End Times and Current Events

General Category => Revelation Prophecy => Topic started by: Psalm 51:17 on March 11, 2016, 07:55:00 pm

Title: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended! VIRTUAL "Church" Debunked!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on March 11, 2016, 07:55:00 pm



Title: Re: Pastor James Knox - Model Church
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on March 19, 2016, 10:07:24 am

Title: Re: Pastor James Knox - Model Church
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on April 08, 2016, 10:23:18 pm

Title: Re: Pastor James Knox - Model Church
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on April 12, 2016, 12:23:15 pm

Title: Re: Pastor James Knox - Model Church
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on April 26, 2016, 08:24:34 am
Local Church Only vs Baptist Brider: Why We Are Not Briders (Jason Cooley)
4/26/2016 (TUE) 
Audio: http://www.sermonaudio.com/playpopup.asp?SID=42616123263

Title: Re: Pastor James Knox - Model Church
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on June 03, 2016, 12:05:54 pm
The Mandela Effect: Did CERN change the Bible? (Jim Wilford)
6/2/2016 (THU) 
Audio: http://www.sermonaudio.com/playpopup.asp?SID=631600464

Title: Re: Pastor James Knox - Model Church
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on June 05, 2016, 04:37:22 pm

Title: Re: Pastor James Knox - Model Church
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on June 07, 2016, 10:11:19 am

Title: Re: Pastor James Knox - Model Church
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on June 23, 2016, 10:39:54 am

Title: Re: Pastor James Knox - Model Church
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on July 24, 2016, 09:44:32 pm

Title: Re: Pastor James Knox - Model Church
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 18, 2016, 08:55:27 pm

Title: Re: Pastor James Knox - Model Church
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 19, 2016, 12:17:16 pm

Title: Re: Pastor James Knox - Model Church
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 25, 2016, 11:22:46 pm

Title: Re: Pastor James Knox - Model Church
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 02, 2016, 05:33:12 pm


Title: Re: Pastor James Knox - Model Church
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 19, 2016, 11:32:15 am

Title: Re: Pastor James Knox - Model Church
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 24, 2016, 03:53:00 pm
Any bible study group without proper leadership is NOT biblical, period! No, it's not like a group of people (men and women alike, that is) can just get together in a living room to discuss the bible. It doesn't work that way, b/c it'll lead to more confusion.

The Problem with Cell Groups (Reposted from the Reformed Baptist Blog)
By GOLBlog, Featured

Recently, a friend of mine had the opportunity to visit a local church and experience their “cell group” ministry.  Below are his thoughts that I thought were worthy to share in full. And for those who don’t know, a “cell group” is a form of church organization that is used in some Christian churches. Cell groups are generally intended to teach the Bible and personalize Christian fellowship. They are small groups of believers who meet, typically in homes, for Bible study and fellowship. Cell groups are known by a variety of other names, including growth groups, connect groups, care groups, life groups, fellowship groups, small groups and home groups. David Hunsicker suggests that the “cell” group concept in church structure “is becoming prominent in almost every denomination in American Protestantism.” So the question should be asked, are they biblical? Do they promote healthy spiritual development?

Here is the text of the post:

    I’ve recently attended a few cell groups from other churches in my area. This experience has reminded me why these cell groups are typically a bad idea.  Don’t get me wrong, the social and relational aspects of a cell group are important and beneficial in the lives of many churches. When I say that cell groups are typically a bad idea, I am referring to they way we typically see Bible study done in these groups.

    In the typical cell group, no one actually teaches. Rather, one person will moderate a conversation. The environment created is typically one wherein everyone is encouraged to share his or her opinion and all ideas are considered valid. Should another member of the group actually critique another person’s contribution to the discussion, he is seen as being divisive. Rather than promoting Biblical fidelity, the typical cell group is actually promoting relativism.

    Where this is the trend in cell groups, I am convinced it were better that they were not even done. The benefits cannot outweigh the damage. However, cell groups meeting in homes can be highly profitable. What is needed is the reformation of the cell group philosophy. With that in mind, here are some thoughts to that end…

    1. Cell group leaders need to be teachers. That is, instead of moderating a conversation wherein every idea must be seen as legitimate, they should actually teach sound doctrine. Questions will then replace opinions and the teacher can answer questions from the standpoint of Biblical authority.

    2. Churches wishing to have an effective, biblical cell group ministry will have to invest in the training of men to led them. This is hard work, but it must be done. A cell group with a teacher that is unqualified is just as bad or worse than the cell group without a teacher.

    We also have to train men in how to teach biblically. We have been victims of the relativistic approach to teaching so long that it is all too easy to slip back into that mode. To simply state a few propositions and then invite the group to have a “discussion” is no advancement in the positive reformation of the cell group.

    “…what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2

    3. Women have no business teaching a co-ed cell group, period! I’m rather short and blunt on this one because the scriptures are.

    “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man…” 1 Timothy 2:12

    4. Our churches need to be confessional or at the very least have their doctrinal commitments well defined. Teachers need to be held accountable to the doctrinal standards of the sponsoring church. Those attending the group should know what these doctrinal commitments are. If they are disruptive in trying to promote views contrary to these commitments, they are informed that their opinions are contrary to the church’s confessional commitments (which had already been provided to each member up front). Further conversation with that member should be pursued outside of the cell group.

Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 26, 2016, 12:40:46 pm

 God established the New Testament churches to be a vital part of the life of the believer, therefore it is an important for Christians to have a proper understanding as to what is a true New Testament church and what is its function. Most Christians learned what they believe about the church from the practices and teachings of the churches they attended.

         The question is this: "Can we rely on what we have been taught as being Biblical? Are the beliefs and practices of our churches what God established them to be in the New Testament?" It should be every believer's responsibility to know "what saith the Lord" on the matter of Christ's church. We need to scripturally determine what is a true biblical church; how it began; what is its importance and function; what is its organization; who is its Head, who are its leaders and members.

         An initial question we must ask ourselves is "what is the authority for what we believe about the church?" The problem is that you can ask ten denominations and you will get ten different answers. How then can you know that the beliefs of your church are correct, what God intended them to be?

         What then is the answer? In a world where there is so much confusion and difference of opinion, can we know for sure? The answer is yes, a resounding yes! We have a way, a sure and absolute way and that way is the Bible, God's Word. The problem is not that we cannot know what is correct. The problem is some have declined to accept the Bible as the absolute authority, ignored what the New Testament teaches, and others have confused what it says because they did not, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

         The Bible is God's Holy Word and it tells us the church was established by Christ Himself. (See Matt. 16:18) He did not leave the matter of establishing His church with human wisdom nor did He leave us in the dark as to what the church should be. He left His Word and complete instructions to deal with every aspect of establishing His church.

         Many of the practices of churches today come from a mixture of the Bible and their traditions. What they believe has been passed down through time and developed over their history. Let's look at the example of churches that practice infant baptism.

         You do not find the practice of infant baptism mentioned in the Bible. Yet, Catholics and many Protestant denominations practice infant baptism. Why? In their past some of their church leaders established it based on their misunderstanding of Bible passages such as Acts 16:33. In Acts 16:33, the verse says the jailer (who had received Christ) was baptized, "he and all his, straightway." They concluded this would mean adults and children alike or all his household including children. But the verse does not say infants were baptized. In truth, we do not even know if the jailer had children.

         Is is biblically proper to teach infant baptism using this verse? Do we find other places in the Bible that says infants were baptized? The answer is no, as there is no reference in the Bible of infants being baptized. So is it correct to practice infant baptism based on assumptions that are not supported by Scripture? These churches further their error in believing the church is the means of salvation and one must be a member of their church to be saved. Baptism to them is a sacrament which places them in the church and therefore is necessary for salvation. With no biblical support, they falsely conclude that baptizing an infant puts it under the protection of the church and assures it will go to heaven. Their doctrine is based on a clear misinterpretation of Scripture and upon falsely applied logic. Today these denominations do not even question such teaching! Their "church fathers" established the practice as doctrine, therefore today it is accepted without question. In truth their "church fathers" are their authority for what they believe and practice and not the Bible.

         The mode of baptism as practiced by many churches is another example of following man's opinion instead of complying literally with what God's Word says. The Greek word used in the New Testament for baptism is baptisma (bap'-tis-mah). The word means "to immerse" or dip under the water. There is no record of any church "sprinkling" or "pouring" in the New Testament. Those who use these methods get their practice from the opinions of man, not from what God has cleared stated in the Bible.

          In the author's library is a booklet entitled "Why Baptize by Sprinking," written by a Protestant preacher who states the reasons why his denomination sprinkles and calls it baptism. He states he believes the early church sprinkled even though he admitted the New Testament always refers to the mode of baptism as being immersion. One reason he gave for sprinkling was that there was not enough water in Jerusalem to have baptized five thousand people on the day of Pentecost. He said water in Jerusalem was too scarce and too precious to be used for baptism. Therefore, he concluded that in Jerusalem, they sprinkled instead of immersed. On a trip to Israel in 2002, I saw many huge cisterns which could be used for baptizing. However, the Pool of Sholoam discovered in 2004 and 2007 on the west side of Jerusalem was probably the site. The pool was a large reservoir constantly fed fresh water from the Gihon Spring, through Hezekiah's tunnel, from the Kidron Valley. The pool was a mikveh for ritual bathing prior to entering the Temple Mound and the pool was at least 225 feet wide and believed to be the same in length. There was plenty of water to baptize thousands of people as Luke recorded.

         The preacher also falsely concluded that Philip could not have immersed the eunuch because there was no water in the desert (Acts 8:26-39). So, he concluded, if there was not enough water they must have sprinkled the converts. This Protestant preacher has a poor understanding of God's ability to communicate what happened or instruct the early church properly. He failed to understand that if they sprinkled those saved at Pentecost, God made a mistake and used the wrong word in recording the event because God who inspired the writing of the Book of Acts used the Greek word "baptizo" which means to immerse. What does he then base the practice on? Clearly, the practice of sprinkling is man's opinion or human reasoning, and not what the Bible clearly says. So are those that sprinkle or pour for baptism biblical? Certainly they are not obeying what God has said.

         The matter is settled when we accept that God, the Holy Spirit, inspired the writers of the New Testament to use the Greek word that means to immerse. There are other Greek words that mean to sprinkle or to pour that the writers could have used if that had been what they wanted to convey. For the churches who sprinkle, the word of God is not their final authority and therefore God, by his Word, condemns their false practices.

The Bible is the Sole Authority for the Faith And Practice of a True New Testament Church

         What does the Bible say is the sole authority for the faith and practice of the New Testament church? There are two scriptures in the New Testament, which affirm that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of God.

         "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (2 Timothy 3:15-16)

         "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:20-21)

         In all matters of faith and practice the New Testament church has but one authority and that authority is the Bible, the very word of God. The Bible is free from error and this doctrine is called, "verbal plenary inspiration" meaning every word God used was inspired by Him and is without error (2 Timothy 3:16). Some might conclude that since we do not have the original copies of the Books of the Bible that this makes today's Bible suspect. Nothing can be further from the truth. Note that God says He preserves His Word: "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (Matthew 5:18) God not only gave us His Word He promised to preserve it for all eternity. God absolutely keeps His Word and we have His completed word today. His Word is preserved in the Traditional Text (Byzantine or Majority Text) as represented by the "Textus Receptus" and translated in our King James Bibles.

         Note the warning to those who would attempt to add or subtract from the Bible.

          “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Revelation 22:18-19)

         The Bible says it is the Source of Salvation Pointing to Jesus

    "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39)

    "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)

    "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

    “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15)

The Bible Instructs Believers and Sets the Model for A New Testament Church

         "These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:14-15)

         "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:1-4)

         In order for a church to call itself a church in the true Biblical sense it must base its faith and practice solely on God's Word the Bible. No mortal man founded the New Testament church; it was Christ who instituted the church.

         "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

         Christ says He built the church and Ephesians 5:25 clearly states that Jesus died for the local church, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;”

         Although an assembly is organized and administered by an assembly of believers, the church is not their possession. Believers established a church based on Christ's instruction. It is Christ who owns the church and is its Head. He purchased it with His blood (See Acts 20:28).

         God cannot bless error or be a party to false teaching. A church that is based on false doctrine is not a biblical church and God cannot have any part in it. Paul, in Galatians 1:7-9, twice says that anyone who would pervert the Gospel, ". . . let him be accursed." No man or congregation that claims to be a church of God has the right to change anything God has said for any reason. A biblical church is one whom Christ is the Head, and follows the word of God. If a church does not follow the Bible, then it is not a church that belongs to God, because in refusing to obey the scriptures they separate themselves from God.

         In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said He would build His church. How then did Christ proceed in establishing His church? He began to instruct His disciple and entrusted them with carrying out His instructions. The New Testament is clear that they followed His instructions to the letter. Christ's has not changed His instructions to His church. The way He left it is the way He intended it to remain. Any man, church or denomination who establishes a church on any other basis, it is not a biblical church. If a church allows tradition or the opinions of men to establish its doctrine and practice it is in grave error and is not establishing a true New Testament church. Jesus said, "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 3:10-11) A church that is established and does not follow the New Testament example, does not have God's approval, blessings or presence.

         In Revelation 2:5, Jesus warned the church at Ephesus that it should repent and return to its first love. Jesus said plainly that if they did not repent, he would come quickly and remove their candlestick which means the light on which the church was founded. In other words, if the church did not repent, God’s presence and power would be removed and they would be left in darkness.

         It is worth noting that Jesus commended them for hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which He said He also hated. The Nicolaitans were a heretical sect of people in church. The word means, Niko, to conquer and Laos (the people. It means simply this: their philosophy was to put a difference between the "laity" (the people) and the clergy (the pastors). This was an attempt to reestablish the Old Testament priesthood in the churches which led to a group of leaders that were above the common people. This hateful practice later led to the establishment of a hierarchy in which the local church was ruled by an outside organization. Their idea is that the spiritual work of a church can only be done by the elite leaders in the church. They falsely teach that God only speaks to these special persons and they have the authority to control and dictate to the congregation. Only thus an elite little group has access to God and the people must come through them in order to worship and serve God. Ultimately the Nicolaitan philosophy is to enslave the congregation by controlling access to God. The Roman, Orthodox and Protestant churches are the result of the success of the Nicolaitans efforts.

         Jesus said the "gates of hell would not prevail against" His church. This applies to the churches He founded and assures us that there are sound biblical churches today. Our responsibility to the Lord is to make sure that we are part of a church that follows the Bible.

 What Does the Word Church Mean?

         The King James Bible translators were under obligation to use the English word "church" even though it was not a proper translation. The reason for this is apparent. The word "assembly" or "congregation" did not support the founding of a hierarchical form of church government, such as the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Protestant churches had set up. King James was a theologian and fully understood the ramifications of properly translating the word ekklesia into assembly or congregation. If the word ekklesia was translated "assembly or congregation" it would expose the unbiblical hierarchy of the Church of England and under mind its authority. Historically, during this time Baptist churches were being established and the hierarchal system of church government was being attacked as being unbiblical.

         A look at any English dictionary will reveal the English word church is taken from a Late Greek word kyridakon not ekklesia. The word kyridakon is not found in the New Testament and came into being in the 16th Century long after New Testament times. The definition refers to a building, "Old English cir(i)ce, cyr(i)ce, related to Dutch kerk and German Kirche, based on medieval Greek kurikon, from Greek kuriakon (doma) 'Lord's (house)', from kurios 'master or lord'.

         The Bishops Bible was used as the immediate foundation for the KJV, and it had used the term “church” instead of “congregation.” King James or the officials of the Church of England (1604) had required the translators to use the word "church" instead of congregation or assembly.

         The word church was not used in Tyndale's, Coverdale's and Crammer's Bible (Great Bible). The congregation was the only rending in the English Bibles. The term "church" was first used by Theodore Beza, a Protestant, in 1556, who followed John Calvin at Geneva. It would be normal for a Protestant, who followed a hierarchical "Presbyterian" (elder rule) form of church government to use the word "church" instead of "assembly." The use of the word "congregation" or "assembly" would not support his church's hierarchical government. William Whittingham's Testament of 1557 followed Beza's usage of "church." This was actually the first edition of the Geneva Bible and was a revision of the Tyndale New Testament. The Tyndale (1526) translation used the word "congregation."

 What is the Significance of the New Testament's use of the word Ekklesia?

         The correct definition of the word "church" has great and far reaching implications. The question is not what the word can be made to mean, but what does it mean; and the witness of its usage elsewhere, its form and mode of composition, and the sense given it by its readers. First, it means there is no biblical basis for a universal or catholic church. Further, it precludes that there is no church hierarchy outside the local church or local assembly of believers. The only ekklesia the New Testament uses is of a local assembly of believers. It can not be used in a universal sense, referring to all believers everywhere or what some call the "universal" or "invisible" church. A universal church cannot meet in one place together and assemble, therefore the word cannot be used in referring to all believers of all time all over the world.

         The New Testament refers to believers universally only once and this will occur at the Second Coming of Christ. In Revelation 21:9, New Testament believers are not called a church, but "the bride of Christ." At the Second Coming, there are no Church Age assemblies on earth. They all will have been raptured, at the beginning of the Seven Year Tribulation and judged at the BEMA in the seven year interval preceding the Second Coming. At this point in time of Revelation 21:9, we see the body of Christ, coming with the Bridegroom to earth to reign with Him. Tribulation saints are not part of the "body" or "bride" of Christ.

         Some conclude that the term "body of Christ" (1 Cor. 12:27, Eph. 4:12) refers to a universal church. However, "the body of Christ" and the ekklesia are two different bodies. The "body of Christ" is made up of all believers of all times from Pentecost to the Rapture. The ekklesia only refers to those alive and assembled together in a particular locality. In 1 Corinthians 12, the whole of the chapter is referring to the makeup and the relationship of individual members of a local assembly using the analogy of the human body. In 1 Corinthians 12:13, the verse reads, "For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body" and the body is the local church. This is referring to water baptism and is not referring to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs when the individual believer receives the indwelling of the Holy Spirit at conversion. Water baptism is another matter. It is a public declaration of a born-again Christian, obeying the Lord by baptism, identifying with Christ and joining with the local assembly of believers.

         Clearly, when a believer was baptized, he was baptized into a local assembly (Acts. 2:41,47). A believer becomes a member of the local church when he identifies with Christ and the local church through his baptism. No believer is baptized into all churches worldwide. In Verse 24-25, Paul says the reason for this instruction was that there not be "any schism in the body" and "that the members should have the same care one for the other." This phrase limits the body to a local church and precludes it referring to a "universal" or "invisible" church. It is beyond human ability to govern a worldwide church. The overseeing of all believers on earth is an individual action done on a local level and is the sole responsibility of Christ Himself through His undershepherds. Even if you ignored the context and preclude this is referring to all believers, you must also equally conclude that the application of these verses can only be done on a local level and this verse is not teaching the concept of a universal church.

         In Verse 26, it reads, "And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26) Clearly this statement can not apply to a universal worldwide church. Churches in Africa and around the world, at this moment are suffering gross persecution, but the effects of it are not known in America or other parts of the world. Yet, when a member of a local assembly suffers, other of that assembly know and share the burden for a brother in the Lord.

         If there is a "universal" church, then why did God not give clear instruction as to its government. In the Bible, God always gave some degree of organization to everything he created. There is no reference or even hint of an organization of a "universal" church. God clearly did not establish a hierarchical system of government over all the churches (plural). Each church rules itself following the New Testament example and principles. God in Revelation 2:6, 15, said he "hated" the Nicolaitanes who sought to set up a hierarchy to rule over the people. It would be against God's very nature to sanction human government over a universal church. This would violate the autonomy of the local assembly of believers, which He clearly established, and said He hated (Rev. 2:5, 15). The ekklesia that Christ established organized, met together, had pastors (bishops), it took the Lord's Supper, it baptized new converts into its assembly, it supported missions, administered and edified the members of the church. "so called "universal" or "invisible" church cannot do any of these things and biblically it does not exit.

         The Matthew's Bible (1537), translated by John Rogers, who used the pen name of Thomas Matthew, correctly used the word "congregation." He was an assistant and friend of William Tyndale. The Matthew's Bible was the first entire Tyndale Bible. Tyndale completed the New Testament, and part of the Old Testament before he was martyred. Matthew completed the translation of the Old Testament (using some work from Coverdale) and published the first entire Tyndale Bible under the name "Thomas Matthew." The Great Bible (1539) also used the term "congregation." The Geneva New Testament of 1557, produced by William Whittingham, was the first to use the word "church" (note the Protestant source of the translation). The Bishop's Bible (1568) was a revision of the Geneva Bible and continued the use of the term "church." (For an article addressing the translation of the word ekklesia as church go to http://bible-truth.org/Ekklesia.html)

         This shows that the use of the word "church" instead of "assembly" or "congregation" came from those who had a hierarchy and an unscriptural form of church government. To have translated the word ekklesia accurately into "assembly" or “congregation" would have exposed their form of church government as being in error. They knew the truth that God had not set up a hierarchical form of church government and deliberately used the word "church" to confuse and support their false doctrine.

         What then does the biblical word, translated church, really mean? It simply means an assembly of people. The New Testament knows nothing of using any formal word to refer exclusively to the assembly of believers.

The Importance of the Local Church to the Believer

         It is Christ who established the local church and He has said to us that the scriptures are given by God to instruct us. They teach us doctrine, reproof, correction and righteousness (See 2 Tim. 3:16). Why? That we might be fully equipped to do the works of God. Christ established the church for His disciples or those who trust in Him as their Lord and Savior. There are many reasons why Christ established the local church. Believers are edified (built up) in the faith by the leaders and teachers of the local assembly (Eph.4:11-13). God uses the local church as a training ground to teach others the word of God. (2 Tim. 2:2) It is a place where the child of God gives his tithes and offerings to the Lord for the support of the local church and missions (Acts 4:32-37; 1 Cor. 8:1-6; 9:6-15; Phil. 4:15-19). The local church provides a place where believers come together to pray one for the other and do the work of the Lord (See2 Cor. 1:11). The local church sends missionaries (Acts 11:19-30, 13:1-3, 14:27).

         One thing is clear, if Christ established the local church, then no believer should ignore it or refuse to be a part of it. The church is a vital and necessary part of a disciple's life. A believer outside the church would be like a fish out of water. Christ established the "ekkleisa" for individual believers to band together in carrying out God's purposes.

All Believers are Placed in the Local Church upon their Baptism

         The Bible says that after Pentecost, those who were saved were added to the assembly of the original one hundred and twenty believers gathered in the upper room (Acts 1:15).

         In Acts 2:47, the New Testament says that those who were saved "were added to the church daily." The New Testament never refers to believers who are not a part of a local church. The word "added" in the verse is the Greek word pros-tith'-ay-mee; it means "to place additionally, i.e. lay beside, annex, repeat: -add, again, give more, increase, lay unto, proceed further."

         Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words gives this information about this word:

    "to put to" (pros, "to," tithemi, "to put"), "to add, or to place beside" (the primary meaning), in Luke 17:5 is translated "increase," in the request "increase our faith"; in Luke 20:11-12, "he sent yet" (KJV, "again he sent"), lit., "he added and sent," as in 19:11, "He added and spake." In Acts 12:3, RV, "proceeded," KJV, "proceeded further" (of repeating or continuing the action mentioned by the following verb); in Acts 13:36, "was laid unto"; in Heb. 12:19, "more... be spoken," (lit., "that no word should be added"). In Gal. 3:19, "What then is the law? It was "added" because of transgressions, there is no contradiction of what is said in V. 15, where the word is epidiatasso (see No. 4), for there the latter word conveys the idea of supplementing an agreement already made; here in V. 19 the meaning is not that something had been 'added' to the promise with a view to complete it, which the apostle denies, but that something had been given "in addition" to the promise, as in Rom. 5:20, "The law came in beside."

         The verse is saying that God added to or increased the local church each time a person received Christ. In addition to being saved the believer became a member of the church in Jerusalem when he was baptized. We have seen in this study that the word "church" never refers to a "universal church" but always to a "local assembly of believers." These new believers were added to the church in Jerusalem. Later, when believers returned to their cities, they became members of the local churches in the town in which they lived. For example:

             ". . . the church which was at Jerusalem" (Acts 8:1) "the church which was at Antioch" (Acts 13:1) "the church which is at Cenchrea" (Rom. 16:1) "the church that is in their house" (1 Cor. 16:19), (speaking of the church which met in the home of Aquila and Priscilla) "Nyumphas, and the church which is in his house" (Col. 4:15).

         When a person is saved, he should immediately submit to Scriptural baptism and become a member of a local church. The "Church Covenant" accepted by Baptist churches, recognizes this biblical Truth and makes this statement in the last paragraph:

         "We moreover purpose that when we remove from this place we will as soon as possible unite with some other church of like faith in order, where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God's Word. If there is not such church, we shall seek, with the Lord's help, to establish one."

Believers are to Learn Doctrine in the Local Church

         The Bible says doctrine is to be taught in the local church. Note what Paul says in Ephesians 4:11-16:

             "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:11-16)

         In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul giving instruction on the local church says, (V18) Note in V28, the same truth is presented, that God set believers in the local assembly and gave all the spiritual gifts in the context of the local church. "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” (1 Corinthians 12:28) The gifts that are given to believers are to be used in relation to the local church. Nowhere in the New Testament do you find believers serving God apart from the local church. Never do you find believers who are not a part of a local assembly of believers.

Believers are Instructed Not to Forsake the Assembling of Themselves Together

         Hebrews 10:24-25, the Bible commands us to, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:19-25) God clearly instructs us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. When the church meets we should be there and support the work and worship of the local church.

Believers are to be Under the Leadership of the Pastor and Church

         Pastors are called of God to oversee the local assembly of believers. "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." (Acts 20:28) "As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." (Acts 13:2)

         Believers should be members of a local church and under the care of the pastor called by God to shepherd that local church. God's plan is that they are under the supervision (overseeing) of God's under-shepherd. God says in Hebrews 13:17, that the members of a local church should be submissive and follow the local pastor as he follows the Lord.

         "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17) Believers who are not a part of a local church are not obeying God by putting themselves under the leadership of God's pastor and the local church. (For an article titled "What is so important about attending church?" go to http://bible-truth.org/whyatten.htm.)

         The pastor is the leader of the church, not the "lord" of the assembly. The New Testament instructs pastors to, "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock." (1 Pet. 5:2-3) "Feeding the flock," means to teach them the Word of God. "Taking the oversight," refers to providing spiritual and administrative leadership or oversight. The pastor has no authority, not given to him by the New Testament. He is the Lord's servant doing the Lord's work. His first responsibility is to the Lord, to preach, to teach and live by the Bible, God's word. He and the congregation alike are to obey the Word of God and if so there will be unity in the assembly.

          ;He has the responsibility to: "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine." (2 Timothy 4:2). He is not to "lord" over the congregation in the sense of acting as the boss, master or dictator of the people. He leads by example and by the word of God. He does have the responsibility to reprove and rebuke false teaching and practices in accordance with what the Bible teaches and to make sure his congregation is pure in doctrine and deed. The basis of his authority is the word of God, which he is called to uphold without compromise. Pastors and congregations who follow the word of God will be in harmony.

          The pastor is to do this willingly, which refers to his calling to the position and responsibility from God. He is not to choose being a pastor as having a vocation because of its financial benefits or position. A man does not choose to be a pastor as one chooses an occupation, but is chosen by God. The pastor is to serve the church because God called him to shepherd the flock and he wants to do God's will for his life. It does not mean he is not to live by the ministry and receive financial support. (See 1 Tim. 5:17-18, 1 Thess. 5:12-17, 1 Cor. 9:14, 2 Cor. 11:7-9)

Believer's Responsibility to Missions as part of a Local Church

          A believer ought to be a part in supporting missions through their local church. The clear New Testament example is that it was the local church which sent forth missionaries. In the New Testament there are no para-church organizations or mission boards. Further, no church has the authority to delegate this responsibility to anyone else which would include mission boards, conventions, or any agency outside the local congregation.

          Mission boards can only function biblically when they are under the direct supervision and direction of a local church and function as a missions support agency. Missionaries were supported spiritually and materially by the assembly of believers, both individually and collectively. (See Acts 15:3, 20:38, 21:5, Rom. 15:24, 1 Cor. 16:6,11, 2 Cor. 1:16, Titus 3:13, 3 John 6) Missionaries were ordained and sent out by the local church. (Acts 13:2-3) Mission boards have no authority to call missionaries or send missionaries. To be a part of God's plan for the propagation of the Gospel it is important that the local church follow the biblical example. Christ himself commissioned His disciples and commanded them to: "Go ye therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19-20).

Believers are Given the Responsibility and Privilege of Supporting the Local Church Financially

          God's instructions concerning the believer's responsibility to support the work of God are given to the local church. In Corinthians, Paul says, "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” (1 Corinthians 16:1-2) (See 2 Cor. 8-9) Paul is commanding the Corinthians, as well as the Galatians, to take on Sunday (the day they met) the collections for the saints at Jerusalem. The use of God's tithe and offerings was a matter for the local church. An individual believer can support any ministry or cause he desires, however, he is not to do it with God's tithe or offerings. The church collectively has that responsibility. Tithes and offerings were commanded by God to carry on the work of God.

Believers have a Responsibility in Helping Govern the Local Church

         Christ in establishing the church instituted order and organization by which believers would carry on His work. This government of the local church was by simple democracy under the direction of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 6:5, 13:1-3, 15:22) No hierarchal system of church government was established in which popes or prophets or anyone operating outside the local congregation ruled over an individual or collection of churches. More will be said about this later.

Believers who Need Discipline are Disciplined Under the Authority of the Local Church

         The disciplining of the unruly or believers in open sin is to be done by a local church. (Matt. 18:15-17, 2 Thess 3:6, Titus 3:10, 1 Cor. 5:1-13) The Bible lists many "public offenses:"

    False doctrine. Gal. 1:9, 2 John 10.
    Disregard of authority. Matt. 18:17.
    Contention and strife. Rom. 16:17, 1 Cor. 11:16.
    Immoral conduct. 1 Cor. 5:11.
    Disorderly walk. 2 Thess. 3:6, 11.
    A covetous walk. Eph. 5:5, 1 Cor. 5:11.
    Arrogant deportment. 3 John 9-10. Going to law. 1 Cor. 6:5-7.

         Jesus said in regard to trying to correct an erring brother, to "tell it to the church." He was giving this responsibility to the local assembly of believers.

Believers who need Healing are to call the Elders of their Local Church Together for Prayer

         The prayer for the sick was also clearly a function of the local church. James says, "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven." (James 5:14-15) After the church was begun in Acts 2, those who received the miracle healings were always a part of the local church. Peter and John, who performed the first miracles after the church was begun were Apostles and elders in the church at Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas were missionaries ordained and sent out by the church at Antioch. Everywhere you find miracle healings after Pentecost, it was always related to the ministry of a local church.

         Clearly, God's plan is that born again Christians be a part of a local church. Nowhere in the New Testament, after the institution of the local church was established, do you find believers serving God outside the authority or rule of the local church. Those who served the Lord were sent out and supported in prayer and materially by the local churches. The New Testament gives no example of any ministry outside the local church and that is an important and vital truth everyone who professes Christ should understand. Present day ministries should be directed from and under the authority of a local church. The biblical example is that God always organizes everything he begins and establishes clear lines of responsibility. For example, in the first missionary work the church at Jerusalem sent Barnabas to organize the believers at Antioch in a church (Acts 11:19-24). Later, Paul and Barnabas were sent from the church at Antioch (Act 13:1-3). They reported back to Antioch the results of their missionary travels. The biblical principle is that any ministry should be under the care and supervision of a local church.

         The church is at the very center of Christ's plan for each believer. Christ is to have an absolute first place in the believer's life. (Col. 1:18) Christ, through the Holy Spirit administers to His sheep through the local church.


         These are the distinctives of true Baptist churches. Traditionally it has been Baptist churches who practiced all these Bible principles. A church must believe and practice all of these distinctives to truly be a New Testament church. If it fails to accept even one of these principles it is not a New Testament church and certainly not a Baptist church.


         This means that a true Biblical church does not accept any authority for its faith and practice, outside the New Testament Scriptures. This in no way lessens the importance of the Old Testament Scriptures. The church is not found in the Old Testament because it is the record of God's dealing with Israel. Only in the New Testament do you find the pattern and instructions from God concerning the church. It also means that the true New Testament church does not accept for doctrine or practice the councils of men, dominations or tradition.

         The New Testament church believes the Word of God, the Bible is complete and is the sole authority. God says “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

         The New Testament church rejects the idea that God is giving supposed "new" revelations, believing that God forbids any adding to or taking away of the canon of Scriptures (John 14:26, 16:13, I Cor. 13:8-10; Heb. 1:1-2, Jude 3, Rev. 22:18-19) We do not accept any authority over the local New Testament Church, but Christ Himself, including any hierarchy to include popes, councils of churches, priests or any other group of men outside the local church. Christ is our Head, and the New Testament Scriptures are the true churches sole authority.


    “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15)

         "Autonomy" means: self-governing, and independent of its other parts. The autonomy of the local church means that the church governs itself. The Biblical example of a New Testament church is one that is not ruled by any board, hierarchical system or another church.

         The local church has been defined as a body of believers immersed based upon their credible profession of faith in Jesus Christ. It has two ministry positions that being a pastor(s) and deacon(s) (appointed servants). The local assembly is sovereign in polity, and banded together for work, worship, the observance of the ordinances and the worldwide proclamation of the Gospel."


    1. Papal - Roman Catholic: The church is viewed as being universal with a hierarchical totalitarian authority beginning with the Pope.

    2. Episcopalian: The word means "bishop." The authority of the church as a denomination rests with the bishops. This is a hierarchal system of church government. The bishops make up a board which rules over the churches which are under them. Episcopal and Methodist churches use this system.

    3. Presbyterian: The word means "elder." A board of elders elected by the congregation rules over the church as well as the denomination. These elders may or may not be preachers.

    4. Congregational: The Biblical form of church government. The authority in a true New Testament church is God's word and it is absolute. The final human authority in a church rests with the congregation as they follow God's word. Each member has a vote and the rule is democratic. The church does not answer to any authority outside of itself. The Pastor is the administrative and spiritual leader of the congregation being called and appointed by God to the position. The membership after consulting God’s word, and seeking the leading of the Holy Spirit, issues a call to the pastor. The church recognizes that Christ is the Head of the local church and the Bible is God's instruction and authority. It owns its property and appoints committees and individuals to take certain responsibilities.

         The Book of Acts gives two clear examples of congregational government. In Acts. 6:1-7, the appointment of the first appointed servants (English Bibles: deacons) was done by the whole church following the apostle's recommendation. In Acts 15, there arose a dispute over whether Gentile believers should be required to keep the Law of Moses and be circumcised. The two churches involved were the assemblies at Antioch and Jerusalem. The pastors from Antioch were sent to Jerusalem and held a council with the church there. The pastors, apostles and the whole church met together and made the recommendation (Acts 15:7, 12, 22, 25).

Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 26, 2016, 12:42:08 pm


         First, we must understand that a church is an organization instituted by God as Acts 2 records on the Day of Pentecost. Any organization must have leadership, and in a local church that calling and position of God has been divinely given to the pastor. God has given us clear instructions as to how His assembly is to be governed. If a church follows God's plan, He will bless and guide them in accomplishing His will for the church and for its members.

         The word "pastor" is poimen which refers to a shepherd who takes care of sheep or flocks. It means more than one who feeds them, but who protects, looks out for, and will give his life for them. The pastor is to guide and set the example as well as feed the flock. (See 1 Tim. 4:12)

         Ephesians 4:11 gives the New Testament lists of leading servants or ministers in the churches. The last position stated as given by the Lord to the churches is "pastors and teachers." Note that the wording of the verse reads, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;” (Ephesians 4:11)

         In referring to the apostles, prophets, and evangelists, the verse states that God “gave some” followed by the name. However, the verse omits the word “some” in referring to “pastors and teachers.” Most believe the reason for the omission is that pastor and teacher are the same position of "pastor-teacher." The pastor is a shepherd to the Lord's flock and also their teacher. True pastors refer to themselves as "under shepherds" because they recognize that Jesus is the True Shepherd and the flock, the local assembly of believers, a church belongs to him.

         The concept is that the pastor, as shepherd, is the overseer who feeds the church members that the Lord has placed him to lead. Peter, to whom the Lord commanded to "feed His sheep" (John 21:15-17) wrote this in his 1st Epistle.

         "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock." (1 Peter 5:1-3)

         Paul also addressed the calling of a pastor as an overseer of Christ's flock.

         "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." (Acts 20:28)

         He is literally to pay close attention to himself, and his congregation that God has given him charge of. It means he is to vigilantly superintend the group. The position of pastor is referred to by several titles and each denotes the traits and responsibilities of the calling. The terms used to refer to God's leader are the titles Pastor, Elder and Bishop, which all refer to the same office.

         Bishop is the Greek word episkopos and means an overseer as Acts 20:28 shows. The word episkopos Means: epi = over and skpeo = to look or watch. Philippians 1:1, 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:7, 1 Peter 2:25 all use this title.

         In many churches the position of a bishop is an official over the local church. Our English New Testaments read, "This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work." (1 Timothy 3:1) In our English Bibles the single word episkope is translated “the office of a bishop.” However, the Greek phrase literally translated reads “If a man ei tis desire oregomai bishop epithumeo ." This is important to understand because it defines the position of a pastor as being a minister and servant to the congregation. The verse says if a man desires to be a epithumeo it means to be a superintendent or overseer, he desires a good work.

         The word “office” is not in the text. The English word office means a position of authority or holding an official position. However, the New Testament presents the pastor or bishop as being a minister, one who serves the congregation and does not hold a ruling office or position.

         Paul repeatedly referred to himself as a "bond servant" of the Lord. The pastor is the overseer, and does not hold the office of being a boss or authority over the assembly. Peter instructed the overseers saying, "Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock." (1 Peter 5:3) The overseer is not to control, subjugate, or exercise dominion over the local congregation. He is to lead and oversee in accordance with the instructions of the New Testament. His calling is to serve God’s flock as their servant.

         There was no hierarchy among the New Testament churches and certainly no popes, or prophets leading a universal body. No reference in scripture indicates apostolic session of authority. When the apostle died, his authority ended. Paul was used to lay the foundation of the church and wrote most of our New Testament under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Once the scriptures were complete, the scripture inspired of God became the authority. (See 2 Tim. 3:14-15) On a subject as important as the organization of His church, surely the Lord would have given some instructions on the make-up or hierarchy if He desired one to exist.

         The title "elder" presbuteros is not a noun, but an adjective, referring to age, as an older man, an elder. (See Luke 15:25, John 8:9, Acts 2:17) The word "elder" refers to the experience and spiritual insight of a pastor, rather than the office. When the position is referred to by the word "bishop," is refers to an overseer. Elder refers most often to the spiritual maturity of a pastor. The word "bishop" refers to the work they do, whereas "elder" refers to the maturity of their spiritual experience.

         What should be the title of a leader of a church? The proper and biblical title is "pastor" as Ephesians 4:11 states. It is improper to use the title "Reverend" and never in God's word is a preacher called "Reverend." Psalm 111:9 is the only time that title is used in God's word, and it refers to Almighty God. "He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name." (Psalms 111:9) This title had its origins in Roman Catholicism, which perverted God's word and set a hierarchy over God's people. It was a title given to the "clergy" to distinguish their authority and high position over the "laity" or the common people. This author always corrects those who use that title in addressing him. Only God is to be called Reverend.


         Acts 6:1-7, records that the early church elected special men to do a particular task. These men were the first deacons. They were not officers or leaders in the church, but men chosen by the congregation to perform a particular administrative menial task that needed to be done. The apostles and pastors were the leaders of the church. (For further reference you might like to read my article, "The Biblical Role of Deacons")


         In Matthew 18:15-17 the Lord Jesus taught the local church has the final authority in disciplining an erring member. 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, and 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15, teach that it is the local church that has the responsibility to discipline members.


         In Acts 1:23, Jesus's disciples chose two men from among them, Barsabas and Matthias to replace Judas who betrayed Christ. The Greek word used for "appointed" is histemi. It means to put forward or "to propose."

         They proposed two men and then sought God's choice by casting lots. We do not cast lots today for two reasons. First, we have the complete New Testament with instructions as to how we are to chose men for service. Second, they were choosing an apostle and we do not have apostles today. Christ called each apostle. There is no record of the assemblies after the death of the apostles appointing men to replace them. God gave Paul instructions as to qualifications of pastors and deacons. (See1 Tim. 3:1-7, 3:8-13, Titus 1:5-9) John was the last apostle.

         But they did begin the procedure of choosing men from among their congregation. In Acts 1:6 they chose seven men as special servants (diakoneo deacon). The assembly was instructed to chose from among them seven men of good report, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom to elect to the position of administering over the distribution of food to the widows.

         In Acts 15:2, the Antioch assembly elected Paul and Barnabas with several other men to go to Jerusalem and question the apostles about the matter of the Gentiles. After the matter was decided, the Jerusalem church sent men of their assembly with Paul and Barnabas, to convey the message. The message was that the Holy Spirit had directed them in their decision and the local church agreed. It was not a command, but was a recommendation.

         It is scriptural for local churches to associate with each other for fellowship and the propagation of the Gospel as seen in Romans 16:1-2, 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, Acts 15:2-4, 22-27, 30-33, 18:27. The local church sends out missionaries. In Acts 13:1-4, the local church at Antioch under the direction of the Holy Spirit commissioned and sponsored the first missionaries. In Acts. 14:26-27, they returned and reported to the church what God had done. The local church is pictured in Scripture as autonomous, meaning it governs itself under the direction of the scriptures and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The local congregation rules itself led by the Holy Spirit with no hierarchy of individuals or organization over it in or out of the local assembly.


         The New Testament church is made up of individual born-again believers who can go directly to God in prayer without the intercession of any man or institution. Christ is our only Intercessor and is our High Priest. (See Heb. 2:17; 3:1; 4:14-15; 5:1,5,10; 6:20; 7:1,26; 8:1,3; 9:7,11,25; 10:21; 13:11)

         In 1 Tim. 1:20, Paul instructs individuals to pray, and describes various subjects of prayer. In Verse 5, he states, "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2:5). There is both private (Matt. 6:6) and public prayer (Acts 4:24-31). Hebrews 4:14-16, states Christ is our High Priest who knows our every emotion and need personally. We are boldly going to the throne of Grace (God the Father), to find help in a time of need. In Jesus's model prayer, Luke 11:1-4, Christ instructed us to pray to the Father. All prayer in the Bible is addressed to God the Father. . It is not correct for a believers to pray to Jesus, or the Holy Spirit. When we pray to God the Father, we are praying through Jesus Christ, being led by the Holy Spirit. We address our prayer to the Father because He is the Head of the Trinity

         Nowhere in the Scriptures are we instructed to pray to a "saint" or anyone but the Father. Christ is our sole Intercessor, no other exists. We are to confess our sins directly to God and personally ask Him for forgiveness (1 John 1:9). It is unbiblical, degrading, and disrespectful for a person to pray to anyone, but directly to God the Father through our Intercessor Jesus Christ, who is the Savior.

         In the Old Testament the priest offered sacrifices and interceded for the Children of Israel. Everything they did was a picture of the coming Messiah and Intercessor Christ Jesus. After Christ has come we no longer need the picture or symbol, we have the reality of Christ as Intercessor. Every believer is a priest. "

          "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. . . . But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” (1 Pet. 2:5,9)

         The Holy Spirit leads us in prayer. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” (Ephesians 6:18)

          “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” (Jude 20-21)

         Every believer has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who leads him and enables him to know the things of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1-16. Tells us, we can know nothing of God apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:26, tells us that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. The Holy Spirit Himself makes intercession for us for things we do not know how to express. John wrote, “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.” (1 John 2:20) Believers have a special endowment that means you may not know exactly how to pray or what to pray for, yet the Holy Spirit knows and intercedes for us. Note the phrase, "groaning which cannot be uttered." This is not verbal prayer, it is not our own prayer, this is the interceding of the Holy Spirit that we are not aware of. We are told this to help us to understand we are to pray as best we can, but it is the Spirit who knows our hearts. Even our prayers are purified and corrected by the Spirit. This has nothing to do with ecstatic speech or “praying in the spirit” as the modern Charismatic movement practices. Praying in the spirit simply means praying with discernment and understanding. The Bible never presents praying without one understanding what he is praying. We pray the best we can and the Spirit intercedes.


         Baptism and the Lord's Supper are the only two ordinances given to the local church. "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:41-42)


         In Acts 2:41, the three thousand souls who received Christ withdrew from the crowd and were baptized. In doing so, they identified themselves with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. They believed Peter's sermon and received "his word." Peter's word was the Gospel, the Good News that Christ was the Messiah and that He had died for the sins of the world, and that He was buried and arose on the third day from the grave.

         They were baptized, which was a public dedication of their belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Messiah. They showed by their submission to baptism that they believed in His death, burial and resurrection. Baptism always follows salvation.

         Baptism is never presented as salvation or as a sacrament. A sacrament is defined as a religious act done by men, which has saving properties. In other words, an act which helps in saving a person. The Bible knows nothing of any sacrament. Men are saved by faith in Jesus Christ only and salvation is the free gift of God. Christ suffered and died atoning for the sin. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) No act or ritual of man has saving properties.

         In Hebrews 11, the Old Testament saints are presented as saved because of their faith in what God told them to do. They trusted God and obeyed. The acts of the Old Testament sacrifices were understood as being a picture and a symbolic looking forward until the day the Messiah would come and make the atonement for sin. The Bible knows nothing of infant baptism. Only those who trusted in Christ were baptized. An infant cannot understand and receive the Gospel by believing. Therefore an infant should not be baptized.


         The word baptism means to immerse. Actually the Greek word baptisma or baptizo is transliterated into an English spelling. If it was to be translated, it would mean to dip, bury, submerge, or to immerse. There are other Greek words which mean to sprinkle or pour, but they are not used in reference to baptism. Romans makes it plain that baptism is a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Sprinkling or pouring does not symbolize this. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” (Romans 6:3-6)

         History records that all churches immersed until about 250 AD. After that time for the sake of convenience at a time of sickness, clinical baptism was practiced. Once allowed, others began to ask for sprinkling, including old people and later on it was allowed for any who ask for it. Most Protestant denominations will immerse if it is requested, however it is not taught or encouraged. The Roman Catholic church did not make sprinkling its mode of baptism until 1311. Those who sprinkle do so as a means of convenience and ignore the biblical teaching of the mode of baptism?


         Christ instituted the Lord's Supper the night before He died. (Matt. 26:26-30) The Lord's Supper was a memorial act for believers. It was given to the believer to bring to remembrance Christ's sufferings and death for our sins. (See 1 Corinthians 11:26) When an assembly takes the Lord's Supper they show or proclaim their belief in Christ's death for the remission of sin, looking forward to the day when Christ will return.

         The Lord's Supper is only for believers and is an ordinance of the local church. It is never to be given to individuals and not to be practiced outside the local congregation. It is not a sacrament with saving properties. It is mockery for an unbeliever to take the Lord's Supper. An unbeliever has not believed or received Christ as their Savior and thus has no part in salvation. Because of a lost person’s unbelief, their sins have not been forgiven and Christ’s sacrifice for sins does not apply to them. In verse 28, a person is admonished to examine himself before he takes the Lord's Supper. It warns that one who eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

         The Lord's Supper is a picture of Christ's suffering and death for our sin. For a man to take the Supper and not receive Christ's is blatant sin. To have a knowledge of Christ's suffering for one's sins and then to reject Christ as one's Savior is belittling and mocking Christ.

         It also mocks Christ and belittles His suffering for a believer to have unconfessed sin in his life and still take the Lord's Suffer which is a memorial remembering His suffering. The believer is to examine himself first, confess sin and then take the Lord's Supper. No one is "worthy" in himself to take the Lord's Supper. But it honors Christ when we confess our sins and receive His free gift of forgiveness. It shows a deep respect and regard for Christ's suffering when we repent of sin and turn from it.

         "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? . . . Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” (Romans 6:12-15)

         The elements of the Supper, the bread and the cup are only symbolic of the body and blood of Christ. They do not, as practiced by Catholicism, magically become the actual body and blood of Christ. Nor do they become spiritually "blessed," as some believe, thus affording the taker some spiritual benefit. The bread and wine (grape juice) are only symbolic and the value in taking the Lord's Supper is in honoring and revering Christ in His suffering for us and for self-examination to judge sin in our own lives.


          We call these two symbolic acts "ordinances" because the Lord ordained or appointed them. They are not sacraments or a means of dispensing grace. Grace is only obtained by faith in Christ Jesus. Believers are to follow the ordinances because Christ commanded us to. (See Matthew 28:19-20). When Christ commissioned the disciples to baptize and observe all things that He had taught He also told them to wait until they were indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit. (See Acts 1:4-5) The church began when it was empowered by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Christ forbade them to go before they received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

         Christ commissioned the church to practice the ordinances, not individuals, schools, Christian youth groups, camps and etc. 1 Corinthians 11:20, states that this local church "came together" for the purpose of taking the Lord's Supper. Note V17, 18, 33. The context is clear in the setting of the local assembly which had come together. A memorial is a public declaration or remembrance. Ephesians 5:25, states Christ died for the ekklesia the local assembly or church. The Lord's Supper was taken with all Christ's disciples present. The Lord's Supper is an act of public worship. Note 1 Cor. 11. There is no record in the Bible of an individual or anyone apart from the church taking the Lord's Supper.

         How often it is to be done is left up to the church. The only instruction is in 1 Corinthians 11:26, as "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.” The charge and instructions are given to the "whole church." Ministers are not given the authority to give the Lord's Supper at their discretion outside of the gathering of the local assembly.


         "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” (1 John 2:27)

         Every believer has the responsibility and right to interpret the Scriptures, to hold and profess and to worship God as the Bible teaches. No church or religious organization has God's authority to direct believers to obey it or recognize it as their authority to any further degree other than directing them to follow the scriptures. The word of God is one's authority, not the church organization. A true New Testament church will carefully teach its members God’s word.

         The Holy Spirit deals with and teaches the believer as an individual. "But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:7) The gift of God is given to believers as individuals, being used in the context of the local assembly. "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” (1 Corinthians 12:7) [See Romans 12:3-8.]

         Christians will be individually judged at the BEMA judgment of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). Romans 14:10, says we shall all stand before judgment. 1 Corinthians 3:13-15, shows the examination of Christians is based on one's individual work.

         2 Peter 1:20 states, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.“ (2 Peter 1:20) As believers, we have the personal responsibility to God to know what the Bible teaches and to follow it alone. We cannot at the judgment plead that we were mislead by our church, pastor or anyone else. We have the right to believe the Bible without regard for the creeds or traditions of churches.


         "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. . . . Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:41-42, 47) The church is an assembly of people who have received Christ as their Lord and Savior. It is made up of those who have made a public declaration of their faith in Christ by being baptized.

         The Bible teaches one should be a member of a local assembly of believers. This is demonstrated in the definite step the first Christians followed. This order is always the same.

    1. Believers receive Jesus Christ as their Savior by believing the Gospel. The grammatical construction of the phrase "they gladly received his word" meaning they believed the Gospel message of Peter, were baptized ßapt??? baptizo. The word is first aorist passive indicative, constative aorist. This denotes that “received the word” is an action that takes place before the action of the main verb "baptized." It means that only those who had already received the word and were saved were baptized. "Receiving the word" came first and based on that they were baptized.

    2. Following salvation the believer gives a public declaration of his faith by submitting to baptism. Jesus said He would be ashamed before His Father of those who were ashamed of Him, and His word before this adulterous and sinful generation. (Mark 8:38) Many other verses in the New Testament speak of the fact believers are not to be ashamed of Christ before men. (See Rom. 1:16, 5:5,9:33,10:11, 2 Tim. 1:8,12,2:15) Baptism a God’s assigned way believers can show they are saved, not ashamed of Christ, and are in agreement and fellowship with the local assembly.

    3. Following conversion and baptism the believers were "added" to the church. The fact that Christ died for the church as Ephesian 5:25 states, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;”. This reveals the importance of the local church. The gifts were given in the context of the local church and are never shown as existing apart from the ministry of the assembly. (1 Corinthians 12:7,11,18,28).


             Each believer has a great responsibility to know what God's will is and what He wants His ekklesia His local congregation, to believe and practice. Even though Christ said the gates of hell would not prevail against His church, the fact is Satan has made great inroads among those who have not been vigilant. Yet, in spite of the Devil’s cunning devises there have always been believers who joined themselves together in local assemblies to honor and serve the Lord.

             It is imperative that each pastor and church member be vigilant in protecting, with the Lord's help, the purity of his local church. That means the word of God must be studied and following and applied without spot or blemish to the Lord's flock. God’s plan and desire are stated in Ephesian 5:25-27.

             "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Ephesians 5:25-27)

             May God grant His saints, the diligence and the fortitude to “. . . exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”(Jude 1:3) Paul wrote "That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." (1 Corinthians 2:5)

Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 27, 2016, 07:08:16 am
Why Churches Should Euthanize Small Groups

A few years ago I brought in a nationally recognized pastor to do some consulting for our church. One of the things I remember most about my time with him was a side conversation we had about small groups.

“I haven’t really figured out the small group thing,” I confessed to him.

“Well, Brian, that’s because they don’t work. Small groups are things that trick us into believing we’re serious about making disciples. The problem is 90 percent of small groups never produce one single disciple. Ever. They help Christians make shallow friendships, for sure. They’re great at helping Christians feel a tenuous connection to their local church, and they do a bang-up job of teaching Christians how to act like other Christians in the Evangelical Christian subculture. But when it comes to creating the kind of holistic disciples Jesus envisioned, the jury’s decision came back a long time ago—small groups just aren’t working.”

“Finally,” I said, “I’ve met someone who’s got the guts to euthanize this small group sacred cow.”

I have been leading, participating in, championing, and applauding the efforts of small groups for the last 20 years of my ministry.

But now I’m done. In my opinion, they just don’t work. Let me share why.

A Flawed Starting Point

Church-initiated “small groups” begin from a flawed starting point.

For reasons that still escape me, soon after becoming a Christian at age 18, Deron Brickey, Dave Polonia, Jeff Snyder, and I started hanging out with one another.

Soon that group grew to 10 to 12 friends. We laughed together, prayed together, studied the Bible together, ate together, evangelized together, and served the poor together. Even though we had no leader, no real set meeting time, no agenda, and no plan or focus, it was through these friends that I made incredible strides toward becoming a holistic disciple of Jesus.

And it all happened by accident.

In fact, looking back on my 25 years of following Christ, here’s what I’ve noticed: Every small group I’ve ever been in that helped me grow as a disciple started by what appeared to be an accident.

I wasn’t looking for it. I wasn’t interested in joining a small group in the least. And in many respects, I didn’t even feel a need to grow spiritually.

Most of all, I wasn’t participating in some superficial churchwide small group sign-up initiative the senior pastor dreamed up to jack up small group attendance because he heard church analysts say you should always maintain a certain ratio of worship attendees to small group participants.

It just happened, naturally and spontaneously.

Those experiences couldn’t have been planned, even if I tried. And for the most part, that’s exactly how it’s been happening in the Christian community for, say, I don’t know, the last 1,960 years. That is until we westerners, particularly Americans, started messing it up.

Well-intentioned Christians, armed with the latest insights in organizational theory, let their pragmatic and utilitarian hearts delude them into thinking they could organize, measure, and control the mystical working of the Holy Spirit in community in order to consistently reproduce disciples in other contexts.

Then these people started writing books and hosting seminars. And then church leaders like you and me bought into what they were saying because we didn’t recognize that the same faulty worldview that produced a mechanized approach to Christian community fostered a ready-made market in our hearts to consume their quick-fix solutions.

So we came home, armed with our “101 Sure-Fire Discussion Starter” books and binders full of slick recruitment techniques, and started small group ministries at our churches.

We preached powerful sermons. We cast vision. We contorted Acts 2 into saying what we needed it to say. We blathered on and on about all the “one anothers” in the Bible and about how, if we met one time a week for 1.5 hours and followed a well-conceived discussion regime, we could experience Acts 2 in all of its splendor and glory.

And what happened? You know what happened. They failed. Like big-time.

And meanwhile, while our people were constrained by their obligation to the church and their sense of loyalty to us as leaders, their hearts searched for real community and an opportunity to grow as disciples.

What would happen if we euthanized all of our small groups, taught the value of discipleship and community, and then simply let the Holy Spirit do his work?

Achilles’ Heel

When I attended my very first church growth conference in 1992, a nationally known small group “expert” stood up and said, “The way we say it at our church is, ‘If you can read, you can lead.’ If a Christian can read the questions in our study guide, he can lead a small group at our church.”

That’s easy, I thought. Too easy, in fact. And ridiculous.

“If you can read, you can lead” is a great slogan for people who organize a rugby team from your church, or your knitting circle, or the Saturday morning llama-riding group. But not for someone recognized by the community of faith as a mentor of new disciples.

The Achilles’ heel of the modern-day small group movement is simple: Small groups don’t create disciples; disciples create disciples. And modern-day small groups are led, for the most part, by people who have attended the church, had a conversion experience, led a reasonably moral life, and can read the study-guide questions, but are not disciples themselves.

American churches have lowered the bar of small group leadership to an absurd level. In fact, it’s so ridiculous most churches would be better off not even having small groups than to offer them with leaders who aren’t disciples.

The common argument against small groups is flawed. The problem with small groups isn’t that they pool the group’s collective ignorance; it’s that they pool the group’s collective disobedience. And it’s not the small group leader’s fault.

It’s the fault of the people who installed the leader and convinced him he could lead their group to a place where they themselves have not gone.

Jesus in Your Group?

Would Jesus join a small group in your church?

Think about that for a moment. Forget about your goals. Forget about your motivations for offering them. Forget about all the supposed benefits of participating in one. Do you honestly think Jesus would join, lead, or start a small group within the existing structure of your small group’s ministry at your church?

Of course not. Not a chance. Not in a million years.


Because while your people are stuck in the “hairball” of your church’s ministry (to steal Gordon MacKenzie’s great line), Jesus would be out rubbing shoulders with people in your community, helping them find their way back to God, and teaching them to obey his teachings.

Jesus would actually be doing what small groups say they want/should/need to be doing, but they can’t, because they’re too busy being a “small group” inside the confines of your small group’s ministry infrastructure.

It’s like a jogging class where the instructor, instead of taking his class jogging and commenting on technique while class members actually are jogging, stuffs everyone into a classroom and lectures to them three days a week and then gives them a final exam.

Disciples are created “out there.” Small groups, if not by their definition, definitely by their practice, all occur “in here.”

With few exceptions, modern-day small groups are great at producing:

• Christians who sit in circles and talk to one another inside a building

• people who read and comment on the Bible

• people who rant about how they long to “get out there” and do something that matters

• people who awkwardly end their time by praying for “prayer requests”

• people who go home unchallenged and unchanged.

You would think there’s a Small Groups Revised Version of the New Testament somewhere. And I quote: “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore stay where you are and make Christians of the people you already know, baptizing them in the name of American consumer Christianity, and teaching them to sit in rooms with one another, read the Bible, and pray for one another. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20, SGRV).

If the Small Groups Revised Version of Matthew 28:18-20 were the stated purpose, then most American small groups would be nailing it.

In my humble opinion, the Americanized small group is a remnant of an impotent religious institution that can’t transition effectively into a post-Christian, postmodern world.

Thank God small groups worked in some instances, and in some contexts!

But for every story of success about a small group creating an authentic disciple, my hunch is there are three times as many failures (and that just takes into account the 10 to 30 percent of church attendees who actually participate in them).

If we had time to waste, this wouldn’t be an urgent problem.

But we don’t.

Title: The "Cell Group"
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 27, 2016, 07:17:34 am

The cell group is a form of church organization that is used in some Christian churches. Cell groups are generally intended to teach the Bible and personalize Christian fellowship. They are always used in cell churches, but also occur in parachurch organizations and other interdenominational settings, where they are usually referred to as such as Bible study groups. They are known by a variety of other names, including growth groups, connect groups, care groups, life groups, fellowship groups, small groups and home groups. David Hunsicker suggests that the "cell" group concept in church structure "is becoming prominent in almost every denomination in American Protestantism."[1]

The cell group differs from the house church in that the group is part of an overall church congregation, whereas the house church is a self-contained congregation.


The term cell group is derived from biology: the cell is the basic unit of life in a body. In a metaphorical sense, just as a body is made up of many cells that give it life, the cell church is made of cell groups that give it life.

Colin Marshall uses the term "growth group", suggesting that the aim is for group members to "grow in Christ", and, through the group, for the gospel to "grow and bear fruit."[2]

Another term, typically employed in Missional Communities,[3] is huddle. This refers to a small group in which discipleship is emphasized and in which membership is by invitation only.


David Hunsicker points out that while house churches are mentioned in the New Testament, the institution of a "well-organized, structured church" resulted in the decline of the small home groups.[4] The concept was resurrected at the time of the Protestant Reformation and "Ulrich Zwingli inadvertently pushed the Anabaptists in the direction of small groups when he started meeting with a small gathering of men who were interested in learning New Testament Greek.[4] The concept of small groups was revived again in the late seventeenth century by Anthony Horneck in Great Britain and Philipp Jacob Spener in Germany.[4]

Spener published his Pia Desideria in 1675 and laid out his program for the reformation of the Lutheran Church, emphasising the use of small groups. He suggested the reintroduction of "the ancient and apostolic kind of church meetings," held "in the manner in which Paul describes them in 1 Corinthians 14:26–40." Spener goes on to suggest

    This might conveniently be done by having several ministers (in places where a number of them live in a town) meet together or by having several members of a congregation who have a fair knowledge of God or desire to increase their knowledge meet under the leadership of a minister, take up the Holy Scriptures, read aloud from them, and fraternally discuss each verse in order to discover its simple meaning and what- ever may be useful to the edification of all. Anybody who is not satisfied with his understanding of a matter should be permitted to express his doubts and seek further explanation. On the other hand those (including the ministers) who have made progress should be allowed the freedom to state how they understand each passage. Then all that has been contributed, insofar as it accords with the sense of the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures, should be carefully considered by the rest, especially by the ordained ministers, and applied to the edification of the whole meeting.[5]

Influenced by Pietist conventicles, John Wesley took on the concept of small groups, and has been called the "Father" of the modern small-group concept.[6] John Wesley formed societies to "bring small numbers of people together (usually twelve) to pray, read the Bible and listen to exhortations, and to encourage and enjoy each other's company."[7]


Cell groups are made of small numbers of Christians, often between 6 and 12, and led by a cell leader. Members may be in the same cell group because of common locality, schools or interests. Cell meetings are usually not conducted in the church sanctuary, if any, but in any of the members' homes, rooms in the church building or other third-party venues.

Cell meetings may consist of a fellowship meal, communion, prayer, worship, sharing or Bible study and discussion.

The use of small Bible study groups is related, but not exclusively associated with, the large churches sometimes called megachurches. In these congregations, small groups perform much of the ministerial work of the church, including teaching the Bible.[8] David Hunsicker suggests that Willow Creek Community Church "has exploded through an effective use of small group strategy."[1]

A number of lesson plans, workbooks, and programs have been developed to facilitate the study of the Bible in small groups. The Alpha Course, originally developed in a Church of England context, but now ecumenical, is one such course intended for use by small groups that provides a synoptic introduction to the entire Bible. The more theologically evangelical Christianity Explored course was devised as an evangelical response to the Alpha Course. Other denominations have similar resources available, such as the Roman Catholic Great Adventure Catholic Bible Study[9] and the United Methodist Church's Disciple series.[10]

Title: Five Small Group Myths
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 27, 2016, 10:23:05 am
Five Small Group Myths
Home Bible studies don't always operate by the textbook.

by David A. Womack

After more than two decades of promotion in books, magazines, seminars, and classes, the fact about small groups is that few churches can testify to success. Among the reasons are:

    We have few role models, at least in our own culture.
    The literature on the subject has promoted the idea without offering practical methods.
    The American concept of home privacy causes such ministries to develop more slowly here than in some countries.
    Our American style of church leadership does not often encourage lay ministries to develop outside the walls of the sanctuary, beyond the immediate supervision of the pastor.
    Pastors who decide in favor of home ministries become discouraged when they cannot find specifically prepared Bible study materials. If we want to give direction to the teaching, we must adapt materials created for other purposes—and that's too much work.

Yet we cannot escape the reality that many lay Christians want a small-group experience and can benefit greatly if the group functions properly. The question is how.

After seven years of experience with thousands of home meetings in dozens of churches as a denominational administrator, I think I know why more churches do not have home programs. The writers and speakers, myself included, were onto a good idea but were simplistic, idealistic, and premature. We approached the subject without understanding the complicated sociological terrain onto which we had so glibly ventured. The equilibrium of congregational life is finely balanced, and few pastors will risk disaster by adding untested and partially understood programs that operate largely outside their direct supervision.

Here are five theories I've had to revise along the way:
Myth 1: Small Groups Are a Wonderful Evangelistic Tool.

One of my early misconceptions was about the very purpose of home Bible studies. At first I said, "Home groups are our outreach to the city."

But a couple of years later I said, "Home Bible studies contribute to the total outreach of the church. They are not directly evangelistic."

Several years and much experience later, I said, "The evangelistic results of home Bible studies are indirect, for the groups draw from the congregation rather than the neighborhood. Home ministries conserve the results of other evangelistic methods." Most churches that start new programs have outreach in mind, but they soon become disappointed with the evangelistic results. Churches that are successful with home ministries, I concluded, must do so for their developmental and conservational value, not solely for evangelism.

Then finally it dawned on me: Home Bible studies are a withdrawal from the community into an intimate Christian circle for fellowship and nurture. They are for inreach, not outreach!

People brought to Christ through the home meetings usually are drawn to the church by answered prayer. Much as wheat is harvested at the critical point of its ripeness, so people brought into the church through the home meetings are reached at some moment of personal crisis. Still, they often come to the church before attending the home group that prayed for them.

Myth 2: Small Groups Unite the Christians in a Neighborhood.

Another lesson I learned was about the locations of home groups. Like many churches starting home programs with little advance knowledge, we began by studying the territory and recruiting host homes throughout the community. Then we asked the church people to attend the home fellowship group nearest them.

Obedient as our congregations sometimes are, the plan worked … for about two weeks. After that, people went wherever their friends attended.

People form small groups around centers of common interest; they cluster socioeconomically, not geographically. True, home fellowships are brought together by a common interest in the Bible, love for Christ, and dependence on interpersonal support. Yet, many people share those interests without bonding together in clusters. These common bonds would not suffice in themselves to form a particular small group without some additional core of commonality that draws people to one another. At the heart of the small-group phenomenon is an interdependence among friends.

This raises the question of cliques in the church. Most of us have preached or heard preaching against church cliques as far back as we can remember. Now we are beginning to understand that cliquing is a natural and desirable gregarious trait that unites a congregation and forms the basis for home ministries. Home Bible studies take advantage of this natural bonding by providing a creative function for friendship groups.

The negative side of this social phenomenon is cliquishness—the temptation to exclude outsiders. Church leaders can avoid this problem by actively encouraging hospitality, posting public invitations to all home groups, and starting new groups as friendship circles develop.

Although home programs are not in themselves evangelistic, they contribute to church growth by strengthening the whole fiber of the congregation. Much as grapes grow in clusters, a church develops by attracting friendship groups around a central stem. Some center of mutual interest binds a congregation together in love and fellowship; but the church is made up of smaller units, each of which is more or less complete in itself. The force that attracts groups into a church body varies, but it often has something to do with a common ethnic, economic, or social background and lifestyle, a common belief system, and a popular pastor. The larger church learns to cluster smaller groups into its greater whole by providing nourishment, encouragement, identity, and protection.

Myth 3: Bible Study Is the Centerpiece of a Small Group.

In the beginning, I thought people wanted to gather in homes to study the Bible, so I put most of my effort into preparing the lessons. I still write and print a Bible lesson each week and accumulate them into 13-week series, but I have learned that people do not come to homes primarily for Bible study.

Rather, they are attracted by their needs for social interaction, the support of caring and sharing friends, and a sense of belonging to a meaningful body of peers. They want a place where they can get good advice and feel free to speak without rejection.

When I realized this, I did the necessary research in small-group dynamics and organized the home meetings to provide for the whole range of needs. Our church's home meetings now have four elements … in this order:

1. Fellowship (conversation and refreshments)

2. Bible Study (a prepared lesson)

3. Self-Expression (sharing, exhortation, and prayer requests)

4. Prayer (either individually or as a group)

Myth 4: A Small Group Needs One Strong Leader.

The biblical shepherds led their flocks to pasture, but those of today drive the sheep. I soon discovered a similar contrast of leadership styles in home fellowships. Some led out strongly; others nudged around the edges.

Because people need both to hear and be heard, small groups do best with sharing rather than dominant leaders.

The wise shepherd learns to recognize and put bells on certain sheep the flock tends to follow. This keeps the sheep together and simplifies the task of moving the flock from one place to another. Guiding a few bell sheep and thereby leading the whole flock is much better than driving with sheep dogs.

Human nature is competitive, and every relationship includes a factor of leading and following. Whenever we put anyone in charge of anything, we establish a power structure in which a certain amount of struggle for domination will occur. It is not easy to find unthreatened and nonthreatening teachers who will lead without feeling ego-bound to rule.

On this score, I am glad I listened to the advice of Korea's Cho Yonggi, who told me to put two teachers in each home, both equally responsible to the pastor. It was a stroke of genius. Neither feels the group is his or hers to control; both must remain loyal to the church and the program. They simply alternate each week, one teaching and the other leading the rest of the meeting.

Another problem was how to maintain quality with teachers who had little or no previous experience and training. I overcame this by providing weekly lesson outlines and teaching the lessons myself on cassette. Each week the teacher listens to the 30-minute tape and follows along in the Bible and a lesson outline. Then he or she takes the outline to the home meeting. We also have a training manual with an accompanying tape.

The method works well, allowing us to use almost any Christian who will accept the responsibility. In fact, we generally do better with humble people who lack some confidence than with teachers trained in other methods.

Myth 5: Small Groups Multiply by Cell Division.

The popular idea compares home groups to amoebas that grow to a certain size and then divide into two equally viable cells. At first I suggested a group should divide when it reached 20 in regular attendance. Well, in the first three years only one group grew that large—and after it divided, only one of the two cells survived. Most groups grew to 14 or 16 and stopped.

The idea of church growth by cell division works only on paper. Real groups grow to the size of the available space minus a comfort factor of about 20 percent (to allow for introverts, claustrophobics, and others who resist crowding). In most homes that means a maximum of not more than a dozen people. The concept of growth is not really a goal in small-group dynamics.

So how do we start new groups? The best way is simply to form new groups! Some people will come from other crowded groups, and the new home with its friendship connections will attract its own following. This is a constantly flowing process as some groups flourish, others stabilize, and still others fade for lack of leadership or cohesion. The experiences are as varied as the people who attend.

Truthfully, a home Bible study network is a living thing that comes and goes, expands and contracts as the years go by. We must expect some groups to fade while others flourish. One group in our church has met continuously for five years—mainly because of steady leadership and practical teaching materials. But others have fallen by the wayside. That is why we must never cease starting new groups.

Why Groups Are Worth the Effort

The best lesson of all was when I began noticing that people who regularly participate in home meetings seldom require pastoral counseling. The small group is a caring and sharing environment that provides excellent psychological and spiritual therapy in addition to fellowship and Bible knowledge. The people receive emotional support, Christian advice, and answers to prayer.

The early church did not construct its first church building for 300 years. In the beginning of that period, it used the temple for corporate worship, and after A.D. 300 it began to worship in the Roman basilicas, but its basic meeting places were believers' homes. Those nonthreatening, marginally evangelistic, low-profile leadership gatherings accounted for some of history's best church growth.

Pastor Gerald A. Roles of Calvary Community Church in San Bruno, California, attributes much of the growth of his crowded church to home fellowships. He is fond of saying, "Home Bible studies grow on you."

He is like a number of other pastors, myself included, who have learned a lot on the twisting, turning road of home ministries. The small groups did not do everything we originally had in mind, but they have surprised us with unexpected success in the maturation and care of our congregations.

That is why I still say with conviction: Every church should be a motivational and training center surrounded by a network of home Bible studies—even if they don't take shape the way you projected in the beginning.

David A. Womack is pastor of Twin Palms Assembly of God, San Jose, California.

Leadership, Winter, 1986. Copyright by the author or Christianity Today International/LEADERSHIP JOURNAL.

Title: A Warning About Michael Pearl’s No Greater Joy Ministry
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 27, 2016, 12:13:46 pm

Over the past few years a number of people have asked me about Greater Joy Ministries operated by Michael and Debi Pearl, and as I have traveled on preaching trips I have found that many families in good fundamental Baptist churches are using their materials.

The following is a report on my investigation into this ministry. I have read two of Michael’s books as well as issues of No Greater Joy magazine, and I have looked carefully through the material available at their web site.

Beware Michael Pearl
There is much to praise in Greater Joy Ministries. The Pearl’s book To Train up a Child contains many very helpful things (though it often goes beyond clear biblical precepts and enters into a legalistic “Pearlosophy,” which is presented as dogmatically as the parts that are supported directly by Scripture, such as some of his teaching about education and other things that almost require an Amish-like lifestyle). The Pearls rightly avoid “Christian” psychology. They promote godly husband-wife relationships. They teach parents how to reach the child’s heart rather than enforcing mere externals. They focus on how crucial it is for the parents to live what they preach, to avoid hypocrisy. They teach a biblical approach to corporal punishment without apology. They teach parents how to jealously and carefully protect their children from evil influences. They give some excellent and timely warnings about the danger of the average church youth group that throws young people together in a secular fashion and thus allows strong but worldly personalities to corrupt heretofore innocent youth (which is exactly what happened to me as I grew up in a Southern Baptist congregation). They are clear about parental responsibility, that the “buck stops here” with Christian parents in regard to child training.

I am sure that the Pearls are genuine salt-of-the-earth people who try to practice what they preach, but I want to mention some serious errors that those who use their materials should be aware of.


No Greater Joy has some excellent practical teaching on the family, but I do not believe that it is presented within a scriptural balance and framework in regard to the church. In the topics listed at the No Greater Joy web site, “The Church” is glaringly absent. When Michael Pearl speaks about the church it is almost always in a negative context.

While the family is the foundational unit in the church and society and is very, very important, I believe it is possible to turn the family into an idol, when it is emphasized beyond biblical bounds and when it becomes an end unto itself.

I don’t believe the Pearls themselves have made an idol of the home, but I believe that many associated with the home schooling movement have, and the Pearls should do more to resist this error. Debi Pearl wisely says: “Do not get caught up in pouring your life into a good cause--even the rearing of a large family. Pour your life into knowing and serving the Savior and desiring that every life you touch be touched with the knowledge of forgiveness in the shed blood of Jesus. We are called to be soldiers in the army of the living God. Raising up young new recruits is exciting” (To Train up a Child, fifteenth printing, 2004, p. 119).

The problem is that this is only a brief postscript in their book on child training, and it is not something that seems to be properly emphasized. In the dozens of articles I have read by the Pearls, this is the only time I have seen that type of emphasis. The Pearls have 150,000 on their mailing list and their book To Train up a Child has sold more than 400,000 copies. They therefore have a vast influence among home schoolers.

Christ’s Great Commission is to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth and to plant churches that are discipleship centers, the pillar and ground of the truth, where believers are trained in the service of God and in the work of world evangelism (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:17; Luke 24:46-48; Acts 1:8). This is what we see lived out in the book of Acts and it is a program that is to be perpetuated until Christ returns.

Parents who are committed to Christ will have this Great Commission before them at all times as they raise their children.

To raise wholesome, talented, law-abiding, hard-working citizens is not enough, because it falls short of what Christ commanded.

I believe home schooling is by far the best way to educate children. That is how our own children were educated, but within some home schooling circles there is neglect toward and misunderstanding of the New Testament church.

For example, on my last preaching trip to Australia I met some godly families in one of the churches. The children play various musical instruments; they have a wide variety of interests and talents; they have serious goals in life; they are getting a wonderful education; they are separated from the wicked things of the world. There is nothing wrong with any of this, of course. It is a great blessing to see close and godly families in this wicked age. The problem is with the emphasis and balance. These families do not place the church and the Great Commission in a Scriptural priority. They attend services only once service a week, forsaking the other services for “family time,” in direct contradiction to Acts 2:42 and Hebrews 10:25. They brazenly neglected the special services that the church was hosting and thus gained no benefit from the visiting preacher. Their lives could have been challenged by that preaching, but other things were more important to them.

These parents are teaching their children many good things, but they are wrong in teaching them to slight the church.

My friends, the Bible plainly states that it is the church that is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15). Why doesn’t it say that the home is the pillar and ground of the truth? And this is not some vague “universal” church. The context is a scripturally organized assembly that has pastors and deacons (1 Tim. 3:1-14). The believer’s service to the Lord is to be in and through such a church, in submission to God-ordained pastors and elders (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:7, 17).

Any family that is not in proper relationship with and submission to God-ordained church authority is not in the will of God (unless, of course, no such church exists in the area). I say this on the authority of the Scriptures. I would ask such a family, “Who has the rule over you?” If the reply is, “God does,” I would rejoin that God Himself says that church elders are to have the rule over us (Heb. 13:17), not as lords over us but as under-shepherds who must, in turn, give account to the Great Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:1-4).

I understand all too well that pastoral authority has been abused at times and that this is an hour of great compromise in churches, but that is no excuse to reject it. Husbands and fathers have abused their authority at least as much as pastors have abused theirs, but that does not mean that we are free to reject them. The Lord Jesus Christ said, “I will build my church” (Mat. 16:18). It is His plan and program, and it is not to be despised.

There is nothing wrong with a “house church” as such, if that church is scripturally organized, but a loose knit gathering in a home is not necessarily a church, and a father of a family is not a pastor unless he is qualified and called and ordained (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-11; Acts 14:23).

Paul wrote to Titus and informed him that he was to “set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city” (Titus 1:5). The thing that was wanting, or lacking, was for the new converts to be organized into proper New Testament assemblies, and this required the ordination of qualified, God-called elders (Titus 1:6-16).

This is the pattern that we see in the first missionary journey. After Paul and Barnabas had preached in many places, they returned to each place and organized the new groups of believers into churches and ordained elders in each one (Acts 14:23).

A home Bible study, a home prayer meeting, a loose knit group of home schoolers, is not in itself a proper New Testament church and has no scriptural authority to replace such a church.

If Michael Pearl agrees with us on the importance of the New Testament church, he should be very careful to preach about this, as it is an essential part of “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). He should also speak out plainly against the practice of many today who neglect and discount the value of the house of God (1 Tim. 3:16). We would expect to see such a warning prominently given at his web site, since his ministry is attractive to such people.

Such teaching and warning is lacking, though. In fact, in his article “Sanctuary” (March 2005) he refers sympathetically to “several families” who have “traded church attendance for a DVD player,” and he does not explain that this is unscriptural.

Pearl complains that “church today is not a sanctuary from the world nor is it a ‘holy’ place.”

While I agree that too many churches are worldly from top to bottom, meaning that even the leaders and workers are worldly, it is equally true that a scriptural New Testament church will never be completely holy. If a church is reaching the world for Christ as it should, there will always be unsaved and newly saved people in attendance who are not very holy, to say the least. In fact, if we were to be honest with our own hearts, we would admit that there is plenty of unholiness in the most mature of saints, as even the apostle Paul lamented in regard to his own life. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Rom. 7:18). And the apostle John added his Amen to this when he said, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:9).

The New Testament church can never be a complete sanctuary from the world or a perfectly holy place for the simple fact that it is made up of sinners who are in the business of reaching sinners. Paul referred to the unsaved who attended the meetings of the church at Corinth, and said nothing to discourage the church from having the unsaved in attendance but rather encouraged them to live in such a way that they would reach the unsaved for Christ (1 Cor. 14:23-25).

A church that is busy reaching the unsaved will not only have the unsaved in attendance at services and events but will have new believers in attendance, as well, and these will be far from “entirely sanctified” and separated from the world.

I remember when I was first saved and joined a fundamental Baptist church in central Florida. I was saved; I knew the Lord; I had truly repented; but I was still a mess! I still had hair down to my shoulders; I still smoked and listened to rock & roll and attended worldly movies. Yet the church members were so patient and kind to me, opening their homes to me, spending time with me, discipling me; and it was this that helped me to grow and to begin shedding the things of the flesh and the world and putting on Christ.

The man that led me to Jesus Christ had the same attitude. He was not ashamed to spend four or so days traveling with me, living with me, enduring my foul language and disgusting habits and vain arguments against the truth.

The apostolic churches that are described in the New Testament scriptures were far from sinlessly perfect. Consider the seven churches of Asia Minor addressed in Revelation 2-3. Most of these apostolic churches had serious problems. The church at Ephesus had left its first love. The church at Pergamos allowed false teachers in their midst, including the false doctrine of Balaam that was associated with idolatry and fornication. The church at Thyatira allowed a false prophetess to teach worldly heresies. The church at Sardis had a name that it lived but was dead. The church at Laodicea was so lukewarm that Christ warned them that He would spew them out of His mouth.

Consider the apostolic church at Corinth. This church was established by the apostle Paul himself, but it was a genuine mess! The members were carnal and divided (1 Cor. 1-3); they did not discipline even the most glaring sins (1 Cor. 5); they took one another to court (1 Cor. 6); they fellowshipped with idols (1 Cor. 10); they grossly misused the spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 14); they allowed false teachers in their midst, even those who preached false christs and gospels (2 Cor. 11:3-4) and denied the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:12).

The church at Philippi was an excellent church, but two women in the congregation were so at odds with one another that they had to be corrected by Paul in a public letter (Phil. 4:2).

The apostle Peter played the hypocrite and Paul had to rebuke him publicly (Gal. 2:11-14).

Even Paul and Barnabas had such a “sharp contention” that they could no longer work together (Acts 15:36-40).

None of this is an excuse to think that it does not matter what type of church we attend or how we live, but it is a fact of Christian living and church life that we must understand and learn to deal with.

This is not something that Michael Pearl preaches properly. In his article “Sanctuary” (March 2005) he does advise someone, “Don’t leave the church, anymore than a missionary would leave the field because there are sinners there,” but having read two of his books and dozens of his articles, I am convinced that the message to exchange the church for a DVD player and to look lightly upon one’s responsibility to the church is louder than the message to stay in the church and be a faithful, fruitful member thereof.

For more on this subject see “Seven Keys to Fruitful Church Membership” at http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/sevenkeys.htm.


There's more to this article, but only posting what's relevant to this thread.

Title: Questions About the Home Church Movement
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 27, 2016, 12:35:49 pm

Questions About the Home Church Movement
Updated May 26, 2009 (first published December 19, 2005) (first published May 18, 2005) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, fbns@wayoflife.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -

Recently I received the following question from a reader:


How would one refute the home church movement that I see around me? I understand local church doctrine but some of their defense I have no answer for, such as the following:

-- Wherever 2 or 3 are gathered together I am in the midst.

-- You are the Temple of the Holy Ghost if saved.

-- No building is required.

-- Compromise and weakness in the churches.

-- Come out from them and be separate.

-- Didn’t the true church survive underground and in homes while under persecution?

I’m local church but when I come across a few of these people I have a hard time refuting some of these questions especially when they point out the mess the ‘church’ is in. In some ways it would be nice to not attend a local church. Church membership can be hard work especially when so many don’t help or when one must stand alone on convictions, even in the church. But I’m not at liberty to abandon my local church. I know families that have given up on the local church because of the poor influence of the people in the church, especially the youth. I am reminded that Hannah left Samuel at the temple even in the mess the temple was in with Eli’s son's wicked behavior. I’m sure she was aware of what was going on yet she trusted God to work it out and He certainly did. Samuel maintained a good testimony through all the sin that was around him. He was used of God to preserve Israel. My part as a parent is to keep my family in church and when things come up that we don’t agree with we simply use that as an opportunity to train the children. No doubt the world is in the church so I use it to show my family that this is not the way and don’t walk in it. Walk in truth even if others don’t. I don't believe God wants us to just blindly go along with all things in the church. We must prove all things. As David said, ‘Is there not a cause,’ so must the cause move us to stand.



Hello. It is good to hear from you. There is a great attack upon the New Testament church today, and it is coming from many different directions. One of those is the “house church” movement.

IN ADDRESSING THIS ISSUE WE MUST FIRST UNDERSTAND HOW IMPORTANT THE CHURCH IS FROM A BIBLICAL STANDPOINT. Even the most cursory study of the New Testament reveals that the church is God’s chosen means of accomplishing His purposes in this age. There are more than 100 references to the church in the New Testament. This shows the emphasis that the Holy Spirit has put upon the church, and the vast majority of those references are unquestionably to the local assembly, not to a general or prospective aspect of the church.

Men have corrupted churches, but the church is God’s plan. The Lord Jesus said, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mat. 16:18). The church is Christ’s program.

The church is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:16), and that is a church with elders and elders (1 Tim. 3:1, 8).

Most of the New Testament was written directly to churches. And even those portions not written directly to a particular church refer to the church. The theme of Acts is the planting and multiplication of the first churches. The Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) were written to instruct church planters in their work.

Even the General Epistles, which are not written to particular churches, always have the churches in mind. Hebrews refers to the church in chapters 10 and 13. Hebrews 10:25 exhorts God’s people not to forsake the assembling of themselves together. In Hebrews 13:7 and 17 Christians are exhorted to obey church rulers. The last chapter of James refers to the church. Those who are sick are to call for the “elders of the church.” The final chapter of 1 Peter also refers to the church, in exhorting elders in their duties. John refers to the church in his third epistle, when he mentions the proud Diotrephes. The book of Revelation, of course, is addressed to the seven churches that existed in that day.

Consider, too, that there is no Bible instruction about the discipline and watch care of Christians apart from the church. There is no instruction about leadership among Christians apart from the church. The entire life and work of God’s people for this age appears in the context of the assembly.

SECOND, WE MUST ALSO UNDERSTAND WHAT A CHURCH IS. A proper New Testament church has certain biblical ingredients. It is not merely a group of Christians meeting for prayer and Bible study. Paul wrote to Titus about church work in Crete. The gospel had been preached and there were believers who were meeting together, but that was not sufficient. Paul instructed Titus that certain things were lacking (Titus 1:5). What were those things? The thing that was lacking was proper qualified leadership and biblical organization, and these are the thing that Paul addresses in the book of Titus. The very first thing that Paul instructs Titus about is the ordination of elders. “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee” (Titus 1:5).

We see the same thing in the book of Acts. When Paul and Barnabas raised up groups of believers in various towns, they were careful to “ordain elders in every church” (Acts 14:23).

A proper New Testament church, therefore, is a body of baptized believers who are congregated together under the oversight of qualified and ordained pastor-elders and who are following the pattern of government and accomplishing the work described in the apostolic epistles, which is Christ’s Great Commission.

It is clear from Scripture that it is God’s will that every believer be a faithful and fruitful member of a sound New Testament church. That is what we see in Acts 2. Those who were saved on the day of Pentecost “continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42)

If there is not such a church in the area, the establishment of such a church must be the highest priority. A believer should never be content merely to listen to preaching sermons on a cassette player or CD, or to read sermons from a book, or to listen to preaching on the radio or television, or to meet together with a loose-knit group of believers without proper biblical leadership and organization.

The reason I have remained a faithful member of a church for 33 years is not that I have found perfect pastors and perfect churches, but because I know that this is God’s will and anything less would displease Him. It is my understanding of the doctrine of the church that keeps me going in spite of grave imperfections I have found in churches.

Now, as to the specific questions you raised, the following is my answer:

1. “Wherever 2 or 3 are gathered together I am in the midst.” This is a reference to Christ’s statement in Matthew 18 -- “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Mat. 18:19-20). In this passage, Christ was discussing church discipline. See Mat. 18:15-18. The passage does not support the idea that a loose-knit gathering of believers is a proper church when no effort is made to organize the gathering along biblical lines under the oversight of qualified pastor-elders. It is common for churches to start small, of course. There is usually an intermediate stage during which a new fellowship is growing towards become an established, properly organized New Testament assembly. That is the stage that we see in Crete before Titus was instructed as to how to organize the churches. During this intermediate stage, a fellowship might be composed of two or three people and Christ encourages that small, struggling body of believers that He is with them. But when we compare Scripture with Scripture, when we compare this passage in Matthew 18 with passages in Acts and Titus and elsewhere, we find that a proper New Testament will have duly ordained pastor-elders and will be organized along biblical lines and will not be a loose-knit group of believers who do not want anyone to rule over them.

2. “You are the Temple of the Holy Ghost if saved.” -- Truly, every born again child of God has the indwelling Holy Spirit, but this does not mean that such a believer is sufficient in himself to serve the Lord apart from the New Testament church that Christ has established. The Holy Spirit exhorted the readers of Hebrews as follows: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Heb. 10:25), and, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Heb. 13:17). Those exhortations are for every believer of every period in the church age.

3. “No building is required.” -- This statement is true. It doesn’t matter where a church meets. A New Testament church can meet in a home or in a rented facility or in its own facility. That is irrelevant. The important point is not where the church meets but whether it is organized along biblical lines.

4. “Compromise and weakness in the churches.” -- It is true that there is widespread compromise and weakness in churches today. In fact, it has always been true! It was true for many of the churches even in the first century. The church at Corinth was a mess! The members were carnal and divided. They refused to discipline one of their own although he was living in open fornication with his father’s wife! They were taking each other to court. They were getting drunk during the Lord’s Supper. They were misusing the spiritual gifts. They allowed false teachers to discredit the Apostle Paul. What a church! Yet Paul was thankful for the grace God had given them (1 Cor. 1:4). The seven churches mentioned in Revelation also had many serious problems, including spiritual coldness, false teachers, and immorality. There never has been a church that did not have problems, and the simple reason for this is that church members are sinners. As it has been said, “If you ever find a perfect church, don’t join it or you will mess it up!” It is crucial to find the best church possible and to seek to make it a better church by my presence. A question that I challenge God’s people to ask themselves is this: “If the entire church were like me, what would my church be?” If the church reflected my level of spirituality, faithfulness, service, prayer, zeal for the things of Christ, separation from the world, giving, etc., what would the church be?

5. “Come out from them and be separate.” -- Biblical separation is a command, and I preach much on this issue. I have never counseled a believer to remain in a church that has a false gospel or a false christ or a false spirit or that is given over to the world or that is yoked together with the ecumenical movement or such. There is definitely a time to leave a church, but we must be careful and learn how to weigh issues in the church. “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” is from 2 Corinthians 6:17, and the context of this statement is separation from unbelievers and infidels and idolaters (2 Cor. 6:14-16). 2 Corinthians 6 is not describing separation from all churches just because they are imperfect.

6. “Didn’t the true church survive underground and in homes while under persecution?” -- Of course, true churches survived underground and in homes during persecution, and they still do so today in some parts of the world. But that has nothing to do with the fact that God’s Word instructs us to have churches and to organize them along biblical lines under the oversight of pastor-elders.

I commend you for staying with the church and for not giving in to temptations to abandon it. On the authority of God’s Word, I can say that you will not regret this at the judgment seat of Christ. There are always things that come up even in the best of churches that one will not necessarily agree with. If we reject the church on the basis of every imperfection, it will not be possible to be a fruitful church member.

At the same time, it is important to be in a godly church. When a church goes after the world, it becomes a spiritually dangerous place, and this is especially true when it comes to children. I don’t believe that the example of Hannah is a good one to follow today. In that day there was only one temple. There was only one place in the world where God was worshipped properly. That is no longer true. We live in a different age. If necessary, it would be better to move to a place that has a godly church than to stay in a place where one is forced to attend a worldly one. If I were a in such a position, I would rather relocate even if it meant taking a cut in pay in order to have my family in a spiritually-healthy church.

The solution to the problem of carnal and compromised churches is not to abandon the institution of the church but to support and to establish good ones.

May the Lord give you much wisdom and strength to deal with his important issue.

I also suggest that you read “Seven Keys to Fruitful Church Membership” and “I Am Not Your Pastor” at the Way of Life web site. There is a search engine.

In Christ,
David Cloud

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Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 28, 2016, 04:01:29 pm

Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 31, 2016, 12:13:39 am

Title: This is What it Means to Make Disciples
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 31, 2016, 01:08:01 am
The more I study this issue, the more it seems like that one of the last days Apostasy is the persecution of the local NT churches. Yes, a lot of them are 501c3 now, but there ARE STILL very good, albeit non-501c3 Baptist/KJB-only churches across America. And these are the ones getting attacked through and through today - maybe not physically, but verbally albeit by their own KJB-brethren.


This is What it Means to Make Disciples
Zane Pratt | September 26 2016

The term discipleship has made its rounds within churches for decades. Its use has encompassed everything from church programs or classes to one-one-one relationships between a mature believer and one who is new to the faith. It has involved Bible studies, hanging out over coffee, working together in ministry, and lengthy discussions over biblical ethics and morality.

That specific term, however, is not found in the Scriptures. It comes from a biblical phrase that’s the central command of the Great Commission: make disciples. If it’s principal to Christ’s commands, we need to understand fully and rightly what it means to make disciples. In this article, Zane Pratt fleshes out a biblical framework for disciple making.

As we look in the Bible at the teaching and examples of Jesus and his apostles, we discover that disciple making is the Christ-commanded, Spirit-empowered duty of every disciple of Jesus. We have the mandate to evangelize unbelievers, baptize believers, teach them the Word of Christ, train them to obey Christ as members of his church, and make disciples of all nations. Every element in this description is worth unpacking.

All Believers Make Disciples

First of all, the command to make disciples extends to every believer. This isn’t t reserved for a small spiritual elite. Everyone in the body of Christ is necessary for any disciple to grow to maturity in Christ. Not everyone will play the same role in the disciple-making process, but everyone in the body of Christ is irreplaceable. A local church is intended to be a group of disciples who make disciples, with no one excluded from the task. (1 Cor. 12:12–26; Eph. 4:11–16)

In the Power of the Spirit

The power to make disciples comes from the Holy Spirit. He is the one who takes people who are dead in their sin and makes them alive in Christ. He is the one who transforms believers into the image of Christ. He is the one who puts sin to death and clothes believers in the character of Christ, as perfectly described in the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22–23). He is the one who opens the minds of believers to the meaning of the Bible, and He’s the one who empowers ministry. No one should shy away from this task because they sense their own inadequacy. By ourselves, all of us are inadequate, but the Holy Spirit is more than sufficient for the task. (John 3:3–8, 14:16–18, 25–26, 15:26–27, 16:4–15; Rom. 8:1–17, 26–27; 1 Cor. 2:9–16, 12:1–31; 2 Cor. 3:17–18, 5:1–5; Gal. 5:16–26; Eph. 1:11–14; 2 Tim. 1:14; Titus 3:4–7; 1 John 3:24, 4:13)

Disciple Making Includes Evangelism

Disciple making includes sharing the gospel with the lost, then baptizing those who respond in repentance and faith as the public testimony of what has happened to them in salvation. Evangelism and disciple-making are not separate, disconnected activities. A church that simply helps existing believers become better Christians without also sharing the gospel with unbelievers is not a disciple making church. The beginning of the discipleship process is rebirth, and no one can be born again apart from hearing the gospel. Evangelism and baptism are the essential starting point of making disciples.(Matt. 28:16–20; John 3:1–18; Acts 2:37–47, 4:1–4, 12, 31, 5:14, 42, 6:7, 8:1–8, 9:1–19, 10:34–48, 11:19–24, 16:25–34; Rom. 6:1–4; 2 Cor. 5:11–21; Phil. 1:12–18; 1 Thess. 1:6; 2 Tim. 4:5)

Disciple Making Includes Teaching

Disciple making includes teaching believers to understand the content of the Bible. The task of making disciples involves more than teaching Bible knowledge, but it never involves less. The Bible is the incredible gift God has given to reshape the way we think, the things we love, and the way we live. It’s the only testimony that enables us to know God, and knowing God and Jesus Christ whom he sent is eternal life. Making disciples includes both teaching believers to know the Bible thoroughly and teaching them the disciplines of hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on the Word of God. (Deut. 6:1–9, 32:44–47; Josh. 1:8; Ps. 19:7–4, 119:; Isa. 66:1; Matt. 4:4, 28:18–20; Acts 20:32; 1 Tim. 4:6–16; 2 Tim. 2:14–15, 3:14–17, 4:1–5; 2 Pet. 1:19–21)

    Biblical disciple making includes training believers to obey all that the Bible teaches.

Along with teaching believers the content of the Bible, biblical disciple making also includes training those believers to obey all that the Bible teaches. Saving faith obeys the Word of God out of trust that everything God says in his word is true and good. Discipleship makes a holistic difference, and that difference is defined by what Scripture teaches and commands. The behavior, morality, ethics, relationships, stewardship of resources, and every other area of a disciple’s life are to be reshaped in obedience to God’s Word. We’re still sinners, and though no one attains perfect obedience in this life, the process of making disciples must include training to obey Scripture. (Matt. 7:21–27, 28:18–20; John 14:15, 21–24, 15:10–17; Acts 6:7; Rom. 6:1–23; Phil. 2:12–13; James 2:14–26; 1 John 1:8–10, 2:4–6, 3:24, 5:1–5)
Disciple Making Captures Affections

Disciple making also reshapes a believer’s relationships and affections. Disciples love God supremely, love other believers as Christ has loved us, love their neighbors as themselves, and even love their enemies. They also grow to love everything that God loves and to hate the evil that God hates. Therefore, the process of disciple making must take effect in every relationship of a disciple, and it must remake the disciple’s delights and desires. (Matt. 5:43–48, 6:19–34, 7:12, 10:37–39, 13:44–45, 22:36–40; John 15:12–17; Rom. 12:9–21; 1 Cor. 13:1–13, Gal. 5:13–15; Eph. 5:22–6:9; Phil. 3:7–17, 4:8; Col. 3:1–4:1; 1 John 2:15–17, 3:11–24, 4:7–21)

Disciple Making Takes Place in Local Churches

Disciple making happens biblically in the context of a local church. One-on-one discipleship is useful, but it’s not sufficient. We all need each other in the body of Christ. We only grow to maturity in Christ as each member of the body does his or her part. Therefore, in order for a believer to grow as a disciple, that believer must be fully engaged and committed to a local church. In pioneer missionary settings where there are no churches, it’s necessary to plant new churches in order to obey the Great Commission command to make disciples. (Matt. 28:18–20; 1 Cor. 12:1–31; Eph. 4:1–16)

Disciples Make Disciples

Disciple making should result in disciples who make disciples who make disciples, in an ongoing process of reproduction. The Great Commission, which commands God’s people to make disciples, also commands those disciple-makers to teach the new believers to obey everything Jesus commanded. This includes the Great Commission itself, which commands making new disciples. Therefore, the process of disciple making should never end until Jesus comes back. Every disciple of Jesus should participate in making new disciples of Jesus.

All of this means that disciple making is far more than a church program or a study course. It is a lifelong process of growth toward conformity to the image of Christ and active work in the service of Christ. It happens in the rough and tumble of the life of a local church, as redeemed sinners spur one another on toward love and good deeds. It keeps going until Jesus comes back or the disciple goes to be with him through the valley of death. The biblical picture of what it means to be a Christian is a disciple who makes disciples in the fellowship of the church.


I like online fellowship, don't get me wrong - but it's impossible to do this online, b/c for 1) There's no ordination of pastors, elders, and deacons, and 2) Quite obviously, we're all far away from each other (even countless hours of Skyping won't help at all, b/c you still won't know others well through a mere face-face Skype).

And FWIW too, loose-knit bible study groups won't work either, b/c at best you're only making others a better Christian within the group, and nothing more.

Title: What Is The Bible Definition Of Church? What Is The Biblical View Of Church?
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 31, 2016, 01:17:33 am
What Is The Bible Definition Of Church? What Is The Biblical View Of Church?

If you were to ask people what they think of when they hear the word church you would get many differing responses. Some responses may be accurate and some may not be accurate. However, most people are surprised to learn what is the Bible definition of church and what is the Biblical view of the church.

What is the common definition of church?

Church is commonly defined as a building used for public worship (1). However, many people refer to a church as an organization. Examples are the Catholic Church, the Church of England, and the Southern Baptist Church amongst many others.

What is the Bible definition of church?

The word church in the Bible comes from the Greek word ecclesia, which means a called out company or assembly. Wherever it is used in the Bible it refers to people. It can be a mob (Acts 19:30-41), the children of Israel (Acts 7:38), and the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 5:25, 32).

We see the word church used three different ways: First, as the body of Christ, the church is often defined as a local assembly or group of believers (1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1-2). Second, it is defined as the body of individual living believers (1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13). Finally, it is defined as the universal group of all people who have trusted Christ through the ages (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 5:23-27).

Bible Definition of Church
What the church is not

    The church is not Jews or Gentiles

We see three distinct groups of people in the Bible: Jews, Gentiles, and the church (1 Corinthians 10:31-33; Galatians 3:26-29). Jews are all born as descendants of Abraham through Isaac (Romans 9:6-7). Gentiles are all other people born who are not Jews.

When a Jew or a Gentile trusts Christ as their Savior, they are born again into God’s family, become a child of God, and are part of the church. They are no longer a Jew or a Gentile (Galatians 3:26-29). The wall of separation between Jew and Gentile is torn down and they become one body (Ephesians 2:14-16).

    The church is not a kingdom

Some people try to make the church the kingdom of Heaven that has already come. They ignore the following: The church inherits the kingdom (Matthew 25:34; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 15:47-50). The church is here on earth, but the kingdom of Heaven is not here (Isaiah 9:7; Matthew 5:19-20; Matthew 8:11)

    The church is not a physical building or business organization

Too often people describe a church building or organization as the church. This is because they emphasize the facility or organizational hierarchy as what constitutes a church. Most churches are organized in such a way that the public face of a church is seen as a business. However, since many people have a difficult time putting a label on a church, the term local church is often used to denote the local assembly of believers along with their meeting place and operations.

What is the Biblical view of church?

    The church is the building or temple of God

Although the church is not a physical building, believers are referred to as the building or temple of God. Like a physical building, believers also have a Cornerstone; Jesus Christ. The foundation is the prophets and apostles. (Matthew 16:16; 1 Corinthians 3:9-17; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:6; Ephesians 2:19-22).

    The church is the bride of Christ

The Bible makes reference to the church being the bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-32). This also alluded to in John 14:1-3 when Jesus talked about making a place at His Father’s house for us. This is a direct reference to when a man proposes to a woman and they are engaged. The man goes back to his father’s house to build on an addition. When the addition is done and everything is ready, he comes to call for his bride, which symbolizes the resurrection (Matthew 25:1; Revelation 19:7-9).

    The church has a Spiritual purpose

The local church or assembly of believers has different roles that God gave to specific believers for the purpose of perfecting or training the believers, doing the work of the ministry, and strengthening of the church body (Ephesians 4:11-14). The roles given in the Bible are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Deacons are also mentioned in Acts 6:1-7 and 1 Timothy 3:8-13 as servants to wait upon people with physical needs.

The church body also serves as a local group to resolve conflicts (Matthew 18:15-20) and serve as a court (1 Corinthians 6:1-8). In addition, baptisms and the Lord’s Supper or communion are observed by the church body (Acts 2:37-40; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34). Depending on the size of the church body, other ministries are performed by the members of the church as God has gifted each person (Romans 12:3-13; Ephesians 4:1-8).


When Jesus had dinner at Matthew’s house He was asked how He could spend time eating with sinners (Matthew 9:9-13). When Jesus heard this He answered with words that were very telling. He said, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

With these words, Jesus described the church. Imperfect people who know they needed a Savior, working together to build relationships, help those in need, and to glorify God by striving to be like Christ and share His love with others.

Title: What Is a Local Church?
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 31, 2016, 01:24:12 am
What Is a Local Church?

A local church is a group of Christians who regularly gather in Christ’s name to officially affirm and oversee one another’s membership in Jesus Christ and his kingdom through gospel preaching and gospel ordinances. That’s a bit clunky, I know, but notice the five parts of this definition:

    a group of Christians;
    a regular gathering;
    a congregation-wide exercise of affirmation and oversight;
    the purpose of officially representing Christ and his rule on earth—they gather in his name;
    the use of preaching and ordinances for these purposes.

Just as a pastor’s pronouncement transforms a man and a woman into a married couple, so the latter four bullet points transform an ordinary group of Christians spending time together at the park—presto!—into a local church.

The gathering is important for a number of reasons. One is that it’s where we Christians “go public” to declare our highest allegiance. It’s the outpost or embassy, giving a public face to our future nation. And it’s where we bow before our king, only we call it worship. The Pharaohs of the world may oppose us, but God draws his people out of the nations to worship him. He will form his mighty congregation.

The gathering is also where our king enacts his rule through preaching, the ordinances, and discipline. The gospel sermon explains the “law” of our nation. It declares the name of our king and explains the sacrifice he made to become our king. It teaches us of his ways and confronts us in our disobedience. And it assures us of his imminent return.

Through baptism and the Lord’s Supper, the church waves the flag and dons the army uniform of our nation. It makes us visible. To be baptized is to identify ourselves with the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as well as to identify our union with Christ’s death and resurrection (Matt. 28:19; Rom. 6:3-5). To receive the Lord’s Supper is to proclaim his death and our membership in his body (1 Cor. 11:26-29; cf. Matt. 26:26-29). God wants his people to be known and marked off. He wants a line between the church and the world.

What is the local church? It’s the institution which Jesus created and authorized to pronounce the gospel of the kingdom, to affirm gospel professors, to oversee their discipleship, and to expose impostors. All this means, we don’t “join” churches like we join clubs. We submit to them.

Title: Definition of a Local Church
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 31, 2016, 01:26:12 am
Definition of a Local Church

Definition of a local church:

(1) purpose is the public worship of God, edification of the saints, and spread of the gospel.

(2) organization: planned meetings (Acts 20:7), corporate discipline (I Cor. 5), money raising projects (II Cor. 8-9), recognized leaders such as pastor, elders, deacons (Heb. 13:7, 17).

(3) ordinances practiced.

R. Lightner in “Truth for the Good Life, p. 115-6.


Title: Profile of the Lone Ranger Christian
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 31, 2016, 01:51:46 am
Profile of the Lone Ranger Christian

Sometimes you hear it said, “There’s no such thing as a Lone Ranger Christian.” That’s wrong – there is such a thing. Of course, he doesn’t wear a red bandana and a black mask. He doesn’t ride a white horse and have a sidekick calling him “Kimosabe.” So how do you recognize this spiritual masked man? Here is a profile of the Lone Ranger Christian:

1. The Lone Ranger Christian does not submit to any church authority.

The Lone Ranger Christian always rides solo. To be shepherded and led by pastors and elders is fine for the ordinary believer, but not for him. This renegade sheep is quite able lead himself beside still waters, thank you very much. He is a self-shepherd. He’s really not opposed to authority per se. It’s just that he himself is his own authority. He says he answers only to God. That sounds noble, but his refusal to submit to others for the sake of Christ (Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 5:5) means that in reality he answers only to himself.

2. The Lone Ranger Christian does not commit to any church body.

Belonging to a local church body not only means submission to church authority, but it also entails dedication and commitment to one group of believers over an extended period of time. The Lone Ranger Christian won’t have it. He may enjoy Christian gatherings and even be the gregarious type, but his fellowship with other believers is always on his terms.

The Lone Ranger Christian often enjoys hearing good preaching and teaching. And he will even come to church to worship. But he won’t commit to the church. If he tires of one preacher, or if he gets bored with one church’s worship service, or if too many people rub him the wrong way, it’s “Hi-yo Silver, Away!”, and off he rides.

Though he rejects the church in this way, strangely, he needs the church. It serves as the necessary backdrop to sharpen his profile as the self-made man of God, beholden to no institution. Rather than devoting his energies to serving the church, in a parasitical way he looks better as the church looks worse. Christians committed to their churches are engaged in the work of learning to love one another, and to worship and serve together, a messy and difficult business because of our sin and natural selfishness. But the Lone Ranger Christian strikes a pose of daring independence, ever above the fray, proclaiming his allegiance to Jesus alone. Though he is blissfully free from the heartache and stress that true Christian community often entails, the tragedy is he knows nothing of the joy of genuine Christian fellowship. His independence often brings in its wake a sad loneliness.

3. The Lone Ranger Christian values his personal experience and beliefs over church teaching.

Orthodox Christian doctrine has always been a communal affair. Christ entrusted his words to his apostles, who in turn taught others, including pastors and teachers, who in turn taught churches. These churches were formed around a common confession of faith in Christ. Church councils worked through difficult theological questions together. And the Reformed confessions of faith were penned by assemblies, or if written by individuals, they were adopted by churches. In other words, true doctrine is church doctrine – the Bible says the church is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).

But the Lone Ranger Christian, though he may hold orthodox views, will in the end appeal to his own understanding or his own experience as the final arbiter of Christian truth. In fact, he cherishes nothing so dearly as his own opinions. And what makes them right is not that they agree with Scripture, or with historic Christian orthodoxy, but that they are his.

4. The Lone Ranger Christian considers himself a teacher, not a student; a leader, not a follower.

The Lone Ranger Christian is naturally resistant to teaching, because to be taught demands a certain humility and willingness to submit to others. So he fancies himself a teacher. In the worst cases, he is the unique, self-appointed Teacher of Truth (you can often read his comments under internet articles dealing with religion). Likewise, the Lone Ranger Christian will not follow others. He imagines he would be a better leader than most of the pastors and elders he knows, but since he never learned to humbly follow others, he cannot be a true leader in Christ’s church.

Now, there are passages of Scripture you can show your Lone Ranger friend that indicate why all Christians should belong to a church (for example, Ephesians 4:1-16; Hebrews 10:25, 13:17; 1 Peter 5:1-5). But such talk will make him uneasy. He senses you are infringing on his cherished autonomy, and he doesn’t like it. Happily for him, just like the real Lone Ranger, he has a silver bullet to disarm any threats to his Christian independence. That silver bullet is one word: “legalism”. Speak of the need for church attendance, of commitment to the body of Christ, or of submitting to the authority Christ gave to his church, and he is likely to shoot them down with this one word.

What produces these Lone Ranger Christians? The root of the problem is pride. At heart we are all spiritual Lone Rangers. And so I suspect the above description may be fit us more than we like to admit.

But the next time you encounter the mysterious Christian who vanishes from your fellowship as quickly as he appeared (with the William Tell Overture playing in the background, of course), and you ask one another, “Who was that masked man, anyway?”,  now you know – it was the Lone Ranger Christian.

Pastor Scott


FYI, I used to listen to one online ministry - for the most part he was right about a lot of things (ie, repentance, faith, a changed life following, Young Earth creationism, the KJB, and other very important doctrines). However, there was one long stretch of videos where he just moaned and complained how he was lied to, mistreated, etc by churches in town. For one, he never named any names (very weird, sounded like he was being secretive of those that lied to him and backstabbed him). And two, he would pick on pastors who would preach tithing, but when his car was totaled (b/c his wife was running around at 1am in the morning), he was begging for donations AND admitted he would quit his job (b/c he wouldn't work full time) to work on his online ministry. (while his wife works full-time)

I could go on with other examples - but nonetheless beware of these so-called "ministries" where people like this guy just slap up something out of thin air, and just act alone in terms of running it. (ie, no ordination or anything)

Title: The Offices of the Church
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 31, 2016, 10:22:24 am
The Offices of the Church


Another important and fundamental aspect of a local church are its various offices and roles.  God established and directed these offices by His wisdom; therefore, it is essential that a local church understand and fill these positions with qualified men and women.  A thorough study of the New Testament will reveal the following positions and roles, which we will seek to understand in this study:  High Priest, King, Head, apostle, prophet, teacher, minister, evangelist, elder, pastor, bishop, deacon, saint, and Christian.  As we will find, these labels serve more as a description of the work accomplished than as an actual title.

Christ's Gracious Gifts

As we observed in our study of the work of the church, Jesus provided the universal church with certain "gifts" to aid the completion of its work (Ephesians 4:7-16).  This gift is partly comprised by the abilities that are graciously given to those who fulfill the offices and roles described in verse 11:

    "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers." Ephesians 4:11

However, as we read through the Bible, we run across other labels and special roles, such as; bishop, elder, minister, Christian, saint, prophet, High Priest, etc.  What do all these titles mean?

As we investigate and compile these various references, we will find that many of the labels are used interchangeably.  Many of the labels describe a unique facet of the office or role that they represent.  For example, Christians are referenced by many different names, each describing an different aspect of their lives.  Therefore, these titles serve more as labels, distinguishing the different works and roles rather than serving as a title.  However, some of these labels are indeed made in reference to a special office.  When we compile a complete list of the offices and roles found in the New Testament church, we discover the following list of offices in the church, along with the following synonyms:

    Apostle, ambassador
    Evangelist, minister,preacher, teacher
    Elder, bishop, pastor, shepherd, presbyter

    Christian, saint, priest, children of God

Of course, no study of the offices of the church would be complete without first examining the one who died for the church and by whose name it is called - Jesus Christ.  He alone holds all authority over the church, filling many positions:  Savior, High Priest, King, and Prophet.

The Head of the Church

The supreme office of the church belongs to Jesus Christ.  He is the one from whom all authority and revelation flows (Ephesians 1:20-23; < span class="ref">John16:13-15).  However, we see that Christ has submitted Himself to God the Father, and it is from the Father that Jesus received the message that He proclaimed  (ICorinthians 15:24-28; John12:49-50; Hebrews1:1-2).

The Bible uses several different terms to describe Christ's supreme position, each term illustrating a unique facet of His role.  The book of Hebrews speaks of Christ being our High Priest (Hebrews 7:26-8:6; 9:1-15) because He offered a sacrifice, Himself, for the sins of the whole world. His work in this regards is similar to that of the Old Testament high priests, who offered animal sacrifices for the whole nation of Israel (Leviticus 16:1-34; 21:10-17).  This explains His unique role in offering a sacrifice for all people and entering the "Most Holy Place" (which is in heaven, before the Father's throne) to make atonement for our behalf.

Further illustrating His ultimate position, Jesus is also spoken of as a King and His people are referred to as citizens of His kingdom (Colossians 1:3; John 18:33-37).  This reference denotes the authority of His position and office.  He is the ultimate authority for us today, therefore; it is imperative that we never disobey His directives at the beckoning of any other man.  Moreover, we must be vigilant to compare all human directives with the Bible - the words of Christ.

In the recordigns of Acts, Luke commended the people of Berea for their diligence in checking the teachings of the apostle Paul against that of the Old Testament scriptures (Acts 17:10-12).  Therefore, in our effort to obey Christ, Who is the head of the church, let us likewise "Test all things; hold fast what is good" and be sure that we "do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world."  (I Thessalonians 5:21; I John 4:1).   As head of the church, He is the supreme authority on all matters. This calls upon us to diligently study the Bible and adhere to Jesus' will, while bewaring the traditions of men that are substituted for God's Word (Matthew 15:1-14).


It is vital that we understand the various roles and offices that are a part of God's design for the New Testament church.  We must be careful that we do not become guilty of "adding to" God's pattern by adding creating more offices.  However, we must also fill the appropriate positions with qualified people, lest we be part of church that still has things "wanting" before God (Titus 1:5).  In addition to being disobedient to God's will, perversion of His pattern for the church generates additional temptation, pressures, and finally, corruption that would not be present if we would "build all things according to the pattern".


Title: Local Church Basics
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 31, 2016, 10:29:35 am

What is a "Church"?

The original word for "church" was an everyday Greek word, ekklesia, which merely meant a common assembly (Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words).   The word is sometimes used to refer to common assemblies of government (Acts 19:39) or even to a riotous mob (Acts 19:32, 41).  Other times it refers to the religious assembly, or group of God's people (Matthew 16:18, Ephesians 1:22).  However, the same word is translated as "church" when it is used in a religious context and as "assembly" when used in a common sense.

The Local and Universal Church

The Bible speaks of the church in two different ways.  Although it never uses the above references, it does speak of two distinct assemblies that are well characterized by the labels, local church and universal church.  Understanding the distinctions between these two assemblies is essential to understanding and finding a local church that is patterned after God's Word.

The phrase, "universal church", refers to the entire church at large, all saints - past, present, and future.  It is the body of all the saved, and it is always used in a generic sense.  The identity of each person is lost in the use of this phrase.  It always refers to the group as whole.  Jesus Christ used it when He said, "I will build My church" (Matthew16:18).

Paul illustrated the universal church through the symbol of a body, where Christ was the head, and the entire church was the body:

    "And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." Ephesians 1:22,23

    "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling." Ephesians 4:4

    "For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church, and He is the Savior of the body." Ephesians 5:23

The Bible never speaks of the universal church being organized to do anything.  While it is given a work and mission, the work is not carried out by any other organization than the distributed and autonomous local churches.  It has no committees, no overseeing boards, no organization - except what is seen in the passages above.  Christ is the head of the entire church, and it answers solely to Him.  It is merely the group of all saints, of which one must be a member to be saved (Ephesians1:3 ; Galatians 3:26-27).  It is God who places people in this body as they are converted and enter a saved relationship with Him (Acts 2:37-38; 47).

The phrase, "local church", refers to members of the church that assemble together in a given location.  Unlike the universal church, man has some control over who is a member of a local church.  Churches are commanded to withdraw fellowship from those who do not follow God's Word (I Corinthians 5:1-13; IIJohn 9-11).  This occurs on the local level, not the universal.  Christians may erroneously withdraw fellowship from someone who is still approved by God and a member of the universal church (III John 9-10).  Moreover, members of a local church may erroneously extend fellowship to someone who is excluded by God from the universal church (I Corinthians 5:1-13).  Therefore, the local church is a collection of Christians, overseen by fallible men, who work together to worship God and be pleasing to Him.

Since the universal church is made up of individuals, it is therefore not made up of local churches.  Local churches and denominations are not subsets of the universal church, neither are they saved as whole.  The Bible nowhere speaks of such a structure or system.  But, the Bible does speak of individuals being saved as members of the universal church (please read again Ephesians 1:3; Galatians 3:26-27).  The local church is simply a collection of people who are working toward this final salvation, while the universal church consists of all Christians, whose membership is controlled by God.

Outline of the Essential Characteristics

It is within this study of the "local church" wherein lies the answer to our question.  We should be asking ourselves, "What are the Biblical characteristics of a local church which will be approved by God?"

Using examples and commandments found in the NewTestament, we can establish a list of characteristics that are essential to a local church following God's pattern.  Some characteristics would be:

    The Work of the Church
    Offices of the Church
    Autonomy of the Local Church
    The Organization of theChurch
    The Name of the Church
    Various TeachingsEndorsed by the Local Church

Although many characteristics could be used to make up this pattern, we will use this brief list to help us identify and differentiate between many practices which are taught as God's will, but are in practice the doctrines and traditions of men .  Understanding the Bible teaching on these points will assist us in finding a local church that is in truth trying to follow God's pattern; however, it is by no means a complete or infallible list.  God's word in its entirety is the only standard for determining His Will and the pattern for a local church that is striving to obey it.


The difficult task is determining which characteristics are essential and which are not.  Obviously if we seek to please God, we must use the Bible as the standard to determine if a characteristic is essential.  This demands a diligent effort to study the Bible, an open mind, and constant attention to prayer.  Once we have established such a pattern, then we must compare the church that we now attend to the pattern.  If it does not coincide with God's pattern for a local church, then we must do one of two things, if we seek to be pleasing to God:  We must either seek a new local church that is following God's pattern, or we must try to reform the church with which we now attend.  How can we do otherwise if we love God and love our brethren?

Title: The Autonomy of the Local Church
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 31, 2016, 10:46:56 am
The Autonomy of the Local Church



One of the most influential and far-reaching characteristics of the local church is its organizational structure.  Central to the Bible teaching on this organization is question of church rule.  The Bible answer is that the local church should be autonomous.  There is to be no earthly organization, oversight, or treasury beyond the autonomous local church.  However, before we study such an issue, we must first recognize that there is indeed a pattern for the church that God expects us to follow, and we must also understand some basic concepts about the church.

What Is Meant by "Autonomy" ?

The term "autonomy of the local church" refers to a method of determining the rule of church activities.  It is but one answer to the question of how local congregations should be governed.  Studying this issue will address questions of having a central board, convention, or any other body, to determine the beliefs and practices of a local church.  This article sets the foundation for answering other questions about the organization of the church, which includes cooperation among churches and the use of outside institutions.

A church is said to be "autonomous" if it is self-ruling, which is the literal meaning of the word.  This means that it does not answer to another church or organization for any of its decision.  Obviously, the church is not entirely autonomous because it answers to Jesus Christ who is its head (Ephesians 1:20-23).  So, the refined questions that we must study is, "What does the Bible teach about the earthly rule over a local church?"  "Does it include and allow denominational boards, conventions, etc.?"

The Heart of the Matter

Fundamental to this study is the proper understanding of New Testament examples in establishing authority.  Since most of the Bible commentary on church rule and organization are the examples of New Testament churches operating under the approval of God, it is imperative that we determine the authority that is inherent in these examples.   This article will adopt the conclusion that was reached in the writings on "Examples and the Pattern", which is that all examples are binding until sufficient reason is found for dismissal.

As we study the Bible to determine the nature of the church's organization, we will find the following reoccurring theme that is at the heart of this matter:  Organization of the church begins and ends with the local church, and it should be entirely autonomous of all other organizations, including other local churches.

Biblical Basis for Autonomy

When we read through the pages of the Bible in search of passages about the church and its relation to other organizations, we find no instance of the church answering to any other congregation or organization.  There is no reference to any kind of committees, boards, or conventions - not one.  Moreover, these type of organizations and structures become specifically excluded by the distinct organizational structure that we find in the Bible:

    "The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed:  Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock"  I Peter 5:1-3

    "So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed."  Acts 14:23

Although easy to overlook, these first two passages necessarily imply a specific structure and from which we can confidently draw definite conclusions.  First, we can observe that elders, who "see over" the local church (symbolized here as the flock), were distributed or appointed per congregation.  They were not appointed over a city, district, or diocea - but in every church.  Consequently, each church is equal to the other.  Moreover, these elders, or overseers, were instructed to tend "the flock of God which is among you".  Therefore, not only was each church on an equal basis with the others, but elders were to only tend over those whom they had been appointed (Acts 20:28), which was a single local church (Acts 14:23).  From this we can conclude that elders could not then, and cannot today rule over the affairs of other churches, because elders should be appointed in "every church" where possible, and each set of elders is to oversee the affairs of those that are "among" them.

Any boards, conventions, or even outside elders to which a congregation submits, either willingly or otherwise, is a violation of these teachings.  Such additions place the congregational rule under someone or something beside the elders "among" them, and it will violate the autonomy that is to be enjoyed by "every church."   Since each congregation should be under the oversight and rule of its own elders, then each church must consequently, be absolutely independent of any other church or organizations.

The Local Church Treasury

The idea of church autonomy and congregational independence can be observed in practice from passages about the church treasury.  A congregation's oversight and control would have to extend at least as far as their oversight and control over their own treasury.  But before we continue with this line of reason, let us first examine a verse about the control of personal contributions that are donated to the local church:

    "But Peter said, 'Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.' " Acts 5:3-4

From this passage we learn that each person's contribution is their own and under their own control until it is contributed to the church fund.  However, a necessary implication from this verse is that once it is given, then this is no longer the case.  The gift comes under the control of the church.  When each member of a church makes their contribution, then he or she surrenders their control to the unified will and direction of the church who assumes control of the donated funds.

Similarly, if the church were to contribute to some kind of central collecting agency, church, or institution, the funds would also be under the local church's control until given to the institution.  At that point the institution would exert control and oversight and the local church's oversight and rule would end.  But, when we read through the scriptures, what do we actually find?

    "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also:  On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem.  But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me."  I Corinthians 16:1-4

Although the apostle Paul had the authority to order the Corinthian church to take up a collection, he did not exert control over their contribution.  Please notice two of the phrases from this passage: "whomever you approve by your letters" and "to bear your gift to Jerusalem".  At no point did Paul overtake ownership or control of the Corinthians funds.  The Corinthians had complete control over the choice of messengers to carry "their gift" to Jerusalem.  At no point did it become absorbed into a greater collective whole, nor did the Corinthians give up control or oversight of their contribution.  Even the great apostle Paul did not violate their autonomy, but he specifically recognized their authority in determining their own messenger to carry their gift to its destination.

Since the Corinthian church had complete control of their funds through their own messenger all the way to its destination, then their rule extended at least that far.  Each church had and has the authority, right, and organizational capacity to form their own contribution and have it delivered by the hands of their own selected messenger.  The example of this organizational pattern and the absolute silence for authorizing any other type of church oversight excludes all other forms of church rule and oversight - conventions, boards, central church, etc.

The "Convention" of Acts 15 ?

Recorded in the fifteenth chapter of the book of Acts, a meeting, or convention of sorts, was held to determine a doctrinal matter.  Some believe this to be a pattern for holding conventions today to also determine doctrines and creeds.  However, there are many aspects of this "convention" that make it entirely unlike any conventions that are held today to vote upon creeds.  Let's first examine the background of this meeting:

    "And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved. Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question."

    "So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren.  And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them.

    "But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses."

    "Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter."  Acts 15:1-6

The issue of disagreement was whether the Gentile Christians should be circumcised and keep the other customs of the Old Testament.  In regards to our question, we can learn at least two things from this passage:  First and foremost, those attending this meeting were not representatives of many congregations who had come together to vote upon a creed or confession of belief, but it was made up the apostles, elders of the Jerusalem church, and Paul and Barnabas who had gone to learn why this false doctrine was coming out Jerusalem (vs. 4, 6).  Secondly, the reason for this meeting was not to poll the church population and vote upon a creed or confession of belief, but it was to express God's will and teaching for the matter.  The apostles were representatives of God who had come to express God's wishes.  This was the nature of their office.  The elders also had great need to be there, since it was their congregation that was at the heart of the trouble.  Most if not all of these men were inspired which made it completely different from conventions today.  Therefore, without having to progress further, we have already learned that this meeting is beyond application to us because of both its constituents and its mission.

If you continue to read the chapter, you will read of Peter's account of God's miraculous recognition of the Gentiles ability to be saved, and the numerous accounts of Paul and Barnabas working many miracles through them among the Gentiles, and finally of James' recognition of the prophecies which had foretold of the salvation of Gentiles.  Based upon these miraculous, inspired, and scriptural arguments, the apostles and elders decided a letter should be circulated to stop the spread and influence of the false doctrine.  From this letter and its circulation, we learn three more things that substantiate the previous statements and further separate it from the conventions of today that oversee church activities and beliefs:

    "They wrote this letter by them: The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings.

    "Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, "You must be circumcised and keep the law" -- to whom we gave no such commandment -- it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,"  ...

    "We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth.  For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:"  ...

    "So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter.  When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement.

    "Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words." Acts 15:22-32

First, substantiating the earlier point, the authority of this "convention" was the apostles and prophets who represented God.  Uninspired congregational representatives voting upon a creed or course of action are in no way parallel to this meeting that was guided by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Second, as mentioned earlier, the elders needed to be there since it was from their church that these false teachers went out spreading their doctrine.  Apparently, the false teachers used the Jerusalem church as some kind of reference or support, since the letter specifically clarifies that the false teachers had taught such without endorsement (15:24).  Thirdly, we again notice that it was the Holy Spirit who had inspired and endorsed the decision of this meeting.  This is evidenced by the following phrase from verse 28, "For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit" , and it is further supported by the prophets who traveled with the letter for first-hand miraculous endorsement of its teaching (Acts 15:32).

Therefore, modern conventions are entirely different from this "convention" of Acts 15.  It was different in its constituents - it was made up of inspired apostles and prophets who represented God and not congregations.  Second, it was different in its mission - they came together to determine God's will and not to establish a creed.  Consequently, Acts 15 is an example that should be dismissed and must not be considered as an authoritative example because of its limited application and the impossibility of its universal application. (There are no apostles or prophets alive today.)


The self-rule of each local congregation is one of the most important Bible teachings.  The acceptance or rejection of this Bible doctrine will influence all other decisions that a congregation makes because rejection of this doctrine turns over decisions of a local congregation to the will of a higher, earthly body.  This removes the congregations ability to pattern their local church after God's will and instead subjects it to the will of man.

The examples of New Testament churches are clear:  Each congregation was equivalent in rule and was to have elders, who were to oversee the affairs of their local church.  Moreover, each set of elders was limited to the oversight of the "flock among them".  The Bible offers no other method of church oversight beyond that of the local church and its eldersTherefore, any form of governing body beside the authorized and approved autonomous local church constitutes an "adding to" God's Word and is wrong by God's condemnation of any form of "adding to" or "taking away" from God's Word. (Please see Doing All Things According to the Pattern for scriptures on this point.)

Based upon this study, we will continue our study and examine how New Testament churches cooperated while maintaining their authority and God's approval.

Title: What About “Local” Church Membership?
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 31, 2016, 11:05:16 pm
What About “Local” Church Membership?

“Is a person required to be a member of a local church?Can he not be just a Christian, without a ‘church’ affiliation?”

Before we address this question specifically, let us lay a broader foundation concerning the use of the term “church” in the New Testament.

The English word “church” is derived from the Greek kurikon, meaning “belonging to the Lord.”The actual word in the original New Testament text that stands behind the modern rendition, “church,” is ekklesia, signifying “called out.” It is now generally conceded that the basic sense of the term is “assembly” or “congregation,” while still retaining the suggestion of a “called out” assembly, i.e., God’s assembly.In a non-religious sense, the word was used of a public assembly (see Acts 19:32, 39-40).

In a spiritual sense, ekklesia is employed in the New Testament in three major ways, with serious responsibilities associated with each usage.

(1) “Church” is used of the people of God universally.This organism was equivalent to the “one body” (Mt. 16:18; Eph. 4:4; Col. 1:18) for which the Lord died (Acts 20:28). When one is immersed in water for the forgiveness of his sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16), he automatically is “added” to that body of saved people who constitute the “church” (Acts 2:47; 1 Cor. 12:13).There is no such thing in the Christian age as being “saved,” and not being a member of Christ’s spiritual body, the church. In Ephesians 5:26, Christ is described as the Savior of the body, which elsewhere is identified as the church (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18, 24).Some religionists refer to “the church invisible,” but that is a non-biblical concept.The church consists of people, and they are not invisible.

(2) In the New Testament ekklesia alsorefers to the Lord’s people in a certain locale, e.g., in Jerusalem (Acts 5:11), in Corinth (1 Cor. 1:2), or in some other city, such as the seven congregations mentioned in the early chapters of the book of Revelation (cf. 1:4,11).When Paul and his companions traveled about, preaching the good tidings regarding Jesus, wherever men and women surrendered to the truth in gospel obedience, local churches were established (cf. Acts 14:23).These new Christians banded together for the purpose of corporate worship and fellowship in serving their Master.This was not some optional plan improvised by the whims of the missionaries; it was a divinely orchestrated pattern of organization.

(3) The term “church” also may be employed of a body of people who have been brought together at a certain place and time for the purpose of worshipping God in the company of one another (1 Cor. 11:17ff; 14:34; 3 Jn. 10).Christians are admonished not to neglect these meetings if they would encourage one another toward love and good works (Heb. 10:24-25).

A Sharper Focus

In view of the question submitted, we must focus more closely upon the second usage of “church,” as sketched above.

It is a bit difficult to understand why the question would ever be raised – “Must I be a member of a local church?” – in light of the abundant information on this theme in the New Testament.Think about the following considerations relative to the local church.

(1) In the early chapters of Acts, following the establishment of the church, there are numerous references acknowledging the “togetherness” of the early saints (2:42,44,46; 4:23-24,31-32, etc.).God never intended for Christians to function as isolated “islands” in a sea of worldly-oriented people.The body is not “one member, but many” (1 Cor. 12:14).It would be very difficult to miss Paul’s point of emphasis when he spoke of the spiritual body of Christ as being “fitly framed and knit together through that which every member supplies.”He takes note of the cooperative efforts of individual Christians “according to the working in due measure of each several part” for the increase of the body “unto the building up of itself in love” (Eph. 4:16-17).This divine goal can hardly be achieved if children of God meander about with their congregational membership in their pocket!

It is not without significance that when Paul came to Jerusalem, following an escape from a dangerous circumstance in Damascus, he immediately attempted to “join himself to the disciples” of that city.And once their initial fear of him was alleviated, he was accepted (Acts 9:26ff).

(2) Various New Testament texts make it clear that the early disciples assembled together as a body of people for the purpose of worship on the Lord’s day (Acts 2:42; 20:7-12; 1 Cor. 11:17ff; 14:1-40; 16:1-2).How could a Christian ever be admonished for forsaking an assembly (Heb. 10:25), if he is not even obligated to be a part of a local church?

(3) God structured the individual congregation around an organization plan.Christ is the head of his church wherever it exists (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18), and so, ultimately, he is the head of his church in every city throughout the world.Further, however, in local churches, where qualified men exist (1 Tim. 3:1ff; Tit. 1:1ff), the group is supervised by “elders,” known also as bishops/overseers or pastors/shepherds.

The members are to submit to their overseers in matters of expediency (1 Thes. 5:12; Heb. 13:17), and regard them highly for their work’s sake.While these shepherds are prohibited from arrogating themselves to the position of “lords” over their flock (1 Pet. 5:3), their exemplary leadership is to be revered and followed.

Serving under these men, in special areas that implement other important tasks, are deacons, teachers, evangelists, etc.If Christ did not intend for his people to be a closely-bonded Christian family, why did he organize the local body in such a fashion?

Why Do Some Resist Local Membership?

Occasionally there are those who are not affiliated with any local group of saints.There may be, under unusual circumstances, some rationale for this. Frequently there is not.

(1) It may be the case that a Christian has moved into an area where there is no local congregation of the Lord’s people.In that event, where such is feasible, he may need to drive to a city of reasonable proximity where he is able to locate a good church.

If one is not able to pursue that procedure, he should worship on the Lord’s day in his home, and then seek to win others to the truth, thus establishing a new church in his town as soon as is possible.The same plan may have to be initiated if there is no faithful church nearby, i.e., one with whom he can worship and work conscientiously.

(2) Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to find maverick disciples who simply do not wish to identify with any local church.Reasons for this neglect may be varied.

Some folks are so inflexibly opinionated that they cannot tolerate being in proximity with any Christian who does not yield to their every dictum.Leave such to themselves; it is better that they are isolated.

Not infrequently is the reality that some do not wish to be held responsible for their conduct.They desire to come and go at will.They do not want to be accountable for faithful attendance, consistent giving, or any other responsibility.The do not intend to have their lifestyle monitored.They repudiate the idea that they should be under the oversight of elders.

In a word, they want the “name” of being a Christian, but without the commitment that goes with such.And perhaps most of all, they do not intend to be in an environment where they might be subject to the discipline of the local congregation.

Such folks may entertain the illusion that they are serving God; they are not, however. Such ones have failed to comprehend one of the most fundamental aspects of Christian service.

Title: Re: What About “Local” Church Membership?
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 31, 2016, 11:09:03 pm

According to Scripture, why should every Christian join a church?

Every Christian should join a church because Scripture requires it. Granted, there is no direct command in Scripture that says, “Every Christian must join a local church,” but two factors in Scripture indicate that every Christian should be a member of a local church.

    Jesus established the church to be a public, earthly institution that would mark out, affirm, and oversee those who profess to believe in him (Matt. 16:18-19, 18:15-20). Jesus established the church to publicly declare those who belong to him in order to give the world a display of the good news about himself (John 17:21, 23; see also Eph. 3:10). Jesus wants the world to know who belongs to him and who doesn’t. And how is the world to know who belongs to him and who doesn’t? They are to see which people publicly identify themselves with his people in the visible, public institution he established for this very purpose. They’re to look at the members of his church. And if some people claim to be part of the universal church even though they belong to no local church, they reject Jesus’ plan for them and his church. Jesus intends for his people to be marked out as a visible, public group, which means joining together in local churches.

    Scripture repeatedly commands Christians to submit to their leaders (Heb. 13:17; 1 Thess. 5:12-13). The only way to do that is by publicly committing to be members of their flock, and saying in effect, “I commit to listening to your teaching, following your direction, and to submitting to your leadership.” There’s no way to obey the scriptural commands to submit to your leaders if you never actually submit to them by joining a local church.

Title: Eleven Reasons Why Home Fellowship Groups Usually Fail
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 01, 2016, 09:49:54 am
Eleven Reasons Why Home Fellowship Groups Usually Fail

The need for effective small group ministry is implied in the New Testament. If the local church is to truly develop the spiritual gifts of its members, and mobilize the terrific power of the Holy Spirit to work through a trained and experienced laity, if it is to facilitate true relationship-based community, it will need to organize smaller groups where these can be fostered.

Xenos Fellowship, an independent church in Columbus Ohio, has centered it's ministry in lay-led, small home group ministry since it's beginning in 1970. Using this focus, Xenos has grown from a handful in 1970 to well over 3000 today. Their small group ministry has also resulted in good morale on the part of the 400 lay home fellowship leaders, all graduates of the 2 year graded training course for leaders.

Because of this success, other pastors often call on the Xenos staff to consult regarding how to establish and/or manage small group lay ministry in their own churches.

Through these consultations, we have discovered that small group ministries are not a novel idea at all. In fact, most evangelical churches seem to have tried to establish a network of small groups at one time or another. At the same time, most of these efforts are disappointing to some degree; Leaders often ask us, "What have we been doing wrong?"

The problems encountered when trying to establish a home group ministry sometimes include a lack of participation and interest on the part of the members of the church. Sometimes a small minority of the church struggles along, unwilling to admit failure in the program, and developing a "faithful remnant" theology which justifies, on theological grounds, the lack of growth and lack of participation by the other members. Church division is also a possibility, although we have not seen very many cases where this occurred.

We think these frequent failures are not the result of divine opposition to the idea of small groups, or the fact that, "our kind of people aren't right for this sort of thing." Instead, we think there are a number of good theological and practical reasons why these groups usually fail.

1. They are often not based on New Testament theory

Both New Testament example and principle argue for small home-sized groups as a key feature of the local church. In the area of biblical example, Acts 2:46 states that the Jerusalem church met "in the temple" and "from house to house . . ." Concerning the meetings in the Temple, we know that Solomon's portico was probably quite large, and could have accommodated even the several thousands that were a part of the Jerusalem church. Thus, in Jerusalem, they held both large and small group meetings.

Clearly, they did not feel the large meetings were enough by themselves. It should be obvious that an impersonal atmosphere will result if we only hold only very large meetings. The local church should encourage a network of close relationships in its congregation because real community must be based on close relationships. Smaller group meeting formats such as those described in this passage would be ideal for fostering such relationships.

In another case, Paul reminded the Ephesian elders that he had exhorted them both "publicly and from house to house." (Acts 20:20) In this passage, "publicly" probably refers to the school room of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9). But Paul did not limit his speaking ministry to the large meeting place, even though one was available. He also worked “from house to house.”

Paul apparently refers to several home churches in the city of Rome (Romans 16: 4, 10, 11, 14, 15,). In I Cor. 14:35 he mentions “churches” in the plural, after having already referred to “the church of God which is at Corinth,” (I Corinthians 1:2) in the singular.

It seems clear from these and other references that operating a cluster of home churches in each city was common practice. These home groups continued to work together under the same elders. It is probably significant that no church buildings have been found from the earliest period of the church (33—150 AD.), and even those from the second century were homes with a large room built in. Every church with a building faces the challenge of resisting people's tendency to view the building as the church. At Xenos, we have refused to build or to expand our building until we see a high degree of involvement in home groups.  Otherwise, by expanding the building we would only worsen the problem of superficial involvement in the local church. Currently, the elders at Xenos set a goal of 80% involvement in home groups, and so far, God has allowed us to maintain that rate of incorporation.

New Testament principles surrounding the issues of body life, spiritual gifts, and the fact that real spiritual ministry is the business of every member in the local church can not be effectively brought into practice in a large group setting. (see Rom. 12; I Cor. 12,14; Eph. 4:11-16; Col. 2:19) The church must provide smaller group settings where relationships can grow between members so they will be able to discover each other's needs. Only then will they be able to meet those needs on an individual level.

Unfortunately, when churches attempt to initiate a small group ministry, they sometimes fail to teach and persuate their people that the purpose of the meeting is to practice these biblical principles. The result is sometimes a wrong impression on the part of most participants. Members often feel that the meeting is primarily intended as a social gathering, a support group, or a place where “my needs can be met,” rather than “a place where I can develop a ministry.”

The first order of business in beginning this kind of ministry is to launch a teaching offensive in the church. The goal would be to establish an understanding and a vision of the New Testament model and the spiritual goals associated with lay mobilization in the minds of the participants.

2. The wrong criteria are sometimes followed for the selection of leaders

The Bible teaches that spiritual criteria must be used to select leaders. The qualifications of a deacon (I Tim. 3:8-13) would serve well for the initial selection of leaders of home fellowship groups. Too often, however, the church will designate men and women for leadership on the basis of secular abilities, job status, levels of financial giving, or seniority in the church. The result is usually a meeting that is not very spiritually edifying or appealing.

After leaders have been selected on the basis of character and knowledge, they should also be evaluated on the basis of actual function, or role. When Jesus says “my sheep hear my voice,” he is giving us a basic way to recognize a good shepherd. A Christian's leadership cannot be authenticated until someone is willing to follow him/her.

In many of our churches, it may be very difficult to determine who our authentic leaders are. This is because they have not had ample opportunity to try their hand at leadership. In these cases, we will have to pick leaders on the basis of the best criteria possible. Later, when lay-led groups are in place, it should be possible to evaluate the effectiveness of the work done by the more committed members of the group. Other things being equal, the more effective workers should be the first to be moved forward.

3. Frequently, insufficient authority is given to the leaders

If the home fellowship is to be fashioned after the Biblical examples of house churches, then the leaders of the groups should be allowed to run their groups the way the leaders of the New Testament house churches ran theirs. Since the New Testament instructs readers to respect their leaders and to follow their lead in the running of the home church, we can assume those leaders had many decisions delegated to them. (I Corinthians 16:16; Hebrews 13:17; I Thessalonians 5:14)

Sometimes, churches impose a structure upon the small group that is too restrictive. This structure may include a pre-planned curriculum for study, and a long list of policy restrictions. The effect is usually to stifle initiative and sap motivation. The leaders realize very quickly that they are functioning as agents for the existing leadership of the church, but that they themselves are leaders in name only. When the church requires the home group leaders to check in on virtually all decisions, it clearly suggests that they are incompetent to make their own decisions. Sometimes they are incompetent, but the church must see the challenge in this, rather than accepting the status quo.

Similarlly, pre-planned curriculum often actually scripts the meeting and requires little creativity or expertise on the part of group leaders. Indeed, the main reason for scripting the meeting is usually the feeling that group leaders have no expertise of their own. Such lack of expertise points in turn to a weak equipping ministry in the church. Failure to train leaders to a sophisticated level results in leaders who must be led by the hand at all times.  When this happens, leaders (often highly competent and educated at their secular jobs) realize that anyone could follow the simple script, and consequently, they are not challenged. They lose interest in leading, and begin to call on the leadership to be passed around the group. They fail to take possession of the role of home group leader as a worth while life goal. We believe churches are often too impatient when trying to move from a program-based model to a home group model of church life, and therefore they grossly underestimate the level of training and equipping needed to develop effective leaders. Impatience may also signal lack of commitment, because in-depth equipping is expensive in both dollars and man hours for the church's leaders. See #7 below.

We don't believe the central leadership of the church should forsake all control over the actions of home fellowship leaders, because lay leaders are usually not as well trained as seminary graduates, or as experienced as the church's top leadership. Therefore, it is necessary to carefully weigh which areas are left to the discretion of the home leaders, and which areas need to be cleared with the higher authority of the church. The point in making this decision is to arrive at a balance that will prevent serious errors from occurring (even though we never have a guarantee that all problems can be prevented), while delegating real decision-making authority to the home fellowship leaders.

4. The groups may have an unhealthy inward-focus

Small groups are often set up with the ultimate goal of fellowship or personal support rather than evangelism or mission. While quality fellowship and support is one of the rewards of small group ministry, it is an inadequate basis. If we have only fellowship as our goal, the group is corporately self-centered, or self-focused. Thus, it's no surprise that such groups are prone to division and discontent. This is because outreach and mission are the natural context within which fellowship should occur.

When a group of people occupy themselves with each other to the exclusion of the outside world, discontent is sure to follow. We should be unwilling to consider the option of handling outreach at the large meeting and limiting small groups to a fellowship role. The group may not engage in outreach at its weekly meeting, but they have to work together and pray together on some shared mission.

Acts 2:46 says that the Jerusalem church was "breaking bread from house to house" but does not mention evangelism. However, this is a moot point, since the passage does not mention where evangelism did occur. On the other hand, in I Corinthians 14:24, Paul clearly contemplates "unbelievers" entering a meeting which is an interactive meeting-- apparently a home church (see vs. 26,34).

5. There is often no provision for church discipline within the small group

In cases where home fellowships are set up with no provision for church discipline, a very distressing and familiar pattern emerges. Some people are attracted to small groups for the wrong reasons. There are those who come to exploit others, or simply to use the group to become the center of attention.

The impact of such people is greater in a small group than it would be in a large meeting. As a result, the whole character of the group can be altered to such an extent that it becomes difficult to attract new people, or even to hold the interest and loyalty of the productive members.

The New Testament provides a solution to this kind of situation. Those members who are willing to damage others or themselves are to be confronted in love about their attitude and/or actions (see I Thessalonians 5:14; Matthew 18:15). If they are not responsive, a legitimate amount of pressure can be applied—even to the point of removing them from the group.

According to the Bible, this kind of discipline in love should be normative (I Corinthians 5). The application of discipline should be gracious and suited to the needs of the individual as well as the group. In order to prevent abuses or legalism, the eldership should be consulted in cases where an ultimatum may be issued.

Churches worry about angering people if they practice discipline. This concern is legitimate. But while we will anger some by exercising discipline, we endanger all by failing to exercise it. Worst of all, those being disciplined miss out on one of the important provisions for growth in the New Testament.

Small group attendance is a privilege in the church. Participation should have conditions attached, such as no anti-social or disruptive behavior. Otherwise, the small groups become soft, unruly, and unappealing.

6. All groups may be the same, rather than diversified and matched to their members

For some reason, churches generally devise and execute a plan for small groups that features only one kind of group. We did this too. But not any more! Now we see that family aged people need a different type of group than students or singles, etc.

Why should a large church (or even a small one) have only one type of group? Creativity on the part of leaders and planners could result in a number of models for meetings, featuring different sizes, different formats, different purposes, and different commitment levels. Every church should be different.

7. There may be no adequate equipping offered to would-be leaders

The Bible does not allow the local church the option of telling its people to go away for their training. According to Ephesians 4:11,12, it is the responsibility of the leadership of the local church to provide quality training in Christian work ("the work of service") to its own people. When the leadership of a church decides not to have a small group ministry because its "laymen" are too ignorant, this is not an excuse - it is an admission of guilt!

For many churches, the first step toward a successful home fellowship ministry would be to establish a full year-long course of in-depth theological and practical ministry training for the proposed leadership group. We find that most churches try to get by with a five or ten week training series which is inadequate for sophisticated leadership responsibilities. People will take longer training courses if they can break up the training into modules, and if they view taking these classes as fun. This is why we need to put our best communicators and leaders in as teachers in this training.

If a church already has an adequate supply of leaders who have some biblical knowledge, it would be preferable to hold this training while small groups are in progress, so they can immediately use the knowledge they learn. This prevents the accumulation of "dead knowledge" and also avoids creating the impression that Christian work is more difficult than it really is.

At the same time, we should be clear that completing the training course will not necessarily result in an assignment as a home group leader. That decision will have to also depend on other considerations such as character development, and a record of self-sacrificing service to others.

Finally, aside from classroom training, each home group should develop it's own program of personal discipleship and ministry training (Matthew 28:18-19, I Timothy 2:2). The classes should be viewed as supplemental to the grass-roots discipleship practiced at the home group level.
8. The church may set no multiplication goals, and may have no good plan for multiplying home groups

In many cases, a home fellowship's existence is viewed as an end in itself. As mentioned earlier, this lack of mission-mindedness has a negative effect on the group. In order for groups to be spiritually healthy, they need a purpose greater than themselves. On the other hand, good small groups tend not to stay small. Thus, when a house fills up with people, much of the interactive character of the group is lost. In addition, outreach tends to dwindle because there is no room for new people.

In cases like this, it is natural to divide the group in order to preserve the small size of the group, while at the same time, reaching more people

Unless the church propagates a vision and a plan for planting new groups which encourages outreach, discipleship, and equipping, home fellowships tend to resist multiplication. The status quo is always more comfortable than the change and risk that come with growth.

We should establish ground rules that help to insure success for both newly planted groups, with a minimum of disruption to the relationships that have been developed. Otherwise, the system will tend to stifle initiative and punish success. In other words, the view of the leaders might well be, "the faster our group grows, the sooner we get to part ways with the close friends we have made so far."

Good planning should make it possible for close friends to stay together most of the time, thus minimizing the disruption involved in planting new groups.

9. Small groups are sometimes viewed as peripheral rather than central to the life of the church

In some churches, the large worship meeting and/or teaching meetings are viewed as essential, but the home group is considered an option--helpful to some, but not necessarily normative for healthy involvement in the local church.

As pointed out earlier, this view ignores the Biblical point of view that the local body depends on the individual function of each and every member (Ephesians 4:15,16). We need to resist the temptation to dilute this teaching (for instance, teaching that giving money on Sunday, or serving as an usher could fulfill the intent of this passage). If we allow this kind of superficial understanding of church life predominate, there will be no strong motivation to exercise real spiritual gifts, or to make small group ministry succeed.

If the church fails to establish a vision in the minds of its members for full involvement, the result will likely be a very poor level of participation in the home fellowship program. Often, only those with little to do will spend the time it takes to become meaningfully involved. To obtain the help of our most gifted members, we will need to teach that involvement in home mission and fellowship is an exciting opportunity to finally realize the full extent of normal Christian experience.

The leadership in the local church must cultivate a mentality, or consensus in the church which places an appropriate emphasis on this kind of ministry. Such a consensus can be created without resorting to legalism. The leadership must truly believe in the concept themselves, and be willing to teach and practice it in their own lives.

10. They are sometimes viewed as a threat by the pastor(s) of the church.

Pastors might fear home groups for several reasons. False teaching is always a danger, but this is why the Bible teaches the need for "overseers" or elders. The elders should also train the "lay" work force so that they will be able to teach sound doctrine. Pastors also worry that a small group network may not be effective, thus leading to disappointment in the church. The record of home fellowships in recent years has been mixed, and somewhat disappointing. But we can see from this list some reasons why.

Some leaders may prefer the control that they have when they are the only leaders in the church. This feeling is understandable, especially when a pastor is already having trouble controlling the situation in the church. However, we need to see at this point, that a quality small group ministry would not increase the work load of the pastor in the long run. The key to maintaining quality ministry even for a growing church, is to delegate work to other members. Pastors who succeed in establishing a successful and vital small group network do not see their own leadership eroded at all.

The man or woman of God must pass judgment on his/her own attitude, admitting that a willingness to inhibit others' ministry for the sake of establishing his/her own is most censurable. The fact that we may feel threatened in our position in the church is no excuse! We have been placed where we are in order to facilitate others' ministry, not to inhibit it.

11. Home groups are often introduced in a programmatic, not a natural way.

One church after another has reported that they formed a plan, presented it to the church, started a dozen home groups and got dismal results or even strong resistance from the congregation.  We suggest not approaching home groups this way, because it is unnatural. Home groups should grow in an organic way, not be thrown into existence through a massive program. Instead, the best way to introduce home groups in our opinion is:

    Identify a handful of people who understand and hunger for the vision of home-based fellowship. This could take some time, as leaders may have to persuade some that this approach is biblical and exciting.

    Once that group is identified, the leaders of the church should begin meeting with them in the first home group. Usually, a single home group is preferable, as the future opinion leaders in the church need to get on the same page about what a home group is and how it works.  Plead with the senior pastor to be a part of this group. Planning meetings are not the answer here. Only meeting together and trying different formats and approaches will lead to the consensus you need. Group members should be encouraged to share with non-members their experiences and vision for these kind of groups. If the group is full and others are unable to join, their frustration will actually serve as motivation later when more groups are available. Calling on people to wait will not hurt the project, especially if you make it clear that they are welcome and you are eager to work them in as soon as possible. Keep a waiting list.

    During this first year, the leaders should devise and implement a series of courses for future home group leaders. People waiting to joing a home group should be urged to take advantage of the classes while they wait. If you have a lengthy waiting list, explain that those who take classes will be the first to qualify for participation in home groups. During this period, the church should come to realize that participation in home groups is not a duty or an added burden, but a priveledge.

    When the first group is full and people are ready (this could take months or a year or two) the group should divide and plant another group or groups. Then others can be again invited to join.

    We believe the natural pattern for adding members to existing groups is personal relationships, not geography. Churches that base home groups on geography usually find that the groups lack cohesion because people don't know each other. Allow people to invite their friends and relatives to their own group, regardless of where they live in the city.

    At first, the leadership may want to supervise additions to home groups. Later this will be unnecessary. The point is to try to assure success by getting the best people into home groups in a mix that promises success.  Avoid filling groups with only hard cases.

    Using a system of collegiate review, allow and encourage groups to plant other groups when they are ready. Group leaders should participate in some type of oversight system. Avoid pressuring groups to move too fast, but also refuse to accept a mentality that says "We're satisfied staying the way we are."

    Through multiplication of home groups you can see large numbers of groups formed within a few years. The larger congregation will naturally want to participate in something they hear others are enjoying. Have members of successful groups share their testimonies at your worship service and elsewhere. Build excitement gradually for the home group project. Give people a sense that they have arrived once they get to join a home group.

Title: Who Should Run the Church? A Case for the Plurality of Elders
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 01, 2016, 10:21:41 am
Who Should Run the Church? A Case for the Plurality of Elders

Many churches today have a pastor and several deacons.  This is based on a model of ecclesiology in which it is assumed that there was one elder in the ancient church.  But even those churches that have more than one elder (the pastor being one of them) usually regard the pastor as the de facto head of the church.  This is due to two basic reasons: (1) he is the one with biblical training, and (2) he is the one who speaks before the entire congregation every Sunday.

It seems to me that this model (either the philosophical single-elder model or the pragmatic single-leader model) misses the mark of the New Testament teaching on this topic.  The early church had, I believe, multiple elders.  The pastor would have been counted among them, but was not over them.  Indeed, all would have taught, not just one.  If we can get back to this model, I think that churches will be stronger in many ways.  They will be less idiosyncratic, less dependent on one person,1 more accountable.

The case for plurality of elders can be argued along four lines: biblical, historical, theological, and pragmatic.  At bottom, I would say that the reason the scriptures teach multiple eldership is at least twofold: (1) mutual accountability is necessary if leaders are to avoid falling into sin; and (2) a church takes on the personality of its leader/s: if there is just one leader, the church will inevitably take on that man's personality, including his quirks and faults.  But if more than one person leads the church, there is the greater chance that the church will be balanced.2

I. Biblical Arguments

A. For Multiple Elders

The argument from scripture is in fact so strong that most commentators today assume it.  But it is well-articulated in G. W. Knight, Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles (New International Greek New Testament Commentary; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992) 175-77 (the section called "Excursus: Bishops/Presbyters and Deacons: 3:1-13").

The following points are relevant for our discussion:

(1) Presbyters (also translated "elders") and bishops (also translated "overseers") were apparently the same individuals.  That is to say, the two terms were synonymous.

Note, for example, Titus 1:5 ("appoint elders"), followed by v. 7 ("for a bishop must be blameless").  The very fact that the sentence in v. 7 begins with a "for" shows a connection: bishops are elders.  Otherwise, why would Paul mention the qualifications of a group that were not whom Titus should appoint?  In Acts 20:17 Paul calls the "elders of the church" of Ephesus together for a final meeting.  Then, in v. 28 he addresses them as "overseers" (or bishops).  Thus, any passage that deals with bishop is equally applicable to elders.

(2) The leadership of the church from the earliest period always had elders, even if it did not have deacons.  Young churches only had elders; more mature churches had both elders and deacons.

This can be seen by a comparison of Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Tim 3:1-13: the Christians in Crete (where Titus was ministering) were relatively new.  The qualifications for deacons is not mentioned because only the top level of leadership needed to be established in such a situation.  But in Ephesus the church was well established (where Timothy was ministering).  Consequently, Paul not only gives instruction to Timothy about both elders and deacons, but also says that the leaders should not be recent converts (cf. 1 Tim 3:6 [for elders] and perhaps implied in 3:10 for deacons).  But no instruction is given to Titus about new converts because that was the only pool from which he could draw.3  Thus, for young (and presumably small) churches, the leaders would do the work of both elders and deacons.4

In sum, a church must have elders, but not necessarily deacons (at least at first).

(3) Elder and pastor are not the same thing in the NT. "Elder" refers to the office one holds by virtue of appointment or election; "pastor" is a spiritual gift that one is given by the Holy Spirit (cf. Eph 4:11; 1 Cor 12:7-11).  One can have the gift of pastor without being an elder; and one can hold the office of elder without having the gift of pastor.

(4) For elders, the one qualification that is other than moral is the ability to teach.  Note 1 Tim 3:2 ("able to teach" [διδάκτικος, didaktikos]).  Titus 1:9 expands on this: "he must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."

There is much confusion about what this means.

This does not mean that an elder must have the gift of teaching, for the NT is very clear that all believers should be able to teach.  Cf. Heb 5:12 (the definition of a spiritual meat-eater is one who is able to teach [5:11-14]; the author indicts his entire audience for not yet being able to do this); Col 3:16; Titus 2:3.5

"Able to teach" does not mean seminary-trained or one skilled in the biblical languages.  This is evident from the fact that Gentile Christians were among the first elders (cf. Titus 1:5-9).  These men would not have known Hebrew.

It is recognized that some elders would be gifted as teachers and would especially exercise this gift (1 Tim 5:17).  Thus, the implication is that not all would teach equally.  (Personally, I see in this text justification for some of the elders to be pastor-teachers.  Further, those especially gifted in this area would want to hone such a gift by learning the scriptures as diligently and rigorously as they could.  Hence, there is justification for having seminary-trained teachers.  But, at the same time, it is evident that not all elders had this gift.)

The basic thrust of this qualification is that elders would hold to pure doctrine in guiding the church.  In other words, they would be mature men who could sniff out heresy and steer the church in the direction it needs to go.  Certainly in some especially delicate matters these leaders would defer to others who had the gift.  But the elders needed to make the final decisions about the direction of the church.

Pragmatically, one of the ways in which such teaching could be accomplished would be for the elders to oversee different home Bible studies.  Nowadays "mini-churches" are very popular.  Such mini-churches are actually very biblical.  The early church met in homes during the week.  Each home would presumably have its own elder. Thus, at least in the context of a small gathering, the elders should be prepared to teach.

Teaching also occurs in another, less visible context.  When the elders and pastor meet together, the elders should have the freedom to state their opinions freely.  To be sure, the pastor is usually better trained in the scriptures, but this in no way gives him the right to demand allegiance to his viewpoints.  He must demonstrate that his views are biblical and submit them to the leadership.  At times, his case will not convince.  (Each one of us is responsible to know the scriptures and to examine the evidence for our beliefs.)  Further, many if not most issues to be decided by an elder board allow for a great deal of flexibility.  Two positions could equally be in line with scripture.  At that point, the collective wisdom of the leadership needs to reign supreme.6

(5) The consistent pattern in the NT is that every church had several elders.

Note the following texts (where either elder or bishop is used):

Acts 11:30--elders at the church of Antioch

Acts 14:23--Paul and Barnabas appoint "elders in every church"

Acts 15:2, 4, 6, 22, 23; 16:4--elders at the church in Jerusalem

Acts 20:17, 28--elders/bishops at the church of Ephesus (v. 17--"elders of the church")

Acts 21:18--elders at the church in Jerusalem

Phil 1:1--the church at Philippi has bishops and deacons

1 Tim 5:17--elders at the church of Ephesus

Titus 1:5--Titus is to appoint elders in every town7

Jas 5:14--"the elders of the church"

1 Pet 5:1-2--"the elders among you"8

In every one of these texts the plain implication is that each church had several elders.

Note also that other more generic terms are also used of church leaders.  The pattern once again is that there are several leaders for each church:

1 Thess 5:12, 13--the congregation is to respect its leaders9

Heb 13:7, 17--heed the leaders of the church, "for they are keeping watch over your souls" (v. 17)10

The evidence is overwhelming.  So strong is it that Knight, after carefully evaluating the evidence, can argue:

An analysis of the data seems, therefore, to indicate the existence of oversight by a plurality of church leaders throughout the NT church in virtually every known area and acknowledged or commended by virtually every NT writer who writes about church leadership.   . . . [For example,] Every church in which leadership is referred to in Asia Minor either under Paul and his associates or under Peter's ministry has a plurality of leadership . . .11

B. For Single Elders

If the case is this strong, why then do some argue for a single elder?  The basic argument for this position is theological and historical, rather than biblical.  But biblically, there are five texts which seem to suggest a single elder.  We will look at these not in canonical order but from the weakest arguments to the strongest.

(1) Revelation 2-3--there is one "angel" over each church.  The word angel (ἄγγελος, anggelos) is sometimes translated "messenger" in scripture.  Hence, perhaps the single "angel" over each church is the single elder (pastor), rather than an angel.

The problem with this view is manifold: (1) ἄγγελος (anggelos) is used 67 times in Revelation.  If we exclude the references in chapters 2 and 3 for the sake of argument, we see a remarkable thing: every instance of ἄγγελος [anggelos] refers to an angel.  (Unless of course pastors can fly!  cf. Rev 14:6). (2) Even if Rev 2-3 were an exception, "messenger" is hardly an appropriate term for a pastor.  Pastors were, in NT times, restricted to a certain locale geographically.  But a messenger is one who moves about.  (3) The genre of the Revelation fits what is called "apocalyptic."  In apocalyptic literature there is a strong emphasis on angels.  Among other duties, they are responsible before heaven for groups of godly people.  Thus, when the Lord says, "to the angel of the church at _______, write" we have apocalyptic symbolism and imagery occurring.  Angels are evidently in view, not pastors.

(2) 2 John 1, 3 John 1--the "elder" writes to the elect lady and to Gaius.  Some argue that John describes himself in these two little letters as "the elder" because he is the lone elder at the church.  There are a few problems with this view, however.

First, the author is writing to two different people at apparently two different churches.  Would he be their elder?  If so, then we have an anomalous situation unparalleled in the rest of the NT: a single elder for at least two churches.  If not, would he perhaps be the elder at the church of Ephesus writing to Christians at other churches?  That too is doubtful, because (a) why would he not mention which church he was elder over? and (b) if he were the elder at the church of Ephesus, what business does he have meddling in other churches' affairs?12

Second, suppose that John is actually writing to one and the same church in 2 John and 3 John.  If so, couldn't he be their elder?  Not only is there, at best, a very slim chance that only one church is being addressed,13 but such a hypothesis produces a very large problem for itself: this lone elder apparently is an absentee elder who gives no certain evidence that he will even visit the church, let alone teach there!  (Although this is clearly his desire, he refrains from absolute certitude.)  Notice 2 John 12: "Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink, but I hope to come to see you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete."  Likewise, 3 John 10 says "if I come [to the church]" and v. 14 says "I hope to see you."

Third, the apparent meaning of "the elder" in these two little letters seems to be the equivalent of "the old man."  The term used, in fact, can only be given a technical nuance in contexts that seem to demand it.  Πρεσβύτερος (presbuteros) is a word which frequently meant simply "old man" (cf. Acts 2:17; 1 Tim 5:1).  This fits well with the probable authorship of these letters (namely, John the apostle).  By the time he had settled in Asia Minor as the last living apostle, it would be quite appropriate for him to take on a term of endearment and affection: "This letter is from the old man."

(3) 1 Tim 3:2 (cf. Titus 1:7)--"bishop" is singular, while "deacons" (1 Tim 3:8) is plural.  This would seem to argue that there was but one bishop/elder per church, while there would have been several deacons.

Again, such an argument has very little substance.  First, it is unlikely that only one bishop is in view because otherwise it is difficult to explain 1 Tim 5:17 ("let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor") and Titus 1:5 "appoint elders in every town").14

Second, it is likely that the "bishop" in 1 Tim 3:2 is generic.  The article is used this way in Greek very frequently.  That is, the singular is used to specify a class as opposed to an individual.  J. W. Roberts, a Greek grammarian, pointed out along these lines: "A case in point where wrong use has been made of the generic article is in reference to 'bishop' in 1 Timothy 3:2.  This has often been used to prove the existence of the monarchal bishop at the time of the writing of the Pastorals.  A majority of the commentators, however, agree that the usage is generic."  Cf. also Matt 12:35; 15:11; 18:17; Luke 10:7; John 2:25.  The generic article is actually used thousands of times in the NT.

Third, further evidence that "bishop" is generic in 1 Tim 3:2 is found in the overall context.  (Keep in mind that the NT had no chapter or verse divisions originally.  These were inventions of later centuries.)  Notice the context in which behavior in the church occurs: 1 Tim 2:8-3:13.  In 2:8 Paul addresses "the men."  In 2:9-10 he addresses "the women."  Then, in 2:11-12 he says that "a woman should learn quietly . . . I do not permit a woman to teach . . . a man."  Paul is not here speaking of a particular woman (otherwise he would surely have mentioned her by name), but women as a class.  In 2:15 he says "but she shall be saved . . . if they continue."  Thus, there is a free exchange of the singular and the plural here.  Immediately after this Paul speaks of "the bishop."  Then, in 3:8 he addresses "the deacons."  The overall context is very clearly dealing with classes of individuals.  The only time it is not, in fact, is when Paul speaks of Adam and Eve (2:13-14), yet even here he quickly gets into the relevance for his readers in v. 15 ("she . . . they").

C. Summary

The biblical evidence is overwhelmingly on the side of multiple elders.  The few passages which might otherwise be interpreted certainly do not have to be so interpreted and, in fact, most likely should not be.  This fact illustrates a fundamental principle of biblical interpretation: do not follow an interpretation which is only possible; instead, base your convictions on what is probable.

The rest of our arguments are presented here very briefly since the basic one, the biblical argument, has been addressed at some length.

II. Historical Arguments

In Ignatius (an early Christian writer who died in c. AD 117), at the beginning of the second century, already a monarchical episcopate exists.  It is interesting that Roman Catholics especially appeal to this as a model for their practices (since they rely on the tradition found in patristic writers like Ignatius far more than on divine revelation).  Those who deny the Pauline authorship of the pastoral epistles (i.e., 1-2 Timothy and Titus) also see the pastorals as reflecting a one-elder situation (=monarchical episcopate) because they regard the pastorals as having been written during the time of Ignatius.  But evangelicals should not consider arguments from either camp as weighty.  In particular, if we equate either what the early church fathers practiced or believed as totally in line with the New Testament, then we have some significant retooling to do in our churches today.  Some examples:

Didache (c. AD 100-150)--gives several regulations about baptism and fasting, much of which is pure legalism.  (For example, in one place he says, "Let us not fast as the Jews do, who fast on Mondays and Thursdays.  Instead, let us fast on Wednesdays and Fridays."  In his discussions of baptism, he argues that cold water is better than warm, etc.--all arguments that have nothing whatever to do with the biblical revelation).

Most early church fathers (i.e., 2nd-3rd century AD) didn't have a clue about grace, eternal security, the gospel.  The church very quickly degenerated into basic legalism.  It was not until Augustine that the church recovered some of this.  But then it fell into the dark ages, waiting for a young monk from Germany to nail his protests on the door of the Wittenberg Church.  Dr. Ted Deibler (former chairman of Church History at Dallas Seminary) used to say, "the one thing we can be certain of learning from church history is that we learn nothing from church history."  He meant by this that we are on very dangerous ground if we assume uniformly correct theology from the church fathers.

Allegorical interpretation and eschatology: Origen and his school in particular promoted a view of scripture which was quite fanciful.

In sum, the argument for a single leader of each church is especially persuasive to Roman Catholics because it did occur throughout church history.  Yet, such traditions can never replace the Word of God.  In fact, with the birth of the Reformation came a renewed understanding of the priesthood of the believer which, in turn, moved away from the notion of a single leader at the top.

III. Theological Arguments

The quirks of personality: a church becomes like its leader (a student becomes like his teacher [cf. Luke 6:40]).

The emphasis in scripture on doing the work of the ministry in company with other believers: e.g., Paul never went on a missionary journey by himself (Barnabas, Silvanus, Sosthenes, Timothy, Luke were especially his traveling companions).  Paul even included his companions' names in the greetings to various churches.  In fact, he regarded them unofficially as apostles (not holding the office, but certainly functioning in that capacity).  Jesus sent his disciples out two-by-two.  (This is not to say that individuals are paralyzed and can't do anything--cf. Philip ministering to the Ethiopian eunuch, Paul in prison ministering to Caesar's household, etc.  But the ideal is ministry by community.)

This same principle is taught in John 13:35.  (Knowledge of Jesus comes through his disciples in a community effort, that is, in their love for one another.)

Accountability and our sin natures (see opening paragraph at the start of this position paper).  Each leader knows that he lacks complete balance, that there are things he continues to struggle with.  Further, even beyond the sin nature factor is the personality factor.  Some pastors are detail men; others are big picture men.  Some love music, others have gotten little from music (C. S. Lewis was one such man).  All of us together contribute to the way the body of Christ works.  But a church that follows in lock-step with the personality and foibles of one man will always be imbalanced.

IV. Pragmatic Arguments

Even if there were no decisive arguments for plurality of elders, the preponderance of evidence is decidely on the side of this view.  Further, in consultation with others (especially church historian, M. James Sawyer at Western Conservative Baptist Seminary), the following principle seems to be true: Churches that have a pastor as an authority above others (thus, in function, a monarchical episcopate) have a disproportionately high number of moral failures at the top level of leadership.  In other words, it is less likely for a pastor to fall into sin if he is primus inter parus ("first among equals" in the sense of his visibility and training, not spirituality) than if he is elevated above the rest of the church leadership.

Thus, the case of multiple elders in the local church is solidly based on biblical, historical, and pragmatic reasons.  By having several leaders, the church is more able to take on the personality of Christ rather than the idiosyncracies of any one man.

1 One of the measures of how mature a church is is what happens to it when the pastor leaves.  If it continues to grow, there is an underlying network of mature leadership.  If it shrinks, this may well suggest that much of the size of the church originally was due to the magnetism of a single person.

2This is actually quite similar to the "checks and balances" in the U.S. Constitution.  This document was written with a heavy input from Christians who understood depravity.  They recognized, I think, that the best form of government was a benevolent dictatorship, and the worst was a malevolent dictatorship.  With dictators, there is no guarantee.  Hence, the second best form of government is one in which no single branch of government and no individual is given too much power.  This Constitution was written after the Articles of Confederation (inspired especially by Deists who believed in the inherent goodness of humanity)--which were very weak on checks and balances--failed.

3That these lists were a bit different on this point (and some others) indicates an extremely important point: Much of the instruction given about church order is ad hoc rather than of universal principle.  It is our duty to discern which is which.  For example, I have no strong opinion about how the leaders of a church are to be appointed, because the NT seems to be flexible in this regard (e.g., some churches did it by congregational vote, others had appointments from apostolic delegates).  The NT is flexible on areas that are not consequential.

4The normal understanding of the difference in function of the two groups is this: elders are primarily concerned with the spiritual welfare of the congregation, while deacons are primarily concerned with the physical welfare of the congregation.  Thus, elders would oversee the direction of the church, work with the pastor (or pastors) on the spiritual needs of the church (what they should be fed, etc.).

5The fundamental principle of discipleship is the passing on of truth in the context of love to faithful individuals, who in turn would do the same thing (2 Tim 2:2).  The ideal is for every member of the church to carry on this task.  It is obvious (from 2 Tim 2:2) that discipleship and a teaching ministry were not to be restricted to just pastors or those with the gift of teaching.

6 One of the first churches I was in that was run by a plurality of elders had a rather mature pastor.  He was one of the brightest and godliest men I've ever known, thoroughly saturated in the Word of God.  Yet, he did not even have a vote on the elder board.  The elders frequently asked his opinion.  But he also respected their leadership.  He told me once that having the elders run the show gave him a greater measure of freedom, for it allowed him more time to work on his messages.  He didn't have to wear several hats and therefore did not get burned out in the ministry.  Further, he noted that the elders had maturity of years over him and collective wisdom that he wanted to learn from.  The man had a Th.M. degree and a Th.D. degree from a leading seminary, yet he eagerly bowed to the leadership and wisdom of the elder board!  That was humility!  In fact, every year he submitted to a rigorous personal evaluation of his life by the elders.  They asked him the tough questions, such as faithfulness to his wife, what he read, saw, participated in, and what he did with his money and his spare time.  This was not a 'big brother is watching you' lynching; it was something this pastor volunteered for.  The church grew quickly and profoundly because of such accountability at the top levels.

7The early church had but one church in each city or town.  Hence, Paul's instruction to Titus is to appoint multiple elders in every church.

8That each church to which Peter is writing had multiple elders is likely from vv. 2-3--"Tend [ποιμάνετε, poimanete--a plural verb; thus, "you elders"] the flock [singular] of God that is your charge . . . by being examples [plural] to the flock."  Thus, multiple elders are linked to a single flock each time.

9It is most likely that only elders are in view.  The reason for this is that, as we have argued above, young churches did not have deacons but did have elders.  Paul had spent only about three weeks with the Thessalonians.  But he appointed leaders before his departure.  Thus, it is likely that he appointed only elders.  In the least, there is not even a hint in this text that only one elder and several deacons were appointed.

10Since the duties of the leaders are described in this manner, it is obvious that multiple elders are in view (since deacons were not responsible primarily to keep watch over the souls).

11Knight, Pastoral Epistles, 177.

12 Some denominations have a bishop over several churches and an elder at an individual church.  But John is called an elder, not a bishop.  Thus, these denominations have a difficult time basing their view on scripture.

13In fact, many today see three churches addressed: 2 John has one in view; 3 John seems to have Gaius' church and Diotrephes' church in view.  I am presently undecided on this issue (that is, whether two or three churches are envisioned).  One of the fundamental arguments against 2 John and 3 John being addressed to the same church is that the situations are radically different: 2 John addresses the problem of heretics outside the church attempting to get in; 3 John addresses the sin of pride already within the church by an orthodox leader.  Thus, 2 John has to do with doctrine and 3 John is about ethics and holiness.  Hence, in the least two churches are in view in the Johannine letters, and perhaps three.  Is John the elder of all of them?

14Recall that "elder" = "bishop" and that each town had but one church.

Title: Accountability
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 01, 2016, 08:15:13 pm

The apostle Paul warns the Christian community against the evil of judging one another concerning certain doubtful or debatable practices151 where one Christian holds one opinion and another a different opinion. He then concludes this portion of his argument with a reminder of every Christian’s accountability at the Judgment Seat of God. He writes:

But why do you judge your brother or sister? Or again, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will give praise to God.” 12 Therefore, each of us will give an account of himself to God (Rom 14:10-12)..

The stark reality of Scripture is that every person, Christian and non-Christian, is accountable before a sovereign God (see Rom. 3:9-19) and will one day have to bow before Christ (Phil. 2:9-11). Jesus said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be asked” (Luke 12:48b). Many reject this declaration of Scripture by all manner of human rationalizations and bias, but their rejection cannot alter the reality of accountability.

Jesus emphatically taught that a day of judgment is coming when every person will have to give an account. For instance, in a context where the Pharisees had spoken evil of Jesus by attributing His miracle to Satan, Jesus condemned them as a brood of vipers who could never say anything good since their hearts were evil. He then went on to make the point that people are responsible for all their actions and words, which will acquit or condemn them on the day of judgment. In Matthew 12:36 He said, “I tell you that on the day of judgment, people will give an account for every worthless word they speak.”

Unfortunately, however, man is a rebel who wants to do his own thing without any or very little accountability for his actions. Since the fall of man (Gen. 3), this has been the case, but a worldwide phenomenon of our day is a defiance of any form of established authority whether religious or secular, social or political. This sad reality has colored the beliefs and actions of our present society worldwide. Without a sense of accountability to a sovereign God, the world can quickly gravitate in the direction of the ruthless acts and tyranny of people like Hitler. When God either does not exist in the beliefs of men or when the truth about God is distorted into man’s own image of who and what God is like, everything is permitted, morally speaking.

Today, we live in a time when, having fundamentally rejected the absolutes and clear teachings of Scripture, man seeks to make God accountable to him for his comfort and pleasure. Thus, people are not only doing what is right in their own eyes, but the prevailing attitude is ‘Do your own thing. You are only accountable to yourself and your own self-fulfillment.’ This is a shift from a God-centered perspective of life to a man-centered perspective. This is all part of man’s attempt to dismiss any accountability to God. The reality is that when men seek to ignore accountability to God and others, they leave themselves vulnerable to the cold misery of slavery and eventually to the menace of a dictator.

Accountability to God and to one another according to the directives of Scripture is the foundation for freedom and liberty. But what is true freedom and wherein lies its source? Freedom is not the right to do as one pleases as a capricious child. Certainly it means the capacity to exercise choice, but never so that it is devoid of responsibility or accountability. Freedom is both the responsibility and the ability, by the grace of God, to do what is right according to the absolute and righteous standards of truth as given to us in God’s Holy Word. Many see freedom as the right to abandon accountability to God and men in order to do what they please in the promotion of self gratification. But that is not freedom. It is slavery, or at least leads to slavery. Speaking of false teachers who either twist Scripture to their own self-centered objectives or deny its authority altogether, Peter writes, “…promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved” (2 Pet. 2:19). Beliefs or one’s world view always has consequences. It is like a train which is free to do what it was created to do as long as it is on its track.

Accountability is one of the means God uses to bring about solid growth and maturity with the freedom to be what God has created us for. But as we’ve just stressed, the problem is that we live in a society that has become very individualistic. The prevailing attitude is be your own man or woman, do your own thing, be your own boss, and often this attitude is promoted or stated in a way that undermines accountability to God and others. The Bible in no way denies our individualism. Indeed, it promotes it, but in a way that holds us each accountable to others. Proper individualism leads to a certain amount of inventiveness, ingenuity, and freedom, but it can also breed license and irresponsibility without accountability. The fact is you can’t make disciples or produce growing and mature Christians without accountability.

So again, true freedom is not the ability to do as one pleases, which is license, but the power by God’s grace to do as one ought. But what do we mean by accountability?

The Meaning of Accountability, What it is

By accountability, we are not talking about coercive tactics, the invasion of privacy, or bringing others under the weight of someone’s taboos or legalism or manipulative or dominating tactics. Rather, by accountability we mean developing relationships with other Christians that help to promote spiritual reality, honesty, obedience to God, and genuine evaluations of one’s walk and relationship with God and with others. We are talking about relationships that help believers change by the Spirit of God and the truth of the Word of God through inward spiritual conviction and faith.

Being what we are, sheep that are prone to wander, accountability to others is simply one of the ways God holds us accountable to Him. Left to ourselves, there is the great temptation to do mainly what we want rather than what God wants and what is best for others. So what is meant by accountability? We are talking about teaching, exhorting, supporting, and encouraging one another in such a way that it promotes accountability to Christ and to others in the body of Christ, but never by manipulation or domination.

The Necessity of Accountability, Why we need it

In his book, The Disciple Making Pastor, Bill Hull writes about the need of accountability in the disciple-making process. He says,

To believe you can make disciples or develop true maturity in others without some form of accountability is like believing that you can raise children without discipline, run a company without rules, or lead and army without authority. Accountability is to the Great Commission what tracks are to a train.152

So, what are some of the reasons for establishing some form of accountability?

(1) Accountability is an essential part of a functional society. But even more importantly, the prototype for it is the Triune Godhead itself. Though the members of the Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are co-eternal and co-equal, each being God of very God, Scripture gives evidence of an accountability that exists within the Godhead. From the standpoint of the Holy Spirit, this is seen in the truth of the procession of the Spirit who proceeds from the Father through the Son to believers (see John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7). The Spirit accepts His role as the Enabler or Comforter to come and indwell believers of the church age. As to the Son, He accepts His role as the suffering Savior of the world first by becoming true humanity that He might die for our sin and then as our Advocate sit at God’s right hand, etc. (see Phil. 2:5f; Heb. 10:5-10; Rom. 8:34f). But this accountability of the Son is also seen in Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians 3:23; 11:3, and 15:24-28.

And when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28).

This in no way implies that the Son is inferior to the Father. Rather, it shows that when death is conquered at the close of the Millennium, then all things will come under the administration of the triune Godhead. This concept is illustrated in a corporation in which there are three equal owners, but for the sake of the orderly function and effectiveness of the company and by the agreement of each partner, one is elected president of the company with other two serving as vice presidents. Each has different roles and responsibilities and the things they are accountable for.

(2) Accountability helps to promote biblical controls or checks and balances. It provides the necessary discipline and support needed to see people reach godly goals. While we are all ultimately accountable to God, as stressed in Romans 14:7-12, God has established other levels of accountability to aid us in the matter of control, support, and growth.

God has given the Word and the Holy Spirit as His agents of control to help provide direction and controls on our lives, but accountability to other believers becomes another key instrument to aid in bringing about self-discipline and inner controls.

(3) Accountability is necessary because like sheep we tend to go our own way. We are all self-willed. We want to protect our comfort zones and avoid having to deal with certain issues that are important to becoming obedient Christians, which is one of the goals of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20). Making disciples means teaching others to obey the Lord and this is very difficult without some measure of accountability. Accountability is part of the means God uses, as will be demonstrated below.

(4) Accountability promotes servant-like leadership in keeping with the pastoral mandate to watch over the flock (Eph. 4:11f; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 5:1-4). One of the key requirements of a servant leader is faithfulness to the things entrusted to him (1 Cor. 4:1-2). So, in 1 Timothy 2:2, Paul told Timothy to entrust what he had learned to what kind of men? To faithful men. The fact he was to selectively train only faithful men suggests accountability. Is it not a strange paradox that we generally accept accountability in most aspects of life as something which is necessary, but when it comes to the body of Christ, many fight accountability, especially, if it begins to affect their comfort zones or their self-willed agendas.

(5) Accountability is protective to both leaders and to the flock. The biblical model for church leadership is a collective leadership of elders which provides a structure for genuine accountability.

Shared, brotherly leadership provides needed restraint on pride, greed, and “playing,” to quote Earl D. Radmacher,… Human leaders, even Christian ones, are sinners and they only accomplish God’s will imperfectly. Multiple leaders, therefore, will serve as a ‘check and balance’ on each other and serve as a safeguard against the very human tendency to play God over other people.”153

Shared leadership provides close accountability, genuine partnership, and peer relationships—the very things imperial pastors shrink from at all costs.154

As to the flock, Hebrews 13:17 tells the flock to submit to their leaders because they keep watch over the souls of God’s people. People too often understand this primarily in a negative way, but keeping watch not only means correcting people when they fail to walk with the Lord, but helping them to do so. As will shown below, the goal of accountability is not riding herd over people like a task master—something completely contrary to Scripture. Rather, the goal is to help people grow in Christ and learn to find Him as the source and force and course of life.

The Justification for Accountability, It is biblical

There are numerous New Testament passages which teach the concept of accountability of the flock to the leaders (1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim. 3:1-5; Heb. 13:7, 17; 1 Pet. 5:2-3). But the elders are limited in their capacity to effectively promote accountability throughout the body of Christ. As the Lord was focused on only a few, the twelve and then the three, so the leaders should follow his example. The need for accountability goes beyond the leadership and falls into the realm of the “one another” concept of the New Testament.

Ephesians 5:21

and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

First, it should be noted that “submitting” is the fourth in a series of adverbial participles. These can be detected in most translations by words that end in “ing” beginning with verse 19. These participles are best understood as expressing the results of the filling by means of the Spirit (vs. 18). Submission, which certainly includes accountability, is applied to the whole body of Christ as a Spirit-produced and mutual responsibility to promote obedience to Christ.

“Submitting” is hupotasso, a military word used of soldiers submitting to their superior or slaves submitting to their masters. In the middle voice as here, it carries the idea of voluntarily submitting or subordinating oneself. As a specific application of the various areas of accountability, hupotasso is applied in relation to God in 1 Corinthians 15:28, Hebrews 12:9, and James 4:7, to Christ in Ephesians 5:24, to wives in Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18, Titus 2:5, and 1 Peter 3:1, to parents in Luke 2:51, to masters in Titus 2:9 and 1 Peter 2:18, to secular authorities in Romans 13:1, and in a general sense of a voluntary submission to others in the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 16:16, 1 Peter 5:5, and here in Ephesians 5:21. Included in the word ‘submission’ are the ideas of authority and accountability to another. “In Scripture it appears in contexts describing servanthood, humility, respect, reverence, honor, teachableness, and openness”155 and I might add, accountability. But we should quickly add that such submission or accountability is to bring about greater and greater obedience to the Savior as those first and foremost accountable to Him.

1 Peter 5:5

In the same way, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

In 1 Peter 5:5 we again meet with the word hupotasso. Here it is applied to younger men with older men of wisdom. But if accountability is going to work, there must be genuine humility toward one another (vs. 5b). Further, accountability with humility is related to humbling ourselves under God’s authority—its goal is becoming accountable to God.

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, just as you are in fact doing.

Verse 11 uses two more terms which show the emphasis in the matter of accountability as believers minister to one another. “Encourage” is the Greek parakaleo. It means “to call along side to help, to enable, to comfort, exhort, encourage.” It is the verb form of the word used of the Holy Spirit as the comforter, encourager, helper, enabler, but the verb may also contain the idea of “exhort, appeal to, or challenge” to a certain behavior as in Romans 12:1; 15:30; 16:17. “Build up” is oikodomeo, “to build up, edify,” or “to restore, repair.” Accountability to one another always has as its goal the restoration and edification of others in their relationship with the Savior because we are all accountable to Him.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-14 (see also Heb. 13:7, 17)

Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who labor among you and preside over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them most highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the undisciplined, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient toward all.

Verses 12-13 naturally point to a dual accountability. First, there is that of the leadership whom God holds responsible to care for His flock (Heb. 13:17). Then there is responsibility of the flock to submit to the leadership. These leaders, like shepherds, are responsible for the spiritual well being of the local church.

Verses 14-15 move us to the whole body and point to three methods by which we may help one another remain accountable to the Lord: by warning, encouraging, helping, and to three distinct need groups: the undisciplined, the discouraged, and the weak. From these verses we see how accountability has many faces or aspects as we learn to reach out to one another, but the goal is being accountable to the Lord by helping one another relate our lives to Jesus Christ by faith. Finally, this entire passage which deals with accountability concludes with a general application to all, “be patient with all men” followed by a warning in verse 15 that includes the goal or objective, seeking the good of others.

As seen in the previous study on Teamwork, 1Corinthians 12:20f teaches Christians are members of one body, not independent agents. In that regard, we are responsible to each other within certain limits. The Lord is the head of the body and that includes each member, but He works through the various members of the body and accountability to one another is one of the ways He holds us accountable to Him.

Illustrations and Types of Accountability

Within the church, the body of Christ, their are a number of illustrations of the form in which accountability make take shape in the process of making disciples.

(1) Paul with Timothy and Titus. If we each had a Timothy or a Titus, someone we are giving ourselves to, someone we are helping to grow, someone we are responsible for and who is responsible to us, certainly we would see a great deal more spiritual maturity and obedience.

(2) Paul and Barnabus. Paul had a Barnabus (a son of encouragement) with whom he could identify. Paul could go to him with problems and discouragement. He was someone with whom he could pray, or from whom he could get counsel, guidance, and encouragement. He was someone to give another viewpoint or perspective. As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

(3) A team or small group. This is not just a prayer group or a Bible study, but a small group of men or women with whom to interact, share ideas, pain, burdens, and victories. It is a small group like the disciples of the Lord or like a board of elders, those with whom we can pray and discuss the Word together without fear of rejection.

(4) Marriage illustrates another place where accountability takes place. If we are married we need to develop our relationship with our spouses so we can share our problems and concerns with each other, discuss them, and get honest input without fear of rejection.

(5) The local church. The local church consists of overseers, those who are to be responsible for and accountable to the flock, and there is the flock, those who are to be accountable and responsible to their leaders as Hebrews 13:17 teaches.

(6) The Godhead. Finally, The Son Himself, though God of very God, is subject to or accountable to the Father (1 Cor. 11:3; 3:23; 15:24-28).

With this in mind, it would be well to think about how one can implement this more in one’s own ministry. Mini-flocks provides an opportunity and team training another, but surely we need more accountability. One method is the buddy system where believers divide up into smaller groups of two or three who regularly meet for fellowship and input together.

Biblical Ways to Promote Accountability

An important question is what happens (or should happen) when a small team meets together?

Goals and objectives to promote Christ-like growth in measurable ways:

Meeting together is not just a time when good old boys meet to talk about fishing, football, or chew the fat. Here are some suggestions.

(1) Study: Part of the time should be spent around a portion of the Word, thinking together about what it means and how it applies.

(2) Prayer: This means it will be a time when the team shares needs and concerns. Pray together when you meet and covenant to pray for each other during the week.

(3) A schedule: Develop a schedule to give guidance in the use of time with the Lord, family, church, the team, etc.

(4) Report: Part of the team’s time should be spent sharing how each member has been doing—the battles, victories, problems, temptations, etc. How each one has been able or not been able to keep to their schedule, prayer time, study, etc.

Some guidelines and warnings:

(1) Be honest and humble about struggles. Watch the tendency to protect those comfort zones and layers of self-protection.

(2) Be patient, and understanding. Don’t come across as condemning. Maintain a spirit of acceptance of the other person. This does not mean there can’t be challenge, exhortation, and even rebuke, but it must be done in love and with patience and acceptance.

(3) Guard your tongue. In keeping with the biblical goal, guard against gossip and being critical. What is shared must be kept in strict confidence. Each person needs to know they can trust the others. (Prov. 16:27; 17:4, 27; 18:8, 21; 21:23; 26:30).

(4) Be faithful or dependable. Do the study or other assignments, show up, follow through.


It was Howard Hendricks, professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, who said, “Every man should have three individuals in his life: a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy.”156 Naturally, this is applicable to both men and women, but for reasons of maintaining moral purity and to avoid temptation, such should be of the same sex. Hendricks continues:

A Paul is an older man who is willing to mentor you, to build into your life. Not someone who’s smarter or more gifted than you, but somebody who’s been down the road. Somebody willing to share his strengths and weaknesses—everything he’s learned in the laboratory of life. Somebody whose faith you’ll want to imitate.

A Barnabas is a soul brother, somebody who loves you but is not impressed by you. Somebody to whom you can be accountable. Somebody who’s willing to keep you honest, who’s willing to say, “Hey, man, you’re neglecting your wife, and don’t give me any guff!”

A Timothy is a younger man into whose life you are building. For a model, read 1 and 2 Timothy. Here was Paul, the quintessential mentor, building into the life of his protg—affirming, encouraging, teaching, correcting, directing, praying.

Do you have these three guys in your life?157

In view of the fact the Christian life is a spiritual warfare, the following is a great illustration of the importance of having someone to accountable to.

In 1967 we were at war with Vietnam. And there I was, at the U.S. Army Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia. It was brutal.

I can still hear the raspy voice of the sergeant: “We are here to save your lives. We’re going to see to it that you overcome all your natural fears. We’re going to show you just how much incredible stress the human mind and body can endure. And when we’re finished with you, you will be the U.S. Army’s best!”

Then, before he dismissed the formation, he announced our first assignment. We’d steeled ourselves for something really tough—like running 10 miles in full battle gear or rappelling down a sheer cliff. Instead, he told us to—find a buddy.

“Find yourself a Ranger buddy,” he growled. “You will stick together. You will never leave each other. You will encourage each other, and, as necessary, you will carry each other.” It was the army’s way of saying, “Difficult assignments require a friend. Together is better.”

Who’s your “Ranger buddy”?158

Title: The Myth of the Universal Invisible Church Theory
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 02, 2016, 11:55:55 am

A Theory Without A Leg To Stand On

    One of the most widespread theories of this day is the theory that the church that Jesus founded was not a local, visible assembly, but a Universal Invisible Church to which all believers belong, and of which they were made a part through a mysterious, mystical Holy Spirit baptism. It will be the purpose of the author to show the fallacy of this theory in this book.

    Most heresies have plausible arguments to justify them. Scriptures are taken out of context and made to bolster up error, or else ignoring the uniform teaching of the Scriptures concerning a certain thing, certain verses are pressed into use to make a false teaching seem reasonable. But the heresy of the Universal Church, doesn't really have anything to back it up. It simply will not bear honest investigation. Yet, the Universal theory is one of the most popular, and one of the most commonly held of all teachings. Liberals and Conservatives alike make use of this false doctrine. Indeed, it is a doctrine that is fundamental to many of their other beliefs. Many otherwise orthodox writers assume the Universal Church theory as a matter of course, and so popular is it that the correctness of it is seldom even questioned. Only a wise and wily Satan could have put over this doctrine so skillfully. But let us remember that Satan is the great counterfeiter. He has a counterfeit for every true doctrine of the Bible. I taught in a Bible school for young ministers for some years, and I challenged my classes to name a single doctrine of the Christian faith that Satan has not devised a counterfeit for. Every student pondered my challenge, but none were ever able to mention any doctrine for which Satan has not devised a counterfeit.

    Why have so many able preachers come to hold the doctrine of the Universal Church? Most of such have just adopted it without careful examination. It is a part of the current theological jargon of the times, and they have swallowed it down unthinkingly. The writer is a Premillennialist - and without apology, but he has heard many a Premillennial speaker ring the changes on the "CHOORCH" as they pronounced it. Over and over again they spoke of the "Rapture of the CHOORCH," yet the Scripture they referred to, says nothing about "The rapture of the church," Look at I Thessalonians 4:15-16. What does it say?

    "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air."

    Note that there is no mention of the CHURCH. It says "The dead in Christ," and "We which are alive and remain." The word church is not used. Reference is to believers. "Oh,' says someone, "but it means the Church." That is pure assumption - that is part of a theory. All believers are NOT members of the genuine church - the one that Jesus started. This I shall prove as I go along.

    I am writing as one who was once addicted to the Universal theory, and the word "addict" properly expresses it. That theory was a part of my theological thinking. Where did I get it? I got it from two sources - the Scofield Bible notes, and the Scofield Bible course. Let me pause to say that generally speaking, I consider Dr. Scofield a great Bible scholar. A Bible scholar today is often thought of as a man who is a critical researcher into such questions as "did John write the Apocalypse, or is it a forgery;" "were there three Isaiahs or one?" Their knowledge is not of the Scriptures, but of critical theories that seek to discredit the Scriptures. Dr. Scofield was a student of the Bible itself. He and his associates did a colossal work in preparing the Scofield Bible. I like the arrangement of that Bible very much and would not take $500. for my copy, if I could not buy another. Dr. Scofield had a Bible correspondence course on the market for about twenty-five years. At his death, the Moody Bible Institute took it over, and it is continued until this day. I took this course, which was designed to cover a period of two years study, and I had the distinction of completing the course in the shortest time of any student who had taken it up to that date. So- what I am saying is that I had a thorough dose of Scofieldism, most of which was helpful, but I became thoroughly inoculated with the Universal Church theory. At a Baptist associational meeting I heard a staunch Baptist preacher bring a sermon in which he combated the Universal theory, and presented the view that Baptist churches have had continuous history from the days of Christ, and are to be identified with the church which He started in the days of His flesh. I went away from the meeting very angry, and determined to write a booklet such as to refute the views that I had listened to. But honest study along that line is fatal to the holder of the Universal theory. I spent several months collecting data concerning the history of Baptists and others, together with a study of the Universal theory. The result was, I discovered to my chagrin that the preacher who had so angered me was right. Out of my study developed my book, "The Church That Jesus Built," which has gone through some ten editions and has never been refuted. Incidentally, the preacher who had angered me, liked my book very much and bought and circulated many copies.

    I was a great admirer of Dr. Scofield, as I have already indicated, but no man is infallible. We should not follow any human teacher with such blind adulation that we fail to search the Scriptures for ourselves. Dr. Scofield was as far from the truth on the church question as it is possible to get. The Bible doesn't indicate that Jesus is the author of but one kind of church, but Scofield has several kinds of churches in his writings. He writes to the "church visible", "the church local", "the true church" and so on. As I examined the Scriptures, I had to take what God says rather than what Scofield and others say. I wonder how many who read this book will be willing to take the same step I took when I renounced my precious Universal theory? I wonder how many will throw aside prejudice such as to face the fact that the Universal theory is utterly without Scripture backing, and is the author of some of the worst heresies that we know anything about.

    Baptists didn't use to fall for the Universal theory. The staunch old Baptist scholars and historians of the past were believers in the perpetuity of Baptist churches through the centuries, back to the days of Christ. But we are in a liberalistic, ecumenical period, when Baptist teachers in our schools and seminaries are loose in their views. They want to fit in with what is currently popular, so many of these have espoused the Universal theory.
Why And When This Theory Started

    There is no mention of a Universal Church in the Bible. The warmest advocates of the theory will of necessity admit that nearly every instance in which ecclesia, translated church, is found, reference is to an actual, local, visible church. The other few times ecclesia is used, according to the laws of language, the term is used in a generic or abstract sense, and does not at all refer to an all-inclusive Universal, Invisible some thing. This will be dealt with later.

    Not only does the New Testament know nothing of a Universal, Invisible Church, Christians of the early centuries knew nothing of such. I have read rather widely in the writings of the early church fathers - the writings of the Christian leaders who lived in the early days of Christianity all the way from Polycarp who knew John the apostle, on down. In their writings they don't speak of an all embracing spiritual Universal, Invisible Church. Doubtlessly they would have been amazed at such a doctrine. They speak of church and churches -  never of a vague Universal, Invisible monstrosity composed of all the saved everywhere. They knew the Greek language too well to try to use the term ecclesia in such a sense anyhow.

    As time passed, Satan managed to introduce heresies and perversions among the churches. These eventually produced the Roman Catholic Church. Bear in mind that Roman Catholicism did not spring full grown into the world. It is the product of error and false doctrine accumulated over a period of several centuries. Dr. R. K. Maiden, former editor of the Word and Way, of Missouri, has the following to say about the rise of the Universal Church theory:

    "The conception and adoption of the Universal Church Theory, is the parent heresy in ecciesiology. How and when did this theory originate? The change from the idea of the individual, self-governing church, to the Universal Church had its origin in one of the most colossal blunders of all Christian history - that of making 'ecclesia' and 'basileia' identical. So far from being identical, the difference between 'church' and 'kingdom' is so great as to require that they be contrasted rather than compared. Jesus and the writers of the New Testament never confused the two terms. The taproot of the Universal Church theory is the identification of the church and kingdom, making the two coincident, coextensive and coterminous. The theory of the identity of church and kingdom and of the universality of the church were twin born. New Testament writers knew nothing of a world church. As nearly as can be determined, the first formal, official identification of church and kingdom was projected when the Roman Empire became nominally Christianized, about the time of the consummation of the great ecclesiastical apostasy. It was the Ecumenical Council of Nice, called by the Emperor Constantine, that affirmed and projected as its creed the idea of a 'Catholic' World Church. From then down to the Lutheran Reformation of the sixteenth century, the universal VISIBLE theory of the church held the field, except for the scattered, comparatively obscure, hunted and persecuted little churches known by various names at different times - churches of the New Testament type in doctrine and polity. Following the Reformation period and born of the Reformation movement, there emerged a new theory of the church - the UNIVERSAL, INVISIBLE SPIRITUAL THEORY."

    The Universal Visible Church theory is an utter necessity of the Roman Catholic Church. There is not the slightest resemblance between the simply organized, self-governing churches of New Testament times, and the great, complex hierarchical pope dominated institution that we know as the Roman Catholic Church today. Conditions in that church became so intolerable that they produced the Protestant Reformation. Let it be remembered, and never forgotten that Baptists are NOT Protestants. They existed long before the rise of Protestantism.

    When the Protestant reformers split the Catholic world, they did not make the radical changes they would have made had they gone back to the Bible as their standard of life, and doctrine, and conduct. They of necessity rejected the Roman Church as the Universal Visible Church, but they did not go back to the New Testament Church type. What would they do? With what would they replace the doctrine of the Universal Visible Church? They solved the problem by coining the doctrine of the Universal INVISIBLE Church. So the Universal, Invisible, spiritual theory of the church WAS INVENTED! Such a thing didn't exist for over fifteen hundred years after Christ started His church! But this is now the working theory of all Protestantism - and sad to say many Baptists have unwittingly been snared by this theory.


   Down in Florida where the writer lives, we often have severe hurricanes, and sometimes these spawn a whole bunch of violent tornadoes. They literally spin off of the parent storm. This same thing is true of the mother heresy, the Universal church theory. She spawns a lot of other heresies. The Church Branch theory is a case in point. Some years ago there was a preaching mission sponsored by the Federal (now National) Council of Churches. Dr. E. Stanley Jones acted as a special spokesman for the Council, in an attempt to keep it and its aims before the people. Dr. Jones advocated the formulation of a kind of super church entitled "The Church of Christ In America", formulated by all the denominations. He said, "The figure that I have in mind is that of a tree, with many different branches adhering to the central trunk - "The Church of Christ In America ..."

    Dr. W. L. Poteat, a former president of Wake Forest College, and a very loose Baptist, in his book entitled, "Can A Man Be A Christian Today," in referring to organized Christianity calls it, "The Christian Church." Dr. Marshall, teacher of McMaster's University, is quoted as saying in a sermon, "Baptists do not regard baptism as essential to membership in the 'Christian Church' - the church universal - even though they insist on immersion as a condition of admittance into the BAPTIST SECTION OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH." The National and World Council of churches operates on the theory that all of the churches of different and even conflicting faiths should be united into one big world church, with the leaders, the "Big Boys" directing its course. Beyond this seen conglomeration however, is the Church Universal concept, the mother of the smaller church heresy.

    SUMMARIZING: The Universal, Invisible theory is unknown to the Bible; is unknown to the writings of the early church Fathers who lived back near apostolic times; was unknown during the centuries when Roman Catholicism dominated Europe, and when the Universal Visible theory was in vogue. It is AN INVENTION of Protestantism designed to take the place of the Catholic Universal Visible theory. No one who seeks to follow the Bible should adopt as an item of doctrine an unscriptural invention of men.

Title: Re: The Myth of the Universal Invisible Church Theory
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 02, 2016, 12:22:44 pm

What's Wrong With This Theory?

    The answer to the heading of this chapter is, EVERY THING IS WRONG WITH IT. Some teachings while predominately false contain elements of truth, but this Universal Church theory is wholly false. It is completely man invented; is wholly unscriptural and anti scriptural, and well nigh constitutes blasphemy against the church that Jesus started. I shall seek to enlarge upon these statements in this chapter.

    First, I wish to make the statement that the Universal theory PERVERTS THE MEANING OF THE WORD ECCLESIA, which is translated church. The word ecclesia was not a word coined by our Lord for the institution that He established. It was a word in common use. Overby, in his thesis on "The Meaning of Ecclesia In the New Testament," aptly expresses the meaning of the word when he says:

    "The Greek word ecclesia signified primarily the assembly of citizens in a self governed state, being derived from Ekkaleo, to call out; i.e., out from their homes or places of business, to summon as we speak of calling out the militia. The popular notion that it meant to call out in the sense of separation from others, is a mistake."

    This last statement is in accord with Dr. John A. Broadus, in his "Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew."

    Those who want to bolster up the Universal theory try to make the word mean "called out," and that only, but there was always attached to the word the significance of "assembly." In other words, organization and locality inheres in the word.

    The idea of a Universal, Invisible something that has neither organization nor locality - that doesn't assemble and never has, is completely foreign to the meaning of the word.

    Simmons, in his "Systematic Study of Bible Doctrine," (Page 349 4th Edition) expresses himself in full accord with what has just been said in these words:

    "Ekklesia comes from 'ekkletos' and this latter word comes from 'ekkaleo', to call out or forth. But ecclesia does not mean the called out. Let this statement be pondered well. Usage, not etymology, determines the meaning of words. For instance, 'prevent' by etymology, means to anticipate or precede. But usage has made that meaning archaic. By usage, 'prevent' means forestall, frustrate, circumvent, hinder.

        Ekklesia had its original application to a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into a public place. (Thayer). Then it came to mean any assembly of people or gathering or throng of men, even when gathered by chance or tumultuously. (See Acts 19:32, 39, 41). The resulting meaning is 'assembly.' The word never did mean simply 'the called out.' It always implied that the called out ones would gather or assemble. Thus according to culmination, the word always did mean assembly, and later came to mean this alone."

    Dr. B. H. Carroll in his book, "Ecclesia - The Church" has the following to say:

    "The primary meaning is: An organized assembly, whose members have been called out from among private homes or business to attend to public affairs. This definition necessarily implies prescribeid conditions of membership.

    (1) This meaning applies substantially alike to the ecclesia of a self-governing Greek state (Acts 19:39),
    (2) the Old Testament ecclesia or convocation of National Israel (Acts 7:38), and
    (3) and to the New Testament ecclesia.

    When our Lord says: 'On this rock I will build MY ecclesia', while the 'my' distinguished His ecclesia from the Greek state ecclesia, and the Old Testament ecclesia, the word naturally retains its ordinary meaning."


    The meaning of the word ecclesia is all important in considering the question that we are dealing with, for the advocates of the Universal Church cannot justify their theory if the word means a called out assembly. The limited meaning of ecclesia simply ruins their theory.

    The Bible in use during New Testament times was called the Septuagint. Was the word ecclesia used in any looser way in that version, than I have indicated? The answer is a positive NO! H. E. Dana of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (A Manual of Ecclesiology) says, speaking of the Septuagint, "In it ekklesia was used to translate the Hebrew word qahal, which means an assembly, convocation or congregation." I could go on almost indefinitely quoting things to prove the truth that I have just stated, but it is unnecessary.


    Is the word ecclesia used in classical Greek to indicate a vague unassembling universal something? The answer is again NO! Dr. B. H. Carroll published a splendid and unanswerable booklet entitled "Ecclesia - The Church" In this he examines the word ecclesia as used in the Septuagint, the Apocrypha, classical Greek, and the New Testament, and he shows that never is the word used to represent a universal unassembling something such as indicated by the Universal Church theory. The investigation in the field of classical Greek was made by Dr. George Ragland who was at that time professor of Greek in Baylor University, and who later became the same at Georgetown College. Dr. Ragland was a close friend of mine, and we discussed the Universal Church theory many times. He assured me that the term ecclesia as used in classical Greek, never means what the advocates of the Universal theory try to make it mean.

    Edward H. Overby, a college professor and author of several books, made a painstaking search into the meaning of ecclesia. From that search, he prepared a thesis and it is my privilege to have a copy in my possession. He sums up the results of his research in the following statement:

    "What does the word ecclesia mean in the New Testament? This is the question we have sought to answer in this thesis. The word church is the usual translation of ecclesia in the New Testament. It is not a good translation since church has a host of meanings today that no one claims for ecclesia. We must bear this in mind as we study the word lest we be misled. Ecclesia means assembly in the classical Greek and in the Septuagint. In approaching the New Testament we see that the word is admitted by all to have this meaning in about ninety places. The other times it is used there is a difference of opinion. Some contend for assembly, others for a new meaning best described as the universal invisible church. How can we tell which is correct? The principle is used that says the common meaning must be accepted in every place it makes sense. Only when the common meaning will not make sense are we permitted to assume it has a new meaning. Following this principle we find that the word assembly makes sense in every contested passage, so that any new sense must be rejected. To say it has a new meaning in the face of this evidence is to follow a false way of interpreting that could make the Bible meaningless and could undermine a person's duty to the local church."


    In the King James Version of the Bible, ecclesia occurs 115 times in the Greek text. 112 times it is translated by the term church, and three times by the word assembly (in Acts 19). Let us note some of the typical passages in which the word church and churches are used.

    1 - Matthew 16:18 - "I will build my church."

    All kinds of efforts are being made today to make this passage refer to the Universal Church. It does nothing of the kind. The word is used here in an institutional or abstract sense. That He did not refer to a Universal Church Jesus made plain in His very next mention of the word church (Matthew 18:17) where He counseled "tell it to the church." How could they tell something to a Universal, Invisible spiritual Church? Absurd!

    2 - Acts 8:1 - "the church which was at Jerusalem."

    3 - Acts 9:31 - "Then had the churches rest."

    4 - Acts 20:17 - "called the elders of the church."

    5 - Romans 16:4 - "All the churches of the Gentiles."

    6 - I Corinthians 1:2 - "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth."

    7 - I Corinthians 6:4 - "Least esteemed in the church."

    8 - I Corinthians 7:17 - "So ordain I in all the churches."

    9 - Galatians 1:22 - "I persecuted the church of God."

    10 - Galatians 1:2 - "Unto the churches of Galatia."

    I could go ahead and list scores of Scriptures like the ten just given in which the term church and churches occur but it would be a waste of time and paper. You don't doubt I am sure that around 90 of the instances in which church or churches occur, reference is to the local, visible assembly. If you do, just get your Bible and investigate for yourself. Is it not utter presumption to ignore the plain meaning of church as demonstrated by around 90 instances of use, and after the plain meaning is established, to seize upon a handful of Scriptures and seek to make them teach something entirely different? Yet many - yes all who hold the Universal theory are doing that very thing. That Universal Church theory is so precious, and so necessary to their religious sentimentality that they will go to almost any length in order to hold on to it.


    Church unionism largely exists because of the Universal theory. I have known big union meetings to be held, when some of the leaders were not even in agreement on how to be saved. Suppose that during such a revival, a seeker comes forward and asks, "What must I do to be saved?" Several preachers are down front, and a Baptist replies in the words of Paul (Acts 16) "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." A Church of Christ preacher speaks up immediately to say "There's more to it than that. You must be immersed in order to be saved." A Methodist pastor speaks up and says, "Pardon me, but sprinkling or pouring will do just as well." "And don't forget," says a minister of yet another faith, "You will be saved only until you sin again. You have to hold out faithful to the end to be saved." The poor penitent becomes utterly confused as the contradictory arguments grow vehement. Finally, one of the preachers dowses water on the fire by saying, "Well, we don't agree on some things, but our differences relate only to our little local churches. Let us remember that we are all members of the big, Universal Church."
    The service ends with all singing:
                    "We are not divided,
                    All one body we."

    Yes, the Universal theory is directly involved in church unionism, in which conviction is thrown aside and the truths of God's word are sacrificed.


    The ecumenical movement, which is the most Satanic movement in all Christian history is likewise a product of the Universal Church theory. Many of those involved in this movement have repudiated almost every item of the Christian faith. An ecumenical convention was held in Florida and some one made a poll of the beliefs of many of the delegates. This poll revealed that a large number of those questioned did not even believe in a personal, living God. The leaders of this movement seem to be willing for the different denominations to be absorbed back into the Catholic Church. The writer of these lines believes that we are witnessing the beginning of events foretold in the Book of Revelation, where the ecumenical movement shall form the Anti-Christ's Church.

    And remember! The ecumenical movement is largely the product of the Universal Church theory.

Title: What is the Church of Jesus Christ?
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 04, 2016, 10:12:16 am

What is the Church of Jesus Christ?

The church was established by Christ (Matt. 16:18) to accomplish God’s redemptive purposes in the race. The church preaches the eternal message of God’s love for the world (John 3:16), supplies workers to accomplish the harvest (John 4:35), fulfills the obligation to teach doctrine and the biblical principles needed for a successful Christian life. And, finally, the church is an instrument to keep Christians consistent in the faith.

Entrusted with the message

The church is entrusted by God with the story of his love for mankind and his desire to save them. The history of the Bible shows that it was organized groups of Christians that collected the gospels and epistles and gave the Bible to both Christians and the lost. In spite of the tremendous opposition to it, the Bible has survived these many years, usually preserved by the church. Jesus said, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16:19). The “keys” is the message of redemption that was revealed to man from God by the apostles and prophets (Eph. 2:29).

It is this message that looses man from sin; when it is rejected, man is bound in his sin. This promise, given to Peter, was tied to Jesus’ promise to “build my church” (Matt. 16:18). This authority was later given to all the disciples in the upper room (John 20:23). This group represented the church in its embryonic form. This did not give the church or leaders of the church authority to forgive sin, but rather acknowledged that only as the church was faithful in the proclamation of the gospel could people enjoy the assurance of salvation.

As the church faithfully preached and taught the Scripture, people heard and believed the gospel. If a church is not a witnessing church, it is as if it were locking the door to heaven, forbidding the members of their community the gift of eternal life.

An assembly of workers

Jesus told his disciples, “Pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:38). It is the desire of Christ that Christians be engaged in his work. One of the reasons God established the church was to assemble his workers into a team that could get the job of evangelism done. Some people think pastors, teachers, and evangelists are responsible for doing the work of God. While they are the leaders in the church, in another sense we are “full-time Christian workers.” We should all live for God at all times and serve him also at all times. The Book of Acts records that everyone, not just the apostles, were engaged in evangelism.

When the persecution in Jerusalem resulted in the death of Stephen, the Christians were scattered into other towns and cities. Only the apostles remained in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1). As Christians and the apostles had been evangelizing Jerusalem, the practice of evangelism continued in their new towns. The Bible says, “Therefore, they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). God still has a work to be done. The gospel story of the death and resurrection of Christ is the catalyst that draws the church together and is the power that sends it out to serve him. God gave the Great Commission and the responsibility to win souls to his church.

A place of Christ-centered education

The third benefit of the church from God’s point of view is to provide an educational institution to train Christians concerning the things of God. Part of Christ’s commission to the church included: “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20). When Barnabas went to Antioch to establish the church, he got Saul from Tarsus and “he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that for a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people” (Acts 11:26). The first church to be labeled “Christian” was a church that was characterized by training people.

The Berean church was identified for its nobility. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). Bible study and teaching characterized the ministry of the apostles and the early church. The gift of teaching is one of the abilities that God gives to his pastors who lead the church (Eph. 4:11).

A place to build up believers

Because instability is so characteristic of our lives, God established the church to help us live more consistently. We often quote the first part of Hebrews 10:25 when we exhort others to church attendance but neglect the latter part of the verse and the purpose of church attendance. The complete verse reads, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Heb. 10:2,5).

The reason we assemble together is to exhort each other to keep on serving the Lord. The writer of Hebrews introduces this challenge by touching on the real problem, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering” (Heb. 10:23). Many people will walk down the church aisle to be saved but comparatively few may The living for God six months or a year later. Those that are baptized and become faithfully involved in the church are more likely to “hold fast.” We need others’ encouragement to live for God which we receive in a church. The church is God’s way of providing stability in our lives.

The Church’s Purpose

Every institution can only justify its existence as it accomplishes the purpose for which it was established. The church’s purpose is found in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20). Often, the Great Commission is applied to foreign missions but neglected at home. Actually, the task of making disciples needs to be accomplished both at home by involved church mem­bers and abroad through the missionary outreach of the church.

At the heart of the Great Commission is the task of making disciples (Matt. 28:19). Therefore, evangelism is more than decision-making, it is disciple-making. Evangelism may be de­scribed as communicating the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit to unconverted persons at their point of need, with the intent of effecting conversions and involving them in the church. Some people consider any Christian presence in society as an expression of evangelism.

Oth­ers define evangelism in the context of preaching the Gospel. While both of these are important, they are only steps in the process of persuading people to put their faith in Christ as Savior and follow Him as Lord in the fellowship of His church.

Jesus described three steps which are necessary if the church is to be successful in fulfilling her mission.

    The church must take the Gospel to the people (Matt. 28:19). The goal of this step is to bring people to the point of making a personal decision for salvation.
    The next step is described by the verb “baptizing” (Matt. 28:19), which involves assimilating the new believer into the life of the church. The task of baptism results in bonding or identification.

Every institution can only justify its existence as it accomplishes the purpose for which it was established. The church’s purpose is found in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20). Often, the Great Commission is applied to foreign missions but neglected at home. Actually, the task of making disciples needs to be accomplished both at home by involved church mem­bers and abroad through the missionary outreach of the church.

At the heart of the Great Commission is the task of making disciples (Matt. 28:19). Therefore, evangelism is more than decision-making, it is disciple-making. Evangelism may be de­scribed as communicating the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit to unconverted persons at their point of need, with the intent of effecting conversions and involving them in the church. Some people consider any Christian presence in society as an expression of evangelism.

Oth­ers define evangelism in the context of preaching the Gospel. While both of these are important, they are only steps in the process of persuading people to put their faith in Christ as Savior and follow Him as Lord in the fellowship of His church.

Jesus described three steps which are necessary if the church is to be successful in fulfilling her mission.

    The church must take the Gospel to the people (Matt. 28:19). The goal of this step is to bring people to the point of making a personal decision for salvation.
    The next step is described by the verb “baptizing” (Matt. 28:19), which involves assimilating the new believer into the life of the church. The task of baptism results in bonding or identification.
    The task of teaching results in new believers being trained in the Christian life and witness (Matt. 28:20).

Church Creeds

Church creeds, such as the Apostle’s Creed, are simply statements (confessions) of basic Christian beliefs. Christian creeds include the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. These creeds are summaries of the most fundamental beliefs held by the Christian church which made the Christian faith different from Judaism, from pagan religions, and from the religion of the Roman state (emperor-worship).

The creeds were generally developed from confessions of belief used wherever a person had declared his faith publicly and was baptized. In fact, the word “creed” comes from the Latin word credo, meaning “I believe.”

The Apostle’s Creed is the earliest and best known of all the Christian creeds, not because it was written by the apostles, but because the early church believed it summed up the apostle’s teaching. The earliest creeds were known to have been used at the end of the second century (Eerdman’s Handbook To Christian Belief, pages 19-21).

It should be noted that no formal creed, such as the Apostle’s Creed, is to be found in the New Testament. The creeds were formalized by the early church fathers and were integral ingredients in church liturgy, known as creedal authority. The Apostle’s Creed was recognized as a basic statement of faith by Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and by the Anglican (English) Reformers (ENCYCLOPEDIA AMERICANA, Volume VIII, page 169).

The Greek word ekklesia, translated “church” in the New Testament, was widely used in the first century to describe a group that was called out from the larger community for a specific purpose. In this general way, the word is used to describe a trade guild (Acts 19:32, 39, 41), a general gathering as in Israel in the wilderness (Acts 7:38), and a synagogue meeting (Matt. 18:17). But the word is also used in a more technical way to describe the gathering of the early Christians.

Ekklesia – Church “a group of called-out ones”

    Called from the former life
    Called for a purpose

A local church is more than just a gathering of Christians.

It must assemble for the right purpose, have the right authority, reproduce itself, have the right organization, and have the seal of God on its existence. A church may be described as an assembly of professing believers in whom Christ dwells, organized to carry out the Great Commission, administer the ordinances, and reflect spiritual gifts under the discipline of the Scriptures.

A local church needs to be organized to accomplish its function.

The nature of church life is described in the experience of the church at Jerusalem (Acts 2:41-47). These functions can be described using the acrostic WIFE which stands for Worship, Instruction, Fellowship, and Evangelism. An easy way to remember this is to recall that one of the biblical pictures of a church is that of a bride. Every bride wants to be a good wife, therefore, every church should be organized to accomplish these functions.

The Functions of the Church – W.I.F.E. (Worship Instruction Fellowship Evangelism)

The early church was a worshipping church, constantly engaged in “praising God” (Acts 2:47). Many evangelical churches today describe their Sunday morning service as a “worship service.” When we worship God, we seek to serve Him with our praises thus inviting Him into our midst in a unique way (Ps. 22:3). Worship also helps us by meeting our needs with God’s sufficiency.


The early church was involved in instructing people in the apostle’s doctrine (Acts 2:42). Today, churches organize to accomplish this function through a Christian education board or discipleship training ministry. Such organizations help insure the church’s success in instructing its members.


Fellowship was the third significant activity of the early church (Acts 2:42, 44). God has recognized from the very beginning that people need people (Gen. 2:18). One of the unique functions of the church is to provide opportunity for Christians to interact with one another informally as a means of motivating one another in their Christian life (Heb. 10:25).


Evangelism was the fourth function of the early church. This church began with an evangelistic thrust in which three thousand people were saved (Acts 2:41). Evangelism continued to be an integral part of church life resulting in others being converted to Christianity daily (Acts 2:47). Before long, their aggressive witness for Christ “filled Jerusalem” (Acts 5:28) and turned their world upside down (Acts 17:6). They believed in using every available means to reach every available person at every available time with the Gospel.

Obviously, not all of these functions can be accomplished in the same way. In the New Testament, the church met in smaller cells to accomplish ministry (Acts 12:12) and larger gatherings for celebration (Acts 3:11). This pattern has been followed throughout church history by growing churches. Today, many churches gather in a large worship service for celebration, but also gather in smaller Bible study groups such as Sunday School classes, home Bible study cells or specialized ministry teams for personal growth and ministry.

Understanding The Purpose of the Church

Every institution can only justify its existence as it accomplishes the purpose for which it was established. The church’s purpose is found in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20). Often, the Great Commission is applied to foreign missions but neglected at home. Actually, the task of making disciples needs to be accomplished both at home by involved church mem­bers and abroad through the missionary outreach of the church.

At the heart of the Great Commission is the task of making disciples (Matt. 28:19).Therefore, evangelism is more than decision-making, it is disciple-making. Evangelism may be de­scribed as communicating the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit to unconverted persons at their point of need, with the intent of effecting conversions and involving them in the church.

Some people consider any Christian presence in society as an expression of evangelism. Oth­ers define evangelism in the context of preaching the Gospel. While both of these are important, they are only steps in the process of persuading people to put their faith in Christ as Savior and follow Him as Lord in the fellowship of His church.

Jesus described three steps which are necessary if the church is to be successful in fulfilling her mission.

    First, the church must take the Gospel to the people (Matt. 28:19). The goal of this step is to bring people to the point of making a personal decision for salvation.
    The next step is described by the verb “baptizing” (Matt. 28:19), which involves assimilating the new believer into the life of the church. The task of baptism results in bonding or identification.
    Third, the task of teaching results in new believers being trained in the Christian life and witness (Matt. 28:20).

Church Ordinances

God has given the church two symbolic rituals to increase our understanding of our relationship to Jesus Christ. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Now I praise you, brethren, that ye … keep the ordinances [traditions], as I delivered them to you” (1 Cor. 11:2). Part of the traditions was clearly the Lord’s Supper but it probably included also the meaning of baptism (Rom. 6).


The first ordinance of the church is baptism. It was practiced by the church with every believer, as far as we know. As people were baptized, they were symbolically identifying with the church (Acts 2:41) and their Savior (Rom. 6:37; Gal. 2:20). Usually baptism was an evidence to their friends and neighbors that they were serious in their decision to follow Christ. It became known as a “badge of discipleship.”

Lord’s Supper

On Jesus’ final night with his disciples, he observed the Passover and ate the Passover meal. After dinner, he gathered his disciples around to initiate the second ordinance of the church. The Lord’s Supper is practiced by a church as a constant reminder of Christ’s death on Calvary. “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Cor. 11:26).

The observance of this ordinance also provides an opportunity for self-examination (1 Cor. 11:28). God provided this ordinance as one means whereby he could keep his church pure and separated from the world.

Finding a Church Among Denominations

It is true that the various denominations and churches across America can be confusing to any people. This is especially true when each one claims to be the true church and all others false.

To help unravel this confusion, we need to understand what the Bible says about the church. The word “church” is used in the scriptures in two senses:

    The universal sense
    The local sense.

In the universal sense the church consists of all those who, in this dispensation, have been born of the Spirit of God and have by that same Spirit been baptized into the body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:13).

The gospel of Jesus Christ is simply His death, burial, and resurrection for the forgiveness of our sins and our justification before God (I Corinthians 15:3,4). The blood of Jesus Christ actually cleanses an individual from his sins (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14, 20-22; Romans 3:25; Hebrews 9:12-14; I John 1:7). When an individual believes the Gospel of Jesus Christ and invites Jesus into his heart as his personal Savior by faith, that person automatically becomes a part of the universal church.

The second sense in which the word “church” is used in the Bible is in the local sense. That is, a local church is a group of professed believers in any one locality. We use the definition that a local church is a group of born again believers who have been baptized and have banded together to carry out the Great Commission. Thus, we read in the Bible of the church at Ephesus, the church at Corinth, the church at Galatia, the church of the Thessalonians, the church in Jerusalem, and so forth.

In other words, once an individual accepts Jesus Christ into his heart as his personal Savior, it is God’s plan that that individual joins a gospel preaching, soul-winning, local church in his own area. This teaches us that Christians all around the world are a part of the universal church which the Bible describes as being the body of Christ or the bride of Christ or sometimes uses the expression “building of God.” Yet, at the same time, the Lord wants us to unite with a good local church in our area.

Problems with Denominations that Cause Confusion

There are two major problems that have developed which have caused confusion to those who do not know the Bible.

First, those people who have genuinely accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, interpret certain passages, excluding those concerning salvation, in a way different from other Christians. Therefore, they have started their own denominations.

Secondly, there are any people who have added other books to the Bible and have completely changed God’s Word, including what the Bible teaches concerning salvation, and have therefore started their own “church.” These types of “churches” are referred to as cults and they always claim to be the one true church. However, these people substitute the teachings and doctrines, of men for the teachings and doctrines of the Word of God. Though they refer to themselves as the church, and perhaps lead clean, wholesome lives, they, nevertheless, have no part of the body of Christ.

There are True Christians in Many Denominations

It is possible to have genuine, Christian fellowship with people from other denominations who are, themselves, Bible-believing, soul-winning Christians, and who believe the great fundamental truths of God’s Word, such as the verbal inspiration of God’s Word; the deity, virgin birth, and sinlessness of Jesus; the substitutionary death and bodily resurrection and ascension of Jesus; the premillennial return of Christ; the reality and everlasting, conscious torment in Hell for all those who die without Christ; and direct creation rather than evolutionary development.

Let’s stand together with our fellow believers and LIFT UP, not tear down.

Finding a Church

The Bible exhorts us to attend a church where we can be blessed and in which we can serve the Lord.

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is…” (Hebrews 10:25).

It is important to find a church true to the Bible’s teachings, active soul-winning, and one which gives you the spiritual food you need.

In Acts 2:41 and 47, the Bible says God Himself added to the membership of the church at Jerusalem. As people were saved, they were added to the congregation. As a Christian, it is a duty as well as a privilege to become a member of a good, fundamental, Bible-believing, soul-winning, Bible-preaching church.

There are a few guidelines which may be helpful when we are trying to find God’s will with respect to membership and service in a church.

Guidelines for Finding a Church

    Is the church under consideration a Bible-believing church? Does the leadership in that particular church preach and teach the verbal inspiration of God’s Word; the deity, virgin birth, and sinlessness of Jesus; the substitutionary death and literal resurrection of Christ; the return of Christ; the reality of Hell where all will spend eternity in conscious torment if they die without Christ; and the errors and fallacies of evolution.

    In addition to the doctrinal position of a church, it is very helpful to know the position of the church with regard to a separated, dedicated, Christ-like life. Most churches being greatly blessed of the Lord take a loving, but firm, stand against, dancing, tobacco, alcohol, immodest dress, and other types of worldliness which would grieve the Spirit and harm their influence. The Christ-like position is not to be negative only, but to be against those things which the Bible is against and to be for those things which the Bible is for.

    Is this a strong, evangelistic work of Christ? It is important to train those who are already saved, aid to mold and motivate them for Christ. However, it is also very important constantly to be on the outreach for others, to bring them to know Christ as Savior and Lord.

    Finally, is the leadership as a whole (pastor, deacons, staff workers, Sunday School teachers, and other workers) setting the pace of dedication, doctrine, and fruitfulness? Are the youth of the church being motivated to go out for Christ? Are there adequate facilities for the children and all age groups among the adults?

The Meaning of Church Membership

The doctrine of the church is not some abstract teaching which has little or no relevance to the Christian life. Rather, the church ought to have a central place in the life of every believer. Often, people come to faith in Christ through a church-related ministry. As the new believer struggles to grow in his or her new life in Christ, church ministries and individual church members play a key role in helping him or her experience success. The church is where we find ministry opportunities that enable us to use our spiritual gifts to touch other lives.

Church membership is an expression of belonging

When people join a church, they are telling others they feel at home in that church and want to be a full participant in the life of the church. Therefore, church membership involves more than just adding your name to the role. It is an expression of your desire to be enfolded into the church family. It provides you with the opportunity to be involved in the lives of others.

For many, church membership has lost its meaning. The Bible teaches that every Christian is “baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13). This refers to the baptism of the Holy Spirit by which all Christians are one in Christ. But the Bible also uses the expression “body of Christ” to describe the local church (1 Cor. 12:27). Therefore, when Christians are baptized and join a church, they demonstrate outwardly what has already happened inwardly. Because they be­come a part of the body of Christ by receiving Him as Savior (John 1:12), they want to become an active member of a local church which is a local expression of the body of Christ.

When a Christian moves into a new community and begins to worship at a new church, it is only natural for him or her to want to change church membership. Just as people change their address and phone number when they move, so they should also change their church membership (their spiritual home) when they move.

Some Christians have not yet taken the very natural step to become a member of the church. When Paul described the church as a body, he reminded us that each of us is an important part of that body. We use terms such as handicapped, disabled and disadvantaged to describe a physical body which is missing an eye, ear, arm or foot. These terms could also be applied to many churches which are lacking parts because of the reluctance of some Christians to become involved.

Joining a church places us under the discipline of the Scriptures – the Word of God. God gave us the Bible to help us grow spiritually (1 Peter 2:2), achieve victory over sin (Ps. 119:9­11), see our prayers answered (John 15:7), develop strong character (1 Cor. 3:3), and grow in our ability to believe God (Rom. 10:17). As we hear the Word of God preached and study the Scriptures with others in small groups, we can begin to experience these benefits in our own life.

God made us to need relationships with others

Becoming a part of a church provides us with the opportunity to encourage others and be encouraged by others (Heb. 10:25). In the New Testament, those who received Christ as Savior quickly chose to become part of the church (Acts 2:41). As they interacted with each other on a regular basis, they were able to build a steadfastness into their life in various spiritual disciplines (Acts 2:42). Becoming ac­tive in the life of a church is one way of insuring personal success in your Christian life.

Evangelical Christians look to the New Testament to determine what is involved in join­ing a church. In the New Testament, church membership was related to four conditions. First, no one joined a church until they had first received Christ as personal Savior (Acts 5:13-14). Second, Christians were baptized as a profession of their faith prior to joining a church (Acts 2:41). Third, Christians remained members of a church only as long as they remained in agree­ment with the church’s doctrinal beliefs (Titus 3:10). Fourth, church members were responsible to live moral lives so as to not hinder the corporate testimony of the church (1 Cor. 6:9­11).

Just as the parts of your physical body work together in harmony to enable you to do things, so church members need to work together to enable the church to accomplish its min­istry. There are several ways church members can invest in their local church. They can make a special effort to give time to church services and ministry projects (Eph. 5:16). They can use their spiritual gifts as ministry tools in the church (Eph. 4:12). They can consistently give to the church to underwrite the costs associated with the church’s ministry (1 Cor. 16:2). They can help build others in the church (Heb. 10:25). They can use their influence to help others receive Christ as Savior and become a part of church life.

Joining a church is more than adding your name to the membership list

By joining a church, you indicate your desire to be involved in the life of the church, and to have others in the church involved in your life. You become part of a family. As such, you are entitled to all the privileges associated with family life and assume the responsibility of making that family work.

The subject of eating and serving dinners in a church is dealt with in 1 Corinthians 11.

In the early church, the Lord’s Supper was commonly preceded by a fellowship meal, later known as the Agape Feast. Eventually, so many problems accompanied these feasts that at the Council of Carthage (AD 397), they were strictly forbidden. And such was the case at Corinth. The Apostle Paul noted that in their coming together, they were not eating together; hence it could not be called a communion, as their behavior was so dishonoring to the Lord, it could hardly be called the Lord’s Supper. Some were actually getting drunk in the church.

The Apostle Paul’s indictment to the Corinthian believers was actually twofold.

    They disgraced the Lord’s house
    They embarrassed the poor in their midst who were not invited to participate in the fellowship dinner.

The Apostle Paul was writing to the Corinthian church in order to correct these abuses. His statement, however, should not be taken as a prohibition against eating any food at all in the church (LIBERTY BIBLE COMMENTARY, Vol. II, pp. 448-449).

It should be understood that church fellowship dinners may be allowed within the church sanctuary (a fellowship hall, cafeteria, or any place other than the sanctuary itself). The intent of the fellowship dinner served within a church should be to promote the Christian love and fellowship for each other. Thus, the fellowship dinner may indeed be to the glory and honor of Christ. In this sense, a fellowship dinner is advisable for churches.

It should be recognized that the real mission of the New Testament church is to not only provide edification and fellowship for the believers, but is to be used in reaching the world with the Gospel of Christ. God has entrusted the church with the story of His love (the Gospel) for mankind and his desire to save mankind. The mission of every local church is to share the good news of salvation and to set the example of righteous living within their community.


Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 04, 2016, 01:48:54 pm
'House churches' keep worship small, simple, friendly

DALLAS (AP) — To get to church on a recent Sunday morning, the Yeldell family walked no farther than their own living room to greet fellow worshippers.

The members of this "house church" are part of what experts say is a fundamental shift in the way U.S. Christians think about church. Skip the sermons, costly church buildings and large, faceless crowds, they say. House church is about relationships forged in small faith communities.

In general, house churches consist of 12 to 15 people who share what's going on in their lives, often turning to Scriptures for guidance. They rely on the Holy Spirit or spontaneity to lead the direction of their weekly gatherings.

"I think part of the appeal for some in the house church movement is the desire to return to a simpler expression of church," said Ed Stetzer, a seminary professor and president of Lifeway Research, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. "For many, church has become too much (like a) business while they just want to live like the Bible."

House church proponents claim their small groups are sort of a throwback to the early Christian church in that they have no clergy and everyone is expected to contribute to the teaching, singing and praying.

They are more commonly seen in countries where Christianity is not the dominant religion. Organizers say they're just starting to take off in the U.S.

A study by the Barna Group, a firm specializing in data on religion and society, estimates that 6 million to 12 million Americans attend house churches. A survey last year by the Pew Forum found that 9% of American Protestants only attended home services.

"The only consistent thing about house church is that each one is different," said Robin Yeldell, who, in 2006, left a traditional church where he was a missions committee chairman.

The gathering at the Yeldell's home is a lively, sometimes chaotic event, with noisy and mostly happy young children flitting about.

After a time of fellowship, everyone gravitates to the kitchen table to observe the Eucharist with prayer, pinched-off pieces of sourdough bread and red wine in plastic cups. There's grape juice for the kids.

The celebration continues with a potluck meal. When they return to the living room, one member picks up a guitar to strum praise-and-worship songs that others softly sing.

Sparked by a previous discussion about whether they should start collecting an offering for the needy, Yeldell shares a Power Point presentation he created about "corporate giving" on his big screen TV.

The majority seems averse to a regular offering, preferring to take up a collection only when a need or charitable cause arises.

As if on cue, Sean Allen, a laid-off welder who is now homeless with health issues, joined their gathering late. The soft-spoken 39-year-old said he had been sick and struggling to pay some bills.

"I'm just here," Allen told fellow worshippers. "Do what you want. Let the Lord lead your heart."

Allen, who recently converted to Christianity from Islam, said a friend at a traditional church introduced him to the house church, which he prefers and occasionally attends because "they're more down to earth."

A few people agreed to write checks directly to the companies Allen owes while some debated whether money is the best way to help the man. A couple with five young children told him they couldn't afford to assist financially but he was always welcome to join them in their home for meals.

"I'd say the vast majority of house churches we know are Christians honestly trying to live 24-7 for Jesus," said Tony Dale of Austin. He and his wife, Felicity, are pioneers in the American house church movement which is also referred to as home church, organic church or simple church.

There aren't any signs out front so house churches are difficult to find. Prospective worshippers usually locate them by searching the Internet or through word of mouth.

Members rotate the services from house to house and take turns facilitating the gatherings. Anything more than about 15 people and the small group loses its ability to interact with each person, churchgoers say.

When they get too large, they divide and multiply.

"We view it as natural to grow, flourish and disband into three or four new ones," Dale said. "Not everything multiplies. Sometimes it shrinks and dies."

Sometimes congregations with diverse religious backgrounds break up over doctrinal issues or personality conflicts, moving on until they find or create a better fit.

In Texas, home to several megachurches, the house church movement is beginning to catch on, judging from the chatter on social networking sites and interest in a national house church conference organized by House2House Ministries held in the Dallas area in recent years.

"Often when you see a trend (like the growing number of megachurches) you see a counter-trend, like the proliferation of micro-churches," Stetzer said.

The Dales are among those actively working to bring mega- and micro-churches together.

Tony Dale cites the Apex Community Church in Dayton, Ohio, and The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin as examples of the complementary approach. They operate a network of dozens of small house churches, which can band together to become big.

Some who embrace the concept "have become kind of disillusioned, maybe bored with what's going on in traditional church and looking for a way to be more passionate in church," said Dale, who co-founded House2House magazine.

Bill Benninghoff of Arlington, a former pastor of charismatic churches in Texas and North Carolina, has been attending house churches exclusively since 2005.

"You get to know people in their good and bad times," said Benninghoff, a software engineer. "You get to pray with one another and have an incredible sense of camaraderie and community."

Benninghoff said he and his wife "felt lost in the big church on Sunday."

Reggie McNeal, a church leadership consultant based in South Carolina, said many people experimenting with house church have been doing so "under the radar," especially in Bible Belt states.

"It's kind of seen as an alternative or radical kind or approach," he said. "An increasing number of people are saying that they don't want to go to (any) church so there better be a way for church to just be where people already are."

Although house churches emphasize shared leadership and lack hierarchy, there doesn't seem to be a backlash from accredited seminaries devoted to training clergy to take leadership roles in traditional churches.

Dr. Nancy Ramsay, executive vice president and dean of Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth said interpreting Scripture for people of faith is an important responsibility but they respect those who see it differently.

"I wouldn't want to say that we feel threatened by that," Ramsay said. "We are concerned."

She stressed that a greater challenge for various denominations is being able to financially support a full-time religious leader during these tough economic times.

House church advocates say that's not an issue for them because they don't have paid professional leaders.

"You don't have to be dependent upon someone you hear at church to translate for you," said author Neil Cole, who directs Church Multiplication Associates in Southern California, which has helped start hundreds of organic churches in the U.S. and abroad.

"God is capable of speaking your language and talking to you where you live and I think that's attractive to people," Cole said.

Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 06, 2016, 06:06:16 pm

Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 07, 2016, 10:25:38 am

Title: Who Are The 'Grievous Wolves' That Paul Warned About?
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 07, 2016, 12:09:06 pm

Title: Frank Viola and the Organic Church
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 07, 2016, 09:32:47 pm
I didn't read all of it (hence typed more, meaning that's where I stopped) - but nonetheless this is a very good read.

Frank Viola and the Organic Church

The “organic church” is a concept promoted by Frank Viola and his associates. Part of the larger house church movement, it has been called “church with little organization, little structure, and loose doctrine,” which is true and would be dangerous enough in itself; but there is far more to the organic church than that, and the “far more” is insidious.

A major principle of the organic church is that every member has equal authority and there is no office of pastor or elder. It is defined as “Spirit-led, open-participatory meetings and nonhierarchical leadership” (Viola, Pagan Christianity). Each member, male or female, is encouraged to contribute to the services as “the Spirit moves.”

Viola has promoted the organic church in popular books such as Jesus Manifesto (2010, co-authored with Leonard Sweet), Pagan Christianity (2002 and 2008, co-authored with George Barna), Reimagining Church (2008), The Untold Story of the New Testament Church, Revise Us Again, Finding Organic Church, Rethinking the Wineskin, and So You Want to Start a House Church.

Having become increasingly aware of the growth and influence of “the organic church,” I read the first three of these books as research for this report, in addition to extensive online investigations.

The organic church claims to be geared toward putting God’s people under the headship of Christ, but in reality it woos them out from under the protection of God-called leaders, affiliates them with bogus “apostles” and “prophets,” and thrusts them unwittingly into the treacherous waters of end-time apostasy.


There are many reasons why the organic church in particular and the “house church” concept in general are spreading.

One is apostasy and compromise. Some of the criticisms of “traditional churches” are legitimate to various degrees in far too many cases. It is not wrong to reject human tradition and spiritual lifelessness and church growth techniques that have transformed churches into well-oiled machines in which the individual is a near meaningless cog.

A second reason why the organic church concept is growing is the abuse of pastoral authority. Some churches are not merely pastor-led; they are man-venerating cults. We have often warned about this error which exists far too commonly among fundamental Baptist churches.

Another reason for the rapid growth of the organic church is the “me” generation’s rebellion toward authority, which is prophesied in Scripture:

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves...” (2 Timothy 3:1-2).

Another reason for the growth of the house church movement is the lack of education in so many churches. The people aren’t grounded Biblically and aren’t educated sufficiently about doctrinal error. They aren’t taught how to interpret the Bible for themselves and how to deal with the abuse of Scripture by heretics. Thus they aren’t able to recognize and deal with the error represented by the house church movement. The average member of a professing Bible believing church comes into contact with heretics through Internet blogs, Christian bookstores, Christian radio, the influence of Christian friends, etc., and he isn’t able to deal effectively with the error. He is impressed with the false teacher’s use of Scripture, not understanding how they take verses out of context and otherwise abuse the Word of God.


Some things about the organic church COULD be a challenge to a New Testament church, though that is not what the organic church is intended to be. I want to deal with these, though, for the sake of individuals who might be tempted to joined an organic church or something like it.

The organic church teaching could be challenging in its emphasis on the “one-another ministry” which should characterize a New Testament church.

“admonish one another” (Rom. 15:14)
“by love serve one another” (Gal. 5:13)
“bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2)
“forbearing one another in love” (Eph. 4:2)
“forgiving one another” (Eph. 4:32)
“comfort one another” (1 Th. 4:18)
“edify one another” (1 Th. 5:11)
“exhort one another” (Heb. 10:24)

The church is not just a head; it is a body and each member is a necessary member. The New Testament church is a temple, and each member is a spiritual stone (1 Cor. 12:12; 1 Peter 2:5). Ministry-gifted men--pastors, preachers, teachers, evangelists--are given to the churches to prepare the members for the work of the ministry and to protect them from the winds of false doctrine (Ephesians 4:11-16). A godly pastor is not in the church to hinder the Spirit’s working through the body of believers by exercising an oppressive type of “pastoring” that cripples godly vision and initiative on the part of members in the body. His role in the church is rather to build up the body so that it propers spiritually and all of the various gifts are functioning within biblical boundaries and Christ can be Lord throughout the entire body to freely accomplish His work. Godly pastors have the goal of maturing the flock so that they can participate in the work of the Lord to the fullest extent possible. They do not want to tie the saints down but to liberate them to their greatest potential in Christ. Pastoral authority is “to edification, and not to destruction” (2 Cor. 13:10). Too many pastors are so jealous of their authority that they hinder and cripple the work of God by turning the ministry of the Lord into a near “one man show,” and the people rise only to the level of being the servants to his vision and never mature to the true liberty in Christ that we see in Scripture. Brethren, these things ought not to be. (See “The Pastor’s Authority and the Church Member’s Responsibility,” which is available from the Way of Life web site -- wayoflife.org.)

The organic church COULD also be a challenge to a church to re-examine itself in light of Scripture and to refuse to follow any tradition merely for tradition’s sake. We need to do this because it is so easy to mistake tradition for Scripture and to get into a rut. We Baptists say, “The Bible is the sole authority for faith and practice,” but all too often we fight for things that are mere human traditions (e.g., soul winning techniques, youth ministries, Sunday School programs, Vacation Bible School, Bible Colleges, Mission Boards) as fiercely as or even more fiercely than we fight for faith and practice based on solid Scripture.

The fact is that much of what we do in church is a matter of soul liberty and a matter of practicality rather than spiritual law. As for Sunday School or VBS or a children ministry or a youth ministry or a seniors’ ministry or a college & career ministry, the Bible says nothing about these one way or the other. The churches are commanded to preach the gospel to every creature, to teach God’s people “to observe all things whatsoever I have taught you,” and to train faithful men (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:20; 2 Tim. 2:2), and largely it is up to each church to determine how to get this job done within the boundaries of Scripture. Sunday School is neither scriptural nor unscriptural. It is simply a program that can be used to accomplish the Lord’s Great Commission or it is a program that can be a waste of time, depending on whether it is Spirit-empowered and Bible-based and taught by the right people or whether it is a lifeless religious ritual that bores people to tears. I have seen Sunday Schools that are operated both ways. The same is true for VBS and youth ministries and other sorts of “programs.”

Many “home church” or “family church” people who have rejected Sunday Schools and youth ministries are as tradition-bound as those who use these ministries. They avoid these ministries “out of conviction,” claiming that it is only the job of families to teach children and youth; but there is absolutely nothing in Scripture that forbids churches from teaching them. In fact, the churches have a commission from Christ to teach everyone. Christ put no limitation on the Great Commission as far as the age of those who are to be taught the gospel and discipled in the “all things” that Christ has delivered to us in the canon of the New Testament faith. Thus, it is not only the job of parents to teach children and youth; it this also the job of the churches, and if they decide to do this though a Sunday School or a biblically-operated youth ministry of some sort, no one can say it is wrong and no one can rightly condemn it. While it is wrong to have a worldly, entertainment-oriented youth ministry, because such a thing has no authority in Scripture and in fact is condemned in Scripture (e.g., “be not conformed to this world,” Romans 12:2); it is not wrong to have a “youth ministry” as such if it is designed and geared toward fulfillment such commandments as Mark 16:16 and Matthew 28:19-20. The same is true for Sunday School.

I have attended several “family home churches,” and I have always been impressed with two thoughts: First, it is a good thing that these families are doing with their own families. To “focus on the family” in the sense of building a godly home and a strong marital relationship and raising children as disciples of Christ is a wonderful thing. It is very important. It is very scriptural and right. But the second thought I have been impressed with is that these families aren’t fulfilling the Great Commission. What about all of the children and youth in the community that don’t have the advantage of living in a godly home? What is that “family home church” doing for them? What about the needs of children even within the membership of the church? Are they all being properly taught at home? Is every one of the families attending the “home church” really doing an effective job? Usually not. There are usually some families that have their “stuff together,” and there are families attracted to that type of church that are very weak.

I think about our church plants in South Asia, where we have been missionaries since 1979. Take our youngest church. There are about 60 adult and teen members. Many of the families are broken. There are men whose Hindu wives left them to raise the children. There are women whose husbands are unsaved. There are teens whose parents are unsaved. There are unmarried young people. The church does everything it can to disciple the various groups of people who exist in these imperfect situations. We don’t get young people together to play soccer; we get them together to learn God’s Word and to show them how to find God’s will, and we have authority from Christ to do this. There are also children who live near the church and who attend the services. If the church didn’t provide Sunday School or children’s Bible classes of some sort, who would teach those children? Someone might say that the church families could teach them. Sure, they can if they have a desire to do so, and more power to them if they want to do this type of thing. But the church can also teach them! In fact, in light of Christ’s commandments, the church must teach them.

Returning to the theme of soul liberty (referring to things not specifically forbidden in Scripture) and practicality, most of the things we do in church services fall into the realm of practicality. We are told to do all things decently and in order (1 Cor. 14:40), but we are not given a specific “order of service.” We are told to pray, but we are not told specifically to have a Wednesday evening prayer service. We could have a prayer meeting on Friday or on every day of the week. When we do meet for prayer, we can meet for prayer only or for a combination of prayer and teaching and preaching and whatever. It’s not spelled out in Scripture. Each church makes those decisions before the Lord in light of its particular situation, and when the church leaders make that determination the members obey because that is what God tells them to do, as long as the activity is not contrary to the Bible’s teaching (Heb. 13:17). (The Bible’s silence on something is not a law against it.) We are told to preach and teach the Word, but we are not specifically told to have a preaching service on Sunday morning and Sunday evening and Wednesday evening. Those are issues of practicality that each church decides before the Lord. All too often traditions that start right deteriorate into empty lifeless rituals, and we need to guard against this.

Thus, for a church to analyze what it is doing in the light of God’s Word and by seeking the Lord’s guidance is important. Times change. Cultures change. Neighborhoods change. A church’s composition changes. We are foolish just to continue doing something because “we have always done it.” That is a recipe for lukewarmness followed by spiritual death.

At the same time, church traditions are not wrong in themselves as long as they are not contrary to the clear teaching of God’s Word.


I want to hasten to say, though, that the organic church is not intended to be a challenge and help to a “traditional” Bible-believing church in any sense. Its object is not to help revive churches but to replace them. The organic church’s criticism of Bible-believing churches is not intended to be constructive. John Beardsley rightly observes that the organic church’s criticism of churches is “propaganda to mislead the reader for another agenda” (“Doctrines of Devils and Men,” Aug. 30, 2011).

In fact, the organic church is a vicious attack upon every Bible-believing church. It is an attack upon the office of pastor/elder, an attack upon owning a building, an attack upon having a church larger than 20 or 30, an attack upon preaching, an attack upon having the Lord’s Supper less often than weekly and as a “ritual” as opposed to a full-blown meal, an attack upon restricting the woman’s ministry, and many other things.

Frank Viola makes no secret of the fact that he wants to encourage people to leave “traditional” Bible churches.

Consider some statements from his writings:

“We are making an outrageous proposal: that the church in its contemporary, institutional form has neither a biblical nor a historical right to function as it does” (Pagan Christianity, location 110).

“Let’s suppose the authors of this book attend your church service. And let’s suppose that the Lord Jesus Christ puts something on our hearts to share with the rest of His body. Would we have the freedom to do so spontaneously? Would everyone else have the freedom to do it? If not, then we would question whether your church service is under Christ’s headship” (Pagan Christianity).

According to Viola, if your church has appointed leaders who wield authority and who would not allow anyone to speak out at any time, then your church is unscriptural and should not exist.

Consider Viola’s description of one of his “organic church” services:

“A Christian sister began the meeting by starting a song. And everyone sang with her ... a sister stood up and began sharing. ... two other sisters interrupted her and shared insights out of their own experience ... a brother stood up to speak ... He spoke for several minutes, and then a sister stood up and began adding to what he had shared. ... no one was leading this gathering” (Reimagining Church, pp. 69, 70).

Viola is wrong in claiming that no one was leading this gathering. In fact, the gathering was obviously being led by the most forward, outspoken women!

And Viola is hypocritical in his claim that a church must allow anyone to speak out. As we will see, he hates dispensational theology and separatism, and if a dispensational fundamentalist were to attend one of the organic churches that is under his “apostleship” and try to speak out on the imminency of Christ’s return and the necessity to win souls before it is too late and to urge the people to separate from every form of end-time apostasy, such an individual would soon be shut down!

Viola’s organic church principle makes much of 1 Corinthians 14:26 -- “How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.”

Let’s consider the context of this verse, which is the first principle of sound Bible interpretation. Paul was not saying that this is to be the standard pattern for every church service in every congregation throughout the age; he was simply stating that this was the pattern for the services AT CARNAL CORINTH WHERE SPIRITUAL GIFTS WERE BEING ABUSED.

Paul was not writing to encourage them to continue what they were doing; he was writing to correct what they were doing! He didn’t say, “How is it then, brethren? when ye come together LET EVERY ONE OF YOU HAVE a psalm, have a doctrine...” He didn’t write this as a commandment. Rather, he simply described what they were doing in the context of correcting it. He corrected their practice by limiting tongues speaking in two ways (verses 27-28) and by restricting both tongues speaking and prophesying to men only (verses 34-35).

Paul further stated in the same context that both tongues speaking and prophesying were temporary gifts that would vanish away (1 Cor. 13:8). The book of Acts tells us that this happened even before the death of the apostles. Tongues speaking is only mentioned three times in Acts: on Pentecost (Acts 2:3-4), at the conversion of Cornelius and his friends (Acts 10:46), and at the baptism of Apollos’ disciples at Ephesus (Acts 19:6). That’s it for tongues! About A.D. 58 is the last time tongues speaking is mentioned in the divinely-inspired history of the early churches.

It was about that time that Paul wrote his first epistle to the church at Corinth to correct their abuse of the spiritual gifts. Tongues aren’t mentioned in any other New Testament epistle. Paul explained that tongues speaking was a sign to the unbelieving Jewish nation that God was doing a new thing (1 Cor. 14:20-22). The tongues were a fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 28:11-12, where the prophet said that though God would speak to Israel in other tongues, they would not hear. This is exactly what happened. With the establishment of the first churches and the destruction of the Jewish Temple, the need for the sign was finished and church history tells that both tongues speaking and prophesying (in the sense of imparting new revelation) vanished except among heretical cults. Tongues ceased because their function as a sign to Israel was no longer needed, and prophesying ceased because the canon of Scripture was completed and the only type of prophesying that is needed now is the proclamation of Scripture.

We have testimony times in our churches, when the men are encouraged to share things with the congregation. We also allow the women to give testimonies in some services and to share prayer requests as long as they don’t teach. But none of this replaces the authoritative preaching and teaching of God’s Word by the pastors and other ministry-gifted men, which is specifically commanded in Scripture (e.g., 2 Timothy 4:1-2; Titus 2:15; 1 Peter 4:11).


The organic church is preeminently an attack upon and rebellion against the office of pastor/elder.

Consider the following quotes from Frank Viola’s writings:

“The pastor is an obstacle to every-member functioning” (Frank Viola and George Barna, Pagan Christianity).

“There is not a single verse in the entire New Testament that supports the existence of the modern-day pastor” (Pagan Christianity).

“Pastor is not an office or a title” (Pagan Christianity).

“Up until the second century, the church had no official leadership. ... The Christians themselves led the church under Christ’s direct headship” (Pagan Christianity).

“In the first century, the laying on of hands merely meant the endorsement or affirmation of a function, not the installment into an office or the giving of special status” (Pagan Christianity).

“First-century elders were merely endorsed publicly by traveling apostolic workers as being those who cared for the church. Such acknowledgment was simply the recognition of a function. It did not confer special powers. Nor was it a permanent possession” (Pagan Christianity).

“We believe the pastoral office has stolen your right to function as a full member of Christ’s body” (Pagan Christianity).

“The one who plants a New Testament-styled church leaves that church without a pastor, elders, a music leader, a Bible facilitator, or a Bible teacher” (Pagan Christianity).

“Nowhere in the New Testament do we find grounds for a church meeting that is dominated or directed by a human being” (Frank Viola, Reimagining Church, p. 53).

“First-century elders were simply spiritually mature men” (Reimagining Church, p. 171).

“... the New Testament knows nothing of an elder-ruled, elder-governed, or elder-directed church. And it knows even less about a pastor-led church. The first-century church was in the hands of the brotherhood and the sisterhood. Plain and simple” (Reimagining Church, p. 187).

“All in all, the New Testament knows nothing of an authoritative mode of leadership” (Reimagining Church, p. 198).

“... the Bible never teaches that God has given believers authority over other believers” (Reimagining Church, p. 214).

Viola goes to great lengths in his attempt to prove the previous statements, but in the process he twists Scripture out of context, abuses “the Greek,” and ignores the plain meaning of God’s Word in the most frightful, heretical manner.

The fact is that the terms “pastor,” “elder,” and “bishop” are used interchangeably in Scripture and refer to the same office in the New Testament church (1 Timothy 3:1). The terms emphasize three different aspects of the church leader’s ministry. As pastor, he is a shepherd; as elder, he is a mature example; as bishop, he is an overseer. The pastor/elder is not merely a spiritually mature church member. He must meet certain specific qualifications (1 Timothy 3; Titus 1) and must be ordained (Titus 1:5). The apostle Paul set the pattern for this with the ordination of elders in the churches he started on his first missionary journey (Acts 14:21-23). And there is no hint that the elders were ordained as some sort of temporary function.

While elders are warned not to abuse their authority (e.g., 1 Peter 5:1-3; 3 John 9-11), they do have authority and will be held accountable to God for exercising it in a godly manner. The believers are to obey them that have the rule over them (Heb. 13:17), and that verse means exactly what the King James Bible says it means. The Greek word for “rule” here (hegeomai) is also translated “chief” (Acts 14:12), “governor” (Acts 7:10), and “esteem” (1 Thess. 5:13).

There are certain men in the churches with ruling authority, and the saints are to submit to them as long as they are leading according to God’s Word. Their authority is not their own opinion; their authority is God’s Word (Heb. 13:7). God’s people are to honor them that are “over you in the Lord” (1 Thes. 5:12-13). Obviously not every member has the same authority. Elders who “rule well” are to be given double honor (1 Timothy 5:17). Obviously elders are rulers.

These passages are unambiguous and totally refute the “organic church” premise and no amount of wolfish Scripture twisting will change this fact.

At the same time, self-willed men who exalt themselves and rule according to their own thinking rather than God’s Word and who are proud, demanding loyalty to themselves rather than to Christ and refusing to allow the people to prove all things by God’s Word, are not Scriptural pastors and are not qualified to lead God’s people.

Frank Viola further says it is wrong for a church to support a pastor financially.

“... the clergy salary has no New Testament merit ... it runs against the grain of the entire New Covenant” (Pagan Christianity).

“Paul waived this right because he didn’t want to burden any church financially while he served it” (Reimagining Church, p. 180).

In fact, God’s people are instructed to give double honor to elders who rule well and the context makes it clear that this refers to money (1 Timothy 5:17-18). Paul taught that “the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:14). Paul received support from churches (e.g., Philippians 4:14-16). At times he refused to accept support, but this was not because it was wrong for a preacher to be financially supported; it was because in certain situations it would have been detrimental to the ministry to have received support (1 Cor. 9:15). Paul did urge the elders at Ephesus to work with their own hands (Acts 20:33-35), but this does not contradict what he wrote in 1 Timothy 5:17-18 and 1 Corinthians 9:14 and elsewhere. Pastors should not serve Christ for money and should guard against covetousness in their daily lives; they should always be ready to “work with their own hands” and to do whatever is necessary to further the gospel. I know many godly pastors who work a second job and live very frugally in order to carry on the ministry, and I know many godly pastors who are rightly recompensed “double” by flocks who are capable of doing so. Both of these scenarios are Scriptural.

The bottom line is that the office of pastor/elder is a biblical one and an essential one in the New Testament church and God’s people should show great honor to those who are doing the work of God in a humble, godly manner.

The issue of prophets and apostles is an issue of charismatic heresy. There are no apostles today in the sense of men who wield authority over the churches as the Lord’s apostles did in the first century. Those were men who had been individually appointed by Christ and had seen the risen Christ (1 Cor. 9:1). They had miracle signs to authenticate their office (2 Cor. 12:12). Together with the prophets, those apostles laid the foundation of the church, completed the canon of Scripture, and when they died those offices ceased. The Bible tells us that there are only 12 apostles in this sense for ever (Rev. 21:14).

The Greek word “apostolos” is also used in a general sense to describe men who are messengers of the churches, and in this general sense there are “apostles” today. They are also called “missionaries,” but they do not hold the office of a sign-gifted apostle and cannot be called the “apostles of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:14). They have no authority over the churches beyond the congregations that they actually plant.

The charismatic “apostles” are self-deceived impostors who are building the end-time harlot church.

As for how many pastor/elders a church must have, the Bible nowhere says. It should therefore have as many as it needs and as many as the Lord calls. And as for how pastor/elders share authority when they are in the plural, that too is not spelled out in Scripture and is something that each church determines before the Lord and in light of its particular situation. Viola claims that “a senior pastor” is unscriptural, but he cannot prove that. It is something the Bible is silent on, and the Bible’s silence is not a law. In fact, a multi-headed body is a strange thing and in strictly practical terms it is more natural and reasonable that one man will have more authority than others.

Viola has no right to interfere with the business of churches by making laws where the Bible is silent.


The organic church is also an attack on preaching. This makes sense, as the organic church is an assault on authority in the church, and biblical preaching is an authoritative ministry. Consider the following quotes from Viola’s writings:

“The Christian sermon was borrowed from the pagan pool of Greek culture” (Frank Viola and George Barna, Pagan Christianity).

“The sermon preserves the unbiblical clergy mentality” (Pagan Christianity).

“The sermon often stalemates spiritual growth. Because it is a one-way affair, it encourages passivity” (Pagan Christianity).

“The Barna Group has shown that sermons are generally ineffective at facilitating worship, at drawing people closer to God, and at conveying life-changing information to those in the audience” (Pagan Christianity).

Mr. Viola and Mr. Barna are wrong. God has ordained authoritative preaching and teaching.

“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:1-2).

“These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee” (Titus 2:15).

“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11).

Speaking as the oracles of God refers to speaking with the very authority of God’s Word itself (Romans 3:2).

The organic church wants to replace authoritative preaching with non-authoritative “sharing.” A dogmatic “thus saith the Lord” is replaced with an anemic “it appears to me that this is the meaning, but what does the passage say to you?”

Along this same line, Viola and Barna claim that the pulpit itself is pagan, which is nonsense. The pulpit is simply a lectern for preaching and teaching. Viola and Barna complain that “the pulpit elevates the clergy to a position of prominence.” Maybe that is true in the Catholic Church, but it is not true in a Bible-believing church. In a Bible-believing church the pulpit does not exalt a man; it exalts the Word of God that the man is preaching. The preacher is to “reprove, rebuke, exhort” (2 Timothy 4:2). Preachers are to speak as the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11). Preachers are to “speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority” (Titus 2:15). The God-called preacher who is proclaiming the Bible faithfully is God’s mouthpiece, and it is wise to honor this position and activity in the house of God.


There is an entire chapter in Pagan Christianity on the supposed “error” of church buildings.

“The first churches consistently met in homes. Until the year 300 we know of no buildings first built as churches” (Frank Viola and George Barna, Pagan Christianity, location 333).

“All the traditional reasons put forth for ‘needing’ a church building collapse under careful scrutiny” (Pagan Christianity, location 596).

“There does not exist a shred of biblical support for the church building” (Pagan Christianity, location 602).

While it is true that Rome’s doctrine of “sacred” church buildings and cathedrals is unscriptural, this does not mean that there is anything wrong with a church having its own building. Viola is again making a law from the Bible’s silence, which he has no authority to do. Nowhere does the Bible forbid a congregation to own property or to have its own building.

Even if it were true that churches didn’t have buildings before the third century, this means nothing. Further, it is an argument largely from silence since most of the record from the first two centuries has not survived. Prior to the reign of Constantine, churches were generally not welcome in the Roman Empire, and the believers were bitterly persecuted. Under such a circumstance it would not have been practical for churches to have their own buildings. During our first ten years as missionaries in Nepal, it was illegal to preach the gospel and to baptize, so churches had to operate underground without drawing attention to themselves. In those days, most churches met in rented houses and did not have their own buildings. After the laws changed in the 1990s and there was more freedom, churches began to purchase property. It was a simple matter of practicality.

The bottom line is that nowhere does the New Testament indicate that it is wrong for a church to rent or own a building. If a church needs a building, let it have a building. It’s none of the business of Frank Viola or George Barna or anyone else.

Where a church meets is irrelevant. It can meet in a home, a barn, a store front, or its own building. Oftentimes new churches start out in homes and then move to their own building as they grow. It’s a simple matter of practicality, and to make a doctrine about buildings is to make laws beyond Scripture, which is true Phariseeism.

Viola and Barna also claim that the order of service itself is pagan. While an order of service can be a vain ritual, such as in Roman Catholic and some Protestant terms, an order of service itself is nothing but an order of service! We are commanded to do “all things decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40). An order of service as such is a simple matter of practicality.

On the basis of the Bible’s silence, Viola further condemns Sunday Schools, tithing, dressing up for church, altar calls, and other things, none of which are forbidden by the Bible.


In reality, the organic church is a sheep stealing movement. When a so-called organic church is started, it isn’t usually started by winning the lost to Christ and discipling them by God-called preachers. An organic church is started by people who pull out of “traditional” churches and think they have the authority to be a church simply by meeting together with a few other people.

The organic church is more than a sheep stealing movement, though. It is a movement that is led by self-appointed “apostles.”

Frank Viola calls for a “paradigm shift,” which is a term used by emergents and New Agers to identify the type of dramatic change they are trying to instigate. It refers to replacing something old and established with something new and different. Viola writes:

“To borrow a term from scientific philosopher Thomas Kuhn, we need a ‘paradigm shift’ regarding the church before we can properly rebuild it. ... in my personal judgment, the church doesn’t need renewal. It needs a complete overhaul. That is, the only way to fully renew the institutional church is TO WHOLLY DISASSEMBLE IT AND BUILD SOMETHING FAR DIFFERENT” (Frank Viola, Reimagining Church, pp. 272, 276).

Here we see Viola’s true objective. To BUILD something requires BUILDERS. It requires LEADERSHIP and CONTROL. Something like this doesn’t just happen on its own “organically.”

At its heart, the organic church is not a “people’s movement”; it is a heretical “apostolic movement.”

Viola is part of a network of self-appointed apostles who are building the new paradigm. The organic church is just another plank in the large house of end-time apostasy.

“Every church in the first century had at its disposal an itinerant apostolic worker who helped navigate it through common problems. ... Present-day workers give similar guidelines to churches that are having difficulties in their meetings” (Frank Viola, Reimagining Church, p. 65).

“I had just spent a year and a half ministering Jesus Christ to this group in biweekly ‘apostolic meetings.’ The goal of that ministry was to equip this new church where it could function on its own--without any human headship” (Reimagining Church, p. 69).

Integral to the organic church philosophy is the doctrine that there should be only one church in each town or city. And guess what “church” this will be? And guess who will be in control of this church!

“God’s people have splintered themselves into masses of disjointed, unconnected congregations all operating independently of one another ... During the New Testament era, each church was completely unified. All the believers in a specific locale lived as members of one family” (Viola, Reimagining Church, p. 129).

The existence of “masses of disjointed, unconnected congregations” is both an issue of New Testament polity and a product of apostasy. Each church is supposed to be autonomous under its one head Jesus Christ. That’s what we see in Scripture. Thus, the fact that churches are “disjointed and unconnected” in polity is not a matter of concern; it is what the Bible demands.

Further, churches are instructed to hold to and contend for the one New Testament faith (Jude 3). They are to “allow no other doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:3), and they are warned that apostasy will explode at the end of the age, and this requires that Bible-believing churches be “disjointed” in fellowship from the majority of churches that are moving with the apostasy. Again, this “separatism” on the basis of doctrine is not a matter of concern; it is faithfulness to God’s Word.

Further, it was not true even in the earliest days of the churches that “all the believers in a specific locale lived as members of one family.” This statement ignores the fact that there were many false teachers and heretical sects even in the days of the apostles. They are mentioned and reproved in passages such as Acts 20; 1 Corinthians 15; 2 Corinthians 11; Galatians 1; Philippians 3; Colossians 2; 1 Timothy 1, 4 and 6; 2 Peter 2; 1 John 2; 1 John 4; 2 John; Jude; and Revelation 2-3. Some denied Christ’s deity; some denied the resurrection; some denied the doctrine of godliness; some preached a false gospel, a false christ, or a false spirit; some abused the law. Some corrupted the Word of God (2 Cor. 2:17) and wrested the Scripture (2 Pet. 3:16).

This tells us that professing believers were far from united in the first century. Paul and Peter and John specifically warned the brethren to mark and avoid those who taught heresies. That means that they were to stay away from them. They were to be “disjointed and unconnected” from them! Paul even warned about many of the leaders of these sects by name (1 Timothy 1:20; 2 Timothy 1:15; 2:17-18).

Since that was true in the first century, how much more will it be true today in the midst of the apostasy predicted for the end of the age! Paul warned that “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13). This describes the course of the church age in terms of the growth of apostasy.

Only heretics and ecumenists who want to create an unscriptural unity fret about “disjointed, unconnected congregations” more than about heresy and apostasy.


The effect of the organic church movement is to stir up dissatisfaction with “traditional” New Testament churches and to lead people into the treacherous waters of apostasy. There is no solid commitment to sound Bible doctrine, no protection from God-called pastors, just the vague “oversight” of mystical “apostles” who are actually wolves in sheep’s clothing.

The waters of the organic church are treacherous indeed.

In just one of his books -- Jesus Manifesto -- Viola introduces his readers to a virtual who’s who of ancient and end-time heretics: Karl Barth, Thomas Aquinas, Origen, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, John Henry Newman, Sören Kierkegaard, G.K. Chesterton, Thomas à Kempis, E. Stanley Jones, Roger Schutz (founder of Taizé), the “Cappadocian Fathers,” Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Reinhold Niebuhr, to mention a few. All of these are quoted favorably without a hint of warning about their rank heresies.


Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 09, 2016, 10:26:12 am
This passage proves right here that local, visible NT churches ARE scriptural!

Eph 4:11  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Eph 4:12  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Eph 4:13  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Eph 4:14  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
Eph 4:15  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Eph 4:16  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 10, 2016, 01:11:14 pm


BOD'Y, noun

1. The frame of an animal; the material substance of an animal, in distinction from the living principle of beasts, and the soul of man.

Be not anxious for your body

2. Matter, as opposed to spirit.

3. A person; a human being; sometimes alone; more generally, with some or no; as, somebody; nobody.

4. Reality, as opposed to representation.

A shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ. Colossians 2:11

5. A collective mass; a number of individuals or particulars united; as the body of mankind. Christians united or the Church is called the body of which each Christian is a member, and Christ the head. 1 Corinthians 12:12.27.

6. The main army, in distinction from the wings, van or rear. Also, any number of forces under one commander.

7. A corporation; a number of men, united by a common tie, by one form of government, or by occupation; as the legislative body; the body of the clergy; body corporate; body politic.

8. The main part; the bulk; as the body of a tree; the body of a coach, of a ship, etc.

9. Any extended solid substance; matter; any substance or mass distinct from others; as a metaline body; a floating body; a moving body; a light body; a heavy body

10. A pandect; a general collection; a code; a system; as a body of laws; a body of divinity.

11. Strength; as wine of a good body

12. Among painters, colors bear a body when they are capable of being ground so fine, and of being mixed so entirely with oil, as to seem only a very thick oil of the same color.

13. The unrenewed part of man, or sensual affections.

But I keep under by body 1 Corinthians 9:27.

14. The extent; the limits.

Cause to come here on such a day, twelve free and lawful men--from the body of your county.

BOD'Y, verb transitive To produce in some form.

Imagination bodies forth the forms of things.

Title: Should only pastors be ordained?
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 11, 2016, 07:42:17 pm
Should only pastors be ordained?

q.gif (1639 bytes)    Why do some preachers believe that a man called of God should not be ordained until he is called to pastor a church?  They also exclude evangelists from being ordained because they are not called to be pastors.  Ephesians 4:11-12 clearly states that Evangelists are also placed in the ministry of God just like the others that are listed.

a.gif (1659 bytes)        Ephesians 4:11, 12 says, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

Titus 1:5 says, “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ORDAIN ELDERS in every city, as I had appointed thee.”  The term elder is not an office to which a man is elected or chosen, but a term which describes a man who is spiritually mature.  The term was also used in the Old Testament, like in Numbers 11:16, 17, and is a strikingly similar situation to that of deacons in the New Testament.  “And the LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, WHOM THOU KNOWEST TO BE THE ELDERS OF THE PEOPLE, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee.  And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.”  Moses felt that he needed some helpers, and so God told him to choose out 70 men that he KNEW to be ELDERS.  It was not a position or office to which men had been elected, but simply a description of spiritually mature men.  And from the spiritually mature men in the congregation, Moses was to choose 70 of them whom God would then spiritually empower to be his helpers.

In the New Testament, there also arose a need for helpers for the leaders — this time, the leaders of the church.  Acts 6:1-6 says, “And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.  Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.  Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.  But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.   And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:  WHOM THEY SET BEFORE THE APOSTLES: AND WHEN THEY HAD PRAYED, THEY LAID THEIR HANDS ON THEM.”  The laying on of hands is common terminology in reference to ordination.  The phrase “look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business” is describing what elders are — spiritually mature men that are capable of fulfilling a position within the church.

When Titus 1:5 gives instructions to ordain elders in every city, it is referring to ordaining elders (spiritually mature men) to the positions of pastor and deacons.  Notice in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, how all terms in relation to the bishop (meaning, overseer) or pastor (meaning shepherd) are singular; but all references to the deacons are plural, in 1 Timothy 3:8-13.  “This is a true saying, If a MAN desire the office of a BISHOP, HE desireth a good work.  A BISHOP then must be blameless, the HUSBAND of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;  Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;  ONE that ruleth well HIS own house, having HIS children in subjection with all gravity;  (For if a MAN know not how to rule HIS own house, how shall HE take care of the church of God?)  Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride HE fall into the condemnation of the devil.  Moreover HE must have a good report of them which are without; lest HE fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”  Now, notice the immediate change to everything being plural, in  verses 8-13 dealing with the deacons:

“Likewise must the DEACONS be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;  Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.  And let THESE also first be proved; then let THEM use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.  Even so must THEIR WIVES be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.  Let the DEACONS be the HUSBANDS of one wife, ruling THEIR children and THEIR own houses well.  For THEY that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

The distinction is important, because many liberal pastors of our day teach the plurality of elders in the sense that a church is not a scriptural church, unless it has more than one pastor.  1 Timothy 3 shows that teaching to be in error.  A scriptural, fully-functioning local church will have elders (spiritually mature men) from which can be chosen a pastor and some deacons, to lead and care for the flock.  The scriptural teaching is that these elders, who are chosen to be pastor and deacons, are to then be ordainedThese are the two offices of the local church (see 1 Timothy 3 again, and notice how both positions are referred to as offices).

If the first deacons were ordained (who were chosen to help in the daily ministration of feeding the widows), then there is no question as to whether evangelists should be ordained.  It is very troubling that many churches are holding evangelists and missionaries to a lower standard when it comes to their testimony and moral record, and their marital status.   A church I attended in my Bible College days had one of their pastors fall into immorality.  They removed him from his position as one of the assistant pastors, but then gave their blessing upon him as an evangelist.  How hypocritical and dangerous!  As a traveling evangelist, he would be staying in many motels and homes of people, and away from his wife.   If he fell into sin at his home church, and living every day with his wife; how much greater would be the temptation to sin when in a different city each week away from his wife?  Deacons were chosen to help feed the widows, and God said they must be of the highest spiritual integrity.  Are we to then allow evangelists and missionaries to be sent out who do not at least meet the same criteria as that of the deacons (which is the same for pastors)?  No, we should not send out evangelists and missionaries unless they meet the same high standards.  They should all be elders of the highest spiritual caliber.

Many churches and mission boards (mission boards are a man-made position which are doing the work that local churches should be doing for their own missionaries sent out of their churches; and because of it, the mission boards are taking on an authority over missionaries of which they have no scriptural right), are sending out missionaries who have been divorced and remarried.  They think that because the missionaries are not serving in their homeland, that they are not held to as high as standards as a pastor.  The Bible does not make a distinction between pastors and missionaries, because they do the exact same thing, only in different countriesPaul and Barnabas were what we would call today, missionaries.  They were ordained and sent forth by the local church.  Acts 13:1-4 says, “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.  As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, SEPARATE ME BARNABAS AND SAUL for the work whereunto I have called them.  And when they had fasted and prayed, and LAID THEIR HANDS ON THEM, they sent them away.  So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.”  The missionaries were ordained, just like the pastors and deacons were ordained in the Bible.

Philip is called an evangelist, and we know that he was ordained when he was chosen to be a deacon (Acts 6:5).  Acts 21:8 says, “And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of PHILIP THE EVANGELIST, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.”  Pastors are also to do the work of evangelism.  2 Timothy 4:5 says, “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, DO THE WORK OF AN EVANGELIST, make full proof of thy ministry.”   Pastors and evangelists should be held to the same high standards, and should be examined as to their doctrines before being sent forth to do the work of the Lord.

Pastors, deacons, missionaries, and evangelists should all be ordained to fulfill their positions in the work of the ministry.

Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 12, 2016, 02:53:00 pm

Title: Re: Eleven Reasons Why Home Fellowship Groups Usually Fail
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 18, 2016, 01:10:52 pm

Title: Re: Local Church Basics
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 18, 2016, 01:50:41 pm

Simply Church - A Plea For a Simple Church Model
 9/3/2012 (MON)

Audio: http://www.sermonaudio.com/saplayer/playpopup.asp?SID=11201482435

Title: Re: Eleven Reasons Why Home Fellowship Groups Usually Fail
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 19, 2016, 07:57:16 pm

Title: Re: Profile of the Lone Ranger Christian
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 24, 2016, 01:41:00 pm
Psalm 131:1  A Song of degrees of David. LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.
Psa 131:2  Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.

Psa 133:1  A Song of degrees of David. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

Title: Re: Profile of the Lone Ranger Christian
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 25, 2016, 07:25:20 pm
Lone Ranger Christians and Other People’s Churches
Posted on May 5, 2013   by lucysixsmith

“Don’t be a Lone Ranger Christian,” they said. I can’t remember who exactly, but more than one of the various pastors and preachers I’ve heard teaching that you can’t be a Christian on your own. ‘Get connected into a church,’ they said, or ‘get stuck into a church’, depending on denomination—each group having its own particular lexicon of phrasal verbs, so that some Christians stand on the word while others sit under it, and so that different ones at different times pray about, into, over or through things. They all seem to agree, though, about not being a Lone Ranger Christian—1 Corinthians 12:12-27 being the obviously relevant Bible passage.

Yet somehow I’ve been in a new city for months, decidedly not connected or stuck into a local church, feeling a little foolish, with the phrase ‘Don’t be a Lone Ranger Christian’ occasionally echoing round my head.

This accidental experiment in not going to church has yielded some interesting results. It turns out that the sun does not explode, nor do floods and earthquake strike, if you don’t go to church of a Sunday morning. Faith does not immediately crumble away. Adaptation is possible, to some extent: instead of churching on Sunday and fretting on Monday about Sunday’s accidental faux pas, you make the most of random conversations, exchanges on Facebook, and suchlike, wasting a lot less energy on social embarrassment.

The problem with churchless Christianity, in my experience, isn’t that you wake up one morning and find that you’re not a believer any more. The problem is just that it’s more boring. Even if I suddenly became amazingly disciplined in Bible reading, prayed much more often and figured out how to strum a guitar upwards as well as downwards, private worship would still only go so far. Working out a vision and purpose for your own life individually can feel less worthwhile than sharing a vision and purpose with others. You feel you could pray more confidently for cities and nations if you were doing it with other people. Christian life, it seems, would just be more fun and interesting done corporately, with people different to you.

The problem with that, of course, is that most people are really quite astoundingly different to you, so when you go to a new church you don’t find yourself suddenly Connected—you feel more like an alien, not knowing the language, not agreeing with one thing, not understanding another, not quite relating to another, not having a clue whether or how to try to chat to people when the meeting ends. You try to focus on God, but you also query the theology behind the elaborate offering routine, spot genitive plurals here and there, and wonder how long it took to sound-check such a large band. You remember that big established churches tend to be busy pursuing a vision in well-established ways, that no church will be exactly the way you’d like it to be, that joining any church will probably make your life more complicated rather than less, that none of all that is necessarily a reason not to try it, that this isn’t the first time you’ve wished God would shout down out of the clouds telling you what to do, and that shouting down out of the clouds doesn’t seem to be His customary practice.

Anyway, at some point during all this I realised I didn’t actually know what the Lone Ranger reference was all about, and looked it up on Wikipedia. This, as everyone else probably knows very well, is the Lone Ranger.

From the Wikipedia page I discovered that even the Lone Ranger wasn’t in fact entirely lone. He had his horse, for one thing. He also had a sidekick, Tonto. Apparently Tonto was originally created because a radio hero in particular needs someone to talk to, and “the portrayal of Tonto has been seen by some Native Americans and others as degrading”. Still, the church as an extensive network of mutual sidekickery in the fight against injustice is quite an attractive idea. I’m quite happy to be a Lone Ranger or a Tonto if we’re all kicking along together.

But Wikipedia has more to say about the Lone Ranger. Here’s the first of several “guidelines that embody who and what the Lone Ranger is[citation needed]”:

    The Lone Ranger is never seen without his mask or a disguise.

The second is like it:

    With emphasis on logic, The Lone Ranger is never captured or held for any length of time by lawmen, avoiding his being unmasked.

Was that what the pastors and preachers meant all the time? Was the point about the Lone Ranger not about church attendance, but about honesty, integrity, diversity and real relationships? How many people regularly attend church, but go masked? Even as I write, this strikes me as being standard preachers’ fare: the importance and challenge of being our real selves in church, not our church selves.

The reassuring point is that if there are lots of us, in and out of churches, in some danger of being lone rangers, then maybe we have quite a good chance, in and out of churches, of helping each other not to be.

Title: Matthew 18:20 - John Gill Commentary
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 25, 2016, 07:31:36 pm

Matthew 18:20

For where two or three are gathered together

This seems to be said in opposition to a Jewish notion, that a number less than ten, is not a congregation F1; whereas, though the number is ever so few that are met together to pray to God; or to hear his word, attend on his ordinances, or do the business of his house, or transact any affair that is for the glory of God, and the good of souls, in my name, says Christ; that is, by his authority, depending on his assistance, calling upon his name, and making use of it, and seeking the glory of it:

there am I in the midst of them;
presiding over them, ruling in their hearts, directing their counsels, assisting them in all they are concerned, confirming what they do, and giving a blessing and success to all they are engaged in. The Jews, though they say there is no congregation less than ten, yet own that the divine presence may be with a lesser number, even as small an one as here mentioned F2.

``Ten that sit and study in the law, the Shechaniah dwells among them, as it is said, ( Psalms 82:1 ) . From whence does this appear, if but five? from ( Amos 9:6 ) , from whence, if but three? from ( Psalms 82:1 ) , from whence, if but two? from ( Malachi 3:16 ) , from whence, if but one? from ( Exodus 20:24 ) .''

And again F3,

``two that sit together, and the words of the law are between them, the Shechaniah dwells among them, according to ( Malachi 3:16 ) , from whence does it appear, that if but one sits and studies in the law, the holy blessed God hath fixed a reward for him? from ( Lamentations 3:28 ) .''

Title: Re: Matthew 18:20 - John Gill Commentary
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 25, 2016, 07:37:54 pm
This from Matthew Henry. Kind of what I thought too - Matthew 18:20 isn't necessarily a gathering of 2-3 people to fellowship, per se, but we MUST look at the verses AROUND IT to get the CLEAR context of it!

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary
18:15-20 If a professed Christian is wronged by another, he ought not to complain of it to others, as is often done merely upon report, but to go to the offender privately, state the matter kindly, and show him his conduct. This would generally have all the desired effect with a true Christian, and the parties would be reconciled. The principles of these rules may be practised every where, and under all circumstances, though they are too much neglected by all. But how few try the method which Christ has expressly enjoined to all his disciples! In all our proceedings we should seek direction in prayer; we cannot too highly prize the promises of God. Wherever and whenever we meet in the name of Christ, we should consider him as present in the midst of us.

Title: Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary - Matthew 18:20
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 25, 2016, 07:45:50 pm

Matthew 18:20
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

20. For where two or three are gathered together in my name—or "unto my name."

there am I in the midst of them—On this passage—so full of sublime encouragement to Christian union in action and prayer—observe, first, the connection in which it stands. Our Lord had been speaking of church meetings before which the obstinate perversity of a brother was in the last resort to be brought, and whose decision was to be final—such honor does the Lord of the Church put upon its lawful assemblies. But not these assemblies only does He deign to countenance and honor. For even two uniting to bring any matter before Him shall find that they are not alone, for My Father is with them, says Jesus. Next, observe the premium here put upon union in prayer. As this cannot exist with fewer than two, so by letting it down so low as that number, He gives the utmost conceivable encouragement to union in this exercise. But what kind of union? Not an agreement merely to pray in concert, but to pray for some definite thing. "As touching anything which they shall ask," says our Lord—anything they shall agree to ask in concert. At the same time, it is plain He had certain things at that moment in His eye, as most fitting and needful subjects for such concerted prayer. The Twelve had been "falling out by the way" about the miserable question of precedence in their Master's kingdom, and this, as it stirred their corruptions, had given rise—or at least was in danger of giving rise—to "offenses" perilous to their souls. The Lord Himself had been directing them how to deal with one another about such matters. "But now shows He unto them a more excellent way." Let them bring all such matters—yea, and everything whatsoever by which either their own loving relationship to each other, or the good of His kingdom at large, might be affected—to their Father in heaven; and if they be but agreed in petitioning Him about that thing, it shall be done for them of His Father which is in heaven. But further, it is not merely union in prayer for the same thing—for that might be with very jarring ideas of the thing to be desired—but it is to symphonious prayer, the prayer by kindred spirits, members of one family, servants of one Lord, constrained by the same love, fighting under one banner, cheered by assurances of the same victory; a living and loving union, whose voice in the divine ear is as the sound of many waters. Accordingly, what they ask "on earth" is done for them, says Jesus, "of My Father which is in heaven." Not for nothing does He say, "of My Father"—not "YOUR Father"; as is evident from what follows: "For where two or three are gathered together unto My name"—the "My" is emphatic, "there am I in the midst of them." As His name would prove a spell to draw together many clusters of His dear disciples, so if there should be but two or three, that will attract Himself down into the midst of them; and related as He is to both the parties, the petitioners and the Petitioned—to the one on earth by the tie of His assumed flesh, and to the other in heaven by the tie of His eternal Spirit—their symphonious prayers on earth would thrill upward through Him to heaven, be carried by Him into the holiest of all, and so reach the Throne. Thus will He be the living Conductor of the prayer upward, and the answer downward.

Title: Matthew Poole Commentary - Matthew 18:19-20
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 25, 2016, 07:51:17 pm

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Ver. 19,20. Most interpreters agree there is a connection betwixt these verses and those immediately preceding, as if it were a further confirmation of what God had said concerning his binding and loosing in heaven whatsoever they should bind or loose on earth; and say, the asking mentioned in this verse supposes that no church will adventure upon so grave an act as excommunication, without asking his direction or counsel; nor undertake such a thing as absolution, without the like serious asking of God pardon for the repenting sinner. Now, saith he, let the church be never so small that so joins in prayers on this occasion, what they ask of God shall be done. Whether it hath any such reference or no, or be an independent promise of Christ’s presence with his church, I shall not determine. Those who think this text hath such a particular reference, yet do also grant it a more general promise of Christ’s presence with his people. Whenever they are met by his authority, or upon his account or command, whether it be for counsel, or judgment, or prayer, or the celebration of any sacred institution of his, he is in the midst of them, to protect and favour them: what they ask shall be done for them; that is, provided the thing asked be good, Matthew 7:11, and for a right end, Jam 4:3, and in a right manner, Luke 18:1 Jam 1:5-7. Christ in this text establisheth the duty of prayer in communion with others. He doth not only require of his people secret prayer, Matthew 6:6, but also praying in company with others; the gathering together of his people for prayer, whether in private families or more public congregations.

Title: Re: Who Should Run the Church? A Case for the Plurality of Elders
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 26, 2016, 12:31:20 pm
Hebrews 11:1  Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Heb 11:2  For by it the elders obtained a good report.

Title: Re: Eleven Reasons Why Home Fellowship Groups Usually Fail
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on November 30, 2016, 07:58:14 pm
There's just so many doctrinal issues with the house church movement - if anything, it's been a terrible alternative to the Apostate church system going on now.

1 Timothy 2:12  But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
1Ti 2:13  For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

1 Cor 14:33  For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
1Co 14:34  Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.


Title: Re: Definition of a Local Church
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on December 11, 2016, 10:08:22 am
Eccl 5:1  Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.

Title: Re: Definition of a Local Church
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on December 11, 2016, 10:09:26 am
James 3:1  My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

Title: Re: Profile of the Lone Ranger Christian
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on December 12, 2016, 09:01:58 am
I'm NOT endorsing this church ministry - however, they say a lot of things that I personally have seen and experienced to be true.

I understand that 99% of modern-day churches are corrupt - but there ARE STILL good local NT churches out there, even if they could be long drives away. Trying to go at it alone brings in so many dangers - there's no way any single sheep can face a wolf head-on, he's going to be DEVOURED, and flown around with every wind of doctrine. (ie, Youtube has infiltrated so many doctrines of devils like the gap theory, flat earth theory, hyper-dispensationalism, etc right into the KJB movement)


The Danger of being a “Lone Ranger” Christian

Hebrews 3:12-13: Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Spiritual formation occurs primarily in the context of community. Persons who remain connected with their brothers and sisters in the local church almost invariably grow in self-understanding. And they mature in their ability to relate in healthy ways to God and to their fellow human beings. This is especially the case for those courageous Christians who stick it out through the often messy process of personal discord and conflict. Long-term interpersonal relationships are the true indicators of genuine progress in the Christian life.

People who connect grow. elderly-old-personPeople who don’t connect do not grow. We all know persons who are consumed with spiritual wandering. But we never get to know them very well because they cannot seem to stay put. They move along from church to church, ever searching for a congregation that will better satisfy their felt needs. Like trees repeatedly transplanted from soil to soil, these spiritual wanderers fail to put down roots, and they seldom experience lasting, fruitful growth in their Christian lives.

Then there are those who never really connect to the church to avoid working through uncomfortable or painful relations with others in the church family. Isolation does provide immediate relief from the awkwardness of opening up your life to others. It is the easy way out in the short term. And there are some legitimate reasons to keep areas of your life private. But persons who isolate themselves to escape the hard work of self-examination are often destined to remain in a state of personal stagnant growth and relational dysfunction with other people in the church family.

It is a simple but profound biblical reality. We grow and thrive together. Or we do not grow much at all. None of this is terribly novel. We all know it to be the case. Why, then, do we so often sabotage our most intimate relationships, seek help from others only after the damage is irreversible, and continue to try to find our way through life as isolated individuals, convinced somehow that God will remain with us to lead us and bless us wherever we go? Why do we continue foolishly to operate as if our own immediate happiness is of greater value than the redemptive relationships God has placed us in? Why are we seemingly unable to stay in relationship, stay in community, and grow in the interpersonal contexts that God has provided for our temporal and eternal well-being?

Title: Directory of Unregistered, non-501c3 churches
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on December 12, 2016, 09:05:02 am
Not endorsing the source (Sam Adams), but he put out a directory of non-501c3 churches in every state.

Title: Re: Pastor James Knox - Model Church
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on December 13, 2016, 11:27:46 am

Title: Re: Eleven Reasons Why Home Fellowship Groups Usually Fail
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on December 19, 2016, 06:13:24 pm

Title: Re: Eleven Reasons Why Home Fellowship Groups Usually Fail
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on December 20, 2016, 10:33:57 am


Title: Re: Profile of the Lone Ranger Christian
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on December 26, 2016, 11:08:57 pm

Title: Re: Universal Church Heresy
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on December 29, 2016, 03:05:35 pm

Title: Re: Who Should Run the Church? A Case for the Plurality of Elders
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on December 31, 2016, 10:47:46 am
Hebrews 11:1  Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Heb 11:2  For by it the elders obtained a good report.

1 Corinthians 4:15  For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

I looked up father in the 1828 Webster's - one of the definitions for it is elderly men, as in the elders in the church.

Without elders, churches (nor bible fellowship groups for that matter) won't run properly, and are out of God's will.

Title: Re: Universal Church Heresy
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on January 06, 2017, 12:42:11 pm


Title: Re: Pastor James Knox - Model Church
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on January 11, 2017, 09:16:37 pm

Title: Re: Pastor James Knox - Model Church
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on January 12, 2017, 01:48:12 pm

Title: Re: Eleven Reasons Why Home Fellowship Groups Usually Fail
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on January 25, 2017, 04:46:28 pm

1 Peter 5:5 - Godly Submission In Church
Series:  1 Peter Series  · 26 of 28
Audio: http://www.sermonaudio.com/saplayer/playpopup.asp?SID=18172047433

Title: Re: Universal Church Heresy
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on February 02, 2017, 12:42:23 pm

Title: Re: Universal Church Heresy
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on February 07, 2017, 01:46:07 pm
DANGER! Don't Lose Your First Love
2/5/2017 (SUN)
Audio: http://www.sermonaudio.com/saplayer/playpopup.asp?SID=26172326170

Title: Re: Eleven Reasons Why Home Fellowship Groups Usually Fail
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on March 12, 2017, 11:18:49 pm
“How tragic that we in this dark day have had our seeking done for us by our teachers.”
― A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Title: Re: Universal Church Heresy
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on March 14, 2017, 05:44:20 pm

Title: Re: Eleven Reasons Why Home Fellowship Groups Usually Fail
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on March 21, 2017, 01:10:00 pm

Title: Re: Eleven Reasons Why Home Fellowship Groups Usually Fail
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on March 22, 2017, 06:23:08 pm

2 Timothy 2:24

And the servant of the Lord must not strive

By "the servant of the Lord" is not meant any believer in common, but a minister of the word, as Timothy was; such an one ought not to strive about words to no profit, about mere words, and in a litigious, quarrelsome manner, and for mastery and not truth; though he may, and ought to strive for the faith of the Gospel; this is praiseworthy in him:

but be gentle unto all men;
not only to troubled minds, and wounded consciences, by supplying them with the precious promises and truths of the Gospel; and to backsliders, by restoring them in a spirit of meekness; but even to those who contradict the truth, and themselves, by mild and kind instructions.

Apt to teach,
showing a willingness to instruct the ignorant and obstinate, and making use of abilities given for that purpose, notwithstanding all discouragements; for it follows,

or "bearing evil"; not only the infirmities of weak brethren in the church, and the reproaches and persecutions of profane men in the world; but also the contradictions and oppositions of the adversaries of truth, so as not to be irritated and provoked, or to be discouraged, and desist from the defence of the Gospel.

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on March 29, 2017, 07:22:13 pm

Christian Cannibals: Biting, Busybodies That Devour One Another
3/29/2017 (WED)
Audio: http://www.sermonaudio.com/saplayer/playpopup.asp?SID=3291762225

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on April 12, 2017, 05:34:15 pm

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on April 16, 2017, 06:15:55 pm

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on May 24, 2017, 12:11:15 pm

Title: Re: Profile of the Lone Ranger Christian
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on May 24, 2017, 06:24:24 pm

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on May 28, 2017, 09:26:35 pm

Title: Re: The Myth of the Universal Invisible Church Theory
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on June 28, 2017, 05:31:43 pm
Former Atheist Mark Zuckerberg Wants Facebook To Become More Like A ‘Church’ To Bring World ‘Closer Together’
“As I've travelled around and learned about different places, one theme is clear: every great community has great leaders. Think about it. A church doesn't just come together. It has a pastor who cares for the well-being of their congregation, makes sure they have food and shelter.”

Mark Zuckerberg says he wants Facebook users to start playing a similar role to pastors in churches. He recently announced a new mission for the social network, which is set to focus on growing groups and communities to “bring the world closer together”.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Last year, the former atheist Mark Zuckerberg announced that he had ‘found religion’ and celebrated Christmas for the first time. Now, he envisions Facebook as a ‘church’, and its nearly 2 billion users as ‘pastors’. Now I don’t know about you, but given Facebook’s overpowering influence around the globe, I find this new direction to be than just a little creepy. Is Zuckerberg selling…or buying? Since these are the end times, I’m thinking he’s buying.

He believes the site can be used to unite what he sees as a “divided” society, and make users feel like they are “part of something bigger”. Facebook has been using artificial intelligence to recommend groups to users, and Mr Zuckerberg says the approach led to a 50 per cent increase in people joining them, within six months.

However, while the site has almost two billion users, Mr Zuckerberg says “only” 100 million of them are currently part of “meaningful communities”. He wants that figure to rise to a billion.

“If we can do this, it will not only turn around the whole decline in community membership we’ve seen for decades, it will start to strengthen our social fabric and bring the world closer together,” he said.

“As I’ve travelled around and learned about different places, one theme is clear: every great community has great leaders. Think about it. A church doesn’t just come together. It has a pastor who cares for the well-being of their congregation, makes sure they have food and shelter.”

He added, “Leaders set the culture, inspire us, give us a safety net, and look out for us.”

He singled out a number of administrators for praise, including the leader of a support group for women and the leader of a locksmith group.

“Communities give us that sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, that we are not alone, that we have something better ahead to work for,” he said.
A typical day in the life of Mark Zuckerberg

“We all get meaning from our communities. Whether they’re churches, sports teams, or neighbourhood groups, they give us the strength to expand our horizons and care about broader issues. Studies have proven the more connected we are, the happier we feel and the healthier we are.

“People who go to church are more likely to volunteer and give to charity — not just because they’re religious, but because they’re part of a community.

“That’s why it’s so striking that for decades, membership in all kinds of groups has declined as much as one-quarter. That’s a lot of people who now need to find a sense of purpose and support somewhere else.” source


Title: Re: The Myth of the Universal Invisible Church Theory
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on June 29, 2017, 10:44:02 am

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on June 30, 2017, 09:01:33 am

The Gates Of Hell Shall Not Prevail
6/29/2017 (THU)
Audio: http://www.sermonaudio.com/playpopup.asp?SID=62917221002

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on July 03, 2017, 10:11:16 am

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on July 08, 2017, 01:27:14 pm
No, not off-topic - just another example from another situation...over why being in a visible, local NT church is vitally important!

Putin: Trump different than on TV, we can restore relations with US
Published time: 8 Jul, 2017 13:59
Edited time: 8 Jul, 2017 17:39

 The Donald Trump seen on television is different from the one in real life, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the G20 summit, adding that after his meeting with the US leader in Hamburg, he felt like relations between the two countries could at least partially be restored.

“As for personal relations, I think that they are established,” Putin said of his Friday meeting with Trump.

“The Trump we see on TV is very much different from the real person.”

“I think that if we continue building our relations like during our conversation yesterday, there are grounds to believe that we’ll be able to – at least partially – restore the level of cooperation that we need,” Putin said.


Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on July 10, 2017, 09:21:52 am

Ye Did Run Well - Who Tripped You?
Ye Ran Well - Who Tripped You?
7/9/2017 (SUN)
Audio: http://www.sermonaudio.com/playpopup.asp?SID=7917226183

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on July 24, 2017, 11:51:29 am

Dangers For The Conscecrated Christian
7/19/2017 (WED)
Audio: http://www.sermonaudio.com/playpopup.asp?SID=719172216349

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on July 30, 2017, 03:11:04 pm

How To Know The Will Of God & My Spiritual Gifts
7/28/2017 (FRI)
Audio: http://www.sermonaudio.com/playpopup.asp?SID=728172146470

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on August 07, 2017, 10:46:52 am

Title: Re: Profile of the Lone Ranger Christian
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on August 24, 2017, 09:18:48 pm

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on August 25, 2017, 07:06:30 pm

Title: Re: Eleven Reasons Why Home Fellowship Groups Usually Fail
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on August 26, 2017, 09:14:18 pm

Seven Spiritual Gifts For The Child Of God
7/30/2017 (SUN)
Audio: http://www.sermonaudio.com/playpopup.asp?SID=730172321261

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on August 28, 2017, 12:01:51 pm

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on August 28, 2017, 01:52:58 pm

Spiritual Sabatoge - Partial Obedience - When God Strengthens Your Enemies
8/25/2017 (FRI)
Audio: http://mp3.sa-media.com/download/825172245230/825172245230.mp3

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on August 28, 2017, 05:35:36 pm

Title: Defining the word Church: Local, Visible, Institutional, never Universal
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on August 28, 2017, 05:37:44 pm

Title: Re: Defining the word Church: Local, Visible, Institutional, never Universal
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on August 28, 2017, 05:40:12 pm

Title: Re: Profile of the Lone Ranger Christian
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on August 29, 2017, 09:41:23 am

Victories Vulnerabilities: Snatching Defeat From The Jaws Of Victory
8/29/2017 (TUE)
Audio: http://mp3.sa-media.com/download/82917546520/82917546520.mp3

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 01, 2017, 08:37:46 am

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 07, 2017, 12:21:12 pm

Signs Of Spiritual Immaturity
9/7/2017 (THU)
Audio: http://mp3.sa-media.com/download/9717426461/9717426461.mp3

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 08, 2017, 10:49:13 am

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 08, 2017, 07:35:36 pm

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 11, 2017, 06:56:18 pm

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 14, 2017, 08:42:40 pm


The Spirit of Constant Conspiracy And Paranoia
9/14/2017 (THU)
Audio: http://mp3.sa-media.com/download/91417740492/91417740492.mp3

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 15, 2017, 08:58:57 pm

Title: 1 Thes 2:20 - John Gill commentary
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 16, 2017, 09:24:59 pm

1 Thessalonians 2:20

For ye are our glory and joy.
] Or "our joy", as the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions read; this is a repetition, and a confirmation of what is before said; and signifies that these saints were then the glory of the apostles, being the seals of their ministry; and whom they gloried of and rejoiced in, and hoped and believed they would be such, as would be their joy and crown in time to come, and for ever.

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 17, 2017, 09:18:49 am

Title: Re: Defining the word Church: Local, Visible, Institutional, never Universal
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 29, 2017, 11:54:51 am

Virtual Church: Can Social Media Replace The Local Church?
Series:  OPBC ONLINE Radio Show  · 9 of 9
9/28/2017 (THU)
Audio: http://mp3.sa-media.com/download/928172348381/928172348381.mp3

Title: Re: Defining the word Church: Local, Visible, Institutional, never Universal
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 29, 2017, 08:05:35 pm


Iain Murray's latest book on Martyn Lloyd Jones makes a point about his view of preaching.

'he believed that the gospel preached in a worshipping church, and in a local setting, has an advantage over other situations. Here the preacher is not just one man addressing a crowd; he is part of a community of believers who are not onlookers; they are involved; they too are witnesses in whom the Holy Spirit is present.' (p15)

'sermons should be heard in the context of worship not listened to casually as one might listen to anything else' (p19)

We live in an unbelievably individualistic world, and this has not just crept into the church; it has run full steam in and is in danger of wiping us out.  Church is full of difficult people, people we don't naturally get on with each other, but that is the church for which Christ has died.  We neglect these people at our peril. It is the community of God's people that God meets with. Murray continues

'When this is a reality, the incomer is confronted by something that has no counterpart in the world - thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is in you of a truth (1 Cor 14:25 av). Something of eternity may be felt on such an occasion: 'Our coming together in public worship should be a foretaste of heaven'.(p15)

You just don't get that listening on your iplayer in the car or listening to sermons because you can't sleep.  We have adopted a celebrity culture in evangelicalism when conferences - or more accurately conference organisers - often feel they are the true barometer of Christianity in our culture.  If numbers are up at a conferences - 'Jubilation God is on the move' but if on the other hand numbers go down - 'people have lost their hunger for the gospel, a sad reflection on the church at this time'.  If 98% of conferences were got rid of would it make any difference?  Admittedly certain speakers would have a lot more time on their hands, but would the church suffer?

All the time the local church is bleeding because people have lost their commitment to the nitty gritty of church life.  Some are frustrated that their ministers aren't half as good as the ones they hear online. Of course the internet can be greatly used for the kingdom. Of course God has used the web ministries, but there is danger for us here.

I recognise there is a danger that we swing to the other extreme of not recognising gifted men and giants in the church. The speakers at many of these conferences are godly men doing a great work, but the danger remains. Local church can seem so dreary compared to the glamorous conferences. For us as ministers we can long to be on the bigger stage and get frustrated with the work that God has called us to do in the local church.

The church of Christ is the apple of Gods eye, the centre of what he is doing.  He cares passionately about our local church life. What goes on in your local church is infinitely more important that what goes on in any conference or any web ministry.  Don't be dazzled by the internet preachers or Christian celebrities.  Be amazed that you have been called to play your part in Gods new community - The church.

Title: Re: Defining the word Church: Local, Visible, Institutional, never Universal
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 29, 2017, 08:15:45 pm

Virtual Reality Will Enable the Next Large Revival in the Global Church
By Christopher Benek , CP Op-Ed Contributor | Jul 10, 2015 12:53 PM

Twenty-five years ago most people didn't imagine that the Internet would reshape the way that they existed on a day-to-day basis. Twenty-five years from now people will think about Virtual Reality the same way we think about the Internet today - we won't even be able to imagine our global existence without it. One of the largest beneficiaries of this technological development could be the global church because VR is going to change the way that Christians participate in worship.

The main impact that VR is going to have on the global church is that it is going to, one-day, enable Christians to easily gather from a variety of places without being in the same physical location. This will enable persons who are homebound, sick, caregivers, without transportation, on vacation, or severely disabled to participate in worship with the larger community of faith without needing to leave the place where they are physically residing.

Eventually, VR technology will allow these participants to feel fully immersed as if they are actually physically present. It will also allow them to participate virtually in ways that they may not be able to in their present reality. No longer will one's lack of physical ableness be a deterrent that keeps people from ushering or serving communion. Folks will be able to perform these tasks from afar. Congregants who participate via VR will tithe and partake in the sacraments digitally. Of course this means that, particularly with regard to the sacraments, many ecclesiastical traditions will need to do the theological work of reimagining how modern developments in science and technology inform our understanding of sacramentality with regard to particulate matter.

But before society is exposed to fully immersive VR it is likely that most congregations will transition between VR and their present reality by utilizing Augmented Reality. The benefits of using AR in worship would be that a congregant who is sitting in a church in our present reality could view participating VR congregants by wearing Google Glass (or some equivalent) eyeglasses, contacts, or implanted lenses. So, even though to the naked eye many pews may look empty, when viewed with AR the congregation may actually prove to be more full than ever.

If this renewed sense of community is properly embraced, it is going to have the potential to create a revival in church participation that has never before been seen in the history of the global church. Millions of people who have been disenfranchised from the church because of physical constraints will now be empowered to participate fully via virtual reality in worship and fellowship. At the same time, congregants who still seek the holiness that is found through the physicality of God's creation in our present reality will also be able to fully engage will those VR participants via their augmented reality wearables and enhancements. For these and the aforementioned reasons, technological savvy churches should begin to seriously investigate these exponentially advancing technologies now.

It is also of significance that with the development of VR and AR will come moral and ethical temptations that have never before existed in the history of humanity. The church universal has a spiritual responsibility to model behavior when it comes to the uses of new technology. As such, the global church must not delay in charging its congregants who are, by vocation, scientists and technologists to actively engage in developing these new technologies in ways that will work towards advancing Christ's redemptive purposes for humanity and the world. Not to do so would be poor stewardship of the gifts that God has given us through technological advancement that can help to advance the global church in Christ's Kingdom purposes.

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on September 29, 2017, 09:02:50 pm

The Local Church
The Universal Church

H. Meyers

There has been a confusion amongst Bible believers that has lasted for hundreds of years. Many have been deceived for so long, they will not even hear what the Word of God really says. There are others who are not even aware of what their "so-called" churches are standing on. I am speaking about the "universal, invisible church" theory.

The word "church" occurs 77 times in the singular form, and 37 times in the plural form in the Bible. All these verses are found in the New Testament. Therefore it is one of the ten New Testament mysteries. "A mystery is defined as truth withheld from the Old Testament but revealed in the New Testament." (Landmarks of Bible Prophecy, page 54). "This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church." (Ephesians 5:32).

Although it is a mystery, it doesn't mean that it needs to be mystical. And what would be more mystical than a "universal, invisible" church? The church was a mystery for the Old Testament saints because it had not been revealed to them yet. But it was revealed to the New Testament saints. Jesus said that He would build His church, and that He would preserve it. Nothing would prevail against it, not even the gates of hell!

The meaning of the word "church" (Ekklesia) is "a lawful, organized assembly". Strong's Concordance defines it as "a calling out, a popular meeting, assembly." The very definition of the word "church" proves that it is a local church, and not an "invisible, universal" church. An assembly must be local, visible, organized, and constituted. None of these attributes could describe the "universal, invisible" church.

The first occurrence of the word "church" is found in Matthew. "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18). As we have learned in Bible Institute, one of the general rules of Bible interpretation is the "Law of First Mention". The first place a subject is mentioned in the Bible usually gives us the key to its meaning.

If this is going to be our key verse, let's look at its context. Starting at verse 15: "He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Who is speaking? Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. Who is He speaking to?

First he speaks to his disciples, then he turns to Simon Peter. When is this conversation taking place? He says in verse 18 that He will build his church. When did He actually build his church? For the ones who are confused and think that the church started at Pentecost: two chapters later, the church is already in existence. "And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican." (Matthew 18:17). Jesus was building His church at that very moment (Matthew 16:18). He had already called His disciples back in chapter 10 of Matthew, and He was giving his instructions on how to conduct the church.

Some seem to confuse who the rock is. "Peter" (Petros) is a piece of rock, while "rock" (Petra) is a mass of rock (Strong's Concordance). Some assume that Peter is the rock on which Jesus built is church, but 1 Corinthians 3:11 takes care of that. "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." From other Scriptures it is obvious that the "rock" is Jesus Christ. "And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ." (1 Corinthians 10:4). Here is a list of verses that will show who the rock is without a doubt. Deuteuronomy 32:4, 15, 18; 1 Samuel 2:2; 2 Samuel 22:2, 3, 32, 47, 23:3; Psalm 18:2, 31, 28:1, 31:3, 42:9; 62:2, 6, 7, 71:3, 78:35, 89:26, 92:15, 94:22, and Romans 9:33.

"Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:15-20).

This portion of Scriptures deals with problems in the church, and the proper way of dealing with them. The last resort is church discipline. And again, we see the authority of the church given by Jesus Christ. This portion of Scriptures could not possibly be speaking about an "invisible, universal" church. How could you practice church discipline if it is invisible? Nonsense!

"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common. And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (Acts 2:38-47).

Here, Peter is preaching to the church. They had received the power of the Holy Ghost Jesus had promised in Acts 1:4 and 5. This was the greatest revival ever. Notice that they were all of one accord. Thousands of souls were getting saved, baptized, and added to the church. Once more, how can you add to something that is not yet existent?

Let's look at the four characteristics of the local church or "assembly". An assembly must be local. Here is Webster's definition for "assemble": "To collect a number of individuals or particulars into one place, or body; to bring or call together; to convene; to congregate." A church must come together into one place. Hebrews 10:25 says "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." We are instructed in the Word of God to come together in one place.

If the church is universal, how are we supposed to do that? In almost all the verses where the word "church" or "churches" appear, it speaks of a specific place or locality. For example the church at Jerusalem was a local church. "... And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles." (Acts 8:1) So was the church at Cenchrea and at Corinth. "I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:" (Romans 16:1). "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth,..." (1 Corinthians 1:2). You can also look up these following verses: 1 Corinthians 14:23, 16:19, 2 Corinthians 1:1, Colossians 4:15, 16, 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2 Thessalonians 1:1, Philemon 1:2, 1 Peter 5:13, Rev. 2:1, 8, 12, 18, 3:1, 7 and 14.

The Universalists like to use Ephesians 5:23 to prove that the church is not local. "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body." They say that it can only mean one "universal" church because there can only be one head. But what about the rest of the verse? Is there also a "universal" husband and wife? 1 Corinthians 11:3 tells us that Christ is head over many men. "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God."

In the Bible, there are three metaphors concerning the church. A metaphor is a short similitude; a similitude reduced to a single word; or a word expressing similitude without the signs of comparison. (Webster's dictionary). The first metaphor is the body. "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence."(Colossians 1:18).

The second metaphor is the building. "And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." (Ephesians 2:20-22). The third metaphor is the bride found in 2 Corinthians 11:2, "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."

As we look at each of these, we see that they must all be local. If a body is scattered or dismembered it is no longer a body. A building must be built on a foundation and in one place. A bride must be in one place.

An assembly must be visible. A church can not operate unless it is visible. Who has ever heard of invisible believers, invisible tithes, or invisible church discipline? "Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?" (1 Thessalonians 3:10). And again, the three metaphors (body, building and bride) must also all be visible.

An assembly must be organized. Remember the definition of "ekklesia"? "A lawful, organized assembly." 1 Corinthians 14:40 says, "Let all things be done decently and in order." This is speaking of the church for it says in verse 33, "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." "For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ."(Colossians 2:5). "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:"(Titus 1:5). "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." (1 Timothy 3:15). Here again, the three metaphors must also be organized.

An assembly must be constituted. Constituted means, "Set; fixed; established; made; elected; appointed." Members of an assembly must meet some qualifications. Can just anyone be a member of a New Testament church? No, first they must be born again, and then baptized. It must be established. The same goes for the metaphors. The body, the building, and the bride must be made with just the right materials.

I'm sure by now, you are convinced that the word "church" in the Scriptures is not even close to a "universal or invisible" church.

Let's look for a moment at how the theory of the universal church got started. This theory is not by any means based on the Bible. The early Christians knew nothing of this theory. So, where did this theory get its origin?

The Roman Catholic church came up with the "Universal Visible" church by confusing "Church" (ekklesia) and "Kingdom" (basileia). This is Webster's definition of "catholic": "Universal or general; as the Catholic church." This is what the Roman Catholic church is based on. They confused the "kingdom of God", or the "family of God" with the "church of God". As we will see later, God's family and God's church are two different things.
So, how did we pass from a "universal, visible" church to a "universal, invisible" church? During the Reformation, when people started to see some of the heresies of the Catholic church, began to leave and start their own "churches", they had to come up with something to take the place of the "universal, visible" church. They were still confusing the "church" with the "kingdom". The "universal, invisible" church was their answer.

Here is what Dr. R. K. Maiden, former editor of the Word and Way of Missouri has to say about this theory:

"As nearly as can be determined, the first formal, official identification of church and kingdom was projected when the Roman Empire became nominally Christianized, about the time of the consummation of the great ecclesiastical apostasy. It was the Ecumenical Council of Nice, called by the Emperor Constantine, that affirmed and projected as its creed the idea of a 'Catholic' World Church. From then down to the Lutheran Reformation of the sixteenth century, the universal visible theory of the church held the field, except for the scattered, comparatively obscure, hunted and persecuted little churches known by various names at different times –churches of the New Testament type in doctrine and policy. Following the Reformation period and born of the Reformation movement, there emerged a new theory of the church – the universal, invisible spiritual theory." (The Myth of the Universal Invisible Church Theory Exploded, page 11.)

What it really comes down to is the Universalists confuse the "Church of God" with the "Kingdom of God". And yes, the Kingdom of God is universal and invisible.

The word "kingdom" means "the power or authority of a king; a realm or a domain over which it extends." (Landmarks of Bible Prophecy, page 17) The "Kingdom of God" is also called the "Kingdom of Christ"–"For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." (Ephesians 5:5), and the "kingdom of Heaven" throughout the book of Matthew.

Let's compare the "kingdom of God" in the same way we did the "church". The "Kingdom of God" is universal. Unlike the "church" it is not local. It is made up of all the saints of all ages. "Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named," (Ephesians 3:15). "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:6-9, 26). Therefore, it is impossible for the "kingdom of God" to assemble together in this present age.

The "kingdom of God" is invisible. It is a spiritual kingdom. Luke 17:20-21 says, "And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." Romans 14:17 says "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."

There is only one "kingdom of God", but there are many local New Testament churches. The local church practices church discipline, but it is not so for the "kingdom of God". The church practices democracy while the "kingdom of God" is totally theocratic. The church has pastors and ordinances, but the "kingdom of God" doesn't. "To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power." (Acts 1:3-7).

What about 1 Corinthians 12:13 "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." and Ephesians 4:3&4 "Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;" The Universalists use these two portions of Scriptures to prove their theory by wrong interpretation. They believe the word "body" is speaking of the "universal" church, but the word itself means it is local. Remember the metaphor we spoke of earlier? What did it represent? The local church.

The Universalists have come to their erroneous conclusion by starting out with an idea, and then going to the Scriptures to prove it. The Catholics said the "body of Christ" was the "universal, visible" church, and the Protestants said the "body of Christ" was the "universal, invisible" church. We must interpret Scriptures with Scriptures; not Scriptures with man's ideas. All this verse is saying is that by the same Spirit (the Holy Spirit) that lead us to salvation, we are lead to be baptized and become part of the body of Christ, the local church.

What has the "universal, invisible" church theory accomplished? It has made Jesus Christ out to be a liar. Jesus said He would build His church, but the "universal, invisible" church theory says the Holy Spirit did. They also say that the church wasn't started until Pentecost, but I proved them wrong earlier. "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."(John 8:44).

How the devil must be laughing! He has succeeded in spreading his seeds of confusion and he is now reaping. Believers will neglect the church of God–the local New Testament church–because it is not important to them. They believe the great commission was given to individuals and not to the local church. The ordinances are not important, neither is baptism. And that might as well include their personal testimonies, too.

The Universalists refuse to believe God's Word. They would rather believe man made fables. They want to hang on to their religion. They need to repent, turn to God, and stop relying on traditions. "God forbid: ye, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged." (Romans 3:4). "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1 Corinthians 14:33).

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended! VIRTUAL "Church" Debunked!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 01, 2017, 10:29:52 pm
1 Corinthians 4:15  For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

Psalm 119:99  I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.
Psa 119:100  I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.

Proverbs 22:28  Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended! VIRTUAL "Church" Debunked!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 02, 2017, 11:04:22 am

MENACE OF FEMINISM: Identical Rights Or Equal Rights?
The Menace Of Feminism
10/1/2017 (SUN)
Audio: http://www.sermonaudio.com/saplayer/playpopup.asp?SID=101172139361

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended! VIRTUAL "Church" Debunked!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 02, 2017, 11:58:09 pm

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended! VIRTUAL "Church" Debunked!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 04, 2017, 11:01:49 pm

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended! VIRTUAL "Church" Debunked!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 05, 2017, 10:38:14 pm

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended! VIRTUAL "Church" Debunked!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 06, 2017, 06:26:23 pm
Man Who Created The Facebook ‘Like’ Button Now Warns Your Mind Can Be ‘Hijacked’ Through Social Media
In 2007, Rosenstein was one of a small group of Facebook employees who decided to create a path of least resistance – a single click – to “send little bits of positivity” across the platform. Facebook’s “like” feature was, Rosenstein says, “wildly” successful: engagement soared as people enjoyed the short-term boost they got from giving or receiving social affirmation, while Facebook harvested valuable data about the preferences of users that could be sold to advertisers. The idea was soon copied by Twitter, with its heart-shaped “likes” (previously star-shaped “favourites”), Instagram, and countless other apps and websites.


Justin Rosenstein had tweaked his laptop’s operating system to block Reddit, banned himself from Snapchat, which he compares to heroin, and imposed limits on his use of Facebook. But even that wasn’t enough.

“And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” Revelation 13:15 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s very interesting to understand that the very people who created the highly-addictive ‘like’ system have now installed extensions on their devices to block those same features from being active. What does that tell you about how enslaving social media can be? Just imagine how it will be in a few years when AI is fully rolled out, and the devices are doing our thinking for us. The “brave new world’ is a very scary place to be, and I honestly don’t think any of us really know what we’re playing with.

In August, the 34-year-old tech executive took a more radical step to restrict his use of social media and other addictive technologies. Rosenstein purchased a new iPhone and instructed his assistant to set up a parental-control feature to prevent him from downloading any apps.

He was particularly aware of the allure of Facebook “likes”, which he describes as “bright dings of pseudo-pleasure” that can be as hollow as they are seductive. And Rosenstein should know: he was the Facebook engineer who created the “like” button in the first place.

A decade after he stayed up all night coding a prototype of what was then called an “awesome” button, Rosenstein belongs to a small but growing band of Silicon Valley heretics who complain about the rise of the so-called “attention economy”: an internet shaped around the demands of an advertising economy.

These refuseniks are rarely founders or chief executives, who have little incentive to deviate from the mantra that their companies are making the world a better place. Instead, they tend to have worked a rung or two down the corporate ladder: designers, engineers and product managers who, like Rosenstein, several years ago put in place the building blocks of a digital world from which they are now trying to disentangle themselves. “It is very common,” Rosenstein says, “for humans to develop things with the best of intentions and for them to have unintended, negative consequences.”

Rosenstein, who also helped create Gchat during a stint at Google, and now leads a San Francisco-based company that improves office productivity, appears most concerned about the psychological effects on people who, research shows, touch, swipe or tap their phone 2,617 times a day.

There is growing concern that as well as addicting users, technology is contributing toward so-called “continuous partial attention”, severely limiting people’s ability to focus, and possibly lowering IQ. One recent study showed that the mere presence of smartphones damages cognitive capacity – even when the device is turned off. “Everyone is distracted,” Rosenstein says. “All of the time.”
But those concerns are trivial compared with the devastating impact upon the political system that some of Rosenstein’s peers believe can be attributed to the rise of social media and the attention-based market that drives it.

Drawing a straight line between addiction to social media and political earthquakes like Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump, they contend that digital forces have completely upended the political system and, left unchecked, could even render democracy as we know it obsolete.

In 2007, Rosenstein was one of a small group of Facebook employees who decided to create a path of least resistance – a single click – to “send little bits of positivity” across the platform. Facebook’s “like” feature was, Rosenstein says, “wildly” successful: engagement soared as people enjoyed the short-term boost they got from giving or receiving social affirmation, while Facebook harvested valuable data about the preferences of users that could be sold to advertisers. The idea was soon copied by Twitter, with its heart-shaped “likes” (previously star-shaped “favourites”), Instagram, and countless other apps and websites.

It was Rosenstein’s colleague, Leah Pearlman, then a product manager at Facebook and on the team that created the Facebook “like”, who announced the feature in a 2009 blogpost. Now 35 and an illustrator, Pearlman confirmed via email that she, too, has grown disaffected with Facebook “likes” and other addictive feedback loops. She has installed a web browser plug-in to eradicate her Facebook news feed, and hired a social media manager to monitor her Facebook page so that she doesn’t have to.

“One reason I think it is particularly important for us to talk about this now is that we may be the last generation that can remember life before,” Rosenstein says. It may or may not be relevant that Rosenstein, Pearlman and most of the tech insiders questioning today’s attention economy are in their 30s, members of the last generation that can remember a world in which telephones were plugged into walls.

It is revealing that many of these younger technologists are weaning themselves off their own products, sending their children to elite Silicon Valley schools where iPhones, iPads and even laptops are banned. They appear to be abiding by a Biggie Smalls lyric from their own youth about the perils of dealing crack ****: never get high on your own supply.

One morning in April this year, designers, programmers and tech entrepreneurs from across the world gathered at a conference centre on the shore of the San Francisco Bay. They had each paid up to $1,700 to learn how to manipulate people into habitual use of their products, on a course curated by conference organiser Nir Eyal.

Eyal, 39, the author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, has spent several years consulting for the tech industry, teaching techniques he developed by closely studying how the Silicon Valley giants operate.

“The technologies we use have turned into compulsions, if not full-fledged addictions,” Eyal writes. “It’s the impulse to check a message notification. It’s the pull to visit YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter for just a few minutes, only to find yourself still tapping and scrolling an hour later.” None of this is an accident, he writes. It is all “just as their designers intended”.

He explains the subtle psychological tricks that can be used to make people develop habits, such as varying the rewards people receive to create “a craving”, or exploiting negative emotions that can act as “triggers”. “Feelings of boredom, loneliness, frustration, confusion and indecisiveness often instigate a slight pain or irritation and prompt an almost instantaneous and often mindless action to quell the negative sensation,” Eyal writes.

Less than 5 minutes after posting this story on social media, Facebook banned me for 6 days in retaliation for daring to expose them.

Attendees of the 2017 Habit Summit might have been surprised when Eyal walked on stage to announce that this year’s keynote speech was about “something a little different”. He wanted to address the growing concern that technological manipulation was somehow harmful or immoral. He told his audience that they should be careful not to abuse persuasive design, and wary of crossing a line into coercion.

But he was defensive of the techniques he teaches, and dismissive of those who compare tech addiction to drugs. “We’re not freebasing Facebook and injecting Instagram here,” he said. He flashed up a slide of a shelf filled with sugary baked goods. “Just as we shouldn’t blame the baker for making such delicious treats, we can’t blame tech makers for making their products so good we want to use them,” he said. “Of course that’s what tech companies will do. And frankly: do we want it any other way?”

Without irony, Eyal finished his talk with some personal tips for resisting the lure of technology. He told his audience he uses a Chrome extension, called DF YouTube, “which scrubs out a lot of those external triggers” he writes about in his book, and recommended an app called Pocket Points that “rewards you for staying off your phone when you need to focus”.

Finally, Eyal confided the lengths he goes to protect his own family. He has installed in his house an outlet timer connected to a router that cuts off access to the internet at a set time every day. “The idea is to remember that we are not powerless,” he said. “We are in control.”

But are we? If the people who built these technologies are taking such radical steps to wean themselves free, can the rest of us reasonably be expected to exercise our free will?

Not according to Tristan Harris, a 33-year-old former Google employee turned vocal critic of the tech industry. “All of us are jacked into this system,” he says. “All of our minds can be hijacked. Our choices are not as free as we think they are.” source

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended! VIRTUAL "Church" Debunked!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 06, 2017, 11:09:26 pm

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended! VIRTUAL "Church" Debunked!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 09, 2017, 09:44:54 am

Title: Re: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended! VIRTUAL "Church" Debunked!
Post by: Psalm 51:17 on October 11, 2017, 10:08:26 pm