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Local NT Churches DEFENDED!
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BornAgain2



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2016 1:22 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote

What Is The Bible Definition Of Church? What Is The Biblical View Of Church?
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/chri...t-is-the-biblical-view-of-church/
8/28/16

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 7:3Cool, 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, [b]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.[/b]

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-Cool. 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-Cool.

Conclusion

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.
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BornAgain2



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2016 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What Is a Local Church?
https://9marks.org/article/what-is-a-local-church/
8/22/14

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.
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BornAgain2



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2016 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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.
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BornAgain2



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2016 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://alaskaopc.org/2012/03/22/profile-of-the-lone-ranger-christian/
3/22/12
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
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BornAgain2



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2016 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.insearchoftruth.org/articles/officesofchurch.html
The Offices of the Church

Introduction

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

   Deacon
   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).

Conclusion

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".
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2016 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.insearchoftruth.org/articles/church.html#basics

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" (Matthew16:1Cool.

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.

Conclusion

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?
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2016 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Autonomy of the Local Church

http://www.insearchoftruth.org/articles/autonomy.html

Introduction

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 20:2Cool, 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.)

Conclusion

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 elders.  Therefore, 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.
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BornAgain2



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2016 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What About “Local” Church Membership?
https://www.christiancourier.com/...hat-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. 1:1Cool for which the Lord died (Acts 20:2Cool. 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. 1:1Cool, 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.
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BornAgain2



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2016 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

https://9marks.org/answer/why-should-every-christian-join-church/

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

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.

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