(Compiled by Samson Warner & MO Ed. Dept.)
P.O. Box 31, London WC2E 7LX, England or BP 752, 75123 Paris, Cedex 03, France
1. FROM CHILDHOOD I HAD THIS FEELING THAT SOMETHING WAS TERRIBLY WRONG WITH THE CHURCH SYSTEM: It just wasn't reaching the people who needed Jesus most, and it didn't even slightly resemble the things I read about the Early Church in the New Testament! 1
2. MOST OF THE CHURCH MEMBERS WERE A BUNCH OF OLD HYPOCRITES WHO WEREN'T THE SLIGHTEST BIT INTERESTED IN GETTING THE GOSPEL TO THE LOST but were much more interested in getting a fancier church building‚ a swankier preacher, a fancy choir and organ music, and showing off fancy clothes at fancy meetings. Most of them were whited sepulchers full of dead men's bones, and the only way they reached Heaven was by their spiritual stench. 2
3. WHAT I WANTED TO SEE THEM DO WAS BECOME LIKE THE EARLY LITTLE BANDS OF CHRISTIANS who met and lived together in homes, spent most of their time out witnessing and winning souls to Jesus, and setting the whole world on fire with the Love and Spirit of God. 3
4. HOWEVER, WHEN I USED TO DISCUSS WITH RELIGIOUS LEADERS OF THE PAST how the Early Church subsisted by sharing all things, dropping out of the System and having all things in common, forsaking all in order to preach the Gospel—and that they all did it, not just the preachers, pastors, evangelists and missionaries—they always said‚ "Yes, but that was a different day, and it didn't last and besides‚ it wouldn't be possible today". 4
5. NOBODY WANTED TO TRY IT—UNTIL I FOUND YOU! And it's working just like it did for the Early Church, and we're doing it! And they hate us for it because they didn't want to do it! They had to say it couldn't be done or they would have had to do it!
6. NOW WE'VE EXPOSED THEM and they have no cloak for their sin, no excuse for their failure. 5
7. NOW THE QUESTION IS: How can we keep from happening to us what happened to the churches?6
8. WELL, FIRST OF ALL, WE MUST BUILD ON THE RIGHT FOUNDATION—the Man Christ Jesus, the Cornerstone! "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (1Co 3:11)
9. SECOND, WE MUST BUILD THE BUILDING HE WANTS! A building of young and living stones, made alive by His spirit, founded on His Truth, and melted together in His Love. 7 For "Ye are God's building...Ye are the temple of God." (1Co.3:9,16)
10. SO LET'S USE THE BEST CHURCH‚ THE BEST SPIRITUAL BUILDING‚ HE EVER CREATED AS OUR PATTERN. Let's use the Early church in the Book of Acts as our blueprint. Here was the ideal! How did they do it? 8
11. IN YOUR STUDY, THOUGH, REMEMBER THAT WE ARE NOT THE EARLY CHURCH. We're the Latter Church! The latest Church, and the pattern God wants us to live by today is not exactly the pattern they lived by 2,000 years ago. 9
12. HOWEVER, HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF and I'm sure you can see the parallel to us. 10 As Solomon said, "The things that hath been, it is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun." (Ecc.1.9)
I. JERUSALEM AND THE BEGINNING—ACTS 1-7 (30–32 A.D.): OBEDIENCE AND UNITY—Result in God's blessing and power:
13. THERE WERE TWO THINGS THAT BROUGHT DOWN THE BLESSING AND POWER OF GOD ON THE EARLY CHRISTIANS. Number one, there was obedience and number two, there was unity."
14. "THEN PETER...SAID‚ WE OUGHT TO OBEY GOD RATHER THAN MEN...(for) we are His witnesses... and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him." (Ac.5:29,32)
15. "AND ALL THAT BELIEVED WERE TOGETHER, and had all things common... continuing daily with one accord...with gladness and singleness of heart...the multitude to them that believed were of one heart and one soul." (Ac.2:44,46; 4:32) "And with great power gave the apostles witness and great grace (or blessing) was upon them all. (Ac.4:33)
16. THIS WAS JESUS' LAST PRAYER: "THAT THEY ALL MAY BE ONE;...AS WE ARE ONE". (Jn.17:21,22) And when they stuck together, worked together, and cooperated together, He blessed them, strengthened them, made them mighty‚ made them rich, made them powerful and made them a testimony to the world that in spite of being nobody they had become somebody through the power of God in obeying Him and loving each other, working together and having that tremendous unity of the spirit. 12
CHRISTIAN COMMUNISM—God's financial plan:
17. "AND ALL THAT BELIEVED WERE TOGETHER AND HAD ALL THINGS COMMON; and sold their possessions and goods and parted them to all men, as every man had need." (Ac.2:44,45) "Neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common...neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need." 13 (Ac.4:32-35; see also 2Co.8.15.)
18. ACCORDING TO THESE VERSES THE EARLY CHRISTIANS VOLUNTARILY AND GLADLY CONTRIBUTED ALL THEIR WORLDLY POSSESSIONS to their local colony for sharing with their brothers and sisters as they had need. They withheld nothing from the Lord, for Jesus had said, he "that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple". (Lk.14:33)
19. WHEN ONE COUPLE AT THE JERUSALEM COLONY PRETENDED TO FORSAKE ALL BUT WITHHELD PART, THEIR SIN FOUND THEM OUT. 14 "A certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, and kept back part of the price...and brought a certain part‚ and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost and to keep back part? After it was sold, was it not in thine own power? Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? (Why? Because he wanted the glory of being a disciple without paying the price.) Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down and gave up the ghost (as his wife Sapphira also did later): and great fear came upon all them that heard these things." (Ac.5:1-11; see also Heb.12:29.)
POWER AND POPULARITY—Why they needed it initially:
20. DURING THOSE EARLY DAYS OF THE EARLY CHURCH THEY NEEDED NUMBERS TO GET THEM STARTED, a big push to get'em rolling, sensational publicity to make them popular, and a wave of fame to noise them abroad‚ as we now have. Their original colony was immense, as some of ours have been, to make them known, strong, encouraged, basically trained and off to a head start, way out in front of the opposition, before scattering for survival. 15
21. ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST "THERE WERE ADDED UNTO THEM ABOUT THREE THOUSAND souls". Then on another day soon after, "about five thousand"; then "believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both men and women", and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly: and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith. From the very beginning "the Lord added to the church daily". (Ac.2:41; 4:4; 5:14; 6:7; 2:47)
22. ALSO THE ORIGINAL CHRISTIANS PROBABLY WOULD HAVE ALL BEEN WIPED OUT IMMEDIATELY AFTER JESUS' DEATH IF THEY HADN'T BEEN SO NUMEROUS and looked so big and powerful, so they were practically telling the city what to do. It says they were "having favour with all the people" and "the people magnified them." (Ac.2:47; 5:13) This was to impress the System to leave them alone "for...fear of the people" (Ac.5:26) until they could get better organised, taught‚ strengthened, grown up and ready for the bigger battles ahead.
23. THEN WHEN THEY WERE READY FOR THE FULL SCALE WAR, GOD SCATTERED THEM throughout the world to salt the whole earth and enlighten all mankind. 16
ORGANISATION AND LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE—Prevents murmuring and confusion:
24. IN JERUSALEM, "WHEN THE NUMBER OF THE DISCIPLES WAS MULTIPLIED, THERE AROSE A MURMURING...BECAUSE...(SOME) WERE NEGLECTED in the daily ministration. Then the twelve...said, it is not reason that we should leave the Word of God and serve tables...Look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business". (Ac.6:1–3)
25. YOU TOP LEADERS SHOULD TRY TO KEEP OUT OF THE FINANCIAL AND BUSINESS END AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE for your own protection and for the protection of God's work. Apostles and elders should direct the spiritual affairs and let the deacons handle the material if possible. It's not always possible until God sends you a good man, but when he does‚ let'em do it. 17
26. THE LEADER'S JOB IS NOT TENDING TABLES (DOING THE MUNDANE TASKS) BUT LISTENING TO GOD AND GIVING GOD'S ORDERS, attending diligently to the ministry of the Word and Prayer. Of course, this doesn't mean just sitting around on his fanny in perpetual meditation doing nothing, but it requires a lot of hard work, prayer, study, teaching and action and direction to see that it's done. 18
DISOBEDIENCE AND PRIDE—Result in God's spanking:
27. "AND YE SHALL BE WITNESSES UNTO ME both in
28. WHAT HAPPENED WHEN THE EARLY CHURCH GOT TOO BIG FOR JERUSALEM? 3,000 one day, 5,000 another day and God only knows how many thousands later! Tens of thousands of Christians living in both the temple compound and all over the city, scattered out in people's homes and everywhere, and just getting so big that the Jerusalem Church was splitting at the seams, too big for its britches and too big for the city—what happened then?
29. DID THEY VOLUNTARILY DECIDE TO SEND MISSIONARIES to Antioch? And to India with Thomas, and down to Ethiopia with Philip, and up to Asia with Paul? 19
30. I'M SORRY TO SAY THEY DID NOT! Apparently they were as disobedient as I have been on occasion. 20 They were supposed to divide and conquer.
31. THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO GO OUT AND IN A SENSE, COLONISE THE REST OF THE WORLD in the way God had ordained for it to be done‚ with the same type of little communal societies that they were practicing in Jerusalem. But they were enjoying themselves together. It was just so nice; it was so wonderful: "We've got so many people now and God is with us‚ and how wonderful it is!" 22
32. ALSO, I DON'T DOUBT THAT THEY WERE GETTING STRONG AND POWERFUL AND PROBABLY TELLING OFF THE CITY AUTHORITIES AND EVERYBODY ELSE: "Now look at us. We have arrived. We're just strong by a strength of numbers." 23
33. NOW THE STRENGTH OF THE CHURCH HAS ALWAYS BEEN ITS UNITY IN THE LORD and its unity in fellowship, 24 but the minute like in times past when the Israelites got the idea that "Mine own arm hath saved me" (Jud.7:2) "Here I am‚ I have arrived"; the minute they got to that point—WHAMEE!
34. GOD GAVE IT TO THEM AND SCATTERED THEM to the four winds, 25 out there singly and individually all amongst the heathen and everywhere in the world to make them get back to God and ask God to forgive them for their damn pride and their selfishness, and their bunching up together just for their own glory and not for God's glory. 26 "Pride goeth before destruction and an haughty spirit before a fall". (Pr.16:18)
35. ANYHOW, ONE THING WE KNOW: THEY WERE BUNCHING UP, AND NOT GETTING OUT AND DOING WHAT GOD HAD TOLD THEM TO DO. And all we know is when they got their biggest and most powerful and most numerous 27, God's Word says He drew out a sword after them and scattered them throughout all Asia and throughout the whole of Asia Minor by persecution. 28
36. BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T PRACTISE ACTS 1:8, GOD GAVE THEM ACTS 8:1: "There was a great persecution against the Church which was at
BIG COLONIES OR SMALL COLONIES? Or—Why their enemies persecuted them:
37. "NOW WHEN THE HIGH PRIESTS AND THE CAPTAIN OF THE TEMPLE AND THE CHIEF PRIESTS HEARD THESE THINGS (about the power and popularity of the Church), they doubted of them where unto this would grow." (Ac.5:24)
38. "AND WHEN THEY HAD CALLED THE APOSTLES, AND BEATEN THEM, THEY COMMANDED THAT THEY SHOULD NOT SPEAK IN THE NAME OF JESUS." But "daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ", and "the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly." (Ac.5:40,42; 6:7)
39. "THEN THEY SUBORNED MEN, which said‚ We have heard him (Stephen, a leader of the Church) speak blasphemous words...And they stirred up the people...And set up false witnesses...And they stoned Stephen." (Ac.6:11-13; 7:59; 8:1)
40. WHENEVER YOU GET BIG AND POWERFUL YOU BEGIN TO THREATEN THE SECURITY OF THE STATUS QUO! You endanger the establishment and they will do their best to wipe you out before you do them in. 29 The Scripture says there's a time for everything. There was a time for the Early Church to have its thousands all in one place at Jerusalem, to attract the attention of the whole world and to start off the Church with a bang—one big splash. 30
41. BUT YOU CAN'T FIGHT CITY HALL! WHEN THE LORD HAS USED YOU TO RELEASE ENOUGH OF THE DEVIL'S PRISONERS to get the parents and the System stirred up against you, and City Hall starts fighting you, it's time to go to greener, more peaceful fields and start the process all over again. 31
42. THIS EXAMPLE OF THE WIPING OUT OF JERUSALEM VIVIDLY DEMONSTRATES THAT SMALL MOBILE TEAMS ARE BEST, and a permanent headquarters can be more of a hazard than a help. 32
43. HOWEVER, EVERY ARMY NEEDS A HOME BASE‚ and the Early Church first used Jerusalem, then Antioch, then Ephesus, then Rome for headquarters operations until such time as these larger colonies were no longer possible and they were scattered and driven underground. Then each small team had to be as self-sufficient as possible. 33
44. REMEMBER‚ EVERY WAVE OF POPULARITY AND POWER COMES TO AN END. So always to be ready for the crash; be ready to know how to dodge that surfboard you're riding, survive the breaker, and land on your feet without going under so you can retrieve your vehicle and try again. 34
II. COLONISATION—ACTS 8-20 (about 32–58 A.D.)
METHOD OF EXPANSION—Divide and conquer:
45. "NOW THEY WHICH WERE SCATTERED ABROAD UPON THE PERSECUTION that arose about Stephen travelled as far as...Antioch." (Ac.11:19)
46. THE ONLY TIME THAT TOTAL SCATTERATION HAPPENED TO THE CHURCH was when God brought down the hammer of persecution and scattered them because they did not divide and conquer. But it wasn't any time before they bunched up again and got together and co–operated up at Antioch and started the greatest missionary venture of their generation. 36
47. THEY HAD LEARNED THEIR LESSON AT JERUSALEM; they had holed up too long and had not gotten the job done. 37 However, here at Antioch you find them sending out teams hither, thither and yon, 38 but they didn't send out a team prematurely.
48. THEY SECURED THEIR BASIC BEACHHEADS FIRST before they did any further major invading 39. It says that Barnabas and Saul (or Paul) came to Antioch and "that a whole year they assembled themselves with the Church, and taught much people," (Ac.11:26) Paul spent a long time in Damascus (Ac.9:1-25) and in Jerusalem (Ac.9:26-30) and Antioch (Ac.11:26), the other home bases, before he was ready for the field and they were ready to do without him! 40
49. THEN WHEN THE TIME WAS RIGHT, "THE HOLY GHOST SAID, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them" "to bear My name (Jesus) before the Gentiles." (Ac.13:2; 9:15)
50. HOWEVER, ON SUCH A MAJOR MISSIONARY VENTURE AS THIS PAUL AND BARNABAS DIDN'T GO ALONE. The Scripture says, "they had also John to their minister", and farther on in the account it speaks of "Paul and his company" (Ac.13:5,13) to show there were several people besides those named—a major invasion force, like our initial European team of Faith, and her little company of six.
51. REMEMBER, FOR THESE MAJOR INVASIONS THAT GOD ALMOST ALWAYS TAKES THE CREAM OF THE CROP right off the top like the Apostle Paul‚ to send out in the field to evangelise and establish new churches or colonies, because such tried and proven top leadership has the needed wisdom, experience and power for pioneering! 41
52. HOWEVER, FOR A TEAM OPERATING OUT OF A HOME BASE AND/OR IN ITS SURROUNDING AREA, IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE ALL LEADERS, not even older brothers and sisters. It can even be all babes‚ as Jesus had, as long as it has at least one good‚ experienced leader, a man of God, in touch with the Holy Spirit, and preferably with a good wife leader as well, a couple who know what they're doing and can lead and teach the babes as they go. 42
METHOD OF INDOCTRINATION—Teaching others to teach others.
53. IN ANTIOCH "IT CAME TO PASS, THAT A WHOLE YEAR THEY ASSEMBLED THEMSELVES WITH THE CHURCH, and taught much people"‚ and at Iconium "Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord". In Corinth, "he continued there a year and six months, teaching the Word of God", and also at Ephesus "disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus... by the space of two years". (Ac.11:26; 14:3; 18:11; 19:10)
54. JESUS‚ PAUL AND THE EARLY APOSTLES PUT THEIR MAJOR EMPHASIS ON BIG CITIES and had their greatest successes in the major centers of population like the ones named above, from which their converts there reached the surrounding territory themselves! 43 As you can see by Acts 19:10, Paul spent only two years teaching in Ephesus‚ apparently without even leaving the school of Tyrannus, but the verse continues to say that "all Asia heard the Word of the Lord Jesus‚ both Jews and Greeks." 44 (Ac.19:10)
55. THE PROCEDURE THE APOSTLE PAUL PRACTISED, WHICH RESULTED IN THE EVANGELISING OF ALL ASIA and most of Europe before his death‚ by means of his own single-handed effort and that of a few of his friends, was by training his converts to witness and carry on after he was gone. 45
56. DURING HIS FIRST PIONEERING MISSIONARY VENTURE (Ac.13-14), it says after winning many converts in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra that, instead of deciding to gain more territory, Paul and Barnabas "returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, (and) ordained elders in every church." (Ac.14:21-23)
57. THEN, "SOME DAYS AFTER," AT THE START OF HIS SECOND PIONEERING ENDEAVOR (Acts 15:40; 18:22), "Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the Word of the Lord‚ and see how they do." (Ac.15:36)
58. THEN AGAIN IT SAYS, "after he had spent some time there (in Antioch)" resting up for a third journey (Ac.18:23; 21:17), "he departed‚ and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all disciples." (Ac.18:23)
59. SO DON'T GET SO BUSY GAINING TERRITORY THAT YOU DON'T SECURELY CONSOLIDATE THESE GAINS! Do as Paul did: Establish the Churches, appointing elders in each‚ confirming them, instructing them, and training them until they can stand on their own. Then you can go off and leave them, as Paul did, and know they'll survive—by the power of His Spirit, in obedience to His commands, able to carry on where you've left off—indigenous, self-supporting, self-governing and self-propagating! Or better still‚ we should say, Christ-supported, Christ-governed, and Christ-propagating. 46
60. EVEN AFTER PAUL WAS GONE from them and in prison (Ac.22-28) he had to keep writing letters to them to keep them straightened out—just as we have. 47
61. PAUL'S METHOD IS BEST SUMMED UP IN HIS COUNSEL TO TIMOTHY: "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." (2Tim. 2:2)
METHOD OF STAYING ALIVE—Staying mobile:
62. I AM ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED THAT THE SMALL, MOBILE TEAM IS THE MOST EFFICIENT, the most effective, and the safest in most cases of operation. There may be a few exceptions, but our exceptions have proven the most vulnerable to attack. 48 Both Jesus and Paul and others, with their very small, but very efficient and effective tiny bands of roving disciples, kept moving so they'd seldom get caught! 49
63. AT ANTIOCH‚ "THE JEWS... RAISED PERSECUTION AGAINST PAUL AND BARNABAS...But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came to Iconium... And it came to pass in Iconium... the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, against the brethren... (but) they were ware of it and fled unto Lystra and Derbe." (Ac.13:50; 14:6)
64. THESE SMALL‚ MOBILE TEAMS OF THE EARLY CHURCH SURVIVED and turned the world right side up with the Gospel and the System "upside down", (Ac.17:6), whereas their most giant Colonies, like Jerusalem, were almost totally wiped out or made completely ineffective by compromising with the System in order to survive and stay in one place and keep what they had. 50
METHOD OF WITNESSING—Personal, not mass evangelism:
65. THE METHOD OF JESUS AND THE APOSTLES WAS ALMOST ALWAYS INDIVIDUAL PERSONAL EVANGELISM on a small scale, depending on the effectiveness of a thorough personal witness and intensive individual training to multiply the number of converts by making everyone a soul winner‚ and not all in the same place.
66. MOST OF CHRIST'S SO-CALLED SERMONS WERE REALLY TEACHING LESSONS to one or two individuals or very small groups of true disciples or true seekers, seldom to crowds. 51 When he taught the Sermon on the Mount, it says, "he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him." (Mat.5:1)
67. "Philippi,... the chief city of... Macedonia... on the Sabbath we went out of the city by a river side... and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither." And in Athens‚ Paul "disputed ... in the synagogue with the Jews and with devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him." (Ac.16:13; 17:17)
68. THE ONLY LARGE CROWDS THEY HAD WERE NOT PLANNED MEETINGS. They just happened beyond their control, and they usually tried to escape them, such as what happened to Paul in Athens after he had attracted quite a bit of notice with his message: "Then certain philosophers... took him, and brought him unto Areopagus (like being brought to a big television talk show today), saying, May we know this new doctrine whereof thou speakest?" (Ac.17:18,19) He gave them the message, but as soon as he was through, it says, "Paul departed from among them" (Ac.17:33), and it's not recorded that he ever went back.
69. BIG CROWDS ARE DANGEROUS, SINCE FEW CAN HANDLE THEM and they arouse jealous enemies and show where you are. The big crowds only come for the miracles, loaves and fishes, and you can't teach them anything.
70. THEY LEAVE AS SOON AS THE GOING GETS ROUGH AND THE DOCTRINE HEAVY. 52 Just as they did when Jesus gave his famous "eat My flesh and drink My blood" cannibal sermon; they said, "This is an hard saying; who can hear it?" And "From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him." (Jn.6:60,66)
METHOD OF DELIVERING THE MESSAGE—Wisdom and tact:
71. IN EPHESUS, PAUL "WENT INTO THE SYNAGOGUE, and spake boldly for the space of three months... But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way... he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of Tyrannus... by the space of two years... After these things were ended... there arose no small stir about that way (see Ac.19:23-24). Then "Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed." (Ac.19:1,8,21; 23:20:1)
72. WHEN PAUL WALKED INTO THEIR SYNAGOGUES TO GIVE THEM THE GOOD NEWS, HE CALLED HIS FELLOW JEWS "MEN AND BRETHREN", not wolves and vipers‚ or he wouldn't have gotten too far with his message! He tried to woo and win them, not blow and blast them; and by such wise behaviour he usually managed to walk off with half their congregation by the time the other half rejected him and threw him out.
73. HE WOULD THEN MOVE TO THE HOUSE OF ONE OF THE FOLLOWERS and carry on there‚ teaching and establishing the new brethren and appointing elders over them, until the opposition raised such a stir that he was run out of town, leaving behind him a nice new Colony of believers. Would God we would follow his example! 53
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SYSTEM—Use it!:
74. WITH JESUS, "a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph... was Jesus' disciple"‚ "but secretly for fear of the Jews". (Mat.27:57; Jn.19:38) Paul had "certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends" (Ac.19:31).
75. JESUS AND HIS DISCIPLES HAD MANY UNDERCOVER FRIENDS members of the System—a great company of the priests and even some of the Sanhedrin, the rulers and the rich—who were their friends, helpers and protectors, whom God had ordained for this ministry. 54
76. IN PAUL'S MINISTRY EITHER "THE DEVOUT AND HONOURABLE WOMEN, and the chief men of the city, raised persecution against Paul," or "many of them believed; also of honourable women... and of men‚ not a few." (Ac.13:50; 17:12) It depended on who he went to first.
77. WHEN PAUL WENT TO THE POOR ONLY, HE GOT KNOCKED OUT and the officials ran him out of town when they heard about the stir he was making and they didn't know what he was up to.
78. BUT WHEN HE WENT TO THE POWERFUL FIRST, THEY GOT THE POINT and got Jesus, and they had the power and wealth to finance him. 55
79. FOR EXAMPLE, IN ACTS 13, WHEN HE LANDED ON THE ISLAND OF CYPRUS, HE PREACHED TO THE POOR all the way across the island, but he was on his way to see the governor! He won him to the Lord‚ and as a result Cyprus became the world's first Christian nation, because he won the one with power and authority to permit it and finance his preaching to help the poor.
DECISION MAKING—By counsel‚ not dictatorship:
80. AT ANTIOCH, THEY HAD A MAJOR PROBLEM because "certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses‚ ye cannot be saved. (But) Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension... with them". Then the brethren "determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question."
81. "AND THE APOSTLES AND ELDERS CAME TOGETHER FOR TO CONSIDER OF THIS MATTER." And after there was much disputing from both sides James said, "My sentence is that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God." This judgement "pleased... the apostles and elders, with the whole Church... with one accord". (Read Ac.15:1-3.)
82. SO WHEN YOU HAVE A PROBLEM TO HANDLE OR A DECISION TO MAKE, DON'T BE AFRAID TO CALL YOUR LEADERS TOGETHER for prayer, discussion and unanimous agreement. This is the way the Early Church was run‚ and the way any wise leader will operate. 57
83. THE EARLY CHURCH WAS NOT BOUND TOGETHER BY A DICTATORIAL, HIERARCHICAL, CENTRALISED GOVERNMENT, frozen together with formalities, but they were only united by His Spirit, governed by His Word, and melted together in love‚ with an absolute minimum of supervision by the apostles. Their unity was in the Spirit and in Love and in Doctrine, not in highly technical organisation. Their co–ordination and cooperation were God-made, not man-made and it was a supernatural thing, strictly miraculous, and not manufactured by man's fleshy wisdom. 58
84. NEITHER PETER NOR PAUL WERE POPES, DICTATING EVERY MOVE. They were too busy running around doing their own jobs, fighting their own battles, starting their own colonies and winning their own disciples.
85. THEY COULD ONLY ADVISE AND COUNSEL others from what they themselves had already learned, but the people themselves had to make their own decisions, with the help of the Lord by His Spirit. 59
86. AS PETER SAID‚ "THE ELDERS WHICH ARE AMONG YOU I EXHORT, who am also an elder...Feed the flock of God which is among you... not by constraint, but willingly...Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock." (2Pet.5:1-3)
III. COMPROMISE AND IMPRISONMENT—ACTS 21-28 (58-63 A.D.:)
THE CONSERVATIVES—Fought against the Revolution:
87. "Beware of dogs‚ beware of evil workers, beware of the concision." (Ph.3:2)
88. IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, THE CONCISION, AS THESE COMPROMISERS WERE CALLED, WERE THOSE JEWS WHO WERE WILLING TO ACCEPT JESUS as the Messiah, but were not willing to forsake their synagogues, traditions, laws of men and of Moses, or their own self-righteous works.
89. THEY WERE NOT WILLING TO FORSAKE ALL AND DROP ENTIRELY OUT OF THE BELOVED OLD SYSTEM, whether it was a church or their own set ideas. They were not willing to abandon all of their old ways and commit themselves totally to the new way of Salvation entirely by grace and no self-righteous works and to a life lived totally by faith. 60
90. THIS WAS THE CHURCH AT JERUSALEM who didn't scatter at the Jewish persecution in Acts 8:1 and eventually were made completely ineffective by compromising with System in order to survive and stay in one place and keep what they had. 61
91. THEY TRIED TO TURN A REVOLUTION INTO A REFORMATION‚ to make it popular to be a Christian; and they succeeded for a while, until the Roman persecution came‚ which wiped out the half-hearted, the compromisers and System Christians, but only set more fire to the true Children of God who burned even more brightly. 62
92. IT WAS THIS COMPROMISING CONCISION THAT CONDEMNED THE RADICAL PAUL, leader of the fanatical Children of God‚ the real beginners of that Jesus Movement‚ and tried to corner the whole thing in their synagogues. 63
93. AS JAMES TOLD PAUL WHEN HE WENT BACK TO JERUSALEM AGAINST THE SPIRIT'S ORDERS (see Ac.21:4,11), "Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe: and they are all zealous of the law: And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews...to forsake Moses" (which he did—Gal 5:2).
94. "DO THEREFORE THIS THAT WE SAY TO THEE:" take a vow "and purify thyself", in the Temple that "all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing." And he did. But, "the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him."
95. AND "THEY WENT ABOUT TO KILL HIM." (Acts 21:20-31) He was rescued from certain death by the Romans but it resulted in his arrest and imprisonment for many years, from 58 to 63 A.D., and his execution in 67 A.D.
96. I THINK THE APOSTLE HIMSELF WOULD HAVE LASTED A LITTLE LONGER IF HE HAD USED A LITTLE GREATER WISDOM AND HAD NOT COMPROMISED by going back to Jerusalem at the behest of the Concision to try to please the Jews who were hopelessly incorrigible and totally bound by their Templism‚ self-righteousness and rigid resistance against the truth.
97. I BELIEVE GOD LET HIM MAKE THAT MISTAKE TO WARN US NOT TO TRY THE SAME STUNT and to show it's impossible to please some people no matter how much you compromise with them. 64
HOW THE EARLY CHURCH WENT ASTRAY—After about two generations‚ until 1969:
98. THINGS KEPT GOING STRONG UNDER THE DISCIPLES WHO SAT AT JESUS' FEET, BUT THEN THINGS BEGAN TO CHANGE WITH THEIR DISCIPLES who had never seen Jesus. And it took only two generations to do it! 65 Within two or three generations they had slowed down spiritually, stopped evangelising the world, cooled off in their ardour, grown cold in their love and frozen together into the same Roman System from which they had dropped out! 66
99. HOW DID THEY GO ASTRAY? Well, it's been sort of an inevitable cycle of history that this is the way all governments and denominations and movements of various kinds revolve!
100. THEY'RE BORN IN THE WHITE-HEAT OF THE FIRES OF INSPIRATION AND OF THE DESIRE FOR CHANGE, and, led by an anointed leader, they fight and die for the cause until they gain enough followers to come out from among them and be separate and touch not the unclean thing, and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness—and a new "Ecclesia" has been formed, the new "called-out ones"‚ the new Church, the new dropouts! 67
101. AND THEY REVEL IN THEIR NEW-FOUND FREEDOM, TRUTH AND BEAUTY, LOVE AND PEACE, until a new Pharaoh arises, a new leader and a new generation "which knew not Joseph"—who don't appreciate the freedom or the blessing because they've never known anything else.
102. THEY BECOME LAZY AND LETHARGIC, SELF-SATISFIED AND SELF-INDULGENT, with a false sense of security, out of touch with the original inspired leader and his teachings, and out of touch with God—asleep, content‚ "rich and increased with goods and having need of nothing" but actually, "wretched and naked and blind" in the sight of God!
103. AND THE MOST SHOCKING THING ABOUT THIS CONDITION IS THAT THEY DON'T EVEN KNOW IT! It's like a creeping paralysis which steals up on them and they're dead before they know it! 68
104. THANK GOD, I DON'T THINK THERE'S ENOUGH TIME LEFT FOR IT TO HAPPEN TO US! But the warning lesson is always there: "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." 69
105. HOW CAN WE AVOID IT? How can we prevent it from happening to us?
106. BY REMAINING GOD'S "DROP-OUTS"! Don't go back to the System even if you have to work in it or with it; don't become part of it, in spirit or otherwise!
107. STAY REVOLUTIONARY—DON'T COMPROMISE WITH THE ENEMY! Try to live as peaceably with him as you can‚ but don't join him. Don't pull your punches; don't compromise your convictions or water down your message! Stay dropped out! 70
108. GIVE GOD ALL THE CREDIT ALL THE TIME AT EVERY TURN FOR EVERY LITTLE THING, and He will never fail to continue to prosper you and empower you and protect you and keep you and multiply you and do all things just like He did for the Early Church! 71
14. (See S:14 & Num.32:23.)
33. 61:65 and 67:70
67. 42:12 & 2Co.6:17
68. 42:13 & Rev 3:17
69. 42:28 & 1Co.10:12
70. 42:28; 23:32