x176......Fit Your Church Into the New Testament Church
Ask yourself honestly--to try to fit your church into the New Covenant way of doing church.
first we need to know what that is....
Jesus began an apostolic revival in Israel. The way Jesus operated the church was by releasing people--out into the world--who were anointed to lay hands on the sick--to cast out the devil--and to preach the Gospel. He called these people apostles--(those who are "sent")---and HE released hundreds--perhaps thousands of Israelites to go out and teach and preach the Gospel--and to function in the same authority which he had brought to the earth.
The early church after the day of Pentecost operated the church in a very similar way. They focused all their time effort and money on doing the simple things that Jesus had asked--feeding the poor--preaching the Gospel--laying hands on the sick and casting out the devil---and they specifically carried on the apostleship that Jesus demonstrated, by freely releasing everyone in His name to carry on His ministry.
They operated the church from their already existing homes--on a 7-day a week basis. They met together in large groups (assembling themselves together)--as the Spirit lead them--an ocasion, to be refreshed in the Spirit--a meeting in which they stood together for days--praising and worshiping God--praying--until everyone was completely filled with the Spirit--and then they took that Spirit empowerment out into the world (this is how Jesus operated His ministry as well--His entire ministry began with a spirit baptism in the Jordan river).
But, they spent no time effort or money maintaining or building an assembly hall. They fully realized that they were the temple of the Holy Spirit--that they were sanctuaries for God--and they were commanded by Jesus to carry this Spirit out into the world. Their homes (the house of God) was the meeting place where they prayed--taught new converts--encouraged one another--prayed in the ministry of the Spirit--fed the poor--and planed their apostleship. The house of God which they operated--out of homes which already existed--was the de-centralized place from which the "network" of the church operated--the Holy Spirit was the leader. There was a ministry of leadership--bishops or elders--their duty was to organize these "houses of God" from which the people (the deacons) operated in their ministries unto the Lord.
This was the way the New Testament church operated--it is Biblically and historically true.
But now the question is this--fit your church--the way that your church operates--into the New Covenant times. Try to fit your church into the new testament church as described in the Bible.
the NT church functioned in revival.
We want revival on our terms--we want revival to be found in a building--in our church today we seem to want everything to function within a building.
Now don't get me wrong--every Christian church spends some of it's operational time and money on spreading the Gospel--on feeding the poor--etc. But the fact is that since we take on the agenda of the Roman government in building "temples" for God we automatically expend a good percentage of our time effort and money in maintaining and operating and "feeding" a building fund.
If we collect $1,000 on a given Sunday--what percentage of that money actually goes to feeding the poor--or spereading the Gospel? What percentage of the money collected goes to the ministry of the people within the church? The church of the NT spent 100% pf their funds in these purposes--
34* Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35* And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. (Acts 4:34-35)
WE have seet his verse quoted so often in half--"They laid their money at the apostles feet"---which is said to justify the giving of money to leadership in the church. Well, that's great--except that the leadership of the apostolic church gave all that money to the people within the church who had need! They spent absolutely no money on the building fund. They had no agenda to build a building--they had the complete agenda of Jesus which was to conquer the world with the Gospel--to operate the ministry of all the people within the church so that the Gospel would spread around the world so that Jesus could come back.
Now, some would say that we are the generation that is spreading Gospel around the world--and we are doing it through television. Television ministry is a good tool for us to use--but just because we send a radio wave--or a television signal of someone preaching the Gospel to countries around the world--we are not doing the complete job of healing and deliverance and restoration to God that the NT church was able to do. We are not releasing the saved people to continue the work of God in their countries--and at the same time--our country needs the Gospel! We cannot say we are reaching the world when there are so many who are without God right at home! So again here is the challenge: fit your church into the NT Bible church.
How much time does your church spend feeding the poor--preaching he Gospel--laying hands on he sick (I am certain there is a certain among of this effort--) but how much time effort and money--how much of our functional time is spent in the activates that God directed and the NT church lived out?
How much time and money is spent building buildings that God never asked us to build?
Now many church call their building a "sanctuary"? This is purely an OT term and necessity (and gives away the fact that we are operating the new covenant church from old covenant rules). In the OT there are many occasions where a patriarch of Israel (Moses or Abraham for example) was told by God to stop in a certain place and build an altar and make an offering--and that the spot was considered "holy unto the Lord". In the NT there is no such occurrence. We never see Paul for example--hearing from God to stop someplace and erect a sanctuary--or build an altar. The NT church understood and functioned in the NT principle that all believers were temples of the Holy Spirit--that we are all sanctuaries unto the Lord. A central teaching of the new covenant is that God will live in the hearts of believers--that He no longer needs to live in a special sanctuary or temple. It is the blood of Jesus Christ which sanctifies our temple---making our sinful hearts, more pure than any old covenant sanctuary (which was only purified temporarily by the blood of animals).In the OT there are many places where God gives detailed instructions on how to build a sanctuary for Him and His presence--there are no such instructions in the NT--since there is no necessity for this at all. The church of the Bible fully understood that the blood of Christ did away with all the purification laws of the old covenant.
Hundreds of years ago, the old covenant was re-introduced into the Christian church---and became an integral part of what "church" was. These old covenant operational plans do not belong in the new covenant church.
We show up to church every Sunday and so does God--but it is not the place that contains God--God shows up because we have showed up--
19* Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 20* For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18: 19-20)
It is the gathering of the saints which brings the presence of God--not the style of the building--not the beauty of the "sanctuary"--not the blue seats all lined up in Roman columns or the plush rug or the amplifiers or the "pulpitum" or the microphone or the white paint on the walls. All it takes is for 2 or 3 temples of God to be in place and agreement. So now try to do this--fit your church back in time to the NT days.
"Well, we are a house of God--but we want to be big--we want to have big meetings--but only once a week. We want to build a bigger and better building--oh yes we spend some time and money on the Gospel-and we do send money to the poor (although we don't give money to the ministry of the people in our church because the people in our church don't have ministry---only the pastor does!!). We want big loud meetings on Sunday and we want to go home the rest of the week and live our lives. The homes of the poor in our church are private--we don't want them to do anything like "ministry" in their homes--because we are the official ministry--and they are meant to serve us--to pay us--and we are here to rule over them.
sorry, but I dont' think we can fit your church into our church!