New Testament Church Proliferation Digest

Spreading the Gospel via House Churches


NT Church Proliferation Digest Wednesday, November 6 2002 Volume 02 : Number 199


Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk and special buildings
Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk and special buildings
RE: [NTCP] Blown Away by Bruce!

Re: [NTCP] Blown Away by Bruce!

Re: [NTCP] Preaching, where and how?

Re: [NTCP] Practical NTCP Principles re house churches


Date: Tue, 5 Nov 2002 21:28:23 EST From: Steffasong *
Subject: Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk and special buildings   In a message dated 11/03/2002 1:11:54 PM Eastern Standard Time, jchenn1213 * writes:

> At times, the

> apostles would find a meeting room somewhere for

> certain occasions. It just seems like a matter of

> practiciality to me. And so I ask, am I promoting

> anything here at all that is unseemly? Why such

> strong reactions to the mere suggestion that people

> should be able to meet wherever it's convenient?


> I think it's time for everyone to just put down the

> guns and start focusing on the positive aspects rather

> that disagreements (let there be no divisions among

> you). And someone such as myself should be able to

> say that I accept gatherings both in church buildings

> and within home churches without getting pummeled by

> those who are in home churches.   John, My apologies if I am among those you believe have pummeled you. I don't believe in that, and I don't believe in divisions, so if I have made you feel that way, it has been inadvertant and I am sorry. To address your point about the particality of buildings, I will say that I agree. In 'some' circumstances it may be more useful to have a larger gathering place than a living room. As a matter of fact, presently the people we meet with rent a school building to accomodate the nearly 100 people who gather there. That said John, I cannot agree that it is really so practical.   For the few times that it might be practical to have a larger space available, there are countless, countless other times that the space (building) rules the church and is extremely impractical. Please consider how many times the maintainance, finance, and practical concerns of a building take time away from the core issues in the church. Concerns about meeting space can all too easily turn our hearts, minds, and bodies away from spending the time necessary to build relationships, and build into each others lives. Perhaps that is why there is such a reaction to your words.   Contrary to your belief that church buildings are just a 'practical matter,' I must disagree and beg you to see the reason we SHOULD make a big deal about this. All the best intentions for the church to get together, to pray together, to counsel together, to sup together, to simply COME TOGETHER and have fun fall by the wayside because of practical concerns. Much to my dismay, I am not in a housechurch. That is not what the Lord has for us during this season of life. I will say this though, --- when in a housechurch it is a wonderful, wonderful thing to meet with believers without the concerns and distractions of building maintainance. Fellowship flows freely, people are not vying for attention from 'the pastor,' and Jesus is lifted up.   Bless you John. I appreciate the respectful interchange.  

In the Lamb, Stephanie  

The Church is the real presence of Christ. Once we have realized this truth we are well on the way to recovering an aspect of the Church's being which has been sadly neglected in the past. We should think of the Church not as an institution, but as a person. . . Dietrich Bonhoeffer  

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Date: Tue, 5 Nov 2002 18:50:55 -0800 (PST) From: John Henneberger <jchenn1213 *> Subject: Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk and special buildings Stephanie,   I certainly understand your sentiments and respect your viewpoint. But more than than, I respect that you have been able to put your ideas across in a way that is firm yet courteous. I actually feel like we are talking about the subject rather than try to win an argument.   Also, thank you for the opportunity to deal with this subject the way I would like to approach it. Calmly, rationally and with an open mind.   I understand your dissatisfaction with the standard format of churches and I share that dissatisfaction. It's just that I see a middle ground in which a home to home fellowship is a part. And to my mind's eye, a church body with sufficient members could easily maintain a central meeting place and still have an active house to house fellowship.   I know you feel strongly about what you belive, and so do I. But having said our piece, I think we can at least agree to disagree in a nice way.   Some things are worth fighting about. Some things are not. If we were talking about the Lordship of Jesus, or the resurrection, I'd strive as long as it took. But the fact is, I'd rather just see you happy in a home church if that is what you want. It's a matter I'll certainly take up in prayer.  

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Date: Wed, 06 Nov 2002 03:35:07 +0000 From: "Bruce Woodford" <bwood4d *> Subject: RE: [NTCP] Blown Away by Bruce!

Hi Jim, I could not agree with you more that many have downplayed, delayed and disobeyed what scripture clearly teaches about baptism of believers in water!

  Interviews with deacons and elders, baptism classes, refusal to baptize young people until they have demonstrated that their conversion is "genuine" etc etc are all void of any scriptural pattern or precept!   The longest delay between conversion and baptism in scripture is 3 days (Saul)! There are 3 vital and scriptural questions relative to baptism in the Book of Acts:   (1)"What doth hinder me to be baptized?" (Asked by a new convert of a gospel preacher.) Woe to any who would dare to answer that question differently than Philip did! Acts 8:36,37   (2)"Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized which have received the Holy Spirit as well as we?" (Asked by a preacher who, until just a day or two before, had great reservations about even eating with such as he was now preaching to, (let alone eating with them, and now actually baptizing them!!!!!) This question was asked in the presence of 6 of his own brethren, just as prejudiced as he had been! Acts 10:47   (3)"And now, why tarriest thou? Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Asked by a man who, when he first heard of this persecutor's conversion, was afraid to go to him! But on the Lord's instructions and assurance, he went, healed the former persecutor of his divinely inflicted blindness and called him his "brother"! Acts 22:16   Far too often these questions are reversed: (1)Church officials and preachers ask the new converts, "What in your life would hinder you being baptized??" (2)We can forbid water that these should not be baptized!! (3)WHY HURRIEST THOU??? (Take your time!, We must be careful! etc etc ad nauseum!) Yours in Christ, Bruce

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Date: Tue, 05 Nov 2002 23:11:14 -0500 From: jferris <jferris154 *>

Subject: Re: [NTCP] Blown Away by Bruce!   Bruce Woodford wrote:

> Hi Jim,

> I could not agree with you more that many have downplayed, delayed and

> disobeyed what scripture clearly teaches about baptism of believers in

> water!   Dear Bruce, Yes! Living together in Christ without baptism is like living together without being married. God forbid that we should settle for "common law" christianity, trying to live together without the "pledge of a good conscience toward God. Now, if only we would live out the death, burial, and resurrection that baptism portrays. Yours in Christ, Jay


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Date: Wed, 6 Nov 2002 13:30:25 +0200
From: "Deborah" <deborah.millier *> Subject: Re: [NTCP] Preaching, where and how?   David A. wrote:

> Before you attempt to justify another

> unnatural rendering, you might want

> to compare how the SAME inspired

> writer used the SAME word in the

> SAME book.   Starting to grate on your nerves a bit, isn't it? My frequent challenges to "tradition"? ... Oh well, what can I say? I learned it from the Jews. ;-)   "Same book, shwaim book." Context is king! We are not primarily dealing here with nouns which tend to keep their essential meanings more intact (although LOGON is a noun). We are focusing on verbs (i.e. DIELEGETO; HOMILESAS), which tend to morph more according to environment. And influence how the nouns clustered around them should be rendered. I repeat for your edification (note all CAPS please):   "Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, PAUL ... SPOKE TO THEM and continued HIS MESSAGE until midnight .... and as PAUL CONTINUED SPEAKING .... Now when HE HAD ... TALKED a long while, even till daybreak, he departed" (Act. 20:7-11).   Now tell me according to *the passage at hand* (not some meaning imposed from the outside of the narrative flow), with whom was Paul having a dialogue ("PAUL spoke;" "HIS message;" "PAUL continued speaking;" "HE talked")? With himself?!?! (Actually a possible rendering of DIELEGETO and its various inflected forms, but definitely an "unnatural rendering" *IN THIS CONTEXT*. As is yours and brother Bruce's suggestion.) Bottom line: Paul talked, Eutychus slept/fell. It wasn't a group sleep/falling. Neither was it a group discussion-- at least you cannot arrive at that conclusion by allowing the above verses to make their own case.   Unnatural rendering indeed?!?! >:-( Link H. wrote:  

> 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.'   He uses the two words (SUNAGOGE; EKKLESIA) ... in the same book. About the same fellowship. If that is not so, then please justify your contention that there are *two contexts* in James' letter: one for the non-Christian synagogue, then another for the (purportedly?) house church. And where is the line between them drawn in the epistle? Chapter 2? Chapter 3? Or just when we get to chapter 5. Please tell me? Mine is primarily a textual argument-- with cultural elements brought in as suppliment. That is what I would like to see in response if at all possible.  

> 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.   Ten men needed to be Jewish, you're right. But a Christian synagogue wouldn't necessarily have been isolated from the rest of the community. Nor have been *exclusively* Jewish. The Roman Church's association with that city's synagogue network can serve as an example of how Jewish and gentile followers of Jesus could have remained a synagogue and still incorporated non-Jews-- though admittedly, application of this to James' situation is merely analogical and speculative. The strongest arguments in favor of Jam. 2:2 being a "Christian synagogue" are NT word usage (SUNAGOGE), recipient context (Diaspora Jews, 1:1), and book context (synagogue [2:2], teachers [3:1], then elders of the church [5:14], Jewish tone throughout). In other words, solid exegesis. If someone disagrees, that is where he/she needs to attack.  

> 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?   Yeah, that was Jim R. Here's a rehashing of my rebuttal ("Confronting the Evidence" thread, Feb. 19, 02). Tell me what you think:  

> Jim Rutz wrote:


>> 2. Acts 2:42: "And they continued steadfastly in

>> the apostles teachings, fellowship, breaking of bread,

>> and prayer." He said you can also read it as "the prayers."

>> Either way.


>> Even the super-literal "Berry's Interlinear Greek-English

>> New Testament" leaves a big blank under the Greek

>> "tais" (THE), implying it has no force at all in English. All

>> in all, this one sounds like a toss-up to me.


> Jim, I am one class and two tests away from an M.A. degree in Hebrew > Bible translation. No expert I know. But I'm up on current developments. > One thing that is happening in my field is the acknowledgment among many > that there has been a distinct anti-Jewish bias in many (most) Christian > translations of ... well mostly the NT. (I have a short study of two > specific instances in the NIV where this anti-Jewish bias is quantifiable. > It has application to other translations as well. I'd be glad to send it > to anyone who asks.) All that build-up to say what you have already > acknowledged elsewhere: it is easy to wear theologically selective lenses > when dealing with the biblical texts. For the reader. For the translator.  

> Therefore your friend's and Berry's quickness to "rob" the article of its

> force in "THE prayers" (Act 2:42) does not surprise me. Do they > "de-definitize" "teaching of THE Apostles" and "breaking of THE bread" too?

> I didn't think so. Wonder why?

> Paul's gentile friend Luke, of all people, displays the most semitic >   Greek style-- when dealing with Jesus' life/death/resurrection and the > fledgling church in its home environs. In other words, his Greek parrots > Hebrew conventions ... until the missionaries go out into the gentile > world. Then suddenly Luke's Greek becomes very ... well, almost > *classical*. Fascinating! Some scholars attribute this change in style to

> the sources Luke used (Luk. 1:1-3): Hebrew/Aramaic in Judea/Galilee, Greek > in the Hellenized world. Others attribute it to conscious intention on > Luke's part-- or a combination of both the above. I tend to side with the > second camp.  

> Anyway, Act. 2:42 falls within the "Jewish style" part of his account > of the early Church. The Greek mimics Hebrew. And we have already seen > that the definite article is *very* important to Hebrew narrative (Feb 18 > post "Confronting the Evidence"-- to Mike S).

> My argument (I'm not alone on this, by the way) that "THE prayers" > (TAIS PROSEUKHAIS) means just that, does not only depend on murky stylistic

> issues, but is also founded on the solid ground of biblical context. If > one sees a definite article (THE ...), the first thing a person should do > is look for what the definitive means in relation to the verses before > and/or after it. If there is no place to go with that line of reasoning, > then of course it is natural to look for another answer. But if there *is*  

> a place to go, yet someone seeks another answer anyway, it becomes evident

> that bias is at play. Not the best platform for discovering truth.

> In our case, "THE prayers"-- evoking the question, "which prayers?"--

> is answered in the verses immediately following: *the* temple prayers   (Act. > 3:1). Why would we resist this natural flow of the narrative ... unless we > didn't want our Apostles et al. participating in such Jewish ritual > observance. If that bothers us then of course we'll search for a way to > explain why our heroes were *just* doing what we do-- spontaneous praying. > They couldn't have prayed *those* set prayers! Could they have ...?  

> Against us though would be the semitic style of Luke's Greek, the > grammar of the passage, the immediate and distant book context, and the > cultural context (see Keener, Craig S. THE IVP BIBLE BACKGROUND > COMMENTARY-New Testament. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, > 1993, pp. 330-31). These would all mitigate against us. The early church > was devoted, and one mark of their piety was their consistant participation

> in the scheduled prayers (and forms, I might add) of the liturgical Temple

> services.   Bruce W. wrote:

> I honestly don't know whether to address

> you as "brother" or "sister"! "Deborah"

> appears with your e-mail address in upper

> and lower case as people normally sign

> their names, but MICHAEL at the end

> of your posts is always in all caps. Sorry for the confusion. As Link explained, I use my wife's work account. Actually I usually compose emails at home (our home computer is not online) then save them on disk for her to send off when she gets a breather at the office. Some past problems (mine) with internet pornography have made it necessary for us to arrange this accountablity set-up. For which I am glad! Again, my name is MICHAEL-- with or without the caps. :-) It is now 1:21am and I need to get some rest. I will address some of your specific concerns in a day or two. Then I'll take yours and John W.'s hint and close down this topic. For a while at least. Besides, I can't keep up with you Bruce. You're prolific!   You asked for historical/archaeological evidence for Jewish-Christian synagogues. I have posted it three times already on this list-- the last time toward the beginning of this thread. Therefore I think it wiser to send it to you in a private post. Okay?

All the best,


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Date: Wed, 6 Nov 2002 13:31:29 +0200 From: "Deborah" <deborah.millier *>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Practical NTCP Principles re house churches  

Dear NTCP readership,   It might seem that since the time brother Bruce W. posted his first message to the NTCP list, he and I have done nothing but argue. In one sense that is true since one of his first posts was on a thread I started and against my position. For which I was (am!) grateful for his input-- in that post and others since then. However, it should not be overlooked that there is MUCH more that we both agree on than that we disagree on. I sense in Bruce a man with a heart for God and a bold principled stance to make his church-planting practices *BIBLICAL*. I welcome his contributions even if they are not always in line with my convictions, for those very reasons. His uncompromising stance to derive both command and model from holy Scripture is a position close to my heart. I don't mind him disagreeing with me in particulars. I don't mind it one bit. We have the same Holy Spirit who is still guiding us both into all truth.   On the same token, I pray that he does not mind me taking aim at some of the-- what I might consider-- weaker points of his proposals and arguments. I hope you do not mind either. "I agree, I agree" can only take conversation so far. It is in the lively arena of *disagreement* that we exercise our spiritual muscles.

As Bruce and I both abide in Christ, sharpening each other, stirring each other on to love and good works (one of those good works being further and better study!), our debates can only result in more godliness. And it is not just Bruce vs. Michael on the billet. You are invited to jump in. It's tag-team ... so long as the rules of brotherly/sisterly love are observed. So with that said, lets move back into the ring, touch gloves, and, in our mutual quest for biblical truth, begin round one of this particular thread.   Before moving too far into the *application* of NTCP principles (so-called), it might be important to determine if indeed the principles brother Bruce W. proposes are NT. If that requires us to get somewhat "theological," well ... I apologize in advance. As Brother David A. has observed, we can't get around that. It is an inescapable reality of the human existence. Or as the stinging scorpion once quipped, "What did you expect; it is my nature?!?!" Our nature.   The secret I think is for us not to remain *MERELY* theological, but to "incarnate" what we have determined by study to be true about God's word, then to "test drive" such knowledge on planet earth by "fleshing out" love for God, our covenant community, and people at large-- making, of course, necessary adjustments along the way. Agreed? Bruce wrote:  

> So I would suggest that there are two excellent

> tests to apply to any practice or policy which we

> would seek to introduce in a church or a church

> planting ministry.   So far so good.  

> (1) To ask the question:"Do we have, in the very words

> of scripture which are addressed to new covenant

> believers, an instruction, a command, or an exhortation

> to incorporate this practice or to follow this policy?"

> (2) To ask this question: "Do we have, in the very words

> of scripture which are addressed to new covenant believers,

> a model, an example, or an illustration of this practice

> or policy."  

This is a safe conservative assuption to make: having it *explicitly* spelled out in the *"very words"* of Scripture. But is that assumption itself scriptural ...? Now I agree that when it comes to conscience issues such as certain foods and Sabbath observance, it is best to give way. Not to argue till it gets nasty (2 Tim. 2:24 [Gk. MAKHESTHAI]-- which is different, however, than not debating altogether-- see Mar. 12:28 [SOUTZETOUNTON; Act. 9:29 [Gk. SOUNETZETEI]; 18:28 [Gk. DIAKATELEGKHOMAI). Debate properly done (as you have done) is healthy. But back to your proposals for church life and planting: if we could somehow just get Jesus or the Apostles to agree with your two steps, brother, it might be easier for me to apply them! In other words, there are some internal problems with your "house church principles". First of all Bruce, do you mean by "the very words of scripture which are addressed to new covenant believers" *only* the books Matthew through Revelation? I should hope not, but if you do then we have a real problem, don't we? Jesus and the early believers ONLY had the books Genesis through Malachi (in a different order sometimes) with which to teach the GRACE of God. Plus *some* post-Pentecost Christians received an occasional apostolic letter or two. Our current situation is different, I know. We have a completed canon, but my point builds on that.  

We have a completed canon for "new covenant believers" which includes the *Hebrew portion* of our *one* Bible. My observation is that there are *tons* of "instruction[s], ... command[s], ... [and] exhortation[s]," not to mention examples, that were written in the so-called OT "for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Cor. 10:11). Might we not be free, or even *obligated*, to "incorporate [such] practice[s] or to follow [such] polic[ies]" when doing church? Where appropriate, that is. Secondly, so much of what we have "in the very words of scripture" were actually *inferences* derived by Jesus and the Apostolic authors (and their associates) not actually "in the very words of [their] scripture," i.e. the so-called OT. This gets into some knotty hermeneutic issues, but if we, for instance, make certain inferences from the Bible which do not in any way *violate* "the very words of [either OT or NT] scripture," might we not find freedom to incorporate these conclusions into our "church or ... church planting ministry"?   In other words, I can't see how we can fall back on the "after all, they were inspired" defense when, true enough they were moved by the Holy Spirit as they ministered and wrote, but then they were still making logical inferences and arriving at conclusions and applications not spelled out specifically in the scriptures available to them. And people illuminated by the same Spirit, but not inspired-- like US!-- were reading their "stuff" and reasoning through it in accordance with how they understood the Bible of that day, i.e. the OT. Evaluating the new teaching in light of the old. Then making logical inferences, decisions on how to apply this new phase of God's economy in the various contexts (cultural and otherwise) with which they were confronted.   Why can't we do the same?  

Two NT examples where binding revelation was based solely on inferences:   1) " 'But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob"? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living' " (Mat. 22:31).   Jesus, limiting himself to the Torah alone (the Sadducees ONLY accepted as binding the writings of Moses), argued persuasively *by inference* for the resurrection of the dead. Can you find me one place in the entire Torah (i.e. Pentateuch) where its "very words" state this fundamental truth?   Yes, there are oblique references to a carnate afterlife here and there in the Law, plus something suggestive in Samuel, something which teases in Isaiah, Ezekiel, Hosea. Job. Psalms. But not until the book of Daniel do we get "the very words of scripture" teaching us unequivocally that ... "... many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt" (Dan. 12:2). It was spelled out explicitly in Daniel, all have to agree. And perhaps with the aid of these other books from Jesus' Bible (the OT), another less astute than he could have figured out that God raises the dead, but rather than going to the express statements the Lord argued on the Sadducee's own turf ... by inference, from suggestive but not explicit statements in the Torah. And he succeded in winning points with the surrounding crowds -- who were, by the way, used to hearing such inferential reasoning from their scriptures-- while (temporarily) silencing at least one branch of his opponents (Mat. 22:33. 34).   2) "Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, 'And to seeds,' as of many, but as of one, 'And to your Seed,' who is Christ" (Gal. 3:16).   Where was it written "in the very words of [Paul's] scripture" (i.e. the OT) that "the promised seed of Abraham is Christ"? That's an inference, correct? Yet it became revelation to us and we are now able to follow Paul's MIDRASHIC reasoning. And build on that platform. Examples like this could be multiplied. My point then is obviously that I balk at "the very words of scripture" approach because it itself is not "model[ed], ... example[d], or ... illustrat[ed]" in that portion of our one Bible "addressed to new covenant believers". The NT. Jesus drew upon inferences. Paul drew upon inferences. And both of them expected us to do the same.   To reiterate my two primary points of contention: 1) I remain at odds with the modern day "Marcion-ism" (whether or not this is you, bro Bruce remains to be seen from how you reply) which seeks to divide one portion of our Bible from the other-- elevating the Greek section over the Hebrew and Aramaic sections.

That issue was settled early on in the fledgling Church's history. First with Paul ...   "*ALL* Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16, emphasis mine-- and when Paul wrote this, there was no NT part of the Bible).   ... then with the adoption by the Church of the entire canon of the Bible. Nobody needs to resurrect a rejected heretic.   2) I remain at odds with a self-defeating argument which proposes that we *only* find "instruction[s], ... command[s], ... exhortation[s], ... model[s], example[s], or illustration[s]" from "the very words of scripture" when this practice is neither "instruct[ed to us], ... command[ed to us], ... exhortation[ed to us], ... model[ed for us], example[ed for us], or illustration[ed for us]" anywhere in "the very words of scripture". Neither in the Greek portion ... nor in the Hebrew/Aramaic portion.   I recognise that some may interpret my comments to mean we have license to do church almost any way we please. But remember my past posts. I tend to be "restoration" in thinking, personally basing most of my kingdom building practices on actual commands and models used in Scripture. But I see more room to adapt, I think, than what I understand Bruce to be proposing ... also based on what I read in Scripture. There are borders never to be crossed. But then there appears to be a wonderful amount of freedom to pursue church polity and planting, based on inferences, guided by God's Holy Spirit.   Blessings on you all as you plant and nurture churches according to what God has revealed-- explicitly and implicitly-- in His holy word


End of New Testament Church Planting Digest V2 #199

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