An Apostolic Understanding – Part Sixty-Eight

The Celts had an interesting strategy for outreach. They built apostle centers! Catholic historians call them monasteries, but they were not what we usually think of when we hear that word. In a Celtic monastery, for example, the monks and priest were allowed to get married and have children.

In the Catholic Church, monasteries were places of seclusion to escape the world. Celtic “monasteries,” on the other hand, were designed to penetrate the world. The Celts moved into a pagan territory and established a Celtic monastery as a beachhead.

Celtic “monasteries” were apostolic training centers. They taught the Bible, ministered in power, and sent out teams to transform the territory.

One of the teams send out from Ire]and was led by an apostle named Columba. Columba was a Christian, born of noble parents, in Donegal, Ireland. In 563, Columba left Ireland with 12 followers (an apostolic team). They sailed to Scotland and established an apostolic center on the small rocky island of Iona. At the apostolic center on Iona, new converts were taught to read and study the Bible, and minister in supernatural power. They practiced intense intercession, they observed Sabbath and Passover, and they maintained continual 24/7 praise.

Columba was much like Patrick in his mission work and his contests with the Druids. He is reported to have changed water into wine, stilled a storm, purified wells, brought down rain, changed winds, driven out demons, and raised the dead to life. Iona served as a base for the evangelization of page Scots and Picks. Through a ministry of preaching, demon expulsion, and miracles, Columba and his followers won all of Northern Scotland to the Lord in a very short time.

From Iona apostolic centers were founded all over Scotland and England. They established one center on the Island of Lindisfarne just off the northeast coast of England. It is still called “Holy Island” today. From there they travelled south to Whitby and established an apostolic center designed to reach all of England.

How did the Celtic Church die? The death of the Celtic Church took place at Whitby in England. At the Council of Whitby in 664, the Celtic Church submitted to political pressure to come under the authority of the paganize Roman Church. The key issue at Whitby was whether the Church should observe Roman Easter or Christian Passover.

Whitby was a third generation apostolic center. It had great potential. Its apostolic leader was a godly woman named Hilda. It was also the home of the prophetic psalmist, Caedmon. But as the Celtic Church was entering England from the north, the first Roman Catholic missionaries were coming in from the east. The problem was the the King’s wife had become a Catholic.

The King Brough together representatives from the Celtic Church and the Catholic Church to meet with him at the Council of Whitby. The Catholic Church sent skilled debaters who argued that the whole church worldwide had given up Passover in favour of Easter. They asked, “Who do these Celts think they are to oppose the whole Body of Christ on earth!” The King was swayed by their arguments and ordered the Celtic Church to give up Passover and become a part of the Catholic Church. When they did this the Celtic Church died.

Some of the Celtic leaders refused to give in. A few retreated to Ireland. Some went back to Iona and continued the apostolic center there for another 50 years. In the year 717 King Nechtan drove the Celtic leaders out of Iona and turned it into a Catholic monastery.

But most of the Celtic Church submitted to the king. They gave up Passover. They gave up Shabbat. They gave up fivefold ministry and their biblical heritage. The result was that the Spirit of God departed.

If you want to know where and when the early church died, it died in the year 664 in Whitby, England. The site of Whitby today is occupied by the ruins of a 12th Century Catholic monastery.

Whitby should have been a place filled with life, but if you go there today, you find it inundated by darkness. Whitby is one of the darkest places in England. Whitby was designed to be an apostolic centre where the power of God could radiate throughout the land. Instead it has become a centre for evil. Whitby today is a major hub of Goth culture, the celebration of vampires, witchcraft, Satanism, and death.

God wants us to remember that for hundreds of years the Celtic Church equipped the saints to minister, winning the lost through signs, wonders, and miracles. It was the last place on earth to operate in the power of the Early Church.

God wants to restore all of this to us today as He establishes regional apostolic centers in every nation.

Patrick had a passion for the Kingdom … not just a passion for lost

A passion for the lost can lead to getting notches on your Bible. You may get some “decisions,” but there is often little change, but a passion for the Kingdom is an apostolic vision to transform a territory.
A passion for the lost is pastoral and often driven by guilt, but passion for the Kingdom is apostolic and is driven by vision.
A passion for the lost sends people to isolated places to lay down their lives with little fruit, but a passion for the Kingdom sends out apostolic teams, with the authority to change nations.
A passion for the lost holds meetings and invited people to attend, but a passion for the Kingdom builds communities where the power and the glory of God is manifested in the earth.
A passion for the lost wins converts and then goes to the next city to win more, but a passion for the Kingdom builds apostolic centers to equip the converts, so that can be sent out to take new cities.
A passion for the lost is good but it often does not produce lasting fruit, but a passion for the Kingdom is God’s strategy and results in many lost being saved.

We live in a day of restoration. In the early years of the 20th Century, God restored the gift of tongues and healing. In later decades, He restored prophecy and apostleship. Today He is restoring the ministry of regional apostolic centers and the fullness of the fivefold ministry.

March 2018 Trip to Armenia

Ralph will be ministering in the nation of Armenia March 15th to the 25th of this year.  Armenia is an amazing country with  some very strong churches. Over the years Ralph has ministered in over half a dozen major cities in the nation and has seen God do amazing things in the lives of His people there.

This trip Ralph will be working, as usual, with Samvel Kharatyan whom he first met in Moscow many years ago. At that time Samvel received a prophetic word about his call as an apostle. Ralph had never met him when he prophesied over him. From that encounter during a School of the Supernatural a great relationship has developed. And, in some small ways, Ralph has been mentoring Samvel as they built a strong, personal relationship.

Armenia has an amazing number of historical sites both Christian and non-Christian. Ralph has had the opportunity in past visits to tour a number of these amazing sites … the one pictured here is at the foot of Mount Ararat and is a monastery built early in the history of the Christian faith and still functioning today. Read more

January, 2018 Apostolic Trip to Kazakhstan

Ralph recently returned from his semi-annual trip into the wonderful nation of Kazakhstan. This two week apostolic ministry trip was the most powerful trip he has ever taken to this nation over the past decade.

The teaching schedule was intense. There were three schools each running for three days

1> The Holy Spirit (a Master’s level course for Vine University)

2> School on apostles and prophets (the building of an apostolic-prophetic church)

3> Leadership School teaching on leadership principles

Those in attendance at all three schools were eager to learn, interacted and engaged with the material being presented, and were obviously impacted by what they were learning and in the ministry times when many received life-changing prophetic words.

Ralph also ministered both Sundays to a very active congregation and again the messages were well received and a number of believers were impacted when they received prophetic words.

Each evening there was a meeting with leaders, a cell church to attend, a house church to share at, and youth meeting where young people had opportunity to ask questions about any topic they wanted to.

Plans are already set for Ralph’s next visit to Kazakhstan in early September 2018.

You Are The Church

You are not the “laity”

I am not the “professional clergy”

The clergy – laity divide is not biblical in the least

The word “laity” means “amateur”

And God does not want you to an amateur when it comes to the things of the faith

He wants you to be a mature believer

  • A new creature in Christ – growing into maturity so you become more and more like Him
  • A minister of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5)
  • An ambassador of the King and the Kingdom (2 Corinthians 5)
  • A reproducing believer going into your community and making disciples (Matthew 28)
  • A disciple who knows and can discern truth from error

We are all part of the “priesthood of all believers”  Read more

An Apostolic Understanding – Part Sixty-Seven

A major key to the expansion and growth of the Early Church was the establishment of apostolic centers. Every time the Church penetrated into a new area or ethnic group, it established a beachhead for the gospel. It was a teaching and training center that gave every Christian access to the fivefold ministry. These were apostolic regional centers or regional churches.

When people are trained and equipped, then miracles becomes common. Origen, in the 3rd Century, described the Church in his day this way, “Even recently converted pagans can heal. Greeks and barbarians who come to believe in Jesus sometimes perform amazing cures by invoking the Name of Jesus.”

Irenaeus, in 195, wrote that prophetic words, tongues, miracles of healing were common in the Church. Then he added that the Church frequently saw people raised from the dead, through the prayers of believers, ordinary Christians. The result was a massive harvest of souls for the Kingdom and the Church growing substantially. By the 4th Century the Church had spread all over the Roman Empire and beyond.

But then, the Church died. The Emperor Constantine seduced the church to compromise and merge with the pagan Roman culture. As paganism entered the Church, God’s Holy Spirit left and the Church died.

In the centuries after Constantine, a shroud of death spread across the Church. By the 6th Century the Early Church only survived where the Roman armies could not enforce Constantine’s edicts. The last remnant of the Early Church was the Celtic Church in Scotland and Ireland.

The Celtic Church was the last surviving outpost of early Christianity. In Celtic lands, apostles like Patrick and Columba continued for centuries to heal the sick, raises the dead, and equip the saints to minister. The last major apostolic center was located on a little Scottish isle called Iona. If we can understand what God did on that little island, it will give us a better picture of what God wants to do today.

To understand Iona, it is helpful to know a little background on Celtic Christianity. The key person in the Celtic Church was Patrick of Ireland. When most people think of Patrick, they assume they know two things about him: He was Catholic, and he was Irish. Actually, he was neither. Patrick was born in Roman Britain about 389, and although raised in a Christian family, Patrick was a prodigal who did not follow Jesus. At age 16, he was captured by Irish raiders and sold into slavery in Ireland.

Sitting on an Irish hillside tending his master’s sheep, the young slave Patrick remembered what he had been taught as a child and turned to God. He said, “Constantly I used to pray in the daytime. Love for God and His fear increased more and more. My faith grew and my spirit was stirred up. In a single day I said as many as a hundred prayers, and at night nearly as many. Before the dawn I used to wake up to prayer.”

Finally God spoke prophetically to Patrick and told him to return home. He ran away, found passage on a ship, and returned home to Britain where for several years he devoted himself to the study of the Bible. Finally, God spoke to him again and told him to return to Ireland and win the land for Jesus. What Patrick did in Ireland changed the world. In 30 years of ministry, he converted the whole land from paganism to Christianity and overturned the religion of the Druids.

Like earlier apostles, Patrick operated in the working of miracles – one of the nine supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit. One historian wrote of Patrick, “The blind and the lame, the deaf and the dumb, the palsy, the lunatic, the leprous, the epileptic, all who laboured under any disease, did he in the name of the Holy Trinity restore unto entire health, and these good deeds he was daily practiced.” The report goes on to say, “33 dead men did this great reviver raise from the dead.”

“When Patrick came to Dublin, it happened that in the region nearby the young son of the King lay dead in his chamber. The sorrow over his death was compounded when it was learned that his sister who had gone to bathe in the neighbouring river had drowned mid-stream. Her body was finally found resting on the riverbed, and it was laid out beside that of her brother. Tombs were prepared for both according to the pagan custom. And at this sorrowful time, the rumours spread that Patrick, who in the name of the unknown God had raised many that were dead, had arrived in the village. The King Alphimus promised that he, his nobles, and the whole city would be baptized into the new faith if his two children were restored. Patrick seeing the opportunity for a great gain of souls raised them both to life.”

An old Irish code of law describes Patrick’s ministry at Tara this way, “When they saw Laeghaire and his Druids overcome by the great signs and miracles wrought in the presence of the men of Erin, they bowed down in obedience to God and Patrick.”

Patrick wrote, “The Lord has given unto me, though humble, the power of working miracles among a barbarous people.”

At the end of his life he wrote, “Wherefore those in Ireland who never had the knowledge of God but until now only worshipped idols and abominations, from them has been lately prepared a people of the Lord and they are called children of God.”

What we need to see is that Patrick is not a mythical figure. He did not drink green beer. He did not chase snakes out of Ireland. He was not a Catholic saint. He was a man who walked in apostolic Christianity, operated in the power of God, and saw a nation transformed. History confirms that a totally pagan nation was completely changed in his lifetime.

Where did Patrick’s Christianity come from? We know he was not Catholic because he lived 200 years before the first Roman Catholic missionaries came to the British Isles. Two hundred years after Patrick’s death, a Catholic historian wrote a bogus history that said Patrick went to Rome and the Pope sent him to Ireland. Even Catholic historians admit that never happened.

Another reason we know Patrick was not a Roman Catholic is because the church he planted was not a Catholic Church. The Celtic Church did not believe what Catholics believed. They did not believe in purgatory. They did not submit to the Pope. They honoured Mary but did not pray to her. Priests baptized believers by immersion. They observed Passover and Sabbath. They placed a strong emphasis on equipping the saints to do the work of ministry.

Some have suggested that Patrick’s Christianity is more closely aligned with the Eastern Church than the Roman Church – that Patrick was somehow connected to the church in Egypt or Syria or Greece.

So Patrick is an example of early Christianity. He equipped the saints! He trained the pagan Irish to minister in the power of God. He raised up Irish apostles. Other Celtic apostles include Brigid, who was a woman, Brendon, Colomba, Comgall, and many others. They operated in the power of the Early Church as seen in the book of Acts. They trained disciples and they evangelized Europe.

An Apostolic Understanding – Part Sixty-Six

So Paul came to Rome and added his gift. He taught the church and trained the saints in ministry. But Paul did more in Rome than just teach and minister. God used Paul tp penetrate a whole new strata of society. In Rome, Paul penetrated the capital of the world.

God’s ways are amazing. God arranged for Paul to have a unique entrance into the city of Rome. In Romans 1:9-11 Paul assured the Roman church that he has been trying to get to Rome. It was the desire of his heart to minister among them and he had asked God repeatedly to make a way, but God had not yet opened up the door.

Finally, God provided a way. Paul had been arrested in Jerusalem and the Jewish religious leaders wanted him killed. To escape their plot, Paul exercised his right as a Roman citizen and demanded a trial before Caesar. So Paul was sent to Rome as a prisoner, awaiting trial before Caesar. He won a “free, all-expense-paid trip to Rome,” courtesy of the Roman government.

He was taken to Rome as a prisoner, but he was not put in jail. He was allowed to rent his own house while he waited for his court date. He was in that house for at least two years. While he was there, he was free to minister and teach and “have church” in his home. The only stipulation was that, since he was a prisoner he had to be kept under guard continually. And it was not just any guard. Since he was awaiting a hearing before Caesar, the guards assigned to him were members of the elite Praetorian Guard, the same soldiers that guarded the imperial palace.

So, picture this: Paul was living in his own house in Rome. All the Jewish leaders from the city came and talked with him about the Messiah. Some of them received Jesus. Then for two years he used the house as a training center. He preached. He taught. He performed miracles. He healed the sick. And all the while members of the elite Praetorian Guard were assigned to watch him and listen to everything he said.

For two years the guards rotated through Paul’s house. They listened to the teachings and the discussions. They saw the miracles. They would go back to the barracks at night and tell the other guards what they had seen saying, “You wouldn’t believe what happened today!” The result was that the whole Praetorian Guard was evangelized. And through these same men, chosen as the best from every corner of the Empire, the Gospel penetrated both the imperial palace in Rome and every corner of the Empire.

And so the church in Rome continued to grow. We know from history that the early Church grew with incredible speed, but in most cities we can only guess at its size. But in Rome we have a way to measure the harvest.

The city of Rome has an estimated six hundred miles of catacombs burrowed under the city. From the first century to the third, these tunnels were the city’s cemeteries. Millions of people were buried in catacomb tombs during those years.

It is easy to identify which of the tombs were Christian tombs because the Christians tended to decorate their tombs with Christian symbols and pictures of biblical events. By studying the catacombs, archeologists are able to get a fairly accurate picture of the size of the church at any given time. Their studies reveal that by the end of the first century, the church in Rome numbered two hundred thousand people. That is a fifth of the population of the city!

Try to envision that kind of growth. The church in Rome would have begun near the middle of the century with a single house church of probably 20 people. As the saints were equipped to minister, that little church multiplied to two, and then to four, and then to eight. Through fifty years of sometimes severe persecution, the multiplication continued until by the end of the century, the church numbered 200,000. Assuming that an average house church numbered about 20 people, by the end of the first century there would have been more than ten thousand house churches scattered across the city of Rome!

That’s church growth! The Romans had no way to stop the growth of the church. As the church operated in fivefold ministry under the power of the Holy Spirit, the harvest came in.

From the apostolic center in Rome, teams went out to every part of the world. You have heard the saying, “All roads lead to Rome.” This also means that from Rome you can go anywhere in the Empire.

So teams went out and planted churches in every location. Tertullian, in the year 200, wrote to the pagans, “We have filled every place belonging to you: Your cities, islands, castles, towns, assemblies, your very camp, your tribes, your companies, your palace, your senate, your forum. We leave you your temples only. We can count your armies, but our numbers in a single province will be greater.” That’s called harvest.

The church historian Philip Schaff writes, “It may be fairly asserted that by the end of the third century the Name of Christ was known, revered, and persecuted in every province, and in every city in the Empire. In all probability at the close of the third century the church numbered ten million souls.” Some estimate that by the end of the third century, half of the population of the Empire had converted to Christianity.

Today: We are seeing the restoration of the ministry of the apostle to the Church in many nations. And, we are beginning to see the emergence of apostolic regional churches or apostolic centers where the fullness of the fivefold ministry can reside and then minister from there to house churches throughout their region.

These apostolic centers will enable the Church to once again grow and spread with incredible speed. God is preparing His Church to receive the great end-time harvest. God is changing His Church. He is changing the structure and basic foundation of the Church so that His life can once again be experienced and shared. He is doing it for one main purpose – that the harvest may come in.

Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

We will rise up powerful once again and, like the church in Rome, penetrate the structures of the world.

God is restoring the Church as His new wineskin, and He will pour in the new wine.

An Apostolic Understanding – Part Sixty-Five

How did the Gospel of the Kingdom penetrate this huge, cosmopolitan city?

The truth is, we don’t know!

The New Testament never tells us when the church in Rome was started (founded). And, it never tells us who started the church.

Acts 2:10 tells us that on the Day of Pentecost, visitors from Rome were present in Jerusalem. Some of them may have been among the 3,000 who were saved that day

After being discipled in Jerusalem for a season, they would have returned to Rome and started a church. Following the pattern they learned in Jerusalem, they probably met together in a home, ate together, praised God together, prayer for each other, and exercised their spiritual gifts. All in a local house church.

As they ministered in the power of the Spirit, the house church would have grown and multiplied – meeting in two houses instead of one. From two it went to four and then to eight. Apostles and prophets and teachers (1 Corinthians 12:28) came in and began to equip the saints to minister. Soon there were house churches started all over the city of Rome. By the time Paul arrived, there were probably hundreds of them.

So, when we read about Paul going to Rome, we need to remember that Paul did not start the church at Rome. There was already a large population of Christians in the city when he arrived.

Paul was not even the first apostle in Rome. When he wrote the book of Romans several years earlier, he sent greetings to two apostles in Rome, Andronicus and Junia (Romans 16:7). So the Roman church was already an apostolic center before Paul arrived to visit and encourage the saints. Rome had apostles before Paul’s first visit. They were already equipping the saints to minister. In Romans 1:8 Paul tells the Romans, “Your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.” This is being an apostolic center.

If the church in Rome was already planted and already had apostles, why did Paul need to go to Rome?

In Romans 1, Paul tells the Romans, “I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you that you may be strengthened.” The Roman church already had at least two apostles. Andronicus was a man; Junia was a woman. They may have been married. In Romans 16 Paul describes them. He says that were his kinsman. They were Messianic Jews. They had grown up with the rich heritage of the Word.
Paul says that Andronicus and Junia had both been in the Lord longer than he. They knew Jesus before Paul was even saved. They may have even been part of the original three thousand added to the Church on the Day of Pentecost. Paul calls them “fellow prisoners.” They had both suffered for the Gospel.

Finally, Paul tells us that Andronicus and Junia were both outstanding among the apostles. They were well-known apostles in Paul’s day. They may have been the founders of the church in Rome.

But as good as Andronicus and Junia were, Paul knew that they could not give the Roman church everything it needed. No one minister or team has everything a church needs to be healthy. No one person can give you what you need to achieve your destiny in the Lord.

Paul knew that the people at Rome needed his gifts also. Paul told the Corinthian church that he planted, Apollos watered, and God caused the growth. In Rome just the opposite happened. Someone else had planted, but Paul wanted to come and water what was there. He believed that God would bring the increase. And, as we will see, God did!

He wanted to add his distinctive gifts to the mix, to help them to the next level. This is how apostolic centers work. Apostolic centers are places where the church can cross-pollinate. At an apostolic center, ministers from other locations can share their teaching, their resources and their impartation.

One of the big problems we have had in the modern church is that many pastors seem to want to build their own empire, instead of God’s Kingdom. They get possessive of their sheep and don’t allow others to come in to teach and minister. They see going to others for ministry as disloyal. This removes the ability for the church to cross-pollinate which is needed in every church for it to reach it’s full maturity (see Ephesians 4:11-16).

Paul writes to correct this wrong approach to ministry in 1 Corinthians 3:4-23. In Corinth, some of the Christians were dividing up, based on which apostle they liked best. One said, “I am of Paul.” One said, “I am of Apollos.” Someone else said, “I am of Peter.” And the super-religious said, “I am more spiritual than all of you! I am of Christ.” Paul rebukes them all. He told them, “All of the apostles belong to you. You need them all.”

An Apostolic Understanding – Part Sixty-Four

God is bringing us back to the biblical pattern for the Church. He is preparing a new wineskin for a new move of His Spirit which will bring many into the Kingdom. Some say, we are being prepared for the end-times harvest of souls for the Kingdom.

The Church has tried following man’s ideas, but man’s ways have not produced results and has resulted in a lot being done in the flesh. We have been faithful but somewhat fruitless. God is bring us into a new season when there was will be a return on His investment and much fruit will be seen. Following God’s plan the Early Church moved in a continuous time of harvest that reached the known world in one generation. We can learn from their example.

A key element in the success of the Early Church, as we have seen, was the establishment of apostolic regional centers. They were placed strategically by the Holy Spirit so they could have the greatest impact in spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom and in training, equipping, and releasing the saints to expand the Kingdom to the end of the then known world. Apostolic centers were not randomly placed. God planted them where they would have the greatest impact to penetrate the world for His Kingdom.

The first apostolic center was founded in JERUSALEM. None of the original apostles were from Jerusalem. They were all Galileans. It would have been easier for them to start the church in Capernaum. But Jerusalem was a strategic location. If the church was going to reach Jews, it had to start in Jerusalem.

The next apostolic regional church (center) was in ANTIOCH. Antioch was also strategic. Multicultural Antioch was the ideal place for the church to welcome people from all nations and cultures into one family, the family of God.

We then looked at the center in EPHESUS. Ephesus was a hub for occult activity in the Roman Empire. If the gospel was to confront the occult structures over the Roman world, Ephesus was the place to do it. In Ephesus the powers of darkness were overcome and the whole territory changed.

Then we saw the apostolic center (church) in CORINTH. Corinth was a hub of sin and depravity. It was a strategic place to reveal God’s power to transfer the hard core unsaved.

In each region, apostolic centers were established where they could have the greatest impact and influence on the territory. This is why Paul’s next goal was to visit ROME. No place in the Empire was more strategic than the city of Rome. It was the governmental hub of the Empire and the centre of the civilized world. In order to reach the world, the gospel had to reach and impact Rome.

Rome was the most important city in the ancient world. It was more than just the capital of the Roman Empire. It was the capital of the civilized world.

As the Roman Empire expanded into new territories, the Romans didn’t bring oppression; they brought civilization. Most people who were conquered by Rome saw their standard of living dramatically improve.

One example of this was the Roman system of aqueducts. Aqueducts brought the world running water, indoor plumbing, and a sewer system that was not surpassed until modern times. Two hundred and sixty miles of aqueducts supplied fresh water to the city of Rome.

But the Romans did not just build aqueducts for themselves; they built them everywhere the Empire spread. Aqueduct systems were built in more than three hundred cities around the Empire. Some of them are still in use today.

There were also Roman roads. The Romans built a system of paved roads extending into every part of the Empire. For the first time in history, you could travel to any part of the known world with relative ease. And because of the internal peace within the Empire, it was safe to travel.

The city of Rome itself was the greatest city the world had ever known. It is estimated that the population of Rome in Paul’s day was over a million people. Considering that the total world population at that time was only about 200 million, we see that one out of every 200 people on the planet lived in the city of Rome.

How did the Gospel of the Kingdom penetrate this huge, cosmopolitan city? … next time

An Apostolic Understanding – Part Sixty-Three

God used the church at Corinth to teach us many things

Because the Corinthians had so much to learn, the books of 1 and 2 Corinthians are filled with some of the most important teachings in the New Testament

1> God teaches what it means to live as a Christian

Paul begins 1 Corinthians by reminding them, “You are saints. You are holy ones.” They needed to know they had been made holy the moment they got saved.

Their problem was that they didn’t know who they were yet. They needed to grow to maturity in Jesus so they could begin to live like saints

Paul later tells them…

You are new creatures in Christ
You are ambassadors of the Kingdom
You are ministers of reconciliation

2> He shows us how to set the spiritual gifts in order (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)

He gave them instructions on tongues and prophecy

3> He defined the foundational roles of apostles and prophets and teachers

4> He gave us the signs of a true apostle

5> He showed us the pattern for discipline and restoration

6> He taught about giving and about unity, warfare, and demolishing strongholds

7> He showed us how to relate to the world and still be holy

8> He taught on the centrality of love

9> We learn more about God’s plan for the Early Church in 1 Corinthians than any other book of the Bible (see body ministry in 1 Corinthians 12:12-end)

1 Corinthians, chapters 10 to 14, is almost like walking down the street in ancient Corinth and visiting a first century house church

We join with the Corinthians as they eat together and as they cerebrate the Lord’s Supper

We see their problems, but we see good things too

Paul writes that when the church assembled, the power of the Lord came and was present with them

We watch the Holy Spirit moving among them as they assemble as a family of believers

The Spirit releases His gifts and ministry takes place

It is a joyful celebration – someone leads in a song, someone reads a psalm, another brings a teaching, there are prophetic words and tongues

As they pray for each other, miracles and healings take place

Fivefold ministry has equipped every believer to minister

It is the clearest picture we have of how the early church functioned

God chose the church at Corinth to be our window into New Testament Christianity and the daily life of the early Church

But there is a fifth apostolic regional church – Rome…

An Apostolic Understanding – Part Sixty-Two

What was Paul doing?

He was establishing an apostolic center in Corinth. This was to be a very significant center as it was established in a city known for wealth and immorality

In Jerusalem, the new converts were all Jews who had studied holy Scriptures since they were children. They already believed in the God of Israel and wanted to please Him

In Antioch, where Gentiles were first added to the church, they were primarily Gentiles who were hungry for God and already attending the synagogue

In Ephesus, although most of the converts were from the occult the initial 12 were originally Jewish disciples of John the Baptist and thus believers in God.

When Paul brought the Gospel of the Kingdom to Corinth, he was confronted by the “hard core unsaved.”

In Corinth, he found a city of committed, enthusiast sinners, much like most cities we now take the Gospel to

Corinth was a place the true power of the gospel could be revealed. In Corinth God would rescue a totally pagan people out of the world. They had been cut off from God and in bondage to the devil. They were entrapped in every kind of sin, perversion, and false philosophy. But, out of that group God would raise up a holy people for His own possession

Interesting to note for today and our work in spreading the Gospel…

This church plant was not an easy process

A lot of people are shocked when they first read about the church in Corinth. When you read the book of 1 Corinthians, you think, “Oh my! What was going on there?” The book of 1 Corinthians reads like a grocery list of the church’s sins. Some people in the Corinthians church were guilty of drunkenness. But, they didn’t get drunk down at the local pub. They were getting drunk in church at the Lord’s Supper.. Some of them were engaged in gross immorality. Many were divisive – out of order. Some were into false teachings and doctrine

You might think, “What a horrible church!” The Corinthian Christians were not backslidden believers – they were simply baby Christians. They loved Jesus but had not grown yet. God was changing them but change is a process and a journey

The Corinthians Christians had come out of the world, but the world had not yet come out of them

They didn’t know it was a sin to get drunk at church because in the pagan temples this was normal practice and an act of worship. They didn’t know that God doesn’t like immorality – in the temples this was part of the standard, daily practice of religion. These new believers simply needed to learn and grow…. But as Paul taught them, they grew.

Corinth eventually became a very healthy church

Just a year after writing 1 Corinthians, Paul writes 2 Corinthians rejoicing in the news that the Corinthians had repented of their sins (2 Corinthians 2:6-15). He speaks of his confidence in them (2 Corinthians 2:16) and how others would praise God when they heard of God’s surpassing grace among them (2 Corinthians 9:13-14). So Corinth became a testimony to the power of God’s grace. It was a place where those who were messed up by the world could come and let God put their lives back together. It was a place where people could be saved out of hard core sin, built to maturity, and equipped to minister in the power of the Spirit.