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KingJimmy
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Joined: 2003/5/8
Posts: 4419
Charlotte, NC

 Re:

Sometimes when I read thoughts such as these, you would think that Christianity disappeared for 1900 years and was restored in the last 35 years or so, by a few outliers who critique it on the internet.


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Jimmy H

 2014/10/18 22:05Profile









 Re:

Really, can anybody prove from scripture that the existing evangelical structure in America is the New Testament church that Jesus is building?

Blaine

 2014/10/19 17:34
yuehan
Member



Joined: 2011/6/15
Posts: 510


 Re:

Quote:
Really, can anybody prove from scripture that the existing evangelical structure in America is the New Testament church that Jesus is building?

Blaine


Ephesians 5:23 answers your question perfectly, Blaine!

Personally, I believe that the focus on house churches v.s. established denominations misses some key issues. If Christianity is about having a relationship with God, and that we together with all His children are the church under Christ - surely organizational structure and liturgy style are secondary issues?

For believers who decide to meet as a house church, they could be just as vulnerable to the same problems as their brethren in other denominations. This includes idolatry issues - possible idols: their leader/pastor, their "church". These can easily replace Christ, and I reckon are common but subtle idols among Christians.

 2014/10/19 18:12Profile
Oracio
Member



Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 2037
Whittier CA USA

 Re:

Quote:
Really, can anybody prove from scripture that the existing evangelical structure in America is the New Testament church that Jesus is building?

Blaine


Since you did not answer my reply I will assume I interpreted your OP correctly. If you really feel that all traditional Protestant evangelical churches in America are part of false religion and that the Holy Spirit is not working in any of them today, I guess there is no opportunity for fellowship between us. Because you're treating all traditional churches as if they are part of the kingdom of false cults or false religion. I know you've been around the block for quite a while so in a sense I'm a bit surprised you would take such a strong stance and condemn all traditional Protestant churches like that. You're the one choosing to separate yourself from the rest of the Body and Bride of Christ. You can't blame anyone else Blaine. I'm sure you too would be offended if I said the group you are part of is part of false religion and that the Holy Spirit is not working and will not work in it period.


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Oracio

 2014/10/19 18:14Profile









 Re:

Oratio if you believe that the existing religious structure in America is the New Testament church of Acts. Then please demonstrate this from the scriptures.

Where for example do you find the organic relationship of the life of Christ in the religious structure? Where do you find the organic relationship of believers in the religious structure.

I did not respond to your questions because they were a set up. You asked the questions and then assumed the answers.

If you find life in the structure then Praise God. But I ask is the religious structure of American evangelicalism the church that Jesus is building? Could it be that God has something much better? Perhaps something that reflects more the corporate reality of Christ then what we are presently experiencing in what is called the American church?

By the way bro you speak of not having fellowship. This is internet. Cyberspace. We do not know one another. We are not face to face. We are not in relationship except in the spiritual sense of relationship to Christ. I doubt we would ever meet this side if glory. I simply share that to say that being the church is all about relationship.to Christ. And to one another. But the one another being in physical proximity to each other.

My thoughts.

Blaine

 2014/10/19 19:58
dolfan
Member



Joined: 2011/8/23
Posts: 1632
Alabama

 Re: Relationship or Religion

We have a bumpy start to our little house fellowship. We grew from 7 to 3 in four meetings. One brother has been working and I do not know if he will join us when his plant outage is over. One couple who started with us and enthusiastically cheered the effort discovered that being malcontented and domineering is not getting them what they wanted and they have quietly found other entertainments. Still another couple is so wrapped up in certain teaching that we just would not come around to that they have politely checked out too.

Meanwhile, we keep praying, preparing, cooking, making ready and inviting. An elder brother has now been with us for four of five meetings and last week it was only him, my wife and me. It was rich. Yesterday, the two couples mentioned earlier begged off and my wife and I looked to each other and said....go to the highways and hedges and compel them to come. So, I called a couple who, in my mind as we started all this, were the prototype of the people God had placed in our hearts. Relieved, really, that the four folks who were not to come did not. The husband answered the phone, a tortured soul with many mental health and emotional issues. Before we finished talking, I had prayed for a sudden medical problem of his that ....wisely....prevented his attendance. Five minutes later his wife called and said " I will be there." She came.

So, my wife, me, the elder brother and my friend (minus her husband) sat for two hours, shared a meal, shared all sorts of Scripture, encouraged one another, encouraged the absent husband, prayed for each other ....even the friend, whose life in Christ is nascent and raw but He is clearly working in her.... and we shared communion.

It was everything and more that we have sought God for and what we have obeyed Him to do and be.

I had prepared what follows below two weeks ago to address the tone that had developed so soon among us. As it seems for now, the need for it has subsided. But, we have committed to this which God has called us to be and do, and we do not intend to rest short of His accomplishment of what He has put in our hearts.

My point in sharing this is that we cannot afford to sling arrows at whoever is not our enemy. Soon enough, some of those whom we find distastefully and even repugnantly worldly within the "organized church" will be our partners and co laborers.


Acts 2:42-47.

This earliest description of the meeting of the Holy Spirit filled followers of Jesus has historically served as the aspiration of the church when it is gathered together. Whether in large buildings, caves, huts, houses or storefronts, the church of Jesus meets wherever two or three are gathered in His Name with the joint purposes of fellowship, discipleship, and discerning truth. Matthew 18:20. Throughout the early ages, the most common expression of New Testament meetings was the small fellowship.

Acts 5:42.

Teaching was a vital part of the fellowship/discipleship/discernment of truth in the initial church. It took on different forms. Certainly, there is no evidence of one person in front of an audience who singularly speaks for a long period followed by an altar call or call to action or other admonishment, then dismissal. The evidence is that more than one person taught, that the whole body assembled together for fellowship/discipleship/discernment of truth were encouraged and expected to – one person at a time – spontaneously but in order speak as the Holy Spirit spoke to them. The hearers would discern the truth and wisdom of the speech by prayer, searching Scriptures for support and application, and by discussion (and even debate) in love. But, teaching was indispensible.
The subject of the teaching was the simple gospel of Jesus Christ. Today, we have so boiled down and distilled the gospel to a “plan of salvation” with cherry-picked verses designed to lead someone to a decision about whether to pray to be saved that we have omitted from “gospel” teaching the full weight of everything in the New Testament. It is true that salvation in Christ is “simple” – thankfully so! – but it is also true that the whole counsel of the whole word of God is necessary to mature believers and to most fully equip them for dynamic life in the Body of Christ. This requires teaching and – dare we say – preaching. The apostle Paul made no bones about the importance of it. Romans 10:14-15. See, also, Acts 20:7-12.

Acts 16:29-34.

Households have been the front lines of the ever raging spiritual battle that is the kingdom of God. See, Matthew 11:12. Jesus would often shock people with miracles and teaching, not only in synagogues and in outdoor venues, but also in household contexts. Luke 14; Luke 7:36-50; Luke 10:38-42, for example. You will notice that Luke describes several of these household incidents and that he wrote Acts as well, with particular attention to the detail of God’s work through and in households.
When Jesus sent the twelve disciples out, He gave them specific instructions to approach houses. Matthew 10, Luke 9. In Luke 10, He re-commissioned a group of 70 (or 72, depending on the translation) and, again, sent them to houses.

It is not a coincidence that we see Jesus personally initiating the practice of His disciples, His sent laborers, entering households. When Jesus did so with the 12 and then the 70, He aimed at the “lost house of Israel”. In Acts 10, at the conversion of Cornelius, the Holy Spirit personally orchestrated that the gospel should first reach the Gentiles at the hands of Israel inside a Gentile household. In Acts 16, after the Holy Spirit called Paul and his companions into Macedonia (the first recorded mission into Europe), the first conversion Luke notes is of the woman who sold purple goods, Lydia “and her household”. Likewise, the Philippian jailer was converted in Acts 16, with his household, at the teaching of Paul to the jailer’s household following the miraculous release from chains again orchestrated by God.
The thrust of apostolic ministry in households in the New Testament was not only for fellowship, discipleship and discernment of truth, but momentously included evangelism and conversion. This instructs us about how the Holy Spirit is deliberate in using households as the front lines of expansion of the kingdom of God in the hearts of people.

Acts 20:20

We do not shrink from the public or household declaration of the Word of God. It is not necessary to abandon or even criticize the large, programmatic church gathering. So much of house meeting can be overtaken by unjust distinction between the house meeting and the large, programmed meeting. The New Testament church, as it reached deeply into households, is not seen criticizing the form of synagogue proclamation or study. Paul took advantage of it, as a matter of fact. This tells us that the larger forms of gathering are not the enemy of the gospel.
But, the fact is, most people who are now not “regular attenders” of the larger meetings in church buildings are simply not going to start going to them. The statement is made that if church-goers would only invite non-church-goers, more non-church-goers would go to church. That is undeniable. Any event is more likely to be better attended as people are personally invited to attend by folks they know. However, for all of the innovation that church-building operators have introduced, church attendance nationwide continues to decline as a percentage of the population. Innovative forms of meeting, like “praise and worship” bands, casual dress, theatrical lighting and production, and the ever-present power point displays in lieu of hymnals and bibles, are generally successful only in luring large numbers of people from more traditional forms of meeting places and are not particularly more successful in converting the lost or in maturing believers in the Way of Jesus. So, “church building” based meetings are not the enemy of the gospel, but they do not have a particularly biblical impact on the lost or on the saved as opposed to any other form of meeting.

The temptation is to indict the church as an organized, large, centralized yet ineffective entity. If the indictment were even true, the believers who are not married to that form have no cause to issue the accusation. Jesus said of one who would decline or delay following Him in truth in order to bury a dead loved one, “Let the dead bury their dead.” The explicit teaching of Jesus here is to follow Him, period. Spending any effort, time, energy, emotion or anything else in critique of the larger “church building” form or format is a sounding brass and tinkling cymbal and is not part of the voice of the church that is clearly calling Christians to spiritual battle. In short, criticizing the “come and see” model of the larger church-building based gathering is wasteful of the time we have, it can needlessly harm people we love and share the kingdom with, and it is disobedient to the singleness of vision that the Holy Spirit is calling His people to have in these days. No part of the body of Christ should have anything to prove to any other part in this regard. Just as the larger gatherings can be said to produce artificial unity, household gatherers can be baited into artificial holiness that is mere sanctimony. The fact is that God is still God, and He sets the members in the body as it pleases Him, and to argue against the larger gatherings or against household gatherings is to argue against God.

Romans 16:5, 1 Corinthians 16:19, Colossians 4:15.

The apostolic expectation and norm was household gatherings. The household gathering is full of vitality and life. There is warmth, there is acceptance, there is hospitality. Note the greetings in these verses. Note, again, the emphasis Paul places on biblical leadership of these gatherings as requiring “givenness to hospitality and aptness to teach.” 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8. Peter echoes this need of hospitality as an apostolic expectation. 1 Peter 4:8-10. Hospitality in households would be the only way that the writer of Hebrews could urge people NOT to neglect meeting. Hebrews 10:25.

This warm, intimate, gathering of people of God was prophetically announced in Malachi 3:16. It is stamped with the approval of God. Yet, it isn’t approved just because of its form. It is approved because the form enables the substance of what God is doing to actually happen in real time in the real world.

2 Tim. 2:24-26 is exemplary here. [Be kind to everyone; preparing and practicing on each other the sharing of this Word of life; putting up with each other’s shortcomings but building up each other where we are weak; freely opening our own selves up to repent, moving toward Him and away from ourselves, growing in knowledge of Him; freeing one another from the things that have snared us]. As the believers gather in joyful warmth and intimacy, in an environment of safety and welcome, we are expected to equip ourselves and each other for this kind of helpful accountability and up-building of one another. Real lives are being lost to Satan, and real body life in the church of Jesus includes all of us as being prepared for this kind of work.

What must we expect to find in the local household gathering of the body of Christ, then? Accountability to one another and to the Lord. Dynamic, not static, submission and leadership. Purpose and direction. Giftedness. Certainly other factors as well.

In China, for example, one brother notes that the gifts of the Spirit are and have been for years widely accepted and practiced, but there is no emphasis on particular gifts like tongues or prophesying. The mark is that the Holy Spirit is manifestly at work in an orderly way among them.

When the early church assembled – and when small gatherings like this one meet around the world – there was and is an expectation that Jesus would be present as Pastor/Shepherd and Teacher/Counselor and as Spirit-filler/Sender. That must be our expectation, our dependence. And, as we walk in the truth while separated from one another, proving the good and acceptable will of God by living in a process of being changed into the image of Jesus, whenever we meet in anticipation of Jesus with us, He does the works of God through us and with us.

We are familiar with 1 Cor. 12 and the gifts. But, this continued after the NT period. In the early second century AD, the writing “Shepherd of Hermas” says, “when the man who has the divine Spirit comes into an assembly of righteous men, who have faith in the divine Spirit, and intercession is made to God by the gathering, then the messenger of the prophetic spirit, who attaches to one, fills the man, and being filled with the Holy Spirit, speaks to the multitude according to the Lord wills.” Irenaeus said about 80 years later, that people were being delivered from demon possession, saved and joining fellowships, others were gifted with foreknowledge prophecy, visions and prophetic utterances, healing by laying on of hands, and dead people actually being raised and living for many years. “It is impossible” he said “ to enumerate the gifts which throughout the world the church has received from God and in the name of Jesus Christ crucified ... every day puts to effectual use for the benefit of the heathen...”. Others, he wrote elsewhere, “many brethren ... possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages, and bring to light for the general benefit the hidden things of men and declare the mysteries of God.” In the 4th and 5th centuries, Augustine of Hippo wrote “even now miracles are wrought in the name of Christ”. He wrote of personally seeing a man in Milan being healed of blindness.

Francis Chan alludes to this himself. He left his pastorate of a mega church and moved ultimately to SF and meets in a small gathering, goes out and witnesses to people in the Tenderloin district, and they train to reproduce these gatherings in the homes of people who are saved, and then they go out and win others, --- lather, rinse, repeat. He testifies that he prays for people and miraculous things happen to them and people are healed, people are miraculously saved. That’s in 21st century SF.

Jesus is here. Jesus is now. The church is the only body He has called to do His work in the world. The church is His all time plan, His end time plan. And, this is it.

This is what Jesus has called us to do, to be. This is why we meet. This is a small town in a rural place. There’s no urban swell here. But, there is a heavy lid of self- righteousness smothering the light of Jesus to the poor and unsaved. God has called my wife and me to these people who would never darken the doorstep of a church. It will require a gathering with Jesus to propel the gospel to these lost people. You live where you live. I can’t speak for what God is doing in you. But, I can tell you emphatically what He is doing in the world, and the burden is on any of us to say why He isn’t doing it where we live or why we ought not to walk this way. He is calling people to gather like this, to expect Him to be present, to build up, edify, exhort, empower, teach, account for each other and to equip each other and to send each other to the lost and repeat this process in the lives others until Jesus comes. He is working miraculously, and He is giving us the gifts of the Holy Spirit so that He may accomplish His will through us.
I’m urging us to come together with this in mind, with this expectation, with this hope and awareness and mission.


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Tim

 2014/10/19 21:07Profile
Oracio
Member



Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 2037
Whittier CA USA

 Re:

Quote:
If you find life in the structure then Praise God. But I ask is the religious structure of American evangelicalism the church that Jesus is building? Could it be that God has something much better? Perhaps something that reflects more the corporate reality of Christ then what we are presently experiencing in what is called the American church?


Blaine, for you to prove your statement to be true that no evangelical church in America has the "life" of the Spirit in it you'd have to have visited every single one of them. Why paint such a broad brush and condemn all American evangelical churches like that? How else do you expect Christians who fellowship in those churches to respond than to take offense and want to separate from you on account of that? Unless they simply submit to your harsh condemnation of the fellowships they are part of.

Quote:
By the way bro you speak of not having fellowship. This is internet. Cyberspace. We do not know one another. We are not face to face. We are not in relationship except in the spiritual sense of relationship to Christ. I doubt we would ever meet this side if glory. I simply share that to say that being the church is all about relationship.to Christ. And to one another. But the one another being in physical proximity to each other.


I completely understand that this is only the internet and not face to face contact. My point is that your condemning remarks toward all traditional churches cut you off from any possible meaningful future fellowship or interaction (whether in person or online) with those who fellowship in those kinds of churches.

I once had the opportunity of meeting, fellowshipping with and doing outreaches with believers whom I met through another Christian forum I used to participate in. It was a great time of fellowship in the Lord and in the gospel. That could not have taken place if we each felt that the different fellowships we belonged to (other than one's own) did not have the life of the Spirit in it, or that only our fellowship had a genuine relationship with the Lord and that the others represented there were part of a false religious system. Again that mindset cuts you off from meaningful fellowship or interaction with other Christians, whether in person or online.

By contrast, I'm sure I'd be able to fellowship with others on this forum who do not make such condemning statements toward all evangelical churches including the one I'm part of.

Blaine, you've been saying that there's coming a time when you and others like yourself will be persecuted and kicked out of churches. But again, how else do you expect churches to respond to your condemnation?


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Oracio

 2014/10/19 22:34Profile
Oracio
Member



Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 2037
Whittier CA USA

 Re:

What I've noticed is that some within the house church movement try to intimidate those who belong to traditional churches and try to convince them to "come out". And what happens is that some weaker brethren who belong to good traditional churches end up getting so intimidated that they fear remaining in their churches and leave to this supposed "wilderness", supposedly outside the camp bearing His reproach. And they develop a bitter attitude toward all traditional churches. It is a sad thing to see.

Things are not as dark in all churches as some make them out to be. This "anti-traditional" church view is like a conspiracy theory that many fall prey to. I feel sad for those weaker brethren who may fall prey to it by reading some of the posts on this forum and other internet venues, after having fallen prey to it myself to a certain extent.


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Oracio

 2014/10/19 22:34Profile









 Re:

Oracio what of those weaker brethren who are compelled to stay within the traditional church structure and fall under the yoke of legalism. It cuts both ways brother. For the so called abuses of the house church movement. There are abuses in the structured church movement.

If the house church is operating under the direction and control of the Spirit. The abuses can be addressed. It ishard to address such abuses inside of a large church structure.

One other thing my brother. My posts on this matter are not to be construed as an angry old man rilong against the church structure. By God`s grace I have walked with Jesus for over 40 years. I have seen the acceleration of evil in our society that you cannot imagine. I have also seen the church structure fail to respond to the advancing darkness.

There are those inside the structure who long for a more authentic walk with Christ. These are the ones who hear the cry of the Spirit to come out. These are the one`s who want a deeper walk with Christ. These are the ones who walk in relationship to Christ and relationship to those who want more of Christ. I say again it is about relationship and not religion.

My thoughts.

Blaine Scogin
.





 2014/10/20 6:52
Oracio
Member



Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 2037
Whittier CA USA

 Re:

Quote:
Oracio what of those weaker brethren who are compelled to stay within the traditional church structure and fall under the yoke of legalism. It cuts both ways brother. For the so called abuses of the house church movement. There are abuses in the structured church movement.


In my post I said that some weaker brethren who belong to “good” traditional churches get intimidated by the message from some house churchers which says, “Come out of your traditional churches or else remain in “religion” or under God’s judgment or in a delusion or dead church.” But I know you would disagree that there are any weaker brethren in any “good” traditional churches, as it seems evident you don't believe any of them would be worthy of your commendation.

Quote:
If the house church is operating under the direction and control of the Spirit. The abuses can be addressed. It ishard to address such abuses inside of a large church structure.


That is simply not true Blaine. Again, you are painting a broad brush over all traditional churches.

Quote:
I have seen the acceleration of evil in our society that you cannot imagine. I have also seen the church structure fail to respond to the advancing darkness.


Blaine, I can also tell you from experience that much (not all) of the house church movement is apostate, allowing things like homosexuality and teaching damnable heresies like universalism. Look, I'm all for warning and calling on God’s people to “come out” of apostate traditional churches (which do abound today unfortunately). But what I’m seeing from you and others is a call to come out simply because of church structure and making that an essential. If you believe in meeting in homes with only 2 or 3 brethren that’s fine, have at it, may the Lord bless your fellowship. But why condemn other larger fellowships simply because they believe they have the freedom to meet in a building or have a different understanding of church government or church practice? That's not right man.


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Oracio

 2014/10/20 14:35Profile





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