27. Turning the Church Right Side Up
Only the true apostolic, walking just as Jesus walked, will turn the church right side up. That is, will place themselves always beneath, always lifting others above themselves, through the power by which Jesus subdues all things to Himself, the power of the Mercy Seat filling them full, the throne of heaven. That church will then line itself up without any outward pressure according to the same heart flowing through the apostolic, the very heart of God.
27. Turning the Church Right Side Up
This article is a second to my letter, “God Is Beneath Your Feet,” found in The Kingdom Rising series. I wrote that letter a year-and-a-half ago. It was the first of several letters from then until now, culminating in “The Pillar of Fire,” that have altered my knowing of God and of God in me.
God is completely different from how most of Christian theology has known Him, and so is His kingdom. Man has always defined God according to how the serpent desires all to see Him, and defined the church according to the hierarchy of the kingdoms of men in this world.
We know God as He really is first by beginning with these words, “I am meek and lowly of heart,” and then seeing that the only knowing of God granted to the entire universe before now, both heaven and earth, is the path, the steps of Jesus from the upper room to the throne of heaven. Moreover, we can know the reality of that path only by knowing that we are utterly inside of Jesus through every step, seeing out from His eyes alone as our eyes.
Looking AT Jesus walking in the way is to remain in death.
Man retains a definite image of “God,” but whenever God does show up in the earth, He in no way fits that image, but rather is treated with utmost contempt. God is NOT what man thinks He is. – And neither is His church.
Let me repeat the definition of church that Jesus gave. “Where two or three (or more) are gathered together in My name, there I am in the midst of them.”
Church is the purposeful gathering together of believers in Jesus. It is the point of their interaction, communion, walking together, their love for one another.
Although we must always see something as it is by a fully positive view, yet God, all through the Bible and human reality, uses contrast as well to delineate the truth. We must do the same.
To begin I will do something I have spoken against from the beginning. I have declared that I receive into myself all that God speaks in the Covenant I signed with Him without picking and choosing. However, I have always left a little clause in my claim that says this. There are a few things in the New Testament (many more in the Old) that have been mistranslated or misconstrued. Those wrongly translated elements do not include any large truths except one, and that is the wrongful translation of the one Greek word aeon into the Latin/English word “eternal.” However, I also said that there are a few things in the New Testament that we CANNOT understand.
I would like you to take your Bible (I’m speaking figuratively) and open it to 1 Corinthians 11. Now, draw a line just above verse 2 and another just beneath verse 16. Having done that, X that entire section, 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, placing it entirely on the shelf. We are not ruled by these words.
Here is why. I was following a reading program through the great book series and thus was reading the prescribed pages in Aristotle. You can imagine how astonished I was as I realized that I was reading something hauntingly similar to 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, this passage on hierarchy in the creation and women’s hair and “covering.”
So I ask the question. Why did Paul draw from Aristotle in his letter to the Greek Corinthians? There is one answer only that anyone can give to that question, and that is, “I cannot know.” The moment someone says, “I know, God told me,” I am running away as fast as I can.
Let’s get the full picture. Aristotle was a pagan Greek philosopher who lived 350 years before Paul. Yes, Aristotle contributed much good into Western culture. If you read a science book in school or did a science experiment, you were benefiting from Aristotle’s understanding of the universe and are, in fact, an Aristotlean. But like all brilliant humans, he also contributed much mixed-up nonsense that has forged the thinking of Western man.
Paul grew up surrounded by Greek culture and spoke Greek fluently. The Corinthian church was almost entirely Greek. Did Paul have some private communication with the Corinthians that his unwarranted use of Aristotle’s ideas would have some meaning? We cannot know. Let me bring in another place Paul did something similar in the same letter.
Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak, but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. 1 Cor. 14:34
This line is drawn, not from Aristotle, but from Sophocles. And, although Sophocles is one of the most brilliant and useful portrayers of the human condition in literature, yet he was also a high priest of the cult of Dionysus, a wicked pagan cult. This should not read, “as the law also says,” because nothing even remotely like this is found in the law, but rather, “as your (Greek) poets also say.”
Now why did Paul draw from a pagan cult leader in writing to the Corinthians when Sophocles’ statement, found in the mouths of characters in his plays, runs completely counter to Paul’s ongoing practice of recognizing women in ministry? We can give only one answer; we cannot know.
Now, I speak highly of the Bible all the way through, including the “words on the page.” But what I do not do is deify the Bible, turning it into a “demi-god.” The perfection of God is something completely other than the perfection of man, which “perfection” is modeled after Satan’s self-image. More than that, the words on the page can just as easily become death and darkness as they can become life and light. The difference is entirely the heart and spirit of the reader.
Jesus made it clear that the enemy WOULD sow lies all through His church, that those lies would grow up side by side with truth, looking just like the truth, and that He, Jesus, would not pull out those lies until the time of the end.
These two passages in 1 Corinthians simply do not jive with anything else in the Bible. They run counter to the manner in which God speaks in the Old Testament and in the New. And here is the problem. These two passages rule in the church of Christ to great harm all down through the centuries.
Let me explain. I grew up in the Mennonite church; I lived in move of God Christian community from age 20 to age 41. This passage drawn in part from Aristotle RULED in both of those groups. The Mennonites interpreted it outwardly; Sam Fife taught it as a Spirit word.
This passage was the “truth” Sam Fife used to create his “divine order” for God’s church. It is the one thing from Sam Fife that the move at present has kept. They seem to have thrown out much from Sam Fife they should have kept, but they have kept this one thing they should have thrown out years ago.
In the Mennonite church, all the women had to wear doilies on their heads in order not to get in trouble with God when appearing in church. Some Mennonite groups made their women wear those things all the time lest they should “pray” without a doohinkey on their head and thus get in trouble with God. Today when I see a Christian woman with a doohinkey on her head, I weep inside. They just don’t know Him.
But in the move of God, the rule of Aristotle’s ideas was more fierce. In fact, Aristotle’s ideas in 1 Corinthians 11 permeate the structure of the entire church of God through history. It is everywhere in one form or another. It showed it’s head in the discipleship part of the Charismatic movement. It is central to the doctrine of savage separation from God. It is the support and the argument underlying every single “top-down” structure found in Christian thinking and practice.
First God, high above all, on His lofty throne. Then Jesus, the absolute dictator, then beneath Him comes Pope/apostles/denominational boards – the ones who must “interpret God” to us mere fleshy mortals, beneath them are elders/priests/pastors, the ones who have proven that they “toe the line,” and then far down at the bottom of the totem pole are you and me, so far away from God that we have to be “covered” all the time lest we get into big, big trouble by our certain foolishness. Demons will get you if you don’t wear a doohinkey on your head. Demons will get you if you don’t “stay under the covering.”
And yes, in spite of the tremendous revelation of the third feast and the mighty power of God in the defeat of sin and death in our lives found in the move of God, the fellowship from which I learned so much of what I teach, that belief, “demons will get you if you don’t stay under the covering,” remains the strongest practical doctrine of that sect. It rules there fiercely, and is the very thing that has devastated the lives of so many people whom I know.
Why? Because the whole structure of that sect, and all other sects and most churches, would fall apart without it. Yet that whole thing is part of the curse God pronounced upon Eve: “your husband will rule over you.” It is part of the curse that Jesus took to the cross and destroyed.
What do we find, when, for the first time we see out from God’s eyes? We find that He, the King of heaven, is beneath our feet (we have been hanging upside down). We find that He has limited Himself entirely by our weakness, that He stumbles with us lowly ones upon our path, that He carries us, that He has become us in all of our difficulties, that He is gentle and tender and kind. We find that when “God high on His throne,” shows up in the earth, He washes people’s feet; He comes to be the lowliest servant of all, meek and lowly of heart.
Can there be a church not kept in any form by a human hierarchy of control?
You see, it is completely true that without “control” every shyster and mountebank will run rampant, drawing groups of foolish Christians into one form of nonsense after another, something the Catholic church feared for centuries. Yes, Eve is the one who demands pretense and outward show.
But the church of Christ is not Eve, and she is not under the curse.
Man’s solution in the church, of course, is to pick the most powerful set of mountebanks and shysters, and put them in charge of everything so that everyone appears to look like God ought to look like if man could control Him.
We call them pastors and apostles, elders and bishops, denominational boards, ministry meetings, church councils, and popes.
The true church of Christ does come through the apostolic. And I hope to find a clear picture of what that reality of church, the spotless Bride of Christ, looks like for real as the age of glory is birthed upon this earth.
Here is an absolute law of reality, proven over and over through the history of human experience, yet disregarded by all, Christians and secularists alike.
Every increase in human control to establish “order” results in increased chaos and violence. Every human “letting go” of control results in increased order and peace.
I will let these two statements stand as absolute social laws in heaven and earth. I could expand on them in every direction in human society and interaction, but that is not my purpose here.
This absolute law is expressed in these ways among others, Do unto others what you would have them do to you – How you judge, you will be judged; how you measure, you will be measured – what you sow you will reap. The moment any person or group of persons including nations treat others with any form of disrespect, that is, any form of control, that is, violence, they MUST expect violence in some form to come back against them. No pontificating or delusion or waving of flags can alter that reality.
How did the enemy sow lies into the church, as Jesus said he would? Simple, he came in through every attempt of church leaders to keep false doctrine and false practices out of the church. He did not come in through the false; he came in through the true attempting to stamp out the false, starting with John’s disciple, Ignatius, who became the first “bishop” in Christian experience, that is, a one-man benevolent dictator, right after the passing of John, as Jesus said, solely to protect the church of Christ from the savage wolves of error circling all around.
We must know the root of this problem from Ignatius on. The root is practical atheism. Let me spell that atheism out as clearly as I can.
Jesus is no longer visible; He is “up in heaven.” His people remain, however, “down” here on this earth. I am wise; I am gifted. I earnestly desire His glory in all things. Since Jesus isn’t here, He has given me the ministry of leading these people into truth, the ministry of protecting them from all the lies and deception swirling all around. My, these dear people are unruly, aren’t they? Some of them are listening to that shyster from the Second Church of Houston. I must protect them. Do not listen to anyone from the Second Church of Houston, they will take you into darkness to hell!
Do you see how the “need” to protect people comes from the perceived absence of Jesus? Practical atheism.
Did Jesus enter into His church on the day of Pentecost or not? Is He both Savior and Salvation or not? Does He fill the heart of the least little one or not? Does He know exactly what He is doing with each one who belongs to Him or not? Does He ever put anyone else in charge of His church?
Lies become the fabric of the church by every attempt of well-meaning church leaders to protect their people from lies. They do not know that each one that belongs to Him IS the very flesh and expression of the Lord Jesus Christ and that He is doing something so incredible with each one, regardless of outward appearances, that it will blow our socks off when we see it all come together in the glory of the gathering together of His house.
There is NO absence of God.
The ONLY thing that causes God to become quiet IS human manipulation and control. Every attempt by man to impose order in any direction drives God into silence. Every withdrawal of man from controlling the situation or others allows God to be God, as He is, carrying all things inside Himself. That’s why we give thanks; that’s why we expect God.
There is only one thing separate from God besides the imagination of the mind, and that is human control. Most Christians are practical atheists. In their minds, God is simply derelict and absent.
I believe, by these two strongly worded backdrops, that I have painted as clear a picture as I can of that false thing that the true Bride of Christ and the true apostolic ministry that clothes her with the glory of Jesus is NOT.
Let’s now attempt to paint a picture of ministry in that Church which the Lord Jesus is even now birthing in fullness upon this planet. All interaction is ministry, life itself giving and receiving life. Later, I want to look at the members of a local assembly. Here I want to look at the relationship of the apostolic to that Church.
I reject the use of “Apostle” as a title or even a consideration in any form. If you see “Apostle” in front of someone’s name, you know that person is not “sent.” I am NOT “an apostle”; yet I recognize that in some ways an apostolic anointing or ministry flows through me to others. His name is Jesus; it is always He.
More than that there is no individual who holds even the ministry of “apostle.” You see, we are speaking of the real, the final, the birthing of the Holy. We demand of God the purest expression of His heart. God shows Himself through those who ARE members of one another.
Thus we come to the word “apostolic.” The apostolic is the Lord Jesus Himself, moving through brethren, both men and women, who together release into the gathering together of precious saints a deeper knowing of their Savior and their Life than they have ever known before. Released into that knowing, they have no further need of the apostolic at that level; they know Jesus.
That doesn’t end the place of the apostolic in our lives for two reasons. One, God lifts our knowing of Him bit by bit. I find that some who have read my letters from the start are now reading back through and understanding things now that they could not see the first time through. That is normal. We are all being taught step by step. God does not push and shove. Two, the revelation of Jesus Christ will never end. We will never arrive at knowing all there is to know inside of God. He will always be new every morning; we will always be saying, “Wow, I have never experienced God like this before, not in this way.”
The apostolic is that ministry that takes you in a moment from one level of knowing God to a far higher or deeper level of knowing and experiencing Him. Before the apostolic, we knew God. After the apostolic, it is God we continue to know. We are not “dependent” on the apostolic. God just uses them, because we are members of one another, to break the blockages of our faith and to give us a taste of so much more. Walking in that taste of God remains with us. We don’t “need” the apostolic to walk with God.
What I am trying to present is very much a servant ministry. A ministry that pours the wine and then waits in the shadows until wine is asked for again. The apostolic is the servant of the Bride, not her master. The apostolic serves, it never rules. And any “ministry” that places itself as a continual connection between the Bride and the God who fills her full is FALSE. They may move in the Holy Spirit; they may teach a measure of Christ – God is always good. But as that final apostolic ministry that joins the Bride to the Bridegroom, they are NOT.
Now, in my last letter I stated that the one who lays down his life always “rules.” I put the word “rules” in quotation marks. Let me explain.
There are two realms, the visible, physical realm of earth, and the invisible spirit realm of heaven. These two realms are always directly and utterly tied together. You never find one without finding, fully, the other. The separation between spirit and flesh is known as death. It is always contrary to God and to life.
However, in many instances, the appearance of something can be the opposite when you see in one realm versus the other. A layed-down life is such a thing.
Outwardly, a laid-down life appears as an utter loser, a total failure, powerless and subject to the overwhelming control of others. That is all “appearance” only. And that is why we MUST walk by faith, that is, by seeing heavenly reality, and not by sight, that is, by imagining that earthly appearance defines anything.
Let me explain. In the last letter I mentioned one of whom ONLY this Pillar of Fire revelation of God in me could bring into love upon the Mercy Seat. I have done that; it’s not easy, but it is something I can do. The result was an unlooked for apology to me for “judging me, which it wasn’t that one’s place to do.” Then some words were added, “it is the Lord before whom you will stand or fall.”
First, confessing wrongful things to the one we have wronged is an essential part of the river of life flowing out of us. It is not “penance”; it is life. When we confess, however, we ALWAYS ask forgiveness. And if someone asks forgiveness of us, we ALWAYS say, “I forgive you.” Never say, “Oh, don’t worry about it.” You are the Mercy Seat of God, grant the forgiveness. Is forgiveness not the birthright of your brother or sister?
But here is what we never, ever do – add something to our confession. Adding a final “word” to an apology is to demonstrate the continuing control of the bully, the desperate anti-Christ need to remain “on top.”
Now, I didn’t understand that. My first reaction is always to welcome someone into my heart with complete openness. I am ready immediately to admit my own faults, to see the best in the other, to be as self-effacing and agreeable as I can be. Yet the final comment left me confused. I knew something was not right by it, but I did not understand. I don’t know the meaning of person-to-person interaction; I have to figure out what just happened. That used to be days or months of puzzlement later, if ever. This time, by next morning, and by the understanding of the heavens the Lord has brought me to, I understood. And in understanding, I know the Lord is teaching me something critical for His Church.
Let’s see this whole thing, now, from the heavens.
I take that which is an offense and the one responsible for the offense into my heart in Love. I take that person into the throne of God, the authority of God to command life, my own heart. By that exercise, I have the power in me, the Lamb-slain, to cause the offense to cease and the offender to walk free into life. This is happening mightily in the heavens. I see it by faith – and faith is not imagination. It is the knowing of actual heavenly reality.
As a result, the power of the Holy Spirit in conviction comes upon the offender. They see their wrong. They come to confess their wrong. However, they have not let go of the desperate need inside to “be somebody.” They can confess their wrong only as “the elder,” as the one above, the one who “knows all things as they really are” and dispenses judgment by that knowledge. It’s called control, and it is the effort always coming out of a life of pretending.
In the heavens, this one is not yet fully free, still under the weight of self living for self, of controlling and being controlled. In the earth, they win. They leave with the last word, and I am left caught between a wonderful sense of God’s goodness and grace carrying me and the confused feeling that I was just used wrongfully without knowing how. Always in the past, the feeling of confused helplessness would have won.
So what do I do now as the layed-down life? I do the same as before, I bring that one into the Mercy Seat above the Blood, into the Love that fills my heart full as the very authority of God in the universe. In the heavens, I am in charge. In the earth, I feel like a blundering fool.
Here is the secret of power. The moment one reaches for power in the earth, they become a slave in the heavens. The moment one reaches for power in heaven, they release all need for any show or appearance in the earth.
Jesus began to pray in the garden sometime before three AM. That means the prayer of John 17 was prayed sometime after midnight. Consider this. From the moment Jesus prayed John 17 on until the moment He rose from the dead, the mightiest demonstrations of power in the universe were taking place in the heavens. My God, all sin, all enemies, you and me, were being swept in, drawn into love, drawn into the heart of a broken man rising from His knees in the Garden, turning the Cup into Joy. If we could have seen the moment Jesus rose to His feet in the Garden from a heavenly perspective, as that Cup of Bitterness turned into the Joy of His Bride inside His heart, oh, the mighty explosions of Almighty power taking place in the heavens! The earthly appearance gave no clue.
And as He walked the Path of the Atonement, in the earth He was a loser, a failure, defeated, silent. In the heavens, all sin and death were vanishing into the forgetfulness of God. Human words cannot express the wonder that all the hosts of heaven were beholding, seeing God as He really is for the very first time!
I have the authority from God to wield His power over your life. That power is always doing two things for you. First, it causes the old, the offense, the difficulty to cease; second it releases you into the Joy of the Song that fills your heart, the release of God through you as His revelation to the universe, alive and free forevermore.
That’s it. And that is REAL power. That is incredibly powerful Power.
I am convinced that the real turning, the real transaction took place as Jesus rose to His feet the third time in Gethsemane. The cross and the resurrection were simply the outward visible demonstration of a reality that happened when the Cup turned to Joy in Jesus’ heart. That was us, there, inside of Him.
That is Him now inside of us.
I want to see as clearly as I can this apostolic ministry that is always placing itself under your limitation, that is always stumbling under your cross, that is always carrying you with the deepest of joy into not needing “me” anymore. And we do that, as God always does, by contrast.
All through my writing, I have spoken against this thing that wants to control, to manipulate, to dominate others for the purpose of religious self-exaltation. There are other selfish purposes by which people abuse other people, but when it is done for religious self-exaltation, it makes itself the very enemy of Christ.
We all stumble; we all do foolish things. We get frustrated and express our frustration badly. We ignore other people’s needs when we should have been more sensitive. All of that Jesus carries in Himself. In all of that, He stumbles with us upon our way. We don’t glory in those things, but neither do we shame in them. We simply cast ourselves utterly into Him and He in every part of us.
But there is one thing that does not connect with the Lord Jesus, with Christ living as us. I wrote “Strange Fire” specifically to address that thing. I want to address it again here.
The need to be religiously superior to my brother in any outward way, the lust to manipulate and control, to have the last word, to appear “above” in outward demonstration of face, to be the one “in charge” in an outward religious sense. To demonstrate superior knowledge, to be the one everyone comes to, everyone looks up to, everyone says, “Oh, we’d better ask Brother --- before we decide on that one.” To keep and hold such a place over fellow believers in Jesus – that thing that the church in this world calls the Pastor, or the Apostle, or the Bishop, and yes, especially the Pope. (Calling one’s self Apostle So-and-so is identical to the one who calls himself the Pope), this thing that appears to be something in the earthly plane – to engage such a place IS to deliberately and violently disconnect one’s self from any power of God in the heavens. It is to become a slave, and then, as a slave of self-delusion, to gain religious titillation from place, from “authority,” from pushing people around, from appearing to earth as “above.”
In the gospels, they were called Pharisees. Jesus had no problem with sexual sinners or thieves. He had a big problem with the Pharisees.
Conversely, to the extent that I release the power of heaven over your life, to that same extent, I appear in the earthly realm as the loser, as the beneath, as the one who lays down his life, his place, his “honor.”
NOW, we must draw a very sharp line in the concrete. I am in no way speaking of coming under the manipulation and control of others, of feeling a sense of “obligation” inside the earthly part of things. Earthly subservience and whining submission is identical to, just the flip side of religious self-exaltation-over.
If you expect me to submit to you, it will never happen. Outwardly, I walk away as the defeated one. Inwardly, I bring you into the Mercy Seat of heaven where I exercise the authority of God over you to cause the offense to cease and you to walk free of me all the way into life.
Brethren walking together is always and only a full back and forth, submitting one to the other, in a mutual relationship of the deepest of honor and the highest respect for one another.
Jesus never came under anyone’s manipulation or control. When Pilate said, “I have power over You,” Jesus said, “You have nothing except what is given you by My Father.” When the Pharisees accused Him, He did not come under their power by defending Himself. When they beat Him, He did not become like them by shooting back. Yet, unbeknownst to them, He carried all of them inside Himself, screaming and crying, all the way into death and all the way into life. They were powerless against His power.
The power by which He is able to subdue all things to Himself.
God’s ministry will always be turning its back on the Bride, for her sake. They will always be walking away from every “work” they perform or raise up. They will always be raising up others to take their place so they are no longer needed.
True apostolic ministry is always raising up every little individual believer in Jesus to take its place, that is, to be the one who walks with God no longer “needing” the service of the apostolic.
Anyone who threatens with God’s punishment or displeasure is a practical atheist and a violent pretender. They could care less about God; should He show up in the earth, they would drive Him out. Their motivation is earthly place.
Only the true apostolic, walking just as Jesus walked, will turn the church right side up. That is, will place themselves always beneath, always lifting others above themselves, through the power by which Jesus subdues all things to Himself, the power of the Mercy Seat filling them full, the throne of heaven.
That church will then line itself up without any outward pressure according to the same heart flowing through the apostolic, the very heart of God.