New Testament Church Proliferation Digest

 

Spreading the Gospel via House Churches

 


New Testament Church Proliferation Digest Monday, January 28 2002 Vol 02 : 024
[NTCP] 1 million - our passion
RE: [NTCP]
RE: [NTCP] Armageddon? - response
Re: [NTCP] Re: Wounds Upon WoundsHi TC , Sam and Zeekster
[NTCP] Fw: A PLACE FOR HIM TO REST
Re: [NTCP] Re: Wounds Upon Wounds - Zeekster & TC
Re: [NTCP] Re: People Are People
Re: [NTCP] cell groups
Re: [NTCP] Confronting the Evidence
Re: [NTCP] Confronting the Evidence

Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2002 09:23:11 EST
From: DenverWH
Subject: [NTCP] 1 million - our passion

From the responses I've gotten, it sounds like a number of the group are
interested in taking a look at this idea of 1 million new house churches
planted in the U.S. in this decade. I have a number of things I've been
thinking about along this line so I'll throw them out one email at a time. I'm
looking forward to learning from you all. I'll call the first topic - "our
passion".

1. One of the ways the NT talks about the purpose of Christ's death is found
in Gal. 3:14. "He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham
might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might
receive the promise of the Spirit." This leads us to the question: what was
the blessing given to Abraham?

2. The answer, of course, is found in Gen. 12:1-3. To summarize, God tells
Abram two things. I will bless you and through you all the families
(mishpachot - family, extended family, clan) of the earth will be blessed.
Jesus redeemed us gentiles so that we could share in that blessing.

3. In focusing on the second half of what God said to Abram, we see that God's
heart was (and still is) to bless all the families on earth. This is God's
passion and, to the extent that we have His heart, it will be our passion. God
is passionate about blessing all the families in Denver and in the U.S. and in
Canada and in Indonesia and in Israel (He's especially passionate about that -
right, Michael?) and in whatever city, region or country that you live in.
(Really, the Great Commission in Mt. 28 is just a restatement of Gen. 12.)

4. The goal (1 million house churches in the US - a massive and spontaneous
expansion of organic NT churches) is simply an expression of God's passion.
(If you don't like goals, that's OK. Ask God for some other way to express His
passion for the world.)

5. Much of the house church movement in the US (until recently) has lost God's
passion to bless all the families of the earth. It has become ingrown and has
spent most of it's energy on being angry at the institutional church and on
trying to establish a completely pure church (an impossible task!). Anyone who
wants to continue that course is certainly free to do so. Personally, I'm
tired of doing that and I'm interested in dialoguing with people who want to
spend their energy on "the blessing of Abraham".

5. Finally, for my Canadian friend, Sam. You don't listen very well and you
are incredibly irascible but you are also amazingly passionate about God's
passion to bless all the families in your city. You even have goals in spite
of all the abuse you have suffered from the church growth movement! May your
passion even increase and may the Lord grant you 250 house churches in your
city!

So, your thoughts on God's passion and our passion?

John


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Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2002 15:18:30 -0400
From: "vanessadd"
Subject: Re: [NTCP]
Link, and Michael,

I may bve going to Galilee for a course in NGO management. Are Michael and his
wife anywhere near that?

Vanessa from Venezuela


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Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2002 15:18:34 -0400
From: "vanessadd"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Armageddon? - response

Sam, I feel as you do, and have a hard time understanding those who support the
war. vanessa in venezuela


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Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2002 21:10:56 -0500
From: AOM Canada
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Re:
Wounds Upon WoundsHi TC , Sam and Zeekster
>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Re: Wounds Upon WoundsHi TC , Sam and Zeekster
>
>I've been reading this thread and biting my tongue (or typing fingers). My
>heart realy goes out to you guys, and all of the others that have suffered at
>the hands of churches. I have very carefully not put institutional churches as
>I have met not a few folk who have been hurt in house church situations too.
>
>My call in Christ has always been to stir-up the church to follow Biblical
>patterns. I have been blessed to see UK Baptist churches (they are a very
>different animal to their American and Canadian cousins), break the mold and
>begin to move in new ways. I share regularly with two that have become in
>reality networks of house church's using the "organic" cell church model (See
>the documents at:
>http://communities.msn.co.uk/CastilloFuerteCastleChristianMinistries).

Actually if you look at the history of the Reformed Baptists in the UK, they
have strong roots in non-comformity, based on the fact that when the monarchy
was restored over 7,000 clergy lost their positions in England (in the 1660's).
Anyone not part of the Anglican church was persecuted and outlawed. Thus the
likes of Bunyan and others suffering for their faith in that century. Cromwell
ushered in reforms that allowed any form of evangelical Christianity which led
to the baptist and quakers and congregationalists having support from the state
to exist and practice their faith as they saw fit.

Ironically it was the persecution which followed the coronation of Charles the
Second that led to the establishment of house church like congregations. In
fact many baptists bought row houses, in the same neighbourhood and even bought
houses next to one another. They knocked out walls so that there was enough
room for 40 to 50 people, and people who came or went out often went in and out
of two or three front doors. On Sundays it looked simply like friends popping
in to visit a variety of homes, when in actuality they were all gathering into
the same place to gather for church.

>But in others I have been rejected. One pastor asked me how could I be
>consistent if I preached "the Anglican Gospel in the Anglican Church, the
>Baptist Gospel in the Baptist church and the Pentecostal Gospel in the
>Pentecostal Church." This man held a Doctor of Divinity degree and yet didn't
>know that there is only one Gospel, when i suggested that to preach "another
>gospel" was wrong he was most offended.

A friend of mine said to me, "The more degrees you have, the greater the degree
of distance between your inner man and the Spirit!" Education is fine and we
should not be so foolish to reject it, but the education in our ecclesiastical
institutions is bent on retaining and expanding the controlling mechanisms of
organized religion. Most of my friends that I have made in Bible College and
Seminary are well...strongly attached to the current religious systems. It not
only defines them, it supports their control and their financial security.
Anything that undermines it, well...you know, they do all they can to shut you
out and silence your voice. Many friends within the institutional church have
simply written me off. So, I pray for divine appointments and develop other
relationships with anyone whether they be in the institutional church or the
house church.

>At the moment I am dancing on the fringes of the AOG. Here in Spain there are
>some AOG churches that use a house church model, but they aren't so sure about
>those house church's networking (it might just be a new organization that
>excludes the AOG old guard). After being accepted by the AOG in the UK, the
>AOG in Spain are very suspicious of me. Many of the Old Guard are convinced
>that i am trying to lead folk away into some non- existant House church
>organization. Others are upset that I don't take a salary, neither am I fully
>supported from the UK, I teach English to earn a crust and sometimes someone
>feels led to share with me, but there is nothing organized. This is a real
>threat, as most of them are recieving salaries and expenses at a level far
>above that of their members, who are giving at their limits to "support the
>work". It is not unknown fro a congregation of 15, to fully support a pastor
>and building. I am a threat because I am showig results and yet do not cost
>even 20% of a Spanish AOG pastor. i say nothing, I just keep my head down and
>keep doing what I do.

Keep it up! God bless you for your diligence! My fellowship, the Apostolic
Church of Pentecost (ACOP), a split from the PAOC (sister denomination to AOG)
used house church's as a model to plant churches all over Spain for 25 years.

>The problem of what work we should do when we move away from traditional
>church models is one that I have often confronted when I lived in the UK.
>Although I am a registered Psychologist, it takes a lot of time to become
>known in a community, and the British prefer to talk about their problems in
>the Pub rather than pay a shrink. So i have variously worked as a bank clerk,
>shop manager, leather worker (making hand made goods that I sold at fairs),
>jeweler (the same), courier and now English teacher. When I have someone
>alongside to show him what I do (I still don't like the term mentoring), one
>of the most important things that i try to pass on is how to work to make
>money to live on.

Keith, I really admire the passion you have and the determination to be all
that you can be in Christ, and to serve and let your life be an example to
others. I too have worked as a soldier, lab technician, in a variety store,
youth worker (detention centre), program supervisor in detention centre, in a
car plant, Christian charity/ministry, my only church salaried position as
assistant pastor in the Vineyard, and now as a bilingual translator in car
claims. I guess its, 'be all things to all men that I might win some.' You
would be amazed at how many have listened to the gospel simply because I work
at a regular job! Working in secular work has been an advantage!

>Anyway I've said enough.
>
>May the Lord bless you all real good, Keith
>

Bless you too Keith!

Sam


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Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2002 21:38:00 -0500
From: forwarded
Subject: [NTCP] Fw: A PLACE FOR HIM TO REST

(Original sent from an alternative address. The list software only accepts
messages from the same addresses to which it sends them. Aliases don't work. -
ntcp forwarder)

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


From: "Nahmen" To: "Ntcp"
Subject: Fw: A PLACE FOR HIM TO REST

I do not know if you will allow the forwading of messages by others, but this
one seems appropriate. nahmen

- ----- Original Message -----
From: "inchristsimage.org - Arrow Publications"

Sent: Friday, January 25, 2002 8:12 AM
Subject: A PLACE FOR HIM TO REST

>In Christ's Image Weekly Message January 25, 2002 Pastor Francis Frangipane
>
>* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
>
>A PLACE FOR HIM TO REST
>
>In the Kingdom, there are no great men of God, just humble men whom God has
>chosen to use greatly. How do we know when we are humble? When God speaks, we
>tremble. God is looking for a man who trembles at His word. Such a man will
>find the Spirit of God resting upon him; he will become a dwelling place for
>the Almighty.
>
>Entering the Sabbath Rest of God Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My
>footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place
>that I may rest? Isaiah 66:1
>
>God asks for nothing but ourselves. Our beautiful church buildings, our slick
>professionalism, all are nearly useless to God. He does not want what we have;
>He wants who we are. He seeks to create in our hearts a sanctuary for Himself,
>a place where He may rest.
>
>In the Scriptures this rest is called "the Sabbath Rest." It does not,
>however, come from keeping the Sabbath, for the Jews kept the Sabbath, but
>they never entered God's rest. The book of Hebrews is plain: Joshua did not
>give the Israelites rest (Heb. 4:7 8). And after so long a period of
>Sabbath-keeping, the Scripture continues, "there remains therefore a Sabbath
>rest for the people of God" (Heb. 4:9). This rest was something beyond keeping
>the seventh day holy.
>
>The question must be asked then, "What is this Sabbath rest?" Let us explore
>Genesis in pursuit of our answer. "Then God blessed the seventh day and
>sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work" (Gen. 2:3). Before
>God rested on the Sabbath, there was nothing special or holy about the seventh
>day. Had the Lord rested on the third day, then it would have been holy. Rest
>is not in the Sabbath, it is in God. Rest is a prevailing quality of His
>completeness.
>
>Revelations 4:6 describes the throne of God as having before it, as it were,
>"a sea of glass like crystal." A sea of glass is a sea without waves or
>ripples, a symbol of the imperturbable calm of God. Let us grasp this point:
>the Sabbath was not a source of rest for God; He was the Source of rest for
>the Sabbath. As it is written, "the Creator of the ends of the earth does not
>become weary or tired" (Isa. 40:28). And even as the Sabbath became holy when
>God rested upon it, so we become holy as we put away sin, as the fulness of
>God settles and rests upon us.
>
>In our study, we are not associating God's rest merely with the sense of being
>rebuilt or rejuvenated, which we obviously need and associate with human rest.
>The rest we seek is not a rejuvenation of our energy, it is the exchange of
>energy: our life for God's, through which the vessel of our humanity is filled
>with the Divine Presence and the all-sufficiency of Christ Himself.
>
>Enveloped and Permeated with God The Hebrew word for rest was "nuach," and
>among other things, it meant "to rest, remain, be quiet." It also indicated a
>"complete envelopment and thus permeation," as in the spirit of Elijah
>"resting" on Elisha, or when wisdom "rests in the heart of him who has
>understanding." God is not looking for a place where He can merely cease from
>His labors with men. He seeks a relationship where He can "completely envelop
>and thus permeate" every dimension of our lives; where He can tabernacle,
>remain, and be quiet within us.
>
>When God's rest abides upon us, we live in union with Jesus the same way He
>lived in union with the Father (John 10:14 15). Christ's thought-life was
>"completely enveloped and thus permeated" with the Presence of God. He did
>only those things He saw and heard His Father do. He declared, "the Father
>abiding in Me does His works" (John 14:10). There is rest because it is Christ
>working through us! Jesus promises us, "If you ask Me anything in My name, I
>will do it" (John 14:14). How vain we are to think we can do miracles, love
>our enemies, or do any of the works of God without Christ doing His works
>through us!
>
>This is why Jesus said, "Come to Me . . . and I will give you rest" (Matt.
>11:28). In a storm-tossed boat on the sea of Galilee, Christ's terrified
>disciples came to Him. Their cries were the cries of men about to die. Jesus
>rebuked the tempest, and immediately the wind and sea became "perfectly calm";
>even as calm as He was (Matt. 8:26). What program, what degree of ministerial
>professionalism can compare with the life and power we receive through Him?
>
>You see, our efforts, no matter how much we spend of ourselves, cannot produce
>the rest or life of God. We must come to Him. Many leaders have worked
>themselves nearly to exhaustion seeking to serve God. If they spent half their
>time with Him, in prayer and waiting before Him, they would find His
>supernatural accompaniment working mightily in their efforts. They would
>become passengers in the vehicle of His will, a vehicle in which He Himself is
>both Captain and Navigator.
>
>Cease Striving, Know, Then Obey To enter God's rest requires we abide in full
>surrender to His will, in perfect trust of His power. We learn to rest from
>our works "as God did from His" (Heb. 4:10). It requires diligence, however,
>to enter God's rest (Heb. 4:11). To "rest from our labors" does not mean we
>have stopped working; it means we have stopped the laborious work of the flesh
>and sin. It means we have entered the eternal works which He brings forth
>through us.
>
>The turmoil caused by unbelief is brought to rest by faith. The strife rooted
>in unforgiveness is removed by love. Our fearful thoughts, He arrests through
>trust; our many questions are answered by His wisdom. Such is the mind which
>has entered the rest of God.
>
>The church needs to possess the knowledge of God's ways, for herein do we
>enter His rest (Heb. 3:8 12). We gain such knowledge through obedience to
>God's Word during conflicts. As we obey God through the testings of life, we
>learn how to deal with situations as God would. Consequently, it is of the
>utmost value to hear what God is speaking to us, and especially so when life
>seems to be a wilderness of hardship and trials.
>
>Therefore, the Spirit says, Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your
>hearts as when they provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness. . .
>. Therefore I was angry with this generation, and said, "They always go astray
>in their heart; and they did not know My ways"; as I swore in My wrath, they
>shall not enter My rest. Hebrews 3:7,8,10 & 11
>
>He says, "they always go astray in their heart . . . they did not know My ways
>. . . they shall not enter My rest." Let us understand: Knowing God's ways
>leads to His rest.
>
>We must see that there is no rest in a hardened heart. There is no rest when
>we rebel against God. Our rest comes from becoming honest about our needs and
>allowing Christ to change us.
>
>Thus Jesus said, "learn from Me . . . and you shall find rest for your souls"
>(Matt. 11:29). Stop fighting with God and learn from Him! Let His Word put to
>death the torments of the sin nature. Cease struggling, cease wrestling
>against the Blessed One. Trust Him! For eventually His Word will plunder the
>defenses of your heart. Be committed to your surrender! In time He shall no
>longer use adversity to reach your heart, for you shall delight in being
>vulnerable to Him. Continue your diligent yielding until even His whisper
>brings sweet trembling to your soul. Far more precious than the men of a
>hundred nations is one man perfectly given to the Spirit of God. This man is
>God's tabernacle, the one to whom God looks . . . and is well-pleased.
>
>He says, "Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a
>house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My
>hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being" (Isa. 66:1
>2). Yet, incredibly, one man with one quality of heart captures the attention
>and promise of God. "But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and
>contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word" (v. 2).
>
>God looks to the man who trembles when He speaks. For in him the holy power of
>the Most High can, without striving, abide in perfect peace. He has learned
>the ways of God; he delights in obedience. He has chosen to give God what He
>asks: nothing less than all he is. In return, this man becomes a place, a holy
>place, where God Himself can rest.
>
>* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
>
>REFERENCE: The preceding message was taken from "Holiness, Truth and the
>Presence of God" by Francis Frangipane. This book can be ordered for the
>special price of $6.00 plus $1.50 for U.S. shipping. Please send your order,
>along with check or money order, to Arrow Publications, PO Box 10102, Cedar
>Rapids, IA 52410. This offer expires February 8, 2002. NOTE: Be sure to
>mention that you are responding to the Weekly Message special.
>
>To order by credit card, call toll free 1-877-363-6889 or email Daniel at
>dhite(--AT--)frangipane.org. For international orders, email Daniel for
>current shipping rates. Thank you!
>
>GIVING: You can help us continue making our resources available without charge
>by sending a monthly or one time offering to: In Christ's Image, 125 Robins
>Square Dr, Robins, IA 52328. To give by credit card you may call Steve at
>1-888-934-6243 or 1-319-395-7617.
>
>COMMENTS: Francis and the Staff at In Christ's Image would love to hear from
>you. We really appreciate your comments. Please feel free to write us anytime
>at RiverofLifeMailer(--AT--)inchristsimage.org
>
>REPRINT AGREEMENT: Duplication and re-transmission of this writing is
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>
>A service of In Christ's Image. Please visit our website at
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>
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>
>God bless you!


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Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2002 23:21:06 EST
From: TheologusCrucis

Subject: Re: [NTCP] Re: Wounds Upon Wounds - Zeekster & TC

Sam,

As always, thank you for your very kind, gracious, and encouraging words!

>>Know this. The peace I have in not being paid by a church is awesome. I am
completely free to be me, just as they are with me. We joke in our house
church about being 'working stiffs' and we have a ball together, for we are all
equal and share in all things. It is so good to enjoy this freedom.

I will pray for you guys as you seek to see His Kingdom come in your house
church's and your relationships.Sam,

As always, thank you for your very kind, gracious, and encouraging words!

>>Know this. The peace I have in not being paid by a church is awesome. I am
completely free to be me, just as they are with me. We joke in our house
church about being 'working stiffs' and we have a ball together, for we are all
equal and share in all things. It is so good to enjoy this freedom.

I will pray for you guys as you seek to see His Kingdom come in your house
church's and your relationships.

Over the last 16 months I have just began to understand what you are talking
about here!

Thank you for your kindness, Sam, and know I am praying for you as well.

TC


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Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2002 23:23:14 EST
From: TheologusCrucis

Subject: Re: [NTCP] Re: People Are People

Keith,

It seems people are people will be people where ever they are, and in whatever
circumstance you will find them in, be it institutional church or house
church. And people will

continue to be hurt in both places because true spirituality rests in an
understanding and participation in the one true Gospel.

I'm convinced that spirituality, true spirituality, is based on the fruit of

the Spirit in the believer's life -- these are the character traits and
attitude of Jesus. And we can only understand this through understanding our

place and identification with Jesus in His death and resurrection. And that is
only understood in the cross of Christ.

Everyday is believing in the story of Jesus -- a knowledge that is translating
into acting out that story personally every single day in dying and raising
again. You wrote:

>>One pastor asked me how could I be
consistent if I preached "the Anglican Gospel in the Anglican Church, the
Baptist Gospel in the Baptist church and the Pentecostal Gospel in the
Pentecostal Church." This man held a Doctor of Divinity degree and yet didn't
know that there is only one Gospel, when i suggested that to preach "another
gospel" was wrong he was most offended.Keith,

It seems people are people will be people where ever they are, and in wh atever
circumstance you will find them in, be it institutional church or house
church. And people will c ontinue to be hurt in both places because true
spirituality rests in an unde rstanding and participation in the one true
Gospel.

I'm convinced that spirituality, true spirituality, is based on the frui t of
the Spirit in the believer's life -- these are the character traits and
attitude of Jesus. And we can only understand this through understanding ou r
place and identification with Jesus in His death and resurrection. And tha t is
only understood in the cross of Christ.

Everyday is believing in the story of Jesus -- a knowledge that is trans lating
into acting out that story personally every single day in dying and r aising
again. You wrote:

>>One pastor asked me how could I be
consistent if I preached "the Anglican Gospel in the Anglican Church, the
Baptist Gospel in the Baptist church and the Pentecostal Gospel in the
Pentecostal Church." This man held a Doctor of Divinity degree and yet didn't
know that there is only one Gospel, when i suggested that to preach "another
gospel" was wrong he was most offended.

It is to our own destruction and hurt that we turn away from the Gospel to
preach another -- even another that is well intended. I've seen believers turn
many things into the Gospel -- law, specific ways to meet, or to have church,
emotions, relationships, the gifts of the Spirit, etc. And each time that
happened, people began to get hurt. In house church and in the institutional
church (although ther e are far more things to turn idolatrous in the
institutional church ). The institutional church can come off tra ck thru
buildings and bad organizational principles, but the house church tends to rep
lace the Gospel with emotions and relationships.

Dying to the old, and trusting that God has already made you the new thr u
Christ, isn't a popular message -- dying never is popular, I guess. But th e
abundant life that God gives, His very life, is well worth giving up our o wn
to have. Outside of Scripture, I have only found one writer that even cam e
close to describing the kind of life that is God's thru His Spirit given a s a
gracious gift:

E2 80 9CThe only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad t o live,
mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same tim e, the
ones who never yawn or say a common place thing but burn, burn, burn like
fabulous Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars. E2 80 9D Jack
Kerouac, "On the Road"

Jack was describing something that he never found, or any other of the B eats.
Ginsberg wrote in "Howl" the only end of trying to live life like that apart
from the power of the Gospel: "I saw the best minds of my generation
destroyed...."

I would like to encourage you to continue doing exactly what God has cal led
you to do! God bless and keep you, Keith,

TC


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Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2002 00:12:07 -0500
From: David Anderson
Subject: Re: [NTCP] cell groups

Wrote our brother in Israel, where bullets have been flying around.

>and mention of "*THE* overseer" (Gk. TON EPISKOPON-- assuming a singlular
>church leader) not once but twice in the writings of Paul (1 Tim 3:2; Tit.
>1:7).

Indeed, this is an enormous assumption, MICHAEL. In both of these instances the
apostle is just looking at a single overseer who is part of a group of
overseers or shepherds.

Can you site an instance in Scripture of a single person overseeing a church?

Let's say you overheard me exhort my child: "Now listen, a son should not sass
his Dad." Surely you would not presume that I only had one son. But that's what
you seem to be doing in these two instances.

1 Tim 3:2 can only be taken in the context of verse 1: This is a true saying,
If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. ("office"
added, btw - yes it is a work!) Paul is just saying: Hey, you want to know what
a faithful overseer looks like, well, I'm about to tell you what one looks and
acts like ...

(A singular elder, who is charged to the work of oversight or "bishoping," may
be acceptable but certainly not ordinary. Elders most always occur in the
plural in the NT. Still, a house church may only have one, imo. Other elders
will come along eventually. There is thus no minimum number required to
"constitute a church." Plural oversight is normative.)

Titus 1:7 uses the term "bishop" in the singular because it is the obvious
appositive of the plural (elders) which were just mentioned in the previous
verses.

Nevertheless, my brother, we have more in common than not !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

David Anderson


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Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2002 09:46:51 +0200
From: "Deborah"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Confronting the Evidence

Jay Ferris:

>I have to say, however, in light of your pejorative assessment to date, that I
>am not very hopeful .... "A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong
>city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle."

You're right Jay. I was too pushy and snippy in my last few posts and ask your
forgiveness, please.

>If you will send me the date of your evidentiary email, I could give it one
>more try.... I will therefore try to keep it brief so as not to further
>grieve the Spirit, to say nothing of the spirits of others on this list.

First I want to know of your genuine interest. If you think the whole endeavor
would really grieve God's Spirit (though I don't), it would not be productive
to continue. And furthermore it would violate your conscience. You would just
shoot back some quips to be done with it. And I would be responsible before
God for pressuring you into sin. I want you to honestly see the value in the
discussion I propose so that it will be worthwhile for all involved. And ...
if you agree to continue, I would like us to both commit to adjusting our
theologies and practices according to what we discover together. In other
words, I see this as a discussion with consequences. A holy wager. At least
that is my vision for our co-examination of the evidence. Pray about it, then
let me know what you think.

Michael
Jerusalem


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


Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2002 09:49:14 +0200
From: "Deborah"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Confronting the Evidence

Mike Gastin wrote to/of me:

>One wonders what you think of Jesus' style of communicating the truth? He had
>spurts of pontification, rabbit trails and a few allegorical smoke and mirrors.

IMPLIED MESSAGE: "It's okay to be baselessly dogmatic (pontification),
conveniently or absent-mindedly elusive (rabbit trails), and ignore the plain
sense of certain biblical texts; to wrench from them what one wants them to say
(allegorical smoke and mirrors). Because Jesus was like that."

MY ANSWER: Jesus was not like that. He communicated like a first century
Galilean rabbi (we have some other sayings, parables, sermons, etc. of Galilean
rabbis from this time period with which to compare Jesus' teaching style),
linking his message squarely to the text of Scripture. That's how *I* think he
communicated. When he said, "... but I say to you ..." he was not deviating
from Torah (the Law) one iota, but was "fulfill[ing]" it (Mat. 5:17, 22ff).
Embodying it. Hence he never "pontificat[ed]" since this implies an often
wordy unsubstantiated opinion. And Jesus never engaged in "rabbit trails" but
"... [he spoke only what] the Father who sent [him] commanded [him] ... to say
and *how to say it*" (Joh. 12:49, emphasis mine). His exchanges each had a
pre-determined purpose from the moment he opened his mouth. Perhaps before.
Jesus reserved ambiguity (as a judgment!!!) for those who had already shown him
that they were resistant to the truth (Mat. 13:13, church planter. Isa 6:9, 10;
Joh. 12:39, 40; Act. 28:26, 27). But he never got side-tracked or simply
employed red herrings to avoid the implications of a challenge. If he answered
a question with a question (a *very* Jewish way to communicate, by the way), he
still was answering the heart of the matter. Even the traps. The answer was
always *in* the question. As for "allegorical smoke and mirrors," I can't
think of one example from Christ's teaching ministry that could possibly fit
that category (see above definition). Can you?

>Once can witness this anytime He was speaking to the religious leaders of His
>day .... He purposely employed these techniques when speaking to certain
>types of people to make it more difficult for them to grasp the Truth.
>Interesting, no?

IMPLIED MESSAGE: "Michael Millier is like the religious leaders of Jesus' day
and therefore Jay, like Jesus, is justified in employing evasive maneuvers."

MY ANSWER: You're right on one count, Mike. Jesus did hide the truth ... from
those who were under judgment, because avoiding the truth *begins* the process
of judgment. It is similar to when Pharaoh hardened his own heart which then
began the process that led God to harden Pharaoh's heart (Exo. 8:15; 8:32;
9:34, church planter. 10:1; 11:10; 14:8). As a judgment. So let's please all
remain open to God's word, neither avoiding its truth, twisting its message,
nor hardening our hearts when it challenges our presuppositions and lifestyles.

>I have noticed that Jesus Himself - the Author of our Faith - never seemed to
>worry about doctrinal facts or theological perfection. He seemed to have
>focused on the heart of the individual.

IMPLIED MESSAGE: "It's okay for you or others to be fuzzy about what you/they
believe, ... so long as your/their heart(s) is in the right place." MY ANSWER:
Jesus was a lot more concerned with biblical "details" than many of us really
want to admit. True, one did/does not have to be a theologian to enter God's
Kingdom-- or for that matter, to have a *formal* education-- but Jesus did
chide some from among the Sadduccees for "not know[ing] the Scriptures or the
power of God" (Mat. 22:23-29). Jesus' whole argument to them for the
resurrection of the dead was based on some subtle reasoning through the book of
Exodus, paying attention to the tenses in the passage (Exo. 3:6). Important
details. Those who taught others the Bible were expected to know it *right
well* themselves (see also 1 Tim. 1:7). That includes many (most?) of us on
this list.

Likewise Jesus explained in his lament why Jerusalem would be corporately
judged: because its inhabitants (both the highly educated and the less so) "did
not know the *time* (important word) of [their] visitation" (Luk. 19:41-44,
emphasis and comments mine). How many places in the OT give the specific
*time* of Messiah's "visitation" (a Hebrew idiom --carried over into the
Greek-- referring to the official visit of a dignitary for deliverance and/or
for judgment-- Isa. 23:17; 1 Pet. 2:12)? One. And only one. In a particularly
cryptic section of Daniel (9:24-27). Yet people were expected by Jesus-- the
Author of our Faith-- to know this "detail". The time. Mentioned but once.
And they were judged accordingly. Both scholar and pauper died in the Roman
seige of Jerusalem.

One more example. A verse in which the second half escapes the notice of so
many folks (those details are important!) can also help illustrate what I mean.
Mark what I highlight in ALL CAPS:

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a
tenth of your spices-- mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more
important matters of the law-- justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have
practiced the latter, WITHOUT NEGLECTING THE FORMER" (Mat. 23:23).

Jesus' condemnation in this verse of those scribes and Pharisees who were
hypocritical was not due to their persnickety attention to the minutae of their
tithes-- as is so often presented-- but rather due to their *inattention* to
those parts of the Law which admittedly carry more weight-- justice, mercy, and
faithfulness. Go back and look at the verse again. It's what it says. Jesus
held them accountable for both prongs of the same fork: the character qualities
found in the Law which reflect our heavenly Father-- in a word, love ("the
latter")-- *and* a scrupulous attention to knowing and obeying the Law's
commandments-- in this case tithing spices ("the former"). We can see from
this passage that *both* a focus on matters of the heart *and* a careful
concern for the details in Scripture are possible and expected-- which is the
point of Jesus' rebuke above.

>the Pharisees, on the other hand, cared nothing for the individuals, but
>rather demanded scriptural perfection.

IMPLIED MESSAGE: "Michael Millier is like a Pharisee, not Jesus, in that he
demands scriptural perfection."

MY ANSWER: Which Pharisees, Mike? Nicodemus (Joh. 7:50)? Gamaliel (Act.
5:34ff)? Paul (Act. 23:6)? Yes, Paul the Pharisee did write: "Watch your life
and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both
yourself and your hearers" (1 Tim. 4:16). And I want to be like *him*.
Nevertheless, I don't "demand scriptural perfection" (at least I don't think I
do), ... but sound doctrine (see 2 Tim. 4:3; Tit. 1:9; 2:1). I make no
apologies for insisting on this list that Christian people's "opinions" about
church structure and practice (among other things) be derived from the inspired
word of God-- not from some romantic notion in their heads which is then
propped up by a surface reading of the Bible, while ignoring the counter
examples. People don't have to share my entire theology (I'm quite cognizant
that I too see "but a poor reflection as in a mirror"-- 1 Cor. 13:12), but they
cannot simply read their own ideas back into the biblical text. That's not
honesty. Moreover, when called down on a point, they must remain *open* to
correction from the Bible. I insist. And more importantly, so does the Lord:

"He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction
leads others astray" (Pro. 10:17, see also 12:1; 15:10, 12).

>Yet, can we say that Wisdom is the ability to dissect every verse of every
>passage of every page of the scripture? Or, is there a deeper message that
>deals with our hearts that we do well to focus on?

IMPLIED MESSAGE: "Michael MIllier is not wise because he focuses on dissecting
every verse of every passage of every page of Scripture and does not focus on
the heart."

MY ANSWER: "Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your
commands make me WISER than my enemies, for they [your commands] are ever with
me. I have more INSIGHT than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more UNDERSTANDING than the elders, for I obey your precepts" (Psa.
119:97-100, comments and emphasis mine). I haven't arrived there yet, but
these are worthy goals to which I aspire. I *love* God's word! If I dissect
it, it is so that I can understand and apply it. And properly teach it. Any
fault in that?

Mike, your emphasis above is a caricature. I'm not as "clinical" as you make
me out to be. Nor do I ignore matters of the heart. Character is indeed a
difficult thing to assess via computer correspondence, bro. I just don't want
to compromise the truth in order for somebody to simply feel good. Jesus
wasn't/isn't like that. Nor do I want to be. Because *that's* not wise. Nor
loving.

>Is it Wisdom to argue the existence of a specific evil spirit with a specific
>name?

IMPLIED MESSAGE: "Michael Millier is not wise because he challenged a member of
this list (and others) who assigned names such as "the spirit of religion" etc.
to some current church practices" (see posts Jan. 18 and 22 of the "Cell
Groups" thread).

MY ANSWER: If I split a church over this issue, you would be right in
apportioning my lot with the unwise. I would not. But I must share my concern
that we (most often Charismatic/Pentecostal) Christians too frequently point
the finger *away* from ourselves and others ("It was a spirit of ...") when the
focus throughout the NT is on *personal* responsibility. Not to deny demonic
influences in so much of our circumstances, but our emphasis should be what is
emphasized in Scripture, ... and demonic activity along with the *world* take a
back seat to the works of the flesh. Furthermore, if something which is
positively exemplified in the Bible (liturgical church services) is depicted as
demonic, should I not speak out?!?! Is it not wisdom to seek to instruct
people in the truth when they have erred?

>Or is it Wisdom to simply acknowledge that evil exists and as children of God
>we are to stand against evil and shine the Light of Christ? Or is it something
>all together different?

IMPLIED MESSAGE: "It is wiser to stay general with our understanding of evil
and our Christian responsibility to withstand it, than to try to pin-point
particular abuses because we run the risk of becoming nit-picky."

MY ANSWER: Ignorance breeds evil. Christo-paganism and syncretism, for
example, find fertile soil where well-meaning people in whatever countries make
sweeping inferences without specific biblical support. And then broadcast
their views. Small errors compound into whopping errors.

I know everyone needs some room to breath, the grace to make some mistakes
without being jumped on. But not too much lest we grow complacent. It is a
race we run. The instance above to which Mike is referring, in which I
challenged the views of a mature and respected brother in the Lord when he
attributed early Church practice to a "spirit of religion, etc." took into
account the impact this brother's view had and will have on you all. And
others. "For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required"
(Luk. 12:48). And, "... we (including me!) who teach will be judged more
strictly" (Jam. 3:1, comments mine). I am not above correction. Neither are
any of you. Therefore we must be specific, not general, in our reproofs and
exposure of evil to achieve maximum effect. This is one evidence of love (Pro.
27:5).

Now I want to request that we not turn this debate personal but stick to the
issue at hand concerning the evidence I've mentioned. I know I am as guilty as
anyone. I admit to you all that I have grown somewhat impatient with those on
this list whom I perceive to be resisting the truth. I have been too snippy.
And pushy. This was most recently witnessed in my rather staccato bursts to
Jay Ferris et al. in my Jan. 24 post. Other places too, I know. For this I
apologize. To him. To you all. With God's help (and your forgiveness) I will
try to stay focused, not on my emotions and insecurities when people seem to be
turning a deaf ear to what I am saying, but on the biblical/historical evidence
that (1) the NT Church was not exclusively house-based, (2) that they (at least
sometimes) performed liturgy in their church meetings, and (3) that all NT
fellowships did not necessarily have multiple elders/bishops. Likewise I want
to stay focused on Christ's love, and draw from it, even if my voice sometimes
seems to be crying in the wilderness. That is what I want to do in our
upcoming correspondence together. If my style gets on your nerves-- my
aggressiveness in confronting what I perceive to be error, or my "Felix
Unger-like" distain for untidy thinking-- then please grant me some room to be
me. As long as I'm not sinning or championing mediocrity or untruths. I know
I'm not for everyone, but I'm for *some* of you out there. And here.

Michael
Jerusalem

New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V2 #24

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