Jack Carroll - Church in the Home - Bakersfield, CA - 1946

The church in the home and the preacher without a home are two of the fundamentals of the faith of Jesus.  One of the strangest things in the New Testament is that we never read of God’s people building church buildings.  We don’t read about it until the third century, when there had been a turning away from that which Jesus lived and taught.  In the first days, there were no great church institutions, but God’s people met together in every land in homes consecrated to God.  The church in the home was the rule, and the preacher without a home.

 

How could any preacher obey the great commission to go into all the world if he had a home, or business, or farm of his own?  No man could accept or obey that commission unless he was willing to obey the conditions Jesus laid down, and literally and actually fulfill all of them.  The first disciples going into the uttermost parts of the earth were not worried about home, or property, or business.  They were free to proclaim God’s message, proving what He promised to be eternal truth in their own experience - “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”  That is God’s Way.

 

This is a Kingdom of sacrifice, but it is a Kingdom where there is fellowship.  There is a sacrifice of God’s people as well as of His servants.  There must be sacrifice, self-denial, and willingness to put first things first, in order that the Kingdom of God may be extended among men.  Paul refers to this in writing to the Philippines, when he says, “I thank God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all, making request with joy, for your fellowship in the Gospel from the first day until now.”

 

I hope I have made it clear that Jesus never expected or demanded that the rank and file of His disciples should “forsake all” or “sell all.”  Those two phrases refer entirely to the ministry, and only to the ministry.  One of the reasons why so many people are mixed up with regard to the teaching of Jesus is that they apply His teaching with regard to the ministry to the rank and file of His disciples, and it won’t fit in.  So they say He never meant what He said, or times have changed and we have to work things out entirely different.

 

If I were to ask you what is the real difference between those whom we speak of as ministers and the rank and file of God’s people, what would you answer?  I asked this question once - What is the difference between the servants of God and the saints of God?  One man said, “The servants preach the Truth, and the saints live the Truth.”  I asked the same question in another meeting, and a man said, “The difference is this, the servants of God have many homes and the poor saints have only one.”  He was a little mixed, but he had the right end of it.

 

[Luke 18:18-30] When the rich young ruler went away, Peter said, “Lord, we have done what that fellow is unwilling to do.  What shall we have, therefore?”  Then the Lord said, “No man hath left house or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the Kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.”

 

That promise is not for the rank and file of God’s people.  It is for those who have fulfilled the conditions and entered the ministry.  We have many fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, homes and much land.  Mary, Martha and Lazarus had a home in Bethany where Jesus and the disciples were welcomed.  It was of homes like this that Jesus speaks.  He was just as welcome in that home as any member of the family.

 

Another friend of our gave a different answer to this question, and I think he had the right answer.  He said, “The difference is this, the servants of God sacrifice all, and the saints of God use all.”  His home and everything he possessed was at the disposal of the Lord Jesus.  If you have a home and business, and family, and you say truly in your heart, “My home and business, and family are at the Lord’s disposal,”  then you will have a deeper taste of that peace of God which passeth all understanding, and you will share in the joy unspeakable and full of glory.

 

As I look back across the years, I value the sacrifice of the boys and girls who have started out and are not starting out in God’s service.  I know what it has cost them; and the battles fought before their decision was made, but the time comes when the answer is given - I am willing to go.  I think of the parents left without their boys and girls, and all their hopes for them blighted.  I think of the lonely days, and weeks and months, especially when some of those boys and girls have lifted up their eyes to go to far lands and are away for years.

 

I have been in such homes, and my heart has bled for the parents; but their sacrifice has brought into their lives that which has enriched them; and that is the only wealth worthwhile.  I talked to a father and mother at the last convention, whose only daughter is fifteen hundred miles away from home for the gospel’s sake, although she never had been away from home in her life before.  After that girl had decided to give her life in the service of God, I was almost afraid to meet her father and mother, but I need not have been; for that sacrifice was gladly given, and their greatest joy today is to hear that she is being used in God’s great harvest field.

 

There could have been no Kingdom of God in this world without sacrifice.  This Kingdom is founded on sacrifice, and it can be maintained only by sacrifice.  If that spirit dies out we become no better than any of the daughters of Babylon.  That is what Jesus meant when He said, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone.  But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”  Paul, remembering these words, wrote afterwards, “Death worketh in us, but life in you.”

 

There are in this meeting a group of people who are willing for death to work in them.  They are willing to die to the place they might have filled in the world in order that they might have the privilege of preaching the Gospel, and laying down their lives for His sake.  The people I admire most are those men and women who have taken these steps, and who, as far as the world is concerned, are now unnoticed and unknown; but whose ministry God can bless in bringing light to men and women who are not dead in trespasses and sin.

 

In a home a few years ago, I saw a motto that spoke very loudly to me.  It said:  “It’s loving and giving that makes life worth living.  It’s loving and giving that makes life a song.”  It is the spirit of sacrifice, this willingness to sacrifice all for the sake of others, that enriches our lives and makes the lives of God’s servants and His people all the more worthwhile.

 

I am dealing with the fundamentals of the faith, and the basic truths that have to do with the Kingdom of God here and now in this world, and if the world lasts, hundreds of years from now.  The fourth thing I would like to say about this heavenly Kingdom is this:  This heavenly Kingdom on earth is a Kingdom where all serve and none rule.  There is no room for any who want to lord it over others.  There is plenty of room for those who are willing to serve.

 

Jesus Himself was the Leader, He had the greater responsibility, and He had the greater authority; but in the midst of His own disciples He said, “I am among you as One that serveth.”  There was the Master taking the place of the servant, the greatest taking the place of the least, the One Who had the most authority willing to be the servant of all.

 

This heavenly Kingdom on earth is a Kingdom where all serve and none rule.  There is no room for rulers in God’s heavenly Kingdom.  There is no room for men or women to dominate the lives of others, or to lord it over God’s heritage.  But there is plenty of room for men and women who are willing to serve, who are willing to take the place of a servant, those who are willing to do what they can and give what they can in order to meet whatever need arises in the service of God.

 

To emphasize this, I would like to read to you a few verses.  You will remember the time when the mother of Zebedee’s children came to the lord and made a request of Him.  She was ambitious for her sons, and she had two boys who were equally ambitious.  They had no true understanding of the heavenly Kingdom, and they thought it would be a nice thing to sit one on the right had and one on the left hand of Jesus.  When the rest of the disciples heard it they were mad.  They were all more or less of the same frame of mind, only those two boys used their mother to put it over on them.

 

The ten were moved with indignation against their brethren, and Jesus called them unto Him and said, “Ye know not what ye ask.  Are ye able to drink the cup that I drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?"  They say unto Him, "We are able.”  He said a little later, “My kingdom is not of this world.  If My Kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight.”  This Kingdom is entirely different to any other Kingdom the world has ever known.  Jesus said, “Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be first among, you, let him be your servant.”  [Matthew 20:20-28]

 

Almost the same words are used in Luke 22:25-27.  He is here speaking about the kingdom of the Gentiles, and He said, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.  But ye shall not be so:  but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger: and he that is chief among you, as he that doth serve.  For whether is greater he that serveth at meat, or he that sitteth at meat?  Is not he that sitteth at meat?  But I am among you as He that serveth.”  The Master had taken the place of the servant.

 

Philippines 2:5 reads, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”  We cannot be honest with ourselves without recognizing how far we have come short, but here is the ideal.  Here is the spirit of sacrifice…I want to serve.  We love to see that spirit amongst God’s people.  I have been humbled again and again as I have seen it in others.

 

I know my usefulness and any influence I might have in God’s Family depends upon my willingness and ability to serve, not in ruling or reigning.  It is service and service alone that counts.  Every place on these grounds that I have gone the spirit of service is manifest.  I have looked here and there and have seen preachers all over the place.  What are they doing?  They are serving.  I find them running all over the place, all with the same thought in mind - how can I minister to and make it more pleasant for others?  How can I make this convention more helpful, so that God’s people will be enriched and blessed?

 

There is not a hired man on these grounds, as far as the convention is concerned.  We don’t hire the cooks, or the waiters, or the bed makers, or even the preachers.  There is not a preacher here but would rather die any day than allow anyone to suggest they were open to hire.

 

The only collection we read of in the New Testament was not for the servants of God, but for the saints of God.  There never was a collection for preachers, but for the rank and file of God’s people who were in need in Jerusalem and Judea.  That is why we feel able to suggest that you today could do what the early Christians did to meet the need in lands where God’s children today have not even the necessities of life.

 

This Kingdom is a fellowship upon to all men.  It is a voluntary fellowship.  It is a Kingdom of sacrifice, founded by sacrifice, and maintained only by sacrifice.  It is a Heavenly Kingdom on earth, a Kingdom where all serve and none rule.  It is not a worldly kingdom where there is competition between citizens and officials for position to rule and dominate over others.  if there is any competition in this Heavenly Kingdom it should be for the lowest place, the place where we can serve most.  That is the Spirit of Jesus.  “Let this mind be in you, which also was in Christ Jesus.”

 

The fifth thing about this Heavenly Kingdom on earth is that it is a reign of love and not of law.  All earthly kingdoms and institutions need rules, regulations and laws; but this Heavenly Kingdom on earth is a reign of love and not of law.  On the last night of the life of Jesus, in John 13:34-35, you will remember what He said, “A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

 

You might say everything Jesus lived and taught can be summed up in that one word ‘love.’  It is said that, when John reached the end of his life, a group of his disciples gathered around him and were anxious that he would give them one last message.  They were most anxious for him to give that message.  It is said he told them what he had so often told them before, “Little children, love one another.”  They asked him to add something to that, and he answered, “No, that suffices, Love one another.” 

 

This fellowship of which we form a part is held together by love.  That is the only thing that binds us together.  We have no official relationship with each other.  It is a love relationship.  This relationship is the strongest, and I believe the most lasting of any that could possibly be established.  Why?  Because that is what Jesus said.  The constitution is the basic law of the United States.  The new commandment is the basic law of this Heavenly Kingdom.  “Little children, love one another.”

 

This was never intended to be a sentimental law, but the very opposite.  We know how easy it is for something else to creep into our hearts rather than love.  I was reading l John 2:9 sometime ago, and some of the phrases there startled me.  “He that saith he is in the light and yet hateth his brother is in darkness even until now.”  One of the most deadly things that could ever enter the mind or heart is dislike or hatred of any brother or sister, or of any man in the whole of God’s creation.

 

Further on in this letter it says (3:14), “We know we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.  He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.”  Away over in the Old Testament, in order to become a murderer you would have been obliged to take the life of another.  That has become obsolete.  In the new covenant hatred in the heart is the equivalent, so you can see how dangerous it is to let that dread spirit take control in any way.

 

1 John 4:20, the word “liar” used here is a very strong word.  The original word for the English word is a little different.  It makes it stronger, in fact.  It says, “He is a religious fraud and corrupter of God’s Truth.”  Whereever John used the word liar or lie, it has that meaning.  Down through the ages the world has been cursed by religious frauds, men who corrupt God’s Truth.  In the Heavenly City there is no room for them.  You can see the great responsibility that rests upon every child of God if we are to be worthy of the place that is ours in this Heavenly Kingdom.

 

“Little children, love one another.”  You may ask, how can I understand the meaning of this new commandment?  How can I understand what this love really is?  One of God’s truest and best servants was used to write a whole chapter to define this new commandment.  If you want to understand what it means to obey the new commandment, read over carefully 1 Corinthians 13.

 

If you are an honest man or woman the reading of that chapter will search your heart, and you will discover that the word of God is sharp and quick, and like a two edged sword.  Happy will you be if there is a response in your heart, and you are willing to say, “If this is what it means to obey that commandment which the Lord gave to His own disciples, then it is up to me to obey it.”

 

You will notice there are certain things love never will be guilty of, and certain graces love will always manifest.  If you make up your mind to turn from negative things and fulfill these graces then you will understand a little better what it means to obey this new law of love.

 

This is a Kingdom that is open to all men, a fellowship open to whosoever will come.  It is a voluntary fellowship.  It is a Kingdom founded and maintained by sacrifice, a Kingdom where all serve and none rule, a reign of love and not of law.  May God help us to set in our hearts this ideal that was in the mind of God and the heart of Jesus, and about which we read so clearly in the Gospel; and enable us by His grace to manifest to all the world what it really means to be “a colony of Heaven,” part of the Mother Country in a foreign land, for His Name sake.