Have you readers ever heard of the ichthys? Maybe not, but you’ve no doubt seen it.
This Greek word for a symbol that looks like a simple drawing of a fish frequently appears on Christian merchandise such as jewelry and bumper stickers. But its background is deeper than most of us realize. Its name is an acronym for “Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter (‘Jesus Christ, God’s Son, [is] Savior’).”[i] As the Lexham Geographic Commentary on the Gospels explains:
The first letter, iota, is the initial letter in the Greek word for “Jesus”…. The second letter, chi, is the first letter in the word for “Christ”…. The third letter, theta, is the first letter in the Greek word for “God”…. The fourth letter, upsilon, represents the Greek word for “son”…. And the last letter, sigma, is the first letter in the Greek word for “Savior”…. As it does today, the early symbol of the fish could be used to identify a believer in Jesus without the need for verbal communication.[ii]
Interesting… Why would early believers need to be identified “without the need for verbal communication”? Because, the early Church was, just as we will be in the End Times, facing persecution that drove them into secrecy. The Roman Empire saw to the death (or severe beatings) of anyone openly claiming to be a Christian for about three hundred years after the Resurrection, so the first Christians couldn’t simply stroll down to the local church building on the corner to connect with their spiritual family and strategize about how they would reach the lost with the Gospel. They needed a way for disciples to recognize one another or mark the location of a Christian gathering without blowing their cover. If a disciple wanted to find out whether he was in the presence of another Christian, he would casually draw an arc shape on the ground—representing half of the fish symbol we so quickly recognize in our iconography. If the other person completed the drawing, he or she could silently alert the disciple that he was in the presence of a fellow believer. If the second person did not complete the drawing, the first man’s nonchalant “doodling” would escape notice, and the second man would be revealed as a nonbeliever.
When the Remnant Church is forced into secrecy, whether that will be sooner or later, we will find ways of communicating that are similar to the way the ichthys was used in the early Church. We, just like the early Christians, won’t be able to meet at local churches. Yet, “taking church outside the building” shouldn’t be a new or frightening concept. It’s precisely how the early Christians “did church”: “They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts” (Acts 2:46; NIV).
Somehow—because the Remnant is always spiritually alive on the inside—we will continue to prioritize the Great Commission until the very end. (This is true regardless of what one believes regarding the Rapture. Even if it occurs before the Tribulation, the Remnant will awaken and arise from the population of those who were left behind.) In addition, at some point during the Tribulation, survival will require that the Remnant develops some form of community that can trade and function under the radar. Exactly what this will look like and how it will be carried out is obviously unknown at this time.
However, sometime between now and then, the Remnant will have to learn a new way to “do church” outside of the institution. We’ll need “practice rounds,” so to speak, of the style of worship we read about in the New Testament. It will mark a return to the old ways.
On the other hand, while true Christians are already exhausted from trying to remain alive in the institution that brings death anyway, there are already ample benefits to worshiping together outside the building in the “usual” way, not the least of which is the fact that the government cannot shut down these nontraditional church gatherings like it did the mainstream churches during the pandemic!
And, before anyone thinks this sounds too complicated or mysterious to invest much mental or emotional energy into, please note: It’s easy to lazily rest in the comforts of “God is in control” theology. He certainly is in control, and most definitely He is at all times, but we must remember that the control He holds has established an eternal plan for mankind, and it involves our participation, whether we like it or not. Creating a permanent buttocks-imprint in the sofas of our spiritual living room with the attitude that God “has it handled” is vile negligence in the Lord’s eyes that could result His command: “Depart from me…I never knew you!” (Matthew 7:21–23). There are serious chores to do, and if we ever wish to hear the beautiful words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” (25:21–23), then we need to dust off our timecards and clock in for work. Far, far too many Christians are late in reporting for duty, and the evidence of that has made the Cult of Western Christianity thrive…and stink.
On the other hand, it may not be the intimidating prospect many Christians fear. These authors have started a personal ministry movement beyond the walls of the Church that:
- Follows the New Testament model;
- Has a proven track record of immense ministerial success;
- Doesn’t cost a dime;
- Takes place on an organic, customized schedule (and therefore naturally prevents “ministry burnout”);
- By its very nature accomplishes the true meaning of communion (as well as many other benefits briefly covered in the next few pages).
Just as the Battle of Jericho was fought with peace, we believe our present-day battles should be fought with peace, because, in our current culture and political state, the Body’s refusal to compromise on certain secular trends is more and more being recognized as “hate speech.” Just as the warriors in the Battle of Jericho reclaimed territory for Jehovah’s purposes and will, we believe our grounds (churches, houses, ministry properties of all kinds across the West) need to be reclaimed for the Lord’s purposes and will. Thus, this new kingdom initiative has been coined the “Jericho Project.”
Though, alternatively, in the interest of the discretion that will brand the communication habits of the future underground Remnant Church, we could simply call it “dinner with a friend.”
We will let you in on what we are doing. It’s been some of the most important Gospel work we’ve ever done. (Within just the first month of its inception, one person accepted Christ as Savior.)
As a study in the revivals and Great Awakenings of history will show: In the past, most recognizably during the day of the “Jesus People Movement” following the Vietnam War, some of the most passionate churches began outside church facilities on “grass roots” soil, such as wheat fields, abandoned coffee shops, barns, and most often, peoples’ living rooms. “Church” feels a bit stuffy these days, but believers and nonbelievers alike can benefit from a well-cooked meal and some hearty conversation. If a gathering is presented as a “meal,” it accomplishes what the New Testament communion sacrament really looked like (not the Dixie-cups-of-grape-juice-and-one-bite-oyster-cracker communion frequently shared in Western churches). When we serve dinner (“break bread”) and talk about the Lord (“in remembrance of Him” [Luke 22:19–20]) with fellow members of the Body (the ekklesia, the “church”; gathering of the saints together), we are technically fulfilling “church” and “communion” as the early Church experienced in the New Testament.
In this way of “doing church,” dinner can be by a host or hostess who wants to bless the others, or it could be a potluck meal. For true believers, a box of cereal is enough of a dinner if it means joining in badly needed spiritual connection with the Body. (An unleavened meal might also be a fun way to gather together and reflect on the first communion, which was a Passover meal, though these authors don’t think it’s mandatory.)
As the conversation allows, at whatever speed fits the mood, those present can begin to discuss the Gospel. The Bible should be kept handy so it can be opened and read from during these gatherings. (But note: Proselytizing is not the goal here! Remember that bringing lost souls into our homes to browbeat them or pressure them into repeating “sinner’s prayer” words that only lead to an obligatory, imitation conversion experience does nothing for the kingdom. It actually has the potential of placing unsaved people on a more direct path to damnation, Jesus says [Matthew 23:15].)
With the ensuing teaching, Bible study, conversation, worship (again, when appropriate), communion, and fellowship, we are, literally and theologically, a New-Testament-style church with far more flexibility on the schedule than the building on the corner could ever have.
Some may be unable to have people visit their homes for a number of reasons, including safety concerns. Certainly, caution should always be a priority. But if that’s you, somehow, somewhere, you need to interact with people for the purpose of bringing the Gospel outside the four tired walls of a church building. Perhaps it’s at the fitness gym, the salon, a waiting room, a school, the grocery store, at work…
You get the picture: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
Every time you interact with others and carry the name of Jesus on your lips, you’re having the type of Church fostered by those New Testament radicals who flipped the world on its head and forever changed the notion of organized religion.
And you can do it, too!
No more ministry burnout. No more getting someone to cover the class you teach on a Sunday morning when you’ll be out. No more preparing three-point sermons in the middle of a busy schedule. No more feeling overwhelmed with the responsibilities of active church membership. No more obligations to stay to the end of a service, and, on the other hand, no more wishing that great service had gone on longer.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW VIDEOS
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“THE LIES OF MEN & GODS–EPISODE 3” TOM HORN ENCOUNTERED THE LUCIFER DEVICE ON MT. GRAHAM AS APACHE WARNED OF GIANTS!
We can’t say it enough: Simplicity is key in this type of worship and ministry, whether it’s just having a friend over for dinner, taking someone to the library and talking about God in the car on the way, or giving someone a discount on a haircut or an oil change while reminding that person that the Creator has a plan for his or her life.
This makes ministry organic, unstrained, and welcome to the hearers, because the intensity can be adjusted to the individual’s needs. And, if the Church were to come back to life by means such as these, it wouldn’t be such a shock when, in fulfillment of prophecy, the institution goes apostate and true believers are forced underground. We’ll simply keep doing what we already do!
Aside from taking Christian practice outside of the building on the corner so as not to rely on the institution as our only future lifeline—which is a valid reason on its own—the need for a fresh kind of fellowship connection within today’s Body has been surfacing for a long time. The Church, as an institution, has been continuously deteriorating. True believers are tired of “spirituality competitions” between believers and interdenominational squabbles, pressures to keep up with the Joneses, “feel-good” (but theologically deficit) worship songs and sermons, and focus on feelings and/or prosperity over the Great Commission as well as the “take up the cross daily” message of Christ.
Meanwhile, in recent years, the Gospel has not been “taken to the streets” as it should. We are missing a massive opportunity while the West is still free enough to reach as many people as possible. This is especially true the longer the lost feel that the church on the corner will be unwelcoming to them, which is a perception that increases each day as our Body is further polarized by the unscriptural trends of the culture. Yet, for the reasons we just mentioned, many sincere Christians feel that “inviting nonbelievers to church” just isn’t the answer anymore. Additionally, certain evangelistic methods of the past—such as standing on the corner preaching, handing out tracts, or offering to pray for the needs of strangers on the roadside—will be more and more unwelcome in some cities, even when they’re not engulfed in flames or rioting.
But if the church on the corner is out of the question, how can true Christians witness to nonbelievers if the tired, ritualistic “sinner’s prayer in the middle of a coffee shop” makes them feel awkward, as we know it does?
Reaching the lost appears to be increasingly insurmountable in today’s social and political climate…and Christians are starving to meet like-minded folks whose walk with Christ is genuine.
The motto these authors have tagged to the Jericho Project is: “To reach the lost and sharpen the sheep.” It’s for both believers and nonbelievers. We wish to reach the lost with the message of the Gospel of Christ in the way they may not have ever heard it before and in an unintimidating, relaxed atmosphere that doesn’t feel like “church.” Yet, by sharing what we know with fellow believers—as well as being challenged and sharpened by what they know—“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). There is no “one minister” whose full-time responsibility it is to be the sole teaching leader of the flock. Much to the contrary, in this model, everyone is equally ministered to. An added benefit of this sharing of perspectives is that it forces believers to accept that we don’t know everything; another viewpoint can be a soul-saver (maybe even literally).
Another benefit: In a one-on-one setting, our attention is wholly given to only one guest or family rather than divided among a crowd. This gives our guests the opportunity to: 1) share freely without the (sometimes intimidating or inhibiting) pressure of others’ presence, 2) ask questions that might traditionally never be answered in church, 3) tackle their own personal issues instead of hoping that the sermon Sunday morning will cover what they need to hear, 4) take as much time as they need to discuss the topic, 5) make them feel like they have a place of honor at our table, 6) allow them to focus on the Lord without the drama that occasionally comes with going to church, and 7) let them know we care enough to plan a gathering around them specifically.
In doing all of this, we “reclaim our territory and land,” just like the ancient warriors did for Jericho. We consecrate our own homes for the Lord’s purposes, while showing others how to do the same. This brings families closer together, teaches us how to address through our issues via a Bible-centered strategy, and brings Jesus back into the family, not just the church building (that He’s likely standing outside of anyway, knocking, and hoping to be let back into [Revelation 3:20]).
Of course, nothing about an initiative like this is designed to “replace” or “take over” the Church as an institution; rather, it is a supplement. Nobody on this end is telling anyone else to quit the Church. With that in mind, we want to challenge readers to pray about doing something similar, something that may or may not look like what we’ve described here. By sharing with readers what we have been up to, we don’t intend to inspire a fresh ministry idea and then hold folks to a structure we’ve outlined. One of our ministry associates, whom we recently met with about the Jericho Project, said, “Structure kills a movement.” Another colleague, over a Jericho Project dinner, said, “I hate it when I see Christians get tired of something they see in the Church, decide to start something of their own outside the Church like these home-churches you see, and then gradually bring what they learned from the structured Western services into it so they’re back where they started.” But whatever it looks like, if the Lord has prompted you to do something outside the institution of the Church, be obedient! If He hasn’t, pray about whether He has something like this in mind for you! Minister to someone in a way the Church has failed to do. Minister to someone in a way that the institutionalized Church was never created for! This is the real Body of Christ!
We also have a responsibility to reflect Christ in all that we do. If you do decide to take the Jericho Challenge and minister from your home (or something similar), every move you make must be in an effort to please the Lord. Planning to host a Saturday luncheon for a couple from church, then throwing in a pole-dance worship session after a couple shots of vodka, would not be pleasing to the Lord. As the Body of Christ, we are accountable to representing Jesus in all that we do, whether we’re in a church building or not. No endeavor to “do church outside the building” frees us to behave in a way that contradicts the Word of God. If we wish to bless someone else, but we don’t know Scripture well enough to teach it with authority or recognize when an activity would contradict the guidelines given us in Bible, then Scripture reading should be “the” activity of the event…no gossiping, no shaking feathers from the rafters, no spiritually giving birth, no dancing Salome’s dance of the seven veils, no nonsense. Simply inviting friends over to read the Holy Bible with like-minded believers can be as refreshing as anything else. And, always remember, saying “I don’t know” when asked a question about the Bible, when it’s the truth, is never wrong. “Let’s look it up and read it together” is a beautiful and humble suggestion that many people outside the Body of Christ only wish they heard more often, since the Church has a reputation of being filled with a bunch of judgmental know-it-alls.
We have one last suggestion for you if you’re considering this type of ministry. In fact, absent this, no ministry approach can ever be successful: We must return to preaching that Jesus is both Savior and Lord. Many churches, in response to modern culture, express Jesus’ love and ability to save—and this is good—but they stop short of teaching that those who accept Him as Savior must also give Him lordship over their lives. When we forget this, we advertise “another Jesus,” as we’re warned against doing in 2 Corinthians 11:4. Jesus becomes reduced to little more than a “get out of jail free” comrade handing out free candy on street corners, but who is never given transformative power in an individual’s life. Often, those who neglect to submit to Jesus as Lord backslide, and Christianity becomes another checkmark on a list of things they’ve tried, but that didn’t work. Why? Because there are two ways of inviting Jesus into our lives: 1) We ask Him to “save us,” and allow Him to fill the space we have created in our lives as long as He doesn’t bump the furniture; or 2) We surrender our entire lives to Him, and understand that by asking Him to “save us” from our sins, we’re asking for Him to deliver us from that which causes us to sin. When we do this, we’re not merely giving Him permission to come into our space; we invite Him to rearrange whatever it takes to truly transform us into the new creation, as we’re promised in 2 Corinthians 5:17. For decades, God has been increasingly reduced to two things in the Western Church: 1) a name-it-and-claim it Santa dispersing whatever humans ask for as long as they ask for it in “His name”; and 2) the get-out-of-jail-free Savior who requires no lordship in trade for salvation. Each designation strips Him of His dignity and authority. It’s time to restore Him to the throne He deserves to be on in our Churches and our personal lives.[iii]
It starts when we restore Him to Savior and Lord of all…
Imagine an active, vibrant and organic Church working each day on the streets to collect as many souls as we can while fostering lasting conversions! This is what we are encouraging you to be a part of through the Jericho Movement. What will happen when the government tells the Church it can’t meet because of yet another pandemic lockdown? We’ll just keep doing what we do on the streets! When the powers that be label the Church institution as hateful and try to shut it down? Mkay, again, let’s hit the streets! And on that day when the top-side church goes apostate and the real church is forced underground? We will already be practiced and ready.
Just think: If every person touched by this ministry idea were to repeat it even once, passing along the challenge to another in a “pay-it-forward” gesture, it could start a very powerful, New-Testament style movement that has the potential of ministering to countless spiritually starving folks.
We could, if God blessed this endeavor, see the very beginnings of how the End-Times Remnant will remain active…and alive, no matter what.
The world around us has already been conditioned to embrace Antichrist and the end-times agenda of the enemy. This can be easily seen when we look at what’s already being implemented. We’ve shown, through our discussion of the manipulation methods being used on a large scale in our nation, that many practices and activities that would have been quickly rejected by previous generations—such as socialism, euthanasia, even pedophilia—are quickly being offered to society as appealing movements. In this way, the world is already primed for the unthinkable. There is only one voice that can offer hope and direction in times like these, and it is the Word of Jesus Christ. The Church has been called to be a beacon to the lost, yet, these authors have shown that much of the Church will lead the world into the end-times destruction foretold in Revelation. It is time to stop waiting for someone else to fix the religious institution. It is time for us to take the Word and start making a difference in the culture around us—and in our religious institutions—if indeed these can be saved.
The real Church, however, is that which dwells within the Body of Believers.
Those who have taken Jesus as both Savior and Lord.
If that’s you, then we dare you. We double-dog dare you—
No, we triple-dog-dare you to join the Jericho Movement.
The Church That Blows Through the Stop Sign
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While Jesus walked the earth with His disciples, He promised them, “upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). The “gates of hell,” itself, folks. As far as the losers on the dark side go, that’s a collective mass of all the greatest powers of hell rolled into one pathetic hand-slap attempt against Christ—a corporate body of demons and devils He can obliterate with less effort than it takes to fire an invisible, “pew-pew” fingertip gun.
From the very blessed moment Jesus began building “His Church,” until today, and farther into eternity, His Church will stand and accomplish His will and purpose. There is no disputing that. Not long after His resurrection, but before He ascended to the Father, He gave His disciples the Great Commission, through which He would fulfill His promise to build His Church. Those who believed in Jesus were to be baptized: a spiritual symbol of the death of the old life, transformation into the new life through the cleansing power of the blood, and official adoption into the family of God. Then, they were to make true disciples by teaching these new believers everything that Christ had commanded and taught them. So the very simple and direct purpose of the Body is to proclaim and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, baptize the new believers, and continue to impart to them the ways of Christ. And there is no prevailing against this. If “the gates of hell” can’t, then neither can any political or social movement, governmental leader, secularization trend, syncretistic agenda, or anything else.
Remember what the Word has promised you!
Some sermons today make us laugh. Preachers, in their (completely innocent and endearing) sarcasm, poke fun at the “twelve guys Jesus picked” or some equivalent. However, Christ clearly knew what He was doing.
After Matthias was chosen to replace Judas as the twelfth disciple following Judas’ suicide upon learning that Jesus was to be crucified (see Acts 1:12–26), Jesus’ closest followers—giants of the faith—faced the very real prospects of bitter persecution, imprisonment, and even execution. They felt constant distress, not knowing if the next moment would be lived in peace or despair. An immensely strong rejection of Jesus as the Messiah of God by the established religious hierarchy had paved the way for historically unparalleled tyranny. Many in the temple and synagogue leadership, as well as government authorities, used their lofty positions to try to squelch or snuff out the growing group of “Christ-followers” (or “Followers of the Way”) during the first century, but every attempt would fail. The lively, passionate, unstoppable disciples of Christ, whose numbers quickly involved countless more than “twelve,” gave everything, including their lives, for the sake of their Savior’s Great Commission. And the worse things became for the trailblazers of the Messianic Church, the louder their voice became. They died in bloody, brutal ways: some were stoned; others were sawn in two or thrown from buildings. Having lost everything, these heroes of the faith looked forward to the promised eternity in the presence of God. The Church, the True Church of Jesus Christ, was built upon the promise of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit using the people who would stop at nothing to see the corrupt world irreversibly flipped on its head.
Worst-case scenario, Christianity goes underground for a while as it strengthens itself in preparation for an explosive resurfacing according to God’s timing…but the Remnant never dies. Southern Gospel singer and songwriter, Bill Gaither, knew this truth as well as anyone, as he wrote in his “The Church Triumphant” interlude:
God has always had a people. Many a foolish conqueror has made the mistake of thinking that because he had forced the church of Jesus Christ out of sight, he had stilled its voice and snuffed out its light, but God has always had a people. The powerful current of a rushing river is not diminished because it’s forced to flow underground. The purest water is the stream that bursts crystal clear into the sunlight after it has forced its way through solid rock. There have been charlatans who, like Simon the magician, sought to barter on the open market that power which cannot be bought or sold, but God has always had a people: men who could not be bought and women who were beyond purchase. Yes, God has always had a people! There have been times of affluence and prosperity when the Church’s message has been nearly diluted into oblivion by those who sought to make it socially attractive, neatly organized, and financially profitable, but God has always had a people! Yes, it’s been gold-plated, draped in purple, and encrusted with jewels. It has been misrepresented, ridiculed, lauded and scorned, but God has always had a people. And these followers of Jesus Christ have been, according to the whim of the times, elevated as sacred leaders and martyred as heretics. Yet, through it all, there marches on that powerful army of the meek—God’s chosen people—who cannot be bought, flattered, murdered or stilled. On through the ages they march, the Church: God’s Church Triumphant is alive and well![iv]
Ha! Are you as excited as we are to be a part of this people? Man, we never die! We never quit! We are the “Church that Blows Through the Stop Sign”! And when we’re forced into silence or “post-Christian” minority groups, we get on our knees and wait for that day when we’ll burst through the solid rock like that crystal-clear stream and shine brighter than anything the world has on the surface!
Don’t fear the coming Church split. Embrace its cleansing.
Don’t mourn the Harlot. Keep your focus on reaching and loving the people Jesus commanded us to.
Jesus’ model works, because, during the Intertestamental Period and through to the early New Testament age—when oral tradition, legalism, judgment, rules, and “holier than thou” elitists represented everything that “religion” had to offer—Jesus made it clear (John 13:35) that the true mark of authentic disciples of Christ is their love for one another. And so it was that multitudes became believers, and their constant expressions of love set them apart from the rest of the world. This “Christian Church” was built on the teachings and doctrines of the same Jesus Christ, who already proved—with His life, works, miracles, signs, wonders, resurrection, ascension, and every demonstration of power carried out in His Name since—that He is Lord.
The True Church of Jesus Christ knows no bounds and stops for no force. The Church as an institution came about as a result of the Church as a Body, not the other way around. You cannot kill the Remnant, because it’s made of Spirit-filled radicals like the Twelve all over the world, sold out for Jesus and ready to do whatever it takes to thrive in His calling, and it will always exist, even unto the end.
[i] Corduan, W., Pocket Guide to World Religions (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press; 2006), 39.
[ii] Laney, J. C., “Fishing the Sea of Galilee,” from B. J. Beitzel & K. A. Lyle (Eds.), Lexham Geographic Commentary on the Gospels (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press; 2016), 165.
[iii] Jaffe, M., Great Commission Strategies, 2nd Ed. (Springfield, MO: Global University; 2017), 20–26.
[iv] Bill Gaither, “The Church Triumphant,” from the album “Reunited” by Gaither Music Group, track 11, “interlude,” released September 8, 2009. Quoted with permission from Adam DeBolt, Music License Clearance Royalty Administrator for the Gaither Music Company, Alexandria, IN, via an archived email delivered to Donna Howell on September 23, 2019 at 9:07 AM; https://www.capitolcmglicensing.com/.