romans 1 is clear about what happens when people who have been taught of God refuse to acknowledge Him:
Romans 1:21…As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23 And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen
We only have to look around to know this is true.
Though the battle may seem overwhelming, we know that there is a great cloud of witnesses supporting us. We know there are more with us than against us and we know that Our King will rule and reign with His remnant, His bride, His true Church!