The team of elders must feed, teach, care for and correct when necessary those whom God has made them accountable for, without ever usurping Christ’s authority and place in their lives. We only know leaders by their service to us and love for us. Shepherds feed and protect. Your elders are the men locally who feed you the Word of God. We don’t know them by any honorific title. We know them in spirit and truth, in reality. Their work is not to lead meetings but rather they are to be in the midst of the assemblies as those who serve, as it was in the beginning. Natural fathers “minister” within their families. They don’t set up a platform in the living room and dictate from their perch. Likewise, elders must never contradict the nature of Jesus and His Kingdom by following the carnal leadership principles of the world (top-down hierarchy). They must never take the place of the Holy Spirit in leading the Assembly (tradition and form usurps and quenches the Holy Spirit).
Frog in a pot
Only a remnant in the earth will obey Jesus and the Apostles words. Much of Christendom is already in the process of being assimilated into the kingdom of the antichrist (2 Thess. 2:3-4). It’s by stealth: it’s the mystery of iniquity. And it’s happening very gradually like the frog in a pot illustration. If you throw him straight into hot water he will immediately jump out, instinctively. But if you put him in warm water and slowly increase the heat then he gradually gets conditioned and acclimatized so that when he starts to feel the heat it’s too late and he no longer has the strength to escape and then he is cooked.
Likewise let the Word of God warn you now lest you become conditioned and hardened in your heart (Heb. 3:12-19) lest the sin you approve of today consumes and destroys you tomorrow. Do not sit under any elders who are not blameless and not men of integrity in the sight of God and men (See 1 Tim. 3). If they don’t obey Jesus words then walk away. If they won’t listen to the Word of God then don’t you listen to their words. Life is too short to waste it in carnal things and to be used by people.
Many who have vested personal career interests and financial interests in the Christian religion and their own selfish egotistic agendas to pursue may dismiss writings such as these as being an idealistic dream or even dangerous or divisive, but disciples of Jesus know these things represent the Kingdom of God coming among us in power, for the Word of God declares it. But will the universal Church be fully restored back to what it was in the beginning? I don’t think so, the hour on the prophetic clock is too late and the night is coming when no man can work (John 9:4). The last days and the tribulation time will be more a matter of survival than revival. Apostasy is already almost everywhere; however, regardless of such a bleak scenario there is still reason to believe that there will be underground NT churches thriving when our Lord Jesus returns, having the same life, holiness and love for one another which the first century church had. True revival in the very last days will have a sifting and separating effect, causing the true Bride of Christ to come out of Babylon and seek each other out for fellowship. Ultimately there will be no righteous found among the unrighteous, and no unrighteous found among the righteous, there will be a glorious Church when Jesus catches His Bride away to take her to His wedding feast.
The underground church
The underground church in China is thriving in spite of intense persecution and having to meet in secret. It’s like an end-time forerunner church showing us the way it’s going to be. Jesus said that He will build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Hell has already prevailed in much that is called Christendom today; therefore that is not what Jesus is building, for hell can’t prevail against the Church which Jesus is building, though wherever the gospel is preached people are born again by the Word of God. This is the mercy of God and not the approval of God. Hell’s invasion is in many places ever so subtle, yet it is the spirit of antichrist, nevertheless, which denies Jesus by accepting ways other than His Way and by accepting immorality, corruption and perversion. The spirit of antichrist promotes another Jesus than Jesus of Nazareth and another gospel (2 Cor. 11:4. Gal. 1:6). We are accountable for whatever we accept or condone. What Jesus is building cannot fall and will overcome, and then at the last trumpet we will be taken out of the coming holocaust of God’s righteous judgment (Pre-wrath catching away).
The way it’s supposed to be is the way Jesus builds His reality Church: it is His wisdom. You can either be a part of the answer or a part of the problem. Is your fellowship the way it’s supposed to be? If not please pray and work for that and don’t settle for anything less than what Jesus requires and commands. He is worthy of the reward of His sufferings. The commands and directions of the Apostles in the NT only become a duty or a burden to people if they don’t really know the LORD yet.
From “Reality Church” by Ian Vincent. Read Ian’s blog here.