God Makes a Distinction... Do You?by Dan Stolebarger Director of Koinonia Institute
Throughout the Exodus account, God revealed to the Israelites that He would make a distinction between them and the Egyptians. As the plagues progressed, the land of Goshen, where the Israelites dwelt, became a haven—it always seemed to be an “eye” in the midst of the “plague” hurricanes. God made a distinction!
And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me. Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are. And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth. And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be. - Exodus 8:20-23
(The Hebrew Bible renders this last verse as: “I shall make a distinction between My people and your people—tomorrow this sign will come about.”)
What we must not overlook is the reality that God chose the Israelites for a purpose! Their calling came with a mission; they were to be a “peculiar people” whose task was to reveal the One True God to a crazy and mixed-up world. God separated them and commanded them to be unique.
Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. - Exodus 19:4-6
In the same way, when Jesus comes and calls His Church into existence, He also emphasizes the fact that when one chooses to follow Him, they too must be distinct! Remember the words of Peter in his epistle:
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy (emphasis added) - 1 Peter 2:9-10
Part of being distinct also has to do with uniqueness, choices and most importantly, understanding the mission. As a holy people, Israel was to be ethically as well as ritually distinctive from the practices of surrounding nations (Lev 18-19).
As a standard it can oftentimes be observed that when Israel maintained their uniqueness, God seemed to keep them under the shelter of His wings. Because human nature wants to conform rather than be different, we see that when Israel blended in with the cultural practices around them, their divine protection was removed.
The same exhortation to remain unique for the church can be seen in Paul’s message to the Romans where he says:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. - Romans 12:1-3
Sadly, today one of the indictments against the church is that we no longer stand out: our salt has lost its savor and the quote by Spurgeon for the people of his day fits like a glove for us today. Spurgeon stated that “the world is tired of the church making such extraordinary claims while living such ordinary lives!”
The two questions that must be answered are:
The stated mission of the Koinonia Institute is to “educate, encourage and equip ambassadors for Christ.”
Now as I see it, one of the primary purposes of Koinonia Institute is to prepare everyday people for a time when the church will return to its origins.
We know that the church began in homes and will one day end in homes! It is important for the reader to understand that this statement is not an indictment against the local church! However the reality is that the church as a whole is losing its moorings and is adrift at sea.
Many churches today have wandered away from the Text and have become entertainment based; often times preaching nothing more than a “feel good” message! Although currently popular in terms of the numbers that are attracted, the sheep that attend these churches are malnourished and non-distinctive! We believe that small groups which meet in homes are often the where the action really is! This is our target group!
In general terms, our mission is to challenge “every man” and “every woman” to raise the bar spiritually in their lives. The Institute wants to target the lay person as well as the “professional,” and our goal is to produce healthy sheep that not only know their Bibles but are living their Bibles!
In terms of our distinctives, the following is a snapshot of what we would like the members of our fellowship to look like!
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. - Acts 17:11
And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment. - 1 Chronicles 12:32
We realize that the world is currently being plunged into a time about which the Bible has more to say than it does about the time when Jesus walked the shores of Galilee. We also know that in the area of prophecy, we suffer oftentimes more from our supporters than our detractors!
But instead of becoming “marginal” and possibly throwing out the baby with the bathwater, the Institute believes that the time has come to have a balanced perspective on the things that are to come and are in fact happening all around us today!
We have taken our Biblical mandate for this from the Ten Commandments: It is the Third Commandment that states:
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. - Exodus 20:7
Here at KI we refer to this as Koinonos, which is the Greek word for a partner or participant; it also implies a fiduciary—one who puts his partner’s interests ahead of his own! Three words sum up this level … application, application and application!
Together, these are the three pillars of the Koinonia Institute. It is our passion and our heart to be laser focused on following God and partnering with Him to build KI into a vessel fit for His use for the days that lie ahead!
If in reading this article the Holy Spirit has prompted you in any way, we would love to dialogue with you and invite you to check us out. As the psalmist wrote: “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!”
Come taste KI and see if it is right for you! You can find more information at www.studycenter.com.