But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ. He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; (Matthew 23:8-11 RSVA)
I have never seen myself as a shepherd or one who mentors others, at least since I went through so much stripping at the hand of God in the ’80’s and ’90’s. I am just “a beggar who shows other beggars where I found some bread.” Jesus IS that Bread. Christ is our sufficiency in all things pertaining to life and godliness. What our Father is looking for and working toward in us is many sons unto HIS glory, not their own. Jesus is the first born of many sons (and daughters) of God and as such HE is our Pattern Son. He came to the earth and did not take on the form of God or even an archangel, but rather took on the form of a man, a lowly man, a servant to all men, not a chief priest or a king. This is as our Pattern who said of Himself, “The son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
As the above picture indicates, what a contrast Jesus was to the religious leaders of the Jews! They were men who loved titles and to be seen as set apart from mere men with their “holier than thou” mindsets. But Jesus was down in the trenches with sinful mankind and they loved Him for it! When Jesus said, “Those who come before me are thieves and robbers,” the translators wrongly translated it to say, “Those who ever came before me are thieves and robbers.” There is a BIG difference! All those spoken of in the Old Covenant from Enoch to John the Baptist who walked by faith in the Father were NOT thieves and robbers as some dare to teach! No, those who get between Jesus and HIS sheep (before – positionally) are the thieves and robbers; false shepherds, false prophets, false apostles, false teachers, etc. What makes them false? They are “ravenous wolves not sparing His flock and teachers teaching perverse things to draw away DISCIPLES AFTER THEMSELVES” (see Acts 20: 29-31), and like Diotrephes in the third epistle of John, these are those who love the preeminence, instead of allowing Christ to have all preeminence in the lives of His saints.
As for being “used” by the Lord, I think that there is way too much emphasis among Christians on “being used.” Satan possess and uses people. Jesus loves and leads them as THE Good Shepherd. Many years ago in the beginning of my walk God when I was “busy for God,” He started talking to me about entering into His rest and in Hebrews chapter four we read, “they who have entered into His rest have ceased from their own labors.” Being too anxious about being used has led to many a dead work in the eyes of the Lord. It is noteworthy to notice that God’s works were finished from the foundation of the world. So as we rest IN HIM we also rest in His FINISHED works. Jesus hung on the cross and said, “It is finished!” just before He died. He also said that HE would build His called out ones (ecclesia – translated “church”). Yet, churches are all about “doing great things for God” and oh, how they love to build. Only as we rest in HIS finished works as we rest IN HIM, can He work the works of His righteousness in and through us. This is why Paul was so emphatic that we walk by faith and NOT by works.
“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created IN Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10 KJ2000 – emphasis added)
It is only as we rest IN Christ and His righteousness by faith that we will find ourselves doing the finished works of the Father. Like Jesus said to the disciples, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 RSVA – emphasis added). I have found that those who rest in this fact drive the practitioners of religion crazy. These builders of churches and church organizations are the same builders who reject Christ as the Chief Cornerstone, Cap Stone and Master Builder of the temple which is the Father’s design for His temple is made of living stones (see Matt. 21:42-43 and 1 Peter 2:5-9) not wood, bricks and mortar.
So we find ourselves going through all these painful experiences as we struggle to be free of this world and its worldly churches with their mindsets and be bound to Christ as our ALL in all. This is so true to form in the way HE teaches. Paul wrote, “… but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience; And patience, experience…” God puts a high value on experiential learning and trials (tribulations) are a step in the process of our training, like it or not. Paul goes on to say, “And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto us” (Romans 5:4-5 KJ2000). Again, we are back to being conformed into the image of His Son who learned obedience through the things which He suffered and His suffering was a result of His obedience to the Father. Should we not expect the same?
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire [in Christ], lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 KJ2000)
Thanks brother, I have found myself with the same convictions as you have expressed here for many years now. I have felt called to and have maintained the banner of on head and one body in our city for 30+years. Many blessings have been received along with a few trials. I have been praying that The Lord would grant me the grace to express his will in a way that is loving and peace-filled. I have found too often my hurt clouding my words. My prayer is to always express the kingdom of God in righteousness, peace and joy 🙂 bless you bro.
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Matt, so good to hear that you have received blessings along with the trials as you obey His voice in your area. When we put Christ as the center and Head of the ecclesia of God, we often will run head-long into those who claim His name, yet put themselves in His place as head over their lives, congregations, organizations and such. When this happens we know that we have run into an antichrist spirit. For the Greek meaning of antichristos is not only “against Christ,” but “instead of Christ.” Jesus as well as John had much to say about this matter and that it would be a prevalent spirit in these end times. Yet, Jesus and the N.T. writers remained in His peace and love through it all. Our only hope is to abide totally IN Christ and let the cross deal with our old Adam natures as these trials come. Either way weather in blessings or in trials, we are more than overcomers IN Christ Jesus. God bless you, my brother.
Thought you’d get a kick outta this.
I had a Diotrephes moment a long time ago. I was the PASTOR of a ‘church’ that ran 500 in Sunday school.
I was adored as Reverend Devon. What a rush. I was making money hand over fist by demanding tithes. If the promises of the window’s of heaven opening didn’t get them to tithe, threats of God’s out pouring of His wrath worked quite well. I was living on easy street. (snicker).
We had a beautiful parsonage, a new camper, a new car, and four vacations a year. All for delivering a 40 minute 7 point sermon every Sunday morning.
I was esteemed high and lifted up by all MY congregants. They thought i was God’s man of the hour.
Oh how they loved and worshiped me…..then i woke up! I fell out of bed onto my knees and began to praise and thank God that it was only a nightmare. See: Pastor Diotrephes in 3John
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Devon, the sad thing is that many are living out this nightmare and calling it “my ministry” not seeing that the god of Mammon has taken over in their lives and that Jesus has left the building.
“No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:13-15, ESV2011)
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Yes, we are just the “containers” of the One who lives His Life in and through us! We are the branches containing the Life of the Vine, the temples of the Living Lord Jesus. We live in such intimate spiritual closeness and union with our Lord and King, but we always are just His vessels. He is the One who produces the fruit of His character of His Love in us and through us as He invites us to live and abide in Him.Thanks for a great post.
“But Jesus was down in the trenches with sinful mankind and they loved Him for it!”
I like this picture, Michael. Hopefully, we will be found in the trenches with sinful mankind as well. Let’s go and just don’t care what they have done in life!
Also, the mistranslation you mentioned is in line with John Wesley’s exposition of John 10. He wrote,
“Verse 8. Whosoever are come – Independently of me, assuming any part of my character, pretending, like your elders and rabbis, to a power over the consciences of men, attempting to make laws in the Church, and to teach their own traditions as the way of salvation: all those prophets and expounders of God’s word, that enter not by the door of the sheepfold, but run before I have sent them by my Spirit. Our Lord seems in particular to speak of those that had undertaken this office since he began his ministry, are thieves -Stealing temporal profit to themselves, and robbers – Plundering and murdering the sheep.”
(John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible)
“… but run before I have sent them by my Spirit.”
That says it all, doesn’t it? Is this not due to the lack of abiding in Him and resting in the finished works you spoke of?
Yes, Susanne. Thanks for sharing that. It will not bode well for all those who have spent their lives standing in between Jesus and HIS bride, seeking to draw their devotion and affections to themselves. There is so much idolatry in the churches, today. One time a friend of mine was at a church conference of some kind and struck up a conversation with a young teenage lady. She just could not quit talking about her pastor. It was “my pastor” this and “MY wonderful pastor” that. He finally asked her if she planned on getting married? She said, “Yes!” He replied, “Then when your wedding day comes and the reverend pronounces you “man and wife,” are you going to grab the hand of the Best Man and head off on your honeymoon with him?” She said, “NO! I will want to be with my Husband!” He told here, “Yet, that is what you have been doing!”
Jesus is your Bridegroom, Not you pastor.”
You asked if this quote from Weslesy says it all: “…all those prophets and expounders of God’s word, that enter not by the door of the sheepfold, but run before I have sent them by my Spirit.” Yes, that covers a great deal of why His sheep do not hear HIS voice. Many people are “church saved.” but fare fewer are saved into HIS kingdom. This is why Jesus calls these practitioners of religion thieves and robbers. Their followers have sold His kingdom short and given up their divine birthright for a bit of fleshy porridge.
Good to hear from you again, Susanne,
Michael, this is where we are at also, my wife and I. 39 years of a life of ‘NO’. Tried for several decades to climb the ekklesiastical ladder, as it were, to no avail. Rejection, rejection and more rejection by church leaders, so called. Very painful years but today i can proclaim “thank God He has kept us from succeeding in the organized church realm.’. We get it now. We see. Even our movie we filmed about natural affection and love is soundly rejected by the established church.God told us why….they lack natural affection due to being completely out of order. Deader than dirt though they have a name saying they are alive. I have all your books and am in full agreement. Keep up the good but sometimes lonely work my friend. devon and kathy, a couple of pariahs. Smile.
Devon, Oh how grateful I am to the Lord for all those years of “NO!” At one point after many failed attempts to fit into that system and all those church programs only to be rejected by church leadership and their idolaters, I cried out, “God, I don’t fit. I JUST DON’T FIT!” To this He replied, “You are not supposed to fit.” Well, that set me on my heals for a while. I finally asked Him, “Lord, aren’t I a Christian?” He said, “Yes you are.” I then asked, “Then what are they?” No reply. I now know through experience that the reply was much like the risen Lord gave to Peter, “What is that to you? You follow ME!”
As for rejection, I was BORN into rejection, literally. My father rejected me at one year old and continued to reject me until he died. My peers rejected me everywhere we moved, both neighbors and classmates. I have had very few close friends most of my life. Then I found that church was just as much a dysfunctional family as I was raised in! This phenomenon has had me wondering a good part of my life, “Why all the rejection? Am I defective?” Then a couple of months ago I read the following about Jesus and it jumped off the page,
“[Jesus] Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, AND BE REJECTED OF THE ELDERS AND CHIEF PRIESTS AND SCRIBES, and be slain, and be raised the third day. And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. ” (Luke 9:22-24 KJ2000). Devon, isn’t that rich??? We have suffered the loss of all things that we might gain Christ.
Love you dearly, my brother,
Your encouraging piece brings things to my thoughts. I will share a word that the Lord gave me years ago. I had just read in my 4th grader’s science book that all learning came either from observation or revelation. I was agreeing with that, when the Lord spoke to my heart, “There is another way that is in no way inferior to observation or revelation”. In surprise, I asked what was it. He said, “suffering”. Immediately my world expanded. I knew in that moment, that when one suffers it to be so, no one can take it away. Oh what a mighty God we serve.
My love to you and Dorothy, who like me are bread seekers. I’m grateful for all the bread that you share. I devour it.
Pat, thanks for sharing that. God is so gracious to give us confirmations along the way that we are still on the right path. It is good to hear that He has taught you the same things. I dare say that once you heard Him about how he teaches by taking us through suffering, that the sufferings increased in your life, but that word in due season kept you assured that Jesus was there with you through it all and time has proven it to be true as you come out the other side with a richer since of His presence in your life. Yes, what a mighty God we serve!
Love to you both,
Michael (and Dorothy)
Hello Michael. Great to hear from you as always.
I find that being a master coincides specifically with me attempting to do my own thing (have my own ministry) which would also coincide with dead works I suppose.
I know a few people who believe likeminded things as we do, though some of them still control their own domain if you will, and boast about the numbers and people “their ministry” is reaching. When I look further into their “ministry,” online presence or even “home fellowship” I find a very consistent trend among them all. It’s not as if these people don’t interact with others, they often do, but they themselves are still at the center- all fellowship and any construction thereof revolves around them. They have to stay in control. I find that sad as it displays a lack of trust of other saints and an unwillingness to maybe suffer long with those a little unlike ourselves.
Over the years I’ve had to die to all manner of things though none went out harder than “my ministry.” That was the one I did not want to forego. I was so convinced that “my idea,” “my zeal” or “my ministry” could accomplish what others could not. Oh the vanity of anything and everything not originating in and with Jesus.
I’ve slowed over the years, and although I am very excited about how our Lord has been stirring my heart concerning some outreach this year where I live, I can honestly say I am allowing Him to guide and orchestrate it all. That’s a far cry from the young zealot that once roamed about thinking I could change the world.
Please forgive my own absence as of late. Things are going very well here in West Michigan although a little trouble in our online fellowship on Google. It seems after a few months not all are going in the same direction after all. Like the majority of us online, I have strong convictions and those far too often are misunderstood as I attempt to communicate them to others.
I do appreciate your willingness to die daily, serve as you are led and trust in His abilities in and through you Michael. I know you stimulate the hearts of many as myself, and also know that despite your own series of challenges in life, that more than a few are cheering you on brother.
If I can, and I hope to, I would very much like to visit this year and I’ll be praying toward that end.
Good to hear from you again. I just figured you found a cave to hibernate in until winter was over. 🙂
Many of us who have “left Egypt” have started to head out in the right direction, but have settled for building our own smaller pyramids before we have lost sight of our land of slavery. At first our whole way of thinking and our whole reference-point and skill-set is slavery and building monuments to Pharaoh and his idols, so it only seems natural to go on using our experience and skills for this “new God” and the path He has set us on. Soon we reason that “every endeavor needs to be organized” to succeed and every organization needs a leader! The trouble is that God doesn’t see things the way we do and He has only ONE Leader in mind. If we are truly to be sons and daughters of God, all that is of Egypt is useless to this new life IN His Son. In this NEW covenant He gives us not only a new heart and puts HIS Spirit in us, but He calls on us to have transformed minds… all NEW minds, the Mind and heart of Christ becoming fully functional in us. We are now of a spiritual kingdom and the things of this world and its ways are meant to be left behind. This takes some time with many of us to finally get the point and fully surrender all our natural abilities and just rest IN the Son while HE does the work.
God insults fallen Adam with His grace. Adam just can’t settle for having all things made full and complete by abiding and resting IN Christ. He still thinks he has something that he can use “for God.” So, until we learn this lesson that “the flesh profits nothing,” we will go on giving birth by the slave woman to the children of our flesh, our Ishmaels, and begging that they might live before God as one of HIS sons. But God waits for the Son of Promise to come forth whom He calls, “thy only son, Isaac,” and ignores all our Ishmaels. And if we wait and finally lay it all down at His feet and die to all that is of Adam, guess what happens (Remember, Ishmael was 13 before Sarah gave birth to Isaac and he womb was dried up)?
“Sing, O barren, you that did not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you that did not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, says the LORD.” (Isaiah 54:1 KJ2000)
Yes, Michael, if you get out here this summer, plan on staying with us in our home while you are here. It would be good to finally meet you face to face. Thanks for your encouragement.
Your brother In the Son,
Your posts are always so spot-on. I wanted to share my two cents. Just a couple of days ago I was going through Matthew 20 and, reading the whole chapter and putting the segments together, a clear message emerges:
First, Jesus tells of a parable where some labourers who believed they had worked harder than the others were indignant to receive the same pay as the “lazy”. My question, how dare we feel entitled when it comes to God? And yet that mentality is SO common! We have the conviction that we’re God’s servants, God’s anointed, meant for great things for which of course the Lord HAS TO reward us!
Next, Jesus tells His disciples about His future crucifixion. (And the Scriptures make it abundantly clear that no disciple is above his master and that we’re bound to suffer the same fate as He did when it comes to persecution and affliction.)
The disciples obviously DON’T get it, because in comes Mama to ask for her sons to be seated at the right and left of Jesus in His kingdom (entitlement mentality again) and the sons have no objections to that request. And Jesus asks about drinking a Cup, and they said, Sure, we can take the cup, but they had NO idea what that meant (and Jesus had just announced His future plans including death!). And the other disciples become indignant because, of course, all of them felt they deserved first place. Jesus explains what true ministry means (service, not lordship). Interestingly enough, the passage ends with two blind men asking Jesus to heal them. I say, how interesting, because the whole chapter displays disciples who are totally blind about themselves (they don’t know just how undeserving they are), about Jesus’ role (not a genie in a bottle to make our dreams come true, but a Sacrifice Lamb to make God’s acceptance of us possible) and about what God wants from them (to be humble vessels of blessing).
We have the whole text of the Bible in many different versions, yet we can’t get the plain meaning of the text, we can’t feel how it points to our faults, because we’re blinded by our ideas, traditions, reputations, even the very gifts God has given us to serve Him and others.
I’ve been through the NO process Devon and you mention. It’s very very painful. But in the end, my conclusion and my prayer is, Oh God, I am nothing. I deserve nothing but condemnation. I’m blind. I’m lost. I stand naked and empty before you. I don’t even desire to love you or serve you anymore. All I can ask is your forgiveness. All I need is a proof that, regardless of my countless sins, you still love me and accept me in Jesus. Open my eyes and heal me.
And if we are to make ANY progress at all on the way towards the New Jerusalem, we have to surrender to the process Jesus mentions in Matthew 20. Like master, like servant.
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.”
We’ll be condemned, mocked, scourged by the System. We’ll end up dead. But it is only by dying that we can taste resurrection. Getting a heavenly reward, is more about drinking the cup we are handed than about “working hard” for the Kingdom..
Trying to explain the ‘servanthood’ truth to a brother or sister is like trying to explain salvation to a sinner. One might reach the ‘church’ easier by speaking in russian than english. There is a dark veil over the ‘body’ that only the Holy Spirit can lift. A stronghold against His simple perspective.
God told us in ’77 that the ‘church’ was not ready for us yet. That implies that the time will come when they will be ready to hear us. We named our movie company ‘YET productions’. Few have asked why that title.
Hope that prophecy encourages folks. Another word we received was ‘They’ll come to us saying ‘please forgive us. We didn’t understand. Show us what you know.’
We’re getting old but holding on. At rest in Him. I think of Moses and his 40 year wait. God preparing him and the folks.
I agree, Devon, waiting is sometimes as hard as trying to reveal the depths of Christ’s servanthood to Christians. The actions of their overlords speak louder than our words. Men make of no effect the commandments of the Spirit with their own traditions. I also had a word to wait when God first told me to write. His word for me came through this passage,
“And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, so he may run that reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:2-3 KJ2000).
I had to wait for ten years before I felt the unction to write and it was another eight years before He provided a way for my writings to be published. Like with Moses, He had to prepare the messenger before He would go forth with the message and then He had to prepare the hearers so they could hear it! Even after forty years of preparation, it was an uphill grind to get the Children of Israel to follow the Spirit into the Promised Land… more dying.
I sure do understand that. Like our movie will filmed . Churches have no interest in a free copy. We must wait also for the appointed time. Thanks for your testimony on that. Beautiful.
I have found that the more we speak from the Spirit of the truth of the depths of Christ, the less that “the churches” that are so visible today want to do with it. If you keep on trying to get them to see what He has given you, just expect a lot of rejection, my brother. You have to feed then those things that tickle their ears if you want it to sell among them and they will reward you for it. But to speak under the anointing of Christ’s Spirit among them will only prove Jesus to be true once again…
“And you say, ‘If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ Therefore you are witnesses unto yourselves, that you are the children of them who killed the prophets. Fill you up then the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the judgment of hell? Therefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall you scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, whom you slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets, and stone them which are sent unto you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, you shall not see me again, till you shall say, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Matthew 23:30-39 KJ2000)
Brother the church systems of men are the Jerusalem that is from beneath. OURS is that NEW Jerusalem that comes down from the throne of God like a bride that has been ready for her Bridegroom. Put your heart and focus their and put your film on the altar of sacrifice before God and leave it there. Who knows, if it is of Him, He might spare it as He did Isaac.
Love you, my brother,
It’s interesting that pastors remind you of “two or three people gathered in My name” when THEIR prayer meetings have very few people in it. But when you get together with one brother or sister for informal sharing or prayer, or when you have devotionals with your spouse, they would not consider that “doing church”. So the prayer meeting of two people plus the pastor in an “approved” building fits the 2 or 3 verse, but YOUR home meeting would not be enough to keep the “not forsake the gathering” part because there is no official leader. Mmm I have the feeling Jesus wouldn’t quite agree with that.
My former pastor told us that the “2 or 3” verse applies to another context, the context of discipline in church… And said that there has to be more people than 2 or 3 so that the people will take advantage of the different gifts the Holy Spirit gives to each individual. So, ok, I agree that sharing truths and life with a stable group of several people can help… But do so-called churches really help nurture individual gifts? More often than not, it’s only the pastor who gets to show off what he’s got, and ends up overworked because everyone is going to him for counsel, teaching, sharing…
Carina, I am a bit confused by your comment. I can’t remember of saying that pastors remind me of “two or three people gathered together in My (Jesus’) name.” Quite the opposite. As for your question, “But do so-called churches really help nurture individual gifts?” I agree with your conclusion, usually it is only the pastor that gets to “strut his stuff.” As it is with the physical body, the spiritual body of Christ needs to be exercised in spiritual matters and not become a room filled with couch potatoes cheering their spiritual quarter-back on. The reason that pastors are over-burdened with counseling, teaching, settling fights, etc, is that the typical church body IS a spiritual couch potato with failing spiritual health! These men have built a system that promotes the perpetual babyhood of the believer, but look at it this way, it is job security for them! 🙂
Many like to quote Ephesians 4:11, but fail to see in the surrounding verses that the body is to be growing up into the fulness of Christ and it is THEY who are supposed to do “the work of the ministry” not the so-called “five-fold.” It is all upside down. So, I don’t put my hope in that failed and declining system, but rather I put my hope IN Christ and thank Him for putting me in touch with others who do the same and interact with one another according to the gifts God has placed in them for us all, and that includes you, dear sister. Keep sharing.
Mmm sorry, that comment was supposed to appear in the Forsaking the assembly post. I don’t know why it ended up here!
My comment was confusing because I posted it in the wrong place. I had two blog entries of yours open at the same time and the comment above ended in the wrong entry. What I meant is this, pastors in the system of religion, when few people are present at a meeting, will tend to say, Well, it’s ok, when two or three people are gathered in Jesus’ name, He is in the midst. But when you say, Hey, me and my wife/husband/friend are having meetings at home and we’re having such great fellowship, the pastors and typical church goers will thing, good for you, but that’s not really doing church. Only because there’s no seminary graduate officially leading the meetings. You can have twenty or fifty people sharing and growing spiritually, but it means little to them who are used to thinking that there has to be an elder who is head and shoulders above the rest. They believe that informal meetings at home is second-rate fellowship, when in reality it tends to be quite the opposite.
Carina, it interesting how blind people can be to their own hypocrisy… a small gathering is excused and is okay as long as one of the people present is either the pastor or a member of his inner circle. Yet, you can gather with a small group in your home with Christ and you are held in suspicion. This is kind of thinking is antichrist. John warned the early church that many antichrists were already among them (take Diotrephes who loved the preeminence, for instance). So you can see from your own example that there is an antichrist spirit present. The Greek word antichristos means either against Christ or INSTEAD OF CHRIST. It is in the latter form that this spirit most often is manifest. Everything is fine in that system as long as you meet around the pastor INSTEAD of around Jesus.
I agree, an informal meeting with the saints in a home when the are all allowed to manifest who Jesus is in them is far ahead of the “bigger is better” mind set of today’s church leaders. Consider these verses:
And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their food with gladness and sincerity of heart, Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as were being saved.
(Acts 2:46-47 KJ2000)
And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and dragging off men and women committed them to prison.
(Acts 8:3 KJ2000)
And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.
(Acts 16:40 KJ2000)
And how I [Paul] kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house,
(Acts 20:20 KJ2000)
And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
(Acts 28:30-31 KJ2000)
Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Greet my well beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.
(Romans 16:3-5 KJ2000)
I beseech you, brethren, (you know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)
(1 Corinthians 16:15 KJ2000)
The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
(1 Corinthians 16:19 KJ2000)
Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.
(Colossians 4:15 KJ2000)
Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellow laborer, And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:
(Philemon 1:1-2 KJ2000)
Yes Paul occasionally met with the Jews in Synagogues, evangelizing them, but when they resisted him there he met in the homes of the saints. There were no church buildings until well into the fourth century after Emperor Constantine took control of the church and fashioned it after the pagan religions and their temples. At this time the real church, those faithful to Christ, went underground. It is amazing that the church spread throughout the whole known world and did it without a centralized human organization and without church buildings.