Preface by Mark Greveson
Lloyd Crooks is a long and enduring brother in the Lord. We first met in a Neighbourhood Office in Birmingham where we both worked as advisers. We have walked in and out of each others lives over the last 26 years and very often walking back in when God knew the other needed encouragement and the genuine love of a brother. The journey we have both taken, although different from a human perspective, has been miraculously similar in the spiritual realm. We have both suffered greatly and I’m sure we can both say as Jacob said to Pharaoh.
And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.
From out of our difficult pilgrimage God has spoken clearly into our lives about the beauty of His Body and that, like a precious diamond, He has ordained a setting for its display. In the first part of this message Lloyd challenges us to recognise that our traditional setting is much different from God’s intention for His bride.
Reader open your heart and draw in the truth revealed.
Who is the head of the Church – Lloyd Crooks
Who is the head of the church? this seems like a stupid question, by a Christian to Christians. We immediately refer to the numerous texts of scriptures 1 Corinthians 11:3
Ephesians 1:22, 4:15, 5:23 Colossians 1:18, 2:9-10.
But practically who is the head? Or should I pose another question, how do you know Christ is the head of your church?
In the United Kingdom we have a monarchy and democracy which may seem a contradiction but by understanding how they work we can get an understanding to the questions posed and the answer.
Let me give an illustration by going through the powers of the Queen of England:
Royal assent – It is the Queens right and responsibility to grant assent to bills from parliament signing them into law. In practice the last time this was refused by a monarch was in 1708.
Appointing the Prime Minister – Although the right of the Queen This is in practice done by the electorate.
Declaration of war- The sovereign retains power to declare War against other nations, though in practice this is done by the Prime Minister and parliament.
Commander in Chief –The Queen is Commander in Chief of the armed forces and all members swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen when they join. But Practically the Commander in Chief are Generals and required to go to war by parliament.
The Head of the Church of England – Power to appoint Bishops and Archbishops. But practically the house of Bishops and General Synod make these appointments.
What we notice is that while the Queen has power it is in a nominal sense bound and restricted by the following:
- The practical power – parliament
- Democracy – power of the people
I have used this illustration to bring home a point while at the beginning of this chapter. While there is nominal and theological recognition of Christ being the head of the Church, like the queen we have tried to restricted his Headship through the following:
Legislation– Church doctrine, tradition, practice and policy
Practical power– Bishop Board, General assembly/synod or convocation, individual charismatic leaders.
Democracy – Government by the people for the people popular vote
The Headship of Christ is nominally accepted in many churches. There is the nodding assent, occasional recognition, but his life rule and authority are noticeably absent.
Let us look at a case in point of how the early Church operated under the headship of Christ.
The Church met as we know in each other’s houses
Act 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
Let us look at 1 Corinthians v20 -22
1Co 11:20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper.
1Co 11:21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.
1Co 11:22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.
Now the church, it seemed, met informally in each others houses and it seemed like it was supposed to be a bring and share.
The Corinthians did not operate in the spirit of fellowship or love that was characteristic of the early Jerusalem church.
Act 2:44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
Act 2:45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
But there seems to be a number of observations in their meetings:
- They met because they loved God and loved each other
- There was an informality about their meetings
- Out of the informality, in the bring and share the Lord’s supper was taken
- The meetings where not lead by a leader in an organisational sense
- They dared not have an agenda or programme of their own
- Christ was in charge of their meeting and used people as he saw fit
- That the gifts of the Spirit and the variety of the gifts operating was a clear evidence that the Lord was in charge
The trinity of God was evident in their gatherings and evident in a reality, not in a theatrical way.
Look how the Spirit of God worked in their meetings and not just through one person or an ordained leader.
1Co 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
1Co 12:5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
1Co 12:6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
Now the Lordship of Christ is clearly evident within the context of gatherings by the following:
- Variety of gifts
- Variety of ministries
- Variety of workings of the Spirit.
I believe that there is a genuine fear of Jesus having Lordship in our gatherings as institutions tend to fear what they cannot control.
Let us see the practicalities. The church meetings would include a time of ‘bring and share’ believers would contribute food at that time of sharing and fellowship. The brethren would have a time to remember the reason why they had gathered together.
Following that they would remember the Lord through the practicalities of the Lord’s supper and a natural flow of praise where the Lordship of Christ is honoured the gifts of God are bestowed on the Church.
Now let me clarify what I mean about honouring God, look at the scripture in (Act 13:1)
Now there were in the church at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; such as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
(Act 13:2) As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work where unto I have called them.
Their mind and heart was focused on God
1Sa 3:1 And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.
As the Church ministers to God their Lord, one of the greatest hindrance to the Lordship of Christ is the worship of the god of self.
When the Church is focused on Christ the church is edified When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification”. 1 Corinthians 14:26.
Now as stated before the greatest hindrance to the Lordship of Christ in the church is the focus on self in ministry.
(1Co 14:26) How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
(1Co 14:27) If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.
(1Co 14:28) But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.
(1Co 14:29) Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.
(1Co 14:30) If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.
(1Co 14:31) For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.
(1Co 14:32) And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
(1Co 14:33) For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
God blesses what he ordains, that which he has set and what has ordered by his word.
While we may be sincere in our church services or praise and worship preaching, if it’s not founded on his word, God will not bless. Let me give you an example.
A tale of where David shows zeal without knowledge and the outcome caused a death and the other where he follows the biblical pattern.
(2Sa 6:3) And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart.
(2Sa 6:4) And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab which was at Gibeah, accompanying the ark of God: and Ahio went before the ark.
(2Sa 6:5) And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals.
(2Sa 6:6) And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it.
(2Sa 6:7) And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.
(2Sa 6:8) And David was displeased, because the LORD had made a breach upon Uzzah: and he called the name of the place Perezuzzah to this day.
(2Sa 6:9) And David was afraid of the LORD that day, and said, How shall the ark of the LORD come to me?
The answers are in the Scripture see
Deu_10:8 At that time the LORD separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to minister unto him, and to bless in his name, unto this day.
Deu_31:9 And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and unto all the elders of Israel.
When it comes to ‘having Church’ the answer is in the Word and the pattern that God has stated is clear – membership does not exist in the bible but relationship through God’s gifting in each of us does and that is why meeting in homes is the Biblical pattern.
Let us go back to the scripture
1Co 12:25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
1Co 12:26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
1Co 12:27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular
If church is not built on relationship, first and foremost with God, and that relationship with God is not manifesting itself with each other, it is not Church ………………………….to be continued