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Model of the One Man

Let all that you do be done in love, submit to one another, keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. I see these three verses as forming a foundation of how every believer today is to relate to all other believers in the Church universally. Three verses that every professing Christian is called to live by. Love each other as Christ loved us, submit to each other in the fear of God, keep united in the Spirit knowing we are all one Body.

It is only by the Holy Spirit that we can accomplish this. The presence of the Holy Spirit working in the body of Christ is a cardinal principle of the Church. When He is present in power and authority over the Church, believers exist in harmony and peace, as He pours out His gifting on us and guides us into all truth. If there is any practice or system we as a Church adopt that denies the Spirit his power and authority, then we immediately lose love, unity and truth. Not necessarily all at once, and not all to the same degree. In some communities there will be love without truth and in others there will be truth without love. In the former there will be disorder, abuse of spiritual gifts and a loss of Christ as centre. In the latter, disputes, divisions, and hostility among believers.

I argue there is in fact a theology adopted by the Church that has directly denied the blessings that flow forth from the Spirit and led to disorder and divisions among believers. It’s a theology that has been around for hundreds of years, that few have correctly identified as a problem and even fewer have sought to change. It has its roots in Catholicism, and despite all the good brought about by the reformation, weeded its way into Protestantism and thrived there unopposed.

I’ve termed it, the model of the one man.

This model refers to the system and religious order that Christians have created to organise and control the corporate workings of the Church. It’s a system of structured hierarchy - of leaders and laypeople, pulpits and pews, clergy and congregants. It’s a system that has created distinction between believers - some who have authority and some who don’t, some who speak and some who listen, some who stand on stage and some who sit in submission. It’s a system of control where hundreds, even thousands of believers, submit to the men who have assumed charge over God’s people. Not an authority given by divine appointment, but rather manufactured by turning spiritual gifts into man-made offices that carry power over the Church. Whenever you have a man today who directs and governs the Church’s corporate worship, who holds authority over a congregation, whose biblical interpretation other believers live by, who selects and chooses who serves and in what way, and who is revered and deferred to on spiritual matters, then you have this system.

By adopting this model, I believe the Church has effectively replaced the Holy Spirit with man and in so doing suffered the loss of love, unity and truth. It has denied the Holy Spirit His authority and working in the Body, and given place to man in the flesh through the pursuit of power, talent and personality rather than pursuit of the things of the Spirit. It has had it’s fair share of consequences too, in the abuse we see in the Church, the sexual immorality, the arguing and fighting over doctrinal differences, and the great lack of peace and unity within the one Body.

To give place to man in the flesh in this way is to forget a fundamental truth - that the Holy Spirit isn’t impressed by us. He uses us not because of us, but in spite of us. It took the death of the Son of God Himself to redeem all believers, including those who have assumed authority in the Church.  Embracing this truth should lead all to reconsider who alone is worthy of status and authority among believers.

Paul argues that man in the flesh was done away with at the cross. Everything man represented was crucified, so that we could live for Christ as All in all while enjoying the blessings of unity, love and truth that proceed from Him. Man was never intended to be elevated into positions of authority and power over believers. It’s not personal to any one believer, but rather generalised to all believers as place should never be given to man in the flesh, nor should a system be created in opposition to the divine ordering of the Church. God did not redeem His people and pour out his Spirit onto the Church, just to have them create a system that appoints a man to the position of authority held exclusively by the Holy Spirit and in so doing lose the love, unity and truth that binds them all together.

The early Church stood in stark contrast to this model. They gave no place for the man in the flesh, but rather found their whole identity in Christ and His one universal Body. Standing on the foundation of unity and equality among all believers, they gathered in simplicity to remember the Lord’s death while submitting to the Holy Spirit as giver of structure and order within the Church. They were in homes, with no one exalted and no single person appointed to preach, teach or minister communion, but rather as a group gathered to pray, to break bread and to discuss the apostles teaching. Each was responsible for the edification and encouragement of the others. Each submitted to the others in the fear of God. The aged and experienced among them became elders who the others turned to for guidance and support in their Christian walk. Those gifted as pastors by the will of the Holy Spirit became evident within the body and shepherded as moved by the Spirit. No qualification or training, simply believers being gifted for the work that the Holy Spirit had called them to. No clergy, no pews, no pulpit, no stage, no ordination, no office, no authority of man. Equality among believers, submitting to Christ as head, allowing the Holy Spirit to direct the corporate worship of believers and pour out his blessings of love, unity and truth.

If you have any questions about what’s discussed here please reach out. We have a small fellowship commencing on the Gold Coast for believers who have a desire to return to the way the early Church gathered. It’s a fellowship governed exclusively by the Holy Spirit, not any one man. The purpose of the meeting is to remember the Lord’s death, to break bread, to pray, and to discuss the scriptures while we encourage and submit to one another in the Lord. No formality, no pulpits or pews, or hierarchy, or reverence for one man, but rather gathered in a simple manner around the Lord’s table, remembering the unity we have in love, and allowing the Holy Spirit to give order and direction to the meeting of the saints and lead us into all truth.

“You have one Master, the Christ, and you are all brethren”


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