“These things says He who holds the SEVEN STARS in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the SEVEN GOLDEN LAMP STANDS.” (Revelation 2:1)
“Corporate” Is Uniquely Difficult for Western Christianity
One of the elements of the Kingdom that 21c western Christianity struggles with is the degree to which we are “corporate”, and not merely “individual”. The Lord (all throughout the Bible) sees and treats humanity on the basis of our “corporate” nature/influence much more than we 21c Americans believe, teach – or like.
Yes. Each of us will ultimately be judged for our own individual covenant relationship with Jesus Christ (Revelation 20;15) But we are greatly influenced (for both good and bad) by the views and values of our corporate family, community and nation – much much more than we often acknowledge.
By neglecting to let God refine and purge our corporate ways, norms, sins and standards we leave influential idols on the high places of our culture, and these idols infect our individual hearts with destructive lies of the enemy.
The judgments of the Lord are primarily about the Lord bringing both reward and rebuke for the ways of family, community and culture.
It’s so vital that we understand how the Lord deals with us in a corporate way in this hour. If we don’t understand this Biblical truth, we can easily find ourselves working against the Lord. On the other hand, if we give ourselves to this reality we will find ourselves (note this is plural) in new dimensions of freedom, authority and maturity unto the glory of our King!
The Kingdom Precedent for Corporate
Jesus, the prophets and the apostles spend a great deal of time addressing the ways of corporate people groups because He/they know three things:
1. We are greatly influenced (for both good and bad) by the values of our friends, family, and culture
2. We greatly need each other if we are to go deep in vibrant righteousness. (Satan knows this too…)
3. Jesus is returning for a corporate Bride; not just a collection of individuals.
Repentance is meant to be a corporate endeavor, not merely an individual endeavor. It’s meant to be both, because both greatly influence the nature and destiny of our soul.
The Biblical Testimony of Our Corporate Nature
2 Chronicles 7:13-14 is a call to corporate repentance.
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
The Psalms are filled with references to corporate and generational blessings and corporate and generational curses.
Joel 2 is a call to corporate repentance.
“Blow the trumpet in Zion, call a sacred assembly; gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders… Let them say, ‘Spare Your people, O Lord, and do not give Your heritage to reproach.” (Joel 2:15,17)
Daniel 9 is a prayer of corporate identification and corporate repentance.
Lamentations is a book of corporate repentance.
Jesus speaks woes upon corporate groups of people.
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” (Matthew 11:21)
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” (Matthew 23:13-15)
Peter addresses the corporate sins of the people in Acts 2:36-37
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart…” (Acts 2:36-37)
In Acts 17:11 the whole church in Berea is commended for the nobility of their ways.
“These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”(Acts 17:11)
Paul’s mindset is continually addressing the corporate dynamics in the churches he writes to – for both encouragement and for reprimand and correction.
In the end, the whole Bride makes herself (corporate) ready. (Revelation 19:7) It isn’t some are ready and others are not.
“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and HIS WIFE has made HERSELF ready.” (Revelation 19:7)
From the whole testimony of scripture, we understand that the Holy Spirit has the capacity to bring the whole Bride into first commandment love for Jesus. This is perhaps the greatest miracle, sign and wonder of history. Our mutual, corporate, wholehearted adoration and proclamation of Jesus will be the pinnacle witness and testimony to the redemptive power of God. Our unity under the reign of Christ will be the dagger in the heart of the devil.
He wanted to divide and conquer and separate us from God, and each other through hostility and alienation. Perhaps the Lord’s supreme expression of the depth of His power to save will be put on display through our unified acclamation of Jesus as the One King that we all submit to. The declaration “Jesus is Lord” is actually, “Jesus is OUR Lord!” This is the complete undoing of the dynamic of blame and enmity that satan sowed into the hearts of Adam and Eve in the garden.
“The Lord said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:11-13)
The Seven Churches in Revelation 2 and 3
Jesus addresses seven spiritual communities in Revelation 2 and 3.
In the seven churches of Revelation we hear the Lord releasing four realities into corporate bodies:
1. Corporate Commendation – The commendations that Jesus issues have real, cascading/viral blessing attached to them.
2. Corporate Rebuke and Correction – The rebuke that Jesus issues to corporate groups address real sins that can also compound, delude and harden a people-group in the ways of unrighteousness.
3. Corporate Warning – The warnings are issued corporately, because we are meant to help guard each other from the ways of unrighteousness.
4. Corporate Promises – The promises are issued corporately, because Jesus knows that we need each other to propel us deep into the reward of righteousness, and because part of the great reward of righteousness is enjoying it corporately. There is a greater joy to be had in celebrating corporate righteousness than there is in celebrating private righteousness. (This is why you never want to hit a hole-in-one by yourself. We were made for mutual celebration.)
It’s significant that Jesus specifically calls the seven churches (corporate) to repentance seven times. Not one of those exhortations are a call to individual repentance. They’re each a call for corporate repentance.
Vital Current Controversy
We are the inheritors of a great corporate blessing from the foundations of our nation. We are also inheritors of great potential threats from the curses (like any group of fallen creatures) attached to the foundations of our nation. We need to take both as seriously as God does. He does not only see us as individuals. He also sees how inextricably linked we are to each other; to our forefathers and to our children’s children. We bear a debt of mutual responsibility to each other.
This also goes for churches, church cultures, regions and families. We inherit both the strengths and the weaknesses of the corporate groups we are a part of. This is the way we were made.
We were made for family and community. God is family and community. We are called to family and community.
The enemy wants to divide us and separate us from each other. He knows the wisdom of “separate and conquer”.
There is a powerful two-fold spiritual truth attached to the corporate that the end-times Church must avail herself of:
1. We will go further and deeper and more brilliant in righteousness and Christlikeness in the company of others.
2. We will also go further and deeper and blinder in unrighteousness and godless idolatry in the company of others. This is the testimony and lesson we can derive from all 66 books of the Bible. Every single one.
This is why Paul admonishes those who are caught in the downward spiral of sin:
THEY did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave THEM over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; THEY are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also give hearty approbation to those who practice them. (Romans 1:28-32)
This is also why Jesus takes our mutual influence and potential to cause others to sin so seriously.
“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)
“My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” (James 3:1)
There are more than 100 references to “one another” in the New Testament. The Lord knows, indeed, He has built within us the capacity to enlarge and enhance each other through corporate life together. (This is why every team wants to play the championship game on their home field. It’s called the home-field advantage for a reason!)
“Exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”(Hebrews 3:13)
“Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24,25)
We Need Each Other to Cultivate A Responsiveness Posture to the Lord’s Prophetic Voice
“Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common.” (Acts 2:44)
We need spiritual family to help us be responsive to the Lord’s voice. We need to live and be surrounded a culture that values:
1. A Spirit of Humility
2. Prioritizing the Pursuit of First Commandment love
3. Fear of the Lord
4. Maintaining a Spirit of Repentance
5. Lifestyles of Corporate Prayer
One of the most vital things pastors and leaders in the body of Christ can do in this hour is to realize our capacity to help each other prioritize cultivating these five traits of responsiveness to the Lord. Cultivating communal values for these five values is great spiritual warfare in this hour.
JSB • June 29, 2022