Saturday, January 20, 2007

A Call to the Called Out

As many people know, the word for "church" in the original Greek of the Bible's New Testament is "ekklesia". The word means "a gathering of the ones called out". The web page at has some very interesting things to say about this:
The word 'church' in the New Testament is translated from the Greek word 'ekklesia' which comes from two words 'ek' meaning 'out' and 'kaleo' meaning to 'call.'
In classical Greek "ekklesia" meant "an assembly of citizens summoned by the crier, the legislative assembly."
When the Greek city states found their governments had become too corrupt and oppressive, they would call for an ekklesia, an assembly outside the civil authority of the city. If enough people came out and refused to be under the civil authority, that government would collapse.
The ekklesia of Jesus Christ was founded and established by Jesus Christ almost 2000 years ago. It was a government established by Jesus the Christ, Yahshua, the anointed King and appointed to look after His Kingdom. Jesus was recognized by the existing civil government, Pontius Pilate. Jesus and His ekklesia, the called out, were persecuted by the apostate church of that day, the usurping authority of the remnant of Israel. He was killed and rose again and is living upon His throne.

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 says, "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

Christians have been "called out" of their existing governmental structures to form a new government. This government is "not of this world" (John 18:36) and we therefore do not defend it or grow it with guns and bombs --
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) -- 2 Cor 10:3-4

Here's the crux of this post: Jesus established one Kingdom, one called-out group. But since the early days of the church, humans have had a tendency to splinter off into sub-groups. What many Christians may not realize is that this tendency is strongly condemned by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:20ff:

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ."
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?
Jesus himself prayed just before his arrest that his followers "be brought to complete unity" so that the world would know that God had sent Jesus and has loved the followers even as God has loved Jesus -- John 17:23.

But Paul also recognized that there would be differences among believers, regardless of the goal of unity:
No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval. -- 1 Cor. 11:19
He also recognizes that there will be differences over details, with some folks believing the details are very significant while others don't make a big deal of it at all (see 1 Corinthians 8).

And now here's the call I'm making to the called-out ones: We're not going to overcome our divisions overnight, but we can make a start by simply hearing the call to "come out" of any kingdom not established by Jesus, and recognizing that any organization that does not bear a Biblical name is not part of the Kingdom of Jesus.

If you're a "Baptist", drop that name. The New Testament church was never referred to in the Bible as a "Baptist church".

If you're a "Methodist", drop that name.

If you're a "Lutheran", drop that name.

Same for any other name that is not Biblical.

I'm not calling you (at least today) to leave that organization, but to simply drop that name in favor of a Biblical name.

Some of the Biblical names for the church are:

* church - Acts 2:37, 12:5, 14:27, 15:4
* church of Christ - Romans 16:16
* church of God - Acts 20:28, 1 Corinthians 10:32
* church of the living God - 1 Timothy 3:15
* general assembly and church of the firstborn - Hebrews 12:23
* church of Jesus - Matthew 16:18
* House of God - 1 Timothy 3:15
* Kingdom of God's Dear Son - Colossians 1:13
* Kingdom of God - Colossians 4:11
* Kingdom of Christ and of God - Ephesians 5:5
* Body in Christ - Romans 12:5
* Body of Christ - 1 Corinthians 12:27
* Saints and Faithful Brethren - Colossians 1:2
* church of Gentiles - Romans 16:4
* Fellow Citizens with the Saints - Ephesians 2:19
* Household of God - Ephesians 2:19
* church of the Saints - 1 Corinthians 14:33
* Temple of God - 1 Corinthians 3:16
* Them Sanctified by Faith - Acts 26:32
* The Called Ones - Jude 1:1
* The Ones Preserved in Jesus Christ - Jude 1:1

In other words, stop being a "Baptist Christian" or a "Methodist Christian" or an "Episcopalian Christian"; just be a "Christian".

It's a modest start toward unity in the Kingdom of God, but it is a start.

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