Friday, March 4, 2011

Church Split: God's Plan to Spread the Gospel


Acts 1:8
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Acts 2:41
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
Acts 4:4
Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.
Acts 5:14
And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)
Acts 6:1
1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied…

Acts 8:1-4

1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.
4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

The Church Split

I am advocating a “Church Split”!  Now please do not turn me off yet, just hear me out.  There is a healthy way to split the Church, and an unhealthy way. 

Child Birth is a new life splitting away from another life to form a unique and separate life.  Is this not how the Church grows?

The Church has grown fatter and fatter over the years, and she wants to hold onto all that it has, rather than splitting it off to form new life.  We as a Church cannot grow unless we split!

The Greatest Time On Earth

Look at the book of Acts.  This was truly one of the greatest times on earth for the Church.  The Church was growing by leaps and bounds.  The word “Great” appears 39 times in the book of Acts.  The word “Great” is an adjective, it describes.  At no time on earth was it any “Greater” than that time.  The word “Great” is defined as: Important, Powerful, very good, mighty, grand, impressive, massive, the best, big, fantastic, wonderful, and more than what is usual.  When you add the word “Great” to a noun, verb, or another adjective it expands what you are talking about.  Look at these verses from the Book of Acts (and yes, I do preach a whole message just on the word “great” found in these verses):

Acts 2:20

Great and notable day of the Lord

Acts 4:33

With great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus

Acts 4:33

And great grace was upon them all.

Acts 5:5

and great fear came on all them that heard these things.

Acts 5:11

And great fear came upon all the church

Acts 6:7

And a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith

Acts 6:8

And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people

Acts 7:11

And great affliction.

Acts 8:1

And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem

Acts 8:2

Devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.

Acts 8:8

And there was great joy in that city.

Acts 8:9

Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:

Acts 8:10

Saying, This man is the great power of God.

Acts 8:27

A man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians

Acts 9:16

For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. 

Acts 10:11

And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: 

Acts 11:5

As it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners;

Acts 11:21

And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.

Acts 11:28

And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world.

Acts 14:1

A great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.

Acts 15:3

Declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren.

Acts 16:26 

And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.

Acts 17:4

And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.

Acts 19:27

That the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.

Acts 19:28

And cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

Acts 19:34

About the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

Acts 19:35

The city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter?

Acts 21:40

And when he had given him license, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,

Acts 22:6

And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me.

Acts 22:28

And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.

Acts 23:9

And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees' part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.

Acts 23:10

And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.

Acts 23:14

And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul.

Acts 24:2

And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence,

Acts 24:7

But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands,

Acts 25:23

And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains, and principal men of the city, at Festus' commandment Paul was brought forth.

Acts 26:22

Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:

Acts 28:6

Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.

Acts 28:30

And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.

No one can deny that this was the “Greatest” time on earth and the good news is that we can still have the Book of Acts today!

Jesus commanded the Church to in Acts 1:8 to take the Gospel to “Jerusalem, Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth”.  This was to be a stage-by-stage process: Jerusalem first, which was home, and then to their country, Judea.  From there they were to take the Gospel to the neighboring people of Samaria, and then to the rest of the World.  City – Nation – Neighboring Countries – World.

Truly it all started in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost.  Peter preached his great sermon explaining the outpouring of the Holy Ghost and 3,000 were saved.  What a great start to the Church!

Weeks and months later another 5,000 men were added to the Church at Jerusalem.  The Bible tells us that, “believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women”.   This was a great time! 

By the two figures of 5,000 and 3,000 alone that we are given in the first four chapters of the Book of Acts we can tell that the Church in Jerusalem numbered at the very least 8,000 people.  There was a problem though.  No one wanted to leave Jerusalem.  The Church was very quickly becoming an institution that was peculiar to Jerusalem only.  Instead of moving out from Jerusalem, the Church was huddling in one spot.

This is what God had to do to get them move:

Acts 8:1
And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

God had to force a “Church Split” so to speak.  He had to split off the believers from the Church at Jerusalem and propel them outward into Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the world.  God’s purposes were achieved by allowing the enemy to bring persecution against His people.

Sometimes even today, Churches go through Church splits.  All of the sudden a Church running 300 drops down to 200 and a portion of the congregation goes off with another preacher.  Now, I am not condoning these circumstances in any way, but I do believe if we were more willing to help our young preachers go out and start churches we would see less of this occurring.  Because we refuse to split spiritually sometimes it happens carnally.

God Wants Us to Spread His Life Everywhere

God commanded all the animals he created in the beginning to “Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth”  God then told Adam & Eve in Genesis 1:28 “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth…”

Before the Fall it was God’s intention for Adam & Eve to spread his life to every corner of planet earth.  The command of God may have been put on hold for 4,000 years but Jesus commanded the Church to pick up where Adam & Eve left off and to carry this Life to all of the world.

Mark 16:15

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

The Myth of the Mega Church

Does God build Mega-Churches?  Is the Mega-Church a creation of God or man? 

If the modern religious man were to rewrite the Bible today they would have Jesus saying, “Upon this Rock I will build my Mega-Church”.

What is a Mega-Church?  These are churches that keep growing and growing into the thousands.  Some of these Churches are cities unto themselves.  The Peoples Church in Seoul, Korea pastored by Yongi Cho, has a membership of 400,000+ people (it may be more now), and is the largest in the world.

In America there are Churches that are swelling into the thousands and thousands.  People are drawn like magnets to their concert-like facilities where everyone is a visitor every Sunday.  There is little accountability in Churches this size.

Was the Church at Jerusalem a Mega-Church?  After all they had at least 8,000 members.   The answer is “No”.  Nowhere in all of the archaeological records has anyone found an 8,000 seat Church built 2000 years ago.
Where did all of these people meet?  They met in houses.  The Church was broken up into house-sized units and spread all over the city.  Yes, they did have a central pastor, but each individual church had a local bishop that presided over that congregation.  The local bishop answered to the head pastor (Apostle) in Doctrine and Conduct.

The average size of each of these churches could have not been any larger than what could have been squeezed into a home, maybe 25 to 50 people.  What would then do after there was no room for any more?  They would split!

Today we are preoccupied with numbers!  “How many do you have in your Church?”  “How many members do you have?”  “What is your Sunday School enrollment?”  Numbers!  Numbers!  Numbers!  We are not living in the Book of Numbers; we are living in the Book of Acts!

We are never going to grow by holding we will only grow by giving.  The seed clenched in the fist will produce no harvest!  Only the seed that is scattered will produce. 

After Our Own Kind

God told every flower, every tree, every dog, every cat, every whale, every mockingbird, and every grasshopper to produce “after his own kind”.  What was true of the natural is also true of the spiritual.  We must produce after our own kind.  The Church is to reproduce itself.  Jesus even said this of himself.

John 12:24

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

Death & Resurrection is the prescribed manner of growth.  Jesus had to fall into the ground and die.  It was death that planted him and resurrection, new-birth, that brought him forth with uncounted fruit.  Jesus produced what he is!  He produced a replica of himself in the Body of Christ!  The Church replicates itself through death, burial, and resurrection.

The Church I pastor, Pentecostal Lighthouse, has went through a death experience.  For three years we lay in the ground in a death experience, but we have sprang forth again!  The seeds will be scattered and growth will emerge after death.

The Church did not grow until Jesus died!  It took death to activate, to germinate, the seed.  The splitting off of the additional fruit from Christ has accomplished growth.

We in the Church are in dire need of “real” spiritual growth.  Thousands flock to large mega-churches and the world, the media, and our neighbors call that growth.  But, is it really growth?  Or is it just a crowd?  What do we want for our churches?  Large crowds or a deep spiritual growth in Christ.

The real plan of God for these churches is that once they reach an unmanageable size, they should have a young minister trained to send forth with a group from that Church to plant another.  If we will keep on splitting off and planting churches we would see astronomical growth in the Church again.  The reason we do not see this happening today is that man’s ego gets in the way.  Most Pastors are unwilling to give up one member.  Some Churches that I have visited have dozens of young preachers sitting in the congregation and occasionally the Pastor will throw them a bone and let them preach a service, but these preachers need to be thrust out into the fields to work.  There are thousands of communities that do not have a good Church.  We have the answer right in our midst!  We must be willing to “deny the flesh” and do what is needed to spread this Gospel. 

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