March 4, 2009

House Church - Repentance or Preference

2 Kings 23:4-… And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second order and the keepers of the threshold to bring out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron and carried their ashes to Bethel. And he deposed the priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to make offerings in the high places at the cities of Judah and around Jerusalem; those also who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and the moon and the constellations and all the host of the heavens. And he brought out the Asherah…

Doing church in homes is not a law of God. It cannot be imposed on the Church and it cannot be commanded as “thus sayeth the Lord”. God has not legislated the type of building or the location where his church should assemble. After all we ARE the very temple of God. So, what category does the teaching of “house church” fall into? If it is not law, then it must be wisdom. There are two types of wisdom: That from above, and that from below. Godly and Earthly wisdom are always in competition with each other. The Church does not need to divide over disagreements about wisdom, as it must with disagreements over the law, because wisdom will be vindicated by its fruit. We can be patient with matters of wisdom knowing that wisdom from above will lead to godliness and that wisdom from below will eventually result in sin which can then be judged.

Those who see the wisdom of house church recognize that traditional church, because it is based on the wisdom of men, will inevitably lead its adherents into sin. While tradition is not sin in itself, the earthly wisdom which it is based on will eventually bear its fruit. The movement to meet in homes is not itself repentance from sin, but it is intimately connected to repentance of sin and dead works. The following are just two of the sins which the traditional church promotes. Scripture does speak directly to these, so that they must be agreed about and repented of:

Divisiveness- We are not to divide up the church into sects (1 Cor ), and a divisive man is not remain in our midst. Divisiveness is sin. There is no place for believers to say I am of Luther, or of Calvin, or of Wesley, or the Church of Christ, or First Baptist, or of Pastor “so and so” for that matter. The Church is not held together by men, doctrinal statements, and non-profit corporations. Those who walk by faith see that the Church is only held together by the Spirit, and that the Spirit is one, just as Christ is one, and the Church is one, regardless of what your eyes tell you. However it is not enough just to recognize this, it requires repentance. To perpetuate division is to participate in the sin. Woe to the man who causes division, but also woe to the one who knows the truth and does not obey.

Arrogance – Man was directed to stay away from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We disobeyed, and we have suffered as a result. We were created to live by every word that proceeds from the Father, from the tree of life, from the revelation that IS Jesus. Pride is sin, and to judge things good or evil apart from God is arrogant pride. In first Corinthians Paul exhorts the brethren to become fools so they can be wise. He says not to go beyond what is written so we won’t be puffed up. What do we have that hasn’t been given to us? Let the reader understand, I am not saying there is no freedom in Christ to do things the way you want to. Only, that not everything which is lawful is necessarily helpful, and things that are built by man’s wisdom will bear fruit accordingly. The man who thinks that the simple patters of scripture are insufficient for today, and seeks to invent better ways of doing church, is guilty of arrogance. Who is capable of judging such things? We live in a time when it seems that every man does what is right in his own eyes. Like Josiah and Hilkiah, cast the world’s ways out of the temple of God. Recognize and believe that the simple pattern of scripture is effective in every culture and in every time, precisely because it is built on the things that all men share in common.

For those who are mature, by way of grace and not of law, pursue orderly assemblies. Let every member be free to participate as the scriptures direct (1 Cor 14). Let the Lords Table be a regular sign of those who desire to be included in the New Covenant, and treated as brethren, with all the responsibility that it entails. Let loving discipline maintain the integrity and cleanliness of the body by recognizing those who defile themselves with sin, and only receiving them back again into fellowship through repentance. Don’t follow men because of positional or traditional authority, but rather follow those who lead by pursuing the needs and welfare of others at their own expense. Let love rule by pursuing reconciliation, by patiently working out beliefs in the light of the scripture. Do not agree to disagree…the scriptures say to Agree! If you love your brother, be apt to teach, and kind in your persuasion so that they can grow as the Spirit gives them grace. These exhortations could go on and on…but here is the point.

Those who seek to repent of sin, live according to the pattern of scripture, love their brethren, and tear down every stronghold that sets itself against such things, will come to see the wisdom of meeting in each others homes. So by way of final exhortation, preach repentance of sin and the Kingdom of God so others can see the wisdom of meeting in simplicity. There is nothing so persuasive as seeing brothers dwell together in unity and humility, with sacrificial love for one another. This is the fruit that will vindicate the wisdom of the house-church.
May the Lord give grace, and may it be met by faith. --Bill
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