41. THE CHURCH MUST PASTOR THE WHOLE CITY
1. During their diaspora the Jews prayed for Jerusalem but God asked them to pray for the redemption of Babylon the sinful city where he had brought them. (Jer 29:7)
2. Jesus cried and sighed for the sins of Jerusalem until the city would say, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord…” Soon the temple was destroyed but the city was saturated with house churches and became true Jerusalem, the city of shalom. (Luke 13:31-35, Acts 5:28)
3. Your judgment depends on your intercession for your city because God commanded his angels of death to mercilessly slay all the people, beginning at the holy sanctuary and spare only those who cry and sigh for their city. (Ez 9:3-6)
4. God said that a city is blessed by the blessings of the righteous and destroyed by those who criticize and curse her. (Prov 11:11, 29:2)
5. Abraham prayed for the sin polluted cities of Sodom & Gomorrah: God said that if there are ten righteous people, then he will not destroy the cities. (Gen 18:24-33)
6. Paul wants everyone to go everywhere, raise holy hands and pray for those who have rule and authority. Jonah brought the king and the people to repentance and saved Nineveh, a Gentile city, by prayer walking throughout the city. (1Tim 2:1-4, 8, Jonah 3:1-10)
7. Every day Jesus went out to villages and towns, healed the sick, cast out demons and preached the gospel. He wants us to go two by two, bind the strongman, destroy every yoke, release the captives, find the “person of shalom” and plant a church in his house. (Is 58:6, Matt 12:29, Luke 4:18, 8:1, 9:49-50, 10:1-9, Heb 3:13, 1John 3:8)
8. Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost: He said that there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner that repents than ninety nine righteous people worshipping in the church. Anyway he is not in the church on Sundays as he is out among the publicans and sinners. (Matt 11:19, 18:12-13, 28:19, Mark 1:38, Luke 4:43, 19:10, 15:7, 10)
9. No one has the right to hear the gospel twice when 99% of the people of the city have not heard the gospel even once. The church must shoulder the responsibility of converting their sin polluted, idolatrous, lawless, violent, dirty and derelict city into Garden of Eden. (Is 9:6-7, 58:12, 32:13-18, Psalm 110:1-2, Rom 15:20, Heb 5:12-14)
10. The church must get out of her spiritual island, stop sermonizing theological platitudes from the pulpit for bench warmers but go out and pastor Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and other needy and hurting people. She must unequivocally work for a Christian nation with kingdom values because God does not like heathen to rule over us. Your city is the best place to commence wielding state power. (Daniel 7:18, 27, Joel 2:17, 1Cor 15:24, 1Pet.2:9, Rev 5:10)
1. Christianity is all about relationship and partnership: Church is a community of royal priests, chosen not for private empire building but corporately committed to usher in the kingdom of God and reign here on earth. The Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are our models of partnership (Daniel 7:18,27, Matt 12 :28, John 14:10, 1Pet 2 :9, 1John 4 :7)
2. Partnership between Jesus, Peter and John resulted in great catch of multitudes of fish: Being of one accord, the disciples saturated Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and beyond with house churches. (Luke 5:7, Acts 5:28, 5:12, 16:5)
3. The corporate demonic kingdom of the prince of the air, principalities, powers, rulers of darkness and host of demons, cannot be demolished by celebrity preachers, lone rangers & loose cannons but by the corporate church. (Matt 16:18,19, 12:25, Eph 2:2, 3:10, 6:12)
4. The church is the body of Christ: It has many organs and all of them must work in harmony with each other so that the body can be healthy and fully functional. Malfunctioning of any organ can lead to multi-organ failure and eventual death. (Rom 12:4-5, 1Cor 12:12-27)
5. Partnership of Paul, Timothy, Titus and others transformed the gentile world, saturating the region with churches. (Acts 17:6, 2Cor 8 :23)
6. Only with corporate repentance, intercession, supplication and thanksgiving, the nations can be healed. (2Chron 7:14, 1Tim 1:1-4)
7. Jesus broke the wall of separation between Jews and Gentiles in Samaria: Then Philip preached, cast out demons, healed the sick and baptized. Later Peter and John planted the church. (Eph 2:14, John4:9, Acts 8:5-8, 14-16)
8. Partnership prevents arrogance: It creates, interdependence, humility to submit to each other, transparency, accountability, and to honour and encourage those who are involved in kingdom building. (1Cor 16:16, Eph 5:21, Rom 12:10&16, 13:8, 14:19)
9. There are many kinds of partnerships e.g. financial, mentoring, nurturing and prayer partnerships etc. It helps us to share our resources with each other to finish the task of discipling the nations and to be supportive during persecution, sickness and other crises. (Acts 2:44-45, 4:34, 35, 1Cor 16:15-16)
10. Single leadership can lead to lopsided development and eventually to attrition: Multiple leadership consisting of fivefold ministry equippers are a free gift of the Lord to his church for the equipping of the saints so that his body is edified. (Eph 4:11-12)
11.To be worthy of our calling as Christians we must endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, as we have one body, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God the Father. Together we must finish the task of discipling the nations so that the Gentiles will also have an inheritance with the saints to stand before his throne. (Eph 4:1-7, Acts 26:17-18, Rev 7:9-10)
1. Vision is a broad statement of purpose for which God has created you, long before you were born. You were born to accomplish his purposes. (Jer 4-5, Is 49:1&5, 46:10, Rom 8:29)
2. Mission statement is the methodology to achieve that purpose: It is like the task of the great commission, which says, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptise, equip and send”. (Matt 28:19, 10:1-14, Acts 1:8, 2Tim. 2:2)
3. Goals are actual numerical objectives, which are to be achieved in a given period of time. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reproducible and Time bound. Jesus told us to have the blue print & resources needed for the building before starting. To achieve those goals, an information based strategic action plan has to be made. (Ex 33:12, 17, Luke 14:28-30,)
4. It is important to write down the vision/mission/goal statements and run with it, so that others will also know and partner with you. No ship sails without a plan. Otherwise it will be lost in the ocean. Written plan is like a compass and rudder to a captain. (Hab 2:1-3)
5. Do not try to copy other people’s vision: God gives unique vision to every individual. Noah, Moses, Joshua, Nehemiah, Esther, Peter, Paul and others had a completely different vision/ task assigned to them. It may need a spiritual father to ignite that vision but it must be uniquely yours. (1 Tim.4:14, Acts26:17,18)
6. The whole vision and the methodology may not be clear to you immediately: It is like sowing the seed, which brings forth the stalk, then the head and finally the full corn, before it is ready for harvest or in the case of a tiny mustard seed, growing into a tree and then the birds coming to nest on it. (Mk 4:26-34)
7. The poorest man in the world is the one who has no vision, regardless of their wealth, education or influence. Without vision people perish. Churches are the graveyard of visionaries because they keep the vision buried. (, Judges 21:25Prov 29:18, Heb 6:17)
8. God’s gifts are irrevocable: He speaks through dreams, ideas and revelations and rarely through audible voice. God writes His thoughts in your heart. If you are having trouble with your vision then like Jonah, you are in the wrong ship. (Rom 11:29, Acts 16:9,10, Prov 16:9, Jer 31:33, Psalm 33:10)
9. Vision is not about personal ambitions or maximizing profits but about God and his purposes. Vision without strategic action plan, persistence and passion is hallucination. (Eph 1:11, Luke 12:15, 1John 4:4, 1Cor 9:24-27)
10. Stay focused: Nehemiah’s vision came out of fasting and prayer for rebuilding the city, which he accomplished, in spite of many challenges. William Carey was advised by a senior pastor in England to give up his God given vision for India. Fortunately he persisted and changed the destiny of this nation. He said, “Expect great things from God and attempt great things for God”. (Neh 2:5, Prov 19:21, Isa 14:24, Phil 4:13)
44. KINGDOM OF GOD
1. Adam was created and commissioned a king to rule over his God-given dominion: He lost his kingdom and his kingship when he committed high treason by disobeying the king who had sent him as his ambassador on earth.
2. God then chose the descendents of Abraham to be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation to go and possess the gates of the enemy and be a blessing to all the nations of the earth. They miserably failed to do so. (Gen 22:17-18)
3. Jesus shed his blood to make us kings and priests and restored that relationship: Each Christian is commissioned a king and given a dominion to reign until planet earth is restored like the garden of Eden. The church is the kingdom of priestly kings, each with his own dominion under the king of kings. (Rev 5:10)
4. Jesus came to destroy the kingdom of the Devil and replace it with the kingdom of God: The church exists to subdue the demonic kingdom and re-establish the kingdom of God by empowering others to be kings to possess new domains. (Matt 16:18-19, Mark 16:17)
5. The greatest threat to the earth is not atom bombs, AIDS or terrorism but religion: Passionate peddling of packaged religion has killed more people than all the wars. The pulpit is the greatest heresy and a major obstacle to the expansion of the kingdom (king + domain), robbing the kings of their right to rule over their God given domains and shrinks them into mere pew potatoes.
6. God is the owner but He has given each one of us absolute rulership as vice-regents when He said, “let them have dominion”. He will not interfere in our domain unless we specifically ask in prayer just like He did not interfere when Eve talked to the Devil. Lack of prayer will result in our city and the nation becoming a habitation of demons and loss of our kingship. (Gen 1:26-28, 2 Chron 7:14, Ps 115:14-16)
7. In Christ, we are all heirs: He has bestowed a kingdom to each one of us, prepared before the foundation of the earth. We need to quit pastoring one church, adopt nations and expand the kingdom. Dominion does not include dominating people but only the earth and the demons. (Matt 25:34, Lu 10:19, 12:32, Rom 8:14)
8. God is not interested in religion but kings, ambassadors and rulers, who will pray, proclaim and possess the land and install the government of heaven on earth. We are not just Sunday worshippers. (John 8:31-36, Eph 2:19)
9. We are born to rule and not to be ruled: Unfortunately most Christians are kings without a dominion, ambassadors without a country and losers instead of conquerors. The first thing we need to make is a paradigm shift or change of mentality from being a layman to his Majesty’s royal priests. (Rom 6:37, 1Pet2:9)
10. Remember the master punished the man whose only sin was keeping the talent buried but rewarded the others who multiplied their talents. Your domain may be your work place, neighborhood, a city or a nation, which you need to transform into the Garden of Eden.
45. CULTURE CLASH
1. Jesus went to the Samaria and made his disciples to buy gentile bread and drink their water and stay in their homes. He did not impose Jewish culture but taught his disciples to merge with the local culture. Then he chose a local woman as the ‘man of peace’.
2. Barnabas was a Jewish missionary to the gentile church at Antioch: He brought Paul who knew Gentile culture. Some Judaizers followed them and tried to impose Jewish culture, even though it was not approved by the Jerusalem council. (Acts 15:20)
3. Churches are planted in the context of the local worldview: Jewish church was planted in the context of the expected Messiah, which meant nothing to Romans who worshipped Caesar as lord. Indians are ‘Guru’ oriented and Jesus must be projected as the one ‘Sat (true) Guru’ who can satisfy their quest for truth.
4. The indigenous tribals and 80% of Hindus are animists who believe in spirits who exert ‘power’ on their lives. To them salvation by grace through faith, means little. All the NT churches and 95% of emerging churches in India and many other countries resulted after ‘power encounter’, such as miraculous healing or deliverance from demons. To them, Jesus needs to be projected as the ‘super power’ over all of life.
5. Hindus worship ‘ishta devta’ or “favorite god” in midst of many gods, just like the Jews worshipped the “most high God” or “mahadeva” who is above all gods.
6. The great commission tells us that we should make disciples of all ethnic or cultural groups: Every cultural group has its own marriage, family, government and social mores. No group has the right to impose its culture on others. Syncretism means violating the gospel. Paul accused the Jews of syncretizing their culture on the gentiles, just like the modern church imposes its church culture on others.
7. Many people, especially women and youth cannot be baptized for sociological/economic reasons: Compelling such people can cause serious problems. The word ‘baptism’ needs changing to a more culturally acceptable term like ‘bath of purification’. Western ‘church culture’ is a major obstacle to conversion, resulting in millions of non-baptized believers in the world. It is not the lack of baptism but the contempt of baptism that condemns.
8. The word ‘Christian’ is a derogatory word and should be substituted with local word like ‘Jesu bhakta’ (worshipper of Jesus) or followers of baliraja (king who was sacrificed) etc and follow indigenous forms of worship. Originally Christians were known as the ‘people of the way’. (Acts 9:2, 18:25)
9. Even the word ‘church’ has negative western connotation: Local terms like ‘satasang’ (gathering) etc. are better substitutes.
10. We are not here to destroy their worldview but project the ‘gospel’ in their context, just like Paul told Athenians, that he had come to tell them about their own ‘unknown god’.
46. HISTORY OF THE HOUSE CHURCH
1. For the first 300 years the church met in the spontaneity, flexibility and intimacy of homes of believers: There were no church buildings, pastors, Sunday worship, crusades, seminaries or tithing. During this period the church grew in faith and in numbers daily. (Acts 16:5)
2. Paul shared the whole wisdom of God from house to house: Training of leaders was home-based. The house churches were banned by law in AD 380. The church lost its soul and entered into darkness for a millennium. (Acts 20:20, 27-29)
3. The Nicolaitans believed in ‘conquering the laity ‘, claiming a higher status, divided the church into speakers and listeners. Jesus hated this division and equated it with loss of first love, idolatry and immorality. Yet the modern church continues to perpetuate this division. (Acts 6:5, Rev 2:4, 6, 14, 15, Matt 12:25)
4. House churches suffered severely under the Romans. Constantine saw the vision of the solar cross, invaded and became the Roman emperor. He built the first cathedral, appointed paid clergy and started the Catholic Church (AD 312-325)
5. The Catholic Church saw a phenomenal growth of nominal Christianity. Heathen priests were ordained along with their pagan rituals, still prevalent in the church, such as cloaks, pulpit, sermons, sacraments, and the altar, etc. Our churches are built on the Greek Gothic pagan architecture, the church government of clergy and officials is based on Roman administration, while our worship is based on
6. In 321 AD, Constantine decreed under the penalty of death, to venerate Sun-Day for Sol Invictus-the unconquerable Sun. Spires and steeples were added to catch the first light of the sun and celebrated with ringing of bells. The Bishop of Rome became Pontifex Maximus (Pope), the bridge between God and man.
7. The NT church was led by the Holy Spirit, who gave psalms, revelations, teachings and prophecy and new believers were added daily. Gregory (AD 500) permanently perverted worship by programming a sequential ‘order of worship’ with hymns, scriptures, sermon and sacrament, which is still prevalent today, killing the spirit of open participatory church. (1Cor 14:26)
8. Pope Leo (AD 440), introduced celibacy, ending biblical eldership of one wife. Infant baptism was made obligatory in AD 416. Crusaders (1096 AD) committed genocide of Jews and Muslims. 600 years of Inquisition resulted in 83 million believers declared heretics and tortured to death. Meanwhile, the monks methodically monkeyed the Scriptures.
9. In 1517 Martin Luther ignited the reformation by writing 95 Theses against the Catholic Church. After affirming the house churches in 1526, he capitulated and declared a death penalty for house church leaders in 1530.
10. The true church survived through the ages not in the structured church but in the homes of martyrs. Luther’s was only a theological reformation, “salvation through grace by faith”. God is now restructuring the church with new wineskins (house churches.) for a global harvest.
47. GOD’S VISION
1. God’s vision is that all nations, tribes and tongues will stand before his throne and worship Him. (Revelation 7:9-10)
2. God’s vision is that believers from every tongue and tribe will function as priests and kings and reign on earth. (Rev 5:9-10)
3. God’s vision is that all the earthly kingdoms will be given to the saints, who will reign on earth eternally. (Dan 2:44, 7:27, Rev 22:5)
4. God’s vision is that the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Hab 2:l4)
5. God’s vision is that the gospel will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations of the earth. (Matt 24:14)
6. God’s vision is that the believers will go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them, equipping them and sending them to make more disciples. (Matt 28:l8-20, 1Tim 2:2)
7. God’s vision is that every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord. (Rom 14:11, Phil 2:10-11)
8. God’s vision is that from the rising of the sun to its going down, incense (prayer, praise and worship) and pure offering (lost souls) will be offered in his name in heathen homes. (Mai 1:11, Rom 15:16)