Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Radical Church of Jesus

When Jesus announced his ministry and proclaimed his Gospel of the Kingom it was like setting off a bomb in the heart of the city. People got excited. The religious leaders of the day got nervous. The political leaders took notice.

Jesus entered a religious society that was permeated with Jewish tradition and influenced by Pagan practice.

Both Judaism and Paganism share three commonalities: The Temple, The Sacrifice and The Priesthood.

What is the Temple?
It's the Holy Place. It's where God's Spirit dwells. It's where those who are hungry to meet with God go to connect with Him.

What is the Sacrifice?
It's intended to atone for the sins of the individual and to provide access to God.

What is the Priest?
These are the ones who perform the sacrifice. They are the ones who are worthy to enter the "Holy of Holies" and approach God. They hear God's voice. They relate the message of God to those who are outside the Temple. They are concerned with the Spiritual health and education of the people of God.

THE CHURCH THAT JESUS BUILT
When Jesus established the Church he did not build something with a physical temple or a daily animal sacrifice or a special group of elite clergy. The Church that Jesus built was out of the ordinary. It was radical. It was unlike anything that had ever come before it.

The Church Jesus built effectively destroyed all three conventions of Judaism and Paganism.

Take that in for a moment. Consider the implications of this fact. Jesus inspired and established the first system of religion without a physical temple, an animal sacrifice or an elitist priesthood. This was something brand new.

IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH
When Jesus came he told the woman at the well that the time was coming, and indeed had already come, when those who seek God would not worship Him in the Temple, or on the Holy Mountain, but in Spirit and in Truth.

Jesus told the Pharisee that if they destroyed the Temple he would build it again in three days. Of course, we know that he was speaking of the Temple of his body, but we also know that the actual Temple was destroyed in just a few short years following his crucifixion and it remains so to this very day.

JESUS - THE SACRIFICE
On the cross, Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world. There is now no longer any need for a daily sacrifice to be made, which is why the Temple was, and is, unneccessary to the one who seeks intimacy with God.

JESUS - THE HIGH PRIEST
On the cross Jesus became the High Priest (see Hebrews chapter 4 and 10) who once and for all made the sacrifice for us and lives forever to intercede for us.

JESUS - THE TEMPLE OF GOD
As Jesus suffered on the cross, an earthquake rocked the city and the veil (all 300 pounds of it) was ripped in two, destroying the Temple and rendering it obsolete.

Why did Jesus do this? He did this in order to announce a new Kingdom. A Kingdom where you and I would become the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 3:16; 6:19, 2 Cor 6:16; Eph 2:19-22).

He did this so that you and I could become the new priesthood (1 Peter 2).

He did this so that you and I could become the daily sacrifice (Romans 12, Luke 9:23).

In this new order, in this new organic, vibrant and thriving organism called "The Church", Jesus gave birth to something the world had never seen before. He said it would require new wineskins and that the old wineskins or systems of thinking and living would not be able to contain it.

YOU ARE THE TEMPLE OF GOD
If we are God's new temple what does that mean?
It means we are now the Holy Place. Our souls are now the place where God's Spirit dwells. We carry around with us the immediate presence of God where those who are hungry to meet with Him can come and connect with Him.

YOU ARE THE ROYAL PRIESTHOOD
If you and I are the new priesthood it means that we are the ones who perform the daily sacrifice. We are the ones who are worthy to enter the "Holy of Holies" and approach God. We can hear God's voice. We have the honor of conveying the message of God to those who are outside the Temple. We now play an active role in the spiritual health and education of God's people.

YOU ARE THE DAILY SACRIFICE
If we are the daily, living sacrifice it means each of us have special access to God. Because of His ultimate sacrifice on the cross, our daily sacrifice bears witness to our desire to follow Jesus, surrender our lives to Him, and worship God with our entire being.

UNDERSTANDING WHO YOU ARE
You and I are this same Church. We are the people of God. We are part of something more unique and fabulous than any of us could have ever imagined.

Who are you in Christ? You are a new creation. You are the Temple of God. You are the Priests of God. You are the daily, living sacrifice to God.

We are a people unlike any the world has ever seen or imagined before. We are the Church.

"Conversatio Morem!"

-kg

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Cyprian Influence

For most of his life, Cyprian was a distinguished and wealthy pagan who lived in a luxurious villa which sprawled across much of the hillside of Carthage where he was born.

Born Thascius Cyprianus, he later took the name Caecilius in memory of the man who introduced him to the Christian faith. Due to his great wealth and influence in the pagan community, Cyprian was ordained as a deacon in the Christian church soon after his baptism and in very short order he was named as Bishop of Carthage, to the protest of many of the faithful in that region.

In spite of the very vocal opposition to Cyprian's fast track to Bishop-hood, which continued to plague him throughout his tenure in that office, his talents as a pagan orator and teacher of rhetoric, along with his great wealth, afforded him great influence within the 3rd century Christian church.

ON THE RUN
Early in his career as Bishop of Carthage, Cyprian was ordered to offer sacrifices to the Emperor or face persecution. He fled to a secluded village and maintained contact with the Church via an appointed contact. As more persecution came upon the members of his church, many others fled as well. However, Cyprian felt very strongly that the Church should not welcome back those Christians who escaped the sword by running away, as he had done. Instead he argued that they should be treated as unbelievers and not be welcomed back into fellowship.

Of course, when he eventually returned from hiding to resume his public office, he wrote a compelling letter explaining why his escape into seclusion was for the strengthening of the Church and that he should, therefore, be allowed to continue as Bishop of Carthage. None of the other Bishops opposed his return to his diocese and he was allowed to continue as if nothing had transpired.

RE-WRITING THE NEW TESTAMENT
Cyprian's greatest influence on the Church was introducing the concepts of priest, temples, rituals, altars and sacrifices to the faith. Until his writings, the Christian church had operated under the New Testament system, largely influenced by Jesus and his Apostles, which held firmly to the notion that the temple, the priesthood and the sacrifice were fulfilled in Christ at His Crucifixion and further that His Followers were also the temple of God, the royal priesthood and that their sacrifice was expressed in the way they lived their lives each day.

Because of Cyprian's skill as an orator and his prominence as a Bishop in Carthage, his pagan ideas of worship were given serious acceptance within the larger Body of Christ. In his writings Cyprian argued for a return to Old Testament Jewish practices which closely mirrored the concepts he had grown up with in a paganized culture.

Sadly, the Christian faith adopted Cyprian's ideas of spiritual covering, the special clergy caste, the importance of ritual and the need for a temple and sacrificial system of worship within one generation, effectively undoing the revolutionary concepts of Church found in the New Testament.

THE CHURCH JESUS BUILT
Inspired by Jesus, the Apostles established a community of believers, a church, based on the revolutionary concept of People-as-Temple and a corporate body which depended not upon a special clergy class, but upon the Holy Spirit Himself.

"...the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." - Jesus (John 14:26)

Under this radical new concept, the Church was built upon the foundation of Christ as our ultimate priest and sacrice and temple so that each of His followers could also become a temple of the living God, a daily sacrifice and a priest of God.

No one was more vocal about this concept of a living temple of God than Paul the Apostle who wrote prolifically on the subject in nearly every single epistle.

"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?" 1 Cor 3:16

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own." 1 Cor 6:19

"What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." 2 Cor 6:16

"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit." - Eph 2:19-22

THE TESTIMONY OF PETER
Peter himself was also very clear on the concept of a living temple made up of people who were also the new priesthood and the daily sacrifice.

In his first epistle he clearly outlined this very concept to those early Christians:

"As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 2:4-5

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." - 1 Peter 2:9-10

THE CYPRIAN SWITCH
Sadly, in the third century, Cyprian came on the scene and unraveled the tightly woven tapestry spun by Jesus and taught by His Apostles in the New Testament by someone who clearly did not fully understand the genius of this design.

Jesus himself spoke clearly on this subject when asked by the woman at the well about the location and method of proper worship to God. His response was that the temple in Jerusalem was no longer the "special" place to find God. Instead, one could find and worship God wherever they stood, as long as God's Spirit was within him or her.

"Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." - Jesus (in John 4:23-24)

The very fact that the early followers of Jesus did not adopt a system of priesthood, or continue to offer daily sacrifices in a special temple bears witness to the fact that, as evidenced in the Apostolic writings, there was a new temple, priesthood and sacrifice now, and they were it.

Under Christ, the priesthood was now more than just one man overseeing a congregation of several hundred people, the priest was now every single one of those people. It was an exponential multiplication of priests who were also temples of God's Holy Spirit where a daily sacrifice of will and self took place.

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
- Romans 12:1

"Then (Jesus) said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it." - Luke 9:23-24

JUST IMAGINE
When Cyprian re-wrote the New Testament to fit his own ideas about temple, priest and sacrifice, he effectively introduced a doctrine into the Church which continues to pervade our concepts of worship and church to this very day and hour.

But, what if we could return to the ideas of the New Testament? What if we could learn to live as if God's Holy Spirit lives within every single follower of Jesus? What if we could begin to think of ourselves as priests of God who daily offer themselves as living sacrifices so that Christ could live through us?

What if?

kg

Thursday, April 28, 2011

For the Love of Your Pastor

In today’s Christian landscape the senior pastor has become the single focus of ministry and church life. This one man is expected to perform every wedding and funeral, to baptize every new believer, to preside over every Lord’s Supper, to teach and train and admonish and counsel and encourage every single member of his flock. He’s also expected to oversee the finances, preach every Sunday morning and evening, and to guide the Church through whatever challenge might be facing them. In effect, the senior pastor is carrying the entire weight of his church on his shoulders. Some are lucky enough to have a staff supporting them, but even these associate pastors are overloaded with the burden of doing all the ministry for the youth, or the seniors, or the college students, or the young married couples, etc.

In my own spiritual life I’ve personally been very blessed by many dear men of God who had surrendered to full-time pastoral ministry. In fact, I’ve been one of those who served as a pastor myself. I honestly believe that most who enter the pastorate do so out of a genuine desire to follow Christ and to use their spiritual gifts to edify the rest of the Body of Christ.

But as we examine the statistics for pastors in American churches the results are frightening. According to Focus on the Family, Ministries Today, Charisma Magazine, TNT Ministries, and other respected groups:

* 1,500 pastors leave the ministry permanently each month in America.
* 4,000 new churches start each year in America.
* 7,000 churches close each year in America.
* 50% of pastors’ marriages end in divorce.
* 70% of pastors continually battle depression.
* 80% of pastors and 85% of their spouses feel discouraged in their roles.
* 95% of pastors do not regularly pray with their spouses.
* 70% of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor.
* 50% of pastors are so discouraged they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way to make a living.

These statistics mirror what Moses felt like when he was struggling with leading nearly a million people after the exodus from Egypt. He cried out to the Lord saying,

“I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin." (Numbers 11:14-15)

In response, God calls Moses to choose seventy elders from among the people, on whom He will pour out His Spirit and empower for ministry to the people. After this Moses says,

“I wish that all the LORD's people were prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!" (Numbers 11:29)

This prophetic cry from Moses is repeated when the prophet Joel reveals that God’s plan is to do just that:

“I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.” (Joel 2:28-29)

When was this promise completed? In the book of Acts, at the feast of Pentecost God did exactly this.

Jesus was the fulfillment of the shadow found in the Old Covenant priesthood. He is now our only High Priest.

Jesus was the fulfillment of the shadow of the sacrificial lamb who takes away our sins. We no longer require a levitical priesthood to offer sacrifices.

Jesus was the fulfillment of the shadow of the temple. “One greater than the temple has come,” Jesus said in Matthew 12:6. At his crucifixion, God tore the veil in the temple in two, from top to bottom to signify the end of that old covenant temple system – the priests, the animal sacrifice, the temple itself are all now superfluous and unnecessary.

Why did Jesus do all of this? So that you and I could become the living sacrifice (Romans 12). So that we could become the priesthood of believers (1 Peter 2:4-10). So that you and I could become the new, living temple of the Holy Spirit.

“It was never in the mind of God that a privileged priesthood of sinful, imperfect men would attempt, following the death and triumphant resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, to repair the veil and continue their office of mediation between God and man. The letter to the Hebrews makes that fact very plain. When Jesus rose from the dead, the Levitical priesthood, which had served Israel under the Old Covenant, became redundant.” – A. W.Tozer

Actually, it was never God’s plan to have His New Covenant Church operate like a Levitical priesthood. Jesus commanded His disciples not to emulate the top-down organizational structures of either the Jewish religion (Matt 23:8-12), or of the Pagan authorities (Mark 10:42-45). Instead, He urged them to treat one another as brothers and as equals.

Paul, in 1 Corinthians, chapter 12, outlines God’s plan for the Church to operate as a Body. In this New Testament model, Jesus is the only one in control and the people within the Church are empowered – each and every one of them – by the Holy Spirit to minister to one another.

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Cor 12:7)

Notice how each of these various gifts are distributed to the Body, by the Holy
Spirit for a single purpose: “for the common good.” God does this so that everyone in the Body is necessary and so that everyone contributes and shares the burden of ministry.

“All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” (1 Cor 12:11)

Notice how it doesn’t say, “..he gives them to ONE PERSON” but that these gifts are given to “each one” of the members within the Body.

“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.” (1 Cor 12:12)

Notice how the body is a reflection of Christ himself if we operate as a unit made up of many parts all working together under the headship of Christ. The implication is that if we do not function as God designed, we are not reflecting Christ to the world.

“For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (1 Cor 12:13)

Notice how throughout 1 Corinthians chapter 12 the emphasis is not on one particular member but on the entire Body itself. This is especially significant when you consider that this church in Corinth was probably one of the most troubled and morally challenged churches in early Christian history. Even so, Paul never abandons the shared body ministry in order to correct these errors. He never commands their elders to take control and whip people into shape. He never addresses the senior pastor at all in this letter, or any other letter. Why? Because there wasn’t one.

The overwhelming evidence throughout the New Testament is that every baptized believer in Christ was automatically ordained by the Holy Spirit into the ministry of Jesus. There was no separation between clergy and laity.

Were there some within the Body who were gifted to teach and to encourage and to lead? Yes, of course. But the entire life of the Church did not revolve around these few. Instead, every single believer was empowered to contribute and to speak and to use their gifting as the Holy Spirit directed.

According to the New Testament, when the Church actually becomes a real Body, and when Jesus is really the only Shepherd, the entire Body will be healthy and operate as God actually intended all along.

How can we continually refer to ourselves as “The Body of Christ” if we do not actually engage in the organic form of shared life as described in 1 Corinthians 12?

If you really love your pastors, the best thing you can do for them is to encourage them to stop trying to carry all of the weight of the entire Body on their own shoulders. Pray that the Church will return to a New Testament model as God originally intended. Pray that we would affirm with Peter that God has indeed answered the prayer of Moses and the promise in Joel to pour out His Spirit on all flesh so that every member of the Body of Christ can serve and love one another in love.

-kg

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH

The New Testament church did not collect money to be spent on salaries, programs, buildings or itself.

The New Testament church was primarily concerned with making disciples and caring for the poor, the orphan and the widow.

The New Testament church did not elect a separate “clergy class” to perform special religious duties, instead everyone was “in the ministry” by default.

The New Testament church did not attempt to follow an old testament code of worship.

The New Testament church affirmed the priesthood of the believer and allowed every member to share, participate and take an active part in the regular functioning of the church itself- including baptism, sharing communion, preaching the Gospel and making disciples.

The New Testament church did not keep a bank account, instead it gave away all the funds laid at the Apostles feet in order to plant churches and care for those in need- both within and without the church body.

The New Testament church leaders were humble servants who waited on tables, washed feet, served others, laid hands on the sick, encouraged the persecuted and understood that true greatness was found at the feet of men, rather than at the top of the ladder.

The New Testament church did not segregate the body based on age, sex, race, music preference, ethnic background, or any other criteria. Everyone who named the name of Christ, regardless of age, sex or race, was immediately a fully functional and valued member of the Body of Christ.

The New Testament church did not verbally, politically or physically oppose the oppressive Roman government or pagan religions of the day. Instead they simply lived extravagant lives of love among their neighbors and served anyone in their path as Jesus commanded.

The New Testament church was not in favor of violence, nor did it participate in armed conflict, not even in self-defense. Instead, the early followers of Jesus quietly imitated their Lord and gave up their property, submitted to prison and went to their deaths peacefully.

The New Testament church allowed every member, male or female, slave or free, Jew or Gentile, to preach the Gospel, plant churches, teach the Word, and lead worship every single day.

The New Testament church had no one single location where “Church” was located. Worship was not seen as something that happened in a particular location or on a particular day or with the assistance of particular people. Instead, worship was seen as a life continually submitted to Christ as a living sacrifice for the good of others, to the glory of God.

The New Testament church understood the Gospel of the Kingdom to be about God’s Kingdom (rule and reign) being released in the heart of every follower of Jesus, not something that would come one day after the death of the saints or the return of Christ.

The New Testament church did not consider the work of the Holy Spirit to be weird or strange. Instead they accepted the moving of the Holy Spirit within the Body as the natural and continual ministry of Jesus being released in the Body to heal, teach, instruct, correct, rebuke, inspire, encourage and empower the people of God to carry the Gospel of the Kingdom and live a life of love for others.

The New Testament church was always being taught to love one another and to imitate the love of Christ and to humbly serve others as Jesus did. They were not concerned in any way with amassing wealth, getting healed, gaining status in the community, becoming politically powerful, being respected, changing laws, picketing the funerals of homosexuals, speaking out against pagan practices, or selling products with their church name, cross, or scripture verse attached.

The New Testament church did not have a name.

The New Testament church did not brand itself.

The New Testament church did not provide a salary or ongoing stipend to those within the Body who acted as Elders, Teachers, Pastors or Facilitators. The people who performed these functions within the Body did so out of love and were only compensated by the Holy Spirit with joy.

The New Testament church did not have a Bible, or even a copy of the entire Old Testament, yet this Body managed to preserve the teachings of Jesus, the doctrines of the faith, the creeds and Gospel of the Kingdom with only the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit to guide them.

The New Testament church did not market itself or the Gospel. Instead the original followers of Jesus concentrated on loving as Jesus loved, giving and sharing as Jesus did, and concerned itself with the welfare of others in need; both inside and outside the Body.

Anyone else in favor of a return to a more New Testament form of church besides me?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

THIS IS MY BODY: Press Release

New book sheds light on God’s plan for His Church, the Body of Christ

APRIL, Orange, CA – Is it time for the Church in America to go out of business? Author and blogger Keith Giles answers this question in his new book, This Is My Body: Ekklesia as God Intended.

Releasing in May of 2011 from Lulu and Subversive Press, Giles’ newest book challenges the notion that there is no Biblical model for the New Testament Church to follow. Starting with the Old Testament Scriptures, Giles explores the DNA of the Bride of Christ in startling detail, connecting Messianic prophecies with New Testament revelation and early church history to unveil God’s blueprint for The Body of Christ.

Whether you agree with his conclusions or not, Giles does provide key insights into the Scriptures and his stimulating ideas should invigorate the studies of any serious follower of Christ.

For more information on this book, interested parties may visit www.KeithGiles.com or www.WeAreTheTemple.com.

About the Author
Keith Giles is a Licensed and Ordained Minister with over 20 years of experience who left it all behind to start a church where 100% of the offering received could go to help the poor in his community. He is the former Director of Sales and Distribution for Vineyard Music Group and the former Marketing Coordinator for Soul Survivor USA. He is a frequent Blogger, Bible Study leader, and Conference Speaker. He and his wife serve the poor in their community and together they are discipling their two teenage sons in Orange, CA. This is his fifth book.

This Is My Body: Ekklesia as God Intended by Keith Giles
- Foreword by author and scholar, Jon Zens.

Publication Date: May 4, 2011
Trade Paperback; $12.99; 167 pages
eBook; FREE

Members of the media who wish to review this book may request a complimentary PDF copy by contacting the author at elysiansky@hotmail.com. To purchase copies of the book for resale, please contact the publisher at ochousechurch@gmail.com

My Unpublished Letter to Cutting Edge Magazine

As a former member of the Vineyard movement I am still on the mailing list for their church-planters magazine called "Cutting Ege". The most recent issue was 22 pages long and was entirely on the subject of "Church Planting and Money".

Having planted a church myself over 3 and a half years ago with no money, no leadership team, no building and no salary, I found their assertion that one must have a sizable financial investment to begin planting churches slightly spurious.

Here's a letter I sent to their editor on May 30th. To date I have not received a response so it's highly likely that I am no longer on their mailing list.

**

Dear Editor,

Thanks for the most recent issue of "Cutting Edge" Magazine.

As a church-planter myself I had to make a few observations that I believe you left out of the discussion.

Several church-planters today (like myself) have discovered that planting and growing a healthy, vibrant, disciple-making Body of Believers actually costs very little, if nothing at all.

My wife Wendy and I started our house church over 3 years ago. Our vision was to plant a church where 100% of the offering would go to the poor, just like in the New Testament. I have been working as a copywriter for a marketing agency to support my family and everyone in our house church (over 6 families and several singles) have collectively given over $15 thousand dollars to help the poor in our community and support the poor in our own Body over the last 3 years.

Our church is growing very quickly. We have about 40 people who join us in our home every Sunday morning for shared breakfast and shared teaching. We also gather on Thursday evenings for shared dinner and througout the week as well.

Your article suggests that it is a "false dualism" to pit spiritual matters against earthly matters. I wonder if it it's actually a "false ecclesiology" that tells us that without $10k and a paid pastoral staff, etc. we cannot be the Church and establish vibrant communities of faith.

How did the New Testament Christians manage to plant so many churches and make so many hundreds of thousands of disciples without all that money? I find it fascinating that they actually took their property and their money and surrendered it for the good of others rather than to horde it for themselves.

Today the downturn in the economy is adversely affecting many businesses, as you point out, but if your church is not run like a business it's amazing how the downturn has zero affect. We are free to continue giving and to plant more churches regardless of the economy.

Our house church does not pass the basket. It sits on a table in the corner of the room and only twice a year do we ever mention the offering-- and then only to read a list of ways we have used this money to help the poor in our community and within our own Body.

Even though I never make a big deal about the offering, people are giving with great joy because they know that every single penny they place in the basket will be given away to people in need. They are truly, honestly "Hilarious givers"!

We, the Body of Christ, are never referred to in the NT as anything other than a Body, a Family, a Bride and an Organism. We, the Church, are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. We do not need to build temples in order to fulfill our calling to embody Christ as living stones.

Does it really cost all that money to plant a church? Only if you abandon the New Testament model and embrace a business model.

Thanks, again, for this issue of Cutting Edge. I really do appreciate the great work you (and your staff) put into this labor of love each and every issue. Please take my comments as an alternate perspective on the subject of planting churches and money.

In Him,

Keith Giles
Mission House Church

Monday, April 25, 2011

BOOK REVIEW BY KELLY TAGUE

I just had 3 day weekend in which I was able to read my dear friend Keith Giles’ new book This Is My Body: Ekklesia as God Intended.

I went into this read knowing the heart and soul and time that Keith put into this endeavor and was not disappointed. Keith shows clearly, by using scripture and personal experience, that the Church as God intended it to be in the New Testament is more than an Organization, with a top down institutionalized, hierarchical system that dominates modern Christianity. To the contrary, Keith shows that the Church is a living breathing organism and fruition of all of God’s desire for His people throughout history.

Keith points out that we, the Church, are the Temple of the Living God and thus there no need for a building set aside to be designated a”House of God”. Keith also drives home the point of the Priesthood of the Believer and the necessity of every member functioning within the Body of Christ and the fallacy of the pastor-centric system.

Keith’s book is nothing new to those who have read the books of Frank Viola and Jon Zens, but instead of feeding off of the writings of these men (as so many of us bloggers do), he adds another dimension to the discussion and deepens the need of the Church to return to God’s original intent for Her, by not being another religious system, but being a living breathing expression of Jesus Christ.

-Kelly Tague

Original review posted
HERE

A.W. Tozer on Church Life

We in the churches seem unable to rise above the fiscal philosophy which rules the business world; so we introduce into our church finances the psychology of the great secular institutions so familiar to us all and judge a church by its financial report much as we judge a bank or a department store.

A look into history will quickly convince any interested person that the true church has almost always suffered more from prosperity than from poverty. Her times of greatest spiritual power have usually coincided with her periods of indigence and rejection; with wealth came weakness and backsliding. If this cannot be explained, neither apparently can it be escaped.

The average church has so established itself organizationally and financially that God is simply not necessary to it. So entrenched is its authority and so stable are the religious habits of its members that God could withdraw Himself completely from it and it could run on for years on its own momentum.

- A.W. Tozer, from “Tozer on Christian Leadership”

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jon Zens (From the Foreword of This Is My Body)

It has been such an encouragement to my heart in the past fifteen years to see one book after another critique the status quo, challenge assumed traditions, and present a fresh vision for a functioning Body of Christ on earth. The Bride of Christ is such a beautiful and multifaceted organism that the nuances and insights that each author brings to the table can never exhaust the riches Christ has deposited in his Ekklesia on earth. Keith Giles’ This Is My Body is another wonderful, refreshing addition to the collection of writings in our generation that will help believers practice Christ-centered assembly life.

- Jon Zens, Author of A Church Every 1/2 Mile and editor of Searching Together Magazine.


Visit Jon online at www.JonZens.com

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Alan Knox Review

In his book This is My Body, two things are clear: 1) Keith Giles loves the church and 2) He desires to see the church living according to her identity in Christ.

Giles calls the church back from its preoccupation with business models and encourages believers to embrace spiritual relationships with one another and dependence on the Holy Spirit, as we read about in Scripture. He examines many of the ‘sacred cows’ of modern church culture and finds them missing from our earliest records of the church. Instead of following these traditions, Giles exhorts the church – every believer – to follow Jesus Christ today into service (ministry) and mission motivated by the love of God and empowered by the Spirit of God.

In Acts, we read about the church turning its first century culture upside down with love and service and proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ as believers were willing to give up their lives and their livelihood for the sake of their Lord. I, along with Giles, also desire to see the church today live in such as way as to turn our twenty-first century culture upside down. I do not think this will happen with twenty-first century methodologies and organization, but only as we also give up our lives and livelihoods for the sake of our Lord. - Alan Knox, Doctorate Student of Biblical Theology.

Alan Knox
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My First Review: Mike Hutchison

I just finished reading “This is my Body: Ekklesia as God Intended” by Keith Giles. It is quite obvious that this book was written by a follower of Christ who passionately loves our LORD Jesus Christ, His transforming gospel and His Bride/those who comprise His Church.

Keith carefully and convincingly develops the glorious truth that the types and shadows of the Old Covenant temple, priesthood and sacrifice as foretold and promised in the scriptures found their ultimate fulfillment in the person and work of Christ with the new and better covenant ratified in His blood resulting in a temple that every member of the Body of Christ is being built into and where every individual is free to function as a priest offering acceptable spiritual sacrifices of praise, service and a life dedicated to Christ.

Giles reminds us that leadership in the Kingdom of God is one in which honorific titles are forbidden and real tangible sacrificial service and Christlike humility is how greatness is attained and is worthy to be emulated.

I really enjoyed reading this little book written by my brother Keith Giles, his sensitivity, humility and love for others shows throughout his presentation and I highly recommend it for all who are interested in seeking a more biblical ecclesiology. - Mike Hutchison

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Response to my book, "This Is My Body: Ekklesia as God Intended"

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a convincing example is worth a thousand (or more) sermons. In this book Keith Giles presents us with the powerful example of his own life as he has dared to live out the prophetic insights he has discovered into the nature and mission of God’s culture-challenging community. Christian or not, read and gain courage to risk following his inspired and dynamic servant-leadership.Dr. Scott Bartchy, Professor of Christian Origins and the History of Religion in the Department of History, UCLA.