The Importance of a Disciple-Making Movement (DMM)
Paul was able to win the city not by joining a political party, but by making disciples and releasing these disciples to turn the world upside down. The early Acts narrative shows how the term disciples was not used until Acts 6:7, after the believers went through a process as shown in Acts 2:42. (They were not event-driven, but process-driven.) He did not attempt to plant mere churches, but founded communities of disciples—which formed a kingdom ekklesia—since only a DMM can turn a city upside down! (When you plant a church you will create the culture of a synagogue, but when you make disciples you will always have a strong ekklesia!)
This is in accordance with the Acts 1:8 call to be His witnesses in cities, regions and nations. A witness is someone who has seen and heard something; thus, it implies a vibrant community of Christ followers who regularly encounter Christ and in whom its disciples permeate whole cities—or every aspect of culture—with the gospel. This is the reason why we need to always be local church centric and be a gospel-permeating, disciple-making movement, which alone has the capacity to manifest the kingdom of God and the government of God on earth.
Well-meaning believers involved in the "7 Mountain Mandate" who bypass the power and calling of the local church and only focus on politics have fallen into the trap of imitating the secular ekklesia that is attempting to advance a kingdom by mere "flesh and blood" means, schemes and mechanics (violating Paul's admonition in Ephesians 6:10-14). That is why it is imperative that believers called to work in politics stay connected to and aligned with the local church, grounded in Scripture and empowered and protected by groups of intercessors—or else they will compromise and begin to perpetuate the very problems and ideologies that are undermining the nation they reside in.
Conformity to Jesus as the Corporate Son Is the Ultimate Goal
In his epistle, Paul wrote to explain to the Ephesian church (about four years after Acts 19) how they transformed Asia Minor and wrote in chapter 4 that the ekklesia is equipped by the fivefold ministry to become a mature man—as the expression of the fullness of Christ and corporate son—who will manifest the government of God increasingly on the earth.
In Ephesians 4:12 we see both an inward and outward focus: one is missional and the other is focused on building the body of Christ.
The missional focus is in the context as shown in Ephesians 4:10, which says that Jesus ascended to "fill all things," which, as the last Adam, He called the church to do according to the cultural mandate of repopulating or filling the earth as shown in Genesis 1:28. Hence, the missional purpose of the apostles was to equip the saints to minister in every aspect of culture, according to Genesis 1:28, as His ekklesia, so the earth would be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
The Ephesians' Mandate to Build the Church Was to Be Like Jesus
The focus to edify the church is seen in Ephesians 4:12-16 when it speaks about the church growing into the fullness of the stature of Jesus. This passage shows what the ultimate goal of discipleship is: to be like Jesus as a corporate community (a nation within nations that disciples every people group and subculture).
Consequently, to the extent the kingdom ekklesia looks and acts like Jesus, it will have governmental authority and influence because the government is on His shoulders and because it was He who defeated the powers of darkness!
Isaiah 9:6-7 says: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder. And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end."
Ephesians 4:11-13 says: "He gave some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, for the equipping of the saints, for the work of service, and for the building up of the body of Christ, until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, into a complete man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."
As His corporate body, He called us to manifest His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven according to Luke 11:2. To the extent we are like Jesus, to that extent can we overcome the powers of darkness because only Jesus defeated Satan by His blood—no other person or entity could have done this! (See Col. 2:15.)
Unfortunately, only one generation later, the apostle John wrote that the Ephesian church left its first love and Jesus warned them He would remove their lampstand if they did not repent (see Rev. 2:1-7). Therefore, this shows us that we cannot rest on what has been done through us in the past, and we cannot rest on the fact that our church transformed our community, or that we have correct doctrine, or that we have high standards for leadership. These are all things Jesus commended the Ephesian church for, but they're not enough if we do not remain vibrantly and experientially connected to the head of the body which is Jesus Christ.
In conclusion to this article series, let's ask ourselves some very important questions that summarize this teaching:
—Are you just part of a synagogue or the ekklesia?
—Do you run from conflict to comfort or do you allow God to use you in the most challenging places?
—Do you come to church to be entertained or to be equipped?
—Are you conforming to the world or turning your world upside down?
—Are you trying to be conformed to Jesus or to your favorite celebrity?
May the Lord transform the attractional church to the kingdom ekklesia, so that we go from concert-driven entertainment centers to equipping centers resulting in a disciple-making movement that turns the world upside down!
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