New Testament Church Proliferation Digest

 

Spreading the Gospel via House Churches

 


New Testament Church Proliferation Digest Thursday, February 14 2002 Vol 02 : 038
[NTCP] Nicolaitan 'spirit'
[NTCP] Much ado about plurality
Re: [NTCP] Nicolaitan 'spirit'
Re: [NTCP] Nicolaitan 'spirit'
Re: [NTCP] Nicolaitan 'spirit'
Re: [NTCP] Nicolaitan 'spirit'
Re: [NTCP] Nicolaitan 'spirit' - comments to Sas
[NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence

Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2002 18:58:29 -0500
From: forwarded
Subject: [NTCP] Nicolaitan 'spirit'

From: Link Hudson

Subject: Nicolaitan 'spirit'

I'd like to make a brief comment about the web page article Phillip Cohen
posted, but knowing me, it won't be brief:

>>>http://www.whitedoveministries.org/Articles/spirit_of_the_nicolaitans.htm

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.Ó 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. >This creates an irrational spirit or a neurotic mind-set

Subject: [NTCP] Much ado about plurality

wrote Mike S:

>And, frankly, there is no text where a NT author explicitly teaches that there
>MUST be a plurality of elders in a church. If plurality were essential, then
>the teaching would be there. So, I have to agree that a single elder is
>possible. However, I also have to recognize that a plurality was looked at
>favorably. The Acts 14:23 text rather clearly indicates that EACH church
>ended up with more than one elder.

Hi Mike and all others,

The word "elder" is merely the comparative form of old. No specific age is
attached to it in Biblical usage. If there were a certain age to "qualify" for
eldership, as there was for certain categories of persons in the OT priestly
economy, God would have certainly revealed this to his church. The Hebrews were
not shy of numbers. :)

Eldership was already a core institution in the patriarchal societies before
and after the NT era. This is why when we come to the NT, it is not introduced.
It needed no introduction.

Yes, let's do step back in time and survey the ancient landscapes. Houses were
often teeming with servants, children, and grands. Girls married very young
(like 12) and the lights went out early. I think you get the picture :>D .
Birth control would not have been in the equation. A guy like me at 49 could
have easily been a great-grand dad! Shazammmm. Who would have thunk it?

Naturally, the older ones were to mentor/shepherd/pastor and assist the younger
ones in such a setting. It is the elders who are exhorted to be overseers - not
vice versa. And nowhere is it written or implied that elders are necessary to
"form" or "organize" a church. Even the two passages about the "ordination of
elders" presume that the elders were _already_ in the churches. Thank you for
the timely reminder, Mike.

This "ordination" or appointment was to certain character traits and
responsibilities - not to a formal office nor a course of training, imo. More
on that later - I would not want you to take my word alone on that one.

In short, way too much is read into the passages dealing with eldership. There
is a pattern of _plurality_ of older ones because this is what you find in ANY
non-age segregated people group such as the church.

Servants, as were older women, are addressed in the plural. Do we thus reason
that a family could not have just one servant or even that servants were
necessary to have a family? Why no talk of the "plurality of older women" or
the "plurality of servants" or the "plurality of younger ones?"

So, in the church, anyone can call anyone else to account according to Matt 18.
Elders are not said or required to be a part of this process. As I mentioned in
a post several days ago, controversies could even be settled by the least saint
or "village idiot." :>D Check Matt 18, too, for the absence of elders in the
disciplinary process. In fact, most anyone can and should do the same stuff
which are deemed to be essential elder's responsibilities.

Needless to say, there are fine people who just don't see it. Some, you know,
officially recognize a few "qualified" older ones - others have done away with
elders altogether as useless relics of Judaism. But it is all astonishingly
simple, imho....if you think in terms of giftings and freedom rather than of
hierarchy and offices. And "elders" really being what the word really means.
Whoa.

Think about this quotation below from an old preacher and author, James A.
Haldane, who preached to 10,000's in open air meetings even after the General
Assembly of Scotland (Presbyterian) banned such meetings. His excellent
biography has been recently republished: The Lives of Robert Haldane and James
Haldane, Alexander Haldane, 1852 and in 1990 by the Banner of Truth Trust.

"A church, we have observed, simply means a gathering, group, or an assembly. A
church of Christ, we learn from the Scriptures, consists of believers statedly
assembling together to enjoy the benefits of association. These benefits are
not limited to any number. Even two can associate together. They can mutually
assist, admonish, or reprove each other. When the Lord commands his disciples
not to forsake the assembling of themselves together, he requires that they
should associate as far as they have opportunity, and no farther. The precept
is as binding on two as on two hundred. These can co-operate, and continue
stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread and
prayers; and the abundance of the one may be a supply for the other's want. It
is, I believe, generally admitted, that two or three disciples residing in the
same place should meet together, and observe every ordinance, except the Lord's
supper.

But we find no limitation as to the number of a church in the Scriptures; nor
any thing to countenance the stated association of the disciples in any other
form. Besides, what is there peculiar in the ordinance of the Lord's supper,
that the churches, while attending to every thing else in their power, should
delay the observance of this till they obtain elders to administer it ? This
idea of administration is very consistent in the church of Rome, or of England,
where each individual receives the elements from the Priest; but in this
country, both in the Establishment and among Independents, each member
administers it to his neighbor; that is, puts the bread and the cup into his
hand. If the elder administers it to those nearest him, they, in their turn,
administer it to him; so that the idea of laying any stress on an administrator
is utterly inconsistent, besides leading to the unfounded supposition, that the
administrator represents the Lord Jesus Christ, in which case he ought not
himself to partake.

The plea for the necessity of an elder or officer being present at the Lord's
supper, surely originates in some mistake respecting its nature. It must be
supposed that it is similar to the sacrifices under the law, which could only
be offered by a Priest, or that it contains a mystery still unexplained; and if
transubstantiation be given up, something analogous is substituted in its
place. Let the reader compare and consider with attention the passages in which
this institution is described, and he will be convinced that this view has no
foundation.

No good reason then can be given why two or three believers, who have not an
opportunity of meeting with a greater number, should not statedly assemble as a
church of Christ, to observe the Lord's supper, as well as to continue in the
apostles' doctrine and in prayers. Indeed it is their bounden duty to do so. It
certainly cannot be shown that elders or deacons are essential to the existence
of a church, while we find the apostles returning to Lystra, Iconium and
Antioch, and ordaining elders (i.e. appointing elders or older ones to be the
shepherds or pastors) in every church, Acts 14:21,23, which they had previously
gathered. Indeed, from the very nature of the case, churches must exist before
elders, out of which they arise.

The apprehensions that the consequence of two or three observing the ordinances
of Jesus, will be their remaining at home, and not assembling in any
considerable number, nearly resemble those of the consequences of eating the
Lord's supper without elders, which, it is alleged, sets aside the elder's
office. But as long as men regard the authority of Jesus, they will consider
themselves bound, after the example of the first churches, to assemble statedly
with as many of their brethren as local circumstances might permit. And if ever
His will, so plainly signified, loses its effect upon their minds, it is a
matter of little consequence whether they have them (i.e. officers) or not.
Their eating the Lord's supper at all, must in that case, arise from
superstition, and not from Christian principle."

Observations on Various Subjects, J.A. Haldane, published by John Ritchie,
1808. pp. 12-15.

the village idiot, at your service,

David Anderson


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


Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2002 08:03:49 EST
From: Steffasong
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Nicolaitan 'spirit'

In a message dated 02/12/2002 6:55:13 PM Eastern Standard Time,
homechurch(--AT--)homechurch.org writes:

>Some people use spirit abstractly as in 'school spirit.' But if you say
>'spirit of' something to a lot of Charismatics, they think that you are
>talking about a demon. So to label something a 'spirit' is to add something to
>Charismatic demonology.

Hi Link,

The word spirit is used in a number of ways both in the world and in the
church. I think we've got to have room to use it in a variety of ways without
fearing that people are thinking we're talking about demons.

To the folks who find a demon under every rock, I say, "Who owns the problem?'
It's much easier to attribute blame to a demonic spirit than it is to take
responsibility for laziness or lack of self-control.

Charismatics have their own lingo just like every other sect does. This is why
words matter. Language counts. Communication is important. I can't keep up
with all the new little strains of doctrine and Christian jargon in the greater
church world, that's one of the reasons I like to stick to Biblical language as
much as possible. (Of course, there are those who say that it 'religious' and
shouldn't be done).

Having a spirit of joy and encouragement is different than having THE Spirit of
Joy. We all have the Spirit of Joy within us if we know Jesus Christ, but we
don't always exhibit that joy.

BTW, What is a third waver?

Just some random thoughts this morning....

In the Lamb, Stephanie

Stephanie Bennett Creative Services & Consulting Marketing Solutions for the
21st Century


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


Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2002 08:22:08 -0800
From: jferris
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Nicolaitan 'spirit'

Steffasong wrote:

>BTW, What is a third waver?

Dear Stephanie,

Thanks for your thoughts in this post.

There may be a legitimate "third wave", but so far, for the most part, I think
the third wave is a tsunami. I don't know if I sent this in yet, but it came to
me in 2000..

TSUNAMI

As I continue to watch developments and teaching in the restoration of the
Church, I have a growing impression that a tsunami of deception is coming upon
the Church. The key word here is, "tsunami".

Webster puts it this way:

"Tsunami... a huge sea wave caused by a submarine disturbance, as an earthquake
or volcanic eruption; popularly, but inaccurately, called a tidal wave.."

The fullness of the times can, and is being spoken of in many ways, and viewed
from many perspectives. Looked at from the perspective of the Second Coming of
Christ, there is an emphasis on the things that are necessary for the
preparation for His coming again. A major focus is on the Elijah ministry, the
"forerunner ministry".

John the Baptist was understood to be the fulfillment of at least part of this
ministry, but according to the Old Testament prophecies and expectation, there
was to be more to it than the ministry of John, just as there was to be more to
it than the first coming of Jesus.

When asked about His second coming, Jesus first concern was that his disciples
not be deceived. With this as His first concern, it can be expected then, that
there will be great deception in connection with the second coming, and the
preparation for that coming.

Paul explained that "counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders" would be part of
that deception. But the "counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders"* of the
antichrist will not spring full blown on the scene with the revelation of the
man of sin. They will be normal to a wave, or movement prior to and in
preparation for his revelation. This is to say, that the antichrist will come
riding the crest of the deception which has preceded him. In short, like the
Lord, the antichrist will come in and on a great cloud of witnesses. In the
case of antichrist, error will be mixed in with truth, and in ways which are
very difficult to detect.**

Because Satan is a counterfeiter, there are several things that are clear, the
movement or tsunami will be "charismatic", apostolic, prophetic, authoritative,
and massive.***

To clarify, and identify the counterfeit by paraphrasing current teaching or
emphasis, which may well be true, "before the antichrist comes, for his people,
he will come, in his people."

An important, if not the central theme of the preparation for Jesus first
coming was, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." When the religious
leaders came out to see what John was doing, his question to them was, "O
generation of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come. Bring
forth therefore fruits meet for repentance."

Of great concern is that this dimension of repentance seems to be missing from
the present "forerunner" ministry. The man handling of the saints which has
been going on now for centuries, to date, has been left in tact. In the current
restoration or reformation, there seems to be no felt need to "repent of the
work of our own hands".****

This man made scaffolding, so long in place, appears to be needed as a
platform, by those intent on renovation and restoration. These structures and
methods, the work of man's hands, supply the financial support, as well as the
stage for the tsunami. Calling it to repentance is bad for the restoration
business. Those who are involved in the counterfeit "restoration" have
apparently chosen to leave it all intact until the one comes whose right it is
to rule over all of this. Then in one hour*****, all the staging can be taken
out of the way so that he who claims to be unshakable****** will be all that
remains and be seen.


*2 Thessalonians 2:7-12, ** Matthew 24:24, *** Revelation 13, **** Revelation
9:20, ***** Revelation 17:12--17, ******Isaiah 14:13,14, Revelation 18:7

Jay Ferris
- June, 2000


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


Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2002 15:55:14 -0000
From: "JosiasConradie"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Nicolaitan 'spirit'

Dear Jay

Just to comment quickly on your remarks, especially the following:
>Because Satan is a counterfeiter, there are several things that are clear, the
>movement or tsunami will be "charismatic", apostolic, prophetic,
>authoritative, and massive.***

The BBC broadcasted last night a fascinating but disturbing program on
Rasputin, the infamous clairvoyant who basically ruled the Russian Empire
through his impact on the last Tsar and Empress. His violent death was in a
sense the first event of the Communist Revolution. He was seen as a holy man,
could be seen as a kind of a prophet since he could say what the future was
going to bring (he predicted amongst others the death of the Tsarist family)
and had real healing powers. He was initially invited to St. Petersburg by
leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church. In a very superstituous society his
influence was massive and despite his moral conduct, his following amongst all
layers of society was immense. Despite that Rasputin is described in this
program as "The Devil in the Flesh". I would say a kind of a forerunner of the
Anti-Christ since it became clearer and clearer through out the program that
demons controlled him throughout his life.

Perhaps the most disturbing part to me, was the initial influence on his life
by a kind of fringe group of the Orthodox Church. These people danced and sang
until they fell into a trance that they said was the Holy Spirit. They healed,
spoke in tongues, prophesied and evangelised. Not dissimilar to what you
describe in your letter. At the same time they were extremely authoritarian and
participated in sexual orgies, especially when they were so-called under the
influence of the Holy Spirit. Leaders could have said basically anything since
they just said that the Holy Spirit told them or showed them that. It is from
this movement that "The Devil in the Flesh" emerged. A counterfeit of the devil
who deceived millions of people. If the devil did that through Rasputin, I am
scared to think what he might do through the real anti-Christ. We must be very
careful and pray for discernment to see through some of the movements in
contemporary Christianity otherwise we might be fooled as well - just as the
Russians have been 100 years ago. May God give us grace to have that
discernment.

Sas Conradie


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


Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2002 17:23:42
From: "David Jaggernauth"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Nicolaitan 'spirit'

Josias said:

>showed them that. It is from this movement that "The Devil in the Flesh"
>emerged. A counterfeit of the devil who deceived millions of people. If the
>devil did that through Rasputin, I am scared to think what he might do through
>the real anti-Christ. We must be very careful and pray for discernment to see
>through some of the movements in contemporary Christianity otherwise we might
>be fooled as well - just as the Russians have been 100 years ago. May God give
>us grace to have that discernment.
>

Dear Josias,

I have read many prophecies from present day prophets who speak of a
counterfeit revival that will take place simultaneously with the real,
deceiving many.

I personally am convinced that this is true not because of just what they have
said, but also because of what i have experienced in Church and what i am
hearing preached as gospel today in many Christian circles. Also because of
personal convictions the Holy Spirit has impressed upon me over a number of
years.

The bible clearly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith
giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. Also see 1 Timothy
6:3-16.

This is why we have a very serious responsibility to disciple new belivers as
well as immature believers in truth. Discipling is so important. Not just
winning converts. We have a responsibility to make sure new converts can
rightly divide the word and also be able able to present them with the right
answers in questions regarding doctrine.

I am also trying to teach people how to discern accurately. Including members
of the team that I work with. Spiritual discernment has a lot to do with
allowing the spirit of God to instruct you on the inside. I remember recently
an incident that happened. One of our friends from a house meeting that we were
away from for a while started going to another Church close by. I wanted to
meet the pastor so she arranged for us to go see them. After we met he showed
us around the Church, nice new building, air conditioned, big.

Upon departing I shook hands with him and imediately the Holy Spirit put a
check within me. As we were driving home I told the group that something wasnt
connecting rightly with me concerning the pastor. One month later we heard the
the Church split and the entire leadership walked out. The problem was isssues
concerning money and controlling attitudes.

Since then our friend has realised that the Pastor seems more interested in her
tithe than anything else and has been making statements that are contrary to
sound biblical doctrine.

There is a price that has to be paid for truth. Jesus paid the initial price,
but we have to continue the same example daily. Labour for the presence of God,
in prayer and fasting. Dont ever let yourself become comfortable, the moment
you let your guard down you can be deceived. I dont think you will ever reach a
place where you are satisfied, i havent, but in the process of seeking and
searching your joy will be fulfilled.

One of the major problems is that modern Christianity has become a Gospel of
comfort. Sit back and let the pastor take you on a ride. its much easier to let
some else do all the work for you. This is the first step before you begin to
fall asleep.

I always encourage our people to pay the price to seek out God themselves, make
everyday count. I also tell others that its okay to disagree with us. Dont
swallow everything we tell them wholesale, check it out for themselves.

David Jaggernauth
Trinidad


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


Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2002 13:23:39 -0500
From: "Samuel Buick"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Nicolaitan 'spirit' - comments to Sas

Dear Sas:

From: "JosiasConradie"
>
>Perhaps the most disturbing part to me, was the initial influence on his life
>by a kind of fringe group of the Orthodox Church. These people danced and sang
>until they fell into a trance that they said was the Holy Spirit. They healed,
>spoke in tongues, prophesied and evangelised. Not dissimilar to what you
>describe in your letter. At the same time they were extremely authoritarian
>and participated in sexual orgies, especially when they were so-called under
>the influence of the Holy Spirit. Leaders could have said basically anything
>since they just said that the Holy Spirit told them or showed them that. It is
>from this movement that "The Devil in the Flesh" emerged. A counterfeit of the
>devil who deceived millions of people.

I just want to say that the devil only seeks to undermine and distort the
authentic work of the Spirit. When we speak of all these things, we need to
understand that we are constantly dealing with the flesh, the world and the
devil, and many times it is a combination of all three! Wherever the Spirit of
the Lord is manifested and many things appear to us as strange, we will find
the mixture in the midst.

Wherever the Lord has manifested Himself in glory and power, there has been the
presence of those people, who may not be experiencing what others genuinely are
under the power of the Spirit, so they will 'manufacture it' in the flesh,
because they don't want to be left out or thought of as being apart from what
the Lord is doing. I have seen it, and regretably I myself have manufactured
it, just so that I could fit in. I have found others who will testify to the
same. It happens, and it is part of our struggle with the flesh.

Also we will find those who have had demonic influences and strongholds in
their lives and have made a way open for the demonic to manifest strangely in
the midst of gatherings. There are also those who have been demon possessed
and have made a spectacle of themselves.

All in all the flesh and the demonic are used by the devil to distract other
genuine believers from what the Spirit is actually desirous of doing in their
lives.

The need for discernment is in being able to know the difference, and to
confront the demonic biblically, and at the same time being very open to the
Lord manifesting Himself as He desires, even if it appears weird to you and I.

>If the devil did that through Rasputin, I am scared to think what he might do
>through the real anti-Christ. We must be very careful and pray for discernment
>to see through some of the movements in contemporary Christianity otherwise we
>might be fooled as well - just as the Russians have been 100 years ago. May
>God give us grace to have that discernment.
>
>Sas Conradie

My own comments here will reveal what others have come to know of me on this
list. Simply put, I am not scared of what the devil can do. He is a defeated
foe. The whole issue of 'the anti-christ' is that this thing is a 'spirit' and
must be dealt with accordingly. But your reference infers a dispensational
understanding of what some have coined the 'end times'. I for one don't
believe in that understanding of the doctrine of the 'times of the end of the
old covenant'. The inference of your comments deals with passages that have
ALREADY been historically fulfilled prophetically.

I do agree that we need to be watchful of the enemy but needless fear is not
what we need. Deception is an ongoing reality. We often deceive ourselves. We
need to remain broken before the Lord and cry out that He would rend our hearts
open and expose our own hearts and continue to transform us from the inside
out. We need vigilence and persistent intercession, that in spite of the flesh
and the demonic, God will indeed manifest His glorious presence and accomplish
what He desires to accomplish.

Blessings,

Sam


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


Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002 12:50:28 +0200
From: "Deborah"
Subject: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence

Jim Rutz wrote:

>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.)

I recognize the elder prof's (and your) point, but let's look at some hard
evidence. Many of the churches of this time (c. 90 A.D.-160 A.D.), planted by
Paul or second generation congregations from Pauline plants, were in
correspondance with each other. We don't have them all, but we do have a few
of their letters. And we can tell some things about those churches from what
they wrote to each other. For instance, we have a letter from Ignatius (of
Antioch, Syria) to Polycarp (of Smyrna, Asia) in which he writes:

"Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch, and a witness for Jesus Christ, to Polycarp,
the bishop of the Church of the SmyrnÊans, ..." (TO POLYCARP, opening
comments).

Also we have a letter from Polycarp to the Phillipians (Macedonia) in which he
mentions "blessed Ignatius" as an example of patience which "... ye have seen
before your eyes" (TO THE PHILLIPIANS ix). In other words, they had met
Ignatius. Seen him. They were personally familiar with his character. He was
fronted by John's disciple Polycarp as one for the Phillipian Christians to
emulate. And he was *the* mono-bishop of Antioch. Not a heretic.

Furthermore, Polycarp was also a mono-bishop of this period (c. 100 A.D.) ...
as was the bishop of Smryna (viii), Ephesus (ii-vi), Philadelphia (iii)-- no
mean churches. Not to mention Rome (ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY. Eusebius, x).
Lesser-known MONOEPISCOPACIES existed in Magnesia and Tralles, both in Asia
Minor between (and slightly south of) Colosse and Smyrna. And I of course
would be remiss if I didn't mention James, "*the* bishop of Jerusalem" (EH.
Eusebius, book II, i-- emphasis mine).

My point? There were MONOEPISCOPACIES in the leading churches of Judea, Syria,
Asia, and Rome from the Apostolic period onward. Couldn't we reasonably expect
at least a hint of scandal from *some place* if a single bishop fellowship were
considered "unkosher"? In any of the correspondence? Histories? Anywhere in
the traditions these guys claimed were so faithfully perserved by them? A
paragraph in Ireneus' AGAINST HERESIES? A black mark from Eusebius?
Something? Anything? If not against the "violators" at least against the
practice of single bishop churches. But there is zippo, ... zilch mentioned
anywhere against any of the people or the practice. Not one little objection
exists against MONOEPISCOPACIES in all the literature of the ancient church.
All the debates of this era were not written down, it's true, but the
comprehensive ANTE-NICENE FATHERS set (eds. Roberts and Donaldson, Grand
Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979) is nine thick volumes and an index. We've
got a lot. Surely some oblique remark would have made its way into the
Christian literature of the period. Treatise after treatise written, ready to
expose any slight error in Christ's Body. Instead what we get is one unanimous
portrait of churches throughout all sectors of the Roman empire in which a
mono-bishop is treated quite normally.

We might infer from the historical data that nobody was alarmed or even thought
it strange to have mono-bishops, even in the very churches most influenced by
Pauline theology. As if what Paul wrote in his letters may have even *allowed*
for MONEPISCOPACIES. That it wasn't an objectionable practice at all. This is
how I would read evidence if I didn't have any axes to grind.

Tomorrow (God willing) we'll look at Jim's second and third sub-points under
his #4 MONOEPISCOPACY.

Michael
Jerusalem

New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V2 #38

< Previous Digest Next Digest >




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