Church: Who, What, Where & Why

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Church

Who is the Church is the number one question I am constantly asked. It seems that when we leave the religious system of men, we all need to find some bedrock since everything we once believed has been turned upside down.

Some of these subjects here seem so simple, and we have no debates when it comes to how scripture explains them. Then why do we have so much trouble with the actual practice? Does the presence of humans actually create problems? No, not as long as humans are being led by the Spirit and not by some human invented tradition, program or liturgy.

The Body of Christ, the Ekklesia of God, is a beautiful thing when she is working by the direction of Christ who is the Head of the Church. Oh, but when humans with issues such as pride and a need to control to protect some identity issue, takes the wheel practice becomes a nightmare. This is why nowhere in the New Testament was such a responsibility left to a pastor, elder, or priest.

We are an organic people who by the help of the Holy Spirit desire to give back the Ekklesia to its rightful Head. It is our responsibility to constantly monitor our spiritual health as the Body of Christ. This will keep us honest and hopefully in line with His desires for His Body. I have tried to suggest some answers to these common questions that I have been asked in the field as I travel here and abroad. Sometimes I feel I am reaching back into some elementary concepts but I forget the reality that an exodus is on and people are leaving the religious system of men daily.

I make no claim of being an authority or having exact certainty on any issue. You listen to the Holy Spirit as you read and see wht Father would confirm to you.

Definition of the word Church? Ekklesia “Called- out ones,” called out of this perverse generation (spiritually), but not out of this world (physically); born from above to incarnate our Lord Jesus Christ here on earth. We are left here to live as examples for Christ not to be included in a coming rapture, punch our ticket for a future trip to Heaven, or to avoid the burning flames of a supposed “hell” eternally. We are to be His hands and feet to a hurting world. In short, we are the visible Body of our risen Savior to those that have yet to surrender their  will for His good will and destiny for us.

Who is the Church? The church is people not a building. The church is a people set apart for God’s purposes on this earth. All who have been born from above are the Church; both those here on earth and those that have gone before us. This part is a bit difficult here on earth to understand, but His Church is also those here now who will one day become sons of God. Many are not “lost” as we were taught, they simply have not yet arrived.

Gal 1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace,

When are we the Church or when are we IN Church? Most people will tell you we are the Church when we are gathered in our weekly official service. The problem is the first century had no buildings, no weekly meetings, no paid professional clergy, no Bibles. The fact is we are the Church whenever and wherever the Holy Spirit brings two or three believers together in His Name.

What is it? Meeting, service, or a gathering? Can’t be a service because our God doesn’t need to be serviced like other gods. A meeting to me sounds too official and with an agenda like a business entity. I like the word gathering, but more like a family reunion orchestrated by the Holy Spirit. Gentile believers did not meet weekly like their Jewish counterparts who brought their Jewish practices to their new covenant methodology.

What makes it organic? Most would say and argue that it’s organic because it meets in a home. No, organic means it is led by the Holy Spirit and location has nothing to do with it.

Who can call an official meeting? The Head calls the meeting, and he can put the need for it on anyone in the congregation.

When should it be held? Weekly on Sundays? We have been taught that Sundays became the Lord’s day for the weekly meeting in the New Testament, but there is little support for that idea from scripture. New Testament believers lived in community, and the Lord brought them together daily.

How long must the meeting be? The time again is something that has plagued the New Testament Church since Constantine because New Testament believers simply had no on and off button for living the Christ life.

What constitutes a quorum? What should be the percentage of born-again people to “lost” people? There is no quorum in the New Testament. Meetings were open to anyone who was interested. They could come and participate in the relational dinner, the conversations, and the ministry to those that needed it.

What is the minimum quota? How many people need to be present? This idea that is dependent on numbers simply did not exist in the first century.

Where should it be held? When it meets in a home? While homes were the natural place or only choice for the first century, it should not limit us today in the 21st century. The Holy Spirit can gather believers in a car, at their work, in a restaurant, or at a school. The Church has always recognized that there are different types of gatherings, and our Lord is not limited to any particular format or location.

What makes it a Church meeting?

  1. Reading of the Bible– What Bible? it’s been estimated that 97% of first-century citizens could not read or write. The Bible did not get printed till the 1500’s and most poor people were not allowed in schools until the 1800’s. At best they had one copy of a letter and maybe one person who could read it. Most of the discussion in the first century came firsthand from saints who had walked with Jesus.

1 John 1:1-4 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life —  2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us —  3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.

 

  1. Must there be prayer? There are many kinds of prayers. If our Lord while on earth needed to get away to pray to the Father daily, how much more do we need to be praying people. Not in a formal sense, but in a relational sense with our Heavenly Father.

1 Tim 2:1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,

3. Must an offering be taken/collected? It is a New Testament practice to give as directed by the Holy Spirit. It is believed that most giving was never recorded as the Lord taught us to not advertise our good deeds. Surely a greater responsibility fell on those that were wealthy, but in my experience the gift of giving can be found much more in those that have less. The New Testament speaks to just two types of public collections. One is to help believers with travel expenses and food who have been called to give their life to the work of the Lord. The other was a collection for the poor of Jerusalem and those that were under Roman persecution.

  1. Singing worship songs? Early writings show us that they enjoyed corporate singing. Mostly they sang to remember certain creeds of the early church. Nowhere in the New Testament is worship limited to singing and certainly paid professional singers were unheard of. Most songs in the early church came from gifted believers’ time with the Lord, and songs had primarily God to man instead of man to God focus. There is no such thing as organic worship and one day we will know as we have been known.

And until that day we continue to sing — thanking God for old songs that join us with the saints of history, enjoying new songs that enable us to express eternal truth in fresh ways, and anticipating the songs that are yet to come. The Savior has rescued us that we might sing the song of the redeemed. May we sing it well. May we sing it constantly. May we sing it passionately. May we sing it for his glory and the advancing of his gospel until the time comes when our songs will never end.” Bob Kauflin

  1. Monologue vs. Sharing- The idea of a monologue delivered sermon is a modern religious system practice. All could share in a gathering, but all didn’t have to share. Certainly, there was teaching from the elders, but participation was welcomed. Nothing is greater than spending time with the saints, and watching the Lord weave what He wants to say to His people as He uses all His Body. There is nothing to fear in opening up a gathering to His people. The Lord can keep order by His Spirit.

I even believe that if there are many saints in a gathering, there will be multiple groups discussing and ministering to multiple subjects. All will be in sync and under the Lord’s divine watch care.

  1. Must a sermon be preached, or a teaching given? In our early meetings we didn’t have any formal teaching, we just shared a meal together as we got to know each other. A “mature member” came to me and said, “When are we going to meet in a formal meeting so Christ can minister to His people?” I asked him has Christ need been in our table fellowship and conversation? What good is it to meet for instruction if we don’t yet know each other? If there is no love among the brethren our meetings are at best mini- religious system meetings in a home.

 

  1. Must there be healings, prophecies or miracles, signs, and wonders? I have been in many meetings throughout the world, and yes, there are people who think Christ is not present if there is no supernatural expression during the meetings. Is it not supernatural for a mature believer to listen intently with a caring heart as a new believer shares his confusion and doubts with his new family? If the Head is leading, everything He wants to accomplish will come to pass when He deems it. The Lord doesn’t need our anxious ego-stained identities to accomplish His plan on earth. As my grandson has learned to say to my brilliant granddaughter, “We are not in competition.” Am I saying we don’t need the gifts to flow in our gatherings? No, I am saying we need His gifts to flow in our gatherings. From experience I can tell you that immature but gifted believers taking advantage of the freedom of our gatherings have done more to hurt the work of the Lord than helped.

 

  1. Must an Elder, Pastor, Priest be present. The idea of a Clergy-led gathering is completely alien to the first century church. The invention of a paid professional minister is totally a human invention of the religious system. I am not against elders or leaders. I am against the human definitions for these titles. A leader is an elder who invites, comes alongside the brethren to lead by example. He is the ultimate servant. The true leader will always serve. He will not graduate to some type of human honored status. The true leader will always make sure the glory and the honor goes to the Lord. A true leader never demands but counsels and continues to love even when his counsel is not followed. There are no hierarchies in the Kingdom which automatically means there are no titles. The gifts of leadership in Ephesians 4:30 are all functions given by the Lord, not titles to be bestowed by men. The only Person that needs to be present is the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

  1. Must we share a meal or have communion? The sharing of a meal was very common in New Testament gatherings of the Body of Christ. The sharing of the meal in the early church provided not only an opportunity for fellowship but in the 1st century it made sure none of the poorer brethren were left out and went home hungry.

I can tell you that there is something special that happens when the Lord’s people get together around a table. For that reason, I highly recommend it in all organic gatherings of His Body.

It was during this meal that the practice of the Lord’s supper/communion/eucharist was practiced. The New Testament is clear that it wasn’t done with red colored Kool Aid or grape juice, but with actual fermented wine. Do we also need to have unleavened bread? I don’t think the elements are as important as what the elements are pointing to. The importance of unity and love for the brethren were the focus of the early gatherings. It wasn’t till the later 1800’s that gatherings became a “get the Lost saved meeting” instead of the Lord original plan.

Can technology be used? In a Zoom meeting, WhatsApp or video or phone call? of course, I believe all these methods were given for the Body of Christ to keep united and to care for each other worldwide. Is it the same as being in the same proximity? No, but we must use what is given to us. Do I believe that if I don’t have a weekly meeting in a home I have failed to congregate? Absolutely not, I actually congregate more daily than any member of the religious system. Technology has helped me with that. Some days all I see is 2 or 3 people and some days I can have an impact on over 50 thousand people in a week from all over the world. The Lord will help all who humbly wish to serve Him and give Him all the glory.

Final Word of Wisdom about our un-perceived Identity issues

I began this short teaching explaining how the Body of Christ, the Ekklesia, goes sideways when men’s identity issues get involved. We must come to grips with the fact that we have died with Christ, and our life now should be resurrected in Christ. We are to daily give up our old life in exchange for a new (qualitatively better) life in Christ. Our passion remains but our goals, aims, egos, pride need to die.

I remember a foolish thing I said to the Lord when He called me in 1987. I told him I would give everything up (those things that at the time made me feel superior) if He would use me to do great things. Of course, little did I know then that the Lord’s definition of great things and mine were not the same thing.

After serving the Lord all these years, I am now learning to leave the results to Him and just be found faithful. Not an easy thing in this highly competitive world. Scripture teaches that none of us are the same and we will all be judged fairly on that day but there is still that jealousy that springs up from time to time.

These problems are like body odor everyone knows we have it but us. They can hinder the work of God and shame our Lord. It is for this reason that I highly recommend that we pursue strong relationships with mature peers and spiritual fathers. We desperately need people in our lives that will not be afraid to lovingly confront us. In real organic life no man is an island. We do not relate because we have doctrinal uniformity; we relate because we are children of the same Father, and we choose to seek the best for each other.

Conclusion

I have been to the top of the “Church” mountain in America. There is nothing there and it came at the cost of everything I now hold dear. I use to be sure about everything that was in the book and I always had alot to say. Today the focus is what is in my heart and I have very little to say. I find myself loving people more, caring for others, being more understanding and feeling their hurt.

Before it was about turning off the lights and locking the doors of my 3000 seat auditorium that had an all glass elevator to my 4th floor “Apostolic” headquarters office. Today nothing is locked because nothing is mine, nothing gets turned off because there is no show or performanace to attend. Now, at any time, 24 hours a day Father has my life to use as He chooses for the good of humanity.

I thank the Father for his tireless patience and unlimited love for the Body of Christ in her present condition. Remember you were called to shower His fragrance to a hurting world. Until revelation come to them, may every day our lives be more of an example of His gracious love for His Bride.

2 Cor 2:14-17 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.

My prayers are with you as you go out and become what the Father has called you to be.

Much love,

Jose L. Bosque