ARC Guide Level 3
Ideal for those well acquainted with our thought process at Ammi Ruhama Community.
How the immaterial kingdom which God has established in Christ is tied to the material household He has called us to live in and the necessity that we should not divide the two.
The Divided House
Modern day Christianity is punctuated by church splits. From The Great Schism that split the Roman Catholic Church from the Eastern Orthodox Church in 1054, to the Protestant Reformation in 1517, to the innumerable schisms, divides, and dissolutions that followed thereafter and to this day and highly likely tomorrow as well. The lack of meaningful unity in the body of Christ is the worst kept secret ever. As the children of God, we grow more estranged from one another as time pushes us further on and apart from these events. At times we have even taken up arms against one another such as in The Crusades, The American Revolution, the American Civil War, World War I and II, The Troubles in Ireland; we could continue and expand but the evidence is sufficient; we are a house divided, and unless we can unite, we will fall.
24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.Mark 3:24-25 English Standard Version
Let me be clear, God is not divided against Himself. His Kingdom remains strong and immovable, but by dividing the house of God we have effectively ensured that the Household of God remains divided contrary to God’s desire that we should be as one with one another and God as God is one with Himself. Increased recognition of the unfailing unity of God’s Kingdom will result in the unity of the Household of God. In the same way, increased division in the body will result in the continued downward spiral of the body and House of God.
Ecumenism is the belief that meaningful unity in the household of God means being under the same umbrella organisation, the same preacher, the same theological statement, the same code of conduct, and the same marketing strategy for the gospel. Yeah, it leaves a bad taste in pretty much everyone’s mouth. Whenever anyone starts talking about unity among the people of God, there is a certain group of believers who let out an audible sanctimonious groan. Unless the kind of unity being written or talked about is the kind where we are one with ourselves in our own respective local churches, we get antsy that what is being preached is ecumenism. To put our minds at ease, material ecumenism is not biblical unity, nor what I am calling for in this examination of the Kingdom and Household of God. Understand however, that this means that if we think Biblical unity looks like pockets of isolated ecumenism in our respective local churches then we are still miles off from what the Bible teaches. If I claim any aspect of the flesh as the unifying factor for unity with my brothers and sisters in Christ, I have put something in God’s place. This includes proximity, mission statement, experience, and any other material thing. In plain words, Biblical unity may not be material ecumenism as we have just detailed, but neither is it the ecumenical-lite that we currently have where, “If you’re under my roof you’ll obey my rules”.
Meaningful Unity & The Mind/Body Problem
When we do not take meaningful steps towards Biblical unity among the people of God, we enshrine meaningful practices which maintain and protect the divided household of God as the ideal in its pragmatism, if woeful in its Biblical authenticity. By contrast, each step we take towards Biblical Unity is away from pet peeves and pet theologies; those grey areas we love to hate that keep us divided as the body of Christ and our own private interpretations. It has been said that, “doctrine divides,” but I tell you that true doctrine is revealed only by the Spirit of God through the Word of God and that Biblical unity is in love, faith and hope in the gospel of Christ. This should not surprise us as the kingdom that Jesus came to establish is not a fleshly kingdom, but a spiritual kingdom; therefore, Biblical unity is a spiritual reality with physical implications.
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”Jesus to Pilate, John 18:36 English Standard Version
The King of all creation crucified that day said that if the Kingdom of God was of this world, then we would fight to win the Kingdom, and fight to defend it through acts of the flesh. But you may say, there are physical commands for us to do in the scriptures. If the Kingdom of God is not of this world; if it is a spiritual reality, a spiritual union, a spiritual ecumenism, why meet physically at all? Why have physical commands at all? This, my friends, is the misunderstanding of the century. As born and raised materialists who flirt with idealism, we tend to believe that the material gives birth to the immaterial. That the body gives birth to the mind–that acts of the flesh make one spiritual–this is not Biblical thinking. The immaterial always precedes the material in the Word. God speaks and creation comes into being, He calls David a King when he is yet a Shepherd and it comes to pass. On the inverse side of immaterial becoming material, hatred and lust feature as repeated themes in the Word giving examples of the immaterial as a seed bearing the fruit of the material.
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.Proverbs 23:7 New King James Version
24 Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips
and harbors deceit in his heart;
25 when he speaks graciously, believe him not,
for there are seven abominations in his heart;
26 though his hatred be covered with deception,
his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.Proverbs 26:24-26 English Standard Version
You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.Proverbs 26:24-26 English Standard Version
21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother[a] will be liable to judgment; whoever insults[b] his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell[c] of fire.Matthew 5:21-22 English Standard Version
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.Matthew 5:27 English Standard Version
The implications of this are that there is no mind/body problem in the Word of God. We are seen not as two-in-one but as one. We are immortal, immaterial souls with mortal, material bodies for use as interfaces of communication with God and with one another. What we think in our minds becomes our reality, so much so that to entertain thoughts of hatred and lust is seen as the same as planting a seed in the ground with the inevitable outcome of producing after their respective kinds. Hatred is the heirloom seed of murder and lust the heirloom seed of adultery just as surely as sowing the Spirit produces love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and faithfulness, and gentleness and self-control. Immaterial produces material. The fact that our feeble minds fail to grasp the whole sense of its mechanics doesn’t come into the consideration of whether it is true. God breathed into our nostrils producing a spirit and we became living beings.
then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.Genesis 2:7 English Standard Version
As immortal, immaterial, beings we inhabit physical bodies, as previously mentioned, interfaces that support intersoul-communication with God and with one another. However, as I have written in Intersoul, the interface is broken. It is our life’s work to continue Christ’s ministry of reconciliation; to repair the interface and bring everything and everyone under the rule and reign of Jesus. This brings us back to the question at hand. If I am an immortal, immaterial soul, why are there demands on my physical body in the Word? Surely the body is superfluous or purely sinful and, if so, ‘to Hell with it!’ This is what some early thinkers thought and produced Docetism; a heresy that has successfully kept Western Christians afraid of idealism for centuries. (I will address this a little later but a defence against Docetism is outside of our scope). If our bodies are interfaces for intersoul-communication, then when we communicate with others we communicate in the body and we fulfil our purpose. The body is meant to communicate the best news ever to one another. Remember that the interface was not always broken. We, through Adam and Eve walked and talked with God with no secondary interface between us. We were naked before Him and without shame. Only after the fall did secondary interfaces become necessary for communion with Him. The best news today is that we can again appear before God without a secondary interface as God the Son has become our intermediary before God the Father and God the Spirit the interpreter of our innermost hearts. This is us individually. Gathered, we become a megaphone declaring the goodness and mercy we have received from God via the unity of one voice coming from one mind in one Spirit. Where one of us is a defiant candle–a pin prick of light in a world of darkness, collectively we are a city on a hill whose light pollution can be seen by the world for miles around.
Unified in Our Hope
It is necessary to understand and to contemplate, (while we make the connection between God’s Immaterial Kingdom and His Material House) why we meet in the physical world and not through some ethereal meditative, “soul casting state,” in which our souls could hypothetically commune with God and with one another, since we are citizens of a spiritual kingdom. Again, we are not preaching Docetism–the body is not inherently sinful–it is broken by us through sin. When Pilate asked Jesus if He was a King His answer is that if He was a King of a physical kingdom then his disciples would have fought to establish and maintain it, but that they didn’t because His Kingdom is a Spiritual Kingdom. So, if God is the King of a Spiritual Kingdom, what are the physical aspects of that Kingdom? If immaterial gives birth to material, then perhaps it is simply our understanding, that as immaterial beings in material bodies and simultaneously citizens of an immaterial kingdom, we accept the rule and reign of God in the immaterial, which gives birth to material fruits (fellowship, unity, love, commitment to one another, fields we did not sow, houses we did not build etc) and that we are then to use this to bless our neighbours. Do we do this as if we were preparing some earthly throne for Him to inhabit one day? No! His throne is in Heaven and will not be on earth until heaven meets earth. So we are, in effect, waiting for that event to take place. It is our hope for that future that keeps us going. This fact is, one of the most difficult to accept about Christianity. There is no world to save—that work was completed by Christ through the cross. There are no noble acts of gallantry to be performed by us in the name of God and Country–we will not outshine the work of Christ. The battle is won–Christ is the victor, and the retreating armies of Hell are fleeing the judgement to come. Will we set mortal flesh free? It will be enslaved again and usually by its own will. Should we save a mortal life and not share with the soul within them the good news of eternal life? Should we stand in the way of someone who has chosen another life and not place the choice of Christ before them? For some, this may seem like a meaningless life. What is life if there is no grand quest to fulfil? And to that I ask, will we fight evil in Eternity? Will we retain our resolve with a non-existent enemy at the gates when we are reposing in the glory of the Son? What is Sabbath living, but life lived as if our hope was manifest before our eyes. Life lived as if we would never hunger or thirst or be in dread again? It is in the quiet, contained life where we live at peace with all people and answer for the hope that we possess, that we acknowledge our confidence in the rule and reign of Christ our King. These may all seem like individual pursuits. But what is a Kingdom of one citizen? All who call on the name of the Lord are citizens of this Kingdom and, I am sorry to say this, but none of us are, ‘in the lord’s army,’ in this case. The war is already over, and the rebuilding has begun. We are the emissaries who go from town to town to spread the good news of Christ’s reign, rebuilding what was damaged in the war and using the vast treasury of our new King to do so. The fighting has ceased; what rebellion remains now, is fighting a lost cause that would see the old feuding kings re-established. We do not all believe that the war is over however, and some, instead of moving from town to town, have set up defences against the bordering towns thinking the enemy should be holed up within them. They use secret passwords and handshakes to show loyalty to a King who requires no such protection from His subjects. If time is the landscape of the Kingdom of God, then the Apostles started at the King and went out from Him to spread the good news of the mercy and love of the cross to all His subjects across time and space. Our distance from the King, then, is not a matter of material distance but immaterial. If it is immaterial, then we are in His courts even now while we expand the message of his rule and reign in our given time and space. The implications of this are incredible. Consider this passage from The Revelation. John writes,
9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”Revelation 7:9-12 English Standard Version
Consider this, that every tribe; tongue and nation will be present on that day. Every single one! This was and will be from the beginning of time until the events of the revelation of Christ at the end. This will include every grouping of people that has been formed or separated; those still to be formed or contemplating to be formed. Every iteration and collection of clicks, whistles and words, every form of government will be standing before the throne of God speaking with one voice the glory and praise of the Son. If you thought I was going down a rabbit trail let me assure you that this is biblical unity. This is identification with the Son. This can never be the result of having been the same in the flesh. Is there any continuity in the flesh that John gives us? Perhaps that we are all perceived as human in all our brokenness and that while we have all received mercy from God, we should be standing in His presence shouting aloud His praises, and not be looking around to see whom we think should not be there. I guarantee that there will be people standing before the throne of God who will be just as surprised to see us as we are to see them. One or both of us may have lost everything in the all-consuming fire of the day of the Lord but we ourselves have been saved. So, what prevents us from shouting His praises together before we get there? What organisational values enshrine our division? What precepts of purpose perpetuate such a travesty against the precepts of God? The immaterial has given birth to material life in Christ and we sit denying it based on our organisation in the flesh. As I have written previously–this is to our shame. We who have been called by the Spirit of God into the Spiritual Kingdom of God which spans time and space are so full of pride that we believe that our iteration of Christianity will be the only one present on that day. I choose to believe the Word when it says,
For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
1 Corinthians 2:11 English Standard Version
Paul says this considering the Corinthian division thinking themselves to be special, when all that they had received in Christ was given to them. There are vastly more divisions today. Perhaps if we had listened then, it would not be so today and because of our unity we would have presented the world with the truth that the Son was sent from the Father and they would have believed. Some believed anyway because they saw examples of unity in their own context, but these, my siblings, were the exception instead of the rule. Remember, however, that even if we had, we are not preparing an earthly throne for Christ to sit on. He sits on a Spiritual throne in our hearts and the day and time of His return is kept by the Father until the end of days and every generation that He has ordained to exist has existed. There is no quota to meet and fulfil, but only a life lived in service and obedience to our King who dwells in unapproachable light.
Flaming Hoops of Failed Glory
If we read the Bible in the light of God spreading the news of God’s established Spiritual Kingdom through His people, then we no longer read it as if it says, “this is who to exclude,” but read it, as it often explicitly says, “why did you think you were special and exclude them from my Kingdom?” The first step towards organising ourselves in the material according to the Spirit is to re-ground ourselves in the Word of God and take note that we are not special. There were no flaming hoops for us to jump through when we received the gospel that means that we have a corner on the market of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we are the people of God, then we have received mercy for our shortcomings in glory and there is nothing of ourselves for us to boast about. Not our education, our pedigree, our governance, our economics–nothing. It is a Spiritual Kingdom with material fruits, and any of those material fruits that come to pass are because of the work done by God and not by us. By recognising that we have received everything we possess in and from Christ we can then identify what we have received in Christ, who He has made us, and the rights we now possess as heirs of God and His Spiritual Kingdom.
I have written about the rights of the people of God in The Christian’s Bill of Rights and in other posts marked under the same category, but the topic is nowhere near exhausted. Every generation will have to have this conversation with itself. There is no distinction in Christ. The wildest of derivations of our hearts and intents do not preclude us from being included in the Kingdom of God if we call on the name of Jesus to be saved.
To conclude, God’s immaterial Kingdom is made manifest in His material household. Increased belief in Spiritual ecumenism will result in increased physical ecumenism under God. This is not due to the homogenising effect of modern day Judaising, but rather that we all love and obey God, identifying with the Son of God in His death, burial and resurrection and look forward to His coming return. Maranatha.