INTRODUCTION: This is the most radical of the 12 Embryonic Revival Principles of 1948. The reason - it hasn't been experienced and demonstrated for 1900 years. It is a Restoration truth - like rebuilding the broken down Tabernacle of David. Just as the Restoring of a Theocracy to Israel, with Messiah Jesus as the Great Successor of David as King - so is the Restoration of a City Church with a Leadership in its Gates. All cities of Israel operated on this level, combining both the secular and the spiritual. See Bethlehem and how in this context Boaz solved the problem as who would assume not only the privileges of Elimelech, but also the responsibilities. The nearer kinsman felt that to assume this responsibility by marrying Ruth, would jeopardize his inheritance. So he withdrew from his position of primacy, and turned it over to Boaz by taking off his shoe.
What a marvelous way to solve all problems - both secular and spiritual! Unfortunately, the restoration of this embryonic principle of City Presbytery did not take place in 1948. Instead a “Traveling Presbytery,” moving from local churches within a city became the function, even to this day. But God - in His patience - is now bringing this revival principle to maturity. What passed in 1948, He is now saying - “Repent, and come up FULLY to the Bible pattern. Move according to Acts 13 and Acts 15.
It will not supersede Denominations and Fellowships, but it will set priority upon the fellowship of local churches within a city or Metroplex. As local churches in such a fellowship grow in number, geographical divisions within that Metroplex of course will take place.
On Sunday evening February 2nd at Bethel Ministries in downtown Seattle, 6 core leaders convened a meeting for their churches, and the Metroplex. Some 12 or 15 pastors from Everett to Olympia came to observe. One came specifically from the Portland area to observe, and believed he witnessed a unity, caring and effectiveness - that on a scale of 1 to 10 -- possibly reached 2.5! This was a remarkable demonstration. The guest speaker from Vancouver definitely contributed, but it was the spirit of the six that made it possible.
One. CITY LEADERSHIP: GOODLY WORDS.
In the movie “Sound of Music,” the story of the Von Trapp family, the song “ABC' was one of a number that captured the attention of hearers. It is very easy to take the words of the above verse in the King James Version, and sing them to this tune. Amy Hong Sit of Houston Texas, daughter of Dr. Leland Wang did so, and has brought blessing to thousands. It ends up with, “We think these things, we think these things!” But it can just as easily use the substitute words of “We speak these things,” and “We do these things.”
What truly contributes to genuine and caring unity among leaders? Well, the eight characteristics of our God contained in this verse, if meditated upon, contribute to this end. But if like the Woman in the Song of Solomon we call - “Draw me, and we will run after You” - then with God initiating help for us - we can make it! Rees Howells again and again said to God when challenged beyond his ability - “Lord, You'll have to pull me through!” And He always did!
So it is God that can both individually and corporately pull us through into a viable and genuine “Leadership” functioning in the Gate of a City.
Two. CITY SERVANT LEADERS: PRESBYTERY.
Acts 15:6-7a; 22, 28. “And the apostles and the elders were gathered together to see about this matter. … And when there had been much questioning, Peter rose up, and said unto them … Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men out from them, and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas: Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, chief men among the brothers. … For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you (Gentiles) no greater burden than these necessary things.” (NNT).
Jesus prophesied that the Kingdom would be taken from the then Jewish leaders, and given to other leaders to bring forth the fruit God desired and had a right to expect. The Sanhedrin performed one of the greatest miscarriages of justice at the trial and condemnation of Jesus. This corrupt governing body flagrantly violated numerous principles.
Note: -- The new governing body that replaced the Sanhedrin was entirely manned by Jews. James the chief apostolic pastor of the church of Jerusalem was a Jew; the 12 apostles were Jews; the elders of Jerusalem leading the numerous churches in the home were all Jews. The first governing body replacing the Sanhedrin was patently Jewish --no Replacement Theology here! True - in the next century non-Jewish Gentiles began to move into the majority in the church, and by the Council of Nicea during the time of Constantine in 326 AD, Replacement Theology was in full swing.
But reverting back to Acts 15 - See the Spirit-led wisdom through James, brother of Jesus, that successfully solved what could have been the greatest unsolved controversy of all-time! James allowed full discussion of the Judaizing party, who demanded that non-Jews could not become Christian until first they submitted to full conversion to Judaism, including circumcision and Torah Observance.
Peter and Paul showed by the leading of God's Spirit and their experience that God was NOT demanding what the Judaizers contended for. James summed it all up by quoting from Amos, and proving from Scripture that it had been God's purpose for many centuries to bring non-Jewish Gentiles into His Family, alongside of but not displacing Abraham's natural seed.
What a victory for the Gentiles in the churches Paul was raising up as the Apostle of the Gentiles. He did not raise up just a local church in a city - he in God raised up some 14 City Churches - each composed of dozens and scores of local churches in homes. Each of these home churches had an elder and his wife such as Aquila and Priscilla.
The irony is this: What the Jews under James in Acts 15 magnanimously granted to Gentiles - a part in God's Family apart from the wrong insistence of the Judaizers - now today the church often refuses to accept Jewish believers into their fellowship except they forsake their God-given heritage and traditions of Torah Observance in Feasts, Sabbath and circumcision!
Wouldn't it be wonderful before the return of Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords - if the cities and nations of the world each had functioning leaders in the Gate of each City? And if they functioned in the wisdom of Acts 15 - it wouldn't be long until Christ would indeed come and establish His wonderful Millennial Rule.
Three. CITY LEADERS: A HIND LET LOOSE: SWIFT AND SURE.
Genesis 49:21. “Naphtali is a deer running free that give birth to lovely fawns.”
Deuteronomy 33:23. “Naphtali brims with blessings, spills over with GOD's blessings As he takes possession of the sea and southland.” ™
There's an interesting aspect to the swift deer. She knows that wherever she can see to place her front feet, her back feet are sure to track exactly! That is not true of a horse or donkey. The track of the rear feet invariably is several inches off from those of the front. This can be disastrous when leaping across chasms, where slipping and falling backwards can take place should the rear feet not track exactly with the front.
The front feet of the deer are like the word of the Spirit. If we set out and follow God with what we sense as the word of the Spirit - our safety lies in having the written word exactly confirm what the true Spirit is saying. Some feel God is saying such and such to them, but the written Word cannot confirm it, for it is a mixture and not well placed. It is what we THINK He is saying - but oftimes He says, “I have not even THOUGHT the thing they claim I have said!” Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel record the complaints of God concerning his so-called self-styled prophets.
Elders in the Gate of the City need to be both individually and corporately like Naphtali, Their word of the Spirit exactly finds confirmation to the tracking of the Written Word that follows! Blessed are the people whose leaders demonstrate an exact match between the written and the spoken word. The Spirit and the Word must ALWAYS agree.
It is true that as many as are led by the Spirit of God (the Rhema - the spoken word) - they are the sons of God. But again, the written Word was sure to follow and confirm.
One, who is swift and sure-footed like Naphtali the deer, always has pleasant words. His words are fruitful, and in turn beget in others - pleasant words (lovely fawns).
Such leaders as this find God multiplying their effectiveness. They take possession of the sea and the southland. Words that are confirmed by THE WORD are consistently fruitful. They are not promiscuous words, but measured words. They are words given as occasion demands - not a continuous running off at the mouth. See Job 29 for the wise words of a man who sat as one of the elders in the Gate.
Four. CITY LEADERS: WARRING VOLUNTEERS.
Judges 4:6-9. Deborah sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “It has become clear that GOD, the God of Israel, commands you: Go to Mount Tabor and prepare for battle. Take ten companies of soldiers from Naphtali and Zebulun. I'll take care of getting Sisera, the leader of Jabin's army, to the Kishon River with all his chariots and troops. And I'll make sure you win the battle.” Barak said, “If you go with me, I'll go. But if you don't go with me, I won't go.” She said, “Of course I'll go with you. But understand that with an attitude like that, there'll be no glory in it for you. GOD will use a woman's hand to take care of Sisera.” ™
In this instance, out of all the warring tribes of Israel, God by His Spirit through Deborah, chose Barak of the tribe of Naphtali. Victory came to Israel over the Canaanites according to the Word of the Lord, and both Deborah and Barak together sang a song of victory, glorifying the God of Victory.
But in this particular historical account, there is an honesty that does not overlook a weakness. When God by His Spirit leads a writer to record the lives of His heroes, he paints a picture of “warts and all.” This account of Barak is no exception. Barak was unable to launch out alone on the Word of the Lord. He required that Deborah go with him. She immediately complied with his request - but in all honesty told him that because his attitude demonstrated an area of weakness, the victory in the battle to follow would not be completely his, but would go to a woman.
The Spirit of God will accurately measure City church leaders and elders in the Gate of the City. Timothy and Titus were not only elders in the Gate of their respective areas, but they were like James of Jerusalem - the apostolic leader and chairman over the other leaders. But when the Spirit of God through the apostle Paul - who mentored them both - evaluated such leaders - Paul found himself saying that he had no other like Timothy in all his ways. Titus did not come up to the fullness of this high standard.
What we call “Pastoral Epistles” in the books of Timothy and Titus, are more properly guidelines for the apostolic leaders of the elders who sit in the Gate of the City. The Spirit through Paul is giving guidelines to such as James of Jerusalem - those who have the responsibility of ordaining, disciplining and replacing elder-pastors over local churches in the home (See Titus 1 and Acts 20).
So it is good to realize that leaders in a city, pastors of local churches, and key apostolic leaders over city churches - all such are human beings. Some like Barak - though doing a good job in large measure - yet can fall short in specific areas concerning a challenge of faith.
Five. CITY LEADERS: CONQUERORS THROUGH WRESTLING.
Revelation 2:7b. “I'm about to call each conqueror to dinner. I'm spreading a banquet of Tree-of-Life fruit, a supper plucked from God's orchard.” 2:11b. “Christ-conquerors are safe from Devil-death.” 2:17b. “I'll give the sacred manna to every conqueror; I'll also give a clear, smooth stone inscribed with your new name, your secret new name.” 2:26-28. “Here's the reward I have for every conqueror, everyone who keeps at it, refusing to give up: You'll rule the nations, your Shepherd-King rule as firm as an iron staff, their resistance fragile as clay pots. This was the gift my Father gave me; I pass it along to you - and with it, the Morning Star!” 3:5. “Conquerors will march in the victory parade, their names indelible in the Book of Life. I'll lead them up and present them by name to my Father and his angels.” 3:12. “I'll make each conqueror a pillar in the sanctuary of my God, a permanent position of honor. Then I'll write names on you, the pillars: the Name of my God, the Name of God's City - the new Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven - and my new Name.” 3:21. “Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father. That's my gift to the conquerors!” ™
Jacob did not become Israel until after he wrestled with the angel of the Lord all night. He prevailed with God and man, sustained a change of nature, and appropriately a change of name to correspond with the new change of nature. No longer is he Jacob - usurper, grabber of the heel - but now he is “Israel!” - a Prince with God. For all of us, who sustain a change of nature through submitting to the deep dealings of God, there is now “A new name written down in glory!”
“No battle - no victory,” wrote one gnarled and grizzled warrior in the battles of the Lord! The Kingdom of God is under continual assault. Those who would possess it must put their best foot forward. The man in Jesus' parable who desired the pearl of great price - had to first sell all that he had to make this expensive purchase!
Note that only two of the 7 churches of the Book of Revelation had no word against them. Two of them had no good word for them. The other 3 were mixtures. But in all 7 we find individuals who made it and were conquerors. So we cannot use lack of the ideal as an excuse for burying our talent in the ground and doing nothing. No - we must put our best foot forward, and against all odds - by the grace of God prevail. He will pull us through. God will carry us through. He will see that we end up MORE THAN CONQUERORS through Him who loved us and gave Himself for us! We CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
Fathers of families should set an example of perseverance in the face of difficulties to both their wives and their children. Jewish Astronaut Ilan Ramon was this to his family, nation and the world. City leaders who are also elders in the Gate of their city should and can set a similar example. Conquerors and Overcomers are the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. A corporate team spirit produced such elders - who with Paul their founder and mentor - ordained Timothy. THIS is the high calling of God in Christ Jesus -- for the Presbytery of each city church in a nation. They become as the spiritual Sanhedrin of Acts 15 to solve effectively the weightiest of problems!
Six. CITY LEADERS: AFRICA.
“When the sun was down and it was dark, a smoking firepot and a flaming torch moved between the split carcasses. That's when GOD made a covenant with Abram: 'I'm giving this land to your children, from the Nile River in Egypt to the River Euphrates in Assyria - the country of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaim, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.” ™
I see the Continent of Africa as a picture of the potential for City Presbyteries. The story of Stanley and Livingstone illustrates this. It is strongly based upon the concept of COVENANT, which is still practiced in Africa unto this day. When Stanley was sent by his New York paper to seek an interview with David Livingstone, he ran into a problem. Many warlike tribes lay between his place of disembarkation in SE Africa, and the area far to the north where Livingstone worked and ministered. How travel successfully through these warlike territories? That was the problem.
His interpreter suggested a solution. Make a covenant with the very powerful chieftain in the area where he landed. “What is involved in such a covenant?” Stanley inquired. “Oh,” said he, “you cut a covenant, an animal, and by doing so say, 'once we are blood brothers, should I break this covenant, may I be cut in pieces like this sacrifice.' Then you each cut yourself in a finger and drip some blood into a common cup and drink it to become blood brothers.”
“Forget it,” said Stanley. “I'll never submit to such heathenish customs.” But months later when he was no closer to his goal than when he first landed, he said to his interpreter, “Tell the chieftain I am now ready to cut a covenant with him!”
Among a few more conditions, they had to exchange gifts. The chief wanted Stanley's nanny goat, because he had observed the great value Stanley placed upon it. In return the chief said, “You wouldn't recognize what I count valuable, so I'll make choice for you - I give you my spear!”
“What,” said Stanley to his interpreter, 'he takes my goat which I need for its milk because of my poor health, and he gives me a stick?” “Don't knock it,” said his interpreter. “That spear wound with copper wire is his scepter, and is known throughout the countries you must traverse to reach Livingstone. Whenever you present it, you will have the same access, help and courtesy, as if this chief himself were presenting it in person.”
In a very short time, because of the benefits of “The Blood Covenant,” Stanley found Livingstone and obtained his interview.
When elders in the Gate of the City individually and corporately take a leaf out of the “Covenant history of Africa,” and with God and one another act in this spirit - then they too can function effectively as the Presbytery of Acts 15.
Note again the Genesis 15 account. THIS is an UNCONDITIONAL Covenant. God did not make it with Abram. He made it within Himself on behalf of Abram - the Father and the Pre-incarnate Angel of the Lord - so that any weakness in Abram would not weaken it. God in Himself guaranteed to keep on Abram's behalf the conditions and promises of the covenant for all time. Ponder this, for on Calvary, God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself! He initiated it. He made it on our behalf apart from our weak condition.
Seven. E. W. KENYON AND THE BLOOD COVENANT.
1 Samuel 18:3-4. “Jonathan, out of his deep love for David, made a covenant with him. He formalized it with solemn gifts: his own royal robe and weapons - armor, sword, bow, and belt. 20:13. Jonathan said, “And GOD be with you as he's been with my father! If I make it through this alive, continue to be my covenant friend. And if I die, keep the covenant friendship with my family - forever. And when GOD finally rids the earth of David's enemies, stay loyal to Jonathan!” Jonathan repeated his pledge of love and friendship for David. He loved David more than his own soul! 20:42. Jonathan said, “Go in peace! The two of us have vowed friendship in GOD's name, saying, 'GOD will be the bond between me and you, and between my children and your children forever!'” ™
Few books have been written that more clearly set forth God's thinking and heart than Daddy Kenyon's “The Blood Covenant.” By all means procure a copy through your local Christian Bookstore. They can order it from the E.W. Kenyon Publication Society of Lynnwood, WA.
I believe it is in large part because of this book that the enemy has sought to wrongfully besmirch the memory and name of E.W. Kenyon after his death. Three books that I know of have been written against him. None of them did adequate research, and deserved to be taken to task for poor scholarship and dishonest appraisals.
Pastor Joe McIntyre sensed the Spirit of God rise within him to defend this man, though he died in the late 40's. A few years ago he wrote “E.W. Kenyon, The True Story,” which is an excellent Apologetic in the light of the wholly inadequate criticisms leveled against him. Your local Christian Bookstore can also obtain it from the E.W. Kenyon Publication Society.
In our Scripture reference for this section, we see the extraordinary covenant made between David and Jonathan. Jonathan did die in battle with his father. But because of this covenant, David looked up Mephibosheth, Jonathan's son. David restored to him all he had lost, and had him eat at the king's table from then on.
But there is another example of covenant that is exactly in line with Kenyon's “The Blood Covenant.” It takes place in NE India in the Assam Province, Senvon Village. It is called “The Border Crossing Sacrifice.” When two warring tribes tire of taking heads from one another, one chieftain goes to the border and blows a horn or beats a drum. It is a signal saying, “I'm tired of taking and losing heads. Are you too? Come, let's meet at this border and palaver and make peace.”
If his adversarial chieftain agrees, they meet at the border, flanked by their elders. On behalf of the two chieftains, whose mind they know, they hammer out details of peace. Then on the border they kill a sacrifice. The chieftains reach down into the blood and smear it on each other. They “as in Africa” cut themselves, take each other's blood in a cup of wine and drink it, thus becoming covenant blood brothers. They take an oath that if either breaks the covenant of the Border Crossing Sacrifice, his elders will cut him in pieces as the sacrifice.
They then share in common, marry and intermarry, and defend each other from neighboring warring tribes.
Rochunga Pudaite of “Bibles for the Word” came from the Hmar Tribe, fully familiar with the Border Crossing Sacrifice. A missionary in 1910, Watkin Roberts, related this familiar story to the Hmar people of Senvon Village. He was the first white man to preach in NE India in 40 years. He explained that the only True God and Creator of the universe and man, felt badly that the man He created had got so far away from Him. So without saying a word, He came to the Border and sacrificed His only Son. Then He blew the horn and beat the drum and said, “If anyone will come to the Border and embrace Me over the Sacrifice of My Son, I'll forgive all his sins and receive him back into fellowship with Me.”
Five young men responded to Mr. Roberts' application of this story, one of them Chawnga Pudaite, Rochunga's father. Today 90% of the tribe of over 90,000 members are Christian, and have won many others of the 300 former head-hunting tribes in that area to Christ. They did this not only in Assam and Manipur, but also in Nepal and more distant countries.
A deep understanding of the Blood Covenant that takes place through the Border Crossing Sacrifice is the answer to man's deepest needs. God knew it, and He supplied the answer, all by grace. But it is also the answer for the Team spirit of a City Presbytery and eldership of leaders meeting in the Gate of the City. It is the foundation from which flows a loving, caring spirit - that makes an Acts 15 Presbytery/Sanhedrin a distinct possibility. Not only has E.W. Kenyon written the booklet, “The Blood Covenant,” but also it has been recorded and can be listened to on cassette.
God knows - our Covenant God, our God whose Kingdom is WITHIN us - in our hearts - which is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit in our hearts! As we get to know God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - INTIMATELY in our hearts - and let HIM live His life out through us in the spirit of Galatians 2:20 - THEN the spirit of Naphtali - then the team spirit of the city presbytery will be birthed and will flourish. It will multiply and increase until the cities of nations and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our God and His Christ!