New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches


August 22, 2001 Vol 01 : 056
 
Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: Ancient House Churches

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: Ancient House Churches

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] House Church Problems

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] House Church Problems

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] House Church Problems

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: Ancient House Churches

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] House Church Problems

 

Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2001 12:14:22 -0400 From: "Charles W. Bevel Jr."

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: Ancient House Churches

Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: Ancient House Churches Sam,

Well said. One author made the point of Peter going to the Jews while Paul went to the Gentiles. He pointed out that Peter did learn to accept the Gentiles as having the same standing as the Jews in Christ most (if not all) of his ministry ended up being to the Jews in Jerusalem and in the context of their culture much of which was derived from a true desire to know and serve the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. He just showed them how Christ was the fulfillment of the promises God had made.

This author whose name escapes me (the book was "A church without walls") who was a missionary in South America had assumed that once he was familiar with the culture in one South American country he could use the same ways to introduce Christ and help those who accepted Him develop into His likeness. What He found was that South America did not have a homogenous culture. Every time he moved to a new South American culture he had to learn it before he proceeded. ? ? The author goes on to make the point that we force new Christians to accept not only Christ but the traditions and culture of the denomination from which we emerge instead of letting them and their culture determine what the outward appearance of their serving Christ will be. He further points out that when we make people think that they have to forsake their culture to serve Christ they all of a sudden become strangers to their friends and lose the ability to minister to them as they grow in Christ. Really they end up not growing in Christ but in our traditions. ? Isn't the fact that Paul was so cosmopolitan what made him such a good apostle? He was familiar with different cultures. He had the ability to elaborate on what Christ means to people immersed in the Hebrew culture and traditions and then turn around and take on the philosophers on Mars Hill.

What I'm trying to say is maybe Jesus is trying to make could be analogous to parents trying to make their children dress like them. Each generation has its own culture and if we as parents try to force our kids (new wine) into our culture (old wineskins) we run the risk of losing both because our kids, in rebellion, throw the baby out with the bath water (like the baby boomers did). On the other hand if we give them a new batch of wine (right living principles just for them) and allow them to assimilate them into their culture (the new wine skin of their music, advanced computer technology, the proliferation of media forms like satellite tv, videos etc. clubs and coffee shops)? and build their churches (fellowship groups) in forms they understand we can retain those of differing cultures in the body of Christ.

By the way. I was born in Liberia, West Africa but grew up in a Midwestern US metropolis. When my teenage cousin came over to live with us he was very very surprised (almost shocked) when my older brother's friends came over. You know why? My brother didn't invite his friends in for something to eat.

What am I saying? Inviting people into your home to eat and share may be just a cultural thing that's not necessarily a foundational principle for Christian fellowship. If it is contrary to your culture it may be destructive to tell people that for your church experience to be valid you have to have people into your house. It may have been that that was just middle eastern culture. Again didn't Paul take the gospel into Roman/Greek culture on Mars Hill and Hebrew culture in the synagogue.

Submitted for you consideration.

ybic Charles

-----Original Message----- From: Samuel M. Buick To: New Testament Church Proliferation Date: Monday, August 13, 2001 10:59 AM Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: Ancient House Churches

Michael and List:

The issue is not rejecting the Old Wineskin. The issue is that the Old Wineskins do not understand that the cannot contain the "new wine" that has burst forth. They want to have their "old wine and wineskin" and still want the "new wine". Well, it won't work and it never will. Neither is willing to accommodate the other, and neither should they, for they would lose their uniqueness and change the taste of what they were intended to be.

I am not critiquing the Old Wineskin or Old Wine. I am just saying I want the New Wine which demands a New Wineskin. I will not even attempt to mix them together. Everywhere I have gone where that has taken place, has brought destruction to both. I prefer to move on to the "new" and "embrace it in the new skin". You can have the old if you want, but don't attempt to mix them together.

Sam


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Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2001 14:56:19 -0700 From: jferris

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: Ancient House Churches

Dear Sam and Charles,

In struggling with the problem with wine skins last summer I sent the following to a concerned mother. It began with a conversation already in progress about "storge":

I've lived long enough to know that "still waters run deep", however, and I am left to speculate about what you must be wondering or struggling with in your heart. In the face of such speculation the following came to mind, if I have missed it, please forgive me, but I had to say something for the sake of the relationship with you and your husband which is so very precious to my wife and me.

The really releasing storge Scripture is Romans 12:10, but there are three texts in total, two are the same, "without natural affection", "without storge", Romans 1:31, a very significant context, and II Timothy 3:3, again, "without storge".

The one that takes it supernatural, however, is Romans 12:10, "Be kindly affectioned, (have storge) one to another, with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another;.." This, not only makes "storge" legal between believers, but mandatory. Natural affection has a supernatural equivalent. The primary source of storge in the natural is in the primary relationships. And this must be true in the supernatural as well. We have to know those who are our own. If we don't, we are vulnerable to confusion. The confusion results from the closeness of storge and eros in the way that they are communicated, look, touch, tone.

With the storge deficit at epidemic proportion, the need for affection is enormous, and so the opportunity for misplaced eros in a world that never heard of storge is equally enormous. No wonder the Church is seeing the failure rate that it is, even among the top leaders.

We do not love out of any command, but out of our new nature, empowered by the Spirit, with very little understanding, just a spiritual knowing that we can do and be no other way.

How was it that Joseph Campbell put it? Something to the effect of "the things of the spirit are the bouquet of life." Well, storge is the bouquet of agape. His agape makes storge unoffendable for us who believe.

Paul speaks of those who are "without natural affection". The original is "without storge". To me that is very significant. My impression is that natural affection is just taken for granted. there is no need to speak about it until it is not there. Its not being there is a sign of the last days.) Jesus was man on his mother's side, natural, on his mother's side. Storge should be the natural supply of our feminine side. As Denise indicates, it is expressed through the eyes, touch, and voice.

I mention this because it is so important, and so missing, because, somehow, the church missed the turn where women are concerned. The image of God is male and female, but in the church very little is seen of the female.

The following is the real key as I now understand it. God meets us where we are in time in space, and with language we can understand. God speaks the language of the lost, and does so in a way that the redeemed can or should be able to understand. The redeemed, however do not speak the language of the lost, they only speak their own language, which becomes frozen in time and space, so that it does not remain pliable, able to adjust to the changes of time and space. It becomes religious lingo. This is the problem of wine skins. The wine skins are more than just structures to contain the redeemed, the wine skins are the words that are used to convey truth. If the words get brittle, the truth gets lost.

The time frame when the canon of Scripture was closed, was another world away, another time, another culture. That didn't have to be a problem, because The Spirit chose to write in words that were to be like new wineskins. Religion, got hold of those words, and shrunk them like pygmies shrinking heads. Religion petrified the truth, so that the life is removed, it shrunk the meaning and life out of the words.

Enough of failing to communicate the theory, let me try failing at some examples.

"An appearance of evil". This is mostly defined by culture. What appears to be evil in one culture may well be good in another, the place of women for example. As the culture changed, there was a need to keep going back to the Scripture, to see what it meant in light of the changes. Things are now changing so fast that there is too big a time lapse between the cultural change and an appropriate adjustment in our understanding of the Scriptures. The problem is made very serious, because religion is much more rigid than Scripture, which is living and active, while religion is dead and static. Religion always wants to do it the way it was done last week, But the Spirit always wants it to be new every morning. Religion, the day after it is codified must always be stuck in a visitation of the past.

So here is the way I have come to understand the process of the revelation of the truth. In Hebrews it is written that, "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in the past unto our fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken to us by his Son...." Hebrews 1:1,2

My first understanding of this was that Jesus has spoken to them while He was still in the flesh. Then I progressed in my understanding to the place where I saw that Jesus is still speaking to us in our inner man, and it is to this internalized Jesus that we must listen, and not limit our understanding and practice to what had been spoken in the past.

For instance, what God had spoken in the past as understood by the guardians of the truth in the days of Jesus' life in the flesh, led them to bring a woman caught in adultery to Him, to see if His understanding of what was written was the same as theirs. According to the law, she was to be stoned. Jesus, however, "the Word made flesh", took some time to hear

what His Father was saying, spoke to the supposed guardians of the truth in a way that made them drop the rocks of their preconceptions, and then, so far from stoning her, forgave her, saying only "Go and sin no more." Well which was it, the written word or "the Word made flesh"? Surely there must be a truth common to them both, because God does not contradict Himself.

And if it was "The Word made flesh" which seems to be the clear implication of Hebrews, was that the end of it? Apparently not. On the eve of His departure, Jesus said to those who the Father had given Him, "I have more to say to you, but you are not yet ready to hear it". There were more words in "The Word made flesh", than He was able to speak while He was still in the flesh. The reason that He could not yet speak them was because His disciples/we, that culture, was not yet ready to hear them. He said, rather that The Holy Spirit would bring them to us. Presumably, when we were ready to hear them.

There have been a few changes in the culture since the days of the early

church. There are things that can be said in our own day which could not be said even a hundred years ago. A big change in the culture is the place of women. And so, standing in the perspective of this present culture, we go and look once again at the Word of God, asking ourselves the question of the Greeks, "What can these things mean?" Acts 17:20

In Jesus, provision has already been made for this particular paradigm shift, Galatians 3:28, "...neither male nor female, but all have been made one in Christ Jesus." It remains to be seen what a church looks like that embraces that truth, but one thing is for sure, it will not look like what it has in the past or even what it looks like right now. It will be much more glorious, because it will be much closer to being "the fullness of Him who filleth everything in every way."

As for my part, I'm ready to communicate as though Galatians 3:28 is true. I think it's called "putting your toe in the water."

Yours in Christ,

Jay

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Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2001 15:32:10 -0400 From: "Charles W. Bevel Jr."

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] House Church Problems

Sam, Link, and all,

This debate rolls on but wisdom is justified by her children. Where are the testimonies? What's actually happening in your churches or in your personal lives as believers? Are people becoming more like Christ? Are you? I'm not trying to be smug or a smart aleck. I'm just in need of some support through testimony to strengthen me to continue in this walk with Christ and in how to function AS AN INDIVIDUAL MEMBER OF THE BODY OF CHRIST. The perception that I get in this discussion group is similar to when I visit an IC which is apparently no one here has nor ever has had a serious problem with sin. Well if no one here does let me tell you that I do. Does anyone's particular view of Body Life address this? I'm looking to clarify a vision in my mind of what's supposed to be happening in my life as far as Christian fellowship is concerned.

Something that resonated with my soul was an analogy I recently read in House2House magazine. The analogy was that of the Body of Christ as compared to a real body and taking it one step further than Paul did. Every human cell has the full DNA info needed for a complete human being but in each cell only certain of that info is activated so that each cell knows what kind of cell it is (skin cell, bloodcell, etc.).

In the Body of Christ each believer must be brought to maturity where the full DNA of Christ is apparent. Along with the putting off of personal unrighteousness I believe every believer should in their maturity be able to manifest in a basic way the five step (as opposed to five fold) ministry. They should consider themselves sent into the unsaved world (apostle), be able to speak the counsel of God and expose sin because they've done the hard work of removing the plank from their own eye (prophet), witness to the solution to the problem of sin in the life of the unsaved persons they relate to (evangelist), mentor new converts (pastor/shepherd), and give higher levels of instruction and revelation to already mature but still improving believers (teacher).

(As they enter into maturity their particular giftings are manifest and their ability to do one or another of those five steps better than others and as part of the group is brought to the fore.)

When the basic unit of the church is the IC, cell group or the house church and not the individual believer, the responsibility for the manifestation of Christ in the church (body of Christ) and in the world falls on the leader(s) instead of on every believer. That's when we start inviting people to church (IC, cell group, house church) instead of loving them with the love of Christ (i.e. relating to them as Christ would have). What church did the woman at the well join after her encounter with Christ? None if we understand church to mean anything but the church universal. Rather she became a believer. As a result she went (apostle) and began to witness of her experience with Jesus' (God's) prophecy concerning her (prophet) and asked "Is this not the Christ" (evangelist). Three steps of the five step ministry manifest right off the bat as she took personal responsibility having come face to face with a person not an institution (however small: cell group/house church)

There are many other stories of conversion without an ensuing group identification that would cause them to think in terms of "my church, our church as opposed to your church".

If a "church" falls apart or splits what does that really mean. It means individuals have stopped serving and loving one another and therefore lost unity.

Will we stand before our Creator as members of a group or as individuals. The group concern will be did we take personally responsibility to function as a member of the body.

Furthermore admonishments concerning authority in scripture are given as much if not more to those who are followers than to those who are leaders. "Follow these kinds of leaders but don't follow those kind." Even the requirements for overseers can be looked at in this context being that we as individuals much choose whom we will allow to mentor us.

Even the idea if disfellowshipping is expressed by Jesus as a personal responsibility rather than a responsibility of church "leaders" or of the group done by majority vote. "Let him be to you as a heathen or a publican" Matt 18:17.

ybic Charles

PS: I feel like I'm pontificating but I'm really wanting is to know how to enter into fellowship with other believers. The above is a little of my ecclesiology I guess. Some background: I was saved 11 years ago at an Amway convention. After falling from grace and fathering two children out of wedlock (but marrying the mother) I discovered myself to be struggling with addiction to porn and attendant behaviors. I had positive fellowship experiences in a 12 step group but was only in that place for 2 or 3 months (I moved 600 miles away). I have like many of you had a negative IC experience. I have two good Christian friends both of whom live two or more hours away whom I've known for a long time. One is younger than me and very positive and excited about his IC which is in my local area. He wishes I'd join. The other is a home school dad like myself whom I've know since college when we did fratboy type sinning together. He grew up in a extremely religious old-testament-is-still-binding-type home and is now IC friendly Christian however open and progressive.

The extent of my fellowship experience nowadays is calling my brother in Christ on the phone. We share where we are spiritually, testifying of the good and witnessing of the struggles, discussing areas where we're unsure of God's position on the matter and finally praying for one another. We always vow to do this more often but never do. Other than with my wife this is the extent of my Christian fellowship. Nevertheless to my understanding this is what I should be doing and building upon.

Your comments and ADVICE would be greatly appreciated.

CwBjr

PPS: Sorry so long.

- -----Original Message----- From: Samuel Buick To: New Testament Church Proliferation Date: Friday, August 17, 2001 1:58 PM

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] House Church Problems

Link and List: I know the house church movement does not have a corner on the word as such, but by an large the traditional church uses a house simply as a meeting place until they get the "building". This lady had all the trappings of the traditional church and used her home as the building. When I speak with people and I say house church, they have no problem connecting believers meeting in a house. The problem again for me, with this news story, is the marketing tactics that are used to promote the place of meeting, rather than the gathering of saints together. To me there is a vast difference between someone hosting a meeting and the saints gathering as body life. That lady was hosting a meeting and wanted her side of town to know and used all her marketing moxy to get the word out. Personally, I am opposed to marketing. It contradicts the mandate to go out and seek and relate with the lost.

Sam

From: "Link" Reply-To: New Testament Church Proliferation To: Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] House Church Problems Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2001 21:01:32 +0700

Frank V. came up with some new term 'New Testament Primitivism' for the movement, since house church is so vague.

'House Church people' don't have a corner on the term 'house church.' Plenty of so-called 'IC's that meet in houses can be called 'house churches,' too. It sounds like that lady was not a part of the 'New Testament Primitivists' unmovement. (Some people don't like the word 'movement' so I use 'unmovement.')

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Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2001 17:57:35 -0700 From: jferris

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] House Church Problems

Dear Charles,

I was recently asked by an apostle over a number of ICs in a major city, "What does the Church in this city look like?" I hesitated a second or two and then said, "It looks like the sum total of all of those who belong to Christ in this city, who know who are theirs in Him. Everything else is show business." To my surprise, that answer was well received by the other leaders who were present.

This to say, the kind of intimacy that you are looking for is not likely to be found until we accept Jesus as Lord of relationship, receive one another as from Him, and begin to be transparent as though reality, the only reality is found in Christ. In a subsequent leaders meeting, I shared that, "There are places in all of us where we have never been, and we can't get there alone, because if we did, it wouldn't be the same place as it would be if somebody was there with us. The problem is that there is so much garbage between where we are and there, that we are afraid to go there, either alone or with someone else. We need to have place to put the garbage, and that is a place that only Christ can provide, and has provided. 'Behold, The Lamb of God who takes away the 'garbage' of the world.' He is not only our garbage man, but He wants to make garbage men out of us for the sake of those He has given us to love. We don't have to take away the garbage of the whole world, but we are called to , and can, take away the garbage of those He has given us to love in Him.

Now having said that, which I know sounds very nice in theory, I have to quickly add that in my experience, it only happens in the intimacy that is possible when He is Lord of relationship. Unless we discover who we are in Him, and in relationship to others in Him, we dare not get that close.

Jesus wants to give you, and has, in fact, promised to give you significant others in Him. Keep your eyes open, because you never know when He is going to give you the gift of another person, and opening the package can take a life time. Oh yes, the package can only be opened in the presence of God's kind of love, the kind He demonstrated, on the day He said, "I love you", when He and His expectations were nailed to the tree. Merry Christmas.

Yours in Christ,

Jay

"Charles W. Bevel Jr." wrote:

Sam, Link, and all,

PS: I feel like I'm pontificating but I'm really wanting is to know how to enter into fellowship with other believers. The above is a little of my ecclesiology I guess. Some background: I was saved 11 years ago at an Amway convention. After falling from grace and fathering two children out of wedlock (but marrying the mother) I discovered myself to be struggling with addiction to porn and attendant behaviors. I had positive fellowship experiences in a 12 step group but was only in that place for 2 or 3 months (I moved 600 miles away). I have like many of you had a negative IC experience. I have two good Christian friends both of whom live two or more hours away whom I've known for a long time. One is younger than me and very positive and excited about his IC which is in my local area. He wishes I'd join. The other is a home school dad like myself whom I've know since college when we did fratboy type sinning together. He grew up in a extremely religious old-testament-is-still-binding-type home and is now IC friendly Christian however open and progressive.

The extent of my fellowship experience nowadays is calling my brother in Christ on the phone. We share where we are spiritually, testifying of the good and witnessing of the struggles, discussing areas where we're unsure of God's position on the matter and finally praying for one another. We always vow to do this more often but never do. Other than with my wife this is the extent of my Christian fellowship. Nevertheless to my understanding this is what I should be doing and building upon.

Your comments and ADVICE would be greatly appreciated.

CwBjr

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Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2001 00:42:08 -0400 From: "Charles W. Bevel Jr." Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] House Church Problems

Jay

Thanks for the response. I feel so lonely sometimes but I know I'm waiting for something of which God has "in sundry times and in divers manners" shown me was possible and to an extent has allowed me to experience. I'm feeling a bit stuck in that the options apparently open to me don't seem to lead to what God has shown me. On the other hand there is some courage that I must show.

Example: I ran into a guy to whom I sold a TV when I was working at an appliance store. I had been to his house to install it and while there the conversation turned to spiritual things (thru home school and a particular negative IC experience I had had around that time). I had forgotten all of this when we met again but he asked me "Now where did you say you go to church again?" Apparently he had forgotten the gist of our conversation as well. I have a standard answer I give when I don't want to defend my position which is to give the name of the church where my wife is a (unhappy) member.

Now besides the obvious fact that I've lied the underlying problem is that I have lacked the courage to speak honestly about where I am spiritually. I've got a sort of Joseph of Arimethea thing going on where I am a disciple only secretly for fear of the Jews. I'm a salesman by trade (if you can call that a trade) and much of my career has required me to build relationships quickly so when someone comes into the motorcycle shop where I work I, by force of habit, try to make as many connections thru things in common as possible and a little fudging can help. But alas this false witnessing precludes true relating which I claim to long for.

Another example: twice I got into conversations with Christians where the only honest answer to a question posed required me to speak about my struggles with my sexuality. Both times the person to whom I was speaking told me about their own sexually deviant behavior as well as a host of other fears and anxieties that they had never had the opportunity to share with anyone else EVER. One fellow was a new convert through the Jack Van Impe broadcast (I vowed never to ridicule JVI again) and very seldomly attended church because he worked pretty much every Sunday. The other was a church musician who had been living a thinly veiled double life since he was a teenager going to gay clubs on Saturday nights and playing keyboards and singing on Sunday mornings. I can't say that either of these led to long lasting mutually beneficial relationships but they did lead to hours of conversation that each person claimed was very helpful. Only one fellow I see from time to time and we vow to get together but never do. The other guy I haven't seen since but I think about and pray for him often.

What you wrote is a witness and a confirmation to me that these kind of experiences are a taste of what is to come if I continue to move in faith beyond fear toward honesty. I know better than to go blabbing all around town about my sexual struggles or starting arguments over church structure but if I have the courage to follow where the spirit leads things will get better and brighter and body life (for lack of a better term) will begin to come alive in my experience of Christ and his people.

Thanks again

Charles

PS: I'm one of those who don't do Christmas, but I do accept gifts from those who do (hate to ruin their giving!). Happy Passover! :-)

Thanks a third time CwBjr

- -----Original Message----- From: jferris To: New Testament Church Proliferation Date: Sunday, August 19, 2001 5:59 PM Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] House Church Problems

Dear Charles,

I was recently asked by an apostle over a number of ICs in a major city, "What does the Church in this city look like?" I hesitated a second or two and then said, "It looks like the sum total of all of those who belong to Christ in this city, who know who are theirs in Him. Everything else is show business." To my surprise, that answer was well received by the other leaders who were present.

This to say, the kind of intimacy that you are looking for is not likely to be found until we accept Jesus as Lord of relationship, receive one another as from Him, and begin to be transparent as though reality, the only reality is found in Christ. In a subsequent leaders meeting, I shared that, "There are places in all of us where we have never been, and we can't get there alone, because if we did, it wouldn't be the same place as it would be if somebody was there with us. The problem is that there is so much garbage between where we are and there, that we are afraid to go there, either alone or with someone else. We need to have place to put the garbage, and that is a place that only Christ can provide, and has provided. 'Behold, The Lamb of God who takes away the 'garbage' of the world.' He is not only our garbage man, but He wants to make garbage men out of us for the sake of those He has given us to love. We don't have to take away the garbage of the whole world, but we are called to , and can, take away the garbage of those He has given us to love in Him.

Now having said that, which I know sounds very nice in theory, I have to quickly add that in my experience, it only happens in the intimacy that is possible when He is Lord of relationship. Unless we discover who we are in Him, and in relationship to others in Him, we dare not get that close.

Jesus wants to give you, and has, in fact, promised to give you significant others in Him. Keep your eyes open, because you never know when He is going to give you the gift of another person, and opening the package can take a life time. Oh yes, the package can only be opened in the presence of God's kind of love, the kind He demonstrated, on the day He said, "I love you", when He and His expectations were nailed to the tree. Merry Christmas.

Yours in Christ,

Jay

"Charles W. Bevel Jr." wrote:

Sam, Link, and all,

PS: I feel like I'm pontificating but I'm really wanting is to know how to enter into fellowship with other believers. The above is a little of my ecclesiology I guess. Some background: I was saved 11 years ago at an Amway convention. After falling from grace and fathering two children out of wedlock (but marrying the mother) I discovered myself to be struggling with addiction to porn and attendant behaviors. I had positive fellowship experiences in a 12 step group but was only in that place for 2 or 3 months (I moved 600 miles away). I have like many of you had a negative IC experience. I have two good Christian friends both of whom live two or more hours away whom I've known for a long time. One is younger than me and very positive and excited about his IC which is in my local area. He wishes I'd join. The other is a home school dad like myself whom I've know since college when we did fratboy type sinning together. He grew up in a extremely religious old-testament-is-still-binding-type home and is now IC friendly Christian however open and progressive.

The extent of my fellowship experience nowadays is calling my brother in Christ on the phone. We share where we are spiritually, testifying of the good and witnessing of the struggles, discussing areas where we're unsure of God's position on the matter and finally praying for one another. We always vow to do this more often but never do. Other than with my wife this is the extent of my Christian fellowship. Nevertheless to my understanding this is what I should be doing and building upon.

Your comments and ADVICE would be greatly appreciated.

CwBjr

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Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2001 06:38:46 EDT From: Steffasong

Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] Re: Ancient House Churches

In a message dated 08/19/2001 12:16:59 PM Eastern Daylight Time, bevels*carolina.net writes:

. He further points out that when we make people think that they have to forsake their culture to serve Christ they all of a sudden become strangers to their friends and lose the ability to minister to them as they grow in Christ. Really they end up not growing in Christ but in our traditions.

Hello Charles and all,

Could the book to which you are referring be by Robert Banks?

You make a good point in your observations.

It's important to remember that we are evangelizing people into Christ, not into culture. North Americans have been notorious for evangelizing the peoples of the earth into our cultural experience.

All of the issues pointed out in this thread are important considerations. Particularly at this juncture of our walk with the Lord, for we have become involved in prayer and in relationship with several churches in various parts of the world. As we consider going to see them to support, exhort and encourage, ..... I am sure the issues of culture will be come increasingly significant.

Good discussion! Thanks,

Stephanie Bennett

 

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Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2001 08:13:33 -0700 From: jferris Subject: Re: [New Testament Church Proliferation] House Church Problems

Dear Charles,

There was another, perhaps more focused response I would like to make to your situation, and I do so on list, because I think it addresses a very big problem in the church. The world is talking about sex, and therefore determining the standards or lack of them. The Church is not talking about sex, and is therefore relevant in the tremendous area of human interest, concern and increasingly chronic failure.

One thing that has become very over the past couple of years is that sex is a parable, and quite probably the most loaded parable of the creation and the Scripture. I think I had been increasingly aware of this for quite some time prior, but never put in a place where I could see it with so much clarity. So, what's the point of the parable? THE POINT IS CHRIST and, in His fullness, Christ and the Church. This is fundamental, and fundamental in a way which will ultimately reveal the true fundamentalists. The present ones seem to be clueless. Just about every day, I have to repent of my theology just to make it to stupid.

Where love and intimacy are concerned, God is the great initiator. It is enough that we as a bride be open to His advances. About all that we are really good at is throwing up barriers to intimacy. Of course we do this with the Devil's help and at his urging. With deception and accusation as his primary weapons, he is able to keep us far off by confusion and guilt.

In no other area of human experience is he more successful than in the area of our sexuality. The culture seems to be rapidly approaching terminal confusion in this area, and our sexuality remains a source of great embarrassment to the "church". Lately, I am taking some encouragement in the knowledge that The Kingdom of God does does not come by appearances. The "church" is preoccupied with appearances, but the true bride is looking for reality, a reality which will be publicly revealed only when everything else is being shaken.

In March of 2000, I wrote to a couple who have a marriage counseling ministry:

"I think that I should have to say that the Love of God is quite possibly the most misunderstood fact of life in the universe.

The two most life changing revelations in my own life have been, that which I call "the LOVE PATENT", and that, "JESUS IS LORD OF RELATIONSHIPS". The second is not possible without the first. Unless, and until our expectations are nailed to the tree, we will never be able to love, as God loves. But for our own expectations to be nailed to the tree, we have to come to realize that, that's where God's were, the day he said, "I love you". I was nailing Him to the tree, and at that very moment, He was saying, "I Love you."

"If we have no revelation of that kind of love, then we will love a person only until they nail us to a tree. That's not good enough, because it is not God enough. In the first instance, it has to be God TO me, and in the second instance, it has to be God THROUGH me. It has to be all of God, and none of me.

Our greatest difficulty is with believing that, knowing us even better than we know ourselves, God not only loves us, but He loves us so much that he laid His life down for us on our worst day. To believe that, is the miracle of salvation. I do not believe that most "Christians" believe that. To believe that, is to be changed in ways much more substantial than what we are presently seeing in The Name of The Lord.

For me, part of the evidence of unbelief can be seen in our religious reaction to passion. We don't love with passion, the way God clearly did, and does, and we get very offended with those who do. Passionate lovers are "reckoned among the transgressors". This is the result of the misunderstanding mentioned in the first line above. If we could be so in touch with the Love of God, that we are empowered by His love in our ability to love others, our "evangelism" would be much more effective, offensive, perhaps, but effective. There would be quality conversions, and quality converts, entering into the House that Jesus went away to prepare, rather than our own "cieled houses",(Haggai 1 kjv) that we have built in His Name.

Frankly, both the world, and the nominal "church" are so sexually preoccupied in their understanding of intimacy, that they can't get through to the intimacy of the Godhead for their sexual hang-ups. The world is clueless, and the "church" has thrown the baby out with the bathwater. In my view, this is a big part of the reason why Christians can't seem to get along with each other, we're trying to get along with the wrong kind of love.

There is no cross in that kind of love. Without the cross, two can never be one. I may not like the fact, that even God could not love me without the cross, but when I'm honest with myself, I am forced to admit that it was the only way. If the Lamb had to be slain before the foundation of the world in order for God to accept me as His, then how can anyone on earth accept me, except by that same cross? And, conversely, If I think that I can love and accept anyone else, except on that same basis, I'm kidding myself. By the cross, God has made it possible for me to love, so much so that, if I claim to love Him, who I have not seen, but I don't love you who I have seen, I'm kidding myself about God."

Someone observed: "And so it is; but when divine love is withdrawn, we are naked."

I responded, "Actually, when divine love is withdrawn, if such a thing were possible, we are dead."

It was further observed that, "The way to establish or fix human relationships is to seek the God of relationships. Of course, we know that. This past year, I have seen the difference that makes. I have really seen the difference between those who have a relationship with God, and how loyal they are with human relationships, versus those who have or had only the human relationships."

I responded by noting what had been observed, "... the way to establish or fix human relationships...', For us to try to do this is illegal. Relationships, like every other good thing, are the gift of God, "lest any man should boast." Our need is for the revelation that Jesus is Lord of relationship, and then for the revelation of the relationships themselves. Everything needs to be tested, and The Lord has provided us the means, but the means does not include horizontal trust or fulfilled expectations."

Looking back on this exchange from the light of today, I would have to say that the phrase "sexual hang-up" is redundant. The parable is so powerful, that until we get the point, God's point, we are hung up, and a very easy target for the Satan. Once we get the point, we are set free. We finally have a place to go with all the passion, all the raging chemistry, and the compelling need for intimacy."

As for "Happy Passover!" vs "Merry Christmas", please pardon my lack of sensitivity in that connection, my point was and is that the true gifts are the those that He gives us in the persons of one another.

Yours in Christ,

Jay

"Charles W. Bevel Jr." wrote:

Jay

Thanks for the response. I feel so lonely sometimes but I know I'm waiting for something of which God has "in sundry times and in divers manners" shown me was possible and to an extent has allowed me to experience. I'm feeling a bit stuck in that the options apparently open to me don't seem to lead to what God has shown me. On the other hand there is some courage that I must show.

What you wrote is a witness and a confirmation to me that these kind of experiences are a taste of what is to come if I continue to move in faith beyond fear toward honesty. I know better than to go blabbing all around town about my sexual struggles or starting arguments over church structure but if I have the courage to follow where the spirit leads things will get better and brighter and body life (for lack of a better term) will begin to come alive in my experience of Christ and his people.

Thanks again

Charles

PS: I'm one of those who don't do Christmas, but I do accept gifts from those who do (hate to ruin their giving!). Happy Passover! :-)

Thanks a third time, CwBjr

The End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V1 #54

 




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