Where Are the First Century Churches? Part 1

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Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
April 8, 1998

Last Updated :
May 9, 2011

NOTE: This article or series has not been updated recently. As such, it may possibly contain some outdated information, and/or ideas and beliefs which I no longer embrace, or which have changed to some degree.

System Mold, Nimrod, Babel And Worldwide Babylon, When The Towers Fall, Vanity Of Secular Empire-Building, Flesh Versus Spirit, The Body Of Christ And Diversity Of Its Members, Our Holy Calling And Profession, Coming Kingdom, Heavenly Rewards, Nature Of Our Work, Life Of Faith, God Will Provide Our Needs Through Those To Whom We Minister, The Sin Of Commercializing God's Word, Cheerful Supporters Of God's Work, Evil Violence In Mexico, Story Of The Widow's Mite, God Looks On Our Heart, Menpleasers Or God Pleasers, It's Impossible To Out-Give God, Shake Off The Dust Of Your Feet, Reward Of The Selfish People

From the time that a child first enters grade school, he is exposed to a barrage of carefully selected "power words" such as self-worth, pride, achievement, reward, potential, accomplishment, responsibility, winner, leader, failure, loser, etc. As he continues to grow, he is slowly introduced to the idea that when he reaches a certain age, he will be expected to accept without question, his place within the ranks of the worldwide system of slavery that is controlled by the rich and the powerful. Upon completing their formal education, anyone who is of an able mind and body, and who resists being placed in this plastic mold of humanity, is quickly condemned by his peers, branded a renegade, a misfit and a rebel, and accused of being a deadhead, a parasite, a sponge, lazy, mentally-unbalanced, and an assortment of other derogatory terms.

For those sincere Christians who are seeking to live the Life of Faith, this presents quite a problem. In fact, it places them in direct conflict with those people who blindly uphold and defend the mottos of their masters. How ironic it is that the children of the world are so quick to honor people who dedicate fifty years or more of their lives to their company, or to science, or to the arts, or to politics, or to military service, or to some other "noble" human cause, while at the same time, they belittle and criticize those people who choose to dedicate their lives in selfless service to God, as well as to their fellow man. For people who choose the ways of the world, the secular system has all kinds of monetary rewards, certificates of achievement, honorary degrees, statuettes, plaques, etc., to "immortalize" that person's achievements. Sadly, many of these people fail miserably to abide by the wise counsel that is found within the pages of the Holy Bible. One example is the following quote taken from the Apostle Paul's letter to the Colossians:

"Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."
Colossians 3:2, KJV

The reason why these people build their castles of sand upon the Earth is because they lack the Spirit of God; and thus they cannot discern the true importance of the things of the Spirit. They are just like the worldly followers of Nimrod in the Old Testament who wanted to build an Earthly kingdom and make a name for themselves, instead of honoring and obeying the one true God. Thus began the Babylonian kingdom at Babel. Consider the following verses:

"And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar . . . And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth."
Genesis 10:8-10, 11:1-4, KJV

As you may know, the Lord did not look favorably upon this blatant defiance of His sovereignty; and thus He put a stop to their foolish ways by dividing them with the confusion of tongues, as we see by these verses:

"And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth."
Genesis 11:5-9, KJV

Approximately four thousand years have passed since the above incident occurred; and ever since then, man has continued to go his own rebellious way by slowly building his worldwide kingdom of violence and Babylonian confusion. I am reminded of the following verses that are found in Psalm Two:

"Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us."
Psalm 2:1-3, KJV

As I point out in some of my articles which deal with the Endtime, it is possible that very soon, man may ultimately realize his desire for a worldwide empire in the form of the Kingdom of Darkness of the Beast; but as in times past, the Bible informs us that the Lord will come down from Heaven and will utterly smite their towers -- or skyscrapers -- of sand. Consider these Old Testament verses:

"And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall."
Isaiah 30:25, KJV

"And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever."
Daniel 2:44, KJV

So again, the reason why evil men engage in this so-called "empire-building", is simply because they lack spiritual depth. All they can see is what is here and now; that is, the temporal and carnal things of this Earth. Such men are totally blind to the realities of the Spirit World; either that, or they knowingly rebel against their Maker. This is exactly what the Apostle Paul stated when he wrote to the carnal-minded Corinthians who were having some very serious problems in certain areas. Consider this:

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
1 Corinthians 2:14, KJV

While man has set up his own status system of recognition and rewards upon the Earth, the Lord has done the same in the Halls of Heaven; and it is very different from what most people would expect. In his Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul wrote the following:

"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:"
Ephesians 4:11-13, KJV

In his first Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul also made the following comments concerning the Body of Christ, and the diversity of members and positions which are found within it. He points out that all of these are necessary for the edification of the Body as a whole:

"Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues."
1 Corinthians 12:22-28, KJV

Regardless of what our personal calling may be, it should be clear that the Lord esteems all of these positions as worthy vocations, regardless of what worldly men may think or say. Consider again the words of the Apostle Paul:

"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses."
1 Timothy 6:12, KJV

"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,"
Ephesians 4:1, KJV

Thus, we should never doubt for a moment, that in God's eyes, being a servant of the Lord in any capacity is indeed a very honorable and legitimate profession. It is a job, and it is a hard job, usually with very little or no Earthly recognition. While we may not be honored by worldly men, the Lord holds us in much higher regard than all of the rich men and rulers of this current world. Consider the following verses:

"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:"
1 Peter 2:9, KJV

"And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."
Revelation 1:5-6, KJV

"And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth."
Revelation 5:9-10, KJV

"Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."
Revelation 20:6, KJV

While men of the world strive with each other for riches, power and honour, as dedicated Christian servants of the Lord, we already know that our rewards await us in Heaven, and it is there where we should place our sights, as we see by these verses:

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
Matthew 6:19-21, KJV

"Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."
2 Timothy 4:8, KJV

"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city."
Hebrews 11:13-16, KJV

"And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them."
Revelation 14:13, KJV

In the final chapter of his second Epistle to the Church at Thessalonica, Paul made the following comments regarding those Christians who slacken in their work for the Lord:

"Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing."
2 Thessalonians 3:8-13, KJV

It seems that some modern-day secular Christians have taken the above verses and totally twisted their meaning. It is my understanding from the earlier verses that Paul is not talking about selfishly working at a worldly job, where we strive to meet our own needs, as well as the needs of our families. No; in my view, the work that Paul is referring to is the holy profession of being a servant of Jesus Christ. He is talking about being a soul-winner, a preacher of the Word of God. This is the true Labour of Love to which we are all called. This is the "well doing" that Paul is referring to when he says "be not weary in well doing". This idea of living the Life of Faith is further supported by Jesus' own words when He stated the following prior to sending out His Disciples on what may have been their very first missionary journey:

"Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat."
Matthew 10:10, KJV

"And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house."
Luke 10:7, KJV

"Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed."
John 6:27, KJV

The message of the previous verses is rather clear; and that is this: If we are faithful to do God's Will and Work, and not selfishly work for ourselves at some worldly job, He will provide our every need. He promised to. In fact, according to Jesus' and Paul's own words, the Lord will use those very same people to whom we are ministering. to provide our needs. Here are two more examples from Paul's writings which prove this point:

"It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things."
Romans 15:27, KJV

"If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?"
1 Corinthians 9:11, KJV

Even in the Old Testament we find evidence that God will provide for us through those people to whom we minister, if we are faithful to do the job which He has given us to do. In the Book of Proverbs we find this verse:

"A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just."
Proverbs 13:22, KJV

At this point, some people may be thinking that this means that we are to ask for money for the spiritual services that we provide to others; however, if we balance Scripture with Scripture, we can determine that this is definitely not the case. Furthermore, in the series entitled "Money-Making Bible Hucksters And Mammon", I expose the worldly trap into which many Christians fall by selling books, tapes, videos, DVD's, CD's, magazine subscriptions, and other materials. In my view, engaging in such practices is no different than any other worldly business venture. In fact, I consider it worse; because those Christians who do this are selling the Word of God -- or at least what they claim is the Word of God, or at least something that is supposedly inspired by God -- for a profit, to which I strongly object.

The truth of the matter is that those who make a business out of God's business, are just as guilty as the money changers and the people who sold sheep, oxen and doves on the steps of the Second Temple in Jerusalem two thousand years ago. Many of you will no doubt already be aware of how Jesus dealt with that outrageous situation. Considering the following:

"And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise."
John 2:15-16, KJV

Let us not forget exactly what Jesus said to His Disciples that day before He sent them out on the road on their first journey of faith. Obviously, He knew exactly by what things they would be tempted during their journey, so He warned them ahead of time with the following words:

"Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give."
Matthew 10:8, KJV

Notice that the above verse is right before the one I shared earlier regarding taking no "scrip for your journey". The word "scrip" is derived from the Greek "pera", the primary meaning of which is "wallet". So then, what we can learn from these verses is that while God expects those people to whom we minister to, to meet our needs, just as both Jesus and Paul have stated, we are by no means supposed to force them to assist us in exchange for our ministering unto them -- as if we could really do that -- or for that matter to even directly ask them to assist us. How much less are we to try to sell them something?

One of the deceptions of modern religious organizations is to try to sell something under the guise of calling it a, ahem, "donation". This is absolute nonsense in my view. Many of us can testify to the fact that if you don't "donate" to their cause, or to their religion, or to their organization, you usually aren't given the tape, video, book, DVD, CD or whatever it is that they are trying to sell you. As Jesus clearly states in the above verse, we are to minister freely to all men. He said that we are merely to inquire who in a town is worthy, as we see here:

"And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence."
Matthew 10:11, KJV

The Apostle Paul basically said the very same thing in the verses I shared earlier. The key to understanding this issue is found in the word "worthy". It is derived from the Greek word "axios" which means to merit something. In other words, what Jesus is saying is that when we enter a city or town as travelling missionaries or evangelists, we are to inquire in it who merits our presence. We are to seek out those who are hungry for the Word of God. Those people who are truly God's sheep will be more than happy to provide you with a meal, a night's lodging, or whatever your needs might happen to be; and yes, some will even freely offer a monetary gift to help see you on to your next town. Such is the Life of Faith.

I recall that when I lived the Life of Faith in Mexico many years ago, sometimes those sweet humble people would invite us into their homes for days, weeks, or even months at a time, while we ministered to them and to the people of their town or village. The Apostle Paul tells us that Lord enjoys blessing people like that because they are cheerful givers, as we see by the following verse:

"Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver."
2 Corinthians 9:7, KJV

Tragically, when I read the news today, I am both saddened and shocked to see how much violence is occurring in that nation today due to extreme corruption, drug cartels, etc. Mexico is not a safe country. In fact, it has become a very dark country in a spiritual sense, despite the fact that the Mexican people have been given so much light.

I suspect that one of these days, some people are going to be very surprised. Why? Because people who only give, donate or share because they feel obligated to do so due to peer pressure, or to save themselves a moment of embarrassment when the collection plate is being passed around in church, have very little reward in Heaven. Likewise, those people who only give of their abundance, when it really doesn't hurt to give, also have very little reward to look forward to in Heaven. As Jesus taught us, it is those people who give of their own need -- when it is a real sacrifice for them to share -- who receive the greater Heavenly Rewards, as we see in the Lord' story concerning the widow's mite:

"And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living."
Mark 12:41-44, KJV

As with the case of the Scribes and the Pharisees, some people within organized religion may outwardly appear to be pious and generous, but as the Lord told the Prophet Samuel when he went to anoint David as the new king of Israel, He looks upon the condition of one's heart:

"But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart."
1 Samuel 16:7, KJV

So to reiterate, it is those people who truly give from their hearts, without any thought of reward, recognition or recompense, who will truly be blessed by their Father who is in Heaven. For in supporting the work of the ministry, they are doing it as unto the Lord, and not unto men. They are not menpleasers who are outwardly boasting of the good that they do, they are God pleasers who realize that God knows and sees their hearts. I am reminded of the following verses where the Apostle Paul is discussing the issue of servants, or slaves:

"Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free."
Ephesians 6:5-8, KJV

"Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ."
Colossians 3:22-24, KJV

Not only does God bless the cheerful giver, but we are told that it is impossible for us to out-give God. He will give back more to us every time, as is made plain by the following verses:

"He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward."
Matthew 10:40-42, KJV

"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
Malachi 3:10, KJV

On the other hand, at the same time, the Lord also instructed His Disciples concerning what they should do if they did not find any worthy sheep in a particular town or village, and it is not nice. He told them:

"And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet."
Matthew 10:12-14, KJV

In a word, if you can't find anyone in a town who is willing to receive you and the words of Salvation that you bear, then that is God's sign that it is time for you to be on your way. Let God deal with them for their selfish evil hearts; and He most certainly will. While those people who rejected you may consider it a light thing, the Lord certainly does not see it that way. In rejecting you, Jesus tells us, they are rejecting Him as well; and they will have to face the consequences for such actions sooner or later. Consider the following verse:

"Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city."
Matthew 10:15, KJV

So as we have seen, when the Lord blesses people with physical abundance, He expects them to share it with those in need; and this is particularly true regarding assisting those Christians who are doing His work.

Please go to part two for the continuation of this series.

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