WARNING: SOME SACRED COWS HERE, BETTER NOT SHARE IT LEST YOU INCUR THE WRATH OF RELIGIOUS LEADERS
THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LOCAL
CHURCH AND A WORK
Saul and Barnabas along with three other prophets and teachers were ministering to the Lord and fasting at Antioch, when the Lord separated them to a WORK whose sphere of influence would extend far beyond the local church in Antioch.
“Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:1-2).
Not everyone is called, separated, and sent that way. You can’t separate yourself to a ministry calling and make yourself a prophet or a teacher, or an apostle, or choose it like you would choose a secular profession, as many self appointed individuals and religious institutions do. I’d rather hear a donkey bray in a barn at midnight than listen to some of these pseudo “apostles” and “prophets” tout their latest revelations on various social media platforms. A true apostolic anointing has POWER attached to it, and their focus is to impart wisdom and revelation given by the Spirit to help father and build strong local churches and communities of love and power.
In this day and hour those ministers who do not put emphasis on the local body of Christ will miss God’s best for them. And if they are not a part of a local body themselves they are off God’s track and frequency. And again, no man can anoint or appoint himself to any ministry office or calling. It is God who appoints, anoints, sets, and sends. I’d be suspicious of any so called apostle, prophet, or minister who has no home church or fellowship. And I’m not speaking of a paper membership, but being an active part of serving and equipping their local community.
When there is no heavenly alignment in the local church everyone moves independently and just does what is right in their own eyes, and they move according to their own capricious whims, manmade doctrines, and traditions void of God’s true wisdom and power. Even in Pentecostal/Charismatic churches, people leave when they want, move out into their own ministry when they want, and never honorably consult church leaders and elders and hear their counsel.
Saul and Barnabas didn’t do that. Why do you think they were fasting and ministering to the Lord together? I believe it’s because they sensed some change that was coming and perhaps the need for the expansion of the gospel. There was a collective prayer time of ministering to the Lord, so as to give the Holy Spirit space and preeminence to speak and bring revelation and direction. Lack of waiting on the Lord this way with other leaders and ministry gifts, and receiving the direction of the Spirit is the reason we have 100’s of churches in major cities of America and different parts of the world. Too much independent movement and decision making void of the direction of the Holy Spirit, and the agreement and blessing of fathers and elders that make up the local leadership.
In fact, we have gotten so far away from God’s original pattern that I’ll be so bold to say that where there is already a Spirit empowered full gospel church that no other church should be planted there in that city or town. Now I know that almost sounds heretical and idealistic to say that, but in God’s original standard and the Pauline model and Early Church apostolic pattern there was only one church per city or town. Now they did multiply the locations where they assembled locally as they initially met from house to house, but there weren’t any other kinds of churches, denominational or otherwise, in their towns and cities. It was the church at Jerusalem; the church at Corinth; the church at Ephesus, and so forth. Would to God that we could return to such oneness and unity, but this will take a miracle of major proportions.
Now this doesn’t do away with what we call para-church ministries and ministry gifts who travel nationally and internationally, but they should all be connected to a local body and community of believers. In a perfect world every Word and Spirit empowered church in each city should at least work in love and unity with one another. Idealistically, if they could somehow submit to the higher ministry gifts in a city to make one church I believe there would be heightened glory, but because of man’s pride and ego that will take a real move of God.
THE PAULINE MIND AND MODEL
Paul was body-minded more than he was individualistic member-minded. We see this mind-set throughout his epistles. For example, have you ever wondered why he addressed most of his epistles to “the saints” in each particular city church, and not to any particular church leader, be it apostle, senior leader, elder, or pastor? I mean, if you were going to send an important prioritized letter today to any church you would probably address it to the main leader or leaders of that particular church. This pluralistic mind-set has been clearly absent in much of the body of Christ today. Our Western Christian individualistic culture has been peddled to the nations and marred Christ’s body by diluting the mind of Christ revealed and made visible through the Pauline epistles.
For example, in Charismatic circles I don’t know how many times I’ve heard believers confess that they have the mind of Christ, but as is so common today, they usually quote it out of context. No individual has the full mind of Christ, but collectively we do.
THE MIND OF CHRIST
“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16).
In nearly every translation this verse states that “we” have the mind of Christ, not “I”. Practically, this means that important decisions concerning the local assembly need to be made collectively. Think of the Jerusalem council when the apostles and elders convened to consider the matter of circumcision. The mind of Christ was reflected in their collective agreement.
“Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter” (Acts 15:6).
“Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren” (Acts 15:22).
Consider also the selection of the first seven men/deacons chosen and set apart for ministry to the widows. They were chosen by the congregation, not the apostles and elders. The apostles and elders only appointed them, prayed, and laid hands on them.
“Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business…And the saying pleased the whole multitude….whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.” (Acts 6:3, 5-6).
OUR MISSIONARY EXAMPLE
When Carolyn and I were commissioned still as singles with a young apostolic team, led by a young leader Russ Tatro, with wisdom beyond his years, we were sent not to start a church or many churches, but to start a WORK that would greatly effect the churches in Liberia, then Sierra Leone, before the work branched out into other nations of West Africa. Initially our missions organization had put pressure on us to plant a church, but our apostolic leader couldn’t get a definite witness to do that. Now in hindsight, if we had planted a church we would’ve been just another church among multitudes of churches in the cities and nations we labored in. That would’ve undoubtedly diminished the impact of what was in the mind of the Lord. As it was, the Lord led our apostolic leader to start a “work”, in the form of interdenominational Bible training centers that would greatly impact many churches. The late Lester Sumrall said it was the greatest move of God he’d ever seen. The spirit of religion was dealt a death blow that resulted in new births, baptisms of the Spirit, and a birthing of the living Word and the supernatural workings of God’s Spirit in the body of Christ in the nations the Lord sent us to. True apostolic ministry comes with this kind of body-wide vision, wisdom, and power. They do not build on another man’s work, because often this causes more division than the unity of the Spirit.
Speaking of power, we see the immediate impact and results of the separation and sending of Saul and Barnabas from the Antioch church. Saul (Paul) immediately begins to operate in a greater POWER and authority (Acts 13:8-12) than he did before.
(Excerpt from the book I’ve been working on called, THE SUPERNATURAL CHURCH OF LOVE AND POWER) — projected release date January 2022. What the devil tried to hinder through our recent trials…
(Our young apostolic team, Liberia, circa 1988)