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The Original Church

posted May 30, 2013, 1:37 PM by David Gerhart   [ updated Jun 1, 2013, 9:09 AM ]
Three verses prior to his prophesy about the "Day of the Lord", Zechariah says of the Sword of the Lord:

"Strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered; then I will turn my hand against the little ones." Zech. 13:7

It is widely understood that Jesus was to the Disciples in His age as Pastors are to the Church in our age.

In many new testament instances we read of the Disciples questioning Jesus, his answers, encouragements and cajoling.  His teaching was interactive, participatory, focused on 12 men.  When He sent them out it was two by two.  After Pentecost the examples detailed consistently feature a single speaker and helper going out to "Preach the Gospel."

Preaching is so strongly featured in scripture, the "Church" as we've become used to it, revolves around a single someone giving a speech in a lecture format.  Out of a "successful" ministry, the Pastor publishes commentaries, daily readers, and self-help how-to books.  To Sunday services, toss in some "worship" and don't forget the offertory interlude ... perhaps coffee in the "fellowship" hall were "drive-by" Christianity blossoms.  Communion anyone?  We are less surprised by a video or skit, or some other props.  I once saw a Preacher (whom I respect) drive his Harley onstage to use it in a manner that seemed to make sense at the time.  Christians hear sermons live in groups of thousands, over the radios in our cars in 22 minute sound bytes so there is time to stump for money and sell books, DVD's and trips to Israel.  We watch preaching on TV and it gets worse.  We download and listen later.  Pretty convenient! All very sanitary and consumer oriented.  Lucrative products with stunning economic size (estimated $1T in 2009.)   Which is a very, very bad sign.

Plainly, the evidence of scripture is that preaching was associated with Evangelism.  This is the Gospel going out to unbelievers. 

When the Original Church met -- comprised of committed believers -- the time was filled with news and digesting current events, hearing of Godly experiences.  The meeting was collaborative, supportive and designed to build up relationships between believers, strengthen the roles of men and women both in congregation and at home.  This sounds more like a Workshop than a "Church Service."

Paul speaking on orderly worship:

"...When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.  If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret.  If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.  Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.  And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop.  For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.  The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.  For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people." 1 Cor. 14:26-33

One can imagine that by having two or three brothers sharing on this and that, each contributing in various ways, it prevented an individual from drawing all of the attention to themselves, it spread the responsibility for preparation which provided avenues for more perspectives to enter the dialogue. Such diffusion of interests insulated the group from having a particular view or doctrine become unbalanced in their catechism.  Further, by having "the others weigh carefully what is said" -- consensus is forged before dispute can take advantage of a vacuum.

Notably: by having several lead the meeting, the credit -- as well as condemnation could be shared.  If enemies captured one, the fellowship could fall back, regroup and begin again, only fractionally reduced.  This is participatory Christianity and very exciting to imagine!

As alluded to at the top of this post: We should be paying attention.  We may need to revert to these habits.  Elsewhere in this site is discussed the "Great Falling Away" ... and that it will be precipitated by the "Great Deception" whereby many turn from the faith.  What percentage of believers are hungry enough for Gods word to become active in their faith?  Few. What percentage, if their pulpit was suddenly empty and not refilled -- would gather themselves and continue privately?  Even fewer.

Paul goes on to RECOMMEND (using the word should) that Women remain silent...  ouch, right?  He then strengthens his argument citing Hebrew law.  But he doesn't stop there.  The next few assertions he makes outline an order that political and social engineering has been battling into non-existence in our Western Culture -- that families in balance are represented in Church by Husbands and those Husbands are at work at home to develop their families, most especially answering spiritual needs of his Wife.

"Women[f] should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way."  1 Cor. 14:34-40

That we are missing the point seems clear.  Smaller "Home Churches" may be the nearest present-day representation of the proper diversity of the Body of Christ.  The homogenization of believers into large flocks of church-going, look, sound and act-alike drones, is to kill off the intended life that Paul is pushing for.  We tend to "enjoy" the same narrow spectrum of music, prefer a stale list of subjects and keep all of it safely at arms length by only engaging in 1-way encounters (sitting through services or crashing through podcasts at the gym.) The stink of death rises from the Laodicean Church.  She is RICH with the wealth of knowledge.  But not wise.  The end-times Church is full of real believers, but they are being poorly served and encouraged to remain listless, lukewarm.  They are being mislead out of convenience and connivance.

We need to re-think "Church" and quickly.

Vultures already infest the pews.  And false teachers regale their followers from the dais.  The incredible fact is that Church blindness is so pervasive, and that deafness is so silencing -- those Vultures and False Teachers live with great confidence and pride that they're right and on a true path.

Lord!  
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