Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock...fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Act 20:28-30
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power... 2 Tim 3:1-5
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words... 2 Pet 2:1-3a
Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come... 1 Jn 2:18
The Elephant in the Chapel
I find myself at this SimpleChurch.com website for what I am guessing would be a typical reason motivating people who make their way here: to explore notions of what the church really is and whether it can be found in so-called “simple expressions,” or perhaps more usually, the house church. One distinct difference from most other folks finding their way here (I do not say “all other folks”—there is nothing new under the sun) which I might bring to these discussions is that I and my family have been with a house church for the last 12 years, and I have been primed for it for more than a few years beyond the last 12. My understanding of the church is such that if the real thing does exist, it certainly does not exist in any notions or, more importantly, practices we have of it, whether it be the institutional church OR the house or simple church.
Let me state unequivocally that I do believe the real thing exists, but I have to say that at this point my construct has been deconstructed, and what I am writing is my own attempt to either find a new construct, or perhaps better, learn to live without one. By construct I mean: A concept or theory devised to integrate in an orderly way the diverse data on a phenomenon. I believe I pulled that definition off the Web awhile back, and interestingly, found it to be connected in some respects to another psychological term: cognitive dissonance. This latter term had been used to explain the resultant behaviors of people in the aftermath of “The Great Disappointment”. If you’re not familiar with it, well, google it. It’s just one of many examples of the follies of date-setting the return of Christ, but more to the point of my musings, it is a good example of what we do when we find that things aren’t quite working out the way our constructs say they should be working out. Thus with church, we have an understanding of the way things should be, but then we start to learn either a different theology or more of the heart of God (the two not necessarily being the same thing!) and we come to see our constructs collapsing upon us. And so, here are many of us at this website who have left the ruins of our constructs of the institutional church. Ah, but what then, when you see the ruins of your construct of the house church around you?
I will now say unequivocally that this last statement is by no means an indictment of any of the brethren with whom my family and I fellowship. Nor is it meant to suggest that we recently went through some terrible split. No, for the time being anyway, we are all still together. They know the love of God in Christ and we have been the recipients of their love and God’s love through them in manifold ways. They are relatively mature in their faith and understanding of the Word (but then who am I to judge this?). So why then do I describe my construct of the house church as a heap of rubble around me? Simply put, the construct doesn’t work for me anymore.
Enter the Defenders of the house church Construct, those who would say that, “Sure, there are pitfalls, things to watch out for, that ‘Simple Church isn’t Simple’. But it’s still theologically correct.” Some might even say, “Just because you meet in a house doesn’t make it a house church.” To the latter, granted. But perhaps it’s also possible to say—and truth-fully to boot—that “Just because you’re a house church doesn’t make you ‘The Church’”—at least not in any meaningful sense of the Word. That last Word is meant to be capitalized, and that last phrase is lifted from a comment by a contributor to these forums named Jeramie, from Gulfport, Mississippi, who too seems to be seeking the real church, his own particular issue apparently mostly focused on a questioning of why the house church/simple church movements give short shrift to the Word when it comes to the role of Pastors/Elders/Bishops (as well as giving short shrift to the Word when it comes to truly living a life free of personal ownership of earthly treasures.) To be sure, these two questions are among those I have as I stand among the ruins, but they are not the only ones. I have to ask Jeramie, as I ask myself, what are you really looking for? If you or I are looking for a construct that works, I don’t believe we are going to find it in either the institutional church or simple church/house church, not at least until we deal with the elephant in the chapel.
So, what do I mean by this elephant? Put simply, it is the thing we don’t seem to want to confront but has been right before our eyes for 2,000 years of Church history: the effect of the false prophets and the spirit of antichrist as foretold by Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, Jude and no doubt others of the apostles (Jude 17). Note I emphasize the effect, not the false prophets themselves. Confronting false prophets is one thing. Dealing with the effects is something altogether different. Concerning unequivocal speech, look right there in those verses I started out with. See how often the word will is used. There’s no maybe about it. But here we stand, 2,000 years hence, pretending that denominations are a good thing (oh no, not us house-churchers), pretending that we don’t need leadership, pretending that we can go back to doing church the way it was done in New Testament times, pretending that by leaving the institutional church and doing New Testament-style churches in our homes we are somehow not contributing to the continued atomizing of the One Body (at least as visibly expressed here on the earth.) How exactly is the house church immune from the “We are of Paul, we are of the Pope, we are of Calvin” phenomenon? Can we not just as easily say, ”We are of Viola/Cole/whoever”?
To be sure, the gates of Hell shall NOT prevail, but who are we kidding if we think that 2,000 years of savage wolves can have had no effect upon the Church (including the house churches) as she exists in the world today? To be sure, there is a Bride being made ready. But if we think that the Bride is going to be seen and enjoyed simply by re-establishing New Testament patterns (whatever those really are) while all around us “the love of many [has grown] cold,” then methinks we’ve got our eye off the true prize.
Let me give just one example of the effects of the savage wolves. Our fellowship over the years has had to deal with sin among some of its people. Grievous sin in some instances. Nothing unusual here. And certainly it has done damage to the life of the Body. Through it I (personally—the lesson is not necessarily a shared one) have learned that unless the sin is confronted with humility and love, but in the severe way the Word demands, we all suffer more than we ought, the sinner is never truly held to account and brought to repentance (by God, not us!), and the light of the Glory of God shown through the love we have for one another becomes a dimly burning wick. Of course what I am pointing to is “Church Discipline”. But that's just the theologian's term. That is, I'm not just talking about following a procedure because that's what the Bible says to do. I'm talking about moving in the power of the Spirit, a power promised to us who live in Him, and He in us. And I'm talking about this in a Corporate way, the only way that Jesus and his disciples taught us was the true nature of the Church. One Body. Universal.
But herein lies a conundrum. I can only speak of this movement and power in a theoretical way, having never witnessed the Body moving in this way. And how could it, really? Really.
Chew on that question a bit while I answer an objection some of you may have. You may say that you have seen church discipline in action, and seen a sinner turn from his ways as a result. But is there necessarily a causal link? Be careful how you answer! Could it not simply be that the kindness of God led the sinner to repentance (because that's what God does) without regard to the procedure employed? Bear in mind that what you witnessed was one isolated church putting a sinner out, but have you ever witnessed the Church putting out a sinner? If you are Catholic or Orthodox (which one? Greek or Russian?!) you might say yes, you have, since you believe yours is the One True Church. But let's say for the sake of argument that Catholicism and Orthodoxy are just two of the multitudinous examples of division the Church has suffered ever since Paul took up the problem with the Corinthians. If so, then it is impossible—due to the state of the visible Church today and the effects of the wolves—to put out a sinner, to do as Paul did, delivering such a one over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, yet so his spirit might be saved, or to refuse to feed the foolish busybody—to have nothing to do with such a one (ref: Corinthians and Thessalonians).
You know why this is an impossibility: the fool, the sinner, will simply continue to wreak havoc at the church down the street. Sometimes he'll build his own church right across the street! Or start a house church.
So, that is but one example of the teeth marks and shredded flesh. Obviously, following the whole question of Leadership would reveal another. If you look squarely at the elephant in the chapel, which again I am saying is the effect of the false prophets and the spirit of antichrist as previously foretold, you will realize that our constructs will not work, unless (Perhaps! But not likely!) our constructs are rebuilt with this understanding in mind. Or perhaps, as I suggested to myself earlier, it would be better to live without one.
Through all these admittedly negative musings I steadfastly maintain my belief that somehow, in some mysterious way, the Bride is being made ready, and when she is called to the wedding there will be Glory like we've never known. But I am going to have to let go of my idea that doing simple church gives us some kind of advantage in being able to see or walk in the Bride's glory either more or sooner.
I have had tastes of Joy in the Spirit and seen and experienced deep worship over the years, I have seen the Lord working among his people, I have known His presence in ways almost indescribable, and all of this in so many contexts beyond just the simple church. Among these contexts were a large evangelical Episcopalian church in Pittsburgh, a Southern Baptist church with a big-haired telegenic TV preacher, a fellowship group we led as part of a Bible Church, and even while viewing The Lion King on Broadway.
When I reflect on these points of closer contact with the Spirit, the elephant in the chapel, and the oftentimes misguided house churches I have witnessed or heard about (or even the times when I have contributed to the misguidedness!), I can't but help realize that while the concept of simple, house or organic church may be lovely in our image of it, the existential reality is something altogether different. What I do about it now, as I stand among the ruins of my own construct (my image, my idol—Little children, keep yourselves from idols), well, that is the question. Where the pneuma blows...
All of your statements about the early church's efforts, is what folks in my field call speculation. A more factual statement would be that we have record that they were lead by The Spirit at times. Check out “filled with the Holy Ghost” for the eight recorded examples of that.
The truth is, it appears that most of what they did was “common sense” ...like the waiting tables thing. We have just been assimilated into thinking that this walk is complacated.
PLEASE understand, I'm not “casting asparagus” on the apostles/disciples. I'm just saying that we have enough to do without worrying about them... if we simply follow The Man that had The Holy Ghost without measure (see John 3:34 for that little tidbit).
Sure, I can do that. The non-verse (you will need Nestle Aland) is Matthew 17:21. It is an ancient Byzantine gloss copied from Mark 9:29. The word “fasting” isn't in Mark 9.That's a Byzantine gloss too.
What I was checking was to see if 17:21 could be read, “Howbeit this kind [of power] goes not out but by prayer and fasting.” What I always figured it meant was, “Howbeit this kind [of demon] goes not out but by prayer and fasting.” The Textus Receptus backes up the later saying, "this yet the breed..."
The information I left out of the pastors quote was, “Holy men must have felt that the addition of the word fasting was necessary.”
NOTE: The pastor was in the process of calling a "church wide fast.”
Thanks for the clarification. Several years ago I was on the internet at a library in Pinedale, Wy.. On the CPU was a book entitled, "Misquoting Jesus." I felt impelled to check it out, and took it back to my apartment. The author explained how scribes, when making *new* manuscipts, would at times put notes in the margin, which later scibes felt necessary to introduce into the text of the manuscripts they were producing.
And concerning the KJV. I know a couple of brothers who did an excellent expose on the motives behind that translation. If anyone is so inclined they can read it online at awildernessvoice.com. It's entitled "The Great Eccleastical Conspiracy".
Oh, and I suppose I'll throw this in concerning Acts chapter 6. It does say that the apostle's suggestion to appoint the seven pleased the whole body. At least that's what my Moffat and Rotherham translations say, which do omit Matthew 17:21;^D
You discerned correctly, it was intended as encouragement. My heart always rejoices when I see one circumcising themselves inwardly because I know this is not possible without GOD's guidence. We are told in scripture to be able to praise Him, to do any act of righteousness is only possible if He gives it to us to do these things. The ability to see with eyes of discernment is a gift from Him. And I know it is from Him because it is TRUTH. You were able to discern the TRUTH of your own condition, thus GOD is teaching you. Simple.
More than once we are told to let the unrighteous continue in unrighteousness and the righteous continue to be righteous, so yes, no wrangling about words.
I did a search for local house churches, the search engine said to look under simple churches, organic churches and home churches. This I did and saw something that was all new to my experience. Are these new names for what I had been seeking or something different? I looked. I saw you. I encouraged, I stated an observation or two that might pertain to the questions raised. Now I go along my merry way. Simple.
May GOD's Name be Glorified and His Will for each of us be done,
Marc M said:
Thanks for your words, Crystal. Its very poetic in its imagery and seems to get right to what I perceive to be the heart of my problem: the 2,000 years' entrenchment of organized religion (i.e., my elephant) in our very beings. And your reference to "our journey out of Babylon" coincided with my own renewed look over last weekend at what the Revelation means by the Harlot and Mystery Babylon. I'm not going to get into those musings here due both to time and the simple fact that I don't really understand it, other than to say that at my core I perceive that this too is a way of speaking about the elephant.
However... I also have to respond to your post in another couple of ways. Upon reflection and self-reflection I find that your saying, "GOD has blessed you with a powerful insight there. Indeed, you are blessed to be so taught by GOD," is at once flattering and troubling (or should I say it's troubling because it is flattering!) I know you meant it purely as encouragement, and I am indeed appreciative in that sense. But I also have to ask, how do you know this? The only basis upon which we can know (as far as I understand the Spirit and the Word) is by the fruit my words produce. If the fruit is that people who read this move closer to God in Christ through the Spirit, then Praise Him. And I pray so. Anything else is just hot air (or worse).
And on that note, and by way of Paul's second letter to Timothy I want to both respond a little more to Matthew (Hi, again, Matthew!) and point out how your last paragraph also illustrates the dilemma of the elephant. When you look at Paul's heart and desire you can see that it was firmly rooted in his calling to be "a preacher and an apostle and a teacher" (1:11). This alone tells me that Acts 6 was not a point of departure (stick with me, Matthew. I'm using this to illustrate something). And while Paul was not yet on the scene, surely the other apostles knew their calling in much the same way. God does indeed call preachers and teachers to focus on this work and not the tables. But more important than the apostles' calling is the message they preached. It truly is a simple one. But where did it go these last 2,000 years? A good clue for understanding this can be found in 2 Tim 2:14-23:
14 Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness." 20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.
The clue is easy to see from the emphasized text, is it not? And can you see that in the center of this text is the Gospel?: "Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, 'The Lord knows those who are His,' and, 'Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.'" Is this not another way of saying that faith brings us into relationship with Him, and this results in the fruit of good works (that is, the opposite of wickedness)? Pretty simple, yes?
So, look what happens when someone comes along and talks about a concept called the Trinity, instead of, for instance, "I determined to know nothing among you but Jesus Christ and Him crucified." Or regarding my other illustration I alluded to, Matthew and I could start arguing about whether Acts 6 was a departure point for the wayward flock. It's not whether trinitarians or Acts 6 "Table-ists" (I just made that one up!) are wolves in sheeps clothing, it's what happens when we get dragged into these wranglings over words, which leads to our ruin. And don't tell me this doesn't happen in the house/simple/organic church. The wolves want to engage us, and the second we do, we start heading down the road to ruin.
So yes, Crystal, you may be completely correct in identifying false prophecy, but I believe Matthew's spirit in the "leaver alone" thing shows what seems to me to be the Godly response. Paul put it this way (in the very next verses following what I cited):
23 The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
John expressed the idea of how to respond to the antichrists in somewhat similar fashion in 1 John. In essence he said, you have the knowledge of the truth ("The Lord knows those who are His"); stand firm in this knowledge; the antichrists will become evident on their own. Don't get sucked in. Unfortunately the church by and large did, and that is the elephant of which I speak: not the false prophets themselves, rather the constant wrangling about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers.
The apostles’ example in Acts 6 – is not one of being overly bookish but in not having enough backbone to stand up to the racism of the Judaizers (omission not commission). The problem persisted (and persists still) unaddressed by the GLORIOUS TWELVE until they and it were confronted by Paul.
Did their solution please the whole body? (Pleasing men was the very thing Paul claimed would have been his goal in going along with them) Sure! But does that mean they were led by The Sprirt in making their common sense solution? Maybe we should call it a political solution.
When Paul confronted Peter - led by The Sprirt? – he confronted him as a flesh and blood – a little too fleshly – man and that to his face. He wasn’t Ephesian 6ed into restricting his thoughts to vague noodlings about what might be going on in the heavenlies. Are war metaphors a bit much? You like metaphors drawn from nature. How about Paul as a white blood cell attacking the vectors of Judaizing?
Perhaps strong prose is the enemy.
Guess I’m out of sync with the Miss Manners style of brotherly discourse. If my brother acted like a butthead, I called him one. He was still my brother - but we weren’t tea party congregants. More to the point, if he started posing as somehow being of a higher class and started addressing me – with prepared sermons no less – from behind a lectern, expecting me to sit quietly through his learned musings, I would set him straight in no uncertain terms. And if he persisted, I would find better things to do with my time. (It’s not my responsibility to stroke his ego – if anything, my duty is to pop it when overinflated.) Yes, I would be leaving but I don’t think I would see it as a failure.
Underwhelmed? Is it your brothers’ job to impress you? How much whelming do you have a right to expect? Would you take such an attitude to a family reunion? Sorry Grandpa, you’re just not that exciting.
If your concern it the atomizing of the Body, you should consider how it is related to the clergy/laity division – and so addressed by the home church movement.
Is your problem with your constructs just dissatisfaction with seeing in a glass darkly? (Did I get the KJV right?) Faith like patience is a virtue that’s easier to praise than to practice.
Claude, a brother
I think this may be directed at me...
"Underwhelmed? Is it your brothers’ job to impress you? How much whelming do you have a right to expect? Would you take such an attitude to a family reunion? Sorry Grandpa, you’re just not that exciting.
If your concern it [sic] the atomizing of the Body, you should consider how it is related to the clergy/laity division – and so addressed by the home church movement."
If it was... The house church I attended had a "pastor" and an "assistant pastor" they also had "elders". AND YES they even called them that, I asked! They were doing exactly the same thing as the IC, just in a big nice house. NO church/laity issue was being addressed, not by them at least. I tried. However, if you wanted to home school, hate doctors, breast feed, brew Kombucha, have a midwife, and eat "all natural" ...now they had that stuff covered, ad nauseum!
So, to address your question... It is not anyone's job to impress me. I don't even look to be impressed. God knows that I spent my whole childhood being impressed! (My sister is a rocket scientist, and my brother a molecular biologist... the perfect little jerks) 8^) ...and I had to watch it all happen!
AND, I'm sorry to say that my grandparents are dead. So I don't talk to them much. But I digress...
So, when someone claims they have a better horse-and-pony-show, I at least expect something A LITTLE different! Holding church in a house IS underwhelming.
Still underwhelmed... but looking,
Oh, and one more thing... from what evidence do you base this
"The apostles’ example in Acts 6 – is not one of being overly bookish but in not having enough backbone to stand up to the racism of the Judaizers (omission not commission)."
Reading, Reading chapter 6, reading the rest of Acts, reading Galatians, reading Ephesians, reading Hebrews, ...
If you have a better interpretation, make your case for it. Speculation is as facile a slur as underwhelming.
Actually, the word speculation isn't a slur at all. It's simply a term used to denote a lack of "proof."
Here is an example. "In the beginning Elohim, He created the heavens and the earth."
Now, one could say that that statement is a "factual" statement of "truth" ...assuming (of course) they take The Bible as fact and Truth. However, since there is no statement like, "The apostles should have never picked table servers." in The Bible, what you believe... only qualify as a speculation.
You see, I have spent a lot of time reading, and although I really want there to be that "proof" you talk about ...it simply doesn't exist. All I can offer is what you offer... that a person read Acts 2 on, and see if they see a "drop off" in the "acts of the Holy Ghost" like you and I do. No proof, just "preponderance of the evidence" ...or, what some would call, a speculation.
Since tone and inflection don't come through this medium, I can only speculate that I have angered you. The use of the word "slur" is a tip-off. 8^)
So, do you consider yourself a "pastor"? An "elder" maybe? Maybe you should read more...
Your speculation is showing,
Hey Whoa... one more thing! (I've been looking around) 8^)
While you are looking up "speculation" to see if I have that correct, you may want to look up "transliteration." You may then want to crack open a Greek Interlinear and look up "apostle". The English transliteration for the Greek word apóstolos is actually "commissioner". The hacked non-word "apostle" was used to make things sound like English, and too imply "rank" in the church. The word deacon has the same history, yet it is transliterated simply as "server".
And so it goes... And the tongue is a fire, the world of iniquity...
Matthew, I'm thinking Claude's first post earlier today was sort of meant for both of us. It appears he was conflating our various posts. As I said in an earlier post, "My writings here were in many ways a cathartic process. I felt like my purging was complete, so I was going to let it lie unless of course someone asked a direct question," and as Claude's remarks appeared to contain rhetorical questions, I am going to let it pass.
Also, as I said earlier, "On a visceral level I think I know more the reason why the constructs don't work anymore... arguments and disagreements, biting and devouring. I'm dreadfully tired of it." I think I should have said, not "the reason," but "one of the main reasons." Is this not the source of so many factions and divisions, and so often cloaked in the mantle of protecting sound doctrine? (Hear my voice drop deeply as I utter those last two words.) It turns my stomach, as I believe it does our Lord—no, not the upholding of the Truth, but rather the abandonment of our first love, the abandonment of the good deeds which show this love. (Rev. 2:1-7) So to that end I will be checking out of here after this post. I have but a few final comments, to wit:
Per the above, if anyone reading all of this does have a direct question or comment for me feel free to invite me as a friend and contact me that way. Actually, I'd much prefer a phone conversation, or better, face-to-face, but alas.
Crystal, I hope you have not yet gone your "merry way" without my being able to say how obvious it is to me His Spirit of Peace is upon you. I pray His arms enfold you as you too seek Him in Truth.
Finally, I thought I would leave you with the following listing I found on our local Craigslist. I redacted it a bit so as not to include identities of the author (he actually doesn't give his name) or "his flock." I think it is an excellent example of the Elephant in the Chapel, and that the spirit and tone of it show that the Elephant is not confined to the so-called institutional church (note in particular his comment that he is "looking PAST the so-called Reformation and wanting to get back to the 1st century and the Scriptures alone." Not much different a fundamental desire than many other house-churchers, is it?)
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
I am a Jew who converted to Christianity who is holding a home fellowship out of frustration. I studied under the late Dr. --- who wrote the book called ---. I have a history of working with and for apologetic ministries which included --- before it was hijacked by the current ---. I was ordained by a wonderful man named Dr. ---. He has written over 50 books in defense of the faith. Dr. --- runs ---.com
We already have several families coming who are also tired of the compromise. It seems there is not one church in this area that does not have some compromise. Why? I believe many of the local pastors are seeking to meet the needs of people. They are more concerned about hurting the feelings of men. What about what the Lord has to say over the matter? Pastors turning to their feminine side as evil doctrine makes its way through countless congregations.
So they compromise. How much leaven should be tolerated from any pastor? Here is a clue; read Exodus 12:15. Then read Messiah's warning to his disciples in Matthew 16:6. then read what Paul wrote in Galatians 5:9. The point is this; leaven should not be tolerated in any degree and if you sit under a pastor who does teach any false doctrines or refers the sheep to dangerous false teachers then what does that say about your commitment to Yeshua? It means you are committed to your pastor. You might say "what arrogance to say you have no leaven". I will ask you; "why is it you believe a pastor must harbor leaven?" Do we not have the Spirit of God to direct our doctrines?
Let me put some issues out in the open so there is no misunderstanding if you are interested. If you are caught up in "Messianic mayhem" this is not the place for you. We are a New Covenant Church and are committed to teaching, prayer and worship of the person, nature and work of God. I am called a Messianic Jew, but I do not like to be associated with the "Messy-antics" they are trying to pull. We do not return people to the Law, we do not return people to kosher, we do not return people back to the Shabbat! We believe God has revealed Himself as One God, and within the One God there is the Father, the Son and the Spirit. They are NOT the same people.
Most of these Messianic Jewish ministries reject the nature of God and have turned Him into a one man pony show known as modal ism. We here reject this non-biblical stupidity. At the same time, we are cautious not refer to God in man made terms i.e. "A Trinity". God is incomprehensible and He is incomparable. He is not to be compared to anything or any man made terms. He has not told us to use human terms to define Him. He has already provided us with the terms He wants to be referred by. The biblical Jews never did this and we are not to do it either! We feel very comfortable saying the Lord is echad. A compound unity as defined by the word echad.
We also reject the superstitious nonsense of putting a hyphen in the name of God; i.e.G-d or L-rd. This is also stupidity! We use the name of God because He has told us to. He is glorified when we call Him the One True God. This is non sensible piety. David did not say O L-rd my L-rd, how excellent is your name in all of the earth.
As a Christian Jew, I do not feel the need to speak Hebrew. However, having grown up in a conservative Jewish home I do have a basic understanding, but that does not make me smarter or more spiritual than you. Nevertheless, we speak English. On the other hand, there is richness in the words used in the Scriptures and so we DO look at the Greek and Hebrew words in order to understand the text better. Word studies are important! Oh yeah, I reject human philosophy BIG TIME!!! I reject Natural theology. Don't come here if you are a Roman, excuse me, a Norman Geisler, Sproul, William Lane Craig fan etc, etc. Human wisdom is to be rejected when biblical wisdom is our goal.
I try to find a Biblical balance ensuring I stay clear of legalism and liberalism. Both extremes will kill a church. I am a Biblicist and hold to the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians; "do not go beyond that which is written". I do not believe some doctrines are more important than others. ALL things were written for our instruction. Therefore, it is devilish to say one doctrine is essential and the other is non essential. All Scripture is essential.
Now, I have been to the so-called "reformed" churches in the area and am not happy with their tenacious clinging to systems of men- i.e Calvinism. That does not mean I reject "Calvinist's". What I have seen with God's elect goes like this; Arminians become Calvinists and Calvinists become Biblicists. That is where we should all end up. NO Systems of men. I often tell people if you are going to be a Calvinist, then be a consistent Calvinist and embrace his doctrine/support of the perpetual virginity of Mary or his stance that Roman Catholic infant sprinkling is doctrinal. It is for this reason that we have this numbskull doctrine floating around in the Church.
Therefore, I am a pastor who is looking PAST the so-called Reformation and wanting to get back to the 1st century and the Scriptures alone. That does not mean I do not read the works of dead people...as long as the dead people died without compromise. (I personally like Martin Lloyd Jones and John Gill.)
I am not happy with the schism of these local pastors- i.e defending the KJV as if it were brought to us by messengers in a heavenly chariot; or seeing these pastors require "membership" before a new believer can be immersed or before they can take of the Lord's Supper.
I am also tired of compromising pastors who send their sheep to men who are wolves in sheep's clothing. Pastors who defend these other so-called pastors who are in the limelight. That is to say I am tired of seeing so-called shepherds defend men like John Piper and R.C. Sproul and C.S. Lewis to name a few and send them to events. I reject heretics like these as well as Douglas Wilson, the FV, the NPP and the Auburn Ave heresies. And I warn the sheep about these people and their deceitful doctrines. Something many area pastors will not do because they have no spine. You see dear reader, Christianity is not a hobby-it is a calling and a way of life. It is a battle zone. Messiah said "wo to you when all men speak well of you." I dont have that problem and pray I never will.
As a converted Jew, there is only one form of baptism known as mikvah so if you are a baby sprinkler you will not be comfortable here. If you are a baby sprinkler, then you need to repent of your practice carried on by Calvin. On the other hand......IF you are open to looking at historical Jewish writings and have a desire to know truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, then you are welcome. But, do not come to try and convince me of a doctrine never found in the Scriptures.
We have no room for Mid Acts Dispensationalists. Please take your marbles and go play somewhere else.
Who are we looking for? Sinners saved by grace who understand what it means when we say "the just shall live by faith"! We believe the Law has been written on our heart and we live by it. That does not mean we are perfect. Those who live by the Law shall die by the Law. Nevertheless, we strive to show fruits of our justification. Our fruits are from God the Spirit. Having been justified we have peace with God and so we now move into the category of sanctification.
We have been declared righteous and righteous people do not go around acting like those in the world.
Having started over a year ago, we have about four families attending what I have named ---. (In honor of my friend, and my previous pastor of --- Church in --- who has gone home to be with yeshua)
We have room for about two-three more families in our home fellowship. We are looking forward to a building in the future if we can get the funding. I do screen people and generally try to meet first. I have had to turn people away, not because I was a dictator, but because they would not be comfortable here doctrinally. They hold to another doctrine and were comfortable where they were at.
This is why I want to be clear about these things so we don' waist each others time. The worship is for more established Christians who are already committed to the sovereignty of God, but we welcome people who want to excel in knowing God's word. Again, this does not mean newer believers are not invited, however, they must be open to looking and learning the Scriptures and putting aside their opinions or theological systems.
We play old hymns, new songs and also Messianic music as long as the words glorify the Lord. We have a talented guitar/piano player and if we grow too much, we have a bass player as well. We embrace the way the Jews worshiped and we will have none of this nonsense of piano only or what is called "exclusive psalmody". God has given us talents and given us instruments to sing loudly to Him. Instruments are used to aid us in our worship.
We ask that you bring your Bible and your brains to learn what to believe and how to live.
We start at 11 with coffee....LOTS of coffee. We ALL participate in the koinonia/fellowship meal to follow and I ask that each family bring a little extra for those who do not have much. Love is giving to others. Love is making a dish for others. This is time devoted to the Lord on the Lord's day to foster love toward God's people. We are not looking for people who just want to "clock in" and "clock out" with God. We want quality and not quantity. We want people who are serious about loving others with a godly love and not plastic smiles!!
We do ask that families with children have control over them so the worship is not distracted. We have a sun room for moms and dads if they need to walk away for a moment. I am not a meanie!
If you are interested email. Also, if you have a large house to bless YHVH and accomodate about 13 people; or a building that is available to offer for the worship, or if you have something to rent affordably for God's work, please contact me. We cannot afford much. We do need a kitchen. We are currently studying through the Book of Romans verse by verse; more specifically word by word.
Here's mine, Matthew 22:34-46.
So this is goodby? I wish you wouldn't leave. I can spell your name now. 8^)
As for me? For now, this is my fellowship. I can't pack it in just yet. I understand your perspective on what equals maturity and all of that... but I am a "leaver alone" in that regard. You see, I have an amazing maze to run through yet. Maybe I can keep just one person from hitting a dead end I have already found. Maybe someone can help me.
Also, I used to moderate a forum on a BBS ...so I know how it goes.
I will, with your permission, wish you the best. I did read your quote ...and I do agree. The prison is alive and well in the home church... in places. There are also those that are free, and still in the IC. My brother lived that for a while...
The Borg would always have us come, "to learn what to believe and how to live." However, resistance is NOT futile. May you be blessed in your walk.
I remember a moment when I simply wondered what it would feel like to exist once Satan was gone. To my Blessed surprise, I suddenly felt it. My arms lifted a bit and my body felt much lighter, as if gravity had lessoned.
I lived in a lovely house at one point and thought in passing how delightful it would be to have Morning Glories growing up the fences. Within a few days the fences were covered in Morning Glories!
I was basically held hostage in a camper living from meal to meal. I was filled with joy each day, receiving Divine Understandings, coming closer to GOD but utterly deprived and abused by a man. We ate only what people gave us at the street corner he held a sign up on. Once I remembered pies with fondness. Someone gave the man a pie. I remembered gourmet breads with fondness. Someone gave him two bags full of them.
People look at me and feel sorry for me. I am amazed by that. Each of my days feels gracefully lived as I reach in my spirit wondering what to do next, what shall I say, what do You, FATHER want of me? and each moment is filled with wonder as I see He has led me to this or that, an Understanding or a blessing.
GOD's Church "looks" like that. I am His church, am I not?
Matthew G. Parker said:
I waited a while to write this, because I wanted others to have a chance to reply. I hope I'm not butting in.
I just have a statement or two, and then I'll ask a question or three ...and then listen.
I too see little difference from the churches. The Catholic church still uses Old words like Priest. The protestant church just calls them "pastor" ...but they are really the same in function. They "feed" the flock (of birds, not sheep). Worms are bitter! The funny thing is, protestant denominations seem to think themselves so far removed. I however think that they have only taken one little baby step...
Therefore, if I may be so bold to ask you... "What do you see?" "What does the church look like?" verses "How should The Church look?"
NOTE: I see the walk with Christ as more of an "amazing maze" than a maturity verses immaturity thing. We are all trying to get to the finish, some of us are just on different paths!
Yes, you are. 8^)