In Spirit Blog

At 18 years young I was determined and focused on following what I now know to be my spirit man’s quest for my spiritual inheritance.  I joined the way of thousands of other pilgrims throughout the decades, responding to the inner call to seek out the origins of my faith. With guitar and bible on my back, I left the comforts of North America, journeying into the mysteries of the Middle East; to that tiny, yet magnificent nation of Israel. It was the 1970’s and after 2 years of identifying deeply with the destiny of the Hebrews, my life would never be the same.

As a girl, I had dreamed of child soldier populations and when I stepped off the plane it became a full-blown reality with the added sound effects of war on Israel’s borders.  Now Bible history had become my history.  One year earlier I had toured Germany as a vocalist, performing in the many religious cathedrals.  As part of the tour we were given one day to spend at a historical site and we chose the ovens of Dachau, one of the infamous Jewish concentration camps.  It was there amidst the museum, that historical hallway of horrors, where my pilgrimage truly began. The film footage, ovens, barracks and walls of innocent people’s names and then pictures of piled up dead children broke my world-view and I was completely overcome.

Now I stood, just one year later, in the land of Israel and I was compelled to discover why would there be such an attempt to destroy Jesus and his people. The contrasts in the two world-views were many.  North America was young and free, Israel ancient and always defending itself.  Our worlds could not be further apart and yet I had a conviction that the horrors of World War II and the Jewish Jesus were two massive pieces to history’s jigsaw puzzle.  Nevertheless, as young as I was with all of the cultural shifts and shocks, the ancient land of Abraham Isaac and Jacob seemed strangely most like home to me.

I had secretly embraced Jesus at the age four being the first Christian in my family line but was forbidden to attend Christian fellowship of any kind.  For several months before leaving for Israel I experienced the average North American church but it wasn’t until I lived in Israel that I understood the foundations and birthing of the New Testament church.  These are the two worlds I want to discuss on this blog.  I hope you will join me in travelling back in history.

Did you know that for the most part that Western institutional Christian church practices are actually pagan?  Since 313 AD, Emperor Constantine legalized our faith but at a great cost.  Once Christianity was legalized, he then began to use his power (Roman) to remove all Messianic Jewish festivals and feasts. The N.T. biblical culture was family life and sharing in homes, Constantine set the stage for power, religious hierarchy and coliseum style worship, a passive faith.  Sitting in rows in a building regularly, handing over your money to hierarchy, the pulpit with only ‘holy set apart ones’ teaching…all these are but a very few of the Roman and Greek culture.  None of these are part of Jesus teachings, which he laid out for the foundations of Christianity.  Yet for 1500 years we have followed and not questioned.

Did you know that there is a largely hidden but growing phenomenon that is changing the face of Christianity in the West?  Believers are becoming disillusioned by the lack of New Testament realities and abusive authority within large portions of institutionalized Christianity.  Home MeetingThousands of Christians across North America, the UK and New Zealand are returning to the simplicity of the New Testament church by gathering in homes, offices and outdoor venues.  Actually the church is strongest in countries where Christianity is against the law.  In these nations the New Testament church is a grand symphony of the economy of motion as all believers are functioning as a live organism that can change venues, has no pre-conceived program and that has all parts of the body alive.

God is calling his bride back to radical Christian living, to the origins of Christianity where ‘the priesthood of all believers’ is in motion. This is characterized by a movement away from clergy dominated services to assemblies of believers mutually participating in the call to repentance and submission to Christ as Lord.  There is a historical move of the Holy Spirit flooding the church as the angels call to those who will have ears to hear what He is saying. We are moving from a one-man leadership to the plurality of servant leadership gatherings. Jesus and his disciples, the prophets and apostles suffered much persecution. All but a few were martyred for living in the grace and freedom Jesus brought them.

A student is not above his master. Who is your master? Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the LIFE’. Do we live by Jesus’ teaching or the temple and its governmental hierarchy?

Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4 that the time was coming that the worship of God would no longer be confined or connected with a sacred place, but that worship was a whole lifestyle.  In fact the martyrdom of the first Christian martyr Stephen was centered over the very issue of temple-based religion.  When Stephen’s teaching was directed against the temple, the Hellenists along with the high priests who depended economically and politically on the temple could not stand by idle. In challenging temple-based religion, Stephen stated in Acts 7:48  ‘the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands’.  The Greek word for “made with hands” is “cheiropoieton”, which is a term used by Hellenistic Jews to condemn idolatry.  This would have enraged the Jewish audience since he was insinuating that they worshipped the temple and its duties as an idol (Acts 7:41).  Stephen set a precedent for many martyrs to come.

Galilee Temple

 

The writers of the New Testament seemed to have a much clearer understanding of what constitutes “the church” than those of us in the West.  Note “God’s building”: I Cor. 3:9, Eph 2:19-22, “God’s temple”: 1 Cor 3: 16-17, “Christ’s body”: Romans 12:4-5, “God’s house”: 1 Tim 3:15.  Our brothers and sisters of the New Testament didn’t ‘go’ to church; they were the church, the temple, God’s house and His building!  In addition, Christ was the head, not the local institutional hierarchy.

Today the vast majority of churches are leaning towards the one-world, ecumenical religious system that ultimately will be sanctioned by governments all over the world.  Now is that time in church history where we need to discern the season shift. There has been a growing demand to conform to the world religious community and soon we will be forced to oblige or lose tax-free and socially acceptable status.  If we are a discerning people we will see that hard times are upon us and it is time to get off the pew and rise up.  The politically correct forms that have functioned since the Reformation have now grown increasingly inadequate.  We the church in the West must look anew at our form and function and embrace the wisdom of the testimonies of those who are presently suffering for their faith.  We are compelled to look at history, God’s records both of the foundations of our faith in the New Testament church and also recent history.  Many believe that we are experiencing the early stages of the underground church movement in North America. We would do well to heed the testimonies of our brethren in other nations who experience daily persecution and honor their counsel.  In the West, we experience persecution and martyrdom in diverse ways, currently the most popular being stonewalling and isolation.  These are but baby steps to where we are heading.

Our ancestors fought in World War II for the freedoms we enjoy and our Jewish brethren suffered atrocities for their belief in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the great I AM. This is the first name that God revealed Himself as, which means the generational God.  Our Lord Jesus, born a Hebrew, came to earth and wrote His story in the handbook of heaven. Despite what traditional monetized religion tells us, when we do not worship God as outlined in the Bible we will end up in bondage.  May we not be found casting stones at those who are going before us to lay again the foundations of our faith.  Rather may God grant us the courage to see, discern and know the times in which we are living.

Do you know what time it is? Will history repeat itself?  Will you throw a stone or will the stone fall on you?

Katherine Matthews

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Showing 10 comments
  • pawnee
    Reply

    Wow…
    You made some very good points…
    I just read part one and part two…
    I have much to think about…
    Thank you for inviting me to share thoughts with you…
    I must say… I agree with your statement about the church returning to the home… I see it myself.
    I would like to read more
    Pawn

    • Mad Hatter`
      Reply

      I’m in to.

    • Back 2 Eden
      Reply

      Pawn,

      Tell us more about your house church. Does it look more like big church but in a house or does it flow completely differently?

  • Jessica Sanders
    Reply

    Firstly, it was amazing to hear parts of your early story, and the journey that defined your path. Thank you so much for sharing that with us!!

    I have also been feeling the shifting…and the lack of fulfillment in modern day “church”. -We live in a truly epic time of history.

    • Back 2 Eden
      Reply

      Your observation on the lack of fulfillment in modern day “church” is insightful. In light of the recent Bible series on History Channel, it is apparent there is a great chasm of what we and they would call friendship, relationship and community.

      Roman pews versus eating around a table and sharing the bread of life is just one of many examples.

  • Jillian H. Sanford
    Reply

    As established in the previous chapters, the church was not a collection of many individuals who all believed in the Messiah, but a community of believers who shared their very lives with each other. Community was a very important aspect of the Jewish culture; the people of Israel were all one, belonging to one God, and the law of Moses laid down rules for their successful relating to their brothers and sisters. On the day of Pentecost God’s presence moved from the Temple into Jesus’ followers, which drew them even closer to each other. They had lived with Jesus for three years, had had communion and fellowship with Him, eating, sleeping, talking, ministering and traveling with Him day in day out, learning about His kingdom and being equipped to advance His kingdom even after His departure. Jesus showed His disciples by demonstration and education what His ekklēsia was supposed to look like. In the book of Acts we see the beginnings of His church, which is deeply rooted in Judaism and its Messiah, which places the good of all over the individual’s comfort, shares their possessions instead of guarding them, preaches the kingdom with boldness instead of adapting to the world, and moves in powerful signs and wonders instead of rationalizing their absence – thereby having little in common with the (Western) church today.

    • Back 2 Eden
      Reply

      Jillian,

      Welcome to B2E Group and thank you for your thoughtful and insightful contribution. Have a look around at our other blogs and feel free to comment.

      Also, we encourage you to sign up for our blogs (home page, bottom left) to receive notification when we post new ones.

      Regarding your post, love the way you have painted a picture of what community was like in Jesus day and have “non-institutional” it was. Interesting that the early gatherings were not inside the institution trying to reform it but were outside creating and new standard that eventually supplanted the old ways of “gathering”.

  • Jacob
    Reply

    I have found so much more freedom in my walk with the Godhead when I simply do life with people. No agenda, no pre-conceived motives for building anything.

    I believe Ps. 127 puts a lot into perspective about what community looks like… a return to Family… a family built with God… not by man’s hands.

    Psalm 127

    A Song of [a]Ascents. Of Solomon.

    1 Except the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; except the Lord keeps the city, the watchman wakes but in vain.
    2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to take rest late, to eat the bread of [anxious] toil—for He gives [blessings] to His beloved in sleep.
    3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.
    4 As arrows are in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.
    5 Happy, blessed, and fortunate is the man whose quiver is filled with them! They will not be put to shame when they speak with their adversaries [in gatherings] at the [city’s] gate.

    • Back 2 Eden
      Reply

      Love the revelation about Psalm 127 re:community. How often have we all “rose up early” or “taken rest late” to support gathering’s in buildings built by man?

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