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Lowell Brueckner

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The Organic Church III


Few Christian
This article taken from chapter 16
s these days know anything about a church that is not under man’s control, where only Christ is the architect with the plan and He is constructing beyond human knowledge. I wrote about the church in my book, God Made the Country, and I thought it might be good to post the last chapter. It will give an idea of the true church and how it functions, even in modern times, if Christ is the Head and has the control.



 “(The Father) put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.”            

                                                Ephesians 1:22-23                                                                                              

  A Christian of German descent in Wisconsin was  reading  a small-town newspaper from North Dakota. His eyes scanned the church announcements and suddenly he felt a compulsion to pray for one of these churches. It seemed strange to him, because the church wasn’t of the same denomination as his own church and he had never visited it. Every year he drove 500 miles to North Dakota to help relatives (who sent the paper to him) with their harvest. Months later, during the next harvest season, in his curiosity to discover the reason behind the strange desire to pray, he walked into the little church in Finley, ND. 

 When our daughter and her family attended church that Sunday, someone directed our German son-in-law, Tom, to a visitor, who spoke German. In the ensuing conversation, Tom explained that he met his wife in Germany, where her family were missionaries. He said that her parents now live in Spain. “Oh!” the Wisconsinite exclaimed, “I have a relative working with a Christian drug rehab organization in Spain!” To shorten the story, the man was the son of good friends of ours, and his relative was in the rehab center founded by my cousin. He had no idea that our daughter lived in the area, where he was harvesting. However, the important fact is that, during this time of prayer, the church experienced special fruitfulness and souls came to Christ.

 Another story centers in exactly the same area of Wisconsin as the preceding one. While still living in a little village in Germany, quite a few years ago, we attended Sunday meetings just a few hundred yards from our home, organized by Christian American soldiers. The pastor was absent one day and a soldier took charge of the service. He gave his testimony and ended by saying that his tour in Germany was over and he was returning to his home in Wisconsin. Having been raised in Wisconsin, after the meeting I asked him exactly where his home was located. He nailed it down to a rural area, where two of my uncles owned farms years before. My uncle Bill was in the adult Sunday School class taught by this soldier’s father. He told me that his father spent many wonderful hours in the hospital, visiting and praying with my uncle, before he died of cancer. My uncle passed away many years before this incident that I described.

 Probably all of us have heard stories similar to the account given of an American businessman, who totally dedicated his work to God, supporting His cause throughout the world, while maintaining a personal witnessing ministry that brought hundreds to Christ. He was diagnosed as having cancer and given two years at most to live. The night before a major operation to take biopsies from 22 parts of his body, a strange warm feeling entered and he knew that God had touched him. No trace of cancer could be found in careful study of the biopsies. Without having a clue to his physical problem, a missionary lady in a distant country wrote him of a burden that had come to her concerning him. She began to pray and in a certain hour the burden lifted. It was the night that he felt the warmth sweep through his body.

 I recently heard of another man who collapsed in his bedroom. His wife did not hear his calls, but for some unknown reason, felt to check on him and found him dying on the floor. An emergency trip to the hospital saved his life. Weeks later, a friend of his, a black lady many miles away in Florida, told him that on the morning that his emergency occurred, as she prepared for work, she was overtaken with concern for him. She fell prostrate to the floor and prayed.

 A man in Norway told me a similar story about falling through the ice on a lake and he could not escape the icy waters. A curious policewoman saw his car by the side of the road, found him and called an ambulance. Through the night, his life hung in the balance, but in the morning his heartbeat normalized and the crisis passed. At the same time that the accident occurred, elderly Christian friends of his, for no known reason, were suddenly gripped with concern for him. They prayed through the night until the burden lifted in the morning.

 A purpose behind these fascinating incidents

 These are nice stories and are by no means coincidental. They are the works of the master Storyteller, who writes His stories with human lives in real situations.  As these accounts came to my attention, a question formed in my mind: "These incidents are fascinating, but there must be a reason why they take place. What is their purpose?"

 I don´t know how God speaks to you, but on a few occasions, I do hear a spontaneous and clear inner voice. However, most frequently and more definitely, He teaches through His written word, correlating it with events that take place over a period of time. It was in this way, as I was pondering the functions of the universal body of Christ in the scriptures, I heard the answer to my question: "In these situations you see the functions of members of a living church, mysteriously moved on behalf of others."

 A man in Wisconsin from a family, who are good friends of mine, ministers through prayer to a church, in which my daughter and her family attend. He is totally unaware of these relationships, when he is moved to pray. In a small village in Germany, a soldier from Wisconsin, whom I had never met before, tells me how his father ministered to my uncle many years before. Through these accounts my own soul is nourished and I grow in faith in a living God, who takes care of minute details, as He carries on His eternal purposes.

 With eyes fixed on the Bridegroom

We can be so taken up with our own lives and our own ministries, totally encompassed with the burdens and purpose of “our thing”, that we miss the big, broad picture that God is developing in a quiet, unpretentious manner, through the instrumentality of countless, unknown people. We see our relatively little church “family” and organization and, though we should know better, we act like it is the only thing in which God is really interested and working. That is a crippling deception, fostered by pride and narrow-mindedness. No single church group can function alone. We need the input and gifts of others, totally outside our circle of interest and natural knowledge.

 Nowadays, much importance is given to being sent out by a particular church or organization, and little recognition is given to divine calling or of a confidence in the work of God in an individual. The concept of a Christ-centered and controlled headship has been perverted into a man-controlled and manipulated society, conforming to the humanistic mentality of our day.

 Paul rejected every proposed effort to establish the church by superficial means. People were not to be accepted or rejected by means of letters of commendation from the leadership, but spiritual gifts were to determine that which was written in the hearts (2 Cor. 3:1). Outward circumcision meant nothing to Paul, but the circumcision of the heart. Paul saw clearly that the church was God’s field and God’s building. He had no authority to originate ideas or establish his own precedents. All had to be spiritual and eternal. He wrote of building with gold, silver and precious stones – fire-proof materials. All that could burn, would be burnt, and then, as the source of combustible material, he spoke of the wisdom of this world. The very finest that human qualities or worldly material can produce is wood, hay and stubble (1 Cor. 3:7-20).

The revelation upon which the church is built

Jesus referred only twice to the church by name, both times in the Gospel of Matthew. One reference is very significant (Matt. 16:15-18). It was in response to Peter’s correct answer to the question, “Who do you say that I am?” That answer came by direct revelation from the Spirit of God. Jesus then said that He would build His church as a result of people receiving the same revelation; that the Carpenter from Nazareth is the Christ, the Son of God. The church is constructed with living, pulsating, moving stones (1 Peter 2:4-6), built into a spiritual house, not joined by man-unifying mortar, but each one is chosen by Christ and perfectly fit into his place. Simon Peter was named a stone in that church by the Lord and he was still writing about the revelation in his epistle: “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God.”

Only the Spirit of God can reveal and teach the mystery which was prophesied allegorically in the Song of Solomon; the mystery of Christ and His church. I believe, it is the mystery that Agur said was too wonderful for his understanding in Proverbs 30:19: “The way of a man with a maid.” Only that mysterious God/Man is the way to the Father for his bride.

 Only He can build His church, in ways that are far beyond the possibilities and capabilities of man. “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalms 127:1). Only He holds the blueprint. Those who have come to Him, find that their place in Christ and His church is not stationary, but a function given by the Head of the church to each member and must be carried out by supernatural gifts and enabling. No mere man can ever bring the church into being and no man can maintain, control or manipulate its movements. It is all too wonderful for man. “What kind of house will you build for me? Says the Lord; Or what place is there for My repose? Was it not My hand which made all these things?” (Is. 66:1,2 quoted by Stephen in Acts 7:49-50)

 Paul spent 14 years in the deserts of Arabia learning the mystery of the church, which had been hidden in the Old Testament scriptures (Eph. 3:3-10, Col. 1:24-27). “This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32). The church was to remain a spiritual entity in the world, controlled by other-worldly, supernatural forces, which the citizens of this present age cannot understand nor tolerate.

 The parables and the church

 When Jesus spoke to the multitudes about it, He spoke in parables. In Matthew 13, we find several. This seed of the gospel could only be rightly received by those whose hearts had been broken from the ways of men, from the self-serving desire for happiness, from the cares of this world and the lust for riches. The parable proved to His disciples that the true gospel could never become a popular thing (Matt. 13:18-23). However, in another parable, he showed that an enemy would enter in and sow another seed of tares, which would bear similarities to the good plants, but in the end, would be recognized for what it was (36-43).

 He showed a mustard seed, meant to be a plant, which instead turned into a monstrosity, with branches strong enough to bear the nests of birds (31-32, birds of the air refer to demons, see vs. 18, Gen. 15:11; 40:19). He depicted a woman, who would mix in leaven (leaven always has negative connotations in the Bible) and cause it to expand, beyond the legitimate measure of its real substance. It refers to hypocrites, play actors who are not real (33-34, see Luke 12:1). When Luke records this parable, he follows with a question posed by a listener, “Lord, are there just a few being saved?” Jesus then spoke of the many hypocrites who would say, “We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets” (Luke 13:21-26). Jesus spoke of a net, which would gather many fish of every kind, much of which had to be thrown away. But He also spoke of a pearl of great price and a Merchant, who sold all that He had to buy it (45-46). 

The Jews of His day were having a lot of trouble with these concepts. They were expecting a charismatic king, like David of old, to liberate their nation from the Roman occupation and restore Israel to its glory, as it was in the time of Solomon and was expected to be reestablished through the Messiah. They saw only a visible kingdom, a literal nation, and rejected their Messiah’s offer of superior spiritual riches of lasting quality, of which their prophets had spoken. “Many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it,” Jesus said (Luke 10:24) and Peter added, “things into which angels long to look” (1 Peter 1:12).

 Seven candlesticks united by Christ

 A picture of the essential difference between the Old and New Testament can be seen in the biblical presentation of the seven-fold candlesticks. In the Old, the seven branches of the candlestick were visibly united by a central stand. Its form and oneness was outwardly obvious. In the book of Revelation, Jesus stands and walks among seven candlesticks, depicting seven churches. There is nothing external holding them together. Their unity is in the Spirit and the one unifying factor is Christ. He is the Head of the church. 

 It is a fact of history that every time that the church achieved popular praise and the support of society, it became corrupt and apostate. From the New Testament principle of inner, living strength, it reverted to the outward ways of the Old Testament. The same story has been repeated over and over. After periods of revival, when Christ moved to the head of the church and God moved in power, yet in simplicity among simple people, the time came when they picked the hayseed out of their hair and became sophisticated and worldly-wise. They continued to grow in number, become rich in money and talent, and gradually lost touch with God.

 Let´s ponder for a few minutes, a verse or two from the book of Hebrews. This is a book written for Jewish believers, who were familiar with the Old Testament. Here we have as vivid a definition of the church as can be given by human language:  "You have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect …" (Hebrews 12:22-24).

 The body of Christ is not only spiritual and universal, but it is also made up of saints of all the past ages – righteous men made perfect. They play a part in our lives and in the functions that the church enjoys today. How would we manage today, if it had not been for the reformers, who translated the scriptures into our languages? How would you like to learn Latin, in order to read your Bible? - that is, if you could obtain a Bible at all. Your former brothers and sisters in Christ died in order to give you that privilege. They live on in heavenly places.

 The church is the worldwide body of saints of all ages. Let your heart be stirred by the words of a song that I think conveys the heart of God´s true people everywhere at any time: 

 A parade began at Calvary, the saints of all the ages fill its ranks,

O'er the sands of time they're marching to the King's great coronation,

And this could be the dawning of that day.

All the saints are getting restless, they're not bound by shackles forged of earthly gold,

Since the day they knelt at Calvary, they've been pilgrims ever wandering, 

Just looking for a place to rest their souls. 

The meaning of the word “church”

 The Bible calls this church the “bride of Christ”, people who have been espoused to one Husband in a living, love relationship. They long for the day to be reunited with one another and with Him forever. This is the living, pulsating “body of Christ”, His hands and His feet to represent Him and minister as one unit throughout the earth.

 Even a small study like this about the church, would not be complete without consideration given to the name itself. It helps us to understand it. Unfortunately, as happens over the years to all the intentions of God, the enemy enters in to pervert people’s thinking. Wrong thinking leads to wrong believing and then to wrong intentions and practices.

 When many hear the word church, a worldly institution comes to mind; an organization rather than a breathing organism. A. W. Tozer disliked it, when people spoke about “the work”. The church is about people. We have even applied the name to a man-made building, which is a total misuse of the word. The Greek word is ekklesia.  The prefix ek meaning simply from or out of, and the root of the word is a derivative of kaleo, a verb meaning to call. So the noun implies a singular body of people who are called out. Out of what are they called? Out of the world. Peter gave the call in the first apostolic sermon in the book of Acts: “Be saved from this perverse generation!” (Acts 2:40)

 From that time to this, the revealed purpose of God is to call forth people to form a bride for His Son. We notice that the powerful initial moving of God that saved thousands in Jerusalem did not save the city itself from destruction in 70 AD.  Although the church will have a great influence and effect upon the society around it, as it did in Jerusalem, it cannot alter ultimately the curse upon the world’s system in general. This present world is evil to the core, is destined for destruction and it is not our business to try to redeem it. To attempt to do so is to ignore the clear teaching of scripture and to waste time and effort.

 Our business is to search out the bride, to rescue her from the world and present her to Christ. That wonderful purpose of God continues to this day, as God sovereignly carries it out, in spite of much adversity, miscomprehension and compromise. There is still a living, breathing organism, bathed in faith and baptized in the Holy Spirit, carrying on heaven´s will with heaven´s equipment.

 In the words of Bill and Gloria Gaither:

 “God has always had a people. Many a foolish conqueror has made the mistake of thinking that because he had driven the church of Jesus Christ out of sight, that he had stilled its voice and snuffed out its life. But God has always had a people. The powerful current of a rushing river is not diminished because it is forced to flow underground. The purest water is the stream that bursts crystal clear into the sunlight after it has forced its way through solid rock.

 There have been charlatans who, like Simon the magician, sought to barter on the open market that power which cannot be bought or sold. God has always had a people. Men who could not be bought and women who were beyond purchase.

 God has always had a people. There have been times of affluence and prosperity, when the church´s message has been nearly diluted into oblivion, by those who sought to make it socially attractive, neatly organized and financially profitable. It´s been gold-plated, draped in purple, and encrusted with jewels.

 It´s been misrepresented, ridiculed, flaunted, and scorned. These followers of Jesus Christ have been, according to the whim of the times, elevated as sacred leaders and martyred as heretics. Yet through it all, there marches on this powerful army to be God´s chosen people, who cannot be bought, flattered, murdered or stilled. On through the ages they march, this Church, God´s Church triumphant. It´s alive and well! Let the people rejoice, for we´ve settled the question, we´ve made our choice. Let the anthem ring out, songs of victory swell, for the Church triumphant is alive...

 .....Listen child of God, It´s alive. Discouraged pastor, it´s His Church, and it´s still alive. Lowly missionary sow that seed with confidence. The church is still alive. Old saint, you´re not alone or forgotten. The church is still alive. It´s alive my broken-hearted friend. It´s still alive, busy mother. Just keep trusting in Jesus. The church is alive. You’re not alone out there, young student serving the Lord. The church is still alive. Faithful father, there´s rest in the Lord. God´s Church is still alive. So cynical skeptic, you have not killed God with your noisy unbelief. He´s still alive. It´s alive, my friend. God´s Church triumphant is alive. Alive and well!”










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