The ecclesia is called together from the kingdom, not the world; ecclesia is called together to receive an assignment and the authority to fulfill that assignment on behalf of the Kingdom of God. The function of the ecclesia is governmental and kingdom cultural, establishing and expanding kingdom authority and culture. In this mode it is confrontational and militant toward tyrants of spiritual dominion seeking to establish and expand their governments and cultures. Kingdom affects spiritual reality but manifests in our natural world.
In our recent Fathering Harvest Conference, I was discussing the principles of fathering nations: fathers receive increase because the increase has purpose they must pass on to prepared inheritors. The third principle of fathering nations is, obviously, “international” because the inheritance of Christ’s kingdom is the nations. [See Psalm 2:8 and Revelation 2:26, 27.]
Jesus accepted to responsibility to create, redeem, and restore. He overcame all His enemies to make them His footstool so He could receive the nations as His inheritance. In overcoming, He received the greatest increase of history: He is worthy of all… Now, He promises those who overcome and bring fulfillment to His purposes “to the end” will be given His authority over nations.
Fathering leaders function with international authority. They prepare inheritors locally, but the inheritors have access to international authority at the local level. From that local preparation, fathering leaders prepare leaders who function at the international level even though their assignments are local or regional. In this way, the kingdom brings international authority to the local level in the ecclesia.
This means that Jesus designed kingdom leadership to provide international level spiritual authority at the local level. We should be preparing leaders who can function at an international level even when the scope of their function is local or regional.
Paul makes a clear argument from this presupposition while proving his point about specific, local protocols for kingdom leaders. He talks about settling disputes and problem solving within the ecclesia. He says that kingdom citizens should be able to settle disputes between them without taking the issues to the courts of this world. They should be able to do this because they “will judge the world” and “will judge angels.” He says that they are being prepared to function with international authority, so they should be able to settle local disputes!
Not only does exercising kingdom authority locally and regionally prepare us to judge the world and angels, we are prepared for this level of authority by engaging in the process right now! I hope you will hear what I am saying, because what I am not saying may be your first conclusion unless you hear me say that we function SpiritFirst. What we do in spirit, however, is more real and more powerful than anything we could do in the natural. Functioning as a called together governmental assembly to receive the assignments of the King and the authority to fulfill them, we establish in spirit with spiritual authority and power. What we do has massive ramifications in the natural order.
Paul makes it clear that we must first get the ecclesia in functional order, and the Corinthian ecclesia was dysfunctional because it was not engaged in kingdom government locally. Therefore, the ecclesia in dysfunctional lacks a local expression of the international level authority and power that should be a norm for God’s governmental representatives.
Paul assumes that the authority of the Corinthian leaders should, here and now, function at an international spiritual level so that they exercise in that capacity to settle local and personal disputes is consistent with the universal assignment of the kingdom leaders. He makes it clear that leaders should be able to function at this level of authority, not everyone, but the local assemblies should have leaders of wisdom who can settle disputes and make it stick – authority to settle the issues once and for all. Why? Or, from where does such a radical idea come? Paul says that this apostolic order for the local comes from the international authority of the ecclesia; or, to be clear: there is a direction correlation between the local function of a governmental ecclesia and an international function of the kingdom.
So, to have an international level of spiritual authority available, we must have a local expression of ecclesia in which leaders can establish a final word on personal issues. Until we have that kind of local function, we will not see an international level of spiritual authority. In other words, while the ecclesia now has men and women of unusual spiritual power and authority who can set kingdom order, we still do not experience the pure and proper function of these kinds of leaders at the local level in many instances.
I am not saying that leaders need to involvement themselves in everybody’s business. I am saying that a properly functioning leadership in the ecclesia, according to Paul the Apostle in the Bible, should have leaders who can settle personal disputes brought to that authority, and that decision-making, problem-solving leadership should stick.
If you are thinking, “Well, that will never work in church as we know it,” then you should be thinking, that is why we don’t function with greater spiritual authority to change the natural order, take cities, and effectively confront the culture of our nations! We cannot father nations without this level of international leadership.
Paul is saying that the ecclesia in Corinth is not going to function properly to confront the regional spiritual conditions when it cannot even deal with the local ones. To father nations, we must prepare inheritors who can function at an international level. We must prepare leaders who can wrestle with angelic darkness, rulers with international influence in the spirit who are affecting the atmosphere of our city and region. Corinth didn’t even have enough apostolic order within the ecclesia to deal with petty personal disputes!
If your question is “Doesn’t this refer to a future condition when Jesus returns?” then you would also have to fit what Jesus says to Thyatira into a future condition. In other words, you have to make what Jesus said to this ecclesia centuries ago completely about what He will do when He returns, and to do that you have to put the entire context into a future condition and make the entire kingdom come reality a future expectation that has no here and now authority and power. [Yes, I am well aware than millions of Christians have been taught to believe that.]
If you say, “Only Jesus will judge nations,” you have contradicted Paul and Jesus. To say, that judging the world and angels doesn’t have an immediate, local, personal application here and now makes what Paul says to the Corinthian ecclesia irrational. If you reject the presuppositions of Scripture, you have given yourself license to make the Bible say and mean whatever you wish.
It has been our effort in MinistryMatrix and FreedomHouse, to prepare and activate leaders to function at an international level so that this level of spiritual power and authority is available in our city and region. Since we founded this ministry with international ministry, we have never “had church” without this expectation of international authority and power available at the local level. So, we expect this present move of God, this new era for the ecclesia, to include spiritual experiences like those of the early church. A day of miracles, signs, and wonders. An era of spiritual government. A season of kingdom establishing that redefines “church” more like what Jesus had in mind when He used the word “ecclesia” to describes what He was calling together within His kingdom, an assembly in which the keys of the kingdom would be fully functional!
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