29. Every Member Supplies
What would a local assembly look like moving in the full expression of Church as it is meant to be?
29. Every Member Supplies
What would a local assembly look like moving in the full expression of Church as it is meant to be?
In asking that question, I would strongly recommend that you obtain a copy of Gene Edwards’Revolution: The Story of The Early Church. Many think in terms of “going back to” a New Testament model for the church. Gene Edwards shows that the model is not any outward form, but rather, the spontaneous joy of the Holy Spirit moving through brethren walking together in the present moment. The outward form was a wineskin only. The same Holy Spirit pours Himself out upon all flesh today, that is New Covenant Church.
The glory of Church now is far greater than the glory that Church ever could have been back then.
But who are we talking about? What are the essential qualities of knowing that must be found inside of every individual member of the local church?
I am speaking of the local church having passed fully the Day of Atonement and now living entirely inside the Feast of Tabernacles fulfilled now, for the first time, in the lives of men, women, and children upon this earth.
The first essential quality is the most important. Every individual member knows that Christ is their life, personally, that they have NO other life, that Christ shows Himself through every bumbling aspect of their humanity, that every part of themselves, especially their sin and their flesh, is found only inside of Jesus. What needed to cease has ceased, regardless of the sight of the eyes. I am alive unto God.
The second flows out from the first. Knowing that I abide in Christ and that Christ abides in me and living out from no other place, I see you in exactly the same way. When I look at you, I see the Lord Jesus. When I walk with you, I walk with the Lord Jesus. When I receive from you, I receive from the Lord Jesus. When I minister to you, I am giving to the Lord Jesus.
Then, every individual member knows the realms of Spirit. We are not, first, a spirit, we are a living soul. As living souls, formed upon the junction of spirit and body, we have a spirit body through which we communicate with all the heavenly side of the universe and we have a physical body through which we communicate with all the earthly side of the universe. Nevertheless, our spirit body is the largest part of us, it contains in itself and saturates every part of our soul and our physical body. The life that energizes our physical body comes entirely from our spirit.
We are 100% familiar with our spirit, we just don’t know it. All our lives we have seen everything through our physical eyes only. There is a reason for that. The eyes of our spirit, organs as literal as our physical eyes, are covered with cataracts. We cannot see the spirit realms of heaven in which we live and walk all the time. Why can’t we see heaven? Because our spirit body eyes are BLIND. Ask a person who is physically blind if the earth all around them does not exist BECAUSE they can’t see it. They will laugh at your foolishness.
This reality must be understood by God’s people in order to walk as sons setting creation free. In the exact same way that the human spirit envelops and energizes every particle of the human body, so heaven, the realms of spirit, envelops and energizes every particle of earth. If the human spirit is torn from the human body, the body disintegrates; the same would happen to the earth if heaven were somehow torn from the earth.
There is NO divorce between God and flesh, no death; God and flesh are forever married. (Ephesians 5)
Every member of a Feast of Tabernacles local assembly knows the realms of Spirit. They know the power of the Holy Spirit connecting them with other believers. They know the language of the Holy Spirit; when they read Spirit word in the Bible, they do not hear earthly arguments. They minister using their spirits; they love through their spirits. They worship God in spirit. They see the heavens in which they live, by what God says, that is, by faith. That faith is substantial and elemental, an essential part of the human makeup. They know how the realms of the heavens work, both good and evil.
Finally, each individual member knows no limit on God, no shadow of “not on this earth.” They do not shove God far away from themselves, high on some imaginary pedestal. The more they know Him, the more they like Him. And the more they like God Himself, filling them full in every way, the more they are just like Him. They accept fully the biggest commandment in the New Testament that we be just like God, and they accept Him in that bold assertion with all liking.
They never put boundaries of any kind around God or between God and themselves, between God and their own hearts, between God and their own flesh. They know Him in all that He is filling every part of their humanity right now in this age, right here on this earth.
The relationship between the members of Christ inside the local assembly is one word only, love. The problem is, though, that the present English word “love” is just too mushy on the one hand and too vague and general on the other. We must know what love is practical and real.
Love is the scariest part of God. Love is that quality of God that is always setting me free of Himself, and always treating me as His equal, eye to eye and heart to heart.
We cannot know the love of God except we are comfortable living in what all other Christians call “blasphemy.”
God’s holiness, on the other hand, is the most comforting part of God. God’s holiness is the jealous fire that has seized us in its grip, never letting us go. God’s holiness is the thing that always blocks our way, always keeps us close, always prevents us from wandering into darkness. It is the scourge of God by which we are sons. God’s holiness is so very comforting.
We always extend love to one another; we never extend holiness. Holiness is God’s business; love is our business.
Owe no man anything but to love one another. Romans 13:8
Submitting to one another in the fear of God. Ephesians 5:21
The lie shows itself in two ways as it sits in the hearts of those who imagine separation from God. On the one hand, the lie shows itself as rebellion; on the other hand, it shows itself as subservience. Both of these are two sides of the same thing; both are false and dark.
In the local assembly, all relate to each other in mutual honor. No one is seen as “above,” no one is seen as “beneath.” Each treats the other with full respect and honor, always setting the other free of all obligation, always eye to eye, always heart to heart.
Love owes nothing. If I give to you, I give from love. I give because I am love, because love is always giving itself away. But at no point do I owe you a thing. I am under no obligation whatever to do anything for you, whoever you might be and whatever gifts you might have been granted to give to others.
Both rebellion and subservience mock love. Rebellion mocks love by defiance, by disrespect; subservience mocks love by pretending. Of the two, subservience is by far the worst.
If I offend you because of my human foolishness, I do not ask forgiveness out of any obligation. There is no penance in the body of Christ. I do ask forgiveness, yes, but only as the very river of life flowing out of my heart, desiring only goodness and joy to abound towards you. And you receive me and grant forgiveness, not because of any “superiority,” but only out of full respect of me, heart to heart, walking together.
This is the body of Christ, members of one another.
Love means that I hold you in the deepest respect and in the highest honor. But that love is FULL in me. I possess all love. God is full in me; He belongs completely to me and I to Him. Out of that place I treat you AS Jesus Himself. In all ways that I give to you, I give to the Lord Jesus.
When Jesus said, “Whatever you do to the least of these My brethren, you do it to Me,” He was not speaking figuratively. He meant it 100% literally.
A Third Feast local assembly walks inside the full meaning of those words in all interaction together. There are two arenas of interaction in the local assembly. The first arena is general to all. It is best expressed thus:
…walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace – and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. – Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. Ephesians 4:1-3 & 32 & 5:1-2
In this arena all are mutual in all respects. But there is a second arena of interaction in the local assembly.
Christ — from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4:15-16
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all – For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. . . and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 & 12-14
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them… Romans 12:3-6
Each individual member of the local assembly is unique. Each one has a special and different gift of Christ coming entirely out of the song of their heart, the purpose they find inside themselves by which they sing with God.
Let me give the primary illustration by which we can see God – story. If you have not seen it, please go onto Netflix, or wherever you obtain movies, rent August Rush with Freddie Highmore, and watch it. Now, not everyone is made like me, and maybe some don’t sense the same affect from a movie like this that I do. That’s perfectly fine; the whole point is that each of us are unique and different. But when I arrive at the end of this movie, oh my!
Let me give the story line briefly. A young couple meet for one night. They are both the kind of musicians that carry music as their life, the structure by which they are made. Though circumstances sever them immediately and for years, their hearts were truly married in that one meeting, and they walk through those years feeling empty and cut-off inside. Meanwhile, the young woman brings their child into the world only to lose him by a dominating father who tells his daughter that the child was lost in birth and proceeds to give the boy to an orphanage.
But this little boy, growing up not even knowing of the existence of his parents, has the same music in his heart that both his parents have times 100. That music becomes a song inside of him always calling, calling to his parents somehow to draw them to himself. At age 11 he leaves the orphanage and goes to New York City because he must find his parents. There he comes under the power of a conniver who sees his gift and hopes to profit from it.
I will tell no more of the story except the end. Every sound from every direction is music to this boy, and he transforms all sounds into the most human and inspiring music anyone has heard. As he leads the orchestra of the Julliard School of Music, playing of an evening in Central Park, in the haunting call of his own symphony, the depths of his being call his parents front and center hand in hand. As he turns, knowing they MUST BE there, all human joy shines upon his face.
At that moment my heart sings for God, in great tears of joy, calling, calling Him to me with the song of my heart, the song He created me to sing.
How we have not known the precious body of Christ!
More and more great hearts are finding my writing and hearing there the same song that sings inside of them. I do not want to teach anyone “about” “truth.” I want our songs to rise together.
August Rush walks through the streets of New York hearing what everyone else would call din and clamor, clatter and harsh cacophony. He hears none of what they hear; he hears all things as a wondrous symphony. He then takes all he hears and turns it into the most moving of music, the very cadence of life.
I am describing that precious little assembly God has made you and me members one of another. We will never know God, not as He really is, in any other place. In the end, it cannot be just Christ as me, it must be Christ as us.
I think of a brother I know well of very simple ability, always the last one chosen, always the one most easily ignored, always presenting ideas so easily dismissed. Yet he gave with all his heart freely the song God made him to be. All I can think now is what fools we were, to honor “apostles” and not the Lord Jesus, singing, so obvious to me now, all through this brother’s song.
We were standing on our heads.
I do believe that the one whose gift is to give a cup of coffee is greater in the church than the apostle. All the apostle is given to do is to hold the door open. Sure, when I visit someone’s home, it’s nice when they hold the door open, but it is the “cup of coffee” that speaks the hospitality of Christ to me.
Christ — from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
We ARE members of one another. And that unique woman, the Bride of Christ, who exists only by the gathering together, grows up into Christ by one thing alone – the supply, the effective working, of each individual member.
Do we know this?
In most assemblies, two individuals, the preacher and the song leader, give, and all the rest simply receive. At the rate of growth they limit themselves by, that assembly would take 1000 years to grow up into Christ. God gave us only 70 years by which to cast off the curse, to defeat death, and to send forth the glory of God upon this planet.
I stated that during the 21 years I was in the move, I sat under over 8000 hours of tremendous, Spirit-filled Bible teaching and the sharing of Christ, coming through hundreds of different individuals. I can envision almost every individual at Blueberry sharing Christ from the anointing with all of us.
Since I left community, in 15 years, I have sat under less than 600 hours of teaching and sharing by fewer than two dozen individuals. The church of Jesus Christ is starving to death, hardly growing at all.
Certainly, in the move, we were almost over-saturated with word coming from all directions. But consider that I combine the 8000 hours of hearing others share Christ and the Bible in the Holy Ghost with the same number of hours of my own reading and writing the Bible and almost four decades of walking with God in the grip of His hand to envision the wells from which I draw. Some may think I study the Bible now; I do not. All I do is begin to write and great depths of Christ come flowing up out of my heart through my fingers and onto the page. Great riches of Christ deposited in me over many years through many, many other MEMBERS of that one body.
When I sing, they sing through me.
I love the glory of the Church. When Maureen and I married we attempted to include as many members of the church in our union together as we could. We asked five people to lead the praise, all together. We asked all my students to sing a song. We invited our parents up to partake of communion together with us. A good brother in the college played “Come; for the Spirit calleth, ‘Come,’” on his trumpet as Maureen walked down the aisle.
She is a song, this holy Bride, calling to her Beloved to fill her with LIFE!
The body of Christ is not a mechanical machine, every part in its place; she is a living song, every heart lifted up on high. To silence one note is to stumble short of glory.
This is a Spirit Word I seek to impart to you, for she is a Spirit Bride, this Third Feast, this heavenly woman.
And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” Revelation 19:6-7
Let me share some words Chris Welch hammered out recently in his own heart-calling to this Woman to come forth upon the earth.
Actually looking out from the place of union takes the heat out of everything, which was the whole point of the Holy Spirit being allowed to run meetings. Doctrine then comes out of Presence.
But you see... I want to know the Spirit in all things. So when I hold a gathering... and usually it’s not just me, but others of like mind... I’m not looking to know everything on every subject in order to hold a meeting... I’m looking for the NOW God... the Living Presence of Christ... He can then decide His agenda... and what He wants to unfold that day.
So I am conscious of huge amounts I don’t know compared to other learned brothers... but I do know how to add to my Spirit knowledge in the context of the growth of the Body of Christ worldwide. My confidence has come only through the Holy Spirit leading me repeatedly from those early days.
We find nothing OUTSIDE of the context of John 7:17 If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God... willing to do His will... that is the One who sent Jesus, that is, the Father.
Our relationship with the Father is the ROCK, the foundation, the thing that is taking so much time burrowing down to. Just when we think... “Well that’s all fine,” He shows us another bit of Jesus-PLUS thinking, another bit of this trench of 6000 years of lie as to the Father’s character and truth and utter holiness.
You know in those stunningly beautiful gatherings when the Presence of the Lord descends... and you don’t have any utterance at all for what is going on. If anyone asks you after the meeting, you have no possible way of explaining what just happened. it’s like a burning. A welding. A fusion. Unutterably deep. To the carnal mind, it seems like nothing at all happened of any practical usage.
BUT YOU KNOW WHAT JUST HAPPENED, far from it being NOTHING......actually EVERYTHING was happening. It’s WAY beyond doctrine. Way past preaching, really. But out from this experience we can really start to do things that the Body of Christ wouldn’t have found possible before.
Yes I could teach, but if I was leading gatherings, I would seek to take people to the throne, to the place where nothing seemed to be happening.
So many things WERE happening... when nothing seemed to be happening... I really don’t trust my senses any more... Because when I think nothing is happening God is founding fresh universes!
So yes, I’d prefer to take gatherings to that rather dubious place where “nothing” appears to happen... but the outcomes are so huge. I think this is the place that Evan Roberts was finding flat on his face in those Welsh chapel meetings... where all round him, in valley after valley people on a nationwide scale were coming to know the Lord.
You won’t find inside our calling for the full glory of the Bride any kind of how-to manual. She is a Spirit Bride called forth by a Spirit Word. Her outward form is ONLY what is convenient for the moment in this present particular assembly that allows each highly valued member to share the same Christ singing in their own hearts, to give that gift granted to them for others.
Human “order” always drives away the Spirit who alone births a Third Feast church. Yet there are differing gifts of ministry and watch-care. Let me attempt to explain briefly how one could see those differing gifts flowing together in any gathering of the little local assemblies all over the world.
Chris Welch speaks of the gifts of imparting Spirit to others, yet my own gift is mostly in the word. If I am to give my gift in the local assembly, I must have place to speak a Life Word into the church. Logos, in the New Testament, mostly refers to the word preached; Christ is planted as a seed in His church by the foolishness of preaching. One man up front each Sunday speaking words does not mean Christ is being planted as a seed. Yet the planting of the seed does come through human words.
However the gospel is never Word without being also Spirit and never Spirit without being also Word. In a Third Feast church, the two are going back and forth together from one member to another in a dance of joy.
Every member of the church, according to their own heart-song, must have regular opportunity to stand and speak Christ into the hearts of the others. We NEED the speaking of Christ from all of our brothers and sisters. A few don’t ever get up to share, and they are perfect in Christ. Their gift is given to others in a different arena.
We need prophesying from one another. We need gifts of faith and healing from one another. We need discernment of spirits and watch-care from one another. We need a cup of coffee. We need deep groanings for the resurrection of the physical body. AND we need regular interventions of the HOLY, where all of us are on our face in all silence before a sovereign and a mighty God.
Those who have a gift of watch-care are called “elders” in the New Testament. That is unfortunate. They are simply brothers and sisters given a gift that has nothing to do with their own anything, a gift NOT meant for them but simply to be offered with joy in the midst of the church. Those who have that gift of watch-care do two things in the assembly. They guide the flow of the brethren away from the shoals and rocks of nonsense, and they ensure that every little member receives the full glory of giving their gift to all, however that gift might show itself to be.
There is no distinction of “natural” gift versus “spiritual” gift. Talking is not a “spiritual” gift. The ability to stand in front of many people and speak with great boldness is no more spiritual a gift than the ability to clean a toilet. And we do wrong when we make it appear to be something it is not. There is no separation of Spirit ability and natural ability. The Spirit anoints the natural, filling it with life and joy. The Spirit anointing the brother who cleans the toilets is showing Himself in an equal gift of honor as the brother who preaches up a storm or the brother who prays and people get healed.
We should be as blessed by God to enjoy a clean toilet as we are blessed by God when a legless man suddenly leaps up with a leg that wasn’t there a few minutes before. How can one be a “greater” gift than the other? It is only serpent-thinking, general unbelief, and practical atheism, that makes it seem so.
Let me insert here a few paragraphs I wrote from “In The Womb of the Church,” concerning my experience of church life at Blueberry Christian Community.
We had two services a week in the community, Wednesday and Saturday evenings, plus devotions every morning except Sunday. Wednesday evening, anyone was free to share what God had given them. Saturday evening was for the elders to minister the word. It was a normal thing for all to share Christ within the church.
We were led entirely by the Spirit. There was never an order, nor any idea of an order for the service. No one knew who would lead praise, or which songs might be sung, or who would preach. We would gather quietly, sit, and someone might begin a song – or not. Maybe it would be just a low current of prayer. Then someone, anyone with a gift to lead praise, would get up. The flow of songs was entirely out of the belly of the person who felt to lead praise. We would praise and worship God in the Spirit for maybe 45 minutes to an hour. Different ones gave a prophetic utterance as the Lord led. Everyone knew, almost at the same time, when the Lord was finished with the praise. Then we waited, but not ever long, for someone to get up and share. Wednesday night, maybe 8-12 people might share, on Saturday night, usually two or three. The word was anointed, powerful, and filled with life.
God is an orderly God, thus, I would guess, maybe 2/3 to 3/4 of the services were like that. But God is a spontaneous God as well, new every morning, always doing the unexpected, always moving in ways we did not know. A service that went in an entirely different direction, always spontaneous and unexpected, was quite normal.
One time, before anyone arose to lead praise, someone gave thanks to the Lord. That giving of thanks was of the Spirit and upon everyone. Then another, then another, then another. We spent maybe 2-3 hours giving thanks individually and corporately. It was a mighty moving of God. Another time, a brother with a mighty anointing to lead, who was often out on community business, got up in a Spirit of rejoicing. Suddenly, all the chairs went to the outskirts of the room, and we spent the entire 2-3 hour service dancing before the Lord, often in a great circle, in exuberance and praise and the sweet and joyous Spirit of Christ.
Another time, quite distinct, before anyone got up to lead praise, someone went over to another person and asked their forgiveness. That same anointing came upon all of us. Then another went and asked a specific individual for forgiveness, then another, and another. It was one of the most heart-wrenching, opening-up times I have ever known. It was spontaneous and holy. There were times when the service went in the direction of healing. I have known my physical body healed instantly in the middle of such times.
We never knew what God would do or how He would surprise us with His goodness and power.
This is the church the Lord Jesus Christ is entering into full union with right now. In whatever limited human ability I might have, anointed by the unlimited Power of the Holy Ghost, I call this Church forth, in all of her glory.
I sing for her, KNOWING that she comes, drawn to that call out of the heart of God as to the lodestone.