Christ Circulates Among the Lampstands
Apostolic Foundations and Apostolic Patterns - Part 7
The word Lampstand is used almost interchangeably in the Bible with the words Foundation and Church. While a lampstand might possibly come about as a Sovereign act of God, His normal Pattern is to send apostolic men to lay the Foundation for His Building in the exact places of His choosing. Most of what we call “churches” today are formed unBiblically out of sincerity, ambition, ignorance, or division.
“News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts” (Acts 11:22-23).
What is a Foundation? It’s a Sovereign Gift of the grace (undeserved favor) of God that is evident. Barnabas saw that the undeserved favor of God was evident. He could see the hand of God intervening in a divine way. God was there and he saw that. So he dug in and started teaching daily and bringing people to Christ, and equipping the saints for the works of service.
When there’s a lampstand, Foundation, in a city, it will be marked by the obvious thumbprint of God. You can’t do anything to deserve it or make it happen, but the grace will be evident. Men with eyes to see will know that God is there and will respond according to the giftedness within them to bind on earth what is already bound in heaven.
Foundations are the result of God’s timing, His desire to bless His children and the free gifts He bestows on them. In the same way that God gives peace (not just the absence of trials or conflicts), so also a lampstand is God’s gift to men. No one can claim it, demand it, orchestrate it, or administrate it. The undeserved favor of God is just that—undeserved! You can’t make it happen, no matter how slick you are and no matter how finely tuned your program is.
Foundations are God’s response to our preparedness and crying out to Him for an expression of Himself. And a lampstand is a place where Christ circulates in a manner you won’t find anywhere else. “But wait a minute,” some will say, “I thought God was omnipresent.” Quite true. But Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I will be in their midst” (Mt.18:20). In context, gathering in His name meant agreeing together in prayer about what was already bound and loosed in heaven, standing for the same things Jesus stood for. While God is certainly present everywhere, does He not promise yet a greater manifestation of His presence to those where two or three gather in His name and to those who go out in His name (Mt.28:20)? And as awesome as this is, how much greater his presence in a Lampstand?!
He is everywhere, obviously, but there is an even greater, specific manifestation of Himself in the midst of His People. There’s a greater manifestation that makes it possible for an unbeliever to fall on His face and cry out, “God is really among you!” Otherwise, it wouldn’t make sense for Paul to have said, “When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present…” (1Cor.5:4).
Christ circulates among the Lampstands and wherever you find one, you can rest assured that He is there in a way that far surpasses His general presence everywhere. But what exactly is this thing called a Lampstand and how do you know when you’ve got one?
You won’t find a precise definition for Lampstand in the Bible any more than you find a precise definition for love in 1 Corinthians 13. But you can see its effects. Asking the question, “Well, do we have a Lampstand in this city or not?” is like asking, “Am I in love or not?” You just know. When you’re in love, you know it. You may not be able to put a finger on exactly how or when it happened—you just know you’re in love! So it is with a Foundation. You can’t chase after it or do anything to “make it happen.” It’s clearly a gift from God, and when you’ve got it, you know it!
How do you define it? You really can’t, but you can see its outworkings. What a tragic mistake it would be to conjure up some formula or checklist for determining whether or not this particular group of Christians is a Lampstand! Anybody who’s ever been part of one knows the difference when he’s not, just as anybody who’s ever been in love knows the difference when he’s not. You know when you’re in love and when you’re not in love. And you know you can’t perfectly define it, so don’t try! Don’t make a “doctrine of lampstands.” You’ll suffer greatly for that.
Built on the Rock
What is a Foundation made of? What is the Apostolic cement that makes it joined and knit together? The only Foundation for a christian Church is obviously Christ. No man can lay any Foundation other than Christ. Yet only a revelation of the Christ of Rev.1:12-18, not another Christ of men’s imagination, can be the basis for Foundation. This “Jesus” who does us little favors when we say the magic words is a false christ, and I’m sad to say that there are many false christs around today.
But when it is the Holy Christ upon which the Church is built, the gates of hell cannot prevail against it. There’s only one Jesus with white hair as wool and eyes of blazing fire and a sword in His mouth—“Faithful and True” who thunders through the nations on His white horse and has “Lord of lords and King of kings” written on His thigh! And that is the Foundation that the master builder, the architekton, lays.
In Revelation, John describes Jesus as one with a voice like a thundering waterfall and feet glowing like bronze. And when John, a man who knew Jesus intimately, saw this Revelation of who Christ really is, he fell on his face as a dead man. John had even been on the mount of transfiguration with Jesus and had seen His Glory once before, but still he fell as a dead man. That’s the Revelation of Jesus Christ. That’s the Christ upon which the Foundation is built.
Any other foundation is sand. Then the attitude is, “I hear the words of Christ, but I don’t have to put them into practice, because…(you can fill in the blanks). I’m sure Jesus will understand my situation.” But when you see the Christ as He really is, the Anointed One of God in His full revelation, there’s no question of how you will respond to His Word! He doesn’t even have to say anything, but you’ll fall as a dead man when you see “someone like the Son of Man.” You won’t be fighting and arguing over words, debating fine meanings and trying to find an escape hatch to get out of doing what God has called you to do.
If you’ve truly seen the Risen Christ, you’ll never have that kind of attitude! You won’t be looking for the easiest way out or the path of least resistance. You’ll just fall like a dead man. That’s the Rock upon which the Church will be built that the gates of hell cannot prevail against!
“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock [the testimony of the revelation of the Christ of God!] I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven’” (Matthew 16:15-19).
Upon this rock. What rock? The rock, the Foundation that the Church will be built on, is the testimony of the Christ of the Living God, with white hair as wool and eyes of blazing fire. The rock-solid Foundation that the apostolic brings to mankind is a revelation from the Father of Jesus Christ in His fullness and in His Glory. The master builder lays a Foundation of Christ in the lives of the people.
Drops You to Your Knees
The insanity of sin and the perversion in our lives is directly related to the perversion of our revelation of Christ. So also, the strength of our Foundation is directly related to our Revelation of Christ. For that is what an apostolic man, the master builder, lays for the Foundation of the Church. As one who sees, he lays the Foundation of Christ against which the gates of hell cannot prevail. He brings a Revelation of Jesus Christ that drops men to their knees, and it is upon that rock that Jesus builds His Church.
In the same measure that the Revelation of Christ is given, the Foundation will be laid. And that Revelation of Jesus Christ to a people, along with an understanding of what it is that He’s building, will drop us to our knees. “At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow” (Php 2:10). There are no exceptions. That’s what a Foundation is—a revelation of the Christ of God through the Father’s eyes rather than through men’s imaginations and self-serving ambitions.
Can be Taken Away
“According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames” (1 Corinthians 3:10-11).
There are no guarantees that the building will stand, no matter how excellent the Foundation is. Every disciple builds on that Foundation. “From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Eph.4:16). Are you careful how you build? Do you use costly materials, investing in lives with gold, silver, and precious stones? Just as David refused to offer his God that which cost him nothing, do you have the same attitude toward your brothers and sisters? The fires of testing will reveal the quality of your work.
“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands… Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember, therefore, from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent’” (Revelation 2:1, 4-5).
It is possible for a local assembly to lose its lampstand, its right to be called a Church. And good deeds aren’t enough to keep it from happening! The Church in Ephesus had a lot of admirable things going on, yet it was in danger of losing its Foundation. That’s an incredible thought, and worthy of serious consideration.
Foretold by Prophets
Even the Old Testament is not as silent concerning Foundations and Patterns as you might suppose. Go back and read about Zerubbabel, who rebuilt the temple after the period of captivity had ended. Try to understand what was signified by the “plumb line” of God, which is a straight measure that cannot be altered. God said He would build a habitation for Himself through gifted men, “not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit.” And the result would be that the latter house will be far greater than the former house. These prophecies were intended for our learning. Look into these things!
Holds up the Light
A Lampstand (Foundation, ekklesia, or local Church) is necessary in order to illuminate the Christ of God. The Lampstand lifts up the Light of the World, and the city set on a hill shows the Glory of God in the Face of Christ Jesus to the world! You know what a Lampstand is—it’s something that holds a light. In Jewish culture it was the menorah, a sort of candelabrum, the seven-prong stand that holds up the lamp.
“He asked me, ‘What do you see?’ I answered, ‘I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lights on it, with seven channels to the lights. Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left’” (Zechariah 4:2-3).
“‘And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.’ These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth” (Revelation 11:3-4).
Oil from the olive trees is piped straight down through the seven channels into the lights. So it is a perpetually supplied Lampstand. It has a never-ending supply of fuel because the olive trees get their oil from roots planted along the river of life. The river flows and the tree grows and bears fruit, while the oil from the olive tree flows right into the Lampstand.
So the Lampstand, the Church, holds up the Light of the Glory of God. You can see the oil of the Spirit of God flowing continually and the blaze of the Glory of God as the Lampstand holds up the Light of Jesus Christ. That is a testimony of the Revelation of the Christ of God that the gates of hell can’t prevail against. That’s what a Lampstand is. It’s the vital component necessary to illuminate the Christ of God.
Can be Measured
The Testimony of the Revelation of Jesus Christ as “the Son of God, the Living” is the rock upon which the Church is built that the gates of hell cannot withstand. And the measure of that testimony is the measure of the substance, the depth, and the breadth of the Church.
If it is truly built on Jesus the Rock, the substance of the Church will always be characterized by an obedience of the faith. Who really is this Christ? Does He hold such an honored place in our hearts that at the mere whispering of His Name every knee collapses and bends in reverence and awe? Do we fall as “dead men”?
The depth of the footings will determine the eventual height of the building. Moreover, unless the foundation is dug below the frost line, it will crack and crumble when cold weather sets in. The depth of relationship we have with Christ Jesus and with each other will determine our ability to see over the clouds and to overcome the works of satan.
The boundaries and limitations of the Church will be determined by the breadth of the Foundation. A narrow Revelation of Christ in the lives of the people will limit their ability to expand apostolic territories.
There must be a clear Revelation of the One Faithful and True, the King of Glory, the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, and Bearer of the ever-increasing government of Almighty God. Remember that where there is no vision, or revelation, the people cast off restraint, they perish. Jesus the Christ must be openly and graphically set forth and portrayed—revealed with the conviction, the demonstration, and the power of the Holy Spirit—by a sent one of God.
And if the True Christ of God is revealed in God’s timing with God’s Authorization (a True Apostolic Foundation of the Revelation of Christ), then “at the name of Jesus” men and women will instantly drop their selfish nonsense and fall to their knees. At the mere whisper of His name every knee shall bow.
Take a look at Corinth, for example. Even the worldly residents of this wicked seaport proved that they could respond with radical repentance when someone like Paul confronted them with their sin. Many today would try to justify lukewarmness and compromise in the churches by pointing out the fact that “Corinth wasn’t perfect.” But notice how the very least of those truly converted to the Jesus of the Word responded when someone touched their denseness and foolish sin.
“Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while—yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter” (2 Corinthians 7:8-11).
Because a lampstand (a revelation of Christ) was in place, God’s power and Spirit prevailed. No matter how sin and carnality threaten to drag us down, our future is secure if the Christ of God has been laid as a Foundation in men’s hearts. Then, when the apostolic Word of God comes forth, no one will debate it or argue about it. They won’t say, “Well, that’s your opinion,” or “We’ll never invite him back again!”
Because there truly was in Corinth an Apostolic Foundation of a Revelation of the Christ of God that the gates of hell could not prevail against, what earnest desire they had! What eagerness! There was a passion behind it! When they found out that they had violated the holiness of the Christ of God (with white hair as wool), they dropped to their knees! It didn’t matter where they were then—the only thing that mattered was where they were going from there. And their direction was set; their course was determined, by the Foundation that was laid in their lives.
As an apostle of God, Paul reminded the Corinthians of what they had heard from the beginning. What “we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life” (1Jn.1:1). Paul had touched, he had handled the Holy One of God and he imparted this Revelation as he had fellowship with them. Jesus was alive and tangible to the Corinthians and they bent their knees at the sound of His name, because a True Foundation was in place.
Even in a Church like Corinth, which was far from perfect, God prevailed. If it’s truly a Church, if there really is an Apostolic Foundation (literally a Revelation of Jesus Christ), the people will bow their knees. No matter how far they’ve strayed.
Those men and women still had remnant habits and areas of blindness from their previous lives, but, oh, how they had seen Jesus! And when Paul showed them the discrepancy between their lives and the Revelation of the Christ, their knees collapsed at His name! In this, the very weakest of apostolically grounded bodies of believers, it was clear that Jesus was the awesome measuring rod of the pleasure of the Father. May it be so in our day, or may God’s judgment fall to awaken us from our stupor and hypnotic slumber.
Results in Obedience
“Through Him and for His name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith” (Romans 1:5).
What is faith? Faith is seeing Him as He really is. Faith without works is dead, but it’s not a legal system of following rules and regulations that He’s after—He wants our hearts. Our obedience comes from seeing Him. How could there not be works to follow your faith? Only if it’s not true faith, if it’s not seeing Him as He is. If your knee doesn’t bend at the name of Jesus, then you’re not abiding in Him and there will be no fruit.
But if you have seen Him and you are abiding in Him, the true Christ of God (not a figment of your imagination or some religious thing-a-ma-bob), your knee will bow and you will bear much fruit. Your neck will be loose, rather than stiff, and you will respond to the Word of God as soon as you hear it. So the Foundation of the Revelation of Jesus must be laid in your life as an individual, as well as corporately in the Body of believers in whom you’re investing your life.
This foundation of obedience to the faith is in contrast to the inevitable foundation of sand or mud that results from a weak revelation of Jesus Christ. “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint” (Pro.29:18). Every building has a foundation—the only question is what kind. A house that’s not built on a concrete slab will instead have dirt or sand for its foundation. If you build your house on the sand by failing to put into practice the words of Jesus, then the gates of hell will prevail in your life and in the lives of those you care about. It is impossible to teach them to obey all things that Christ has commanded you if the substance is missing from your own life.
The Foundation of obedience to the faith is nothing more than a Revelation of the True Christ of God and a Testimony of that which goes forth and holds up His Light—the Glory of God that’s made to shine in the face of Christ Jesus. It’s the Lordship of Jesus Christ declared as an absolute. All the heavens and the earth, and things under the earth, bow at the name of Jesus. Peter and the rest of the apostles never begged anyone to become a Christian. They simply declared to men that God has made this Jesus whom you’ve crucified both Lord and Christ.
That’s the way it is when the Foundation is right. It’s a declaration, a proclamation, and a testimony of the Christ of God, holding up the Glory of God that was made to shine in the face of Jesus Christ. And there will automatically be an obedience to the faith. It’s not a legal system, just simple obedience of the faith. To See Him and Believe, and then to respond to Him because of who He really is—not who men say He is—that’s a Lampstand.
The Glory of God in Living Stones
Once the Apostolic Foundation is in place, it will allow for diversity among the saints even while they are compactly joined and knit together. The Church is built together out of living stones taken from the quarry.
“In building the temple, only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built” (1 Kings 6:7).
And we are that temple! It is not with bricks, all uniform and square, that the House of God is built. The House of God is built with living stones. Rocks are all different shapes and sizes. There’s diversity. And while bricks can be stacked one on top of the other with a little mortar in between, stones have to be carefully pieced together. It is a Sovereign God who decides how the stones in His House will be pieced together; and it is the job of the builders to See where God intends for the stones to fit in the building of His House. The “builders” are those with Gifts to See and piece (“mend” or “equip”) His People together by putting the joints in the right places, as Father has designed the Body to work. Once the rubble of the religion of men has been cleared out of the way, the builders can begin to tightly join together what God has done in people. Carefully positioned just right, with all the joints in the proper sockets, it is living stones that house the Glory and Presence of God.
So, there is room for precious diversity and unique expressions of giftedness in the Body of Christ. The solid Foundation of God will never turn out clones or press people into conformity and quench the special gifts, but will instead fan them into flame. However, those gifts must flow from the hub of the City of God, the local Church. There is no room in the Kingdom of Christ for individualistic attitudes from people who “do their own thing.” God is not raising up lone ranger superstars who ride in to save the day and then disappear without a trace. The maverick, self-appointed prophet or evangelist will do much to harm the cause of Christ. All the gifts from on high are intended, not as ends in themselves, but as a means of equipping the saints and edifying the body.
When God is in something, His thumbprint will be on it. And God’s thumbprint is always ever-increasing Glory. Anything else is just man’s attempt to do something for God. Without exception, man-made organizations end up cloning and squeezing people into conformity. They suppress gifts and callings. In that kind of environment, men are unable to speak what is on their hearts whenever it differs from the norm or creed. That in turn forces hypocrisy in the name of “unity.” Men rule rather than the Lord of Hosts.
Man’s thumbprint is a fading, decreasing glory. It becomes apparent that the local Church just isn’t doing what God designed it to do, so we invent Bible colleges, bus programs, youth rallies, vacation Bible schools, and all kinds of other crutches that the first century Church managed to do without. The glory is a fading one, so we constantly have to pump things up with new and exciting ideas, new teachings, new programs, new “preachers” or elders, and new buildings. In an effort to prop up what is failing to produce Apostolic Fruit, men rest on gimmicks and tricks done with mirrors, rather than putting their full weight on the Glory of God.
A Self-Perpetuating Foundation
In an apostolic environment, Paul was free to move about from city to city without failure. He usually spent only four to six months in one place, and never more than three years. In the span of three Sabbaths, Thessalonica had a Foundation that allowed them (by God’s grace) to become a model for the churches in Macedonia and Achaia. The Foundation is self-perpetuating because the Church cleanses and builds itself up in love once the Revelation of Jesus Christ in all His Glory has been laid.
Paul couldn’t be everywhere at once, nor were there apostolic men in every city. But God’s ability to sustain a Church with a solid Foundation is not dependent on men. Rather, the understanding from the beginning is that “I must decrease; He must increase.” It is Jesus who is the Chief Cornerstone. To be sure, in the early stages of a Church’s life, a great deal of dependence and reliance upon specific men will characterize the disciples. But that dependency will be less and less as time goes on and others are equipped for the works of service. Others will naturally grow up into the Head, which is Christ Jesus.
That doesn’t mean that the men who initially laid the Foundation won’t be needed anymore. Paul was not only a blueprint reader but also one who watered, planted, and built upon the Foundations he laid. He never just left town without any intentions of following through with what he had started. Rather, as soon as possible, Paul would go back and strengthen the Churches. An ongoing relationship develops between apostolically gifted men and the churches, and this relationship continues on after the foundation has been laid. So Apostolic work includes not only the initial foundation laying, but also the watering, feeding, and nurturing of the Church.
Once the pure Foundation of the Revelation of Jesus Christ is in place, it becomes a self-perpetuating Foundation because the people won’t be satisfied with anything less than the standard of Christ. When there is the testimony of the Glory of God in Jesus Christ, men can never be satisfied with anything less. Never again. They wrestle to present every man perfect in Christ and they are in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in each other. Once they’ve seen Him, they can’t settle for less. As long as their hearts are pure—as long as they’re not feeding their flesh or blinding and hardening themselves by searing their consciences—if they have honest hearts, they will never be satisfied with anything less again.
That’s why Paul was able to leave Thessalonica without failure after only about a month. Once the Foundation of the revelation of Christ was laid, he decreased and Christ increased. Make sense? He wasn’t the “super-speaker” for their annual “conferences.” He was a brother. The relationship didn’t end when Paul left any of the churches. He was never a hireling who could be hired and fired, or quit one job for another one that paid better. Show me one example where Paul was “hired” and then “fired” and moved on to another Church! It ain’t in there. Not only did Paul’s relationship with the Churches continue after he left, but his authority continued as well. Even when he had been gone for years, something about his authority was still intact.
Years after leaving a Church, questions were still pouring in through letters and through visitors from cities where Paul had worked in the past. They would then go to great trouble to make copies and circulate his letters among the ones who really believed in Jesus and wanted to grow spiritually. No one considered this an inappropriate “dependency on men rather than on Christ.” Nor did Paul rebuke the elders from Ephesus when they hung on his neck and wept after he told them he wouldn’t see them again. There really is a proper way to be loyal and grateful to the gifts of God in men, without worshipping them.
Rivers of Living Water
“On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer” (Acts 16:13).
When Paul entered Philippi, he found a place of prayer. But when he moved on, he left a Church there. A fellowship, a place of prayer where two or three are gathered together, is like a lake. It’s nice and peaceful, with great fellowship, but there’s not a foundation of obedience to the faith in a place like that. “We’ll just have a nice time and we’ll sing and we’ll pray,” but there’s not a Revelation of “at the name of Jesus every knee shall BOW!” The penetration and the joined and knit together apostolic cement that compacts and places and fits and binds—is not there. Nice people, saved people, but something is really, really missing. There is a huge vacuum and things just get syrupy and sickening after awhile because it is not unto anything.
A lake may be a nice peaceful place to be for a little while, but if you put a water wheel into the middle of a lake, there is no power generated! For sure, the water ripples at times and there may even be a few waves, but the movement is random and without purpose. Sure it’s nice and peaceful praying, singing and fellowshipping, but there is no dunamis, no power. It really isn’t unto anything. If we project this “gathering” five years down the road, what would we see? It might be okay, but we would have to wonder what it was unto. No one would be tempted to say, “These that have turned the world upside down have come to our city also!” “The apostles testify with great power and great grace was upon them all!” That’s the difference—a lake cannot generate POWER!
On the other hand, when there is a Lampstand in a city, rivers of alive water gush from the throne room of God and spill over into the hearts and lives of everyone they touch! A river may not always be producing great power, but the potential is there. Just put a water wheel or a dam in it, and you can light up a city! The greater the river and the more defined its banks, the more water of the Holy Spirit and of the Word of God rushing through its channels, the more power you can generate!
Let me give you another analogy. Consider the difference between a flag and a sail. The flag generates no power, while the sail catches the full blowing of the wind to steer and move the ship. This is the difference between two or three gathered together in a “nice fellowship” versus a Lampstand or Foundation with the Glory of God in His purposes. A flag and a sail both go up into the wind, but one catches the wind of the Holy Spirit which drives it through the water of the Word to a destination of God’s choosing. The other just sits on the ship and flutters. A flag is very pretty, but it doesn’t generate any power. That’s the difference between the Apostolic and the sincere. Sincerity is a flag, but the thing that God calls and God does is a sail, driving through the waters to a destination.
A picture I once saw in Louisiana opened my eyes to something really wonderful. There was a mill house next to a flowing river and a mighty waterfall. Built into the mill house was a water wheel. I saw that the wheel was the Church of Jesus. All of the buckets were like the people of the Church who are joined together. A bucket by itself is worthless. But if all the buckets are connected by spokes to the hub of Jesus Christ, a beautiful water wheel mechanism results which can tap the energy supply of the river, the Holy Spirit. It’s all one wheel, though it’s made of many separate buckets all joined to the hub. The buckets, if they are all filled with rocks or cement, can never carry any water. So the vessels all the way around the wheel must be clean in order for it to generate power uniformly.
The river is coming no matter what, but the buckets must be clean and available, joined and knit together. Then the power of God’s Spirit can be tapped as the buckets are connected to the hub of Jesus through the spokes of giftedness in the Body. As the Gifts and Callings of God and the obedience to the stature of Christ is in place, the wheel of the Church will generate the power of God. The hub goes through to the grinding house and the millstone turns and grinds out the grain of the work of God.
If a bucket is not attached to anything, it’s just an ornament—it’s unproductive in doing the work of God. You can see how the Church with its buckets, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ work together in doing the work of God. Individual buckets with holes or mud don’t work on the waterwheel, nor do they have the ability to tap into the power it generates. The river and the power of God have been there all along, but it must be tapped in order to grind out the grain, the work of God. I hope that picture is as helpful to you as it was to me.
While everyone can’t help but testify to what they’ve seen and heard, “great power” (mega dunamis) is especially visible when the work is Apostolic. “The apostles testified with great power, and great grace (mega charis) was upon them all” (Acts 4:33). “The apostles performed many wonders and miraculous signs, and everyone was filled with awe” (Acts 2:43).
Seven Golden Lampstands
The seven golden lampstands were seven Churches. These were specific, local Churches, not the universal Church “at large.” God’s use of the word lampstand was not a random or poetic title. He has a beautiful and revealing picture in mind for us. The Jewish lampstand was specifically designed with seven stems. Seven is God’s number, the number of perfection, and that can be clearly seen by the prongs of the lampstand.
At a glance, you notice that six of the stems surround the center stem, which is representative of Christ. Six is man’s number. But with the seventh stem in place, Christ becomes the central, unifying feature. Yet, somehow the lampstand is pounded out of one piece of gold. Somehow, Christ and man are together, hammered out of the same substance. “The mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col.1:26-27). The man Jesus Christ is the firstborn of a brand new race of people raised from the dead. So as the lampstand is held together with Jesus as the perfect Man, together we become a vessel that holds up the Glory of God by the oil of the Holy Spirit.
Built of Apostles and Prophets
The Church is built on the Foundation of apostles and prophets. This Foundation, as mentioned earlier, requires a current relationship with real-life, apostolically gifted men. Just as we must be in relationship right now with Christ who is the Cornerstone, so also tangible, present-day relationships with apostolically gifted men must be taking place. Know this: Only as we are in relationship to Jesus and the men He has Gifted from on high can a Pure Foundation be laid. A Foundation or Lampstand isn’t just having some historical belief in Jesus’ teaching and conforming to some manner of life and a bunch of “traditions” that He handed down. It’s real-time, real-life situations that bring about the fullness God desires (Eph.2:19-22).
So just meeting together with other Christians doesn’t necessarily make you a Church. For example, was there a Church (ekklesia, Lampstand, Foundation) in Colosse? We don’t know. Paul’s letter isn’t addressed to the “Church,” but rather to the “saints” in Colosse. We do know that Laodicea was a Lampstand (Rev.3:14) and Paul called them a Church (Col.4:16), even though it doesn’t seem that Paul ever went there. Nor did he visit Thyatira or Sardis, yet there were Lampstands there. We don’t know the apostolic backgrounds of some cities. Perhaps there was a Church in Colosse, but Paul didn’t refer to it as one.
What about Rome? Paul implied that a Foundation was there. We also know that Andronicus and Junias (or Junia) were in Rome, and Paul referred to them as apostles, even as “outstanding among the apostles.” That means exactly what it says. Literally, from the Greek text, there’s no way to translate it, “The apostles thought highly of them.” Some folks try to translate it that way in order to preserve their doctrines, but the text literally says that these men were outstanding apostles.
Then, there’s Athens. There were believers in the city (Acts 17:34), but no record of a Church there. And in Ethiopia there was at least one Christian, but does that mean there was a Church? Or what about Tarsus or Bithynia? Paul was in Tarsus several years, but then didn’t go back for at least ten years—and he never even wrote them a letter! Peter wrote to the pilgrims of the dispersion in Bithynia, but he didn’t call them a Church.
Not everything in the Scriptures is as clear-cut as we might like it to be. But one thing is certain: Not every group of two or three Christians who worshipped God was known as a Church that the gates of hell couldn’t prevail against. It takes a lot more than “nice fellowship” to destroy the works of the devil, tear down the gates of hell, kick satan in the teeth, and make all of Christ’s enemies His footstool! We desperately need the Foundation of apostles and prophets.
Apostolic Men Plant Churches… Churches Don’t Plant Churches!
What a shock this would be to the religious world! If you went back in time and took a close look, you would realize what a critical deviation we’ve made from the New Testament norm. Because we’ve deviated from God’s Pattern by rejecting Apostolic Truths, God has taken away His Glory and His Giftedness. As a result of our blatant disobedience, we are faced with a dilemma. How do we plant churches if we don’t have apostolic giftedness?
Instead of crying out to God for His Intervention and for the pouring out of His Gifts, some say, “The solution is simple. We’ll just have churches plant other churches. No problem. We’ll just get together a SWAT team of really spiritual people who know their Bibles real well and the church will send them out to plant a church.” Seems like the obvious alternative, doesn’t it? Yet that never happened in the Bible. Never once did a Church plant a Church in the New Testament. Not even one time.
In the beginning, God’s way to propagate the Church was to appoint and send men of apostolic stature and intimacy with the Lord Jesus into towns and villages that He would later visit. This was necessary so that He alone could initiate and direct the “plantings.” Men who are called and anointed with Apostolic Gifts and who are directed by the Head plant churches. There is no other way.
In Acts 16, Paul tried to go to Bithynia, but the Spirit of the Lord prevented him. Then the Macedonian call came and he ended up planting a Church in Philippi instead. Paul couldn’t have planted a Church in Bithynia, because God didn’t initiate that. As proof, we see that Peter later wrote to the strangers scattered in Pontus and Bithynia. He didn’t call them a Church of God in Bithynia. Peter wrote to a scattered remnant, which might fall somewhere in the category of “universal Church.” God didn’t allow Paul to go into Bithynia but instead called him to Philippi. And that Church of Jesus in Philippi ended up being a great asset to him through most of his life. They were partners in the gospel with him, rather than a pain in the neck like most of the other Churches who second-guessed and watered down the Apostolic Foundation to suit their flesh and egos.
There are no “daughter churches” mentioned in the Bible. Antioch was not a “daughter church” of the Jerusalem Church. There were many believers in Antioch before Barnabas arrived; yet, it was not until after he brought Paul to the city that the word “church” was used.
God has seen fit to invest this whole matter of establishing churches in men who are Gifted for the Task (1Thes.2:7-16). Who knows what exciting discoveries await us as we return to His Way of doing things? You can count me in! What about you?
How do I Hang on to this Thing?
Let’s say you have (whatever that means!) a lampstand. How do you guard it? How do you keep from losing a lampstand?
As they learned in Ephesus, doing “good works” isn’t enough to maintain a lampstand. No one could do more good works than they did. The calling of a lampstand is to do what the Father and the Holy Spirit do—to point to the Son. “Remember the height from which you have fallen,” God warned them. Remember the heights of the First Love. Exalt Him! Our job is to be faithful with the little things, one on one, in bringing everything and everyone to a position of honoring Him. We don’t need to worry about protecting anything except the honor of Jesus. “Unless the Lord builds the house, it is built in vain” (Psa.127:1).
Don’t worry about protecting the Lampstand. That’s not your calling, and you can’t do it by good works anyway! Remember the heights of the First Love. Remember how you did good works in the beginning, and do those kinds of works! Don’t you dare forget the First Love because He’s the one you’re lifting up. You’re not just doing good things—you’re lifting up Jesus Christ. Your love for Him is what shines forth to the entire world so they might know that you’re His disciples as you express love to one another and to Him.
A Lampstand is a rather mysterious entity that’s neither here nor there and has no beauty or majesty. It does not come with your careful observation. So don’t cling to it! Jerusalem changed dramatically in a single day (Acts 8:1)—and did anyone look back later and say, “Remember the glory days when we were baptizing people right and left? Remember when…”? Anybody who had that attitude missed the whole point!
Lampstands aren’t meant to be clung to. Jerusalem changed in a heartbeat, and anyone who looked back and said, “Remember how great it was,” missed the whole point of the Lampstand. It’s not a thing. It’s not some entity that you try to establish and then hold onto. Our job is simply to live for Him who died for us, and to lay down our lives for one another.
Our job is to keep our sights set on the Son, and then whatever God chooses to do to exalt His name is His business. Let Him protect it if it needs to be protected. It will be preserved only by His grace, His undeserved favor. As in the first century, so in our day, the grace of God will be evident. We’ll never be able to force something to happen and then tighten our grip on it to make sure it doesn’t crumble.
I’m all for Lampstands, but what I’m trying to say is that it’s not our job to make it happen! “Unless the Lord builds the house, it’s built in vain.” Of course we play a part in this whole business—making sure the components are there, seeking out an environment that’s daily in public and from house to house, positioning ourselves to live in one accord and in obedience to the faith so we can receive His Gifts. But it’s not a gimmick. When thousands of Christians left Jerusalem in just a few hours and only the apostles stayed, they couldn’t say, “Hey, wait a minute, we should’ve changed our approach and then we wouldn’t be having all this persecution.”
That persecution was not necessarily failure on the part of the people, though it could have been. Maybe they didn’t go into Jerusalem, Judea, and the outermost parts of the earth, so God dispersed everyone. But it wasn’t necessarily failure. Philip was called away from an “open door” to a single person (the Ethiopian eunuch) on the road to Gaza. That doesn’t make much sense to our all-American win-everyone-you-possibly-can-to-Christ mentality. What a crazy thing for Philip to do! Or was it? The way God does His business is far beyond our ability to grasp and understand. So don’t map everything out in an attempt to make a Lampstand “happen” and then cling to it in an unhealthy way.
The Kingdom of God is neither here nor there; it’s within you. Jesus said that. There’s no beauty or majesty that we might be attracted to it. It’s not a showpiece to put on a shelf: “Look at our Lampstand!” Now, it’s possible that God will use it as a model community, a model ekklesia, for all the world to see. He might do that again today, just as he did (for a time) in Jerusalem and Thessalonica. But don’t you cling to it and try to make things happen, refusing to let go of what you have. That’s not your job. Your job is to lift up Jesus Christ and to bring everything into submission to Him, until every enemy is His footstool.
There’s a whole world of difference between the attitude I’m talking about and the religious approach we see around us. This is a different way of thinking altogether. Ambitious and prideful motivations become unthinkable and grotesque when you’re in love with the Lord Jesus and when you long to live for Him and please Him first and foremost. Building your own “kingdom” for Him with human hands seems like such a noble project, but the results can never compare to the vast riches of waiting for Him and watching to see how He chooses to manifest Himself on the earth! Always be ready and watchful, earnestly going about your Father’s business, but don’t you dare take the reigns in an attempt to “start” something. Understand? It might seem like a subtle difference at first, but once you begin to walk it out, God will make His ways clearer and clearer.
God never gave us a method to accomplish His purposes in saving souls—He gave us a person, the man Jesus Christ. In the same way, He never gave us methods to accomplish His purposes in the Church, but rather persons “filled with the Holy Spirit and Wisdom” (Acts 6:1-7). There was no set methodology on how to deal with widows. The answer was men. God’s method of salvation was the man Jesus Christ. Likewise, in His Church it is the man Jesus expressing Himself through men to solve problems and give solutions.
God’s ways just can’t be found in a tidy little how-to guide. His answer to all the problems and complications in the Church is never a set of methods that you mimic. It’s men! It’s men filled with the Spirit of Jesus Christ! God’s answer is men endued with “power from on high.” That’s the way it’s always been and that’s the way it will continue to be.
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’”(Isaiah 55:8-9).
“For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God…The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:11, 14-16).
It’s a big mistake to imitate methodologies, as if you can figure out with your mind how God wants something done. Cry out to Him for answers, “give yourselves no rest and give Him no rest until He establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth” (Isa. 62:6-7). But don’t lean on your own understanding. That is a fatal error. The Lord does not live in houses (or cities) built by men; He lives in men!
Where is Your Home?
Where do you live? What “church do you go to”? These may seem like very reasonable questions to the twenty-first century mind-set. Yet a pilgrim, an alien, and a foreigner may not be sure where he lives. “Where is your home church?” someone will ask. “What? My home is in heaven! It’s in heaven, and it’s in Mary and Kent and Don and Tammy and Jeff and Maggie and Katie and Ross!” Where is your home? Really?
This is something you need to grab hold of. It’s good to wrestle with where your geographic location is and to ask yourself, “What if a great persecution hit this city? Where would the Church be?” Well, it would continue to be in Dave and Tim and Cindy and Kathy and everyone else. Just where is the Church anyway? Where is your investment? “You (people!) are the seal of my apostleship,” Paul told the Corinthians. “You are living letters read by everyone.” If God chooses to destroy what we call a Lampstand in a single day, through persecution or some other means, God is going on. His Kingdom will continue to advance and grow somehow! It’s not confined to times and places, nor is it determined by some organizational structure. Somehow, there’s an ever-increasing Glory because it’s built in people.
Now, does that negate the importance of the visible, local Church? Not at all! God’s heart is sickened by the way men have used the concept of the “universal Church” as a cop-out for selfishness and individualism. But what I’m saying is this: It’s a neither-here-nor-there Kingdom. Don’t cling to it. Until we return to the Father, don’t hold onto it. Allow Him to do as He wills until the full Glory of what God is doing can be seen. He has reasons for everything He does, even dispersions and persecutions. Wait for His timing and let God do the building. Unless the Lord builds the house, it’s built in vain. Be faithful and cry out to God for an expression of His presence, for His Glory’s sake, not for your own comfort. Not so you can be happy or get swallowed up by “good fellowship.” This whole thing isn’t about you, anyway. It’s God whose honor is at stake!
The True Kingdom and Lampstand can never fall. It cannot be conquered or lost as we invest intimately in presenting every man perfect in Christ. We invest in people and wrestle to present one another perfect in Christ as we live for each other ever day—this is how His Kingdom stays intact. It would be a pipe dream to think that you could have a “Church” without the kinds of relationships that are daily in public and from house to house; confessing sins one to another; joined and knit together; one part rejoicing, all rejoicing; one part suffering, all suffering.
Because the Kingdom is not “here or there” but within people, it is possible for someone to live right in the middle of a lampstand and receive zero benefit from it. Because the Kingdom of God is not within him, he might not even realize there is a lampstand and therefore spend all his time complaining and murmuring about how things could be better (the key word there is “things”). This is a no-beauty-or-majesty kind of Kingdom that’s “neither here nor there.” It’s within you! You can be right smack in the middle of it and not benefit at all. Not even be touched by it! You can still be your old sloppy, carnal self, driven by the lust of the mind and imaginations, without receiving any benefit at all. That’s because it’s not a thing—it’s the Glory of God in men. Now certainly, if God is truly there, you won’t “fool” as many people in your hypocrisy as you think you are, and “like Jannes and Jambres your folly will become evident to all” if you will not repent in “the space of time” that your Father grants you. You won’t truly be a “member” of the Christ’s Life if you can easily continue in sin without conscience or effort to change (1 John 3), and if you will not turn around in the Grace and time provided you, eventually “your going out will prove you were never among us.”
The very deity of Christ is a joke to the world when His followers live their lives individualistically. But when we are truly one together, having all things in common and counting nothing as our own, His deity and tangible Lordship are undeniable! Our oneness as a people is proof of our oneness with the Father and Jesus Christ—the testimony of Christ’s deity.
Vision for the Builders
Now here’s something you may never have considered before. It’s kind of subtle, because it has to do with internal issues. With all the awesome vision in Paul’s heart for the yet unrealized corporate expression of the Life of Jesus, how could he leave city after city, having spent no more than 24 months? And, knowing all the yet unrealized stature and fruitfulness in individual lives, how could he spend an average of only 4 to 6 months in a place?
Having seen the Reality of the Church, how could Paul walk away from it when it was still in its infancy? When it was undeveloped? When there were things left undone? And when he looked around and saw so much that wasn’t really the way he had envisioned it in his heart, how could he leave? How could Paul just walk away and leave unfinished business when he had a Revelation of what God was doing, and he knew God’s desire for a Habitation by His Spirit?
In individual lives, as well as in the corporate expression, it all fell short of what Paul wrote. Right? And yet he walked away from it. Why didn’t he stay 20 years in one place and continue to invest? Perhaps it was lack of understanding. He did seem to stay in cities longer and longer as his life went on, so maybe he grew in understanding.
More likely, though, it was a higher vision that drove him to press on to the next place. Surely his heart was broken for the unrealized potential in the young Christians, but he entrusted them “to God and the Word of His grace, which can build up and give an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).
Might that higher vision be the laying of Foundations that others cannot lay, and trusting God to provide the other gifts essential to build on the Foundation? “I laid a foundation” and “every man should be careful how he builds” on it (1Cor.3:10). Maybe what drove Paul on to other places was knowing the Calling on his life—the Calling to lay Foundations that other men couldn’t lay. And while he was capable of going on and bringing them to maturity, so were other men with their gifts of building on the House. So maybe Paul was seeing the necessity of deploying God’s giftedness in the most economical way.
Not only that, but he didn’t want to warp them by staying around long enough to foster an improper relationship, an unhealthy dependency. The building will always be somewhat less than the dream found in the heart of the architect—the corners may not be quite square, the finishing work is perhaps a little sloppy, and the instructions are not always followed quite closely enough due to the liberties taken and the “better ideas” of the craftsmen.
When an architect has a vision and draws it on paper, he imparts the vision to the foreman and tells the craftsmen what he wants. Of course he envisions a stairway that’s perfect and doors that don’t squeak but are perfectly square and plumb. His vision is never one with doors that won’t shut. Due to human frailty, and because the craftsmen take liberties, the vision is always higher than the building itself. “Well, I have a better idea,” the craftsman says to himself, “I think it ought to be this way.” I’m sure that happens on construction sites. The craftsman doesn’t like the way it looks or the way it works, or maybe he just doesn’t have all the materials right in front of him. Things happen so that the building is always somewhat less than the dream in the heart of the architect. Nevertheless, he can’t be on the building site 24 hours a day, nor would he want to be. He’d be a pain in the neck if he were! Running around, peering over people’s shoulders all the time…it’s not supposed to be that way.
Besides, the vision of the architect may not be flawless either, since human weakness is a factor. Only the Master Apostle could do flawless works of genius. The level of giftedness varies from man to man, as can be clearly seen in the Twelve as well as in the rest of the apostles of the Bible. And the clarity of vision can be clouded by personal sin in a man’s life. Both of these factors will dramatically impact the final Foundation and the resulting integrity of the structure. The architect’s revelation of Jesus and his response to it will set the limits and determine whether or not this is a corporate identity that the gates of hell cannot prevail against (Mt.16:16-18).
Individually, of course, we need not be limited by any other man. In other words, in your gift and your calling you don’t need to fall into another person’s sins. But, at the same time, the corporate structure that goes up is tied to the vision of the architekton (the master builder) and the Foundation of the Revelation that he lays.
69For more depth on the subject of Lampstands, write and ask for an e-mail titled “Community? House Church? No, No, No. It’s about Zoe Life!” Or this e-mail can also be found in the book titled “The Scales.” Back
70Acts 17:26-27, 16:6-10; Lk.10:1. Back
71For example, we send out a group of people to “start a church” because we have money in the budget that we feel guilty about. Or, because some other group is doing it, we figure we ought to be planting churches, too. Or we send out an offshoot because we’re growing so big that it seems better than buying a larger building. Or the elders and deacons have a fight, and we decide to split off and form a new congregation out of our desire for purity. Or because we read some foolish psychology book, purporting to be a church growth book that says we should “split” after we reach some certain number of people—no matter that this is TOTALLY unBiblical and a conjured “wisdom of man” theory. It would be safe to say that ninety-nine percent of America’s churches have their origins in one of the above categories. Yet, these are all clearly unBiblical ways to start a Church. Back
72Mt.18:18 (see the original Greek text). Back
73“‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.” (Hag.2:9)
“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.” (Lk.10:5-6)
So many people think that they’ll have peace just as soon as this family situation works itself out, or that marriage conflict is resolved, or they find the right job. But those things will never grant peace. Never. The peace of God is given. It never comes by the absence of frustrations, trials, or externally “bad” situations. Likewise, foundations are given as God sees fit, in His time and in His way. Back
74Rev.1:13, 2:1. Back
76Power was coming from Jesus to heal the sick. Wasn’t He all—powerful? Well, sure He was! But power came from Him and He felt power leave Him when the woman with the bleeding was healed. How could He feel power leave an infinite supply of power? Somehow, God gives a greater presence when He desires to give a greater presence. Where two or three are gathered, and when you’re together and the power of the Lord Jesus is present—these are times when God manifests Himself in an even greater way. Why didn’t the unbeliever fall down on his face and cry out, “God is truly omnipresent!” There was a specific manifestation of God with His People at that point in time, and the unbeliever responded to it. Back
81 For more on this subject, write and ask for “A Revelation of Christ.” Back
82Isa.62:1-12, 2:1-4, 28:6, 58:12; Hag.1:12-14, 2:3-9, 2:23; Zec.4:1-14, 8:1, 9. Back
83In Biblical prophecy, oil (used for anointing) represented the Spirit of God. Back
862Cor.4:6; Mt.5:14; Php.2:15. Back
88Gal.3:1 (Amplified Version); 1Cor.2:1-5; 1Thes.1:4-6; Rom.10:14-15. Back
90Mt.7:24-27; Mt.16:16-18. Back
93 Eph.4:11-16; 1Cor.12 Back
95Rev.1:13, 2:1, 5. Back
96Eph.4:11-12; 1Cor.14. Back
972Cor.3, 4. Back
98Acts 17:1-10. Actually, Paul may have been there a little longer than that (Php.4:16). Back
99Here’s an analogy. When a foreign substance enters my body, it reacts by sending white blood cells to surround and swallow it. The foreign matter is taken care of by the normally functioning body. And so it is with the Body of Christ—if a pure revelation of Jesus is in place, then whatever is not of Christ will be surrounded and dealt with. The “alien” substance in the Body will not be allowed to survive. It won’t be able to co-exist with the Body of Christ. Thus, it’s not mandatory that apostolic men be there once the foundation is laid. If it is a pure foundation, it will purify and cleanse itself because men have seen Jesus Christ. Back
100Somehow, they managed to get along without such things in those days. But they did hang on his every word whenever he was able to be with them (Acts 20:7-12, 31-38). Back
102The apostolic pattern is not that men are hired and fired. They don’t leave to go on to a “greater work.” Rather, once a relationship begins, it continues. It’s not a stepping stone for something else. It ebbs and flows and there are times and seasons when it is more prominent than others, but the apostolic man is always part of it. Back
103An example of that ongoing relationship was the Corinthian Church. Paul said, “Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present” (1Cor.5:3). In essence, he was saying: I’ve judged this man, even though I’m not there; I have already cast judgment on him, and here’s what I want you to do—now do it. And in the second letter to Corinth, Paul went on to say that he took that line of action not only for the sake of the guilty party, but also to prove that they would be obedient to him. Read it. That’s what is says. It was a clear test of his authority in that Church. Their response to Paul was proof of his apostolicity. Back
104See, for example, 1Cor.1:11, 7:1. Back
105Acts 20:22-38. Back
106Acts 14:12-20, 12:21-24; Rev.19:9-11. Back
108Jn.7:37-39; Rev.22:1-2; Eze.47:1-12; 2Cor.1:3-5. Back
109For a detailed description of the lampstand, see Ex.37:17-24. Keep in mind that none of these details are coincidental. The lampstand with its branches and buds was a copy and shadow of what is in heaven—the reality is found in Christ (Col.2:16-17; Heb.8:5, 10:1). Back
110By God’s command, the lampstand had to be hammered out of one piece of pure gold. Notice the application to the Church: one loaf, a pure batch without yeast (1Cor.5:7), all together in one accord, joined and knit together, compacted, having one mind, forming one new Man (“the Christ”—1Cor.12:12). Back
1111Tim.2:5; 1Cor.15:20-23; Col.1:18; 1Cor.15:56-57. Back
112For more on the subject of Christ in men fulfilling the purposes of God, write for the mp3 When Sent, satan Falls. When God sends his people, Jesus sees satan fall like lightning, and He leaps for joy in the Holy Spirit. We go wherever He sends us, doing whatever He calls us to do. Then He follows by His Spirit visiting the towns and villages, and His work is done! We go there to prepare the way of the Lord (see Lk.10:1-24). Back
113See Territories: A Living Relationship on page 61. Back
114Rom.15:20, 16:7. Back
117Acts 11:19-26. Back
120Lk.17:20-21; Isa.53:2. Back
122Acts 4:23-31; 2Cor.4:6-7; Php.4:2-3; Col.4:12; 1Thes.3:1—5; 1Tim.1:3-7, 4:11-14. Back
123Acts 7:48-50; Rev.21:22. Back
124Col.1:28-29; Acts 2:46, 4:32, 5:42; Jas. 5:16; Eph.4:16; 1Cor.12:26. Back
125As Paul was leaving the church in Ephesus (Acts 20:17-38), he told the elders they would never see his face again. Then they clung to him and wept. That was not improper, by the way. It wasn’t idolatry or worshipping a man. It was an expression of people who really see Jesus in one another. It was okay and Paul didn’t rebuke them for that. He ripped his robes on another occasion when there was worship of men. But when Paul left Ephesus, he wept with them. He had a higher vision that drove him to press to other cities even though his heart was broken with the unrealized potential that he was seeing corporately and individually. He pressed on, entrusting them to God and to the Word of His grace. Back