New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches



New Testament Church Proliferation Digest Tuesday, June 18 2002 Vol 02 : 104
[NTCP] House Church Networks
[NTCP] New House Church website now online
Re: [NTCP] House Church Networks
Re: [NTCP] House Church Networks
Re: [NTCP] House Church Networks - Larry Kreider
[NTCP] SE house church conference
[NTCP] How does a NT "sacrament" function?

Date: Sun, 16 Jun 2002 20:28:31 -0500
From: "J. Guy Muse"
Subject: [NTCP] House
Church Networks

In a news release from Baptist Press 6/13/02 there was an interesting report
about house churches in China. I have included parts of this report below.

My question deals with "house church networks" How do they function? Who
organizes them? How do they relate to one another?

In the past two years we have seen 120 house churches started in our city. We
are now trying to grapple with how they should relate to one another. Any
input on house church networks would be appreciated.

"...He [Jerry Rankin] introduced Pastor Yun, a Chinese evangelist who works
with several house church networks in China -- two of which are larger than the
Southern Baptist Convention with its 16 million members...Rankin explained that
Yun is challenging members of China's house churches not only to take the
gospel to all of China but also to send 100,000 Chinese believers to take the
good news of salvation in Jesus Christ to the Muslim world and back to
Jerusalem, Rankin said.

Yun closed the board's presentation with an impassioned prayer in his native
tongue that God would give Southern Baptists that same vision and commitment to
share the gospel..."

Guy Muse
Guayaquil, Ecuador


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Date: Sun, 16 Jun 2002 19:44:06 -0600
From: "JC"
Subject: [NTCP] New House
Church website now online

Check this out!

Church Without Walls International

www.cwowi.org JC


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Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2002 01:54:19 -0400
From: jferris
Subject: Re: [NTCP] House
Church Networks

Here's another good address:

http://www.ntrf.org/ekklesia.html


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Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2002 10:47:22 -0400
From: "Samuel Buick"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] House Church Networks

Hi!

As a house church network, our committment is to walk relationally with the
Lord and with one another and to come to one another as brothers and sisters
where Jesus is the head.

We committ ourselves to times of prayer and intercession for our city and
express unity in joint worship celebrations where people can gather and several
speakers share. There are ministry teams formed from all who come and personal
ministry is encouraged. There is also a large shared meal together and the
Lord's table is shared with all who come.

It is intimate and focussed, and the purpose for gathering is for hearing the
Father's heart for our city and celebrating Jesus together and ministering to
needs.

Blessings, Sam


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Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2002 10:56:50 -0400
From: "Samuel Buick"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] House Church Networks - Larry Kreider

You can read:

House Church Networks: A church for a new generation, by Larry Kreider House to House Publications, 1924 West Main St. Ephrata, PA 17522, USA You can order the book online at:
House Church Networks By: Larry Kreider Type: Trade Paperback Vendor: House To
House Publications ISBN: 1886973482 UPC: 9781886973480 CBD Stock Number:
WW73483 Dimensions: 7.50 X 5.25 Retail Price: $9.99 CBD Price: $7.99 You Save
$2.00 (20%)

Blessings, Sam


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Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2002 15:34:31 -0400
From: "Linkh
Subject: [NTCP] SE house church conference

I went to two days of the Southeastern house church conference Friday and
Saturday. I really enjoyed it. I had something to do Sunday, so I couldn't
make the last day.

It was great to meet Tony, Felicity, and Jonathan Dale, Jim Rutz, Dan Beaty,
Jay Ferris, Bruce Gordan, Bob Lund, Robert Fitts, the Hubbel's and many other
people. It was fun to actually get to meet people face to face that I'd only
known through the Internet. Sorry Dan and Jay for not getting a chance to say
goodbye before I left.

Frankly, I expected there to be a contingent of exclusive loose cannon house
church types there, talking about the whore of Babylon and over reacting
against any expression of organization. It seemed like the conference was full
of mature, loving Christians. There were a lot of church planters there as
well. Maybe I'll get to see the rest of the posters on this forum someday. I
kept hoping David Anderson would change his mind and decide to show up, since
he was thinking about it.

Tony Dale spoke the first night, mostly a testimohy about his life, and how the house church movement broke out in England. I was impressed to see the quality of the print in House2House magazine. The web page is good, but I didn't know what the magazine would look like. The last I checked, it was still available on the web.

Sorry I haven't checked in here much. I've been keeping myself busy recently.
My wife is about to deliver our baby.

God bless you all,

Link


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Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 11:35:47 +0200
From: "Deborah"
Subject: [NTCP] How does a NT "sacrament" function?

Dear NTCP listserve members, Let's revisit at a familiar biblical passage--
this time with "Jewish eyes":

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in
me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved
me and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20).

We should note first of all that Paul had been referring to the Torah (Law)
throughout the book of Galatians as if it still had some effect on him. The
Law effected (caused) his death in order for him to be able to "live for God"
(Gal. 2:19)-- with the implication that he wanted the people of the Galatian
churches to which he was writing to come into this awareness as well. Paul
argued later on in this same letter that the curse of the Law (which is part of
the Torah) is *still* in effect for those who rely on "the works of the Law"
(Gal. 3:10). He also quoted from or alluded to the Torah throughout this
epistle as if he assumed that it still had some authority (Gal. 3:6, 8, 10, 12,
16; 4:21-25, 31; 5:14). Thus the view which says that the Law was simply done
away with on Calvary is seriously undermined by this and other evidence.

Paul grounded this stage of his case against legalism on a principle noted in
the well-known rabbinic dictum of the day that when "a man dies, he is free
from the Law and the commandments" (b. Nid. 61b; b. Sabb. 30a; 151b; b. Pes.
51b; j. Kil. 32a, ch. 9, hal. 4; m. Qidd. 1:1). His point was not at all that
the Torah had "died" ... but that *he himself* had (see above verse).
Consequently, through that death he was no longer subject to the Law's
righteous punishment. But how did Paul die?

First of all, the Torah brought him under the sentence of death by his personal failures to live up to it's righteous standards. Secondly, he participated in the corporate sentence against his own Jewish nation because of their unfulfilled obligation to God to be "holy". Both ways, individually and nationally, Paul the Jew had been under the "curse of the Law". That is before his baptism into Christ Jesus.

However-- and this is important-- it is one of the 613 commandments in the
Torah to "live" (Deu. 30:19). The Torah which *commands* life rewards a
habitual offender with death-- a paradox, ... unless he/she can find a way to
die without disobeying the commandment to live. In other words, Paul was
saying to the Galatians that he had discovered a way to die and escape the
Torah's curse which also allowed him to obey the commandment to live (Deu.
30:19). All within the framework of the Law itself.

There is another axiom repeated throughout the ancient Jewish writings: "All
the prophets prophesied ONLY for the days of the Messiah ..." (b. Sanh. 99a;
also b. B'rak. 34b; other places-- emphasis mine). Even the Torah itself was
considered by ancient Jews to be a blueprint for the Messiah's life and the
great deeds he would accomplish when he arrived (Tanch. 2. 99a; Deb. R. 1).
Thus Paul could later say to the (quite!) biblically literate Roman Christians
with absolute assurance of being understood that "Christ is the end [Gk.
TELOS-- goal, purpose, aim-- not cessation] of the law for righteousness" (Rom.10:4). The Torah-true way to die in order to live that Paul had discovered, and that he wanted to make sure his Galatian readers/hearers understood, was *Christ himself*. The Person. But how does one in some sense *become* another person?

Now the Jewish people have had since biblical days an understanding of time
which was in some ways revolutionary to the ancient world. They saw history as
having a beginning and a goal. Time wasn't completely cyclical but moved
forward in an ongoing direction ... with a distinct purpose. The goal was "the
age to come" (a rabbinic technical term-- but see Mat. 12:32; Mar. 10:30; Luk.
18:30; Eph. 1:21; Heb. 6:5) in which God would right every wrong and life would be bliss. This was a future time, yet there were instances in which God broke through in "present time" and gave them a taste of this eternity (see again Heb. 6:5). That was/is one purpose of the Sabbath. It prefigured/s the peace and rest of the coming age. The obligation for Jews to observe the Sabbath amounted/s to a commandment to reach up and grab a piece of eternity and bring it into Israel's life every week.

This was/is also one of the purposes of Israel's feasts, which each had/have
memorial and prophetic significance. The commandments to observe the feasts of
Israel really demanded a reenactment of events such as the Passover, where each year Israel had to slay a lamb (impossible to lawfully fulfill today without the Jerusalem temple), eat unleavened bread, and bitter herbs, or like Succot (Feast of Tabernacles) in which Jewish people were/are required to build flimsy structures like they built during their ancestors' wilderness wanderings. In reenacting the event, it was/is believed that they were/are in some sense *participating* in the *original event*-- that time(s) when the eternal God broke through into human history. It was/is also one of the purposes of covenants and their rituals. The ceremonies and rituals "collapsed time" so that the past could/can in some sense be reenacted and experienced in the present. For instance, Moses said to the generation born in the wilderness
that was about to enter the promised land:

"The LORD our God made a covenant with US at Horeb. It was NOT with our fathers [those that actually stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai and said, "We do"] that the LORD made this covenant, but with US, with all of us who are alive here today. The LORD spoke to YOU face to face out of the fire on the mountain" (Deu. 5:2-4, emphasis mine).

Somehow the covenant-renewal ceremony at the plateau of Moab transcended time
so that what had happened some forty years prior at Mt. Sinai-- to the previous generation-- could be entered into and appropriated right then and there in the next generation's "now".

It was/is the same with the Passover ritual. Each successive generation,
according to the liturgy, was/is to say that they themselves were slaves in
Egypt, .... that they themselves *personally* experienced the deliverence of
God (Exo. 32:25-27, pay attention to the pronouns). This personalization of
what took place in someone else's [actual] life transcended/s time and
brought/brings the effects of the past covenant blessings into their present.
The ancient deliverence was/is continuously updated into a current deliverence. A present salvation.

So it is with Paul's description of Christ's death. What had historically
occured more than a decade before on the cross is spoken of as if it had just
happened. Furthermore, the person who actually died at Calvary is blurred so
that Paul speaks of it as being a "co-crucifixion" (Gk. SUNESTAUROMAI, Gal.
2:20). When, some 17 years after Jesus' death, Paul participated with faith in
the ritual of baptism into Christ, he himself reenacted Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. What had occurred in the past became a part of Paul's present (Act. 22:16; Rom. 6:2-11). The person to whom it occurred became him. In a covenantal sense.

That's also how it is with us. When we, with faith in Christ (rituals by
themselves have no efficacy), are baptised, we too receive the benefits
procurred for us by Christ's death, burial and resurrection. We too die to sin
and the righteous sentence of the Torah against us. In fact, we become seated
with Christ Jesus in heaven, so close are we identified with him in covenant
(Eph. 2:6).

In the same way, by partaking worthily of the Lord's Supper we "remember"
Jesus-- a word packed with meaning in the OT. And on into the NT. Memory is
not something passive in biblical thought, but something which results in
actions of covenant faithfulness.

"But God REMEMBERED Noah [had He ever forgotten him?!?!-- MICHAEL] and all the
wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a
wind over the earth, and the waters receded. Now the springs of the deep and
the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible" (Gen. 8: 1-5, emphasis and bracketed comments mine).

And:

"So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he REMEMBERED Abraham, and he
brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had
lived" (Gen 19:29).

When we *remember* Jesus during the Eucharist, we are vowing to continue on in
covenant loyalty to the Lord who died for us, and this MUST result in good
works, or we are not "remember[ing]" Jesus biblically. In addition, when we
partake of the communion elements, we are reenacting the night of his betrayal,
with the potent symbols of unleavened bread and wine, standing for his body and blood in death. But do not be deceived by modern thinking not open to the
Bible's world view; communion is not a mere ceremony. It transports us back in
time to the passion of our Lord, and effects our co-participation in it.
People, after all, don't get judged by God to the point of DEATH for violating
decorum.

"Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man
ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment" (1 Cor. 11:27-31).

Something much more important was/is at stake in the above verses. When Paul
wrote his rebuke, it was as if the Corinthian belivers had been going back in
time to the Lord's crucifixion and getting drunk on his blood while gorging on
his flesh. At the cross. What an abomination! When we partake during
communion, we too must remember that we do not simply perform some ritual which
has no real substance. It is God's means of "collapsing time" so that we too
are present "on the night he was betrayed" (1 Cor. 11:23).

Christ death was truly a "once for all" event (Heb. 7:27). However, *our*
"transport" through time to that "once for all" event can happen as frequently
as we partake in faith of the "body and blood" of the Lord (1 Cor. 11:27).

Paul was co-crucified with Christ. So are modern NT believers. At the
Apostle's baptism, ... that's when it occurred to him. So it is at our
baptisms. Paul's covenant with the Lord was renewed (at least) weekly during
the taking of the communion elements. So should ours be-- with a commitment to
covenant deeds of faithfulness.

Paul, as a Jew, saw the world somewhat differently than we often do. He read
the Scripture differently. True, Paul was not a Catholic, ... but neither was
he a Protestant. He was a Jew and a Pharisee who never gave up being either.
But he was a Jew/Pharisee who followed Jesus the Messiah-- who became so
intimately identified with Jesus the Messiah in covenant that he could speak of
what was true for Jesus being true for him. Sacraments were a big part of how
the "collapsing of time" occurred/s to Jews. And the early Church. This is
part of what Gal. 2:20 meant to Paul. Therefore this too is what the passage
should mean to us.

Michael
Jerusalem


End of New Testament Church Planting Digest V2 #104

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