New Testament Church Proliferation Digest

 

Spreading the Gospel via House Churches

 


New Testament Church Proliferation Digest Thursday, March 7 2002 Vol 02 : 052
[NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence-- always in houses?
[NTCP] NTCP: RE house church Trinidad
[NTCP] ethnically diverse house church's
[NTCP] Guayaquil House Church Article
[NTCP] Re: ethnically diverse house church's

Date: Wed, 6 Mar 2002 10:47:24 +0200
From: "Deborah"
Subject: [NTCP] RE:
Confronting the evidence-- always in houses?

Hi Gang!

Much of the Scriptural evidence of buildings specifically constructed for
Christian worship is indirect and conclusions must be inferred. Nevertheless it
exists. For instance, the James 2:2 passage which mentions believers at least
going to synagogue (Gk. SUNAGOGE)-- whether a Christian one or not isn't
immediately clear-- is followed by an exhortation for those aspiring to be
teachers (Jam. 3:1ff), one of the five-fold ministry gifts (Eph. 4:11, 12).
Would Christian Jews have been teachers in non-Christian synagogues? It's
possible. We know from history (and from my own personal experience working
with Jewish believers in Jesus) that many stay in the synagogue system. If so
then such teachers were held accountable by James for proper "church" teaching
there; the context of 3:1 doesn't suggest evangelism, but doctrinal
instruction. I, however, think there is a better answer.

James goes on to specifically mention the ECCLESIA toward the end of his
epistle (5:13), with elders praying for the sick, anointing them with oil, the
prayer of faith, etc.-- what appear to be distinctly Christian activities. Now
it could be argued that in 5:13 James is referring to (house?) church meetings,
while in 2:2 he was speaking of a non-Messianic synagogue. And that is a
possibility. But upon reflection, it is more likely to my mind that he is
maintaining a "church" context throughout the letter. Which means the church
(5:13) was meeting in a synagogue (2:2). The non-biblical evidence ties the
inferences made above together since it raises the question as to why there
might have been a Christian synagogue on Mt. Zion after the destruction of the
Temple in 70 A.D. (see BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY REVIEW, 16, May-June 1990: 16-35)
if the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem under James' leadership hadn't been doing
something similar before? Such a specifically built place of worship as was
recently found argues in favor of those post temple early believers having
"church" within a synagogue building. Corroborative evidence that it was a
synagogue for Jesus' followers includes the niche for the Torah (Law) scroll in
the Mt. Zion synagogue which was oriented directly toward Jesus' ex-tomb-- the
present day Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This is unlike *any* other
synagogues discovered from this period, which all had the Torah niche oriented
toward the Temple. Furthermore, the bedrock level of the synagogue yielded
specifically Christian writing. This implies a distinctly Jewish Christian
synagogue.

There is also some yet-to-be-confirmed evidence in the form of several
ceremonial items dug up by a Greek Orthodox priest from the same area on Mt.
Zion, inside an ancient MIKVEH (Jewish ritual bath; baptismal) just behind the
Upper Room/Cenacle building under which the above synagogue building was
uncovered. Each relevant artifact was either painted, embossed, or etched with
a distinctive ensignia: a fish, the tail pointing up and blending into a MAGEN
DAVID (Star of David), with a simple MENORAH (seven branched candlestick) on
top of the highest point of the star. On one marble "brick" there is an
Aramaic inscription which reads something like "LSHMN RHA" which has been
translated by some as "for the oil of the Spirit". The first part is
definitely "for oil" or "for the oil" (the letters can be read either way) but
the last part is difficult to decipher. I'm looking at the photo right now.
The letters "resh" and "het" are clear enough, but I can't make out whether the
last letter is an "aleph" or not. It probably is. The script is similar to
other Aramaic inscriptions found miles away in the desert, and has been dated
to the second century A.D. Either way, the fish/star/menorah symbol is on the
"brick," which was perhaps a stand of some kind for a container of anointing
oil. The other items with the symbol were oil lamps, vials, jars, etc.-- eight
artifacts in all (Schmalz, Reuven E. and Raymond R. Fischer. THE MESSIANIC SEAL
OF THE JERUSALEM CHURCH. Tiberias, Israel: Olim Publications, 1999).

If confirmed as authentic by credible archaeologists, this will be more
corroborative evidence that there really was a Christian (more specifically
*Nazarene*) synagogue on Mt. Zion from the 1st century until at least the
second century (remember Epiphanius' report about a "church" building on Mt.
Zion during Hadrian's time-- 130 A.D.). Additional historical evidence that
Jewish believers in Jesus continued their custom of meeting in special
buildings for worship-- albeit in the following case they remained within
non-Messianic synagogues-- comes from Jerome who lived in Bethlehem and wrote
about Jewish "Nazarenes" (wrongly considered by *some* "Church fathers" to be
heretics because of their continued observance of the Torah [Law]-- see Pritz,
Ray A. NAZARENE JEWISH CHRISTIANITY. Jerusalem: Magnus Press, The Hebrew
University, 1988), who were during his time (c. 410 A.D.), still found "in all
the synagogues of the East among the Jews" (AGAINST PELAGIUS 22, 924).

Right now I could list off several orthodox lifestyle Messianic Jews in Israel
who pray with their fellow countrymen on the Sabbath at non-Messianic
synagogues, then gather on Sundays with other followers of Jesus-- Jew and
gentile-- for more specifically Christian times of fellowship, communion,
exercising of spiritual gifts, etc. So Jerome's above description rings true,
probably coming from firsthand knowledge. Nevertheless, James and recent
archaeological finds suggest that early Jewish believers sometimes built or
utilized synagogue buildings in their Christian worship.

Michael
Jerusalem


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Date: Wed, 06 Mar 2002 15:23:03
From: "David Jaggernauth"
Subject: [NTCP] NTCP: RE house church Trinidad

Hi everyone,

Just a little note again about our little house church efforts here.

The family that we started meeting with that had demonic problems have been
seeing much breakthroughs.

During our first meeting one of the brothers prophecied to one of the daughters
that he saw her working in some kind of financial institution, like a bank.
This girl has not been able to get a job in 5 years.

Last week I spoke to the mother and she was very excited on the phone. She
brough to my attention the above incident and at the time she said she didnt
believe what our brother had said because she doesnt think that people who who
say "the Lord says this or that" knows what they are talking about. Both she
and her daughter scoffed at the word that she was given. It turns out that last
week a major local bank called her and asked her to come for an interview, an
ivestment company as well. They are very excited now.

I just came off a three day fast camp over the weekend. It was very powerful
and God moved mightily as usual. We had campers from many different countries,
Guyana, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Barbados etc.

I was surprised during the question and answer sessions how many saints from
all over have been hurt by the Church, are fed up of the excesses of the
institutional churches and are talking out.

I met a Guy living in Grenada who just left his church in Guyana. He has been
abused by the leaders there and told me stories very much like my own
experience. He was very excited to hear about the House Church movement ( it is
practically unknown in the Caribbean ) and I gave him some material to read
concerning House Churches. He wants to come to one of our meetings and says our
meeting was divinely ordered.

I am hoping that when he goes back to Grenada he will start his own house
church.

I am sorry I didnt get an opportunity to share the house church with the entire
camp. I am believing God to begin establishing house churches all over the
Caribbean. I feel the the time is right. People are very disgruntled about what
is being palmed off as Christianity. Much of what is practiced by the Church in
the Caribbean is a carbon copy of North American Christianity, TBN and Charisma
magazine.

I hope that on our next camp we will be able to share something with the enitre
group.

David Jaggernauth Trinidad and Tobago


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Date: Wed, 06 Mar 2002 13:50:57 -0500
From: "Samuel Buick"
Subject: [NTCP] ethnically diverse house church's

Well guys, here I go again, TRYING to start a discussion...

I live in a very vibrant multicultural region. Our three cities combined come
to close to 600,000 people. I have found most ethnic communities are sticking
around their own cultural mix. Historically our region was settled by form
soldiers from the British army that were granted land after the Napoleonic
wars. Many served in Irish and Scottish regiments. These were the first
settlers to the region along with some German immigrants. Then came the
Mennonites and Amish and Brethren in Christ. After WW2 there came many from
Greece, Italy, and Portugal. Since the late 1960's the mix now includes many
from India and Pakistan, the East Indies and Carribean, various countries from
Africa, and since the 1980's many from Eastearn Europe. In fact our region has
the largest segment of expatriots from the former Yugoslavia than anywhere else
in Canada. We are very diverse, and the institutional church reveals just how
much entrenched the institutional church really is.

The question for the list is "How do we approach CPing in a culturally diverse
community?"

I believe the essence of everything about our faith, is that it is founded on
relationship and restored relationship between the Father and those whom He
created in His image, through the atoning work of Jesus. He is the one who has
restored us to the Father.

Dynamically we are in relationship with the Lord and with one another, and as
we allow Jesus to live out His life through us, we shall interact with people
of other cultures. How do we interact with these people, and how should the
expression and taste and feel of body life and ministry look like in such a
culturally diverse body?

I know that I have had people from Malaysia come to my home and learned about
their culture and their own experiences and understanding of Christ.
Experiential life is somewhat different in diverse cultural groups. It was and
is still a most wonderful reminder of how people live Christ in community.

How does stuff like this impact house church?

Blessings, Sam


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Date: Wed, 6 Mar 2002 21:36:27 -0600
From: "J. Guy Muse"
Subject: [NTCP] Guayaquil House Church Article

Just in case anybody would be interested in reading an article on the house
churches being planted in Guayaquil, Ecuador check out the following link:

http://www.tconline.org/Stories/march02/ecuador.html

It is an article that came out in THE COMMISSION magazine in their March 2002
issue. Be sure to click on the "Photography" link to see some photos of some
of the people we have the privilege of working with.

Guy Muse

________________________________

J. Guy & Linda Muse Casilla 09-01-3236 Guayaquil, ECUADOR

tlf: (direct dial from USA) 011-593-4-238-2386 fax: (direct dial from USA)
1-509-275-0721 e-mail: jmuse(--AT--)gu.pro.ec ~ ~ ~ ntcp info page:
http://world-missions.org/planting ~ ~ ~

Date: Thu, 7 Mar 2002 14:23:48 -0800
From: Dan Snyder
Subject: [NTCP] Re:
ethnically diverse house church's

Dear Sam,

Good thread!

You reminded me of the "one new man" in Eph. 2:16. What a wonderful opportunity
you have for the Lord to gather so many *out of* every tribe and tongue and
people and nation... And to bring them together into a testimony of the
corporate one new man.

In the world the cultures and ethnic groups merely co-exist. In our old man we
all treasure our culture. But the Lord brings us out of our culture. (I'm not
saying we've all arrived... but I believe He's working on us).

Seems like the Lord took care of all the differences of the old man on the
cross. You could say He crossed out all the cultural things that divide the old
man.

I like Col. 3:10-11. We need to put on the new man... where there *cannot be*
Jew or Greek... all the things of the old man that divide people.

I appreciate that God doesn't see "Jewish Christians" or "Gentile Christians".
I believe the same applies to "Chinese Christians", "Russian Christians" or
"American Christians".

His view is the "one new man". Hallelujah!!!!

Dan


End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V2 #52

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