Unlearning A Perverted Gospel

There are all kinds of ways to hear the gospel.  We may hear it in a church, from someone speaking on TV or radio, or perhaps by direct conversation with another person.  ‘Faith comes by hearing’ is a maxim drummed in to us from very early in our Christian journey.  We hear, through faith the Spirit enables us to believe, and we cross over that invisible line from unbeliever to believer.  The journey begins.

But what if hearing the gospel and receiving the gospel are not the same thing?  What if the gospel that now makes its way across the airwaves, or is preached from the pulpit, or is conveyed by word of mouth has become so distorted and limited that it bears hardly any resemblance to the pure and measureless gospel delivered by Jesus Christ Himself?

Paul didn’t mince words when challenging the Galatian Christians with this very question.

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ (Gal. 1:7 NKJV). Or as The Message put it:

I can’t I believe your fickleness—how easily you have turned traitor to him who called you by the grace of Christ by embracing a variant message! It is not a minor variation, you know; it is completely other, an alien message, a no-message, a lie about God. Those who are provoking this agitation among you are turning the Message of Christ on its head.

Whichever version you prefer, it had become obvious the gospel they were hearing from others was a distorted gospel.  The Greek word Paul used, ‘metastrepho’, translates in English to ‘corrupted’ or ‘perverted’. It means something which has been turned into the opposite character of what it truly is.  Strong language, don’t you think?  He goes on to call those bringing such a perverted gospel ‘anaethema’ or accursed…..not once, but twice (Gal. 1:8 and 9).

What got him so stirred up?

In a nutshell, this perverted gospel the Galatians were hearing from others held no revelation of Christ.  There was no Christ-life in it.  Rather than lead these Christians into spiritual freedom, this corrupted gospel would lead them back into spiritual bondage that had nothing to do with the authentic gospel of grace which Christ suffered for, died and rose to deliver them into.  It was so contrary to the gospel Paul himself had received and originally preached to the Galatians he labeled it a gospel ‘according to man’.

For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.  For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:12,13).

The gospel we choose to embrace must go beyond our hearing:  it must be received into our inner spirit through a revelation, an unveiling, of Jesus Christ.  This authentic gospel, carried by Heaven’s Breath, the Holy Spirit, will always bring deeper revelation of Christ, because it’s the Spirit’s joy to reveal Christ (Jn. 16:14).  The authentic, Spirit-borne gospel will always draw our faces towards Jesus and progressively liberate us, not only from the rule of sin, but also the rule of Old Covenant Law.  This ever deepening revelation of Christ was the only gospel Paul, once profoundly immersed in Law, knew – and the only gospel He tolerated.

And yet this gospel Paul called ‘perverted’ is today openly tolerated, practiced and preached by multitudes of Christians worldwide.  Millions of Christians boast about their freedom in Christ while still observing such false doctrines as spiritual coverings, mandatory tithing, patriarchy and numerous other distortions that cloud and corrupt the pure gospel.  Any doctrine that teaches we can please God by following certain rules is a perversion of the New Covenant gospel.  Anything!

Jesus Christ did not just come to bring us good news.  He is the Good News.  He did not come to show the way back to the Father.  He is the Way.  He did not come to tell us truth, He is the Truth. He did not come to save our lives. He came to be our Life.  Unless the gospel we receive plunges us into an ever deepening revelation of Christ Himself, it is not His gospel.

So many of us have been literally immersed in a Christianity based on observing commandments,  rules and traditions we don’t even know we are embracing a perverted gospel.  Our only hope of deliverance is a far deeper revelation of Christ, a revelation of Christ that continues to increase within us with every passing hour.  It is as we embrace such a revelation that we are progressively liberated from a religion ‘according to man’ and ushered into the freedom of ‘sonship’.  We are led from the law-based gospel of Moses to the far superior grace-based gospel of Christ:

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (Jn. 1:17)

Paul, the former “Pharisee of the Pharisees” spent years unlearning a perverted gospel with none but the Spirit as His teacher and revealer of Christ. After his life-changing encounter with the living Christ on the road to Damascus, it was some years before he even consulted with Christian leadership, and then another fourteen years before he met with them again (Gal. 1:15-19; 2:1-2)  During that time he was being taught by the Spirit and re-educated concerning everything he had formerly believed.

I can bear witness to studying in the same ‘unlearning’ school of the Spirit, and am yet to graduate.  Perhaps you can also. Half a life time spent in institutionalized Christianity takes a lot of unlearning, but thankfully the Spirit is patient!

As He leads us into His school of ‘unlearning’ the Spirit will call many of us away from institutional, organized Christianity into widely diverse pathways, yet always with the same destination in mind:  the deeper revelation of Christ to our souls.

If we are regularly involved in a local church, we may find ourselves becoming restless, hungry of spirit, seeking that ‘something more’ we can’t quite put our fingers on.  The Spirit is wooing us into a deeper revelation of Christ and it will not always be found within familiar walls.  We can ignore, in which case our love for Christ will increasingly grow lukewarm as we distance ourselves from the Spirit’s overtures.  We can knowingly resist, in which case we risk quenching the Spirit.  Or we can follow.

Know that following will come at a cost that may involve loss of relationships, straining of family ties, and isolation.  No-one desiring a greater revelation of Christ can avoid the Cross.  To follow the Lamb we need to have resolved in our hearts that He is worth the cost of following.

Unlearning the gospel of Moses to learn the gospel of Christ is the greatest journey I have ever undertaken, but I would not turn back to the old way for anything this world can offer.  What I have learned about Christ on this journey is far more than I can share in this one post.  I have learned that He is infinitely deeper, wider, higher and greater than my formerly limited gospel would ever allow me to imagine.  I have learned that He is not at all concerned with the rules, customs and traditions I used to think were important to Him.  I have learned that as I embrace Him as both Fulfiller of the Law and End of the Law, together we can explore the vast expanse of His grace without hindrance or condemnation.  I am learning, at last, what it means that He is both my Promised Land and my Rest (Heb. 4:9).

I am unlearning a gospel that measured my value by my hours of church attendance, financial contributions, conformity and rule-keeping and learning a gospel where my righteousness has been freely bestowed without my needing to earn or keep it.

I am unlearning a gospel where a hierarchy of human mediators stood between me and God and learning a gospel where Christ is the only mediator I will ever need or desire.

I am unlearning a gospel that devalues and insults Christ’s sacrifice by adding man-made additions to the finality of His Cross (Gal 2.21).

And I am learning the sheer exhilaration of doing Life with Life Himself.

How about you?

Don’t be afraid to enter the Spirit’s School of Unlearning.  It is the portal to your new life of rest from dead works, ‘for you, brethren, have been called to liberty’ (Gal. 5:13).  That does mean you.

Choose Life!

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2017 and beyond.  All rights reserved.  Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.

The Magnificent Pursuit

pexels-photo-24289-pursuitHe watched intently, wordlessly, as they departed the sacred Garden where all of them had walked together.  There they had communed, talking, laughing and celebrating each other’s presence, while Spirit-breeze, the Ruarch, gently caressed their faces and the sunset marked the end of another perfect day in Eden.  This day the sunset would not find them together, this day Eden would be lonely without the presence of the man and the woman.  This day would never be forgotten by either God or human. 

But even as His tender heart struggled with, endured and finally embraced the searing, unfamiliar pain of the unimaginable separation another emotion was rising forcefully within Him.  Resolve.  He had been betrayed and rejected.  The freedom which had set apart the man and the woman, created in His very own image, had become the means of their treachery.  Still, He would not have contemplated denying them that freedom.  To do so would have meant they were less than His image, like the beasts of the field or the fish with which He had filled the oceans. 

As he looked around at the Garden, the Tree now guarded by cherubim wielding fiery swords, His resolve grew indominatable, rising until it erupted out of Him in a terrifying, determined cry that echoed fiercely throughout His creation.  In that timeless moment every created being, every rock, tree, river and valley, every light that lit the sky, understood the gravity of that harrowing warrior cry, and trembled.  He would pursue them!  Throughout their wanderings, through their ever darkening history, through their depravity and violence, through their inevitable misery, He would pursue them, even tasting that misery for Himself. He would pursue them even into the depths of Hades to bring them home.  He would redeem them with whatever it cost Him, until once again God and humanity walked together, hand in hand, spirit to spirit, face to face. Whatever it took, He would do.

Let the pursuit begin. 


Seven generations from Adam humans, by choice, were still able to walk with God as the first man and woman had walked with God in Eden (Gen. 3:8).  Enoch walked with God 300 years and God was so pleased He simply ‘took him’ from the earth (Gen. 5:24; Heb. 11:5; Jude 14).   That must have been some walk.

By the tenth generation from Adam the earth had become a very violent place.  Humanity’s wickedness had increased to where their thought and intention was ‘only evil continually’.  But amid such evil Noah also walked with God and ‘found grace in the eyes of the Lord’ (Gen. 6:8,9).  However, Noah was not ‘taken’ by God but instead was chosen to be the seed bearer for all future humanity.

By the time Biblical history reaches the twentieth generation from Adam, we find Abraham and his son Isaac walking not ‘with God’ but ‘before God’, or in the sight of God (Gen. 17:1; 24:40; 48:15).  Things had changed again by the twenty first generation from Adam, when Jacob was asking God to walk with him (Gen. 28:20).

And so it goes.  Where once our race delighted simply in being with God where He was, we now expect God to be with us.  Where once our deepest desire was to walk continually in His Presence, now our thoughts mostly center on ourselves, our own walk and the hope that God might turn up and bless whatever we put our hand to.  Isaiah expressed our situation this way: I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, according to their own thoughts (Isa. 65:2).

But we have not figured on the determination of this God of ours to restore what was lost between Him and us.  And rarely do we give any thought to the side of Him that caused the Victorian poet Francis Thompson to pen his famous poem The Hound of Heaven.*

We pride ourselves on our apparent knowledge of God – but this God who doggedly pursues us, who in relentless love hunts us down and corners us, who gets in our face and demands a yes or a no from us –  well, we don’t talk about Him much do we?  We hold conferences, write books and have endless discussion about making our church environments more ‘seeker sensitive’ without ever acknowledging the greatest Seeker is God Himself.  We are so caught up in interpreting God, we miss His heartbeat; so driven in our explaining of Him, we are blind to the passion that drives Him.

Through exile in Egypt, years in a dry and dreary wilderness, and into a land flowing with milk and honey this unmentionable God pursued Israel, and continued to pursue them throughout centuries of rejection and grief.  This same God pursued, impregnated and protected a young Jewish virgin whose culture declared she should be stoned.  He turned up at the River Jordan, on a Galilean beach, in marketplaces and synagogues, and of all places the great Jerusalem temple, in His endless pursuit of a people who might once again walk with Him.

Defiantly, He took the road through hated enemy territory in his pursuit of a common Samaritan woman and her neighbours.  He sought out and found tax collectors, publicans, women of bad reputation, the disabled and the outcast in His great pursuit. He healed, pleaded, reasoned, wept, and finally bled pursuing His passion in the midst of indifference and violent hostility.  He stared down the jaws of death and refused to co-operate, rising undaunted from the grave to continue the hunt He had set for Himself in Eden.

He lingered in a burial garden in His pursuit of Mary from Magdala.   He turned up unexpectedly in a darkened room where His confused and disappointed followers hid in fear.  He lit a fire on a beach to attract the attention of weary, hungry disciples just to spend time with them.

He confronted a dyed-in-the-wool Pharisee on the road to Damascus and dared him to return the pursuit.  That former Pharisee, Paul, would later remark that he had been ‘laid hold of’, in other words, ‘arrested’ by this One who pursued and won him (Phl. 3:12).

And so the pursuit continues, with God always as initiator and pursuer, and we as the apple of His eye.

You see, it’s all about the walking.

Can two walk together unless they are agreed? (Amos 3:3)  The walk that God and humanity enjoyed together was like nothing we have experienced in our earthly existence. That walk, face to face, spirit to spirit, cannot be undertaken by angels, or by any created being apart from human beings, because only human beings were made in the image of God.  And God desires that it be restored.

His quest for a company of human beings whose souls are knit together with His own has led Elohim, our Three-In-One God, on the greatest pursuit of the ages.  That perfect communion He yearns for with humans has cost Him more than we can understand or imagine.  It is the search for a Bride for Himself.  It is a mystery above all mysteries, unfathomable by the human mind.  Yet, even though it is mystery, it can be responded to by those who even just begin to perceive it.

Where are you?’: the heartbreaking cry of Eden.  ‘Where are you?’: the ever echoing question through human history.  ‘Where are you?’ reverberates through Heaven and earth even now, even among those who call themselves His own.  If you hear that cry in your soul, be it ever so faintly, there is a very clear choice.  We can hide, as our human ancestors hid among the trees in the Garden, or we can respond: ‘Here am I!’

‘Here am I’ has no conditions to its availability, no ifs buts or whys.  ‘Here am I’ has counted the cost and has deemed the One who asks it worthy. ‘Here am I’ is persuaded that walking with God is the only walk worth desiring.  ‘Here am I’ can only truly be uttered with empty hands.

Wherever we may be on our journey with Jesus Christ, each and every one of us is on this journey only because He pursued us.  Let’s not fool ourselves that we’re here because of our wise choices, moral living, church attendance, respectable family background, theology, Bible study, denomination or being born in the right country.

We are invited into fellowship with God because:  God. Has. Pursued. Us.  It’s that simple.

The invitation to walk with God stands. And the cry still resounds: ‘Where are you?’ Each one of us must answer one way or another, because not to answer is to answer.

Choose Life!

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;

I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways

Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears

I hid from Him, and under running laughter…

From those strong Feet that followed, followed after….

Excerpt from ‘The Hound of Heaven’ by Francis Thompson, 1893

*For a modern adaptation of The Hound of Heaven, I recommend this video:  https://vimeo.com/89705938

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2017   Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.

Everybody Got A Hungry Heart

Double exposure hunger begging hands and dry soil. Represent that lot of people in the world are hungry and starvation, they need help and hope for better life

Within the recesses of the human heart there is a gnawing hunger common to all humanity.  Whether one is unschooled or highly educated, whether we live in the lap of luxury or in a grass hut, whether we feast at kings’ tables or scratch for roots and berries, the hunger in our souls is common to our race.

Human bodies were created to experience, enjoy and be satisfied by food (Gen. 1:29).  Human souls were created to experience, enjoy and be satisfied by communion with God (Ps. 42:1-2). Before God created humanity He filled our environment with edible vegetation and fruitful trees, each containing their own seed so that humanity could reproduce and cultivate the life these plants held.  All food that was needed for their physical survival and ongoing well-being was abundantly provided in readiness for the creation of the human race.

And in the midst of the garden He planted the Tree of Life to ensure that the hunger of the soul would also be continually satisfied (Gen 2:9).  The Tree of Life was provided by God as spiritual food for the souls of the man and the woman.  Its fruit included the nine fruit of the Spirit we read about in Galatians 5:22-23, which in one word can be summed up as ‘righteousness’.

But another Tree was also planted in the midst of the garden, because righteousness must be chosen but cannot be imposed.  Righteousness imposed becomes Law,  and Law can never produce Life, it can only imitate Life. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was provided so that humanity could choose the Tree of Life, a choice of righteousness and life over law and death.  When Adam knowingly chose to side with the rebel angel Satan, he chose death over life.  (Remember, Adam was not deceived, he understood what he was doing (1 Tim. 2:14).  See also Romans 5:12, 15).

The result, as we know, was catastrophic both for humanity and for the earth.

Until it wasn’t.

Jesus Christ turned the greatest calamity in human history on its head.  “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness” He proclaimed, “for they shall be satisfied.”  When challenged by those whose power resided in Law He made it clear He had come as the the spiritual food humanity was craving (John 6:33-35).  He had not come to fill human bellies, but human souls.  So they found a tree and hung Him on it, but He turned that tree into a Tree of Life too.

The only remedy for the deep hunger of the human soul is Christ.  The story of the prodigal son is not simply a parable about rebellious teenagers.  It is about each and every one of us.  What drove the prodigal home? Hunger (Luke 15:17).  His soul grew weary of the unsatisfying dregs of the world and longed for the feast at his father’s table.

Is there anything human beings haven’t tasted to try and satisfy the soul-hunger that drives us?  For some it’s the pursuit of money, career and a comfortable lifestyle, for others it’s the temporary thrill of dangerous lifestyle choices.   Some find solace in the haze of substance abuse.  Others pursue all kinds of physical pleasures.  For some it’s the approval and applause of fellow humans.  Some believe a life spent in charitable service or a worthy cause will appease the hunger. And so the list grows endlessly. “To a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet” Pro. 27:7

Jesus Christ, both divine and human, is the only person who lived without being subject to human soul-hunger. “I have food to eat that you don’t know about” He once told His disciples when they urged Him to eat (Jn. 4:32).  When He spent forty days and nights in the wilderness fasting, it was not until afterward that He felt physically hungry (Luke 4:2).  His communion with the Father was so perfect and so satisfying at times it over-rode the physical needs of His human body. But it was at the Cross, as He bore the full weight of humanity’s separation from God, that He experienced the depth of human soul-hunger.  “I thirst” was not just a cry for physical sustenance but the cry of God Himself tasting what it is like to be eternally separated from God.

On this earth there is just one group of people who hold the key to remedy this human soul-hunger. Jesus, our Tree of Life, has entrusted His church with His message to every human soul: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”  There will always be those who will reject Life and continue to choose the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but each soul inherits the right to choose, because righteousness must be chosen.

Why then are so many churches able to run food programs for the physically hungry and homeless, but unable to deliver a living, satisfying Christ to the human soul? Why are so many hungry, thirsty people pouring out of organized Christianity (aka as ‘Church’) in desperate need of the only thing that can satisfy them:  Christ?  People are dying of spiritual hunger in the middle of the largest storehouse on earth.  As I’ve shared elsewhere, it is just too easy to label them all as “rebellious church hoppers”.  Something is drastically wrong.

Not long ago I had a dream in which a friend I was travelling with said she was hungry and was going to find some ‘fast food’.  We discussed the wisdom of this and despite her hunger she agreed to go with me instead to the town library.  On the way we passed three memorials to renowned Christian teachers, now all deceased, and stopped in front of each memorial to consider their legacy.  Reflecting on this I realized each of these teachers, who lived in different parts of the world at different times and were vastly different in culture and personality, had an intensely deep knowledge of Christ and His Cross.  We know this because each has left us his teachings in books and articles that are still widely available. By the time we arrived at the Library (symbolic for God’s Word) we were no longer seeking ‘fast food’ but something far more satisfying:  more of Christ.

Jesus literally handed out fast food once when He turned a few fish and loaves into a meal for thousands.  When the people wanted more He said they would never be satisfied unless they ate from Him, the Living Bread.  Sadly, most of them turned away in search of the nearest McDonalds (Jn. 6:1-66).

The mixed fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was good for food and pleasant to the eyes, as God had ordained all the trees in the Garden to be, but it had another ingredient that delivered death, not Life (Gen. 3:6).  And it created within humanity a gnawing spiritual hunger that can be satisfied by nothing and no-one except communion with Christ Jesus.

The fast food gospel of entertainment, prosperity, law and Cross-less Christianity now so prevalent across the Church landscape promises hungry souls an end to hunger,  but can only deliver a clever imitation that cannot sustain them. Sooner or later people hungering and thirsting after Christ and His Kingdom must settle for the imitation or go in search of the real thing, even if that search leads them outside the comfort and familiarity of traditional Church settings.

Like a bride stirring to the Bridegroom’s call after a long and restless sleep many believers are now awakening, hungry, thirsty and restless of spirit.  This hungry Bridal company will leave the apparent safety of her chambers to pursue the Bridegroom through the dangerous ‘streets and squares’ crying “Have you seen the One I love?” until she finds Him.  And when she finds Him, she will not let Him go  (Song of Songs 3:1-4)

Choosing the wrong tree has cost humanity dearly. Its mixed, bitter fruit has produced a soul-destroying hunger which in turn is the cause of all violence, injustice, and every kind of human misery.

But the Tree of Life still stands in the midst of the Garden.  The way back has been provided – no flaming sword can keep us from the Love of God in Christ.  Death and hunger are defeated. Wandering can cease, souls can be satisfied, rest is at hand.

Choose Life!

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2017. All right reserved.   Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.

 

Women And Priesthood

Some of you may be aware that for the last two and a half years I, along with three other women bloggers, have been involved in a joint project-blog called Ishshah’s Story.  Ishshah’s Story has recently been retired due to our various commitments elsewhere, but I want to share the last article I posted there because the subject of spiritual abuse and gender injustice towards women and girls within institutional Christianity is one I am passionate about.


Recently one of the world’s foremost Christian leaders reiterated his organisation’s official stance excluding women from the priesthood. Elsewhere in the Christian world woman’s entitlement to ordination on an equal basis with her male counterparts is still being hotly debated and is far from settled. Women who believe they are being called by God to serve His church pastorally or in other leadership capacities are anguishing about how to both obey God and fall in line with their denomination’s opposing stance on the matter.

The arguments from both sides of this debate obviously can’t be covered in one article and there are many resources available for those who wish to study more widely¹. In this particular post I want to focus on three core elements and consider each of these from a Biblical perspective: calling, priesthood and ordination.

Calling

Whatever pathway we choose in service to God, most Christians would agree His Word is our first guidepost, accompanied by the conviction of the Holy Spirit that God is desiring us to follow a specific direction in which our God-given gifts can be best utilised for His people and His glory. This sense of deep, consistent conviction is what most of us would recognise as a ‘calling’ from God in a specific area of service to Him (1 Tim. 1:9; Eph. 4:1-7).

There are certain areas of calling that are universal for all Christ followers, including the call to take up our cross and follow Christ, the call to love one another and our neighbour, and the call to share the good news of the gospel. Individual Christians, regardless of gender, can also experience a personal calling to a specific area of ministry, such as a deep desire to serve God in a particular location or within a certain people group.

Throughout Christian history women have sensed God’s calling to serve Him in the same way in which men have felt called to serve God. The Holy Spirit has not been poured out on females in a lesser measure or in a more limited way than on males (Acts 2:17). A man sensing God’s calling on his life may struggle with issues such as finance, education or social and cultural barriers, but a man is never restricted from serving God on the basis of gender. On the other hand a woman sensing God’s calling is frequently told she may not serve God in certain capacities simply because she is not a man.

Great swathes of Christianity still place severe limitations on the expression of a woman’s spiritual calling, regardless of how gifted she may be, based on a narrow, biased interpretation of some New Testament passages which are held above the fuller counsel of the whole of scripture.

Certain trailblazing women throughout history have challenged these restrictions and had fruitful ministries, usually at great personal cost. For the most part though, untold numbers of Christian women have historically been locked out from officially pursuing their calling to ministry by a church firmly dominated by male leadership and a culture of gender discrimination that does not reflect the words or the teachings of Jesus Christ. As the link in the first paragraph of this article demonstrates, in some powerful Christian circles things have not changed: calling and gifting take second place to gender.

Priesthood

So, despite this male dominated atmosphere, does the Bible shed any light on whether or not a woman who feels called to serve God in ministry can be a priest?

Under the Old Covenant, the whole nation of Israel, i.e. men, women and children, were appointed by God as a holy nation of priests among the nations (Ex. 19:6). Within that national calling to priesthood a specific priesthood from the tribe of Levi was also set apart from the general Hebrew community. Their role was to minister to God, observe the ritualistic Law, and serve as the people’s mediators before Him (Ex. 28:41; 29:44).

In the New Covenant, however, Christ alone is the one mediator between God and His people. Only He is designated specifically as our Priest and Great High Priest (Heb. 3:1; 4:14,15; 6:20). Christ has replaced the Levitical priesthood and became the eternally risen mediator between God and humanity (Heb. 8:4-11; 1 Tim. 2:5).

Under this New Covenant of grace all God’s people are called equally to priesthood, regardless of ethnicity, age, class or gender (1 Peter 2:5,9). Neither is there any hierarchy in this universal priesthood of believers, for all are set apart and placed ‘into’ Christ, in Whom there are no divisions (Gal. 3:26,28). The book of Revelation confirms this new priesthood of all believers (Rev. 1:5,6) and declares that this priesthood will reign with Christ during the Millennium (Rev. 20:6). Again, there is no indication in these scriptures that this universal priesthood is exclusively male. It is a priesthood of believers, not based on gender or any other factor, but solely on faith in Christ.

It is vitally important for anyone sensing a specific call of God on their life to understand this truth. All believers belong to God’s spiritual priesthood, set apart for God’s purposes and for His glory. In the Kingdom of God women are joint heirs with Christ and as such have been appointed as serving priests on the same basis as men (Rom. 8:17). The right to serve in any capacity to which God calls her is a woman’s inherent entitlement under the New Covenant.

Ordination

The problem area is around the word ‘ordination’. Generally speaking, ordination is acknowledgement that an individual can officially serve in leadership within a Christian denomination. It is recognition that they have undertaken the required educational process and have the desired spiritual attributes to function within that denomination in an official capacity. The dictionary defines it as the act of receiving ‘holy orders’.

Ordination, however, is not known in the New Testament. It is a practice that, like many other church practices, gradually crept in to church life as Christianity grew and increasingly merged with the religious cultures of the world. There is no New Testament evidence that the earliest Christian leaders distinguished themselves from fellow believers either by wearing certain items of clothing or taking such titles  as reverend, bishop, priest, pastor, etc. Some were called apostles, some elders, others deacons, but these were descriptions of recognised function, not titles.

Neither Peter or Paul in their letters introduced themselves as Apostle Paul or Apostle Peter, but as ‘an apostle’, in the same way as they described themselves as servants, or bondslaves (Rom. 1:1; 1 Cor. 1:1; Gal 1:1 ; Titus 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:1)

As Christianity began to embrace the practices of the surrounding world and formalised itself into rankings and heirarchy, a special title and specific clothing became necessary to set apart an individual from other believers and indicate his position in church leadership.

As an example of how Bible translators have sometimes interpreted scripture to support this creation of a priestly class let’s consider the following passage from 1 Timothy 3:1 in the KJV: “This is a true saying, if a man desires the office of a bishop he desireth a good work”.

In the original NT language, the word translated ‘man’ is not gender specific – it is a Greek pronoun meaning ‘whoever’.   ‘Bishop’ is the Greek word ‘episcope’ which means someone who takes general oversight (not a title but a function). And the word ‘office’ is not present in the original Greek at all.

The nearest thing to ordination we find in the New Testament is the ‘laying on of hands’ which is mentioned in relation to the filling of the Holy Spirit and impartation of spiritual gifts (Acts 8:18; Acts 9:17; 1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6; Heb. 6:2).

In Acts 8 we read about a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in a city of Samaria during which ‘both men and women were baptised’ in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:12). When Peter and John arrived to witness what was happening, they laid hands on these new believers and they were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17). There is no indication at all that the laying on of hands was something reserved only for men in the early church.

Whether denominational ordination is God’s pathway for her is something each woman sensing a calling to ministry must work out prayerfully for herself. However, I firmly believe no Christian woman should ever believe herself disqualified from God’s holy spiritual priesthood on the word of any Christian leader or institution. If God is calling you, you have received your ‘holy orders’ – follow that call, even if it leads outside the walls of your denomination. God has not disqualified you, men have.

Summary

  1. Every Christian woman or girl is a member of God’s appointed priesthood by virtue of being ‘in Christ’, regardless of the rulings of human leaders and their institutions.
  2. Any Christian woman or girl may experience a calling from God and this calling is not Biblically restricted on the basis of her gender. It is restricted only by individual denominational doctrines.
  3. Some Christian women feel their calling to serve God lies within their denomination and therefore seek ordination within their chosen organisation. This decision should be respected, but denominational ordination should not be confused with God’s calling or appointment. God has already appointed women to His priesthood.

The full, equal and unrestricted priesthood of women and girls in Christ cannot be Biblically disputed. What continues to be sadly lacking is the ability and willingness of some Christian institutions to recognise and act on this foundational Biblical truth.

¹Women For The Nations is a good place to start studying if you’re new to this debate.

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2017 and beyond.   Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.

Until Christ Is Formed

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Travail.

It’s a very outdated way of describing a woman’s heavy labor during childbirth. A word rarely heard these days. Try dropping the word ‘travail’ at the local Playgroup or nearest women’s health clinic and it’s pretty certain people will look at you like you just landed from Mars. It’s right up there with: ‘curmudgeon’ (ill-tempered person), ‘flummoxed’ (confused) and ‘lollygagging’ (a word my mother used when she meant ‘wasting time’).

In older Bible versions ‘travail’ (Greek ‘odin’) is used instead of ‘labor’ to describe a deep sense of spiritual anguish that can only be compared to a woman in the last stages of giving birth. It is a word Paul used to warn of the sudden destruction coming with the Day of the Lord (1 Thess. 5:3). In a much more personal sense it’s also the word he chose to convey the intensity of his own passion to see his spiritual children, those he said he had ‘begotten through the gospel’ (1 Cor. 4:15), grow into the fullness of their salvation:

My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you…

Gal. 4:19 KJV

What was it that caused Paul, an apostle, teacher and preacher, such inner distress? It was the lack of tangible evidence that Christ had ‘been formed’ in the spiritual children he loved.

This concept of Christ ‘being formed’ in us is not one that gets much discussion today. In fact it’s about as popular as the word ‘travail’ is. Maybe that’s why modern Christianity is crowded with believers who seem to be permanently parked at ‘Salvation Station’ and seldom progress to their great destination: ‘Christ In Us’.

Paul’s anguish wasn’t confined to the Galatians. To the Corinthians he wrote:

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.   I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. 1 Cor. 3:1-2 NKJV

It’s quite possible to be a Jesus-believer, to have come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ as Saviour, but yet not to have Christ formed in us. For Christ to be formed in us we must do more than believe in Him, we must partake of Him. To partake of Him we must be fed the ‘meat’ of His Kingship and His Kingdom.

The word ‘Christ’ is Jesus’ title, not His surname. It is the English translation of the Greek ‘christos’ and the Hebrew ‘mashiach’. It means Anointed One, Messiah, and King. In Old Testament times only kings and priests were anointed with oil, a sign someone was being sanctified and set apart for service to God and to His people. Jesus Christ is both our Great High Priest and our Messiah/King, set apart as God’s chosen One – the only One worthy to mediate before the Living God for humanity and the only One worthy to reign as humanity’s King.

It is this Christ, God’s chosen and eternal Anointed King who must be formed in us. It is of the knowledge of Him and His Kingdom that we must partake if we are to grow up into mature Christ-followers. It’s important that we start out  adoring Christ as Saviour and seeking to know Him. But it’s important also that we grow beyond that initial stage into the knowledge of Christ as more than Saviour – as the Risen Lamb of God who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I know this statement may be a new thought to some, but evangelization of the world, though a worthy cause, is not God’s greatest purpose for the church. His greatest purpose is to have a people conformed to the image of His Son (2 Cor. 3:18).

Until Christ is formed in us we will continue to follow after men and women in His place. This was the Corinthians’ problem. They had become divided into warring factions, some loyal to Paul, others loyal to Apollos. Paul called their behavior carnal. They may have believed in Jesus Christ, but they had not yet allowed Him to be formed in them. They preferred milk to meat. They preferred to remain as babes in Christ rather than ‘spiritual people’ growing in the fullness of the knowledge of the Christ and His Kingdom (1 Cor. 3:1-9).

Until Christ is formed in us we will continue to live under the bondage of law in place of the freedom of the Spirit. This was the Galatians’ problem. They had been deceived by false apostles into departing from the pure gospel Paul had delivered to them. They were embracing elements of the Old Testament Law, such as physical circumcision, in an effort to be more acceptable to God. They were rejecting the freedom secured at the Cross. Rather than having Christ formed in them they were becoming alienated from Him by nullifying their Blood-bought freedom and seeking a righteousness of their own (Gal. 5:1-8).

The issues Paul anguished over among the Corinthian and Galatian believers have not gone away with the passage of time. Modern Western Christianity is still plagued with the problem of believers who remain immature and carnal for far too long, who prefer milk to meat and whose leaders seem incapable of delivering the solid meat of Christ in any case. Similarly, way too many believers still struggle under a gospel of law-keeping and fail to enter into the soul-rest available to them in Christ (Matt. 11:28-29; Heb. 4:10-11).

Add to this sad situation an army of ‘apostles’ who wouldn’t have a clue what Paul was talking about when he wrote: ‘My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you…’ and it’s no wonder hungry Christ-followers are increasingly crying out for that which will satisfy their longing to be filled with the fullness of Christ.

Let me just add a word of warning here: anyone who claims apostolic authority and does not ‘travail’ in the Spirit until Christ is formed in God’s people is not an authentic apostle. I believe there are apostles among us, and always have been, because Christ gave them and others as gifts to His church when He ascended (Eph. 4:8-13). But they are not busy insisting on a title, accumulating personal wealth, or building little empires. In many cases they are hidden away, unknown and dishonored, but rest assured they know what it is to travail ‘until Christ is formed’ in His church. And they do it again and again, as Paul intimated.¹

The good news is that there is a people in whom Christ is being formed. There is a remnant whose hunger for Christ will not allow them to settle for anything less than ALL the promises of God that He embodies (2 Cor. 1:20). There is a Bride being raised up by the Spirit of God in whom Christ can and will display His fullness. This Bride pursues Him ardently, worships Him as King and increasingly lives within His Kingdom. His Presence with her is her greatest delight.

Let’s not be distracted or distressed by either the chaotic state of the world, or the confused state of organized Christianity. Let’s watch, let’s encourage one another, let’s continue to pursue the Bridegroom above all else…..

Until Christ is both formed in us and comes forth from us in all His Kingly majesty.

¹ For a Biblical perspective on what an apostle looks like read 1 Corinthians 4:1-15.

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2016. Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.

From The Archives: Of His Flesh and Of His Bones: A Mystery

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One of the things I like about some more historic versions of the Bible is their poetic language. I know not everyone will agree and some struggle to understand the older translations, so this is purely an individual observation. Modern language translations and paraphrases also have an important place and personally I enjoy consulting a variety of Bible versions, old and new, to catch the full panorama of what the writers were trying to convey.

A certain phrase that always draws me in the New King James Version is found in Ephesians 5:30, describing our mysterious relationship with Christ as our Bridegroom:

‘For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.’

In many more recent Bible versions this phrase has been omitted on the grounds it doesn’t appear in some of the oldest manuscripts. I’ll leave the ongoing ‘fors’ and ‘againsts’ for its inclusion in Ephesians to the translators, while still choosing to meditate on the beautiful implications of the words in revealing the depths of Christ’s passion for us. (For a list of some Bible versions that do include this phrase see my footnote at the end.)

In the preceding verses Paul is writing to the church primarily about relationships, with God and with others. He begins to speak about the marriage relationship and in the middle of his statements seems to catch hold of a revelation of Christ and His Bride. (Now I’m not going to divert into the varied viewpoints on Christian marriage in this post, but in case you’re interested in that topic you may find this useful.)

The phrase Paul uses to convey his revelation takes us back to Genesis 2:23 and Adam’s announcement: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man.’ The first bride, Ishshah (woman), was formed by God from the very physical substance of the first man. (Ishshah was not called Eve until after the Fall.) She was not a separate creation to the man, as many believe. The Hebrew word used to describe her formation by God is ‘banah’, meaning to build, rebuild or establish, and implies a continuation of something already begun (Gen. 2:22). It is not the same word used for humanity’s creation in Genesis 2:7, which is ‘yatsar’.

An enduring truth we learn from the New Testament is that God reveals spiritual revelations first through natural circumstances (1 Cor. 15:46). Jesus is the second Man and the last Adam (1 Cor 15:45-47). Just as the first bride was formed of natural substance from the opened side of the first Adam, so was Christ’s Bride brought forth from His spiritual substance when blood and water flowed from His pierced side at Calvary (John 19:34).

Genetically you can’t get any closer to a person than being their flesh and blood. In using the phrase ‘of His flesh and of His bones’ I believe Paul wanted to bring the church to the realisation that Jesus looks on His Bride not as separate to Himself but as an essential part of Himself, more intimately connected to Him than anything else in all of creation.

Genesis 2 continues: ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’ (v.24). This blueprint for human marriage, which is an imperfect shadow of Christ and His Bride, was reaffirmed by Jesus under questioning from the Pharisees in Matthew 19:3-6.

The perfect ‘one flesh’ unity experienced by the first man and woman is something that was lost to humanity at the Fall. Between them there was no shame, fear, contention, suspicion, envy, or striving to control or rule the other – just a wondrous sense of being ‘one flesh’ in everything. The flesh referred to here is more than just a physical union. The Biblical concept of flesh encompasses the entire earthly nature of man: body and soul, which includes our minds, emotions, wills and thought lives. The very essence of the man, the physical framework as well as the ability to function as a fully individual, intelligent personality, was the material with which the newly fashioned woman was formed. Her breath of life, the spirit, however, was from God (Gen. 2:7). And this ‘new creation’ of womankind had been there, hidden inside the male, from the beginning (Gen. 1:27)

It is not the first Adam and his bride that I want to focus on in this post, but reviewing some of the events in Eden is helpful in understanding our own role as Christ’s Bride. The story of Adam and his bride Ishshah is only a foreshadowing of the more perfect and wondrous oneness that Jesus intends to establish between Himself and His perfected Bride.

Jesus, as the last Adam, left “His father and His mother” – God. (And yes, God is both Father and Mother in the sense that He encompasses what we ourselves have neatly divided into male and female qualities). Jesus, like the first Adam, experienced a deep sleep in the tomb and while His human body slept God was busy building another body: the spiritual Body of Christ we call the church. God specialises in bringing form out of chaos. Amid all the confusion, fear and despair of those hours between the death and resurrection of Christ, the young church, having come forth from the opened wound on His side, was being formed.

Jesus came not only to offer salvation but to ‘be joined to His wife’. This phrase “be joined” does not accurately convey, in the English, the true depth of its ancient meaning. It means to be stuck together like glue, cemented, or to be fastened to one another as two oxen were yoked with the same yoke. Perhaps this is what Jesus had in mind when He told us His yoke was easy (Matt. 11:29-30).

‘This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh’, proclaimed Adam. But in Christ, the last Adam, the order has been reversed: we are of His flesh and of His bones. Bearing in mind that the natural comes before the spiritual, in the first Adam’s statement bone came before flesh. Bones are the rigid inner structure of the body, representing the Old Covenant with its inflexible framework of law inscribed on hard and impersonal stone tablets. The flesh nature, the part of us that houses the heart and the individual personality, characteristics and disposition, is mentioned second, symbolizing the New Covenant relationship of grace instituted by the second Adam, Christ. The law of the Spirit is now written on our fleshly hearts and fulfilled in us by Christ Himself. That is why in Christ, the order has been reversed and we have become ‘of His flesh and of His bones’.

This ‘flesh and bone’ Bride was hidden in Christ from before the foundation of the world (Matt. 25:24; Eph. 1:4), even before the creation of Adam and Ishshah.   She is being made ‘one flesh’ with Him, not through natural means but through His Spirit. We acknowledge this every time we partake of the bread and wine that symbolically represent our Bridegroom’s flesh.

The place Christ has reserved for His Bride could not be any closer or any more intimately connected to Him. He has prepared her a royal table and calls her to sit with Him there, even in the thwarted presence of her defeated spiritual enemies. At that table He pours out His Spirit abundantly upon her, in an unending anointing of His own divine essence. He clothes her richly in His own righteousness and gracious mercy, and provides her a dwelling place with Him into an eternity which God has ordained they will cohabit (Psalm 23:5-6).   Once and for all, two shall be one, not in the flesh, but in the Spirit.

Yes, it is a mystery, but a glorious mystery being unfolded in and upon us, even now. Selah!

Footnote: King James Version, New King James Version, 21st Century King James Version, Youngs Literal Translation, Wycliffe Bible, World English Bible, Jubilee Bible, International Standard Version, Geneva Bible, Darby Translation

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2014   Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.

Somewhere A Church

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Heard the one about there being no perfect church? It goes like this: ‘Well, there’s no perfect church because churches are made up of imperfect people’, or words to that effect.  It’s one of those often repeated Christianese statements that have no basis in scripture but are frequently thrown around as if they do.

I don’t buy it.

I believe there is a perfect church. Here’s why.

This week I was preparing an article for another blogsite about a woman born 100 years before me, who died twenty years before I was born. She was a dedicated Christ follower who sacrificed a brilliant career, fame and wealth to pour out her life in His service in an unfamiliar, hostile land. And we connected. As I researched her life, which was very unlike my own, I sensed a depth of bond with her that I’ve seldom known with any other believer. Our connection was in the Holy Spirit.

How is it that Christ followers can be united across boundaries of time, geography and culture in this way? How is it my spirit leaps when I recognize the same Christ in another as dwells in me, even if we have never met, even if we have never heard each other’s voices or physically sat together to worship or talk over coffee? How is it I often feel more closely bonded to someone half a world away who has shared their hopes, fears, and faith with me through emails and blog posts, than with people I share the same history, culture and cafes with?

It’s because there is just one church (Ephesians 4:4).

It’s because this one church, this Body of Christ, is a spiritual entity. Its members have been baptized together into Christ by the Spirit of God, to whom boundaries of distance, time, language and culture are irrelevant (1 Cor. 12:13)

It’s because this same Spirit refuses to be confined within the multi-denominational structures, doctrinal boxes and brick and mortar walls that are popularly called ‘the church’ on this earth.

Somewhere a church exists in the Spirit whose members are united and bound together by the Spirit of God (Eph. 1:3). Somewhere a church exists in the Spirit that looks, loves and sounds just like Jesus Christ whose members are being continually conformed to His image by the Spirit of God (2 Cor. 3:18). Somewhere a church exists in the Spirit that is perfect because its members are perfected and sanctified by the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 1:2; 1 Cor. 6:11; Heb. 10:14).

And when we as disciples of any colour, gender or culture connect with another by the uniting power of the Holy Spirit, we have found that Somewhere Church.   Our membership in it is guaranteed not by signing a card or regular attendance but by our faith in Christ.

But I keep hitting up against a problem. The latest example of this problem occurred recently when a local pastor implied we (husband and I) should be attending his church. Bear in mind he has not met either of us, we have not been to his church and have no indication from God that we should do so. We had simply contacted him by phone in connection with a practical matter to assist a close relative who does go to that church.

The problem? The problem is an almost blind assumption that those of us who choose to opt out of traditional organized Christianity are somehow spiritually less than those who do. The problem is others automatically presuming they know better than I how, where, and when I should worship. And the problem is friendship offered not on the basis of faith in Christ, but on condition of conformity to another person’s specific Christian tribe.

Seriously, if someone truly believes that Christ cannot sustain me outside the walls of their own church setting, then even when that church is the biggest in town, their church is too small and their God is too inadequate.

I know, it’s easy to label Christians ‘backslidden’ when they are less than enthusiastic about church involvement, or dismiss them as those pesky ‘perfect church’ seekers: easier, that is, than deal with the uncomfortable fact that there may actually be something missing in our local church that people are desperately seeking. I can’t blame anyone who chooses to think that way: we’ve all known people who are serial complainers, who are always more focused on the problem than the solution. We’ve all breathed a secret sigh of relief when they move on in search of whatever it is that will satisfy them.

But the largest percentage of non-church-attending Christians are sincere Christ followers who are non-attenders because the hierarchical, controlling atmosphere of many local churches has become toxic to them. And for many, institutional Christianity has become irrelevant. They are searching for, and often finding, other ways to assemble together, deeper more authentic ways of connecting to fellow believers and more diverse expressions of corporate fellowship than traditional settings offer. They are following a living Christ they have not been able to find within the hyped or stifled environments of their local church experiences.

If my words offend you, that is certainly not my intention. I bless my Christian brothers and sisters who acknowledge there are serious problems in organized Christianity and have nevertheless chosen to serve Christ from inside the institution. I would never question your ability to hear for yourself where and how, or in what setting, you should express your Christian beliefs. But I would ask that the same level of respect be given to those of us who worship Christ outside the walls of the local church by choice because that’s where we believe He has led us.

For the record let me clear up a few general assumptions often made about we ‘outside’ Christians:

*We are not all wounded, angry and bitter. Each of us as individual believers, whether attending a local church or otherwise, is on a journey into wholeness in Jesus Christ. It’s true many do cease regular church attendance because they have been deeply wounded or spiritually abused, but many find their healing through following Christ outside the institution rather than inside it. Wounded, angry, bitter people are just as often present within the walls of local churches as outside them.

*We are not spiritually dysfunctional or less of a Christ follower because we no longer find the atmosphere of a local church relevant to our Christian walk and growth. You don’t have to be an active member of a local church for Christ to meet you, heal you and lead you. If this is something that is incomprehensible to some readers may I gently suggest you leave aside what you do not understand rather than judge it as aberrant. God does not need to fit into our understanding of Him or give account to us for how He works with His own.

*We have not ‘left’ the church. It is no more possible for us to leave the church than it is to shed our natural skin. If we are in Christ we are church. Period.

*Finally, we are not your mission field. It is not your God-given calling to get us back into your church just so you can feel better about us. The mission field is anyone outside Christ – let’s all focus our evangelism there.

I share as one who spent over forty years in organized Christianity before God called me to follow Jesus outside the local church system. It came as a surprise and has certainly not been an easy path, but I have no regrets. Bread for the Bride is primarily a ministry to my fellow ‘wilderness dwellers’ – those who for whatever reason have not found Christ in His fullness within the walls of organized Christianity, or who have not found the local church scene to be the safe, nurturing environment it should be. I could hardly minister to this ‘congregation in the wilderness’ in the small way that I do without walking alongside them.

Whether someone is actively engaged in a local church, or has been called to another expression of the Christ Life that is in them, should really not be an issue. If we are in Christ we are the Church. Our connection to one another as Christ’s Body is in the Spirit, not within temporary structures, shared traditions or specific sets of doctrines.

I read something this week by a great teacher from a former time, T. Austin Sparks, that articulates the true nature of the church far better than I can:

You can only really see what the Spirit presents when you occupy a heavenly position. To see the Lord and His Church, as we have it in Ephesians, you must be in the position that is there: “He hath raised us up together with Him and made us to sit in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.” It was from that position that Paul gave us the revelation of Christ and His Body.’

I am beginning to see the Church as Jesus sees her, from a heavenly perspective. I am beginning to perceive that great crowd of witnesses from every age since Adam whose individual testimonies of the living Christ are the organic cells that make up the Body of Christ. And I am beginning to understand why buildings, creeds, traditions, doctrines and organisation can never equal or contain this spiritual ecclesia whose members can only ever be knitted and held together by the Spirit of God.

If you are one who chooses to worship Christ from within a local church congregation, be blessed, and welcome to the Church. If you are a fringe dweller, seeking to follow Christ but unsure where you fit in, be blessed, and welcome to the Church. If you are following Christ outside the traditional venues, again, be blessed, and welcome to the Church.

I’ll meet you in Church….Somewhere.

*The Persistent Purpose of God, Chapter 8 “The Glory and The Spirit”, T. Austin-Sparks 

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2016. Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.