Episode 14: The House Church
In past programs we have considered the church as an expression of the Family of God and the Body of Christ. Today there are many who are seeking to work out God’s purpose in the confines of the home rather than a formal “church building.” Do we have a scriptural basis for this? Does the atmosphere of the home provide an advantage in working out God’s purpose? What is a “House Church”? Is that better than a “normal church”? What do we expect in a House Church? What is God looking for? Today we explore this subject in light of God’s eternal purpose.
• What is a “House Church”?
o No basis for a “House Church” but rather a church that meets in a house
o A meeting place does not make a church a church
o The church of Jesus Christ is spiritual
• What makes a church a church?
o Not because a meeting is held on Sunday, has a pastor, program, and so on
o Christ is Head (authority)
o Christ is foundation (what He did at Calvary)
o Christ is the life (by the Holy Spirit)
• The benefits of meeting in a house
o A family atmosphere
o A smaller group where relationships can be closer and every member function
o Minimum financial obligations for meeting purposes
• Challenges of meeting in a home
o Relationships are challenged
o More personal responsibility
o Can easily tend to become just a social time
o Physical problems with parking, neighbors, laws of the land, etc.
• Meeting with God
o Focused time in the presence of God
o The Holy Spirit in charge
o Men available to be used as God directs
o All things unto edification (building up our relationship with God)
The focus of a church gathering should be relationship: Right relationship with God and with one another. Religion replaces relationship with ritual and rules.
A good resource for those who are seeking to work out God’s purpose in a home setting is “The Principles Book.” http://christcenteredchristianity.com/resources/principles-book-gospel-fellowships/
Episode 13: The Word of God
The phrase “The word of God” is very familiar to many of us. It is used throughout the Bible. However I would like to suggest to us that for the most part, when we read “The word of God” or “The word of the Lord” in the scriptures that the reference is not to the Bible but rather to something else. Do we think of “The word of God” as only applying to the scriptures? I believe it is important to have a clear understanding of this because Jesus said “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
• In Heb. 4:12 The Word of God is described as living, powerful, dividing soul and spirit, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart
• Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17)
• Jesus is called the Word of God (John 1:1, Rev. 19:13)
• The word that Jesus speaks is spirit and life (John 6:62)
• In the OT, when we read the “word of God” or “the word of the Lord” came to so and so” it was not the prophet reading from some part of the scriptures. Rather it was direct communication by God to a prophet and then the prophet spoke the word to others.
• In the NT we find a different working. “All shall know me” (Heb. 8:11, 10:16) Now God is writing His word on our hearts and minds by the Sprit. It is a “new and living way.”
• Because of Christ we now have direct access to the Father by the Spirit. (Eph. 2:18)
• God chooses how He will communicate to us, but the Spirit is always the One who makes it living to us (I John 2:27). Some of the primary means are:
o The scriptures
o Through other men (fellow believers, ministers, spiritual gifts)
o Directly to our spirit (as we look to God in prayer)
o Circumstances (spiritual insight)
o Through creation
• We are commanded to have “ears to hear” (Rev. 2 and 3)
• Any communication that we say is of God should:
o Result in light to walk in, clarity, and peace. This is the basis of faith.
o Consistent with what is recorded for us in the scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16)
o Verified with other believers depending on the content
Christ opened up to us a “new and living way” whereby we can speak directly to God and He can communicate directly to us.
Episode 12: Receive the Holy Spirit
The place of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer today is often surrounded by considerable misunderstanding and conflict. I think the enemy can be blamed for much of that, because he knows that when believers are filled with the Holy Spirit and moving under His control he is powerless to stop them. We must not let confusion hinder us from partaking of the full provision of God. Jesus told the disciples just before He departed this earth that “John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:5, NKJV). What is this baptism? What does this promise mean to us today? Let me encourage us to take a look at the scriptures with an open mind and believe that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth.
• God’s plan is to indwell man and be their life
o The Holy Spirit is the person of the Godhead that brings God within us
o This first happened on the day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2)
• This “Pentecost” is to be experienced by each believer
o There are other accounts recorded in Acts of believers receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17, Acts 9:17, Acts 10:44-48), Acts 19:6)
o The terms baptized, received, filled, came upon, repentance unto life, and fell upon are all used to describe the same event.
o The baptism or receiving the Holy Spirit is always described as an event that you know has happened with outward evidence.
• There is no scriptural basis to say that a believer automatically receives the Holy Spirit upon believing or water baptism.
o John 20:22 is a command but no record of fulfilment until Pentecost
o Acts 2:38 is a promise but does not say how
o Water baptism is a picture of Spirit baptism but in scripture they are always distinct
• When the Holy Spirit comes to indwell:
o Our spirit is united with His Spirit (I Cor. 6:17)
o The Holy Spirit brings us into union with the Father and the Son (John 14)
o The Holy Spirit comes to administer the authority of Christ in each believer (I Cor. 12:3)
Receive the Holy Spirit! Do not be denied of the “gift of promise.” (See Luke 11:13)
Episode 11: What is the place of water baptism in salvation?
Water baptism as we know it today was first introduced by John the Baptist when he was calling Israel to repentance. Jesus was introduced in this baptism in a very remarkable way. From that point on water baptism became an integral part of Christian initiation and the proclamation of the gospel. Yet controversy surrounds this subject to this day. Today we take a brief look at this subject with the desire that each believer may move in faith before God.
• The Baptism of Jesus
o Recorded in all four Gospels
o Jesus introduced in John’s baptism (Matt. 3:13-16)
o John connected water baptism and Spirit baptism on this occasion
• What can we learn from this account?
o Jesus verified that the baptism of John was of God by submitting to it
o Jesus identified with sin in John’s baptism as He would in reality at Calvary
o God’s plan of salvation was foretold in this event
o Water baptism is a symbol of Spirit baptism and leads to that
o The work of the triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is seen together
• Water baptism is seen as an act of obedience following repentance and faith in Christ
o Peter (Act 2:38)
o Samaria (Acts 8:12)
o Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:36-38)
o Paul (Acts 9:18, 22:16)
• What happens in water baptism?
o My faith in Jesus as Savior is demonstrated in an act of obedience to Him.
o It is a burial ceremony (following Jesus into death of my old life)
o It is a “washing away of my past sins”
• Some important points
o Water baptism is always seen in scripture as “believer’s baptism”
o The very word “baptism” indicates submersion (typifying our union with Christ)
o Water baptism without spirit baptism is not complete
o Water baptism normally precedes Spirit baptism but not always (Acts 10)
o There is “one baptism” (Eph. 4:5)
o We must not give too much or too little importance to water baptism
o The value of water baptism to us is the faith that we bring to the event