READ BELOW FOR PETER EGGLETON'S VISION

 

THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH

 

                       The restoration of the New Testament Church would be guaranteed by following the simple principles and practices of the Early Church as recorded in the New Testament.
The first Christians met together, mainly in houses,  to exercise the spiritual gifts  described in 1 Corinthians Chapter 12 and  to have a meal together to remember their Lord, Acts 2 v 46. If you walked into a meeting in  early church times you would be hard pressed to find who the leaders were. The leaders were actually the servants of the Church. They were the ones who enabled the others to function.  It is no accident that most of the epistles were addressed to the Church as a whole and not to so called leaders. All decisions in the Church were made by the Church as a whole and not  by a few men calling themselves leaders. The servant/leaders had no title as Jesus had forbidden them to have one, Matthew 23 vs 1-12. The apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, (note not THE Pastor ), and teachers, were simply there to make sure that every believer was fulfilling their ministry, Ephesians 4 vs 11,12, NOT to do their ministry for them!  Under the new covenant the Bible states that ALL believers are priests, 1 Peter 2 vs 5,9. Revelation  1 vs 4-6.  1 Peter 5 vs 1-4 describes how leaders are to behave and Jesus sets an example for us all in John 13 vs 1-15.  Luke 9 vs 46-48 and Luke 22 vs 24-27 describe how we can be great in the kingdom of God!
Over the centuries these Biblical principles were abandoned and  a system was introduced whereby leaders in the Church became known as the clergy and the rest were called the laity. The same meaning applies to Pastor and flock, Minister and congregation, Leading Elder and believers etc… The title may change but the same principle remains - the leaders are active the rest of the church are passive. The faithful roll up for services or meetings  to  hear a message or sermon, sing hymns, say prayers. Some may even be privileged  to take part in some way, or to take turns with the ministry. All this is a far cry from what happened in the New Testament Church as recorded in the Bible.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 12 the church is described as a body with every member having a function. Each function is of equal importance, in fact Paul states that  those who seem to be weaker members are indispensable  v 22. God has given greater honour to those who lack honour so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other, vs 24 & 25.  In order to have a strong Church everyone must take part, 1 Corinthians 14 v 26. When every part of a human body is functioning much can be accomplished. How much more could be accomplished if every member of the church were to  use the gift God has given them! Satan would be defeated in no time! The Church would be restored immediately! Miracles, as in the early Church would be normal! There would be no lack anywhere! Instead of spending millions on the upkeep of buildings money could be channelled towards people!
I appeal to those who are now calling themselves Pastor, Reverend, Father, Minister, Leading Elder or some other title, LET GODS' PEOPLE GO! Remember you will have to answer to your Lord for holding Gods' people back. You may not have been aware that you have been  holding the Church back, but now it should be abundantly clear.

These views are not new and have been  held  to some degree by George Fox and the first Quakers,  John Wesley and the first Methodists, the Plymouth Brethren and more recently Watchman Nee, the Pentecostal Movement and the House Church Movement. None of these however have  expressed the full function of 1 Corinthians 12 and in these last days the Lord is returning for a Church without spot or wrinkle; every member fully functioning. 
I can honestly say that over the 40 years of stating these things nobody has disagreed with me. If they had disagreed they would have had to disagree with the Bible. I have heard many excuses. Amongst them, 'things are different nowadays', 'it's impossible', and the devil's biggest lie, 'if you find a perfect Church join it'!  It is no accident that 1 Corinthians chapter 13, the great love chapter, follows on from the great body ministry chapter, 12. These things can only work by 'being devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honouring one another above yourselves', Romans 12 v 10.  'Be completely humble and gentle; be  patient, bearing with one another in love' Ephesians 4 v 2.
'From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, AS EACH PART DOES ITS WORK', Ephesians 4 v 16.
Something else that was introduced along with the pastoral system was the dedication of buildings to God. These became known as churches. The Bible clearly states that Christians are God's dwelling place, Ephesians 2 v 22. They are God's building, the temple of God's Spirit, 1 Corinthians 3 vs 9,16. Paul preaching at Athens states that God does not dwell in temples built by hands, Acts 17 v 24. Today we still accept the devil's lie, we even use his terminology. We talk about 'going to church' and 'at church we did this or that'. Satan will do anything to make us think it all happens in a building and probably only on a Sunday! Jesus was clear as to where we should worship,  John 4 vs 1-24.
The first Christians met together mainly in houses, Romans 16 v 5, 1 Corinthians 16 v19, Colossians 4 v 15, Philemon v 2. The apostles taught from house to house and used larger houses and places when necessary, Acts 20 vs 7-9, Acts 5 v 42. In the house meetings they would share their spiritual gifts and perhaps have a love meal together, Jude v 12, hold a prayer meeting, Acts 12 v 12, or break bread together, Acts 2 v 46. The house is a place for family. Are not Christians God's family?
Something else that has changed from New Testament times is the introduction of denominations. Denominations, or as they are called in the Bible, factions, are listed amongst the most foul sins of the flesh, Galatians 5 vs 19-21. Jesus prayed that His followers might be one, John 17 vs 20-23.  The Apostles recognised only ONE Church in ONE place. Paul did not address letters to the Churches in Corinth or the Churches in Ephesus. He did however write to the Churches in Galatia because that was a region composed of different places. In fact Paul wrote a very strong letter to the Corinthians because divisions were beginning to form, 1 Corinthians vs 10-17. He asked them the question, 'Is Christ divided'? We have mentioned  already that  the Bible describes the Church as Christ's body, 1 Corinthians 12 vs 12-31.    Further references are Romans 12 vs 4,5,  
1 Corinthians 10 v 17,  Ephesians 1 vs 22,23, Ephesians 3 v 6, Ephesians 4 v 25,  Ephesians 5 v 30, Colossians 1 v 18, 24 and Colossians 3 v 15.
Satan will do anything to try to destroy the unity of the body. However he can only do this outwardly  as Christ CANNOT be divided even as our own bodies cannot. We cannot  bring denominations together to create 
unity without recognising that this unity already exists. If we attempt to do so we only create a large organisation  when Christ's body is in fact an organism. Christ's body is NOT divided and never can be! This is the only basis on which we can meet together as a Church; recognising we are His body. The way in which we treat our brothers and sisters is the way in which we treat Christ. I recognise that in the present denominational set up there are good people with leadership and teaching gifts. In fact many of them have helped me greatly in my walk with the Lord. I appeal to such people to bring God's people to a recognition of their oneness in Christ and to encourage, enable, and release them to fulfil the ministry the Lord has gifted them for. After all, one person, or even a few people, cannot take the stresses and strains of leadership and ministry even as one part of the human body cannot  do the work of the other parts. Jesus burden is light and His yoke is easy!

There have been many books written on the New Testament, House or Simple Church and I have read most of them. Also there are many websites on the same subject and  over the past 40 years I have seen house church movements come and go.

 

These are the conclusions I have come to.

1.    Most house churches are simply copies of the traditional denominations with traditional leadership, traditional ministry and traditional function. I ask myself what is the point of leaving a so called church to start a copy of the one you have just left? Christ is certainly not the head/leader of this type!

2.    Most house churches are formed by people who have been upset by the Christians in a  traditional church and are resentful and have decided to do their own thing. Again this is the wrong reason for starting a house church as the Bible is clear that we shouldn’t fall out with our fellow Christians. The New Testament Church had only one church in one place and ALL were members of the same church so how can you leave the church when you are still part of it? However there is a way to start a house church and still recognise the whole church.

3.    Most house churches have been started by Christians who have their OWN ideas as to how a church should be run and completely ignore how churches functioned in the New Testament. All churches in the New Testament were started by apostles (travelling workers). In God’s economy there  are very good reasons for this. For many reasons New Testament house churches have to be started by somebody independent from the house church otherwise they cannot function properly.

4.    ABOVE ALL THERE SHOULD BE FREEDOM TO SPEAK and FUNCTION even if you make mistakes. Remember our Lord put up with Judas even though He knew he was from Satan. Paul rebuked the Galatians for going into bondage but the Corinthians who were worse in their actions he let off.

Blessings

Peter Eggleton

 

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