By David Stahl

          Jesus tell us in Matthew, “For many are called, but few are chosen.”  (Matthew 22:14)  Did you know not just anyone can be chosen by God oh no, only those who God has called (and that is everyone), but the choosing part is not up to God but up to us. Like salvation is not for everyone.  It has been extended to everyone, but salvation is for only those who respond to the draw of the Holy Spirit.  Another way to express this verse is “many are called, but few will pay the price in order to be chosen.”  Being chosen is based on our submission and commitment to a process of qualifying or overcoming as we choose God. This qualifying process is out from us allowing God’s dealings and judgments in our lives. Basically we are chosen because we have allowed God to so work in our lives.  Within the Body of Christ are two levels of relationship to the LORD.  One can be saved and not become an overcomer, but one cannot be an overcomer without first being saved.  Thus there is a church within the church. The first level is made up of all those who are satisfied with the fact of being saved, but seek to go no further.  These are saved (as God judges not me), but view their salvation as being like saltthat only flavors rather than permeates their life style.  They are satisfied with the promise of a future heaven, but have stopped short of the full work of the cross to bring them into spiritual maturity.  This is the majority of the folks in churches today.  This is why Jesus said, “but few are chosen.”  You know I still shake my head in bewilderment at this group of people.  The second level is made up of those who are being moved upon by the Holy Spirit, especially at this present time.  These have a heart toward the LORD and can say with David, One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.”  (Psalm 27:4)  They have taken up their cross and have submitted their lives and all that pertains to them. They have answered the call and are being dealt with and are qualifying to become His Bride for future things to transpire.  How strange to have these two groups in the Body of Christ.  How strange to make such an analogy “a church within the church,” but even stranger is the heart condition of the first group of people who have little to no desire to go further in the LORD.  I wonder where they got this concept from? I wonder where they got off track? Today the denominational church (we really know we are the church) is off track and probably has been heading off the rails for about 2,000+ years. The commission of the 12 disciples was simple, to teach the people what they have observed.  Jesus lays down the marker when He said,  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”  (Matthew 28:20)  All the disciples  had to do is teach the people what Jesus commanded them.  That was it.  No churches, no denominations, no religions, no special services, no rituals, no special offerings, no, no, no, and no.  I wonder if churches today could make it without their denominational headquarters?  Now I am not beating up the disciples I know there is safety in numbers and if you pool your money you will have more buying power, but Jesus did not tell them to establish a church.  Not sure what I would have done, but in the upper room (Acts 1:13-15) good things happened without being a church.  Then on the Day of Pentecost the 120 disciples suddenly had 3,000 new friends. Luke writes, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”  (Acts 2:41-47)  Still no mention of the word “church” till verse 47, which is Strong’s #G1577 and means assembly or congregation of people.   I always find it funny when someone tells me they are an Acts Church and I ask if they fulfill the requirements in verse 45.  At that point the conversation usually drops off.  But the people (the Christians) were still going to the temple, they continued in the “apostles doctrine” (what the disciples observed and taught of Jesus), broke bread house to house (went home to home sharing Jesus), but something happened that changed all of this.  In Acts 6 (just a short four chapters) we find, And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. 3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.’  (Acts 6:1-4) Now I am not beating up the disciples or the early leaders, but they did something that moved them and God away from the open expression of what we call evangelism within the people and community of their day to a closed fixed organizational structure and anytime that happens there will be confusion, strife, and chaos. The more flesh you coral the more flesh will rebel. We must remember most of the New Testament is about correction and relaying a spiritual foundation. When Paul or Peter talks about a character flaw or a spiritual issue it is because it is either moving or not moving in the Body of Christ have it be in:   Corinth, Ephesus, Rome, Philippi, Thessaloniki, etc.  We see this play out in Acts 6.  Here the disciples are serving tables (a good thing to do in its place) and putting up with murmuring instead of doing what Jesus told them to do, “teach them to observe all things I have commanded you.” As I read the New Testament I see a progressive movement away from what God originally established in Acts. There is a divine spiritual principle moving here.  As much as we curry God’s influence and presence, strangely enough the longer man handles the things of God the less God is moving in them. This is because we start to inject our thoughts and desires, our beliefs and mix them with what God wants. The disciples walked and talked with Jesus they all stepped off line at the same time, yet now in the world we have 1,000s of denominations and doctrines that have nothing to do with the things the disciples observed.  From the start the Believers met in homes, grottos, tombs, fields, and heard the word of God from every day common people who led the folks and for some reason they moved away from this and started something totally different than what Jesus asked.  I believe Jesus wanted a more loosely defined organizational structure.  Since the disciples were still going to the temple did they model the Body of Christ after the Temple?  Probably so.  I have always wondered if the disciples continued  to sacrifice in the Temple?  Probably so for awhile.  Are they bad or evil? No!  Does God hate them? No! But for sure over the years we have gotten further and further off track (I believe) to where we find ourselves today, merchandizing the Gospel and selling power and influence.  I wonder what the Body of Christ would look like today if we stayed the course with what Jesus wanted?  I would say for the most part the Body of Christ has been organized into small (50-100 folks) churches with a dedicated pastor (like the one where Karen and I attend) with a struggling congregation trying to make miracles from a limited budget.  I believe God really enjoys these folks.  I think God likes it when we struggle and see our dependence on Him. His call to us is not to freedom, but to dependence on Him. The more we see our need for Him the more we will be successful for Him.  You know in all of my years in ministry I never  received a salary for doing what God has asked me to do.  When I travel overseas and speak God pays my way.  God puts us up with some of the most giving and amazing people I have ever met.  My friend if God wants you to do something for Him no need to become a beggar and twist arms to get money to fund your agenda.  I have been amazed over the many years how God provides for what He wants to be done.  God calls us and if he calls us then He will provide the means to do it.  When I pastored in Germany I could have a taken a salary, but how could I feel the day to day struggles of our working men and women without working myself?  Even the disciples in the Bible worked for a living.  The danger in taking a salary is subtle.  Pastors who take a salary are often beholding to the board and/or the people who pay their salary. Very few pastors I have met in my life has the courage to reject the control that comes with the money. I think we have missed the boat in so many areas when we come together to worship God around a collective agenda of a man, to evangelize for a cause, for an idea, push a denomination or religion while missing the point of the Gospel message — to go and tell the good news of the Gospel on a day to day basis house to house to the unwashed masses face to face one on one. “Ministry” is becoming so high tech and high touch. Twitter, Facebook, Instant Gram, Snap Chat all of the social media sites. Like me on Facebook??  How about are you saved from your sins?? Why do we care for and feed huge buildings, complexes, and networks while the people in the pews stare in hope (as their tithes and offerings hit the plate) that their monthly sacrifices are making a difference?  As I said the early church met in buildings of opportunity, but now we have freshly cut grass, manicured lawns well watered that most people in the world would die for the excess water to drink.  Being called must be more than meeting our physical needs. More than a building, an organization, more than a routine of yearly events that no one really knows why they do it, more than weekly services that have little impact in lives, even more than seeing how many souls we can notch on our Bibles.  Being called by God means one thing honest, dedicated, commitment service to God and man in the way He wants things to go. One of the greatest enemies on the battle field is mission creep and I am afraid the Body of Christ has suffered much loss from it.  What does the future hold for the Body of Christ?  Only victory.  But I cannot say that for the church. We need to get back to the call of God and let all of these other things fall by the wayside.