New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches


August 3, 2001 Vol 01 : 045
 
Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Cultural Christianity and expression

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] The Goal of Evangelism in Church Planting

Re: [[New Testament Church Proliferation] topics of interest to be pursued (fwd)]

[New Testament Church Proliferation] The Goal of Evangelism in Church Planting

 

Date: Wed, 01 Aug 2001 16:06:55 -0700 From: jferris

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Cultural Christianity and expression

Deborah wrote:

Jay wrote:

In the first instance, and in its narrow sense, this veil represents "the law".

Notice that word "represents". I keep seeing this type thing in the few

posts you have contributed to the New Testament Church Proliferation list. When the Bible states A you often say it really means B. But Jay, I'm just simple enough to believe that when the Bible says A it really means A. So all this analogical/allegorical interpretation stuff in your messages just makes me sort of roll my eyes and click to the next post, hoping for something with a little more substance. If we're going to communicate together bro-- and I'd like that-- it has to be from the plain sense of the text. Once that is established, and only then, I might prove mystical enough to take a few laps around the moon with you. Kappish?

Dear Michael,

Perhaps this will help:

Ephesians 2:14-16: For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

And this: Colossians 2:13,14: And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

In this case, rending the vail from top to bottom means being set free from faulty thinking rooted in our own heads.

Without trying to get too personal Jay, but just wanting to help you see yourself as others (and I) might be perceiving you, perhaps it would be wise for you to pay attention to your own implied advice ... minus the allegorical path you meandered along to finally arrive there.

I think my focus was consistent with the preoccupation with outer things

that Paul was trying to address. Under the present circumstances, it's hard not to be reminded that Paul's kind of thinking never was too popular with even the saints in Jerusalem. Perhaps nothing has changed since his last visit there.

I am becoming increasingly concerned, and this is as good a place to express the concern as any, that, now that we have gotten used to laughter, gold teeth, gold dust, and personal prophetic palm reading, the next thing coming is going to be the restoration of Judaism to The Church I see a rapidly increasing preoccupation with Jewish roots and practices. Don't get me wrong, I have no more problem with Jewish preoccupations than I do with Gentile preoccupations, my problem is that

it cost Paul a very high price to try to get both out of the Church. In his own case, he reckoned such things as rubbish compared to knowing Christ. I hope I haven't been to figurative here. It seems to me that the greatest conflict in the early Church, a conflict that was there in time to have it written down for us in the Scriptures, was the problem of preoccupation with Jewish roots. I think that we need to pray, and study, and think very hard before we continue down the present path.

If religious preoccupations cause so much strife in the former house, what will they do to the latter house? This is not to deny the glory of either. But in its highest expression, glory can be a bloody business.

I hope you'll see that I have spoken the truth in love.

--MICHAEL

Jerusalem

Actually, I can think of occasions when I have enjoyed being loved a little more than in the present instance.

- --Jay

New Jerusalem

Oops, there I go being figurative again.

It occurs to me that I recently received another response which talked about a more figurative understanding of the Scriptures. Perhaps it might

be helpful in our conversation as well:

"Dear Jay,

Thank you for letting look over your shoulder as you contemplated Revelation 13:7.

It takes me a little while to work through some things that I get - especially if I am ignorant of that person's life setting and their ministry. I was trained, and by nature so inclined to a very literal approach to Holy Scripture. But I am also aware of the hermeneutic that you used operating also in the Bible so I do not automatically discount the "jumps" that the Spirit makes in us as we ponder deeply the things which God says to us. My method in cases like this is to work my way backward by looking at the conclusion and then going back down the trail for better understanding what a fellow believer is seeing.

Your conclusion is a powerful insight to which Paul speaks in 1 Cor. 13 as you know as well as the Lord's direct statements on John. I am interested in your statement - '... The builders do everything possible to alienate us from Christ in each other so that we might be zealous for them, and their buildings.' Would you care to elaborate so I have more understanding. I feel that this is perhaps one of the key points of your ministry before the Lord but, as I have said, I am so ignorant of that which He has called you to do. Is it possible that Paul's comments about wild beasts at Ephesus could be a direct allusion to the "powers" so prominent in Ephesians? I am aware that many commentators struggle with trying to place Paul in a historical situation that has him fighting with animals in Ephesus. It is possible,

I suppose, that he could be referring to vermin which may have attacked him in his desperate poverty but it doesn't quite fit. Your comment about the 'builders' certainly creates another way to understand the passage. The beast as an 'instrument' of God for the 'beheading' of the saints beyond a literal sense is another insight that I would like to see you expand upon. It is clear to any careful reader that God is the author of all the events breaking forth in the Unveiling so one could wonder what the purpose in such a thing would be. If it is an allegorical allusion in reference to the sanctifying of the saints, it would certainly be an insight of great importance to the Body.

Please take these comments at face value. I have no problem saying what I think but I am always careful when it comes to that which the Master reveals to His servants. I may not always understand what they are saying in entirety but I always am blessed by watching how He deals with His servants so that I can try to be sensitive if He seeks to talk to me in the same manner. I look forward to hearing from you. Take heart, your warfare will come to an end when the time comes and you shall be accorded a portion with the faithful if you run well. _____"

"Dear _____,

Perhaps I could begin by getting even more generic. Building is just one kind of doing. The only kind of doing that pleases God is a doing that flows out of intimacy with Him. "Get away from me you evil doers, I never knew you." It is Christ's doing in us. But, sad to say, we "find another law at work", the doing of the flesh or the doing of our old man. That kind of doing makes war against the doing of the "New Man".

Our old man has a vested interest in his own doing. When our old man does something, the result is that he has something to lose, and so tends to defend his doing. Paul had the right idea, he considered everything loss for the sake of Knowing Christ's doing as Lord, even as Lord of Paul's doing.

So, we could say, for instance, "The Stone that the doers rejected..." Again, the doing I'm speaking about is the "work of man's hands". The war becomes particularly evident where building and structure are involved, structure in the sense of organization of two people or more. I guess two is the first possibility of relationship. A "church" building or organization is a place to put two or more people.

But, if they already belong to each other, there is no need for a building or an organization. Or, if they are looking to belong to Christ and His Church, all they need do is find their place in Christ's Body, The Church. That doesn't need a building either. Because "God puts people who are otherwise alone in families." There are already plenty of houses around suitable for families.

Family is a basic structural unit for the housing and nurture of life. So even before God did away with the Temple, The Church was already meeting from house to house. That's where the life went on. It wasn't a matter of house churches. In Jerusalem there was only one church, but it met in houses. These were structural units of a new creation. Those who had a predisposition for temples, however, took a dim view of those who didn't

see it their way. Perhaps you recall, their primary charge against Stephen was that he spoke against the temple. I'm not sure that he did, but that's the way they understood him, and that was good enough to get him stoned. I'm so glad stoning is no longer legal. At least the mineral type stones are no longer allowed to be thrown. The verbal ones can be pretty devastating.

My experience has been, that relationships that form outside of man made structures, organizations or buildings are considered illegal by the building/organization people, especially the builders, the leaders. The ones who don't enter themselves, and prevent those who are trying to enter, the ones who travel hill and dale to make a single convert and when they get one they make him twice the son of Hell that they are. I know that this sounds a little harsh, but it's Jesus word picture, not mine.

What happens is that when The Lord of all, and therefore, The Lord of relationship puts two or more people in relationship without benefit of organization or building, the organizers and builders get very nervous. They read such relating as that of a "wolf in sheep's clothing", and sooner or later they just have to tell someone, and the someone they tell usually turns out to be those whom they see as their flock. After all, flocks need to be protected against "wolves in sheep's clothing".

If the wolf actually leads someone away after himself, then the problem isn't too bad. After all, that's what the present organizations/buildings/leadership are doing. The problem comes when the "wolf in sheep's clothing" leads people into the Body of Christ, encouraging them to find a fellowship of believers that they can relate to on a Shabbat or Sunday morning. We can't forsake the gathering of ourselves together, so why not meet with those who are already meeting? We have the rest of the week to be in life together, so giving up time together on a Saturday or Sunday should not be too big a sacrifice, given the division that already exists. How else is it ever going to be mended, if we just keep on setting up our own "high places"?

Now, to make this work, the "wolves in sheep's clothing" have to be in fellowship with the builders. To do this, they have to explain that they are not really wolves in sheep's clothing, but to do that, requires a clarity about the need for organization and building that is very threatening to the present leadership. It seems that doing the Kingdom of God without benefit of organizations or buildings is bad for business. More than one

organizational "shepherd" has asked me, "What else would I do for a living?" That's a little scary, because the question really means what else would I do for money, and The Word of God says, we "cannot serve God and mammon."

Oh well, every one else is doing it that way, so the builders find some comfort in numbers even if they don't find ultimate safety. After all, how narrow could the narrow way be?

That it's as wide as present leadership is not a risk I'm willing to take.

I have been called a wolf in sheep's clothing for almost 30 years now, and I've never stolen a single sheep. On the contrary, I encourage those who come to know the Lord or come to know him better due to my influence, to

be in fellowship where they are, where they live. If the Gospel doesn't make enough of a difference for us to love the saints closest to where we live, then I would say that it isn't making enough of a difference.

Now, I've kind of gotten used to being slandered, but the young ones who

look to me, find it very painful, very threatening. It is very difficult to bring them to a point where Christ is sufficiently formed in them so that they can stand on their own, before they are caught in the middle. Being caught in the middle is that place that spoils the little or young

ones. It is that place that might have existed if we hadn't insisted on "joining house to house and field until there is no room left. Isaiah 5:8, interesting context.

This situation could be fixed, if only there were some genuine elders sitting in some genuine gates, but unfortunately, elders need to "serve as overseers not because they must, but because they are willing." Unfortunately, the willingness to be an overseer is the willingness to stop being an overdoer. It seems the overdoers get all the attention, so there isn't much interest in or recognition of genuine overseers. And the overdoers are still convinced that they need to look down, rather than up, to find overseers,.

In trying to explain the problem recently, I put it this way: "What's needed is spiritual parents. That in my understanding is the fuller job description of true pastoral ministry. I don't know if you have noticed,

but parents don't get paid to parent, it costs them. It was in this sense that Paul said, "... death in me, that life in you.." There is far too much paid pastoring, and not nearly enough real parenting going on in the Body of Christ.

"Elders who rule well are worthy of double honor.."

Now, Elders are something else. They are over or ought to be over pastors. And, those who rule well ought ot be financially honored as well as in whatever other way might be appropriate. They are over seers, not over doers, and as such they should exercise over sight as pastors/shepherds. They are grandparents, and great grandparents to the flock of God, and the hands on parenting of the children should be going on under their oversight, even if not under their direction.

Another way to say it is, All grandparents are parents, but not all parents are grand parents. Its the same with shepherds. All overseers or "great shepherds" are shepherds, but not all shepherds are overseers or great shepherds.

Viewed in this light then, the flow of finances in the kingdom of God, as it is presently being practiced, is a usurpation or misapplication of funds, into the hands of parents at the expense of the elders, and this is "corban", all over again. I say that fully appreciative of the whole context."

Is it possible that Paul's comments about wild beasts at Ephesus could be a direct allusion to the 'powers' so prominent in Ephesians?

I suppose that it might be possible, but either way, it is flesh warring against the spirit. Unfortunately, it's not just religious leadership that makes

war against the saints, the secular leadership makes war also. I don't think it will be too much longer before they are allies again, like Pilate and Herod, Acts 4:26-28.

I am aware that many commentators struggle with trying to place Paul in a historical situation that has him fighting with animals in Ephesus. It is possible, I suppose, that he could be referring to vermin which may have attacked him in his desperate poverty but it doesn't quite fit.

Agreed.

Your comment about the 'builders' certainly creates another way to understand the passage. The beast as an 'instrument' of God for the 'beheading' of the saints beyond a literal sense is another insight that I would like to see you expand upon.

The Lord used Satan in Job's life in precisely this way. For all of Job's righteousness in word and deed, there remained things in Job that God wanted to get at, and in the end, that's exactly what happened. I call it the glory of the latter Job. It was even greater than the glory of the former Job.

THE GLORY OF THE LATTER JOB

Then Job replied to the Lord: "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?'

Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.

"You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.' My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."... After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. JOB 42:1-6,10

It is clear to any careful reader that God is the author of all the events breaking forth in the Unveiling so one could wonder what the purpose in such a thing would be.

The day I was with you, the verse that The Lord put on my heart on the way was John 17:17, "Sanctify them with the truth, Thy Word is truth."

I tried to get my thoughts about it on paper, and I think they are relevant:

"SANCTIFIED TO BE ONE

John 12:23,24: "And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. "

John 17:1, 5, 22, 23: "These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy

Son also may glorify thee:... And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was... And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. "

John 17, 21: Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth... That

they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Hebrews 4:12, 13: "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account."

Hebrews 5:14 "But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil."

Jesus prayed that about a certain kind of Glory, and that we might be sanctified to the end that we could be included in the oneness that existed in the Godhead before the world began.

This to say that the object of Jesus prayer as well as God's creation, is an intimacy known only to God. This is an intimacy that is so great that flesh and blood cannot go there. In other words, the old man cannot go there. Only the new man can go there, only the life giving Spirit released out of the last man Adam can go there. He wants, and prayed to go there in us, and He wants to take us there in Him. Jesus in the flesh

went away inorder to make a way into the place that is ours in the Father's heart and house from before the world began.

Having gone away to do that, His prayer indicates that this is a place that we can go, in deed ought to go, in this present age, "...that the world may know..."

But first something needs to happen in us. There needs to be a faith appropriation of the content of the cross. We need to know what happened there. To know this, however, we need to put the information into practice so that be constant use, we might be able to distinguish good from evil.

This kind of truth, the truth that sanctifies, is born of a Word, that is living and active, not one that is dead and dormant. A living and active word is a Sword of the Spirit, it does not operate, nor is it effective, independent of The Spirit.

To be subject to a sword, capable of dividing soul from Spirit is not the kind of thing that one volunteers for. There needs to be a good reason for enduring that kind of treatment. There needs to be Joy set before the victim of such harsh treatment.

In our case, that joy is, at least twofold. First a complete frustration concerning who we are in the first Adam. Our heavenly Father

has facilitated this frustration for us in that He has made the entire old creation subject to frustration. Second, we need to know where our Father wants to take us in a New Creation, a place where we can only go in His Son.

God wants to take us to a place which is the desire of every human heart. It's part of the eternity package which He has placed in the heart of every man. Unless we have a personal revelation of that place which can only come from Him, we will not subject ourselves to the sanctifying work of the Sword of The Spirit, The Word of God. We need to

have both a frustration, and a hunger and thirst, a certain panting after God."

If it is an allegorical allusion in reference to the sanctifying of the saints, it would certainly be an insight of great importance to the Body.

I think it's very important to know that God is in charge, and that it is only the "old man" who is overcome by the beast. Knowing that, we are encouraged to press into the New Man, the Life Giving Spirit of Christ.

Please take these comments at face value.

I think I have done that, and I am very grateful for your comments.

I have no problem saying what I think but I am always careful when it comes to that which the Master reveals to His servants. I may not always understand what they are saying in entirety but I always am blessed by watching how He deals with His servants so that I can try to be sensitive if He seeks to talk to me in the same manner.

That's wisdom we all need.

I look forward to hearing from you. Take heart, your warfare will come to an end when the time comes and you shall be accorded a portion with the faithful if you run well. ____

Thank you again! Yes, I think I'm starting to breath again, although the warfare has continued to be intense since we were together. Please keep my wife Carleen in your prayers, This go round has been particularly hard on her. She is a teacher here in the Community.

I know I haven't yet given you a very clear picture of "what it looks like", but I think we are sneaking up on it, please be patient with me and keep on pushing. Once I'm out of the pit, I may be able to see and describe a little better.

Yours in Christ,

Jay"


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Date: Thu, 2 Aug 2001 02:23:47 -0400 From: David Anderson

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] The Goal of Evangelism in Church Planting

Hi Sam,

Surely you would not hold to the view that the great commission and the great tribulation are one in the same. I'm familiar with most of these writers and am aware that they view the great tribulation as being the 70 AD massacre, already fulfilled. I believe it, myself. Several in that list are very, very keen on the idea, devoting entire volumes to it.

RC Sproul, Jr lives in our town, last I heard. Ken Gentry is a family friend who preached in the next town for many years. I've also heard Chilton speak and have several of his books. Russell is dead, of course. I have Max King's fine book on "Spirit of Prophecy."

I do not recall reading from them anything which would countenance such an opinion. Could you give me a book title and page number in support of your words:

In this same vein then, there are very theological people, who believe that the "mandate" was prophetic only for the intended audience, the disciples, and not you and I. So, if we are being theological, then let's get to the core issue here. I happen to believe what you call the "Great Commission" has already been fulfilled, and at its culmination, the Lord returned in judgment as He prophesied He would in Matt. 24-25 and destroyed the Temple system through the Romans in AD 70.

Btw, I appreciated very much your message from several days ago entitled: Cultural Christianity and expression. I'll probably be off-line for awhile. No hurry at all.

David Anderson

For your satisfaction, the growing list of such theological notables:

John Noe David Chilton RC Sproul Stewart Russell Gentry Tim King Jack Scott Max King

And the list grows.

Sam


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Date: 2 Aug 2001 11:03:35 MDT From: Felicity Dale

Subject: Re: [[New Testament Church Proliferation] topics of interest to be pursued (fwd)]

Over the weeks that I have been on this list there have been several requests for people to describe their experiences with church planting. I have been involved to one degree or another in around 6 churches starting in the past few months.

Let me start by describing a paradigm shift that occurred in our thinking when my husband and I went to India last year. We were involved in teaching at a series of conferences on church planting and found ourselves profoundly challenged by the fact that people would listen to our teaching and then go out and do it! For example one lady and her team started five churches in two weeks after our time there. And we also heard of numerous other examples of others in that country planting many churches in a short period of time. So whereas we might expect to "multiply" a house church in a year, these people were planting many churches eg one Indian lady planted around 50 churches last year. So what kind of excuse did we have?

So after our return home we asked the Lord what we should be doing. Let me describe one church that has started as a result.

Around a year ago the Lord told me that I was to walk a certain street in our city. It took me longer than I care to admit before I finally obeyed, but on my second time there I came across a low-income housing project and as soon as I got there the Lord said to start a church there. There were some other confirming signs too, so a group of us started to pray over the complex and to prayer walk it which we did for several months. Then came India. One of the things that we taught there was the pattern in Luke 10 of starting churches. so when we returned from India, one day my husband Tony and I prayer walked the housing complex specifically asking that we might meet a "man of peace." We got caught in a torrential downpour and stuck under a balcony for half an hour with two Hispanic ladies, sisters, and of course they asked what we were doing there. So we explained that we were praying for the neighborhood, and asked if they would like it if we came and prayed for them and their family. For several weeks we would drop in for 15 minutes or so to pray about what was going on in their lives and they started to see answers to prayer.

To cut a long story short, one of the two ladies, our "man of peace" became a Christian, as did two of her sisters when they saw the changes in her life. Two of her kids have been dramatically converted and several of her grand kids. We are now involved with 4 or 5 other families on that complex and meet there regularly in an apartment (people are everywhere, kids all over the place!) The housing authorities there are asking if we will run some adult education classes, and the two sisters who live in another project would like us to go and start something there too! It is not polished (raw church is how it has been best described) but it is very precious.

Obviously there are many challenges in working in that kind of situation, but I can't help feeling that if Jesus were around today, that is the sort of area He would have a heart for here in the States.

I hope this is of interest or help.

Felicity Dale

forwarded wrote:

Some of the topics that would be of interest and use to me would be:

1. The experiences of those who have put together and/or served on a church planting team. How the team is configured, recruited, some of the challenges and benefits.

2. Urban & rural church planting experiences on a worldwide scale.

3. Given that a local fellowship of believers needs to reflect the culture of the people and also be easy to reproduce itself, what are some different models that have been used with success?

4. I have just read an interesting article in the latest EMQ which discusses different roles of church planters: pastoral, apostolic, catalytic. It would be great to interact with some who have also read the article.

John

John S. Cosby Missionary development Dir. UIM International jcosby*uim.org www.uim.org/cosby

jcosby*uim.org


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Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2001 17:18:48 +0200 From: "Deborah"

Subject: [New Testament Church Proliferation] The Goal of Evangelism in Church Planting

David Anderson wrote: I'm familiar with most of these writers and am aware that they view the great tribulation as being the 70 AD massacre, already fulfilled. I believe it, myself. Several in that list are very, very keen on the idea, devoting entire volumes to it.

RC Sproul ...

R.C. Sproul is a Premillenialist so I find it hard to believe he would hold such views on the tribulation, much less Sam Buick's take on the Great Commission. But I'm willing to be proven wrong. I too am interested with David to see this documented.

Michael

Jerusalem

The End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V1 #45

 




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