... how I shrank not from declaring unto you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly, and from house to house ... - Acts 20:20
by Paul Galligan
In Acts 3:19-21 Peter was addressing the Jewish people who were at the Temple. He was addressing people who were serving God in the religious way that they had known. Peter said to them, "Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus the Messiah who was preached to you before". Peter promises us that God will send times of refreshing. This is what revival is: a time of refreshing coming from the presence of God to encourage and lift the church into a fresh knowledge and understanding of God and His purposes.
While revivals have come and gone and some lament that they have gone, they are meant to be times of refreshing, preparing us for the end result, which is the church being raised up in glory in the earth, ready for the Lord's return (Ephesians 5:27). Revivals are not an end in themselves and they are not meant to be a time which produces another denomination. They are meant to be a time when God adds to the church what the church in general needs, to come to maturity.
Some people experience a revival and want to 'camp' in the wake of that experience, not seeing God's restorative purpose. It is not the revival that is happening now that counts in the larger picture, but it is the result or the outworking of that revival bringing us into God's purpose more fully.
Peter goes on to tell us that heaven "must receive [Jesus Christ] until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:21). We are living in those times! We are experiencing wonderful things that God is restoring.
The Table of the Lord has been restored into our midst - recently a senior Christian leader in Australia who was used by God to call the nation to prayer and fasting before our Federal Election in May 2019, encouraged the brethren who were taking part in the prayer and fasting, to break bread daily in their homes. This is radical! Also, Bill Johnson of Bethel Ministries, California, shared on a program, that he and his wife break bread in their home every day. The word is getting out: God has restored His Table in the midst of His people. This is a very significant restoration which many are still ignorant of, or simply ignore. But more and more of God's people are coming into the practice of breaking bread daily in their own homes and in the house church meeting.
An example of denominated churches resisting the restoration of the breaking of bread was as follows: we were staying in the home of a minister and his wife and because of the rules of the denomination that he belonged to, he was not allowed to lead a communion service in the church meeting. They had to wait for a specially 'ordained' minister to come to lead the communion service and that was scheduled every three months, but often did not happen in that framework. How tragic is this. The good thing about this minister was that he received me as an apostle to teach the word and he welcomed the breaking of bread in his own home.
Acts 2:42 describes the practice of the first church, "They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and the fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers". Verse 46 says "So continuing daily ... breaking bread from house to house"! This was the practice of the first church. The word of God authorises disciples everywhere to be breaking bread daily in their own houses.
The practice of having dedicated church halls, church buildings, did not begin until the second half of the 3rd century AD, according to Google. The record of the New Testament shows that the church met from house to house. Jesus often ministered in houses; Paul taught "publicly and from house to house" (Acts 20:20). He used the School of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9-10) for public teaching, but when that time finished, the church did not continue to use that hall, because the church was meeting in houses.
There are many Scriptural benefits in meeting in houses. A few obvious ones:
• many more people are able to share and participate according to 1 Corinthians 14:26; it is the place for the spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 to be exercised.
• ministry is multiplied - instead of having one preacher for a large congregation, there are many preachers ministering in all the house meetings, and the same for song leaders and other ministry opportunities, including exercising the gifts of the spirit.
• all of the family are able to be involved - the house church meeting is a family meeting. Children can be easily involved, reading Scriptures, praying, sharing testimony and functioning in the gifts.
• the house church meets in a neighbourhood and the members are more easily able to relate to neighbours, so new ones can be drawn in. Acts 2:47 says they were, "praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved".
More and more prophetic and apostolic teachers are bringing the knowledge of the mystery of Christ (Eph.3:3-5), the mysteries of the kingdom (Matt.13:11); the mystery of Godliness (1Tim.3:16), the mystery of God (Col.2:2); and there are other mysteries. Paul says "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory" 1 Corinthians 2:7. Without the knowledge of the mystery we cannot grow up into the glory. It is the knowledge of this hidden wisdom of God that brings us into the experience of the glory of God.
In 2007 on a trip to West Africa, God began to open up the mystery of godliness according to 1 Timothy 3:16. Suddenly we found ourselves quoting this verse and we were then challenged to teach on each facet of the mystery of godliness:
"God was manifest in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory"
This mystery has gripped many in the nations and brethren everywhere have come into the deep knowledge of who Jesus is - He is God, manifested in the flesh!
The apostles in the New Testament were devoted to declaring that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ (Acts 2:30-36). In Acts 5 some of the apostles had been arrested for preaching the doctrine of Christ. In fact, the high priest said "You have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine" (v.28). The apostles were beaten and then released (v.40). The Scripture says "So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus the Christ" (v.41-42).
It is preaching and teaching the wonders of who Jesus is: He is much more than our wonderful Saviour: "who is Christ the Lord" (Lu.2:11). He is the one that Peter declared "God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36).
In 2006 I attended an apostolic conference in Florida, and I heard a preaching of Christ [the anointed King] from Acts 2. Ever since then I have been preaching and teaching the mystery of Christ (Ephesians 3:4). This has been a marvellous journey! The Spirit has been unfolding this mystery in our midst and has enabled us to write of and teach the mystery of Christ in many nations.
The five ministries of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher were given by Jesus in His ascension. It is through these ministries that the grace of the Lord is released to every member of the body of Christ, enabling the whole body to grow to full maturity. While ever the church lacks these ministries, the church can never come to that maturity.
The ministries are given "for the equipping [perfecting] of the saints". They are given "for the work of ministry", that is, that each ministry gift is functioning to equip all the saints, and "for the edifying [building up] of the body of Christ" (Eph.4:12). These ministries are to bring the church to "the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (v.13).
Through these ministries, the members of the church are able to grow from childhood to full maturity - they are able to know the truth and be rightly related to the head of the church, who is Christ (Eph.4:14-15). The whole body is to be "joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share" (v.16a). The body then will function in agape love (v.16b).
It is very important that the ministry of apostles and prophets are received by the church everywhere so that they can fulfil their role in founding the church properly and fully in the revelation of Jesus the Christ [Messiah], who is both the foundation (1Cor.3:11), and the cornerstone (Eph.2:20).
The doctrine of the adoption as sons - many sons to glory
"For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings" Hebrews 2:10. Through His death and resurrection, Christ has fully enabled this to happen - there will be many sons coming to the knowledge of the glory of the Eternal One and walking in His glory.
"But when the fulness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons" Galatians 4:4-5. Jesus has redeemed us that we might receive the adoption: He gives us the ability [grace] to receive the spirit of adoption and become His sons. Even so we were "predestined to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will" (Eph.1:5).
"For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God" (Rom.8:18). Many are still waiting for a 'rapture', but the Bible says that all of creation is waiting for the manifestation of the sons!
What is God's perspective? He told Moses that despite all that had happened that "the earth shall be filled with the glory of YAHWEH" (Numbers 14:21). Originally God told Adam and Eve to "be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth" (Genesis 1:28). God planned for the earth to be filled with His glory, and He has never changed His mind.
God promised again in Isaiah 11:9b "for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of YAHWEH as the waters cover the sea". This is again confirmed in Habakkuk 2:14 "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of YAHWEH, as the waters cover the sea".
This glory will be seen "in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor.4:6). This glory is to be seen in our lives as we grow up more and more into Christ (2 Cor.4:7-14). This glory is to be revealed in the saints (Colossians 1:27).
We are hearing again today the Lord's commission: to go and make disciples. This is the means by which the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of YAHWEH. For too long the ministers of the church have ignored the making of disciples, and many who have made some attempt have a very limited view of what making disciples means. The simplest way to understand the making of disciples is to look at the pattern and practice of the Lord Jesus. He concentrated on discipling and training twelve apostles and in John 17 He is reporting to the Father that He had completed that very important work. The disciples were with Jesus fulltime.
Those disciples whom Jesus had trained, and there are others besides the twelve - see Luke 10:1-19 - then went on to make disciples. Acts 6:7 says "Then the word of God spread, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem". When those disciples were scattered and forced to leave Jerusalem over the death of Stephen, Acts 8:4 says they "went everywhere preaching the word", and they made disciples, not just believers.
There are many other areas of restoration that God is bringing to pass in our day. Some of them are listed below, and we need to be taught in all of these areas so that we have that knowledge of the glory of YAHWEH.
There are other areas of restoration that we could speak of. This teaching newsletter is meant to raise the standard: are you being discipled in the word? Have you received the grace to walk as sons? Do you have an understanding of the wonderful mysteries of Christ and His word? We truly live in the days of restoration of all things. Jesus is preparing His bride for His return. Do not be like the foolish virgins.