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ANOTHER COFFEE BREAK: THE CALL OF THE BRIDEGROOM, Part 2
It was in the spring of 1963. I was at First Assembly in San Jose, California. James Merwin was the senior pastor. Occasionally, when he preached he would come out with some one-liners, some zingers that made you turn your head and sit up straight.
This particular Sunday morning he made a statement just like that! "I would rather not even be here -- I'd rather be dead than to live for 10 seconds without the presence of the Lord!"
Now there's a wakeup for you! I fully comprehend that statement, and I absolutely agree! And honestly, looking back over my life, I can't think of a single moment when I haven't known the intimate presence of the Lord. There is a peace, a confidence and an assurance that defies natural reasoning. Actually, come to think of it, when you walk in that place of confidence in God, folks tend to think of you as arrogant; and that's because the world in general -- and unfortunately, many professing Christians -- have been deceived by the Enemy into thinking that the intimate presence of the Lord as a way of life is unattainable for them.
I was sharing with one of my sons the other day. I said to him, "Just because you say you're "saved", just because you've been baptized in water, baptized in the Holy Spirit, you speak in tongues, you operate in the gifts of the Spirit, lay hands on the sick and do all kinds of miracles, that's not the same as having an intimate love relationship with Jesus Christ."
In case you think I've lost it, or perhaps wandered off the reservation, let me draw a picture for you.
Once you've accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, once you've been baptized in water and then baptized in the Holy Spirit, you've really only just been "born again!" The Greeks have a series of words (and we see these words used in the Greek text of the New Testament) which describe our growth process from the new birth to a place of spiritual maturity -- that place where you've grown up spiritually and know what it is to have Father's heart.
I shared these five words in a recent series of Coffee Breaks, but for the sake of this discussion, let me briefly recap. Brephos is a word which describes the process of development in the womb as a child prepares to come to birth; and the first eight days immediately following birth up to circumcision. Nepios describes a babe-in-arms between the time of circumcision and being weaned from the breast (or the bottle).
Paidion is a child who has been weaned from the milk, but has not yet reached the age of reason (Bar-Mitzvah for boys -- age 12, and Bat-Mitzvah for girls -- age 13)). From this point forward children are referred to as teknon(s). Now the young person (still referred to sometimes as a "child"), having reached the age of reason, begins to undergo very strict training and preparation so that he/she is thoroughly metamorphosed into the thoughts, the ways, the practices, the business dealings, and the very heart of the Father.
The apostle Paul describes this period of time for Jesus as having "learned through the things that He suffered." It is intense. It is corrective. It is administrative. But it is also revelatory. This is that time when a person comes to understand, agree with, and flow with Father's desires. Father and son (or Father and daughter) develop a place of intimate and intuitive understanding with each other so that when a point of complete maturity is reached (generally around age 30), Father can release the son to act on His behalf, run His business, speak for Him and conduct any negotiations for Him as though Father were there in person.
When that day is reached (and that day is Father's prerogative -- it is not fixed in stone) a ceremony takes place in which Father announces, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." Father takes the ring off his hand which bears the seal of his authority and places it on the finger of His son. A baptism takes place in which the "child" goes down into the water, is raised out of the water with the "child" now dead and gone, and a fully mature adult (the Greek word for this is "Huios") on display for the world to see.
This is where we have been being called to. This is the call of the Bridegroom -- the Lord Jesus Christ -- to us, His Bride-to-be!
We cannot simply stop with being "born again." That's not what it is all about. We cannot stop with water baptism or Holy Spirit baptism. That's not even "early childhood development" yet! All that has happened is that we've just been given the necessary equipping to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord. There's so much more to receive and to become in Christ Jesus! The call of the Bridegroom to everyone of us is to grow up in Him -- to become JUST LIKE HIM!
One of the tragedies of the western church world is the contamination of the Gospel with the "let's get everyone 'saved'" mentality. Getting "saved" [translation: getting one's "fire insurance"] has become the ultimate, the pinnacle of what we've all been called to. Being delivered from a future in Hell and having Heaven as our future dwelling is certainly important, but that's NOT what Jesus died on the Cross to accomplish. To leave us at the Cross with nothing more than a "born again" experience shortchanges us and cheats Lord Jesus Christ out of the very thing He gave His life to have.
His objective was a people who would be like Him, a people who would reflect His Glory, a people who would so demonstrate and manifest His love that the world would be drawn to Him simply by seeing who and what we have become as a result of our intimate relationship with Him! His objective was to have a Bride who would be His co-equal counterpart, His "Other Self."
The whole idea of "counterpart" is having that part of one's existence which is unfulfilled and incomplete made complete! I keep coming back to what I experienced when the Lord gave Della to me. Until we had each other, there was a constant void in us that was unfulfilled. To draw from the Hebrew metaphor, "I am black" (seen in the Song of Solomon, and also in Jeremiah's prophecies), there was a constant "search" in each of us for that one whom God had created that would be exactly what would fulfill and complete every aspect of our existence. Once the Lord had joined us to each other the void was filled and the "search" disappeared from our minds, our thoughts, and our spirits.
So how do we get to that place of intimacy with Lord Jesus Christ? How do we arrive at a place in our walk with Him where we live and breathe His presence?
We talked about this in Part 1 of this discussion. Because God is a spirit and "they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth," (John 4:24) our relationship with Him is founded in the spirit. Created in His image, we are first and foremost spirit beings. "Spirit" is the eternal part of our existence. It is that part of us that links us directly into the spirit realm and the means by which we can communicate on an intimate level with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Music is a realm created by the Lord specifically as a vehicle for spirit-to-spirit communication. The Psalms were sung and penned (mostly) by David to communicate the glories and the wonders of the Lord. Incorporated in the Psalms are praise, worship, prayer, intercession, prophetic decrees and declarations, and spiritual warfare. The Psalms were given to us partly as a means to introduce us to the realm of spirit-to-spirit communication. They were also given to introduce us to the concept of spiritual intimacy.
When David sang, he became totally lost in the realm of the Spirit. Not only did he bring the decrees of Heaven from eternity into the earthly, time-space realm, he bonded with the Lord in an intimate dimension in a way no person in history had been able to do before. Love flowed out of his being in the midst of his music. A pathway -- a channel, if you will -- was activated between he and the Lord by means of Holy Spirit.
The more he lived in that channel, the more the heavens were opened up to him; and the more God showed him of His plan and purpose for Israel -- and men and women in general -- and the deeper his relationship with the Lord grew. So loving and intimate did that relationship become that God began to refer to David as "a man after God's own heart." David pursued that relationship with every breath of his existence.
Sitting on a hillside one day with his harp, he sang, "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?" (Psalm 42:1-2)
That panting, that craving, that thirsting for the presence of the Lord God came as a direct product of the call of the Bridegroom. It was a drawing in him that consumed him more and more and more. Despite the grief that he went through during all the years he sat on the throne of Israel, that call never left his being. It became the anchor of his existence.
So much did the praise and the worship -- and more specifically, the realm of musical expression of the praise and worship -- become his very life's breath that he invented the musical instruments that the families of praisers and worshipers (the families of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun) played as they praised, worshiped, prayed, interceded, declared and decreed prophetically.
In the first part of this discussion last week, I was talking about some of the experiences that we had at Trail's End in Idaho during the nearly-six years we gathered together with folks from the northwest and Canada. The Lord spoke to Della one day as we were gathered for worship and said that He was -- through His Bride -- taking back the music of the past, the present, and the future. It seemed a bit unusual, until we realized that the music unfolding in our midst spanned the gamut of musical expression: from classical to jazz -- and everything in between.
We have heard Eastern music, Spanish music, Jewish and Mediterranean music, Slavic music, Russian music, Oriental music, ancient 12th - 14th century English music, music of the baroque era, music of the Elizabethan era, turn-of-the-century American music, music which harks back to the Roaring Twenties, music of the Big-Band era, Swing, Jazz, contemporary -- you name it! The single extraordinary aspect of this is that it all came in the midst of this new expression of corporate worship. It would be safe to say that it transcended anything any of us have previously experienced.
During one particular gathering at the ranch at Trails' End, because of the busyness of sharing together, and the other activities unfolding, we did not sit down until very late one evening to begin our corporate worship -- like 11:30 PM! As always, the worship was completely spontaneous -- the music fresh and unrehearsed. Something like six or seven new pieces of music emerged -- some very classical in style and content, some as progressive jazz, and even one which was very Brazilian with a bossa nova rhythm. A Canadian sister, Beryl, sat there marveling at this progression, and shared afterward that she had asked the Lord where this would all end, or if there was an end. The Lord's response to her was that "there is no end to the music in Heaven," and that as we continued in His presence, there would be no end to the music which came forth.
In the midst of these experiences, one thing which Holy Spirit began to emphasize within us was that much of we have known and referred to in times past as "the Church" is not His heart. Since the whole concept of "church" as we have known it (we refer here to the concept of gathering within the structured hierarchical system) is predicated on principles which the Lord absolutely abhorred and hated, He has been continuing the process of revelation in showing us what His heart's desire really is!
Before you jump ship on me, let me explain.
Without getting into a long, historical review of how the concept of "church" came into being -- as opposed to what is referred to in the original Greek as "Ekklesia" -- let me simply state that "church" -- from its historical perspective -- along with its present-day structure, make-up, and doctrinal dogma, did not begin to exist until 225-226 A.D. in the time of the Roman emperor, Alexander Severus (the first "church" was only a remodeling of a former temple). It was not until after the "Edict of Toleration" issued by the emperor Constantine in 313 A.D. that churches actually began to be built, and even then the mode of gathering differed greatly from what we know today.
In referring to churches, here, let me make it clear that this is a reference to "structure" in the sense of hierarchical systems where there is a distinct line of separation between the "ministers," or clergy, and the "laity", or common people. You understand, of course, that they are referred to as "common" in the sense that they supposedly had no call from the Lord to fulfill. "Structure" also refers to democratic systems (in which the "ministers" and "elders," etc., are elected by a vote of the people. Both of these systems and their structures came out of the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, who were Judaizers (Both Pharisee and Sadducee).
Neither of these systems represent the heart of Father, nor the desire of Jesus Christ in the preparation and completion of His Bride. That's not to say that the Lord hasn't used them throughout the centuries: He has! It's safe to say that the overwhelming majority of folks who will read this (and I'm included) have grown up in one or both of these types of church structure. The catch is that the Lord has called us (and continues to call people) out of the old structure and into Ekklesia in order that He can grow us up into Him.
It is also important to note that the word, "church," is derived from the Greek, kirios, which means "the lord's place" (in the sense of a castle or fortress -- a place from which absolute authority is demanded). Kirios never appears anywhere in scripture, and the whole concept of this word is the very antithesis of Jesus' expressed desire for "servants" in His people.
From the standpoint of the Bridegroom, however, "Ekklesia" -- in contradistinction to "church" -- represents the calling together -- first and foremost -- of those who have responded to the call of the Bridegroom, Yeshua ha Mashiach (the Lord Jesus Christ) to become His Bride. Secondly, it represents the gathering together of those who are being prepared by the "Paraklete," (Holy Spirit) groomed, fitted, and equipped to be a Bride whom the Lord can present to Father and say, "This is my Beloved in whom I am well-pleased!"
"Ekklesia" can be described as the preparing of the Bride by the Paraklete, Holy Spirit. It is the gathering of those called by the Bridegroom to be His Bride, and the preparation by the Paraklete. The term, "paraklete," which is the Greek word occurring in the original text, is most often translated in our English versions as "comforter" or "helper," and sometimes "advocate." In a variant form, it is translated, "exhort," "intreat," "pray," or "beseech" (request). These terms convey only fragments of the true picture of the Paraklete, who has the full authority of the King to accomplish that which He has been assigned -- and who comes to prepare, train, equip, and endow with all the gifts and graces necessary.
There are some spectacular pictures of just who and what a paraklete is and does scattered throughout the Word. In our next Coffee Break, I'll draw some of those pictures for you.
More to follow in our next Coffee Break.
"This a moment that I am drawing the line, and earthly orders are coming from the heavenly realms. Tune your ears to hear the instructions of Heaven, for you are living in a strategic moment when you will see kingdoms that have not been able to come down, come down. New strategies are coming down, and it is a strategy that will pierce the deepest darkness that could not be pierced in the past. Listen to the sounds of Heaven, for in the sounds of Heaven, you will hear your next step!" (Prophetic Word from Chuck Pierce)
Blessings on you!
Regner A. Capener
709 South 7th Street
Sunnyside, Washington 98944
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