| Re: |
Its not about about reconstituting a first century context. It is simply looking at the way they gathered, as opposed to the monstrosity that we have today, which is more of a Catholic model than anything.
You don't know how they gathered and neither does anyone else.
| 2009/1/18 17:08||Profile|
| Re: |
A very interesting thread going on here and just thought I would drop a thought in here.
What we do know is this:
1 Corinthians 3:5-15 (KJV) 5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
That the foundation for the church has already been laid by the Apostles and all of us after them are building thereon. We are told to take heed how we build upon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Every building must be according to the original pattern or we will suffer lost.
We know that the building of God is spiritual for his kingdom is a spiritual kingdom. We also know:
Ephesians 4:7-16 (KJV) 7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
We also know:
1 Peter 2:5 (KJV) Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
The bible never gives us any specifics concerning material houses, buildings, or places to meet. He just tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Although the word does talk about order and a pattern of worship that is acceptable with God. I hope to read and comment more later.
Blessings to all!
| 2009/1/18 17:42||Profile|
| Re: |
Quote...."I never met anyone who 'scoffed' at that notion and I doubt that you have either"
Here is my full quote.....
"Now, today, we scoff at that notion because that notion is filtered through our own wisdom. We have deemed that thought a ridiculous one. Yet, it is inescapeable that the divisions amongst genuine Christian were and are caused by man and not God. We know what God says about unity. We know what God says about being of "one accord," or "in one mind."
When I suggested this earlier in the thread, you replied...."I fear it would be a farce. I tremble that someone might actually try to organize it."2008/12/23 12:14
Dear brother, I would never presume to tell you what has been said to you over the span of your life. You asked me earlier to challenge you scripturally. I gave you the facts about what words the Holy Spirit used when he talked about "churches," plural and church singular. And the fact remains, in every place, without exception, the word church is used in regard to town or city. I believe that the Holy Spirit carefully chooses the words that He uses and we must take our cue from that, even if we do not fully understand the workings of a church in a town or a city, although the church at Corinth gave us quite a few clues.....your brother in Christ,Frank
| 2009/1/18 20:38|
| Re: |
You don't know how they gathered and neither does anyone else.
That's true, and I think God has purposely veiled the details from us, lest we try to reproduce it by ourselves without Him, and think we were fulfilling the will of God. We seem so inclined by nature to try to do things independently of Him.
But if we don't know just exactly how they did gather, we do know for sure how they didn't.
The church at Antioch that we read of was not composed of various denominations. When the church of Antioch was gathered together, this was not the denominations in Antioch getting together from time to time for special events, and to promote unity.
Rather, they were one in the Spirit, a community of the Holy Spirit living within the community of Antioch.
How they met was a secondary thing.
The Witness Lee thing was mentioned earlier. I didn't receive an answer (yet) as to my question about what the Witness Lee position is. I recall people speaking negatively about it some years ago, but I couldn't recall much about what they'd said. So I checked the internet earlier, and it seems he had this "one city, one church" teaching.
But the impression I got, upon what I read, is that Witness Lee had a pretty heavy-handed structure in place in his attempt to reproduce this truth. And he more or less wrote off others who gathered outside of his organization.
Even so, I believe this is truth, this "one city, one church." The Mormons make a big thing about the Melchizedek order of the priesthood. Their teaching is deception. But that doesn't make the Melchizedek order as presented by Scripture deception.
So with this "one city, one church." It is truth, regardless of how the Witness Lee organiztion has distorted it. There is something here about the autonomy of local churches, and the Lordship of the Spirit of Christ, that is beautiful truth.
God's will and design is that all the saints in a certain city, or town, be one church. One lampstand. I anticipate He will yet have this. Will yet bring this into being. It will no doubt take great shakings, and a powerful move of the Spirit of God. But He will bring this into being.
And all of His genuine saints will be "gathered" in one church, not scattered among the different denominations.
One church in each locale. Not a mega church, I don't mean that they will all gather under one roof, except, maybe, from time to time as He directs for specific purposes.
I don't know how they would gather. I incline to think they would be gathering in homes, in different homes, coming together in larger gatherings from time to time, as there was liberty to do so.
But it's not the meeting itelf that is the church. The church is the community of believers, and they come together as the Spirit of life leads them together.
Paul in addressing the Romans, spoke of Priscilla and Aquila, and "the church that is in their house" (Rom. 16.5). It's my opinion that the whole church in Rome didn't meet in Priscilla's and Aquila's living room. No doubt there were other gatherings in other homes throughout the city (and I do not think a gathering in order to be valid must necessarily be held in a home).
Yet Paul calls the church that met at Aquila's a church in its own right. "...The church that is in their house."
Because, "where two or three are gathered together..." That's a church, is it not?
And it's no doubt the same picture at Ephesus, and Antioch, and Jerusalem, and Philadelphia, and so on.
One city, one church... Yet there are churches within that church, which themselves would be autonomous, yet perfectly one and in harmony with their brethren gathering elsewhere in the same city. Like a rock thrown in a pool, with ever widening circles.
It's a beautiful prospect.
But to think of the "pastors" of a certain area starting to realize what the scriptural order is and trying to get this up and running... I would just remind us all of what happened to Uzzah when he reached out his hand to steady the Ark. I for one am not going to try to figure this out, and set it up, and reproduce it with my own hands.
I just want to walk in my pathway, and let the Lord of the church build His church.
Like someone has said. The Lord will yet reveal what He can do with the man who will not touch the glory. (Which is why Uzzah was smitten. The ark was to be carried with staves on the shoulders of the priests. No man was to get his fingerprints on it.)
...The Lord has been pleased to give us a little understanding of these things. But we can't fabricate them just because we see a little now the way things ought to be. How deeply we need the Lord of the church in our midst! I mean in a way that the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus is ruling in the churches, causing things to take the shape that LIFE produces.
And maybe from that perspective, it's time to seek Him. Seek HIM, I mean. Not FOR these things we want to see, but for HIMSELF.
"For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye ME, and ye shall live.
But seek not Bethel..."
I know, it's good to have some understanding of the true scriptural order concerning Bethel (house of God). But if that's as far as it goes, we might still find ourselves trying to dissect it all, when others who are hungry for the living God are drawing His Presence into their midst.
"Seek the LORD, and ye shall live... Seek Him that made the seven stars, and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning... the LORD is His Name" (Amos 5.4-8).
| 2009/1/18 20:41||Profile|
| Re: |
"Its not about about reconstituting a first century context. It is simply looking at the way they gathered, as opposed to the monstrosity that we have today, which is more of a Catholic model than anything." You replied....
"You don't know how they gathered and neither does anyone else."
Yet in an earlier post on this thread you wrote to me ...
"You are trying to understand the scriptures in the light of current circumstances. I am saying that we will never understand current circumstances until we understand the scriptures in their original context."2008/12/22 22:06
I totaly agree with that statement brother. You further wrote.....
"Take a look at the word 'churches' in the New Testament. You will find several instances where our current usage would be to say 'the church' and in each one you will find the reference is to 'the churches'. This ought to tell us our current conceptions have strayed from the original."2008/12/22 22:10
When one takes a look at Scripture, as you suggested, one finds no reference, none, to churches, plural, in regard to town and city, only regions. And so yes, "this ought to tell us our current conceptions have strayed from the original." ..............brother Frank
| 2009/1/18 20:48|
| Re: One church in one city|
AD wrote: God's will and design is that all the saints in a certain city, or town, be one church. One lampstand. I anticipate He will yet have this. Will yet bring this into being. It will no doubt take great shakings, and a powerful move of the Spirit of God. But He will bring this into being.
I accept that it was very probable that in the first century the church in each location was considered 'one church'. We don't know how big these were and it maybe that the numbers were such and more importantly THE PURITY OF DOCTRINE that this was the case. Without doubt this is the original plan Jesus has for His church 'that they may be one' (John 17). If you consider Paul's letters to Corinth and Ephesus, he urges them to be 'of one mind', 'to be in unity', 'operate in harmony as various members making up one body' etc. If we take it that these letters are to ALL the believers in that locality then there should not be 'seperate' churches. Different, but NOT seperate.
It seems also that the believers met in smaller groups in houses (from house to house) and it is probable (to my thinking) that these smaller groups would have some degree of autonomy with elders caring for these sheep, but also recognising they were part of the larger 'church' in that particular city or region'. This is just my theory and I know it is hard to prove absolutely. I am basing this on the earlier thoughts in the thread about the family being the starting point for grouping and leadership/responsibility. As a Father (and Grandfather) my first responsibility is to care for and shepherd my family, then as others become connected to us through witnessing, relationship etc they also come within this unit of care (not permanently or rigidly). It is a natural, organic process. Ideally if we were to try and base this on what we can understand from scripture, these smaller extended family groups would then also gather with other groups in the same locale and submit to one another, recognising those who were already Elders of the smaller groups.
However, that is not where we are today at this present time. I think to try and manufacture this would cause many problems. There are such movements here in the UK such as 'churches together' and all they do is try and bring together a lot of seperate 'denominations' and compromise the truth and have unity on the lowest common denominator. Today we have a lot of 'denominations' that call themselves Christian, but have gone so far from the truth and we have a few true believers that are scattered within a wide number of these churches among many 'professing' christians (wheat among Tares), So here in is the problem!
I think that maybe (as many think probable) that when persecution comes because of the gospel, to the church in the West, then this will sort out the true saints from professing 'Christians' and then maybe this gathering of all the true believers in one location will become the norm and happen naturally by the holy Spirit).
| 2009/1/19 5:10||Profile|
| Re: |
The phrase "The church," is used 70 times in the NT. 19 OF them talk about "The Church of God." The word "churches," is used 35 times. In those 35 times it makes reference to seven names. Judea, Galatia, Asia, Galilee, Samaria, Cililcia and Macedonia. Every one of these is either a province or a region. There is not one example of "churches," used in reference to a city. If we are to just use the Biblical source, then it seems clear. Each city had one church, any other thought would be an argument from silence.....Frank
You have made this statement more than once so let's take a look at it...
The phrase "The church," is used 70 times in the NT. 19 OF them talk about "The Church of God."
I am not sure where you find this figure of 19. I can only find 8 such references...
Acts 20:28; 1Cor 1:2; 10:32; 11:22; 15:9; 2Cor 1:1; Gal 1:13; 1Tim 3:5 and the last of these ought to be 'a church of God', definite article being omitted. Of these 8 only 2 are location specific:
[color=0033FF] To the church of God which is at Corinth, 1Cor 1:2b NKJV
To the church of God which is at Corinth, 2Cor 1:1b NKJV[/color]
Both of these are part of the 'address' to which Paul sent his letters. Only the Corinthian and Thessalonian letters are specifically addressed to a 'church'. The other letters that we refer to are usually addressed to the 'saints' in a particular location.
During the time of the New Testament, despite many pressures, the saints at Corinth remained as 'the church in Corinth'. Paul was promised 'many people' in Corinth (Acts 18:10) but so far as we know they always continued under one eldership as the church of God in Corinth.
In 1 Corinthians Paul refers to 'the whole church coming together'. 1Cor 14:23 Can we presume from this that there might have been occasions when the 'complete' church did not assemble as one gathering; house meetings, home groups...? I think we can otherwise I see no point in the adjective 'complete'.
We can see other kinds of meetings in the NT. for example we find a public meeting taking place in Ephesus. Acts 19:9. This meeting is plainly not a 'gathering of the church' in Ephesus but is much more orientated towards the outsider. (Watchman Nee has some interesting observations about this in the book 'Normal Christian Church Life') The daily 'reasoning' in the school of Tyrannus was not a 1 Cor 12-14 meeting, but was a function of Paul's ministry. Did the local saints support it? I am sure they did but it was not their 'body meeting'.
In distinction to a church like that in Corinth we have 'the saints in Rome' Romans 1:7. Gibbon estimated that the population of Rome at this time was approximately 1,200,000. How many of these were 'saints'? We don't know but someone (Robert perhaps) can calculate some possible percentages for us. I can manage a simple one; 1% would create 12,000 saints. Where are they going to meet as the 'whole church' gathered together? You may call it speculation but there must have been dozens, if not hundreds, of functioning 'body gatherings' in Rome. Perhaps is it not without significance that the scripture makes no reference to the 'church in Rome'?
| 2009/1/19 5:13||Profile|
| Re: |
"I am not sure where you find this figure of 19. I can only find 8 such references..."
Actually there are many more when we narrow it down to "the church." Here are just some, I can give many more......Act 2:47, 5:11, 8:1, 8:3, 11:22, 11:26(a considerable crowd) 12:1(Herod persecutes "the church") 12:5, 13:1, 14:27, 15:3,4,22, 18:22, 20:17,28(significant) 1Cor 1:2 , 6:4 , 10:32(significant)
There is a wealth of Scripture to establish the fact that in each city or town there was only one church. There is not a single example of "churches," plural in regard to city or town.
"Rome at this time was approximately 1,200,000. How many of these were 'saints'? We don't know but someone (Robert perhaps) can calculate some possible percentages for us. I can manage a simple one; 1% would create 12,000 saints. Where are they going to meet as the 'whole church' gathered together? You may call it speculation but there must have been dozens, if not hundreds, of functioning 'body gatherings' in Rome. Perhaps is it not without significance that the scripture makes no reference to the 'church in Rome'?"
A couple of observations here since we are in the realm of speculation. Ravenhill speculated that 2% of modern America was actually Christian. If that is anywhere close to being true, then the percentages in Ancient Rome would have been minuscule in comparison, especially when you consider that death was a real possibility just for being a Christian. Yet, lets say that I give you your speculation brother, It would change nothing, there would still be just one church in each city, perhaps with many gatherings as AD suggested in his recent reply. As for there being no reference to the "church in Rome," and that being significant, we would probably agree that we do not base our interpretaions of Scripture on what it does not say, when we have an overabundance of Scripture that has already established the fact that there was only one church in each city or town.
So, for argument sake Ron, lets say we agree that there is one church for each city and town with, depending on size of city and town and the amount of believers, multiple gatherings. Would each of these gatherings have elders ? I do not believe so. My main reason for not believeing that is that we do not have any scripture to support that theory. We do know that churches had elders and deacons, we know that from Scripture. If each little gathering had elders and deacons and so on, there would be much room for schisms.How would that work in practical terms? Well, for instance, in your gathering you identify someone who is cheating on their spouse. You approach that person to no avail. You take another brother with you and that produces nothing. Now you have to call "the church." If that man remains unrepentant, then he would be expelled from "the church." Today, to avoid discpline, one could simply move to the church down the street or a denomination that approved of your particular sinful behaviour(homosexuality being one example)
It still comes back to the fact that denominationalism is not Scriptural and is an offence to God. He has equipped us for everyhting that we need to worship together. There was no more a diverse group than the group of twleve that Jesus called. Yet they were unified in Spirit because of Jesus. It is our model, and we should strive to be perfect and follow the Word of God, no matter how implausible it may seem..........Frank
| 2009/1/19 11:42|
| Re: |
So, for argument sake Ron, lets say we agree that there is one church for each city and town with, depending on size of city and town and the amount of believers, multiple gatherings. Would each of these gatherings have elders ? I do not believe so. My main reason for not believeing that is that we do not have any scripture to support that theory. We do know that churches had elders and deacons, we know that from Scripture.
No we don't know that each church had elders and deacons. There is no mention of elders or deacons at Antioch. Only the Philippians letter includes 'deacons' in it greetings The references to deacons in 1 Tim and Titus do not mean that 'all churches had elders and deacons'. I believe strongly in eldership but a church can be a powerful testimony to Christ and a real light bearer without elders or deacons.
Are you advocating some kind of linked eldership with jurisdiction over all the saints in a city? How are you defining city; London is made up of two cities, the City of London and the City of Westminster, would that be two churches or one?
"I am not sure where you find this figure of 19. I can only find 8 such references..."
Actually there are many more when we narrow it down to "the church."
I know there are more references to 'church' but you quoted a figure for the phrase 'the church of God' and I can't find out where you had it from.
[b]church:[/b] Matt 16:18; 18:17; Acts 2:47; 5:11; 7:38; 8:1, 3; 11:22, 26; 12:1, 5; 13:1; 14:23, 27; 15:3-4, 22; 18:22; 20:17, 28; Rom 16:1, 5, 23, 27; 1Cor 1:2; 4:17; 6:4; 10:32; 11:18, 22; 12:28; 14:4-5, 12, 19, 23, 28, 35; 15:9; 16:19; 2Cor 1:1; Gal 1:13; Eph 1:22; 3:10, 21; 5:23-25, 27, 29, 32; Phil 3:6; 4:15; Col 1:18, 24; 4:15-16; 1Th 1:1; 2Th 1:1; 1Tim 3:5, 15; 5:16; 2Tim 4:22; Titus 3:15; Philem 1:2; Heb 2:12; 12:23; James 5:14; 1Pet 5:13; 3John 1:6, 9-10; Rev 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14
[b]churches:[/b] Acts 9:31; 15:41; 16:5; 19:37; Rom 16:4, 16; 1Cor 7:17; 11:16; 14:33-34; 16:1, 19; 2Cor 8:1, 18-19, 23-24; 11:8, 28; 12:13; Gal 1:2, 22; 1Th 2:14; 2Th 1:4; Rev 1:4, 11, 20; 2:7, 11, 17, 23, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 22:16
[b]church of God:[/b]Acts 20:28; 1Cor 1:2; 10:32; 11:22; 15:9; 2Cor 1:1; Gal 1:13; 1Tim 3:5
[b]churches of God:[/b] 1Cor 11:16; 1Th 2:14; 2Th 1:4
| 2009/1/19 14:18||Profile|
| Re: |
We don't know but someone (Robert perhaps) can calculate some possible percentages for us.
:-o Well, I'm gone for 3 days and this reputation I can't live up to is still carrying me before it. :-P
Robert Wurtz II
| 2009/1/19 14:19||Profile|