New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches



NT Church Proliferation Digest Thursday, July 25 2002 Volume 02 : Number 128
Re: [NTCP] What are apostles?
[NTCP] Re: HC*Talk- Supporting elders financially
[NTCP] God providing

Date: Wed, 24 Jul 2002 00:32:16 -0400
From: "Linkh * bigfoot" <Linkh * worldnet.att>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] What are apostles?

Brother Dick Scoggins,

I appreciate your excellent response. I'd like to make a few comments:

> The signs and wonders
> are a further testament. It is interesting that he is saying all these
> things almost incredulous that he should have to. But he is NOT saying in
> 12:12 the converse, that anyone who does not do signs and wonders is NOT
an
> apostle. Merely that there should be no question about his apostleship.
> (There seem to be a number of cities where Paul's teams planted churches
> where there were no signs and wonders done.)

You do believe, though, that he 'signs' of an apostle in II Cor. 12:12 are
signs, wonders and mighty deeds?

I read one interpretation that Paul did the signs of an apostle-- enduring
the suffering mentioned in the chapter-- accompanied by signs, wonders, and
mighty deeds. But I suspect that 'sign' in Greek may imply someting
miraculous.

If signs and wonders are a mark of an apostle, then wouldn't that indicate
that if one is an apostle, he would do signs and wonders? I can see your
point, I suppose, but it would seem the these thigns are typical, at the
least, fo the apostolic ministry.

What is the difference between an evangelist and an apostle. I would think
that an apostle--at least any one who worked with Paul-- would have
functioned as an evangelist, proclaiming the Gospel. The apostles in
Jerusalem also proclaimed the Gospel.

But Philip went down to Samaria preaching, and a church was started through
his efforts when he won Samaritans to Christ. He was even 'sent' in a
sense, by the Spirit to the Ethiopian. Philip is called an evangelist, but
not an apostle.

Philip was not sent out by the Jerusalem church to Smaria as far as we know.
He didn't do a lot of 'follow up' having the apostles come in to make sure
the people were filled with the Spirit. It would seem unlikely that he was
involved in appointing elders. He did have an evangelistic gift.

What about people like Philip who go out and start new churches with no one
sending them out? Are they apostles?

Is the sending out of a worker through a church, under the direction of a
church a criteria for his apostleship? I noticed that Paul and Barnabas are
only called 'apostles' in Acts after they were sent out in chapter 13. I
thought that most significant when I first noticed it. I thought that
perhaps Christ's calling of him predicted that he would be sent out as an
apostle in the future, in Acts 13.

But then, it seems that Paul may have considered himself to be an apostle
before he was sent out by the Antiochan church:

Galatians 1:16-17
16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen;
immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me;
but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

Doesn't verse 17 indicate that Paul was an apostle at his conversation? The
following passage is further evidence if one holds to the south Galatian
theory--which seems by far the most plausible explanation for understanding
the book of Galatians:

Galatians 2:7-9
7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was
committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;
8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the
circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the
grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands
of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the
circumcision.

Paul also said he was not an apostle 'of men:'
Galatians 1:1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus
Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)

If Paul became an apostle in Acts 13, then how would this square with him
not being an apostle 'of men?' If he were an apostle before, then can we
say that all apostles have been sent out by a church or by those in
authority in the church?

> DS: I believe that apostels have authority to plant churches where
> there are none (this has to be carefully defined--eg. would CP
amongst
> Hmong in an inner city of the USA where there were no Hmong churches
> be considered apostolic CP?, I think yes). They have the authority to
> plant the church and ordain the elders.

I'd thought of that sort of a scenario when I wrote the previous message.
But another doctrinal point that comes to mind on this issue is that in the
Bible, we see the 'church in X city' pattern. If Paul preached the Gospel
to some Gentile enclave in Jerusalem on a trip there, would have had
authority to appoint elders, or would the Jerusalem apostles or presbretry
have had that right?

> Then they are to leave. They
> can give input afterwards, but the final authority in the church (or
> network of house churches) would be the elders, not the Apostles.

If Galatians was written to the certain of the First Missionary Journey
churches, then Paul was giving instructions to churches that already had
elders. Of course, I don't see why any would think that Paul would loose
his right to argue strongly for doctrinal truth after the appointment of the
elders.

In I Corinthians, there is no mention of bishops. I think this epistle may
have been written during the growth stage of the church while the elders
within the church were still maturing to the point where they would be ready
to be appointed as elders. Paul and Barnabas left churches alone without
appointed leadership, and then appointed elders from within the
congregations. (Elders were not to be novices, and since they were
appointed from within, the waiting period would have been necessary.)

In I Corinthians we see that Paul acts as a judge on a spiritual issue in
their assembly-- the man who had his father's wife. Since there is no
mention of appointed elders in the book, this doesn't violate the idea of
apostles not interfering once elders are appointed.

But another book of the Bible does seem to contradict this principle. I
Timothy. Chapter 5 mentions elders that rule well, so apparently there were
some recognized elders in charge. But Timothy is there fucntioning in an
apostolic role. Paul gives him instructions about appointing bishops.
Apparently Timothy would be doing the appointing. Paul did tell him to 'lay
hands on no man suddenly.' Also, Paul told Timothy to receive not charges
against an elder except by two or three witnesses. Could it be that
Timothy, as an apostle, was serving as a judge temporarily while he was
there?

I do believe that apostles are to nurture churches until they can be mature
and 'independant' in a sense. In Acts, the apostles started out
distributing food to widows, collecting offerings laid at their feet, and
all their preaching duties. By the end of the book of Acts, elders were
receiving money given to the poor. Paul was sent to James and the elders
when he came to town in the midst of contraversy, not the 12 apostles. I
believe the elders and deacons grew to take over the responsibilities of
apostles over time.

Paul served as a judge in a case for Corinth, but in the next chapter, he
rebuked them for not having their own judges. Timothy may have served as a
judge in Ephesus-- or maybe he did so only in cases against elders. Maybe
the church leadership was to eventually develop to the point where they
didn't need an apostle to serve as a judge, or to appoint elders.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't see the Biblical case for the
idea that an apostle necessarily looses his 'measure of rule' once elders
are appointed. I suppose it's possible that Paul and his team continued
contributing in decision making during an initial phase of the churches'
life in order to help train the elders. Paul spent three years in Ephesus
exhorting the elders day and night with tears. If he never saw them again
after that, the they must have been able to get along without seeing him in
person after that.

> (BTW
> they always work in groups or teams in the Bible. You never see a
> church planted by a solo apostle.)

Some have said that Epaphras was an apostle. Paul said the churches in
Colossia and two other cities heard the word from him, and he didn't mention
a co-worker.

Of course, we don't know whether Epaphras was an apostle or an evangelist.
He may also have had unnamed co-workers.
> They are also itinerant.
> Since they are sent ones, they are required to move on, or they cease
> their apostolic function.

What about the Twelve in Jerusalem? They were in that city for years, and
were still called 'apostles' in scripture. Peter was sent to the Jews, and
Jews just kept coming to the city where he was for feasts and to relocate,
and he stayed there a long time in Jerusalem evangelizing them.

I noticed that Watchman Nee's view of apostleship was very much focused on
Paul and his team. Later, if the Living Streams books are accurate, Nee
modified his view to include the idea of Peter being both an apostle and
elder. Some views of apostleship don't seem to take into account the fact
that the Twelve may have been at least somewhat stationary for an extended
period of time.
> Some who believe in modern apostles (IC usually)
>
> DS: Sorry to display my ignorance, but I do not know what IC is.

Sorry: IC is Internet talk for 'the Institutional Church.' Sometimes, the
radicals will also call the IC 'the whore of Babylon' but I haven't seen
that idea on this forum that I can recall (fortunately)
> If a territory or region already has a church, can an apostle come to that
> area, expand the growth of the church, and share in the 'measure of rule?'
>
> DS: An apostle can always be invited into an existing church and
share
> as long as he does so under the authority of the existing eldership.
> He can add what the Lord has given him to what is happenging there.
> But he is probably operating in an Eph. 4 manner rather than
> apostolically (breaking new ground by planting churches where there
> are none).

From what I understand, an apostle functioning in this manner would not have
the 'measure of rule' that apostles who started the work had.

Another issue I would appreciate comments on is the 'measure of rule' a
'founding pastor' would have.

In Indonesia, one of the big evangelism efforts involves training Bible
college students in theology, and requiring them to win at least 18 souls to
Christ before graduation. These graduates go out in twos to start new
churches in new villages. The plan is called One One One: one church in
every one village in one generation. There are plenty of unreached
villages.

The book I plan to write (prayers that I complete it are appreciated.) will
compare this concept of sending a 'founding pastor' to found a church and
stay there all his life, to the Biblical concept of the travelling church
planter who goes around planting churches, leaving them to reach new areas
occasionally visiting or sending letters and co-laborers, and returning to
appoint elders _from within_ the body.

What about a 'founding pastor' of a church in an unreached village on the
frontiers of the Gospel? Does he have a 'measure of rule' similar to that
of an apostle? What if an evangelist's preaching births a church, but the
evangelist is not an apostle-- as may have been the case with Philip the
evangelist? Does he have a 'measure of rule' in that church?

Thank you for the good responses to tough questions.

Link Hudson


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Date: Wed, 24 Jul 2002 12:30:06 -0400
From: David Anderson <david * housechurch>
Subject: [NTCP] Re: HC*Talk- Supporting elders financially

Vanessa wrote:

>I would say that ONLY traveling ministers, like someone going to preach in
>China, should be supported by the church.
>
>I also find it disgusting when preachers use the money they get in church
>to pay for their children's private schools, new model cars, great
>houses... or to make their temples 'beautiful' as if God needed that!!!
>YUCK!
>
>Still, remember that when Jesus sent his apostles to preach, he told them
>to take NOTHING. All would be provided on the way. can anyone say they
>have an spostolic ministry if not done that way?
>
>Besides, when God wants you to have money, He will send it from anywhere.
>He told me (yes, I heard it outloud) that He would provide for all my
>charity work, and He has so far. And it is only my own weakness that has
>prevented more financing. Also that I refused large financing offers from
>a beer company and from a foundation named after a Hindu God. Now I'm sure
>God will send me MUCH more because I followed his rules!! (we will take
>money from the beer company to build the refill school, but I'm not
>touching a cent! I'd rather starve, just as I don't work for corrupt
>multinational companies and HAVE starved because of that!)
>
>vanessa

Praise the Lord for his watch-care over your life and work!

Good points you make, sister V. It is unimaginable to me that the early
house churches, overseen by groups of elders, could have paid multiple
salaries - particularly when Paul exhorted elders to do as he did and to
labor with their hands. Acts 20, as we already noticed.

Well then, let's suppose that each elder received a weekly fee for his
shepherding services. Such an arrangement, which would involve dividing
money, would likely usher in many hard feelings. I rarely hear of money
being divided without hurt feelings.

Another factor: The word "preach" is not ordinarily used to describe the
verbal activity of the gathered saints or their overseers. Those who
preach and thus "live by the gospel" are our evangelists or missionaries,
workers generally beyond the local assemblies. Also recall that Jesus is
said to have gone forth preaching and teaching.

I have seen a number of threads on financial related things over the
years. Some writers appeal (appropriately) to the support of preachers or
apostles and then infer that local pastors (elders) also qualify. Myself,
I don't see it.

Good works are the Christian's occupation and therefore anyone may give a
gift to anyone at anytime. Traveling teachers, preachers, and full time
workers deserve our honor and financial support. Common sense tells us so.

It would seem that house churches could free up major money that could be
used for something other than keeping the traditional church machinery in
motion, doing more harm than good, and severing the nerve of volunteerism.

Praise the Lord, anyway.

David Anderson


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Date: Thu, 25 Jul 2002 05:40:06 -0700 (PDT)
From: Vanessa DiDomenico <van3hijos * yahoo>
Subject: [NTCP] God providing

Yesterday, I received a visit at my warehouse of the gedeons. They want to
rent some space for storing about 200-300 thousand Bibles to be given out
here. Also, I volunteered as an interpreter for the Americans coming here,
but they said they would give me a tithe! (the word we used in spanish was
'ofrenda' an offer of help, but can't think of the exact word in english)

ALso, I happened to meet the husband of the director of the children's
jail, and may begin to tutor boys between 16-18 who have been murderers,
rapists, and other serious crimes. I decided to start by reading the
Bible... the part where Paul, even though he killed many christians, was
chosen by God to go to the gentiles. I want the boys to feel that God can
forgive them too. Most have been very poor and abused, sometimes
completely alone since 5-6 yrs old. My husband will be coming with me. He
said he didn't want me alone with the boys, but he also has a lot to help
them with, since he was also a street gang boss as a child. opinions?

And this afternoon I may meet my beloved president, Hugo Chavez, and many
of his party people here already want to support my projects. The mayor
has switched over to Chavez's party, so now we only have to fight the
governor over the land to be used for the building of the landfill school
and so he'll stop killing street children. Pray that I can represent the
people in need as God wants me to, or not if he does not want me to.

Love,
Vanessa


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