By Fred Pruitt
Someone wrote me last year because members of local churches were telling him he was out of the will of God because he did not belong to a church or attend church regularly. He wrote me twice asking about the issue. This is the first answer.
As far as your question is concerned, let me give you my brief touch on that.
I think it is true that the Spirit brings many of us up in our beginning days in that church structure you have described, giving ourselves over to those authorities within those structures.
But when you grow up, then you are free to go and develop as you see fit. Inside or outside the established structure. If what Paul had set up still continued to exist in the form in which Paul originally built it, we might be hard-pressed to abandon it. But he was setting up structures to fit his particular time in particular places he visited. I do not think anything close to a duplicate of what Paul built, structurally, has come down to us in our time, though everybody on every street corner claims it does church “the Bible way.”
It is also clear to me that, had the Lord wanted to build a particular order and church structure that would persist throughout time, the instructions would have been clear and concise, like the minutely specific instructions he gave Moses for the tabernacle. The reason there are so many different ones doing so many different things is obvious: we have been left with no such clarity. The only clarity we have now is the answer Jesus gave the woman at the well: God is Spirit, and they who worship Him must worhsip Him in Spirit and in Truth.” People of course think because they have services in which they worship in a particular “way” is that worship in Spirit and Truth, but to me Jesus is not talking about Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night, but an every-moment-of-every-day way of life. Every moment “to live IS Christ.” THAT is church.
Back to this growing up thing. I believe we are free to do as we please. Yes, that will shock anyone who doesn’t know the freedom we are living in, but no matter. Either it will intrigue them and cause them to want to find out about it, or it will enrage them out of envy, and they will seek to destroy us one way or another.
Those imprisoned by the law and self-effort cannot see the freedom of oneness in Christ. They can only view it as a threat to the structures and man-made doctrines and traditions they hold dear. So it’s no wonder Pastors and elders speak against you and warn their flocks about you. Rejoice! “For if they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more his servants?” (Matt 10:25)
We are free from the structures of the past, and may build new ones in our lifetime, which will also pass away when we are gone. Paul built a foundation, of Christ in us. We build on that foundation. Paul’s only warning was that what we build must also be Christ. So noted, Paul.
We live by the principles of the New Testament, not the dead letter of the words. So we don’t always have to flip open our Bibles to find out what “they” did, and how they did it. The Spirit is new in our time and is doing new things.
He is throwing off the old structures of men. Sometimes figuratively, by wiping out physical and organizational structures in men’s hearts and minds, while leaving them functioning in the temporal world. Some are called to be “in the structure, but not of it.” The structure isn’t evil — only the “self-effort” to maintain and propagate the structure.
Or He may throw off for some of us the structures and authorities in quite a literal fashion. But we are certainly under authority to Christ and it is His structure (the household of the saints) we are actively building. This may have no temporal counterpart, but be visible and viable only in the Spirit.
The thing is, is for you to continue in the freedom in which the Lord has set you free. You are free from the law — and all its structures and authorities. You may “go to church” if you wish or not if you wish not. You are an expression of the will of God, who has joined Himself to you as one person with you, so your “will” now expresses His will in all you do. That’s a big pill to swallow and they will fight you tooth and nail on that one, pointing out to you all your inconsistencies and evidences in your life why that could not possibly be so, but you see “in a way they know not,” and what you see is true! Stay with the truth!
Because ow you live by the inner law of an indestructible Life Who is willing and doing of His good pleasure in you. Do not doubt! You are walking around as He every moment of every day. How can you get any more “in church” than that?