Posts Tagged ‘Chief Cornerstone’

Grace Platforms

The Ministry of Christ is a ministry of grace! His message was the Good News of a Kingdom of grace flowing from Heaven into Earth. It would bring forgiveness, peace and freedom from sin. Yet the deliverance and freedom experienced in the life of a disciple can only be attained and measured by the transformed mind. Real Kingdom mysteries require us to change the way we think about everything pertaining to God, Church and life on this planet (Mt. 4:17). Jesus has stepped into our natural reality and He brought His world with Him!

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His Kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isa. 9:6-7)

Ministry on Christ’s Shoulder:

The five-fold ministry gifts are examples of how “grace has been given” as Christ distributes (Eph. 4:7). All ministry is simply the manifestation of Christ expressed through the believer by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Jesus, as the “Christ” is our Apostle (Heb. 3:1), Prophet (Lk. 24:19), Evangelist (Mt. 9:35), Pastor (1 Pet. 5:2-4) and Teacher (Jn. 3:2). He emulated these offices and distributes the mantles for individuals to function in them, so that the Church carries His anointing for ministry (Jn. 14:12).

“…the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So…they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” (Acts 13:2-3)

Selected and Sent:

The five-fold leaders are not self-appointed, nor are they simply pastors of a local church. They are clearly defined ministries that have an impact on the Church as a whole and its witness in the world. By nature, their scope of ministry is wider than the local church. They are grace ministries of Christ to the Church at large. Whether its from inner city pulpits or in the bush lands of Africa, the heartbeat of 5-fold ministry is the discipling of the nations… its our Great Commission! (Mt. 28:18-20).

Two things are required for a five-fold ministry gift to come into its own: 1) Recognition by the wider Body of Christ and 2) Functional Ministry to the wider Body of Christ. Jesus said that the fruit of a person’s life is the best way to recognize their identity, character and anointing. Prior to these two conditions being met, someone may potentially have a five-fold ministry gift, but will not yet be moving in the scope and authority of that gift. Jesus gives the grace for each gift to be released into the Church.

“…God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the Chief Cornerstone” (Eph. 2:19-20).

Foundations:

The foundation of the Church is Jesus… the revelation of “Christ – the Son of the Living God” (Mt. 16:16). And yet there is this unique platform of the apostle and the prophet team (Eph. 3:4-5). This platform carries the role of unveiling the mysteries hidden down through the ages, yet revealed in Christ and by the Holy Spirit to the sons and daughters of men. I believe these two mantle gifts still serve that ministry role (Eph. 4:12-13), so it is vital for us to understand how this works in leading the Body of Christ. We must remember that proper buildings are held up by proper foundations. I would propose; that when grace flows into ministry and functions properly, under the headship of Christ and the leadership of the Holy Spirit, it will result in the growth and supernatural health of the Church worldwide. It is the will of God to set this in order and accomplish it through His apostle and prophet teams (Isa. 9:7)… by grace.

The Key of Humility:

The Apostle James and the Apostle Peter wrote specifically about how to receive grace (Jms. 4:6 & 1 Pet. 5:5-6). The humble person receives grace and more grace even as they maintain their humility in the midst of difficult circumstances. Jesus said “Blessed is the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt. 5:3). The humble person; who lives selflessly in ministry, will receive a flow of resource from heaven according to the gift Christ has given them. Their anointing will be in proportion to their faith, assignment and their need.

The Apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). The ministry teams made up of Apostle and Prophets like Paul, Barnabas, Silas and Timothy served to accomplish great things in advancing the Kingdom of God. They were set apart by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:2), helped in the midnight hour (Acts 16:25-26) and anointed to do incredible miraculous signs that accompanied the preaching of the Word of God (Acts 19:11-12).

Restoration is needed: In order for the Church to see what God is after today, our impact must set the captives free! We must rely upon the flow of ministry grace… like the dry ground soaks up the rain.

An Apostolic Company

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His Kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

It is vital that God’s Kingdom Government gets established in the Earth today. That which was laid upon the shoulders of the Son of God must find its expression in the Children of God under Christ’s authority. The Church is a living organism, with a government established and advanced by the activity of God’s “brooding” Holy Spirit. When an Apostolic Company of believers; like Christ’s disciples, wait upon the Holy Spirit in an upper room, something amazing gets birthed in the natural… a dwelling place for God! The Church finds its birth and government in the Spirit and gets established upon a people who are willing to let God lay foundations. The history of the Bible continues to declare this one truth, wherever He is welcome, God will have a habitation among us in the spiritual realm (Eph. 2:22).

Jesus testified of the impact on the “gates of hell” when His Church finds its footing and its identity (Mt. 16:18).

The Called Out Ones:

This is the “ecclesia” (the called out ones) that God is after and will use in these last days, both spiritually and prophetically. It is the priority of Christ to establish the Church on this rock of revelation – “Christ, the Son of the Living God”. We are His offspring, the living stones huned from the original Rock and Chief Cornerstone (1 Pet. 2:4-5).

Foundation Stones:

We must begin by embracing the pattern God gives for establishing spiritual foundations. He has given gifts to the Church by “grace” (Eph. 4:7) and imparted a release of favor to chosen individuals. These divinely chosen roles or ”mantles” are identified by the Apostle Paul as the 5-fold ministry. The first mantles, in rank and order that are called to this duty are the apostle and prophet. God’s goal is to establish His government upon an Apostolic Company. This “company” simply represents a group of people, of any size that recognize the spiritual impact of their willing yieldedness to God’s divine order. An Apostolic Company is a network of individuals, who allow the free flow of God’s governing to rest upon them. They must be full of the Holy Spirit and graced by God to set the platform for the Kingdom of Heaven to rule among them.

Ordering the Living Stones:

God orders His Living Stones in line with His grace given to men (Eph. 2:19-22). This might seem unusual and difficult at first; but as a team begins to let God’s voice emerge, it will come. He will lead by His Holy Spirit. Living Stones are set into the foundation as we listen to the spirit of revelation flowing forth. It is important to remind ourselves that the anointing Jesus carried emerged out of a work of the Holy Spirit and released the authority to do the miraculous things we see Jesus doing (Lk. 4:19). Signs and wonders were not the achievements of man, but the evidence of God’s anointing (Acts 10:38). Jesus was the ”Messiah”, the “Christ” or “Anointed One”… and the “Christian” is to become “little anointed ones”, because of the government of Heaven in their midst.

Wait On God:

We must not become concerned if it is a little difficult at first to see the Apostolic Company emerge. God is working and He will do it! These times must be part of an overall waiting process and discovery of the Glory of God manifesting itself among a people. Seeking His purpose in our midst and allowing Him to inhabit our praise and worship times, will release an atmosphere of divine order. Pray and even fast for this emerging atmosphere. These are the most important moments in the birthing of God’s spiritual government. Yet its reward will be in the revelation of His heart and vision among the company.

New Testament Paradigm:

When the 120 believers in the upper room experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, there was such a massive wave of God’s power that hit the Earth that the little company of followers were transformed into revolutionaries. The region was infiltrated, shaken and completely turned upside down by the Holy Spirit. This event represents the first apostolic revolution and at the end of the day 3,000 souls were saved and a New Church was birthed that looked nothing like the religion of the day. A unity of Spirit and community of faith were now shaping the future of how the world would see God (Acts 2:40-47). The Church would be supernatural and authentic, yet committed to one another and the teaching of the Apostles.

An Apostolic People:

An Apostolic People are a sent people and a sending people, knit from the same fabric as their Leader - Jesus. “As the Father has sent (apostello) Me into the world, I also have sent (apostello) them into the world” (Jn 17:18). Today, as in the days following Pentecost, there is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that is making its way across the nations and reviving the apostolic mandate. The echo is felt in the heart of every apostle,  “therefore go and make disciples of all the nations” (Mt 28:19).

Vision & Unity:

It is very important to know that the vision is not primarily ”church building”, but Kingdom Advancement. Its more about the Glory of God, than the institution of man. Jesus will build His Church, but Apostolic Companies are driven by the call to disciple nations (Mt. 28:18-20). People are very tired of the competition that comes from our church growth activities. God wants to pull down religious perceptions and misguided agendas that work contrary to unity in the company.

Focus On the Glory of God!

Take ownership of the atmosphere of congregational gatherings and leadership meetings in an effort to release the power and purpose of God, as exibited in Psalm 133:1-3. Notice: Ps. 133:3 says – “There the Lord commanded the Blessing!” That is what you are after!!! Its the anointing oil that flowed as a Priestly Company is established in the Holy Spirit. Now you will get accostomed to the heaviness of God’s Glory… it is supposed to be this way. It is the atmosphere of God walking in the “cool” of the day with Adam. The word for “Cool” is Ruach, which means “Spirit” and is the expression of the Glory that was present in the Garden of Eden. Adam was naked and was not ashamed, because he was clothed in the Glory of God at Creation (Ps. 8:5). The word for crowned here is the same word for clothed. It is also noted as the goal in Colossians 1:27 – “Christ in you the hope of Glory”. Recognize that walking in the Glory will establish the training in righteousness and the authority of the Apostolic Company.

We are moving from Glory to Glory as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor 3:18). God will do it!

Context for Gifts

“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” (Eph. 2:19-22)

So here we are as the Church being described as the dwelling place of God in the Spirit! How? 1st “fitted together”, 2nd “growing into a holy temple in the Lord” and 3rd “being built together”… all of which must be actively in progress if the Holy Spirit is to feel welcome.

I don’t want to sound critical, but there is no guarantee that those fellowships we visit on Sunday morning are a dwelling place of God by His Spirit. And as such, they often do not qualify as a context for spiritual gifts to move in their purist form. Remember that we are told that the gifts should be used for the profit of all (1 Cor. 12:7). Our current model tends to only look for spiritual gifts to move from the pulpit. If the Spirit is not welcome to freely move in our fellowships, why should we expect spiritual gifts at all? And how do we contend for gifts to influence secular society, where real needs are most obvious? What I would like to suggest is that the context for spiritual gifts is the bond of peace.

The Prince of Peace is our Chief Cornerstone:

We must endeavor “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3), why? Because Jesus “gave gifts unto men … for the equipping of the saints, for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”  (Eph. 4:8 & 12-14). 

Spiritual Gifts have a Context:

Like bookends there is a context for spiritual gifts; that without them, gifts are nothing more than games Christians play. Notice the above underlined phrases seem to offer keys to how we keep gifts in balance. First we endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit, so that we come to the unity of the faith. The unity of faith often becomes our standard in Christian circles, because we have forsaken our commitment to the unity of the Spirit… the bond of peace. 

The Right Goal: Is the “bond of peace”? 

The right goal is peace with God andpeace within our hearts toward others. When the Body of Christ walks in love they are reflecting the bond of peace. This bond of peace is the key element that releases the “Christ” anointing. Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6 & Eph. 2:14) and has declared that the peace makers will be called the “sons of God” (Mt. 5:9). 

As Jesus stood up to read in His childhood home tabernacle, something amazing was taking place in the minds of the people. They said, “is this not the carpenter’s son?” and they found themselves having to embrace what they had never witnessed before… the Holy Spirit was about to be released in their midst. And it would come through a man they had watched grow up as a familiar member of the community. Could they hold on to their peace or would they become offended?

Jesus made the public declaration, “God has anointed Me with the Holy Spirit and I am now going to preach good news to the poor, heal the broken hearted, preach deliverance to the captive, andrecovery of sight to the blind. God has sent Me to set at liberty those who are oppressed and proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Lk. 4:18-19).

Indeed, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil, because God was with Him” (Acts 10:38). He was living as a dwelling place for God by His Spirit. And just as we would expect; hundreds of peoples lives were changed, while the leadership was offended and tried immediately to kill the Anointed One (Lk. 4:28-29).

Peace & Anointing:

This anointing was an experience that Jesus pointed to as the moment that shifted His life into ministry. His ministry was evidence that He was the Prince of Peace! He could maintain the anointing only as He maintained His peace – remember Jesus was known by John the Baptist as the Messiah by the Spirit coming like a dove and staying to rest upon Him. This gift of the Holy Spirit would release spiritual manifestations and ”gifting” only as Jesus responded according to the will of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 5:19). He had done no miracle until this experience, but everything was about to change. The Kingdom was at hand (Mt. 4:17-25) and many would see what ministry could become. He would later tell His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they also would get this same anointing from above (Lk. 24:49). He had promised them that they would do even greater works than He had done (Jn. 14:12).

The Spiritual House:

Jesus was the Cornerstone of real ministry, but also ”a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” according to the Apostle Peter (1 Pet. 2:8). Jesus, the Chief Cornerstone has been chosen by God and precious to the foundation of the Spiritual House. We are that House! We are living stones made of the same substance as the Cornerstone. We are the peace making, sons of God who should walk with spiritual manifestations of gifts from Jesus. We are made to drink of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13), to manifest power and glory as Kingdom people (1 Cor. 4:20), be moved along by the Holy Spirit and produce fruit that ignites the generations that follow. We are also called to be chiselled off pebbles of the Chief Cornerstone, able to reflect His nature and character of peace. When this happens there is a context for spiritual gifts… that edify the Body and equip them for the work of the ministry. So that in turn, we will come to the unity of the faith and to the measure of the fullness of the stature of Christ – our Anointed One.

We are to be living stones… members of the House of God. This “chosen generation, royal priesthood, holy nation; called as His special people” kind of Church, are to reflect the Prince of Peace, so “that we might proclaim the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light!” (1 Pet. 2:9)

Re-Imagine Church

“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” (Eph. 2:19-22)

Its easy to believe that God is in the process of perfecting His Church. The institution we have come to know as “Christ’s Body” has experienced enormous change over the 2000 years since Jesus’ day. Some people have found the variety and flavor of church culture an encouraging mix; with mega churches and home churches, store fronts and village outposts, there is something for almost everyone’s taste. Others have left the whole thing behind in disgust, feeling more confused than ever about their trust in church dynamics, their relationship with each other and worse of all, their faith in God.

Yet, somewhere in the midst of all the chaos; surely, there remains a remnant. A remnant of Kingdom People; cut from the original fabric we see in the Book of Acts. People who the Apostle Paul spoke of as “Ambassadors for Christ”, with a “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18-20). The people Jesus is willing to call “friends” (Jn. 15:14), who hunger for the heart of God and will not settle for an institutional substitute.

When Jesus said “I will build My Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18)… He was imagining something that most of the world has yet to embrace. 

Jesus is wanting us to re-imagine Church, as He intended it to function and advance His Kingdom in the Earth. His heart is for a lost and broken World looking for truth in all the wrong places. Could the Church once again become the place where people find God? I believe the answer to that question is – Yes! But only if we will get our blueprints from heaven… not the wisdom of man or traditional religious systems.

3 Key Thoughts the Apostle Paul Emphasizes:

  1. The Purpose… is for a habitation of God by His Spirit!
  2. The Foundation… is Christ as the Chief Cornerstone and the teaching ministry of the Apostles and Prophets!
  3. The Process… is a joining together and growing house that results in a holy temple; a spiritually vibrant and pure people, in the Lord!

The Habitation of God:

One of the most valuable thoughts the Apostle Paul makes in regards to why the Church exists, is this summary statement… “for a habitation of God in the Spirit”  (Eph. 2:22). Throughout Biblical history there have been literally hundreds of story lines for how God spoke with His people, walked with His chosen leaders and made Himself known as their “very present help in times of need”. But, what we must never miss is the fact that God wants fellowship, simply because He loves us and desires to live among us.

The Household of God:

Habitation is a deeply intimate, relational dynamic reserved for only one type of human interaction… the family. God wants the Church to look like a family! A family so strong that the gates of hell itself will not prevail against it, so strong that Satan has no authority or power to cause harm. A family where God is “Our Father” and we are given the wonderful privlege of life in His Glory (His Shekinah), living as His children (Jn. 1:12). 

A Dwelling Place:

Unlike any other social institution, the Church is designed to be a dwelling place (a shekan) for God on the Earth. Therefore, the Church must welcome God as the place designed and perfectly suited for Him, similarly to the way King Solomon welcomed the Glory of God into the Temple (2 Chron. 5:7-14).

The goal is that the Church would function in community, as fellow “citizens with the saints” and “members of a household” with purpose and priorities, values and dominion. What makes the Church function as a family is the Manifest Presence of God governing, abiding and responding in the midst of its activities. Notice how the Holy Spirit speaks to the Apostles in the Book of Acts…

As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2)

Ministry of Grace

The Ministry of Christ is a ministry of grace! His message was the Good News of a Kingdom of grace flowing from Heaven into Earth. It would bring forgiveness, peace and freedom from sin. Yet the deliverance and freedom experienced in the life of a disciple can only be attained and measured by the tranformed mind. Real Kingdom mysteries require us to change the way we think about everything pertaining to God, Church and life on this planet (Mt. 4:17). Jesus has stepped into our natural reality and He brought His world with Him!

  • “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His Kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isa. 9:6-7)

Ministry on Christ’s Shoulder:

The five-fold ministry gifts are examples of how “grace has been given” as Christ distributes (Eph. 4:7). All ministry is simply the manifestation of Christ expressed through the believer by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Jesus, as the “Christ” is our Apostle (Heb. 3:1), Prophet (Lk. 24:19), Evangelist (Mt. 9:35), Pastor (1 Pet. 5:2-4) and Teacher (Jn. 3:2). He immulated these offices and distributes the mantles for individuals to function in them, so that the Church carries His anointing for ministry (Jn. 14:12). 

“…the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So…they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” (Acts 13:2-3)

Selected and Sent:

The five-fold leaders are not self-appointed, nor are they simply pastors of a local church. They are clearly defined ministries that have an impact on the Church as a whole and its witness in the world. By nature, their scope of ministry is wider than the local church. They are grace ministries of Christ to the Church at large. Whether its from inner city pulpits or in the bush lands of Africa, the heartbeat of 5-fold ministry is the discipling of the nations… its our Great Commission! (Mt. 28:18-20).

Two things are required for a five-fold ministry gift to come into its own: 1) Recognition by the wider Body of Christ and 2) Functional Ministry to the wider Body of Christ. Jesus said that the fruit of a person’s life is the best way to recognize their identity, character and anointing. Prior to these two conditions being met, someone may potentially have a five-fold ministry gift, but will not yet be moving in the scope and authority of that gift. Jesus gives the grace for each gift to be released into the Church.

“…God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the Chief Cornerstone” (Eph. 2:19-20).

Foundations:

The foundation of the Church is the apostle and the prophet team (Eph. 3:4-5). I believe, these two ministries still continue in that foundational role (Eph. 4:12-13), so it is vital for us to understand how this works in leading the Body of Christ. We must remember that proper buildings are held up by proper foundations. I would propose; that when grace flows into ministry and functions properly, under the headship of Christ and the leadership of the Holy Spirit, it will result in the growth and supernatural health of the Church worldwide. It is the will of God to set this in order and accomplish it through His apostle and prophet teams (Isa. 9:7)… by grace.

The Key of Humility:

The Apostle James and the Apostle Peter wrote specifically about how to receive grace (Jms. 4:6 & 1 Pet. 5:5-6). The humble person receives grace and more grace even as they maintain their humility in the midst of difficult circumstances. Jesus said “Blessed is the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt. 5:3). The humble person; who lives selflessly in ministry, will receive a flow of resource from heaven according to the gift Christ has given them. Their anointing will be in proportion to their faith, assignment and their need.

The Apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strenthens me” (Phil 4:13). The ministry teams made up of Apostle and Prophets like Paul, Barnabas, Silas and Timothy served to accomplish great things in advancing the Kingdom of God. They were set apart by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:2), helped in the midnight hour (Acts 16:25-26) and anointed to do incredible miraculous signs that accompanied the preaching of the Word of God (Acts 19:11-12).

Restoration is needed: In order for the Church to see what God is after today, our impact must set the captives free! We must rely upon the flow of ministry grace… like the dry ground soaks up the rain.    

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