In Roman culture, an Ekklesia was an important part of government, much like a town council, but with a special duty: to teach people to be like and to become – Romans. So much so that if the Emperor came, he would feel comfortably welcome if he should visit.
Jesus used the term to mean:
Disciples gathered to bring heaven to earth
Disciples to rule on earth so earth will be like heaven
Disciples who rule for the Kingdom of Heaven, and
Disciples who help the surrounding peoples become Christians – little Christ’s.
They met in public space – the Temple, and they met in people’s homes.
AnEkklesia didn’t have its own building (with the expense of building it and maintaining the building) or single leaders like a Pastor who was the only person active until Constantine, who forbade meetings in homes and other public spaces, and whose patterns of worship leading were like the pagans. With a single leader in a robe, who led, rather than having several leaders whose job was to prepare the people for ministry, as taught in scripture.
The main purpose of an Ekklesia is to influence the culture surrounding it, so Jesus served these people through Christian Disciples. And so that people surrounding became Christians.
Ekklesia’s prayed for people, ministered to them, announced the Good News of the Kingdom to them, helped them become Christians and Disciples. Who made more Disciples. Who planted more Ekklesias. Often through local businesses – the marketplace. The Message that Jesus preached and taught spread with wonderful and amazing speed.
And you can learn to take part and be a part of this today. What a great way to live!
First, the bad news. We live in a busted up, broken world, full of problems. Many problems to many people. It’s the world we find ourselves in: sickness, poverty, troubled relationships, corrupt governing, and lots more junk.
Sometimes the assumptions built into our local traditions help us get things wrong.
Jesus repeatedly said that he came to give us Life. The Life of God (in New Testament Greek: Zoe). Nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus say his purpose was to come to get you into heaven.
He repeatedly said that he came to bring you Life, Zoe: the Life of God. Heaven is included.
He came to get Life into you: the Life of God. (Something the first Adam lost.) Relationship restored!
Jesus never said to make converts; he said to make disciples. (Converts are included in making disciples.)
He came so you can start helping to bring heaven to earth – now. Wow! You get to help bring heaven to earth.
Salvation is included, and you will go to heaven. And later in our New Heaven and New Earth, God will literally be our Light that we see by, in the Temple.
Help bring Heaven to earth: preach the Good News of the Kingdom. Heal the sick. Free the bound. Make disciples of all nations, all people groups.
Also, you get to pray for heaven on earth:
8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6: 8-10, NKJV
So…my thesis here is that Jesus did not say he came here to get us into heaven, even though he does get us into heaven when we respond with faith. What he repeatedly said was that he came here to give us Life. The Life of God, in us, does result in heaven. And later, into the New Heaven and New Earth.
It’s like that he did not say we were to make converts. He said to make disciples – this should be our focus when evangelizing. Which will result in stronger and more effective Christians than by focusing on making converts. Let’s follow Jesus and do what Jesus said.
Let’s do and minister as Jesus showed, taught, and as he still says to us today in Scripture, with Holy Spirit. Doing as Jesus teaches is better than following local traditions.
This process makes ministering with power, faith and love – easier. Knowing this process, you are more than clear about what to do next. Also, how to help someone take that next step.
I call this The Gospel Process.
The Gospel Process underlies the structure of how Jesus Ministered. He taught the Good News of the Kingdom of God. But preaching or teaching that Gospel is not the underlying process, although it uses that process. He often taught us to heal in that context. A context which changed the atmosphere, told an essential truth confirmed in listeners by Holy Spirit. Creating the atmosphere of the Anointed, his Anointing, and the Kingdom of Heaven.
If you want to minister more like Jesus, learn The Gospel Process and put it to work when you minister. When your ministry has been successful, you are probably already applying this process.
Like so much of what Jesus teaches & shows, this can work explicitly or implicitly. (You can look for and notice how he did this in Scriptures. You can learn a lot, especially if this is new to you and when you are ready to learn.)
Ministering healing and freeing people from unclean spirits is much more simple and easy when you understand The Gospel Process and allow it to work in and through your ministry.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God taught in the shortest form in your bible is in Mark 1:15:
Now is the time, the Kingdom of God is at hand (within reach); repent (make a new and better God-oriented, Kingdom oriented decision) and believe (rely, trust, and depend upon the Kingdom of God – and our King).
This scripture reveals the process when you read and meditate on this description. The process looks something like this:
(Hear the Word of God, because faith comes by such hearing, with the help of Holy Spirit confirming that truth to our spirit: have faith!)
Now. The time has finally come, and the time is now. (No other time is available; only now.)
The time – a Kairos moment, a Divine Appointment, if you will accept it being said this way.
Make a new decision, turning from your old life and orienting totally around the King and the Kingdom (rule) of God.
Believe and trust in the King and his Kingdom.
Now…notice especially the actions, the inner actions of the person hearing and acting on this:
Hear God’s Word and choose faith.
Make a new decision that totally turns around your life. Turning away from how you’ve been to orienting completely towards your new and alternative way of living – towards the King and his Kingdom.
Trusts and believe in God and his Kingdom.
Put those inner actions together and you have a process.
The same process that underlies and is The Gospel Process:
Hear God’s word and choose to trust it, having faith. (Sometimes this is done implicitly, and that’s another article)
In healing, a person at some deep level decides to be healed, to accept healing. Like the hemorrhaging woman who was so determined to touch the hem of the garments of Jesus (his fringes, or tallis) and receive healing: bringing her faith into contact with his Anointing. Her determination was so single minded and great that it reminds me of the being single and not double minded as in James 1. She already had great faith and determination. (From an experiential point of view, it’s hard to tell any difference between great determination and faith.)
In exorcism, like the man who ran to the feet of Jesus before a legion of demons could overcome and prevent him, he ran to Jesus and fell at his feet. He already wanted to be freed! Jesus then used his authority and power (which he gave to his disciples and to us) to tell Legion to leave, and even how to leave.
In healing – with the help of Holy Spirit, faith, love, power and authority – already given by Jesus, we encourage and help someone decide to be healed (or decide to receive healing).
In exorcism, or freeing someone from one or more unclean spirits – with the help of Holy Spirit, faith, love, power and authority – already given by Jesus, we encourage and help someone decide to be freed healed (or decide to receive freedom).
+In each case (healing or exorcism) we create an atmosphere of faith and the experience of the Presence of God (with Holy Spirit and by saying what God says so Holy Spirit can confirm this to the spirit of the person being helped) for God’s work to happen.
+We help or encourage them to make a new decision, orienting around God’s truth instead of orienting around their previous problems.
+To trust, rely on and believe in this new Kingdom of God reality. That is, to believe.
=This, put together, is The Gospel Process. It’s the same process that undergirds the Preaching or Teaching of the Good News of the Kingdom of God, and that works in creating a context for ministering healing or freedom.
I believe this is also true for cleansing lepers (a kind of healing, in my view) and for raising the dead – though I have not yet done these two things. I’m convinced that it’s the same Gospel Process at work.
Oh – and I did not yet mention that this same process undergirds the making of disciples. Again and again – from the first decision to follow Jesus and do what he said, to deciding to receive and act on every other moment of teaching.
The Gospel Process undergirds the entire (every step of) the Great Commission as in Matthew 28!
Now…review this. Follow the links and review what’s written on this page. And pray – talk with and listen to God. And meditate.
And get your own personal revelation and insight on this. Then be a real disciple – apply what you are learning. And as you make other disciples or help disciple other disciples (or as you disciple each other) – share this and help them have their own revelation of this, too. And encourage them to apply what they are learning in their ministry.
Disciples perhaps for generations – and those healed or set free – will be glad for such powerful and effective ministry. Even if they do not know all the details of what happened and how you ministered with power, faith and with love.
Jesus taught lots of things; in particular, there is an important series of things to do in order to minister more like Jesus. From one point of view, here’s an overview:
First, it’s valuable to know what an Ecclesia is. That’s a Greek word frequently translated as “church” in many bibles, today. And that can be confusing because the meaning has changed over the years.
When the Roman’s conquered a new territory, one of the things they would do was to appoint people to transform the local culture to Roman culture. To teach them how to talk, dress and in many other ways act like Romans. So that when the Emperor would come, he would feel at comfortable and at home. These people were backed up by the power of the Roman Empire.
Jesus apparently borrowed the term and used it to mean local Christians, disciples, who would meet in small groups – such as peoples homes (in addition to public places). Encourage and build each other up. Teach and help one another And, to change and transform the surrounding culture – into becoming a Christian culture with lots of disciples. An Ecclesia is backed up by the Kingdom of God, led by Jesus – our King.
This was a period of extremely rapid growth of the Body of Christ, and this was a huge method of helping that to happen. Ecclesia’s made of disciples were very important to the rapid spread of Christianity.
They practiced what is now called “Marketplace Ministry”. Not in local churches with separate buildings where they sat passively as one mostly person spoke. Everyone participated and many were business owners – fishing business, sheep business, a tax collector. Jesus was a worker of wood – making many different things. Later St. Paul was a tentmaker. At that same time there was also a dealer in expensive dyes. And others….
How were such disciples made? Through Ministry. It went something like this:
-Jesus and later his disciples always began with prayer. Prayer, prayer and more prayer. Always much prayer before growth in numbers ad in effective ministry happened.
–Then to go. Going for the Harvest of souls. Going took several forms, which we will explore later. The key point: people were sent.
-Then in that context, the healing of the sick, freeing those bound by unclean spirits; and also the cleansing of lepers and raising the dead. (I often speak of this as being healing the sick and freeing the bound for a shorter phrasing as well as focusing on what is more usual these days. The other two items are still valid.) This attracts a lot more people!
-Then was the making of disciples (of all ethnos, – all people groups). People who learned and who applied and practiced what they were learning. And reported back to a rabbi for more instruction as needed. Most people went on with their lives, happy for the ministry help. A few even said, thanks. A much smaller number were open to learning and to applying what they were learning. The custom among in Israel at that time (where Jesus was ministering) was that a rabbi would teach, disciples would go practice and report back to the rabbi. Who would give more teaching to help, as needed.
-The disciples would in turn become sent ones, who prayed for their areas, then were sent to represent the Kingdom and make more disciples by going through this progression of steps.
-The disciples who were going through this progression and making more disciples would also meet to encourage, help, minister to, and teach one another. All participated. Leadership had the purpose of helping them achieve unity in the faith, maturity in Christ, and to prepare these people for ministry – and more. Ministry was to be done by people helped by leadership to be prepared to do such ministry. This was the biblical pattern.
And this was the progression. Prayer, then going to help gather the harvest – sent in a few but somewhat various ways. Proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Healing sick, freeing the bound – prisoners and captives. Making disciples of all people groups. Planting Ecclesia’s who prayed massively for the local area, ministered generously – who shared the Gospel, healed the sick, freed the bound (attracting many people), making disciples who again applied this progression that Jesus taught – and who made yet more disciples. Then ecclesia’s were planted who continued these continuing cycles leading to rapid growth.
When this pattern is followed, evangelization and ministry spreads faster better and more powerfully than any other method I have ever heard of. This is what Jesus taught. It’s Scriptural. It works powerfully. It helps Missionaries avoid money trouble, when the other methods of sending are added. (Can’t wait? See Luke 10; and also Matthew 10.)
Mark 1:15 gives us the shortest – checklist or bulleted point version – of the Gospel, the Good News, that Jesus preached.
Good News is big news – news that changes everything. It was modeled after how the Romans announced a new Emperor. Messengers were sent out, proclaiming how there was a new ruler. Who would protect the empire, and the peace – the Pax Romana. All were to bow down to the new ruler and worship. So much was this modeled after what the Roman Empire did, I am surprised that Jesus wasn’t killed for announcing this way – and killed far earlier. But God had other plans.
Jesus uses the term Good News in Luke 4 where he gives the longest version of the gospel in the Synoptic, the first three Gospels. He is quoting from Isaiah 61. Israel was very familiar with Isaiah.
So the term “Good News” had multiple meanings to the people of the times in the Roman Empire, including in Jerusalem. It was a strong term.
Let’s take a look at the short version of the Gospel so we don’t overload ourselves at first look.
There are a couple of things about the context that are best understood. You may remember that scripture tells us that Jesus was called to preach to the Hebrews, to Israel, first. The Hebrews were well versed in Torah, the teachings of the first five books of our bible.
They knew well of, and understood much about the Fall of Man and the curses of this broken world that we have inherited. This was written about in Genesis 3:15, and the Hebrews knew this scripture well.
That’s what I like to call the Bad News: we live in a broken world full of curses and problems, such as sickness, death, taxes, relationship difficulties, financial problems, bad politics, imperfect and even evil rulers…the list goes on and on. All of us are affected by at least some of these: the Bad News is personal to us all.
So…the Good News that changes everything is greatlyneeded.
Jesus told us that Now is the time. The time of his coming and of his Kingship (he is the King of the Kingdom of God) – his Kingship had been coming for a long time. And when the human mind hears the word “Now” spoken, without realizing it, we tend to think of now. We momentarily experience ourselves in the present. A side effect of this is that we are more present, and we are more whole minded. Decisions have an even wider impact, helping them to be more solid and long lasting, unlike too many New Year’s resolutions.
Remember, this is being spoken by the King who is present. The Anointed One who has Holy Spirit on him since his baptism in water, Holy Spirit for a purpose – which is an important part of the human experience of the Anointing. (Luke 4 and Isaiah 61 tells us what the Anointing is for. The Hebrews knew this well and were looking forward to the coming of the Anointed: the Messiah (transliterated from the Hebrew) or the Christ (transliterated from the Greek).
When an important truth is spoken, human intuition perceives it, if nothing is getting in the way. Holy Spirit is whispering it to our spirit, and we know; and we know that we know….
So Now is the time. The Time has come. (Kairos moment – anyone?)
Now the big announcement. Here it is, folks. And this is huge. Why, because we live in a broken world full of curses where the adversary rules – that’s a whole other message – but see Genesis.
Now here’s the thing, folks.
When we experience the Presence of God as near us, with us or in us – we experience ourselves as more confident, whole, resourceful and even joyful. (Very much related to the Greek word, salvo – which can mean salvation, wholeness, healing, and more.)
When we experience the Presence of God as far away or absent, we tend to become depressed and hopeless. We may feel fragmented, we do not experience ourselves as feeling whole.
Want to see these differences dramatized? Read Psalms!
The difference is not subtle. It’s very important.
When we experience the truth and Presence of God as in us, near us or in us – we experience not only more wholeness, but more whole-mindedness. This means that what we decide while being this way, these decisions are more whole minded and thus more stable and long lasting.
So the message of Jesus continues. Now is the time (finally). (The King is speaking. Clearly implied but not said.) The Kingdom of God is at hand – literally within reach.
Which means – those areas where the hearer is experiencing the curses or brokenness of this world – such as sickness, financial or relationship difficulties, and so forth — which are under the rulership of the adversary — are all within reach of help.The rule of God as in Eden (Paradise, Garden of) – can be restored to that area of your life.Sickness can be healed. Freedom can be obtained – “the prisoners freed”.
This is good news. Wonderful news! Literally, Good News that changes everything.
We’ll explore how this applies to practical ministry to heal people’s sicknesses and problems. How to restore to people every good thing originally given to us by God.
So watch for future articles, all based on the foundational teaching about the Kingdom of God that Jesus preached. Including:
The Gospel Process– which underlies healing, exorcism, and restoring God’s Kingdom where Satan had ruled.
Jesus often did the unexpected. Told stories and preached things – unexpected. He broke up the social order frequently. He interrupted people with actions and stories and parables that taught unexpected and surprising things.
He disturbed the social order, disturbed Pharisees, threw people out before raising the dead.
All, virtually all of his miracles were unexpected: surprising.
Churches that had a lot of miracles sometimes become complacent. Get comfortable having done a lot. Routine sets in, local church culture solidifies. Miracles stop happening: fewer risks are taken, less faith acted upon. Fewer opportunities given for Holy Spirit to operate and do what is not usual.
Because the usual is the worldly order of things. Customs. Habits. Safety. Corporate culture where there is gradually less and less creativity and surprises.
Holy Spirit needs freedom to operate. Holy Spirit needs us to make room, to allow, to risk with faith; to listen and obey more than do what is customary and safe.
Rules, safety, comfort, complacency – all get in the way of Holy Spirit having freedom to operate.
To have miracles, for faith to operate well – for us to hear God and do what God says – all require us to make room, to give more space to Holy Spirit to operate.
Requires us to give freedom to Holy Spirit to operate.
Then miracles can happen more often.
Let’s create openings. Tell stories, do things: interrupt what has been normal. So the unusual and abnormal – the miraculous – can happen. Listen to Holy Spirit — and do what we are shown, or what we hear.
When you or I reach out to the Kingdom of God, which is literally within reach – at hand — it’s much easier to heal and to be free.
When healing or deliverance is needed, rather than try to achieve these by ourselves – reach out and pull the Kingdom into those areas that need healing or freedom. Or simply enter that which is so close and at hand.
Sooo much easier! This is why we were given the Good News of the Kingdom, so we can do this for ourselves and encourage others to do this.
An easy and more effective way to minister healing and delivering.
A great way to live! Make a deep decision to do so, and trust God.
Trust God. What a simple and radical idea. So simple, and easy, too, when we are doing it.
Life is harder and much more difficult when we are not trusting God.
I say preaches instead of preached because he still preaches through the Body of Christ and with the help of Holy Spirit.
But what is this Good News? It is different than a lot of us expect.
Mark 1:15 is the shortest version. We’ll explore other versions later – this is just a start. Mark gives key bullet points, a sort of minimal set of what this Gospel is. Depending on your translation, it goes something like this: “Now is the time. The Kingdom is at hand. Repent and believe the Good News”.
Let’s take a closer look at this –
Now is the time. It has been a long time in coming. It’s a special moment. And, for humans, when someone – especially with the Anointing, says, “Now” — we tend to focus very much on the present moment. Which is good. Now is the only time decisions can be made. Especially deep decisions.
The Kingdom is at hand – literally means is within reach. This is the Kingdom of God where God rules. Things are the way God wants and says. Not sickness, financial difficulties, relationship troubles – even in families. No trouble with bosses, financial cycles — none of the broken things of this world that affect us so much outside of the Kingdom of God.
Repenting is to make a new and deep decision to turn around our lives and orient them towards God and the Kingdom. In this case, with Jesus preaching – the King is actually physically present. (After he ascended the Apostles taught and preached a bit differently – they had to. They were not the King being physically present.)
And believe. Which can be to continue to believe, and to continue to orient our lives around God and his Kingdom.
What a relief to have God’s Kingdom come and rule where we have troubles in our lives in this broken world.
This is the context, the preaching of the Good News of the Kingdom, by the King (Jesus the Anointed One), where the sick were healed, demons and unclean spirits exorcized, lepers cleansed, the dead raised – and disciples made.
In such a context, the preaching of the Good News of the Kingdom of God changes the atmosphere, and the context – and we more easily receive our Lord’s grace.
Where disciples heal, free the bound, and so forth. Where disciples make more disciples who multiply and make yet more disciples.
More on these things and how they are related in another posting.