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My name is Basie Martins. I trust that you are all well and I want to thank you again for listening to this program. For those of you who do not know, we are currently discussing house churches. This series will run for several weeks because we are going to discuss this topic extensively. By the end of this series, everybody will know exactly why God birthed the church and why He has decided to plant churches the way He did. I am referring to house churches because this is exactly what Jesus Christ planted on this earth and it is exactly what the apostles planted on this earth.
The group of twelve disciples that gathered around Jesus Christ was the first church ever planted. He invested quite a lot of time into the disciples and their lives. People do not realize that they were the first congregation because they are looking for the building that these twelve disciples used as a church. The church does not meet in buildings. The people are the building, the building that God inhabits.
What Jesus did with the twelve was exactly what He wanted the disciples to do when they went out to plant churches and it is exactly what He wants us to do when we go out to plant churches. And just as He left them to carry on, on their own, is exactly what He wants us to do with the churches that we plant. At some point, we should leave them on their own. They should function as a living organism on their own because of the vibrant living God that lives inside of them. He is their source. He is the “Engine” that keeps this living organism, called the church, running smoothly. Biblically-based churches do not need the five-fold ministry to be or stay part of their daily church activities or weekly gatherings permanently.
But I am getting ahead of myself here. Let us start at the beginning. What I am now going to attempt to get over to you, I will do by using an illustration. It is not how it happened. It is just an illustration to help us understand the principles that govern house churches and house church planting.
When God looked down onto the earth, when He saw what was going on, all the chaos and all the wrongdoing and suffering, even after He has given them the law and his will and his word, He decided that man had their chance to do the right thing and they did not. They kept serving idols and false gods and they kept doing what they wanted. They needed something more than just the law and the word and will of God.
It was time for God to implement the secret plan that was divinely birthed in the heart of God even before creation. That plan was to create new creatures who did not exist at the time when God decided that it was time to fulfill his real purpose for mankind.
The nation of Israel were servants and not born of God. God decided that the new creatures would be born of God. They will be born of the Spirit which means that they would be part of the family of God. They would be able to contain the living God inside of them permanently. God decided that together as a corporate body, they will be his dwelling place. They will be his house. His temple. That plan was the Church, the place that God will inhabit permanently.
By implementing that plan it would mean that the Old Testament way of God coming over people to empower them with divine abilities would be a thing of the past. This time, they would have God inhabiting their spirits permanently and they would have the abilities, character, and nature of God in them permanently. Along with his Son Jesus Christ, they would be the temple of God, the church. Jesus Christ would be the Head of the Church which makes him part of the church. He would be the Head of the body of Christ which makes him part of the body. So Jesus Christ became the first Brother among many brothers.
Jesus Christ would be the first new Creation, which He has made a reality by paying on the cross for the sins of the world. His blood has made it all possible. It has made all the difference. Jesus did come and He did restore everything and He has made everything a lot better than it was. Christ Jesus changed everything.
Have you ever stood next to a Ferrari idling or experiencing the driver revving it up, let alone driving it yourself? What an amazing sound? What an amazing experience? To hear that powerful engine causing that beautiful car to slightly vibrate because of the sheer power of that engine. Well, the church is like that. The congregation, or two or three getting together or the global church is exactly like that. God in us makes us powerful and able to do anything. Nothing is impossible for us because nothing is impossible to God in us.
When God birthed the church, He had all sorts of imaginations and aspirations and plans for this vibrant living creature called the church. He was thinking about how He would interact with this new creation. How would He influence her and how would He allow this new creation to live and function? God was very excited. He was like a young boy playing with his remote-controlled plane or car. He was like Tony Stark becoming “iron man” by getting himself clothed with the iron costume. And just like Tony Stark, God was able to carry out new and interesting things by doing that.
But the similarities end right here. The church is not a piece of iron, it is a living creature. In the movie, Tone Stark was nothing without that iron body. He had no power or abilities. The robot possessed power. When Tony Stark got himself in that machine, he became powerful and he could do a lot of things that he normally could not do. With the church, it is exactly the opposite. It is God in us that gives us power and abilities that we normally do not have.
So God looked at this new creature and He knew that within the natural realm or the physical world, He would be able to do a lot in and through this wonderful creature called the church. He could move and lead this church to interact with the rest of the visible creation like He never could since Adam and Eve. So God started to put his plans and structures in place.
So how can I move in and through this wonderful creature God asked himself? There never was and never will be another creature quite like this one. She is one body, one person, the bride and wife of the Son, yet she consists of many individuals, the children of God. God knew that this creature will have to be limited in some way. She was not God but still of the same class as God and therefore she will possess a lot of power. If she is not controlled she can do much harm because of the sheer power that she possesses. When God saw what mere men who were not even born of God built that tower, He stopped them. This is what God said about them in Genesis 11:6
And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
One way that God has decided to limit the new creation that He has birthed through the Holy Spirit, was to make his power and abilities work through faith and obedience. So the church or Christians cannot use that power in the wrong way although mankind could still use their own power and abilities in the wrong way.
So if she does not love me or if she is bad, she cannot use the power, God thought. I can also control and guide her by leading her and by requesting her to willfully submitting herself to me. So God made Jesus Christ the Head of this wonderful creature. By doing that He made sure that they can never be separated again. He made them one body, the body of Christ. God also put the Holy Spirit in this creature to lead her. So God has decided that the church will be led by Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
I can live in and through this creature as a corporate body but I can also do it when they are alone or when they get together as a small group. God knew that He could not ignore the physical limitations that this new creature would experience on earth because He has decided to keep her in a physical body. After all, she is living in the physical world with its limitations. This wonderful creature is not omnipresent or omnipotent like He is. Her ability to hear and see and experience life with all its dynamics was and still is extremely limited.
When God functions or moves or works through a person randomly, only a few people will be able to benefit from this. They can only give attention to one person at a time and they will have to be in hearing distance from each other. For this reason, they will have to meet in small groups in the Name of Christ to honor God. They can be two or more or twenty at the most when they gather. So God works in them and through them through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, and this is how He does it:
1 Corinthians 14:26
How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
Please take note of two very important things that this Scripture reveals: The one is “every one of you” suggesting that each person is supposed to be active and supposed to take part when they gather in the Name of God. This is only possible in small groups. The other is that most of the actions in this Scripture suggest that this is the manifestations of the Holy Spirit at work here. It appears that even the “doctrine” might manifest through the Holy Spirit and that it is not an intellectually prepared sermon. What is clear though is that during the gathering, the Holy Spirit is very active and probably according to the desires of Jesus Christ, which is according to the will of the Father.
Jesus Christ only says what He heard the Father say and He only does what He saw the Father do. It is very important to understand that the Godhead is one in spirit and that they are always in unity. They only do what they have seen the Father do. They have always and will always have a consensus in any situation. There will not be a single time that the three of them disagree on something. They always reach consensus on everything because they always carry out the will of the Father. They know the will of the Father and they do the will of the Father. This is what God expects from this new creature as well. Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit will have to teach this creature the will of the Father so that they can know the will of the Father and do the will of the Father.
Many people do not like ministers to use the term manifestation when they speak about the Holy Spirit. Demons manifest in people because of them acting or making themselves known. They do it by speaking or by acting in a certain way. When they do we know that they are present and that they are possessing a specific person. The Holy Spirit is a spirit and in people so this can happen when the Holy Spirit acts or say something as well. However, the Holy Spirit does it in a very gentle way. Not only the Holy Spirit, but Jesus Christ also does manifest in people and so people who see the actions of people know that Christ Jesus is in them by observing the things that these people do. Let us look at a few Scriptures that prove this aspect:
1 Corinthians 12:7
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
2 Corinthians 4:11
For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.
1 Corinthians 12:8-10
8. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9. To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10. To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
1 Corinthians 12:4
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
As you can see, God chose to reveal himself and make himself known to man through the manifestation of Christ and the Holy Spirit in us. When they move or manifest in us, people become aware of that fact, just as it happens with demons but of course differently and divinely.
When the driver revved the Ferrari up we all knew that there is a powerful engine in that car. When the Holy Spirit or Jesus Christ manifest in and through us when we get together then we all know that God is there in our midst.
As I said, God felt that He does not want to act in people like demons do. They do it against the will of people. They like to control people. God already decided to control the church through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit but He would not force them to be controlled by Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. God decided to give people free will. People must have a say in all this. He cannot control them as demons do.
God limited himself by deciding to act in them and through them only when they are willing and only through faith and obedience. So they must want him to act and they must have faith and they must be obedient to him and his word and his will before He acts. There are a few Scriptures that confirm this:
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
1 John 3:22
And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
These two Scriptures prove all the statements that I have just made. People described by these Scriptures are willing and they have faith and they are obedient. So God cannot act and function in them and through them if people are not willing and actively pursuing this. This means that God does not possess people like the devil does. He is a “gentleman” and He is easily grieved when He is offended. God will not act when He is offended. That is why Jesus did not heal the sick people in his home-town.
God even made it impossible for people to prove that it is God in them that does the work. He does not want people to be full of pride and do things in His Name by being able to prove that the person in them is God. He would not even use his own voice like the devil speaking in a man’s voice inside a woman. Everything will have to be in faith. Even when people see a person do things and hear them say things, the only way that they will know it is from God will be ways and means that God has implemented in the church like the discerning of spirits or a word of knowledge or and unction through the Holy Spirit or by just comparing the word of God to whatever way people act in the Name of God.
God will not allow the person to prove that God is in him or his source because that will give such a person undue power and abilities to cause harm in people’s lives. All people will have to be obedient and they need faith to allow God to do everything that He wants to do in and through them.
So God does not operate like demons. He even went one step further; He has decided that He will not initiate any action. He will not move first to get people to move. They must step out in faith and act and only then does He work with them. It does not work the other way round. God will not move until we move in faith. A split second after we move in faith then He moves and He makes everything possible.
We step on that pedal and a split second after we did that Engine revs up and the power is released. This is one of the reasons why people do not speak in tongues. They want God to speak through them so they do not move their lips and tongues and they do not speak in faith. They wait and wait and nothing happens. With God, everything is done in faith. You need to take a step in faith and then God works with you.
So in his Spirit, God saw this group of people inside the living room of the house that they have decided to use for their gathering. He sees them sitting in a circle, gathering around Jesus Christ, waiting for him to reveal Himself. The only living creatures in that room are Jesus Christ, The Holy Spirit, God the Father, and the twenty people that attended the gathering and their angels.
We know that the Holy Spirit is there because 1 Corinthians 14:26 suggests that the way it describes the church to function is impossible without him there. All the gifts and workings of the Holy Spirit are manifestations of the Spirit of God. This is the way God instructed us to gather and we need the Holy Spirit for that purpose so He is definitely there. There are no questions about it.
We know that Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church. The Head cannot be separated from the body, so He is definitely there. He is the Head of the body of Christ so He is definitely there. The Head is where the body is. Together with Christ, we are the temple of God so the Father is definitely there. We are all there, every time. None of them are ever absent.
So Jesus Christ is the “conductor” because He is the Head of the church. We are the “musicians” and so we play the instruments. We cannot play the instruments without the help and power of the Holy Spirit so He starts to move among us. The Holy Spirit gently starts to guide each of us to “play” the “notes” as Jesus wants it to be done. He is the Helper. He knows what Jesus wants and He does what Jesus wants. So the Holy Spirit moves among the members of the congregation.
And suddenly, because of the obedience and attitude and faith and will of the musicians, the music gets better and more beautiful and it slowly builds up to a crescendo. It usually starts very softly and imperfect because the musicians are worn down or occupied with the challenges of the week or troubled and worried. However, as the interaction progresses, the music gets better and in harmony and it becomes beautiful and in sync. Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit slowly but surely gets through to the musicians. They succeed in their efforts which is limited because of the imperfections of the musicians. However, suddenly everything gets a lot better. It sounds like a heavenly song. It is beautiful and it is all done to glorify God the Father who stands there and listens to this wonderful piece of music. It glorifies him and it slowly builds him a throne and at the right moment, when his throne is completed, God the Father ascends his throne and takes his seat in the presence of his family. All the “musicians” in that meeting became aware of the increasingly and wonderful presence of God.
They feel God and they see God with their spiritual eyes and they are in awe. Every problem in life disappears because they became so infused and overwhelmed by the most precious feelings of peace and love and joy. At that moment, they just cannot fear anything or be bothered by anything in life. They are experiencing this awesome powerful God and they just know that everything is alright and will be alright forever because this awesome God is so powerful and nothing can stop him or take him away from them.
The living God became such a reality among them and his presence became so tangible, nobody can deny that the living God is in their midst. How did this happen? It happened because God made it all happen. He was the driving force behind everything. He decided everything and the congregation did what He wanted. So, as Head of the church, as Head of the body and as Head of the temple of God, Jesus glorified his Father. So He decided to do certain things and the Holy Spirit helped him and the people were obedient and this is why this amazing meeting became such a wonderful experience. There was this holy communion taking place. God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and the wife of Christ had the most amazing fellowship possible. There were these wonderful interactions and lives were changed because of people connected to God awesomely and divinely.
God does not visit us. He is always present but it was this obedient willingness of the congregation to allow the Spirit of God to lead them to do what Jesus Christ wanted, which caused them to experience the Holy and almighty God in their midst the way they did.
As most of you have realized, the music in this illustration was only a metaphor although praise and worship are part of this experience. It is actually the gifts of the Spirit and workings of the Spirit that I am referring to. Each prophecy, tongue, interpretation of tongues, psalm, revelation, and doctrine which was birthed in the heart of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit and then allowed to flow through each of the children of God that gathered around Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit helped to build this wonderful atmosphere and experience with God. This is what I am referring to. The “psalm” is the praise and worship although I have seen that a single psalm does this as well. It builds the throne of God and it reveals Christ Jesus there amid the congregation.
Everybody takes part in this. It is like each member putting pieces of a puzzle in place, one by one and random order as Christ, and the Spirit of God leads them. Some fit more pieces of the puzzle but that does not matter. It is all according to the will and move of the Spirit of God and Jesus Christ. The puzzle is Jesus Christ and the puzzle is the throne of God. The puzzle is everything that Jesus Christ wants to do to glorify the Father. Christ initiates or gives birth and the Holy Spirit moves among the members of the congregation to make the will of Christ a reality. Christ Jesus is the source of everything that happens in that meeting.
The crescendo is experiencing Jesus Christ in our midst in all his glory and experiencing God the Father slowly ascending his throne in our midst. Nothing can compare to this. This is the most wonderful experience that any congregation can be part of.
I have once experienced such a glorious meeting. It started slowly but at some point, everybody knew that something amazing was happening. Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit moved among us and the people were obedient and we allowed him to flow through us. Eventually, it moved into praise and worship. It was amazing. Everybody was in awe. We sang one song over and over again for almost an hour. We sang it as loud as we could and it felt that we were going to lift that roof. We were walking in a circle (symbol for unity) and dancing in the Spirit. People began to cry and others began to laugh. I am not talking about the Charismatic Holy laughter. I am talking about natural normal laughing. We became so glad and so joyful, we could not stop. Nobody wanted it to end but unfortunately, it did. However, we were so full of faith and hope and joy and peace after that meeting, it lasted for days but then the challenges of life caused everything to return to normal again. We soon needed another meeting like this again.
Now imagine someone walks in in the middle of such a meeting and holds up his hand and says, “Stop. Stop a moment. Sorry for the disturbance but before you bring that prophecy, sir, come and share it with me first so that I can decide whether you may prophesy.” And so Jesus stops conducting, the Holy Spirit stops working in the hearts of people. The congregation and the man who was about to prophesy are all embarrassed. He walks to this person who is now standing outside the circle. He whispers the prophecy in his ear. The person then signals the man who wanted to prophesy to go and sit down and then he started to teach a doctrine about the gifts of the Spirit and the dangers of using it when we have wrong motives. After the sermon, the meeting was adjourned and everybody went home.
Was the man not supposed to give the prophecy and the congregation supposed to judge the prophecy? The prophecy was not even given and the person who interrupted the meeting judged the prophecy on his own. So he decided for the congregation. Where is the consensus that God gave the congregation?
What a sad day in the life of the church. The day that mankind decided to silence God and the church and to take over the congregation. Every little “Let’s try this…” or “Let us make a new rule…” or “From now on…” destroyed the church as God intended it to be.
How are we supposed to gather? We usually greet everybody and ask about each other’s well-being. We fellowship a bit and then someone makes a few announcements. Then we hand the meeting over to Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit. When we do, it is out of our hands. That means no rules and regulations. No ice-breaker. Not a single method or way of doing things. The congregation just focuses on Christ and the Holy Spirit until someone receives something and the interaction with God begins.
As soon as the congregation is used to this there will not be an awkward moment. Nobody will look for a leader to start the “proceedings”. People do want a leader. But that leader is Jesus Christ. Not another human being. This is what God had in mind for the church. This is how He wants her to function.
Whilst God was pondering on this, He realized that these people will definitely destroy this beautiful thing that He was about to create, exactly as I mentioned just now. God knew that although they would have God in their spirits in his fullness, He knew that individually, they still possess a soul and a body and that they are limited to this physical world. He knew that the flesh is weak and that the flesh stands against the Holy Spirit. So He knew that they will probably do what they want and not what the Spirit of God wants. And then there is another problem. How is He going to teach them how to live and how to serve him? He is in the spiritual realm and they in the physical. So He decided to give them his Word through Christ and He decided to give them the five-fold ministry to teach and equip them. So Christ became the Word of God and God raised people who could show the church his will and his truth.
The five-fold ministry was birthed in the heart of God. They will be his instruments that will make sure that his church lives the right way and that they do what is expected from them. He knew that there would be problem-people in the congregations and people with bad motives. He knew that He would have to put people in place who can monitor them and teach them and show them the way. He knew that He would need people who can look for deviations and who could point the congregations and individuals in the right direction. He knew that He would have to appoint people who could point out when teachings and doctrines are false and when certain actions are wrong.
And just when God was happy with this thought, He suddenly realized that the five-fold ministry would have the same limitations. He knew that some of them will not be obedient and they will influence each other in a bad way. They can act and do things just as wrong as the congregations can. They could cause problems in the congregations and among each other. They could tell them to do things that He did not tell them to do. They could lead his children and the congregations and the church astray. They could steal the people from him and take his place. They could take over the church. And this is when God came up with his master plan.
He decided to protect the one from the other. He decided to give the five-fold ministry no authority over the congregation. He decided to allow the congregations to function without the need for a permanent human overseer. This would mean that Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit stay in control of the meetings. This means that everybody present in a meeting is all on the same level. Nobody is over anybody. They are all just brothers and sisters in Christ and nobody has any say over anybody else. Even when a five-fold minister is present (when he is visiting the congregation for a few days to monitor what they are doing), in the congregation he takes part as a normal member. Whilst the congregation gathers in the Name of God he is not a minister or he does not function as a minister.
It is outside the meetings that the five-fold ministries’ work is done. He can arrange for a special training meeting or he can speak to the members of the congregation whilst they are busy with outreaches. He can do it one-on-one or he can address a group but it is not done during the Sunday gatherings when the congregation gathers in the Name of Christ. When the five-fold minister leaves the congregation, after his visit, the members of the congregation will judge what he has said or taught or requested them to do. So the congregations do not have to do what the five-fold ministers want them to do if they believe that it was not from God or not the right thing to do.
God realized that the five-fold ministry will be mature Christians and that they are supposed to be trusted. He also knew that the congregations would hold them in high esteem. So it will not take much for them to take control of the congregation and to enforce their will upon the congregation. They were given to serve the congregation, not to control the congregation. Well, this did happen in New Testament times. We read about this in 3 John 1:9-12
9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.
10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.
11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.
12 Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true.
Diotrephes was a five-fold minister who did not plant churches and treated the congregations the way he was supposed to. He appointed himself by giving the congregation and its members instructions. He wanted preeminence. He wanted to be in charge. He refused certain things and forbid the congregation to do certain things. This was not the structure that God implemented in the church. Diotrephes misused his ministry and he appointed himself in a position of control. What was supposed to be a mere function became a position. Paul called these evil deeds.
In 2 Corinthians 11:4,19 and 20 we read that Paul was unhappy with another congregation who also allowed similar things to happen in there meetings:
4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
19 For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.
20 For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.
The congregations should not allow the five-fold ministry to put them in bondage. They have the power to make decisions through the consensus process and they can either deny such five-fold ministry members to visit them or they can decide what to accept and what to disregard. These are the defense mechanisms that God has put in place in the church.
2 Corinthians 1:24
Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.
Paul’s letters were always addressed to the congregations. All nine of those letters. He dealt with the congregations. Paul always started his letters with the following phrases: “To all that be in…”, “Unto the church of God which is at…”, “Unto the church of God which is at…with all the saints which are in all…”, “To the congregations of…”, “unto the churches of…”, “To the saints which are at…”, “To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at…”.
And so did Peter and James and all the other apostles. Not a single letter was addressed to church leaders and Paul did not even speak to a single leader in any of his letters and so did the other apostles. Even when churches were in deep trouble because of them backsliding and getting involved in serious sins, like the congregation of Corinth, Paul never talked to leaders. The reason for this was because there were no leaders in the congregations. Only once did Paul ask them to greet the leaders for him, meaning that when they see the leaders that Paul knew were often visiting those congregations, that they must tell them that Paul sends his greetings.
On the other hand, the five-fold ministry did make arrangements among each other to assist the congregations. They were constantly receiving news from the congregations. When they heard of problems or congregations struggling, they did send each other to go and assist such congregations. The five-fold ministry was all itinerant workers. They constantly visited the congregations if they were not planting new congregations. The following Scriptures will give you an indication of how the five-fold ministry liaised with each other to strengthen the congregations and how they helped each other to make their ministries more bearable or a bit more convenient:
For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.
This is Paul requesting Timothy to do a few things in a few congregations in a few cities.
1 Corinthians 4:17
For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.
1 Corinthians 16:10
Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do.
These Scriptures confirm that Paul has sent Timothy to go and strengthen specific congregations and probably another one in the city of Corinth. To ensure that the congregations do accept Timothy, he assured them that Timothy has what it takes to be a blessing to the congregations.
And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.
And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.
So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.
And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.
But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.
1 Thessalonian 3:2
And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith.
2 Timothy 4:9-16
9 Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:
10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.
11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.
12 And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus.
13 The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.
14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:
15 Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.
16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.
These Scriptures suggest that there was a constant movement of the itinerant five-fold ministry. They have sent each other all over the place. Each of them visited quite a few cities and congregations all over Asia and Asia-manor.
It is also clear that even the five-fold ministry had no authority over each other. Everybody was led by Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Let us look at a few Scriptures in this regard:
1 Corinthians 16:12
As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.
In this Scripture, Paul strongly appealed to Apollos to visit the congregations in Corinth because of the bad things that were going on in those congregations but Apollos refused. He felt that he would go at a later time.
2 Corinthians 8:16-17
16 But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.
17 For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you.
Paul did the same with Titus and fortunately for him, Titus also felt that he had to go and so he willingly went to visit the congregations in Corinth.
And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not.
In this Scripture, we see that the disciples prevented Paul to visit specific people. He wanted to but they refused. Paul was also very upset with Peter who acted differently to the gentiles when there were Jews present:
11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
So Paul took on the great Peter in the presence of the whole congregation. That must have been a bit awkward and humiliating for Peter. So as you can see, it is clear that there was not a hierarchical system of authority among the five-fold ministers.
The bottom line is, there is no hierarchical system of authority in the church or in the body of Christ. Jesus Christ is the Head and the rest are all brothers. The church has one leader only. Even the Holy Spirit follows the instructions of Christ. This is how God the Father has decided it to be.
So this first session of this series was to emphasize the fact that what we are used to experience in the church is not what God has implemented in the church. Jesus Christ planted a living organism on this earth that functions completely different than He purposed. Man has fundamentally changed this holy structure that God created. The church is a living creature. The church is a spiritual being. It is a spirit but it has a physical body, which is our flesh. The only thing that is part of the church that we can see with our physical eyes are people. People are the church.
When people gather together in the Name of Christ, no matter where they are, even under a tree, we see the church under that tree. When we see Christians we see the church. They have God in them and God is their source. They have something amazing and powerful in them. That amazing God is not only in them but all around them and everywhere because that divine being is omnipresent and omniscient.
He wants to lead them all and no man can ever move or stand between any of them and their God, especially when they gather around him in a church meeting. This is holy ground. We as human beings cannot interfere when it comes to the way that God has decided we should live and serve him together as the ekklesia of God.
This is why we requested you all to wait. Do not plant house churches yet until you know exactly how God wants you to plant churches. It is holy ground and you must plant churches the way that Jesus Christ did and the way that He has taught the early church to do it.
This is all for today. See you next time when we will proceed to discuss this important topic.