x329......The Format

In our churches--we are drawn to something that I call "the format".

What is "the format"?

WE go to church on Sunday, we all file in --we sing a few songs--we--all praise and worship the same way--we stand all together--we sit all together--we kneel and pray all together--During this first part of the service--only the people in the front of the church are allowed to be heard--only the official "music ministry"

Then the pastor/priest/minister gives us a message. We all remain silent while he speaks--or perhaps we encourage him in some way with an "amen" at the right time--but no one else adds to or speaks out in response to what he is saying.

Then we all run to the door to see who will be the first one out of the parking lot.

This is the ultimate worse case scenario of the format.

If you study the various denominations you a will find that the longer they have been around--the closer they stay to this format.

I was raise in the catholic church. Everyone in my family was catholic and I had no experience outside the catholic church. Now, the catholic church is probably the church denomination that has been around the longest time--and they certainly are following after the format. But, one of the first things I noticed when I began attending the "Spirit-filled" pentecostal type of church--was that they were very critical of the catholics--but for the life of me I could not see much difference between what they did on Sunday mornings and what the catholic folks did! We seemed to be catholics with amplifiers. WE played louder music, and people were more boisterous--but the underlying format was the same as the catholic church had been!

(The format is really the ritual that the enemy would like us to enact every week! It is the pull of the enemy upon the church--to drag it away from the will of the Holy Spirit and into tradition and ritual. There is no direct word from God in the Bible which tells us to meet in this manner and tradition. It is a powerful spiritual force of the enemy that pulls every move of God in the earth toward limiting the move of God by leaving it in the hands of only "some" people--and subjugating the majority of Christians to but functionless and under the authority of a person rather than under the will of God directly)

(The drawing of this "format" is very powerful. In our church we had the Lord send in a large group of teenagers into the church. At first there was a real move of God going on--but as time went by--the "teen ministry" gravitated toward the format--the leaders of the teen ministry became very proud that they were making teenagers "have praise and worship and then listen to the word" We were in effect teaching them to respect and honor the "format" rather than to function in the way of God as the Bible describes. We firmly believe in our churches that "real ministry" is the format!)

The format is all about uniformity--no the unity found in the Holy Spirit. It is all about the outside of us trying to look like we are all in unison and agreement--When true unity is meant to come form the inside out--not be an "act" or a "performance" that looks like unity but is really coming from the will of man rather than the will of God the Holy Spirit.

God the Holy Spirit is meant to operate and run our meetings--Christ is meant to be the Head of the church--not a repetitious format that carries us into tradition.

The Bible tells us that the goal of our meeting together is to allow God to operate through all of us. The Bible tells us that He will speak and operate the gifts through all of us---"As He wills"......

4* Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5* And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6* And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7* But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. (1Corinthians 12:4-7)

The Word of God clearly tells us that the Spirit of God will give the manifestation to every man--

There are different gifts--

different ministries (administrations---diakonia--Greek---the same word used to desecribe the "5-fold" ministries in Ephesians 4)

--and different ways these gifts will be expressed (operations)

These gifts--ministreis--and operations--are given by --

".....the same God which worketh all in all......"

So gifts--ministries and operations--are worked by God in all of us. Not just "some" of us.

And again--the Bible clearly tells us that the manifestations of the Spirit are --

".....given to every man to profit withal......"

Every one of us has manifestations of the Holy Spirit--which are meant to profit all the rest of us. We all have ministries and operations---which are meant to profit all of us.

WE need to remember that Paul is calls these rules "the ordinances"--

paradosis {par-ad'-os-is} n f

----- tradition 12, ordinance 1; 13

1) giving up, giving over 1a) the act of giving up 1b) the surrender of cities 2) a giving over which is done by word of mouth or in writing, i.e. tradition by instruction, narrative, precept, etc. 2a) objectively, that which is delivered, the substance of a teaching 2b) of the body of precepts, esp. ritual, which in the opinion of the later Jews were orally delivered by Moses and orally transmitted in unbroken succession to subsequent generations, which precepts, both illustrating and expanding the written law, as they did were to be obeyed with equal reverence

(These are supposed to be the "traditions" of Christianity---NOT the Roman empire's rules of church!)

The rules that are stated in 1Corinthians 11-12-13-14 are in fact the "rules" or the "tradition" that the early church followed! We should read and study these chapters of the Bible carefully and ask ourselves if our churches today follow after these "traditions" or do we follow after some other "traditions"?

the "ordinances" described in 1Corinthians 12 are called the "spiritual"--this is the Greek word for the spirit that is in man--This is the instruction in the Bible on how the Holy Spirit will work with our spirit within the church gathering--

7* But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8* For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9* To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11* But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. (1Corinthians 7-11)

Now again we see that the Holy Spirit working through a born-again Christian spirit will operate and manifest Himself in these ways--words of wisdom--words of knowledge--faith--healing--miracles--prophecy--discernment--tongues and interpretations of tongues.

Not every one will have every gift--but every one will have some gifting.

But it restated that it is meant for the Holy Spirit to be in charge--because He will divide these gifts--"....to every man severally as he will."

Once again we see clearly that there must be the opportunity for every person to be allowed to speak and teach and sow the gifts and manifestation they have freely at any time when we are gathered together. Because the manifestation will come to whomever the Spirit chooses--to "every man" not just to "some" and certainly not just to the same people every time. We certainly will miss out on the full power of God--we will miss out on the things that the Spirit would like to say to us if we are limiting and controlling who can speak and be heard in our meeting.

the "format is designed to limit this very thing. It is designed to keep most people under the will and authority of man rather that under the will and authority of God.

Now, am I saying that we do not need praise and worship? Of course not! In fact God is trying very powerfully to work through our praise and worship to get us to a place where we all function in the Spirit together. WE certainly need all kinds of praise of and worship--and certainly there are some people in every church who are gifted in his area. However--no mans gifting should disable the gifting of others! Otherwise the Holy Spirit will not be allowed to manifest since some are limited or hindered from being heard. We are not in church to view one mans gift--we are in church to be the church and function in our gift and calling!--together --in the unity of the Spirit which would allow God to speak through His body---not just to some certain individuals repetitively every week after week.

The Bible does not tell us what we automatically "assume". We assume that "God tells the pastor the word--and the pastor feeds us the word". We assume that God works through a human kind of hierarchy---"Wouldn't God tell the pastor?"--We have injected our own human system into the church "tradition"--called it "tradition"--and stuck by it dogmatically for 1700 years!

11* But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 12* ¶ For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13* For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14* For the body is not one member, but many. (1Corinthians 12:11-14)

Now the ordinances continue by relating the church to a human body--something that has different parts--but each of those parts has a purpose and function--and in fact the whole body cannot function without all the parts working together properly and in order.

15* If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

Once again the ordinances restate the fact that it is absolutely wrong for the body to be overrun or controlled by one member. No one part of the body is meant to rule over another--and no part should have superiority over the others--they all must respect one another--and give allowance for all the members--even those that are weaker--to function. the body will not be whole until this is done with love.

18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 But now are they many members, yet but one body. 21* And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22* Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary

All the members of the body are necessary. Why? Because God has set them there--it is God who puts them together in the place He desires. This must be recognized and respected. Again we say it--EVERYONE IN YOUR CHURCH HAS A MINISTRY!

23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24* For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: 25* That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26* And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

The body must not have any schisms--no divisions--no separations. It should not be that one member has control over another--that one member is allowed to function and another is disallowed from functioning--because of the format--the wrong kind of tradition. the correct tradition must give allowance for every member to function and be made manifest. this is the unity of the Holy spirit--from which we should all work and function together and thus all members feeling and rejoicing and suffering with and through one another in order to help and heal one another--and most importantly, to reach out to the world with the love of God in Christ.

With every member of the body functioning in their gift--when one member suffers--when one member is hurt--the answer to the problem will be found quickly in another member. When one is sick--another will be given the gift of healing for that member. When one needs ecouragement--another member will be given the encouragement--the world of wisdom the word of faith that is needed.

When one member is lacking in faith--another member will be given the gift by the Spirit to sow faith in that person.

When one member is in a desperate situation--another will be given the ability to perform the miracle that is needed.

When one member needs to be taught--a teacher will be raised up by the Spirit of God

When one member needs a prophetic word--the gift of phrophecy will come upon another member.

When one member has been attacked by a spirit--or has a spiritual problem and does not know what it is--the gift of discerning of spirits will be given by the Holy spirit to another member to help.

When one member needs to hear from God--the message may come through a tongue directly in the Spirit to that person--or perhaps another member will receive the interpretation of that tongue.

If all the members of the body were given the freedom to function in the Spirit all the needs of all the members of the body would be met.

27* ¶ Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28* And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

Now the Bible lists the gifts--the ministry gifts and the Spirit gifts all together. As it said previously, there are differing gifts and administrations and operations. Here is the list of these gifts which are given by God to the members of the church. Let's remember where we started out--

4* Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5* And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6* And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7* But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. (!Corinthians 12:4-7)

This list of adminsitations (ministries)--and the Spirit manifestations which are given to every man---for the benefit of all.

Within the church there are many minsitries and there must also be the ministry of the apostles for those outside the church--for the unsaved.

(One of the confusions we have about ministry is thinking that in the Bible only the few who were apostles "did minisrty"---There are only some of each type of ministrations---all Christian have one or more of these ministrations--but only some are apostles --not all--although we are told that we should all strive toward the greater anointing and gift)

29* Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? 31* But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

Love rules!

Even the gifts of ministry are meant to be found by the word of the Spirit of God--

1* ¶ Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2* As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 3* And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. 4* ¶ So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. (Acts 13:1-4)

Here we see the beginning of the apostolic journeys of Paul and Barnabas. Notice the word comes from the Holy Spirit--through "certain prophets and teachers"--other Christians who are functioning in their ministry in the church.

they did a thing called "ministering to the Lord"--they were fasting and praying and the Holy Ghost spoke through one of them or perhaps though more than one--to "send" (Greek "apostello") Paul and Barnabas--to make them apostles.

This is how apostles ought to be chosen and found in our churches. But we certainly won't find apostles when we stick to a strict format!

(I amazes me how the tradition of church government has seperated us into little "camps". What I mean is this: us "Spirit-lead" Christians are more apt to follow after the ideas in these chapters with regard to "allowing" the Holy Spirit to speak in our meetings. On the other hand, our evangelical brothers and sisters are much more likely to follow after the purposes of Christ (Luke 4:18--preaching the Gospel). What I mean is that our Spiritual churches will often hear from God--but most of the time it is a "generic" kind of word---not a functional word. Evangelicals are operating in the correct type of functioning--seeking to spread the Gospel--yet will not listen to "that Spiritual gobbeldy-gook". Charismatics speak the word, but most are sure that they cannot receive real functional words in the Spirit (or if they do, they are ignored unless the come through "offical leadership")--most often they are generic or personal type of prophecy. We ought to be getting this type of word (the type we see in Acts 13 1-4) on a daily basis (and I believe that the church in the Bible was!)--a Spritual word that gives direct and plain instructions---who to send out with the Gospel--where to send them---the Spirit speaking and directing toward the purposes of Christ. (Oh, if only we could just break down the barriers of tradition and work together!)

And when we have all the gifts functioning together we will have the love of God flowing in and thorough our churches--

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. (1 Corinthians 13:1-13, KJV).

Love is meant to be the functioning power of God within the walls of our churches--Love functioning and flowering through the ministry of all the members of the body--to heal and deliver all the members of the body--and to flow outward into the earth to save souls and add to the kingdom of God.

The Bible tells us to strive toward this---do we?