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The Home Cell, 7/11/16

True church life is the work of the Holy Spirit and, as is reflected in the teaching of the scriptures, is very different from what we know as normal church operation in America today.  Most churches here operate on a very religious model that was inherited from the Catholic influence of the pre-Reformation era.  This typical pattern is at work also in many parts of the world where western missionaries brought the gospel and planted churches.  But God is at work to re-establish the foundation of true church life as it was in the early days of the church so that he can build on it the great last days Warrior Bride of Christ that will go far beyond what the early church reached.  One of the most important missing elements in most American churches is the home cell.  If we look at church life in its pure early stages we can see the importance of the home cell.  The most concise description of true church life appears early in the book of Acts right after the birth of the church:

Acts 2:42-47 New King James Version (NKJV)
42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

This passage shows us two different ways in which the early church met and fellowshiped and worshiped: corporate and home cell.  Verse 46 says that they met daily in the temple.  This was the corporate meeting where all the believers came together at the same time in the same place. Notice that the scripture clearly points to the use of Corporate Prayer.  Prayer is to be the central focus the house of God:

Isaiah 56:7
Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

Matthew 21:13
And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ”

Mark 11:17
Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ”

Luke 19:46
saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house is a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ”

This corporate meeting is practiced in the American church generally on Sundays when believers come together for worship. But prayer is sorely lacking. We see that the scriptures show that ideally these meetings should be done daily.  But as the verse continues it also tells us that the believers ate together in small groups in their homes.  Again, we see from context that these home gatherings were also daily. We know that they were small groups, sub-groups of the larger corporate body, because obviously one house could not hold the whole corporate group.  So we see that the corporate group was breaking up into multiple smaller home cells, probably based on convenient location in the city.

This home cell gathering is an essential element of true church life and must and will be returned to.  It is in the home cell that intimacy between members in the body grows as they eat and pray together daily, sharing of what is going on in their lives, serving one another, bearing one another's burdens, and growing together in the Lord.  Also in the home cell, believers have a safe intimate setting in which to share and practice and grow in their gifts and callings.   The intimacy of the home cell also opens the door for much healing as members find a safe place to open up and share and release their griefs and pains.  And only in the smaller home cell can everyone participate individually as we are instructed to do in scripture:

1 Corinthians 14:26 New King James Version (NKJV)
Order in Church Meetings
26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.

Obviously it would be impossible for each individual to share something with the whole group in large corporate settings, so clearly this passage is referring to smaller groups: the home cell.  This passage also indicates to us that the practice of the home cell continued in the early church long after just those early days of Acts 2 since Paul wrote this word much later in time.  And Philemon was written to  home cell church:

Philemon 2 New King James Version (NKJV)
2 to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house

When a church uses home cells the individual believers can seek the Lord in their prayer closets and private time with him and throughout the day and they listen to his voice and commune with him.  Then they can bring to the home cell meeting what they heard from God during the day, thus fulfilling the instruction of the above scripture.  To the extent that  it is unmanageable for a church to engage in both home cell and corporate activity daily, then it should be the home cell life that is maintained and the corporate meetings done less frequently, not they other way around.  Daily home cell meetings should be the goal and if it is impossible then it should be as close to daily as possible.  The pressure of persecution will drive a church to desire and find away to engage in daily home cells.

The home cell is the backbone of true church life because it is the church function that not even severe persecution can stop.  In times and settings of all out persecution, as we will face in the last days, big corporate meetings become dangerous and unwise to attempt but the home cell can still meet underground and keep church life thriving.  In fact, persecution is going to help the home cell come back strongly in the times ahead as some are driven into it.  But we should not wait until persecution drives us to meet in home cells. We should follow the biblical pattern of it and form home cells of our own volition out of obedience to God's Word.

Steve Pursell, 7/11/16