Thursday, October 18, 2007

Restoring the Early Church ~ Lesson 3

Please note: this post is part three in a study series we are beginning on Discussing Restoring the Early Church, in which you are welcome to join. You may find Lesson One, the introduction, HERE, and Lesson Two, HERE.

Whether you are still plugging away, hoping beyond hope that somehow it will get better, or you have stopped going altogether...know this: you are not alone. The fact that you are reading this is proof that He is wooing you back to Himself. You're tired of going there for what feels like no good reason. You're "burdened by the meaninglessness of so much that is traditionally a part of our churches", and you no longer even "come away with a warm feeling"...just busy emptiness.

I know.          Me, too.          Me.          Too.
We say that our faith must be lived- that Christ invades us to transform every aspect of daily life. Yet we teach this faith in formalized classes or sermons far out of a life context... We say that every believer is a priest, gifted and responsible for building up others in the Body of Christ. And we bring adults to church, set them down and tell them to listen to a teacher or to the pastor. They have exercised no ministry, held no responsibility but to be quiet and orderly, and have helped no one by their presence...

The Emperor doesn't have on any clothes, and it is about time somebody said so. Much time is spent in this lesson assessing exactly how far off the mark modern Christianity is today, but not for the sake of pointing it out alone. This isn't church-bashing, this is taking stock. Until we individually realize, deep down, the state of affairs in the church, and in our own hearts and lives, we are impotent to make any changes more lasting than Band-Aids. How long can we stand to "merely go through the motions of the ministry, having a form of godliness but no power"? See the problems. Notice the lack of fruit from all the effort. Grieve over the emptiness. It is a step not to be skipped over.
You think you're pleasing God for all your activity and its results, yet beneath the programs and entertainment lies an emptiness that few will admit. Institutionalism deceives you into feeling good about yourself even after your responsiveness to God has ceased.

Once we have a clear vision of our state of affairs, only then can we move on to the next step. Making a decision. We can either continue to "effect repairs", adding Band-Aids on top of Band-Aids both personally and corporately, or we can accept the challenge of restoring the true biblical foundations of the early Church.

Going once again to the model of relational priorities, we know that the depth of our personal relationship with our Father and Jesus is of utmost importance if the Holy Spirit is to guide us into the truth God wants us to live by. We need to remember our first love...whom we love because He first loved us...and who saved us while we were wretched sinners.
Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works... Revelation 2:4-5a

I was so encouraged by the closing statements in this lesson. It is my prayer that this will be the fruit of this study: that His children will search and discover truth through His Word alone, and not the traditions of men.
If you understand that Jesus is the only Head and Builder of His Church, you need to search the Bible. Discover that which He and the apostles presented through the Hebraic framework in which it was initially addressed. Those who are willing to do this can work together in agreement with the Holy Spirit and in our time see a true expression of the Church of Jesus Christ. Will it be popular? Probably not. Will it be powerful? Yes, exceedingly so!

Father, by your Holy Spirit, please help us to see. We need You to breathe life into our tired souls, and lead us through your Word into a deeper, truer relationship with You...for Your glory alone.

Here is the link for Lesson Three.

We'll wait to hear from you. However, know that this is a lot to think and pray through. I do not want us to go through this study too quickly. If you're feeling that we should slow down, or pause for a day or two, before moving on, let me know in the comments. I do not want to rush a move of the Spirit...and Father is in charge of the timing.

15 comments:

  1. DH and I realized many of the truths presented in this chapter in years past. It's curious to me though, how even in the 1800's, the churches had so much more power to reach into the surrounding culture.

    Question: In our "atomic" culture, how do we as followers of Yahshua create a 3 generation family again? Especially when our own parents do not hold the same Biblical values that we do?

    We are trying to teach our children the value of family. That we are all need each other. Our children all know that they are important to the welfare of everyone in our family.

    What do you do to reinforce the seams of relationships in your family?

    Do any of you belong to a congregation you feel is functioning Biblically?

    Beth
    hebrewhearth.wordpress.com

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  2. I appreciate this statement:
    "We're writing with apperception in mind, trying to clearly discern God's intent at the time the Scriptures were written so you will apply it to your life."

    I agree that is how all of us should base our beliefs about God and His will.

    But identifying the areas where revisionism took place can be difficult due to misinterpretation of Scripture...does that make sense? Different groups don't always view God's intent in the same way and so we have the wide range of beliefs that exist. Many of them are not based on Scriptures, and many are based on thorough study but with varying conclusions.
    There are those who teach us from the Word, and what we hear may seem perfectly true and acceptable based on all we are shown, yet even then there is plenty of room for error. So how can we know for sure when there are so many debatable matters?

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  3. oldpathsfamilyfarmOctober 18, 2007 at 6:05 AM

    We go back to the VERY beginning. Mike and Sue, in another teaching use this analogy to explain why there are so many denominations:

    Think of a man cutting trusses for a roof. Ideally, he would cut truss A perfectly, then use it as a pattern for truss B. Then he would use truss A as the pattern for truss C and D, and on down.

    What happens in church splits/denominations, etc. is that instead of using truss A as the pattern for each subsequent truss, it goes more like this: Truss A is the pattern for B, then truss B is the pattern for C, then truss C is the pattern for D...and so on. By the time he gets to truss G, the whole thing is so far from truss A, that it is almost unrecognizable.

    I want to go learn how to form truss A properly, myself.

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  4. I haven't finished reading yet (west coast)
    But one thing that I have been struggling with it right there between pages 3 and 4.
    (I don't know how to do the cool quote thing so bear with me or modify if you like)

    "Under the guise of “grace”,
    Christians are swallowing the lie that
    their “happiness” is more important to
    God than His righteous Word."

    I hear this everywhere I go! "I don't have to follow the rules - I am a sinner saved by grace. The whole mindset is - I am a sinner - and that is okay! Jesus loves me!"
    And it drives me crazy.
    Why aren't there more Christians sayig "I am a Christian and I am trying to be more like Christ?"

    -----
    okay back to chores - see ya later - ali

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  5. nak -
    I just wanted y'all to know I am following along with the study. It is very good. Very!

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  6. Hi All,
    As a brief introduction... My name is Jane, I'm 48, the happy rib of Jeff for 14 yrs (I'm a late bloomer - lol), home ed. dd's 13 & 10. Grew up in a Christian home - saved at a young age, graduated from a Fund. Baptist High School, attended a Fund. Baptist college -- each (family, hs, college) having their own set of legalistic rules, but all differing somewhat - but still comfortable in that setting as that is the only life I knew. Now for the past 36 yrs. have been working out my own set of convictions as they truly relate to God's Word - some of them different then how I was raised.

    A few years ago my eyes were opened to a more Hebraic understanding of Scriptures just through my morning Bible reading in Lev. 23 (something I had read yearly for probably the last almost 30 yrs suddenly popped out at me) - I had an "aha" moment - or maybe it was a "but wait a minute" moment. At any rate, it started me on what Lesson 2 so eloquently stated on pg. 10...

    "Establishing a Hebraic lifestyle is a process, a peaceful process because you love God and desire to uphold Him in every area of your life. The Holy Spirit participates through His rhema, that is, His specific guidance for you through the Word."

    And it has been a great PROCESS. I have found, as Lesson 2 stated, that I find myself living and think far differently than those around me. I no longer fit - anywhere. I think all homeschoolers have found that to a certain extent -- thinking outside of the box didn't just stop with schooling, but many of us found that it translates to every area of our lives and eventually what we (I) once loved to do, like "doing" church, is no longer acceptable in our own mind. Too, church seemed more relational when I was younger, but now as a homeschool mom and perhaps because of the way traditional church has changed over the years with it's Hellenistic influences, I seem to no longer find a congregation, at least not around here, that is functioning Biblically. I'M A MISFIT! But then the Father gently reminds me that there is nothing new under the sun, the church from way back rejected a true relationship of the Messiah, killed prophets, persecuted Christians. Why should I think it should be any different today?

    Oh, this is getting way too long, but I just wanted to say that we are still in the process - old traditions are HARD to break, esp. if those around you aren't on the same page (like some of you mentioned). Our family is studying and trying to observe (to a certain extent) the Biblical Feasts, but still holds on to some of the traditional religious holidays as well (sigh).

    It is a complete "renewing of the mind" and I am enjoying every step of the way.

    I'm loving this study!!! Thanks Julie.
    So far, I have competed the Introduction Lesson 1 & Lesson 2 - wouldn't mind if we slowed down a bit & had a day inbetween lessons to discuss - but will do whatever everyone else wants.

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  7. I am enjoying the series so far and I'm particularly enjoying the participation! In our neck of the woods, however, our power has been out a few times already this week and a doozy of a storm is heading our way right now. We expect to be out of power for a day or two - again. With that said, I'll probably be a bit behind and I'll have to work like mad to get caught up. :) I'm already behind!

    Thank you, Julie, for doing this. I think it is something that is necessary and very helpful.

    Blessings!
    Lisa

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  8. I have to say I third the notion of slowing down. Digesting the study is taking time, and then reading how other people's lives have been affected is really encouraging. It just seems like a lot will be missed if we rush on though. (people are still commenting on lesson 1! - I gotta go catch up with them now! :-)

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  9. Oh, wow...how I'm loving this! I "amen" the idea a slowing down a wee-bit. I'm still trying to digest Lesson 1&2 and catch up on everyone's comments and trying soak up what the Father would have me learn. My husband and I are very new to Hebraic roots and trying to shake off the old mind-set. Boy, is it Hard! Even this week we've been talking about how much we are missing being in "church", but then reading this study makes me realize how messed up we are. What do we miss? The traditions of men that we are so accustomed to? Instead He is "wooing" us into true relationship with Him and in our family. This is definitely a slow process and will take years. I want so much to move a long in the shift in thinking so that our children won't have to go through this too. Oh, I'm not in denial that things won't be hard for them too, but at least their foundation will be firm.
    Thanks for the analogy of the "trusses...A, B, etc"...very helper for this student!
    I wish I could comment on almost everyone's comment...I'm learning so much and grinning...and nodding my head...
    BTW, PlainJane...I'm a "MISFIT" too! I long for a biblical congregation too!
    Gotta get dinner finished up.
    Blessings to all-
    Amy

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  10. Amy - I just want to say that we are going through the same thing and it comforts me to know that the Lord is working with others in similiar ways :)

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  11. Whew! I finally caught up and agree with those above...a day of study and a day of discussion...could we slow a little. This is a lot of great information but takes awhile to process....

    In this last lesson, this really spoke to my heart...
    "At what point does a vested interest
    so thoroughly blind a person who
    thinks he or she is doing God’s will from
    discerning the truth?"

    I have seen too much blindness...because we can't accept the truth...it is time to let go, throw the blinders off and embrace the truth passionately!

    Blessings,
    Cheri

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  12. >>Their Sunday-at-eleven culture is
    timed to fall between the two milking
    hours in the agricultural society.

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  13. I had more to that comment above, I just don't know what happened to it...sorry. I don't have a free moment to repost it right now...

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  14. "If we today are ever to see the power of the first century Church restored, we must become a people who are convicted about what we must do."

    Conviction is more than just knowledge. It implies ownership. If I'm convicted of something it has gone past my head and into my heart. And then hopefully into my actions, even if I'm the only one. My heart's desire is that my conviction would only come from Father, His Spirit and His Word, not tradition or pressure from friends/family.

    Also, about the Older Testament being the only scripture the early followers of Yahshua had, I once heard that the gospel message is preached in Acts no less than seven times, using only the Older Testament - apperception. Could I now do the same?? I once shared with a women's Bible study that the 'all scripture' spoken of in 1Timonthy could have only been the Older Testament at the time. You would have thought I was speaking a foreign language with the blank stares I received.

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  15. Wow! Right at the top of the first page I have a comment! SO MANY people will claim to be Christians, but they use the term so loosely. The poll showing no difference in lifestyles of those professing Christ and those not is only as good as its data. Those conducting the poll would have had to have some way to KNOW if the person were a true "trusting in Christ alone for salvation" believer...which really wouldn't be possible. Truly, only we ourselves know what we are trusting in. Of course, our lives evidence it to others who are closest to us, but a pollster wouldn't be able to tell that right off the bat.

    While a church's teaching of children should not be considered "all" they need in spiritual guidance for the week, I don't see an allowance in this material for children to be trained at home AND in church...it seems to be an either/or proposition. We have an AWANA program on Friday nights that encourages children to memorize Scripture (and teaches the meanings of the verses). We have a military base nearby, and many military couples use us as their "babysitting" while they spend some time together. For most of these children, this is the only spiritual guidance they get. Usually one or both of the parents went to AWANA or Sunday school as a kid, so they feel safe leaving their child in a church in a program they experienced in the past. Of course, we encourage the parents to help their child study, we invite them to church, we pray for them, etc., but I have a hard time with the idea that God would rather these children never be introduced to Himself than we shouldn't be teaching children in church.

    I can honestly say that in most ways our church (independent fundamental baptist) mirrors most of what this material is saying. We do have 2 services (and Sunday school) on Sunday, prayer meeting on Wed., and AWANA on Fri., but the accusation that massive congregations (and ours certainly isn't) are filled with apathetic spectators is judging our brothers and sisters in Christ (which Jesus told us not to do) and the accusation that meeting frequently causes pettiness, gossip, and manipulation are unfounded in my experience as well.

    I guess I find myself not quite sure what the authors are getting at. I would not attempt to deny that many churches (in name only) are a far cry from what God calls us to, but it feels like any group that meets is being attacked, maybe because it is more than "two or three being gathered in His name"???

    I guess I'll have to read lesson 4 tomorrow to find out how our churches have become Hellenized.

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