The Body Church vs The Institutional Church

“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” – (Matthew 16:13-19).

The danger faced in this present season is the lack of insight and understanding of what the Church actually is, and the blueprint to accurately build the house of God according to the pattern. This has resulted in many building institutional organizations and denominations that are centered on the doctrinal understanding and traditions of men, rather than being established as an organism of divine life and revelational truth in Christ.

The Church being a physical structure and a religious organization as supposed by many reflects the ignorance of the purpose and the true meaning of the Church. The Greek word for Church is “Ekklesia”. This means, “the called out ones”, an assembly, a congregation or a group of people called out from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God.

The Church of Jesus Christ is not a religious organization. It is an organism. It is the community of faith in Christ and the people of a Kingdom. The Church is the people of the kingdom of God who are under God’s dominion, and submitting to His will. The Church has never been a denomination or a physical building raised up somewhere in the city, but it is a realm of God’s kingdom community that is embodied within a people that have been called out of the world, and out of a religious system. Therefore, the Church must function as a body of organism and not as an institutional organization that is set up by men.

The kingdom has never been about the building of an institution, but rather the building of a corporate people who are one in Christ. This corporate people are the Body of Christ which is the embodiment and fullness of Jesus Christ.

“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many….Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” – (1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27).

The Lord Jesus founded no institutional or religious organization, but He came as the Messiah, to call out a remnant of people who are held captive by a religious system, and to bring them into a relationship with His Father. He came to deliver people from the powers of darkness into His Kingdom. He came to establish the kingdom of God.

There is a proliferation of denominations, organizational institutions, ministries, and magnificent buildings to which the name ‘Church’ is applied. The Church has been made to become an organized religion, rather than a relationship, and an organic life with God. The scripture doesn’t speak of such institutions and structures as the true Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Church has always been the people of God – The Body of Christ, not an organizational institution. The Church may have some organizational expression for administrative purposes, but the Church is first, a body of organism with a spiritual relationship with Christ, and God the Father.

The declaration of the Lord Jesus to Peter was, ‘upon this rock I will build my Church’. Peter is not the Rock on which Jesus said the Church will be built upon, because the Church is not built on men. The Church is built on Jesus Christ. The Rock is the revelation of the TRUTH, which is Jesus Christ Himself, the Son of the living God that is being revealed, on which the Church is established as the foundation. (John 14:6, 1 Corinthians 10:4, Isaiah 28:16, 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, Ephesians 2:20-22).

When we understand the concept that God is building a “Body Church”, and He alone will build His Church, then we can begin to realize that men cannot build His Church in their own ways. For the scripture clearly states, I (Jesus) will build my Church (Matthew 16:18). Anything that has been built by men is only an institutional church, except it is built according to the pattern of God. Only the Church that is built by Christ will stand against the prevailing force of the gates of hell.

The difference is clear!

Man builds institutions – God is growing a Body Church:

The tower of Babel is a reflection of an institution of what man builds, but the Church is a corporate Body of people that God is growing as an organism (1 Corinthians 12:27).

Institutions are temporal – The Body Church is eternal, and will live forever:

In the consummation of all things, institutions will be destroyed just like the tower of Babel, because there will be a shaken (Hebrews 12:26-28) that will cause man-made systems and structures to be removed, but the Church that is established in the principles and pattern of the Kingdom will remain – the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18, 2 Corinthians 4:18).

Institutions divide and alienate – The Body Church unites:

Denominations has brought segregation and put away people who do not conform to their system and doctrines, but the Body Church is a family unit based on relationship, with the headship of Jesus. The Body is one, and united in Him – Christ.

Institutions are mostly centered on doctrines – The Body Church is family oriented:

Denominational institutions are mostly centered on the doctrines of men which become the traditions of their belief system (Matthew 16:11-12), but the Body Church is a spiritual family that has a kingdom community mindset. The pattern of God is a family that is relational – Father and Sons. God is a family God.

“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in the heavens and on earth is named” – (Ephesians 3:14-15).

To the institutional church, the principles and doctrines of the kingdom is a strange doctrine, because they have estranged themselves from Christ and His kingdom.

We are in a season of spiritual awakening, where the religious system will be in direct collision with the Body Church. The revelation of the kingdom of God will bring us in direct collision with the institutional church. It will be like the manifestation of the Messiah (Jesus Christ) 2000 years ago. It was a shock to the religious system of His days, and a direct confrontation to the religious sects and traditions of men – Mark 7:1-13.

Institutions are manipulated by men – The Body Church is administered by God:

Institutions are controlled by men who focus on positions and quest for titles to control the people and influence the system in instituting governments and laws that replicate democracy. They seek to be masters rather than servants. However, the Body Church functions apostolically with Jesus as the head – It is a theocratic government. The Body Church is not title oriented, but function as a Body that mutually serves one another.

The Institutional church is Democratic – The Body Church is Theocratic:

Democracy can be defined as a political system of government by which the people have an equal share of formal power. This principle of social equality is embodied in the concept of ‘rule by the people’, exercised either directly or through elected representatives. This concept empowers the majority to become the primary source of power. This is a form of government in which supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by the people.

Democracy has an autonomous mentality of self-governing. This is a means for the people to choose their leaders through a voting system. The effect of this is the absolute rejection of God’s rule of law. The implementation of democracy within the Church is the carnal intent of man to achieve his rights by rebelling against the righteous government of God. For the most part, the system of government found in the institutional churches, and some independent churches is an impediment to God’s system of Kingdom government which is theocratic. The pastoral leadership model and the board of directors established within and over the local church with the supreme power to elect and reject leadership is a hindrance to the New Testament type of apostolic presbytery. The government of God’s kingdom is theocratic in nature! God does not need the vote of men to determine His rule and leadership. The Body Church functions with an apostolic presbytery which is the New Testament pattern of leadership over the local assembly.

Institutions glorify men – The Body Church glorifies God:

Institutions are built as monuments of men’s achievement to make a name for themselves like the tower of Babel and Absalom’s monument (Genesis 11:4-5, 2 Samuel 18:18), but the Body Church glorifies God as a witness to His grace, because without Him we are nothing – For in Him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28a). “The institution church is man-centered, but the Body Church is God-centered”.

Institutional church is a ‘One Man’ ministry – The Body Church is A Team Ministry:

The institutional church is a ‘One Man’ ministry where he acts as the CEO and superstar, and he becomes the focus of all activities. Everything revolves around the man, but the Body Church is a team ministry which is a true reflection of an apostolic Church that is built according to the pattern. The Body Church is organic and relational. Each part draws its strength from another’s grace and it gives no room for the conflict of interest or competitiveness. The Church is a Body, and a body cannot function alone. It takes each part fitly joined together and working as one – 1 Corinthians 12:21-27.

Institutional church is membership oriented – The Body Church is discipleship oriented:

The institutional church is a membership oriented organization because of its vision that functions with a pastoral model. They are engulfed in their ambition to gather members to build their monuments and cathedrals, without giving much priority to discipleship. The organized system of the institutional church is a problem, trying to raise members and supporters to influence their pursuit for positions, instead of discipline citizens for the kingdom.

The Body Church is a strong Antioch apostolic-type church with a focus on building, raising, equipping and releasing kingdom disciples to do the work of the ministry. The strength and growth of the Church is tied to our capacity to make disciples, and not members.

The question here is, are you laying stones (raising disciples – 1 Peter 2:5) to build a spiritual house for God, or are you gathering bricks (members) together to build a monument to make a name for yourself?

Institutional churches are focused on men’s gifts – The Body Church is focused on the saints – equipping and maturing the Saints:

The institutional church is built around men, and places dependence on the charisma (gifts) of the leaders, but the Body Church equips and empowers the saints to minister to the Body, and not the Body constantly dependent on the charisma of the leaders alone. When the saints can minister to the saints in building one another up in Christ; it is a sign of true spiritual growth and maturity.

The institutional church desires “the things of God” – The Body Church desires “the will of God”:

The institutional church is more concerned on what they can get from God – they always come with an open hand to receive. The focus and motivation is on meeting the needs of men; But the Body Church is more concerned on what they can give to God – they always come with an open heart to give (to do His will). The focus is on meeting the needs of God.

The Church is failing to fully embrace the supremacy of God’s will and purpose. Instead, we are becoming self-centered. We place our welfare above the plans and the purpose of God. Without a Kingdom mentality, we will desire the “things of God” more than the “will of God”. The institutional church is need conscious, rather than God conscious. We have replaced His higher purpose with our personal goal of attaining His blessings and benefits, rather than seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness.

Genesis 1:28 says, “God blessed them – Adam and Eve”. Why did He bless them? God blessed them to be fruitful and to multiply in order to fulfill His purpose to replenish the earth. God does not just bless and anoint people. He blesses and anoints purpose. God has no reason or purpose to bless and anoint a man if he is not going to profit and fulfill His primary purpose.

We must always put the plan and purpose of God first in our lives. Our relationships, our businesses and the ministry are not for our own personal benefit. We must see God’s will beyond self.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” – (Matthew 6:33).

Where is your priority? We must define and decide where our priority will be! Is it on the institutions that men are building, or on what God is presently doing in the earth through His Body Church that is built according to His pattern to advance His Kingdom that is eternal?

The institutional mindset is a hindrance to the principles of the Kingdom and the order of God, because they represent an old wineskin which is superfluous. The institutional church and all its religious structures and traditions cannot represent the pattern of God and His Kingdom, except there is a paradigm shift and restructuring. The divine verdict is that “new wine must be put into fresh wineskin”.

“And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved” – (Luke 5:37 – 38).

Jesus clearly distinguishes between the “new wine” and the “old wineskin”. The new wine is something that is essential. The Church of today is refusing the essential and the new, the pattern of the kingdom, and holding unto the old wineskin that includes man-made traditions, old structures and patterns of doing things that are not accurate in this new season. We are failing to recognize that we have come into a new age and season in the kingdom of God that requires that we do away with the old wine and the old wineskin. God is a God of newness and renewal. We must transition our mind to embrace the fact that new things are being declared, and we need to receive the new things that God is pouring out upon us through the revelation of His kingdom. It is the reality of the Holy Spirit revealing new things and accurate patterns to us, and showing us things that are yet to come as promised in John 16:13.

“Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and His praise from the end of the earth…” – (Isaiah 42:9-10a).

“Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it…” – (Isaiah 43:18–19a).

Changing the name of the ministry and adding Kingdom, Apostolic, Prophetic or subscribing to an apostolic network and ministry list does not address the old wineskin. It is only a piece of new garment parched with an old garment, or pouring a new wine into an old wineskin.

“No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved” – (Matthew 9:16-17).

The old wineskin is also referring to humans; therefore change is required in our mindset, our motives and our character. The more excellent way of God is by submission and relationship with a true kingdom apostolic and prophetic ministry that is called out by Christ, and allowing this ministry to completely uproot, destroy, build and plant the DNA of the Father in us that become a new seed of the life of Christ. This may require a complete change of our ministry goal, structures, priority and sometimes the popular message and ministers we are accustomed to, and to embrace a fresh revelation and an accurate understanding of the gospel of the Kingdom and the pattern of God.

Spiritual Birth Defect:

“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto Him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto Him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven” – (John 3:1-13).

The problem with the present Church is the seed through which we have been birth. The nature of the plant is greatly determined by the seed and the outcome by the soil. We are the planting of God in His house; therefore the seed through which we are spiritually birth must be the “incorruptible seed”, and not corruptible seed. The incorruptible seed is the Word of God, which lives and abides forever. This incorruptible seed is the eternal truth of God that produces His life within us.

“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” – (1 Peter 1:18-13).

Majority of the people who profess to be believers have been spiritually birth through the corruptible seed of religion and traditions from our forefathers. This has affected our concept of the intent and purposes of God for our salvation, and for the kingdom of God.

We must allow God to kill that corruptible seed and the fruits it has produced in our lives, and in the Church, so we can be re-birth through the incorruptible seed to produce the life and fruits God has originally intended. This is a whole new process of repentance and becoming born again into His kingdom. This might be frightening and disappointing to many who might have come so far in their spiritual walk over the years, only to discover that they have been walking on the path of religion.

The question here is, do we endeavor to bend our thought to the scripture, or do we use the scripture to support our thought?

Rather than changing our previous understanding of doctrines to fit the parts of the passage, many have endangered themselves with the judgment of their most respected teachers who then have learnt their ways from. We must be willing to re-examine our doctrinal convictions and never bend the passage of the Bible to fit our statement of the idea.

I recalled an event with an Indian Brother who was in covenant relationship with me in South Africa. The first time I met him along with other leaders for a breakfast meeting, they were excited sharing with me a certain spiritual truth which I did not agree with them. He then said because I am not born again or filled with the Holy Spirit that is why I was not able to understand and receive the truth. I was disappointed by his statement telling me that I wasn’t born again or filled with the Holy Spirit, and I felt angry within me that he spoke to me in that manner, because I convinced of my knowledge and understanding of the doctrine; and also considering all the works and accomplishment I have done for the Lord in the ministry over the years as a minister of the gospel and for him to tell me I wasn’t fill with the Holy Spirit. I left them in order not to continue in the debate, and not to unleash my unrighteous anger. But interestingly, after few months, I came to receive the exact same word from my mentor and spiritual father whom I was accountable to, after series of in-depth teachings and spiritual impartation of grace and revelation. I now understood what my fellow ministers were saying, which in the beginning was contrary to what I had believed because of my up-bring in the doctrines and traditions of men that I was trapped in. That Indian Brother became a good covenant friend of mine, and we had the privilege of laboring together in South Africa and Australia before he went on to be with the Lord.

This was the same process with Nicodemus who was born in Judaism and trapped in the religious traditions of his time, and he could not know and understand the things the Lord was speaking to him in regard to seeing and entering into the Kingdom of God. He had a spiritual birth defect from his humanistic lineage of religion that affected his mindset and understanding – Isaiah 44:18, Romans 8:5-9.

Jesus then declared to him, “you must be born again of water and of the Spirit”. Judaism and religious traditions could not understand what God was saying and doing, even though Nicodemus was a teacher and a prince among the rulers of his days.

Change is required in us and in the Church because of the necessity to build according to the pattern. Being established on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, and receiving the principles and pattern of the kingdom will always demand and produce change. The institutional church, outmoded traditions, old habits and inaccurate structures of churches and governments must be changed. Our priority must be set right. The religious church with the old structure and pattern of institutional government cannot bring forth the kingdom government of God. It is only the Church that is built according to the pattern of God that will manifest the Kingdom of God, and become a dwelling place for God on earth.

God is going to shake the Church system as He shakes the heavens and the earth (it is on-going) – Hebrews 12:26-29; and God will shut down so many strange and idolatrous places which are called churches and ministries, because His name and His glory is no longer there. God is pulling off the plugs. The show is over! Enough of this foolishness and ignorance, says the Lord!

A company of people are rising in the earth, and they are coming. O Earth, Rejoice For Your Time Is Now! Your redemption is at hand. Babylon is fallen, Babylon is fallen – The ungodly governmental system of the church is coming down and a new order is being raised. Rejoice in this that the Lord does. Selah!


Copyright © 2017 by Israel Onoriobe

Our ministry is a faith-based ministry and this material is provided free of charge to the body of Christ for equipping the saints. If this material has been a blessing to you or a source of encouragement we ask that you prayerfully consider giving a love offering below via PayPal to help us carry the message of the Kingdom of God to the nations – (Hebrews 10:6). The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen (so be it).

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