One. CITY CHURCH: THE 1948 NORTH BATTLEFORD VISITATION.
“Now when Jesus came into the parts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Who do men say that the Son of man is? … And they said, Some say John the Baptist; and some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. … He says to them, But who say YOU that I am? … And Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. … And Jesus answered and said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah: for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in the heavens. … And I also say unto you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. … I will give you the keys of the kingdom of the heavens; and whatever you shall bind on the earth shall be bound in the heavens; and whatever you shall loose on the earth shall be loosed in the heavens. … Then he charged the disciples that they should tell no one that he is the Christ” (NNT, Matthew 16:13-20).
Twelve Embryonic revival principles came together into a working harmony at this time. I doubt if at that time these 12 principles were clerly seen and understood - but hindsight is still clearer than foresight. Historians require several decades to elapse before they can begin to show the historic significance of past events.
Certainly the City Church concept did not function in maturity 54 years ago, nor was the concept itself clearly seen and spelled out. The Greek word ekkleSIa (church) appears 114 times in the Numeric Greek New Testament edited by Ivan Panin. Once in Acts 7 it refers to Israel in the wilderness; 3 times it refers to the “city state” of Ephesus; 14 times it denotes a local church in the home; 15 times it refers to God's universal church of all believers, both Jew and non-Jew: past, present and future. But 81 times it refers to the City Church!
Some estimate that the City Church of Jerusalem had some 300 local churches in the home. Each local church overseer -- met as a plurality of elders with the 12 apostles on a regular basis. They comprised the elders in the Gate of the City - the new Sanhedrin replacing the former 70 of the leaders that almost unanimously rejected Jesus as their Messiah. Jesus predicted the Kingdom would be taken from them, and given to a people (also Jews, and only later Jews and non-Jews) who would bring forth the appropriate fruits. And it only took 7 deacons to serve the entire City Church of Jerusalem. Plurality of elders was in the City Church, not the local church.
That is how it started in Jerusalem, Antioch, Thessalonica, Corinth, Ephesus, and those Barnabas and Saul founded in Asia Minor on their first Missionary trip.
The brothers from 1948 saw that all believers in a city should somehow or other have a working plan such as in the beginning. They attempted to bring it to pass. It did not happen. Today God is asking us to re-examine the City Church concept, and bring it to successful maturity. Can God do it through us in each city? Of course He can. Does it operate today as it did in Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus and Crete? Certainly not. So what they hoped for in 1948, it is our challenge today to see this concept come into powerful realization!
The One New Man concept of Ephesians 2 will be a part of this. And note - the church JESUS builds by His Spirit through us - overcomes ALL the powers of hell! All he needs is a core group in each city - a remnant - of 12-20 pastors and churches fully dead to the self-life - and fully alive to Jesus and His will working through them - and it will be done!
Two. CITY CHURCH: ZEBULUN.
“And Leah conceived again, and bore Jacob the sixth son. And Leah said, God has endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband DWELL with me, because I have borne him six sons; and she called his name Zebulun (dwelling, Genesis 30:19-29).
“Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for a haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon” (Genesis 49:13).
“And of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out; and, Issachar, in your tents. They shall call the people unto the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness; for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand” (Deuteronomy 33:18-19).
Zebulun brings about a “dwelling” situation and concept. Leah saw this. The prophet saw a great Light spring up in the land of Zebulun and Naphtali. This is where Jesus launched His ministry at 30 years of age! Nazareth in Zebulun was not only the place of His conception, but the place of His growing years as an Observant Jew to the Torah. As His custom was, He observed the seventh day Sabbath, all the Feasts of Leviticus 23, and in no way stood out otherwise than a Jewish boy, youth and young man in the context of His full Jewish heritage. He was of the tribe of Judah, but known as a Nazarene.
Mount Tabor is within the border of Zebulun. Here Jesus climbed with 3 of His close disciples on one occasion, and was so TRANSFIGURED before them, that Peter scarcely knew what to do; -- and this event the three NEVER forgot!
Zebulun's name was inscribed on the flashing carbuncle, third stone on the Breastplate worn by the high priest. Note that Sidon on the Mediterranean is mentioned in the prophecy. This stone reminds one of a lighthouse to warn ships afar, -- and lower lights to bring them safely into harbor. His older brother Issachar stayed on the land, and Zebulun as his partner shipped and traded goods in a profitable partnership. Zebulun had itchy feet. He had the temperament of an evangelist - reaching out beyond his brother. We need all types in the Kingdom of God. All the sons of Jacob and the 12 tribes of Israel together, unite temperaments and giftings for a successful nation! Israel needed its Zebulun. The city church needs at least one local church and pastor with the temperament of Zebulun.
Three. CITY CHURCH: GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT.
“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. … And there are diversities of ministrations, and the same Lord. … And there are diversities of workings, but the same God, who works all the things in all. … But to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit to profit. … For to one is given through the Spirit a word of wisdom; and to another a word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit: … to another faith, in the same Spirit; and to another gifts of healings, in the one Spirit; … and to another workings of powers; and to another prophecy; and to another discernings of spirits: to another kinds of tongues; and to another interpretation of tongues; … but all these work the one and the same Spirit, dividing to each severally even as he wills” (NNT, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11).
Of all the tribes of Israel, evangelistic Zebulun needed the Gifts of the Spirit. God promised that those going forth with the Gospel would find Him confirming the Word “With Signs Following.” Stanley Frodsham authored a book by this title before 1948.
Missionary-Evangelists have proved God faithful in this respect again and again. Every city church rejoices when one of the local churches manifests this gifting. Back in the 1960's, St. Luke's Episcopal Church of Seattle under the leadership of Father Dennis Bennett unusually demonstrated this Zebulun temperament. For 10 years, 1000 souls annually from the rest of the city and further abroad, wended their way to the Friday night opportunity of salvation, the Holy Spirit - and living examples of the Gifts of the Spirit.
In later years Dennis and Rita Bennett traveled the world, -- and again countless thousands entered into God's Kingdom with life and power! The Gifts of the Spirit became God's corroboration of His pleasure at this evangelistic outreach.
Can the gifts of the Spirit be abused and misused? Of course! In money matters, counterfeits only prove the genuineness of the real! Here again, the flashing Carbuncle of Zebulun heralds the Evangelist, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those bearing Good News.” (Isaiah 52:7).
Four. CITY CHURCH: MISSIONS.
“Then the king's scribes were called, in the third month, the month Sivan, on the twenty-third day, and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded, to the Jews, to the chief rulers, and the governors and princes of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, 127 provinces, to every province in its own script, and to every people in their own language. … He wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus, and sealed it with the king's ring, and sent letters by messengers on horseback, riding on swift steeds, mules and young dromedaries used in the king's service, bred from the [royal] stud. … In it the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather and defend their lives; to destroy, to slay and to wipe out any armed force that might attack them, their little ones and women; and they should take the enemies' goods for spoil. … On one day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month Adar, … A copy of the writing was to be issued as a decree in every province and as a proclamation to all peoples, and the Jews should be ready on that day to avenge themselves upon their enemies. … So the couriers who were mounted on swift beasts that were used in the king's service went out, being hurried and urged on by the king's command; and the decree was released in Shushan the capital” (TAB, Esther 8:9-14).
Back in the 50's in Chicago, a guest speaker at one of our Annual Missionary Conferences at the Kostner Avenue Baptist Church, preached on Esther. It was new for me to consider the book of Esther as a prime example of missions. But reread the above scripture from Esther. The swift dromedaries of the desert bore the Good News of Israel's deliverance from Haman, just as Zebulun by sea bore the trading goods of Issachar to far lands. Note too the breadth of the empire of Ahasuerus - 127 provinces!
What a challenge for us. With over 250 nations of the world - by land, by sea, by air, by email, by Internet - by all means possible in the realm of modern communications - we should likewise be heralding through missions the Good News of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
Jesus is Lord! There is none other. We can challenge all members of all nations to dethrone the self-life and replace it with the full Lordship of Jesus! The New Testament declares Jesus as Savior 24 times - but as LORD 348 times - 14:1! We have watered down this aspect of the Good News! Jesus will be Lord of all, or He will not be Lord at all! To claim Him as Savior apart from Lordship is not to have Him at all. To take Him as Lord - is to have Him in all His fullness! See Rees Howells, A. W. Tozer, Dr. E. Stanley Jones, Madame Guyon - and countless others for corroboration to this concept. The life of Jesus through the Holy Spirit only flows abundantly through those fully surrendered to Him. The Holy Spirit is given to those who OBEY Him (Acts 5:32). Jesus challenged those desiring to follow Him to DENY their self-life, take up their cross, and FOLLOW HIM (Mark 8:34).
Any Gospel declaration missing this note is no Good News at all! It leaves its hearers in a Fool's Paradise. Imagine such a preacher appearing before the Judgment Seat of Christ and trying to explain his omission of this dimension. He will be speechless!
Five. CITY CHURCH: H. A. BAKER AND ANGELS.
“But of which of the angels has he ever said, Sit on my right hand, Till I make your enemies footstool of your feet? … Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth unto service for them that shall inherit salvation” (NNT, Hebrews 1:13-14)?
In Tibet, SW China and Taiwan, Baker ceaselessly labored to go from village to village - from town to town - from city to city -- proclaiming the fullness of the Good News of the Kingdom of God. Countless tens of thousands received Jesus in His full Kingship and Lordship. And - God confirmed the message of His servant with multiplied gifts of the Spirit and signs that followed his faithful teaching. It reminds one of the words of Jesus to those who would have held Him longer - “I must preach the good tidings of the kingdom of God to the other cities also: because for this I was sent” (Luke 4:43).
In the early 40's I read his book “Visions Beyond the Veil.” Here he recounts how poor little Chinese orphans received the Gospel of the Kingdom, and by the Spirit were ushered into heaven and God's invisible Kingdom. Upon returning they recounted insights and revelations that brought yet more into God's Kingdom, and proved a source of instruction to their missionary. In the light of the children's sharing he also wrote: “Heaven and Angels,” “Seeking and Saving,” “God in Ka-Do Land,” “Three Worlds,” and his autobiography, “Under His Wings” - and numbers of others.
The ministry of angels was a marked feature of these visions and revelations. The children saw the demons too, and the broad way leading to destruction for careless and rebellious sinners. These insights produced fiery evangelists among these children. Their preaching oftentimes was purely prophetic.
O God - Send revival to America and Canada once again, and confirm Your word mightily with signs following. Raise up our children and youth as fiery evangelists. Form not just local churches - but CITY CHURCHES. Make us as Zebulun, in Jesus' Name!
Six. CITY CHURCH: HOUSEHOLD SALVATION.
“And the jailor being roused out of sleep and seeing the prison doors open, drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped... But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do yourself no harm: for we are all here. … And he called for lights and sprang in, and, trembling for fear, fell down before Paul and Silas, … and brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? … And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and YOU shall be saved and your household. … And they spoke the word of God to him, with all those in his house. … And he took them in that hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, immediately. … And he brought them up into the house, and set a table before them, and rejoiced greatly with all his house, having believed in God” (NNT, Acts 27-34).
Households in Israel and China have in the past been patriarchies. A number of generations often live together. Children are taught to love and respect and obey not only their parents - but grandparents also - and even beyond. Because of this tight knit enlarged family unity - God tends to save by households and clans, not just individuals. This concept can't be assumed - there is a price of diligence, faith and perseverance to pay. But mothers and fathers who take hold of and claim these promises - see the family circle unbroken up there. We must remember - We have not because we ask not - and the asking must assume the conditions of the whole Bible.
Pastor Jack Hayford's father in Oakland, California proved the efficacy of “clan salvation.” He placed his clan name “Hayford” on Judah's red sardius, and his wife's maiden name “Smith” on Issachar's beautiful yellow topaz. From 1969 until his death in 1979, he and his wife twice daily faithfully presented their clan names to God. The results were startling and remarkable. Pastor Jack picked up his father's revelation in 1982, and passed it on to us in August of that year at the First Baptist Church of Arcata, California, where I was then serving. Within 16 months we too began to experience the astounding results that the Hayfords of Oakland saw God confirm.
Then Dr. Kenneth McAll of Great Britain was in a Japanese prison camp in China. There he nursed Stuart Liddel of “Chariots of Fire” fame, until his death. But he saw poorly educated Chinese women exorcise demon possessed people with great effectiveness. He couldn't forget the impression this made on him. In later years when released from prison camp, he added to his medical degree and became a psychiatrist. Through the utilization of the Eucharist, this Anglican found God to be faithful. Untold number of bound people in satanic oppression of various kinds responded. The curse of ancestors who indulged in the occult - according to Bible warning brought judgment on their children to the third and fourth generations. But when this background of occult dabbling by forebears was discovered - repented of - placed on the communion table as an act of repentance - deliverance came and the bondages were broken. These blessings are recorded in his book, “Healing the Family Tree.”
Dr. Kurt Koch, a Lutheran evangelist from Germany, experienced parallel results. “Between Christ and Satan” is one of his books that record God's faithful workings through this servant of His. The Evangelistic spirit of Zebulun frees people - brings household and clan salvation, and heals the family tree. City churches result, and in the spirit of thanksgiving serve the Lord with gladness. Evangelists of spiritual Zebulun - may your tribe increase!
Seven. CITY CHURCH: CHINA.
“Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord - the only Lord. … And you shall love the Lord your God with all your [mind and] heart, and with your entire being, and with all your might. … And these words, which I am commanding you this day, shall be [first] in your own mind and heart; [then] … You shall whet and sharpen them, so as to make them penetrate, and teach and impress them diligently upon the [minds and] hearts of your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up. … And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets (forehead bands) between your eyes. … And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (TAB, Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
We have already noted the patriarchal blessing that existed in both Israel and China up to 4000 years ago. The blessing their ancestors brought upon their children is most marked. In the case of Israel, it is God that initiated this. Through the Sh'ma and the Feasts of Leviticus 23, fathers and parents inculcated into their children the blessings of God. These weekly and annual memorials raised questions in the minds of the children. It gave fathers and parents opportunity to answer these questions, and by doing so - passed down from generation to generation principles of living and godly lifestyles that continued a unique identity in each of these nations. True, adherence to these life-giving institutions rose and fell. The blessing of these two nations rose and fell in correspondence to such adherence.
In Israel's case, an eldership in the gate of each city, represented both by synagogue and secular leaders - tended to preserve this godly life-style. When Jesus was born, there were still godly examples of such history in the lives of Zacharias and Elizabeth, Anna and Simeon, Mary and Joseph.
The patriarchal system of China tended to preserve that nation also. Without the direct input of God into that nation, it developed with greater difficulty. God chose Moses as His medium to place the Torah into Israel. In spite of fluctuations between obedience and disobedience, the Covenant God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has preserved that nation to this day. We know that through prophecy, God will successfully consummate what He 4000 years ago initiated. His people are back in their land. Their language has been resurrected after 1900 years. God will finish that good thing He has begun. A nation will be born again in a day!
That ancient people the Chinese also continue to this day. The good principles of the past - no Emperor or government has been able to eradicate. She too will arise in the last days to her destiny, and the patriarchal spirit will return. May a parallel of these principles likewise return to the City Churches of the nations of the world - and prepare the peoples of earth for the return of their King of kings and Lord of lords. Then will be fulfilled - “The Kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdoms of our God and of His Christ.”