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House Church Manual

 

By Dr. Richard Ing

A MANUAL ON

ESTABLISHING HOUSE CHURCHES FOR THE END TIMES

 INTRODUCTION

             In the year 2000, I was in the Philippines traveling from ocean level Dagupan towards top of the mountain Baguio.  It was around 7:30 a.m., and except for the driver, everyone else was drowsing.  Suddenly, I heard a voice say to me, “I want my church back!”  I sat upright and looked at the others in the taxicab.  All the passengers were asleep.  I realized that God was talking to me.  At first, I thought He was angry and wanted me to give him back His church, but the voice was calm and matter-of-fact, like a friend telling you what is in his heart.  The Holy Spirit began to put thoughts directly into my spirit.  The church is no longer the church God gave us for the first three hundred years.  It has changed drastically in both doctrine and structure.  When the church discarded God’s original design, Christianity changed for the worse.

            God wants His church back - the one He put into action almost 2,000 years ago.  God’s original church was in the form of house churches, and there are definite reasons why God abandoned the earlier “temple worship.”  Each born-again Christian now had the Holy Spirit dwelling in him and had become a king and priest unto God.  Rev. 1:5; Rev. 5:10.

            This Manual studies the reasons God chose houses as assembly places for His Church and explores methods on how to give God back His church.  We will discuss the purposes and benefits of a house church structure, the history of house churches, house churches in anti-Christian countries, and how a modern house church can operate and succeed today.

            Regardless of format or structure, it takes people with the right heart and training, the Holy Spirit’s anointing and leading, and our obedience to His authority that makes any church work.  The proper structure, however, can lead to the attainment of all that God has purposed for us.  Keep in mind, however, that our prime intent is to give God back His true church; not just structure, but also love, obedience, spiritual maturity and all that it stands for.

            Some of the contents of this writing may upset you.  In fact, since there are no perfect churches or saints, it will probably frustrate most of you to some extent.  That is not our intention.  Our intention is to reveal truth.  The truth may make you angry; but it will make you free.  We do not presume that everything contained herein is absolute truth or that we know everything.  For that, you need to seek God.  We are merely trying to present a pattern or foundation for what is to follow.  No doubt, there will be variations that work and different areas will require different things. 


I.  PURPOSES OF THIS STUDY

1.  To prepare for coming revival/harvest and persecution.

            Two things are almost upon us:  (1) worldwide revival/harvest; and (2) persecution/tribulation.  The present church structure is grossly unsuited for either.  In studying great revivals of the past, we find that great numbers of new converts flooded the existing church buildings and they overflowed within a short period.  The established churches could not contain and train the sudden influx and many new converts eventually fell back into the world. 

            The same will be true today if we continue with our institutionalized churches.  (When we speak of revival, we also include harvest.)  The existing buildings and the limited number of trained and ordained pastors will quickly reach capacity.  As Jesus mentioned, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few.”  Mt. 9:37.  In order to accommodate the sudden influx, new and bigger buildings are needed under the present system.  However, it takes great sums of money to build more and bigger structures.  In addition, the time required to plan, design, obtain permits and build cannot keep pace with a revival of the magnitude and speed expected of the last and greatest revival of all time.  In Third World Countries, lack of funds puts such construction out of reach.  Therefore, we need to think of different ways to prepare for revival.

2.  To attain God’s eternal purposes.

            Two eternal purposes and desires have always burned deep in God’s heart:  (A) to have mature sons and daughters like Jesus Christ; and (B) a perfect Church without spot, wrinkle or blemish, that will be the Bride of Christ when He returns.

            The present church structure cannot produce the spiritual maturity God desires of us.  Many churches and denominations continue to deny the existence of the Holy Spirit’s ministry on earth and the saints remain immature and confused.  Pentecostal churches that follow the traditional church structure (large building, professional staff and many members) are also ill fitted to mature the saints.  Most modern churches are program-oriented and focused on filling the building and paying the bills.  For the most part, programs are not designed to bring the saints into spiritual maturity; but rather, to meet their secular needs and desires.  People left on their own to seek spiritual maturity will usually fail and mediocrity passes down the decades.

            There is a need for a church structure that will encourage both spiritual maturity and worldwide evangelism.  In the traditional large church format, people are content with going to church once a week and living as the rest of the world the other six days.  There is no accountability and no need to change.  As a result, we have become a stagnant entertainment center that strives to satisfy the emotional needs of the congregation and little else.  The church leaders have become entertainment managers and performers.  Tithes and offerings are the entry fee into the theatre.  Emotionalism and entertainment have become the primary orientation of most modern Christians.  Intellectualism is the badge of maturity evidenced by a degree from some seminary or Bible college.  There is little or no actual spiritual maturity.  By spiritual maturity, we mean a person who has a close relationship with the Lord, can hear his voice clearly, is filled with love and all the characteristics of God’s heart and the fruit of the Spirit, knows how to allow the Holy Spirit to live his life for him, who has the knowledge and anointing to cast out devils, heal the sick, raise the dead and who is a true servant to all, skillful in not only knowing the Word of God but also ministering the Word, who is humble, submissive and obedient and has much wisdom. This definition is not all-inclusive.

            A larger church (50 more members) does not usually monitor its members and most programs and activities are voluntary.  One can easily hide in the forest, so to speak.  One friend of mine who attended a large church had been on military assignment in another country for five months.  When he returned to his church, no one knew that he had been absent; nor did anyone really care.

            A perfect church not only has perfect members, but a life of its own that is perfect in the sight of God.  Its doctrines and practices are completely biblical and true to the Word.  We have not yet seen such a church these days, although many subjectively think they are the true church of God.  If house churches fit God’s mold of a perfect church, that means that the over-whelming majority of present-day churches are not perfect or anywhere close to it in both structure and practice.

            As it stands today, the modern church is an immature, compromising and fornicating church that has adopted and incorporated many pagan holidays and practices.  It observes the birthday of Tammuz, the sun god of Babylon, whose birthday is December 25 and whose signs are green trees cut out of the forest, decorated with silver and gold and stood upright in houses (Christmas trees).  Jer. 10:1-5.   It celebrates the fertility festival of Ishtar (Easter), the Babylonian goddess of fertility and witchcraft whose signs are colored eggs and chicks.  All the while, it contends that it is Bible believing and true to the Word.  Yet, none of these observances is contained in the original Bible.  See Attachment C.

            The Catholic Church started the habit of incorporating other religions.  They took Hindu and Buddhists prayer beads and called it the Rosary.  They copied the Buddhist tradition of monks, nuns and monasteries and even adopted the shaven heads, clothing (habits), hand postures, celibacy and the worship of dead people (called “saints”).  They adopted many other things such as Lent.  One of the worse things they adopted was the worship of a woman as the supreme deity (Virgin Mary).  This came from Babylonian worship of the mother/child that speaks of a perpetual virgin called the Queen of Heaven (Jer. 44:18-19) and Madonna (Is. 47:5).  The church took many other things from the Babylonian religion, including elaborate temples, an elite priesthood and chanting.  The incorporation of strange religions into Roman Catholicism has been a long-standing practice.  Unfortunately, with Martin Luther broke away from the Roman Catholic Church, he did not reform all things.  Protestant churches, including Pentecostals, continue some of the “abominations” of the Roman Catholic Church. 

            The Church today desire social and political acceptance.  Many church leaders and denominations have either endorsed or joined the Roman Catholic Church’s Ecumenical Movement to form a one-world religion and most have adopted doctrines and practices not taught by the early apostles. See Attachment E.

3.  To produce Overcomers, the End Time Army of God, and the Martyrs.

 

            The Bible is clear that in the end times, there will be a true church that shines like the sun, a man-child army that will be taken up to the throne of God, and martyrs that will testify to the truth in the face of death.  Rev. 12.  Some Bible scholars claim that the woman who is a wonder in heaven, clothed with the sun, wearing a crown of twelve stars, with the moon under her feet (Rev. 12:1-2), is Israel at the time Jesus was born.  They claim that the man-child that was born and taken up to the throne of God to escape the dragon (Rev. 12:5) was Jesus and the martyrs of verse 17 were the original apostles and Christians.   I disagree.

            Roman Catholics claim that the wonder in heaven, clothed with the sun if the Virgin Mary and the Roman Catholic Church.  This is ridiculous. 

            The Book of Revelation is a prophecy, not a history book.  Rev. 1:3; Rev. 4:1.  The events spoken of in Revelation 12 have not yet happened.  The woman, clothed with the sun could not possibly be Israel.  Israel was as corrupt as Sodom and Egypt when Jesus walked the earth (Rev. 11:8).  She was far from being a wonder in heaven (Rev. 12:1).  The man-child is not Jesus.  Jesus defeated the dragon and went back to heaven in victory, not to escape the dragon.  He spoiled principalities and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.  Col. 2:15. Jesus defeated Satan.  The woman is God’s true church of the end times made up of children of light and therefore, it shines like the sun.  The crown of twelve stars represents the twelve tribes of Israel because spiritual Jews (Ro. 2:28-29) and not natural Jews make up the true church.  The moon is under her feet because she has defeated the kingdom of darkness.  She has overcome the Devil by the blood of the Lamb, by the Word of her testimony and loves not her life until the death.  Rev. 12:11.  The man-child is the Army of God that will come back with Jesus on white horses to defeat all evil on the earth in the final battle.  Joel 2:1-11; Is. 13:1-19; Rev. 19:14-21.  The “remnant of her seed” is the martyrs spoken of in Revelation 6 and 11.  Unlike the man-child (taken up to the throne of God) and the woman protected in the wilderness, the remnant of her seed remains unprotected.  The martyrs that give up their lives to honor Jesus receive great rewards in the end.  Rev. 20:4-6.

            Currently, the traditional church structure is unable to produce the true church, the Army of God and the martyrs.  Consequently, God will not allow revival and the persecutions/tribulations soon to follow until He attains His eternal desires or establishes the mechanism to bring it to fruition.  The present church system falls far short. 

 

II.   THE NEED FOR HOUSE CHURCHES

1.  Coming Revival

            The present large-church system (that is - a large congregation in a large building) could never accommodate the great numbers of converts expected in the coming revival.  In a Third World country such as the Philippines, there simply is not enough time to collect funds, purchase properties, plan, and design, obtain permits and construct large buildings to handle a sudden massive influx of converts, even if such funds were readily available.  Millions of converts will come into the kingdom of God within a short span of time and a physical structure able to accommodate large numbers must already be in place.  It is interesting to note that the Great Welsh Revival involved only 180,000 new converts and was over in 18 months.  The Azusa Street Revival was similar in numbers and time.

            Secondly, while some monies will come from America and other foreign countries, there will never be enough available funds at any given time to consider constructing large church buildings and paying many full-time pastors and leaders.  Imagine what would happen if 50% of the Philippines’ population become Christians within three or four years.  That would amount to 43.5 million Christians (latest census reports show that there are 87 million Filipinos).  Currently, only 10% of Filipinos are church-going born-again Christians, or 4.35 million.  That would mean an increase of 39,150,000 members or 1000%.  The current church system would fall apart and many converts would be lost.  There would be an extreme shortage of pastors and other workers and little available money.  Realistically, such funds do not exist now and there are pitifully few available pastors and laborers for the coming harvest.  Most of the current Philippines churches are poverty-stricken, undermanned and ill equipped.  The same is true in many Third World countries and in Eastern Europe.

            This is not to say that no conventional churches will benefit from the coming revival.  Some will, but fall far short of the needs of a full and quick revival.  It is not the Lord’s first or best choice. 

            God is a God of order and sufficiency.  He is not going to move until all the elements necessary for a successful revival are in place.  Why would God trigger off a revival that will result in turning away millions and leave them to flounder around without guidance?  It would be like someone obtaining a million sheep and having only an acre of land on which to house them, only a hundred shepherds to watch over them, and only a hundred bails of hay to feed them. 

            Although we mention the Philippines and other Third World countries, a house church format must also be workable in Western countries.  Indeed, even well financed churches in Western countries will not be able to plan, construct and furnish large church buildings overnight.  It would take more than a few years to do so.  By that time, the harvest would be almost over.

            Churches not prepared for a large and sudden influx of converts will miss out.  This was true during past revivals, especially the Azusa Street Revival.  Various writers report that churches that were not prepared for revival or that resisted the movement, lost their members who left to join the revival effort at other places. They closed their doors, some forever.  Many churches quickly filled and were unprepared to handle the multitudes.  As a result, many new converts went back to the world or quit after a period because there were no facilities or teachers of the Word available to them.

We cannot just pray for revival and not concern ourselves with what will happen when God answers our prayers.  We greatly need a paradigm shift in the way we think and do things.  While we are waiting for God to move, God is waiting for us.

2.  Coming Persecution

            The Bible reveals a massive end-time effort to annihilate all churches of Jesus Christ.  Rev. 13:7; Da. 7:21, 25.  Satan’s beast is going to war against the saints and overcome them.  In Matthew 24:15, Jesus warns us about the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet.  Da. 8:11-14; Da. 9:17-18, 26, 27; Da. 11:31; Da. 12:11.  The Book of Revelation echoes this warning.  Rev. 12:13; Rev. 13:7-8.  Therefore, the Church needs a structure that will enable the saints to survive persecution. 

            History has shown that house churches are the answer to survival during times of persecution.  During the Dark Ages when the Roman Catholic Church was most powerful in Europe, there were a number of underground religious groups that resisted the Catholics, most notably the Anabaptists.  Nevertheless, these “renegade” groups (which were probably closer to the true church than their persecutors) prospered and continued until recent times.

            Many “underground” house churches sprouted and prospered in countries that persecute Christians.  Prime examples in recent times abound in China, the Middle East, Russia, Malaysia and Indonesia.  Small house churches are vital for both revival and survival.  Their mobility, closeness and spiritual maturity allow small flocks to survive and prosper in the midst of intense persecution and oppression. 

            The prophesied “abomination of desolation” will see organized and institutional churches both persecuted and destroyed.  Mt. 24:15.  It is therefore obligatory for us to lay the groundwork for a system of house churches.  Failure to do so will result in countless Christians falling away from the faith (2 Th. 2:3) or killed.  Most who refuse to fall away will be martyred.  Rev. 11:3-11; Rev. 6:11; Rev. 13:15-18.  Revelation 13:7 and Daniel 7:21 and 25 make it clear that Satan’s beast (or one of the horns on the beast) will war against the saints and prevail over them. 

            However, the justification for returning to house churches is not primarily for the purpose of escaping or surviving persecution.  There is much more.  An important reason is the need to grow spiritually.  Either you are a true Christian or you are a spectator.  Either you follow Jesus or you do not.  Today, the behavior of most Christians is contrary to their supposed belief system.  Most are untouched by their Christian beliefs.  As the saying goes, they talk the walk but do not walk the talk.

            Institutional churches encourage it passivity.  The closeness allowed by a small group, however, forces people to be transparent and exposed to the light of God.  They cannot hide in the forest because there are few trees to hide behind in a house church.

            Even in peacetime, house churches were the chosen format.  Within the first three hundred years of the New Testament house church, there were many periods of relative peace during which Christianity enjoyed tolerance and acceptance.  Some of these peaceful interludes lasted over forty years.  During these times, the Church continued to meet in houses and experience great growth in numbers.  House churches greatly facilitate world evangelism.

III. THE PRECEDENT - CHURCH HISTORY

            Archeologists have unearthed over 25,000 documents generated by the church or about the church during the first 325 years A.D.  Not once was any large church structure or building ever mentioned.  In fact, the only reference to a large gathering place was a house that could hold seventy-five worshipers at once. 

            Jesus intended that all saints be kings and priests.  Rev. 1:6; Rev. 5:10.  The elite priesthood of other religions never produced kings and priests.  The priests of Jesus’ day lorded it over the laity and the laity had no say in religious matters.  The system was designed for the elites to rule over the have-nots.  In a sense, most of the people were illiterate and poor.  They could not afford an education or gain social or political position except for a very few exceptional people. 

            Today, almost everyone is literate and comparatively wealthy.  Yet, the elite priesthood system is still in position and as strong as ever.  The negative effects are also still ever-present.  Our institutional churches fail to produce kings and priests unto God.

1.  New Testament House Churches

            The New Testament contains many scriptures that support the finding that the early church was exclusively house churches:

            Ro. 16:5.  “Likewise greet the church that is in their house.  Salute my well beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.”

            1 Co. 16:19.  “The churches of Asia salute you.  Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.”

            Col. 4:15.  “Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.”

            Phm. 1:2.  “And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in thy house.”

            Ac. 2:46.  “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.”

            Ac. 8:3.  “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.”

            1 Co. 1:11.  “For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.”

            1 Co. 1:16.  “And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.”

            1 Co. 16:15.  “I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints).”

            2 Ti. 1:16.  “The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain.”

            2 Ti. 4:19.  “Salute Priscilla and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.”

            The Greek meaning of “house” is “residence” and “family,” but the word “household“ is also defined as “temple.”  (Strong’s Concordance)  By implication, both “house” and “household” can mean the people who worship within the confines of a house as a church, depending on the context within which that word is used.

            Ac. 2:46 says, “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.”   It is obvious that the different house groups all knew one another and ate together freely during times of relative peace.  There was a singleness of heart as they united in doctrine, faith, love and Spirit.  Although they belonged to different house groups, they considered all house groups everywhere to be one large family.  There was perfect familiarity among all saints within an immediate area.  There were no denominations.  At the very beginning, the saints met daily at the temple in an attempt to convince the Pharisees and Sadducees.  However, when persecution started soon thereafter, they met only in houses.  After Chapter 4, the Book of Acts never speaks of Christians meeting at temples.

            With house churches, the mundane became sacred in the sense that it was a privilege to worship in your house and to serve others.  Those who had houses where the saints worshiped were blessed in many ways.  After all, Jesus said that, “. . . whosever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.”  Mt. 20:26-27; Mk. 10:43-44.  However, there is no evidence that houses were transformed into “sacred places” and set aside purely for worship.  These houses continued to be used as residences everyday and were not set aside exclusively for worship. 

2.  The Beginning of Institutionalized Churches

            It was only after 325 A.D., when Emperor Constantine of Rome declared Christianity to be the official state religion that the church began to occupy large pagan-like temples and proceed to copy such temples by building many large church buildings themselves.  The Roman Catholic Church quickly emerged as the dominant church and began to change the form and structure of the church into one that resembled both the Old Testament form of temple worship and pagan religions of the time. Not only did the Roman Catholic Church (hereinafter called “Catholic Church”) adopt pagan buildings, they incorporated many pagan doctrines and practices as well.  Therefore, in order to give God back His church, we need to discard all doctrines and practices not taught by the early apostles.

            When Martin Luther broke away from the Catholic Church in 1517 and formed the Protestant Church, he did not bring reform to all doctrines and practices, or to the physical structure of the church.  Even today, most Protestant churches continue to follow the ritualistic and big-building form of church with its elite priesthood instigated by the Constantine era, and many Catholic observances not found in the Bible (such as Christmas and Easter).  This has resulted in a weak, divided and confused Church.

IV. MODERN ATTEMPTS AT HOUSE CHURCHES

            A number of house church modifications (actually cell groups) seemingly thrive today.  One example is the South Korean church of David Yonggi Cho with about 800,000 members.  Another example is the G-12 concept of cell or house churches successfully used in Brazil and elsewhere and now becoming the prototype of many American independent and some denominational churches.  There are a number of smaller prototypes around the world.  

            Most of these, however, still do not come up to God’s standard for house churches, or any true church, for that matter.  Some revolve around a mother church serving as headquarters and housed in a large structure, with permanent full-time staff and central organization that tightly control the affairs of each house cell group.  This alone pre-empts the Holy Spirit’s right to lead His people.  This is not to say that the house church format used today does not work in terms of growing the local church.  It most certainly can.  However, it will never produce or attain God’s eternal desires for mature sons and daughters and a perfect church.

1.  The Missing Link with Modern House Groups

            A problem with most modern house groups is the absence of proper doctrines and the leading of the Holy Spirit.  There are house groups originating out of Evangelical denominations that do not believe in the ministry of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, casting out of devils or divine healing. While such house groups can meet some of the needs of the people, they are not able to mature the saints spiritually.  You cannot give what you do not have.  Baptist house churches continue to be Baptist in beliefs, practices and doctrines, and so with Presbyterian, Episcopalian house groups or any other denomination or even independents.  Modern house groups can serve the saints slightly, but are ill prepared to mature the saints during times of war (persecution) or to serve as a safety network for survival.

            If we focus on God’s eternal purposes, the true church must depend primarily on the leading of the Holy Spirit and not man.  Even the five-fold ministry is secondary to the daily leading of the Holy Spirit.  Without this feature, even house churches fall short of God’s expectations.

            Modern prototypes have the following deficiencies:  (A) most have wrong doctrines and practices that do not allow spiritual growth; (B) almost all are tightly controlled by a mother church or organization and are not autonomous (since we believe that revival and persecution will lead to almost autonomous conditions, house groups need to learn how to operate on their own with minimum control); (C) most do not teach spiritual warfare, deliverance and inner healing and do not have a vision regarding the maturing of the saints and perfection of the Church; and (D) some are mostly social clubs that are actually the result of anti-leadership or “anti-organized religion.”   The lack of knowledge of deliverance, inner healing, divine healing and raising the dead marks the modern cell groups as spiritually immature and what you do not have or know, you cannot pass on. 

            As in the days of Jeremiah, war is imminent, but the leaders, whether of house groups or large churches, refuse to believe or prepare for it.  Instead, they feed the people a prosperity doctrine.   “For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.”  Jer. 8:11; Jer. 6:14.  One of the features of a true house church is a structure designed to resist war against the saints, both in peacetime and times of persecution and a mindset that believes that war against the saints is imminent.

2.  Varieties of Focus in Modern Types

            There are as many focuses among existing models as there are models themselves.  Some concentrate on family closeness, others on evangelism and still others around common interests.  This in and of itself is not fatal since even in a true house church system each group will tend to have a slightly different complexion.  The problem is one of limited vision.

            As mentioned earlier, the central churches in South Korea strictly control and regulate each cell group.  Most Korean cell leaders are homemakers.  The increase in numbers in Korea has been tremendous over a long stretch of time and although it has its good points, lack of proper doctrines and dependence of the Holy Spirit makes the Korean system of house groups unable to fully mature the saints or give the Holy Spirit the proper forum needed to do so.

            Some house groups are anti-leadership inasmuch as all members are equal and all activities follow a “democratic” form of structure.  Even children have an equal vote as to what activities the group undertakes.  Such groups point out that thousands of historical church documents collected from the first three hundred years hardly mention “pastors,“ and therefore, these groups had no leaders.   They use the title “coordinator” instead of “pastor,” and usually change the coordinator every month or so.

            As mentioned above, we find that most autonomous and “democratic” or “everyone is equal, no one is the leader” groups come out of evangelical denominations such as the Anglican Church, the Baptist Church or the Presbyterian Church and appear to be a reaction to leadership abuses, misuses and past disappointments.  In some cases, a group of disenchanted saints who no longer trust church leadership band together to worship because they no longer find membership in an organized church system palatable.  These groups are just a few, however. 

            The underground house churches in mainland China are probably closer in form and substance to the format we are attempting to establish.  However, at the outset, we must mention that we are not bound by any of the above prototypes and in all probability; the final product will differ from all of the existing models in one way or other.

V.  BASIC REQUIREMENTS

 In view of our belief in coming revival and either parallel persecution or persecution soon to follow, we need to put together a form of house church able to:

            (1) Embrace and maintain proper vision, doctrines and practices;

            (2) Be self-perpetuating;

            (3) Duplicate itself easily;

            (4) Mature the saints quickly and resist heresy at the same time;

            (5) Foster accountability in connection with other house groups in the area or to a consortium of house group leaders closely linked by geography who meet informally from time to time (some current house group leaders meet at least once a week; others meet at the mother church for instruction); 

            (6) Allow unswerving loyalty to the teachings of the Bible despite forced autonomy during times of persecution and perhaps isolation;

            (7) Be accountable to collective leadership in each area, preferably a “five-fold ministry” team, or a team of similarly constructed mature Christian leaders responsible for the area in which they minister, all the while being otherwise mostly autonomous or self-governing;

            (8) Provide an atmosphere that allows close relationships among the saints and a means to help one another;

            (9) Make available a mobile system or underground network that will allow the saints to escape persecution and attempts to shut them down when the time comes.

            In addition, a house church must meet the following tests:  (A) if the mother church were eliminated, could it continue to exist and flourish?  (B) Does it meet the standard set in the Book of Acts for house churches? (D) Can it reproduce it self exactly?  (E) Can it survive persecution?

            In Third World countries, including the Philippines, money for church activities is hard to come by for the most part.  Most bigger churches are funded by outside sources.  Therefore, house groups should not be centered on money and there should be no attempt to beautify or make sacred a meeting place.  The meeting place should be someone’s house.  It does not necessarily have to be the house of the leader, although this is preferable in most cases.  Sometimes a qualified leader does not own his house or circumstances make it difficult if not impossible to meet in the leader’s house, such as during times of persecution.  Therefore, it may be advisable to meet at the houses of other members or with other house churches outside the area occasionally, regardless of circumstances, to prepare for persecution or other conditions that require it.  Occasionally, the meeting place could be an office, garage or similar site.

            Meeting in houses automatically requires that the members of that household serve other saints.  Therefore, the leader and his wife must be people of love and service.  That is why Paul required that a bishop be hospitable.  1 Ti. 3:2. Food and other items should be brought by all the members, thereby sharing the burdens of running a house church.  Other members can come earlier to help clean up and prepare for a meeting of the saints.  The experience of being a servant is available to all.

1.  The Need for Proper Vision, Doctrines and Practices

            Proper vision, doctrines and church practices are mandatory.  This relates to the purity of the Church.  A house church system with wrong doctrines will not mature the saints and bring them into truth, as many such doctrines are conducive to passivity and false expectations.  Modern doctrines not taught by the early apostles are very suspect and we reject most of them, if not all.  The Bible warns us not to accept any doctrine or practice not taught by the early apostles who laid the foundations of the Church.  2 Co. 11:3,4; Gal. 1:8; 2 Ti. 4:1; Titus 1:9,10,11,13; Jude 3.  See Attachment E. 

            We reject the following doctrines and practices, to-wit:

            Pre-tribulation Rapture Doctrine

            The Name of Satan is Lucifer and Satan is a fallen archangel

            The Holy Spirit is No Longer on Earth and there are no miracles

            Once Saved, Always Saved

            Christmas, Easter and Halloween

            Christians Cannot Have Demons

            Many Other Practices Adopted From Other Religions

            “Modern Doctrines” such as Dispensationalism, Third Wave, Manifest Sons of God, Prosperity Doctrine, Latter Rain, Dominion, etc.

(a)  The End Time Army of God

            Most churches are preaching, “Peace, peace” as in the days of Jeremiah.  Jer. 8:11; Jer. 6:14.  (One of the definitions of “peace” is “prosperity.”)  But, there is war!  The modern version is the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Doctrine that teaches that there will be no tribulation for Christians.  This is a false doctrine.  See Attachment A.  An all-out war against the church is near and there will be no rapture before the Great Tribulation.  Instead, God is raising up an army for the end times.  Joel 2:1-11; Is. 13.  Everything in the Bible regarding the clash between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the Devil will take place. 

            God desires mature sons and daughters and in the end times, they will manifest as the “overcomers, the remnant, the martyrs and the army of God.”  These mature sons and daughters will likely be the only ones left at the end.  All the immature ones will fall away from the faith.  2 Th. 2:3; Rev. 12.  Doing good works, etc. are not necessarily signs of spiritual maturity.  Even fasting and much prayer do not necessarily mean spiritual maturity.  God looks to the hearts and reins (intestines, insides) of men and not to external accomplishments.  Jer. 17:9,10; Rev. 2:23.  Love, submission, humility, obedience, faith and other fruit of the Spirit can be planted in one’s heart in a short time.  On the other hand, one may be a Christian for a long time, know the Bible well, fast and pray all the time, do many good works and still have a heart controlled by self-ambition and interest.  Proper vision and Christian living is vital.

            Persecution will push new converts into a purer form of Christianity quicker than peace would.  Perhaps that is why the prophet Amos said, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed….”  Am. 9:13.  The latter shall come before the former.  Those who come into the kingdom at the end of the age are more likely to quickly mature spiritually compared to those who entered into the kingdom earlier during times of peace.  Persecution pressures one to depend on the Holy Spirit and to mature spiritually.  The pleasures of the flesh will be the least thing of interest for those who want to make it through.  That is why tribulation is necessary for purification.

            Of course, house churches can be just as “religious” as institutional churches with big buildings and a CEO in charge.  We can be spectators by choice and refuse to carry our cross, or be like tailgaters at a football game who come to enjoy the fellowship, the food and the emotions, but are never in the game.  True, the house church format does make it more difficult to tailgate, but one can still pretend.  Commitment is required in any case.

            There could be abuses with too much freedom, tolerance and lack of accountability that can lead to cults or groups that are doing much good works, but not enough to allow spiritual growth in the members.  At the other end of the spectrum, we can have too much charismatic spiritualism and not enough evangelizing and works.  Still another danger is the commune or Christian community syndrome where members form a group and isolate themselves from the world as a means of “sanctification” or as a form of elitism - a kind of fortress mentality.

            In mainland China, the house church movement has been accused by some as being no more than cults.  Upon closer inspection, however, the Chinese house churches are closer to the first century churches.  Regardless of fifty years of isolation from the rest of the world, they have proliferated and there were over 60 million born-again Christians in China when the “bamboo curtain” fell and Westerners entered China again.  Now, estimates are that there are over 100 million born-again Christians in underground house churches.

2.  Self Perpetuation - evangelism and multiplication

            By “self-perpetuation”, we mean the ability to pass on to each house group the same doctrines, practices, visions and goals.  Duplication in terms of dividing and multiplying does not necessarily perpetuate these ideals.

            Because of the size of the living room, the maximum number of members will usually be around 20 to 40.  (We actually stuffed over 60 saints in a living room when we ministered in mainland China.)  When the maximum number is reached, it should be mandatory that the group divide into two groups of 10 to 20 each.  The group must not attempt to obtain larger quarters outside of homes.  This would defeat the purpose of having house groups in the first place.  As each house group divides, both the original and the new group are encouraged to bring others into the group.  This assures that new converts will constantly be added to the house church and this will provide new experiences and foster new relationships among the saints.  During revival, new members will come in almost automatically.

            Keep in mind that the conventional, institutionalize church is inward in focus.  Evangelism is designed to enhance the mother or central church and new converts are directed inward towards the central denomination or organization.  In a house church system, evangelism is like concentric circles emanating outward from the originating church.  The circles fan out into the world and produce concentric circles of their own.  World evangelism is the vision.

            It is obvious that some training of potential house leaders must take place.  However, the greatest asset should be love and willingness to serve.  We will discuss training later.

            In order to allow self-perpetuation to occur, each house church leader must have the same vision regarding dividing and multiplying.  Self-serving leaders will tend to hold on to the sheep they have in order to have the biggest house group in the area.  This can cause much harm to the saints and the church at large.  It must not go back to the institutionalized church.  Each house church pastor must know the reasons why and be willing to divide and multiply.

            Evangelism must be of prime intention and concern for each house church.  If a house church does not evangelize, it is almost useless to the kingdom of God.  Each house church should reach capacity and divide into two house groups every six months or so.  If a house church fails to do so, disband it and assign its members to other house churches in the area.  During revival, there will be little difficulty in evangelizing since the Holy Spirit will draw many people into the kingdom with or without human assistance.  Before revival, however, the central group must monitor and encourage evangelism.  At some point in time, revival or otherwise, the central group may not be able to monitor each house church because of the sheer numbers of house churches.   At this point, a second “central group” is formed to handle the additional churches.  Other central groups designed to handle house churches within a certain region are formed as new house churches emerge

            A vibrant church must divide and multiply.  Otherwise, it will become introverted and stagnant.  When a house church becomes stagnant, it is better to disband it and assign members to more vibrant groups than to allow them to become satisfied with their lack of zeal and maturity.  Maturity, be definition, includes the deep desire to share the gospel.

            Members should ideally come from the immediate neighborhood.  In America, the automobile makes it possible to attend church many miles away.  However, this would make things difficult during times of persecution.  A church with members spread out all over the area would have difficulty in communicating, traveling, hiding from enemies, moving as group, networking and other things needed to resist and survive persecution.  The members would have a more difficult time helping each other.  Therefore, we recommend that all members come from the surrounding neighborhood.

3.  Duplication

            Duplication is not the same as perpetuation.  The physical format may be identical, but the character of the group can differ in a negative way.  Some leaders may have a personal agenda and a need to control others.  One must guard against leaders who may become cult leaders and renegades who teach strange doctrines and follow a different path. This was a problem in the early church too as antichrist spirits already existed.  Guard against cults and renegade groups.   The “trueness” or purity of the former group must be carefully duplicated and temptations to divert denied.

            Checks and balances, accountability and reporting procedures should be required in order to keep and maintain a healthy spiritual atmosphere in line with Bible scriptures and the format of the early church.  Therefore, the process of choosing new house group leaders must be as foolproof as possible.  Any person with self-ambition is disqualified.  A person who thinks that he is special and chosen by God to be an apostle, etc., is also disqualified.  Such persons are too ambitious and are often tempted to manipulate the sheep for his own glory.  During peaceful times, such renegades are not as dangerous as during times of persecution, but a person with selfish motives is more likely to abandon the sheep in times of danger than one who truly loves the sheep.  One is a hireling, while the other is in the mold of the Good Shepherd.  Then again, in times of persecution, the self-promoters will automatically disappear.  It would be too dangerous for hirelings to stick around.

            While house groups are autonomous in terms of internal affairs, there is a need to guard against straying groups - not because of any desire to control or manipulate, but for fear that anti-Christ spirits will enter and cause irreparable damage.  Choosing the right leaders is vital.

            Keep in mind that Christ is the head of the Church.  There should be absolutely no attempt to duplicate for any other purpose other than giving God back His church

4. Maturing the saints

            The emphasis should be on nurturing, not just filling the building and concen-trating on size.  Maturing of the saints is an on-going task.  The house leader must be sufficiently mature and have the anointing of God on him/her, apt to teach and must have some ability to guide the saints on their respective paths to maturity.  1 Ti. 3:2.

            Maturity is a relative thing for some.  Evangelicals tend to think of maturity as intellectual knowledge, especially of the Bible, and an ability to spout scriptures freely.  Taken alone, it would take years for one to attain such levels of knowledge.  We see such striving to achieve scholastic excellence in our Bible colleges and degree-producing institutions.  Obviously, this should not be the focus of a house group because of time restrictions and other limitations, such as the availability of teaching materials and teachers.  Even at the present time, existing house churches continue to favor leaders with credentials in the natural.  This may lead to a soulish congregation because of a reliance on natural abilities and accomplishments.  This position also limits maturity to those who are highly educated.  This smacks of the days when Jesus walked the earth and the Pharisees and Sadducees were the elite priesthood.  The Bible, however, shows that most of the disciples were unlearned and house church leaders were unlearned people.

            Intellectual growth cannot be expected from those who have not received a level of education that would enable them to pursue intellectual knowledge of the Bible.  A farmer who only went to fourth grade is limited in his ability to become intellectual.             Spiritual maturity, however, does not require mental excellence.  It is mostly a matter of the heart and can be gained overnight. The book Lilies Amongst Thorns relates many stories of new converts who laid their lives down for the sake of the Gospel less than 24 hours after receiving the Lord.  In one case, young missionaries preached the gospel in a remote village one day and many came to the Lord.  The officials heard about it and sent police to apprehend the missionaries.  Knowing the nefarious intent of the police, a crowd of new converts surrounded the missionaries.  The police began shooting and clubbing the new Christians.  Many died or were gravely injured, but the missionaries escaped unharmed.  What was it that so changed the hearts of these new converts in less than a day, so that they were willing to lay their lives down for their brethren? 

            This writer knows a Christian who once attended an evangelical church.  She informed me that she and a group of mature saints met for lunch every Tuesday.  They no longer attended church because they knew the Bible as well as the pastor and they spent their time on volunteer work.  Yet, none of these “mature” saints could speak in tongues, cast out devils, intercede for others, heal the sick, raise the dead or have visions, dreams, prophecies, word of knowledge, word of wisdom or other gifts of the Spirit.  They were a proud, intellectual bunch and the love, gentleness, and other fruit of the Spirit were absent.  They were purely intellectual.  None was born again of the Spirit.  Yet, they considered themselves mature Christians.  This is symptomatic of the sad condition of the Church today.

            Spiritual growth should be the aim of all saints.  It involves matters of the heart and spirit.  The fruit of the Spirit are no doubt, more desirable than good works according to God’s viewpoint.  While the Bible does talk about the need to study the Word, it also speaks volumes about the fruit of the Spirit.  Gal. 5:22.  The two are interrelated in the sense that much is learned about God by studying the Bible.  However, it is also clear that the deeper mysteries and understandings of God and Christianity can come only by divine revelation and actual change of heart comes mostly through trials and sufferings. 

            Surely, the fruit of the Spirit marks a true Christian.  Therefore, spiritual growth should be the main concentration.  Bible scriptures and knowledge must go hand in hand with spiritual growth.  Otherwise, the chaste Bride, the true church of Jesus Christ, will never become a reality.  As the apostle Paul said in 2 Ti. 3:7, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

            The minimizing of spiritual growth and the return to temple worship with its professional priesthood has plagued the church since 325 A.D.  For the most part, both the gifts and fruit of the Spirit have been lost or discarded in favor of intellectual knowledge of the Bible and cheap imitations or false appearances.  Bible colleges and theological seminaries have proliferated and possession of a higher college degree has become the badge of maturity in evangelical and some Pentecostal circles.  Without the Spirit, there can be little spiritual growth or meaningful and permanent change of heart.  Obviously, the paramount focus of each house group should be spiritual maturity, which should include both the gifts and the fruit of the Spirit.

            Once, this writer was praying and asking God about why the church is in such trouble today in terms of immaturity.  Suddenly, I had a vision.  I saw the yellow pages of a telephone directory.  A forefinger pointed to the upper right hand corner where there was a word.  As the word came into focus, the letters spelled the word “APPEARANCES.”  God began to speak right into my spirit.  The church is more concerned with false appearances, facades, pretenses and make believe than in true holiness, righteousness and spiritual maturity.  Saints use key words such as, “God spoke to me,” “God told me,” “God showed me,” “The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart,” etc., in order to create an aura of maturity and sometimes to control and manipulate others.  Most often, it is their own thoughts and ideas.  They just want you to think that they are mature in Christ and worthy of admiration.  Others quote scripture continually and even correct the pastor or teacher in an effort to show that they are anointed.  It is a sham.

            We are aware also that born-again, Spirit-filled Christians are often obsessed with the gifts of the Spirit, including prophesying, visions, dreams, praise and worship, and so forth, but are short on evangelizing and service to others.  It reminds me of a dream that one of our members had.  In the dream, the woman was in a large room filled with other Christians.  The praise and worship was wonderful and people were prophesying all over the place.  A young man ran up to her and said excitedly, “Isn’t it wonderful?  The Holy Spirit is here!”  After a while, the music died down a little and the young man ran up to her again and said, “We have to sing harder!  The Holy Spirit is going away!”  The saints whipped themselves into a frenzy of praise the worship.  Suddenly, she heard a knock on the door.  She opened the door and there was Jesus standing with a dead lamb in his hands.  His eyes were both sad and angry.  He said, “That’s now what I died for!  That’s not what I died for!”  He then turned around and jumped on a large white horse.  Just before he galloped off, he turned about and said once more, “That’s not what I died for!”

            In the second part of the dream, she saw a few Christians in a forest clearing.  There was a long line of people coming to the Lord and another long line where people were being prayed for and healed of various diseases. 

            The next night, a young man had a dream in which he found himself in an old plantation setting.  In front of him was an old, run-down house that had a new coat of  yellow paint on it.  The strange thing was that the house had no windows and the door was shut tight.  When he put his ear to the walls, he could hear Christian music.  He turned around to look at the front yard.  It was huge and there were furrows as if the land had once been plowed and prepared for planting.  But, the large garden was filled with weeds.  End of dream.

            Jesus is telling us that the church has become introverted and is no longer planting seed on the mission field as they once did.  They are preoccupied with building castles at home and uninterested in preaching the gospel to all nations.

5.  Accountability

            Pure autonomy is not desirable unless circumstances dictate it.  House churches need to be accountable to others - to other house churches in the area, to the five-fold ministry and other recognized itinerant teachers of the faith and/or to a consortium of house group leaders in the area.  Acts 2:34 says that the saints broke bread from house to house, eating their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.  This indicates that there was an atmosphere of open-ness with all other house groups and they mingled with each other in unity of heart and love.  There was much sharing of food and possessions.  Although there were many house groups, there was only one Church, one body of Christ. 

            During times of persecution, these groups continued to work with one another and were not isolated.  When this writer ministered in the underground churches in mainland China, he found that many house groups were represented at his meetings, some as far away as two hours by train.  They all had one heart and knew each other well.  This shows great accountability and love for one another.  Even during times of persecution, the saints managed to maintain accountability and close relationships within a broad geographic range.  Although eleven of their pastors were hiding from the authorities, all house groups were intact and functioning.  All risked arrest and imprisonment if caught, yet all continued to worship openly and to fellowship whenever they could.

6.  Loyalty to the Bible - Avoiding Heresy

            During the peak of revival, laborers will be few and possess less training than at slower times.  There will likely be a loss of contact with other groups and/or the central headquarters for the area.  In the first century after our Lord returned to heaven, Jerusalem became the headquarters for the Jewish-Christian community, while Antioch became the headquarters for the Gentile Christians.  We know that Peter, who ministered to the Jews worked out of Jerusalem and Paul, who ministered to the Gentiles, worked out of Antioch.  We do not know to what extent there were other sub-centers, but it would appear that other geographic centers were necessary and probable.

            When persecution came, the Christians were scattered all over the earth.  This had the effect of spreading the gospel abroad quicker than otherwise.  Ac. 8:1.  However, during times of persecution, house groups will tend to disconnect with one another, especially where the authorities are arresting any house group caught assembling. .  We note that Saul (who later became the apostle Paul) “made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.”  Ac. 8:8.  It is clear that the Christians met in houses in his day.

            Underground churches will move around in order to escape apprehension, and this may result in isolation.  This is another reason why ultimate autonomy or self-government is a necessary characteristic of house groups during times of persecution.  Within the forced autonomy, however, there must be accountability wherever possible.  In a spiritual sense, if all house groups are looking to Christ for leadership, there is complete unity with all other house groups.  Christ is the head of the body and the body is comprised of all true house groups.  If all look to the head as they are supposed to, the head will coordinate all activities.

            Isolation and lack of teaching materials or persons mature enough to impart truth can result in distortions of scripture and lead the flock astray.  That is one reason why there must be a consistent and correct system that will help house groups retain the truth even in times of isolation and persecution.  Keep in mind that a house church system is not the ultimate goal.  The ultimate goal is to produce a true church.

             This is also the reason why leadership must focus on spiritual maturity.  One who can receive from the Lord during times of danger must lead the less gifted sheep.  In the early church, spirits of antichrist and spurious leaders already caused damage to the Church.  It will be a fact, given the nature of man, but should be avoided wherever possible.

            In Communist China, there were very few Bibles and some Christians never owned or even saw a Bible.  However, whenever the saints were able to find a Bible, they would take it apart and assign each member a number of pages to duplicate by hand - say, ten copies of each page.  When everyone completed his/her assignment, all the pages are compiled.   Eventually, everyone in the house group had a complete Bible.  This shows a dedication to the truths contained in the Bible and an unswerving loyalty to the teachings passed down by the apostles.

            Watchman Nee once commented that he was often pleasantly surprised when he went to remote villages where most of the Christians were illiterate.  He found that many, especially housewives, knew the Bible better than educated saints because they relied on the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, reliance on the Holy Spirit is a prime requirement in each house group.

            In China, brave people went underground to preach the gospel in prohibited areas of the country, risking imprisonment, torture and death.  These traveling saints kept information and pure teachings flowing through the underground movement.  Many of these itinerant preachers were young people in their teens or early twenties.  Nevertheless, they were well versed in scriptures and the ways of God.  We can only trust the Lord and give Him back His church so that He can lead the saints and fulfill His eternal purposes during the days to come.  No planning or strategies devised by men can do the job.  Our job is to trust and obey God.

7.  Collective Leadership

            At the outset, some system of accountability to collective leadership should be established.  Accountability infers that independent, outside groups or persons are able to observe, receive reports about or be called upon to provide checks and balances and render assistance and counseling.  Initially, a central church could act as the core to which all house groups must report and submit.  As house groups proliferate however, this may be difficult because of geographical restraints.  In an urban center such as a large city, however, it is possible to contact and monitor many saints by creating regional training centers subject to the central church, at least in peaceful times.  David Yonggi Cho’s church in Seoul, Korea is an example. 

            There are situations that will make such a peacetime system impractical.  One such situation can occur when the sprawl of house groups extends too far out geographically or is too scattered to enable people to move about freely.  An example would be a large rural or agricultural area where houses are often located many miles from any urban center or other houses.  Cagayan, in northern Luzon, for instance, is remote and spread out.  Farmhouses can be miles apart from each other and villages are no more than three or four stores or houses in a cluster.  Constant communications or physical contacts are difficult and minimal.  Poor farmers will not likely travel twenty miles to attend a leadership meeting in the big city.  Yet, these are the very ones who need help and training. 

            One possible answer is to have a central headquarters wherever possible and traveling representatives where it is not possible or difficult.  I believe that the five-fold ministry, especially the apostles, filled the gaps in the first three hundred years.  They were God’s traveling ambassadors and representatives to the Church, wherever the Church may be and wherever house groups may be located.  That is why the Bible records that Paul’s four known travels lasted for years in some instances.  He maintained contact with major groups in central locations such as in the cities, and with more remote church groups.  Wherever he went, he trained, laid hands on and ordained leaders.   At the same time, he suffered much in order to carry out his responsibilities.  2 Co. 11:23-27.  The Bible indicates that many Christians were constantly traveling and in touch with house churches all over the then-known world.  Paul was not the only one.

            In the times to come, young, energetic Christians will play a major role.

            Although house groups are largely autonomous in terms of being self-governing, they should always be accountable to outside church leaders.  That is one of the reasons why I believe that God will restore the five-fold ministry.  There has to be unity, purity of doctrines and accountability.

            At the very least, and especially in rural areas, attempts should be made to form a consortium of sorts, which should include all the house group leaders in that particular area.  Such a consortium could be as little as two leaders and as large as hundreds, but no house group leader can afford to be isolated and non-accountable.  Periodic meetings should be held whenever possible.  During times of persecution, a system of communication should be in place.  This requires that all nerve centers be in touch with and have close personal relations with one another.  A network of central control groups is necessary.  In mainland China, for instance, the underground churches often had elaborate methods of communicating with other groups.  If a house group is driven out of their homes and communities, they would have other house churches to go to for protection and sustenance.  Closeness among house groups must be fostered in such times and should be nurtured even in peaceful times.  No house group should be intentionally independent and isolated from other house groups.

            As mentioned earlier, when this writer visited mainland China , eleven house group leaders were in hiding because the government had confiscated a computer containing all the names of the local leaders.  Each group, however, was intact and we were able to minister to every one of them.  They simply moved out of danger together.  They all knew one another and other leaders stepped in to fill the void.  That is God’s intention.

8.  Central Church and Five-Fold Ministry

            In times of relative peace, a central headquarters or church maintains contact and provides training for house church pastors and potential leaders.  This must take place on a continual basis.  In David Yonggi Cho’s church in Seoul, Korea, training goes on almost daily in the central building in the middle of the city.  In outside areas, training also goes on every week in churches and headquarters for each region in the city.  This training should start right away and even before forming house groups. A perpetual stream of trained leaders is necessary.

            As the house groups begin to spread outward geographically, the centers of training will also extend outward.  In the chain of command or organizational chart, there will inevitably be ever-larger levels of training - from the central church at the top to the regional training centers next below, to the sub-regional training centers below that and so forth.

            Five-fold ministry teams will become vital, even during peacetime.  These teams will help monitor and train leaders in every region, from top to bottom.  Such teams will be the glue that will keep house groups sane and on the right path.  Five-fold ministry teams will be even more vital in agricultural or remote areas where house group leaders cannot afford either the time or expense to travel to urban areas for training.

            During times of persecution and hardship, these five-fold ministry teams will play an important role in keeping the body of Christ intact, encouraging and protecting the flock.  We note, however, that local pastors are the mainstay of the local churches and do most of the daily governing.

            Only God can appoint and anoint five-fold ministers.  At the present time, there are no apostles, prophets and evangelists in the mold of the first century apostles, prophets and evangelists.  For one thing, there are no real “teams” as described in the Bible and no Christians functioning in the fullness of the gifts and power of the Holy Ghost as we see in the Book of Acts.  Ac. 5:12-16.  Some may be doing one or more aspect of the work of an apostle, mostly in the planting of churches, but cannot be truly equal to an apostle in the mold of Peter, John, Paul, etc., where miracles, signs and wonders were wrought by the apostles daily.  Ac. 4:33.  Modern-day prophets and evangelists are mostly individual ministries and not part of a team consisting of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers working to expand and perfect God’s kingdom on earth.  Can there be an apostle who is not recognized by the body of Christ at large?  At most, he or she is an apostle only to their particular group or denomination.

            Mature spiritual leaders are necessary.  Although the format and physical structure of a house church can be emulated, the true success of the house group is the presence and leading of the Holy Spirit.  Leaders must be Spirit-filled, at the very least, and able to hear from the Lord.  During persecution, many saints will be deceived and fall away from the faith, even some who are Spirit-filled.  Da. 11:33, 35.  When it comes to people who are not Spirit-filled, whether they be evangelicals, Pentecostals, Catholics or Christian cults, they will not be able to survive the extreme pressures of persecution and will fall away.  In the end, only Spirit-filled groups will make it through, although not all.  2 Th. 2:3; Da. 11:35.

9.  Relationships in the local house church

            The way to know if someone has the fruit of the Spirit is through his/her relationships with others.  What a person has in his/her heart is quickly exposed, as relationships are fostered and nurtured.  The house church format is uniquely suited to this process since one cannot easily hide behind the trees in a small garden as one can in a large forest.  The small size of a house group allows everyone to know all the others more or less intimately.  In a large church, people can hide behind the crowds of people. 

            In a born-again, Spirit-filled church, the leader must be more spiritually advanced than the other sheep in the flock and can “hear from God.”  It is obvious that the spiritual ones should lead the less spiritual ones.  Certainly, such leaders should not “lord it over” the others, but abuses of leadership should not scuttle God’s plan of delegated spiritual authority.   The apostle Paul laid down specific requirements for an elder or bishop in 1Timothy 3, in order to distinguish the less spiritual from the spiritual leaders of God’s sheep, and the more qualified from the unqualified or less qualified.

            In the end times, knowledge of spiritual warfare, deliverance and inner healing, along with gifts of healing, prophecy, and other gifts of the Spirit will become very important.  The “everyone is equal” approach does not allow the teaching of discipline, submission and obedience to spiritual authority.  In Joel 2:7-8, we find that the army of God is very precise in its placement of the saints:  “... they shall march everyone on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks: neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path….”   This indicates that there are ranks and different positions in God’s army.   Everyone has his own placement and walk and no one should try to usurp the position or try to walk in someone else’s position or path. 

            Each house group should emphasize love and service to one another.  This will be crucial during times of persecution.  An atmosphere conducive to encouraging close relationships among the members should be encouraged.  As mentioned earlier, the saints daily shared bread from house to house gladly and with singleness of heart.  The leader must be a person of love and trust since members tend to follow the leader.  Some are more sociable than others are and others may have more knowledge and natural leadership abilities, but the one characteristic that must be present in each leader is love and spiritual maturity.  The qualifications set out in 1 Timothy 3 should be adhered to. 

            One of the ways to encourage closeness is in the area of service and helps.  Each member should be willing to come to the assistance of every other member wherever and whenever possible. 

            In the early church, the members sold their possessions and gave it to the apostles to distribute as they saw fit.  Ac. 2:44-47; 4:34-35.  There was such a concern for all saints that people willingly gave their life savings and possessions to the church.    However, this is not a mandatory requirement.  There should be, however, an attitude of genuine and deep concern for one another out of love.  As the Bible says, we need to share the burdens of others, sorrow when one sorrows and rejoice when one rejoices.

            It is obvious that the first step in establishing a viable house church is to bond with one another.  Once the members and leaders bond together, the next step is to build the house church system.  Without bonding, the effort becomes one-sided, with the leader standing alone at times and no one else desiring to support and uphold the vision of the church.  Therefore, dedicate the first two months to knowing one another and bonding through daily activities.  That third step is to multiply.  Again, multiplication is difficult if only the pastor is interested in growth. 

            House church life is different from traditional church life.  It is much closer and active.  People visit every day sometimes and the people learn to work together as a team.  Everyone has a singleness of mind and desire.  Every member must contribute to the life of the house church.

(a)  Personality problems

            Personality problems will crop up in house groups as persons with spirits of rejection, Jezebel and other related spirits may attempt to control or manipulate the group.  Occasionally, its own members betray a group.  Strong but sympathetic leaders are necessary and a good knowledge of deliverance and inner healing is very helpful.  Wisdom will become important where personality problems arise.  There is no way of preparing for everything that may come your way and leaders will have to rely on the Holy Spirit.  In a real sense, relationships often bring stress, disagreements, arguments, and other problems.  This is natural as God has designed trials to perfect us.  There are almost always personal problems and friction whenever there are numbers of people in small or large groups.  It is said that when David went to fight Goliath, he picked up five smooth stones out of the brook to use with his slingshot.  1 Sa. 17:40.  He killed Goliath with one of them.  The five stones symbolize the five-fold ministry and also a “finishing” or maturing of the saints.  In order to become smooth, the stones went through a lot of bumping against one another throughout the years.  One cannot be perfected in a monastery or cave; one becomes a finished product in the outside world after years of learning how to love and forgive others.

            On the other hand, there should be as much training as possible with each succeeding wave of leaders.  If training is to be had, preparation must begin now.  Tracts, articles, tapes, books and sermons should be published in bulk, in preparation for huge numbers of converts and the need for teaching materials.  We will address this aspect later.

10.  Mobility

            Each house group should become so intertwined among the membership and so close in relationships that people who are forced to move away from their houses during times of persecution, would be automatically and naturally welcomed to stay at the houses of other members.  That is one of the reasons why the relationships with other house groups, even in outside areas should be fostered and vigorously pursued.  Divided we fall; united we stand!   There may well be a time when all the house groups in one area will be closed down by the coming one-world government.  Shutting down a house or meeting site is not the same as shutting down a house church of saints.  A church is not a house; it is people.  Shut down a house and the church will move to another location.

            The saints should be encouraged to open their homes for meetings. Meetings do not have to be restricted to the house of the leader.  House groups can also join other house groups for meetings wherever practicable.

VI.  OTHER CONCERNS

A.  Group Leadership

            As mentioned earlier, certain groups do not believe or support the idea of spiritual authority in which there are leaders who must be submitted to and obeyed.  Some house groups are arranged around a democratic type of autocratic local structure.  That is, everything is voted upon by all the members and no one particular person is the permanent leader.  A person is chosen each week or month to lead the flock and no one person can lead the house group down a particular path without the consensus of all.  The proponents of such groups cite the fact that of the 25,000 written records generated during the first three hundred years of the Church, very little is mentioned of “pastors” and “bishops.” They conclude that there were no church “leaders” per se and everyone was a leader.  This is faulty reasoning as other titles may have been used and neither is there mention of a doctrine of “everyone is a leader” or “no leaders” or “leader for the week.”

            This author disagrees with that theory on several grounds:  (1) the Bible clearly delineates bishops, shepherds and elders and people possessing certain characteristics and having particular responsibilities.  As Oswald Sanders says in his book entitled Spiritual Leadership, whenever a group comes together, the cream will invariably rise to the top and one or more persons will be natural leaders through gifting, abilities or otherwise.  Even in a group that claims that everyone is equal, one or two will end up being “more equal” than others.  (2) Taken as a whole, where there are no leaders, there are no authorities or responsibilities.  Where no one is responsible, the group stagnates.  To say that everyone is responsible is not realistic since some will always become more responsible than others.  (3) Where there are no acknowledged spiritual authorities, there is no need for submission or obedience and although it sounds people-friendly and democratic, no one will learn true humility and obedience.  To say that everybody is responsible still does not answer the question of whether there are spiritual authorities in the universe created by God that need to be obeyed.

            Some groups that profess to have no leaders are more social than spiritual.  It is understandable that those who see their house group as a social group find no need for a leader and more need for a coordinator instead.  These are usually evangelical groups that find no need for “spiritual” authorities since they do not believe in spiritual things anyway.  They reject any paternal authority even in the families that make up part of their group, choosing instead to allow the children to have an equal vote with their parents and others in the group, in connection with the activities of the group as a whole.

            A number of these groups reject leadership over them because of past abuses by church leaders.  However, abusive authorities who misuse spiritual authority should not negate God’s principles on spiritual authority and His governmental system.  A police officer who abuses his position should not result in the elimination of all law enforcement bodies or the police department.  This is not to say that leaders should be dictators in any way.  Our Lord explained in Matthew 20:25-27,

                        Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.

Certainly, every house church leader needs to lead according to the principles laid down by our Lord.  There are no dictators in God’s kingdom, but there are shepherds who are willing to lay their lives down for the sheep.  We are after a strong, vibrant church able to stand up against tremendous persecution and attacks from the enemy and that will not fall away in the face of death and extreme pressure.

B.  Deliverance and Inner Healing

            Deliverance and inner healing should be a vital part of house group practices.  There are a number of reasons for this:  (1) initiating and maintaining revival may be dependent on binding up the ruler spirits over the area of the house group; (2) Satan and his demonic kingdom will war against the saints in the end times (Rev. 13:7; Da. 7:21, 25); (3) God is looking for His end time army (Joel 2:1-11); and (4) individuals within the group need to be cleansed of all filthiness and uncleanness.

            Often, the root of personality and relational problems is demons.  The spirit of rejection twists and distorts personalities because of the need to be loved and admired.  Unknowingly, people create responses to others through that ugly spirit.  An angry person most likely is a rejected person with unforgiveness.  Knowledge of deliverance and inner healing will greatly facilitate bonding.

            Another reason is the amount of spiritual maturity needed to conduct deliverance and inner healing.  One leads to the other.  The ability to conduct deliverance and inner healing may not necessarily require one to be totally mature spiritually, but it does demand a higher degree.  Conversely, if one continues in deliverance and inner healing, his gift of discernment, wisdom and so forth will be sharpened.  Often angels appear at a deliverance session and one learns to depend on the Holy Spirit for revelation.  Spiritual ears and eyes are opened more acutely in the process.

C.  Titles and Positions

            There is no elite priesthood and each house group leader is the same as any other member, except that God has chosen him and given him spiritual authority to lead and feed the sheep.  However, since there is a need to identify the leader, we will choose a title for his position. 

            The New Testament uses the word “pastor” only once and only in reference to the five-fold ministry.  In the Old Testament, “pastor” or “pastors” is used eight times.  The door is open for other titles.  However, in order to avoid confusion, since the title “pastor” has been used for centuries, it is convenient to continue to refer to house church leaders as “pastors.“  Again, the word “overseer” is used only once in the New Testament and twelve times in the Old Testament.  It actually refers to elders and bishops.  Ac. 20:28. 

            The Greek definition of “overseer” is:  “a superintendent, i.e. Chr. Officer in gen. Charge of a (or the) church (lit. or fig.): - bishop, overseer.”  Strong’s Concordance #1985.  The use of the word “overseer” is much more general and can refer to households, tribes, and other groups.  The title “bishop” is being used by some denominations and churches to delineate a higher title than pastor.  As stated, however, we favor the continued use of the title “pastor” since this title brings immediate recognition and understanding to the modern mind. 

D.  Working Leaders

            There is no requirement that a house group leader be compensated or given a monthly stipend for his/her work.  In fact, the Bible indicates that house group leaders had secular jobs.  Aquilla and Pricilla were tent makers and the Bible points out that the apostle Paul participated in tent making when he stayed with them.  Ac. 18:3.  Each house group leader should have his/her own occupation outside of the church.  However, some upper echelon leaders may be given a salary where they are working full-time by necessity for the church during the day and traveling or otherwise occupied in church work most of the time.  Some “hybrid” situations may be in order where the house church pastor is paid something every month and also works outside of the church.  One supplements the other.

            The elimination of large church groups and buildings does away with the need for full-time clergy to maintain a large membership and buildings.  Minimal administrative duties are required in a house church format and no monies are required to pay for church maintenance.  During times of revival, it will be no different since each house will be limited in size.  Large sums of money are not required.  Pastors can support themselves.  We realize that this may create a problem with pastors and church workers who are already receiving salaries.  There may be circumstances where a group can contribute to the income of a leader or even a member where the need arises.  However, the house church format does not make it essential.

            This is not to say that tithes, offerings and sacrifices are suspended.  On the contrary, the saints are commanded by God to tithe.  The tithes and offerings, however, are not diverted to a building fund, salaries or equipment purchases.  Instead, they can be used directly for evangelizing and other expenses in expanding the kingdom of God.

            During times of persecution and during the abomination of desolation (Mt. 24:15), large churches will find it extremely difficult or impossible to survive.  Their members will be in hiding and income to maintain the large-church operation will shrink dramatically.   Foreclosures and legal actions will ensue.  According to the book of Daniel, the apparent church will be destroyed.  Of course, even house groups will be forced into hiding.  House churches, however, will not struggle to make ends meet.  It will be either business as usual or time to flee.

E.  Names of Groups

            Following the Bible example, there were no names given to house groups.  At most, groups were known by the name of the house owner or leader - the church at the house of ______ at _________, is often used in the Bible.  Some promote the use of only the Church of Jesus Christ at ____________.  However, since there may be more than one house church in the area, it would be more exact to say, “The Church of Jesus Christ at the house of __________________, at ________________.”

VII.  EVENTUAL AUTONOMY

            As is experienced with house churches in mainland China, each group will eventually operate almost autonomously.  This is made mandatory because of circumstances:  (1) the difficulty of moving around during martial law; (2) the need to go underground; (3) house-to-house searching by the government and the need to be on the move to escape detection.  Of course, this is the most extreme stage but one which is inevitable.  As previously shared, when this writer was ministering in mainland China a few years back, many leaders were in hiding and the government was conducting intense investigations and searches. 

            Several things are somewhat apparent when researching the history of the early church.  First, although house groups were autonomous, they were in close communication with one another and underground churches devised a system whereby fugitives and visitors were hidden, fed, clothed and protected.  A communication system was created and the saints drew closer together by necessity.  Resources were pooled and became a common source for churches in the area with particular needs.  A more modern example is found during World War II, when the French underground was famous for its ability to smuggle allied troops to safety after they were shot down behind enemy lines or escaped from enemy prison camps.  There was an underground network in the midst of the enemy.

            Persecution causes the saints to draw closer to the Lord and dependence on the Holy Spirit will become an utter necessity.  In China, the Holy Spirit is given free rein and many wonderful stories of miracles have surfaced.  God’s true church emerged out of the chaos and oppression and out of the blood, prayers and tears of the saints.   Persecution brings out the noblest in the saints and draws them closer to the first century church in heart, thought and deed. 

            It has been said that when the Bamboo Curtain was finally lifted after over fifty years, Christian missionaries anxious to minister in China, thought that the church in China was devoid of any understanding of the Bible and probably spiritually impoverished.  To their utter surprise, the underground house churches in China were even more spiritually advanced than their counterparts in other parts of the world.

            We should be unafraid of the seeming autonomy to come and view it as not so much people being uncontrolled and independent, running around like chickens without  heads; but rather being led almost entirely by the Holy Ghost.  We need to trust God that when He initially put the New Testament church together, He knew what He was doing.    Our job is to prepare and train the leaders to become spiritually mature, to provide training aids that they can pass down to other potential leaders, and allow the Holy Spirit to move and direct each house group.

VIII.  CONDUCTING THE HOUSE MEETING AND OTHER CONCERNS

            There are many possible scenarios.  The Bible indicates that the house churches of the first century not only had Holy Communion, but ate entire meals together, going house to house.  Their meetings were also held during week nights since having daily dinners obviously included more than Sundays.  A number of things are implied:  (a) the saints were excited and desired fellowship; (b) house groups intermingled with other house groups; (c) everyone in a given area knew one another; (d) people shared their resources; and (e) there was much love and unity to go around.  Ac. 2:44; 4:32.

            The important thing is to allow the Holy Spirit to lead the meeting and all activities.  There is a time for praise and worship through singing (although not completely necessary), for corporate and individual prayer, for sharing and giving testimonies and lessons.  Teaching is important also, along with ministering to the members’ needs.  The proper mix is dictated by the Holy Spirit with no set routine or structure.  Each member should come to a meeting prepared to take an active role by participating at each gathering. This is the vital ingredient of an “open” church.  Of course, new members need to be trained and given proper amounts of time to feel comfortable.  As they absorb knowledge and begin to move in the Spirit, their roles enlarge.

            Preparation and cleanup is a group effort.  No prima donnas can sit by idly while others work or serve them.  Constant training of interns and potential leaders by each pastor continues.  Evangelism is a necessary activity during both revival and times of persecution.  As the group reaches capacity, plans to divide into two groups are put into effect.  This may take place sooner than expected; therefore, training of potential leaders must be both continuous and quick. 

            There are many other factors and things that can be discussed, but should be left to the training centers or Holy Spirit; such as, how to conduct evangelism, different kinds of services, preparation for survival, networking, counseling, bonding, handling of tithes and offerings, and so forth.  However, we trust the Holy Spirit to guide each group.

            We discuss other concerns in Attachment M.

IX.   RECOMMENDED COURSE OF ACTION

            Before embarking on a house church course, determine God’s timing.  There is little doubt intellectually that this is the proper direction, but seek the Lord for His timing and strategy.  At each step along the way, pray and ask God for wisdom and guidance.  Seeking His will is a never-ending endeavor.

            On June 24, 2004, during prayer time, one of our intercessors had a number of visions.  In the first vision, he saw our vocational training center in the Philippines.  There was no roof on it and every time furniture was moved in, a whirlwind swept it away.  No one was inhabiting the center.  He then saw our Bible college and it was empty.  Then, he saw our mission house and it was all boarded up and empty.  Next, he saw our sanctuary and breathed a sigh of relief when he saw people there.  However, they were not there to worship God.  They were socializing around square tables and talking.  Lastly, he saw a huge and beautiful church with large columns.  When he looked closely, he saw that the columns were comprised of many single-family dwellings or houses. 

            I believe that God is showing us that there will be a time when the organized churches will be made illegal - the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet.  Mt. 24:15.  The empty vocational training center, the empty Bible college, the boarded up mission house and a sanctuary taken over by the Gentiles speaks of the abomination of desolation when worship of Jesus (sacrifice and oblation) will cease.  But, the true church of Jesus Christ will not only survive but will prosper in the light and presence of God through house churches.  House churches will make up the true Church in the end times, just as they did during the first three hundred years of existence.  The vision is a confirmation. 

1.  Implementing the Plan to Institute House Churches

            Before the house church concept can be successfully implemented, a number of stages must first be accomplished.

Stage One

            Paradigm Shift in Attitude.  There must be a paradigm shift in attitudes and intent. Leadership must abandon old attitudes of “temple“ worship and programs geared to fill the building. There may be some members who will resist change or who will not agree. Consequently, teaching and training the congregation is necessary to change their minds.  Once it is determined that house churches are indeed what God wants, educate the congregation, including the staff and members, and keep them informed about each step so that misunderstandings are eliminated.  Solicit input from the saints to create an atmosphere of partnership and gain additional insight.  Once the membership is adequately informed, and agreement is established regarding the need to implement the plan, the next step can be implemented.  Invite other trusted pastors and Christians to share their thoughts about house churches and if they agree with it, allow them to take part in preparations.

            Have the prayer base of the church pray that all members will catch and spread the vision.  Pray that a wave of enthusiasm will sweep the church.  Throughout the process, pray that the Holy Spirit will lead and take over each house church.

Stage Two

            Training and transition.  Institute a program to train house group leaders and even five-fold ministry.  Not everyone who volunteers will be qualified, however.  Qualifications should be clearly understood, as found in 1 Timothy, Chapter 3.  Love and humility must be prime characteristics of a house church leader.  All persons with personal ambitions and self-glorifying agendas should be eliminated.  Pride and carnal minds are dangerous to the house church concept, especially during times of stress and persecution.  Unity and obedience to spiritual authority must be encouraged and developed.  Self-proclaimed pastors and apostles, and the like, are too prideful and rebellious to teach submission, humility and obedience. 

            All qualified members should submit to training.  This is based on the supposition that during a revival, every soul will be recruited to teach and lead, although not necessarily as a pastor.  During the Azusa Street and Welsh Revivals, it is reported that even brand new Christians had to be used after minimum training because of the great numbers of new converts.  Indeed, the fields are ripe for harvest, but the laborers are few.

            However, it is wise to start with people who are known leaders and innovators and who are zealous.  Every house church pastor should be gifted in pasturing and nurturing members.  They should be apt to teach and also to train successors and other house church pastors-to-be.  A house church pastor must be evangelistic in heart.  If he/she is not particularly skillful, he needs to be an encourager, at the very least.

Stage Three

            Outlines and publications.  Existing teaching outlines need to be streamlined and shortened.  Current outlines and manuals are too voluminous and intended for use in a Bible college where an entire semester or modules of three months’ duration could be devoted to each subject.  The six foundational truths and other subjects such as Spiritual Authority must be taught within a period of three months or less, assuming training sessions two or three times a week.  In addition, put together audio and video tapes, manuals, tracts and other publications to form a training kit that can be used in the Philippines and everywhere in the world to produce, at the very minimum, a Spirit-filled saint well on the way to maturity. 

            A training kit that can be reproduced and distributed to the four corners of the earth is highly desirable, notwithstanding the need to translate and other modifications.

            These training aids should be published on a continual basis and accumulated while there is time to do so.  They will serve as the basis of sound doctrine during revival and persecution.  In China, such publications were precious and few and the saints laboriously copied them by hand and distributed them surreptitiously.

Stage Four

            Initial Training Center.  Establish a central training center to which others can come to be trained. Theoretically, each currently-existing church desiring to change their church structure to house churches, can serve as an initial central training center.  If the movement succeeds, open other training centers according to need.  At the outset, set up a monitoring system whereby each house church leader reports weekly as to the goings on in his/her particular group.  Traveling representatives can visit each church from time to time.  The central group must eventually grow as the house churches multiply.  Consider appointing five Regional Leaders, each with jurisdiction over five Zone Leaders.  In turn, each Zone Leader will have five District Leaders under him/her and each District Leader will have five Area Leaders under him/her.  Each Area Leader will have five house church pastors under him/her.  In declining order, the following would be the organizational breakdown:

            Regional

            Zone

            District

            Area

            House Churches

            Formulate report sheets for every level to use to report to the next higher level every week.  These reports will help monitor and guide the house churches.  One recommendation is to use computers and e-mails where possible or available.  The house churches in the book of Acts did not find a need to report because the five-fold ministry kept a close eye on them. 

            One important consideration will be the tithes and offerings.  In America, the federal and state governments require that a church organization apply for a tax exemption that allows churches to receive tithes and offerings without being taxed by the government.  It also allows a tax payer to obtain a deduction for his donations. The application process is a legal one and quite involved.  Requiring each individual house church to apply for its own exemption would be difficult and expensive.  It is recommended that each house church deposit its tithes and offerings with the central training center (“CTC”) each week.  The CTC will pass the tithes and offerings through its bank accounts and books. The central training center should, of course, be tax exempt.  Ten percent (10%) of all tithes and offerings should go to the CTC to fund its activities, since the CTC does not have “members.”  As the regional house churches grow outward, the CTC will incur additional expenses in monitoring, training and sending out teachers and five-fold ministry. 

            The CTC must then weekly return the remaining 90% to the house churches.  This could be done in two fashions:  (1) the CTC can have the right to re-distribute the monies where the CTC leaders determine are best in order to take care of the needs of poorer house churches, or where extra monies are needed to cover certain expenses; or (2) to immediately give the 90% back to the house church where it originated once the amounts are deposited and recorded in the CTC‘s books of account.  Giving the CTC leaders the right to re-distribute the tithes and offerings is biblical since the early saints sold their houses and gave all the proceeds to the apostles to distribute according to their sole discretion.  It was used successfully in Fiji where the author ministered for a number of years. 

            In countries that do not have such tax requirements, it would still be wise to pass the tithes and offerings through the CTC because of the need to fund the CTC.  One other method is to have each house church give 10% of its weekly collection to the CTC and keep the rest.

            Training must eventually include other outside church leaders who want to initiate their own house churches.  A word of caution must be understood at this juncture.  There should not be competing house group systems in the sense of different doctrines and focus.  The house group format could also be abused and used by cults, evangelicals and even Roman Catholics.  The format itself is just a structure.  The real purpose is to produce a true church in doctrine, practice, power and heart and we must strive to protect the truth vigorously.  In this regard, we do not encourage the inclusion of denominational churches into the house church system.  This will bring quick confusion and division.  It is unlikely that denominational churches, both evangelical and Pentecostal, will ever give up their pet doctrines and denominational beliefs.  It is the author’s experience that whenever there are denominations present, arguments ensue and the meetings end with division.

            We are clear that we do not presently have all truth.  However, we can at least clear the playing field and allow the Holy Spirit to determine truth.

            In recent years, it is reported that denominational missionaries from the West have invaded the underground house church system in mainland China and established their own brand of church doctrines and practices.  As a result, the once-pure house church system is being divided and confused.  House churches have begun competing against one another and even fighting.  In one recent case (year 2005), several saints in one house church  killed others in another house church and the Communist government has labeled all Christians as criminals of society.  Consequently, persecution increased.

            While it is probable that there will be renegade religious groups who will take advantage of any revival/harvest and steal innocent sheep, we need to bring as many outside churches in line with the vision God has given us.  Minor variations may be acceptable, but major fluctuations should be avoided.  Most important is that everyone is willing to work together and not claim exclusive ownership to any flock of sheep or attempt to add to their particular denomination or church.  This may be somewhat tricky in view of the fact that we are not trying to create a denomination but rather, desire to give God back His true church.  In a real sense, our lack or disinterest in controlling others will release the Holy Spirit to do His work.  After all, it is His church. 

            We need to perpetually train teachers who will, in turn, train house group leaders outside of the central headquarters.  These teachers will initially roam around to train house group leaders in the areas where they live.  We do not expect each house church leader to be completely mature, but he/she must be willing, flexible and teachable.              Perhaps this is the meaning of the two visions we received about many people coming out of our training center cheerfully waving a piece of paper in their hands.  In the other vision, a huge angel was standing over our mission house with a piece of paper in his hand.  These two visions were received on the same night.  Graduates would be entitled to receive a number of training kits to distribute in their ministry areas.

            In connection with doctrines and practices, we remain open to receive the opinions of others.   We pray that the days of Jeremiah the prophet will not be duplicated.  In the Book of Jeremiah, there was a great revival going on in Judah.  The temples were filled to capacity and coffers overflowed with money.  However, the prophets prophesied falsely and the priests bear rule by their own means.  The people loved it.  Jer. 5:31.  They were covetous of one another.  Jer. 8:10.  The priests did some good, but they misled the people, saying, “Peace, peace; when there is no peace.”  Jer. 8:11.  Another word for “peace” is “prosperity.”  In spite of the great revival, God was angry at His people because they refused to seek Him and continued to worship strange gods.  “Notwith-standing the Lord turned not from the fierceness of His great wrath, wherewith His anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked Him withal.”  2 Ki. 23:26.  God allowed the Babylonians to destroy His people and temples.  How ironic that the Book of Revelations talks about Babylon the Great ruling in the end times.

Stage Five

            Establishing Other Training Centers.  Ultimately, if the house church concept proliferates, we need to be prepared to establish other training centers in different areas.  These regional centers can be built around existing and known churches and leaders in the area who have come to accept the concept, including doctrines, spiritual authority and policies established by the central headquarters.  In other words, we do not need to construct new buildings.  We can use existing church partners and their facilities.  In fact, if we gain partners in other areas, we can train them and let them train others. 

            These outlying centers must work very closely with the central training center and the central training center must be willing to send out representatives to teach and train leaders in the various regional training centers.  These workers must be willing to spend weeks and perhaps months in outlying areas in order to launch training centers all over the country.  Because of the dire need for more workers, we need to recruit outside pastors.

Stage Six 

            Turn over all ministry to the house churches.  Let your church staff gradually fit into their positions as trainers of house church pastors.  Each house church should be autonomous in terms of ministering to its members.  However, each house church must be in constant contact and relationship with each other.  Local pastors are responsible for their own members; subject, however, to monitoring and guiding through the central training center and visiting five-fold ministers.

2.  Other Considerations

            There are other considerations that run parallel to and perhaps repeat some of the above:

            1.  Bibles, tracts, study outlines, books, newsletters should be prepared.

            2.  Training courses should be created and prepared.  Teachers must be trained to provide the training.

            3.  Equipment that will aid in the proliferation of written materials should be purchased, such as printing and copying machines, stocks of paper, binding materials, etc.

            4.  Various books on specific subjects should be collected and disseminated.  Such books as some of Watchman Nee’s books on The Normal Christian Life and Spiritual Authority should be mandatory reading.

            5.  Due to the shortness of time in which to train new converts, an effort should be made to condense many teaching outlines.

            6.  Have the leaders pray together and ask God to begin to purify and consecrate the leadership group in preparation for greater service and even five-fold ministry.  When we see the power that was given to the apostles in the Book of Acts start returning, we will know that the time is ripe for revival/harvest and all that will follow.  Rev. 11:3.

            7.  Ultimately, we should be able to step back and the house church system or structure will continue on without further change or input from us.  It should be self-perpetuating and in complete control of the Holy Spirit.

            8.  In America, there are strict zoning and land use requirements.  Some cities do not allow churches in residential areas unless there is ample parking and setbacks from the main street.  In Hawaii, for example, you cannot have a church building less than 120 feet from the main road.  To avoid legal and neighborhood problems, services should be avoid unnecessary confrontations with neighbors by parking away from the house being used. That is also one reason why the members of a house church should come from the immediately neighborhood.  The best is to recruit all the adjacent neighbors.


 X.  CONCLUSIONS

             God wants His Church back.  Ever since 325 A.D., it has been twisted, distorted, bent out of shape and invaded by the Devil.  Martin Luther started the church back to its true condition in terms of some basic beliefs and doctrines, but the work was incomplete.  Almost all Protestant churches, including Pentecostal/Charismatic churches still carry a bastardized form of church structure, conceived by the devil and fed by the carnal minds of men who desire to control and manipulate the saints in order to build their own kingdoms. 

            What God endeavored to do was take us away from the archaic temple system of the Old Testament and give us a church that would allow the Holy Spirit to move mightily in the life of every saint.  In effect, the body of Christ was to have only one head and an elite priesthood was not necessary.  He has made all Christians kings and priests. Rev. 1:6; Rev. 5:10.  To bring that forth, the Holy Spirit put it in the hearts of the fathers of the first century church to form small house groups.  These house churches allowed everyone to participate and be touched by the Spirit.  Anyone with a love for God and the brethren and who knew how to flow with the Holy Spirit could be a pastor.  No one could hide in a crowd.  The saints forged close relationships and no one could be an island by himself.  The leaders who owned homes were required to serve those who came to their house to worship.  The Lord’s supper was not just crackers and juice; it was a full-course dinner and the saints would go from house to house to break bread.  Each would bring his/her own food if possible.  This implies a closeness of the members.  One week it would be held at one house and the next week at another house or even on a daily basis.  Hospitality was a must.  There was no need for copious amounts of money to build a large sanctuary.  When the group became too large for the house to accommodate everybody, another house group would be formed.  The original house group would then continue to find new members and the new house church would do likewise.  New leaders would be trained continuously with the idea that each qualified trainee would eventually be the overseer of his or her own group.  Worldwide evangelism was the focus of each house church and was made possible by the simple house church format.  There was no educational requirement and no Bible colleges or theological seminaries to attend.  In a house church format, no college degrees are necessary and there is no elite priesthood.  Anyone with love for God, a relationship with Jesus, knowledge of the Bible and compassion for people can be a pastor.

            In our public schools we insist that there be no more than twenty students for one teacher and an assistant.  We know that good education and training allow no more than twenty in a class.  The same thing is true with churches.  Any group bigger than twenty or so will bring less favorable results.  With the need to quickly train new converts within a short period of time, small house groups would be optimal.  God already knew that.

            God also knew that persecution would come sooner or later and house churches would be best suited to provide the closeness and trust each member must have in the others.  Small groups require that every member contribute time and effort to the group and a servant’s heart could grow in a small group setting. 

            Even in the U.S. military, the leaders are beginning to recognize that smaller, faster mobile units that are able to strike and respond to any situation quickly, would be more efficient and powerful than a large and cumbersome group of soldiers dependent on big and constant supply sources, complex lines of communication and large pieces of equipment to transport entire battalions. 

            We need to give God back His original church.

 XI.  APPENDICES

                 The following attachments have been added in order to expand on certain topics alluded above:

 ATTACHMENT A - PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE DOCTRINE DEBUNKED

 ATTACHMENT B - WHO IS LUCIFER?

 ATTACHMENT C - CHRISTMAS AND EASTER - BABYLONIAN PRACTICES

 ATTACHMENT D - DELIVERANCE AND INNER HEALING

 ATTACHMENT E - APOSTACY - STATE OF THE CHURCH TODAY

 ATTACHMENT F - FIVE-FOLD MINISTRY

 ATTACHMENT G - CHURCH LEADERSHIP

 ATTACHMENT H - REVIVAL AND PERSECUTION

 ATTACHMENT I - THE NORMAL CHRISTIAN LIFE

 ATTACHMENT J - SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY

 ATTACHMENT K - DIPLOMAS/CERTIFICATES

 ATTACHMENT L - STATEMENT OF FAITH

 ATTACHMENT M - TRAINING CENTERS AND OTHER THINGS

 ATTACHMENT N - OPEN FORMAT FOR MEETINGS AND SERVICES

 ATTACHMENT O - THE FALSE VERSUS THE TRUE GOSPEL OF SALVATION

ATTACHMENT A

PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE DOCTRINE

            There is no doubt that Jesus will return to earth in a second coming at the end of the age.  I Thessalonians 4:16-17 says:

                        For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

I Corinthians 15:52 says, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”  Every “rapture” doctrine hangs on these two passages. 

            These two scriptures, however, say nothing about when Jesus will return.

HISTORY OF THE RAPTURE DOCTRINE

            The idea that Jesus will return before tribulation was derived from a vision given to  Margaret MacDonald in 1830.  It was a complex vision and some individuals (notably John Darby, who was excommunicated for his position) promoted the idea that the vision means that the Lord would take His people out of the world to escape tribulation.  It is not a doctrine of the early church. The word “rapture” is not found in the Bible, but is immaterial.  Is it true that Jesus will return to take His people out of the world before tribulation?

HERMENEUTICS

            Hermeneutics is the science or art of interpretation, and in this case, the Bible.  There are at least several accepted methods: Literal, conservative, allegorical, etc.  However, we do not need to explore any of these if we can agree to the following: 

            1.  A direct scripture is one intended by the writer to answer the particular issue or question at hand.  It is the strongest evidence and inviolate unless there is another direct scripture that contradicts it. 

            2.  An indirect scripture is one that is not intended by the writer to answer that particular question.  No indirect scripture can overturn or neutralize a direct scripture.  It is “out of context” because it was not intended to answer the question at hand, and therefore, inapplicable.

            The same rule is used in every court of law in order to determine truth.  No direct evidence can be overturned by indirect or circumstantial evidence.  For instance, if a witness at the scene of a murder saw A shoot B, no testimony that A was a good guy or gentle or kind or that A couldn’t hurt a fly can overturn the direct testimony.  It doesn’t apply.  Scriptures do not apply if they do not specifically address the question being asked, or was not intended to.  In law, it is known as mere “dictum” and not applicable to the question being asked.

DIRECT SCRIPTURES

            There are at least three direct scriptures and one close to being direct, that say that Jesus is coming after tribulation.  Matthew 24:29-31 says,

                        Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.  (Underlining added)

Matthew 13:39 (parable of the wheat and tares) says, “...the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.”  The gathering of His elect comes after tribulation.   We are aware that some writers make a distinction between the Day of the Lord and the period after the “Great Tribulation,” and so forth.  Since we are merely establishing the truth that Jesus will not return before tribulation starts, we will not be concerned with what happens after tribulation aside from His return.

            Mark 13:24-27 says,

                        But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.  And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.  And then shall He send His angels, and shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the heaven.  (Underlining added)

            Luke 23:25-27 says,

                        And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.  And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  (Underlining added)

These are direct scriptures were intended to tell us when Jesus will return - after tribulation.  The powers of heaven shall be shaken after the tribulation according to Matthew 24:29 and Mark 13:24.

            There is one other passage which directly implies that Jesus will return after the tribulation. Revelation 20:4 says, 

                        And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Underlining added)

John saw those who had been beheaded by Satan’s beast during tribulation.  They had come back to life and were sitting on thrones.  Verse 5 then says, “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.  This is the first resurrection.”  (Underlining added)

            We know that when Jesus comes back the graves will be opened “... and the dead in Christ will rise first....”  I Thessalonians 4:16.  If the resurrection of the martyrs who died during tribulation is the first resurrection, then Jesus could not come back before tribulation because the martyrs in Revelation 20 would not have been killed yet.

            All the above scriptures were intended to answer the question: When will Jesus come back?  Therefore, they are relevant, material and direct.  Unless there are direct scriptures that say, “Before the tribulation, shall the Son of man appear in the clouds....,” the above scriptures cannot be overturned.  No logic, reasons or implications can overrule those scriptures. 

            We have found absolutely no direct scriptures that say that Jesus is coming back before tribulation.

OTHER DIRECT SCRIPTURES

            There are other scriptures that speak of the time when the Lord Jesus Christ will return to earth.  Although direct scriptures, they do not refer specifically to tribulation; that is, before or after tribulation.  But, they do address the question of when Jesus will come from heaven back to earth.  Those scriptures all say that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father in heaven where He will reign until all His enemies are made His footstool (destroyed).  Then He will return.  Hebrews 10:12,13 says, “But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting til His enemies be made His footstool.”  The Amplified Bible puts it this way, “...Then to wait until His enemies should be made a stool beneath His feet.”   Jesus will sit at the right hand of the Father in heaven until all His enemies are destroyed.  I Corinthians 15:25,26 says, “For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet.  The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”   See also, Ac. 2:34; Heb. 1:13; Mt. 22:44; Lk. 20:42 and Mk. 12:36. The reference to “footstool” refers to the custom of placing one’s feet on the necks of your defeated foes to signify victory over them.  Jos. 10:24.

            Jesus will not return until His people on earth have conquered Satan’s demonic kingdom - the enemies of Jesus and His people.  It is not to say that Satan’s kingdom must be totally annihilated first, but that there is a people of God that will grow into such spiritual maturity that they are able to and will destroy Satan’s kingdom.  Revelation 19:14-21 speaks of Jesus coming back with His armies to destroy all evil on earth.  This includes the man-child army that stands with Jesus on Mount Sion, a people redeemed from the earth and made perfect in the sight of God.  Rev. 12:5; Rev. 14:1-5.  They will return with Jesus to destroy all evil.

            There is an argument regarding whether or not these armies will come and destroy all evil before Jesus comes down from the clouds and whether the Day of the Lord is more than one literal day.  However, we will restrict our discussion to the question of whether Jesus will return before tribulation.

DANGER OF THE NEW DOCTRINE

            The danger of the pre-tribulation rapture theory is that the church will be unprepared for tribulation.  Why prepare all-out for a race that will never take place?  That is exactly what Satan wants.  People who say, “Well, we will just be prepared in either case.  If Jesus does not come back before tribulation, we will be ready any way,” are kidding themselves.  When I was taking martial arts in my youth, we always talked about being prepared for challenges from outsiders.  But only when someone did, in fact, issue a challenge to me did I actually prepare with all my heart.  At all other times, I was just cruising, not really believing that it would happen.

            Many Christians say that pre-tribulation rapture is the hope of the Church.  That’s not true.  Christ in you is the hope of glory.  Col. 1:27.

THE NEED TO PREPARE FOR TRIBULATION

                If the church must go through tribulation we must be prepared.  Only the spiritually mature are likely to make it through until Jesus returns.  Most will fall.  2 Th. 2:3. 


ATTACHMENT B

WHO IS LUCIFER?

            “Lucifer” found in the King James Version and Living Bible (which is based on the King James Version), is a Latin word mistakenly left in when the Latin was translated into English. Therefore, “Lucifer” is nobody’s name, especially not Satan’s.  The original word “lucifer” is translated in the Latin to mean “morning star”.  See NIV.  The Amplified Bible uses “light-bringer and day star”.  The footnote to Isaiah 14:12 contained in The Amplified Bible says:

            n.  The Hebrew for this expression- “light-bringer” or “shining one” - is translated “Lucifer” in The Latin Vulgate, and is thus translated in the King James Version.  But because of the association of that name with Satan, it is not now used in this and other translations.  Some students feel that the application of the name Lucifer to Satan, in spite of the long and confident teaching to that effect, is erroneous.  The application of the name to Satan has existed since the third century A.D., and is based on the supposition that Luke 10:18 is an explanation of Isa. 14:12, which many authorities believe is not true.  “Lucifer,” the light-bringer, is the Latin equivalent of the Greek word “Phosphoros,” which is used as a title of Christ in II Pet. 1:19 and corresponds to the name “radiant and brilliant Morning Star” in Rev. 22:16, a name Jesus called Himself.  This passage here in Isa. 14:13 clearly applies to the king of Babylon.

            The idea that Satan was once an archangel second only to God, who rebelled and was thrown out of heaven is erroneous.  Only two scriptures in the entire Bible use the word “archangel.”  (1) I Thessalonians 4:16 says that Jesus will return to earth “... with the voice of the archangel.”  (2) Jude 9 says, “Yet Michael the archangel,....”   Nowhere in the Bible is Satan called an archangel.  Satan was never an archangel.  God never made a mistake!

            The only reference of a war in heaven and Satan being thrown down to earth is in Rev. 12:7-9.  But, Revelation is about the end times - about things to come at the end of the age.  The entire book of Revelation is a prophecy.  Verse 3.  If Satan was thrown out of heaven before Adam and Eve were created, those scriptures would be out of place.  The truth is - Satan has not yet been cast down to earth!  That’s why Paul called him the “... prince of the power of the air.”  Eph. 2:2.  He still rules from the atmosphere around the earth (the “mid-heavens”) and he still has access to the throne of God in the Third Heaven. 

            Job 1: 6 says, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.”  The Lord and Satan engaged in conversation.  Once again in Job l2:1, “Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord.” 

            Even today, Satan goes before the throne of God to accuse us “before our God day and night.”  Rev, 12:10.  That’s why he is called the “accuser” of the brethren.  If Satan had been cast out before Adam and Eve were created, there would have been no brethren to accuse and he would not be in heaven talking to God about Job.  Job would not have existed yet . 

            In Luke 22:31, Jesus said, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat....”  NIV.  In The Amplified Bible, the passage reads, “Simon.  Simon (Peter), listen!  Satan has asked excessively that [all of] you be given up to him [out of the power and keeping of God], that he might sift [all of] you like grain.”  Who would Satan be asking?  God, of course!  Satan still has access to the throne of God to accuse and petition to have us.  He hasn’t been kicked out of heaven yet!   But he will soon!

            When Jesus sent the seventy disciples out two by two, they came back “with joy, saying Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.“  Lk. 10:18.  When Jesus said in Luke 10:19, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven,” He was talking about a prophetic vision He had of Satan falling in the future.  Whenever someone tells of a vision he had, he doesn’t say, “I am seeing,” or “I will see.”  He says, “I saw” or “I beheld.”  For  the first time, mankind had the power to cast out devils.  Therefore, Jesus prophesied that one day Satan was going to be thrown out of the heavens, never to rule again.

ISAIAH 14:12

            Isaiah 14:12 talks about the First Adam before he fell, not Satan.  Verse 16 says, “... Is this the man that made the earth to tremble....”  Satan was never a man.  He is spirit.  Verse 11 says, “Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.”  Verse 19 says, “But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain....”  Satan has never died and was never buried in a grave and worms never ate his flesh.  It was Adam who died and was eaten of worms in a grave.  It was Adam who wanted to be God, who said, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God... I will be like the most High.”  Is. 14:13,14.  Adam was once a morning star.  When he sinned against God, he lost the morning star, his spirit light went out and he saw his flesh for the first time.  Gen. 3:7.

            Adam was no fool.  He was not deceived by the serpent.  1 Timothy 2:14 says, “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”  What does it mean?  It means that Adam had already formed the desire to be like God, but he had no guts or courage to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  He didn’t need to be beguiled.  He already was.  When he heard the serpent beguiling Eve, he stood by mute.  He was an opportunist.  He probably reasoned, “If we get caught, I can always blame Eve.”  That’s exactly what Adam did.  When God questioned him, he answered, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I did eat.”  First, he blamed God; then, he blamed Eve.  Gen. 3:12.  That’s how many men are today.  They pass the buck and refuse to take responsibility for their actions.  Both Is. 14 and Eze. 28 speak of Adam, not Satan.

EZEKIEL 28

             Ezekiel 28 is also often erroneously thought of as referring to Satan.  It was the First Adam who was created perfect till iniquity was found in him, not Satan.  Verse 12,15.  Satan was never perfect.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and the father of lies.  Jn. 8:44.  I Jn. 3:8 says, “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning.”  Satan was created by God as Satan.  What?  God create evil?  In Is. 45:7, God says, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord to all these things.”  In Is. 54:16, the Lord says, “Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.”  God is in complete control.  Satan could never challenge God.  He has to petition God to get to us.  Satan doesn’t want us to know this.  He wants us to fear him.  Satan was never a morning star or archangel.  It was Adam who was once a bright, morning star, and God is going to restore to us all that Adam lost: 

            Verse 16.  Eze. 28:2 says, “Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God....”  Again, Satan was never a man; Adam was.  Verse 8 says, “They shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas.”  Satan is a spirit that cannot die like a man. “Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am God? but thou shalt be a man; and no God,....”  Verse 9.  Satan will never be a man.  The word “cherub” in verse 16 means “imaginary being.”  It does not mean archangel.

            God promises to give the overcomers back the morning star that Adam lost when he sinned:

                        And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.  And I will give him the morning star.  Rev. 2:26-28.  (Underlining added)

We are children of light that shine in the darkness.   When we become filled with the Holy Spirit and overcome the world, the flesh and the devil, we will become bright, morning stars once more.  Satan will have no power over us.   “As the morning spread upon the mountains, a great people....”  Joel 2:2.  (Underlining added)  “(T)he Lord shall utter His voice before His army.”  Joel 2:11.  “... (T)he land is as the garden of Eden before them....”  Joel 2:3.  God’s army, the morning stars, are headed back to the garden of Eden to reclaim the land, and God is going to restore everything that Adam once had.  Satan doesn’t want us to know that.  He wants us to fear him.  Instead, it is Satan who fears the morning stars. 

 

ATTACHMENT C

THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS

            Historians claim that the early church did not celebrate either the birth of Jesus or His resurrection.  Josephus, the famous Jewish historian, claims that they may have celebrated Passover.  However, Josephus produced his works after 275 A.D. and had no viable evidence of such.

            During times of persecution, it would be easy to determine which household was Christian by the decorated trees and other paraphernalia of Christmas.  It was probable that early Christians did not celebrate any Sabbaths or holydays.  Col. 2:16-17.  “Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”  According to 1 Co. 10:11 and Hebrews 8:5, these events served as examples and shadows of heavenly things.  Instead of a Sabbath day, Jesus became our rest and our Sabbath.  Heb. 4:4-11.  We rest in Him, not in a day.  We cease from our own works and allow Him to work in and through us.  Thus, Saturday belonged to the old covenant and was supplanted by better things to come.

            The early Christians were filled with the Holy Spirit and knew how to allow the Spirit to flow through them.  They were acutely aware that, “… the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.”  Jn. 4:23.  They sought spiritual things, not the physical. 

            In striving for spirit and truth, we need to ferret out all that is not of God and to cast out those things that have diluted the truth once given to the church by the early apostles.

WHEN WAS JESUS BORN?

            When was Jesus born?  This question seems unimportant at first glance, but represents leaven in the eyes of God.  Remember, Jesus warned the disciples about the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.  Mt. 16:6.  “Then understood they how that He bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”  Mt. 16:11-12.  Christmas and Easter, and some other well-established doctrines of the church are leaven.  They were not taught by the apostles of any age and came out of pagan worship.  Truth cannot be altered without spiritual consequences.

            Jesus was not born on December 25.  He was probably born at the end of September, early October, during the Feast of Tabernacles.  Under the old covenant, God required three major feasts each year.  The first was Passover, that celebrated the time when the angel of death had to “pass over” the Israelite households that displayed the blood of a perfect male lamb on the side posts and lintel of the front door.  This was fulfilled under the new covenant by Jesus on the Cross when He became our Passover Lamb. 

            The second feast was Pentecost, which literally means “fifty days” after Passover.  This was fulfilled by the gift of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4. 

            The third feast was Tabernacles, which was actually the combining of three different celebrations. The first ten days was the blowing of trumpets (Feast of Trumpets) to call the people; then the Day of Atonement when the chief priest would enter the Holiest Place and sprinkle the blood of the sin sacrifice on the mercy seat.  God would then come down and His presence would fill the place.   It was the only time during the year when God came down to be with His people.  The third phase was living in booths or tents for seven days to commemorate the time when Moses led the people out of Egypt and they lived in tents.  This feast was fulfilled by the birth of Jesus who was named Immanuel - “God with us.” 

            Like many things in the Old Testament, these three feasts were types and shadows of better things to come. 

            December 25 is too cold in Bethlehem for sheep to be in the fields.  During winter, they would be in barns or close to home.  The Roman government, known for its logic and good reasoning, would not require people to travel in the dead of winter to be taxed and counted.  More likely, they would choose a time when harvest (ingathering)  was over and the weather was nice.  The Feast of Tabernacles was held in late September, early October right after harvest.  It was known as the “in-gathering.”

            December 25 is the birthday of Tammuz, the sun god of Babylon (and the reincarnation of Nimrod), whose signs are green trees cut out of the forest, made to stand upright in homes and decked with silver and gold.  Jer. 10.  The Babylonian legend is as follows:

 

            Ninus was the king of the region defined by the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.  His wife was Semiramis and his son was Nimrod.  Gen. 10:8-10.  Ninus died in battle.  The custom was that the kingdom must be ruled over by a male.  But if the dead king had a young son, the queen could rule until the son was of age.  Semiramis was beautiful and smart.  She became addicted to ruling.  When Nimrod (Gen. 10:8-10) was of age, she married her own son to remain on the throne.  She was a mighty warrior but she and Nimrod were evil.  To control the people, they engaged in magic and witchcraft.  They became so evil that Shem, one of Noah’s sons, had to kill him.  Some time later, Semiramis declared that she had immaculately conceived and when Tammuz was born, she declared that he was the reincarnation of Nimrod.  When he was a child, Tammuz died.  Semiramis was so heart-broken that she grieved and wept for weeks.  She decided to go into the underworld and challenge the gods for the return of Tammuz.  She fought so valiantly through the twelve gates of the underworld that the gods announced that if the women would weep for Tammuz at the end of each year, he would be reborn at the winter soltice which falls on the 23rd or 24th of each December.  In the spring, he would be a young man, in the summer he would be mature, in the autumn he would be an old man and die.  Eze. 8:14.  Tammuz became the sun god and the god of agriculture.  Over time, the people celebrated his rebirth by cutting down a green tree, standing it upright in their homes on the eve of his birthday, and decking it with silver and gold and other decorations.  On the night of the eve of his birthday, they would burn a yule (“child” in Chaldee) log, symbolizing his death.  Next morning, they would wake up to a green tree decorated with silver and gold and there would be many gifts under it.  They would then celebrate for twelve days.  Semiramis and Tammuz were depicted in statues and paintings of a mother carrying an infant, a halo around his head indicating that he was the sun god of Babylon, and a halo around the mother’s head to indicate that she was the goddess of the moon.  In all Levantine cultures, the leading deity is a mother who married her son.

            The Roman Catholic Church adopted the birthday of Tammuz by calling it Jesus’ birthday.  They also celebrated the summer soltice which was the feast of Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of fertility and witchcraft in early April.  Her signs are colored eggs, bunnies, chicks and hot-cross buns.  She is called the Queen of Heaven (Jer. 44:17-19) and Madonna (Is. 47:5) (Latin for “Lady”).  Read Two Babylons by Bishop Alexander Islop.  There is nothing in the Bible about celebrating the birthday or resurrection of Jesus.  We worship in the spirit today.  The early church never observed His birthday and only Josephus, the historian, mentioned that His resurrection may have been celebrated.  But Josephus wrote his books around 275 A.D.  We are worshipping Babylonian gods and goddesses.

            In Ezekiel 8, God exposes what is going on in His temple.  The people are worshipping demons, including Tammuz.  In Ezekiel 9, God calls six angels with destroying weapons.  One has an inkhorn.  He instructs the one with the inkhorn to mark the foreheads of all the men that sign and cry because of the abominations going on in God’s city (people) and temple.  Then He instructs the others to go into the city and kill everyone without God’s mark on their forehead.  Eze. 9:1-11.  Interestingly, both Revelation 7:3 and Revelation 9:4 speak of God’s mark on the foreheads of His true servants in the end times.  Those without the mark will suffer greatly.  Is God talking about us today?

THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS

            One evening years ago, I was listening to our church’s music ministry practice Christian songs about Jesus’ birth and the thought ran lightly through my mind, “I wonder what the true meaning of Christmas really is?”  Suddenly, the Holy Spirit fell on me and in ten seconds, He gave me the following revelation (paraphrasing):

            All the things that happened when Jesus was born were examples and types and shadows to teach us spiritual and heavenly things.  I Co. 10:11.  Heb. 8:5.  When Joseph and Mary went to the inn that night, it was too full and so they were turned away.  Lk. 2:7.  So it is today.  People are too busy and full of the things of the world.  They have no room for Jesus, so they turn Him away.  Jesus was born of a virgin in a dark and lowly (humble) manger.  Lk. 2:7.  Before we were saved, we were proud, sinful and defiled.  We lived in darkness.  The Bible says that when Jesus was born, the people sat in darkness.  Suddenly, there was a great light!  Mt. 4:16, Lk. 1:79.   In order to be saved, we must humble ourselves and become lowly (like that manger) and repent of our sins.  When God forgives us, we are washed clean by the blood of Jesus and become pure and chaste as a virgin.  At that moment, the Spirit of Jesus is born in our virgin heart that was once black with sin, but has suddenly become white as snow and humble as that manger.  Jesus is always born of a virgin (heart).  We are born-again of the Spirit of God, which is the Spirit of Jesus Christ.  Phil 1:19.  The Bible says that when one sinner repents, all of heaven rejoices (Lk. 15:7,10) like on the night that Jesus was born.  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men.”  Heaven rejoices each time Jesus is born again in the virgin heart of an ex-sinner.

            On that blessed night almost 2,000 years ago, the shepherds and sheep were honored because Jesus came as the Good Shepherd who would die for His sheep.  We are the sheep of His pasture.  Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the city of David, because God promised to “raise unto David a righteous Branch, ... and He shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”   Jer. 23:5,6.   Jesus is “the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.”  Rev. 22:16.  When we are saved, we too are born into the line of David, having become the children of God and brethren of Jesus, by adoption.  Eph. 1:5; Heb. 2:11.  We too are children of light.

            The star of Bethlehem drew the wise men to Jesus.  The star represents the Holy Spirit of God.  He always draws all men to Jesus.  We don’t know how many wise men there were, but there were three gifts, so we think there were three.  They came from a far country.  Mt. 2:1.  When you and I were saved, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost came from as far away as heaven to bring us the same three gifts: Frankincense, myrrh and gold.

            Frankincense is a sweet perfume that was sprinkled on the meal sacrifice in the Old Testament.  Lev. 2:1,15.  Its represents the sacrifice on the cross that Jesus, the bread of life who came down from heaven, made for you and me.  As with the frankincense presented by the wise men, salvation is a free gift.  Jesus already paid the price.

            Myrrh is a perfume that is sweet to the smell, but bitter to the taste.  It is called gall.  It is also a narcotic that was offered to Jesus when He hung on the cross.  Mt. 27:34.  It numbs your physical senses.  But, Jesus refused it.  He didn’t have to, but He wanted to take all of our pain and suffering so that we would never have to suffer pain again.  Myrrh represents the bitter path all true Christians must undertake in order to follow Jesus.  Our walk with Jesus always starts off sweet like the Frankincense and myrrh.  When we are first saved, we are so excited and happy, we want to tell the whole world.  But as time goes on and as we face the trials and problems that perfect and change us into the image of Jesus Christ, the walk becomes bitter-sweet.  Many accept the frankincense but few desire the myrrh.   Many follow Jesus; few carry their cross.  The true walk with Jesus will always lead you up the hill to Calvary to death of the old man.  When Jesus rose from the dead, we rose with Him into a new race of people and a new life.  His life becomes your life and your life becomes His life.  Before you can have His resurrection life, you must first die to self.

            Gold represents the heavenly reward at the end of your faithful walk with Jesus on earth.  The streets and buildings in heaven are made of gold (Rev. 21:18,21) and there is a crown of glory laid up for you.  I Pet. 5:4.

            The same three things, frankincense, myrrh and gold, are presented to each born-again Christian when he or she is saved.  The frankincense is easy to accept, but the myrrh and gold will cost you your life.

            And so, the true meaning of Christmas is not found in evergreen trees decked with silver and gold, mistletoe, eggnog, ham, gifts and parties.  Those things are of the flesh and represent Tammuz, the sun god of Babylon.  Jer. 10:1--5; Eze. 8:14.  The true Christmas happens in the spirit every time one sinner repents of his sins and accepts Jesus as his Lord and Savior.  The star of Bethlehem has drawn another sinner to Jesus Christ.  Once again, the angels rejoice in heaven.  The Bible says that the angels in heaven rejoice whenever one sinner repents.  He who once sat in darkness has become humble and washed clean as a virgin by the blood of Jesus.  Once more, the Spirit of Jesus is born in a virgin heart.  The Father, Son and Holy Spirit come from heaven bearing three gifts: frankincense, myrrh and gold.  The walk begins.

            That is the true meaning of Christmas!

                God is seeking a pure church today, without spot, wrinkle or blemish or any such thing, that He can present to Christ as His Bride.  The church has lost its power and testimony because it has become false.  It now worships Babylonian gods and goddesses and thinks that it pleases God.  Instead, it has become an abomination. 

A PROPHECY REGARDING CHRISTMAS

            In Ezekiel Chapter 8, God takes the prophet into His temple to show Ezekiel the abominations being committed therein.  He find the congregation unknowingly worshiping demons out of their own imagination.  Eze. 8:10-12.  At the gate towards the north, “there sat women weeping for Tammuz.”  Verse. 14.  In the inner court the priests were worshiping “the sun toward the east.”  Verse 16. 

            In Chapter 9, God calls six angels, one with an inkhorn.  He instructs the one with the inkhorn to go among God’s people and mark the foreheads of all those who sigh and cry because of the abominations going on in God’s temple.  Then He commands the others to follow and kill everyone without the mark of God on their foreheads and to begin at His sanctuary.  Eze. 9:6.  One cannot sigh and cry unless he knows about the abominations going on in God’s temple or church.  Now you know.

            In Revelation 7:1-3, an angel of the Lord commands the four angels about to bring destruction to the earth to “Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.”  Verse 3.  In Revelation 9:4, torment was coming to earth.  Again, “And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.”  Verse 4.  Could it be that during tribulation, only those who sigh and cry for the abominations in God’s church will escape? 


ATTACHMENT D

DELIVERANCE AND INNER HEALING

                In our war with the kingdom of darkness, there are three distinct yet related areas:  (1) spiritual warfare; (2) deliverance; and (3) inner healing.  What most churches call spiritual warfare is usually just prayer, corporate or individual, that comes against demonic powers in the mid-heavens or against Satan and his demons, in general.  Deliverance refers to casting out of devils from people and cleansing of haunted places or objects.  We have found that Christians can have demons and have literally cast out demons from thousands of Christians, both evangelical and born-again, including many pastors.  Inner healing refers to the healing of memories and cleansing of the mind.  Although inner healing deals with the mind, we have found that very often demons are involved and when memories are cleansed, they come fleeing out of a person.

            Spiritual warfare is very necessary for revival/harvest.  As has been discovered in Argentina by Carlos Anacondia, in Brazil by Eduardo Silvoso, and by other Christians, binding up of ruler spirits in the mid-heavens can lead to revival.  In South Korea, David Yonggi Cho claims that his huge church is the result of binding up the strongmen over South Korea.

            Spiritual warfare and deliverance is the topic of a manual produced by this church and should be taught to all Christians.  Inner healing is also explained in another manual produced by this church and is very useful.  These manuals will be made available to all interested parties and should become standard reading for house churches.


ATTACHMENT E

DOCTRINES OF DEVILS

AND

THE GREAT APOSTASY

A SIGN OF THE TIMES

            The apostle Paul warns us in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day (Jesus’ return) shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” (Parentheses added)  So, at the end of the age there will be a falling away from the faith or truth.  The Amplified Bible says there will be an “apostasy.”  Apostasy means - “an abandoning of what one has believed in, as a faith, cause, principle, etc.”  (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)  It speaks of a turning away from the doctrines espoused by the early apostles and the Bible.

            The Body of Christ is already in apostasy.   It allows many false doctrines, beliefs, practices and movements to permeate the Church and destroy the purity of our faith.  The deception is so subtle and cunning that “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”  Mt. 24:24.   Both Jesus and the apostles constantly and vociferously warned us of the spirit of Antichrist and false doctrines. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”  I Ti. 4:1. 

NO ONE EXEMPT

            Paul feared that if someone came preaching a different gospel, the saints would accept him.  “But I fear . . . 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.”  2 Co. 11:3,4.  Guard against doctrines and beliefs not taught by the early Church or supported by Scripture.  Already, some cults and so-called Christians teach a different Jesus.  Some teach that Jesus is an angry God and approachable only through His mother, who is higher in heaven than her Son; others claim that Jesus was just a man who was made into a god because of His good works; and still others claim that Jesus was the brother of Lucifer, the devil.  Some claim that Jesus is a Filipino living in Manila and others claim that He returned in 1914 and is living in Brooklyn, New York.

            The danger of deception through false doctrines is so great that Paul says, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”  Gal. 1:8.  Even if one of the early apostles changed the original doctrine, we are not to accept it.  Paul did not say “any” angel, but an angel from heaven!  Even God’s angels are not exempt.  Why then would any Christian be excused?  No matter how smart, popular or godly a person appears to be, do not tolerate it if he teaches false doctrines or beliefs. Turn away from such; do not “bear with him.”  These appear to be harsh words, but Jesus warns us to “Take heed and beware of the leaven....”  Mt. 16:6.  “Then understood they how that He bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”  Mt. 16:12.  Any wrong doctrine is leaven.  “Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?  Purge out therefore, the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened . . . Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”         I Co. 5:6-8.  Leaven must be purged out of the true Church that will be the Bride of Christ, without spot, wrinkle or blemish.

            In the end times, false prophets and false Christs will abound.  Mt. 24:11,24.  They will be able to deceive because they are respected, famous and well-accepted in the Church.  Otherwise, who would listen to them?  Therefore, even if a prophet is seemingly anointed, do not accept a strange doctrine from him.  There have been many “anointed prophets” who ended up in error.  You may have already met a few of them.  In the Old Testament, Balaam, an anointed and gifted prophet of God, fell from favor in the end.  So did King Solomon.  The prophets of Ahab (I Ki. 22:12-29) and in Jeremiah’s days were most likely “anointed” and respected. Yet, they spoke lies.  I’m not saying that all prophets lie and I am not against prophets (I believe in prophecy); I’m saying that we have the duty to test every prophecy.  I Co. 14:29,32.

            Miracles are not to influence us.  False prophets and Christs will do miracles and through the miracles will deceive many.  Mt. 24:24.  They will heal the sick, cast out devils, raise the dead, but if their doctrine is not supported by scripture, do not accept it.  In Matthew 7:22-23, Jesus says, “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.”   Many unwittingly allow the truth to be adulterated because they interpret “touch not mine anointed” mistakenly.  God clearly warns us against such “anointing” and signs and wonders.  We have a duty and responsibility to discern good and evil, truth and untruth.

WHY?

            There’s a spiritual “poison” in untruths that silently and surely brings death.  If Jesus is “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (Jn. 14:6), lies are the opposite.  They cause us to veer from the Way and the Life and bring us into confusion and death. Like a fog that becomes ever thicker with each lie, false doctrines blind us from the true way and cause us to stumble and fall because of our failure to see danger and the snares of the enemy.  Untruths cloud our spiritual eyes and we drift further away from the Lord Jesus.  It is when we contend for the truth and love truth with all our heart that we begin to see clearly.  There is no such thing as a partial truth.  A truth is all truth or it is a lie.

            The Devil is the father of lies.  Jn. 8:44.  He brings death through his lies and deceptions.  (Called the destroyer and waster.  Is. 54:16; Ex. 12:23; 1 Co. 10:10.)  The Bible says that “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. . . .”  With his lies and deceptions, Satan draws us into his kingdom and into darkness.  Those who do not accept Jesus, have refused truth; they are deceived by the lies of Satan.  “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”  2 Co. 4:3,4.  Satan, of course, is the present ruler of this world.  Therefore, the world is filled with lies and distortions.  We are living in an age where truth is an inconvenience and embarrassment because it goes against the grain of friendship with the world, and social and political acceptance.  The world is indifferent to truth because truth convicts and changes lives.  Man loves sin and truth destroys sin.  How can the Church convert a sinful world when the Church itself no longer loves truth and is willing to compromise the absolute truth?  It takes courage to speak and manifest truth in the world.

            If we are called to change into the image of Jesus (Ro. 8:29), then we must also be true because He is true.  Jesus is called the Word of God not only because He speaks and does truth, but because He is true.  It is not the possession of truth, but an uncompromising walk in truth that makes us true and pure.  That is why we were given the Holy Spirit to dwell in us.  Even as we can know truth and yet not live truth, we can also have the Holy Spirit in us and not obey Him.  The Holy Spirit is not only the Spirit of Power, but also the Spirit of Truth.  Power and truth are inseparable. 

            When we compromise the Word of God, our concept and knowledge of God is distorted and warped and Jesus becomes a different Jesus from the Jesus in the Bible.  Our acceptance of lies changes who He is.  I’ve heard New Agers arrogantly say, “I know Jesus.  She’s a Negro.”  They believe that Jesus is whoever and whatever you say He is.  Are we worshiping the same Jesus?  That is why Jesus said, “Ye worship ye know not what: . . .  (b)ut the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.” Jn. 4:22,23.  Distorting the Word of God is distorting the true Jesus.

            Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”   Truth creates faith because the Word is truth.  Untruth begets no faith or a false faith.  If your faith is not based on truth, it is vain.  In the Boxer Rebellion of the early 1900's, the Chinese revolted against the Western powers because they were against the selling of opium to the Chinese.  The peasants had only sticks and pitchforks against the rifles and machine guns of the British, Americans, Russians, etc.  Kung fu masters convinced the Chinese peasants that if they drank a “magic potion” they would be immune from bullets and bayonets.  As they pounded the drums, the Chinese peasants lined up to drink the potion.  They had complete faith in it.  The next morning, they died by the thousands, cut down by machine gun bullets and bayonets.  They had faith, but it was not based on truth.  It was vain.  So too is our faith, if our faith is based on untrue doctrines and a different Jesus.

            The distortion of the Word will be so great in the end times, that Jesus said, “. . . (W)hen the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?”  Lk. 18:8.  There will be so many lies regarding our faith (religion) that our doctrines and beliefs will be perverted and our faith will be vain. The object of our faith is the Jesus of the Bible.  He is the author and finisher of our faith, not a female Negro or any other.

            In a world that is addicted to pretenses, distortions, facades and falsehoods, people learn to put on a face and an image that is untrue.  We love movies and shows that warp, mislead and misrepresent reality and we are so into our “acts” that we actually think we are what we want people to believe that we are.  We boast, brag and see ourselves as more than we really are.  Peter and the other disciples bragged that they would die for Jesus.  But, when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, they all ran away as cowards.  Truth had hit them in the face.  It was truth that brought them to reality and completely humbled them.  Saul was busy persecuting and killing the saints when he met Jesus on the way to Damascus.  Ac. 9:1-7.  The meeting changed him completely.  He had met truth and reality.  Truth changes.  We read in Acts 2:1-4 that on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came as a mighty, rushing wind, flames of fire sat on the heads of the disciples and they began to speak in strange tongues.  Why then do we seldom, if ever, experience such an outpouring?  Perhaps it is because of our lack of truth and humility.  We do not see our true selves.  Many new believers see themselves as good people who deserve salvation.  They do not see their true state as miserable humans who, but for the grace of God, deserve to go to hell.  Lies and pretences distort and rob us of all that God wants to give us.  Christ the hope of glory is also, Truth the hope of glory.  The truth will make us free (Jn. 8:32) and open our eyes to see the wonders of God.  Only by loving truth can we avoid deception.

            It is truth that sanctifies and purifies.  Jn. 17:17.  “That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”  Eph. 5:26,27.  The Word is truth.  God’s truth changes more than a man’s doctrines; it transforms him from deep within.  That is why God “desirest truth in the inward parts.”  Ps. 51:6.  The closer we are to Jesus, the truer we become.  Truth is not only something we possess, but who and what we are.  As the saying goes, “We are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners.”  Likewise, “We are not made true because we speak truth; we speak and do truth because we are true.”  Becoming true is not just a function of possessing truth.  We can believe in truth and assent to truth, but still be untrue.  To become like Him is to become true.  We are true only to the extent that we walk in it.

            A love for truth is the only remedy for avoiding deception and it will cost you dearly. If we are not already walking in truth, we will succumb to Satan’s wiles in the end.  The truths given to us by God must be worth living and dying for.  It is to those without guile (lies) that the greatest rewards are given.  In Revelation 14:1-5, the Army of God stands with the Lamb of God on the mount Sion.  “And in their mouth was found no guile; for they are without fault before the throne of God.”  It is not just a matter of not telling lies, but not having lies in the heart that make you one without guile.  “. . . (S)trait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”  Mt. 7:14. Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit and died because of it.  Ac. 5:5,10.  God hates lies and liars.  No liar shall enter into the kingdom of God.  Rev. 21:8.  We die slowly when we accept lie after lie.  Truth indeed, is a narrow path.

            Finally, we must recognize that the clash between truth and lies will come to a peak at the end of the age.  It is not just a distortion of truth that is involved.  It is a battle between two kingdoms and kingdom principles.  Truth is a principle of the kingdom of God, while untruth is a principle of the kingdom of the devil.  The more lies in the Church, the more we stray into the grasp of the evil one.  Only a love for the truth and a determined defense of truth will keep us safely outside of the snare of the fowler.  Ps. 91:3.  Our refuge and fortress is in the Truth.  His name is Jesus.

EARNESTLY CONTEND FOR THE FAITH

            Paul says, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, . . . preach the word;  be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from truth, and shall be turned into fables.” 2 Ti. 4:1.  “Reprove” means to refute, admonish, convict, convince, tell a fault, rebuke.  “Rebuke” means to censure, admonish, forbid, charge or accuse.  “Exhort” means to beseech, entreat.  (Strong’s Concordance)  We are to be guardians of the truth and watchmen on the wall.  We are not to smile and say, “I love you brother.  I accept what you say for the sake of unity and I will not judge you.”  In instructing elders, Paul says,

                        . . . Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers . . . for there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers . . . whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake . . . Rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.  Titus 1:9,10,11,13.  (Underlining added)

We are to challenge for the truth and rebuke, refute, reprove, tell a fault, censure, forbid, charge and accuse, so that others will be saved from deception and destruction.  We speak in love, but earnestly contend for the faith.  Jude says, “. . .  ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”  Jude 3.  We are not to compromise the truth that God entrusted to us, especially the elders.  Titus 2:15 says, “These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority.  Let no man despise thee.”  (Underlining added) Let no person find fault with you for earnestly contending for the faith. 

A COMMAND TO SPEAK OUT

            Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14, 15,

                        Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition, which he received of us. . .  And if any may obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. . . Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.  (Underlining added)

We are commanded to note and withdraw from those who preach false doctrines and walk not according to the pattern taught by the early apostles.  To “note” is to identify.  At the same time, we are not to count him as an enemy.  In Titus 3:10, Paul says, “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time.  After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.”  Harsh words are sometimes necessary to preserve the faith.

            Elders are instructed as follows: “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.”  (Underlining added) 1 Ti. 5:20.  Paul tells us to make public the sins of others.  If a brother is in grave error and is being used to deceive others, is it love to rebuke him? or is it hate?  For the sake of unity and misguided “love”, will you allow him to be accursed?  Ezekiel 3:20,21 says,

                        Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand.  Nevertheless, if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul.

Does an earthly father not have the duty to chasten, point out errors and even take the rod of correction to his children in order to drive sin and unrighteousness out of them and to guide them in paths of righteousness?  (“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”)  Pr. 13:24.  Is a father’s chastening of his sons and daughters wrong?  No, it is love.  In order to correct, there is a need to judge.  More so must an elder in the Body of Christ warn and correct brothers in Christ who stray from righteousness and truth.  Once again, we are commanded to rebuke publicly in 1 Timothy 5:20-22: “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.  I charge (command) thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things, without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.”  (Parenthesis added)  An elder is strongly commanded (“I charge thee before God”) to rebuke, chasten, point out errors and correct publicly.  Love demands correction.  Hatred allows compromise and lies, the end of which is apostasy.  Speak out or disobey God.

            Sincerity by the person uttering false doctrines is not the issue.  The issue is - is it truth? Most false prophets do not know they are false.  Balaam did not know; the 400 prophets of Ahab did not know; the many false prophets and priests in Jeremiah’s day did not know; many modern-day “prophets” do not know.  They vigorously defended their lies.  All were probably highly respected, admired and loved in their day.  How will they know and change unless someone tells them in love?

            The refusal to judge and discern has eroded the foundations of the Church and defiled the very essence of the Church - truth.  How else can one explain why many in the Church do not believe there is a Satan or evil spirits? or believe that Jesus was only a man? or that the Bible is not accurate? or that Jesus did not resurrect physically? or that the Holy Spirit is only to explain God’s power and is not a real individual? or that Jesus sinned while on earth? or that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and was having an affair with her? or that it was really Judas who died on the cross?  (Survey Results by the Barna Research Group)  What apostasy!

NAMING NAMES

            In Acts 20:28,29, Luke named Ananias and Sapphira as liars.  Paul likewise never hesitated to defend the truth, even to the extent of naming names publicly and in his written letters.  In 2 Timothy 4:10, Paul named Demas as one who forsook Paul and went back to the world.  In verse 14, he named and accused Alexander the coppersmith of doing much evil.  In 2 Timothy 2:17,18, Paul named Hymenaeus and Philetus as having erred in preaching false doctrines (“profane and vain babblings”).  Even fellow apostles were not exempt.  In Galatians 2:12,13,  Paul accused and rebuked Peter and Barnabas before all (verse 14).  Did it violate the scripture that says, “Touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm”?  I Chr. 16:22.  Surely, Peter and Barnabas were anointed of God.  Is questioning a prophecy harming the prophet?  Are we not instructed to judge prophecies (I Co. 14:29), and taught to test (judge) the spirits, even the Holy Spirit?  “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try (judge) the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”  1 Jn. 4:1. We are instructed not to automatically accept any prophecy or word that comes from a prophet.  Test and judge it.  Prophets are to judge what the other prophets say (1 Co. 14:29,32), to discern if it comes from the Holy Spirit or some other spirit. 1 Jn. 4:1.  It is love, not harm.  But great relief someone would have if he knows that his prophecies will be tested and if found true, will be endorsed by all the others.  He will also find much comfort in knowing that any false prophecy will be excluded from publication and thus prevented from doing damage to the Body.

A MISINTERPRETATION

            There is a movement to squelch all opposition to the introduction of false doctrines and movements by claiming that we should “touch not mine anointed” and “judge not, that ye be not judged.”  Mt. 7:1.  But if you look closely at Matthew 7:1 and the verses that follow immediately thereafter, Jesus was talking about hypocrites and people who unfairly criticize, gossip, condemn and slander people when they themselves are sinning in a bigger way.  (“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” Verse 3)  Jesus was talking to hypocrites, not the guardians of truth.  If one wrongfully interprets these passages, claiming that we are not to judge, he will be in direct opposition to scriptures that say that we have the responsibility to judge and discern good and bad and to protect the cherished and precious truths God gave us.  As has been said many times, “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.”  Rebuking, reproving, censuring, forbidding, charging and accusing can be done in love and concern for both the deceived and the deceiver.  We are instructed to name names and instruct the sheep to avoid them and the doctrines they espouse if they persist in distorting the truth.  Shepherds must protect the sheep against wolves in sheep’s clothing.  Mt. 7:15.

            There is a difference between unwarranted criticism, gossip and malicious slander as compared to an impersonal censure, rebuke and accusation for the purpose of correction and guidance.  For example, one can properly point out errors in doctrine by some famous televangelist without calling him a devil, or a creep.  If the intent is to maliciously and falsely slander to build up self at the expense of another, it is unrighteous.  But, if it is to protect the sheep and to point out errors for the purpose of avoiding deception, it is righteous obedience. It depends on the heart’s intent.  Sometimes the person pointing out doctrinal error is himself in error, but his heart is right.  Romans 16:17 says, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”

            The Amplified Bible’s interpretation of Matthew 7:1 is, “Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves.”  This rendition is slightly more accurate than what some Christians claim it to mean, in my opinion.  Matthew 7:1-5 applies to undue criticism and slander of others and have nothing to do with protecting the faith from false doctrines and beliefs. God will not give two commandments that directly oppose each other.  Matthew 7:1 is not contrary to scriptures telling us to guard the faith and note, rebuke, reprove, accuse, correct, refute and withdraw from those who preach a adverse gospel.  It speaks of hypocrites finding fault in others while they have worse faults.

            1 Corinthians 5:12, 13 says, “For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?  But them that are without God judgeth.  Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”  We are to judge those in the church, and correct where needed, especially those who would pervert the gospel or who are deceived. 

            In truth, elders (and all Christians) are watchmen on the wall against those who would distort truth and preach a different gospel.  If they do not blow the trumpet, the blood of those who are destroyed because of the enemy’s lies will be on their head.

                        Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: if when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; then whoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.  He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him.  But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.  But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I required at the watchman’s hand.  Eze. 33:2-6.

When the watchman’s trumpet is blown, it is dangerous not to take warning.  Jesus is coming for a bride that is pure, unadulterated, “a glorious church without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”  Eph. 5:27.  If the watchman fails to blow the trumpet, it is even worse.

SOME TOUGH SITUATIONS

            Imagine if the pastor brought a Catholic priest to service, put his arm around the priest and declared, “This is our brother and I love him.  Listen to him - we can all learn from our Catholic brothers and sisters.  We love Catholics and we all belong to the same family of God.  We may not agree on everything, but Catholics love Jesus too.  We are on the same side!” Would you stand up and cheer?  Would you hug the priest and say, “We love you and we are one with you.”?  Billy Graham did.  He kissed the Pope’s ring and proclaimed that the Pope is one of the greatest and holiest Christians in the world.  Many other famous Christian leaders support the worldwide ecumenical movement to unite Evangelicals and Pentecostals with the Roman Catholic Church. The following is a list of famous Christians who are supporting the ecumenical movement of the Catholic Church.  Please note that you have the responsibility to research these people to see if it is true. 

            Benny Hinn is famous for his support of the Catholic Church as was his predecessor, Katherine Kuhlman.  Rick Joyner was recently knighted by the Knights of Malta, a Catholic organization operating out of the Vatican and dedicated to supporting the Pope.  Pat Robertson, Paul and Jan Crouch, J. I. Packer, Jack Hayford, Jack Van Impe, Robert Schuller, David Yonggi Cho, Dr. Cecil M. Robesh, Jr. (A leader in the Assembly of God hierarchy), Paul Cain, Bill Bright (head of Campus Crusade for Christ), The Salvation Army, Jerry Falwell, Jack Hayford, Chuck Colson, John Arnott of the Toronto Blessing, among many others, have come out in support of the ecumenical movement of the Catholic Church. Pat Robertson, Billy Graham, Robert Schuller and David Yonggi Cho have participated at Catholic Masses.  Rodney Howard-Browne prophesied that if the Charismatics and Pentecostals refuse to join the Catholics, God would abandon them and choose the Evangelicals to bring worldwide unity.  Will you join them?  Why not?  After all, these are the “anointed” of God and can perform signs and wonders and we love them.  As saints begin to join the movement, will you warn them or join them? This is a crucial question.  Certainly, as you read the names of some of the people in this paragraph, all kinds of emotions and thoughts are going through your mind and not all of them complimentary to this writer.  But, if you are a lover of truth, you will understand that truth cannot be compromised, even for those you love.

            Sometimes, the stress and pressure of preaching to an audience can cause a speaker to unintentionally blurt out something that is not biblical.  Later, they don’t remember saying it and never intended to say it in that manner.  I’ve done it too.  But, it is a one shot deal, accidental and not embraced by the person who said it.  We’re not talking about one-shot, inconsequential or immaterial errors made under stress.  We’re talking about falsities that affect the purity of our faith and cause  people to accept false doctrines to their detriment.  One can waste years or even an entire lifetime pursuing a false movement or doctrine.

            Do you believe that holy laughter is the beginning of worldwide revival?  Richard Roberts, Marilyn Hickey, Charles and Francis Hunter and Kenneth Copeland do.  I don’t.  I still believe that repentance, the blood of the martyrs and much prayer serve as the impetus of all revivals.  I received books and tapes on the Toronto Blessing and Pensacola Revival from close Christian friends encouraging me to go to Toronto, bring our church into the fold and “not to miss this great and last move of God.”  One brother went to Toronto, and came back convinced that the holy laughter movement was the move of the Holy Spirit to bring revival, and tried to persuade our Christian organization to join the movement.  When I stated that I didn’t believe it would bring worldwide revival, he became very cold towards me.  My purposes were pure but some labeled me a false and unloving brother and I am no longer part of that group.  In the end times, those who cling to the truth will be persecuted and ostracized as being outdated Bible fundamentalists.  Social and political acceptance are more important to many than the truth.

            Yes, there are times when the defenders of truth are themselves deceived, but their intentions righteous.  We are all in the same situation.  Our beliefs are subject to scrutiny too.  We all have the responsibility to be as the noble Bereans and search the Scriptures diligently, to see if those things spoken are true.  Ac. 17:10,11.  Should we accept a doctrine that says that we are already gods on earth?  Many Christians, including the Pensacola and Toronto leaders, Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland have accepted this doctrine called the “Manifest Sons of God” (we are Christs on earth) and the “Latter Rain Movement,” (similar outcome) and few have spoken up against it, having been awed by the famous prophets that are promoting it.  What about “Once saved, always saved?” or “pre-tribulation rapture,” or the “prosperity” doctrine, or “Christians cannot have demons,” or “tongues is of the Devil”? Beware the spirit behind many other movements and doctrines that do not line up with the Word of truth.  I’m not saying that everything these Christians say are lies.  Many are great speakers and perhaps 95% of what they say is true; but beware the 5%.  It is leaven.  We have a duty to search and see that everything is true.   See Attachment “O” regarding the false gospel of salvation.

            Please understand that the writer does not have any personal problems with any of the individuals and organizations above and has no intention to slander, defame or libel any of them.  I love them all.  The allegations were taken from various public writings and articles published by various Christian organizations as supposed truth.  I cannot vouch for their authenticity and truth since I was not part of their research.  Some individuals may have reversed their stand or clarified certain positions.  You should do your own research on this matter.

            Perhaps we have been too lax in our attitudes towards Bible and Christian truths and too condescending to challenge those we love when they spout false doctrines that bend the truth, or support movements with untruths as their basis.  Maybe we tend to “worship” famous Christians because we admire them and are awed at their “power” and when they do or say something contrary to the Bible, we blithely forget and dismiss it.  This is extremely dangerous.  It is putting people above the truth.  Not only are we allowing Satan to plant his lies in our hearts, we are disobeying God.  Certainly, we need to avoid presenting a “I’m right; you’re wrong!” face and an arrogant, prideful attitude when speaking out for truth.  Truth coming from a critical heart of self-righteousness becomes a lie too.  We need to speak the truth in love.

            Now that you know what God says about false doctrines, will you earnestly contend for the faith? or will you sit back and disobey God’s command for the sake of false unity? It’s your choice (or do you have a choice?).


ATTACHMENT F

“FIVE-FOLD MINISTRY” TEAMS

            There are no five-fold ministry teams or apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers today that are universally recognized by the Body of Christ.  (Eph. 4:11-14)  Some Christians may be doing some of the work of a five-fold minister and have some anointing, but no one is fully operating in the power and office of an apostle, prophet, evangelist, etc. as described in the Book of Acts and the epistles.  Therefore, we do not presume that we can call anyone by the titles given to five-fold ministers, with the obvious exception of a pastor and a teacher, although even this is subject to question.  We can only mimic some of the characteristics of the five-fold ministry for the time being. 

            When it comes to pastors and teachers, we assume that a pastor in the five-fold ministry is one who travels to teach other pastors - a kind of pastor to pastors.  A five-fold teacher is one who goes from place to place teaching and being a teacher of teachers.  Their anointing is on a higher and different level from the pastors and teachers in a local church.  Quite a few Christians can act as local pastors and teachers, but only a few have the anointing to be recognized by the church universal as five-fold pastors and teachers.

            It is our belief that God will restore the power and office of the five-fold ministry since the Bible speaks of a Bride of Christ, a true and perfect church for the end times.  This true church will have all the markings and truth of the early church, as well as most of its structure.  The true church is probably the “woman in the wilderness” out of which the “man-child” spoken of in Revelation 12 will be birthed.

Five-fold Ministry Teams

            Notwithstanding the absence of true five-fold ministers, there will be a definite need for teams of mature leaders who will provide the impetus and leadership for a house church movement, whether in the Philippines or elsewhere.  For the sake of simplicity, we will focus primarily on the Philippines with an eye towards developing a prototype that can be used in other countries and cultures, including Hawaii and other Western countries.

            These “five-fold” leaders should be of one accord, one vision and one goal - to promote and nurture house churches and strive to keep them non-denominational and united.  These should be all born-again, tongue-speaking and mature Christians who have absolutely no self-promotion or glorification in mind.  We need to remember that these five-fold leaders will become largely independent and “on their own” once the revival/harvest is in full bloom and during times of persecution.  Therefore, we must all be of one heart and one mind from the very outset.  (The author is not against denominations in the sense that they are false churches or enemies of God.  None of the present-day churches are true yet, denominational or otherwise.  However, God’s true church must be totally united in doctrine, practices and heart.)

            These “five-fold” leaders must be tested and proven by God in order to become “apostles,” “prophets,” “evangelists,” etc.  When God restores the true church, some will actually receive an incredible level of anointing such as the original apostles and other leaders had.  Miracles, signs and wonders will be wrought by the apostles once again.  Ac. 5:12.  For this reason, choosing the right people from the outset is vital.  We need to pray hard that God will show us who have been chosen by Him.  This step is essential and cannot be glossed over or influenced by friendship, politics or social correctness. 

Functions

            As in the first century, the five-fold ministers must lead the church in pureness of doctrine and practices, with a desire to form the Bride of Christ.  Watchman Nee, in his book entitled Spiritual Authority, claims that a true prophet always has in mind the Bride of Christ for the end times.  These must be the greatest examples of what a saint should be like.  They will pay a heavy price for doing so.  If Bible history repeats itself, the apostles and other five-fold leaders will be hunted down and killed by the enemy first.  It is conjectured that the two groups of witnesses (martyrs) spoken of in Revelation 11, will be the apostles and other five-fold ministers of the end times, although perhaps not all five-fold people will go this way.  Some will end up in the Woman in the Wilderness or the Army of God (man-child) spoken of in Revelation 12.  At any rate, the love factor in a candidate for the five-fold ministry teams will be crucial.  Is he willing to die for the sake of the Gospel and the sheep entrusted to him?

            What is the purpose of the five-fold ministry teams?  The answer is found in the Bible pattern, especially the book of Acts.  They will be the heads of the Church directly under Christ.  The job of each member is specially outlined in certain manuals and books we have already studied and will not be repeated here.  Five-fold ministers will be expected to be field generals who will travel all over the land to visit house churches and leaders in every locale.  The older ones who cannot travel as easily as the younger ones will function closer to home and will serve as administrators as well.

            These are some of the functions of the 5-fold ministry teams:

            1.  Act as the “glue” that holds the Church universal together.

            2.  Be the guardians of pure doctrine and practices in the Church.

            3.  Teach, lay hands on, ordain house church leaders and put them into their respective offices.

            4.  Serve as icons, examples and models for the Church, that others may follow (Paul often said, “Follow me.”  He was not saying that we should be like him, but to follow his example of seeking to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.).

            5.  Supervise the house churches within their respective jurisdictions.

            6.  Assist other five-fold ministers and cooperate with all leaders.

            7.  Work as a team along with other leaders and other five-fold ministers with unity and singleness of mind.

            8.  Be responsible for the welfare of the Church.

Unity of vision and purpose is a “must.”  Eventually and especially during times of persecution, five-fold ministers will find themselves isolated and having to act on their own.  Unless a person is totally committed to unity and the doctrines and visions as agreed upon, it is easy for such a person to stray, especially if he becomes self-promoting.

            Five-fold ministers must have a direct line with God and have almost daily communion with the Lord.  Everything they do must come out of the will of God.  They must be spiritually mature in every sense of the word.  At this point, we don’t know how God is going to accomplish the restoration of the five-fold ministry, but we know He will in His own time and according to His own plan.


ATTACHMENT G

HOUSE CHURCH LEADERS

            Some historians claim that the title “pastor” was rarely used in documents written during the first three hundred years.  They conclude that the early church never had appointed leaders in a house church and that everyone was equal in terms of making decisions and leading the group.  It is difficult to imagine a group without a leader, although some choose to call such a person a coordinator or facilitator.  My speculation is that the word “pastor” was not easily given and the leader of a house group was just that - a house group leader, overseer, or bishop.  All were elders.  No one was really after titles, or at least should not be. 

            The Bible clearly indicates that the Church had a chain of command starting from Christ, then the five-fold ministry and ending with a group of leaders called “elders.”  The house church leaders were probably elders.  These leaders met on issues that concerned the entire church.  Ac. 15:6.  The five-fold ministry was accepted by the Church as “gifts” to the body and people who supervised the goings-on of the local churches.  Eph. 4:11-13.      

            In addition, the apostles especially, were gifted by God to do and wrought many miracles - signs and wonders.  It would be hard to imagine that they were controlled by general consensus.  Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”  A facilitator or coordinator does not have “rule” over people according to the definitions given by groups that do not believe in spiritual authority.  We can only speculate that past abuses by leadership have soured these groups who now see everyone as being equal in terms of leadership.

            As mentioned earlier, the Army of God mentioned in Joel 2:11, is comprised of Christians who “march every one on his ways, and … shall not break ranks,” and they “… shall walk everyone in his path….”  verses 7,8.  These passages indicate that there are ranks and different paths for each saint.  “Ranks” implies a chain of command involving different levels or “ranks.”

            We conclude that house churches should have specific leaders, including one who has overall charge or who is the overseer of the group, and secondly there should be assistants to the leader.  It is reported that some modern house groups, especially in parts of mainland China, have a registrar or recorder as well as an assistant.

“PASTORS”

            The lack of usage of the word “pastor” or “pastors” may indicate that the title was reserved to the five-fold ministry and not used to delineate house church leaders.  Perhaps, a “pastor” was one who had up to a hundred house churches under his jurisdiction or responsibility, as is seen in China and elsewhere today.  House church leaders were elders by definition and also shepherds, overseers or bishops.  1 Ti. 3:1.   Since the title “pastor” was not often used, this implies that house church leaders did not use that title, although there is no conclusive evidence.  However, as Shakespeare said, “A rose by any name smells the same.” 

            We need to be aware also, of the fact that we are discussing house churches and not just cell groups or house groups as used by some denominations today to describe their church organization.  Cell groups or house meetings that are subordinate to and controlled by a central church and are actually appendages.  House churches, on the other hand, are independent churches in and of themselves, although they may be part of a larger network of churches and may or may not recognize certain members of the five-fold ministry.  In effect, the words “facilitator” or “coordinator” may more accurately describe the central headquarters for the particular area or region where the house church is located.  For instance, Jerusalem served as the central headquarters out of which Peter, James and other apostles operated, while Antioch was known to be the central headquarters out of which Paul and his helpers operated.  The relationship was a very loose one in terms of direct supervision and possibly the only contact between the central headquarters and the individual house churches in the outlying regions was through the apostles and other five-fold ministry individuals who traveled about the countryside and other areas.  Paul’s journeys took him to regions far distant from Antioch and took him years at a time.  He also spend extended periods of time residing in cities such as Ephesus, Corinth, etc. 

            During times of peace, it was possible to have a more tightly organized house church network, with a pyramid type of structure in which groups of house churches would be monitored and assisted by one “pastor” and groups of pastors led by an apostle, and so forth.  But, in times of persecution it is almost a certainty that a central headquarters was a physical impossibility.  Jerusalem was itself destroyed about fifty years after Jesus returned to heaven.  However, the five-fold ministry and “central headquarters” became underground entities.  This is seen in mainland China where the vast majority of house churches became almost entirely autonomous, except for occasions when visitors from other churches and perhaps well-known mature leaders would pay clandestine visits.  It is speculated that a very similar system will arise even in Western countries when persecution sets in.

            That is not to say that the house churches were isolated.  When I visited the underground churches in mainland China about eight years ago, they were well organized and each house church was familiar with other saints that belonged to other house churches in the area.  Each house church enjoyed a close relationship with all the other house churches and knew the names of all the house group leaders.  It was as if there was only one church in the entire city, although there was no formal organization or physical structure.   In China, the house churches were well-organized and did, in fact, call their leaders “Pastor.”  The Chinese saints all spoke of the leaders in reverent and respectful terms, whether it was their pastor or some other group’s leader.  This is what God always purposed - a universal church that is one in love and Spirit.  The true church was not a huge congregation within one monstrous building, but rather a living organism spread out over the entire area, each working together for the head - Jesus Christ.

            Our conclusion is that it makes very little difference what we call the leader.  Modern custom says “Pastor,” while history does not record such a title being widely used in house churches.  Whether we call the house church leader a “house shepherd,” “pastor,” “overseer,” “elder,” or “bishop” make little difference except to a few saints who love titles.  If you follow 1 Timothy 3:1, the title “bishop” would seem appropriate.  Another correct title would be “elder.”  Ac. 14:23.   For the sake of clarity, however, we will continue to use “pastor” since it is by far the most commonly used title.

Qualifications

            1 Timothy 3:1-13 well describes the qualifications of a bishop (elder) and a deacon, and we will not repeat those requirements here.  In times of persecution and in the midst of a revival/harvest, we would be hard pressed to find large numbers of fully qualified leaders.  It is reported that during past revival/harvest times, there was an extreme shortage of teachers and leaders and saints who had been converted only six months previous had to be pressed into service as teachers for the Lord.

            It would therefore, seem that the following will be necessary:

            1.  Begin the training process as soon as possible in order to have as many qualified house church leaders as possible when revival/harvest comes.

            2.  Condense as many teaching outlines as possible, especially Foundation courses so that new converts can receive and absorb the lessons as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality.  On the positive side, it is said that after a few years, even college graduates forget over 85% of what they learned in college and after ten years, retain only 5% to 10%.  They will remember only the important things.

            3.  New teaching outlines should be available to as many as possible.  When revival/harvest begins, it may be too late to start writing and printing these outlines.  We need to start now!

            4.  A house church “elder” should be someone who is solid in terms of Bible doctrines and practices.  Preferably, he or she should be a mature Christian.  However, field conditions may require a great deal of adaptation.  Nevertheless, guidelines should be adhered to.

            5.  An elder must be born-again, preferably tongue-speaking and anointed of the Lord.

            6.  The current leaders of the existing church should lay hands on these house church elders and impart the Holy Spirit and anointing to them before they are released into their house church ministry.

            7.  There should be minimal training at least, for these elders.

            8.  These elders should be made acquainted with other elders and leaders in their area.  This is so they can rely on help from outside and be able to meet periodically with others.  A line of communication will be essential.  There should be no renegades, even during times of persecution.

            9.  These elders should be subject to an appointed “apostle” or mature Christian who will periodically “drop in” to help steer the house church in the right direction in terms of doctrines and practices.  Prophets and evangelists should also be part of the house church’s exposure to other parts of the Body of Christ.  Some loose organization is necessary and should be acknowledged by each house church leader.  Otherwise, there is a danger of isolation and deception.  Without constant and periodic checks and balances, cults could result and heresies abound.

          10.  Initially, these house church leaders should be trained and given a certificate or diploma that indicates that they are qualified to lead a house church.  The Bible college at Santa Rosa or the vocational training center could serve as the initial training headquarters.

House Group Leaders

            Assuming that the restoration of house churches will follow the Bible pattern, we know that house groups were places of worship and service.  A house group leader must be given to hospitality and service.  Although others pitched in to help serve and care for the members, the owner of the house had additional duties.  He/she had to make sure that the house was clean and presentable at all times, that supplies of food and other comfort items were provided and that everyone knew the times and order of gatherings, etc.  He had to have his children and wife in order and have no rebellion in the family.

            It was a privilege to have your house as a gathering place of the saints, but there are certain responsibilities as well.  Supposedly, the owner of the house is also the leader, but not always so.  Some leaders do not own a house and it is plausible that another person’s house could serve as a meeting place, although the leader comes from elsewhere.

            The scriptures show that Christians went from house to house to share a meal and to fellowship.  Therefore, the house owner or leader should be hospitable and willing to serve others.  He had to be wise and have spiritual maturity in order to feed the sheep spiritual things.  He had to have an abundance of love and the ability to teach and guide.  He must be one who is well-respected in the community.

            As God reveals further truth and strategies, we will make the adjustments.


ATTACHMENT H

REVIVAL AND PERSECUTION

                According to our Lord Jesus, the end of the age will be heralded in by “the beginning of sorrows.”  Mt. 24:8.  Immediately following will be tribulation, often called the “Great Tribulation.”  At the same time, there will be the last and greatest revival of all time.  Matthew 24:14 says, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”  Revelation 14:6 says, “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.”  Therefore, we know that a great revival is going to take place before the end.  It is inconceivable that the gospel of the kingdom shall be preached and that an angel will cause the everlasting gospel to be preached unto all on earth without a revival/harvest resulting.  God’s word will never come back void.

            In 1998, an angel appeared to us in Lal-lo, Tucalana in the province of Cagayan and announced that a revival would take place in that area in the northern Philippines.  In 2001, four members of our team saw the same angel standing in the exact same spot, flanked on each side by two other angels.  Because of that, we began concentrating on the Philippines.  An explanation of that is attached below.        

            In Matthew 24:15, after Jesus announced that a great revival was going to take place, he said in the very next verse, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) then let them that be in Judaea flee into the mountains:….”   This indicates that the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet is either soon on the heels of revival or almost concurrent. 

            The abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet is found in Daniel 8:11-14; 9:17,26-27; 11:31; 12:11. 

                         Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.  And a host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced, and prospered.  That I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?  And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.  Da. 8:11-14.

 

                        . . . (A)nd cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake.  O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolation….  Da. 9:17,18.

 

                        And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, and not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.  And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even unto the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.  Da. 9:26-27.

 

                        And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.  Da. 11:31.

 

                        And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.  Da. 12:11.

             Therefore, it is clear that during the end times, Christians will be widely persecuted and eventually the government (one-world government) is going to make worship to the Lord Jesus Christ illegal.  There will be a one-world government and a one-world religion as prophesied in Revelation 13.

            The churches will be destroyed and/or made desolate or empty.  Daniel 7:21 says, “I beheld, and the same horn made war against the saints, and prevailed against them.”  Verse 25 says, “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.”  (note: 3-½ years)  Revelation 13:7 says, “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.”

            But in the very end, the people of God shall prevail.  Da. 7:22,27.  There will be a group of Christians who will be left standing in the end.  Dispensationalist and others that believe in Pre-tribulation Rapture claim that after Revelation 2 and 3 there is no mention of the church and therefore, it means that the church has been raptured up.  We disagree.  No mention is made of the church because it will be destroyed.

            The point is, persecution/tribulation will likely come sometime during revival or immediately thereafter.  When one prays for revival, he must be aware that he is also praying for persecution and tribulation.  We are not to avoid persecution and tribulation, but to prepare for it.  That is why we are intent on house churches that will be ready for revival and also allow as many saints to survive as possible.

            Not many will survive.  2 Thessalonians says,

                         Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

When the one-world government lines every one up and demands that Christians either renounce Jesus and take the mark of the beast, or be killed, many will take the easy way out and renounce Jesus.  They will fall away from the faith.

            The process of falling away started a long time ago with the introduction of pagan practices and “new doctrines” not taught by the early apostles.  The man of sin is no other than the spirit of the fallen Adam, the man of  sin, the son of perdition.  The question is - who sits on the throne in your heart, in the temple of God, which is your body?  1 Co. 6:19.  Is it the First Adam, the man of sin, or the Last Adam, Jesus Christ?  Those who still worship self  will renounce Jesus and take the mark.  On that day, the man of sin will be revealed.

 

ATTACHMENT I

THE NORMAL CHRISTIAN LIFE

            Watchman Nee’s book entitled The Normal Christian Life serves as the basis for our foundational teaching on how God plans to have mature sons and daughters in the image of His Son Jesus. 

            His book has been carefully summarized chapter by chapter (14 of them) and they have been outlined to create a teaching manual on the subject, along with test questions and answers.  Both the summaries (in the form of fourteen newsletters) and the teaching manual are available.  This topic is essential to our understanding of who we are and how we are to live out our lives as Christians.  Those who do not clearly have God’s plan in their heart will find it difficult to mature spiritually in the fullness of Christ.  While there may be saints who will attain a high position in heaven through the sacrifice of their life as martyrs, walking the earth and living a Christian life in extended service to the Lord is another matter.  The latter takes divine revelation, discipline and an utter devotion to God‘s purposes.

            The other reason for the teaching manual is the understanding that during the coming revival and persecution soon to follow, new converts have only a short span of time to mature.  Therefore, we have strived to put together a program of teaching that emphasizes the absolute essentials in as short a time as possible. 

            The newsletters and the teaching manual will be made available to all house group leaders.


ATTACHMENT J

 SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY

            Spiritual Authority is the title of a book compiled through the teachings of Watchman Nee.  Like The Normal Christian Life, Spiritual Authority is a vital revelation of how a Christian must live his life in order to serve God.  It emphasizes God’s authority and our need to be submissive and obedient to all authority.  Without obedience, God’s kingdom cannot be established on earth.

            God chose the Church to manifest His glory on earth.  Sadly, the Church has been largely ineffective because of much rebellion, hidden and overt.  Since we are entering an age during which the Church will be perfected and without spot, wrinkle or blemish or any such thing, we need to receive direct revelation about the importance of obedience.

            Like The Normal Christian Life, this book has been summarized chapter by chapter and placed in newsletter form.  There are twenty chapters and therefore, twenty newsletters.  Again, this book has been reduced to a teaching manual with test questions and answers for each chapter.  Both the newsletters and the teaching manual will be made available to all house group leaders.

            Learning submission, humility and obedience is mandatory if we are to become the Bride of Christ.


ATTACHMENT K

 DIPLOMAS/CERTIFICATES

(Reserved)


ATTACHMENT L

STATEMENT OF FAITH

LIGHT OF THE WORLD MISSIONS

AND

LIGHT OF THE WORLD MISSIONS – PHILIPPINES

 ONE GOD

             There is only one God, - the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as revealed in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments.  Any “God” or “Jesus” who is not the same as described in the Bible, and in particular, the King James Version, is a different God and a different Jesus.  The almighty God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent.  He is love. 

 THE BIBLE

            The Bible is the inerrant Word of God, written by men through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Errors in the Bible are mostly errors in translation and other supposed errors will be revealed as truth in due time. We believe that the King James Version is the most accurate Bible, despite a few translation errors.  However, we do occasionally use other Bibles for reference or comparison.  The Bible was written by men inspired by God and is the complete truth.  Forty-four men wrote the Bible over a span of about 1,600 years from different locations, but each writer is consistent with all the other writers in describing the nature of God.  No one is allowed to distort, change or add to the Bible.  The Bible is to be interpreted according to its historical context and all doctrines and teachings not consistent with the Bible are to be discarded. 

            Since the Bible is clear that any Jesus or doctrine not taught by the early apostles should be rejected, we do not accept any modern or “new interpretation” or revelation that was never part of the teachings espoused by the first century apostles, although some passages are to be interpreted with a historical perspective.  Such doctrines include the Pre-tribulation Rapture, Satan’s name is Lucifer, December 25 is Jesus’ birthday, Easter (Ishtar) represents Jesus’ resurrection, Third Wave, Dispensationalism, Dominion Doctrine, Manifest Sons of God, Latter Rain, Prosperity Doctrine, Faith Movement, and similar beliefs never taught by the early apostles.

            We do not accept scriptural passages taken out of context or isolated from the rest of the Bible.  The main question is - was the passage of scripture intended by the writer to answer the very question that the scripture is being used to answer?  If not, then it is out of context.  We believe that accurate interpretation of the Bible is the ministry of the Holy Spirit and only He can guide us into all truth.

THE TRINITY

            We believe in the trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.  It is a mystery, but the Bible is clear that God is described as three distinct persons but God is one.  1 Jn. 5:7,8. 

Jesus is God and God created the heavens and  the earth through the Spirit of God.  Gen. 1:1.  The Bible says that Jesus created the heavens and the earth and everything in it (through the Holy Spirit).  Jn. 1:1-3,10; Eph. 3:9; Col. 1:16.  The Father, Son and Holy Ghost all have the same nature, honor and glory, have different personalities and functions in the plan of redemption.  All three are in total agreement.

JESUS CAME TO EARTH

            Before He created the worlds, God had two eternal purposes in His heart: to have sons and daughters in His image and to have a Church without spot, wrinkle or blemish that would become the Bride of Christ.  Jesus came to earth in the flesh in order to bring men back to God‘s original purposes.   Jesus was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on the cross on Calvary for the sins of the world, rose bodily from the dead and ascended back into heaven.  He is presently in heaven, seated on the right hand of the Father where He will reign until all His enemies are made His footstool (defeated).  1 Co. 15:24,25.  We reject the idea that Jesus was just a man who was made into a god because of His good works.  In order to set up the kingdom of God on earth, He had to establish submission and obedience.  Therefore, it was necessary for Him to say that the Father was greater than the Son.

Jesus was, is and will always be God, - before He came to earth, while he was on earth in the flesh, today and forevermore.  He gave up all His glory and power to become like you and me when He walked the earth in the flesh, but He was still God.  Heb. 4:15. While on earth, Jesus did all of His miracles, including healing of the sick, casting out of devils, raising the dead, feeding the multitudes, walking on water, etc., by and through the power of the Holy Ghost. 

All born-again Christians have the same Holy Ghost in them and the same power available to do the same things Jesus did when He walked the earth, depending on their level of purity, obedience and faith.  Jn. 14:12.  The power of God is given to all born-again Christians to preach the gospel of salvation to all the world.  Ac. 1:8.  We reject the idea that we are gods or that we will become gods or Christs on earth or in heaven.

SALVATION

Salvation is a gift of grace from God, through faith.  If one confesses his sins and repents, if he believes in Jesus as the Son of God who died for our sins on the Cross and rose from the dead on the third day to redeem us from our sins, and if he receives the Holy Ghost, he is born again and saved.  One cannot “earn” his way to heaven by good works.  We are saved by grace through faith.  After salvation, however, we are commanded to do good works according to the will of God.  All works that do not originate from the mind of God are unacceptable “dead works.” 

WATER BAPTISM

            Jesus commands us to be baptized by immersion under water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  However, God will have mercy and grace when it comes to those who are bed-ridden or of an advanced age, as we have experienced.  Water baptism is a public declaration that we are united with Jesus Christ in His death and burial.  When we emerge from the waters of baptism, it speaks of our unity with Christ in resurrection.  Ro. 6:3-5.  We need to undergo water baptism where possible, in obedience to the Lord Jesus.

HOLY COMMUNION

            Holy Communion, often referred to as the Lord’s Supper, the Last Supper or the Holy Eucharist, is symbolic.  It reminds us of the body and blood of Jesus that was sacrificed on the cross.  It also reminds us that He lives within us by His Spirit.  It is also a public declaration that the Lord Jesus Christ is our Master and our God.

A NEW RACE AFTER THE LAST ADAM

            We believe that we were identified with Christ when He died on the Cross and rose from the dead.  By faith, our sin nature passed down by the First Adam was nailed to the Cross and we are dead to sin.  When we rose from the dead with Christ, we were born into a new race of people after the Last Adam, Jesus Christ, who is also called the Second Man.  Sin has no more dominion over us and we are new creatures in Christ.

OLD COVENANT VS. NEW COVENANT

            Jesus disannulled the covenant made with Moses, sealed by circumcision.  The ritual and ceremonial laws were done away with and the moral laws, including the Ten Commandments were written in our hearts and minds.  Heb. 8:5-13.  We are no longer bound to obey the written laws and to observe Sabbaths, holydays and new moons in the flesh, including Easter and Christmas.  Under the New Covenant, Jesus became our Sabbath, our rest.  Heb. 4:3-11. The things that happened in the Old Testament were to serve as examples and shadows of heavenly things (to come).  Heb. 8:5; Col. 2:17.  Under the new covenant, we are to be led by the Holy Spirit in all things.  If we are led by the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.  Gal. 5:16.  The laws and statutes of the Old Testament were to show us that it is impossible to obey in the flesh.  As born-again Christians, we are to live our lives by obedience to the Holy Spirit.

BAPTISM OF THE HOLY GHOST

            Jesus commanded His disciples to wait until the promise of the Holy Ghost was received.  After receiving the Holy Ghost, the disciples had power to spread the Gospel.  Ac. 1:8.  As His disciples waited in an upper room, the Holy Ghost suddenly came as a mighty wind and cloven tongues of fire settled on the head of each disciple who began speaking in a strange tongue.  Ac. 2:1-4.  After the baptism of the Holy Ghost, we too will have power to preach the Gospel throughout the world, followed by signs and wonders.  We believe that speaking in strange tongues is evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

THE CHURCH

            We believe that Jesus Christ is coming back for a bride without spot, blemish or wrinkle – a true church that has not committed fornication with other gods and religions, that has not changed the doctrines espoused by the early apostles in any meaningful way and who earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints, including the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit.  God has chosen the Church to manifest His authority and kingdom on earth and requires that all saints submit to spiritual authority, whether direct or indirect.  God delegates His authority to humans, and disobedience to such delegated authority is disobedience to God.

A WAR

We believe that there are two opposing kingdoms – the kingdom of God (light) versus the kingdom of Satan (darkness).  Satan’s ultimate goal is to rule the world and destroy all true Christians.  Rev. 13:7,8; Da. 7:21,25.  There will be a time when a one-world government and one-world religion will rule the world and make worship of Jesus illegal, punishable by death (abomination of desolation). Mt. 24:15; Da. 8:11,24; 9:26,27; 11:31. The Church will be physically destroyed, but God will raise up a remnant that will ultimately defeat Satan and his kingdom.  Re. 19:11-21. 

We believe that there is a Satan, also called the devil, dragon, adversary and other names. He is the present prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2); that is, he rules from the mid-heavens where his princes (strongmen) have their thrones and they control areas of the world assigned to them by Satan.  Eph. 6:12.  Many problems and most illnesses are caused by demonic powers.  We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the powers of darkness of this earth, and against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Eph. 6:12.

            One of the signs of a true believer is his ability to cast out devils, speak in new tongues and heal the sick.  Mk. 16:17-19.  Jesus gave us power over demons.  Lk. 10:19.

            Angels are real and there are various kinds that mankind do not have full knowledge of.  They can be messengers of God, warring angels, guardian angels and the like.  Satan’s demons are sometimes called dark or evil angels.

OUR RESPONSIBILITY REGARDING THE WAR

            It is the responsibility of the Church to destroy Jesus’ enemies so He can come back to usher in the Millennial Age.  Jesus will remain in heaven until His enemies are destroyed.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.  1 Co. 15:26; Heb. 10:13; Ac. 34,35.  As we approach the end of the age, Satan will increase his activities on earth and there will be a final battle of the ages between the powers of darkness and God’s people.  Victory for God’s people is already assured (Rev. 12:11; Da. 7:22,26), but many Christians will fall away from the faith.  2 Th. 2:3.

RITUALS, CEREMONIES AND HOLY DAYS

             As stated above, Jesus required that we observe only two rituals or ceremonies: (1) water baptism; (2) Holy Communion.  We are not commanded or obligated to observe any Sabbath, holyday or new moon, including Christmas and Easter.  Col. 2:16; Gal. 4:9-11.  We believe that Christmas, Easter and many other observances come from the Babylonian religion and are abominations to God.  Fornication with the enemy will result in the destruction of many Christians and churches in the end times.  Eze. 8:3-18; Eze. 9:1-7.

            We believe that any doctrine introduced after the first century church should be rejected as being contrary to instructions by the early apostles not to accept any doctrine not taught by the early apostles.  2 Co. 11:3,4; Gal. 1:8; Tit. 1:9,10,11,13, Jude 3.  This includes doctrines and movements such as the Dominion doctrine, Manifest Sons of God, Latter Rain, Dispensationalism, Pre-Tribulation or Mid-Tribulation Rapture, Replacement, Restoration, Laughter Revival, Third Wave and other recent movements.

            This does not mean that there is no room for interpretation of scriptures, but when an interpretation, doctrine or movement is directly contrary to, leads us believe in a false hope or message, tends to take our focus away from perfection in Jesus or shifts our attention to a belief that has no real scriptural basis, we should soundly reject it. 

PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE

            We do not believe in either pre-tribulation or mid-tribulation rapture.  There are three direct scriptures that say that Jesus is coming back after the tribulation (Mt. 24:29,30; Mk. 13:26; Lk. 21,27.), and one indirect statement that says that the resurrection of the martyrs that are beheaded during tribulation is the first resurrection.  Rev. 20:5.  There are no direct or indirect scriptures saying that Jesus is coming back before or during tribulation.  We reject all scriptures not intended to answer the question – when will Jesus return?  They are out of context.  No indirect scripture or other Bible passage not intended to answer that question can overturn a direct passage that was intended to answer the same question.  In addition, we reject those doctrines on ground that they were not taught by the original apostles, as required by 2 Co. 11:3,4; Gal. 1:8; Tit. 1:9,10,11,13, Jude 3.

            We believe that there will be a taking away only when Jesus returns at the end of the age after tribulation, with His armies, to destroy all evil on the earth.  Rev. 19:11-21.   The “rapture” in Revelation 12:5 is only of the man-child army of God which takes place after the first 3-1/2 years of Tribulation.  Any other belief is calculated to weaken the saints.  In the end times, many saints will be unprepared when they are caught in the coming tribulation.

LUCIFER

            We reject the belief that Satan’s name is Lucifer.  “Lucifer” is a Latin word that was mistakenly left in the King James Version when it was translated.  The person referred to in Isaiah 14:12 is the fallen Adam.  Satan was never an archangel, and he never rebelled and was cast out of heaven to earth never to return.  There is no scripture calling Satan an archangel.  He was a murderer from the beginning and the father of lies.  Jn. 8:44.  He sinned from the beginning.  1 Jn. 3:8.  Rev. 12:9-10 which describes Satan and his evil angels being defeated by Michael the archangel and cast down to earth, speaks of the end times, not a time before Adam and Eve were created.  Satan still has access to the throne of God.  He petitions God to have you and me.  Rev. 12:10; Job 1:6-12; Job 2:1-7, Lk. 22:31.  There will be a time soon when Satan will be cast down to earth.  Jesus foretold it in Luke 10:18.

CHRISTMAS AND EASTER

            Christmas and Easter are abominations to God.  Historically, December 25 was the birthday of Tammuz, the sun god of Babylon, whose signs are green trees cut out of the forest, made to stand upright and decked with silver and gold.  Jer. 10:1-5.  Easter is the Anglican spelling of the name “Ishtar,” the Babylonian goddess-mother of Tammuz who was the goddess of witchcraft and fertility.  Her signs were colored eggs and hot-cross buns.  She is also called the Queen of Heaven (Jer. 44:17,l8,19) and Lady (“Madonna”).  Is. 47:5.  We sometimes refer to her as Jezebel, one of her many forms.

ECUMENICAL MOVEMENT

            We renounce and reject the ecumenical movement presently being advanced and promoted by the Roman Catholic Church and endorsed by many Evangelicals and Pentecostal/ Charismatic leaders.  This movement is designed to create a one-world religion as described in Revelation 13:7,8 and 11-18, and is of the Devil.  We reject any compromise in doctrine and practice that deviate from the principles of the early church and as taught by the original apostles.  It is part of the Devil’s plan to form a one-world religion that will eventually cause Christianity to be out-lawed and destroyed.

REVIVAL

            We believe that Holy Spirit revival can be attained only through heartfelt repentance for the sins of the people and much prayer.  The Scripture example is Da. 9:1-19.  “Revival” refers to the saints, while “harvest” refers to unbelievers.  Revival must come before the end of the age.  Mt. 24:14; Mk. 13:10.  Therefore, the Church must repent and return to God.  However, the Church must also prepare for tribulation that will come even as revival is on-going or soon thereafter.

FIVE-FOLD MINISTRY

            We believe that God is going to restore the five-fold ministry as described in Eph. 4:11-13 which God gave as gifts to the church and for the purpose of government.  However, only God can appoint, commission and anoint any of His leaders into the five-fold ministry.  The government of the first century church was built on the five-fold ministry network that worked as a team to forge a strong foundation based on the Word of God, to edify and perfect the saints and strengthen the local churches.  Eph. 4:11-13.  Because of the current disunity of the Body of Christ, there is no current and true five-fold ministry, although there are individuals who are being called and prepared by God to function as five-fold ministry as the true church comes to fruition.  The five-fold ministry is to train the saints, edify and perfect them; not to do all the work.  The work of the preaching the gospel of salvation is the responsibility of all saints, individually and collectively.

ELIJAH COMES

            Malachi 4:5 says that God will send the spirit of “Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their fathers.” A sign of the end of the age and the return of the Lord Jesus is the restoration of the true church.  Jesus said that Elijah comes to restore all things.  Mt. 17:11.  However, it will probably be only a small portion of the Body of Christ that will be part of the  restoration.  Denominational differences and carnal, self-serving minds will not bend and many will be men-pleasers instead of God pleasers. 

            The spirit of Elijah will be poured out on some of God’s servants who will strive to right the church and bring unity to those who would obey.  They will bring truth back to the church in terms of doctrines, government and maturity.  They will cause the men in the church to take their rightful positions and responsibilities and will raise up “fathers” in the church.  We note that apostles and spiritually mature male leaders were called “fathers” in the Bible.  1Co. 4:15; 1 Jn. 2:13,14.  There are few fathers or spiritually mature men in the present church.  By mature, we mean people who have an intimate relationship with God, and manifest the fruit and gifts of the Spirit in signs and wonders and demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit.  When the fathers are restored, they will turn their hearts to the children of the kingdom and the children of the kingdom will turn their hearts back to the fathers.

            Jesus has given gifts to men.  God appoints Christians into particular ministries and anoints them for the ministry at His own pleasure.  Although gifts are good and necessary, they do not necessarily change the hearts of men.  It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit that reveal the inner condition of a Christian. 

            Love remains as the greatest fruit of the Spirit.  Love is the basis of both the character of God and the nature of the kingdom of heaven.  Love brings forth humility, submission, loyalty, obedience and the other fruits of the Spirit.  We are to move in love towards God and one another.  A sign of the end times is the loss of love in the church.  Mt. 24:12; Mk. 14:12.

SPIRITUAL BABYLON

            We believe that the world is already engulfed in a spiritual city called Babylon.  This spiritual city mimics historical Babylon and features the same nefarious characteristics:  infant sacrifice (abortions, sexual promiscuity, disdain for marriage (divorces), mind-altering drugs (cocaine was invented by the Mesopotamians, the fore-runners of Babylon), homosexuality, astrology/psychic activities, confusion and female leadership.  It is Satan’s playground.  His ruling spirits include Jezebel and Ahab, pride, greed, murder and violence, death and occult mind control.

            We believe that many churches are being controlled by the Spirit of Jezebel and Ahab.  Rev. 2:20.  As a church, we are to stand up, engage the enemy and destroy the works of the devil.  1 Jn. 3:8b.

CHURCH GOVERNMENT

            We do not believe in controlling the affairs of other churches.  We believe that the government of the Body of Christ is in the hands of the five-fold ministry that God is going to restore.  Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers will work as a team.  Five-fold ministry will provide a spiritual bonding for all churches and will confirm, lay on hands to impart spiritual gifts, release pastors, teachers and other elders into the local churches and lead the saints into perfection in Jesus.  Eph. 4:11-13.  As in the New Testament, the elders in a local church will come together to discuss matters that affect the local church and all the elders of local churches will come together to pray over and decide matters affecting the entire true Body of Christ.

RESTORATION OF GOD’S TRUE CHURCH

            When God restores the five-fold ministry, He will also restore the spiritual power that enabled the apostles to preach with signs and wonders following.  The demonstration of power by the Holy Ghost will be great.  While others have prophesied the restoration of apostles and prophets, we do not agree that the entire existing church will be led into an era of victory and glory and shall rule the earth to welcome Jesus when He returns.  We believe that the church is headed for destruction and will be overcome by Satan‘s beast or one of the horns on the beast.  Rev. 13:7,8; Da. 7:21,25.  In the very end, however, a remnant shall be victorious and usher in the Millennial Age.  Out of the few remaining true Christians, will come the “woman in the wilderness” (Rev. 12:1,2, 4b-6,13-16), the man-child army (Rev. 12:5) and the martyrs (Rev. 12:17).  All others will fall away from the faith.  2 Th. 2:3.

HOUSE CHURCHES

            We believe that house churches will be restored in the end times.  The first three hundred years of the church featured house churches with twenty to forty members, on the average.  These churches made it possible to more easily mature the saints, bring unity and singleness of heart, and proliferate all over the then-known world.  This format also enabled the church to go underground and survive vicious attacks and attempts to destroy all Christians. 

ARMY OF GOD

            We believe that the man-child of Revelation 12:5 is the Army of God - 144,000 in all (12,000 from each tribe).  It is not natural Israel.  Born-again Christians of every ethnic background make up spiritual Israel.  Romans 2:28,29 says, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”  Galatians 6:15 says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availed any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.”  There are many scriptures that say that there will be a people who were not God’s people, who will be called the people of God.  1 Pet. 2:10; Rev. 5:9; Ro. 9:25.  This army will be taken up to the throne of God and stand with Jesus on the mount Sion (Rev. 14:1) and will follow Jesus wherever He goes.  When Jesus comes back, they will be on white horses as part of His armies (Rev. 19:14) and will come to destroy all evil on earth.  They are also spoken of in Joel 2:1-11 and Isaiah 13:1-20. 

JESUS COMING BACK

            We believe that Jesus is coming back for His Bride - a perfect Church made up of perfect sons and daughters who are children of light.  No one knows when He is returning, but the Father, but His return is imminent.  Before the Lord returns, the Church will be overcome by the Devil, except for a remnant.  God’s people will be purified and the remnant will prevail and overcome in the end.  Da. 7:22,25; Rev. 12:11.  The saints will then rule forever and ever.


ATTACHMENT M

TRAINING CENTERS AND OTHER THINGS

Initial Training Centers

            The initiating church can be the first training center for the purpose of preparing house church pastors and leaders.  The current staff can act as the original instigators and workers.  There are many reasons why a training center is needed: (1) to provide networking and coordination among the house churches; (2) to train all pastors and workers on a continual basis; (3) to encourage cooperation, close relationships and mutual help among the house churches in the area.

Monthly Celebrations

            Either the training center or some other location can be used to hold a monthly celebration service.  (There will be a time when this cannot take place, such as during persecution.)  All house churches in the area are required to attend such celebrations which should be held at least once a month, perhaps on the first Sunday.  These monthly celebrations help to acquaint the saints with one another and foster friendships and personal ties.  The service should focus on worship and not so much on teaching, although the Holy Spirit is the final arbiter.

The Need for Networking

            There is a need for good networking in both times of peace and persecution.  Establish good communications and contacts among the house churches so that the saints will be familiar as possible with one another.  During times of relative peace, the church will be able to move forward quicker through the help of others.  For instance, a house church in a particular area can be established by house-to-house canvassing in which several house churches work together.

            During times of persecution, networking will be absolutely necessary.  In the Bible, Saul of Tarsus was persecuting the Christians and going house to house to find and arrest church leaders.  Jesus prophesied that this will happen again.  In such times, some saints will be forced to flee their homes and it is essential that other saints provide food, shelter and protection.  This is how the underground churches in China were able to survive fifty years of persecution by the government.  It is also the method used to escape persecution for almost 2,000 years. 

Record Keeping

            The training center will be responsible for keep track of all house churches, monitoring their progress and accounting for the weekly tithes and distributions.  The use of computers nowadays makes it quick and simple to do so.  As mentioned earlier, the American tax system exempts qualified non-profit organizations, including churches.  However, the process is rather complex and time consuming.  Therefore, house churches without a Tax-Exmpt Letter of Authorization cannot give their members tax deductions derived from tithes and offerings.  The solution is to have each house church forward their tithes and offerings and pass it through the training center or originator church (we assume that the training center or church is tax-exempt).  After passing it through its bank account and records, the training center or church will return 90% of the tithes and offerings and retain 10% of its operating expenses.

            A second method is to allow the training center or church to decide where to put the monies.  This method will provide financial assistance to smaller or less-fortunate groups.

            A word of caution - a computer should hold only certain information.  If we assume that the enemies of the church can someday gain possession of the computer, we need to be careful about what goes into the computer. 

            When I was in mainland China ministering to underground house churches, persecution was on-going and the government had confiscated a church computer with the names of all the members and leaders.  As a result, the leaders were all in hiding and could not meet with me.  However, the house churches remained intact by moving to another location - mostly the houses of other members.

Training

            A primary function of the training center is to provide instruction and training for would-be house church pastors and leaders and a act as a dispenser of current information and up-dates for pastors and leaders already in place.

            The center should be prepared to teach the foundations of Christianity, as well as deeper subjects such as deliverance, inner healing and counseling.  Each potential house church leader should undergo strict training before being ordained as a minister.  This a necessary in order to maintain a high level of purity in the churches and to eliminate possible cults wherever possible.

            The true church of God will all have the same beliefs and doctrines.  Therefore, from the outset, it must be determined which doctrines are false and which are true.  This is an important step.  After agreeing, each pastor or potential pastor must agree to strictly adhere to these doctrines and practices that have been determined to be pure and true.

Publications

            During times of persecution, Bibles and other publications may be scarce.  True, no matter what the abundance of these items is, the government is likely to confiscate and destroy all Bibles and other Christian literature.  Nonetheless, it is incumbent on the training center to produce as much as it can, especially during times of relative peace and liberty.  During revival, it will be very helpful to have literature to distribute to the many new converts.

            It is always helpful to print and distribute current news and to introduce other saints in the network, regardless of peace or persecution.  The training center should be the central headquarters.

            At the outset, may be profitable to print and distribute outlines on the foundational truths of Christianity, evangelism, spiritual warfare and the like.

Five-fold Ministries

            Although there are no five-fold ministers today, at least in the mold of the early apostles, we believe that God will restore the five-fold ministry in His time.  The training centers will serve as headquarters to send various workers, five-fold or not, to the mission field or remote areas to monitor the existing churches and help plant additional churches.  The initial group should work as a team.

Proliferation

            Over time and assuming that the house church movement is successful, there will be a time when house churches will spread out over a geographic area that is too wide and broad to maintain contact and communications.  At this point, a second training center should be established to minister to the new house churches on the outer edges.  Ultimately, there should be many training centers all over the city and region.  This is precisely what happened in mainland China.

Chain of Command

            As suggested earlier, there should be a chain of command in the shape of a triangle, with the regional head at the top, five or more regional leaders under him/her.  Each regional leader will have five to ten provincial leaders under the and each provincial leader should have five area leaders under his/her command. In turn, each area leader should have five to ten house churches to tend to. 

Teamwork

            It should be emphasized that house churches work as a team.  Everyone must contribute.  Therefore, there must be a bonding of minds and hearts and a common vision.  That vision should be concentrated on furthering the kingdom of God through evangelism and building the church.  There are no prima donnas and those being trained for leadership should be reminded constantly of what Jesus said in Matthew 20:25-27:

… Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.  But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.

The word “servant” is interpreted as “slave” in the original Greek.  Those who are promoted to leadership roles are those who serve more.  Anyone who covets titles and positions is disqualified.  There is nothing wrong with desiring to serve and being promoted as a consequence; but to desire title for the sake of personal benefit is pride.  Such persons can greatly damage the church by setting a bad example for the rest to follow. 

Recommended Organizational Structure:

REGIONAL TRAINING CENTER

(Possibly the originating church)

That supervises:

FIVE REGIONAL LEADERS

Who each supervise:

FIVE ZONE LEADERS

Who each supervise:

FIVE DISTRICT LEADERS

Who each supervise:

FIVE AREA LEADERS

Who each supervise:

 FIVE HOUSE CHURCHES

Tithes and Offerings:

            There are two recommended scenarios:

1.  All tithes and offers go to the regional training center (that is tax-exempt where required).

            Records are kept by the regional training center.

            At year’s end, the regional training center provides receipts to each donor for tax purposes.  Each donor can thus deduct the donated amounts from their taxable incomes.

2.  Two possible ways for the regional training center to handle the funds:

            A.  Keep 10% for administration expenses and return 90% to the house church providing the tithes and offerings.

            B.  Or, allow the regional training center to re-distribute the funds to wherever it deems wise or necessary. 

Additional Training Centers

            As the numbers of house churches increases, additional training centers should be formed.  These sub-centers do not have the same role as the Regional Training Center in terms of monitoring and tithes and offerings.  However, this is not to say that these additional training centers remain static.  In time, the need for another Regional Training Center may arise.  The original regional training center must then duplicate itself by passing on responsibilities and duties to the new regional training center in terms of the house churches in the region to be supervised by the new center.  No attempt should be made to control the new regional training center other than assisting, training and helping in other ways.

Training of House Church Pastors

            There are many ways to train pastors and we only make suggestions and recommendations to assist those who are interested.

1.  Emphasize love, obedience and service.  Without love, all is lost.  Without obedience, there is no outward evidence of love.  Without service, there is no way to truly express love.

2.  Teach prayer, fasting.  The main idea is to connect up with God.  Without a relationship with God, one cannot mature.

3.  Teach on how to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us and how to flow with the Holy Spirit and allow Him to live our lives for us.

4.  Teach the six foundational truths found in Hebrews 6:1,2: Repentance, Faith, Baptisms, Laying On of Hands, Resurrection from the Dead, and Eternal Judgment.

5.  In addition, teach Kingdom Living.  We recommend Watchman Nee’s teachings on the Normal Christian Life.

6.  Teach Spiritual Authority and Obedience.  Again, we recommend Watchman Nee’s book entitled Spiritual Authority.

7.  Teach Evangelism.  Without evangelism, the house church format is dead in terms of world evangelism.

8.  Teach Deliverance and Inner Healing.  We are in a war against the kingdom of darkness.

9.  Teach vision.  Why house churches?  Why evangelizing?  Coming revival and persecution.

9.  Teach networking and unity both within the house group and with other groups.

10.  Teach on five-fold ministry and its proper role regarding subjection and cooperation.

APPENDIX N - OPEN FORMAT FOR MEETINGS AND SERVICES

CONDUCTING SERVICES AND MEETINGS

IN HOUSE CHURCHES

            Changing the structure of the church from a traditional to a house church setting is just the beginning.  The format or structure itself does not completely bring us back to the early church.  We need to have the courage to change the way we handle services and/or meetings.

AN OPEN FORMAT

            Traditional services usually involve the following sequence or some variation of it:  (1) processional; (2) praise and worship; (3) scripture reading; (4) announcements; (5) collecting tithes and offerings; (6) a sermon or message; and (7) recessional.  Pentecostal churches usually dispense with the processional, recessional and sometimes the scripture reading.  Some are dressed in gowns and other traditional paraphernalia, light candles and have large pipe organs.  However, the common trait is a spectator congregation that just sits and listens or is entertained.  Very little participation by the people present is solicited and the main feature is the sermon or lesson for the day.  In some churches, even the sermon or lesson for the day is a minor element compared to the singing and music.  In some churches, sermons and teaching are limited to 15 minutes or less, as ordered by the church board.  In other churches, the message is determined by a Prayer Book and is chosen from two or three topics already pre-set and decided upon by the authors.

            Cell group meetings, even among Pentecostal churches, usually follow along similar lines: (a) opening prayer; (b) singing; (c) a sermon or teaching; and (d) sometimes prayer.  As with the above services, the persons present are entertained or act as spectators for the most part and the leader establishes and format and content of the meeting.

            As Watchman Nee claims, there is no evidence in the early church that sermons were ever given by a pastor or teacher from behind a pulpit.  Certainly, there was a place for teachings and exhortations, but for the most part house churches followed what we call an “open” format.  There was no pulpit preaching.  In a number of cell group meetings this writer attended, the leader was the pastor of the church and he actually brought along his wooden pulpit.

            In the “open” format, there is no set plan or order of service.  The Holy Spirit is invited into the meeting and asked to speak through His people.  As the Spirit moves, individual members get up and share, testify, give praise reports, quote a scripture, even give a short teaching.  If they receive a word from God, they share it.  It could be something they received at home or outside the meeting.  It could also be a vision, dream, thought or a spoken word that God has given him or her.  During the meeting or service, God may give someone a prophecy or message.  Someone may have a song in his heart that he wants to share or feel that God wants them to sing a certain song.  Another may stand up and announce that God wants everyone to pray for healing for certain people, or deliverance or blessings.  Others may have a word of knowledge or wisdom.  Some may have a revelation regarding scripture.  Still another may have an announcement to make.  Another may have a need. 

            The object is to depend on the Holy Spirit and to give Him the liberty to direct the meeting.  The saints learn to expect the Holy Spirit to move in their minds and hearts.  They learn how to receive from God and how to share publicly.  Soon, they begin to move with certainty and boldness.  There are no set formats and only a rough structure to maintain order.  God is not a God of confusion.  The pastor and leaders are coordinators and moderators, but direct the service as the Spirit moves.

            At times, God may give the pastor or some other person an important message to share.  This should be done without eliminating the other essential elements of public sharing and ministry inherent in an “open” format.

            The above format has been used successfully even in large churches and there are books on the subject.  Churches with a traditional foundation have also used the open church format; however, we find that it is most needed in the house church format.

HISTORICAL BASIS

            While researching the Great Welsh Revival, Azusa Street Revival and other movements, this writer was struck with the common openness of church services.  William Seymour and Frank Bartleman both shared that their services had no format or pre-arranged structure.   The Holy Spirit moved freely among the people present and some would have visions, others would burst into song and it seemed that a heavenly choir had joined the singing.  Sometimes, a word of knowledge or a prophecy would come forth.  The services would go on and on into the wee hours of the morning, often without any guidance by the leaders present.  Nobody wanted to leave.

            Evan Roberts relates that he was invited speak at an evening service and when he arrived the church building was already filled to capacity.  Outside the church building, a crowd had gathered.  The crowd outside the church was bigger than the one inside the church.  He was ushered to a front seat as people were already worshiping the Lord.  The Holy Spirit was moving among the people.  Songs would break out and both the people inside and outside the church would start singing beautifully.  Sometimes it was as if a heavenly choir had joined them.  The sounds were so wonderful that no earthly group could  possibly have produced such singing.  People would spontaneously run to the front and fall on their faces, begging to be saved.  Amazing testimonies and praise reports were volunteered and people were healed and delivered with no human hands.  When Evan Roberts left at midnight, he hadn’t spoken a word.  The meeting went on to 3 in the morning.  No one wanted to go home.

            Evan Roberts was so attuned to the Holy Spirit that he rarely committed himself to speak at certain places until 24 hours before the meetings.  God would change his itinerary so often that he dared not commit himself and then disappoint people when God changed his speaking engagements.  In fact, the plan during the revival was not to plan.

MUSIC

            In an open format, it is often unnecessary to use musical instruments.  That is not to say that we should not use musical instruments.  Musical instruments were widely used by God in worship, especially in the Old Testament.  What is meant is that a house church should not be hampered by the fact that there are no good musicians in the group or no one has a musical instrument.  When this writer was ministering among house churches in mainland China, most groups sang hymns without using musical instruments. 

            Certainly, if there are good musicians in the group and musical instruments, they should be used. 

RESPONSIBILITY

            Unlike traditional churches with a clergy, the responsibility for the conduct of the church’s services and meetings is placed on the individual saints.  Each must come to the meetings with the intention to share and testify to the goodness of God.  Each must participate in some manner.  The Holy Spirit wants to use each individual but He will not or cannot use people who are fearful or unwilling to participate because of embarrassment or some other reason.  Those who desire to be used must overcome fear of rejection, embarrassment or shyness.  This may take a few meetings.  Of course, the new converts may require some “breaking in” time. 

            In a house church format, each member must contribute to the welfare of the group and be willing to be more than a mere spectator.  The well-being of the group includes more than just sharing during services.  The individual must be clear that he or she has the duty to see to the growth and expansion of the house church he or she attends.  Duties must be eagerly assumed and carried out.  If one desires power from God, he must also desire responsibility.  One comes with the other and they cannot be separated. 

            This writing, however, addresses mostly the conduct of meetings and services and duties and leaves the enumeration of duties to others.

THE REASONS AND RESULTS

            In a “open” format, the members learn how to receive from the Holy Spirit, how to respond and obey the urgings of the Spirit and how to share the Spirit’s thoughts or directions publicly.  In addition, they learn to take responsibility for the welfare of the entire group.  Their discernment and senses are sharpened by their desire to hear from God and to share.  The behavior of the more mature members automatically teaches the younger ones to hear from God and respond.  The Holy Spirit speaks all the time to each one of His saints, but the young in Christ often do not realize that it is the urging of the Holy Spirit when they notice a song coming to them or a thought, word or scripture.  Therefore, they do not respond to the Holy Spirit. 

            Since one of the most urgent needs of the body of Christ is mature Christians that are able to hear from God and obey Him, the “open” format is a most effective tool in training the saints.

            One of the most vital and vicarious benefits of the “open” format is the boldness that each member seems to receive from being invited to share at each meeting.  Their willingness to obey God and speak out in church also trains them to be bold outside of the church. As faith increases they become more evangelistic than ever.  The end result is an empowerment from God in each individual saint.  The power is shifted from a paid or appointed clergy to each member.  Recent reports speak of many miracles taking place during open services.

            Our experience is that the presence of the Holy Spirit is much more evident in our open meetings than in the traditional meetings we once held.  We believe that God wants us to go back to an “open” format as in the early house churches.  We want to emphasize, however, that although the “open” format can be used in a big, traditional church, it is meant to be widely used in small house church groups, although there are many benefits, even in a larger church - say a church with more than a hundred members  Large church meetings do not allow each member to participate and grow, although it is possible when meetings go on for hours.  In fact, it is recommended that an open format be used wherever possible. 

IMPORTANT ELEMENTS

            Each member must be clear that he or she has a responsibility and a duty to participate and not be just a spectator.  God does not intend to just entertain.  Each word from God must be as precise as possible.  Sharing should be limited to no more than ten minutes since some members have hours and hours of stories to tell about the tragedies in their life.  The members need to be as spontaneous as possible, but also need to discern what is from God, their own mind or the Devil.

            There is room for mistakes since we learn from them.  Every prophet remembers times when he spoke out of turn or erroneously, but they also know that they learned through their mistakes too.  One of the objects is to learn how to flow with the Spirit.

            Another benefit of such an open format is to relieve the pastor or leader from having to prepare a formal outline for each service or meeting.  The teaching will come directly from God.  This does not mean, however, that God never tells a leader in advance to prepare a lesson or message.  He often does.  Teaching or preaching can be easily incorporated into any meeting as the Spirit leads.

A RECENT PHENOMENON

            It has been recently reported by Jim Rutz in his book entitled Megashift, that an unprecedented transfer of divine power is underway, from clerics into the hands of ordinary people.  Other writers who research recent movements in the church, claim that there is a fast-growing house church movement that is gripping the world.  Hundreds of thousands of house churches are being formed in  countries such as Indonesia, the Middle East, Pakistan, India and many Third World countries besides China.  At many of those meetings, the Holy Spirit would manifest Himself and speak through the members.  The meetings eventually evolved into an open format because the Holy Spirit would just flow through the meetings.  The plans of the leaders were never completed and in the end, they just gave up planning and began to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit.  Zeal for sharing the gospel spread throughout the house churches and many new churches are springing up because of what is going on during services and meetings. 

            God is empowering each saint to preach the word with demonstration of signs and wonders following.

            We too need to learn how to let God have His church back - not just structure, but how we approach God through our meetings and services.  Let God be God.  Give Him back His church.

APPENDIX “O”

THE FALSE VERSUS THE TRUE GOSPEL OF SALVATION

            One of the most insidious and dangerous deceptions today is the new doctrine of salvation being promoted in the body of Christ in America and elsewhere.  This false doctrine is drawing people into churches by the millions.  The problem is - hardly anyone is being saved. 

            It is a gospel of blessings and prosperity.  It goes something like this: “Accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and He will bless you and give you everything you ever wanted in life.”  It is a message of “I, I, I and Me, Me Me.”  “Jesus wants you to have a good life and success in everything.”  “He wants you to be well, rich, free from debt, healthy, wealthy, prominent, filled with peace and joy.”

            This new gospel avoids any requirement of self-sacrifice and concentrates on fulfilling the desires of the flesh.  It ignores the issue of sin and repentance and caters to the emotions.  In order to entice people into church, the new wave of televangelists and pastors focus on short, funny sermons that avoid confrontation, conviction, judgment, exclusivity, scary, unbelievable messages.  Instead, they give what the audience wants to hear.  Take a survey and find out what the people want and then give it to them is the new technique. 

            In addition, be casual.  Wear shorts, slippers, T-shirts, informal leisure wear and be one of the guys.  Emphasize a relaxed, informal, casual atmosphere with lots of music and fun.   Go drinking with your male members and engage in sports to show them that everything is fine and God wants us to have a good time.  Establish many different programs on how to succeed and have a better life that appeal to a wide spectrum of members.  Have gatherings for the singles and some for the divorced. 

            Many large churches are built on entertainment, self-fulfillment and self-esteem.  The members remain carnal their entire lives and have no interest in self-sacrifice or denial.  It is a false gospel.

THE TRUE GOSPEL

            The true gospel is directly opposite.  In Luke 9:23-26, Jesus said,

                        If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?  For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels. 

            The true gospel speaks about giving your life to the Lord in order to follow Jesus into heaven.  Jesus said in Matthew 10:34-36, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth.  I did not come to bring peace but a sword.  For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.”  Jesus said further, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.  And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.  And he that taketh not his cross, and followed after me is not worthy of Me.”  Verses 37-38  Salvation can cause family rifts and even require your life.

            In the episode in Mark 10, where the rich, young ruler asked Jesus how to attain eternal life, Jesus replied, “Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross and follow Me.”  The young ruler was unwilling and he walked away.

            The Lord said in John 12:24, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”  The ticket to heaven can cost you everything.  “He that findeth his life shall lose it]: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”  V. 39.  Again, in Matthew 16:24-26, Jesus said,

            … If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross; and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.  For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

            Indeed, what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?  Perhaps a man does not know how great a treasure it is to escape hell.  One can hardly know what hell is like if no one preaches about it.  The modern gospel avoids talking about hell and damnation.  After all, it makes one queasy and uncomfortable.  How can one know of the inestimable value of saving your soul from hell if the church no longer speaks about hell?  If one knows of the horror of eternal torture and the hopelessness of being thrown into the fires of hell, what would he be willing to pay for a ticket to heaven?

            Jesus told two parables in Mt. 13.  “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”  In the next verse, Jesus talks about a man who found a pearl of great price and sold all he had to buy it.  The complete surrender of all possessions is the essence of salvation.  “I give up everything.  I deny myself.  I offer my life, both in terms of death, if need be, and in terms of obedience in life.”  The pearl of great price is the saving grace of Jesus Christ that we are hopelessly undeserving of, but that we can claim as our own by denying ourselves, picking up our cross daily, and following Him.  That is the true gospel.

A HARD MESSAGE DELIVERED BY MORONS - THE CROSS OF JESUS

            The apostle Paul was once a much-heralded student of Gamaliel, a brilliant Jewish teacher of his day.  He knew the law inside and out; but when Paul (Saul) met the Lord on his way to Damascus, he met truth head on.  Ac. 9:1-18.  He now knew the truth and when he set out to preach the gospel of salvation it must have been a scary thing.  He had to drop all the wisdom and intelligence he possessed, in order to preach a doctrine that he knew was going to be rejected by most and mark him an idiot.  But he had no choice.  He was now the messenger of God.

            In 1 Corinthians 2:1-2, Paul said, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.  For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”  Paul determined not to use his own wisdom and intelligence to convince people about Jesus.  He would preach only a crucified Jesus, which is foolishness to those who perish, but the power of God unto salvation to those who believe.  1 Co. 1:18.

            It takes courage to preach the true gospel of the kingdom.  Those who do not understand will label you a moron; but those God chooses will find the message powerful and life-giving.  For that reason, Paul took courage in the truth.  “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”  Verse 4.  He was clear that no enticing words of man’s wisdom would bring people into the kingdom of God.  Only the convicting power of the Holy Spirit and the power of the true gospel could bring salvation.

            Paul rejected clever public relations marketing techniques that used enticing words created by man’s wisdom and cunning, and instead relied on the wisdom of God.  “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.  Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: . . .”  Verses 5-6.  How often today we hear televangelists and other preachers promote a prosperity message that distorts and twists the truth.  They use enticing words generated by man’s wisdom and not God’s.  As a result, few are actually saved, although many may join churches.

            Paul knew that the wisdom of God was hidden in Him from the beginning of the world.  The cross held the wisdom of God that only those who have been called to receive salvation can understand and embrace.  In verses7-8, Paul says, “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”  The preaching of the cross is a mystery, a hidden wisdom ordained by God before He created the world, to be the true gospel of salvation .  Any other gospel is false and cannot save.  As Paul said, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.”  1 Co. 1:17.  That is why messages of blessings and prosperity without the cross, or enticing words that we often hear on radio and television are insidiously deceptive.  Multitudes have come into the church through a sinner’s prayer without hearing the true gospel of salvation and not having humbled themselves unto repentance.  They are not saved unto eternal life.

            Continuing on, Paul said, “But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God  hath prepared for them that love Him.”  Verse 9.  Natural man can never know the things of God unless the Holy Spirit opens their eyes and ears.  Similarly, only those called by God will have ears to hear and receive the gospel of the cross and be saved.  When His disciples asked Jesus why He spoke in parables to the crowds, Jesus answered,

            … because they seeing see  not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.  And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: for this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heat, and should be converted, and I should heal them.   Mt. 13:13-15.

            In verses 10-11, Paul remarks, “But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.  For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?  even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.”  Without the Spirit of God, no one would hear the gospel of salvation and understand and be saved.  It is God that saves. 

            Jesus knew this.  In John 6:37-39, He said,

                        All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.  For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.  And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

It is the Father who chooses and the Son will not reject those the Father sends.  It is the same with us.  It is the Father who chooses and the Holy Spirit that convicts those the Father calls.  God never intended that we save people.  He intended that we preach the cross.  It is the message of the cross that allows the Holy Spirit to convict those He has chosen.  It is the Father’s will. 

            We are not God.  We cannot convict people and convince them to believe in Jesus without the Holy Spirit.  Man’s wisdom can never do the work of the cross in bringing people into salvation.  Why then do men change the gospel and substitute the wisdom and cunning of man instead?  Is man God?

IN WEAKNESS, FEAR AND TREMBLING

            The apostle Paul was not afraid of speaking in public.  He was a man so brilliant that he was slated to be the high priest one day.  He was used to giving wonderful words and enticing messages.  He was no idiot to natural man.  Yet, after Paul met the Lord, he did not dare speak his own words.  He spoke in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.  “And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.”  1

Co. 2:3.  He did not fear that people would hate him and resist him.  He was unafraid of death and censure.  He had already been through that.  He feared that his own wisdom and words would creep into his preaching and steal away the power and glory of God.  He feared that the Holy Spirit would not move to convict hearts if he gave a false gospel, tainted by man‘s reason.  Worse, he feared that his preaching would displease the Lord.

            We too, need to come in weakness and fear and much trembling when we share the gospel, knowing that we need to speak the truth in love.  If we fear men and not God, we will surely deliver the wrong message.  Yes, if we preach truth, many will be displeased and resist, criticize and even hate you.  Things have not changed since the days of Jesus - neither the people nor the true gospel of the kingdom and the resistance it elicits from those that perish.

THE SHEEP AND THE GOATS

            Not all who attend church are saved; not all who say, “Lord, Lord, ….” will enter the kingdom of God.  Mt. 7:21.  Many there are who seek to enter in, but few there are that will.  Many there are who will go down the broad way to hell.  As John MacArthur says in his book entitled Hard to Believe, everyone thinks he is going to heaven - both those who are on the narrow path and those on the broad path.  Those on the broad path will have a great shock when they die.

            At the end of the age, God will separate the tares from the wheat and the goats from the sheep.  Let us no longer spread a false gospel and entice people into church with promises of blessings and a better life on earth.  Let us not be careless.  As with the apostle Paul, let us preach the cross of Jesus in weakness, fear and much trembling lest we be found among the goats.


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