Jack Carroll - Church in the Home - Arizona - 1951 October

I am going to say over to you folks here in AZ a few things that were said in San Diego and Bakersfield and further north, about the fellowship meetings on the "first day of the week." It has been said that the real test of a good convention is not exactly what takes place in the convention meetings, but to a very large extent, what takes place in your fellowship meetings of the "first day of the week," during the year.

I hope all of you at the close of the convention, will take your concordance and look up this word "fellowship." I don't know where it originated, but it seems to me that it is right and scriptural to think of our meetings on the "first day of the week," as "fellowship meetings." The Roman Catholic Church speaks a great deal about the Mass; other church systems speak a great deal about their Communion Services; the Church of England speaks about the Eucharist, and so on. When we think of the "first day of the week," we remember the custom that existed in the New Testament days when the disciples of Jesus came together, 'on the "first day of the week" to break bread.' The breaking of bread is simply a symbolic way in which we renew our fellowship with our Master and Lord and with each other.

There are two fundamentals of the faith of Jesus that are vital to a true understanding and interpretation as recorded in the New Testament. First of all, the church in the home, and the home only; secondly, the preacher without a home. These two are foundational. We cannot, we dare not depart from either of them , and if we do, we become a part of that great Babylonish system that is blinding the minds of men and women the world over to the "simplicity that is in Christ."

No preacher can be in our fellowship who is not prepared to be as homeless in this world as his or her Master. One of the very first conditions that God's ministers have to face is willingness to have fellowship with Jesus and His homelessness. "Foxes have holes, birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head.'' No man or woman can have any part in this ministry unless willing to have fellowship with Jesus, the Son of Man and Son of God, in His homelessness. There is another condition, perhaps, we might mention – fellowship with Jesus in His poverty. No man or woman can share in this ministry unless willing to forsake all. There is an equality in this. It matters nothing whether you have little or much, but it matters everything that actually and literally you "forsake all," otherwise, you can have no part in this ministry.

While I'm speaking about the ministry, there is a third condition that those who go forth in the Name and Way of Jesus must face. He said, "Freely ye have received, freely give." No man or woman can enter this ministry that isn't prepared to give as freely as He did. If we ever heard of any man or woman in the ministry raising a collection or making an appeal for money, we would immediately exclude them from this fellowship. God sent His servants into the world to be givers, not getters. Therefore, God's bond-servants and hand-maidens are characterized by this loving and giving, the sacrificing and proving the promise He gave in the beginning…"seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all else will be added unto you." If every friend we had in the world turned their backs on us today, we could still go on, for the promise of God remains the same as at the beginning. Our responsibility is to "seek first the Kingdom of God" and the promise He has made to His bond-servants and hand-maidens is eternally sure. Maybe there are some in this meeting today thinking seriously of entering this ministry. Now these two fundamentals we have mentioned are worth making a note of: the church in the home and the preacher without a home. The men and women who have ministered to you from the platform these days, have made themselves homeless and poor for the Gospel's sake, and are deliberately laying down their lives from day to day; denying themselves all they might have been, and could have enjoyed, in order that they might bring the message of God to you. I hope you value and appreciate this ministry. There could be no New Testament fellowship apart from this New Testament ministry.

The Church in the home. Some years ago, some of us were in the city of Rome, Italy. We were on our way to Naples to have some meetings there. One morning while in the city of Rome, we planned a visit to one of the oldest churches in the city—the Church of St. Pudenzia. When we reached this building, we found it was 16 feet below the level of the present street. The debris of hundreds of years was built up until this building was 16 feet below the level of the street. The Francisean priest took us through this building, and afterwards, he took us down to examine the foundation of another church on which the present had been built. It was a very interesting to us to examine the walls of that ancient building. The priest then said, "I'll take you down still further, for this original church was built on the foundation of a private home." So we went down, and there in that particular room where the floor had a beautiful mosaic pattern, he said to us, "The early church met for worship in this home, and in this room." We were pleased to hear this. He added, "This home is supposed to be the home of Pudens that you read about in 2Tim. 4:21." That was even more interesting to us, and we enjoyed the thought that we were actually standing in the room where the first Christians in the city of Rome met to break bread.

From that home we went to St. Peter's, the largest Roman Catholic Church in the world. We wandered around in that immense building;
inside and outside; went up to the dome, looked down into the crypt where Peter is supposed to be buried. From there we went the cupola
and looked over the city of Rome – the city of hundreds of church buildings. One of our company remarked that every step taken from that church in the home 50 feet below the level of the present street to give to the world St. Peter's was in the wrong direction, and only tended to blind the minds of men and women to the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ.

We make no secret of the fact we are deliberately and purposefully teaching men and women how to do without these great structures, these public buildings for the worship of God. We're teaching men and women how to do without the priest, parson, and hired preacher; and how to meet together every "first day of the week," in homes consecrated to God, and there, like those first disciples, remember our Lord and Master in the breaking of bread.

No home is too lowly or too lovely for God's people to meet in. All meet on the same level and same way, and with the same purpose in their hearts. We do not choose homes for God's people to meet in because of their beauty. We choose homes because of their convenience, and the worthiness of those who live in these homes.

I'm not sure if I told the friends here in Arizona of an incident that took place some years ago in Vancouver. It may help you to understand why God's people come together on the first day of the week, in homes consecrated to God, and not in public buildings. In the city of Vancouver, there was an exhibition held by the Church of England. It was really an exhibition of curios from Palestine and the East; many from Palestine. It was organized for the purpose of raising funds for the Church of England's missionaries laboring in Palestine. There was a full sized model of the Tabernacle and its fittings. They also had a model of the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus; that was also interesting to me. They maintained that this particular home was more than likely the kind of home that Jesus was entertained in. Lectures were delivered on different subjects. One of them was on the Passover Feast. The lecturer was a prominent preacher of the Church of England. He was a very clever and able man,
and his lecture most interesting and instructive. He told us the story of the Passover Feast. He emphasized its purpose and made one point that was of special interest to me. In his lecture, he made the statement over and over again, that the Passover Feast was established in the home of the Children of Israel, and throughout all their history was never celebrated anywhere else but in their homes. Never taken to the Temple, never taken to the synagogue.

After it was over, the lecturer invited any to come forward and ask any questions they wished. With some of the others, I went forward and asked him, first of all, the question, "Did I understand you to say that the Passover Feast was established in the homes of the Children of Israel, and never celebrated anywhere else?" He answered, "Yes, that is true, and I'll say more. To this very day wherever the Jewish people keep the Passover Feast, it is celebrated, not in their synagogues, nor in their temples, but in their homes." I asked, "What is the relationship between the Passover Feast and the New Testament 'breaking of the bread'?, or as he would term it, "the Communion Service"? He answered very simple and to the point, "The New Testament breaking of the bread is the perpetuation of the Old Testament Passover Feast." Then I asked, "Where was the New Testament Communion Service established?" He said, "In a private home in Jerusalem." "Where is it continued?" He said, "They broke bread from house to house." I then asked him, "When did the people of God cease to 'break bread from house to house?'" He answered, "I don't know, neither can I justify the Church in taking the Communion Service out of the homes of the people of God and placing it in the hands of a priest in a public building." I then asked, "Don't you think it would be a good thing to take it back to where the Lord Jesus established it?" He threw up his hands and said, "It would be revolutionary. It would turn the world upside down," and hurried away.

I'm not sure that all of you value as you should the privilege that is yours on the first day of the week, of meeting together in a private home that has been consecrated to God. Let me remind you that in this you are actually and literally fulfilling the Scriptures. When you leave your home, and go to the home of another on the "first day of the week to break bread," the Scriptures are being fulfilled. That ought to be a great comfort to you.

In the Gospel of Matthew, there is that little phrase, "that the Scriptures might be fulfilled." He, Himself deliberately sought to fulfill the scriptures in His own life and ministry, and we can have a part with Him every "first day of the week," whether it's in our own homes or in the homes of others. We can have this assurance in our hearts that we are fulfilling the Scripture.

The second thing that can bring us comfort every "first day of the week" is this: we are registering a protest against that world system, "Christendom," "Churchianity," call it what you will; that is blinding the minds of men to the "simplicity that is in Christ." We demonstrate week in and week out throughout the year that we can "worship God in Spirit and in Truth" according to the teaching of God's Word and without the machinery that men consider so vital and necessary today in the worship and services of God.

I have visited some of the greatest religious buildings in the world. I don't say this boastingly. I have been to St. Peter's in Rome, St. Paul's in London, others in Paris, Copenhagen, Brussels, and the British Isles. I have wandered inside and outside these buildings with a question in my mind and heart: "What was it that induced men to establish in the world these systems of religion that only blind the minds of men to the 'simplicity that is in Christ?'"

Every "first day of the week," the Lord's people have the privilege of coming together at the appointed place and hour to keep what we sometimes speak of as a double appointment – with each other and with our Master and Lord. That is the reason why every child of God should plan to be in his or her place on the "first day of the week" in the home where he or she is expected to be.

Some might say: "There are four or five, or twenty churches, in the city where I live and would it not be all right for me to go to a different place every Sunday? I am a little bit discontented, and I am a little bit dissatisfied. Couldn't I move around a little? No, my brother; no my sister! If you form that habit and practice that thing, you are walking disorderly. You are not showing appreciation for the privilege of fellowship at the appointed time and place on the "first day of the week" and you might soon find yourself outside of this fellowship altogether.

It should be understood clearly by all that no leader or elder is self–appointed or elected by the church. All elders, or those who lead meetings are appointed by the servants of God and are responsible to them.

I think it would be a good study to look up the references to the "Church in the home" in the New Testament; in the Acts and the Epistles. Those of you who have the privilege of having the church in your home can get great pleasure out of the thought that you are having fellowship with those first Christians who used their homes as you are using your home. We are very grateful to God's people throughout the whole world, like Mr. And Mrs. Carter, who place their homes and property at our disposal at a time like this, where we can come together to hear God's Word and spend our days in brotherly fellowship with each other.

Every meeting on the 'first day of the week' consists of four parts. Each of them is important: Singing, Prayer, Testimony, and the Breaking of the Bread. This is true all over the world. I have been in homes in different parts of the world and this is the order. I don't know how it came about; this simple natural arrangement to sing, pray, testify, and Break Bread, then sing a closing hymn and go home. How different it is from the gorgeous ritual of Roman Catholicism and all related systems. How wonderful and beautiful the "simplicity that is in Christ."

Singing is important. We hope that all of you recognize the value of this part of the meeting. These hymns were written in order to help us express our thanks to God, our praise, our prayers, and our purposes. It is a wonderful thing when we sing these hymns as a language of our hearts. I appreciated what Eldon told us about the hymn book the other day and came on a hymn I had given out in the meeting; had others sing it, but never saw its real beauty until that day. Every word of that hymn, the words of the chorus, seemed to find a response in my heart, and this could be true of all in the first part of every meeting. You can sing one or two hymns. I don't think hymns should be selected at random. I think the person who is leading the meeting should recognize this is a serious responsibility, and should realize that the song should be an expression of the prayers and praises of God's people that meet together. When we select hymns here on the platform, we don't do this at random, but select those that will best express the desires, praises and purposes of God's people.

The second part of the meeting is prayer. We like for God's people to kneel in prayer. There are some who can't do that. If you can, and the home is large enough, I think it is appropriate and Scriptural attitude—an attitude of helplessness and it is always appropriate in the presence of God.

I have appreciated the prayers in CA the last few weeks and, also here in AZ. The prayers have been very brief and very much to the point. They have been edifying. I have been in meetings where the same prayer was offered week in and week out, each week of the year. It is a matter of repetition, repetition. How much better it would be if you would pray as you have been praying here – brief? The place for long prayers is in the secret place. Short prayers are more appropriate in the meeting place. I have known some young converts who go to meetings with older people and say, "I can't pray like that; I can't pray at all." If from your hearts, there comes one or two petitions, then the youngest babe in the family would feel encouraged to take part in prayer.

Now the next part of the meeting is Testimony. We've heard (this doesn't apply in AZ) of some who actually preach for 20 minutes in the Sunday morning meeting. Think of it—20 minutes! Now, if everybody else preached for 20 minutes, how long would your meeting last? Suppose there were 15 in your meeting and each one preached for 20 minutes. How long would it last? Five hours! That would be just a little bit too long. Out of consideration for all, and for the children, we arrange for the Sunday fellowship meeting to begin at 10:30 and be over about
12:00 noon. This is an hour and half. I had a report after a talk of this kind: "We had a nice meeting this morning, and it was over at
11:45."

We will find that there is ample time for the meeting for each child of God to speak to edification without prolonging the meeting unnecessarily. We have heard of some who select a long chapter and read that chapter, commenting on every verse. That gets tiresome. The better way is to select from any chapter; maybe, in the Old Testament or New Testament; maybe in the Psalms, two or three verses that have spoken to your heart, and have given you more light and a better understanding of God's mind and will and you tell how these verses have been a help to you during the week. This is the best way to be really helpful.

I hope there are none here in the habit of preaching at, or to each other. The last place for any to preach at or to one another is the Fellowship Meeting on the "first day of the week." A brother was asked, "Why didn't you take part today?" "Oh," he said, "The man I had my testimony for wasn't there." I hope none of you are like that brother.

Perhaps, I should tell you another story about an Irishman in that part of Ireland where _______ came from. He wasn't behaving very well. His conduct was such that the others were getting alarmed and worried. It was a relief to them when he quit attending the meetings. They hoped he would never come back. But six months later, lo and behold, he arrived one Sunday morning with his Bible and Hymn Book in hand and sat down. They looked at him and began saying inside, "What will we say to this fellow today?" They sang a couple of hymns and prayed, and then the meeting was opened for Testimonies. This man was the first on his feet and said, "He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone!"

Wouldn't it be a very grievous thing if on the "first day of the week," God's children came together to Break Bread, and then be guilty of saying things that would hurt their brethren and "grieve the Holy Spirit of God, wherewith we have been sealed unto the day of redemption?" On the "first day of the week" when God's people come together, they should be careful that not a single word they speak will hurt anyone. If strangers come, you don't have to hurt their feelings by speaking against other religions, for if you speak some from the Word of God, and if you are in the Spirit, and speak as God moves you to speak, and give expression to the thoughts God has given you and they will leave feeling that surely God is in this place. We have known of some dropping in on the "first day of the week" and when they heard simple men and women speak from verses that had spoken to their hearts said, "How wonderful this is, and how different this is from hearing one person do all the preaching."

I have sat in meeting and heard God's people speak and as I listened, my heart was warmed and was amazed when I summed up all the testimonies; at how much had been placed that day on the Lord's table to edify and build up the Lord's people. We are sorry to hear that some older and younger brethren don't take part as they should on the "first day of the week." Even if you only read a verse or two and give a short testimony, this would be good for you; as the more we speak before brethren, the stronger we grow in Christ Jesus.