The book of Acts shows us not only a record of the way the church increased to be the increase of Christ on earth, but also the four main factors or means of the church’s increase and spread: prayer, the Spirit, the Word, and the homes.
First, the disciples prayed in one accord; they left everything and everyone else aside and got together to be one in spirit, soul, and entire being, and they prayed in one accord; this brought in the Spirit, who was poured upon them as power and breathed into them as their life.
Finally, when they spoke, they didn’t speak their own words: they spoke the word of God of which they were constituted. All throughout the book of Acts we see that the apostles stopped themselves by praying, they were mingled with God through their prayer, and they were led by the Spirit to speak the word of God with boldness.
If we love the Lord and pay the price to be in one accord by speaking the same thing, God’s economy, and being one with the Lord and with one another, we will have the outpouring of the Spirit, and we will speak the word of God to bring salvation to man.
The word of God needs to dwell in us richly; this word has power, because the word of God is life, light, and truth, and as such, it brings salvation of God to man.
Finally, besides the three important means of prayer, the Spirit, and the Word, we need to have one more practical means: the homes. The believers didn’t gather in a “church building”, a chapel, a big building with a cross on top, or in the synagogue; the believers met from house to house.
It is very important for us to practice being in one accord and using the means of prayer, the Spirit, and the Word in the homes so that we may have the increase of Christ for the increase of the church.
Meeting together in Homes is the Christian way of Meeting according to God’s Economy
Meeting together in homes as the Christian way of meeting together is fitting to God’s New Testament economy; this way differs from the Judaic way of meeting in the synagogues and the fallen Christianity’s way of meeting in the “church” (building) with one man speaking and the others listening.
The early believers broke bread and prayed together from house to house (Acts 2:46); house to house means according to each house, from one house to another house, to have a meeting in all the houses. We need to practice meeting in homes until all the saints have a way to be involved in the increase of Christ through their homes.
The believers announced the gospel and taught Jesus as the Christ from house to house (Acts 5:42); we can preach the gospel in our home.
Furthermore, Paul testified in Acts 20:20 that he taught and admonished the believers publicly and from house to house; he taught them publicly and he admonished them in their homes again and again, even with tears.
This became a continual and general practice in the churches, and there were many mentionings of the church meeting in the homes of the saints (see Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Philemon 1:2).
We have the means of the prayer, the Spirit, and the Word, but these need to be practiced in the context of the homes, from house to house. The means for God’s spread is through His Spirit, by the prayer of the believers, by the release of God’s word, and through the believers homes.
This makes us His witnesses both in Jerusalem (our family), Judea (our closes friends, relatives, co-workers, and neighbors), Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Every believers should be a witness, a martyr, of the Lord (Acts 1:8), one who is sharing and testifying to others the Christ whom he has seen and heard (see Acts 4:20; 22:15; 1 John 1:1-3).
As a result of being brought into one accord and serving the Lord, we need to use prayer, the Spirit, and the Word, and we do this in the homes, functioning in the place where the church comes together, so that we may be witnesses for the Lord, those who contact people for the increase of Christ.
This is the highest level of preaching the gospel. In Matt. 28:19 we are told to go and disciple the nations. In Mark 16:15 the Lord sent us to preach the gospel to every creature. In Luke 24:47 we are sent to go out with the gospel of forgiveness of sins. In John 15:16 we go out to bear fruit by abiding in the Lord.
But in Acts 1:8 we have the highest preaching of the gospel, which is the living of Christ – the testimony of Jesus which we access in this way to be the martyrs, the witnesses of Christ for the increase of Christ for the increase of the church.
Lord Jesus, thank You for giving us a practical way for us to practice the God-ordained way: we can meet together in the homes as the Christian way of meeting together according to God’s New Testament economy! Save us from merely meeting in large gatherings with one man speaking and the rest listening. Lord, may our practice be to break bread and pray together from house to house. May we be those who announce the gospel and teach Jesus as the Christ from house to house, and may we teach and admonish one another from house to house!
The Base for the Increase of the Church is Establishing Small Vital Group Meetings in Homes
The base for the increase and spread of the church is not merely going out to preach the gospel but the establishing of small, vital group meetings in the homes. Eighty percent of our church life should be in the house to house church life.
We need to exercise to be in the one accord, caring for Christ and His subjective experience, speaking the one thing through prayer, the Spirit, and the Word, and we do this in a home! We may gain people or may want to bring people into the church life: it is the small groups in the homes who are able to retain people.
Only in the homes are we able to have the spiritual life upheld and maintained. The group meetings in the homes become a haven for all, and in the homes the church becomes a hospital, a kindergarten, and a primary school.
In the group meetings in the homes the saints who are discouraged can be refreshed, the students can be contacted and taken care of, the young people can have a sense for the church life, and the children of the neighbors can gather so that the gaining of the neighbors can begin.
The homes are able to retain people for the increase of Christ for the increase of the church. The small group meetings in the homes are in the nature of home nurturing; in the homes we have one-on-one shepherding and care in love, and here we can open to one another to pray for one another and perfect one another.
The joint meetings of the church and the ministry are in the nature of school education; in order for the church to go on in a good way, we must have BOTH the small group meetings for home nurturing AND the joint meetings to educate in the truth (see 1 Cor. 14:26; Acts 19:9 and footnote 2; 20:7-9; 28:30-31).
These “joint meetings” are not the big meetings in which one person speaks and all listen but the whole church coming together to meet a particular need in the church, and a joint of the rich supply releases a burden for the perfecting of the saints.
We need both the small group meetings in the homes and the joint meetings of the church. We need to be balanced, because a large meeting hall can help us gain better results; even though we continually beget those who can be nurtured in the homes, there must be a large meeting hall as a “university” to teach and perfect them.
There’s a balance here: in the homes there’s a particular supply, causing us to realize we’re in the Body of Christ, and in the joint meetings we receive a powerful supply, and we realize that we are at home in the church!
The principle of the houses – small group meetings in the homes – still applies today, but this doesn’t mean that the church will always meet separately; in fact, it is important and of great profit for all the believers to gather quite regularly in one place (see 1 Cor. 14:23). As the church educates, guides, and provides a corporate life for the saints, there’s a universal vision and view, and an opportunity to blend more widely.
The homes, on the other hand, serve as elementary, junior high, or high school level of education for the saints, at the same time sustaining the spiritual supply and function of all the saints.
The “defensive” function of the small groups is to uphold and restore the saints; our homes can become a lovely situation like the one in Bethany where the “dead ones” can be raised. The “offensive” function of the small groups is to preach the gospel.
In the homes we can pray with our small group for our neighbors, family, friends, relatives, and co-workers, and here we can care for and contact people to bring them to the Lord and perfect them to function in the meeting.
Lord Jesus, increase our appreciation for the small, vital group meetings in the homes, the base for the increase and spread of the church. May each saint be in a small group meeting where he can be nurtured and supplied, educated and perfected, so that he may function in his measure in the church life. Lord, may our small group meetings in the homes be in the nature of nurturing the saints, upholding and restoring the saints, and preaching the gospel! Oh Lord, may WE be in a small group meeting where we are built up, we practice the one accord, and we use the prayer, the Spirit, and the Word for the increase of Christ!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother R.S. for this week, and portions from Crucial Words of Leading in the Lord’s Recovery, Book 4: The Increase and Spread of the Church, chs. 2-3, 12 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, The Increase of Christ for the Building up of the Church (2016 Memorial day Weekend Conference), week 4 / msg. 4, The Increase of Christ for the Increase and Spread of the Church through the One Accord with Prayer, the Spirit, the Word, and the Homes.
- Hymns on this topic:
# We have found the local church, our home; / We are home and home indeed! / Nevermore in Babylon we roam; / In the church is all we need. / We have found that meeting with the saints / Is the greatest joy on earth; / ‘Tis by this our spirit never faints / And our lives are filled with worth. (Hymns #1153)
# Singing songs together, / Spirits exercised. / Drawing from each other, / Christ is realized! / Reading in the Bible, / Each one taking turns; / Fellowship together, / How our spirit burns! / Praying for our loved ones, / Bring them to the throne. / Christ desires to save them, / Bringing them all home! (Song on being vitalized and praying)
# We must ever preach the gospel / By perfecting in the homes / Through the word and prayer and singing, / Never laboring alone. (Song on the home meetings)
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