New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches



NT Church Proliferation Digest Tuesday, November 5 2002 Volume 02 : Number 198
Re: [NTCP] Preaching, where and how? (formerly: "His walk, our walk")
Re: [NTCP] FYI - free bible software
RE: [NTCP] Blown Away by Bruce!
Re: [NTCP] Preaching, where and how? (formerly: "His walk, our walk")
Re: [NTCP] Luke 10 and planting house churches
RE: [NTCP] Luke 10 and planting house churches
RE: [NTCP] Blown Away by Bruce!
Re: [NTCP] Luke 10 and planting house churches
Re: [NTCP] Luke 10 and planting house churches
RE: [NTCP] Blown Away by Bruce!


Date: Mon, 04 Nov 2002 21:16:19 +0000
From: "Bruce Woodford" <bwood4d * hotmail>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Preaching, where and how? (formerly: "His walk, our walk")

MICHAEL,
In order to do be able to answer your "rebuttals" re. "Jewish Christian
synagogues" I need you to define the term for me and also to answer some
questions.

By "Jewish-Christian synagogues" do you mean:
(1)-a Christian assembly hall where Jewish believers in Christ gathered,
(where presumably Gentile believers would also be welcomed and have right to
full and active participation with their Jewish brothers and sisters? It
would seem to me, if this were the case, it would cease to be a "Jewish"
synagogue at all!

(2)-a building (possibly as simple as a home of one of the saints) where
Jewish believers gathered as above? Did/do any Jewish synagogues happen to
be nothing more than a home where Jews gather? (If this were the case, I
would see no difficulty reconciling this with what I know of scripture and
history.) James 2:2 does NOT refer to a "Jewish synagogue" or a "synagogue
of the Jews", but simply to "your synagogue".

(3)-a building erected as a Jewish synagogue where unconverted Jews gathered
and Messianic Christians gathered with them? ( If this was the case, how
would specificly Christian meetings be carried out?)
In other words, when synagogues were built, who built them, and who was free
to participate in synagogue functions?

(a)The Jewish community (so that Jews of all persuasions were involved and
welcome to participate)?
(b)Various Jewish sects(comparable to our modern Christian "denominations")
so that only Jews of a particular sect were welcome to participate? Or,
(c)Would Jewish believers in Christ have built their own "Christian
synagogue". If these were "Christian synagoges" of which you speak in James
2:2, could unsaved Jews participate on equal grounds with the saints in
teaching etc? When they broke bread to remember the Lord, what would
unconverted Jews in the synagogue do? What about "synagogue discipline"?
If unbelieving Jews were active participants in a Christian synagogue, could
they be disciplined like believers for immorality as in I Cor.5? Or was
active participation in a Christian synagogue limitted to CHRISTIANS???

You see, MICHAEL, I am not asking for suppositions on your part, but
historical records, scriptural or otherwise that would support your theory
that Jewish believers DID gather for distinctly "Christian functions"
(teaching, fellowship, prayer and breaking of bread) in buildings (other
than homes) which they called "synagogues".

I am no historian, but anything that I have ever read on the subject
indicates that archeaologists have never found any 1st or 2nd century
evidence whatsoever of any "Christian temples", "Christian synagogues", or
any building whatsoever (OTHER THAN HOMES) that were used as places of
"Christian worship"!

So my basic underlying question is this:
Is your theory based solely on your own suppositions relative to James 2:2
or is it solidly based in scriptural and or historical evidence?

Secondly, relative to what you suggest about the early Jewish Christian
community "steadfast in the prayers" at specific times of day *in the
temple*, I would reply:

- -I do not dispute that the early Christians (who were all Jews at the
beginning) were "daily with one accord in the temple"and that would include
prayers at specific times of day! (Why would they cease to go to the Jewish
temple anyway??) I believe that those early gatherings in the temple were
the first whole church gatherings of the church of God at Jerusalem. But,
notice that Acts 2 and the rest of the new covenant scriptures say
absolutely nothing about "Christian synagogues"! Besides, physical
buildings cannot be rightly described by the word "Christian"! They cannot
be saved!

I'm sure you are also aware that the definite article in Acts 2:42 does not
simply apply to "the prayers"! Rather there is ONE definite article in the
sentence which primarily has to do with "THE apostles'" There is no Greek
word EN for "in" in the whole sentence! So the sentence literally reads as
follows: The (definite articles) in brackets are simply understood. The one
in CAPS is the actual one in the text.... "They were steadfastly continuing
(the) teaching of THE apostles, and (the) fellowship (of the apostles), and
(the) breaking of bread (of the apostles), and (the) prayers (of the
apostles.) If you claim that "the prayers" refers to traditional Jewish
prayer times, I don't see how you can escape the same conclusion with the
teachings, the fellowship and the breaking of bread! (the traditional Jewish
teachings, the traditional Jewish fellowship, and the traditional Jewish
breaking of bread!)

I think it is far more true to scripture, itself, to understand that what
the apostles taught and practiced had been received *by commandment from the
Lord Jesus Christ, Himself*(Matt.28:18-20). Therefore Acts 2:42 should, I
believe, be understood as saying that the early believers continued
steadfastly the doctrine, the fellowship, the breaking of bread and the
prayers (which had been commanded the apostles by the Lord!)

But, be that as it may, what we do see in the very context which you noted,
is that those early Jewish believers were breaking bread *from house to
house", not in their local "synagogues"!

As far as I know from scripture, church history, and archeaology, there is
no evidence of any kind that Christians of the first or second century ever
rented, bought, or owned any kind of buildings other than homes to be used
for their gatherings. Is there evidence to the contrary of which I am
unaware?

I look forward to your answers, as they should indicate whether this
discussion relative to "synagogues" (based on James 2:2) is worthy of
further discussion. Do you not agree that there are other topics which would
be far more edifying to our other brothers and sisters on this list? Solid
evidence of 1st or 2nd century Christian temples/synagogues would be a
tremendous boost to the institutional church position and a tremendous blow
to the house church position and would need serious consideration. But lack
of such evidence should spur us on to other topics relative to penetrating
our world for Christ in as many homes as possible!

Yours in Christ,
Bruce


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Date: Mon, 04 Nov 2002 16:49:47 +0000
From: goodwordusa * att
Subject: Re: [NTCP] FYI - free bible software

Thanks for the tip, Scott. I agree that all of us need good sourses of study
material -- especially when it's free.

Another great source of free Bible study materials is
http://www.onlinebible/

I still use these materials a lot in my own study.

Jim
>
> I had meant to post this earlier, but I keep forgetting. There is a really
> amazing and FREE Bible software on the 'net ---
>
> www.e-sword
>
> I'm not trying to advertise, just thought you should know. You can get many
> Bible translations, plus commentaries, dictionaries, and other resources all
> for free. I used to use a commercial package (but hadn't had the $$ to
> upgrade it in the last few years).
>
> This isn't in line with any current discussion, but I think as souls are won
> to Christ, we should equip them with the Word, and this affordable for
> anyone with a Windows-based PC. When I get some time, I plan on talking
> with the developer to see if I can work with him to create a version for
> Palm and PocketPC machines. That may be a long way off in the future,
> though.
>
>
> Scott D


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Date: Tue, 5 Nov 2002 08:46:10 +0200
From: "Deborah" <deborah.millier * juccampus>
Subject: RE: [NTCP] Blown Away by Bruce!

Brother Bruce, you bring with you to this list a powerful exegetical
approach to arriving at Christian truth. My hat is off! Nevertheless, too
many of your objections to my position on baptism are either the result of
not *carefully* reading what I originally wrote or not comprehending the
additional factor I have attempted to communicate-- worldview. It too is a
component of exegesis, properly done.

Brother TC is right that we could never perfectly recapture the moment
when, say, Paul wrote Rom. 6 or Luke Act. 2. But we can possibly add to our current knowledge certain fundamental interpretive paradigms, based onextant (i.e. still exisitng) literature of the land(s) and times, which place us *closer* to the thought-patterns of the NT writers, their emphases,their assumptions. Not everybody has the opportunity to study this ancien
literature. Or the desire. That is one area where I sense that, as a
teacher of God's word and fellow list member, I can help. I can at least
help "bullion down," expose, and disseminate. And that is why my
contributions often reflect this type of research.

I understand that it "feels" strange to read the Bible the way I
propose ... just as it feels strange to enter any different culture. And I
do not for one minute believe that my views are the final say on any matter.
But there is merit in the effort. I seek to expose people to this
"worldview thing," to allow each reader to "try on" the lenses I offer-- a
different perspective to familiar texts. If it so happens that one or two
of my posts further someone in answering the lurking questions we all haveabout some of those parts of the Bible that we could never "make fit," well,
... then I think I have done a portion of the work that the Lord has
assigned me. If not, at least I have tried and now have the means to
reevaluate where my communication style might have hindered the process. Or my research was faulty.

In my opinion, this approach is still a better plan than simply
assuming that Paul, Luke, or whoever looked at the world and Bible precisely
the way we do-- as 21st century gentiles, bringing to our exegesis our own
set of cultural "lenses" and interpretive paradigms possibly more reflective
of our personal backgrounds than of Paul's, Luke's, etc.
Unfortunately, I do not have the time right now to extensively develop
this idea, or to deal with each point you have raised. Good points! But I
will fly though some items you wrote and make quick comment. They are
worthy of more time and thought, but I am tired and a little "under the
weather" right now. Please forgive me.
You wrote:

> Having read your posts the last few days,
> it seems to me that you believe that, apart
> from "extenuating circumstances", baptism
> in water is essential for salvation and is the
> actual means by which one is baptized
> (placed) "in Christ".

You are right! I do that on the basis of biblical texts.

> Too many scriptures teach salvation without
> any reference at all to baptism!

Too many scriptures teach slavation without any reference to the blood
of Christ. Once it is mentioned in several places, it may be safely assumed
to be the backdrop of the whole salvation transaction. The same as once
Christ's blood is mentioned in several places, it may safely be assumed to
be the backdrop of our redemption.

> You claim (I believe, without any scriptural
> warrant) that, at Paul's baptism in water,
> Christ became Paul!

Actually, I said "in some sense". I really intended to mean that (in
some sense) Paul became Christ. Thus the "blurring" of identities in the
Gal. 2:20 passage, where Paul is the one crucified. You are right that it
was because Paul was "in Christ" that he could speak of himself as being on
the cross. I understand the NT to be teaching that the process of becoming
"in Christ" occurred with him (and us!) at his baptism.

> You claim that baptism and the observance
> of the passover are "reenactments" of events,
> rather than reminders/memorials of events!

Not "*rather* than". Both/and. Ask an orthodox Jew how he/she views
Passover. It is a reanactment and a memorial, he/she will tell you. But I
developed in another post (June 18 02, "How does a NT 'sacrament' function?"
thread), from which most of my comments on Gal. 2:20 were directly taken,
the biblical idea that memory serves a covenant function. That it is not
passive in the Zwingli "memorial" sense, but actually does more, ... should
do more.

At the hear of our disagreement is the matter of regeneration. You
talk of "spiritual regeneration" as if it had no connection to water
baptism. I am claiming that it does. Based on texts of Scripture allowed
to breath, not forced into a rational Enlightenment mindset.
You corrected me about the age of those standing at Mt. Sinai and an
address screw-up in my Exodus citation, for which I thank you. But the
basic point of that sections still stands. God said He was making, not a
totally *new* covenant, with the next generation, but that that first
covenant was actually made for the next generation. Despite having also
being made with the first. It is difficult to catch the significance of
that statement, but reading the Midrashim can help one see how ancient
Jewish thought went on the topic. I can't get references right now. Too
little time. Too little time. Perhaps in the coming week.
I'm not denying the "Levi in the loins" connection you make. It is an
astute one. But it compliments what I have been trying to say. We weren't
in the loins of Christ. Ever. Not in the same genetic sense. But for
those of us baptised into Christ, we were crucified, resurrected, exalted,
etc.

> If what you say is true, Saul would not
> have been a "brother" to Ananias prior
> to his baptism. But Ananias calls him,
> "Brother Saul" *before* he was baptized.

He was a fellow Jew. And Peter (Act. 2:29; 3:17), Stephen (Act. 7:2)
and Paul (Act. 13:26, 38; 22:1; 23:1, 5, 6; 28:17) regularly called even
unbelieving Jews "brothers". So this proves nothing.

> In Acts 10, those of Cornelius' household
> believed Peter's preaching and received the
> Holy Spirit (v.44-47) which according to
> Romans 8:9-11 is proof positive that one is
> saved and has eternal life! All this
> transpired *prior to* their baptism!

It is possible for the order to be reversed-- "water" "Spirit"
"Spirit" "water"-- I won't argue that. It was (is?) also possible for one
to be filled with the Spirit and NOT even be in God's kingdom:

"For he [John the Baptist] will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall
drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy
Spirit, even from his mother's womb" (Luk. 1:15).

Compared with:

"For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet
than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater
than he" (Luk. 7:28).

But that still doesn't prove that "water" in Joh. 3:5 doesn't mean baptism.
There are some fuzzy edges that need to be dealt with. It is not as "clean"
as you seem to be proposing.

> Not *all* believers are or have been
> baptized in water. But I Cor.12:13
> tells us: "For by (in) one Spirit are
> *we all* baptized into one body,
> whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether
> we be bond or free, and have been
> *all* made to drink into one Spirit."
> The "we" clearly refers back to I
> Cor.1:2 "them that are sanctified in
> Christ Jesus, called saints, with all
> that in every place call on the name
> of Jesus Christ both theirs and ours."

This hasn't been developed yet, but there is a connection between
Spirit baptism and water baptism. Scott D.'s post suggested we explore this
further. I agree!

> If baptism is (as you claim) to be a
> reenactment of the death, burial and
> resurrection of Christ, what of Heb
> 6:4-6? "...seeing they crucify to
> themselves the Son of God afresh,..."

It is a return to that "once for all" event of Christ's crucifixion.
It doesn't reproduce the un-reproducable, it "reenacts" it. A difference.

> Michael, how would you explain the
> difference between the act of the
> Lord Jesus baptizing believers in
> the Spirit and the act of disciples
> baptizing other disciples in water?

There are some differences, there are some connections. Let's explore
this together.

> Which baptism places a believer in
> Christ and actually acknowledges that
> fact by the giving of the Spirit?

Ditto.

> Which baptism acknowledges that, being
> in Christ (who died, was buried and
> rose again), the believer now has a
> good conscience before God?

Ditto. Bro.

Gotta run. Blessings on you for bringing these pertinent issues to our
attention. Blessings on anyone else who wants to hop in with us in our
quest for scriptural truth. As for me ... time to get my son ready for
school.

Shalom from the "hole-y" Land,
Michael

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Date: Tue, 5 Nov 2002 08:42:24 -0500
From: "Link Hudson" <Linkh * mcdowell.main.nc.us>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Preaching, where and how? (formerly: "His walk, our walk")

Link in response to Michael Millier, using his wife, Deborah's email
account:

> James is not here providing advice to his Jewish Christian comrades on
> how to meet in synagogues in some context not particularly "Christian". His
> letter is for Jesus-following Jews who should dispense justice to poor and
> rich alike ... in their synagogues, AND who should call upon the elders of
> their *church* (EKKLESIA) when certain other needs arise. Presumably (can
> you think of a good reason why not?) in the same synagogue(s) as mentioned
> in 2:2.

Michael,

I don't see a good case here for the idea of a church synagogue combination.
You yourself have pointed out that many Jewish Christians continued on in
the synagogue for generations. In this epistle, James uses two words
'church' and 'synagogue.'

In Jerusalem, I could see how there might be a Christian synagogue because
there were thousands of believers. If James is writing to the diaspora, who
already had strong ties with the Jewish community they were a part of, it
would seem likely to me that he would have a situation in mind that was
typical for the audience he was writing to. I am inclined to believe that
many of the Jews he was addressing would be involved in the synagogue, and
also have meetings to remember the Lord Jesus.

I might be wrong on this. It was possible for 10 men to start a synagogue,
so a church that met in a home might even be able to constitute a Jewish
synagogue if all believers there were Jewish. But I suspect, rather than
just creating Christian synagogues and isolating themselves, that scatterred
Jewish Christians kept up their ties with existing synagogues.

When Paul came to a town and preached Jesus in the synagogue, the synagogue
often rejected the message and the believers went elsewhere, but I don't
know if this was the case with less confrontational Christians.

> 2) Directly after Pentecost, a unified, Spirit-filled, and indwelt Church
> was continuing "steadfast in ... *THE* PRAYERS" (Act. 2:42-- Gk. *TAIS*
> PROSEUKHAIS-- with the definite article and in the plural) which refers to
> particular prayers, not the general practice of "prayer" as it is so often
> mistranslated. In which particular prayers were the post-Pentecost
> disciples so "steadfast"? The answer lies in the beginning of the next
> chapter ...

I seem to recall someone looking this up or asking an expert and saying that
'the' there doesn't carry the same force in English, and it could be
translated 'prayers' or 'the prayers.' Wasn't that here on NTCP?

Link Hudson

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Date: Tue, 5 Nov 2002 09:12:06 EST
From: DenverWH * aol
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Luke 10 and planting house churches

Friends,

A couple of further reflections on my own post.

First, I realized that my list of questions/comments on Luke 10 (twelve in
number) could be somewhat overwhelming. It would be easy to think: "I can't
address all of these issues so I won't even try to respond." If this is the
case, you might just pick one or two and respond to those. I would
especially like to hear your thoughts about #6. Is our relentless beseeching
of the Lord of the Harvest for workers a key element in reaching our
particular region for Christ? If so, what would it mean to pray this way?

Second, isn't it important for us to spend some of our discussion time
talking about things that will actually result in the planting of NT
churches? I have no problem with some of the more theoretical discussions
that have gone on. However, shouldn't we be focusing a bit more on
"stimulating one another to love and good deeds" (Heb. 10:24)? Specifically,
in this case, the "good deed" of planting churches. Shouldn't our
participation in this discussion group actually result in the planting of
some churches? One way of doing this may be to give attention to places in
the world where hundreds or thousands of NT churches are actually being
planted. What can we learn from these folks that will help us see the same
thing in our part of the world?

John White
Denver

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Date: Tue, 5 Nov 2002 18:17:53 +0100
From: "Keith Smith" <castillofuerte * msn>
Subject: RE: [NTCP] Luke 10 and planting house churches

John White said:
isn't it important for us to spend some of our discussion time talking about things that will actually result in the planting of NT churches? I have no problem with some of the more theoretical discussions that have gone on. However, shouldn't we be focusing a bit more on "stimulating one another to love and good deeds" (Heb. 10:24)? Specifically, in this case, the "good deed" of planting churches. Shouldn't our participation in this discussion group actually result in the planting of some churches?

One way of doing this may be to give attention to places in the world where hundreds or thousands of NT churches are actually being planted. Whatcan we learn from these folks that will help us see the same thing in our part of the world?
Amen brother couldn't agree enough. Perhaps if we had spent a bit more time on this theme we wouldn't have lost some key players from the list recently.

On another theme please note my change of e.mail address. It is now: cast=
illofuerte * msn

Blessings
keith in Spain


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Date: Tue, 5 Nov 2002 12:51:09 -0500
From: David Anderson <david * housechurch>
Subject: RE: [NTCP] Blown Away by Bruce!

Hi Mike, hi all,

RE: Prov. 10:21 The lips of the righteous feed many.

Good posting and a good heading as Bruce is indeed a tireless conveyor of
good will in Jesus, the Christ.

There is entirely too much ugliness on the internet and we can only wish
that there were an army of Bruce's to balance things out. I have had the
great joy knowing him for more than a year.

He serves the saints in many way at home and abroad. In cyber-space, he
moderates a house church web forum at http://homechurch/forums. He's
like a one-man welcome wagon, out to win people - not just arguments.

But I must warn you all, Bruce can be very tenacious. LOL!

David Anderson


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Date: Tue, 5 Nov 2002 10:38:02 -0800 (PST)
From: John Henneberger <jchenn1213 * yahoo>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Luke 10 and planting house churches

John,

You pose an interesting question, but not one that can
easily be digested in one short reading. I understand
your point, in saying there appears to be a pattern in
Jesus sending of the seventy, but I'm not sure of the
ultimate design. That is, I'm not sure whether or not
this was to be perpetuated in some fashion.

Whether we like it or not, the times before Jesus was
crucified were different than the times afterwards.
And while the Holy Spirit was not given until
Pentecost, it is clear that Jesus endowed others with
a certain amount of spiritual authority -- but to what
end? It's quite clear that the disciples of Jesus
practiced both healing and the casting out of demons,
things normally associated with the post-Pentecost
era. But was this pre-pentecostal power part of the
"plan" or was this just an extension of what Jesus
said about himself earlier, i.e. an announcement of
the kingdom.

Luke 4:17-19
17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah.
And when He had opened the book, He found the place
where it was written:

18 "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD."
NKJV

And also...

Matt 11:3-5
"Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?" 4
Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the
things which you hear and see: 5 The blind see and the
lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear;
the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel
preached to them.
NKJV
But to get to your question more directly:

1. In this passage, the word "church" is not used.
Nonetheless, is it reasonable to assume that Jesus
ultimately had church planting in mind? Can we also
assume that the disciples understood these to be
directions for church planting and followed them in
the decades to come?

From what I can tell, the answer to your question
appears to be 'no'. Allow me to explain.

When Jesus sent out the seventy, that's exactly what
he did. He sent out seventy people to places "he was
about to go". That's what the passage says. It also
says they were told to announce, essentially, that the
kingdom of God was at hand. Then, presumably, a
number of days later, Christ would arrive. In this
sense, the seventy were acting as heralds of Christ.

Let's not forget that the advent of Christ on earth
was a unique time, in which the Lord walked among us.
And in this context, for him to send heralds
announcing his arrival seems infinitely practical. As
to the number, seventy, it is representative of the
nations, as set for in the account of Noah in Genesis.
I think once can quite safely see a symbolic picture
of the gospel going out to the nations.

I guess my point is, that although it's very tempting
to say this was a "method", some care ought to be
exercised since no further mention of the seventy
occurs after the gospels. Once we get to Acts, we
hear about the twelve, and the "one hundred and
twenty"

Acts 1:15
15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of
the disciples (altogether the number of names was
about a hundred and twenty)
NKJV

This verse takes place in the context of the
replacement of the twelfth disciple, Judas, who had
fallen away. So, whereas we can provide a strong case
for the "twelve", we can't seem to substantiate a case
for the seventy.

And I think the same thing goes for the pairs as we
see Phillip with the Eunuch acting by himself, yet
clearly being involved in evangelism.

I'm out of time for now, so I'll have to conclude :

Upon initial inspection, the sending of the seventy
and the pairs appears to be a heralding event specific
to the advent of Christ's walk on earth. I say this
based on further accounts where the numbers in the
evangelistic groups vary, and the initial 70 seems to
have grown to 120. This is in contrast to the tweleve
in which a replacement was sought once one was lost.

Peace in Christ.

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Date: Tue, 05 Nov 2002 19:28:58 +0000
From: "Bruce Woodford" <bwood4d * hotmail>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Luke 10 and planting house churches

Dear Brother John,
I for one, want to thank you for your challenge (your last two posts here).
And I would hope that the kinds of discussions you have requested would
become the priority on this list!!

One comment, for starters, on your # 6: "Is our relentless beseeching of the
Lord of the Harvest for workers a key element in reaching our particular
region for Christ? If so, what would it mean to pray this way?"

Is not such a prayer impossible to pray if one is not willing, personally,
to be sent into the harvest ?

Does not such praying touch many of us just a little too personally for
comfort? So, if this prayer can only be prayed by one who is willing to be a
sent laborer, I need to ask myself, before the Lord, "Am I willing to be
sent, whatever the cost?"

Another comment on your #3." Verse 1. "He sent them two by two". Is it
reasonable to assume that if we are called to church planting and do not
have a partner, that we should ask the Lord for one?"

26 years ago I was in Dominica, West Indies with a church planting mission
board. Our approach was to vist people, preach the Gospel, acquire a
building, seek to fill the building as we continued to preach, establish SS.
school programs, Y.P. programs, Bible Institute programs, a Christian day
school etc. We also had basicly one missionary family working in a community
and another family working in another community.

At this time, I purposed to go the the scriptues to find out what principles
guided the apostles in their labors in the first century. Why were churches
established in some places where they went and not in others? What
approaches produced healthy, growing churches? Which did not? etc

One principle that really shook me at that time was this matter of workers
being sent 2 by 2.

I noticed that where ever one man went alone, there is never any record of a
church being planted in that place!
- - Peter went alone to Lydda and Joppa (Acts 9) there were people healed,
raised from the dead and many believed in the Lord, but we never read of
churches in those places!
- -Paul went alone to Athen and preached powerfully on Mars Hill (Acts
17:15-34). Many were saved, but as far as the record goes, there was never a
church established at Athens!
- -But where ever 2 or more co-workers went together, THERE WERE ALWAYS
CHURCHES ESTABLISHED! (There does not seem to be any exception to this
pattern in the new covenant scriptures!)
The kind of "team work" and "co-operative enterprise" that is suggested by
"2 by 2" also challenged my thinking on church leadership, the clergy/laity
distinctions, my role as a "pastor", etc etc

As a result of that study, I had to resign from the mission board, rejected
my ordination papers and "Reverend" title and returned to "secular work" in
Canada as I looked for other opportunities for ministry. Have since learned
that just as there is no clergy/laity distinction among the people of God,
there is also no scriptural distinction for a child of God between
"Christian work" and "secular work"! "Secular" simply means "God isn't in
it!" So if there is such an occupation, it certainly is not for a child of
God!!!

In response to your question: I believe that Barnabas' example is a good one
(Acts 11). He had a tremendous opportunity before Him, a place where God was
evidently doing a work.(verses 21-24) But Barnabas was wise enough to
realize that he was not fit for the task (single-handedly). He went to get
Saul to assist him. (verses 25-26) Here were two men with very different
personalities and gifts and abilities, but just like the Body of Christ, the
strengths and weaknesses of one are complementary to those of the other. So
the combined labors of two are far more effective than the separate labors
of both!

I really look forward seeing a lot of response to this thread from many of
our brothers and sisters on the list!

Thank you, brother, for opening what could be a most valuable discussion!

Your brother in Christ,
Bruce Woodford
Norwich, Ontario

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



Date: Wed, 06 Nov 2002 00:02:31 +0000
From: goodwordusa * att
Subject: RE: [NTCP] Blown Away by Bruce!

Hi, Michael and Bruce.

While I do not believe that the water does anything for my soul in being
baptized, I do believe that many of us today tend to set water baptism aside
more than we should. And I believe that Scripture makes it pretty clear (if we
take the examples to heart) that baptism is a sign of purification (in the
first century Jewish sense) that we have no right to now set aside.

This is one way that the heated debates of the past can actually do harm, I
believe, to the believer's life. When we go out of our way to avoid a thing
(like water baptism) in an effort to keep people from putting too much emphasis
on it, then we fall into error the other way. In the case of baptism, we fail
(I think) to give it the significance it Scripturally deserves.

We are so lax on water baptism in most Christian circles that some folks never
get baptized at all, even though they make a profession of faith.

Do we have the right (from Scripture) to say, "Oh, it doesn't really matter."?
Men and women of the first century did not consider themselves believers until
they were baptized.

Scripture lays down a pattern of behavior associated with godly repentance.
And that pattern shows a person being baptized right away, in order to act out
his/her repentance toward God. Baptism is, in itself, a form of confession, an
admission of sin, a declaration of guilt and the need for purification.

It began this way with John the Baptist, continued on with Jesus' ministry, and
developed in the much same way within the Church, as Acts gives evidence (Acts
2:38-41, 8:12, 8:35-38, 9:18, 10:47,48, 16:14,15, 16:31-33, 18:8, 19:1-6,
22:16).

Paul himself points to water baptism as the very act of dying to the old life
and being raised again to a new life in Christ (Romans 6:1-11, Colossians
2:11,12). We know that God's Spirit immerses us into Christ. But we also have
a baptism of water, that is our token part of demonstrating faith in Jesus, and
our need of washing by Him.

That's how I see it anyway.

Jim


End of New Testament Church Planting Digest V2 #198

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