George H. Warnock in “The Feast of Tabernacles, the Hope of the Church,” published in July 1951, records in his Preface the beginning of what was later to be called by some denominational leaders, “The New Order of the Latter Rain.” The people involved in this move of the Spirit that started February 12, 1948 more commonly referred to the Spirit’s move as “This Revival,” or the “End-Time Revival.”
Dr. Charles S. Price foretold this exact move, pinpointing the time it would arise in the latter part of the ‘40’s, and its place in Northern Canada. He told Lorne Fox that it would start out as a pure move of the Spirit, but would soon become a mixture of man and the Spirit, and would result in much confusion. After the blessing and confusion died away, a time of dryness would follow; then, Dr. Price continued, another move of the Spirit would arise, this time more in the sovereignty of God than in the responsibility of man; and this last move would continually increase and fulfill scripture, until the whole world would see the glory of God; and then would Jesus return. Smith Wigglesworth similarly prophesied this last great move.
Following is an eyewitness account of those early days in 1948, as found in George Warnock’s Preface:
“In the beginning GOD…” So it was that in the spring of 1948 God came forth in answer to the prayer and fasting of His children, poured out the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and revealed the fact that now at this time He would bring His Body together, and make of His Church one glorious Church without spot or wrinkle. It was a day long treasured up in the counsels of God. On February 12 and 13, 1948, the Revival started. An eyewitness testifies as follows:
“Three buildings on the Airport at North Battleford, Saskatchewan composed Sharon Orphanage and Schools at its beginning in the Fall of 1947. About seventy students gathered to study the Word of God and fast and pray. After about three months the Revival suddenly began in our largest classroom where the entire student body was gathered for devotional exercises. One young man told me that when he was five years old, God gave him a vision of that classroom. Everything in it was identical. He saw God moving in a way he could not understand.
“I shall never forget the morning that God moved into our midst in this strange new manner. Some students were under the power of God on the floor; others were kneeling in adoration and worship before the Lord. The anointing deepened until the awe of God was upon everyone. The Lord spoke to one of the brethren, ‘Go and lay hands up a certain student and pray for him.’ While he was in doubt and contemplation one of the sisters who had been under the power of God went to the brother saying the same words, and naming the identical student he was to pray for. He went in obedience, and a revelation was given concerning the student’s life and future ministry. After this a long prophecy was given with minute details concerning the great thing God was about to do. The pattern for the Revival and many details concerning it were given. To this day I can remember the gist of the prophecy, and will try to repeat some things here as they were spoken. “These are the last days, My people. The coming of the Lord draweth nigh, and I shall move in the midst of Mine own. The gifts of the Spirit will be restored to My Church. If thou shalt obey Me I shall immediately restore them. … But Oh, My people, I would have you to be reverend before Me as never before. Take the shoes from off thy feet for the ground on which thou standest is holy. If thou dost not reverence the Lord in His House, the Lord shall require it at thy hands. … Do not speak lightly of the things I am about to do, for the Lord shall not hold thee guiltless. Do not gossip about these things. Do not write letters to thy nearest friends, of the new way in which the Lord moveth, for they will not understand. … If thou dost disobey the Lord in these things, take heed lest thy days be numbered in sorrow and thou goest early to the grave. … Thou hast obeyed Me, and I shall restore My gifts to you. I shall indicate from time to time those who are ready to receive the gifts of My Spirit. They shall be received by prophecy and the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.’
“Immediately following this prophecy a sister who was under the power of God gave by revelation the names of five students who were ready to receive. The presbytery laid hands upon them. This procedure was very faltering and imperfect that first morning, but after two days of searching the Word of God to see if we were on scriptural grounds, great unity prevailed and the Lord came forth in greater power and glory day by day. Soon a visible manifestation of gifts was received when candidates were prayed over, and many as a result began to be healed, as gifts of healing were received.
“Day after day the glory and power of God came among us. Great repentance, humbling, fasting and prayer prevailed.
“So it was that God began this great work of Restoration. For that is what is happening. God is RESTORING! He is restoring all that was lost in the fall of the Church, and in the fall of Adam! All creation groans in birthpangs to be delivered from its corruption – and her travail of tears and sorrow has prevailed upon the God of Heaven to come down and deliver her.
“’In the beginning God.’ Thank God for the beginning; and also for the continuation of the great work which He started a few years ago. And though men are prone to look for the spectacular, God continues to move silently and noiselessly in the hearts of His people, perfecting that good work which he has begun in them. The place that God chose in which to start the Revival is only significant inasmuch as it is the most unlikely of places. No man would have chosen either the town, or the school or the students, or the ministers through whom God bestowed His blessing. But Bethlehem was the least esteemed village of the tribes of Judah – but the Son of God was born there. Nazareth was most contemptible in the eyes of the people, but the Great Prophet arose from thence. The Roman cross was an instrument of torture so despicable and so vile, that a great Roman politician once declared it ought never to be mentioned in decent conversation; and yet there it was, on a Roman Cross, that God displayed His infinite Wisdom and Power through Jesus Christ.”
NOTE SOME OF THE PRINCIPLES that were established right from the beginning: a warning of judgment lest these principles be shared, for they would not be understood by others who would check the scriptures. It is significant that twenty-four years later this same principle of forbidding people to judge revelation has increased even to include Scripture, especially if it comes from the established ministries of this move. I myself have been asked to submit to a presbytery of seven traveling men, who desired to prophesy over my wife and myself with directive prophecy. They requested us to accept the so-called judgment of the Spirit through them without having the privilege of checking such revelation by the Scripture, even in the light of 1 Corinthians 14:29!
Note also that the word “Presbytery” is used right from the first two days of this move. It is obvious that Scriptural research and corroboration would take many months, before a true evaluation of this work of the Spirit could come. “Presbytery” at the beginning of this move signified the Bible teachers of Sharon Orphanage and Schools with one local pastor from North Battleford. When this group of ministers traveled to other cities, they retained the word “Presbytery” to themselves, allowing some local pastors to also participate.
Pastor Reg Layzell of Vancouver, BC Canada, and Sister Beall of Detroit, both contacted this move of the Spirit in 1948. However, because the North Battleford brethren insisted on submission to their apostolic primacy in this ministry, these two pastors soon took what they desired, adapted it, and used it under their own direction. These two ministers by and large did not follow the North Battleford brethren in seeking to minister to every member of a local church by the laying of hands of the Presbytery and with prophecy. They tended to reserve this for those who evidently had a call to one of the 5-fold ministries of Ephesians 4:11, though there have been exceptions to this general principle.
However, the concept of “Presbytery” as initiated by North Battleford continued. They invited outside ministries in for “Camp Meetings” and local church conventions, at which time the outside Presbytery would function as above. It became a desirable thing on the part of the hosts to participate little in the ministry of directive prophecy, and reliance on direct revelation form the “traveling presbytery” was thought to be ideal.
Within a few years, in the light of persecution, denominational action, abuses and aberrations – the practice of presbytery largely fell into neglect across the country, with perhaps the exception in Vancouver and Detroit.
Then after about eight years of neglect, a sister claims the distinction of arising as a Deborah to restore the concept of Presbytery as originated by North Battleford, with “outside ministries” praying over every member of the local church with directive prophecies. Great care this time was taken to electronically record and transcribe every prophecy. These were turned over to those ministered to, following counseling by the local pastor. Soon across the country and throughout the world this ministry has been renewed, even surpassing in diligence the original goals of the North Battleford brethren. It was boasted that every decision in one Revival Church was made by directive prophecy alone!
Especially attractive in the beginning was the concept of John 17, that “this Revival” would answer Jesus’ prayer, and we all would become one. It was this latter concept more than any other that appealed to me, for I have always longed for unity in the whole body of Christ in each city.
It is a tragic anomaly that the movement that has so espoused unity in the body of Christ, has been instrumental in producing so many divisions. Perhaps the following are some of the reasons:
One. A spirit of pride soon entered the hearts of those fully committed to the “Traveling Presbytery” concept, with the attendant ministry of directive prophecy. It seemed to be tacitly assumed that a spiritual insight and perception had been granted in such great measure, that it would be compromise to fellowship on a common level with those who had not yet entered. The Revival Church in a city would look upon itself as the chief fountain of all revelation, and all other local churches to come into this move would be forced to drink of this one fountain. Also, “The Ministry” (i.e. – those of the 5-fold ministry, and especially those with the prophetic ministry) placed themselves above the laity. The latter was to move in obedience to the revelation that came through the 5-fold.
Two. Revelation in an indirect manner was set above the authority of the Word of God as a Plumbline. Lip service was given to the Bible, but a reverence for revelation was assumed out of proportion to what the Bible gives it. Indirectly, pressure was applied to people and ministers to accept as fool-proof all revelation; and it became apparent that if one sought to find a balance between the Word and revelation, he would be dubbed as having an unsubmissive spirit, and probably had not truly been “birthed” into “This Revival,” but was still of the “Old Order.” To be more like the Bereans of Acts 17:11, or like Wigglesworth who refused to move by revelation and prophecy until it first checked out by the Bible – was to be disenfranchising oneself from this movement.
It was recognized that the North Battleford brethren had made serious errors, especially as it pertained to minimizing the Bible in the light of revelation. To correct this, present “Revival Churches” have emphasized the whole Bible as their creed. However, when problems arise, the Bible suffers just as drastically today as it did back in the beginning. Every man is entitled to his own “pattern on the mount,” ‘tis argued. It is indeed true that each ministry is unique, and individuals must follow God according to a living word. But all of us corporately must submit to one another to see that none of our individual Rhemas (living words) contradict at any point the written word (logos). For the same Spirit who gives revelation, is the very same Spirit who originally gave the written word as a Plumbline; and when it originally came, it was itself a Rhema in its day – and when requickened by the Spirit, can be applied as a Rhema to an individual in our day. The word of revelation, Rhema, appears 70x in the Greek NT; the word Logos (written word) 330x – 4 ½: 1.
Restoration is not yet restoration to the Garden of Eden, as indicated by the initial revelation of North Battleford days. The curse of man working by the sweat of his brow is still with us 6000 years later; the curse upon Satan; -- and the curse upon woman in submission and childbirth will not be lifted till the resurrection of the body at the coming again of Christ. The curse of the law of Moses has indeed been lifted (Galatians 3:13), and we are now under a better covenant with and under Israel, even the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31 to Israel.
The Presbytery concept as originated in North Battleford, then revived and practiced during the last eight years, has brought serious repercussions even with the Revival churches. Leading pastors of this movement have counseled with me concerning the discouragement of local members who have been prophesied over years ago, but no outworking of the directive prophecy is yet seen on the horizon. Frustration, anxiety, discouragement and even anger has been the fruit of this ministry in many individual lives where the goal of praying over every single member in a local church has been practiced. Where the ministry of the “Traveling Presbytery” has been restricted to those with Ministry-gift callings, the frustration has been far less noticeable. When the service of Presbytery has been reserved for those already proven in the ministry, or those ready to be thrust out into the ministry, the problem has been even less. Where revelation is allowed to be truly and sincerely judged by other prophets, both by discernment and by the Word of God – then the greatest blessing of all follows.
But the role of the “Traveling Presbytery” as initiated by North Battleford is not God’s ideal, neither is it the Scriptural pattern. One verse alone in the Bible refers to a New Testament Presbytery (1 Timothy 4:14), and this does not necessarily refer to a “Traveling Presbytery” coming into a local church within a city. Rather this refers to the brethren of Derbe, Lystra and Iconium, who were ordained by Paul and Barnabas as elders in every City Church (Acts 14:23). Paul, as the founder of these city churches, and Silas as his companion minister replacing Barnabas, served as fellow-elders with the Presbytery of these City Churches in ordaining Timothy to become a member of Paul’s apostolic band (Acts 16:1-3). The Presbytery never was a Traveling Presbytery moving from city to city, and coming into one local church in a city. It is not said in the Bible that the Presbytery ministered to Timothy apart from the recommendation of the local presbyters (elders). The promiscuous laying on of hands and prophecy over members of a local pastor’s congregation apart from his knowledge and the knowledge of his fellow pastor-elders in his city – is not according to the pattern. The revival of the Presbytery concept of 1948 does the church no service today, but tends to set one local church in a city to act unilaterally without due regard to the Presbytery of that city. Instead of fulfilling the prayer of John 17, an actual division is initiated into the City Church.
I was associated with the North Battleford brethren from 1945 to 1949. I had a part prior to and following the move of the Spirit in 1948. I was used on Convention platforms as a teacher and in the Presbytery ministry as revealed in those days. When I observed that teaching, revelation and practice was starting to clearly depart from the standards of the Word of God, I challenged the leaders. When the leaders continued to promote an extreme position on the “manifestation of the Sons of God” (setting post-resurrection events this side of the resurrection), and continued to accept revelation and prophecy without carefully balancing it with the Written Word, I withdrew, and had no further contact until the Spring of 1968, nineteen years later. At this time a pastor of a local church in Seattle was having a “Presbytery” meeting, and I was invited to take part. The leaders assured me that the aberrations of 1948 had been discerned, and in the perspective of time – adjusted and corrected.
Since then however, we have discovered that the same principles of 1948 in North Battleford, are still practiced with substantially little difference in doctrine, practice or spirit. Though lip service is given to the authority of the Bible, yet to seek adjustment to the Bible is to be labeled “Old Order.” Is the new concept of the Presbytery of a City Church merely a game little boys are playing (as some contend)? Or is it in fact the birth of the capstone of restoration truth starting from the days of Martin Luther?
Roland Allen was born in 1868, and prophesied before his death in 1947 that 100 years from his birth God would restore the concept of ministers and lay elders working together in the City Church. He outlined his vision of the return to apostolic teaching and practice in his books, “Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours?” – and “The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church.”
In 1938 Watchman Nee wrote his book, “The Normal Christian Church Life,” in which he enunciated the concept of “One church per city:’ many local churches and an elder over each; but only one church per city. He did not see his vision realized in China, but the local churches he did found had a virility that survived the Communist take-over in a remarkable way. The saga of this heroic battle for survival is referred to in George Paterson’s “God’s Fool;” and in “The ‘Jesus Family’ in Communist China,” by D. Vaughan Rees.
From the time of the Dark Ages the concept of “The City Church” has been lost to Christ’s disciples. When the Reformation dawned under the teaching and preaching of Martin Luther, bringing the emergence of “Justification of Faith” once again; the City Church truth was not perceived. In the succeeding centuries men like Calvin, Wesley and Finney heralded certain apostolic emphases.
But flowing from these rediscoveries, denomination formed around each succeeding leader and his teaching, and fragmented Christ’s body in each city, rather than unifying it. Today we often have as many local churches in a city as there are denominations, and usually a number of local churches for each denomination.
But in 1968, 100 years after the Holy Spirit spoke to Roland Allen, the word of the Lord came to a disciple in Seattle saying, “Seek not to found more local churches in order to bring a united church in a city. Rather see that each senior pastor of a local church is its elder, and all the pastor-elders of a city together form the Plurality of Elders in the New Testament City Church, which is the true New Testament Presbytery. As each tribe of Israel was individually different, yet all twelve tribes together formed the Commonwealth of Israel; and as there are many folds of sheep in a locality but only one flock; even so there are many local churches in a locality, but only one City Church. Announce to the pastors of Seattle that they are the Presbytery of Seattle, and call them together to pray for one another and their local churches, and I will rebuild My church in Seattle, and cause its Presbytery to function.”
In October of 1968 about a dozen pastors started to meet once a week for early morning prayer. This continued for eighteen months, and out of this grew a monthly meeting of Seattle’s pastors sometimes numbering as high as seventy in a meeting.
The Church of Seattle convened two conferences on Christian Renewal in 1971 and 1972. Its Presbytery invited 50 international traveling teachers – and 29 came and met with 8 core members of the Presbytery for a week, morning and afternoon, with Round-Robin meetings for the Christian public in 5 churches throughout the Seattle-Tacoma Metroplex. John 17 and 1 Corinthians 1:10 have been the goal of each conference, and definite progress towards this goal has been achieved. 50,000 attended the night meetings in 1971, and countless numbers received conversion, healing, deliverance and the Holy Spirit.
Two problems have been handed to the Presbytery: the “Children of God,” and a moral problem of homosexuality in the life of a young evangelist. The Seattle Presbytery tackled both of these problems and found a word of wisdom and a word of faith that handled and contained them.
A well known Bible teacher pointed out in the 1972 Conference on Christian Renewal that as “the land” was the visible and crowning blessing of the Old Covenant to Israel: so the City Church and its Presbytery is the visible and crowning blessing of the New Covenant for Jew and Gentile together as One New Man. The Kingdom of God extended, is the restoration of the City Church in full apostolic teaching and practice with its attendant functioning Presbytery in all the cities and countries of the world.
Consider briefly some Scriptures relevant to this concept:
ACTS 11:30 (27-30). When the church of Antioch sent relief to the church of Jerusalem, the Presbytery of Antioch sent it to the elders or Presbytery of Jerusalem. These, as the pastor-elders of each local church in Jerusalem, were the shepherds and spiritual representatives of the church in Jerusalem. The apostles were fellow-elders with these pastor-elders (1 Peter 5:1). For this reason the Scriptures often link the apostles and elders in the church of Jerusalem. Plurality of elders did not in the beginning pertain to the local church, but only to the city church. Because the concept of the New Testament City Church has not been seen, (though 81/114 references to “church” – ekkleSIa -- refer to the City Church: only 14 of these refer to the local assembly and its one ruling elder); yet City Church principles are applied to the local church. Each pastor-elder strives to reduplicate in his local church all the New Testament teaching for the city church. He seeks to have a plurality of elders and a plurality of deacons; whereas in the beginning there was but one elder for each local church, and these individual elders made up the Presbytery of plurality of eldership for that City Church. Nor were the deacons for the local church, but only the City Church. Seven deacons served the entire City Church of Jerusalem, with as many as 300 to 1000 local churches, according to the different commentaries and histories one might read. These deacons were full of wisdom and the Holy Spirit, and understood how to make equitable distribution to each ruling elder who knew the needs of his own people. In this way smaller local churches did not suffer inequitably in the light of larger, more prosperous local churches.
ACTS 14:23 (19-28).The elders Paul and Barnabas appointed in every church, were elders for each City Church, namely Lystra, Iconium and Derbe. Each city represents one church: many local assemblies in each of these cities, with one elder per local assembly. Each of these elders made up the plurality of eldership in his respective city, which is the City Presbytery. The New Testament did not know such a thing as a “Traveling Presbytery,” that moved into a city to minister to one local church, without regard to the rest of the church of that city, or to the Presbytery of that city. Of course, this being a Restoration Truth, and a capstone truth at that – will during this period of transition come back into full understanding and practice through a period of travail and adjustment. But come back it will, and most certainly will supersede all incomplete and faulty concepts of Presbytery currently being taught and practiced.
ACTS 15:2, 4, 6, 22, 23 (1-29). When the sovereign City Church of Antioch had a controversy with the sovereign City Church of Jerusalem, Antioch sent two delegates to the apostles and elders of Jerusalem to voice her distress. The apostles and elders of Jerusalem received and heard these two delegates, and set a further meeting to reach a decision on this problem. First a hearing – then a decision (like a Halakhic Sanhedrin decision). At the decision meeting, after long discussion, Peter and Paul, two apostles, gave their reports; and in the light of full discussion and reports, James, the apostolic-elder and moderator of the meeting, handed down a decision. It first accorded to the word of the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures, as well as to apostles, elders and Church of Jerusalem. Note: the outside Antioch delegates had no say in this decision, and were forced to abide by the decision of the Presbytery of Jerusalem. Paul had authority as an apostle over the churches he founded, as long as they were willing to recognize and receive him – but he certainly had no authority in city churches he had not founded (1 Corinthians 9:1-3).
ACTS 16:4 (1-4).In delivering the decision of the Presbytery of the church of Jerusalem to the Gentile City Churches he had founded, Paul could go no further than the ruling of Jerusalem. The decision Paul had sought, this he had freely received, and this he gladly shared with the city churches over which he had authority through right of founding.
ACTS 20:17 (17-28). Paul did not have time on this trip to visit the church of Ephesus. By calling the elders together, he had the whole Presbytery; and as each elder represented one local church, therefore the whole church was represented. The next time each local church met in its church home, each pastor-elder from the Presbytery meeting with Paul would give the apostle’s last message, and the whole city church would then have this last word.
ACTS 21:18 (17-26). Paul came up to Jerusalem and met with James, its apostolic-pastor and all the elders comprising the Presbytery of Jerusalem. As the apostle to the Gentiles, Paul yet gave due respect to the Presbytery of Jerusalem and its moderator. He did not as a traveling apostle feel he could come into another city church and minister for any of its local elders without first clearing with the city presbytery and its moderator. As an apostle from outside, he did not have authority in that city.
ACTS 22:5 (21:37-22:21).The eldership or Presbytery of all Israel was the Sanhedrin, 70 leading presbyters or elders. The Presbytery of the Jews is also referred to in Luke 22:66. As Israel’s Presbytery or Sanhedrin was to all the Jews: so a city Presbytery was over all disciples in a city, becoming the plurality of elders in the city church.
1 TIMOTHY 4:14 (11-16). “Be sure to use the abilities God has given you through his prophets when the elders of the church laid their hands upon your head: (Living Bible). Here Paul reveals that it was through the total Presbytery of Lystra, Timothy’s home city, that this young man received his ordination, and was set apart to join Paul’s apostolic band. Paul as the apostolic founder of the church of Lystra, was a fellow-elder with the other presbyters of that city, and joined in this ordination, and obviously had a major part in the prophetic ministry over Timothy. “This being so, I want to remind you to stir into flame the strength and boldness that is in you, that entered into you when I laid my hands upon your head and blessed you. … If you will stir up this inner power, you will never be afraid to tell others about our Lord, … (2 Timothy 1:6, 8). That this ordination to the ministry by the Presbytery was no light ceremony, Paul again reveals in 1 Timothy 1:18, “Fight well in the Lord’s battles, just as the Lord told us through his prophets that you would.” Not all presbyters or elders are prophets (1 Corinthians 12:29). But among the various pastor-elders in a city church, there are always those who have this prophetic office. This is above that of the gift of prophecy itself, the latter having the primary function to build up, stir up and cheer up the local church (1 Corinthians 14:3). This Scripture (1 Timothy 4:14) is the only one in the New Testament that uses the word “Presbytery” and applies it to the city church. This is not to say that this concept is not used in other places in the New Testament, for a plurality of elders (presbyters) in a city is the Presbytery (presbuTErion) of that city.
1 TIMOTHY 5:17 (17-25). “The natural and obvious meaning of this verse is that while all presbyters discharge administrative functions, well or indifferently, they are not all engaged in preaching and teaching. We distinguish then in this passage three grades of presbyters: (1) ordinary presbyters with a living wage; (2) efficient presbyters (1 Thessalonians 5:12); (3) presbyters who were also preachers and teachers. It must be added that Hort rejects the distinction between (2) and (3). REMUNERATION is a better rendering of “tiME” than PAY, as less directly expressive of merely monetary reward. Liddon suggests the rendering HONOARIUM. On the one hand, ‘diPLES’ certainly warrants us in concluding that presbyters that ruled well were better paid than those that performed their duties perfunctorily. Bengel justifies the better pay given to those that ‘labored in the word, etc.’ on the ground that persons so fully occupied would have less time to earn their livelihood in secular occupations. On the other hand, we must not press the term DOUBLE too strictly” (Nicoll’s “Expository New Testament”). Barnes approximates this same position.
We see this principle working most naturally in local churches today. A pastor, who labors in feeding his sheep, counseling, overseeing and building, is usually well remunerated. A pastor without these higher gifts, or who is not diligent, is usually treated accordingly.
There are those in the “free church” or “home meeting churches” of our day who decry the paying of salaries to full time pastor-elders. Their contention is not borne out by the leading commentaries, who also most ably handle the Greek text; -- nor by church history.
A more serious departure from New Testament conditions does however, confront us today. In the beginning local churches met in homes, for there was no other provision. Home meetings probably did not exceed 50 to 100 people, and one elder could quite easily minister to the needs of this little fold. Today we have church buildings, and often hundreds of families in a local congregation. It is obvious that some adaptation of early church principles is necessary at this point. Dr. Yoon Chan Kim of Seoul, Korea has admirably met this challenge as pastor of the “Peace Presbyterian Church,” a church with a membership of 600 families, 2000 individuals. Over every 50 family units he has ordained an elder. This man with his wife has an Aquila-Priscilla type of ministry, with five leaders and wives under him, who provide watch-care and counseling over ten families each. They meet each Friday in a home for Bible study and prayer, and the presiding elder and his wife visit the groups every fifth week. Any case for counseling the local leader cannot handle, his elder is there to help. Any case the elder and his wife cannot handle, Pastor Kim and his wife are there to help. In this manner the needs of individuals and families can always be looked after, yet undue burden falls on no individual in the church.
Notice in this same context that the Holy Spirit through Paul tells how to handle complaints against the pastor-elder of a local church (1 Timothy 5:19). Timothy, as the moderator of the presbytery of Ephesus, is not to listen to complaints against the pastor of a local congregation unless there are two or three witnesses to accuse him. If he has really sinned, then he should be rebuked in front of the whole church so that no one else will follow his example. This was done in Seattle with respect to a young evangelist-elder. Substantially the same principle of Matthew 18:15-17 apply to the pastor-elder as to any disciple, except such a case comes before the whole presbytery, not just before the local church; and the moderator of presbytery is not to hear an accusation against a local pastor-elder, unless 2 or 3 of his local congregation bear witness together. Failure to here the whole presbytery and church in this connection leads to excommunication from fellowship within the whole city church.
TITUS 1:5 (5-9). This is one of the most important verses in the New Testament as it relates to local elders and the City Presbytery. Paul is saying, “As I left you in Crete to carry out completely the arrangements for the organization of the church there, which I set before you in detail, let me remind you of the necessary qualifications of presbyters (since the presbyter is the basal element in the Church Society) … St. Paul’s language favors the supposition that the commission given to Titus was that of a temporary apostolic legate rather than that of a permanent local president (or moderator) … Titus is to ordain presbyters, as the foundation of a ministry; whereas the task committed to Timothy at Ephesus was to continue the organization of presbyters (episcopi) and deacons (for the city church) which was already in full working order … The number of presbyters is not specified, the meaning is that the order of presbyters should be established all over the island” (in every city). (Nicoll’s “Expository New Testament”).
It is very possible that presbyters were not ordained except as needed. As soon as a group of 10 to 50 families would be saved in a geographical area, they would need an elder; the need would be the occasion for ordination. The pastor-elder would be an automatic member of the city presbytery. Traveling presbyteries, even apostolic presbyteries, are unknown in the New Testament. It is understandable that the North Battleford brethren, men without scholarly backgrounds, could fall into the misconception of presbytery practiced in their day. It is also understandable that the “revival churches” of today, the direct descendants of the Latter Rain North Battleford revival, who likewise have amongst their pastors few scholars in Greek or church history, should follow along in the same imbalance. But in the light of clearer revelation in 1968, and the demonstration of these principles in Seattle, God is asking for adjustment and correction to be made.
JAMES 5:14 (13-20). “Is any sick? He should call for the elders of the church and they should pray over him and pour a little oil upon him, calling on the Lord to heal him” (Living Bible). Within a city presbytery, there will always be certain pastor-elders with unusual faith and healing ministries. In case of extremely stubborn cases of sickness in a local church, two or three of these men would be unusually honored of God if they performed this scripture once again. Perhaps a monthly or quarterly meeting in a city, conducted with fasting and prayer by the presbytery of the city for those disciples with deep needs, would be unusually met.
1 PETER 5:1 (1-5).“And now, a word to you elders of the church. I too, am an elder” (Living Bible). Peter by revelation of the Holy Spirit here gives a beautiful exhortation to elders and presbyteries of city churches concerning their duties. In a very real way, the Presbytery of a city has a responsibility to the whole flock of God in that city, not just to the local fold or assembly. In a very real way the Presbytery of a city church has a responsibility to help each local elder and fold to enter into his full inheritance in Christ. Each local church will be the stronger, as the sister local churches in the city are strong. The world’s greatest taste of evangelism will come in the day when the world obviously understands that the church of each city is ONE, no matter how many local assemblies make it up. When the world sees the love of fellow presbyters one for another within the city, apart from denominational backgrounds, it will believe that the Father has sent the Son. Just as Reuben, Manasseh and Gad crossed westward over Jordan to fight until the other 9 ½ tribes possessed their inheritance also, and then and then only returned to enjoy their portion of the land; even so all local churches with their pastor-elders should be careful to help each local church in the city. Think what it will mean when Seattle’s seven deacons have funds made available from all the local churches to help in time of special need for an individual, a local church, a sister city church in some other part of the world in famine or in need; -- or apostolic evangelism, where teams are sent forth from Seattle by the Holy Spirit to other nations, to share the blessing of Seattle both spiritually and materially with less fortunate parts of the world! Think what city churches like this throughout America could do for the Kingdom of God in our generation!
It is because of the great potential of the city church concept and its Presbytery; it is because this is the hour that God is restoring the concept of the city church and the city presbytery; it is because that which served yesterday on a lower level, could today be a hindrance if not adjusted to present truth; --
If this position is indeed the New Testament position; if this revelation is the pattern for restoration on both the city and world level; if this is indeed the manner in which Jesus has chosen to rebuild and restore His church; then nothing will prevail against it. Doubtlessly there
are areas that will require adjustment, but the general vision is proving itself in Seattle.
Let us together consider the advice of Gamaliel to the Jewish Presbytery (Sanhedrin) of his day: “And so my advice is, leave these men alone. If what they teach and do is merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is of God, you will not be able to stop them, lest you find yourselves fighting even against God” (Acts 5:38-39).
Yet our exhortation is more practical. We would desire the local presbyters of each revival church in this city to seek to move in his city in harmony with his fellow presbyters, submitting one to another in the fear and love of the Lord. We would earnestly desire that all of us as presbyters would walk softly before God in these last days of unfolding revelation, and hear what the Spirit is saying to His churches today.
We believe that many in the End-Time Revival churches are unaware of the issues aired in this article, and yet are 100% committed to the balance of the Word and the Spirit. Conversely, we believe that many are committed to spiritualizing and typological revelation that tends to lightly esteem the Plumb line of the Bible. This as a leaven would indirectly affect those in fellowship with them sooner or later.
We can miss God! The church of Jerusalem had the opportunity to be a blessing to all the earth. Because she did not send out missionaries, as did the City church of Antioch, she lost her greatest opportunity at that time. She was right and correct in continuing as Jewish believers to walk as Torah-observant disciples – even as did the apostle Paul, missionary to the Gentiles. See what the brother of Corrie Ten Boom said in this regard!
James A. Watt, fellow-presbyter of the Church of Seattle – July 20, 1972.
ADDENDUM:Since this article was written, much has happened to crystallize thinking in connection with the city church and presbytery. Brothers from Buenos Aires, Argentine have traveled throughout the world articulating the principles of the Kingdom of God. These practices arose out of a sovereign move of the Spirit in 1967, one year before Seattle began to be visited in this restoration concept.
Some 30 pastors have entered into a living relationship with one another, mostly Anglicans and Plymouth Brethren, out of which principles of discipleship and submission have emerged, bringing great blessing to that city. Others trying to emulate this outward working without first experiencing the living relationships, have run into the very difficulties the Argentine brethren predicted, should the cart be put before the horse!
Other cities and fellowships in America, Australia, New Zealand and Canada are fast pressing into Home, local assemblies and city church structures, that tend to confirm that we are in the midst of that last great day restoration move that will herald back the King.
Out of Pastor-advisors to the “Women’s Aglow International Fellowship, clearer directives to prophecy and presbytery are emerging.
Though the concept of Presbytery still is seen to function for ordination of shepherds and deacons, to solve local city problems, to feed and shepherd sheep, to protect from wolves in sheeps’ clothing, and to oversee; yet as Paul longed to do for the saints in Rome, there is a meaningful impartation of gifts of the Spirit through the laying on of hands mentioned in Romans 1:11. This the other apostles most probably did also when they traveled two by two from house to house in Jerusalem.
It is also obvious that parts of the church of Jesus Christ is in a transitional stage, moving from the traveling presbytery concept to the ideal New Testament concept of one presbytery for each city church, world-wide. If local churches do not help one another into their full inheritance, the warning of Moses to God, Reuben and Manasseh rings out loud and clear, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). That which builds up one local church at the expense or neglect of sister churches, is in this light a violation of the principle of common help which was demonstrated by the Commonwealth of Israel, and which illustrates the city church community.
Though God winked at practices such as divorce apart from fornication because of hardness of heart (Matthew 19:8); and idolatry (Acts 17:30); yet greater light and maturity caused God to no longer pass over such violations. So is the church being restored; what God blessed several decades ago; now continuation in such imperfect practices are being judged and exposed by God, for they are now a perpetuation of causes that deepen rather than heal divisions.
This presentation then is not in any case intended to be a final word; but rather a basis for Bible Study and discussion, so that this more perfect principle may be perceived and practiced.
James A. Watt, April 17, 1975
Rick Joyner and Mike Bickle speak of these concepts – no doubt with differing outlook and emphasis – but nonetheless emphasizing the present truth of this word of the Spirit.
It is now going on 18 years since I wrote this original positional paper. The basic concept has remained unchanged, but through increased revelation, I would change the spirit of it and fine tune it. I would show that as Nehemiah rebuilt the wall and 12 gates of Jerusalem in 52 days, and each of the 12 sections of wall represented one of the 12 tribes of Israel (Ezra 6:17); that God has a remnant in each city of 12, or multiples of 12 local churches, churches in the home or parachurches. And He will through functioning presbyteries in each city cast down the strong man and release evangelism until multitudes are in the valley of decision.
But before a city church, and a renewed local church,-- must FIRST come renewed individuals! Two years ago I sought the Lord for a handle on the New Age Movement in the Greater Seattle Metroplex, and for J.Z. Knight and the “Ramtha” spirit of Yelm, Washington. Following a 21-day Daniel fast in which 21 participated fully and 500 partially, I received “THE PARABLE OF THE KNIGHT RIDER.” This is the answer to J.Z. Knight. It is interesting to note that both J.Z. Knight and Edgar Cayce at the beginning felt that the spirit they channeled was of ‘satan.’ After a period of time both of them put to rest their doubts and fears, and submitted without reservation to the spirit of channeling; reincarnation; angel of light; watered down Bible; bloodless Christ; low morals in language, adultery and fornication; and PSEUDO-LOVE
But what is the contrast between J.Z. Knight and the “Parable of the Knight Rider?” Michael Knight had a $5 million car called K.I.T.T. Kitt was highly computerized and could talk. But JESUS said to me at the close of the 21-day Daniel fast in February 1988, “You are like Michael Knight, only calling on Kitt in dire emergencies. I want YOU to start each day with the following 7-fold steps, until I completely live My life through you, day by day. This is FAR BETTER than Kitt serving Michael, for I will be inside of you, and I WILL SERVE MY PURPOSES THROUGH YOU! Here are the 7 steps:
One. A RENEWED MIND, ROMANS 12:1-2. This transformation or metamorphosis takes place by meditating on the Word of God, contemplating the Father and the Son, praying and obeying the Spirit through or in connection with the Bible.
Two. A DISCIPLESHIP POSTURE, MARK 8:34 (8:34-9:1).Denial of self is JESUS’ word: 180 degrees OPPOSITE to Ramtha’s word. “Yes, has God said?” satan queried Eve in the garden through the serpent! Yes, He HAS, and ANY suggestion contrariwise is from the WRONG spirit. Take up your cross: JESUS did this for the Father on our behalf; not HIS will, but the Father’s, leading to the Covenant of Blood Atonement. Our cross is positively doing God’s will, God’s thing, in opposition to our will, our thing. Following JESUS wherever He leads, without questioning or murmuring, is the key – just like Abram from Ur and Haran.
Three. A RENEWED WINESKIN, MATTHEW 9:17 (14-17).David Minor pointed out that a goatskin can be re-used in the Middle East. Here is the process for renewal: (1) Turn it inside out. This makes one vulnerable, and everything hangs out. This is full repentance. (2) Scrub the inside with brush and lye. This removes all the human traditions of the last move of God. All the past bacteria must be destroyed. (3) Wash it with soap and water. This stops the action of the lye as soon as it has completed its work. (4) Oil (the Holy Spirit) the skin to make it supple once again. (5) Turn it outside in. This signifies God’s approval that mind-renewal is now complete. (6) Fill the renewed wineskin with new wine. Bacteria from former revivals are no longer there to cause rapid fermentation now, and burst the skin and cause the loss of the wine. Note: Put NEW (neos) wine into RENEWED (kainos) or reconstituted wineskins, that BOTH MAY BE saved.
Six. A WHITE FUNERAL, ROMANS 6:4 (1-11).Oswald Chambers recounts this in his reading of January 15thin “My Utmost for His Highest.” Our will FULLY submitted to the will of God: THIS is God’s purpose, and through its fulfillment He can THEN bring MANY SONS unto Glory. Don’t skip this searching word. “Rees Howells, Intercessor” by Norman P. Grubb says the same thing in chapter 5. If the Holy Spirit comes in, then the “I” of the self-life must go out.
Seven. AN EXCHANGED LIFE, GALATIANS 2:20 (15-21).Paul lived and experienced this reality. Through this, Christ can then live out through us the Sermon on the Mount in all of its Kingdom principles. By now we agree with Paul, “For I KNOW that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells NO GOOD THING” (Romans 7:18a). Dr. E. Stanley Jones confirms this in his 28 books.
CONCLUSION:Now when this process is complete in us as individuals; and in the senior elder and the local church to which we belong; then the City Church composed of a dozen or more local churches, can function in healing the land; effective spiritual warfare; casting down the strong man over cities, counties, states and provinces, capitals and countries; demonstrating the power of God’s invisible Kingdom by signs and wonders; teaching the use of the Keys of the Kingdom flowing out of the power of attorney in JESUS’ Name, and the Covenant relationship between the Father and the Son at Calvary; effective evangelism. God is raising up a last day army. It has ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches! Will you be part of God’s purpose? Remember the “Parable of the Knight Rider,” for through this a City Church and Presbytery in your city can come into visibility from the invisible. Declare it! Prophesy it! See satan’s strongholds come tumbling down. John Dawson’s “Taking Our Cities for God,” Creation House, 1989, Foreword by Jack Hayford – confirms this concept.
ONE FINAL WORD.Matthew 11:28-30 is the Key to Discipleship and the beginning of manifesting JESUS in His fullness. This is the Kingdom of God becoming objectified – or made visible through the individual and the church. The kingdom of satan is all for self, profit, money, raping individuals and groups. In contrast, the Kingdom of God in heaven is manifested through the fruit of the Spirit (the Character and Personality of JESUS), and the gifts of the Spirit in balance, and under the Holy Spirit’s control. Once in the Kingdom of God by the new birth, let us CHOOSE to SUBMIT to JESUS’ yoke, which is easy and light! - 1990-01-03
AN EXPLANATION: Since 1972, I have been asked by friends and individuals to edit the above. Finally in May of 2002, an Archivist from a Canadian Denomination has prevailed upon me to edit and release the above notes. I have just completed this task May 29, 2002. I am sending it to about 7 who have requested it. I trust it might prove both a blessing, give some historical insights, and be as it were a worksheet – a basis for further rewriting and editing until it serves as a help in the formation of the first functioning City Church and Presbytery since the days of the early church. J.A.W.