New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches


Oct 24, 2001 Vol 01 : 081

NT Church Proliferation Digest Wednesday, October 24 2001 Vol 01 : 081


[ntcp] Externals Internals (fwd from Bill)
[ntcp] re: internals externals (fwd from Jay)
[ntcp] long headers
[ntcp] 'Religion' is not a dirty word
Re: [ntcp] 'Religion' is not a dirty word
Re: [ntcp] 'Religion' is not a dirty word
Re: [ntcp] 'Religion' is not a dirty word


Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2001 18:17:06 -0400
From: forwarded
Subject: [ntcp] Externals Internals (fwd from Bill)

Received: from WilliamSThurman

about the discussion that seems to be afoot twixt you two, belove link
and beloved jay:

greeks sometimes use a word for 'conversation' whose 'parts' somewhat
convey 'together seeking'.

to do genuine 'together seeking' a couple of persons or more had best
have a well defined question whose answer is being 'together sought'.

in you two's case, what is the question? i have not weighed in on it,
because i am not sure what the question is, even though i have a pretty
good idea of the position of each of you and what each seems to be 'for'.

i think enough of each of you to think you would either one let your soul
be lost -- as you ought to -- i mean in the right sense, i.e. of "losing
your soul and so finding it" -- rather than to deny Him who is The Truth,
i.e. Yeshua`. i have looked death in the face a couple of times and would
need to trust Him to fix me for that.

next: before knowing what the question is, i want to weigh in on the
conversation a bit:

"having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof" has oft been
quoted as a clinker against some different from us kind of church bunch,
e.g. one of the liturgical churches &c. (and godliness there certainly
does not mean 'godlikeness' or some moral issue. it clearly has an import
like 'reverence' or 'piety' -- a dutiful sense of and attitude toward His
awesomeness and real influence)

many do not realize, however, that forms of godliness from Heaven really
have been and are communicated by Yeshua`'s own Ghost of holiness. it is
our part not to deny it. when from Him a form is given, it has power
beyond (normally) our understanding.

let me go back to when this concept dawned on me. in a dance conference
up in the northeast a sister was flat on her back on a gym floor with
tears rolling down her face forming puddles on the floor. when i spotted
this unsual sight, His Ghost moved in my heart and called me to stand
near her and wave my hands a certain way. i yielded to Him and silly as
it looked, i did it. i do not recall having said anything at all.

about half a year later i phoned to get me and susan into a dance
convention in jamaica. to my amazement, the voice on the other end of the
line asked what i looked like. i mentioned the beard and other things.
she then said "do you remember me. i am that girl who was crying on the
gym floor. powers of darkness were holding me there. i practiced voodoo
type stuff as a child and had those dark things in my life until you
stood over me" &c.

she was delivered, of course, not because of any virtue or depth or
scholarship in me, but simply because i did what the Spirit had told me
to do. and what if i had not done it? what if i had said "oh, Lord, that
is something too external or too much like carnal religion?" would the
dark demons of oppression have been shut out of her life so as to oppress
her no more? the Lord could indeed at a later time have saved her another
way, but it would not have come then and there in that way.

my point seems to me simple enough: the Gentle Shepherd can and does give
us this or that form of godliness and we had best never deny its power.
maybe our minds can be too prone to generalize regarding possible
connections with our Shepherd in terms ongoing arguements about
'religion' or 'ritual' &c.

and finally this pansy: lately i have been asking myself what most
central behests of our Shepherd and His subshepherds, like peter and
paul, has 'holy church' been most inclined to ignore or neglect? one or
two may readily come to mind, e.g. how many members of gorups do what He
said to do, if a fellow disciple sins against you? i refer to matthew 18.
how many churches use not eating or drinking with someone as a fellowship
persuasion, to exert influence against a sinful lifestyle, in accordance
with 2 thess. 3 or 1 cor. 5? the carnal mind rejects that course readily
as a relic of primitive religion -- and it is very 'external'.

morever, a teaching that seems much ignored touches on the issues
surrounding externals-internals: namely, romans 14. that would be a very
worthwhile study regarding 'love in action'. the writer apparently
concerns himself with interaction between those with the conscience
attuned to certain externals like being a vegetarian or setting aside
particular days rather than 'every day' (whatever that means! he did not
say 'no day', but "observes every day"!) and that the pathway of love he
recommends will have been, at least in some cases, not to argue it, but
even to adopt it, to participate in it, for the sake of your brother or
sister, although you think the issue completely indifferent! i.e. it's ok
to eat steak and it's ok not to eat steak.

for me several questions surround this. i want more definite answers. i
would like to know, for starters: does this just mean, when teetotaller
brother comes into my house, to hide the liquor? or could it even mean
that for the sake of john or judy i forego the vino -- or at least the
hard liquor authorized in torah -- from now on? (how could paul say
something like "while the world stands ..."?)

these matters may be classified as externals conscientiously done 'unto
the Lord', may they not? and yet, does not the apostle mean that we ought
not to tempt a brother or sister to violate their conscience thus held,
that we might thus destroy someone?

does this not really appear to put upon us an obligation to religion,
religion that we do not even 'believe', as part of the really high Road
of love?

shalom,

b

-= - info page: http://homechurch.org/world-missions/planting -= -


Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2001 18:17:10 -0400
From: forwarded
Subject: [ntcp] re: internals externals (fwd from Jay)

From: jferris

Dear Bill,

Thank you for dipping your oar into the discussion.

WilliamSThurman wrote:

> about the discussion that seems to be afoot twixt you two, belove link
> and beloved jay:
>
> greeks sometimes use a word for 'conversation' whose 'parts' somewhat
> convey 'together seeking'.
>
> to do genuine 'together seeking' a couple of persons or more had best
> have a well defined question whose answer is being 'together sought'.

For me the question that looms very large in these days is what is the
difference between the attitude of Cain, and the attitude of Abel. Where
did that difference in attitude come from, and what is the remedy for the
attitude that ends up killing its brother. To date, my answer is
increasing Christ, and Him crucified. I know of no other way the get
"ough oh" out of the human heart, and replace it with "Abba". I am
convinced that more law is not the answer. No one did law better than
Paul, by his own confession, and the result was that he was a killer.

> in you two's case, what is the question? i have not weighed in on it,
> because i am not sure what the question is, even though i have a
> pretty good idea of the position of each of you and what each seems to
> be 'for'.

I'm not sure if there is a major question for Link. As I understand how
we got into this, Link was just thinking out loud about the apparent
greater dedication of the cousins to certain practices, prayer, etc, and
I took that as an ocasion to make some observations about law, and
religion. Something about anthrax, as I recall.

> i think enough of each of you to think you would either one let your
> soul be lost -- as you ought to -- i mean in the right sense, i.e. of
> "losing your soul and so finding it" -- rather than to deny Him who is
> The Truth, i.e. Yeshua`. i have looked death in the face a couple of
> times and would need to trust Him to fix me for that.
>
> next: before knowing what the question is, i want to weigh in on the
> conversation a bit:
>
> "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof" has oft
> been quoted as a clinker against some different from us kind of church
> bunch, e.g. one of the liturgical churches &c. (and godliness there
> certainly does not mean 'godlikeness' or some moral issue. it clearly
> has an import like 'reverence' or 'piety' -- a dutiful sense of and
> attitude toward His awesomeness and real influence)
> many do not realize, however, that forms of godliness from Heaven
> really have been and are communicated by Yeshua`'s own Ghost of
> holiness. it is our part not to deny it. when from Him a form is
> given, it has power beyond (normally) our understanding.
>
> let me go back to when this concept dawned on me. in a dance
> conference up in the northeast a sister was flat on her back on a gym
> floor with tears rolling down her face forming puddles on the floor.
> when i spotted this unsual sight, His Ghost moved in my heart and
> called me to stand near her and wave my hands a certain way. i yielded
> to Him and silly as it looked, i did it. i do not recall having said
> anything at all.
>
> about half a year later i phoned to get me and susan into a dance
> convention in jamaica. to my amazement, the voice on the other end of
> the line asked what i looked like. i mentioned the beard and other
> things. she then said "do you remember me. i am that girl who was
> crying on the gym floor. powers of darkness were holding me there. i
> practiced voodoo type stuff as a child and had those dark things in my
> life until you stood over me" &c.
>
> she was delivered, of course, not because of any virtue or depth or
> scholarship in me, but simply because i did what the Spirit had told
> me to do. and what if i had not done it? what if i had said "oh, Lord,
> that is something too external or too much like carnal religion?"
> would the dark demons of oppression have been shut out of her life so
> as to oppress her no more? the Lord could indeed at a later time have
> saved her another way, but it would not have come then and there in
> that way.
>
> my point seems to me simple enough: the Gentle Shepherd can and does
> give us this or that form of godliness and we had best never deny its
> power. maybe our minds can be too prone to generalize regarding
> possible connections with our Shepherd in terms ongoing arguements
> about 'religion' or 'ritual' &c.
>
> and finally this pansy: lately i have been asking myself what most
> central behests of our Shepherd and His subshepherds, like peter and
> paul, has 'holy church' been most inclined to ignore or neglect? one
> or two may readily come to mind, e.g. how many members of gorups do
> what He said to do, if a fellow disciple sins against you? i refer to
> matthew 18. how many churches use not eating or drinking with someone
> as a fellowship persuasion, to exert influence against a sinful
> lifestyle, in accordance with 2 thess. 3 or 1 cor. 5? the carnal mind
> rejects that course readily as a relic of primitive religion -- and it
> is very 'external'.

I have nothing against manifestations of Godliness, when they are
prompted and energized by the power of God, It's the religion that is the
work of human hands that is the problem, the attempt to get approval or
be somebody by human effort. It looks like this was Cain's problem, as
well as his mother's, and it was triggered by the serpent making him, her
or anyone else, for that matter, whether they were or are, the object of
God's best. God said it all at the cross, and thereby disarmed the evil
one. Colossians 2:15

> morever, a teaching that seems much ignored touches on the issues
> surrounding externals-internals:
> namely, romans 14. that would be a very worthwhile study regarding
> 'love in action'. the writer apparently concerns himself with
> interaction between those with the conscience attuned to certain
> externals like being a vegetarian or setting aside particular days
> rather than 'every day' (whatever that means! he did not say 'no day',
> but "observes every day"!) and that the pathway of love he recommends
> will have been, at least in some cases, not to argue it, but even to
> adopt it, to participate in it, for the sake of your brother or
> sister, although you think the issue completely indifferent! i.e. it's
> ok to eat steak and it's ok not to eat steak.
>
> for me several questions surround this. i want more definite answers.
> i would like to know, for starters: does this just mean, when
> teetotaller brother comes into my house, to hide the liquor? or could
> it even mean that for the sake of john or judy i forego the vino -- or
> at least the hard liquor authorized in torah -- from now on? (how
> could paul say something like "while the world stands ..."?)
>
> these matters may be classified as externals conscientiously done
> 'unto the Lord', may they not? and yet, does not the apostle mean that
> we ought not to tempt a brother or sister to violate their conscience
> thus held, that we might thus destroy someone?
>
> does this not really appear to put upon us an obligation to religion,
> religion that we do not even 'believe', as part of the really high
> Road of love?

At some point, the line has to be drawn. If those who are weak in the
faith insist on offering vegetables, the work of their own hands, should
those who know better, abandon the blood sacrifice of Abel in some kind
of misguided attempt to get along better with Cain?

Well Bill, that is the question I would like to discuss. As of now,
tomorrow does not look good, but if it works for you, I will come there
rather than to Shepherds on Tuesday. Let me know.

Yours in Christ,

Jay


-= - info page: http://homechurch.org/world-missions/planting -= -


Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2001 18:30:27 -0400
From: David Anderson
Subject: [ntcp] long headers

Hi everyone,

Email headers are the extra addresses, cc's and bcc's. That's carbon copy
and blind carbon copy.

The list software for HCtalk does not allow these to go to the entire
list because many persons do not want their addresses to be "broadcast."

Sending messages to many addresses at once is also a tactic of internet
advertisers. Most of these that we receive are ads and thus are bounced.

Sorry for the delay of the two messages that I just forwarded (without
their long headers.) Thank you for writing, Bill and Jay.

David Anderson
mail forwarder http://homechurch.org


-= - info page: http://homechurch.org/world-missions/planting -= -


Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2001 21:43:41 -0700 (PDT)
From: Link H
Subject: [ntcp] 'Religion' is not a dirty word

Jay,

In a previous post, I misunderstood some things you wrote, and replied
accordingly. I would like to apologize for that. I'd like to post some
quotes, but this thread has already gotten to be very long.

Our brother in Spain my be right to ask 'Where's the beef?' It could be that
some of this this is just a milk issue, and not a meat issue. The book of I
Corinthians is 'milk' because the Corinthians were not yet able to offer meat.

One theory that you (Jay) suggested in response to Mike was the idea that the
early Jewish Christians were


-= - info page: http://homechurch.org/world-missions/planting -= -


Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2001 23:10:12 -0700 (PDT)
From: Link H
Subject: Re: [ntcp] 'Religion' is not a dirty word

Only a portion of the last message went through for
some reason. Here is the complete message (I hope.)

Jay,

In a previous post, I misunderstood some things you wrote, and replied
accordingly. I would like to apologize for that. I'd like to post some
quotes, but this thread has already gotten to be very long.

Our brother in Spain my be right to ask 'Where's the beef?' It could be that
some of this this is just a milk issue, and not a meat issue. The book of I
Corinthians is 'milk' because the Corinthians were not yet able to offer meat.

One theory that you (Jay) suggested in response to Mike was the idea that the
early Jewish Christians were in transition from (I'll put it in my own words)
learning to get out of ritual, to learning to be spiritual Christians.

I guess once could have such a theory. But I don't see any support for that
theory in the Bible. I don't see where the Bible condemns liturgy, ritual
prayer, etc. In fact, I haven't seen any historical evidence of a
non-liturgical, non-ritualistic church in the period just after the apostles.
I don't expect the early Christians were culturally like American evangelicals.

Jesus didn't preach against ritual. He did preach against the habits of those
who were really into outward religious forms but didn't have the inward
religious life. I read a message from Michael Millier offlist that pointed out
that certain translates will translate passages to show that Pharisees had
tassels on their garments, but uses a different word when speaking of Christ to
make it sound like Christ didn't have tassels on his. (Tassels were commanded
in the Torah.) Jesus spoke of the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees wearing
enlarged phylacteries- that is, bound up scripture portions worn on the
hand/arm or head. Christ probably wore phylacteries. They were commanded by
the Torah. Jesus didn't have a problem with wearing tassels. He did have a
problem with people who were really big into religious form to look right, but
were inwardly corrupt.

The Bible is not anti-form, or anti-outward religion. But outward form without
spiritual life is a terrible thing.

Nowadays, a lot of Evangelicals are against 'religion.' One poster said he was
against religion in all its various forms. What is happening is that
Evangelicals are coming up with their own religious 'politically correct'
terminology, or 'New Speak' as this is called in the book 1984.

The Bible speaks of 'pure religion' which involves visiting widows and orphans
in their affliction, and keeping oneself unspotted from the world. These are
outward expressions of inward life. Sure, there is cold dead, lifeless
religion. But not all religion is bad.

'Religion' is not a dirty word. Some preachers have started making it a dirty
word by redefining it. But what good does it do to redefine a word like this?
It makes it harder to communicate to unbelievers. I was once in a church
meeting filled with young people in shorts and T-shirts on Sunday morning. The
pastor was fairly young. As he preached he said something like this, "I'm not
telling you to be religious. Religion is a bad thing."

I remember thinking that if an unbeliever were there and heard that, he'd just
be confused. If he thinks religion is a bad thing, why is he speaking in
church? Comments like that make no sense unless you know the new 'politically
correct' definitions of common words which are popular in evangelicalism.

It seems like a lot of people are getting 'religious' (according to the new
definition) about using the word 'religion.'

I'm waiting to hear about some Evangelical Presbyterians renaming an edition of
Calvin's work as _The Institutes of the Christian Relationship, or some people
rewording the old hymn as _Give Me that Ol' Time Relationship,.

One of my concerns is that there is a philosophy that goes along with this
redefining of words that has been around for a long time. The philosophy is
one that looks down on external 'religious' actions.

I grew up Pentecostal, and spent a part of that time in a Roman Catholic area.
As a teen, I looked on such things as crossing oneself after prayer, ritualized
prayer, smells and bells, etc. with disgust. I still am opposed to idolatry
and unscriptural doctrine. But I don't think praying 'religiously' on ones
knees is a bad thing. I don't see crossing oneself- a very ancient practice-
after prayer as a sin. These things may not be my cup of tea, but why should I
condemn something the Lord doesn't? Why should I look down on someone for
something like this?

One thing that Paul wanted to see to as he ministered was 'that the offering up
of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. If
the offering up of a Gentile who kneels down three times a day and repeats the
Lord's prayer and several Psalms is acceptable, then why should I have a
problem with it? If the offering up of a Gentile who prays regularly, but not
according to a schedule, and prays an 'uncanned' prayer, is acceptable to God,
why should I judge him for it?

I don't agree with a lot of practices, and some ritualistic practices don't'
sit well with me. But if God doesn't condemn something, why should I?

'Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it.' I can
understand why some Christians are concerned that some church-work is really
just carnal business, and doesn't involve the power of the Spirit. That might
be true.

On the other hand, I think it's possible that the non-ritualized Christians
could criticized more ritualized Christians about their work, when the
ritualized Christians are actually building up the kingdom.

I once read that some people who read Watchman Nee about doing things from the
Spirit and not the soul get kind of paralyzed, feeling not free to do anything,
lest they do something not of the Spirit. I don't think Nee got paralyzed like
that.

I've found myself in that type of situation, not because of Watchman Nee, but
because of the type of life philosophy I got from Christian friends. Some
people ask, 'Are you sure that's God's will?' about your decisions in a way
that condemns you.

Sometimes, I'd pray and wouldn't sense God telling me to work at a certain
place when I needed a job, and wouldn't sense God telling me to move to a
certain place when I had to move. I didn't feel free to make decisions unless
God 'spoke to me.'

But the Bible doesn't promise we'll get a revelation about every decision. If
we truest in the Lord will all our heart, lean not to our own understanding, in
all our ways acknowledge Him, He will direct our paths. Sometimes He directs
by speaking a word to us, and sometimes He directs through other ways.

During these times in my life, it seems like I was sort of moving around
slowly, one step at a time, mechanically, wondering if my steps were God's
will.

But there were other times in my life where it seemed like God's grace was
really moving through me. In my own experience, this is more like being driven
by the wind, something you just get into the flow of. The Lord is with you.
During these times, sometimes I would say something, and wouldn't realize until
after that I was being led by the Spirit.

Setting aside time for prayer may seem like a 'ritual,' or a 'religious
activity.' That doesn't mean it's wrong. Even if a person who prays like this
doesn't hear God say, 'pray to me at 2:00 every day,' that doesn't mean that he
isn't in the flow of God's grace.

God's grace worked mightily through Paul. Yet, at certain times in Paul's
life, he probably didn't have God tell him every step to make. He had already
been given a commission to obey earlier. Paul and his companions, on one
occasion, were travelling around wanting to preach in the right place. The
Spirit said not to preach in Asia. Who knows how long they waited around for
the Lord to show them the right place? Eventually, he sent them to Macedonia.
Sometimes Paul got a specific word of where to go. Sometimes the Lord led him
to different places through circumstances. The important thing was that the
life of Christ was alive in Paul. The grace of God flowed in His life.

The Bible talks about Christians being presented to God sanctified in body,
soul, and spirit. If our body, soul, and spirit is being sanctified, then why
should we think that any regular habit we set aside is 'religious,' 'bad,' or a
'work of the flesh.'

Suppose a man decides to pray according to a schedule three times a day. He
kneels down, prays set prayers, but the grace of God is at work in Him as He
prays. His offering up is acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

There are some who might think that this man who prays according to a schedule,
reciting ritual prayers, maybe even crossing himself with his hand after he
prays, is being 'religious,' and 'institutional' and working in the flesh. But
what basis do we have for judging such a man? Did Jesus or the apostles
condemn following habits, being organized, or even doing rituals? If not, let
us receive brethren who are a bit 'ritualized' and those who are more 'laid
back.' The important thing is the life of Christ in us.

>>>At some point, the line has to be drawn. If those
who are weak in the faith insist on offering vegetables, the work of their own
hands, should those who know better, abandon the blood sacrifice of Abel in
some kind of misguided attempt to get along better with Cain?
Subject: Re: [ntcp] 'Religion' is not a dirty word

Dear Link,

Thanks for the note.

Religion may not have been a "dirty word" ahen James wrote his letter,
but what we have done with it, then, and since, has not improved things.
Apparently even then there were problems, or James might not have felt
that he had to provide the clarification.

Link H wrote:

>Jay,
>
>In a previous post, I misunderstood some things you
>wrote, and replied accordingly. I would like to
>apologize for that. I'd like to post some quotes, but
>this thread has already gotten to be very long.
>
>Our brother in Spain my be right to ask 'Where's the
>beef?' It could be that some of this this is just a
>milk issue, and not a meat issue.
>
Actually I believe that it is a heart issue. Just what do we think we
are doing in the Name of our Saviour?

>The book of I Corinthians is 'milk' because the Corinthians were not
>yet able to offer meat.
>
Offer it or eat it, and things don't seem to have improved very much,
even among contemporary pastors and evangeliss.

>One theory that you (Jay) suggested in response to
>Mike was the idea that the early Jewish Christians
>were
>
Unfortunaely, that is all I received>

Yours in Christ,

Jay


-= - info page: http://homechurch.org/world-missions/planting -= -


Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 05:39:15 -0700
From: jferris
Subject: Re: [ntcp] 'Religion' is not a dirty word

Dear Link,

Thanks for the note.

Religion may not have been a "dirty word" when James wrote his letter,
but what we have done with it, then, and since, has not improved things.
Apparently even then there were problems, or James might not have felt
that he had to provide the clarification.

Link H wrote:

> Jay,
>
> In a previous post, I misunderstood some things you
> wrote, and replied accordingly. I would like to
> apologize for that. I'd like to post some quotes, but
> this thread has already gotten to be very long.
>
> Our brother in Spain my be right to ask 'Where's the
> beef?' It could be that some of this this is just a
> milk issue, and not a meat issue.

Actually I believe that it is a heart issue. Just what do we think we
are doing in the Name of our Saviour?

> The book of I Corinthians is 'milk' because the Corinthians were not
> yet able to offer meat.

Offer it or eat it, and things don't seem to have improved very much,
even among contemporary pastors and evangelists.

> One theory that you (Jay) suggested in response to
> Mike was the idea that the early Jewish Christians
> were

>in transition from (I'll put it in my own words)
>learning to get out of ritual, to learning to be
>spiritual Christians.
>
>I guess one could have such a theory. But I don't
>see any support for that theory in the Bible. I don't
>see where the Bible condemns liturgy, ritual prayer,
>etc. In fact, I haven't seen any historical evidence
>of a non-liturgical, non-ritualistic church in the
>period just after the apostles.
>
I don't know about "just after the apostles", but before the canon of
Scripture was closed, there was plenty of evidence, once we see the
nature of the struggle between Paul and the Jerusalem leadership. I
could cite the whole book of Galatians, but perhaps this will do for now:

"Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by
nature are not gods.
But now that you know God--or rather are known by God--how is it that
you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish
to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days
and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have
wasted my efforts on you."Galatians 4:8-11

or

"And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them
openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in
meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or
of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body
is of Christ. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary
humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he
hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the
Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment
ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.
Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world,
why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch
not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;)
after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a
shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the
body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh." Colossians 2:15-23

>I don't expect the early Christians were culturally like American
>evangelicals.

Neither do I

>Jesus didn't preach against ritual. He did preach
>against the habits of those who were really into
>outward religious forms but didn't have the inward
>religious life. I read a message from Michael Millier
>offlist that pointed out that certain translators will
>translate passages to show that Pharisees had tassels
>on their garments, but uses a different word when
>speaking of Christ to make it sound like Christ didn't
>have tassels on his. (Tassels were commanded in the
>Torah.) Jesus spoke of the hypocritical scribes and
>Pharisees wearing enlarged phylacteries- that is,
>bound up scripture portions worn on the hand/arm or
>head. Christ probably wore phylacteries. They were
>commanded by the Torah. Jesus didn't have a problem
>with wearing tassels. He did have a problem with
>people who were really big into religious form to look
>right, but were inwardly corrupt.

Yes, He came that we might have life, not tassels.

>The Bible is not anti-form, or anti-outward religion.
>But outward form without spiritual life is a terrible
>thing.

Yes it is, it is a fraud.

>Nowadays, a lot of Evangelicals are against
>'religion.' One poster said he was against religion
>in all its various forms. What is happening is that
>Evangelicals are coming up with their own religious
>'politically correct' terminology, or 'New Speak' as
>this is called in the book 1984.

I think this has been true for some time. One of the first "evangelical
quotes I heard was "Religion is man seeking God, but Christianity is God
seeking man." This has remained my impression since I first heard it.

>The Bible speaks of 'pure religion' which involves
>visiting widows and orphans in their affliction, and
>keeping oneself unspotted from the world. These are
>outward expressions of inward life.

I think we have already covered this one.

>Sure, there is cold dead, lifeless religion. But not all religion is
>bad.

Forms of practice which are not born out of our new nature in Christ,
are "menstrous rags", simply evidence that we have had no fruitful
intimacy with Christ..

> 'Religion' is not a dirty word. Some preachers have
>started making it a dirty word by redefining it. But
>what good does it do to redefine a word like this? It
>makes it harder to communicate to unbelievers. I was
>once in a church meeting filled with young people in
>shorts and T-shirts on Sunday morning. The pastor was
>fairly young. As he preached he said something like
>this,
>"I'm not telling you to be religious. Religion is a
>bad thing."
>
>I remember thinking that if an unbeliever were there
>and heard that, he'd just be confused. If he thinks
>religion is a bad thing, why is he speaking in church?

Why did they go first to the Jew?

>Comments like that make no sense unless you know the
>new 'politically correct' definitions of common words
>which are popular in evangelicalism.

We need to be careful not to return to the law out of offense with
evangelicalism. This, it seems to me, would only be a repeat of the
error of our first "cousin".

>It seems like a lot of people are getting 'religious'
>(according to the new definition) about using the word
>'religion.'

A little like the problem that Luther had with his followers. I don't
think that his answer to the problem was to leave the images intact,
however, just to counsel grace and patience with those who were hung up
on such things. Perhaps in the same spirit as some of Paul's counsel
concerning "weaker brothers".

>I'm waiting to hear about some Evangelical
>Presbyterians renaming an edition of Calvin's work as
>_The Institutes of the Christian Relationship, or some
>people rewording the old hymn as _Give Me that Ol'
>Time Relationship,.
>
>One of my concerns is that there is a philosophy that
>goes along with this redefining of words that has been
>around for a long time. The philosophy is one that
>looks down on external 'religious' actions.
>
>I grew up Pentecostal, and spent a part of that time
>in a Roman Catholic area. As a teen, I looked on such
>things as crossing oneself after prayer, ritualized
>prayer, smells and bells, etc. with disgust. I still
>am opposed to idolatry and unscriptural doctrine. But
>I don't think praying 'religiously' on ones knees is a
>bad thing. I don't see crossing oneself- a very
>ancient practice- after prayer as a sin. These things
>may not be my cup of tea, but why should I condemn
>something the Lord doesn't? Why should I look down on
>someone for something like this?

Link, with this paragraph, it is beginning to look like we are going
around the same rock in the wilderness once again, and I would prefer
not to "beat a dead horse". (Just to mix my metaphors.)

>One thing that Paul wanted to see to as he ministered
>was 'that the offering up of the Gentiles might be
>acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. If
>the offering up of a Gentile who kneels down three
>times a day and repeats the Lord's prayer and several
>Psalms is acceptable, then why should I have a problem
>with it? If the offering up of a Gentile who prays
>regularly, but not according to a schedule, and prays
>an 'uncanned' prayer, is acceptable to God, why should
>I judge him for it?

Dead horse.

>I don't agree with a lot of practices, and some
>ritualistic practices don't' sit well with me. But if
>God doesn't condemn something, why should I?

Beats me.

>'Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain
>who build it.' I can understand why some Christians
>are concerned that some church-work is really just
>carnal business, and doesn't involve the power of the
>Spirit. That might be true.
>
>On the other hand, I think it's possible that the
>non-ritualized Christians could criticized more
>ritualized Christians about their work, when the
>ritualized Christians are actually building up the
>kingdom.
>
>I once read that some people who read Watchman Nee
>about doing things from the Spirit and not the soul
>get kind of paralyzed, feeling not free to do
>anything, lest they do something not of the Spirit. I
>don't think Nee got paralyzed like that.
>
>I've found myself in that type of situation, not
>because of Watchman Nee, but because of the type of
>life philosophy I got from Christian friends. Some
>people ask, 'Are you sure that's God's will?' about
>your decisions in a way that condemns you.

"The leaderless meeting syndrome." I too, have been beat up by it.

>Sometimes, I'd pray and wouldn't sense God telling me
>to work at a certain place when I needed a job, and
>wouldn't sense God telling me to move to a certain
>place when I had to move. I didn't feel free to make
>decisions unless God 'spoke to me.'
>
>But the Bible doesn't promise we'll get a revelation
>about every decision. If we trust in the Lord with
>all our heart, lean not to our own understanding, in
>all our ways acknowledge Him, He will direct our
>paths. Sometimes He directs by speaking a word to us,
>and sometimes He directs through other ways.
>
>During these times in my life, it seems like I was
>sort of moving around slowly, one step at a time,
>mechanically, wondering if my steps were God's will.
>
>But there were other times in my life where it seemed
>like God's grace was really moving through me. In my
>own experience, this is more like being driven by the
>wind, something you just get into the flow of. The
>Lord is with you. During these times, sometimes I
>would say something, and wouldn't realize until after
>that I was being led by the Spirit.

Once again, quoting Paul:

"You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes
Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn
just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the
law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning
with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
Have you suffered so much for nothing--if it really was for nothing?
Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you
observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?" Galatians 3:1-5

Aparently, this is a chronic problem when we no longer feel the "wind on
our back".

>Setting aside time for prayer may seem like a
>'ritual,' or a 'religious activity.' That doesn't
>mean it's wrong. Even if a person who prays like this
>doesn't hear God say, 'pray to me at 2:00 every day,'
>that doesn't mean that he isn't in the flow of God's
>grace.

I have learned over the years, that God knows where to find me when he
wants me, so I don't revert to going through motions when the wind of
the Spirit gets quiet.

>God's grace worked mightily through Paul. Yet, at
>certain times in Paul's life, he probably didn't have
>God tell him every step to make. He had already been
>given a commission to obey earlier. Paul and his
>companions, on one occasion, were travelling around
>wanting to preach in the right place. The Spirit said
>not to preach in Asia. Who knows how long they waited
>around for the Lord to show them the right place?
>Eventually, he sent them to Macedonia. Sometimes Paul
>got a specific word of where to go. Sometimes the
>Lord led him to different places through
>circumstances. The important thing was that the life
>of Christ was alive in Paul. The grace of God flowed
>in His life.
>
>The Bible talks about Christians being presented to
>God sanctified in body, soul, and spirit. If our
>body, soul, and spirit is being sanctified, then why
>should we think that any regular habit we set aside is
>'religious,' 'bad,' or a 'work of the flesh.'
>
>Suppose a man decides to pray according to a schedule
>three times a day. He kneels down, prays set prayers,
>but the grace of God is at work in Him as He prays.
>His offering up is acceptable, being sanctified by the
>Holy Ghost.

Dead Horse.

>There are some who might think that this man who prays
>according to a schedule, reciting ritual prayers,
>maybe even crossing himself with his hand after he
>prays, is being 'religious,' and 'institutional' and
>working in the flesh. But what basis do we have for
>judging such a man? Did Jesus or the apostles condemn
>following habits, being organized, or even doing
>rituals? If not, let us receive brethren who are a
>bit 'ritualized' and those who are more 'laid back.'
>The important thing is the life of Christ in us.
>
>>>>At some point, the line has to be drawn. If those
>>>>
>who are weak in the faith insist on offering
>vegetables, the work of their own hands, should those
>who know better, abandon the blood sacrifice of Abel
>in some kind of misguided attempt to get along better
>with Cain?
>I think you are mixing metaphors. Paul isn't talking
>about people who, in some metaphorical sense, don't
>want to offer up the proper sacrifice to God. He is
>talking about people who don't want to eat meat.
>Maybe they think the meat was offered to idols. These
>people Paul is talking about are 'Abels' already
>acceptable to God.
>
I mixed the metaphors in the hope that we might find the better balance
between the two.

>Some people think they should kneel down when they
>pray to show respect for God. Some think they should
>prostrate themselves. If they pray laying on their
>beds, they don't feel they are showing proper respect.
> They may not be right, but if their offering is
>acceptable to God, why should I trample all over their
>weak conscience?

It's one thing not to "trample all over their weak conscience", it is
quite another to engender a weak conscience by teaching it.

>If a Christian thinks he should recite the Lord's
>prayer three times a day, let him do it. God may
>appreciate his prayer as much as he appreciates the
>less ritual prayers.

ibid.

>God's grace isn't limited to functioning only through
>ritual prayers. But God has not declared that
>memorized prayers are without grace either.
>
>Some people think they should dress up for church. To
>them, wearing a suit shows respect. Let them wear
>their nice clothes. Others, like me, think it is
>better for the sake of the poor, and for the sake of a
>family atmosphere, to have a church atmosphere where
>people are comfortable wearing their every-day
>clothes. We can have different ideas about clothing,
>but the important thing is that our hearts are right
>before God.

Unless you have some new justification for preaching ritual, I think I'm
done.

Yours in Christ,

Jay


End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V1 #81


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