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Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended! VIRTUAL "Church" Debunked!

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August 08, 2018, 02:38:10 am suzytr says: Hello, any good churches in the Sacto, CA area, also looking in Reno NV, thanks in advance and God Bless you Smiley
January 29, 2018, 01:21:57 am Christian40 says: It will be interesting to see what happens this year Israel being 70 years as a modern nation may 14 2018
October 17, 2017, 01:25:20 am Christian40 says: It is good to type Mark is here again!  Smiley
October 16, 2017, 03:28:18 am Christian40 says: anyone else thinking that time is accelerating now? it seems im doing days in shorter time now is time being affected in some way?
September 24, 2017, 10:45:16 pm Psalm 51:17 says: The specific rule pertaining to the national anthem is found on pages A62-63 of the league rulebook. It states: “The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem. “During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.”
September 20, 2017, 04:32:32 am Christian40 says: "The most popular Hepatitis B vaccine is nothing short of a witch’s brew including aluminum, formaldehyde, yeast, amino acids, and soy. Aluminum is a known neurotoxin that destroys cellular metabolism and function. Hundreds of studies link to the ravaging effects of aluminum. The other proteins and formaldehyde serve to activate the immune system and open up the blood-brain barrier. This is NOT a good thing."
http://www.naturalnews.com/2017-08-11-new-fda-approved-hepatitis-b-vaccine-found-to-increase-heart-attack-risk-by-700.html
September 19, 2017, 03:59:21 am Christian40 says: bbc international did a video about there street preaching they are good witnesses
September 14, 2017, 08:06:04 am Psalm 51:17 says: bro Mark Hunter on YT has some good, edifying stuff too.
September 14, 2017, 04:31:26 am Christian40 says: i have thought that i'm reaping from past sins then my life has been impacted in ways from having non believers in my ancestry.
September 11, 2017, 06:59:33 am Psalm 51:17 says: The law of reaping and sowing. It's amazing how God's mercy and longsuffering has hovered over America so long. (ie, the infrastructure is very bad here b/c for many years, they were grossly underspent on. 1st Tim 6:10, the god of materialism has its roots firmly in the West) And remember once upon a time ago when shacking up b/w straight couples drew shock awe?

Exodus 20:5  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
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Author Topic: Visible, Local NT Church Biblically Defended! VIRTUAL "Church" Debunked!  (Read 4769 times)
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« on: October 26, 2016, 12:40:46 pm »

http://bible-truth.org/church.htm

 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.

THE DISTINCTIVES OF A NEW TESTAMENT 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.

I. THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH ACCEPTS ONLY THE NEW TESTAMENT AS IT SOLE AUTHORITY IN ALL MATTERS OF FAITH AND PRACTICE
.

         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.

II. THE AUTONOMY OF THE LOCAL CHURCH.

    “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."

 FORMS OF CHURCH GOVERNMENT IN PRACTICE TODAY


    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).

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