Simple New Testament Meeting Guidelines

Here are some scriptural guidelines from Eric Carpenters Blog when it comes to meeting in the home as believers.

Eric’s Words:

I believe the best answer to the above question is that as we come together as the Bride of Christ we should be following principles set forth in the New Testament. While we may have some freedom in the details, we must follow the principles that God has made clear and unavoidable for us. Those principles include, but are not limited to, the following (in no particular order):

Jesus Christ is the unquestioned Head.
Gatherings are to be Holy Spirit led and directed.
Everything that occurs is to be for mutual edification.
Meetings are to essentially be family get-togethers.
The body eats together (the Lord’s Supper).
Group participation is the norm.
Each person uses his or her spiritual gifts to benefit the body.
Children are present and active.
Meetings are simple, preferably in homes.
Gatherings are a time to carry out the one-anothers.
Leadership = service.
Elders come from within the body.
Meetings are free-flowing and generally unplanned (unceremonial).
Reading of scripture takes place.
Giving is to meet needs.
Decision making comes through consensus.

It just seems to me that looking at this list is a good way to start discussing meeting in the home as the body of Believers.

 

 

 

The Original Way of Home Fellowship

     My road of faith and it’s hills and valleys have been many through the years of my Christian walk. Since  I left the institutional congregation of believers, I feel as if I have been wandering in a desolate wilderness while stumbling over rocks and boulders strewn along the landscape. My connections with like minded-believers, who have found the same path, have been few and far between. Sometimes, I feel like a man without a country, but I know that there are others of you out there who are in similar situations on your journey.
    My journey has been filled with research, reading, and reflection on numerous authors who have been on similar and more extensive travels through the home church wilderness. I have concluded in my mind after all this time and research that the way that the early New Testament believers met is the “better way.” However, I believe instead of saying a better way, it should be the “Original Way.”
     A few weeks ago or maybe months, I came across a listing of what one home fellowship sees as a thread weaved through the fabric of their meeting together as a body of New Testament believers. I believe that as I have read through this listing that it fleshes out what I see could be foundational to a body of believers meeting in the home so let me share it with you:
  • Jesus is the head of the body of believers.
  • Understand that Jesus’ desire for believers is that together they will conform to his image and be prepared for mutual ministries to each other and outreach to the lost world,
  • Believe in the “priesthood of all believers” for the work of the ministry.
  • Enjoy prayer, praise, worship, bible teaching, the Lord’s supper, testimonies of the Lord working in the believer’s lives as a common practice in the home environment.
  • Encourage teaching, learning, and sharing times that are open to questions and discussion
  • Include children as part of the gathering and ministry time.
  • Enjoy practicing all the one another’s listed in the scriptures
  • Let elders have a functional mindset and emerge naturally over time.
  • Make decisions for the body by consensus (Acts 15:22,25) looking to Jesus, the head, allowing the Holy Spirit the opportunity to bring the whole body of believers into one mind.
If you can think of more let me know.

Have You Been Pastorized?

How does anyone know if they have been “pastorized?” Christians are pastorized if some of these are true of them:
  • They believe everything a pastor says or preaches from their pulpits.
  • They think their “pastor” is a man or woman instead of the Lord Jesus.
  • They think they have to tithe to the local “church” and the pastor.
  • They think church pastors have authority over their lives, in contradiction to what Christ taught (Matthew 23:8-10).
  • They let the pastors tell them what the scriptures say, instead of proving ALL THINGS for themselves.
  • They let the pastors interpret the Bible for them, without studying on their own what the truth is.
  • They think the church pastors have a right to a life-time of free money (welfare existence).
  • They think they cannot have a personal relationship with the Father/Jesus Christ, without “going to church”.
  • They think that Sunday or (Saturday) church attendance is the the major part of definition of being a Christian.
  • They think that following Jesus Christ means going to church every week and hearing another sermon.
  • They believe pastors are infallible and inerrant and must be obeyed.
  • Their lives revolve around church, church activities, camp meetings, revivals, conferences, seminars and endless meetings, even when Jesus Christ lives in them 24/7 through the Holy Spirit, and it is NEVER NECESSARY to go here or there looking for Christ, when He lives within them all the time.
  • The focus of their lives revolves around listening to pastors preach, rather than hearing the voice of the true Shepherd.
  • Their vocabulary is about “church” and “my pastor” this and that, rather than about the Lord Jesus.
  • Their lives revolve around churchianity, rather than around Jesus Christ.
  • They believe it is rebellion to question the teachings and practices of the pastors and churches.
  • They think the “Word” of God is the “Bible”, when the Word is really Jesus Christ (John 1:1-3).
  • They never research issues for themselves, but leave all the research and thinking to the pastors.
The two means by which all human beings are controlled, ruled over, regulated to death and made to live in fear is through secular governments and religions, including churchianity. Churchianity is a man-made religion, and has nothing to do with following Jesus Christ. Pastorization has to do with being dumbed down to the level of not being able to think, reason or discern for oneself, but in which the lords of the church world rule over the pastorized.

My Story:Transition from Institution to Home

dsc_0014

      Hmmmmmm….First, let me simply share with all who will be reading this story about me growing away from the Institution of church. I do believe in Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I do not neglect reading and studying the Bible, God’s word, and I do fellowship with other believers. With that said, “we’ll move on down the road.”

It all started when a friend asked our pastor at the time, “how do you meet the needs of seniors in your congregation?” He said, “Well, they kind of fall through the cracks.” When our friend told us this, it really started me thinking, “something is drastically wrong in the body of believers!” “It’s about relationships right?

     So, our friend suggested that we start a home church. Great Idea! I wish I could paint a rosy picture and say “God had the perfect timing, everything fell int0 place,  and we were able to start a spiritually thriving home fellowship. However, the reality is I was riddled with guilt about leaving the Institutional church on the one hand, and on the other, I was pressuring myself about what I should be doing to start a home fellowship.

     Really, these events were triggers that set the wheels in motion and pushed me on to research the truth about the Institutional church and its underpinnings. Let’s just say that what I discovery, again, was shocking on the one hand, but not too surprising on the other. The institutional body has developed into a system cloaked in the “traditions of men.”

    So, where am I today? Do I attend a home fellowship?, nope, but I wish I did. Do I fellowship with other believer? Yup! Will a home fellowship be in my future? God only knows what the future will bring, but it is my prayer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change of Pace: In The Stillness

csc_0165

In the Stillness

In the stillness, I find my Joy

Worlds crumble and collapse, while ever present is

Peace Unspeakable,

a calm, quiet heart

In the stillness, I find my Joy

Flowing from the Father’s hand,

Longing for the eternal tomorrow,

No Sorrow, No Pain, No Crying, Death, or Dying.

dsc_0003

A Servant’s Heart

A servants heart acts without being asked.

When asked, he acts.

Discernment:An Important Road Continued

csc_0023

 “DISCERNMENT is NOT knowing the difference between RIGHT and WRONG. It is knowing the difference between RIGHT and ALMOST RIGHT.” 

QUOTE by CHARLES SPURGEON [1834-1892]:

“My people are destroyed for lack of (accurate) knowledge.”    Hosea 4:6

     First, in continuing my writing, I want to share with you that I’m just a guy who loves Jesus, the word of God, and someone who has done a fair amount of research about the subject of discernment when it comes to the Bible. I care that others will take and use some of the information I have provided in order for them to become more proficient when it comes to discerning the scriptures and making comparisons to the way believers meet today.

I wanted to start out by giving you a couple of short definitions of discernment.

Discernment is Not:

  1. A practice where we can rely on others to do the work of discerning for us.
  2. A belief based on an emotional experience, i.e., visions, signs & wonders, an inner sense apart from the scriptures or a new revelation apart from the scriptures.

Discernment is:

  1. A skill of understanding and applying God’s word with the purpose of separating truth from error and better from best.
  2. A discipline like reading or public speaking and a skill that Christians must be committed to and consistently practice.

Reliable Biblical Resources:

Study Bible-Two Types

  1. Dynamic Equivalency- Dynamic equivalency is more like a paraphrase, trying to convey ideas thought by thought.- New International Version (NIV), Today’s New International Version (TNIV), and the New Living Translation (NLT). Of those, the NIV (Junior King James) is the most reliable
  2. Formal Equivalency-provides as literal a translation as possible. King James Version (KJV), the New King James Version (NKJV), the New American StandardBible (NASB), and the English Standard Version (ESV).
  • Zondervan’s “Handbook to the Bible”
  • Bible Dictionary-Easton’s Bible Dictionary
  • Commentaries-Matthew Henry/check out others
  • Concordance-Strong’s
  • English/Greek Bible Dictionary-Vines Expository Dictionary of OT/NT words.

 Discerning the Word: Key Elements

Prayer for Wisdom and Understanding

Most Important: Context of the Books

Example:

  1. Writer-Paul
  2. Audience-Galatians
  3. Subject-False teachers saying you could only become a Christian if you became a Jewish convert and submitted to the Mosaic Law.
  4. background/setting-Galatia, a Roman province

Greek Word Studies, Christian Church History, Meditation/Reflection on the word, and, Discussion with other Believers.

Before I go to far, I wanted to say again that if you have been reading my writings you will know that my main concern is with how believers met together during the time of the Apostles. It was in homes not institutional buildings as well as being a family not a corporation.

 

 Discernment Story

Years ago a man came to a church looking for a place to stay. They told him that they supported the Union Mission and that they would be glad to take him down to the mission. He responded by telling them that he couldn’t stay at the mission because he needed a private room. They told him that they would take him to the mission but that was the best they could do. He said to me, “I thought that Christians were supposed to love?” One of the men said, “We are, but we’re not supposed to be suckers.”  Love involves using wisdom.

Important Point:

I think that as Christians at one time or another, haven’t we been suckered into believing something that really didn’t line up with Scripture? So, remember, we shouldn’t buy into everything hook, line, and sinker or take it at face value.

To be Continued…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Original Way:Understanding Discernment

dsc_0102

Hey All, time to keep the ball rolling after taking a short break!

     I know that I have focused a fair amount of time on the topic of leadership and the misleading of believers through the centuries, but now I’m going to direct my attention to the responsibility of believers to be discerning when it comes to biblical truths.

     I have a couple of questions for you to think about while you are reading. Hmmmm… Why didn’t the first-century believers look to the example of the Bereans? and, Why have most Christians only given lip service to their example and not taken and learned from it? Please, let me add that many during that time and today, did and do take the example of the Bereans to heart. A good picture of this is the many of believers meeting in their homes all over the world whether free to worship or under persecution.

However, I believe from my experience and observations that the majority of the body of believers throughout the centuries and today conveniently ignored and ignore the example by continually seeking after the “traditions of men” whose development started after the post-apostolic period, was solidified by the end of the fourth century, and continues at the present time.

What does it mean to examine the Scriptures?

    You know, I don’t want to be mean or hurtful to anyone who reads this post. It is only to “speak the truth in love” as Paul spoke of in Ephesians. With that said, the majority of believers today have become fat, lazy, and comfortable when it comes to studying the scriptures, even to the point of not cracking open the Bible at all! I have found out over the years and through research that becoming discerning in understanding the word is more than just “reading the Bible.”

    So now, we need to turn to the vital importance of understanding what discernment is and how to use it when it comes to examining the Scriptures. There are three areas necessary to scrutinize when it comes to understanding and using discernment. First, the simplest thing to gaining a solid foundation is to look at the context of the books of the Bible. This would be done by investigating who wrote the book, who it was written to, and what issues were being addressed in the letter. A good example of this would be Paul writing to the Galatians about their returning to doing works instead of relying on the grace of God.

Secondly, going deeper, we can increase our understanding to a greater degree by looking at various words translated and defined from the Greek language that gives a clearer picture of what’s being spoken about.

Aisthesis–Discernment-to apprehend by the senses, to perceive. In the New Testament Context, it speaks primarily of spiritual perception of the believer and the necessity of it being fine-tuned. ( not judgemental, but also not gullible.)

Epignosis – Knowledge – refers to exact, complete, thorough, accurate, experiential knowledge. In the New Testament, knowledge is always described as full/comprehensive, moral/religious knowledge (accurate)in God’s word.

Epiginosko – Understand – To perceive with the mind, to come to know well, reflective thought. It means to be fully acquainted in a discerning, recognizing manner. To recognize a thing to be what it really is.

 Lastly, church history is an important area and we’ll look at that in my next post. Let me leave you with a little story that is an excellent paraphrase for discernment.

Years ago a man came to a church looking for a place to stay. They told him that they supported the Union Mission and that they would be glad to take him down to the mission. He responded by telling them that he couldn’t stay at the mission because he needed a private room. They told him that they would take him to the mission but that was the best they could do. He said to me, “I thought that Christians were supposed to love?” One of the men said, “We are, but we’re not supposed to be suckers.” That, my friends, is an excellent paraphrase for discernment, WE ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE SUCKERS!

Until next post, Remember:

Everything that we read, hear, think, believe, see on T.V., papers, movies, internet, from other Christians, shepherds, etc., etc., needs to be discerned through the question, “does it line up with what’s in the word of God?”

 

 

 

 

The Original Way:Examining Leadership; A Continuation

dsc_0016 Again, we are going to visit the subject of leadership. I wanted to share with you a little anecdotal story that ties to my previous post as well as showing us how satan can so easily throw mankind off track and no one has been the wiser. He used others inside the church and the Early Church Fathers to deceive the Christians of their time. This didn’t and hasn’t happened to all believers because there has always been a remnant that was not taken in by these false teachers.

How to Catch a Rat:

     A grandpa’s grandson had a chicken coop that was invaded by rats. Attracted by the feed, they had moved in. He asked for his grandpa’s help and they set out a couple of traps. After a week, they had not caught a single rat. A farmer friend came by and offered some advice. “No rat”, he said, “Will touch an exposed trap. You’ve got to disguise it with food. Fill a pan with meal and place a trap in it. Cover it well with meal so it is completely hidden.” It worked! The next morning they had a big, fat rat.

      All this is a reminder that the devil knows this trick all too well. He has used other believers and the Early Church Father’s “man-made traditions” to deceive and drive a dividing wedge between all believers. He took that error and hid it under religious “things” like ceremonial rituals like church services, sermons, titles, authority/power, etc., etc., and in turn, it became the foundation for the Catholic Church. The Institutional Protestant Church has fallen prey to the same man-made traditions as well and continues them today.

     Mainly, the reason for sharing this information is to demonstrate that we, as believers, have ignorantly taken on, carried up to the present day, and adhere to the same burdensome traditions and legalism of the Early Church Fathers. We ourselves have unnecessarily placed a yoke of slavery on our own shoulders and, it seems, we like to carry it on because we think it should be this way. However, it truly is out of ignorance and not based on the truth done from researching the subjects.

To Be Continued….

 

 

 

 

The Original Way:Part 4

dsc_0004

   You know, I was thinking the other day that the title to this series of blog posts was really not appropriate. It was titled “The Better Way.” However, nothing has really changed with the way that the Apostles met, so I felt that the title should reflect the early beginnings of the how the believers met in  the homes.

     With that said, let’s head on down the road. 

    Thinking about this deep hole that the body of believers have gotten themselves into, where do we begin to look for answers? I believe that when we look at the situation during and towards the end of the apostolic period we will begin to shed light on where things went haywire. I feel, and after much research over the years, that the crux of the problem comes from the misdirection of the leadership as well as believers abdicating their responsibility to be like the Bereans in examining the scriptures.

An early example of how leadership could have gone awry is what “Diotrophes”did to the apostles, other believers, and believers that he was fellow shipping with. The scripture points to what could possibly be the early beginnings of the development of the clergy/laity division.

Question:

  Many times in our day, it is not politically correct to judge other Christians. However, we must remember that judgment begins with the household of God. So, Is there some unwritten rule somewhere that Christians are not to question other Christian’s beliefs about the Institutional Churches traditional practices?  No way! We are to “test” the spirits in the search for truth, but with gentleness and respect”.  From my research, it is absolutely imperative to speak the truth in love.

3John 1:9-10.

John writes, “I wrote to the church, but “Diotrophes” who loves to be first, will not welcome us. So, when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so (that is believers welcoming other believers) and puts them out of the church. WHAT!

False Teachings ofThe Early Church Fathers and Others Influence:The Major Fatal Flaw:

So, “who caused the deception?” False teachers and false teachings were abundant during the time of the Apostles. The Post-Apostolic, false teachings of the Early Church Fathers heavily influenced the beliefs of the Christian’s around them. If they would have stuck to what Jesus taught the apostles, and the apostles passed on to other believers they would have been on the right path. However, the Early Church Fathers went astray when they themselves developed (I think it was partially out of ignorance and partially intentional) their own organizational system. From this point, the Early Church Fathers started straying from what Jesus taught, and believed that what should be taught was Jesus teachings plus their teachings. In fact, they went beyond and believed that their teachings super-ceded those of Jesus.

          With this belief came the development of a division caused by the Early Church Fathers.  From the quotes below, it is not hard to see that this foundational error of the Early Church Fathers developed into a system. Their “organizational system” was completely spread throughout the body of believers by the end of the fourth century. From this “biblical error,” all other areas of the body of believer’s practice were and continue to be affected and in error. These are the areas that were affected: The pastor, sermon, order of worship, church buildings, Lord’s Supper, baptism, tithes, clergy salaries, music ministers, choirs, Sunday morning dress, etc., etc., etc.

Examining The Early Church Father’s Quotes:

Clement of Rome, in his epistle to the Corinthian Church in AD 95, wrote:

“The high priest has been given his own special services, the priests have been assigned their own place, and the Levites have their special ministrations enjoined on them. The layman is bound by the ordinances of the laity.”WHAT?!!!!

Where did the Apostles write about ordinances for the laity and being bound by them? They didn’t!

Where did the Apostles ever speak of their Christian brothers and sisters as layman in their writings? You won’t find it!

Ignatius – Bishop of Antioch AD 110

To the Ephesians:

“Your REVEREND presbytery is tuned to the Bishop as strings to a lyre…Let us be careful not to resist the Bishop, that through our submission to the Bishop we may belong to God…We should regard the Bishop as the Lord Himself…”WHAT?!!! 

Where is the humility of a servant?  There is None!

Where did the Apostles ever demonstrate this type of thinking in their actions? They didn’t. 

Paul was not high-minded like this. In fact, He said, “I am the worst of sinners.”

To the Smyrneans:

*”Let no-one do anything that pertains to the church apart from the Bishop…it is not permitted to baptize or hold a love-feast independently of the Bishop. But whatever he approves, that is also well pleasing to God.” WHAT?!!!

“He that does anything without the knowledge of the Bishop serves the Devil.” WHAT?!!!!

Where did the Apostles ever write this type of requirement in the New Testament scriptures and said these things?

 They didn’t!

To the Magnesians:

*”I advise you to always act in godly concord with the Bishop, presiding as the counterpart of God, and the presbyters as the counterpart of the council of the Apostles…As the Lord did nothing without the Father, either by Himself or by means of the Apostles, so you must do nothing without the Bishop and the presbyters.”  WHAT?!!!

Where did any of the Apostles write anything like this? They didn’t!

To the Trallians:

“…respect the Bishop as the counterpart of the Father, and the presbyters as the council of God and the college of the Apostles: without those no church is recognized.”  WHAT?!!!!

“It is therefore necessary that, as you indeed do, so without the Bishop you should do nothing, but should also be subject to the Presbytery (Elders), as to the Apostle of Jesus Christ, who is our hope, if we live, we shall be found.” WHAT?!!!

Where did any of the Apostles write anything like this? They didn’t!

Tertullian – AD 200

  • This is a very interesting quote “Custom or (Tradition, my word) without truth is error grown old.” Tertullian.  (Pay close attention here.)

This comes from the man who helped develop the priesthood/clergy leadership structure.

“The supreme priest (that is the Bishop) has the right of conferring baptism: after him the presbyters and deacons, but only with the Bishop’s authority.

What? !!!!!

Otherwise the laity also have the right…how much more is the discipline of reverence and humility incumbent upon laymen (since it also befits their superiors) “It would be idle for us to suppose that what is forbidden to PRIESTS is allowed to the laity. WHAT?!!!The distinction between the order of clergy and the people has been established by the authority of the Church.

WHAT? !!!

Where did any of the Apostles write anything like this? They didn’t! There was no separate authority or class.

Cyprian – Bishop of Carthage AD 250.

“If Christ Jesus our Lord and God is Himself the High Priest of God the Father, and first offered Himself as a sacrifice to the Father, and commanded this to be done in remembrance of Himself, then assuredly the priest acts truly in Christ’s place when he reproduces what Christ did, and he then offers a true and complete sacrifice to God the Father, if he begins to offer as he sees Christ Himself has offered.”

Where did the Apostles speak of  priests as the mediators of and for the people? They didn’t! The only thing Peter stated was that we are  “a priesthood of all believers”.

Scriptures Concerning Believers as Responsible Users of the Word

Romans 15:14

 I myself am convinced my brothers that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.”  Interesting! Where do you find the need for a priestly/pastor mediator for man before God? You Don’t!

2nd Timothy 3:6

All Scripture is God – breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that “the man of God” may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. Where is the need for one man to guide the flock? There isn’t!

Acts 4:13

When they say the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were “unschooled, ordinary” men (take special note and mark this in your Bible), they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

Interesting, Peter and John were “unschooled and ordinary”. Hmmmmmmm.

2nd Peter 1:5-8

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; (accurate) and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being “ineffective and unproductive” in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1st John 2:27

27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

To Be Continued….

 

 

 

A Better Way: Part 3

dsc_0005

First of all, as you read my blog, you will find out that I enjoy pictures and color. My pictures and my font colors will change from time to time. So, with that said, your probably wondering where are we headed on this blog.
I’m pretty sure, if you have progressed to this point in reading my blog, that to many of you who believe in the Jesus Christ of the Bible and attend an Institutional, organized assembly, the thoughts on meeting in homes will be a radical concept. I attended a variety of institutional churches over thirty-five years. If you would have presented these ideas to me years ago, I would have dismissed them as crazy even though in the back of my mind I wished that this was the way it should have been.
However, many of us have come to depend on the “traditions of men” that have developed over the centuries. We have become prisoners of a system that has been promoted over the centuries from the first century to the present day. I have some more quotes that you can think on as the days go on and I add more posts. 

Quotes to Ponder and Reflect On: Read Again

  • Santayana – “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
  • Tertullian – “Custom (or Tradition) without truth is error grown old.”
  • Morpheus – “You take the blue pill, the story ends and you wake up and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
There is another quote by Morpheus to Neo. I’m going to take a little poetic license and paraphrase this one. I’m inserting some words that I feel are appropriate for our understanding of the truth about the deception that has infiltrated the body of believers up to the present day.
  • Morpheus says to Neo:

“The traditional Bible-Based churches/Denominations are a system, Neo. “The system is our problem”, not the believers. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Pastors, Businessmen, Teachers, Lawyers, Carpenters, etc. They are the minds that you are trying to set free from the deception of the traditions of men and the early church fathers who set them in motion over the first four centuries of the Christian church, But until we do, these people are still part of that system, and that continues to make the traditional system our problem. You have to understand, most of these people have been fed “the error of human tradition” over their lifetimes and are not ready to leave. In fact,they are “hopelessly dependent” on the “current system.” They are “ignorant” of the facts” from the Bible and church history, so they will go to the “extreme” to “fight to protect” the “very system” that deceives them.” (Think closely about this last sentence in relation to your traditional church experience)

Take the time when you are alone to think about these quotes. Then, reflect on your Christian experience in the traditional body of believers in relationship to leadership structure, believer’s meetings, and church buildings. MY FRIENDS, DO SOME RESEARCH, PLEASE!

To Be Continued….