Nothing seems to be fixed in the Christian life. For every spiritual principle, there are those odd exceptions that simply refuse to fit into our paradigms. This is true when it comes to a revelation of Jesus Christ.
By revelation, I’m not speaking of a physical vision or an audible voice. I’m speaking of that inward “knowing” of the Lord where we catch a glimpse of Him that’s so overmastering that it wipes everything else off the table. In Paul’s words, God called him by His grace to “reveal His Son in me” (Gal. 1:15-16).
In my experience, and in my observation over the last thirty years of following the Lord, I’ve discovered that as a general rule a revelation of Jesus Christ will eventually lead to a revelation of His church as well as a revelation of God’s grand mission (or Eternal Purpose).
By that I mean, knowing the Lord will necessarily lead to hungering for, desiring, and seeing the reality of His Body in practice as well as the Divine purpose for which the Body exists. The reason? Christ and the church are inseparably united. And experiencing the Head will naturally give one a spiritual instinct for the experience of the Body and the mission that God has given it.
Therefore, if you’re one of those Christians who wants to know your Lord in a more than superficial way, you will most likely have a head-on collision with the experience of His Body at some point in your life. You will “see” it and then you will “hunger” for it. And to be quite honest, you may be desparate enough to do all you can to find it and live in it.
I wish every Christian in the missional church would carefully read these two books.
Here are a few quotes that will give you the flavor of Sparks’ incredible insight into Christ and His church—which properly conceived, is organic and not institutional.
“The fact is that, while certain things characterize the New Testament churches, the New Testament does not give us a complete pattern according to which churches are to be set up or formed! There is no blueprint for churches in the New Testament, and to try to form New Testament churches is only to create another system which may be as legal, sectarian, and dead as others. Churches, like the Church, are organisms which spring out of life, which life itself springs our of the Cross of Christ wrought into the every being of believers. Unless believers are crucified people, there can be no true expression of the Church.”
“Thus, having set aside all the former system of organised Christianity, we committed ourselves to the principle of the organic. No ‘order’ was ’setup’, no officers or ministries were appointed. We left it with the Lord to make manifest by ‘gift’ and anointing who were chosen of Him for oversight and ministry. The one man ministry has never emerged. The ‘overseers’ have never been chosen by vote or selection, and certainly not by the expressed desire of any leader. No committees or official bodies have ever existed in any part of the work. Things in the main have issued from prayer.”
“God’s way and law of fullness is that of organic life. In the Divine order, life produces its own organism, whether it be a vegetable, animal, human or spiritual. This means that everything comes from the inside. Function, order and fruit issue from this law of life within. It was solely on this principle that what we have in the New Testament came into being. Organized Christianity has entirely reversed this order.”