A Word of Testimony
For years now, my truth-loving heart has not allowed me to receive the “evangelical” teaching that the church is both an organism and an organization. In the majority of church history and theology text books which have been written, you will find this teaching. It is upon this teaching that the founding and development of denominations has been based and justified.
I have both discovered personally, and observed in others, that faithful adherence to a denominational “church” organization or system creates many hindrances to true spiritual life and growth. There are definite unnatural pressures, and therefore, limitations, urged upon those who love and want to walk in all the truth of God without any prejudice or compromise. Although my heart could not receive the teaching of the church being an organization, and the resulting concept of denominations, my head could not quite explain why. I failed to fully understand, and therefore found it somewhat difficult to properly articulate God’s view of the church as presented in the scriptures. In the spring of 2006, I found myself in a very sectarian setting, with strong denominational pressures on all sides. However, it was in this environment that God’s Holy Spirit began giving me clear revelation concerning the issue at hand. Having given this testimonial introduction, I will now share the glorious and liberating truth God revealed to me concerning His church.
“And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.” Ephesians 1:22-23.
“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” Colossians 1:18.
“Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church.” Colossians 1:24.
“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Saviour of the body.” Ephesians 5:23.
The church is not a religious organization, nor is it a physical building where we go to worship. It is the “body of Christ.” Christ is the Head; the church is His body. Together, Christ and the church make a perfect LIVING whole. Therefore, rather than being an organization, the church, with Christ as its Head, is an organism; a living being having various parts that function together as a whole to maintain its life and perform its activities by the Spirit. An organism can and will have at least some measure of organization, but an organization in itself, cannot be an organism. An organism is animate. An organization is inanimate. The former is charged with life, and therefore functions accordingly. The latter is destitute of life and is destined to also function accordingly. Only life can produce life. The living organism will produce living organization, but the lifeless organization will produce lifeless organization.
The church will most definitely have organization, but it will not be an organization. The organization of the church will be that which is dictated by its Head, and carried out by its Spirit-led and empowered members. When organization occurs that is not dictated by Christ and carried out by Spirit-led and empowered members of the body, it is not rightfully referenced to the church. This is lifeless organization because it’s coming forth from some other source than the Head, who alone is “the way, and the truth, and the LIFE” (Jn. 14:6). He is the only “LIVING way” (Heb. 10:20). “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you,” Jesus said, “they are spirit, and they are LIFE” (Jn. 6:63). For the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth LIFE” (2 Cor. 3:6). Hearkening to the words and will of Christ, the Head, is to LIVE. Hearkening to the words and will of an organization, some so-called church, is to DIE.
Many people have come together in groups and have formed religious organizations. They agree on certain beliefs and practices, establish them as orthodox, form a religious organization, and then call it a church, or the church. However, this is not the church. These are lifeless religious organizations founded and established by men. The church is no longer founded or established, it only grows and is built. As individuals are born again by the Spirit of God, they become part of the body of Christ. A new body of Christ does not form; His already existing body, the church, grows.
Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). Christ is not only the Head of the church, but also, He has been laid in Zion as “a chief corner stone, elect, precious” and we “as lively stones, are built up [upon Him] a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5). The church is “the household of God…built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. 2:19-22). God doesn’t live in organizations; He lives in people, individually and collectively. Christ is not the Head of an organization. He is the Head of His body, an organism, which merely has organization.
By emphatically stating that the church is not an organization, I am not opposing organization within the church. I am in fervent support of all that necessary organization which freely flows from Christ’s dictates to the Spirit-led and empowered members of His body. Every work that is Spirit-inspired obedience to His word and will is charged with life and results in true kingdom-fruitfulness.
However, I do strongly oppose all organization in the church which is of mere man and cast it off as the arm of flesh which will fail “because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:7-8). All these lifeless religious organizations called “denominations” are actually abominations, in that they are not the Spirit-inspired, God-honoring work of Christ and His obedient body. Rather, they are the man-inspired, God-dishonoring works of the flesh and its carnal ideas, trying to do God’s work man’s way. This has never truly succeeded, and it will never truly succeed. God’s work must be done God’s way, and that is “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6).
I pray that you too will be illumined by the glorious truth of God that liberates and vivifies us to worship Him in spirit and in truth!