New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches



New Testament Church Proliferation Digest Tuesday, January 1 2002 Vol 02 : 001
[NTCP] new findings may upset some apple carts
Re: [NTCP] new findings may upset some apple carts
Re: [NTCP] new findings may upset some apple carts
Re: [NTCP] new findings may upset some apple carts
Re: [NTCP] new findings may upset some apple carts
Re: [NTCP] new findings may upset some apple carts
Re: [NTCP] new findings may upset some apple carts

Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2001 13:05:22 -0500

From: David Anderson

Subject: [NTCP] new findings may upset some apple carts

Hi all, Happy New Year,

A new book by James Rutz shows evangelical Christianity in its different
forms to be out-pacing other religions with respect to new converts. I
have not read the book but I did hear one reviewer state that the story
of Christ would reach everyone in just a few more decades according to
his new statistics.

Regardless of how things turn out in the end, The Lord of the Harvest is
making some great gains. And, if these predictions be sound, then it is
time for many of us to pray and labor as never before, KNOWING THAT WE
ARE GOING TO BE A PART OF AN ENORMOUS VICTORY!

In the process we should dump our defeatist views of the future. I keep
bumping into house church folk who think that they alone are God's little
- - as in microscopic - chosen remnant and that all that awaits this planet
is the underground church and the destruction of the institutional church.

Eschatology does indeed have an effect on ones intentions or lack of
intentions. Where there is no vision, the people really do perish. Those
on death row, for example, would have little interest in learning how to
invest in commodity futures or the stock market. Likewise, those saints
who only anticipate doom and gloom, will likely feel that God has merely
called them to be observers of wasted lives rather than having a
commission to "reconcile all men to God."

"Things just have to get worse and worse, David," I was once chided. I
explained that the "worse and worse" phrase was applied to evil men, not
to mankind in general. 2 Tim 3:13.

God excited Paul by telling him: "Hey, my man - do not be afraid to
preach in that wicked city. I have many people in that city! They are
mine but just don't realize it yet." "Other sheep I have and they shall
come..."

Acts 18:9f Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not
afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man
shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.

The point of my post is to say that if the optimistic projections of the
Rutz book continue to materialize, multitudes of believers shall have to
bid adieu to their defeatist outlook.

- ----------------------

David was not a believer in the theory that the world will grow worse and
worse, and that the dispensation will wind up with general darkness, and
idolatry. Earth's sun is to go down amid tenfold night if some of our
prophetic brethren are to be believed. Not so do we expect, but we look
for a day when the dwellers in all lands shall learn righteousness, shall
trust in the Saviour, shall worship thee alone, 0 God, 'and shall glorify
thy name.'

This modern notion has greatly damped the zeal of the church for
missions, and the sooner it is shown to be unscriptural the better for
the cause of God. It neither consorts with prophecy, honours God, nor
inspires the church with ardour. Far hence be it driven. -- C. H.
SPURGEON. From an exposition of Psalm 86.9, 'All nations whom thou hast
made shall come and worship before thee, 0 Lord; and shall glorify thy
name'. The Treasury of David, 1874.

David Anderson


------- <><><> -------

Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2001 21:03:31 +0100

From:

Subject: Re: [NTCP] new findings may upset some apple carts

Go for it!!!!!
I'm with you David let's go out and get em
Blessings and all the best for 2002 to all
Love
keith


------- <><><> -------


Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2001 16:55:38 -0500

From: AOM Canada

Subject: Re: [NTCP] new findings may upset some apple carts - What happened to you David?

David,
I have 3 words for you, and only 3. These 3 words echo the explosion in my
heart! AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!

For the dispensational defeatists... instead of chronicling the evil decline
in our society, understand the Kingdom is a Kingdom of hearts! Understand
that the Kingdom is going forth in the earth, one salvation at a time!
Understand that what David has posted has been chronicled by many one time
dispensationalists as the greatest harm to have been inflicted on the church
through well intentioned supposed Bible believers!

AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! Lord build your Church and extend Your Kingdom in the
earth O Lord! Let Your righteousness increase in the land, and let all men
bow before you and in humility cry out for your mercy and healing hand to
restore the land!

Blessings and Happy New Year!

Sammy


------- <><><> -------

Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2001 18:49:06 EST

From: JAMESRUTZ

Subject: Re: [NTCP] new findings may upset some apple carts

Dear All,

I spose if I were to squeak up more often, you'd know I'm part of this
party!

The reason you haven't read my book is that it won't be out till spring
or early summer.

Yes, my book, The New Christianity, does find a current worldwide
growth rate of 7.5% a year of evangelicals/charismatics/pentecostals
and still-saved church dropouts, even counting the zippo growth rate in
the US. And yes, that would produce a world with, umm, more Christians
than people by 2041. But as I point out clearly in the book,
straight-line projections never go in a straight line. It could go
better, could go worse. I'm a writer, not a prophet--much less a
theologian.

But the growth rate is only the second-most-amazing news I'm
announcing. Wait'll you see the book!

Gear up for a great 2002!

Warm regards from Colorado
Springs,

Jim Rutz


------- <><><> -------


Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2001 22:20:32 EST

From: TheologusCrucis

Subject: Re: [NTCP] new findings may upset some apple carts

Howdy, everyone! Happy New Year.

Thought I'd weigh in with my very inconsequential opinion about this thread
that David brought up ....

David, you wrote and said:

>>A new book by James Rutz shows evangelical Christianity in its different
forms to be out-pacing other religions with respect to new converts. I
have not read the book but I did hear one reviewer state that the story
of Christ would reach everyone in just a few more decades according to
his new statistics.>Regardless of how things turn out in the end, The Lord of the Harvest is
making some great gains. And, if these predictions be sound, then it is
time for many of us to pray and labor as never before, KNOWING THAT WE
ARE GOING TO BE A PART OF AN ENORMOUS VICTORY!>In the process we should dump our defeatist views of the future. I keep
bumping into house church folk who think that they alone are God's little
- - as in microscopic - chosen remnant and that all that awaits this planet
is the underground church and the destruction of the institutional church.>Eschatology does indeed have an effect on ones intentions or lack of
intentions. Where there is no vision, the people really do perish. Those
on death row, for example, would have little interest in learning how to
invest in commodity futures or the stock market. Likewise, those saints
who only anticipate doom and gloom, will likely feel that God has merely
called them to be observers of wasted lives rather than having a
commission to "reconcile all men to God.">"Things just have to get worse and worse, David," I was once chided. I
explained that the "worse and worse" phrase was applied to evil men, not
to mankind in general. 2 Tim 3:13.>God excited Paul by telling him: "Hey, my man - do not be afraid to
preach in that wicked city. I have many people in that city! They are
mine but just don't realize it yet." "Other sheep I have and they shall
come..." Acts 18:9f Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision,
Be not
afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man
shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.>The point of my post is to say that if the optimistic projections of the
Rutz book continue to materialize, multitudes of believers shall have to
bid adieu to their defeatist outlook.Howdy, everyone! Happy New Year.

Thought I'd weigh in with my very inconsequential opinion about this thread that David brought up ....

David, you wrote and said:

>>A new book by James Rutz shows evangelical Christianity in its different
forms to be out-pacing other religions with respect to new converts. I
have not read the book but I did hear one reviewer state that the story
of Christ would reach everyone in just a few more decades according to
his new statistics.

Last Summer I read a Newsweek, or Time, article on the explosive growth of the African church. What I read encouraged me. They made a huge effort to say that it is truly the poor and marginalized that are hearing the message -- the rich hate the message and fight it's spread as much as they can. And they reported about many orthodox Evangelical and Pentecostal churches that were faithfully preaching the Good News and dicsipling those who responded.

Yet they were also faithful to point out that many of these recent converts were being converted to something other than what Western Christians would not recognize as the Good News. What I read then caused alarm. It wasn't Jesus as preached by the Apostles -- it was Jesus as they needed Him to be. Before we rejoice, we better figure out if these people are converting to the Good News or some facsimile... Paul said if anyone preaches anything other that salvation by grace alone by faith alone in Jesus alone to the glory of God alone, that Christ would not benefit them. The message is everything, because it is the Gospel that is the power of God to save sinners....

>>Regardless of how things turn out in the end, The Lord of the Harvest is
making some great gains. And, if these predictions be sound, then it is
time for many of us to pray and labor as never before, KNOWING THAT WE
ARE GOING TO BE A PART OF AN ENORMOUS VICTORY!

Yes, He is! But we must remember that it is His harvest, that it is His field. We can plant and water and tend, but it is God alone who causes the increase, the harvest. These are His gains, His victories -- not ours.

>>In the process we should dump our defeatist views of the future. I keep
bumping into house church folk who think that they alone are God's little
- as in microscopic - chosen remnant and that all that awaits this planet
is the underground church and the destruction of the institutional church.

I think that in America and Europe, they actually are a remnant. The Gospel message of God's GRACE hasn't been in the kind of disrepair that it is in the West now since the Middle Ages. I'd challenge anyone to turn on "Christian TV" and actually hear a clear presentation of God's unmerited favor to sinners, of Christ crucified here in the US of A.

I do agree with you in that Dispensational theology does tend to breed a type of isolation -- I myself am not a Dispensationalist, although that is how I grew up and what was taught to me in Bible College.

>>Eschatology does indeed have an effect on ones intentions or lack of
intentions. Where there is no vision, the people really do perish. Those
on death row, for example, would have little interest in learning how to
invest in commodity futures or the stock market. Likewise, those saints
who only anticipate doom and gloom, will likely feel that God has merely
called them to be observers of wasted lives rather than having a
commission to "reconcile all men to God."

I think that people who are dead have nothing to lose, so they will dare great and impossible things. The most successful missionaries have been Dispensationalist sent from Dispensasionalist Denominations. One of the most successful missionary programs in the history of the Christian Church has been the Assembly of God Missions, and believe me when I say they are totally Dispensational in their theology.

But this brings up a bigger point: we as American Christians do not consider ourselves dead, as living on death row. Those who have a dominion theology, and those who hold to a Dispensational theology of the end time, both forget that Christ has called us to live as a prisoner on death row: "To pick up the cross daily" and follow Him. I'm sure that I don't have to get into the particulars of what was a Roman prisoner condemned to die of crucifixion in the 1st C. They were not citizens, they had no rights, and they were as good as dead.

We still have illusions of grandeur, don't we? That somehow it is something we do that will make a difference. Dispensational theology as well as Dominion theology have this in common: almost everything depends on the Church because God has limited Himself in such a way as to make our contributions effective and significant. Yet all we are is dead men and women sent with a message -- that of life that isn't ours, but is God's life in us, Christ the hope of glory. It is no longer we who live, but Christ in us. The Holy Spirit has been "planted" in us, and the harvest, love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, patience, gentleness, and self control -- is His "harvest," His fruit in us.

>>"Things just have to get worse and worse, David," I was once chided. I
explained that the "worse and worse" phrase was applied to evil men, not
to mankind in general. 2 Tim 3:13.

Well, that's what I was told as well. I've abandoned Dispensational eschatology, but not because I'm thinking that we will usher in the Kingdom by our work or by how many people we reach. Frankly, I don't care how things happen or unfold: I've learned that walking in the Spirit requires me to trust God to direct my path in plenty or in want, in safety or in danger, when people are ready to hear the message or not -- whatever comes my way, it doesn't really matter. The message is what matters.

>>God excited Paul by telling him: "Hey, my man - do not be afraid to
preach in that wicked city. I have many people in that city! They are
mine but just don't realize it yet." "Other sheep I have and they shall
come..." Acts 18:9f Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not
afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man
shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.

Yep. And he went in and preached Christ, and Him crucified. No grand strategy, no managerial techniques -- just a bond slave as God's ambassador using simple language telling people that God was no longer counting their sins against them as He was in Christ when Jesus died and now pardons freely no matter who they are or what they have done. If they hear, believe, and trust the message to be true, then God reconciles them and forgives their sin. God knew who He had in that city, and it was the message preached and the power of God in that message that saved those who believed.

>>The point of my post is to say that if the optimistic projections of the
Rutz book continue to materialize, multitudes of believers shall have to
bid adieu to their defeatist outlook.

My prayer is that more and more believers will bid adieu to their lives....

David, I didn't write this as an attack on what you wrote, but as to question some basic presuppositions and some presumptions that we as American Christians share theologically which always turns into action, as what one believes will determine what he or she does. I do rejoice at how God is bringing in the harvest in different parts of the world, it does encourage me and strengthen my faith. Yet I am uneasy with all the optimism.

Blesings,

TheologuCrucis


------- <><><> -------

Date: Tue, 1 Jan 2002 11:00:29 -0500
From: "Dan Beaty"

Subject: Re: [NTCP] new findings may upset some apple carts

TheologuCrucis,

You wrote:

There are indeed two sides to this issue. I too have seen some exagerated
statistics that lead often more to discouragement than joy. Right here in
our house church we have this summer baptized over a dozen people, out of which only a
handful remain stedfast in the Lord. One couple went immediately back to
living together unmarried the next day. Now that is discouraging.

But God gives an optimism that is not dependent upon circumstances, and
which also compells to action. What is so bad about action? How many action
verbs did Jesus use in His teachings to His disciples? Did He not say that
those who call Him Lord must DO the things He said?

Am not sure what the Gospel of Grace means to you, but I am concerned about
a concept that turns us into weak, helpless, useless, unworthy creatures.
His Grace makes us Overcomers, and poweful in this world!

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to
all men,
Titus 2:12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we
should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the
great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all
iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Thus saith the Lord through Paul!

Dan Beaty
Columbus, Ohio USA

http://www.livingtruth.com


------- <><><> -------

Date: Tue, 1 Jan 2002 13:04:12 EST
From: TheologusCrucis

Subject: Re: [NTCP] new findings may upset some apple carts

Dan,

>>There are indeed two sides to this issue. I too have seen some exagerated
statistics that lead often more to discouragement than joy. Right here in
our house church we have this summer baptized over a dozen people, out of which only a
handful remain stedfast in the Lord. One couple went immediately back to
living together unmarried the next day. Now that is discouraging.>But God gives an optimism that is not dependent upon circumstances, and
which also compells to action. What is so bad about action? How many action
verbs did Jesus use in His teachings to His disciples? Did He not say that
those who call Him Lord must DO the things He said?>>Frankly, I don't care how things happen or unfold: I've learned that
walking in the Spirit requires me to trust God to direct my path in plenty or
in want, in safety or in danger, when people are ready to hear the message or
not -- whatever comes my way, it doesn't really matter. The message is what
matters... Yet all we are is dead men and women sent with a message -- that
of life that isn't ours, but is God's life in us, Christ the hope of glory.
It is no longer we who live, but Christ in us. The Holy Spirit has been
"planted" in us, and the harvest, love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness,
faithfulness, patience, gentleness, and self control -- is His "harvest," His
fruit in us.

>Am not sure what the Gospel of Grace means to you, but I am concerned about
a concept that turns us into weak, helpless, useless, unworthy creatures.
His Grace makes us Overcomers, and powerful in this world!
>Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to
all men,
>Titus 2:12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we
should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
>Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the
great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all
iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.Dan,

>>There are indeed two sides to this issue. I too have seen some exagerated
statistics that lead often more to discouragement than joy. Right here in
our house church we have this summer baptized over a dozen people, out of which only a
handful remain stedfast in the Lord. One couple went immediately back to
living together unmarried the next day. Now that is discouraging.

I feel your pain! I have been on church staffs for 11 years, the size of the churches ranging from 75 to 500, and I have yet to see discipleship implemented that wasn't a 9-12 week program. Most of the new believers that came to worship either left, or burned out in a short time to become just another face in the pew we saw every once and awhile.

I guess what I was trying to say was how well do the people who convert understand the message we preach or the prayer they say before we take em into the swimming pool and get them wet? Although the Gospels and Acts give us examples of Baptism immediately after conversion, the early church began putting off baptism very soon in the 1st century until after the new believer had been instructed in the faith. They could come to the sunrise services and gather do the liturgy and to hear the message, but they and those under church discipline left while baptized believers partook of the Lord's Supper.

After they had been instructed for a period of time, a year to three years, and asked at least three times if they were still serious, they were finally prepared to be baptized by fasting during Holy Week and baptized Easter morning at Sunrise service, allowed participation in the Lord's Supper for the 1st time.

>>But God gives an optimism that is not dependent upon circumstances, and
which also compells to action. What is so bad about action? How many action
verbs did Jesus use in His teachings to His disciples? Did He not say that
those who call Him Lord must DO the things He said?

I didn't say there was anything bad about action. In fact, I had written:

>>Frankly, I don't care how things happen or unfold: I've learned that walking in the Spirit requires me to trust God to direct my path in plenty or in want, in safety or in danger, when people are ready to hear the message or not -- whatever comes my way, it doesn't really matter. The message is what matters... Yet all we are is dead men and women sent with a message -- that of life that isn't ours, but is God's life in us, Christ the hope of glory. It is no longer we who live, but Christ in us. The Holy Spirit has been "planted" in us, and the harvest, love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, patience, gentleness, and self control -- is His "harvest," His fruit in us.

It is the message that is at the center of worship and walk, that was what I was trying to say.

>>Am not sure what the Gospel of Grace means to you, but I am concerned about
a concept that turns us into weak, helpless, useless, unworthy creatures.
His Grace makes us Overcomers, and powerful in this world!

Well, I'd have to disagree with you there, Dan. He's taken the foolish of this world -- that's me and you -- to confound the proud, the weak (me and you again) to shame the wise. I can do nothing on my own, the only life I have is one on loan from God. His grace makes us fortunate and gives us the ability to be honest about our hopeless situation, it is the indwelling of the Spirit that imparts any ability to live and walk in him, that gives any resurrection from the dead. He is the Overcomer, He is "the victorious Christian" life in the believer.

>>Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to
all men,

For the unmerited favor of God brings regeneration and rebirth, not by what we do...

>>Titus 2:12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we
should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

True -- there is no law to break when God's Presence in us works joy, peace, love, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, patience, and self-control. Those things are given to us as gifts at regeneration -- we are not saved by faith and then kept by good works.

>>Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the
great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all
iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Both these verses have as their subjects and main focus Christ and His works, not us and our response. He redeemed us, He purified us, His presence in us makes us a peculiar people, zealous for good work because it is the Spirit that gave us hearts of flesh and love for God in the place of a heart of stone in death as a result of sin. Every good work performed by us is performed by God through us to the glory of God.

I really meant this post to be about the primacy of the message and the primary importance of a discipleship of relationship, not about defeatism or optimism brought about by end-time theological systems.

Dan, I pray that God would continue to produce in your ministry much fruit, and that as you proclaim the Gospel that God would work through you to instruct the new converts! God's blessing to you and your family,

TheologusCrucis

New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V2 #1

< Previous Digest Next Digest >




house church eldership servanthood lord's day lord's supper world missions