12 For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power
[making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than
any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life
(soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest
parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very
thoughts and purposes of the heart.AMP
So if the emphasis of God is on His Word then it would stand
to reason that words are extremely important. Thus a study of specific words
and their origins is essential to understanding the importance of not only
their meaning but the implications that they have on our lives and how we
respond to what we believe to be true.
For this session, we will look not only at the word but how it
came down through the ages to it's current multifaceted form(s). We will also continue to discuss the
reasons and the implications it has on the "church" today.
[Please note that the use of the word "church" does
not mean that the Bible has an error. It is
common knowledge that the Greek word from which it was translated is
"ekklesia." Further the word "church" is used in modern
English to denote a local congregation or assembly as well as buildings and
denominations. The problem, as this article points out, is that word
"ekklesia" would have been better translated "assembly" or
"congregation" and in doing so the false teaching of a universal or
invisible church would have been avoided. The reason for the article is to
uphold the original meaning and use of the word as God intended.]
The English word
"church" has various meanings. Webster gives the following
definitions for the word church.
a building for public Christian worship. 2. a religious service in such a
building. 3. (sometimes cap.) a. the world body of Christian believers;
Christendom. b. any major division of his body; a Christian denomination. 4. a
Christian congregation. 5. organized religion as distinguished from the state.
6. (cap) a. The Christian before the reformation. b. the Roman Catholic Church.
7. the profession of an ecclesiastic -V.C. 8. to perform a church service of
thanksgiving for (a woman after child birth). [Go RI(a)on (DOA) the Lord's
This word church, we will continue to use for the rest of this
study as the modern definition of the word includes not only the structure but
the folks in it. What we will look at is the church universal as opposed to the
Messianic version of which will be the focus from now on.
So where and how did the first century church conduct its
Several scriptures come to mind from the book of Acts which is
the primary source for the operation of the New Testament church. But what we
will briefly examine is what version of the "Bible" did the first
century believers commonly use.
Ac 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the
temple, and breaking bread from house to house , did eat their meat with
gladness and singleness of heart,KJV
Ac 20: And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto
you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to
GREEK> oikos (oy'-kos); of uncertain affinity; a dwelling (more or less
extensive, literal or
figurative); by implication a family (more or less related, literal or
KJV - home,
house (-hold), temple.
GREEK> oikia (oy-kee'-ah); from NT:3624; properly, residence (abstractly), but usually
(concretely) an abode
(literally or figuratively); by implication a family
KJV - home,
New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew
Even Jesus told them to meet in houses in Luke 10 where He
sent out the 70.
4 Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man
by the way.
5 And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to
this house .
6 And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon
it: if not, it shall turn to you again.
7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such
things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house
to house .KJV
This is amazing, because the power that they walked in didn't
happen in "church". They were instructed by Jesus Himself to meet in
houses and to stay and minister at that house. He didn't send them to the
This is how the church met until the 4th century when
Constantine got saved. Constantine's salvation came about briefly as follows.
The year was
A.D. 312. It was a time of turmoil in the (Roman) Empire. The Imperialthrone was empty and several rivals
fought to seize control. Two of the rivals were Constantine and Maxentius. During this struggle, Maxtentius
challenged Constanantine tobattle.
alarmed by rumors that Maxentius was a master of magical arts, prayed tothe "Supreme God" for help. To
Constantine, the supreme god was "Mithras", the Persiansun god.
to his prayer, he reportedly saw a vision of a flaming cross in the sky next tothe sun along with the words,
"Conquer by this!" He then confronted Maxentiusand wonthe
was that Constantine came to the throne with the announcement that he wasnow a follower of Jesus. The Christians could
hardly believe it. The "church" had gone through centuries of scattered local persecution. Then,
during the reign of Diocletian (A.D. 287
to 305), they endured one of the most severe persecutions the church had known.Diocletian's persecution was a brutal
empire-wide attack on the church. Many thousandswere tortured and killed. During that eighteen-year period the
church lost almost all itsleadership.
Since the leaders were the most visible members of the church, they were the first ones killed. Bibles (letters,
scriptures) were confiscated.4
The point being, suddenly the church was free to worship as it
saw fit. Now they had a ruler that was sympathetic to their cause and would
encourage their relationship with God. This was a sinister deception as the
church was lulled into complacency and soon, the Roman form of worship based on
pagan beliefs slowly pushed the Judaic roots out of the church. The result was pagan styles of
worship were incorporated into the services and eventually everything Jewish was
The question was raised at the last meeting, "What was
the reason that anything Jewish was removed from the church?"
The answer is in the structure that Constantine put in
place that emulated his own imperial organization. He felt that the Christians
were disorganized and lacked the hierarchy that the Roman system was proud of.
This gave him not only control of the empire and it's politics, but having the
church meet in a large building would give better oversight and control of the religion.
Also, the Roman pagan system of worship had to be overhauled and a lot of
people would be out of work if the temples were closed down. So, rather than
put all these people out of work and ruin a lot of ornate artwork, he decided
to incorporate the gods and goddesses into the Christian form of worship.
Well, there wasn't room for two systems so one had to go. The
entire empire would have to relearn this foreign form of worship so to expedite
the process, just take what you have and convert it all to Christianity. Simply rename and restructure Christianity to fit the pagan mold, fund all the buildings,
etc. Then over the course ofthe next 5
centuries anything Jewish would be eliminated and put Jesus, Mary and Joseph
into the center of worship and instead of praying to the secular gods, worship
the "saints". All of this was convenient and the masses could still
worship their idols and make it look "Christian". Essentially taking
the square peg and hammering it into a round hole. Something had to give!
Over simplified but I am sure you get the point. This whole
thing did not happen overnight and is still the bulk of Christian worship
today. Space does not provide for the extent of this study, but eventually
everything turned toward pagan style worship and philosophy influenced heavily by the Greek culture. All of this forced out what had originally been given by direct revelation of God
to the Jewish people. God has not cast out the Jew and he never eliminated the "Old Testament" as is taught in replacement theology.
For sake of time, here is the breakdown of the process that
eliminated the Jewish celebrations and moeds of God from Christian worship.
The Council of Antioch (A.D. 345)
-"If any bishop, presbyter or
deacon will dare, afterthis
decree, to celebrate Passover with the Jews. the council judges them to be
anathemafrom the church. This
council not onlydeposes them from
ministry, but also others whodare
to communicate with them.
The Council of Laodicea (A.D. 365) -
" It is not permitted to receive festivals which are by Jews, nor to hold a festival together with
them. (Canon 37) Christians must not Judaize
by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day... but if any be found to
be JUDAIZERS let them be anathema
The Council of Agde, France (A.D. 506)
- "Clerics must not take part in Jewish festivals.
The Council of Toledo X (Seventh Century)
- "Easter must be celebrated uniformly" [at the time set by the decree of Nicea rather than at the time
of Nicea II (A.D. 787) - "[Those who] openly or secretly keep the Sabbathand follow other practices in the manner of
the Jews are not to be received intocommunion,
nor into prayer.
In the light of these statements one must ask an obvious
question: If the Jewish elements of Christianitydied out before the end of the first century,
as many have been taught, why were church councils still fighting to stamp out
these influences seven hundred years later? 4
It is apparent that
there were other forces at work to derail God's divinely ordered plan to meet
with Him using the pagan mindset brought into the church through the gentile
The bottom line is this. If God set up an order of worship and
teachings to learn about Him and how to relate to Him, why do we relate to Him
in pagan rituals and festivals when they have been ordered of men?
So let's look at the question posed by the religious order of
the day to Jesus. starting in verse 28 of Matthew 11 they asked;
Mk 11:28 And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these
things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things? 29 And Jesus
answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one
question , and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these
things. 30 The baptism of John, was it from
heaven, or of men? answer me. 31 And they reasoned with themselves,
saying, If we shall say,
From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him? 32 But if we shall
say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a
prophet indeed. 33 And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot
tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what
authority I do these things.KJV
This is the quagmire faced by the current system of Christian
worship. If the current church structure admitted all of the shortcomings and
reverted back to God ordained worship services, the power of God would flow
freely, but a lot of folks who are made comfortable by the "traditions"
being touted as God ordained would be really angry with the leadership. On the
other hand, failing to recognize the way God set things up, would lead to a
powerless social church not having anywhere near the Glory of the
"Ekklesia" set up in the scriptures.
oAm I telling you to convert to Judaism? Absolutely not!
oAm I suggesting leaving your current fellowship?Absolutely not!
oAm I suggesting maybe looking into the
scriptures to learn for yourself and seek the fellowship of like minded
Pastor Kevin Humphrey, of Abundant Life Church here in River
Falls, recently taught on "Wisdom" and I am going to quote from the
e-mail sent out to the congregation summarizing this last point. The sermon was
taught on June 30, 2013 and posted July 2, 2013. The whole message can be found at the ALC website.
Let's review what we heard from Pastor Kevin last Sunday at
Abundant Life Church.
Prov 13:20 Become wise by walking
with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces. MSG
If you go to a worship conference where for two hours thousands
are worshiping; can the spirit of worship rub off? Can a positive attitude at
work rub off? Can you show up at a workout place with the same group; can
healthy workout habits rub off? Can those at Celebrate Recovery who commit to
living free from addictions rub off? Stuff rubs off for the better or worse.
Solomon who wrote much of Proverbs says that we are all going to be affected by
who we hang out with, so let's choose our friends wisely.
7 Traits God Detests. It should be a red warning light to you; danger, not friend
Prov 6:16-19 For there are six things the Lord hates-no, seven: haughtiness,
lying, murdering, plotting evil, eagerness to do wrong, a false witness, sowing
discord among brothers. TLB
Though you are to not become friends with
these you can invite to faith in Christ, church, etc. Paul says it this way in
1 Cor 15:33, “Bad company corrupts good character.”
Redefine Friendships. You are growing in Christ, but some of your friends are
not. This can be awkward. Try to bring them along with you in this adventure;
bring them to church, a small group, Christian concert, etc. Some will refuse
to go on the journey with you. What then? Sit them down and explain the
importance of your faith to them and that you will continue. Some friends will
bolt. If so, let them go. It’s better to have no friends than to have the wrong
friends. Let them know you still want to stay in touch - keep the communication
open; don’t burn a bridge. One day they may be open to listen to the Truth you
Rom 12:18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace
with everyone. NIV Some of you are being harmed by the friendships you are
in and need to end them. They are not cheering you on or looking out for your
good future. They want you to stay in the rut you are in. But tell them you are
moving on. Find some new wise friends. Pray and ask God who you can be friends
with. It is glorious when new friends encourage you and walk with you in your
spiritual growth. Friendships with like-minded people is a gift from God.