Do you know the difference between the Ekklesia and the Church? Can you tell the difference? About two years ago I heard a teaching by Pastor Dutch Sheets that put into words what my spirit has been discerning for some time, but was struggling to put into perspective. He was able to clarify the two ways that the Body of Christ operates... as both a Family and a Kingdom government.
For example, as the Family of God, the Church sees Jesus as the Good Shepherd, the Bridegroom, and the First-born Heir (as the Son of God). In God's Kingdom government, Jesus is King, Lord, and Master. In our Church Families, we are part of Jesus's flock. According to God's Kingdom government on earth, we are the Lord's army. In the Church Family, we are healers and have rights and privileges. In the Kingdom government, we have responsibilities to be destroyers by tearing down strongholds and principalities. As the Church, we are to grow the Family of God until Jesus comes again. As the Ekklesia, we are to grow and extend God's Kingdom and its culture until Jesus returns. As the Family, we worship. As the Ekklesia, we govern. Starting to get the picture?
For awhile now, I have discerned that we have been operating solely as the Family of God [in our capacity as the Church]. It is past time that we mature and grow into our responsibilities as the Ekklesia. All we have to do is look at the state of our nation and the world to understand that God doesn't want [or need] a Church that is willing to compromise with the world. Look at where that's gotten us! The Church has remained fairly silent about ungodly strongholds of abortion, gay marriage, child trafficking, racism, human slavery, corrupt politicians and governments, etc. Oh, we speak up within the four walls of our buildings, but we have little effect on the morality of our culture outside our four walls. Take a look at our nation's laws... do they show the fruit of the Church's representation of Heaven's laws?
I believe that in this age and season, God wants [and needs] an Ekklesia that is taking down strongholds in the spiritual realms and reclaiming territory from Satan's kingdom of darkness on the earth. Since the Book of Acts, the Church has been given great power and authority to act on behalf of God's Kingdom. But to be honest, they don't know they've been entrusted with doing the works Jesus did to destroy the works of the devil. Far too many pastors and teachers don't train or equip their flocks to battle in the spirit, which is where Satan does most of his work! In recent centuries, the knowledge of the Church's power and authority has been eliminated from their identity; they no longer know how to walk in it. Instead they minister to each other, and Satan keeps the Family of God satisfied in the building, and ineffective in the world. Meanwhile the souls outside the building are spiritually dying.
I want to be clear ... God isn't finished with His Family! But He wants His children to change the atmosphere in their homes, their towns, their schools, their nations, and the world. He wants them to be willing to speak prophecy of His promises in the Bible to the dying, the hurt and the wounded. He wants them to do prophetic acts as representatives of the Kingdom of God on earth. The Church should look like the Church did in the First Century -- healing the sick; raising the dead; declaring prophecy over government leaders; baptizing and making disciples; carrying the Gospels of Salvation and the Kingdom to the far corners of the earth.
The Church [as Family] should know the powerful tool of prophecy and understand how it works in the spiritual realms, because it can have a profound effect upon the works of the devil. But I'm not even sure we know what a prophetic act is or how it works. A prophetic word is when the Holy Spirit enables one to hear directly from God and you receive a message that is to be spoken to an individual, or a congregation, or even a nation and the world. The key is to discern that what you are hearing is actually from the Holy Spirit. And that requires a maturity that comes from experience with the Holy Spirit and being filled with Him. When that rightly discerned word is spoken, it actually opens up a portal over a region so that God can see His word manifested -- in His timing and His sovereignty.
Thankfully, I believe the Ekklesia is beginning to grow and mature into its identity and function [to see God's justice done on the earth]. We are beginning to show the Family of God that He is more than Love, Mercy and Grace (as powerful as those attributes are in their own right). But, as His Word tells us, God's cup of wrath will one day soon be filled up and He will tell Jesus to mount up on His white horse and dispense His Righteous Judgment upon the earth's wicked and evil. At that time the Church will have finished its mandate to reproduce and grow the Family of God; the number of those who will receive Jesus as King has been reached. It will be time to bring the fullness of the restoration of God's Kingdom on earth that He began in Genesis. Mankind will step into its dominion role and the Kingdom will truly "come on earth, as it is in Heaven". We will see reformation come upon the earth, as we leave the Church age behind, and enter the age of the Millennial Kingdom. That transformation and reformation is beginning now.
That's why it's important to know how you identify yourself. Because I will tell you that Satan and the citizens of his kingdom of darkness will not easily give up the reign they have enjoyed these thousands of years. And frankly, as the Family, the Church is not equipped to defeat him or his minions. How can they expect to, if they are not walking in their power and authority? But the Good News is that, as we are growing into our identity as the Ekklesia, we are beginning to come together as powerful cohesive groups. And it is amazing to see what a remnant can do when they are equipped with 1) God's Divine strategies; 2) the weapons of our warfare [the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit, the prophetic word of how to bring down strongholds, and the authority to call on the Heavenly Host to assist us, among others]; and 3) the keys to the Kingdom [forgiveness, prayer, fasting, binding/loosing, etc].
But perhaps the most powerful thing we, as the Ekklesia, have going for us is our righteous zeal -- our tireless devotion and determination to see the cause of Jesus and His Kingdom firmly and irrevocably established on the earth. That my brothers and sisters, should be the heart of both the Church and the Ekklesia. But the Church has not taken the necessary risks to see the Kingdom established. Instead, they have reconciled and compromised with the world. Their 501(C)3 status has kept them largely on the sidelines as our families, schools, and nation have abandoned Godly principles. Yes, Jesus is our Savior, the Lamb of God, and our Advocate. But it is time we see Him in His identity as the Lord, King, and Judge of the earth. I honor the Church and all it has accomplished throughout time. But I am excited to welcome the remnant within its walls that sees the truth of the Gospel of the Kingdom and is willing to become the Ekklesia. The world will not welcome us, and our mission will be arduous and not without conflict. But may our faithfulness and fortitude (courage in the midst of pain and adversity) usher in the glorious return of the King of Heaven and Earth!
Isaiah 40:10 Look, the Sovereign Lord comes as a victorious warrior; His military power establishes His rule. Look, His reward is with Him; His prize goes before Him.