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Discussion Forum : Revivals And Church History : And what about the early church????

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 Re: The Emliwering Spirit

Ever since I started this thread I have been thinking about the early church. Not the one of the second century. But the early church of Acts. I stand in awe of how God used a group of 'unschooled, ordinary' men and women to acomplish the work of preaching Christ to the then known world. How did they do it?

I mean imagine. You are one of the eleven disciples in Mat. 28. You have been charged to go and make disciples of ALL the nations. You have no game plan, no strategy, no mission board to back, not even a group of intercessors to pray for you. So how are you going to accomplish this monmental task?

I imagine the disciples forgot that Jesus said he would be with them til the end of the age. A promise for us today. Jesus was going to empower the disciples for world evangelism and discipleship. This promise is restated again Acts 1:8 when we see Jesus telling the apostles they would recieve power when the Holy Spirit came upon them. They would be witnesses of Christ in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. An activity that still goes on today. God was and still empowering his church to go and witness of Christ and make disciples in his name. When you read Acts you see this is what common, unschooled people did. They were advancing the kingdom of God.

It is hard for us in the 21st century to wrap our minds around this. We feel the more complex things are the greater the advancing if his kingdom. We read Acts like a Tim LaHaye novel, something like Christian fiction. I leave with you with this true story as reported by Open Doors.

A few years ago two young Cbineese peasant sisters came to Christ. With Bibles being scarce they had only one New Testament.t given to them to share. They only had a few weeks of discipling. Persecution was a threat in that area so the trainers could not stayong. A few few months later a brother followed up on the sisters to see how they were doing. Here is how the coversation went.


Brother....Sisters, what have you been doing?

Sisters with bowed heads and meekness......Honorable brother we have been sharing Jesus and starting churches. (SI please hold your judgement. This is China after all.)

Brother with condescending look.....Oh really! Starting. churches? How many people in your smallest church?

Sisters with respectful pose and quietly talking to each other........Honorable brother our smallest church has 25 people.

Brother still with condescending look.....Oh really. Ok. How many people in your largest church and how many churches have you started.

Sisters still with submissive bowed heads quietly talking to one another........Honorable brother our largest church has over 5000 people and we have started over 30 churches.

Brother with stunned look.......5000 people and 30 churches. How did you do this? You only had a few weeks of training.

Sisters with resolved looks at brother........We pray to the Holy Spirit and do what he tells us to do.

End of story.

Blaine

 2011/10/9 17:15
dietolive
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Joined: 2007/6/29
Posts: 342


 Re: Setting aside the Early Church Fathers and only "listening to Jesus"

Brother Blaine:

You said:

"At the risk of being heretical, we do better to set aside the church fathers and listen to Jesus."

All that you said concerning the history of the Church in Acts 15 was of course true, and I appreciate (what appears to me to be) your gentle and balanced spirit. I wonder however, and please consider this, if there is something amiss in your formula for determining the truth?

As I understand it, you advocate looking to the Scriptures, and praying for the Spirit to give the proper interpretation; in the end seeking a consensus in the {local) Body.

And I would say that this has been done for centuries since the Reformation, with hundreds of resulting denominations and many more splintering off every year. I don't doubt the sincerity of the believers, nor do I doubt that they believe they are seeking the Lord's Spirit for guidance.

What I have no doubt about though is that they nonetheless come to different conclusions. How can this be? The Bible is true; the Spirit is available: what then lacks?

Could it be all the false understandings about the Bible itself, and the nature of "truth" and the nature of "culture." I would think so.

I also think, that what you say about "setting the church fathers aside and listening to Jesus", misses the point.

The point was that the Church Fathers were in fact agreed on many things. It is highly unlikely that all of them could have gotten the exact same thing wrong in exactly the same way.

Many of them write within one lifetime of the apostles themselves. How likely is that they were all wrong about such important things? Very unlikely.

The problem, as I see it then, is that much of the things that the Fathers all seemed to agree upon are things that are against our popular doctrines and against our modern Hollywood-inspired [Satan-inspired] western culture.

So, even though the evidence is therefore so strong for a particular interpretation, the modern western Church marches out every plausible argument against it: the Fathers were affected by their culture, they were just pharisees, they majored on minors, they were legalists, etc. Its all just grasping for straws.

Question: Why didn't the Church Fathers of the second century just all get together and pray that the Spirit would give them the true understanding of some particular passage?

Because it wasn't even necessary; they were only one or two generations removed from the apostles; They could go to Corinth to read the original autographs and hear what the Apostles had taught verbally, either from the elders who heard Paul, or from their sons; they could go to Ephesus and speak to the ancient men who had sat at John's feet. There was no mystery.

We don't have to wonder and hope and pray about what the interpretation was, if the whole second century Church understood it only one way.

In any case, just my thought for you to consider, if the Lord leads your heart to do so.

Be well in the Lord my Brother,
Doug

 2011/10/9 17:21Profile
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 Re:


Amen Brother Doug.


Here is the problem. So many things that the Evangelical Church in North America, considers true is false. So many practices of the modern evangelical church are cultural and not Scriptural. The early church fathers were much closer to the apostolic original then our modern churches and we would do very well to look to them more even if it goes against everything you felt was right in your church situation.

Here is the problem it sounds very spiritual to say we just need to listen to the Holy Spirit or follow Jesus but the original Apostles called our Master the Lord Jesus Christ and not just a glib jesus and that the Holy Spirit to the Apostles was a person of the Trinity who was given to those that obeyed Him.

The Holy Spirit led into obedience and sacrifice in the days of the Apostles. And the Holy Spirit was not just for their comfort or to recieve a "word" from for their selfish spirituality.

We need to really ask if we have the genuine article and if we are willing to look to the early church fathers as having more truth then us. This might be true.!!


_________________
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2011/10/9 19:00Profile









 Re:

I've tried using the ECF, those that were contemporaries to the Apostles and those discipled by those contemporaries to prove out a post-trib resurrection and a coming anti-Christ but it doesn't persuade many.
I have a much longer list of quotes, but can't find it right now but this link says a lot on just that one topic ...

http://www.totall.exagorazo.net/Post-Tribulation/Mirrors/Last%20Trumpet%202000/www.geocities.com/lasttrumpet_2000/ecf/index.html


Much to my displeasure, I was forced to study cults, heresies and the RCC for far too long and found that the great majority of these splinter groups that you mention, Doug, are because of one person that wants a following, so he adds a new teaching or new law to GOD's Word and wha-lah - all of these off-shoots of protestantism.

Paul lamented with tears, that as soon as he would leave *Ephesus that ravenous wolves would rise up from among the number there and twist doctrine - so this problem is nothing new and Satan has the wisdom of who to pick, who's open to some sort of ego-trip, like Mary Baker Eddy or Joseph Smith, etc. etc. that will cause another split between us - but Paul said that division was necessary to seperate the approved from those who are not.
Some followed Jesus just for the fish and bread - others to gainsay over others.

The only sure fire way to prove out a doctrine is with The Word of GOD and a good working knowledge of the Greek, 'if' in a debate - but even then, the word heresy defined from the Greek is "the opinion chosen" and if a person isn't open - nothing on earth will dissuade them - not The Word of GOD nor the words of those who knew the Apostles.
The further on and away from the contemporaries of the Apostles, the less reliable these ECF become. I only know that from being forced to debate a RCC scholar/author.

When the ECFs begin to contradict the contemporaries of the Apostles, that's when one realizes that what Paul said was true - as soon as he left the Church, it started and if a person cannot be shown error from using The Word of GOD alone and with the original languages and grammar - that is what Jesus told us would happen as well.

New ideas make somebody, somebody, and that's the way every schism in church history started.


We're praying for John 17 to come soon. Hope more join in. Amen.

 2011/10/9 23:13









 Re: The Ministry of the Hoky Spirit

Respectfully we must come to an understanding of the Holy Spirit's ministry in the church today. His ministry is an ongoing ever present dynamic. The same Spirit that spoke to the church in Acts is still speaking to the church today. God told Moses in the burning bush 'I AM that I AM'. Jesus told the Jews that before Abraham was born I AM. Jesus in answering the Saducees said I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He is not the God of the dead but of the living. He is a present reality.

If the Spirit be God and the scriptures say he is. Then the Spirit is a present dynamic speaking to the church even today. I began this thread by asking the question how did the Acts church preach the gospel without the church fathers or a complete Bible. They had the promise of Acts 1:8. They had the Holy Spirit and the gospel was marvouy preached. People were converted, lives were changed, and the kingdom grew. All without the church fathers, Greek and Hebrew word studies, and so forth. We bless God that such are available. But one wonders is the church in America doing any better with our Bible schools, seminaries, wotd studies, church fathers and so forth. We have correct theology but do we have the Spirit. Do we have Jesus. Peter and John were two ignorant fishermen. The NIV called them unschooled, ordinary men. But the Jewish leadership took note they had been with Jesus.

In places like Iran and China great moves of God are taking place. Revival if you will. These places lack many of the resources we have. They do not even have Bibles. But they have the Holy Spirit movingi in power.

I say again the Acts church had a greater dependence on the Holy Spirit than the church in America. And look what they accomplished. The church in China and Iran have a far greater dependence on the Holy Spirit and look what they are acomplidhing. VOM estimates 500 or more people come to Christ a day in Iran. I doubt very seriously if that many come to Christ a month in this country. It goes back to the power of the Holy Spirit.

Also I get concerned when we elevate a body of men, as the church fathers, as the sole repositors of truth. That may not be the intent. But it seems there is this attitude they got it all together. Let us remember they are only men. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit if truth. He is the one who will lead us and guide us into all of the truth.

Respectfully,

Blaine Scogin

 2011/10/10 0:49
dietolive
Member



Joined: 2007/6/29
Posts: 342


 Re: Jesus-is-GOD

Hello Sister, (and a pleasure to meet you!)

First, I think you are on the right track regarding there being only one second coming of our Lord...

Second, regarding the rest of what you said, I think you have written well. I would just like to say a few things to clarify some. I ask you to please bear with me:

I am sure a great number of divisions have occurred because of and through "deceit" and the desire to find something new. Deceivers, by definition I would think though, would found "cults" however, not true Christian denominations as I was speaking of in my post.

You seem to realize this when specify the cult founders of so-called "Christian Science" and of "Mormonism." I was not referring to how cults are founded, (i.e. through deceit and lies), but how well-meaning Christian denominations are founded,(i.e. through looking to the Word and lots of people agreeing together that they are "feeling led" by the Spirit to understand some certain text or texts differently than others.)

For context, please zip through the history of the western Church with me. First, we have Jesus, then the apostles, then their direct disciples (now we're into the second century). Then we have their disciples, and then theirs, and so on.

Then comes Constantine, and his Church/State hybrid. Then the Bishop of Rome becomes a worldly prince (now we're into the 7th century). Then over 1200 years of gross darkness, with only little sparkles of light shining forth here and there.

Then we have the dawning day of a massive Reactionary Movement: the Reformation. (Now we're into the 16th century.) A lot of good comes from it, but a lot is lost. Because the movement is in the main fueled by a Reaction against Roman Catholicism, new errors are added in the opposite direction, while many "Catholic" doctrines and practices are thrown out, and even some errors are retained.

Time goes by, and well-meaning Christians come along who want to purify Protestantism, (they then follow the sincere method I've outlined above); over several centuries this process is repeated hundreds of times, and finally we arrive at today.

This is the "long version" of what I was trying to say. Therefore, the "looking to Jesus alone for the true interpretation" method obviously isn't perfect. There are a lot of subjective variables attached that may affect one's views of which interpretation is correct: (like Bible knowledge, ancient language knowledge, properly understanding the nature of logic, and of logical fallacies, the contemporary culture and how much one allows that to influence his interpretations, denominational inertia and the nature of "conservatism", etc.)

Then, dear Sister, you speak of absolute proofs:
You write:

"The only sure fire way to prove out a doctrine is with The Word of GOD and a good working knowledge of the Greek, 'if' in a debate - but even then, the word heresy defined from the Greek is "the opinion chosen" and if a person isn't open - nothing on earth will dissuade them - not The Word of GOD nor the words of those who knew the Apostles."

I agree there is no such thing as absolute proof when debating a person against his will. For instance, the dead rising again and telling you so, would logically be absolute proof; buy Abraham in Paradise confirmed the utter irrationality of proud arrogant people. They will refuse to believe something, even if the dead themselves rose again and told them so.

My second clarification then regards the nature of the proof that I am talking about. When I say: when the Early Church all agreed on a doctrine, that is great evidence that this was the understanding of the apostles who had just recently been teaching them.

This is my point: The fact that the earliest Christians all agree on a particular interpretation of Scripture is a PREPONDERANT amount of evidence, logically; it is MIGHTY evidence, but only to one who is SEEKING to know.

Finally, I do not expect people to listen to or even consider this evidence, those people I mean, who have already steadfastly determined in their hearts that they will NEVER submit to what the earliest Christians after the apostles believed, if it means having to change their views.

That, dear Sister, would require a miracle of God's grace, something the strongest logical proofs alone are incapable of working in the human heart.

Thanks for reading, and I wish you well in the Lord,
Doug

 2011/10/10 0:53Profile
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 Re:

Quote:
In places like Iran and China great moves of God are taking place. Revival if you will. These places lack many of the resources we have. They do not even have Bibles. But they have the Holy Spirit movingi in power.



Brother,

what many do not understand is that the Chinese home church network has rules, authority structure and submission that many would not follow in the West considering it "cultish" and "controlling". The Holy Spirit in these believers leads them to sacrifice for the Gospel in submitting to authority, and church practice and doctrine. Watchman Nee established much of what the church order is for the home churches and part of this order in scripture was headcoverings for the sisters. (which is practiced by many in home churches).

Watchman Nee's desire was to go back to the Early Church Fathers and Apostles and see what is the most Biblical Church practice and he gleamed much from the "brethren" movements which were an attempt to do this. A great book on this subject of church structure that has been practiced throughout the 2000 years by small remnant groups is: The Pilgrim Church by B.H. Broadbent.

The fact is that the Holy Spirit is not a liscense for us to be free to practice our religion how we want but leads us into submission to authority and to biblical doctrine and practice. The Spirit of God leads into all truth. That truth is not defined by us but we must lose our own wills and allow the Spirit to lead us into this truth and obedience to God's will.

We want to follow the Apostles Traditions. Also we want to follow the ways of those after the apostles. It is clear those traditions were not diluted or changed much till AD 300. To say all the churches became legalistic somehow right after the 12 apostles died is not right nor valid.

The confusion modern evangelicals have with the concept that it is all by grace and that you cannot lose the salvation is one of the major problems when therefore reading "ANY" church fathers even letters RIGHT AFTER the apostles NONE of it works with the New Testament and it is like reading a legalistic rule book compared to the idea of grace that many protray. But whe n the New Testament is read rightily with the right emphasis on Grace and Truth and in the fear of the Lord then those other writings fit very clearly.

Many evangelicals have no idea or cannot fit the idea in Revelation why the Spirit of Christ says repeatedly: "We will be judged by our works" I know thy works!

The Church Fathers relied on the Spirit of God and saw great exploits in their day, as the Gospel spread to the 4 corners of the earth, with great unity and blessing from the Lord.


_________________
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2011/10/10 1:07Profile









 Re:


Hi Brother Doug. I don't see where you and I are in any disagreement, foundationally speaking.

Only here, in this one paragraph, if I could just add a bit of my understanding -

""You seem to realize this when specify the cult founders of so-called "Christian Science" and of "Mormonism." I was not referring to how cults are founded, (i.e. through deceit and lies), but how well-meaning Christian denominations are founded,(i.e. through looking to the Word and lots of people agreeing together that they are "feeling led" by the Spirit to understand some certain text or texts differently than others.)""


If Jesus promised that His Spirit would "lead us into all truth", then these who are "feeling led" to understand differently than what is Truly Biblical, are being "led" by what spirit? Is there any "spiritually neutral ground"? And if "heresy" is defined by GOD as, "Choice, to choose for oneself, the opinion chosen" - then to me, it would seem the source of their non-Biblical beliefs are no different than the same source who would stretch things even further to be called a cult... ie, same spirit or "a different spirit", or a "different Jesus", as Jesus 'is' The Word of GOD and no lie is of the truth. Any belief that is against what The Word of GOD in it's/His entirety states, is from the father of lies to divide HIS Body --- same 'source' that would produce a cult as well.


I believe the controversy may be over a thread posted here on the Revival section. A thread that I've thoroughly enjoyed, but know that the topic is the most debated topic on any forum and one that won't be resolved until The LORD returns, though we pray that as the darkness increases in this world that His Light will be poured out all the more. It's possible that that may happen, from reading Daniel :) and then at the same time - we'd see the fulfillment, once and for all of John 17 - Jesus' prayer and ours.
And if the thread that I read on this Revival section, that quotes the ECF on 'Salvation' is being questioned - I know that Brother Blaine would agree with those quotes, doctrinally and by knowing that they are from those who sat under the Apostles, themselves. Rather amazing thread at that. Is there a link for it? - I can't find it on a web search and there's subtitles that we're instructed to see that need a link to see.

The LORD Bless you and I pray that we all see that, on this particular thread - that in the end - it 'does' indeed take His Spirit to lead us into all truth, as you, as well as Blaine have agreed on - and that it does take our own 'freewills' to receive His True Truths.
The thread that may be in question is, in my mind, an important one - especially in these days.


His Best to you both.

 2011/10/10 2:07









 Re: The Centrality of the Gosoel

Resoefully.brothers and sisters,

The New Testament reminds us of the centrality of the gospel. The Apostle Paul writes 1 Cor.15 that he passed on to us, even today, what he also recieved. That Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose on the third day according. to the scriptures. In essence this was the message that the early church in Acts proclaimed and lived out. And this is the same message the church of today proclaims and lives out. The gospel message is about faith andife in Jesus Christ.

But how are we to live out the reality found in Jesus. It has to be through his Spirit. I raised the question in this thread how did the Acts church spread and live out the gospel. It was with a dependence upon the Spirit. Before the church fathers or even the Bible the Holy Spirit was present shepherding, counseling, guiding the young church. His gifts were present to build up the church. His servants were empowered to preach the gospel and do miraclrs to autheticate that gospel.

Saints this is what I am trying to convey. The church in Acts was successfully dynamic because of her dependence on the Hoky Spirit. I know I am sounding like a broken record. But when you read Acts how could the first century church do what she did without the Spirit? For that matter how can the churches in China, Iran, and India do what they are doing without the Holy Spirit. Jesus taught that apart from me you can do nothing.

Greg and Doug I seem to hear you say that dependence on the Spirit of truth apart from the church fathers will lead to doctrinal error. I don't think so. If onei is holding to the gospel message as Paul articulated 1 Cor.15 and faithful in reading the New Testament under the instruction of the Spirit God will preserve him from false teaching. The promise of John 10 is the sheep will not listen to the voice of the stranger. Of course a Christ-centered fellowship woukd be a great help.

Brothers I am not trying to be devisive in my posts but urge for a dependence upon the Spirit of Jesus. I think we all woud agree that the gospel is central in our walk with Jesus and its message is what saves the lost. I pray that we would be filled with the Spirit's power so we can live out and proclaim that message.

Respectfully,

Blaine

 2011/10/10 9:50
dietolive
Member



Joined: 2007/6/29
Posts: 342


 Re: martyr

Dear Brother Blaine -

First: I don't deserve your respect dear Brother, so I appreciate your humility in specifying so. I respect you too.

Second: You provoke several thoughts when you say:

"Respectfully we must come to an understanding of the Holy Spirit's ministry in the church today. His ministry is an ongoing ever present dynamic. The same Spirit that spoke to the church in Acts is still speaking to the church today."

and again:

"Then the Spirit is a present dynamic speaking to the church even today. "

Dear Brother, please consider the promise of our Lord that you implicitly refer to:

"I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come." John 16:12-13


I think a fundamental misunderstanding of these verses undergirds the WHOLE basis for why there are hundreds of denominations today, and for why we still argue over whether or not to take this or that apostolic instruction literally today.

Getting John 16:13 wrong creates a HUGE problem for us. But how could we be so wrong about how to apply these verses? How can this be?

Question: Who was Jesus speaking to when He gave this promise? Answer: The apostles.

Question: Who must have been the recipient of these promises then? Answer: The apostles.

Why? Because they were going to establish the Church after Jesus went to Heaven. Here Jesus is promising the apostles that they would be given supernatural and infallible insight and understanding, after Jesus left them.

This promise was NOT given to other Christians then, nor unto us, today. Do you see what I am saying dear Brother? (When this "clicked" for me, it made all the difference...)

Only the apostles were promised the [EDIT: insert "unerring"] inspiration of the Spirit, not us. This promise was not given to us, but to the apostles. That is why we can trust the rest of the New Testament.

How can we use this verse to prove (correctly), that the New Testament is infallible true, and also use this verse (incorrectly) to prove that we will necessarily come to the correct conclusions if we just sincerely pray hard enough for the Holy Spirit's inspiration. The verse only proves the apostles' inspiration; not ours today...

Brother Blaine - You go on to say:
"People were converted, lives were changed, and the kingdom grew. All without the church fathers, Greek and Hebrew word studies, and so forth. We bless God that such are available. But one wonders is the church in America doing any better with our Bible schools, seminaries, word studies, church fathers and so forth."

I wish to clarify here that when you state that they did all of what they did without the Church Fathers, Greek and Hebrew word studies, etc., you are missing the point. The Bible Helps you mention do not "empower" Christians for victory; they rather only "help" us establish the truth that the infallible apostles gave us. They obviously didn't need those things back then, because they (unlike us) were promised to be "infallibly" led in the truth.


Finally, you say:
"Also I get concerned when we elevate a body of men, as the church fathers, as the sole repository of truth. That may not be the intent. But it seems there is this attitude they got it all together. Let us remember they are only men. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit if truth. He is the one who will lead us and guide us into all of the truth."

I understand you. Please understand though, that we are not elevating a bunch of fallen men to be the sole repository of truth. The apostles, (and only the apostles), were given that promise. Their writings alone are the sole repository of truth, (excepting the Old Testament, of course.)

Please understand though, that when the Early Church Fathers on the other hand, join together with one voice on a particular doctrine, it is strong proof that their position is the correct one, because they were in a much better position to know better than we are today.

However, the vast majority of Protestantism today rejects the testimony of the Fathers, claiming instead (implicitly) some kind of inspiration to interpret the Scriptures correctly, based on promises NOT EVEN MADE TO THEM.

Do you see, my dear Brother?

With warm regard and like-respect,
Doug

 2011/10/10 10:28Profile





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