When Jesus declared to Peter that he was going to build His Ekklesia and that the gates of hell would not be strong enough or able to withstand it, Matthew 16:18, He was letting Peter know something of the authority that His people were going to carry on the earth, the delegated authority that is ours because we have been raised with Christ and seated with Him in the heavenly realm.
The Ekklesia, the Greek word that Jesus used here, and that has been translated as ‘church’ for the last few centuries, referred to a political and legislative group of people in an ancient Greek state. It was used by the Romans when they sent a small group of officials to bring the culture of the Rome Empire into a conquered region. The inference is profound. Jesus declared that His group of followers, the ‘church’ or ‘ekklesia’ was to be in the pagan world, in order to bring the culture of heaven to that region.
So we are back to considering the authority that we have because we are redeemed and seated with Christ in those heavenly realms. ‘Our citizenship is in heaven’, Philippians 3:20, and we are living here on the earth with the remit to bring the culture of heaven to earth, wherever on earth we should find ourselves. A tall order I think, and a challenging prospect, except that we are not alone.
Paul writes ‘You are ……fellow citizens with God’s people and members of His household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone……..and in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.’ Ephesians 2:19-22. What a beautiful definition of the church, ‘a dwelling place where God lives by His Spirit’, and of course we all know that we are not talking here about bricks and mortar, but about the likes of you and me.
Not long after Jesus spoke for the second time about giving His disciples the authority to bind and loose things on earth in accordance with that which had been bound and loosed in heaven, He said this, ‘Again, I tell you that if two of you, on earth, agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them’. Matthew 18:19.
So this authority to bring heaven to earth comes as we pray together and as we let the Holy Spirit lead us to discern the mind of the Lord and what He is wanting to do in each situation. The good news is that it only takes two or three of us to be together to be that ekklesia, and the Lord Himself will be there too. This then can open the way to there being agreement between heaven and earth, and so His will, will be done.
We had a lovely friend one time who believed strongly in the power of prayer where there was agreement between two of God’s children. Whenever she wanted the Lord to do something she would take you to one side and say, effectively, “ I need you to agree with me about…….” Well I think it is clear that we are not meant to be forming an alliance with each other in order to make the Lord do what we want Him to do. Our agreement is not me persuading you, or you persuading me to join you in your request, but it is each of us coming to an agreement with the Lord as we discern how the Holy Spirit is leading us to pray. We are then agreeing about what the Lord is wanting to do, and can therefore pray with faith and authority in Jesus name.
God reveals things to us by His Spirit and we have the safety factor in each other, to help make sure that we are discerning His will correctly. It is of great comfort that after Paul has told the believers that God has given us His Spirit so that we may understand what God has freely given us, he finishes by telling them that ‘we have the mind of Christ’. 1 Corinthians 2:16. It’s a corporate thing. We have the indwelling Holy Spirit and we have each other with whom to share our thoughts and check things out.
We are told that when we come together each one of us has something to bring to the table 1 Corinthians 14:26, and the purpose is to strengthen and build each other up. I just feel a welling up of gratitude in my heart for the fact that the Lord planned it this way. That we are not alone, and that we need each other. Even with all our individual idiosyncrasies, we are ‘the body of Christ’.
I believe that as we thank God for each other and as we learn to treasure what we have in each other, we will ‘build ourselves up in our most holy faith’ as we ‘pray in the Holy Spirit’. Jude 20. And we will be ‘built up into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering sacrifices acceptable to God’. 1 Peter 2:5.