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On Sunday, October 2, a Bible Student elder, Leonard Griehs, was the guest on a conference call with Richard Rawe and other Ex-JWs. He answered the question, “How is the Congregation (Ecclesia) to be set up and run according to the Bible?”
The Conference Call begins at 12:00 pm PDT. You can join at any time at or before 12:00.
The call in phone # is 218-548-3324.
The Pass Code (pin#) is 534929 followed by the # (pound) sign.
To mute or unmute your phone, press * (star) 6.
You should try this as soon as you can just to make sure your phone # has no problem calling the conference.
Leonard Griehs will begin by presenting the Bible Student position (45 minute), then discussion with questions, answers and comments will open up to the entire group of callers.
Beginning time by time zone:
Pacific (PDD) 12:00 pm
Central (CDT) 2:00 pm
Eastern (EDT) 3:00 pm
Here is a recap of some of the material he will cover:
The Ecclesia Arrangement and Its Benefit
… Encourage anyone who feels left out, help all who are weak, and be patient with everyone.
1 Thessalonians. 5:14b, Contemporary English Version
“Church and culture analyst George Barna says …about 50 million American adults meet in home churches … and the numbers …are on the increase. Barna says home churches are a growing trend among Christians who want to “be” the church, not just attend church…they are seeking greater depth in relationships and more commitment to spirituality than they may have found in traditional church settings. –Agape Press
- Acts 2:46, NIV Every day they continued to meet together in the Temple courts. They broke bread in their homes, and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.
- Acts 20:20, NIV You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you, but have taught you publicly and from house to house.
- Rom. 16:3-5; Col. 4:15; Phil. 1:2 Greet Priscilla and Aquila…also the church that meets at their house. Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. To Archippus our fellow soldier and to the church that meets in your home.
Ecclesia is opportunity for Building together
- Philippians 2:11-13
- and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
- Ephesians 2:19b-22
- you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
Ecclesia Is Similar to Family
- Atmosphere of love conducive to individual growth and contribution
- Ecclesia will grow strong and mature only as each member functions
- Becomes weak and anemic if only a few gifted ones keep things going
Ecclesia Is God’s Method For Development of Church
- Spiritual building cannot easily be accomplished in large crowds such as conventions
- Requires environment of small groups
- Intimate knitting of lives together
Four characteristics of a strong Ecclesia
- (1) Bonding
- (2) Maturing
- (3) Equipping
- (4) Reproducing
- Ephesians 4:12, 15-16 And He gave . . .for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ…but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
- Being fitted together is process, not one time event
- Body can only be strong as union between members
- Bonding of lives together in Christ is of supreme importance to proper functioning and cohesiveness
- Colossians 3:12-16 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you…teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God
- Matthew 5:13-14: You are the salt of the earth. . . You are the light of the world
- We are not called to give salt, but to be salt
- Cannot develop fruits of spirit and be built together in relationship apart from growing in character of Christ
- Develop Character in Ecclesia
- In large gathering, Christian can hide weaknesses in character development
- Intimate environment of ecclesia, weakness becomes apparent
- Healthy ecclesia meetings provide confrontation, admonishment, growth
- Working of each individual part essential to growth and ministry of ecclesia
- Each member must be equipped for work to which are called
- Ephesians 4:11: …He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers…
- Ecclesia is Training Ground
- Train individuals how to function as fellow member in Christ
- Encouraged to step out in faith in atmosphere of love and acceptance
- Strong ecclesia becomes seed bed from which movement work emerges
Volume 6, p. 280 “…If the proper zeal actuates them (elders) some kind of missionary or evangelistic work will soon claim some of them, or portions of the time of many. Each Ecclesia should thus be a theological seminary from which efficient teachers would continually be going forth to wider fields of service.”
- Human Body Grows As Healthy Cells Multiply and Divide
- Ecclesia grows as healthy members reproduce life of Christ in others
- Work of service is not just to bless one another, but to find others desiring to follow
- Without witnessing, can become stagnant, internally focused
Activities to develop characteristics
- (1) Prayer and devotion
- (2) Studies
- (3) Fellowship
- (4) Commitment to Unity
Prayer and devotion
- Importance of Devotional Service
- Volume 6, p. 319 “Our fourth proposition: Growth in knowledge is very liable to detract from devotion…our time for religious things (is) so limited, that if attention be energetically directed in one channel it is apt to lead to dwarfing in other directions….“…The Christian is not to be all head and no heart, nor all heart and no head…The New Creation needs, therefore, not only to unite devotional services, prayer and praise, as a part of every meeting, but, we believe, needs in addition a special meeting of a devotional kind…“…joined with which should be opportunities for testimony respecting Christian experiences—not according to the usual custom of going back…years to talk about a first conversion, but an up-to-date testimony, referring specifically to the condition of the heart at the moment…“…Such…testimonies prove helpful to those who hear; sometimes encouraging them by the rehearsal of favorable experiences, and sometimes comforting them by the narration of trial, difficulties, perplexities, because they thus discern that they are not alone in having trying experiences, and sometimes failures.”
- Testimony Meetings Help Brethren To Know Each Other on Intimate Basis
- Must be freedom to express anything or effect is greatly diminished
- Place to discuss problems, difficulties that arise in class
- Helps to develop compassion for needs of others
- Inhibited brethren often open up and share when they see others do so
- Volume 6, p. 312
- Character of the Meetings
“…on this subject, the Lord’s people are…left free to adapt themselves to the changing conditions of time and country, left free in the exercise of the spirit of a sound mind, left free to seek the wisdom that cometh from above…The chief lesson is that of mutual helpfulness…”
- Strong Foundation Necessary
- Can become led by emotions, biases
- 1 Timothy 4:13: Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.
- Ecclesia should be primary place of doctrinal instruction
- Volume 6, p. 318
- “”No matter how confident we are that we have the truth, it would certainly be unwise for us to shut and lock the door of interrogation and contrary expressions as thoroughly to exclude all that might be considered error by the leader of the meeting or by the entire congregation”
- All members should be able to express themselves or ask questions
- If difference of opinion, opportunity should be given to “present case”
- Fair hearing and fair discussion
- Allows for learning opportunities
- Devoting a study to discussing difference
- Importance of Fellowship Underestimated
- Means “common sharing”
- Early brethren “devoted” to fellowship
- Participating and sharing common vision, purpose and goal
- Should develop sense of family
- Fellowship Not Just Social Gathering
- Sharing around Lord and His work
- Building lives together helps bonding
- Must go beyond superficial relationships andcliques
- Building Through Fellowship
- Sharing material possessions when needed
- Taking care of brethren in need
- Witnessing together
Commitment to Unity
- John 17:21
- “that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
- Volume 6, p. 240 “Unity of faith is desirable; it is to be striven for—yet not the kind of unity that is generally aimed at. Unity is to be along the lines of ‘the faith once delivered unto the saints’ in its purity and simplicity, and with full liberty to each member to take different views of minor points, and with no instruction whatever in respect to human speculations, theories…“…The scriptural idea of unity is upon the foundation principles of the Gospel. our redemption through the precious blood, and our justification by faith therein.our consecration, sanctification, setting apart to the Lord, the Truth and their service—including the service of the brethren…“.. (3) Aside from these essentials, upon which unity must be demanded, there can be no scriptural fellowship—upon every other point fullest liberty is to be accorded with, however, a desire to see, and to help others to see, the divine plan in its every feature and detail. “ Thus each member of the body of Christ, maintaining his own personal liberty, is so thoroughly devoted to the Head and to all the members that it will be his pleasure to lay down all, even life itself on their behalf.”
What Does Unity Mean?
- Not choice between truth and unity or truth and love
- Unity is like putting opposite poles of magnets together
- Patience Accompanied By Sense of Priority
- Priority: Romans 14
- Some things more important than others
- Everything you believe in cannot be at top of your list
- If married more than week, know some things worth fighting for, others are not
- What is acceptable, what is not acceptable without details
Prayer Used To Unify
- Easy to fight with each other Not easy to fight when you pray together before God
- When you have disagreement, before debate, spend time together in prayer
- Not “Lord, change him”
- Pray for peace, patience, kindness
- Then discuss problem
Paul’s advice to Maintain a cohesive ecclesia
“My friends, we beg you to warn anyone who isn’t living right. Encourage anyone who feels left out, help all who are weak, and be patient with everyone” –1 Thess. 5:14