I started answering the question “What did it look like back in the day at Calvary Chapel when Christians got together, for a bible study and other gatherings?” in my post on Sept 24. I started by explaining that the answer is found in who we were because that resulted in what it was like. This is part 2 of my answer.
In addition to everything that I wrote in this post here.
We abided in Christ.
We lived in Christ, we lived for Jesus, we lived “Hour-by-hour abiding in Jesus. We were obsessed with Jesus, we praised Him continually, talked about Him obsessively.
And just like with Jesus out of His personal union with the Father (John 10:30, John 5:19, Luke 22:42, John 14:9 ) came His words (John 12:49) and His works (fruit), which manifest the character of God and His mission on earth. Out of our union, our abiding in Christ, abiding in His word, came our works (fruit) and Character of Christ in us, resulting in us living on His mission (Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19-20).
So imagine what it would be like for two or more people in a union (abiding) with God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, the word of God just as Jesus was in a union (abiding) with the Father coming together. Think of the results in the life of Jesus, the fruit He manifested, everything He did on His mission. Look at the life of the disciples and the fruit in their lives from abiding in Christ (Book of Acts). Now maybe you’re getting a glimpse of what it was like when we came together. What our daily lives looked like.
We proved daily that John 15:1-11 is true. “……he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, “. Our lives, what happened when we came together were the result of us abiding in Christ all day, the fruit from abiding.
We were all part of the same church.
In the late 60’s through the 80’s Calvary Chapel held their baptisms at the beach, they had to because they were baptizing as many a 500 people in a single baptism. Those people were not coming to Christ because of some church event, or program. But because every one of us took Jesus to the streets, everywhere we went, we carried our Bibles with us and shared Jesus with everyone we met, each one of us was an evangelist. We did not invite people to come and attend a church, we were the church everywhere we went inviting people to come to the wedding feast, to Christ (Matthew 22:9).
This is who we were, the Christian culture we were reborn into, what Christians did, we opened our Bibles read what it said, believed it and lived it, we acted, we just did what it said. Thereby we made Isaiah 55:11 a reality in our lives. We were living on mission, talking about Jesus to everyone. It was that way for the first church, it was like that for us back then and it should be the same for us today.
We were all part of Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa. What was Calvary Chapel like, try to imagine thousands of followers of Christ who are passionately in love with Jesus. Coming together to worship Jesus, study the word, and have Koinonia with each other, who are expectantly waiting for the return of Jesus (Matthew 24:44, 1 Thess 5:6) and wanted to tell everyone about that Jesus. This was not a church of Sunday Christians, church attendees, a give me ten minutes of worship, a quick twenty-minute sermon and let me get out of here kind of people. This was Jesus people, Jesus freaks (as we were called), followers of Jesus coming together. People who actually loved to be with other followers of Jesus and talk about Jesus. To us it was not just a one hour Sunday morning event, in addition to the Sunday morning service, we had Sunday, Monday and Thursday night bible study services that lasted 2, to 2 1/2 hours each. Plus we went out for dinner afterward with bibles open talking about the study for another couple of hours. We were not just attendees of a church, Sunday Christians, but people in love with Jesus, and the body of Christ, the word of God and so we came together to be in the word, love on each other and love on Jesus.
I believe the essential part, the key to being part of Calvary Chapel was that it was a teaching church, an equipping church, and a sending church. We were taught the word of God (1 Timothy 4:6, 2 Timothy 2:15), equipped to do the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:12-16) and sent out to preach the gospel and make disciples (2 Timothy 4:2, Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8) and that is what we did. It was not about starting programs, it was about making missionaries of all of us.
Somebody once asked me where I went to church, I said Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa, They responded: “Wow, going there is like going to seminary, you really learn the Bible”. And they were right, we not only were taught the Bible verse by verse, cover to cover, but we were also taught how to study the Bible ourselves, we were equipped. Thereby we were able to fulfill 2 Timothy 2:15 “Earnestly study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.“.
So image a group of people who along with everything I said in part one of this post, they believe in the same Jesus (Biblical Jesus), are madly in love with, abide in Jesus, who talk about Him with everyone they meet. Who are anxiously awaiting His return (Matthew 24:44, 1 Thess 5:6), and with urgency told everyone Jesus was returning. Who love the word of God so much that they study it every day, meditate on it all day, and talk about it with everyone. Are in unity in what the bible says (theology). Who love the body of Christ, and live to one another the body. Who exercise their Spirit-given gifts when they come together. A people that live on the same mission, to go make disciples. That believe in the same gospel and preach it to themselves and everyone they meet every day. We were filled with, empowered by the Holy Spirit, who is enabling, gifting and leading them. Are Charismatic (Not into Charismania).
We were a people that are of one accord, one Jesus, one gospel, one bible, one mission, a people who read the bible then do, act on what it says in the power of the Holy Spirit.
That’s is who we were, a group of people who met the one who died for their sins and rose again and live as if they did.
It was Just Normal Christianity
In other words, it is normal Christianity according to everything I read in the NT as to how Christians live, the normative for a follower of Jesus Christ and how we live and do church.
So what was the result of a group of people like that to coming together? Whether it was 2, 20, 200 or 2,000, I think the only way I can convey what it was like is just to say: It was a Jesus explosion, a Jesus celebration. It looked like Acts 2, like Ephesians 5:16, and 1 Corinthians 14:26. It looked like a group of co-laborers in the mission (Matthew 28:19-20), who were stirring up one another to love and good works, spurring on one another in the good fight of the faith. It was like what normal Christianity is supposed to be like.
Honestly, you have to have lived it and experienced it to truly know and understand what it was like, what happened when we came together. If you were not part of the Jesus / Oneway Movement in the 60’s – 80’s, especially in California and particularly at Calvary Chapel (where it began), you truly cannot understand what I’m talking about.
I can also say for sure that you cannot make what happened back then happen today with a “how to book”, a “checklist of things to do”, or “church programs”. No man-made list or program can duplicate it. Nor can it happen with a church or group that’s full of Sunday Christians. People that think a church is something you just attend.
Just as Calvary Chapel did not make it happen with programs or manuals. It was God, the work of the Spirit and a people passionately in love with, abiding in Jesus and in love with each other. Chuck’s part was that he lifted Jesus up, taught the word of God and equipped the people for the work and sent them out. He let God and the Holy Spirit do the rest. God filled us with His Holy Spirit, and Chuck filled us with God’s word, and the word and the Spirit together did the rest.
I think the last part of Acts 17:6 best describes the gatherings back then “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.” because they really did.
Read part one here.