New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches


New Testament Church Proliferation Digest Sunday, February 10 2002 Vol 02 : 035
Re: [NTCP] Re: Allegorical interpretation (was: Confronting the evidence)
RE: [NTCP] helping businesses develop in third world
[NTCP] The end of the thread?
[NTCP] The spirit of the Nicolaitans

Date: Sat, 09 Feb 2002 06:24:00 -0800
From: jferris
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Re:
Allegorical interpretation (was: Confronting the evidence)

Dear Link,

I don't know if you'll consider the following allegorical interpretation or
not, but perhaps it might clarify how the Scripture works in my life. At the
same time, for those who can receive it, it might be helpful for their ability
to stand in love.

You had asked how I approach the Scriptures, well last month it occurred to me
that, for me, it is a matter of how the Scriptures approach me.

In watching CNN lately, trying to take in all that is going on on the screen as
well as the audio portion, it can be a bit overwhelming. Well I realized that
my mind tends to work the same way. Kind of "split-screen" with a rolling
commentary at the bottom of the screen. This is what happens as I go about my
day. I am taking in audio/visual reality, and at the bottom of the screen I see
a kind of scrolling Scripture. Every now and then, the Scripture lines up with
what I am experiencing or thinking in such a way, that there is a clear
connection or, at least seems to be. When this happens, The Scripture
immediately floods the screen, doing a kind of "situation search" to see if
what I think I saw lines up with the rest of Scripture. If what I saw is
approved on that basis, and the insight was important enough, I go to Strong's
Greek or Hebrew dictionary to see if it is confirmed in the original. If it is
confirmed it gets down loaded into my heart. If it is of sufficient general
importance, as distinct from a personal word for me, I share it with others,
depending on relationship and or maturity.

The following is an example:

I had been wrestling with The Lord for a word concerning an assigned subject on
which I was to speak to the leadership of a nearby city. Early Tuesday morning,
the 29th of January, The Lord gave me an insight which was new for me,
concerning Matthew 24:12 "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many
shall wax cold." As I understand it, "most" would be more accurate than "many".
I had previously understood this to mean that there are many people who have
love, and, of those, the love of most will wax cold.

This is how it happened, I had an old Four Freshman song going on in my heart.
It kept repeating. The name of the song is "ACT THREE". As the song was playing
in my mind for the I don't know how manyeth time, Matthew 24 came on my screen
with a focus on verse 12. I was not studying my Bible at the time, I was
getting dressed.

The song is rather eschatological, telling of a love relationship that ends in
failure. The closing phrase is "... sad that love is make believe."

I suddenly saw, that verse 12 is not so much about the relative numbers, as it
is about the quality of the love. Most are trying to get by with a kind of love
that goes away when "iniquity abounds". There are some, however, who know
another kind of love, a love that does not "wax cold" when "iniquity abounds".
Historically, there are two kinds of agape, the old kind, the kind that was
around before the cross,, and the new kind, the kind that was revealed in the
cross. This new kind is the love John wrote about: "This is how we know what
love (agape) is, Jesus Christ laid down His life for us..." The old kind, the
pre-cross kind, was the kind of love that's good for friends. The new kind, the
kind that knows the cross, is good for enemies. It appears to me that in most
cases, we as Christians are trying to get by on the kind that doesn't know the
cross. When iniquity abounds, that kind just doesn't cut it.

If I said to you today, "Greater love than this knoweth no man, but that he lay
his life down for his friends", it would no longer be true. That was Jesus,
prior to His death describing the old kind of love at its best. "But God
demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ
died for us... while we were God's enemies... Romans 5:8,10

The cross made a big difference in the meaning of agape for those of us who
know the cross. We need to discover that difference, but we will never make
that discovery as long as we are alienated or shut down toward one another,
even if we are shut down "in the Name of The Lord". In other words, we can't
break faith with one another, just because we are wounded in the house of our
friends. That kind of love is no different than the world. We need to press
into, and on in relationship, because that is the crucible where we learn what
it means to love like God.

One of, perhaps the main reason why "Christ is not divided", is because His
love is good for enemies. I believe that we are living in a day when the rocks
are crying out with a clarity and accuracy that is more relevant than what "the
church" is saying, in word and deed.

If this be allegory, make the most of it.

Yours in Christ,


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Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2002 00:47:32 -0400
From: "vanessadd"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] helping businesses develop in third world

I am in Maracaibo, venezuela, and working on a project that will build a school
for kids who have been working at the local landfill. My dad, a constructor of
malls and such, is guiding, and the university people are doing the project.
Our idea is to build a recycling plant to go with the school, so the parents
will sell their stuff to the plant, without making their children work, and the
plant will support the school. I am a chemist, and can do this myself. But we
need someone who wants to invest their money on this. These plants can produce
much, much more money than we will spend on the school, and we plan to use all
the profits from it to support my NGO, which works with street children and
which will be an umbrella to help others carry out their own charity. And the
plant will employ over 100 people, aside from those taking the stuff to recycle
from the landfill. This landfill serves over 1.5 million people.

I already have the land to build on, and the money for the school.

Anyone interested?


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Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2002 05:52:49 EST
Subject: [NTCP] The end of the thread?

Dear Michael Millier and Crew,

Hoo boy. It is my heartfelt prayer that nobody will be moved to reply to this
posting. This is my attempt to give a Christian burial to several tedious
matters hinging upon the Greek text--matters we've nearly beaten into the
ground. So as I often say about letters of marginal value: "Read and Toss."

I finally got to talk to a 70-something man who has long taught Greek. His
input was not too surprising:

1. TON EPISKOPON can indeed be read either as "the overseer" or "an overseer."
It has a slightly formal tone, as in, "The successful candidate for the
college debate team will have had six semester hours of logic."

My own arrogant opinion: If we are ever to escape the spiritual clutches of
the institutional church , we must not provide fertile ground for monarchical
Christianity. Plural leadership / servantship should be the norm. But on the
other hand, we must be reasonable about this. There are beaucoup of situations
where a lone church planter is surrounded by new converts or spiritual BABIES
(my acronym for Born Again But Is Enjoying Siesta). He would dearly love to
share his responsibilities with other genuine elders or overseers, but they
just aren't on the horizon. In such situations, we ought to give the guy (gal)
a pat on the back and some assurance that he's on the right track.

2. Acts 2:42: "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles teachings,
fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer." He said you can also read it as
"the prayers." Either way.

Even the super-literal "Berry's Interlinear Greek-English New Testament" leaves
a big blank under the Greek "tais" (THE), implying it has no force at all in
English. All in all, this one sounds like a toss-up to me.

3. LEITOURGEO, "to minister." In Acts 13:2, the men in Antioch "ministered to
the Lord and fasted." He confirmed what I suspected, that leitourgeo is a VERY
GENERAL service activity, not to be identified with a ritual ceremony in any

The word was first used to describe Athenians who supported public offices at
their own cost. Then in Romans 15:27 it is used to denote the duty of the
Greek churches to "minister" to the poor saints in Jerusalem "in earthly
things" by sending them money. In Hebrews 10:11 it is even used to describe
the general duties of a priest that are NOT connected to ritual sacrifice:
"And every priest stands daily, ministering AND offering ... sacrifices..."

As a noun, LEITOURGOS, it is used in Hebrews 8:2 to label Christ as a minister
of the sanctuary in the heavens--and I can't imagine Jesus standing up there
doing a modern liturgy. In Hebrews 1:7, it is used to describe angels. In
Phil. 2:25, it is used of Epaphroditus as he ministered to Paul's needs.

The bottom line is, we can't take a word that has been transmogrified by
centuries of dead Catholic ritual and read it back into the NT.

Now, I'm sure you're right about some synagogue rituals hanging on in the very
early church for awhile. But as the Hebrew church waned and the gentile church
waxed, dead Jewish ritual died out. In the past ten years, the US church has
been rediscovering the vast ocean of Hebraic insights that we forgot. Cool!
But synagogue ritualism is one bit of Hebraica that I'd just as soon leave at
the bottom of the memory hole. The presence of the Holy Spirit as the Master
of Ceremonies in our meetings is so precious and edifying that none of us wants
to go back to square one.

4. MONOEPISCOPACY. The last thing I asked the Greek teacher about was your
question, "Why did no one call them (Ignatius and Justin Martyr) down if they
were doing something against the biblical revelation?" Darned good question,
and I've thought about it a LOT.

In response, he reminded me of three things: First, that very little from the
debates of that era was written down. (No printing presses.) Second, that
early Christianity was fighting for its life against Rome, and Christians felt
like they had to do SOMETHING. Third, that in epic conflicts, there is a great
tendency to adopt the patterns of your enemy. (E.g. here, resorting to a
centralized command-and-control structure.)

You said, Michael, that "not a peep is made against the practice" of
monoepiscopacy "in any of the Apostolic Fathers / Ante-Nicene writings..."
Well, in Revelation 2, Jesus says once or twice that He hates it. That's a
pretty authoritative peep! You have to remember, brother, that habitual
monoepiscopacy may sound like a disease to most house church folks, but it's
really just a symptom of a far larger problem, Nicolaitanism. Restricting the
oversight of a congregation to one guy merely makes it simpler for a
power-lover to control (nicao) the people (laos) of God.

Only the writings of the big guns, the big names of that era were deemed worthy
of preservation (a difficult process then). The deemers were the honchos of
the church over the next centuries, times when top-down, pyramidal ecclesiology
was sweeping away free Christianity. But back in A.D. 100, churches were still
so independent that one (like Ephesus) could have multiple leadership, and
another (like Pergamum) could be hierarchical. If you were in a Ephesian style
church, no denominational officials came around to order you to change. So why
squawk? Why write a big treatise against a monoepiscopacy that wasn't
bothering your own congregation?

Today, few people are criticizing Pres. Bush on his war efforts. It's largely
because of loyalty and patriotism. Same thing around A.D. 100. They were
fighting not only Rome, but rampant heresies. One writer of that day counted
217 varieties of gnosticism. In some regions, there were more heretics than
Christians! Small wonder, in that light, that people followed their leaders
and didn't take a strong stand against monarchy, which probably looked (to
those Roman subjects) like the strongest possible sort of leadership.

But they can't be entirely excused. It was about A.D. 94 or 95 when Jesus told
the Ephesians he hated the "practices" of the Nicolaitans. (Later, in Pergamum,
it blossomed into a full-blown set of "doctrines" to justify the practices,
which were thus apparently ecclesiastical at their base.) The church fathers
were great men of God, no question. But they ignored Jesus' words on this
issue. They consciously decided to follow the lead of the gentiles in lording
it over their brothers. Denying communion and baptism to the laos of God was
just the first step in the long, sorrowful descent of the church into a
2000-year abyss that we're still in the process of escaping. Since the time of
Constantine, when free Christianity pretty much evaporated, perhaps 24 billion
people have walked the planet. How many billions of those would have come into
the Kingdom if early Christians had trusted Christ to build His church? Ten
billion? Twenty billion? Your guess. In any case, NICOLAITANISM WAS AND IS
We MUST find ways to replace it with something better and more attractive. We
MUST nurture a Christian culture that is free of its deadly grasp.

If anybody is still reading this wheeze, I apologize for my prolixity. I can't
stand people with verbal diarrhea. But for me, this stuff is the very heart of
the issue in the church today: Will we or won't we allow spiritual freedom for
the people of God? "For freedom Christ has set you free." (Gal. 5:1)

Thanks to Him, just about every week now there's a new house church book or a
report of a new network of open churches springing up. I'm highly encouraged,
friends!! (And as of this week, my own new book, "The New Christianity," is
sitting on the desks of 14 publishers. Pray that I choose the right one.)

Your long-winded brother,

Jim Rutz
Colorado Springs

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Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2002 04:28:47 -0600
From: Phillip Cohen
Subject: [NTCP] The spirit of the Nicolaitans

I found this at:

The spirit of the Nicolaitans deteriorates the structure of the church body by
attempting to create subordinates rather than brothers and sisters. A slave
brought under this kind of authority is always distraught and nervous because
of the great responsibility and expectations to please his master.î This
creates an irrational spirit or a neurotic mind-set rather than a spirit of
peace. It promotes insecurity rather than abiding strength. Many Christians
leave the church because of the wounds this creates and their feelings of

The spirit of the Nicolaitans will always be accompanied by the spirit of
apathy and lethargy. These will cool our affections toward the Lord and the
passion with which we are to carry out His purposes.

The spirit of the Nicolaitans deteriorates the structure of the church body by
attempting to create subordinates rather than brothers and sisters. A slave
brought under this kind of authority is always distraught and nervous because
of the great responsibility and expectations to please his master.î This
creates an irrational spirit or a neurotic mind-set rather than a spirit of
peace. It promotes insecurity rather than abiding strength. Many Christians
leave the church because of the wounds this creates and their feelings of
insufficiency. The church has a large segment presently oppressed with a
variety of nervous conditions because of the success of this evil spirit
working in the body of Christ.

The Lord is issuing a clear announcement that a counterfeit, self-appointed
leadership will always attempt to supercede the true leadership delegated to
the church by the Holy Spirit. This cobraî and its deadly venom represents
the characteristics detected in this form of leadership. The Spirit-appointed
leadership will be marked by attributes of servant-hood, humility and
righteousness even as the Lord Himself perfectly exemplified these qualities in
His unblemished example for all generations to follow.

Phillip & Mary Cohen

In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil:
whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his
brother. 1 John 3:10

New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V2 #35

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