Do We need Church?
I have seen many believers walk away from Church for many different reasons. Some have been hurt by abuses, others simply don’t want to submit to anyone. They say things like “Church isn’t a building” or “I am the Church.” Those statements are true in the right context, they are actually contradictory when used as an excuse to avoid Church.
It’s important to realize that Church is not a man made invention but God’s idea. Though there are no clear examples of how a service should be conducted, there are clear examples of a gathering together (1 Cor. 14:23) and an established leadership of pastors, teachers, deacons, elders, etc. (1 Timothy 3, James 5:14). Those in leadership are charged with and responsible to watch over the souls of believers in the Church (Hebrews 13:17) and are held to a greater accountability to God (James 3:1). The bible tells us to not forsake this gathering but continue in it (Hebrews 10:25).
The word Church in the Greek is Ekklesia, which means an assembly or a gathering of people called out for a purpose. The Church is an assembly of believers, called out of the world, and gathered together for the purpose of worshiping God and making Him known to the world. The bible also uses Church in a universal term referring to all who have been saved and redeemed.
All through the book of acts, you see the Church being the primary agent of change to the world. Individuals who caused massive change in the world such as Paul, Barnabas, Etc. were sent out and commissioned by the Church through the leading of the Spirit (Acts 13:2) and they always worked in the context of the Church by establishing churches and/or partnering with churches already planted (1 Cor. 3:6). The Church was key in organizing to prepare for a coming famine and sending aid (Acts 11:39). It was also seen providing the basic needs of the community (Acts 5:6). The Church was vital in the spread of God’s Kingdom and still is to this day. In Ephesians 4:11-12 we see that the 5-fold ministry roles were to equip believers for the work of ministry. This reveals that Believers would gather in Churches to be equipped to follow God and reveal Him to the world.
In the bible there are many metaphors describing the Church. The Church is the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, the temple of God, ect. One thing important to realize is that the Church is not one person, and one person alone cannot claim to be the Church.
We all make up the body of Christ and are members of each other. If my pinky finger was cut off my hand and you wouldn’t point at my pinky saying, look there is his body. That would be some what true because my pinky is a part of my body but the pinky by it’s self is not my body. The word body points to all parts together as a whole. You cannot be independent from the body of Christ and function as the body of Christ. If the Church is the body of Christ, the way Jesus touches the world is through His body. A decapitated finger, will have little effect on the world around it, but a finger functioning with a hand, with the arm, with the shoulder, can make a huge impact the world around it.
We are the temple of God, individually yes, but also corporately. Individually we house the presence of God in our bodies, That is a profound reality, but there is another side where we are also being built together into a temple. What is a temple? It’s a place of worship, a place people go to meet God. According to Ephesians 2:19-21 each one of us is a piece of the temple and we are being built together to make Him a glorious temple. When we come together in unity to worship God and celebrate Him we are actually creating a space for the glory of God to dwell.
God's heart for unity among believers is seen clearly in John 17:20-26. Jesus prays that as He is one with the Father, we would be one with Him and with each other. This unity only comes from being joined together by the same Spirit and being lead by the same mind, His mind (1 Cor 12:13, 1 Cor. 2:13-16). Jesus also reveals in his prayer that through our oneness, the glory that God had given to Him, He is given to us. God giving the Church His glory shows that when we come together as one, we become the dwelling place of His glory and presence, and the revelation of His goodness to the world around us (Exodus 33). When the world sees the Church in the context of Jesus’ prayer, Believers together as one, carrying the manifest glory of God, the world will believe that the Father sent Jesus into the world.
If your a believer and are not connected to a local Church, I encourage you please pray and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to one. The body functions much better with all it’s members. You are an integral part of His body and you are precious and valuable. If you have been hurt in the past by leaders, pastors, or people who should have represented Jesus well, I apologize on behalf of the church, and ask that you would seek the Lord for a church that would accept you, love you, and help you grow in a greater maturity in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Ephesians 4:16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
- Joshua Shaw
Everyone is searching for identity. Many find their identity in clothing and music, others in the sins they commit, some in work or hobbies. Many are just searching for the assurance of acceptance. They find their persona as an individual in what they do, what they follow, or what they look like. These things are what they believe makes them who they are, but for many, the need for this assurance outweighs the image they project. Inside they feel like orphans. They are looking for something more than this world can give them. What they are truly looking for is love that can only be found in God, but they are trying to find it independent of Him.
The truth is, they are spiritual orphans, not knowing they have a Father who not only made them, but who loves them and accepts them. He is the only fulfillment to the love and acceptance they are searching for. He created mankind in His image and for the purpose of an intimate relationship with Him. He created us in such a way that He is the fulfillment of our desires. We were created to be loved by Him and be the overflow of His love for one another. In that place we find our truest identity. As His Children.
The Fall of Man
In the beginning man and God lived in perfect communion in the Garden of Eden. It was a fusion of heaven and earth, of God and man. Heaven and earth existed in a oneness with God. Man was given dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:26). There was two trees in the garden, one gave us life everlasting, and one gave us the knowledge of good and evil and the fruit of it would cause death (Gen. 2:9). All that was known was God’s goodness, His love, His joy, and in the place of intimacy and ecstasy of His presence we needed no consciousness of sin. The tree of knowledge wasn’t an evil tree, everything God created was good. Who knows, in the future when they were mature enough, they may have been able to eat of it had they not of fallen. What made eating of it a sin is that God said don’t eat of it.
At this time, the devil had already fallen and became independent of God. However in that independence, He became the epitome of evil. Independent from God’s nature, his nature became to kill, steal, and destroy (John 5:5). He came to Eve in the form of a serpent and challenged God’s word by saying “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Gen. 3:1). When Eve said that if she ate it, she would die. He lied and deceived her by saying “God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:4). Think about this for a second. “He said, you will be like God” Weren’t they already like Him?
We were created in God’s very image (Gen. 1:26). We were made to give expression to who God is, to be His image on this earth. We were like Him and in unity with Him. The temptation, was to become like God independent from God. When Adam and Eve sinned, they became separated from God. They lost their identity in Him and took on a new identity, fractured, sin filled, and independent from God. They became a god unto themselves and an enemy of God in their minds.
Through that one act, man’s conscience was defiled and we were stripped of intimacy with the living God. When God approached them, they hid from Him in shame as a result of being sin conscious (Gen. 3:8). The human response to the shame of sin is hiding from the One who gives life. Through the fall, we were severed from the most amazing, wonderful person and left to find our own identity in a world now plagued with sin, sickness, and death.
Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned”
The devil had set up his kingdom, his government of influence. He became the god of this world and blinds people from seeing who they were created to be (Eph. 6:12; 2 Cor. 4:4). His influence devalues life, demoralizes, and enslaves humanity to sin and death, further distorting the image of God in us. We were meant to be the mirror image of God, but sin shattered the mirror, cutting us on the pieces. We were created to be so much more.
Jesus, the second Adam
Romans 5:15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.
God still loved us and longed for us. He longed for the relationship He created us for. God became a man in Jesus. Jesus, the Son of God was one with the Father. He is the express image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15). He gave expression to what God is like. He was the Word, who in the beginning, He was with God and was God (John 1:1). The Word became flesh (John 1:14). When His disciples asked him to show them the Father, He said, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him” (John 14:7). He didn’t just come to show reveal the true image of God, but restore the image of God in us. To bring us back to our created value.
Sin separated us from God. It defiled us. Jesus came and was tempted at all points yet was without sin. He was perfect, spotless, without blemish. The glory of God revealed in a man. He was the fusion of heaven and earth, of God and man. He lived His life overthrowing the influence of the devil everywhere He went. He showed us what it looked like to be a man completely surrendered to God looked like. He showed us what dependence on God really was all about, an intimate relationship between Him and the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit. His mission was to destroy all the works of the devil and restore humanity to Himself. He did that through one act of love.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Jesus was rejected and despised by men under the influence of the devil. He was crucified by the very people He came to save. On that cross, He became took upon Himself the sin of the world. He became the payment. He died humanities death that we live His life. He became our sin on the cross that we might become His righteousness. What a glorious trade off. My rags for His riches. On that cross, He paid the penalty of sin, disarming the devil from anything that he could accuse us of. That cross was the judgment of this world and the ruler of this world being cast out (John 12:31).
Death couldn’t hold Him, He rose again disarming the principalities and powers of all authority. Through His death and resurrection, we are restored back into our original image and purpose. The relationship that Jesus modeled with the Father, is now ours. It’s our right as Children of God.
When we believe on the name of His Son Jesus we become born again, a new creation, born of the Spirit of God. We receive a brand new identity! The old, distorted, sin torn image died and our lives are hidden in Christ (Col. 3:3). The sins and failures of the past are wiped clean and we are a new man created in righteous and holiness (Eph4:24). And through our restored relationship with Him, we discover who we really are. We get to put off the false image of who we were and live out who He made us to be. No longer independent of God, we are restored back into right relationship with Him. He now lives in us, and we in Him. Our identity is in the fusion of God and man.
The Holy Spirit makes our hearts His home. We become the habitation of God (John 14:17). His Spirit gives life to our spirit. Our Spirit becomes one Spirit with Him and we become the dwelling place of God Himself (1 Cor. 6:14). The Holy Spirit God Himself living in us. He is presence of God here on earth, and we have the privilege as Children of God to host Him.
When Jesus was in the flesh, He promised He would not leave us orphans, He would come to us through giving us the Spirit of truth (John 14:17-18). Not leaving us orphans is not leaving us without a Father. The Holy Spirit is how God Fathers us. He is very intentional with us and His goal is to form Christ in us and He empowers us to live out who we are in Him. Holy Spirit repairs the shattered mirror as we behold the glory of the Lord, Jesus! (2 Cor. 3:18).
Romans 8: 17 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
Our relationship with the Holy Spirit is vital for living out our identity in Him. In the Holy Spirit is the Kingdom of heaven, the divine influence, the rule and reign of Jesus! He teaches us who we are in Christ and gives us the power to walk it out. He also empowers us to overthrow the devils influence over this world. Learning to walk in a oneness with the Holy Spirit is the power behind everything in a believers life.
Before we knew Christ, we established our own identity in the world independent of Him and our lives evolved around sin and self. This identity is not who we are, it may have traits of how God created us, but is a false image of who we really are. God created us to be His image on this earth. He created us as an expression of Himself filling our own uniqueness. He is the fulfillment for our truest hearts desires. As we live for Him, we die to self, and find ourselves in Him.
When we come to Him, we must deny ourselves, meaning we no longer live for ourselves but for Him. Jesus said deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow me (Luke 9:23). That doesn’t mean strip yourself of all your desires, hopes, and dreams. That means cut off every part of your life that is independent of God. Your identity if fused with His indwelling. You are no longer independent of God but one with Him (John 17:21). To fully embrace who we are created to be in Him, we must deny the false identity we’ve accumulated in the world from the fall.
How we see ourselves
What we believe about God and what we believe about ourselves will paint everything we do especially the way we represent God to others. First, we must believe God is who He says He is, He is good and in Him there is no darkness. He loves us and is love Himself. He is a good Father. We also need to believe what He says about us to walk in our identity. We overcome the flesh by living in intimacy with God and believing who we are in Him.
Before we come to the Lord, we have a lifetime of thinking like the devil. Our minds get cultivated by the enemy of God. We have mindsets that stem from demonic wisdom, sin habits, ways of thinking that produce doubt, and suspicion towards God. Our minds, independent from God will always fight against faith, but in Him, we have the mind of Christ through the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:7 ; 1 Cor. 2:16) We really are a brand new creation. Our minds need renewed to the reality of that. We are to put on the created in righteousness and holiness, and put off the old who grows corrupt according to deceitful lust (Eph. 4:22-24).
The flesh isn’t an internal nature that we can never overcome, but the unrenewed mind. We have become partakers of His divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). We have been given His righteousness as a gift, and His Spirit to empower us to live it out. We are no longer slaves to sin. In Christ, we are no longer sinners, we can reckon ourselves dead to sin (Rom. 6:11;22). If we believe we are still sinners, we will sin by faith, but if we believe what He says, that we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, we will live out of that place.
Prophetic Prayer meeting
I’ve been a believer for 12 years now, but for the last 6 the Lord has taken me to a place of bring all in. After I went radical for Jesus I was invited to a dance and prophecy gathering. At this time, I was new to the prophetic. There was a DJ, it was fun but something was missing. People were dancing and I had some encouraging conversations and made a goof of myself because I’m not a very good dancer. When the music stopped, I heard really loud in my heart to grab a bowl of water and wash everyone’s feet.
At first I was like, no way. I was wrestling with the tension of obedience and rational thinking. I ignored the battle in my mind and went around and washed everyone’s feet. Right after that, the presence of God fell and everyone started getting visions. I started receiving really clear revelations over people I was praying over. Worship music started and I was worshiping, laying on the floor, crying because of God’s presence that was hitting me.
Numbers mean something to me and the Lord uses numbers to speak to me a lot of times. I had a vision of a 6 and a 7 in the sky. That was how I viewed myself, a sinful man reaching out for righteousness. Those were the numbers I would have described myself as, a sinner saved by the grace of God. Then, I heard a booming no in my heart. It was loud and startling. Then the 6 and 7 got crossed out and I saw a 7 and an 8. Then I heard really loud in my heart, “You are not a sinner reaching out for righteousness, I made you righteous, now your reaching into eternity” That changed the way I viewed myself. That revelation has been growing in me ever since.
When we see ourselves as who we are in Him, it empowers us to have a clear conscience before Him. Many grow up believing that they are wicked and living in a constant struggle to do what’s right. But the truth is, God made us right. It’s activated by faith. The blood of Jesus is enough to perfect our conscience before Him (Heb. 9:14). When we have a clean conscience and a pure heart, we receive more from Him. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matt. 5:8). As Adam and Even ran from God because of shame, we can run to Him because He made us righteous.
With a clear conscience we can engage Him in deeper and deeper levels of intimacy. There is nothing separating us from Him! It was all paid for, we can now boldly enter the throne of grace. There is nothing separating us from Him anymore. We can have real fellowship with the living God! The foundation of the Christian life is an intimate relationship with God. As we grow deeper and deeper in intimacy with Him with a clear conscience, as His children, we are able to hear Him clearer for ourselves and others. Praise the Lord, thank you Jesus! May we continue to grow deeper and closer to You.
This is possibly the first chapter of a book I'm working on, give me some feedback.
As soon as I gave my life to the Lord, I had a need to tell people about Jesus. It was in me. A few years into my faith, I started doing a lot of online ministry on a poetry website. I would spend time chatting with people and sharing the Gospel with them. I would share my testimony and saw a lot of people were come to the Lord. Soon, I stumbled across strong atheists and I started studying science to be able to answer their objections to Christianity. The Gospel turned into trying to prove I was right and they were wrong simply based on the way apologetics is structured. I remember reading the bible and thinking if I could only walk in what the early disciples walked in, the debate would be over. I’d be able to show them.
A few years later, after some radical encounters with the Lord, I stumbled across the documentaries Finger of God and Furious Love by Darren Wilson. Those planted such a hunger in me that I started crying out to God to just take me around where that was happening. I started praying for people on the street on my way to work. I didn’t see healing at all but kept praying because I was hungry to see God move. A month goes by of not seeing breakthrough and I stumbled across a video of Todd White on a website that didn’t allow YouTube videos at the time. Someone posted it and it was deleted as soon as it was posted. I just happened to go on there the second before it was deleted. In the video, Todd White was praying for college students, calling out words of knowledge and seeing them get healed. My heart was burning with a hunger but my mind was in a battle. I started praying, “Lord is this even real?” I heard very clearly in my heart, “Do you want to do this?” In tears I cried out “Yes!” and then He said, “Start praying for the sick.”
That morning, my wife woke up and she had problems with her back. I prayed and she said she felt heat fill her back and she was healed. I started seeing breakthrough everywhere I went. I was watching any healing video I could find and that would fuel a deeper hunger that would propel me into even more break through. It’s amazing what God can do through a video.
A year or two later, I had the privilege of teaching a class on supernatural evangelism between services at the Church we were attending. I typed everything out and read off of a paper the whole message, sloppy, but there was such a thick sense of God’s presence as I was teaching. We filmed it and put it on YouTube. Later on, someone watched that video, then went out and started praying for people and they had back to back breakthrough with healing. He had received an impartation from one of the sloppiest teachings I’ve done.
My wife and I started taking teams out to the street to pray for the sick and share the Gospel. It was on my heart to film some of the things we were seeing happening. One day, the Lord prompted me to bring a camera, he told me where to be and who to bring. We went to the skate park and the mall where the Lord showed me and we started seeing God move with an increase of words of knowledge and healing. From that point on, we started filming what miracles we could in hopes to show others God is real and encourage others to step into a supernatural lifestyle.
A few years of filming, we started capturing greater and greater exploits. One time, we went up to a group hanging out at the park. They were dancing to Dubstep, and at first didn’t want anything to do with Jesus. I felt like we needed to hang out a bit. After a while, I asked three guys if they wanted to experience God. They said yes, so I invited the Holy Spirit to show up. One of the kids felt something touch his shoulder. The rest of the group was like, “no way, do that to me” They all prayed for Holy Spirit to show up and one of them jumped. The other one ran away screaming. Then, I had them pray over each other and one by one they started getting healed. The whole time this is going on, we have the camera rolling. When I put up the video someone sent me message saying that their knee was healed by watching it. Others have said they encountered God’s presence through watching it. From that point on, we started to regularly receive testimonies of people encountering God in a tangible way through the videos.
Acts 19:11 Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.
There is something tangible about the presence of God. Handkerchiefs and aprons became tools to carry God’s presence and the results were healing the sick and delivering the demonized. With this in mind, we started praying over our videos that they wouldn’t be just videos to entertain but would lead the viewer into an encounter with the living God. People started encountering God’s presence, the baptism of the Spirit, conviction, angelic encounters, healings, and impartations just to name a few. I’ve even had people send me messages saying, “Now I know God is real, how do I get Him in my life?” or “How can I know this God?”
One video, I heard very clearly pray for someone’s right hip to be healed at the end of the video. I used to think it was cheesy in a video where someone would call out words of knowledge into the camera, but I obeyed. Later on I got a message from an elder at a Calvary Chapel that he was healed of a nearly 30 year old injury in his right hip. After the video, he was able to sleep without pain. Another video we were filming, someone’s neck got healed. My friend Dem said that he felt someone was going to get healed of the same thing when they watched that part. The night I put the video up, someone said they watched it and got rocked by the Holy Spirit. At that same part, their neck got healed.
Psalm 119:2 “Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart”
Psalm 77:12 “I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
Revelation 19:10…. “Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
There is something powerful to keeping the testimonies of the Lord. The videos are a visual testimony of what God has done, and an invitation for God to do it again with you. I’ve seen many videos of God moving and it imparted something that I could use to minister to others. For example, I saw a video where Pete Cabrera Jr. asked an angel to give someone a hug and they encountered an angel hugging them. I went out and tried it and a girl broke down in tears because she encountered a hug from and angel and was overwhelmed with the presence of God. I believe that in these visual testimonies of Jesus, there is a grace released for you to do the same.
The reason why I make these videos is because I want people to encounter God and be empowered to go and do the same. One night I was praying and the Holy Spirit said to me, “I’m not camera shy, I just don’t want it to be just about the camera.” The videos are not so you can say, “Wow, look at Josh!” But that you can see how active God is and have a grid for how He wants to use you. They also dramatically increase our expectation for God to move.
God is using videos in a very powerful way, and I’m excited to see that the internet is getting flooded with videos of people getting touched by Jesus. There is also a rise of movies displaying God’s supernatural power such as Holy Ghost, Paid in Full, and Sons of God to name a few. I believe that this trend is helping bring the Church get back to normal Christianity in the power of the Holy Spirit as well as a powerful tool to show who Jesus is to the world.