There are times in life when a massive shift takes place - sometimes in our own personal lives, sometimes it’s in the world around us. The other week in the UK, the Prime Minister called for a General Election in June. Immediately I was reminded of something Lou Engle said back in 2010 before that year’s General Election:
“There are moments in history when a door for massive change opens, and great revolutions for good or evil spring up in the vacuum created by these openings. In these divine moments key men and women and even entire generations risk everything to become the hinge of history, the pivotal point that determines which way the door will swing.”
It also made me acutely aware of the responsibility on our shoulders as believers as we seek to live out the government of the Kingdom of Heaven here on the earth. In Matthew 18:15-20 Jesus speaks about four things that focus on the governmental authority of the Ekklesia and what the Ekklesia is to do:
- Dealing with anything that will undermine the spiritual authority of the Ekklesia (what do we do when a brother or sister sins?)
- Binding and loosing (exercising spiritual authority - allowing or disallowing)
- The prayer of agreement (when two agree about anything - it’s done!)
- The promise of the presence of Jesus when we meet in his name (the minimum for Ekklesia is 2-3)
Now, it would appear that the primary way we bind and loose (i.e. exercise spiritual authority) is through agreeing prayer. What Jesus seems to be implying here is that the integrity of our community is more important than the passion of our prayers and the fervency of our worship
Binding and loosing and agreeing in prayer are sandwiched between two passages. Before this passage – if your brother/sister continues in rebellious sin and doesn’t repent, you have to remove him/her from the solemn assembly. After this passage Peter asks Jesus about how many times you have to forgive someone who sins against you - Jesus’ answer is not seven times but seventy times seven!
The implication is that when God begins to move in authority through his praying church rebellion in the company can shut down its authority - which means that if there’s persistent rebellion in the midst of the Ekklesia you’ve got to make it right – because the integrity of your community determines the authority of your ability to “bind and loose”.
What Jesus is really saying is, “You have to deal with sin because I don’t want you to have assumed authority – but real authority.” Agreement together is not just mental assent – it’s about the forming of relationship – one-mindedness with others – there’s no place for conscientious objectors in the community.
He’s also saying that the bare minimum for his Ekklesia is just two or three who are walking in confession of sin and being washed in the blood of Jesus - two or three with divine revelation. When we release that on earth as it is in heaven – gates of hell will begin to tremble (see Matthew 16:18)
So what are the elements that result in us being able to exercise spiritual authority on the earth? In this context I believe we have overlooked the power and authority of one thing - communion (The Eucharist, The Lord’s Supper, breaking bread together).
Our authority has always come from an open heaven on earth - the writer to the Hebrews explains it this way:
Hebrews 10:19-22 “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
So what happens when we break bread together? We need to look at two key passages that answer this for us:
Luke 22:19-20 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you."
1 Corinthians 11:26 “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
The word translated “proclaim” in the second passage literally means to “broadcast or reveal” - you could see it as a media wave or an audio wave. This means that at the moment you break the bread and drink the wine a revelation happens on the earth. Satan sees the cross and he fears - it can happen in other ways, but this is very important. In the day the Lord rescued the people out of Egypt, he asked them to make ‘communion’ - with a real lamb - so that the Ekklesia can be free and the curse of slavery broken.
We have been brought out from under that curse - that means that we have been given freedom to exercise spiritual authority on the earth today. Please pray for the Ekklesia of God to rise up in this hour and be the ones who lead out in these troubled times.