One of the greatest lies that the Bride of Christ has yet to fully overcome in history is the lie that Christ’s authority is passed tangibly down through men by way of institution.
Even the defectors from Rome – the protestants – and also the ancient institutions of the east, have not avoided this great pitfall, no matter their very poor excuses and semantic wizardry.
As John records,
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me that an hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is of the Jews.
But an hour is coming, and now is, that the true worshippers will worship the Father in more localized tabernacles.”
Oh wait, He didn’t say that last bit.
Remind me, what exactly did He “institute”?
A member of Christ’s body is one whom Christ Has purchased with His own blood and in whom the Spirit dwells by HIS impartation. That any man was instrumental is incidental to the invisible workings of God Himself.
They may gather in a particular place; but it is only those who are born of the Spirit of Christ that are the tabernacle.
One may teach; but the authority is in the word of Christ alone.
One may prophesy; but the authority is in the Spirit of Christ alone.
Now, many can understand all of this, and say “amen” to these things, yet still remain under the aforementioned lie.
1) They still suppose that some particular tradition of the governing of the local assembly (although it has become sub-local by way of extra-local institutions) is somehow blessed by God, or that at the very least, that it is inherently acceptable to Him.
This could not be further from the truth. That God has done so in certain times past, or even presently meets men in the midst of it, is no endorsement; it is rather a calling out to “come up hither.” The jealousy of carnal men is provoked when they are confronted with this truth, and they are often quick to condemn to eternal fire any who would dare point this out; for their livelihood and self-delusion depends entirely upon they system which they perpetuate.
2) They fear that those who are lead by the Spirit will easily fall into the gnostic and pagan storm of deception that has (always) filled the horizon. This is foolish. For if the accused “unchurched” (as they call them) christians truly remain under the authority of the Holy Spirit, then they shall not be drawn away after another.
This fear is based upon an experience with carnal men who were full of themselves, and not of the Spirit, who were drawn away into even greater error than that from which they departed. Yet such things are unavoidable with or without an institution; therefore this is not an argument. That men are corrupt and self-serving is no excuse to therefore set up earthly institutions to represent the spiritual reality. If anything, it is an argument against such.
3) They will agree that Jesus is the only head, the only mediator, the only priest of the new covenant, and the only good shepherd; yet they insist that these truths become “balanced” in a “practical application” via the institutional methods of man.
But there is no more practical application possible than that which the Holy Spirit Himself can execute; and He, unlike men and their institutions, cannot be infiltrated or driven off course; He will rather (if only we allowed Him) drive such maladies away from His temple, which are His people.
The more absurd objection which now inevitably becomes raised is that if we are lead by what is unseen, how will men know for certain what God is doing, without an institution to represent it? The answer is that to know what God is doing, one must be walking by the Spirit. Again, institutions are no more immune to infiltration, or corruption in general, than any one of their members.
The design of an organic Body is such that it develops immunity to corruption; the design of an institution is such that it cannot help but incubate and feed into corruption.
To set up institutions as the bellweather of God’s movings is to miss God Himself. For if anything, it men who are lead of the Spirit that are the bellweather; but even these can only be perceived by those who are likewise lead. And if anyone does not approve of this arrangement, then he does not trust the Lord with His own people, and cannot be trusted with their care. Unfortunately this is the mindset of almost every man who is considered to be a teacher or spiritual father in our day. They do not truly believe that the Holy Spirit can lead God’s people into all truth.
Therefore, they ought not boast in their knowledge of the scriptures, which say,
“The Spirit breathes where He desires, and you hear His voice; but you do not know from where He comes, and where He goes; so is everyone who has received birth from the Spirit.”
John 3:8 (LITV)
The institutional system that has lorded over God’s people is a mockery of the incarnation of Christ, who said, “a body you have prepared for Me.” For He became man in order to raise us unto partaking in the divine nature; but the trappings of manmade institutions only obstruct this resurrection from among the dead. For the ceremonial laws were fulfilled in a human BODY; and a day is dawning in which the redeemed are breathed upon anew by the Spirit of the Living God; and as a Body like unto His, will rise as in Ezekiel’s vision.
And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.
A child can understand the most basic spiritual implications of when Paul said that God “does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.”
Nor do children need our “correction” when they read and simply understand Jesus’ words when He said, “where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them.”
If we were truly wise and understanding as serpents, as He commanded us to be in this age, then we would come to Him as the little children; not being drawn under so-called spiritual authority of top-heavy men and their lifeless, corporate fictions.
But where are those who know these things and will continue to heed the call of the Bridegroom? Will they remain hiding in the shadows of the ruins, or will they begin to partake in the life of Christ’s Body?
Jesus Christ has already declared, “Let My people go.” He has already been leading as many of His children as will follow Him into the wilderness. He has already parted for them the Red Sea. He has already drowned the armies of Pharaoh. Now He springs forth streams in the desert, and sends down manna to eat; and yet they grumble, not trusting Him to lead them into the promised land.
He WILL find those ready to obey His voice.
“And all with one mind began to beg off.
The first said to him, I have bought a field, and I have need to go out and see it; I ask you, have me excused.
And another said, I bought five yoke of oxen and I am going to try them out; I ask you, have me excused.
And another said, I married a wife, and for this reason I am not able to come.
And the lord said to the slave, Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.
For I say to you that not one of those men who had been invited shall taste of my supper.”
And great crowds came together to Him. And turning, He said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers and sisters, and besides, even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”
Luke14:18-20, 23-26 (LITV)