Is there unity?
Fellowship in the Church; on what should it be based and on what not? Mental blindness is one of the reasons why the connection does not work
This text discusses unity between Christians. According to the Bible it is an important teaching, which’ value we have not always realized. Our current congregation has not progressed that far in terms of unity. It is but one symptom of low quality in congregation. If sin is accepted and favored in other areas of living, it should not come as a surprise that people are not interested in unity either. The words of Jesus and His prayer for unity do not seem to hold that much significance to people these days. He spoke about this right before His departure from this world:
- (John 13:34,35) A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
35 By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.
- (John 17:21-23) That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me.
22 And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me.
WHAT IS THE BASIS OF UNITY? Since it is good to have spiritual unity according to Jesus, we need to know its principles. There might be confusion surrounding this, as there have been attempts to build unity on wrong terms. People have tried to achieve spiritual unity, even when the conditions were not met, or when they did not yet fully understand their relationship with God. That is why we are going to shed light on some of the most important aspects in Christian unity.
Significance of Jesus Christ has a key role in Christian unity. He is the basis that Christian unity should be built on. Without Him, according to the Bible, we could not even have salvation or any hope of entering the kingdom of God. If we abandon Him, we do not only drift away from Christian unity but also from salvation. We can experience these things only because of Him.
- (Acts 4:11,12) This is the stone which was set at nothing of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
- (1 Cor 3:11) For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
The fact that Jesus Christ is the basis of salvation and unity, means that we cannot have any other foundations or paths to salvation. Wanting to be saved through having faith, e.g., in saints, in one’s own merits, or in some other salvation paths, would only make one drift away from Christ.
For instance, Western liberal theology does not acknowledge the significance of Jesus Christ. Instead, many liberal theologians strive to have a dialogue, e.g., with Islam. This is based on the idea that Muslims worship the same God as Christians. People think that there is one same God behind these two religions, which is why there have been attempts at dialogue.
These theologians are mistaken, however, as the Bible sheds its light on the matter. That is, the New Testament does not know any other God than Him who announced Himself through Jesus Christ. Since Muslims deny this fundamental teaching about the deity of Jesus and His significance, we can be sure their god is different. Muslims and Christians having the same God is an impossibility, which we can see in the light of the following passages:
- (1 John 2:22,23) Who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denies the Father and the Son.
23 Whoever denies the Son, the same has not the Father: he that acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
- (1 John 5:9,10) If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he has testified of his Son.
10 He that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself: he that believes not God has made him a liar; because he believes not the record that God gave of his Son.
What is the correct way to approach Muslims and those who deny Jesus Christ? We should not water down Christianity, which liberal theologians tend to do, but have general respect towards people who think differently. It is impossible to build spiritual unity with them on the basis of Jesus Christ’s deity and atonement, but we can still respect people who reject values important to us. Moreover, Jesus encouraged us to spread gospel about Him, who already beared our sins. We need this more than the kinds of dialogues offered by liberal movements:
- (1 Peter 2:17) Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
- (Mark 16:15,16) And he said to them, Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned.
- (Rom 1:14-16) I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.
15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God to salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Spiritual life and rebirth. Another fundament for spiritual unity is that people who try to create it should be reborn, saved, and have a spiritual life. These are something we also receive through Jesus Christ by turning to Him and by accepting Him, only then can we have these things. We will be reborn when we ask Him to live inside us, which will make us become children of God:
- (John 3:3) Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
- (John 1:12) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name
- (Gal 3:26-28) For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Consequently, accepting Christ is what makes us become children of God.
Therefore, in Christian unity it is not so much a question of cooperation or sharing similar views; the fellowship of believers has a supernatural foundation. We have been born into the same family and “have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor 12:13), and the same Holy Spirit lives in us creating fellowship. People who were formerly separated by race, social status, sex or other issues, are now through Christ brothers and sisters, members of the same body and they have the same Spirit of son-ship. We are going to look at passages that show how the Holy Spirit lives inside believers:
- (Eph 4:3-6) Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling;
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
- (1 Cor 12:13) For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
- (1 Cor 6:19) What? know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own?
God’s words thus show that we are true Christians only when Christ lives in us through His spirit and we have been born again. If this is not the case, we are actually not members of the true congregation of God. No membership cards or other measures can change this.
Unfortunately, the majority of people in large and old churches are people who have not experienced this rebirth that Jesus mentioned to Nicodemus. The older a church or revivalist movement, the more likely it is that there are plenty of such people. Members of such churches – sometimes even their employees – may be atheists and people who deny God, and thus it is understandable that such people cannot possess the Spirit of God obtained through being born again. If a state church is so extensive that 80 to 90% of all people are members, it is certain that the majority of these people do not have a personal relationship with God. In such a case, one cannot talk about the unity of Spirit.
The Roman Catholic Church, one of the oldest churches, is one example of this prevailing situation. There are surely Catholic people who are saved but the vast majority of Catholics do not understand how they can be saved through Jesus Christ alone. Instead, they rely on Mary and issues that cannot benefit our eternity. Those are paths that, instead of salvation, actually lead to damnation. Because of these false salvation paths, most Catholics do not have assurance of salvation either. They, like anyone else, can receive it only when they put their faith in Jesus Christ alone. We must turn to Him, because we can only receive eternal life and assurance of salvation through Him:
- (John 5:39,40) Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
40 And you will not come to me, that you might have life.
That is, spiritual unity cannot be built between people who have not been saved yet. This should be clear, otherwise things will go horribly wrong.
The next case is about this matter. It is about Derek Prince, who in the latter stages of his life called some brothers to his home and talked to them about the pain he felt in his heart and about Catholics. He regretted only having talked about the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts to the Catholics, instead of salvation. His example shows how we can sometimes forget the most crucial thing at the cost of spiritual unity. One of the brothers present was Joseph Shulam, who tells the following story as recorded on a cassette:
“When we were sitting around him, he started to cry... He cried bitterly and said that he had sinned for years when he taught in so many churches and in conferences of Catholic charismatics, and always talked about the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues but never asked whether or not the people listening wanted to be saved. He said that he had wasted his life. Then he said, ‘Without believing in Jesus and baptism (...) it is impossible to be saved, and the Catholic church is the largest lie of all humanity because it offers people a feeling that Catholics (...) are Christians. It provides them with the tools of religion but denies them the key issue.’
We were all in shock because Derek Prince was one of the central figures in the global charismatic movement. And now, in the last years of his life, he says that (...) it was all a waste of time...” (1)
The truth. The truth is an essential part of unity. This means that we must be unanimous about the basic truths and doctrine. These principles include issues like inspiration from the Bible, Jesus being the only road to salvation, His atonement at the Cross, His bodily resurrection, His physical return, His deity, salvation through grace without actions needed, the Fall, and how people are lost and hopeless without Christ. If we are not unanimous about these truths, unity as God wanted cannot be created.
Many liberal theologians have been neglectful towards the above, but such a path will only lead to a disaster. That is, doctrinal indifference which abandons fundamentals of Christianity also means abandonment of Christian foundation. If we do not hold on to our foundation and fundamentals, we are no longer representing Christian faith but something else entirely. Abandoning and neglecting doctrine is not going to lay out the right foundation for Christian unity.
The significance of doctrine is visible in many verses of the New Testament, as well. This shows that we cannot be ignorant of the doctrine because if we reject the basics of faith we also reject salvation. The early congregation strongly focused on the right doctrine because understanding them was – and still is – important for our eternal life. Following their example should not lead us astray:
- (1 Tim 1:3,4) As I sought you to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that you might charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
- (Tit 1:9) Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the disputers.
- (Acts 2:42) And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
- (Gal 1:8,9) But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel to you than that you have received, let him be accursed.
- (2 Thess 2:15) Therefore, brothers, stand fast, and hold the traditions which you have been taught, whether by word, or our letter.
- (2 Thess 3:6) Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother that walks disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.
While some truths are important for our eternity, there are also matters that are less important and less pertinent. Such things are the style of praising, spiritual gifts, the moment of rapture, the thousand-year kingdom, the interpretations of the Revelation, etc. We may have different opinions and ideas about these matters, but they do not influence our eternity. They have nothing to do with the fundamentals of salvation, which is why they are not as important.
Chapter 14 of Romans also points out some of these issues not so crucial to Christianity. They were topical at that time, and Paul advised people to honour other people’s different views. This is good advice today as well. We might not agree on everything, but we still should not judge or despise people who think differently:
- (Rom 14:1-10) Him that is weak in the faith receive you, but not to doubtful disputations.
2 For one believes that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eats herbs.
3 Let not him that eats despise him that eats not; and let not him which eats not judge him that eats: for God has received him.
4 Who are you that judge another man's servant? to his own master he stands or falls. Yes, he shall be held up: for God is able to make him stand.
5 One man esteems one day above another: another esteems every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
6 He that regards the day, regards it to the Lord; and he that regards not the day, to the Lord he does not regard it. He that eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he that eats not, to the Lord he eats not, and gives God thanks.
7 For none of us lives to himself, and no man dies to himself.
8 For whether we live, we live to the Lord; and whether we die, we die to the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.
9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.
10 But why do you judge your brother? or why do you set at nothing your brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
The congregation is local. The Bible includes an idea of a universal congregation, the Body of Christ. All people who have been born again – meaning who have turned to Jesus Christ and asked Him into their lives – are members of this congregation. These people also have the Spirit of God or Christ (Rom 8:9). This congregation is worldwide, and it includes all the people who are connected to the Christ.
- (1 Cor 10:32) Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:
- (1 Cor 12:12,13) For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
The Bible does not teach as much about the universal congregation as about the local congregation, however. The Bible mentions, for example, the congregations of Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi and Thessalonica, which means that the universal congregation is divided into smaller local congregations. This should be the most important reason why the congregation is divided into several smaller ones. We can find this idea of local congregations in the following passages, e.g.
- ( 1 Cor 1:2) To the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their's and our's:
- (Acts 20:17) And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.
- (Phil 1:1) Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons
- (1 Thess 1:1) Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, to the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The locality of a congregation should, therefore, be one of the key elements in unity. This means that if there is a congregation in a town, it should be comprised of all God's children in the region – no more or no less. All people who believe in Christ are the Body of Christ and the local congregation. There are no non-believers among them, and the congregation does not refer to any building, organisation or denomination but to all the people who have received Christ. This is a non-sect basis for creating and retaining unity. If we fail to understand and recognise this, we may have the wrong attitude.
Watchman Nee has talked about the local nature of the congregation. He has stated that the congregation is not a meeting place or an organisation but all the people who have received Christ in the town in question:
The seven congregations of Asia that are mentioned in the Revelations were the congregations of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. They were seven congregations instead of one. Each was clearly recognisable from the others based on the location. (...)
What is the New Testament congregation? It is not a building, an evangelic hall, a preaching centre, a mission, a job, an organisation, a system, a denomination or a sect. (...) God did not mean for the congregations of different towns being combined into a denomination or organisation but for each congregation to be independent from others. They should also be managed independently. When our Lord sent His message to His children in Asia, he did not address the message to "the congregation of Asia" but "to the seven churches, which are in Asia”. (2)
Does local congregation mean having just one place of gathering? Sometimes it is being taught that a local congregation only has one large place of gathering or it is a strict organization. It is believed that if the congregation is local, it will also require one spacious place to meet.
This idea is false, however, in the light of the New Testament. That is, early congregation did not gather in one place only but in several different places. Before Pentecost, they gathered, e.g., in the upper room (Acts 1:13), after Pentecost in the temple (Acts 2:46), in Solomon’s porch (Acts 5:12) or in different homes (Acts 2:46, 12:12). This shows how their place of gathering changed according to the situation. Moreover, we need to understand that congregation is not a certain building but is comprised of the people who have faith in Christ, as highlighted in the New Testament. A Church building is not the same as congregation according to the New Testament, which is why we should differentiate between the two.
- (1 Cor 3:16) Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
- (2 Cor 6:16) And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
- (Eph 2:19-22) Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together grows to an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom you also are built together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
A rigid organisation is also mentioned in Watchman Nee’s autobiography. He himself emphasized teachings about the locality of congregation, which in itself is a good teaching. However, a rigid and extreme organization might sometimes hinder us, as happened during the volatile times in China. We can follow flexibility of the early congregation, as they gathered in different places and had no rigid organizations.
When it comes to congregations, Watchman’s worst weakness (a weakness that has proven very common over the years) is that he considered absolutely binding the principles he had coined based on the example of the New Testament alone. The fact that he absolutely wanted congregations to be geographically local (one congregation administration per town) could open the door for state control too easily because the congregations’ administrative structure was so rigid. The idea from the first century, which he discovered ten years later, about evangelic work spreading when people emigrate, feels like an idea sent by God because the timing was so perfect. This caused him to think about how the flexibility and opportunities of Christian work could be utilised in many groups that would soon have to disperse. When the party started to disperse people all around the country to eradicate the church, the more flexible ideas about Christian life and testimony that were more practical started to shine. Congregations that could be called “ex tempore congregations” were born: they were united in Christ but lacked organisation almost entirely. These groups continuously created new types of services and forms of testimony. The Holy Spirit taught these congregations how to survive in a new situation while being attacked and how to fight as one man for God under those circumstances. (3)
If spiritual unity is a good thing according to Jesus, why does it not always work as it should? Why is the current congregation far from His teachings and is not following His advice? These are the questions we are going to look at next. We are going to discuss a few of the major causes making unity so flawed these days.
Spiritual childness and schism. Spiritual childness is probably the major reason behind disagreement in congregations. A good example of this is the Corinth congregation in Paul’s time. Although this congregation had access to all gifts of grace (1 Cor 1:7: So that you come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.), the majority of the people in the congregation were at a level of spiritual childness. They had arguments, envied and slandered each other, and were committing blatant sins, for which Paul had to chastise them. They were still carnal and in a childlike stage in their spiritual journey, which was the major reason behind their problems and divide. They, e.g., grouped themselves around different teachers. Some of them sided with Peter, some with Paul and some only supported Apollo. And some were only on the side of the Christ.
- (1 Cor 1:11-13) For it has been declared to me of you, my brothers, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
12 Now this I say, that every one of you said, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
- (1 Cor 3:1-4) And I, brothers, could not speak to you as to spiritual, but as to carnal, even as to babes in Christ.
2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for till now you were not able to bear it, neither yet now are you able.
3 For you are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are you not carnal, and walk as men?
4 For while one said, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are you not carnal?
- (2 Cor 12:20,21) For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found to you such as you would not: lest there be debates, contentions, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, arrogance, tumults:
21 And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall mourn many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.
Schism is also an indicator of spiritual childness. At its worst it can manifest into the idea that salvation is possible only if one is a part of a certain group. That is when the position of Jesus as the only savior is pushed aside. Or it could imply an attitude where a person considers their congregation to be the best. It could include “We are right, and others are wrong” -attitudes, a mindset that one’s group is the elite, and that they have a deeper understanding of the Bible and God. This all goes against what Paul wrote: ”… but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Phil 2:3).
Similarly, arrogance towards other groups is common. By this we mean an attitude that sees itself above other congregations and people. People think that their spiritual home is the best, while others have gone off the rails, even become apostates. In this view, others are seen less “mature”, “sober”, rational, and “sharp”, since they come far behind.
The following allegory of Jesus brings up this attitude. It does not directly address schism, but it can be applied to this verse. The allegory talks about elevating oneself, which is one of the major causes of schism:
- (Luke 18:9-14) And he spoke this parable to certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank you, that I am not as other men are, extortionists, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, but smote on his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.
Spiritual blindness can play a role in the lack of unity. Here, by spiritual blindness we mean those who do not believe in the rebirth and salvation of some truly reborn individuals. They think that people in other groups with differing ideas and experiences must be lost.
A good example of this is when well-known men of God, Oswald Chambers and F.B. Meyer, a hundred years ago did not realize that the Pentecostal revival was from God. They thought it was misguiding. Naturally, it is difficult to build spiritual unity when people share differing opinions on the basics.
Spiritual blindness and a false gift of distinguishing between spirits are, indeed, one of the major dividing factors in congregations. Because “we know in part” (1 Cor 13:9), anyone can make misjudgments. Man himself is the one who deems himself “perceptive” and having “reliable information”, even though he is, in fact, overpowered by spiritual blindness. He cannot see what God does to help other people; he sees only their faults, not what is right. He acts like the Pharisees who did not understand the work of God, but blamed Jesus and said that He is driving out demons by the power of Beelzebub.
We are going to look at a related quotation. Rick Joyner has written about imitation of the gift of distinguishing between different spirits, and this imitation bears bad fruit. It causes confusion, because it is not based on the truth, and is brought up in a spirit that kills. It is not the real gift of distinguishing between spirits, rather spiritual blindness in a person:
Religiousness is often connected with the wrong kind of a gift of distinguishing between spirits, which is motivated by suspicion and fear. This false gift looks for faults in other people instead of seeing what God can do to help these people go forward. A religious spirit using this kind of distinguishing between spirits can cause great harm to the congregation. Its actions almost always leave behind more damage and dissolution than healing, agreement and growth. Its wisdom comes from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and even though the information might be true, it is brought out in a spirit that kills.
Suspicion arises from things like rejection, protecting one’s ground or general uncertainty. The real gift of distinguishing between spirits can function only through love. Any other motive distorts spiritual understanding. Whenever someone condemns or criticizes another person or a group, we must not pay attention to it until we know that he really loves the person or group and is committed to serving them. (4)
Denominations. The next negative influence we should note are the names given to congregations because they can divide the Body of Christ. Names, such as Pentecostal, Baptist, Adventist, Lutheran and any others may prevent a feeling of association. This does not mean that all of the people involved in these movements think so, but it is easy to do so because we are all imperfect. Moreover, it is understandable that many names and dissociations come from our history. It is impossible to return to the original state of the first congregation.
However, would it not be more reasonable and more in line with God’s will to have more meetings where the entire town meets, more shared ways of working for all people who are now working in different groups, and more meetings in regular people's homes?
In the first congregation, there were no such intermediate forms and dispersion as now: there was only one congregation per town and meetings were held in homes. City-wide large gatherings have the benefit of being impressive to society, and home gatherings are positively close to people. Whereas, current intermediate congregations do not meet either of these benefits to their full extent. In addition, it is more difficult form new lines of work, as there are too few people involved. This issue could be fixed if believers in different circles united their powers. Those with the same vocation and line of work could band together.
Wolfgang Simson addressed this matter in his inspirational book Kodit, jotka muuttavat maailman. The book is mainly about the significance of home congregations but it also points out the possibility of having town meetings. Such a model without the current denominational divisions is much closer to the original model. It effectively eliminates the sectarian spirit and eliminates comparisons between “us” and “them”.
Since the home congregation can manage without a fixed headquarters or celebrations, it is more invisible. Such congregations may have been alive in many countries for a long time without having come into public awareness. They also attract less people seeking for personal power or fame. Such Christianity is somehow more humble, which is an important trait in countries where religions compete with each other even about who has the tallest tower in a holy building. A low level of visibility to the general public often means a high level of visibility in the eyes of God. A low level of visibility also means that the congregation can better exist even if persecuted and is prepared for apocalyptic events.
(...) The difference between a cell congregation and a home congregation is that the celebrations of a cell congregation only involve people from one denomination. A natural second wing for a home congregation is a multi-Christian celebration involving the entire town where church politics are left aside. This is where Christians joint as one body. (5)
Harsh doctrine is one of the most major reasons of dissolution. It means an attitude aiming at a biblical approach – which is right, naturally – but in a way that is unwilling or unable to value any people who disagree. People may also think that they are the only ones who are right and almost everybody else is wrong. Erik Ewalds describes such an attitude:
There is such a curse in the lives of many Christians. I am particularly thinking about those who are always right – so right that they are able to condemn all other Christians, so right that everybody else is liberal or fanatic or whatever but not orthodox like me. Such a person has a compulsion of being right and the right to judge everyone else. Such people fail to note, however, that the attitude is nothing but Christian. It is all about a petty need of being right because of lack of faith in living in faith. They are afraid of doubting, developing, maturing: they are afraid of being nothing else than being right and judging others. How pitiful! This is an example of the curse of the law. (6)
What is the advice of the Bible in such situations? There is good spiritual guidance in the fourth chapter of Ephesians: ”speaking the truth in love” (Eph 4:15). We must strive to be biblical, but if we forget the right and loving way of approaching people who think differently, we will be the ones acting against the Bible. Since the most important teaching about behavior is loving others, we would abandon the greatest commandment of the Bible:
- (Eph 4:15) But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ
- (1 Peter 2:17) Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
- (1 Tim 1:5,6) Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
6 From which some having swerved have turned aside to vain jangling;
- (James 3:14-17) But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
15 This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
The worst disagreements and quarrels in a congregation do not, after all, arise from holding different views regarding some issues, but they always arise from a hard and judgmental attitude. God’s desire is that we love Him, and love our neighbors, more and more. But we do not always want to love. We might refuse to love those who have different taste in music, or who are hardened people. Perhaps we express a bitter attitude toward church leaders who do not support our own issues.
A hard, quarrelsome and loveless attitude towards others is an indication of our own spiritual life not being on the right track, because if we advocate whatever matter we deem right and the will of God, but we forget gentleness, we are always wrong before God. We do not remember that we must be “gentle to all men” (2 Tim 2:24, 25) and not show a hostile attitude towards those who are of a different opinion or who criticize us.
I have not seen signs of people becoming better, as far as it means changing into greater likeness of the moral holiness of a divine being. It does not seem to me that people generally would understand better the content of religion, would control better their passions, would show greater Christian love towards their neighbours or would be more precise and regular in their devotions before God. (...)
One very clear distinctive mark of this movement is that it makes people proud and egocentric and harsh towards their neighbours, relatives and also their beloved; especially towards priests, briefly, towards the whole that part of mankind, which is not like them and who do not think and act like they do. (7)
John Wesley: ” I am sick of opinions. Show me a man who is humble, gentle, loves God and people, who is lenient and bears fruit, in whom there is no partiality and hypocrisy. Let my soul be in the company of such Christians, whoever they are and whatever their views. Whoever does the will of my Father is my brother. (…) Fanaticism is extremely powerful devotion to one’s own group or opinion. How unwillingly people are ready to admit that there is something good in those who are not always of the same opinion as them. We must not take the matter of God only to our own group, but we must be glad about goodness, wherever it appears.” (8)
- (Jam 4:11) Speak not evil one of another, brothers. He that speaks evil of his brother, and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law, and judges the law: but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge.
- (2 Cor 12:20) For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found to you such as you would not: lest there be debates, contentions, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, arrogance, tumults:
One reason behind problems in a congregation, and one reason why fellowship vanishes, is slander and gossip. (Matt 12:36: But I say to you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.) This means that negative comments about other congregations and servants of God are uttered behind their backs instead of just praying for them. Often the reason for negative speeches can be prayer: “I’m just telling you this so you can pray for him.”
Negative speeches have different degrees of severity. There is basic gossip, which is not meant to harm, but people are often guilty of it when they, e.g., talk about the leaders of their congregation. How typical it is that where two believers meet, the topic often revolves around – not Jesus – but a preacher whose mistakes are being taken apart. Conversations are often centered around the mistakes of other people.
Slander goes a step further. It is meant to harm and to show someone in a bad light (Ex 20:16: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.). It is also often a product of dissatisfaction towards flawed leaders and their methods, in the same way as Korah rallied people against Moses (Michael Howard states in his book Tottelemattomuuden hinta, Prize of Disobedience, p. 29: “Most congregations break or dissatisfaction occurs in them because someone deems himself better than he ought and thinks that he can be better than the nominated leaders of the congregation.”).
Francis Frangipane wrote about this hurtful attitude. He says that slander is related to the nature of satan. He urges us to respect imperfect leaders because no one is perfect. However, it is a whole different matter if the leaders commit blatant sins and crimes:
So, in order to succeed, we should submit ourselves to imperfect leaders without being disrespectful towards them. I do not mean that we should submit ourselves to leaders who have committed serious sexual sins or crimes deserving imprisonment, but we should not have any difficulty to show obedience to men and women who are only incomplete.
(…) This does not mean that you should not worry when you are faced with problems. You can really have good pieces of advice or even revelation information that can help your leader. But do not give people opportunities to treat their leaders disrespectfully, especially in the congregation! If you see a problem, do not follow the example of Ham. (9)
What are the consequences of slander? People do not realize that purposeful slander separates them from God and from eternal life. Saul is a good example of this, as he began chasing David out of jealousy. The Bible tells us that God took away His grace from Saul and the Holy Spirit left him. Even though, he at first was a man of God, he lost his inheritance because of his faulty behavior:
- (1 Sam 18:7-9) And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.
8 And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?
9 And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.
- (1 Sam 16:14,15) But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.
15 And Saul's servants said to him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubles you.
- (2 Sam 7:15) But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before you.
We are going to look at a related quotation. It tells about a man from the other side, a man who, with his followers, had succumb to the role of an accuser. He was headed towards damnation, but he repented right before his death:
”I became so proud at the end of my life that I could not imagine the Lord would do anything significant, unless it was through me. I started to touch the anointed ones of the Lord and to damage His prophets. I was selfishly proud when the Lord used someone of my disciples, and I became envious when the Lord functioned outside my own service work. I used to search out whatever fault in them I could find in order to expose them. I didn't know that each time I did this, I reduced my own station even more.”
“I didn't know at all that you had done anything like that,” I said, surprised.
“I did not do it myself but I provoked my subordinates to find faults in others and to do my dirty work. I got them to snoop around closely so that some fault and sin would be found from the lives of others, so that they would be exposed. I became the worst a man can become on the Earth – a stumbling block, which produced other stumbling blocks. We sowed fear and disintegration in the congregation, all in the name of defending the truth. In my own righteousness, I went towards destruction. In his great mercy, the Lord allowed me to meet an illness, which caused a slow and humiliating death. Just before my death, I came to my senses and repented. I am very grateful that I am here. I may be one of his fewest here but it is far more than I deserve. I was not able to leave this room before I had a possibility to apologize to those of you to whom I did badly.”
(...) “And we always calmed ourselves truly by thinking that we did a service to God by attacking against His own children”, an understanding sound of the man was heard. “It is good for you to understand this because you can go back. Please, warn my disciples about the threatening devastation if they do not repent. Many of them have been called to be kings here but if they won’t repent, they will face the worst judgement of all – the judgement of the stumbling blocks… (10)
The fall of a leader. One cause of dissolution in a congregation may be the fall of a person who is in a leading position. If this happens to someone who we have trusted, it can have a negative impact on many and those persons may perhaps leave the congregation altogether and abandon their faith. Sex, money, popularity with crowds, pride – all sins can cause falls. The congregation may be divided:
Sometimes the factors causing the division of a congregation are connected with the sins of leaders. Here, I am not referring to minor offences or faults but sins that are either sexual or break the laws of the society in a way that can lead to imprisonment.
(…) However, sometimes leaders fall. Both men and women can underestimate cunningness of the enemy and become involved in a serious sin. When such sin is finally revealed, it has a destructive effect on a congregation even to the extent that people go away from the congregation in large crowds. This kind of division does not come from the ambition of the people who are leaving but from the failure of the leader. Both those who leave and those who stay need purification, so that the sheep could be led back to the blessed presence of God. (11)
What is Jesus’ advice in a situation where an offence has taken place or people blame someone for it in their speeches? We can find an answer in Matthew 18. His advice in this chapter is very clear, and according to it we should always go to the person to resolve the issue. We must get in contact with the person in question and not spread rumors as facts. According to the advice given by Jesus, we must talk privately with the person, then together with a brother, and not spread the issue further. This is important also because many can falsely say all kinds of evil things about others (Matt. 5:11, 2 Tim. 3:12, 1 Tim. 5:19):
I have heard numerous excuses for why Matt.18 is not obeyed. One popular explanation is this: "I knew that he wouldn't listen to me.” I have also heard this excuse: "If he has a public mission, I have the right to expose him publicly.” This is absurd, because every ministry is public to some extent. The Lord did not set such preconditions. People, who take these kinds of liberties despite the clear commands of Jesus, claim that they have the right to put words into God’s mouth. (...)
If we have disobeyed God's instructions about how to treat a brother who has made a mistake, we have absolutely no right to speak about it to anyone. What we may call asking another’s opinion, God calls gossip. We cannot bluff God, and we have to pay a price for this kind of rudeness. His command was that we first must speak privately with the person. After that has been done, we can speak with someone else and only so that we can help the person who has been guilty of a sin. Our goal must always be saving our brother from sin, not exposing him. Paul wrote: "Brothers, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted." (Gal. 6:1) (12)
Can these falls be prevented?
At least one piece of advice we have not always obeyed are the words of Paul in Tit 2:1-5. Paul clearly says that older women – not men – should help younger women, especially in problems with their marriage or family. This should be the principal rule. For example, Lester Sumrall, a well-known person in Christian circles, dismissed every employee from his organization who he found in the same room and behind closed doors with a person of the opposite sex, even if because of pastoral care only:
- (Tit 2:1-5) But speak you the things which become sound doctrine:
2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.
3The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becomes holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
The second important matter is that responsibility belongs to elders, and there are always several of them in a congregation. An organization where one man is over others or there is one leader in a country or there is central management, such as the Pope in the Catholic Church, is not biblical. Instead, we can see from the Bible that the congregation is local (Rom. 16:16, 1 Cor. 1:2, 16:1,19, Acts 15:41) and that there are elders in each congregation. The reason for this is that the delusions will not spread so easily to other congregations and that work can go on, even if someone falls. Many mistakes and delusions would certainly not have spread so easily, if we had followed this operations model:
- (Acts 20:17,18) And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.
18 And when they were come to him, he said to them, You know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,
- (Phil 1:1) Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
- (Tit 1:5) For this cause left I you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed you:
- (1 Tim 5:17) Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine.
Watchman Nee also talks about this. He shows the importance of a congregation’s locality and that the authority should be in the hands of local elders. That way heresy will not be able to spread as widely. Denominations, alinement of congregations, and central administration are not what God intended for congregations:
If every congregation was under the authority of the local administration, where local elders were in command, it would prevent skillful and ambitious false prophets from spreading their lies and from forming large unified groups of believers and placing themselves at the top of those masses. Rome would have never gained the kind of power it has today. Papacy is impossible where congregations are not unified and where local authority is in the hands of local elders. Unification has led current congregations to enter the state of Thyatiran congregation. The failure of Protestant movement is that it has replaced the Roman church with organized statewide sect churches, instead of returning to divinely set local congregations.
To this day, congregations holding on to their locality would make it much easier to prevent heresy and misguidance from spreading, that is if the congregation is local, then heresy and misguidance will also be local. Rome is an excellent example of the other extent of this phenomenon. Roman failure can be blamed on their organization. The area of unified churches is wide, which has widely spread misguidance... Sects can only be formed if the local nature of congregations is gone. (13)
One reason why fellowship does not work is our negative feelings, such as jealously, hate, criticism, and arrogant attitude towards others. They are an indication that we are still babes in Christ, as Paul wrote, and because of these feelings fellowship can become pretence, not actual fellowship:
- (1 Cor 3:1-3) And I, brothers, could not speak to you as to spiritual, but as to carnal, even as to babes in Christ.
2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for till now you were not able to bear it, neither yet now are you able.
3 For you are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are you not carnal, and walk as men?
However, there are also other reasons for a lack of fellowship. Another reason is that the congregation has not been able to invest in after-care, so that people would begin to feel at home in the congregation. A mere series of meetings does not guarantee that people will stay in a congregation. Effective after-care is needed; otherwise, the harvest will be lost. It has been noted that people stay in a congregation for only two reasons: fellowship and duty. If we do not properly invest in these areas, many may come in only to go away:
If the comer already has relatives and friends in the congregation, he will more easily adapt to it. In a congregation, members establishing relations with friends, relatives, neighbors, and fellow workers, who are not a part of the congregation, are absolutely needed. This will make it easier for people to come into the congregation and maintain the growth in it.
Coming into a congregation actually begins before the person decides to join the congregation. The more friends the newcomers get in the congregation, the more probably they will actively take part in the activity of the congregation. People come into a congregation for many reasons, but they stay there for two reasons; friends and meaningful duties. (14)
Homes. When it is a question of fellowship, it is important to get a good contact with people. If the relations in the congregation are superficial, it is very probable that many go away over time and perhaps abandon the faith. It is difficult for anyone to participate if fellowship has remained only at the level of superficial greetings and if close contacts and friendship have not been born.
One solution to this problem can be a congregation that meets at homes, as in the early church. As we look at the Bible, we can see how the first Christians met both in public places such as the temple (Acts 2:46), Solomon’s porch (Acts 5:12), the school of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9) and also in small places, such as ordinary houses and homes. For example, the next places are mentioned:
- (Rom 16:5) Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my well-beloved Epaenetus, who is the first fruits of Achaia to Christ.
- (1 Cor 16:19) The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
- (Col 4:15) Salute the brothers which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.
- (Philem 1:2) And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:
Wolfgang Simson brought out the idea of home congregations. He states that they can act independently – especially during a persecution – but also meetings comprising the whole town can be arranged. Such models are much closer to the situation in the beginning.
The congregations of the New Testament were called according to an area, not a religious movement. When a new wave of home congregations is born, a possibility to the congregation comprising the whole town is also opened. All the Christians of the area meet regularly or irregularly in celebrations comprising the whole town, in which the most anointed Christians of the town forget their titles and church politics and in their new ripeness sacrifice their own name and reputation for the kingdom of God and one undivided King, the Lamb of God.
(…) Cell congregations need both of these meeting types, cells and celebrations, in order to work well. They are like the two wings of an aircraft, as Bill Beckman describes. Home congregation works without a celebration, especially in a hostile environment, and can in any case spread. (…) The celebration of a cell congregation is limited to one church, while the home congregations favor more common regional celebrations of all Christians. One builds church thinking – the other kingdom of God. Which of them is more biblical? (15)
There are plenty of advantages to meeting in ordinary houses and homes. However, the following points are most important:
- Meeting at homes is more advantageous. There is no need to waste money on spectacular church buildings, but money can be directed to more useful things, such as missionary work (many have heard the Gospel several times, but there are people who have never heard it), helping people or supporting evangelists. It is possible that the same people go to churches repeatedly and therefore most of the meetings can take place in ordinary homes. In addition, the church buildings can be destroyed easily during a persecution.
- The forming of fellowship is more probable in small groups than in large ones. The larger the group is, the more difficult the adaptation of new comers can be. People who have close interaction and good relationships in groups do not leave so easily. For example, in Colombia it has been noted that homogenous groups (people who come from a similar background) are successful. They have been noted to function better than groups based on geographical division. (Cesar Castellanos, [Successful Leadership Through the Government of Twelve], p. 195-198).
It is good to note that if people are saved through the activity of small groups, they will remain more loyal to the activity. It is much more probable than if they had been saved by a series of large meetings. The meaning of the human relation is essential in that people begin to feel at home in a congregation.
- Division of responsibility between more people is the advantage of home congregations. Because responsibility is not on the shoulders of one priest but many, it is more effective. The souls of people are better cared for and problems better solved, because there is more time for everyone. In these kinds of meetings, it is good to follow Paul’s advice: “When you come together, every one of you has a psalm, has a doctrine, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done to edifying.” (1 Cor 14:26).
- Is it more effective? The problem with many congregations of 20 -100 people is that they take on a lease for expensive assembly rooms and usually for the same people. However, would it be more effective if these small units directed their activity more to homes – without forgetting evangelism – and also to large meetings comprising the whole town and work directed outwards (work in streets, helping people, work among ordinary people, Sunday school work, large evangelist meetings, etc)? It is easier to start work in such a form if there are enough people. The problem with small and isolated groups is that they have too few people for starting new forms of work. However, if they are in contact with other Christians in the town, this is possible. Those people who are saved by the other activity could then be led into the congregations in ordinary homes.
It is probable that this kind of activity would be more effective and closer to the idea of a local congregation. The only problem is how it is possible to carry out this kind of work if there are various doctrinal views.
Training and duties. The second problem in many congregations is the lack of training and suitable duties. Often duties in congregations are undertaken by only a few persons, while others do nothing. Many priest-centric congregations based on passive Christianity, are an example of this.
However, division of work and showing of confidence towards people is always more useful and fruitful than keeping them idle. If they are only onlookers, they can become inert and impassive, but showing confidence in young people can lead them to spiritual growth. Congregations in which preparation and training have been invested usually grow faster than those congregations that have not done the same.
Thus, people should find their place and learn how to use the gifts given to them by God – both supernatural gifts of the Spirit and their normal talent. This is where the leaders of congregations can help. They should have a vision of everybody diligently doing the work to which God has invited them. This applies to both the old and the young, and all people who God has called and saved.
Moses was a leader, and he set us an example by raising others to be leaders. Soon after leaving Egypt, Moses ”chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.” (Ex 18:25).
He understood that one person cannot change a nation alone. An army of Moseses is needed to build the kingdom of God in any earthly kingdom.
In our time, we must help in training and guiding people to their areas of leadership. As a reverend, I want to help all the people around me to find their calling and succeed in life. I strive in all ways I can and use all my knowledge to help all the people in my life in succeeding. I have an obligation to assist all, because this is what God wants. And it is one of the tasks God expects us to do. I am convinced that the most important job of a reverend is to assist the members of the congregation in becoming what God has created them to become. (16)
Surely you understand that I do not believe my gift of leadership being more important than other gifts? It is simply that people who have the gift of leadership are exceptionally equipped to create strategies and structures which will make others to use their gifts as effectively as possible. Leaders see the big picture and understand how to assist others in finding their place in the service within the big picture.
(...) Many congregations are full of sincere, talented and devout people who want to use their spiritual gifts to influence the world on behalf of Christ. This is the question: will the men and women whom have been given the gift of leadership take this seriously, will they fully develop these gifts so that those who are willing and able in their congregations can work together to be seen in the world? (17)
We can also learn about sharing responsibility and the significance of providing training, from the next passages taken from the Old and New Testament. They teach us that after gaining our salvation, we are also expected to participate in “the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ:” (Eph 4:12). The relationship Jesus had with His disciples -- He taught them, encouraged them, sent them out, and finally handed over all the whole work to them -- serves as the best example of this. A similar model including plenty of practical teaching is certainly needed now:
- (Exo 18:17-21) And Moses’ father in law said to him, The thing that you do is not good.
18 You will surely wear away, both you, and this people that is with you: for this thing is too heavy for you; you are not able to perform it yourself alone.
19 Listen now to my voice, I will give you counsel, and God shall be with you: Be you for the people to God-ward, that you may bring the causes to God:
20 And you shall teach them ordinances and laws, and shall show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.
21 Moreover you shall provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:
- (Eph 4:11-13) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in 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:
- (2 Tim 2:2) And the things that you have heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit you to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
The next quote clearly illustrates why merely following the missionary command is not enough; we must also educate people and offer them the equipment they need after that. It was written by Cesar Castellanos D., in whose congregation both cell vision and the so-called G12 model were successfully used. (The G12 model refers to the model of the twelve disciples of Jesus: twelve leaders are chosen, supported and guided, and finally they themselves do the same thing and found their own group of twelve). In the congregation, everyone is obliged to take part in a short practical training, in which basic issues, evangelism and the vision of the congregation are taught.
I once visited Argentina, a country where large spiritual awakening has been recently experienced. When my wife and I visited some congregations, we saw small temples, which in practice were empty, and we wondered, “Where is that great awakening about which we hear so much?” I remember that Carlos Anacondia, the well-known Argentinean man of God, told me that he had reached during his crusades over 2,000,000 people in ten years. But he did not know where those people were. When he needed 5,000 people during a very large crusade as his assistants, he could not find even one. Some Argentinean pastors, who knew how God had given us in International Charismatic Mission the blessing of increasing manifold, wanted to see me and conveyed their need to get permanent fruit. “We don’t know what to do. People come to our congregations, but most of them leave through the back door!”
I understood their problem, and countless congregations are faced with same problem all over the world. We cannot deny that God has given the Argentineans a special anointment to preach the Gospel, but it is concentrated only on the first part of the missionary order. A congregation that only concentrates on preaching the Gospel to win souls, but does not train disciples and bear permanent fruit, is like a mother who thinks that her task is only to give birth to children and reject them after that. Preaching the Gospel without responsibility for its fruits is the same as doing the work only partially. We must win souls, but we must also train them. (18)
1. Joseph Shulam: puhekasetti, JS 130. Susi lammasten vaatteissa – näkymä nykypäivän kristillisyyteen, 13.6.2003)
2. Watchman Nee: Apostolinen lähetystyö (Concerning Our Missions) p. 100,102,109
3. Angus I. Kinnear: Vastavirtaan (Against the Tide), p. 268,269
4. Rick Joyner: Viimeisten päivien taistelu (Overcoming Evil in the Last Days), p. 125
5. Wolfgang Simson: Kodit, jotka muuttavat maailman (Houses that change the world), p. 48,50
6. Erik Ewalds: Anna hermojesi levätä. p. 64
7. Richard Bushman: The Great Awakening: Documents on the Revival of religion, 1740-1745. New York: Atheneum, 1970. Cit. from: Guy Chevreau: Sateet tulevat, p. 142
8. Frank Bartleman: Azusa-katu 312, p. 237
9. Francis Frangipane: Että he olisivat yhtä (It’s time to end church splits), p. 97
10. Rick Joyner: Petos, taistelu, voitto (Final Quest), p. 95-97
11. Francis Frangipane: Että he olisivat yhtä (It’s time to end church splits), p. 51,52
12. Rick Joyner: Ennen taivasta (A prophetic vision for the 21ST century), p. 69,70
13. Watchman Nee: Apostolinen lähetystyö (Concerning Our Missions)
14. Linus J. Morris: Seurakunnan läpimurto (The High-Impact Church), p. 188
15. Wolfgang Simson: Kodit, jotka muuttavat maailman (Houses that change the world), p. 30,48
16. Sunday Adelaja: Dynaaminen elämä (Church Shift), p. 123,124
17. Bill Hybels: Rohkea johtajuus, (Courageous Leadership), p. 21,22
18. Cesar Castellanos D.: Näky joka voittaa maailman (Dream and you will win the world), p. 91,92
MOST IMPORTANT SOURCES:
Castellanos D. Cesar, Näky joka voittaa maailman (Dream and you will win the world)
Castellanos Cesar, Menestyvä johtajuus G12-solumallissa (Successful Leadership Through the Government of Twelwe)
Castellanos Cesar, Menestyksen portaat (The Ladder of Success)
Frangipane Francis, Että he olisivat yhtä (It’s time to end church splits)
Joyner Rick, Ennen taivasta (A prophetic vision for the 21ST century)
Joyner Rick, Viimeisten päivien taistelu (Overcoming Evil in the Last Days)
Morris Linus J., Seurakunnan läpimurto (The High-Impact Church)
Nee Watchman, Apostolinen lähetystyö (Concerning our Missions)
Smith Oswald J., Työ jota Jumala siunaa (“Work blessed by God”)
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life
Grap to eternal life!