New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches



NT Church Proliferation Digest Monday, October 7 2002 Volume 02 : Number 175
RE: [NTCP] House Church Venom
[NTCP] Let's Organize!
Re: [NTCP] Let's Organize!
Re: [NTCP] Let's Organize!
RE: [NTCP] Let's Organize!

Date: Sun, 6 Oct 2002 09:13:40 -0400
From: forwarded <forwarded * homechurch>
Subject: RE: [NTCP] House Church Venom

Hey Dave

I'm off to CT for 2 weeks for the New England House Church Confernece.
Prompt me again when I get back and I'l be glad to consider your request
in earnest!

God bless

Steve Atkerson


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Date: Sun, 06 Oct 2002 15:41:27 +0000
From: goodwordusa * att
Subject: [NTCP] Let's Organize!

Here's a thought: Rather than continue as a few scattered house-churches, here
and there, how about we band together and make ourselves strong and influential?

Ideas like that ever cross your mind?

Should we make a name of ourselves? Should believers work to promote our
personal or institutional name, our own teachings, our own organizations?

We human beings always want to make a name for ourselves. Many men have a
strong desire to be leaders, to be famous and powerful, and to leave a legacy
or monument to their own name.

We've all heard and read about the building of the Tower of Babel. Men in
their fear and arrogance desired to build a name and a place for themselves.

Scripture says:
And they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is
in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad
over the face of the whole earth." (Genesis 11:4)

God's response to this arrogance?

Scripture says:
So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth,
and they ceased building the city. (Genesis 11:8)

But this one event did not correct the hearts of men. They no longer spoke one
language, and they no longer lived all together in one place as a species, but
they still had the same basic desires -- to make a name for themselves.

Pharaoh was a man, in a line of such men, who exalted himself on the earth as a
god. He was worshiped and served by the people of Egypt.

Yet Lord says this to Pharaoh:
"Let My people go, that they may serve Me, for at this time I will send
all My plagues to your very heart, and on your servants and on your people,
that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth.
"Now if I had stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with
pestilence, then you would have been cut off from the earth. But indeed for
this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My
name may be declared/glorified in all the earth." (Exodus 9:13b-16)

Did you catch what the Lord says? He says, in part, "that My name may be
declared/glorified in all the earth."

God is not out to make men famous or well known. He works to exalt His own
name. He talks more about this in Isaiah 66:18 & 19. (Question: When the Lord
revealed His glory to Moses in Exodus 34, whose name did the Lord proclaim?
Hint: see Exodus 33:19, and 34:5) Twice the Lord says that He will not share
or give His glory to another (Isaiah 42:8, 48:11).

Why does God exalt His own name on the earth? Is it because His ego is bigger
than ours? Hardly. It is because there is only one hope for human beings on
this earth. Only God can save a human soul.

In the early days of the Church, Peter preached to the Jewish Council in
Jerusalem [not a church council] a message that culminated in these
words: "...the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth... nor is there salvation in
any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we
must be saved." (Acts 4:10b & 12)

Much later, Paul wrote a letter to small band of believers in Philippi. The
letter contained these comments:
...Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to
be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond-
servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a
man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the
death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him
the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should
bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of
God the Father. (Philippians 2: 5b-11)

Please notice Paul's comment regarding the name of Jesus Christ: "the name
which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of
those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that
every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the
Father." (You may want to also glance at Isaiah 45:22 & 23, in this context.)

Our brother Paul is saying that God, the Father of our Lord Jesus is glorified
when the name of Jesus is exalted above all names, and when every creature
confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord of all.

God has chosen the name that should be exalted, promoted, proclaimed,
advertised, announced and glorified in all the earth. It is the name of His
Son, Jesus Christ. In every language, in every land, in every place, let the
name of the Lord be exalted.

If we work to exalt our own names, to build temples to our own selves, to make
our own following, then how can we say that we are men and women of God? If we
follow after men, and not after Christ himself, if we are content to give glory
and honor to men, praising their wisdom and their ideas, and their teachings,
then how can we say that we follow Jesus?

Paul tries to share along these lines with the believers at Corinth. The first
letter to Corinth gives a lot of attention to the fleshly ways of men following
certain men.

And the first chapter of 1 Corinthians closes with these thoughts:
For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the
flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the
foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the
weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the
base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and
the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no
flesh should glory in His presence.
But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God and
righteousness and sanctification and redemption that, as it is written, "He who
glories, let him glory in the Lord." (1 Cor 1:26-31)

Home church gives us an opportunity to allow God to do His own work among
believers. Our assemblies may be small. Our little group may not be well
known on the next street, or in the next community. We may not have a lot of
influence, as a home church, on what the rest of the Body of Christ is thinking
or doing. But we can trust God to do a good work in us -- and in others who
trust in Jesus.

The old way is still visible. Many church buildings testify to organizations
that may have started well, in times of real revival. But the groups in many
of these buildings are busy following the plans and ideas and teachings of
men.

And we see that in every generation, such teachings degenerate more and more --
having no connection with the Head of the Church, which is Jesus Christ. Even
in the denominations that still have godly men and women in them, we see many
struggles just to hold on to Biblical teachings and convictions. The pressure
is great to cave in to the world's view of marriage, of sexual decency, of
clinical murder, and so on.

Only the Lord can save us from ourselves. Only the Lord can hold us to a right
standard of life. Only the Lord can lead us in an age of darkness of great
confusion. If we follow Him alone, we do well. But if we start down the path
of following other men, forming our human organizations, and being led by human
logic, we will fall -- just as so many before us have also fallen.

Rather than making a name for our selves, or following some other guy who has a
name for himself, or creating a grand institution so that we will not be
scattered over the earth, let's determine to follow Jesus Christ -- the one and
only Name that is above every name, the one and only Savior of the world.

Jim


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Date: Sun, 6 Oct 2002 14:10:45 -0400
From: David Anderson <david * housechurch>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Let's Organize!

>Here's a thought: Rather than continue as a few scattered house-churches,
>here
>and there, how about we band together and make ourselves strong and
>influential?
>
>Ideas like that ever cross your mind?

Hi brother,

I always enjoy reading your posts. When I see your email address,
goodwordusa * att, I know that's what I'll get - a good word!

The early saints certainly were a part of an organizational structure and
support system, namely the church. They corresponded with each other,
shared apostolic letters, even appealed to Jerusalem. Some even carried
letters of recommendation from place to place. Their networks were more
of a brotherly type rather than a jurisdictional set-up.

As you pointed, problems are usually rooted in self-exaltation. God help
us.

David Anderson


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Date: Mon, 7 Oct 2002 09:08:26 EDT
From: CWOWI * aol
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Let's Organize!

I rarely respond to these emails, but wanted to share another perspective,
different from Jim's point of view...he starts out stating he's going to
share a single thought, but then lists several loaded questions...here is the
way he started...

> Here's a thought: Rather than continue as a few scattered house-churches,
> here
> and there, how about we band together and make ourselves strong and
> influential?
>
> Ideas like that ever cross your mind?
>
> Should we make a name of ourselves? Should believers work to promote our
> personal or institutional name, our own teachings, our own organizations?
>
And here's his closing thoughts...stating his premise from earlier...after
this is my thoughts on the matter.

"Rather than making a name for our selves, or following some other guy who
has a name for himself, or creating a grand institution so that we will not be
scattered over the earth, let's determine to follow Jesus Christ -- the one
and only Name that is above every name, the one and only Savior of the world."

No one would disagree with Jim that we are not to 'band together to make a
name for ourselves'. We would also agree that we should not follow 'some
other guy' and be busy 'creating a grand institution'.

But he's throwing the baby out with the bath water...it is possible to be
linked within an organization...linked by fellowship, love and commonality of
vision...while retaining autonomy.

It was God himself who gave man the authority to name things, and we are
still doing that today. So naming things...from things found in nature to
nations to families to groups of people...is not within itself wrong.

Eph 3:14-15 says that there is one family in heaven and earth named after the
Lord Jesus Christ. Within that there is the church at Sardis, the church at
Ephesus...and so on...these churches were linked in relationship to the
apostles...Paul, John, etc.

The danger with Jim's thoughts are that in the effort to not be abused or
used (his hurt from past experience comes through loud and clear in what he
wrote) by those lording authority over others, it is possible to go to far
the other way and not be related to anyone...a bunch of house church islands
as it were.

The fact that every (house) church in the NT was related to each other in
some way can be easily proven...Paul's network...or the 7 churches in
Revelation that John was assigned to give the letter to...or even in Samaria
when Philip turned the people over to the apostles in Jerusalem...they were
all related to apostles and to each other...there is no such thing as a 'free
standing' house church.

Having said that...let me say that Antioch, in Acts 11, was 'free standing'
for at least a year while Paul and Barnabus taught them...but soon they
linked up with the apostles in Jerusalem...

So while I agree we are not to be linked together to arrogantly make a name
for ourselves, we should follow the example of the early church and be linked
to each other...

As I've said elsewhere, Jesus told the apostles to submit to those they
serve, not for those they serve to submit to them...you give honor to whom
honor is due of course, but in a healthy network in which all are
related...there is balance brought forth by the servant heart of the leaders.

John
CWOWI


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Date: Mon, 7 Oct 2002 11:58:53 -0400
From: "George Howell" <elgeo * attbi>
Subject: RE: [NTCP] Let's Organize!
Amen!!! Brother John

Those of us who were damaged by the IC have a tendency to go so far the
other way that we do become islands unto ourselves.

This is a problem that feeds on itself and will cause us to become
bitter. I know because that is what initially happened to me. Then the
Lord showed me that we need to be networked with others of like mind
each in TRUE SUBMISSION to the other.

In Love
George

Matthew 24:14


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