Theology: ECCLESIOLOGY – The Church

INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY OF THE CHURCH

 

I undertake this study realizing that I have limited experience in pastoring a church in person. I do bring with me to this work the realization that I have been in local churches for twenty-five years and have observed many things over those years.

 

These observations have impressed me with the trouble, the problems and the anguish that can come within a church. I have also realized that many of these items could be bypassed if the church was operating under a Biblical form of church government.

 

I am aware that all churches feel their forms of government are “Biblical,” but since there are multitudes of forms out there, Someone Must Be Wrong. Some feel that the Scripture is general enough to leave room for all forms of government. This does not really make good sense if the Bible is Really our rule for faith and practice. This is very similar to the church’s view of divorce and remarriage today. We declare unabashedly that the Word is our only rule of faith and practice, yet there is a multitude of views as to whether a person can be divorced and remarried. The views run from no remarriage to remarriage for any reason. Now, can all those views really come from the same standard of faith?

 

It is my purpose to look at the Word of God to see what It teaches on the subject of the Church. I personally believe that most church government systems are designed around personal desire and the need of the day with a few proof texts added in to make it “Biblical.”

 

I trust that this study will concentrate on the Biblical, and not the “Biblical.” We need to understand what God wants in our churches, not what we want propped up by His Word.

 

 

ECCLESIOLOGY

 

1. INTRODUCTION TO THE CHURCH

 

In our day and society, does “Church” communicate what the Scripture presents when It speaks of church? I doubt it.

 

Years ago I wrote my dissertation on church renewal and some comments I ran across were very relevant to our study. Many realized several years ago there were some problems in the church. It is sad that we must report that the great renewals of those periods have not changed the church as a whole. There have been individual churches that have made some serious attempts at change and have had a measure of success; however the general condition of the church in the U.S.A. has not changed for the better, but for the worse.

 

Renewal has the idea of renewing something that is lacking. If you renew a car you go through it and repair or replace all problematic parts and components.

 

Some have called for the resurrection of the church. Resurrection was a drastic request in the 1970s. Though the term was drastic then, Resurrection may be a good term for the church today. At the very least we need a reanimation of the church.

 

Today little is being done in the church and reanimation would correct that. We need to become active in the local church.

 

Renewal has been likened to the rearranging of chairs on the deck of the sinking Titanic. Renewal just has not been successful.

 

When I was in the Navy, we had occasion to meet a ship of the British Navy with the same name as our ship. I was on the USS Cavalier and it was the HMS Cavalier. Some British sailors mentioned when talking about painting their ship, they never chipped away the old paint. They just painted over the old. On US ships all old paint and rust are chipped away and anti-rust paint is applied, then the color coat. The British sailors mentioned that on one of their ships the rust had continued to work over several years to the point that the metal was completely gone. They discovered the problem when a man fell through the deck. The rust had been doing its work in a certain spot for years and finally had eaten away all of the metal and had left the layer upon layer of paint and there was no strength left to support the people above.

 

The church is akin to this in many people’s minds today. It looks good on the outside but is rotting on the inside. Let us consider some problems that are quite observable in the church of our recent past and up to our own day.

 

The Church Is Sometimes Inconsistent: In the late 1970s a church in Mid-Nebraska split over the issue of allowing a negro/white couple into the fellowship of the church. Some were willing to have segregation within their church.

 

In the late 1980s we attended a Southern Baptist Church in North Carolina. The smell of cigarette smoke was throughout the church. They raise tobacco so there is nothing wrong with it, even though it is killing the church membership.

 

We preach against divorce in the world, yet it is a very prevalent problem in the church. We need to be consistent in our beliefs and lifestyles.

 

The Church Is Sometimes Irrelevant: A missionary to Zambia tells of a man dying of starvation only a few hundred yards from the mission compound where the big discussion was what to do with left over communion bread. Today half the world awaits the bread of life and we are too busy eating the bread of this life.

 

The Church Is Sometimes Incompetent: When we were on deputation to go to Ireland, our children were concerned about some things we might not find in Ireland. One of our children asked if we could buy Coke there. I told them that I was sure that we could, because Coke is all over the world. The realization of my comment struck all of us. Coke is everywhere in the world, yet we were still trying to get the Gospel to the lost in Ireland.

 

The Church Is Sometimes Isolated: Geographically most of the work is being done in our own country. Geographically most of the money spent on missions is being spent in this country. Temporally we are isolated to the 11:00 service. Personally we are isolated by the fact that we allow the pastor to do everything.

 

 

The Church Is Sometimes Inane: In a church in Denver I suggested that we glue chorus sheets into the front of the hymnals. This suggestion would have to go through three committees. The music committee to get the sheets, the finance committee to pay for the sheets and glue, and the building committee to okay the gluing of the sheets into the hymnals.

 

However. All Is Not Lost. I finally saw a Christmas program that caught my interest because it had a message that was clear and understandable this year. The teenagers in a local church youth group wrote and produced it.

 

Why do I bring up these comments? I have seen many steps downward over the last few years. If you are going out to perpetuate this type of church, then I believe that you shouldn’t bother. Either get out there and start a life giving church or go find a dead church where you can rot away. We Don’t Need Any More Dead Or Dying Churches. There Are Too Many Poor Churches Already.

 

This is a study of the church and I trust that it will produce within you an excitement about what the church is supposed to be like so that you can go out and reproduce it so it can reproduce other living churches. I trust that we will find the Bible’s view of the church and see how it fits into God’s plan, and then I trust you will go out prepared to help mold and shape lives into this scriptural style of church. Allow the studies to challenge your thinking about what the church is and what the church is to be doing. We may challenge what has always been. We may challenge what has always been taught. We may challenge what has always been believed. The Important Thing Is To Be Open To The Word As We Move Along And Allow Ourselves To Be Challenged.

 

WHAT IS “THE CHURCH?”

 

1. Introduction To The Church The church defined.

 

Everyone has self-concept, or what they think they are and their value to others. We all have some idea of what we are to ourselves.

 

What is your concept of the church? What good is the church to you as a Christian? What good is it to the unsaved? What is the main function of the church in your life?

 

 

May I introduce you to some concepts of church in the Christian world today? The National Association of Evangelicals has built sewers in South America. I was told recently that a church in this country was spending a million dollars to build a gym for the youth group. How about the congregation that was going to build a million dollar church because they were tired of carrying hymnals in and out of their rented building. Many nominal believers see it as a front for their religiosity.

 

WHAT IS THE CHURCH?

 

Is it worship? Is it learning? Is it evangelism? Is it helping others? Is it teaching? Is it missions? Is it praise? Is it growth? Is it fellowship? Is it counsel? Is it giving? Is it help? Is it prayer? Is it God’s work?

 

These Are Part Of Church, Or At Least Should Be. The Question Is, “In Your Church Are All Of These Things Taking Place?”

 

What offices should a church have? Deacons, deaconesses, elders, board members, trustees, pastors, evangelists, teachers, physical plant engineers?

 

What type of church government should a church have? Ecclesiastical, congregational, dictatorial, one board, two board, elder rule?

 

Who can be a member of this church? What are the qualifications? Baptism, salvation, testimony, good life, a business in the city? Consider these things a few moments before you go on.

 

Now That You Know Something About Your Concept Of The Church, We Will Check That With The Scriptures And See What You Want To Change Or Retain In Your Concept. We trust that it won’t be too painful.

 

THE CHURCH DEFINED

 

Just what do we mean when we talk about the church? Do we mean a building? Do we mean a group of people that listen to tapes from a man in another state? Do we mean an organization? Just what do we mean?

 

To see the Biblical idea of the church you must see two items of business. First of all the church is a universal body made up of all believers no matter what color, shape or breed they are. This universal church will make up all those that are raptured when the Lord returns for His Church.

 

 

Secondly, there is the local aspect of the church. The local aspect is the body of believers that calls themselves a local church. This local aspect of the church will be the emphasis of this study.

 

Another way of distinguishing between the church universal and the church local is found in the terms “organism” and “organization.” The Universal Church is an organism or a living body that has its life in its

Head Jesus Christ. The local church is an organization to control, guide and feed the local gathering of believers in a certain geographical location.

 

Before we begin this look into the local church we should take a brief look at the Church Universal. We will look at this aspect in more detail later in the study as well.

 

When Christ spoke to Peter about building His Church in the Gospel Christ was speaking of the Universal Church, His church, His Bride to be. This Church is comprised of only believers, and He is the only one that knows the true extent and membership of that body of believers.

 

There will be believers from many denominations, organizations, and fellowships of our country. There will be believers from areas where there is no organized church.

 

These people will be those that have accepted Christ’s work on the cross as a substitutionary payment for their sin. These people may be from any group or church as long as they have that one thing in common — that free salvation that is in Christ alone.

 

The Universal Church met only once in the past as a complete body and that would have been on the Day of Pentecost when the church began. We will meet in mass in the air at the Rapture, and then will attend the marriage feast of the Lamb together. That should prove to be a time of pure joy as well as a time for some surprise concerning those that are present. Many will attend that we probably could not have associated with here on earth due to their life styles and doctrine, yet there we will have pure and complete fellowship, not only with one another, but with the Lord.

 

We are automatically baptized into the Universal Church when we become Christians. We are placed into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. We then identify with that body when we are baptized with water. The water baptism should be tied to a local church as the deliverer of the ordinance, but the act is the identification of the person with Christ and His body, the Church. Taking of church membership then identifies us with a particular local church.

 

Some have suggested that when we speak of the church universal we capitalize the word church and then when we speak of the local church we use a small letter. This will not be followed in this study for it seems an item more of tradition than necessity. The local church should be made up of people from the universal church so the distinction is not needed.

 

A good study that we won’t attempt to get into on this subject would be to take all occurrences of the word church and determine which are speaking of the universal and which are speaking of the local church. I find many times that pastors use the references interchangeably and this ought not to be done. At times what is true of the local church is true of the universal church, yet at other times there may be differences.

 

To sum up our study thus far, we have seen that the church local, is a part of the Church Universal. All local churches make up the universal church. All local churches also should be made up of only believers from the universal church. The local church governs our activities in this life and the universal church will be our place for all of eternity.

 

The universal church is composed of all those that have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord. The local church is a body of believers that have gathered for specific purposes. Those purposes will be discussed shortly.

 

There are those that teach that where two or three are gathered you have a church. The Lord mentions that when two or three are gathered that He is with them, but He never declares that to be a local church, nor do any of the New Testament writers. This is not to detract from the fellowship that we can have together in small groups, but there is a difficulty in two or three practicing communion when they are not an organized church.

 

Some suggest that the book of Acts shows that in the early days of the church there were meetings in homes, and these fellowships comprised the functioning of the local church at Jerusalem. The item that is usually left out is the fact that the apostles were overseeing the functions of the church. This is very clearly shown in chapter six when they called for a new office of deacon to serve the church in a specific manner.

 

It is also to be suggested that the breaking of bread in the early part of Acts is not easily shown to be the Lord’s table observance. It could just as easily be the breaking of bread in a meal. The other side of this coin is the possibility that we might see in the Acts that the believers were commemorating the Lord’s death each time they gathered to eat. That might have application to our own potlucks and get-togethers. It might well be if we were concentrating more on His death we might be closer to Him and our service to Him.

 

In defining the Church there will be five aspects to the local church which we want to look at. First, it was organized, second it was made up of believers, third it was a Spirit filled group of people, fourth it was the deliverer of the ordinances and finally, it was in a geographical location. We do not want to expand our definition further at this point. We need to understand these five points of our definition before we go on to look at the purpose of that body — the edification of the saved and the evangelization of the lost. Those two purposes must be an integrated part of the church, or it is not really a church, but the five points are really the definition as opposed to the purpose.

 

a. Organized: Just how do we know the early church was organized? Many things could be offered as proof of this point. The apostles were over the church. The people came to the apostles with problems in chapter six, and again we see in chapter fifteen there was a council to settle a dispute of doctrine. Later in the New Testament we see that Paul gives instruction concerning the elders and deacons, the ministers of the church.

 

It might be wise to set the stage for this study by stating that we are not pushing organized church, or organizationalism. The study will look at what the Lord had in mind for His local churches. There will be an attempt to show what the New Testament shows organizationally and go no further. There was organization in the early church, but we are quick to point out there was LIMITED organization.

 

 

b. Comprised Of Believers: The church is comprised of believers only. This is clearly seen in the Scripture in Acts two when the church was started. Only believers were present and only believers were baptized into the Body of Christ. Later in Acts the idea of belonging is linked with that of accepting Christ. The book of Second Corinthians shows clearly that the believer is not to be yoked with non-believers. This is applicable to the church membership in that the logic that Paul used in this text precludes lost people in our relationships or in the church (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

 

It is easy to observe in many of our churches today there are non-believers in membership where they ought not to be. Indeed, there are lost people in places of leadership in churches today. This causes no end of difficulties for that particular church. How can a church be directed by its Head, Jesus Christ, if there are lost people in places of leadership? ILLOGICAL. The communication link is broken.

 

c. Spirit Filled: The Spirit filled the believers on the day of Pentecost and we know from our study of the Holy Spirit that He indwells each believer in this age. The New Testament tells the believer to be filled with the Spirit as we gather together for worship and fellowship (Ephesians 5:18-

20). (The filling of the Spirit makes reference to the fact that the Spirit is in control of the believer and not the believer controlling himself.) If every believer is controlled by the Spirit of God, then they can be properly lead of the Spirit to do the will of the Head of the church, Christ. If part of the body is not controlled by the Spirit then there will be limited, if not impaired, control of the body by Christ.

 

d. Deliverer Of The Ordinances: In this point we do not want to bring about visions of the Roman church that dispenses grace through the sacraments, but we do want to help the reader to understand that the ordinances are not for bodies of people other than the church. The church should be the center of the ordinances. It is not to say that the pastor must be the only one involved in administering the ordinances either. The church leadership is to be overseeing the dispersion of the ordinances. Any lay person can be involved in the ordinances as long as the leaders have control of that involvement. We were pleased that one of our sons was baptized by a layman in the church. The church leaders had allowed the man to baptize his own children and they decided that he might as well baptize everyone that Sunday. This is perfectly acceptable.

 

The ordinances are two: The Lord’s table and baptism. These topics will be covered later in detail, but at this point let us only mention that baptism is by immersion and that it is not an extension of grace or favor. It is only a sign of the believers’ rebirth. The Lord’s table is an observance which brings our mind to the death of our Lord on our behalf. These two are to be observed under the authority of the local church, and are not to be a part of individual worship.

 

e. Local Geographical Location: The church was started in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost and then spread throughout the known world. The fact that it was linked to geographical locations is easily seen when we look through the index of our Bible. Paul wrote to the church at Rome, Corinth, and Thessalonica etc. James wrote to believers that were scattered, but the emphasis of Scripture is on local assemblies.

 

We want to move on to the church and its purpose. We have already mentioned that the overall purpose is the evangelism of the lost and the edification of the saved. Beyond these two points there are many things that the church is to do, but this is the central thrust for the church.

 

As the believer mixes with lost people in their everyday life they will ultimately witness of their Lord and lead someone to the Lord. At that point the new believer should be introduced to the local church where the church will begin to train them in the things of the Lord. The training is to the end that the new believer will be well grounded, but also they will be sent out to do the work of the Lord.

 

In a real sense the church is an educational institution. In fact — one man’s opinion — if the church in this country were doing its job, there would be no need for Bible Institutes, Colleges and Seminaries. The believers would be properly trained in the church, and then they would go out to do the work they were given to do.

 

The term “church” in the Bible is usually the Greek term “ekklesia” which means called out. The term is used of the children of Israel as they were in the wilderness, and is also used of secular assemblies of people in the book of Acts (Acts 7:38; 19:32; 39). Thus when we use the term church we are obviously talking about called out people and not a building. This is a group of people that is called out of a larger group of people, again showing the “saved” aspect of the church membership (Acts 15:14).

 

This is probably the most important item — the church is people NOT a building. Often times when we talk of church, the building is the concept that pops into our mind, yet that concept is in error. God is not interested in buildings, but in people. Buildings are not wrong if they are Needed And Utilitarian In Nature. Many buildings today are products of a person’s or group’s pride and ambition.

 

Even more than people, we are speaking of God’s people, a very special people. These are people that have great meaning and value to God, thus we ought to bear that in mind when we talk about them. We are indeed God’s people, a peculiar people called out to serve Him and Him only.

 

Some view the church as something new — a new kid on the theological block — so to speak. This is true in that the church’s organizational structure is something that is newly revealed in the New Testament however the church is only an extension of the Lord’s overall program.

 

We must realize that God has a kingdom plan in action throughout the ages. His thought was for a kingdom for Himself. This is seen in the Old Testament in all of the prophetic information concerning the kingdom. The Millennial Kingdom will be the culmination of all that God is doing with man. The church is not something that was thought up by the Trinity on the spur of the moment when Christ “goofed and got crucified.” The church is not a substitute program. The church is an extension of the program that was in progress. Christ mentions the kingdom in mystery form. I suggest a study of that thought and its relationship to the church. Christ was sent to finish provision for the salvation program, and He will return to finish the kingdom aspect of the overall program of God in the future.

 

The church is not a title for some new group, or some new movement. The Church is God’s called out ones of this age as Israel was in the Old Testament.

 

Paul mentions that the Gentiles are grafted into the program because the Jewish people have been set aside for a time. We will see more on this when we delve into the Eschatology section of our study. The church is something that was planned before the foundation of the world just as the plan of redemption was planned, just as the plan for Israel was planned.

 

WHAT THE CHURCH IS NOT

 

a. The Church Is Not The Old Testament Way Reworked Or Renewed: All Old Testament and New Testament saints are redeemed but:

 

1.) The sacrificial system ended in Christ. Galatians 3:24-26 tells us that the law was a schoolmaster to bring us to faith. We are no longer under that Old Testament schoolmaster but under the blood of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 5:9-10 tells us that Christ became the author of salvation by His suffering.

 

2.) The Church Age began with the work of the cross and Christ upon it.

 

b. The Church Is Not Denominations: Denominations are not mentioned, nor even hinted at, in the Scriptures. What is a denomination? Webster mentions, “a religious organization uniting in a single legal and administrative body a number of local congregations.”

 

Are Baptists a denomination? Some may be considered a denomination, however not all Baptist groups are denominations. The “Southern Baptists” and the “American Baptists” are denominations; however the “Conservative Baptists” and the “Regular Baptists” are associations. The difference between them is the organization behind them. The latter groups are loose associations of Independent Churches Governed By Themselves. Now I might add that the Southern Baptists claim they are independent churches, though at last report they still were required to maintain certain ties to the overall organization which seems to fit Webster’s definition.

 

The denominational churches are governed to a certain extent via the denominational structure. The churches support that structure by agreement of being a part of the denomination.

 

A denomination may require giving, may set up schools, may help select pastors for churches, may have their own publishing arm, may require churches to follow their curriculum and may manage the local church and what it does.

 

Are Lutherans a denomination? There are several groups that make up several separate denominations of Lutherans. Are Presbyterians a denomination? Yes they are. There may be more than one in this group as well.

 

So the Church Is Not, Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, Christian Science, Catholic, or any other organizational structure.

 

You might wonder why I take time to cover this topic. Have you ever read the “Trail Of Blood,” a book that describes only certain Baptists as the only real, true believers? They hold to the fact that if you haven’t been baptized by one of their men that was baptized by someone that was baptized by someone that was baptized by someone that was baptized — etc. clear back to John The Baptist, then you aren’t properly baptized, and the thought often is that you may not really be going to heaven. These are sometimes called Landmark Baptists.

 

Others aren’t quite that strong. I attended two Baptist colleges. At one of them a friend was talking with me and he mentioned the “Baptist distinctives.” I asked him what they were, so he listed them for me. They were Biblical principles that all of us would hold to. I said, “Yes, those are good principles but they are Biblical distinctives.” “No. They are Baptist distinctives.” I said, “Yes, Baptists hold to them, but they are Biblical distinctives.” “No. They Are Baptist Distinctives.” I said, “How do you like the weather?” We removed ourselves from the subject.

 

We might also add that the church is not the ecumenical movement. Three Lutheran groups have now merged. Another Lutheran group and the Episcopalians are trying to merge. The Catholics want us all to come back to Holy Mother Church. The Charismatics of all sorts want to get together. This is not the bringing about of the Body of Christ, this is the bringing together of Christians and non-Christians in an unholy mess of doctrine they all say they can live with.

 

c. The Church Is Not The Millennial Kingdom: The Kingdom is yet future and will be set up by Christ the Lord. Some in the past, and some in this time, believe that we can get the earth back to the pre-fall condition and allow the Lord to come set up His kingdom. NOT SO. The Lord is capable of setting the date of His coming. Indeed, it has been set from the foundation of the world, and nothing we can do on this earth will change that date.

 

d. The Church Is Not A Sunday School: The Sunday School started in 1780 in Glouster, England by Robert Rakes in a kitchen. It WAS NOT IN 40 AD IN THE UPPER ROOM ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST. Mark Rakes started the Sunday School to teach poor children to read and write, and he used a Bible to do it. In 1824 the American Sunday School Union brought the concept of the Sunday School to the church.

 

In all of the good that Sunday Schools have brought to us we must remember they are not inspired. Many believe there are some problems with Sunday Schools, and I would like to alert you to these possible problems.

 

(From “Emerging Patterns In Church Education” by Kenneth O. Gangel in Christianity Today; July 1973 p 5)

 

1. “It offers a conscience — salving, though inadequate, alternative for parents who neglect Christian teaching at home.”

 

2. “It has focused too much on children and too little on adults.”

 

3. “It may have so emphasized evangelism that it has neglected nurture.”

 

4. “It too often is used as a substitute for a total church program of nurture.”

 

A number of years ago a friend took a church in Nebraska. There were two separate buildings. The church met in one building and the Sunday School met in the other. He accepted the call to the church and began talking to his board about making some changes in the way the Sunday School was operating. He was promptly informed that the Sunday School was not his business. He was the pastor of the church. The Sunday School had its own board and superintendent that took care of their program. Another friend took a small work in Denver. The group met only for Sunday School. It took him several months to add a ten minute teaching time at the end of the Sunday School activities.

 

 

Paul never started with Sunday Schools, nor with kids. He always started with the adults.

 

e. The Church Is Not Israel: Saucy declares this point, “The New Testament never confuses Israel and the church. As opposed to the church, which is a religious body composed of individuals from all nations, the term Israel retains its reference to that people which came physically from the loins of Abraham.” (Taken from: “The Church In God’s Program”; Saucy, Robert L.; Copyright 1979, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission. p 70) This is a good distinction, yet I believe that it leaves out the proselytes that came to God through Israel in the Old Testament. These too were from all nations, even though they identified with Israel. They were considered Israelites, even though they did not come from the “loins of Abraham.”

 

Is there a better statement of distinction? Let’s try. The church is that group of people who are related to God through belief and faith, since the cross, as opposed to Israel which is that people that were related to God through belief and faith prior to the cross, responding to the promise of God to Abraham. Though similarities may exist, the two are distinct and are separate from one another.

 

Some would have us believe that the two are the same. Some bring forth Romans 9:6 as proof that Paul viewed Israel and the church as the same. “Not as though the word of God hath taken no effect. For they are not all Israel, who are of Israel….” If you examine the context it will be clear that this is not showing that some of the people in the church are also Israel — it is showing there is spiritual Israel and physical Israel.

 

Those who view Israel and the church as the same normally do so to place their followers under the law and the promises of the Old Testament economy.

 

The two are separate.

 

1.) The book of Acts portrays men of the church speaking of Israel separately from the church. Acts 2:22 “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:” (See also Acts 3:12; Acts 4:10; Acts 5:21; Acts 5:31; Acts 5:35; Acts 21:28.)

 

2.) Paul viewed them as separate. He, a man of the church, speaks, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, they might be saved.” (Romans 10:1) He distinguishes between “brethren” and “Israel.” In Romans 11:1 he declares himself, a Christian, to be a part of Israel, making a distinction between the two. Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:32 mentions Jews, Gentiles and the church as separate units.

 

3.) The fact that the term “Israel” appears only approximately twenty times between the end of Acts and the beginning of Revelation is indication enough that Israel is to be kept separate from the church.

 

4.) Israel is a nation while the church is a body, an organism, and an organization. The church is never referred to as a nation, yet this is the term used of Israel over and over again in the Old Testament.

 

5.) God at this time is dealing with and through the church WHILE Israel has been set aside and is not active with, or for God.

 

It must be readily admitted that the two are similar. The term “ecclesia” is used of both groups of people. We have seen that the term is applied to Israel in the wilderness in Acts 7:38, while also in Acts the term is used of the church (Acts 14:23). Indeed, the term is related to the church 112 times in the New Testament.

 

Why is it important to view the two as separate? To mix the two will lead to the promises and ordinances of the Old Testament being applied to the church and the blessings of the church being applied to Israel.

 

It will lead to misunderstandings in the area of future things. For example, who are the people that will be governed in the Millennium? If Israel and the Church are the same then both will be in the Millennium. If they are different then only Israel will be in the Millennium.

 

If they are actually the same then Paul was not able to communicate well, for he certainly shows a distinction between the two in his writings.

 

Results of mixing Israel and the church shows up in the teachings of: 7th day Adventism, British Israelism, Mormonism, and Covenant Theology.

 

 

f. The Church Is Not Big Business: Years ago a religious temple in downtown Denver occupied only a tiny part of two city blocks. Also on the property were several high rise commercial buildings. Two city blocks in downtown Denver — reportedly tax free because it was a part of the temple property. Other cults and isms are noted for their total or part ownership of large corporations.

 

g. The Church Is Not What Many Have Made It: Bruce Shelley in his “The Church: God’s People,” mentions a list of some myths of the modern day church meaning. He declares that the church is not just fellowship, not just invisible, not just doctrinal, not even a building, nor denominations, nor is it an influence on society. It is much more than many try to make it in our day and age. It is something special and unique in the entire world, and we keep it to ourselves all too often, not extending invitation to it to those around us.

 

To recap, the church is not: The Old Testament sacrificial system, A denomination, The Millennial Kingdom, A Sunday School, Israel, Big Business, Fellowship, or Doctrine. By the way, it isn’t a building either. As we rid ourselves of the false ideas, maybe we can focus on the facts — what is the church? It is people — specifically God’s people.

 

STUDY SUGGESTIONS

 

1. List all of the occurrences of the term church and determine which are speaking of the universal church, local church and in some cases you might find that the reference speaks of both aspects of the church.

 

2. Look at the five points of our definition of the church and find other scriptural passages that prove the definition that we have set forth.

 

3. Attempt to find other passages which show the church’s purpose is edification and evangelism.

 

FOR DEEPER STUDY

 

1. Read through the November 1989 issue of Moody Monthly. It is very interesting where some of our traditions came from.

 

2. See appendix one for a constitution for a church that follows the multiple elder form of government.

 

 

3. Request a copy of Radio Bible Class’ booklet “Who Qualifies To Be A Church Leader?” and read it. Great for ideas. (Radio Bible Class; Grand Rapids, Michigan; 49555-0001)

 

 

WHAT THE CHURCH IS

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

We have seen that the Greek word translated church is “ecclesia.” It is translated in the following manner:

 

1.) The “ecclesia” of a self-governing Greek city. Acts 19:32, 35, 39, 41.

 

2.) The Old Testament “ecclesia,” or gathering of national Israel. Acts 7:38.

 

3.) The New Testament “ecclesia.” 1 Timothy 3:15, 16.

 

There are around 112 more references to the New Testament Church, both visible and invisible. The meaning of Church, or the type of called out group, is determined by the context of the passage. “Ecclesia” comes from two terms, “ec” meaning out, and “clessia” meaning called.

 

In the New Testament usage there seems to be the idea of the people knowing they belong to the group that is called out. This does not require membership, but certainly allows for the possibility.

 

Membership in our day is a very real need. There is a need to keep the local assembly pure. If you have unsaved in the membership, you have the possibility of those unsaved becoming church leaders. This is not good. “Church” does not necessarily guarantee there are not unsaved present. In many of our mainline denominations entire congregations are probably unsaved. Even within Bible believing churches, we can accidentally allow unsaved into the fellowship. This is never on purpose and is always regrettable.

 

Let us try to define the term church. What is “church?” What are the minimum requirements to call a group of people a church?

 

May I suggest a definition? The church is the invisible union of all believers in this present age that manifests itself through local assemblies committed to the edification of the saints and the evangelization of the lost.

 

A complete study of the term church would be suggested for the student that would like to do further research. We will only list some of the highlights of such a study for your present consideration.

 

1. The church is Christ. Colossians 1:24

 

2. The church is a feeding place for believers. Acts 20:28

 

3. The church is showing God’s wisdom. Ephesians 3:10

 

4. The church followed the apostle’s doctrine. Acts 2:42

 

5. The church is set apart to God. 1 Corinthians 1:2

 

6. The church will be raised and glorified. 1 Corinthians 15:52

 

7. The church attests to, and serves Christ. 1 Peter 1:15

 

8. The church is an assembly of people. Acts 7:38; Matthew 16:18

 

9. The church seems to be involved in worship.

 

10. The church is catholic/universal. Colossians 1:6; Revelation 5:9; Ephesians 2:14-24

 

11. The church is subject to Christ. Ephesians 5:24

 

12. The church prayed. Acts 2:42; Acts 12:5; 1 Timothy 2:8

 

13. The church has the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19

 

14. The church had leaders. Acts 14:23; 20:17; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5ff

 

15. The church was ministering or giving. Acts 11:29, 30

 

16. The church is the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 1:23

 

17. The church sang. Ephesians 5:19

 

18. The church baptized new believers. Acts

 

 

19. The church was gifted. 1 Corinthians 4:17; 12:28, 29; Ephesians 4:11- 16; Acts 1:26; Romans 12:7; 1Timothy 4:11; 6:2

 

20. The church had all things common — voluntary. Acts 1-6

 

21. The church sent out missionaries. Acts 11:13; 13:1 ff

 

22. The church is of Christ. Matthew 16:18

 

23. The church is of the living God. 1 Timothy 3:15

 

24. The church is the holy temple of Lord. Ephesians 2:20

 

25. The church is a fellowship with those of like mind. 1 Peter 2:9

 

26. The church is the Bride of Christ. Ephesians 5:25

 

27. The church is the body of Christ. Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:12

 

28. The church is the dispenser of the mysteries of God. 1 Corinthians 4:1

 

29. The church has a head — Christ. Ephesians 1:23; Colossians 1:18, 24

 

30. The church is believers. 1 Corinthians 1:2

 

31. The church is God’s elect. Romans 8:33

 

32. The church observed the Lord’s table. 1 Corinthians 11

 

So, “The church is the invisible union of all believers in this present age which manifests itself through local assemblies committed to the edification of the saints and the evangelization of the lost.” These local churches are involved in many ministries.

 

THE CHURCHES BEGINNINGS

 

Just when did the church begin? This is a question that has been debated by many. Some suggest the day of Pentecost; others go further back to the sending of the disciples in Matthew 10:1, 7-10. Some suggest that John the Baptist started the church, while others suggest that it was when Christ breathed on the apostles in John 20:21, 22. The covenant theologian would view the church as the same as Israel and as such would not see a beginning of the church — only the beginning of the covenant with Abraham.

 

 

Hyper-dispensationalists would place it later than Pentecost while differing on just when it began. Some place it at Acts 10:44, 45 when Cornelius was converted. This dictates that only Gentiles are in the church. Some indicate Acts 13:2, 3 at Antioch, and some even go beyond the book of Acts for the beginning of the church.

 

The most widely held view in fundamental circles today would probably be the day of Pentecost view. (Acts 1:4; 2:41)

 

Let us consider some facts. The Lord saw the church as future in Matthew 16:18 which certainly place it after John the Baptist. The resurrection and ascension were essential to the founding of the church (Ephesians 1:19- 23). We see in Ephesians 4:7-12 that the spiritual gifts were also linked to the ascension, thus we must assume that the beginning of the church was after the ascension. The baptism of the Holy Spirit was yet future in Acts 1:5 thus indicating that the church was yet future there as well. The baptism of the Spirit seems to be linked to the beginning of the church, for it is at that point that the believer enters the body of Christ (Acts 2; 11:15-16; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:13).

 

In answer to the Hyper-dispensationalist we must refer to the above arguments and ask for logic in their thinking. Christ has made provision for salvation and is seated with the Father — a perfect time to take the next step toward the completion of the Father’s plan of the ages, the beginning of the kingdom in mystery form, the church. If Gentiles were required for the beginning of the church why didn’t some of the writers of Scripture mention it? The fact that the ministry of the Spirit to the Gentiles was the same as that to the Jews would indicate there was no need to wait for them. (Acts 2; cf. 11:15, 16)

 

The fact that the Lord told the believers to wait in Jerusalem indicates that He had something very special in mind before they continued their work.

 

The only reason to place the start of the church post Pentecost is so you can eliminate the need for baptism and the Lord’s table as church ordinances in this day and age.

 

 

NEW TESTAMENT PICTURES OF THE CHURCH

 

In the New Testament, we have pictures, or figures of the church that are of interest to us:

 

a. The Body Of Christ: The Church is pictured as the body of Christ many times in the Bible. Christ is pictured as the head of that unified body as well. (1 Corinthians 12:12, 14, 18, 21, 27, 28; Ephesians 1:22,23; 3:6; 4:4; 4:12,16; 5:23,30; Colossians 2:19-25; 1:18-24; Romans 12:4; Ephesians 5:23,24; Galatians 3:28).

 

b. A Building: The Church is pictured as a building and we are part of that building. (Ephesians 2:19-21; 1 Peter 2:11; 1 Corinthians 3:9-17; 2 Corinthians 6:16; 1 Peter 2:5-9; Ephesians 2:20-22; 1 Timothy 3:15)

 

c. Bride Of Christ: We are also going to be the bride of Christ in the end. We are being prepared and He will one day come for His bride. (Ephesians 5:25-27; 2 Corinthians 11:2, 3; Revelation 19:7)

 

d. The Flock: We are His flock. He has placed undershepherds over us to feed and guide. The idea of the shepherd and flock portrays a beautiful picture of His care over us. (John 10; 1 Peter 5)

 

Other pictures include Branches: John 15; Kingdom of priests: 1 Peter 2, Romans 12:1, Hebrews 13:15, 16; New Creation: I Co. 15:45, Romans 5:19; Co-heirs: Hebrews 1:2, Romans 8:17; Harvest: I Co. 15:23; Servants: Colossians 4:1, 1 Corinthians 7:22

 

REQUIREMENTS FOR MEMBERSHIP

 

Salvation followed by baptism, is seen in Acts 2:41 as an integrated part of being added to the Church. “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there was added unto them about three thousand souls.”

 

Acts 2:47 is presented at times, to show that baptism is not a requirement for Church membership. “Praising god, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved.” This text only records additions to the body and is not meant to be a process for membership.

 

 

Spirit baptism is the mode of entrance into the universal body thus it is logical that water baptism would be the mode of entrance into the local Church. (1 Corinthians 12:13) The texts in Acts dealing with the topic usually see baptism as preceding the adding of a person to the body.

 

A true conversion in the book of Acts immediately made the believer want to state they were separating themselves from Judaism, and they were identifying with the Messiah that had come.

 

There are no other requirements listed for Church membership. There are many other items that people require, but the Scripturalness of requirements other than salvation and baptism should be inspected very carefully.

 

Some question whether the idea of Church membership is valid. To these it is submitted that even if you do not have a membership or listing, you should have some sort of system whereby you assure that the majority of your Church is Christian. If you don’t then you will have unsaved people in leadership. If they become a majority in the body, they can control your Church organization as well as buildings and all that you might attempt to do.

 

It is Biblical, to most, to have Church membership, and it is logical even if you reject the Biblicalness of the idea.

 

THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH

 

The organism, or universal Church, is shown in Ephesians 2:19 where it is stated, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens but you are fellow — citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household.” We are a part of a household made up of all believers. One of the pictures that we looked at previously was the idea of the body of Christ. In that figure we can see the idea of the body, or Church, being a living organism. (1 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 1:22-23)

 

The Universal Church is seen in Scripture as the entire family of God — all those that truly believe. Entrance is gained via the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation.

 

 

Rather than spend a long time on this subject let it suffice to just list some characteristics of the universal Church, and the reference where the idea is found.

 

Its membership is diverse, but we have a common dependency. 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

 

The Church is seen as God’s dwelling place and temple. Ephesians 2:21- 22; 2 Corinthians 6:16

 

It is also seen as God’s flock. I Peter 5:2-4

 

It is obvious that Christ is vitally involved in the Church since He is the Head. It is also clear that the Church is His (Matthew 16:18). It is Christ that taught its first leaders (John 14-16 and the gospels). It is Christ that sent the Holy Spirit to empower it (Acts 2:33; John 16:7). It is His ascension that set the stage for His headship over the Church (Ephesians 1:20-23). It is His gifts that edify the Church (Ephesians 4:8-11). It is His work that will prepare the Church (Ephesians 5:26-27). He is preparing the Church for the rapture as the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-32; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; Revelation 19:6-9). Finally as we have seen, it is His body (Ephesians 1:22-23).

 

THE LOCAL CHURCH

 

The local Church is that body of people in a local area that have organized for fellowship, edification and evangelism. This local concept is seen in several of the introductions of Paul’s books to the believers at specific locations. This concept is also seen in the calling of the elders of Ephesus to meet with Paul in Acts 20:17. Many of the doctrines that we follow in the Church today are drawn from the books that Paul wrote to local Churches in local areas. The organization of the Church is seen in many verses where the officers are mentioned. 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5 ff; Acts 14:23.

 

2. PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH

 

1. Edification Of The Saints: Ephesians is a key book to this idea of the edification, building up, or maturation of the saints which is one of the main purposes of the Church.

 

 

Ephesians 4:11-16 “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;”

 

12 “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”

 

13 “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:”

 

14 “That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;”

 

15 “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ:”

 

16 “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

 

Let us list some characteristics of the Church from this text:

 

Certain men are gifted, certain men are given to the Church, edification, body concept, unity of the faith as a goal, knowing Christ as a goal, perfect man as a goal, fullness of Christ in the people as a goal, maturity as a goal, solid in doctrine as a goal, speaking truth, speaking in love, growing to be like Christ, and the body is to be FITLY joined together.

 

NOW, if we were to work on those items only in many Churches, we would have a full time job for many years.

 

It seems that Paul is depicting a cycle that is never ending. That cycle begins with the Church leadership training the Church members to do the work of the Lord. The members in turn as they are doing the work of the Lord lead unsaved people to their Savior, and introduce them into the Church where the Church leadership trains the new members to do the work of the Lord, etc. (see also 2 Timothy 2:2). This is a Biblical system of training, and education, yet many Churches would rather function on the basis of the Pastor can do it all, while we soak up all of his good messages.

 

The early Church functioned as Paul describes it and reached the known world in one generation. It must stir your imagination to envision a Church in the U.S.A. that began functioning as they ought. That is the one and only way that we will ever reach the world for Christ.

 

2. Evangelization Of The Lost: As we have already seen, edification will ultimately lead to the evangelism that is the second purpose of the Church. This is pictured for us by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 1:8 which states, “For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak anything.” (See also Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:18-20)

 

Some suggest other things that should be a part of the Church, but these actually fall into one of the purposes that we have been discussing.

 

Let us just list some of these other items: Show love for the Lord. Revelation 2:4,

“Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.”

 

Incite one another to love and good works. Hebrews 10:24,

 

“And let us consider one another

to provoke unto love and to good works,”

 

Care for the needy, do good works, and many others:

 

preaching, praying, singleness of heart, helping, witnessing, sharing, teaching, counseling, sending, testifying, teaching, baptizing, organizing, serving, fellowship, study, worship, singing, giving, praising, testifying, sharing, helping, praying, study

 

Another good study that we won’t delve into is to read the book of Acts and list characteristics of the Church. Some items of interest from the book of Acts concerning the Church:

 

 

They obeyed the great commission (1:8)

They were Christians (1:14)

They were organized (1:15-26)

They were empowered (2:1-14)

They were preaching (2:15 ff)

They were baptizing (2:41)

They were fruitful (2:41)

They were living rightly in all of their activities (2:42-46)

They were powerful (2:43)

They were sharing (2:44, 45)

They were praising (2:47)

They were persecuted (4:1-4; 5:17-28; 8:1-3)

They were bold (4:5-12)

They were united (4:32)

They were sacrificial (4:32)

They were holy and pure (5:1-11)

They were dedicated unto death (7)

They were forgiving (7:60)

They were spreading the Gospel (8:4 due to their scattering)

 

They reached the known world in their own time. Today you have over half the world to reach in your generation. My generation cannot do the task. My generation has for all practical purposes failed to reach our own generation. That is a very sobering thought if you can allow it to sink in.

 

Take a moment to draw a picture in your mind. At the top is God the Father, our caretaker. It is His will that we follow, and it is Him that we glorify. (Matthew 6:25-34; 12:50; John 14:13) A little lower and to the left you have a block marked God the Holy Spirit. God gave the Spirit for direction, comfort and power. To the lower right of God we have God, the Son. He is our savior, and is the Head of the Church (Ephesians 5:23).

 

Below the Father, we have a long rectangle labeled the Church that reaches down to a picture of the earth. The Church is the link between the trinity and the world. Without that link there is no way that the World can know of the salvation that God has provided.

 

 

GOD THE FATHER

 

 

GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT                                                                          GOD THE SON

 

 

C H U R C H

WORLD

 

If your picture is complete you have a cross connecting God with the world, which is quite appropriate. I would take liberty to use a quote that I have heard many times over the years, The Church is not Church unless “ur” in it. The Church cannot do the complete job that God has given it to do unless every believer is active in the Church. The individual is key to the evangelization of the world. God has chosen man to be the communicator of His truth (2 Corinthians 5:20).

 

Christ commissioned the apostles — and us — as believers to go to the world. (Matthew 28:18-20)

 

 

A number of years ago I came across some statistics concerning missions. (Ruth Johnson in “THE YEARS BETWEEN” I believe it was a tract)

 

Of 50 missionary commitments

 

38 never reach Bible school leaving 12

 

4 drop out of Bible school leaving 8

 

4 drop out when a field opens leaving 4

 

1 drops out before leaving, leaving 3

 

3 reach the field

 

1 will drop out during the first term 1 never returns for the second term 1 continues in missionary work.

 

Of the one that continues we must draw our mission directors and home personal.

 

Shelley in his book mentions, That the Church lacks zeal. he goes on to mention that many misunderstand the message. You can listen to many preachers of our day and realize that this is true. The Gospel message has so many additions to it that the lost person is confused by the confetti. He mentions, “Christianity without a mission, like fire that does not burn, is a contradiction in terms.” (Shelley, “The Church: God’s People”; p 113)

 

More to the point may be this — you call yourself a Christian. Are you a contradiction in terms?

 

Our reason for living is to glorify God, and our purpose as a Church is to evangelize the lost so they might be trained to do the work of the Lord.

3. THE GOVERNMENT OF THE CHURCH BASIC TYPES OF CHURCH GOVERNMENT

THAT ARE USED TODAY

 

There have been several types of church government developed over the years. These forms of government have some verses in the Bible that seem to back them up, but these systems normally overlook the plain teaching of the Bible and fail to deal with all the texts.

 

We will just introduce the reader to these systems of government and allow them to evaluate these on their own in light of the coming study on church government.

 

It is assumed that if the Bible does teach one form of government then that would be the system that the Lord would bless the most. Do not mistake this for a mass call for change of church government, but it is a challenge to consider this study and see just what the Bible does teach on the subject.

If you find yourself in a church that has a government that contradicts what you see, don’t leave because you now have “the revelation.” Consider what might be done to bring about change in your particular church. If you are in church leadership, don’t call for total, immediate change. We will consider some further cautions later in the study.

 

1. The Episcopal Form Of Government: This form of government is seen in the Church of England and the Episcopal Church. Some sources list the Roman Catholic Church however I would class it as separate.

 

This system can be diagramed as seen below.

 

Bishop

 

 

Elders

 

 

Deacons

 

People

 

Apostolic succession is the teaching which says that the apostles passed on their power and authority to others who passed on that power and authority to others, etc. until the successors of today. The Roman Church holds to this thought and this fact may be why some list them in this category. Episcopalian high Church people also tend toward this belief system. The Landmark Baptists in the Independent Baptist movement hold to a succession back past the apostles to John the Baptist.

 

The Episcopalian system started in the second century. They have a college of Bishops who are the superior clergy. They have pastors that are inferior clergy and the people only obey what comes down from the top. The denomination owns all property and can control the congregation via their investment in that property. This opposes the thought that what we give to the Lord is the Lord’s. If a congregation feel led to build a building, then that building cannot belong to the organization of Churches, but it is God’s.

 

The low Church people view the bishop as nice but not necessary. This is not uncommon in Church history. The people of the land and the working class often reject the authorities that attempt to place themselves over others.

 

2. The Federal Form Of Government: This system is found primarily in the Presbyterian movement. Calvin developed this form from his study of the scripture.

 

The session is composed of the pastor and elders of a local Church. The presbytery, made up of representatives of the Churches, rule a given district of Churches. The Synod owns and rules a larger district of Churches. The General Assembly is over all Churches. The denomination owns the property.

 

The people can have control over their Church through their representatives to the presbytery. They also wield some control over the denomination via their representatives.

 

The Bible teaches there was leadership. The federalist assumes that the apostles have a counterpart in our own day and age, which translates into their hierarchy. This is true in all of the systems that have a superstructure of organization.

 

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

 

 

 

SYNOD                        SYNOD          SYNOD          SYNOD

 

 

 

PRESBYTERY         PRESBYTERY

 

 

 

SESSION     SESSION     SESSION     SESSION

 

 

3. The Congregational Form Of Government: This system is usually used by Baptists, Evangelical Free, Disciples of Christ, and some Bible and independent Churches. (The Conservative Baptist Association is going toward the eldership rule form which we will see later.)

 

The Congregationalists make no distinction between elders and deacons. Indeed most have only deacons. If they see the position of elder it is usually the pastor and he being a single elder unless there is need of extra outside staff members which would also become elders. They hold to Christ Being the head of the Church, as well as the priesthood of every believer.

 

They hold that no group of men should have authority over the local assembly which translates into a rejection of denominations and the previous forms of government. The independent assembly owns and controls their own property. The pastor is ordained and administers the ordinances within the local Church. The deacons are to see to the welfare of the Church.

 

The congregation elects the officers and votes on major items of business. As the Church grows in size this voting usually is curtailed to more major expenditures/changes to save on the time involved in large lengthy discussions.

 

We will give some of the items of proof which they submit in support of for their system The scripture views the Church as responsible for things 1 Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 1:27; The fact that the whole Church is pictured as helping select officers Acts 6:3,5; 15:2,30; 2 Corinthians 8:19;

 

The fact that the whole Church is involved in discipline Matthew 18:17; 1 Corinthians 5; 2 Thessalonians 3:14ff; The pastor is the single elder Revelation 2-3. (“angel” There is much discussion as to the meaning of the term angel in the letters to the Churches and there is little proof that it is the Singular Pastor of the Church.); elder is singular and deacons is plural 1 Timothy 3:8-13 (However, we must point out that Philippians 1:1 mentions both in the plural. We might suggest a look at the number of plural appearances of elder as opposed to the singular references to the same term in appendix two.)

 

 

4. The Papal Form Of Government: This is the Roman Catholic system.

 

They have Cardinals, bishops, and Priests which have differing authorities as you descend down to the priest, local leaders and finally to the congregation. The Roman Church owns and controls all properties.

POPE COLLEGE OF

CARDINALS

 

 

 

BISHOP                       BISHOP         BISHOP         BISHOP

 

 

 

 

LOCAL PARISH

LOCAL PARISH

 

 

 

 

5. The National Church Form Of Government: The Church of England is the official Church of the land. This is true of the Lutherans in Scandinavia as well. The state has a Church and the head of the state is also the head of the Church. Leaders are appointed by an agency of the state. It has been the norm in much of history that these Churches are

dead, ritualistic Churches that minister to a very few. The masses enter the Church only for infant baptism, their wedding and then their funeral.

 

6. The No Government Form Of Government: Some believe they run with only the Lord as their government, yet if they have any planning or program at all they have government of some sort. Some go as far as to reject the idea of membership, constitutions, and doctrinal statements. Instead of these “forms” they allow anyone in regular attendance to vote on all issues and claim that the Bible is their doctrinal statement and constitution.

 

It has been my observation over the years that these Churches often produce a lot of believers that are very alive for their Lord, yet the Churches usually do not continue in existence for long. As they get bigger and grow, organization usually comes to some extent. Those Churches that do not grow often disband, scattering their people into traditional Churches where they often inspire some of the dead Christians to get involved.

 

7. The Elder Rule Form Of Government: This is a newer system that is closer to the Biblical form, but it has a few difficulties that are becoming evident. The system teaches that the elders are the paid staff of the Church and they run the Church. Their term of office is for life if they decide to stay.

 

This allows for much control of the people by one or a few men who have their Bible training.

 

The fallacy of this system is that in the Bible the lay people were the Church and the elders were lay people, not seminarians. The idea of a congregation forming a Church and setting up a building and then calling someone that institutes this type of government is not pleasant for the congregation. Indeed, there have been many Churches split over the issue in recent days.

 

ELDER

 

DEACONS

 

CONGREGATION

 

 

This form of government is similar to what you will be seeing in this study. The difference being that the elders are lay men with the option of having a paid teaching elder that is called from outside the Church. This is not to say that the teaching elder cannot come from the ranks of the lay people however.

 

8. The Elder Form Of Government: This type of government is something that is growing in popularity though there are few congregations operating under such a system. This form of government has some advantages which will become evident as we go through our study.

 

The system will be shown in brief at this point and then it will be developed as we continue.

 

 

The key to the system is that the elders are over the deacons and both boards are over the congregation. The congregation does have control over the boards. They can communicate with them; they are involved in the choosing of the leaders, they are involved in the financial end of the system, in that they are the final say on large expenditures.

 

There is an emphasis on the qualifications of the leadership. They are to fulfill the Biblical qualifications before they are appointed to a position. They are also chosen from men who “desire” the office.

 

This dictates that the Church is being led by “spiritual” leaders as opposed to leaders that may or may not want to be in the position and may or may not be spiritual.

 

The elders are basically the spiritual leaders of the Church and maintain general oversight of the assembly. The deacons are in charge of the physical aspects of the congregation and its properties. The system must be based on qualified, spiritual leaders to operate properly.

 

CHRIST THE HEAD

 

ELDER          ELDER          ELDER          ELDER ELDER     ELDER          ELDER

 

 

DEACON      DEACON      DEACON      DEACON

 

CONGREGATION

 

Within this structure the “pastor” or teaching elder is one of the elder board. He may or may not be the chairman of that board. You will notice that under Christ you have the entire congregation and this is the crux of the system. All believers in touch with their God and in tune with one another to function as a body.

 

Before we continue, let us look at some things that seem to be required in the Bible for the Church, and the different groups involved.

 

Here is a series of things that the scripture shows concerning Church government. It may not be an exhaustive list, but it will give several items which must be incorporated into a Church constitution to make it as close to Scriptural as possible.

 

CONGREGATION

 

1. The Congregation Is Involved In The Choosing Of Church Leaders: Acts 6:3-6. The leadership asked them to select out qualified men to be set aside to serve. This is specifically the first deacons. The apostles then took those set forth — prayed and laid on their hands.

 

We have no indication of how the elders were selected in the New Testament times. Paul appointed elders in the Churches that he planted. Since we have no process in Scripture for elders, it would seem logical that we should use a method consistent with the selection of deacons. The qualifications are set forth very clearly in the New Testament for these leaders with the key being, the elder’s desire, which we will see later.

 

2. The Congregation Was Involved In Church Discipline: 1 Corinthians 5:1-8 They were also involved in the man’s restoration in 2 Corinthians 2:6ff.

 

3. The Congregation Was Told To Obey The Elders. Hebrews 13:7, 17

 

“Remember them who have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God, whose faith follow, considering the end of their manner of life:” 13:7

 

“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, they may do it with joy, and not with grief; for that is unprofitable for you.” 13:17

 

Some today are adding the idea of the Old Testament “Lord’s anointed” to these two texts and teach that the layperson is not to interfere with what God is doing through His appointed men — pastors.

 

Let us observe some things that are presented here.

 

a. Obey and submit. This is the context of the word they have been giving forth. There is a responsibility for the congregation to listen to the word and to follow it. The last part of verse 17 shows that the elders are responsible for the spiritual welfare of the congregation. This is illustrated for us in Ezekiel where the priests are rebuked for misleading instead of feeding the people.

 

b. The “remember” of verse 7 probably is tied to the sharing of verse 15 which probably is monetary gifts to the ones that minister the word.

 

You might observe that “do good” is equal to sharing so you might remember money isn’t all that counts.

 

c. The congregation is to consider the elders’ manner of life as an example.

 

d. The term “them” in both verses shows plural, not singular elders. There are to be plural elders in a Church.

 

4. The congregation is to discipline elders if there is sin. 1 Timothy 5:19, 20

 

 

SCRIPTURE AND LOGIC CONTINUED

 

There are also some logical things in which the congregation should also be involved.

 

1. Large expenditures or major changes in direction of the Church.

 

These are logical in the fact that if they all oppose the major expenditure and don’t give to it how can the leadership hope to accomplish it? If they are opposed to the change, again there will be no support.

 

The idea of the priesthood of the believer is very active in this area. If the congregation is opposed to an item that the boards have determined to do, then there is one body or the other that is not really tuned into the head of the Church — Christ.

 

2. Since every believer is a priest before God then it is logical that congregational input to the leadership should have some power of direction unless it is clearly against Scripture.

 

The leadership should find direction for the Church by proper use of the Scriptures. If the congregation is in opposition then it is up to the leadership to show from the Scriptures why they are correct and the congregation is wrong.

 

ELDERS

 

The elders seem to be the spiritual side of Church leadership.

 

1. They Should First Of All DESIRE The Office of Elder: 1 Timothy 3:1, mentions, “If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.”

 

If there is no real desire, how can there be a real drive to do the job as it should be done? As I observe human beings, I see the person who desires to do something usually is successful. It is also observable that if there is no desire there is hardly ever success.

 

 

Why do we place men in places of leadership when they don’t want to be in those positions?

 

2. It Is A Good Work To Be Desired: 1 Timothy 3:1 Some might feel that if a person goes after a position in the Church that he is seeking status and position. Not so. God set the standard through Paul and God says that He desires leaders that desire their work.

 

3. Some Of The Elders Teach: Hebrews 13:7; 1 Peter 5:1-4. Not all need to be teaching but all should be “apt to teach.” The idea of Ephesians 4 is that the Church leaders are training the people to do the work of the Lord and some of those leaders are teachers.

 

4. Some Are Paid For Their Ministry: 1 Timothy 5:17, 18. “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the grain; and, The laborer is worthy of his reward.”

 

This ties the elder to the rulers of Hebrews 13:7, 17 by the way.

 

This is not to say that he must be paid. It says that he should be given honor. The verse also mentions eating as part of the thought.

 

In many of our smaller Churches around the country the people have little money to share with their pastor, but they do have produce and meat from their farms and ranches. Many pastors know just how helpful these things are when the salary is small, and this is a perfectly permissible part of “honoring” an elder. This isn’t to say that a mechanic couldn’t do something in his line or a TV man in his. There are situations where a congregation cannot pay and this is all right. The elder will serve on a voluntary basis or leave. Many pastors today work full time to serve their congregations. Indeed, this is more to the scriptural end of things. The FULL TIME paid pastor is a relatively new thing. The elder of Paul’s time was one that did it as a sidelight to his normal work. It may be that we should get back to this sort of standard. It would give the teaching elders more freedom to step on toes. A paid pastor often views his security of job along with his toe stepping and as a result uses foam rubber shoes. (see 1 Corinthians 9:7 also)

 

 

The elder is not to be in the position for the money. 1 Peter 5:2. I fear many today are in this very situation of seeking money, and I believe they will suffer lose when the Lord returns to reward His people. 1 Peter 5:4.

 

5. There Are More than One: 1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:7, 17; Acts 20:17.

 

Some set forth the Revelation messages to the 7 Churches as addressed to the pastors of the Churches as proof there is only one elder. Revelation 1:20, “…The seven stars are the angels of the seven Churches….” and 2:1, “Unto the angel of the Church of Ephesus….” and the other Churches’ introductions are to the angel of the Church.

 

The first problem is that very few scholars are sure what the angels are. Are they angels, are they representatives, are they pastors, are they….? We don’t know for sure. It is just as possible that it is the teaching elder from each Church. We can draw nothing about numbers of elders from these texts.

 

6. The Elders Are To Direct The Church:

 

By oversight: Acts 20:28.

 

By rule: Hebrews 13:7.

 

By example: Hebrews 13:7; 1 Peter 5:3.

 

By shepherding: 1 Peter 5:1-4 “oversight”

 

By feeding: 1 Peter 5:2 (directing is not in the context; however the proper feeding from the word will bring about leading and directing.)

 

7. They Are Not To Be As “Lords” Over The Congregation: 1 Peter 5:3 In short they are not to be dictators, and they are not to think to highly of themselves. There might be a side to this thought for the congregation as well. The congregation should not think to highly of their leaders either. Not to say they shouldn’t look up to them, but to hold them high may encourage the leader to raise his own thoughts of himself to high.

 

8. They Are Held Accountable For Their People As A Shepherd: Hebrews 13:17.

 

 

Any man taking the position of elder should consider this item of business for some time before taking on responsibility. When a man takes on a position of elder he also takes on the responsibility of the office for the people. This should never be done quickly.

 

9. They Are To Be Examples: Hebrews 13:7 It should be obvious they should be “good” examples. It is shocking to me that some Churches now are asking that prospective pastors give permission for the Church to get a credit report on the prospect. This tells me that those Churches have had one or more poor examples in their past. It also shows a basic mistrust of all pastors — brothers in Christ — which is inappropriate.

 

10. They Are To Feed The Sheep: Acts 20:28 Now to feed sheep the shepherd must find some food. Many pastors are preaching sermons that have absolutely no nutritional value what so ever.

 

11. They Are To Take Heed For The Sheep: Acts 20:28 There is an element of watching for their safety. This may require warning them from time to time. This might be done from the pulpit of possibly in some cases personally. The warning must come if there is danger.

 

12. They Are Selected From The Congregation: Acts 14:22-23 This is where Paul returned to the Churches that he had started and ordained elders. Some say there were probably Jews well trained in Judaism in the congregations and that these are the ones that were ordained. I would tend to agree however they were lay people in the Church. Today we have many lay people that are quite well prepared to lead in Bible studies and are capable of leadership. If a person has been in a Sunday school class regularly for many years he has all of the training in the Bible that he needs. He might need some teaching courses to help him understand the “how to” of teaching, but even this should be in place if he has been awake in the past.

 

13. They Were Ordained: Acts 14:22, 23 there seems to be an approval system of some sort in the ordination process for Paul exhorted Timothy to lay hands quickly on no man. 1 Timothy 5:22

 

Scofield note 2 on page 1306 sums up the elder very nicely. Read it if you can get a copy. (Scofield, C.I., “The New Scofield Reference Bible”; New York: Oxford University Press, 1967) He is clear that there was a plurality of elders, and that they were to rule, teach, guard the Word, oversee the church, etc.

 

We have seen that the elders are to care for the flock and seem to be concentrating on the spiritual side of things. We need now to move on to the office of deacon and its responsibility.

 

DEACONS

 

The deacons seem to be the physical side of Church leadership.

 

1. They were designated originally to serve tables or the idea of distribution to the needs of the people Acts 6:1ff. They may have had responsibility for money and the purchase of food etc.

 

2. Stephen, one of the first deacons is later stoned for the sermon that he preached before the Jews (Acts 7). Preaching deacons are not wrong. Indeed, in many Churches the deacons do the ministry at the rescue missions in cities. If they have the ability, they should be given the opportunity. We will see more concerning the spiritual gifts later, but we might mention at this point that the elders and deacons do not have all the gifts. There may well be a teacher that is not a part of the Church leadership, and that teacher should be teaching. God gifts the local assembly with the gifts that are needed for the work that He has for the GROUP to do.

 

3. Epaphras was a praying giant of sorts Colossians 1:7; 4:12. He is called a servant which is the term for deacon. History tells us that he was a deacon in his Church. He was a messenger as well, so did work for the Church.

 

It should be remembered they are responsible for maintaining the physical aspects of the Church ministry, but this is not to say that the congregation and elders shouldn’t be involved in “cleanup day” if at all possible. This would be part of the elder’s example. Indeed, the thought in our current mentality is that if there is someone specified for a job then heaven forbid that I get involved. For example, if a Church has a janitor the people automatically can’t clean up a mess — that is the janitor’s job. Not so. All believers should get involved in any way they can.

 

 

While teaching at a Bible Institute, I was honored to know a man that had a unique concept for living and serving. He felt that if he saw a job that needed doing, it was his job to do. He practiced this principle, and you never knew what you would find him doing next. Anything from planting flowers to vacuuming the floor.

 

More could be said of Deacons, however most governments recognize this office. The only difference would be they should not have the heavy spiritual leadership they have in most Church government systems.

 

In keeping with what has been given previously there are many things that each group is to do.

 

Logically speaking there are some other things that the groups should do for the operating of the Church.

 

1. The elders are to give general direction to the Church however, within the confines of the congregations dictates.

 

Example: If the congregation is determined to be evangelistic, then if the elders decide that an evangelistic campaign is needed, it would be the congregations place to do all they can to assist in the work. If the evangelist that the elders have hired is a rank liberal then the congregation should say no and let the elder board know they are all for the campaign but with a good evangelist.

 

2. The elders should oversee the deacon board and its activities. Not to dictate what they do but to make suggestion of direction and to keep tabs on their activities, making sure they are following the desires of the congregation.

 

3. The Deacons should assist the elders in carrying out their desires for the Church. If the elders plan the evangelistic campaign then the deacons will be responsible for housing, feeding, and paying the evangelist, as well as many other details.

 

4. The Deacons should be able to have input into the elder board concerning the direction of the Church and be able to share what they hear from the congregation.

 

 

5. The congregation should have input to both boards concerning needs and desires. This should be available on an informal basis with the members of the boards or possibly through written notes to the chairmen of the boards. A congregational meeting from time to time for exchange of information should be used to open communications among all three groups.

 

6. The deacons should have a certain latitude in spending for the upkeep of grounds etc. Large expenditures should be submitted to the elder board for presentation to the congregation.

 

This would indicate a need for monthly meetings of elders and deacons for mutual business and information.

 

A safeguard between boards might be to have a representative of each board exchanged to the other board to be a non-voting member and each reporting to his own board of the activities of the other. This would be a good check and balance to the operating of the boards.

 

7. There is an overall need of Spiritual — Trustworthy leaders as well as a Spiritual, Trusting Congregation.

 

4. THE ORGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH

 

Elder (or bishop) We have included a complete Scriptural listing of the terms elder, elders, deacon, and deacons in Appendix two for your convenience.

 

This term has five Greek words which show the different aspects of the office.

 

1. Presbuteros” Or Elder: This term is used in reference to the Old Testament elders that were in place in the Jewish form of religion during Christ’s time. Matthew 26:59; Mark 11:27.

 

It is used to show an “older son” Luke 15:25; of officers of the Church — elders Acts 14:23; 16:4; in reference to elders in the heavenly scene Revelation 4:4; 5:14; and of older women 1 Timothy 5:1. In light of the Old Testament concept, it may well relate to age in years as well as in spirituality.

 

 

2. Episkopos” Or Bishop (Used five times in the New Testament): Acts 20:28 “the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers”; Philippians 1:1 shows the office with deacons; 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:7 shows the listing of qualifications for the bishop; 1 Peter 2:25 pictures Christ the shepherd and bishop or overseer of our soul.

 

These two terms (“presbuteros” and “episkopos”) are used of the same office. Titus 1:5 elder and 1:7 bishop. Some submit that bishop pictures the functioning of the office and the term elder is the title of the position. The elder then oversees or bishops the group of believers.

 

They also ruled 1 Timothy 5:17; taught the truth Titus 1:9; and took care of financial things Acts 11:29, 30. This shows that the elders have some control of the financial end of the Church. Since they seem to be the general oversight of the body then they probably should have ultimate say concerning money.

 

3. Poimeen” Which Literally Means To Pasture The Sheep: It is used of a sheep type shepherd Matthew 9:36; 25:32; of the pastor teacher in Ephesians 4:11; and of Christ the shepherd of our soul 1 Peter 2:25.

 

4. “Kerux” A Preacher to a Congregation: 1 Timothy 2:7 shows that Paul was a preacher; 2 Timothy 1:11 indicate that a preacher may not be a teacher; 2 Peter 2:5 tells us that Noah was a preacher.

 

5. “Didaskalos” Teacher: Romans 2:20; 1 Corinthians 12:2; Ephesians

4:11; Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5

 

We now need to consider the question, “How Many Elders?”

 

Since the early Church met in homes some believe that the plurality of elders was in each house Church. Each assembly had plural elders. Others hold that the plural elders are to be viewed as the elders of several Churches within a city, each assembly only having one elder. Thus when the plural is used the author is speaking collectively of all of the singular elders from the individual Churches in a specific location. (If there were ten house Churches at Jerusalem, then elders would mean the ten pastors of those ten Churches.)

 

Revelation 2-3 would be cited to show this and they would hold that the angels of the Churches were the elders.

 

 

The text which shows Paul returning to the Churches which he started deals with elders in the plural and in the time frame indicated it would seem unlikely that he started more than one Church in each town thus indicating that each assembly had more than one elder. Indeed Acts 14:23 states, “And when they had ordained elders in every Church….” Another text that seems clear there were plural elders is James 5 where it speaks of calling the elders (plural) of the Church (singular).

 

B. Deacon is the Greek term “diakonos.” It is translated servant 20 times and minister 7 times. The usage seems to indicate a concentration on the temporal, secular and social care of the Church Acts 6:1-6.

 

It was a specific office rather than just people who were serving for we see in Phil 1:1 they are linked with elders, “with the bishops and deacons:”

 

Acts 6:1-6 shows the first deacons and the selection process while 1 Timothy 3:8ff lists their qualifications.

 

C. Deaconesses: This is a controversial topic of discussion if you would like to start a good argument in some circles. Some say Titus 3:11 speaks of a 3rd office, that of a deaconess. It seems better, however, to the unity of the text to call these wives of deacons to me. Verses 1-7 speak of bishops, verses 8-10 speak of deacons, and verses 12-13 speaks of deacons. Why break into a list of qualifications for one office to insert qualifications for another and then revert to the first office?

 

The only other indication that it was an office is Romans 16:1 where Phoebe is called a “servant” and this is the word “diakonos.” This need not prove an office, for Paul may just have been telling the reader that she was a real servant.

 

We don’t really have any solid proof that it was an office or that it was not an office. Let it suffice to say, find your own feelings and act accordingly. If you have an office for deaconess then have them be qualified in a similar manner to the deacons. If you do not feel comfortable holding to an office of deaconess then don’t have one.

 

May I suggest, however that you have women that do the work of a servant in your Church. You don’t have to call them deaconess but allow women that desire to serve the Church to do so. The local Church would be hard pressed to function if it did not have some good old servants that love to do for the Church.

 

LEADERSHIP CONSIDERED

 

Hebrews 13:7 “Remember them who have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God, whose faith follow, considering the end of their manner of life:” Hebrews 13:17

 

“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, they may do it with joy, and not with grief; for that is unprofitable for you.”

 

Are we bound to the New Testament principles of organization?

 

It’s Culture You Know.

Does it matter if we are not following this form of government? Churches have been working for centuries in all different forms of government which seem to work adequately.

 

Whether God specifically blesses a Church that is following a scriptural form of Government or not would not be provable, though it has been observed that some that shift to the Biblical form of government do blossom.

 

It would seem logical however, if God has specified a certain system then He would bless those that follow it. It would seem that we would want to be as close the New Testament principle as possible.

 

Possibly some practical applications of the duties of the offices and congregation would be of help in understanding the outworking of this system.

 

The elders would give general oversight which would include setting goals, standards and desires for the Church. They would be responsible for seeing to it that the Church is being built up and educated properly. They would be there for helping the congregation with spiritual problems and questions. They should make up a good portion of the teaching staff in the Church. This includes not only the youth but the Sunday School as well. I can’t envision a better Sunday School staff than the elder board of a Church. They are the spiritually mature part of your Church so why not use them to edify the saints?

 

The deacons on the other hand, would be the overseers of the building, grounds and the congregation’s needs. The congregational needs should include financial, physical and mental. If there is a problem in the way the Church looks, then the deacons should care for it. The deacons are usually given a fund of money they can use for the beneficent needs of the congregation. They would organize and supervise work days, and see to it that the building and grounds are kept. They would gather and care for the collections of the Church, and see to the proper use of those funds, under the eye of the elder board.

 

The congregation can just sit back and let the officers do all the work. Correct? probably true in many Churches, but not correct. The congregation should be involved in prayer for the congregation, they should assist the officers in any way they can, and they should be ministering to one another. They are the witnessing arm of the Church and should be bringing new converts into the Church.

 

WARNINGS

 

1. Do not — I, repeat do not go out and try to change the first Church you come to, into an elder form of government.

 

2. Think about the things that we have spoken of in this study. Chew on them. Put them on the shelf awhile — then think and chew some more. As an old timer once told me, “Chew and spit.” Look this information over and consider it and refine it and then when you are sure that you are on Biblical ground begin to act on the conviction that the Lord has set in your mind and heart.

 

3. Study this out for yourself and be sure that what has been set forth is correct.

 

4. Pray loads before doing anything more than think and study.

 

5. If the Lord would seem to move you toward change in your Church, Do Not — I, Repeat Do Not go to your board and say we are going to change the Church government. They will ask you to find another Church.

 

 

6. If you are a pastor and want to begin moving toward change, pick a book of the Bible that will allow you to step off into Church government at times in your lessons and sermons. Acts would probably be good. Just teach what you have found scripture to teach. As time progresses you will probably see some in the Church that will start tracking with you. Let this be their decision to change. Let them suggest a good study on the subject. If the people don’t pick up on it step lightly and move forward. Quick change is NOT the answer. There have been Church splits because men have gone in and instituted change before the people was ready for it.

 

We need to move onto the important part of our study of officers and examine their qualifications and qualities. There are Biblical standards that the officers were to meet and we should be asking the leaders of our Churches today to have those standards in place in their lives.

 

We will look first at the Biblical qualifications, and then we will look at one man in the Bible that gives a few of the qualities that Church leaders should have. Both qualifications and qualities are important.

 

A. QUALIFICATIONS OF CHURCH LEADERSHIP

 

As we approach our study of the qualifications for Church leaders we should remind ourselves of two texts. 1 Timothy 3:1-14 and Titus 1:6-9. Please take time to read these texts before you proceed.

 

We will look at the Timothy qualifications first and then we will look at the Titus standards.

 

Vs. 1. “This [is] a true saying, if a man desires the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.”

 

Q. So if we are being so Biblical in our Churches, why don’t we have bishops? The office of a bishop is a good work. (Overseer New American Standard Bible same as the elder of the Church.) This is the Greek word “episkopos.” It has the idea of taking the lead and care of the sheep.

 

In New Testament times the Churches had elders Plural. Usually, one was in overall charge. As I view the Scriptures, the elder is the highest office of Church leadership. The pastor is an elder if you have a hired pastor. The spiritual leadership of the Church is in the elders.

 

 

Some Churches call the pastor elder, and the deacons are the board of the Church. Some have the elder as pastor, the deacons as spiritual leaders under the elder, and a trustee board to care for the material items of the Church.

 

As we discuss elders I am in my mind speaking of the pastor and board. The teaching elder or pastor should be an integrated part of the elder board and the deacons should be separate from them. The deacon board then is the part of Church leadership that cares for the material end of things.

 

Paul mentions the desire of a good work in one verse and uses six verses to show the spiritual qualifications for the work.

 

As you think of this verse just how would you describe the man who “desires the office of bishop?” What does the term desire communicate to you?

 

The term desire seems to have the idea of really exerting effort toward something that you want or want to do. Something that you work for or something for which you will give of yourself.

 

It would seem that this thought would eliminate most Church government ideas where the men are nominated from the floor, or nominations in any manner. The desire would indicate to me that the man really wants to do this ministry and lets others know of that desire. It would require that those in charge be knowledgeable of this desire as well. As they see the desire then they should evaluate the possibilities of this man taking on the position.

 

Evaluation should be made on the basis of what we will be seeing. The qualifications seem to require more than just a “yes” when asked to take the position. The evaluation should include the man that has the desire. He should be honest and open as to his qualifications in all of these areas before he looks to seek the position. He should also be open to the input of the leadership as to the needs of his life. They may see some failings that he needs to work on.

 

This idea is shown very nicely in relation to the workmen of the tabernacle in Exodus 36:2, “And Moses called Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whose heart the Lord had put wisdom, even every one whose heart stirred him up to come unto the work to do it:” God moved the men to minister.

 

There are fifteen to seventeen qualifications depending on the translation of the Bible you use.

 

Vs. 2 “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach;”

 

Just a side note before we begin the list, we might submit that all of the terms in this listing are masculine. The term overseer and all the adjectives are in the masculine. This would be a strong indication that women are not in view when it comes to the office of elder.

 

This is becoming more and more important in our day and age. There are many Churches moving toward the use of women in leadership. I have observed a number of women as chairperson of pulpit committees as well as on boards of Churches.

 

1. Blameless: “above reproach” according to the New American Standard Bible. (This will be abbreviated with “NASB” from this point forward.)

 

Literally it is “not to be laid hold of” — the type of life that no one can lay charge against or gossip about. This is nearly impossible because the gossiping person will always be about their business. This idea of blameless would mean that the man lives a life that leaves little to gossip about. Many pastors are beset by nasty rumors. A 50 year old bald, overweight, and not very good looking pastor resigned his Church few years back to start a new Church elsewhere. The rumor was that he left because of a girlfriend up in the sand hills. A part of this sort of situation is for the congregation to see to it that the gossips are stopped as soon as possible.

 

Blameless should be not only in the Church but with the lost as well. In seeking leaders this may require talking with neighbors and co-workers to find out how the man is viewed by the lost people that he associates with. This can be done by mail or in person. It should be a good indicator of the person’s true spiritual walk.

 

Some have suggested that this means that the person must have had a blameless life from childhood. I asked one of these people if that meant that a converted drunk could not become an elder. He replied that this would be true. To those I submit Genesis 5:21-22 which tells that Enoch did not walk with God until he had his first son. This man was translated because of his walk with the Lord. “And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:” Surely a converted drunk can walk with God as well.

 

He should have a very good testimony in the community. Someone that is respected. Someone that isn’t in trouble or behind on his bills.

 

2. Husband Of One Wife: This is literally a “one woman man.” There have been several interpretations set forth over the years for this phrase:

 

a. Married to the Church (Roman Catholic).

 

b. Prohibition of polygamy. This was held till 325 A.D. and is very much a part of the thought of the text.

 

c. Prohibition of unmarried overseers. There is little evidence that this is the case, although having a family and the congregation being able to view his control of it would be of great help in evaluation.

 

This is a serious consideration in many situations, but not necessary in all situations.

 

1 Timothy 4:3 mentions that some of the false teachers were suggesting celibacy as something to be desired. “Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.” Paul mentions that these are doctrines of devils.

 

d. Prohibition of divorced overseers. There is some discussion on this thought, though I think most conservative people hold to this being a prohibition of the divorcee due to the fact that he has not ruled his house well if he has failed in his marriage.

 

e. Prohibition of a widowed deacon remarrying. (Paul says marriage is okay after the loss of a spouse however, so this position would not fit.)

 

 

f. One other possibility has been taught in recent years. “Not a loose type man,” or “a one woman at a time man,” which of course allows for divorce and remarriage of elders. This is a recent addition to the menu of excuses to skirt Scripture and allow people the freedom to do as they please rather than as the Lord directs.

 

A “one woman man” is the idea of this phrase. That is one for life at a time. If his first mate dies and he remarries, he would be eligible.

 

A man that has been divorced has not had a properly functioning family and is not eligible. Some suggest that a divorcee that was remarried after he was saved would be eligible. This would depend on how you view the Lord’s teaching on divorce and remarriage. He seems to leave the impression that those that remarry are involved in adultery. Since adultery is intimate relations outside of the bounds of marriage it would seem to be a continuing thing. It doesn’t seem logical that a Church would want a man in the position of elder, which was in continuing adultery.

 

3. Vigilant seems to have the idea of being self-controlled. Someone that is not controlled by outside influences. The term is also used in 1 Timothy 3:11 (sober) and Titus 2:2 (sober). The elder should be someone that is on the serious side about what he is doing. He should be in proper control at all times. One that is of this nature will be open to see problems arising, to see trouble as well as see good things coming and good things to do.

 

The American Standard Version adds orderly — as opposed to disorderly. I have seen some Church leaders that were about as messy as messy could get in their offices. A messy office often reveals a messy mind. When in Bible College I needed to talk to the president of the school so knocked on the door. I heard a lot of shuffling and groaning from inside the office. Finally the door opened part way. I could see through the door that the floor, shelves, and desk were covered with little piles of paper. I told the president that I needed to speak with him. He asked me to wait for just a minute. Some time passed and finally the door opened just enough for me to get into the office. What I hadn’t seen through the crack was that the rest of the office was also covered with little piles of paper. The delay in allowing me in was due to the need to clear a path to a chair at the other end of the office. We were seated at opposite ends of the office surrounded by paper. He apologized and explained that he was cleaning his desk off.

 

 

He had not filed papers for some time and he was trying to finish the task. He was in need of some organizational skills.

 

By way of comment we might mention that women can be a witness just by keeping their houses orderly. The home atmosphere reflects the home attitude.

 

The idea is that this elder should be orderly in life rather than a person who is known for chaos.

 

4. sober is “prudent” in the NASB and depicts someone that is fully rational or well balanced. This word also is translated discreet. Being careful how your mind runs seems to be the thought. (“sophron” = Titus 1:8, sober; Titus 2:2, temperate)

 

An elder with a messed up thought pattern will be leaving himself and his Church open to problems. If he is constantly thinking of money or women, there will be an improper balance in most of what he does. He should be stable in mind. He is not easily swayed by error or false doctrine.

 

5. of good behavior or “respectable” as the NASB translates it. An elder that can’t keep his hands off the women is taboo. We were in a Church were one of the men was always hugging, patting women on the back and generally being touchy. Some of the women felt uncomfortable with the way he was. Some of the husbands also felt uncomfortable. There was nothing wrong with the man or his behavior, yet the actions detracted from the congregation’s view of him.

 

He must have a proper lifestyle before his fellow believers and the world or community.

 

6. given to hospitality or willing to share their home with people.

 

In the New Testament there was a great need for this in the Church. Visiting Christians would not want to stay in taverns and inns with all the brawling and drinking, so they would turn to the believers of the community for housing. There also seems to have been itinerant preachers that needed a place to stay. (I2 John 5-7)

 

 

I was told of a couple that was a member of a small Church in the Midwest that in seven years since the pastor had come to town they had not been in his home, though they had entertained the pastor and family in their own home several times.

 

Some pastors on the West Coast will not even offer to house and feed missionaries that are coming for meetings.

 

The elders home should be open as much as possible to Church members, visitors and the unsaved as well.

 

One pastor of a Church where we had visited a time or two came running out after Church to catch us before we drove away and invited us to dinner on a certain night. We were excited until we arrived and found that it was a demonstration dinner for a new cook ware. We had to sit through the sales pitch, and endure the atmosphere which we would not have chosen. This was not hospitality.

 

7. apt to teach “able to teach” according to the NASB. This text does not teach that an elder should be teaching, however it would be a good idea. An elder should be willing and wanting to teach within his assembly, if there is time in his schedule. This is not only in Sunday School, but in Bible studies, the pulpit, etc.

 

This is the only skill in the list and it should be noted that preaching is not required. This qualification not only portrays an ability but it also includes desire. If a person desires the office, then they should be known for their ability to teach beforehand. If a person cannot teach, don’t write them off, train them.

 

Some in recent day try to redefine this to mean teachable. The thought is not in the text, though the idea is not a bad one for the elder. Anyone in leadership should be open to the idea of learning from others. If the elder is closed to new teaching, then he will not be open to being corrected if he should have problems.

 

Vs. 3 “Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;”

 

8. Not given to wine or “not addicted to wine” NASB.

 

 

The thought is not long alongside wine. He should refrain from alcoholic beverages. Drinking is not acceptable to the Lord, the Church or the world.

 

We have always taken a strong view toward drink of any kind. This is partly due to the fact that I was very close to alcoholism as a young man. I also see drinking as a very poor testimony to anyone that might know of it. Even within my own home, I have no desire to even have alcohol in the house. I would trust that this would be your view as well.

 

I spoke with a pastor in the Midwest that had confronted a member whose house some teenagers had stolen liquor from, about his involvement with alcohol. The teens were in an accident because of the drink. The attitude of the member was, “Pastor, you get lost. What I do in my own home is my business and not yours.”

 

9. No striker or “pugnacious” NASB.

 

He is not to be given to acts of physical violence. This term is derived from a word meaning to flatten. Not taken to the fists to settle disputes. He should be able to settle things peaceably and quietly.

 

I was in a Church service one evening when the pastor finished his service with, “Does anyone have anything to say or add?” One of the women of the Church challenged him slightly on one of his points. She did not push the subject but one of the board members did. He pushed it until he was on his feet and he and the pastor were arguing, somewhat heatedly. They did not come to blows over it, but the appearance was not much better than blows.

 

In our society there is the thought that the elder should not be a striker with words. Words can be just as devastating as blows from a fist. The elder should control his temper and actions as well as his tongue.

 

10. “but gentle” NASB adds this term but it is not in the KJV. It seems to have the idea of being kind toward others.

 

These two (no striker/but gentle) hint that the outward demeanor or appearance at all times should be on the meek side, and not of the aggressive nature. The elder should have his demeanor under control at all times. This requires that he be walking with the Lord at all times which will normally require a daily — early morning quiet time, and some periodic adjustments throughout the day, to his spiritual life.

 

11. not greedy of filthy lucre or “free from the love of money” as the NASB translates it.

 

The Church should watch for their pastor. They need not make him rich, yet they should watch for his welfare if they are going to have a full time pastor. The pastor should also look to the welfare of their congregation. If they see that the Church is struggling, then maybe a part time job would be the answer. Don’t let money control your life because it will ultimately control your Church as well. Greedy has the idea of really desiring the money. Spending time trying to figure out ways of getting money.

 

The term filthy lucre is up for some discussion. Just what does it mean? Is it dirty money, or is it the idea that the greed for money is filthy, or is all money filthy? The thought of money being filthy has some real possibilities, because it tends to pollute so many people. Actually the term filthy is left out of most translations. Even the New King James leaves it out. This would indicate that a strong desire for money is all that is meant. This seems to be even stronger in that any desire that is above normal is wrong. The elder ought not be in the ministry for money nor indeed, be in love with money. A well balanced budget will help keep this problem away from the pastor.

 

The pastor that is willing to work outside the Church is probably one that desires to shepherd.

 

I recently heard of a pastor that took a Church and for several years kept hitting on the board for raises. Several a year, until the board had to ask the man to leave.

 

Someone spoke of a Church in the Midwest which had two pastors receiving $77,000 a year total. The Church was growing but the Church did not want to build at the moment. The pastors refused to do two services on Sunday morning because they wanted their way. This is not logical and it is putting the Church in a bind if they decide to go ahead and build before they feel they are able.

 

 

12. patient is in the King James but not the NASB. It seems to indicate the idea of being able to wait for things to come to pass. Wait for the Lord in all things. Don’t get in a hurry. Don’t be extravagant or radical in anything (Except God and His program). He should show patience with all people including the membership. This means the nasties, this means the meanies, this means the gimmies, this means the sickies, this means the problemies, and this means the normalies. Again this is going to take the quiet time and adjustments of the spiritual life that we mentioned earlier.

 

By the way these things aren’t hard, for the Holy Spirit automatically brings many of these about when we are controlled by Him. The fruit of the Spirit are as follows: (Galatians 5:22-23) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

 

13. not a brawler or “uncontentious” according to the NASB. Don’t go looking for arguments. You’ll find enough without looking. This probably extends to the thought that he is willing to give up his rights in a problem. This is not easy for us in our self-centered, my rights society, but the Lord asks this of His Church leaders and we should ask the same of our Church leaders.

 

14. Not covetous this seems to include all things. This means money, things, other Churches, others attendance, etc. Being content with what God has given you and not your neighbor. God is quite capable of giving you what He wants you to have.

 

Vs. 4 “One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;”

 

15. One that ruleth well his own house or someone that controls his house and family well. He achieves obedience of his children in this way. Stands as head — runs it as head. Having a chain of authority with him at the top. The man should be able to control his children. If his children aren’t saved and turn out bad it is not a disqualification in this area, unless he has neglected the family spiritual training. He should be able, however to control the children. Their salvation is up to God, and their life’s decisions are theirs.

 

 

One pastor that I met had one good son and one poor son. The poor one was rebellious to a point — didn’t care for Church — long stringy hair — very rough type. Didn’t turn out a pride and joy BUT, he was under subjection. One look from his father and foolishness or wrongdoing was stopped. He was always in Church. He seems later on to have turned out okay. He bothered some people, but they were not seeing the whole story — only the outward trouble. Before you condemn a pastor for a bad teen see if he has him in subjection. This is the requirement — not that all kids turn out as super saints. The result of a good pastor is not 100% spiritual on fire Christian children.

 

The father can only teach, guide and exhort. He is to stand before the family as its leader and guide. (Ruleth is the Greek word “proisteemi” — Strong’s number 4291) and is seen in Romans 12:8 as ruleth; 1 Thessalonians 5:12 as “are over”; 1 Timothy 3:12 and Titus 3:8, 14 where it appears as “to maintain.” Subjection is the term “hupotagee” (Strong’s number 5292) and is seen in 2 Corinthians 9:13 as submission to the Gospel; Galatians 2:5; 1 Timothy 2:11 as women learning in subjection.)

 

QUALIFICATIONS

OF CHURCH LEADERSS CONTINUED

 

The thought of “children” is not necessarily that of a small child. The term is used of young to old. (Matthew 9:1-2, man; Matthew 2:18; 3:9, children under two; Romans 8:16, adults are children of God; Colossians 3:20, children obey your parents; I Ti 1:2, 18, Philemon 10, Onesimus.)

 

Vs. 5 “(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the Church of God?)”

This shows the why of verse four.

 

The term house may imply, as well as controlling the family as the context speaks of, but also the material things. Some Christians today are deadbeats. This ought not to be so.

 

Vs. 6 “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride and he fall into the condemnation of the devil.”

 

16. Not a novice or not a new believer. This should be evident, yet Paul seems to feel that it is important.

 

 

The indications are that this new believer when given authority would be lifted up with pride. Indeed, the problem with young men that are given high positions is pride quite often. The text is not limited to age, but to maturity in the Lord. An older man that is immature could well fall into pride also.

 

Paul usually appointed elders on his return trip through towns, thus it would seem that this spiritual maturity was with reference to the maturity of those around the elder. He might not have to be very mature in Christ if most of the people were new converts and very immature.

 

The elder should be mature and knowledgeable enough in the word to “teach” those he would shepherd. Many automatically view a young person as not mature enough to pastor a Church. This may or may not be so. I have seen some young men straight out of college that have more sense, wisdom and maturity than many older men who I have seen in the pastorate. Judge the man on his maturity and not on his age. This is what Paul tells Timothy in 4:12 where he says, “Let no man despise thy youth….”

 

The thought of “lifted up” seems to be related to raise smoke or to blind with pride as smoke blinds those that are close by.

 

I think that I can truthfully say that I have met very few pastors that come across as being proud. Some may be underneath, but on the surface I see very few. I do see many arrogant men in pastorates. Something they are better than they are, but when it comes to the idea of being proud of their position, I think most know they are there because of God’s desire and know that pride is inappropriate.

 

It would be interesting to know why so many take this qualification so seriously when they fail in other areas.

 

Vs. 7 “Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”

 

17. Good report to non-Christians (my paraphrase). We had a pastor many years ago that didn’t spend much time around my father, yet my Dad held the man with a very high regard. I met a doctor from that town many years after both of us had moved away and the doctor asked me of the pastor’s whereabouts. He wanted to see him after many years. That pastor had a good report with the nonbelievers of that town.

 

Other pastors (many, I fear) in business dealings are very blunt, bold and blusterous. They expect super deals and super service. These do not have good report with non-Christians. I was told of a pastor in a small town where business people hated to see come into their business establishments due to his caustic behavior.

 

Lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. To be the man that does not really have the good report with the world is to be in the middle of the snare of the devil. There will be little that the person can do in the community or even the Church.

 

We recently heard of a man that pastored in a small town were the people had the rule of no soft drinks in the school auditorium — even during sporting events. He thought that was a dumb rule and entered the auditorium with a coke. The public was not impressed with his “freedom to drink coke.” The man was not able to minister to the town folks and it left a black mark against the Church that hired him.

 

I would like to break here for a comment or two about the elder’s wife. The deacon’s wife is mentioned in the coming text and has some qualifications laid out for her. It struck me as to why the elder’s wife did not have qualifications?

 

I must admit that from time to time I waver in my thinking as to whether there was an office for deaconess. This lack of qualifications for elder’s wives would indicate that the thought of the text is that wives of elders and deacons have no qualifications, and the text speaks of another office. This is quite possible.

 

There are five qualifications in Titus that are not here and I would like to cover them briefly.

 

a. “not self-willed” which indicates a man that is willing to give in a conflict. He is willing to bow to what is right. This is not only with men, but must be a part of the man’s spiritual life. He must be willing to bend for the Lord.

 

 

b. “not soon angry” indicates that anger may be around, but it takes an awful lot to bring it to the surface.

 

Patience must be long and when it is worn out there may be anger, but

even if there is anger it is controlled and it does not lash out. It is anger that can be beneficial in a compulsion to do what is needed to be done in a proper manner.

 

I recall in a board meeting watching for an hour, or so, as the men involved, wandered around not knowing where they were going. I finally in frustration began talking and evidently the tone of my voice carried with it a hint of anger. I was not angry — just very frustrated at the waste of so many men’s time. I gave direction to the meeting though the chairman would not.

 

c. “a lover of good men” shows that the elder should be an enjoyer of those that walk with the Lord. This means to love even when there are some faults around. Many pastors miss this one because they can’t handle someone else in the limelight. The elder should gather around himself some good men for training and fellowship.

 

d. “just” means just what it says. Just is the God we serve, and just must be the elder or elders that we serve. Just in all of your dealings be they with saved, lost, nasty, cheaters, etc.

 

e. “holy” is the idea of set apart for God’s use. The man of God must be set aside for the Lord’s use and must have a life fitting that thought. I can’t imagine trying to attend a Church where the pastor was known to be in sin. It is illogical for any pastor to feel that he can continue on in his office and be living in sin.

 

There is one other phrase in Titus, one that is of importance. Verse 9 states, “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught….”

 

This means that the Church determines if what he holds is proper. Not only what he holds, but what he has been taught. There is a difference. A man might hold what you hold, but have been taught other things that might crop up in his later life and ministry.

 

A pastor in the Midwest had been taught in a school that held other than proper doctrine. He seemed straight as possible when he was hired as pastor. He was influenced by some other pastors that he knew and as he pastored and studied some of his wrong doctrinal teaching began to make sense to him and it filtered into his preaching and over a few years he had led the entire Church from a position of fundamental, dispensational Christianity to a nondispensational position and out of the fellowship of Churches that the Church had been in.

 

Don’t just check what he believes, but check what he has been taught. If he comes from a questionable seminary, then the questionable may well surface someday. Be very careful.

 

Vs. 8. “Likewise [must] the deacons [be] grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;”

 

“Likewise” would indicate that the deacons will have qualifications just as the elders had. These are required and not optional.

 

The deacons have to do with the material side of the Church, but can be involved in spiritual as bold witnesses. One of the first deacons was Stephen and we know that he was soon preaching and giving his life for the Lord.

Within the material ministry there can be a spiritual ministry as well. Can you think of a way that you could minister spiritually within the context of material ministry?

 

a. Working with someone on a building allows for interpersonal relationships and a time when the deacon could well get into witnessing, counseling or just encouraging. When the pipes break in the winter and someone is struggling to get them fixed, an encouraging voice could be just what the worker needs.

 

b. Sharing of funds or help from the Church with poor or needy will be a prime opportunity to share the thoughts of the Lord in encouragement or witness.

 

c. In asking for help from members of the Church you are allowing others to serve their Lord. It may well be the start of their desire to go on into Church leadership.

 

 

1. Grave: Grave seems to indicate they are mature and act like it. It relates to the fact that his life brings about the respect of the people. This is a positive term followed by negative terms. The negative may qualify what is meant by the positive term. This does not mean that he must be void of a sense of humor, but that he controls his sense of humor very carefully.

 

2. Not Double Tongued: Telling two different stories would be a similar idea. This includes, I think, saying you’ll do something and then not doing it. In short the person would have to be classified a liar and this is not consistent with good leadership. How could you ever trust what the man said?

 

There is in our day the idea that telling only a part of the truth is equal to telling the truth. When a person leaves out part of the information to lead another to think something other than the truth, then we have what should be called a lie. Many today give only the information they want you to have — that is not being truthful.

 

3. Not Given To Much Wine: This seems to be the thought of addicted to wine. This in its context was a call, not to abstinence, but to moderation. Wine was a common beverage at the time, but to indulge overly was definitely wrong. In our own day the problem of alcoholism is rampant

and the need to drink wine for liquids in the body is not true. We have good clean water available and there is no need to drink wine.

 

Raymond in his book mentions, “If an individual by drinking wine either causes others to err through his example or abets a social evil which causes others to succumb to its temptations, then in the interests of Christian love he ought to forego the temporary pleasures of drinking in the interests of heavenly treasures.” (Raymond, “The Teaching Of The Early Church On The Use Of Wine And Strong Drink”; New York: Columbia University Press, 1927 p 88)

 

We are all “free” to drink now and then, but we are not free to do so because in our day and age we need to limit our Christian liberty in this area so that we are not a stumbling block for others.

 

4. Not Greedy Of Filthy Lucre: This indicates that the deacon should be in the office because of a call and/or a desire not because of money. When I told my father I was going to be a preacher he said, “Well, I guess there is money in that.”

 

Vs. 9 “Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.”

 

5. Holding Mystery Of The Faith In A Pure Conscience: 1 Corinthians 2:7-10 indicates this is those things revealed to the Church age saints. (hidden before) In a pure conscience — how could you honestly preach if your conscience wasn’t clear about what you believed? There are times when situations arise that force the minister of God to choose between what his conscience tells him and what the world or the Church asks them to do.

 

It is very difficult to decide due to the fact that when you go with your conscience, those around you will very seldom understand what you do. They may even become verbal in their disagreement with you. Your conscience must be God’s conscience and then you know that your decision is correct.

 

Vs. 10 “And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being [found] blameless.”

 

6. They Should Be Proved Or Tested: “ALSO” indicates that the bishops are also to be proved. This is done in the local assembly and not by a group of pastors called in from here and there to examine a young man to see if he’s worthy. The thought of ordination is not in this text. The elder and the deacon are to be people from the assembly and as they live and work in the local Church the Church leadership and people will know the type of person they are. Acts 13:1-3 shows this concept in action. “Now there were in the Church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”

 

No examination can guarantee how a man will build a Church. A man I knew that was a part of God’s calling me into the ministry could have passed any test I could have given him. He was a good pastor and good preacher, he was an encouragement to my life, he was a Dallas student, and all that knew him felt that he was good pastoral material. A short time later he fell into liberalism. Not that he had bad teaching, but he began reading wrong teaching and began believing the things that he was reading.

 

7. Let Them Be Deacons Because They Are Blameless: Again the idea of blameless. The testimony of Church leaders is critical to the Church as well as to the Churches witness. Anyone that cannot live up to the standard set should excuse himself from his duties immediately.

 

Vs. 11 “Even so [must their] wives [be] grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.”

 

Enough has been said as to the deaconess/wife controversy. The fact that the information is inserted at this point in the context would indicate that these are women that are involved in the ongoing ministry of the Church. If you have women involved in the ministry that do not come up to this standard, then they should be asked to remove themselves from the ministry they are involved in. “not slanderers”: Literally “not devils” which should indicate the thought that a slanderer is working for the god of this world and not the God of the believer. I think that we all know what a gossip can do to a person or a Church. They can ruin many years of good work in a single mouth full. A pastor we knew was accused by one of the women in the Church of making obscene phone calls. She had no proof and there were very few that believed her, but within a few months that man’s ministry was ruined in the town and he was forced to move on for the Churches’ sake.

 

Sober minded”: Again the thought of controlled mind and manner would seem fitting. The mind of someone controlled by alcohol would be the contrast. The idea of temperate or moderate in things would be involved also I would think.

 

Faithful in All Things”: In her marriage, her Church work, her mother’s role, and everything. She should be faithfully doing the things that she is involved with, and doing a good job at it. If she can’t do the good job in all areas of home life, then she probably shouldn’t be involved in the Church, for her home will suffer.

 

Vs. 12 “Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.”

 

 

We are now back to the deacon’s qualifications again.

 

8. Husband Of One Wife, Ruling Children And Houses Well: These are the same as for bishop which we have covered.

 

Vs. 13 “For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

 

9. Great Boldness: This good standing is obviously in God’s eyes, then the Churches and families eyes but there is a certain standing before the community that is enjoyable for the deacon and beneficial to the Church itself.

 

In fact a deacon doing his job appropriately will give a good standing to the God that he serves. Oft times in obituaries the man’s community and Church activities are included. Some European mortuaries used to include a detailed report of the man’s activities in life.

 

More importantly is the “great boldness” that comes with serving. As we serve we gain confidence in what we are doing, in the fact the Lord can use us and we become more confident to do more and more things for the Lord. If you have good standing in the Church and community, you will have confidence and boldness.

 

Vs. 14. “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.”

 

These verses show the reason for this letter being written. Paul is writing to tell Timothy how to conduct himself and Church business.

 

I would like to ask a couple of questions that might bring the reader to draw some conclusions to our study. The questions will have some possible answers included.

 

Why are so many pastors leaving their Churches and missionaries leaving their fields today?

 

 

1. They know they miss the mark set here. (Often not entirely their own fault. Many times they have never been forced to look at the listing and evaluate themselves before the Lord as to their qualification.)

 

2. Some cannot live on the salary. This may be due to their expensive taste, or it may be to the small salary. Some Churches feel that their pastor is a servant and he should suffer for Jesus. So, they help him suffer. Most Churches today are doing quite well for their pastors if not too much. Some do all they can and the pastor works on the side. This is not the best, but it works well if needed.

 

3. Many are grossly dejected because of the coldness of Christians concerning Christ’s work, and the non-Christians toward the gospel.

 

Why are the pastor’s kids always some of the worst kids? (Or are they just viewed as the worst?)

 

a. They are always under a microscope.

 

b. The other children are always more perfect than the pastor’s kids.

 

c. It is not unnatural for a child to stand against authority, even in their parents. This must be treated for what it is so they learn that it is not correct.

 

d. The father quite often neglects his own household. This is why it is good to have a board, and a pastor that will respond to one another. If the board sees a problem coming, they can advise the pastor.

 

e. The wife may also be overburdened with Church activities to the point that she doesn’t take proper care of the children. The pastor should be watching this and correct it if need be. With a list like this maybe you should be praying that your pastor have these requirements in place, and equally important, that he stay on the straight and narrow.

 

We see here in 1 Timothy 3 that the Church is organized and has leaders. This is a stiff standard to live up to. I personally know of only one Church that requires their elders and deacons to consider their qualification before accepting office. There are probably more, but I know of only one that has it as an integrated part of their constitution.

 

 

They take several months to go through a qualifying process which includes:

 

1. Letters to neighbors and fellow workers as to their spiritual life.

 

2. Talks with the spouses by the existing board.

 

3. A time of consideration of each qualification. This is a study of the word, a time of prayer and a talk with the board, and then they move on to the next qualification. This usually takes a week or so per qualification.

 

4. A time for the congregation to respond with negative and positive comments about the person.

 

5. A time of congregational prayer.

 

6. A final talk with the board.

 

If a person does not qualify they are asked to work on the areas in which they are lacking and try the process the next year. At the time we left that Church there had been no one that took office the first time through. Each found areas they felt inadequate in. It is easy to say, “yes, I qualify for this,” but it is another to consider it seriously before the Lord and your fellow man.

 

Is there a different standard for the pastor and the average Christian? Is this a standard for only the elders and deacons? I would submit that this is

the standard for every born again believer. Each and every one of us should have this as part of our goal for our spiritual life. The term goal is the difference. The list is a goal for most believers; however the list is a requirement for the elders and deacons of the Church. These things should be in place when they take office.

 

Most of these terms used as qualifications for leadership appear elsewhere in scripture as goals for every believer. We won’t go into a detailed study of these, but will list the terms and some references for the reader to consider.

 

 

 

 

 

Blameless: 1 Timothy 5:7

ELDERS

 

 

Husband Of One Wife: Romans 7:22

 

Temperate: Titus 2:2, 1 Timothy 3:11, 1 Peter 5:8

 

Sober minded: Titus 2:2, Titus 2:5, 1 Timothy 2:9

 

Given To Hospitality: 1 Peter 4:9

 

Apt To Teach: not used of all Christians

 

Not Given To Wine: This should be obviously one for all believers even though the Scripture does not use the specific term in relation to all believers.

 

No Striker: Used of the elder only, but the principle applies to all. 1 Peter 3:11 we’re told to seek peace — turn the other cheek. Etc.

 

Not Greedy/Lucre:  Hebrews 13:5, 1 Timothy 6:10

 

Patient: Philippians 4:5

 

Not A Brawler: Titus 3:2

 

Not Covetous: Hebrews 13:5

 

One That Ruleth House: Ephesians 6:1-4, The Proverbs, “rules” entails husband-wife relationship Ephesians 5:23

 

Not A Novice: only usage of this term however all Christians are called to maturity by Paul, 1 Corinthians 3:3, 2 Peter 3:18, Galatians 6:1 speaks of spiritual Christians

 

Good Report: 2 Thessalonians 1:10 Paul and others had a good testimony which helped convince Thessalonians. Romans 12:18 live peaceably with all men.

 

DEACONS

 

Grave: Proverbs calls us to honesty, Philippians 4:8 calls all believers to think on things honest, Titus 2:2 calls old men to be grave, 2 Corinthians 13:7 is not the same word, but calls for honesty

 

Not Double Tongued: only usage of the term, John 8:44 may relate.

 

Blameless: 1 Corinthians 1:8

 

 

When you call a pastor consider these biblical qualifications not other qualifications such as good with youth — good preacher (not required of pastor teacher) — good illustrator — good looking — good dresser.

 

The Biblical qualifications should be in the pastor so that he can be an example to the other Christians so they can be maturing toward this list.

 

 

B. QUALITIES OF LEADERSHIP

 

Qualification may not mean quality

 

We can see some of the qualities that should be a part of church leadership by taking a few moments to look at Epaphras. He appears very few times in the Scripture, yet there are many qualities that can be seen in these references. (Colossians 1:3-8; 4:12, 13; Philemon 23. Another reference that might give meaning to Epaphras is Acts 20:28.)

 

I would like to give a short introduction to this study to set the stage for the thoughts we need to have. Let’s say that you want to buy a car. Let’s say that you have enough money to buy any car that you want. Let’s say that you are setting out to buy that car of your dreams. Let’s say you are standing before the car salesman and you are about to tell him just what you want him to order. Let’s do that for a moment and let ourselves be worldly for a moment. Yes, I’m telling you to be worldly for a moment. ONLY A MOMENT.

 

What kind of car is it? What color is it? The salesman has a list of all the possible options — what are you going have him put on the car? What radio will you have? On one of the news magazines they showed cars with stereos in them that cost more than the car. What engine will you get? What color will you order?

 

Now that the dreaming is over let’s think for a moment. If you had the money, if you had the desire, if you were committed to having this car, would you accept delivery of a Maroon Chevette? NO.

 

If you were to set down a list of qualifications and desires for your church leadership, would you settle for something less than you ordered?

 

You say no, but I believe that many churches today are accepting a standard that is much lower than they desire… Either they are accepting less than they want, or else their desires are far from Biblical.

 

The Word gives a great number of Qualifications for church leadership and we all hear of these from time to time taught from Timothy and Titus, however the word also sets forth some Godly men as examples of some of the Qualities that these men should have.

 

 

In this study I would like to explore some of these Qualities Of Leadership with you. I would like to look for a few moments at Epaphras. No It Is Not A Skin Rash.

 

Epaphras was a man of God that the Holy Spirit moved Paul to include in the Biblical record only so very briefly. He is mentioned only three times — only five verses deal with Epaphras yet we can see within these few verses a real man of God.

 

Indeed, We Will See A Number Of Leadership Qualities

 

Colossians is a book written by Paul during a stay in Rome under Roman guard. It was written about the same time as Philemon, Ephesians, and Philippians. We want to look at the first few verses.

 

In the passage we see that Epaphras was a soul winner (vs. 5). The indications are that he had given these people the Gospel. He may have started the Church. Some think that he may have heard Paul when Paul was at Ephesus in Acts 19:10.

 

Not only was he a soul winner, but he was a teacher or discipler (vs. 5-7). We see here a pair of qualities which need to be used as a path to maturity for new believers.

 

Many of the evangelistic organizations today suffer in this area. They lead the person to Christ but never bother to teach them anything of the Christian life nor do they bother to lead or direct them to a sound church. In my own life, the man that led me to the Lord did not attempt to disciple me and as a result, I went into the Navy and became a typical sailor. I often have wondered how my life might have been different had I been taught some of the basics of the faith.

 

We see that he was also a faithful Minister (vs. 7). One who held the body of believers as important — always there to help — to minister to needs

— Not far off or unapproachable.

 

He was a servant (vs. 7). This man was a servant of Christ. “A servant of Jesus Christ is one who has been bought with a price and is therefore owned by his Master, on whom he is completely dependent, to whom he owes undivided allegiance and to whom he ministers with gladness of heart, in newness of spirit, and in the enjoyment of perfect freedom, receiving from him a glorious reward.” (William Hendriksen, “Exposition Of Colossians And Philemon”; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1964, P 191)

 

This man was a servant of Christ “On Our Behalf” Some translations read “your” but the concept is the same. He served Christ to THEIR benefit. He wasn’t in it for what he could get or be. We met a man in Oregon that was planting a church. He was making his living pumping gas. He worked at the gas station and worked with the church for eight years. The church was his life and all that he did was to further the church. He was in it so that he could benefit those he ministered to. In this case Epaphras was ministering to Paul in prison so he was benefiting Paul.

 

We have four qualities so far (soul winner, teacher/discipler, faithful minister and servant). You might ask, “what is the difference between qualifications and qualities?” Qualification has the idea that the person has the abilities that make him appropriate for the job at hand. Qualified is the idea, while quality has the idea of the type of person that is in view. What he is like with people, how he relates to problems, or the nature of the person. Good qualifications relate to the ability to come to a standard, but qualities relate to the quality of person that is under consideration. Let me give you a couple of examples. We had a maroon Chevette once. It had the qualifications to be a car but its quality was questionable. It had four wheels, a motor, a body, seats etc. but the dealer had it more in the first 90 days that we did. There is you see a difference. It qualified as a car, yet it was not a quality car. (To be fair to the Chevrolet Co., We put 180,000 miles on our Chevette before it was totaled by a big Caddy that suffered NO damage.)

 

Let me illustrate the distinction that I am making in another way. While in the service I was the only experienced electronic technician on the ship. Indeed the only tech. One day we received fourteen men just out of electronics school. Our ship was only allowed five or six men, so I decided that I would have it made with this many men under me. Not so. These men were qualified as technicians — they had passed all the tests at school indeed some of them had very high grades in their classes. However, the quality of workmanship was very poor — in fact within a month the ship was a total mess electronically. We went into the repair yards for a few

 

 

weeks and it took me every spare moment to get all of the problems cleared up. Qualified? Yes — Quality? No, Not For Many Months.

 

Epaphras seems to have been boastful of his church (vs. 8 “also declared unto us your love in the Spirit”). He had been speaking to Paul of his church and its Good Points. We were in a small church in central Oregon a few years ago that we have spoken to many of our friends about. It was a church that had an overabundance of talented, excited, dedicated people. I could mention the fact they met in an upstairs, that it was to small, or the fact they didn’t have a piano but I didn’t. I always tried to emphasize the positive, for it was a very uplifting experience to have been in the church. The positive was what was on Epaphras’ mind. Indeed, if you read the rest of the book you will find that the church had problems which Paul addressed. Epaphras was excited about his church. He was telling others of his church.

 

Our church people today need to get hold of this one. Dwell on the positive. Do you tell others of your church? Are you making declarations about the great people there, or do you dwell on the problems?

 

Let’s turn now for a moment to Colossians 4:12-13. We see that Epaphras was a local boy (“one of your number”). Why haven’t we taken this idea to heart in our Churches today? When we need someone to work with the youth we so often look outside our own assembly. A Church in the Midwest took one of their own as their youth man. Why not? They are used to the pastor, they fit right into the fellowship, and the kids know them already. They are already accepted in the community. You know their life, their doctrine, as well as their faults.

 

The New Testament Church operated for the most part on people from their own group. All Church leaders came from within, not from without. Not only for youth workers but why not for pastors or elders as your Church government dictates? Train the men of your Church so that when the pastor moves on you have a home grown replacement on line. Send him to college if you need to. Some would complain that when he is trained he might go someplace else — so what you’ve trained a man to serve God. Train another. You don’t need to finance him totally, but help as you can.

 

 

One Church in Oregon that we’ve been to has laymen that are so trained by their pastor they can, and do go out to fill the pulpits of Churches without pastors. Their pastor is committed to training his people to do the work of the Lord as Ephesians 4 tells us to do.

 

Epaphras was committed to Christ (Bondslave — “servant of Christ”). He had placed himself at his Lord’s disposal for his Lords use. When I think of servants of God that were sold out I always think of Stephen in Acts 6:24. He was a deacon, but he soon preached to the Jews and finally died at their hands in Chapter Seven. He was sold out to serve Christ.

 

Paul seems quite impressed with this man. Philippians 23 “Epaphras my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus”; Colossians 1:7 “minister of Christ,” “dear fellow servant”; Colossians 4:12 “Servant of Christ.”

 

I fear that commitment is a passing thing in our society and in our Churches. I have in recent months heard of several men turning down Churches because of financial deficiencies in the Churches pay package. Finances should be involved in deciding if God is calling you to a Church, but it should not be the deciding factor. Someone in chapel while I was at Frontier School of the Bible mentioned a man that was leaving his Church because he wasn’t making enough. His salary was $48,000 a year.

 

Epaphras was thoughtful. He knew that Paul was writing to them so he asks him to greet them for him. This shows a certain amount of feeling toward the people. Epaphras must have liked the people and felt that he wanted to greet them. God is interested in men that are interested in their people — truly interested

 

He was a prayerful man. Paul didn’t need to mention this in his letter, but he was impressed enough with Epaphras’ prayers, to encourage the people on with the fact that someone was praying for them. One of the encouragements we’ve had over the years is knowing that so many are praying for us. We used to send out more than 200 letters to enlist the prayers of the saints when we were missionaries — we needed it.

 

Paul, to the best of my knowledge mentions no one else as a prayer. He was impressed. By the way can you imagine going to prayer in a prayer meeting with this man and Paul present?

 

 

Let’s look at his prayer life for just a moment or two.

 

Consistent: “always” — specific choice to do it on a regular basis. Luke 18:1 “Men ought always to pray and not to faint”.

 

Specific: “for you.” I ran across something in a Theological Journal awhile back. “A story is told about an old pastor who every Saturday afternoon could be seen leaving his study and entering the Church building by the back door, and about sundown he would be seen going home. Someone’s curiosity was aroused enough to follow one day and watch through a window. It was in the days when the family pew was an institution of the Church. The old pastor was seen to kneel at each pew and pray for every member of the family that was to occupy it on the Lord’s day. What A Prayer List. He called each member by name as he poured out his heart to God for his flock. His was a ministry of power and his people reflected the grace of God on them. Blessed is that Church which has such a praying Shepherd.” (from Bibliotheca Sacra; P 60; Jan-Mar 1979, Dallas Seminary) We need people committed to pray for the people they minister to.

 

I ran across a quote from Charles Haddon Spurgeon that relates well at this point. “The minister who does not earnestly pray over his work must surely be a vain and conceited man. he acts as if he thought himself sufficient of himself and therefore need not appeal to God. Yet what a baseless pride to conceive that our preaching can ever be in itself so powerful that it can turn men from their sins and bring them to God without the working of the Holy Ghost.”

 

I was at a Church in the northwest where the pastor was preaching on commitment and in his invitation he mentioned that he had prayed for each one in his congregation before the service.

 

I had spoken in a small town Church in the Midwest and the pastor insisted on filling my gas tank. He filled the tank and we talked for a while at the station. We said goodbye and he started walking toward his house. I told him I’d take him home. He said, “No, I’d rather walk.” I insisted — he said, “No I’d rather walk — I know the people along the way home and I like to pray for them as I walk by their house. Some of them are lost and I want to pray for them.”

 

That is the type of men we need in our pulpits today.

 

 

Sincere: “striving” This word comes from the athletic arena — it is used of the athlete’s intense effort in reaching for the prize. It is used of the “agony” of Christ’s prayer in Gethsemane (Luke 22:44) just before his arrest.

 

I watched the iron man triathlon a few years ago and they showed a woman that was near the finish line. She couldn’t control her legs and couldn’t walk so she ended up on her hands and knees crawling across the finish line — that is agony. This term “strive” is the term from which we gain our English word “agonize.” It was more than just a five minute quite time. He was agonizing over these people.

 

Purposeful: “that ye may stand” It has been said, that if the Church is ever going to be victorious it will have to learn to advance on its knees. Prayer Is Needed Today To Say The Least.

 

We see that Epaphras had a concern. He was very concerned with their need of maturing.

 

He was sincere. Paul knew that this man was on the level — he wasn’t just putting on a front to impress the folks. Some Christians I meet today — Church leaders — are so caught up in their airs they don’t listen to the answers you give to their questions. This is quite evident when you answer the same questions twice in your first conversation. I recently overheard a conversation between a leader and a not so regular attender. The leader would ask a question and in the middle of the answer the leader would be interrupted and then when he returned to listening to the man he would ask another question. The man had not finished his first answer. This went on for about four cycles and finally the man walked away. The leader was not at all interested in the man — only in pretending to be interested.

 

We had a missionary over for dinner. He would ask a question and as you paused between sentences of your answer he would ask another question on another topic. A couple of times I went back and finished an answer then answered the next question in the hope of his picking up on what he was doing. He didn’t.

 

Some today feel a lull in the conversation is a mortal sin. Personally quiet is not all that bad at times indeed sometimes it is appropriate.

 

 

I recently heard of “Leather Man” in the eastern part of our country. He was a man of the past. He was a man that never talked to anyone. He wore a heavy leather outfit and would not take help from anyone. He would eat from time to time when people offered. He had no known past and lived in caves in the wilderness. He never was known to speak yet people, both children and adults would walk out to his camp and just sit with him by the hour. Silence Is Golden At Times.

 

In Alaska one of the Indian tribes enjoy just sitting around in a circle in silence. They enjoy one another without talking.

 

I sense also there is one more quality in this man. He was Missions Minded. He was on the forefront of missions. He was working with Paul and seemingly involved in Church planting.

 

I fear many today fail to see past the end of their own lives when they look at the harvest fields. Few today are directing and leading their Churches toward missions. Many are stunting their Churches growth and prosperity by stunting missions.

 

Missions is to be a vital part of all our lives. If you aren’t praying for, and supporting missions then you aren’t in the mainstream of God’s program

— you are on the outskirts and many Churches there are on the outskirts.

 

Epaphras was a man of many qualities. The book of Philemon (vs. 23) tells us that he was a prisoner with Paul in Rome, so we can see that he was committed to his Lord — all the way.

 

As I review his qualities the two that stand out most are the qualities of prayer and concern for his people. He was concerned about the people in his Church as well as the people in nearby Churches. The other Churches mentioned are Laodicea and Hierapolis. These two cities and Colosse formed a triangle. They were only a few miles apart. (about 12) He had probably met these people — maybe had taught them indeed, may have started the Churches.

 

In Colossians 1:7 the term for deacon (minister) is used of Epaphras. He evidently was a deacon at his Church. History and tradition indicates that he went on to become an elder there at Colosse and later was martyred there.

 

 

I’m told that his name means “lovely” a shortened form of Epaphroditus meaning “handsome or charming.” A fitting name for such a man of God.

 

Sounds Like The Kind Of Guy That You’d Like To Have Around Your Church. Right?

 

So many Church leaders today are qualified yet I wonder how many of them are of this quality. This was a layman and he had these qualities. One of the first elder qualifications is “if a man desires the office.” Many Church leaders are not there because they Desire the office.

 

We do not have prayer warriors in many of our pulpits today. We do not have concerned men in many of our pastorates today.

 

When I told my father that I was going to become a minister he said, “Well I guess there’s good money in that.” At the time I thought yes, in the liberal denominations but not in the fundamental circles. Today I feel that

it is coming into fundamental circles. I fear that the ministry is becoming an occupation to many young men. Not a bond slaves life of service for his Lord with his Lord’s people, but a job and career.

 

Peter gives a proper picture of an elder in 1 Peter 5:1-4. You should read it sometime.

 

Epaphras had many qualities. Indeed these qualities should be aspired to by all believers, but they ought to be resident in all of our Church leadership. In the years to come I trust that you will look for men of prayer, men of concern, men of service, men of Christ, men who are desirous of being a shepherd.

 

Recently I saw an interview of a shepherd here in the western U.S. They ask him of his life and he described the small wagon that he lived in month after month and the danger that he faced to protect the sheep. He spoke of the long months of crying over the loneliness before he finally got used to it. They ask him why he was a shepherd. His reply was this, “The sheep needed to be cared for and I chose to be a shepherd.”

 

We need men in our pulpits and our board rooms that have chosen to be shepherds — men who desire to care for the sheep. May your future shepherds be so dedicated. May your future shepherds be so concerned.

 

 

Christ is pictured as a shepherd in the New Testament. May our shepherds be like our heavenly shepherd.

 

We must take our application one step further before we close. If you were to compare YOUR life to that of Epaphras how would YOU compare? Paul chose the term “SERVANT” for Epaphras, if Paul were writing about you today could he use the term “servant” of you?

 

Can you in your own mind say, “My life is a God-used life.”? If you can’t say “Yes” then you need to spend time getting to know your Master and seeing what He wants you to do.

 

 

5. ORDINANCES OF THE CHURCH

 

What are Ordinances? Orders that are an annoyance? Orders? Religious rite?

 

Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary mentions, “1 a: an authoritative decree or direction: ORDER b: a law set forth by a governmental authority; specif: a municipal regulation 2: something ordained or decreed by fate or a deity 3: a prescribed usage, practice, or ceremony…..” (By permission. From Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary copyright 1991 by Merriam-Webster Inc., publisher of the Merriam-Webster (registered) Dictionaries.)

 

We won’t take time to look at the term in scripture because as near as I can tell the term is not used in conjunction with any of the ordinances that we accept, nor any that are suggested. The idea of the term is similar to the accepted definition today. An item which is legally required to fulfill your position as a citizen or member of an organization.

 

Some might suggest the word “sacrament” as a synonym. This is not acceptable in that the term sacrament usually conveys the thought that grace is being transmitted to the person involved in the ordinance. This comes to us from the Roman Catholic Church were baptism, communion, marriage, etc. are all sacraments and they all confer grace upon the participant.

 

An ordinance never has grace linked to it in the idea of the Protestant Church. Grace is not offered, extended, nor received. The person at the same time should never be involved in an ordinance if they think that grace is involved for they do not understand the ordinance properly.

 

Ordinance is something that is prescribed as a part of the normal local church life. The universal Church is to be a part of those ordinances, yet the universal Church cannot participate in fully in the ordinances.

 

Most feel there were two ordinances provided to the Church and they are baptism and the Lord’s table.

 

 

Samuel Fisk in the article “Is Foot Washing For Today? In the Baptist Bulletin Oct. 76, (Regular Baptist Press, Schaumburg, IL) lists some items we might consider as we think about Church ordinances.

 

1. He mentions that an ordinance must be a command of Christ.

 

2. Mark Fisk mentioned that the ordinance must be directly related to truth in the gospel and closely related to the believer’s salvation.

 

3. An ordinance must be something that was given for the Church universal, not just individual believers.

 

4. An ordinances should also be something that was practiced by the New Testament church.

 

5. An ordinance should be something that was for not only the early church, but was something that was meant for the ongoing, growing Church.

 

These seem good, but may have been arrived at by looking at the two accepted ordinances and determining what an ordinance is based on what is observed in the two.

 

There are other suggested ordinances that we might take a look at before us move on to baptism and the Lord’s Table.

 

FASTING

 

Fasting is considered an ordinance by some Plymouth brethren and a few Baptists.

 

We will not take time to look at references, but let us list some of the things that we know about fasting.

 

1. Some suggest it is used as a reminder to pray for a specific item. The hunger will remind you.

 

2. Others feel that the time usually spent eating should be given to prayer.

 

3. It is usually linked to prayer in the Scripture. However, the term can be used simply of “no food.” (Mark 8:3)

 

4. The disciples and the followers of John fasted.

 

 

5. It gives proof of the sincerity of the individual that is praying.

 

6. Fasting is used heavily in the Old Testament in relation to remorse or contrition. It seems to be used that way in Acts 9:9 when Saul was waiting for the Gospel after the road to Damascus. Otherwise, the New Testament does not necessarily have that connotation.

 

7. Christ fasted for forty days and nights.

 

8. Fasting is not an item that is commanded nor is it one that is prescribed for the Church. The indications are, however that fasting is not wrong and indeed it is for the Church age if an individual would desire to become involved in it. (Acts 13:1ff mentions the Church leaders fasted before they sent Saul and Barnabus out; Acts 14:23 mentions that Paul fasted after he had ordained elders in the Churches; Acts 27:33 seems to be the context of not being able to eat rather than a religious fasting — Paul is speaking to the sailors of the ship that had been shipwrecked; I Co. 7:5 indicates that fasting is for this age, in that he mentions married couples involved in fasting and praying; 2 Corinthians 6:5 tells us that it was one of Paul’s practices, though some may indicate that this was referring to Acts 27:33 and the shipwreck.)

 

From my vast acquired knowledge and experience, I will mention a few other points.

 

1. There are missionaries that fast once a week, and it is a time of prayer for special needs.

 

2. I know of no pastor that fasts, yet I might add I don’t know that many missionaries that do. I will also add that fasting is not the type of thing that a person advertises. It may very well be something they desire to be special between themselves and their Lord.

 

3. Fasting, by those that I have talked to, never leaves a person hungry as such. They might notice their stomach is feeling differently, but it is not hunger. Usually people mention they never miss the meal, but tremendously enjoy the fellowship with the Lord.

 

I would encourage you to consider fasting as something special, usually for a certain item of concern in prayer. I might illustrate by telling of what one day of fasting resulted in for one couple. A missionary couple was placed before a large Church as an item for prayer and fasting. The congregation gave their lunch time over to prayer, and committed themselves to pray as the Lord brought the item before them.

 

The next day the missionary was able to schedule a meeting with a man that he had been trying to meet with for two years. The couple was informed they had been given a large sum of money to be divided monthly over a number of months. The couple was informed that their Church had decided to meet concerning supporting them.

 

Fasting may not always produce such nice results, but you may be assured any special time given to the Lord will be a blessing.

 

Revival is linked to fasting at times in history. Jonathan Edwards for example fasted three days before he preached his great sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” which moved many people to repentance and salvation.

 

Though I do not see that fasting is an ordinance, it is plain that it is for today as the believer is led. It is an item which has not gained wide usage in most circles to my knowledge, though it probably should.

 

FOOT WASHING

 

John 13:4-17 is the text to consider.

 

“He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe [them] with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, if I wash thee not; thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also [my] hands and [my] head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash [his] feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for [so] I am. If I then, [your] Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”

 

Why do we not practice this act of foot washing?

 

If we accept the thoughts of Mark Fisk, then we see that the foot washing is outside the qualifications set forth. In verse 7 the Lord told them they didn’t understand what He was doing. If this was to be an ordinance it would seem that the disciples would have explained the item more fully at a later date if it were to be an ordinance or even common practice among the apostles. None of the Scripture writers mention the explanation of all this.

 

Some suggest 1 Timothy 5:10 as a possible foot washing text. It however seems to be related to good works and if this is the case then many other New Testament “good works” would become ordinances, especially those listed in the passages immediate context. (See the underlined phrases.)

 

10 “Well reported of for good works; if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.”

 

Christ was not instituting an ordinance when He washed the apostle’s feet, but rather he was setting an example and showing them that humility was needed in their future thinking.

 

In short this means that Christ led the perfectly humble life and in his coming He had lowered Himself. The idea of washing the feet instead of the whole body depicts the thought of cleansing of sin not the whole process of salvation again.

 

The Timothy text, by the way mentions that a widow washed the feet of the “saints” a general term. The foot washers normally practice the rite in separated groups — men with men and women with women. If they were going to use it as a proof text, they would have to have the women wash everyone’s feet.

 

The statement of the Lord, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” in John 13 may prove to be a problem, in that if foot washing is to be done and we don’t do it then we are lost to hell. That would place a higher importance upon foot washing than any ordinance. There is no “work” that we can refrain from that will cost us our salvation. This would indicate that this is indeed, not an ordinance. There is no indication in all of the New Testament that the foot washing was to be carried on in the future.

 

In my own reading, I have not found any indication that any major group of history practiced it as an ordinance. Indeed, the early Church did not seem to practice it. So, might we say that foot washing is not an ordinance?

 

May we say that foot washing is not to be done in any form in our day? No, for there is nothing wrong with it if the person wants to use it as a sign of humility and service, yet it seems that the time and effort might be better spent in the actual serving to the good of someone. We do not really need to wash feet in our society as they did in the Lord’s era.

 

“After bowing, greeting, and kissing, the eastern guest is offered water for washing his feet. Wearing of sandals would naturally necessitate foot washing, but it is often done when shoes have been worn. a servant will assist the guest by pouring the water upon his feet over a copper basin, rubbing the feet with his hands, and wiping them with a napkin.” (Taken from: “Manners And Customs Of Bible Lands”; Wright, Fred H.; Copyright 1953, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission.)

 

There may be some societies in the world that it might well be appropriate, but not as an ordinance.

 

There is no reason to involve one’s self in foot washing, because the Lord had in mind the idea of serving one another.

 

The serving can be done in many ways other than washing a person’s feet.

 

 

There are some that might view the anointing of oil as an ordinance also however there is no evidence for such an idea.

 

 

THE LORD’S TABLE

 

When teaching the Lord’s table I usually have a class discuss the elements, the sequence of elements and the frequency. Normally there is little discussion on what the elements are or the sequence; however the frequency stirs some discussion. I then read the following text.

 

“And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; For I say unto you, I will not any more eat of it, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves; For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you; this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” Luke 22:14-20

 

You should notice that the cup was first and that two cups were mentioned. RELAX. We haven’t been doing it wrong. The Lord’s Supper was part of the Passover meal that had multiple cups. We base our observance on I Corinthians 11.

 

Now as to the frequency question, we should remember that the last supper where the Lord instituted the observance took place at Passover a YEARLY observance. In light of this and “as often as ye eat this” should we not celebrate the Lord’s table only once per year? Furthermore, this occurred after 6 pm on the 13th of Nisan which is April 13th after 6 pm. This is specifically when the Lord’s table should be observed.

 

NO. “as often as ye eat this” comes from 1 Corinthians 11:26 and this is what Paul told us to do. This has nothing to do with how often — only that when we do it, it is to be a remembrance.

 

Paul does not mention the Passover nor does he mention the second cup. Indeed, this seems to be the Lord laying out for us through Paul the procedure for the observance. There is no need to observe the Passover any more so the idea of “as often as ye eat” would indicate more the idea of every time you eat bread and wine rather than yearly.

 

 

COMMUNION

 

Communion has been defined in many ways among which is the idea of fellowship, friendship, comradery, agreement or having things in common.

 

Scripturally communion is the term “koinonia” and has the idea of fellowship rather than the observance that Christ set forth.

 

Indeed, the term communion or “koinonia” is translated fellowship and is placed as separate from the breaking of bread which most feel is the observance of the Lord’s table in Acts 2:42, “and fellowship, and in breaking of bread.”

 

The Lord’s table certainly should have communion or fellowship between those involved, but specifically the better term for the observance would probably be the Lord’s table. There is only one passage that mentions communion and the Lord’s table together, and it is somewhat doubtful as to what communion relates to, the observance as much as the fellowship.

 

THE LORD’S TABLE

 

There are four main passages that relate to the rite. There are three in the Gospels that relate to the beginning of the observation, while the Corinthians passage relates to the specifics of it. (Mark 14; Matthew 26; Luke 22; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

 

From Paul, we learn that the bread symbolizes Christ’s body, the wine His blood and the elements remembered are a proclamation of His death. The command to observe “until He comes” is significant because He is coming again. The Gospels relate this coming to the setting up of His kingdom.

 

The Greek terms body, blood, cup, and bread carry no special significance.

They are words that are normally translated as they appear here. The word translated remembrance has the connotation of remember again.

 

The text of Hebrews 10:3 shows the yearly sacrifice for Israel was so that they could have a clear conscience. It also was “A Remembrance Again Made Of Sins Every Year.” In 1 Corinthians 11 it is The Remembrance Again Of The Taking Care Of That Sin.

 

 

There are a number of views held concerning the observance of The Lord’s Table. We will look briefly at these.

 

ROMAN CATHOLIC

 

Transubstantiation: This teaches that the elements of the Lord’s table (bread and wine) are, through the words that the priest repeats, changed into the literal body and blood of Christ and are offered before God anew. The left over host or wafer is kept in a box on the alter, and it cannot be desecrated, for it is the actual body of Christ. They offer Christ anew each time the mass is held in every cathedral and church in the world.

 

They must, by their thinking, view this as one of the sources of grace and indeed they do. Each time they receive the host they also accept grace. It is very prevalent in their writing that without the priest to make these changes in the bread and wine there would be no salvation available to the people. It is of great interest to me that some of these same people have accepted the outward trappings of the charismatic movement, and are now seeking to draw that movement into fellowship with them. The Charismatic Catholic is a contradiction in true terms. They have just added tongues to Holy Mother Church and hope that they will fool some with their terminology.

 

I would like to include a cute short story from an Irish viewpoint concerning this topic. The author is unknown, but I received it from Gospel Outreach; PO 7078; Philadelphia, PA; 19149.

 

A ROMAN MIRACLE (?)

 

“A pretty maid, a Protestant, was to a Catholic wed;

To love all Bible Truths and tales, quite early she’d been bred. It sorely grieved her husband’s heart that she would not comply And join the Mother Church of Rome and heretics deny.

 

“So day by day he flattered her, but still she saw no good Would ever come from bowing down to idols made of wood; The mass, the host, the miracles, were made but to deceive; And transubstantiation, too, she’d never dare believe.

 

“He went to see his clergyman and told him his sad tale ‘My wife’s an unbeliever, sir, you can perhaps prevail; For all your Romish miracles my wife has strong aversion, To really work a miracle may lead to her conversion.’

 

“The priest went with the gentleman — he thought to gain a prize.

He said, ‘I will convert her, sir, and open both her eyes.’ So when they came into the house, the husband loudly cried,

‘The priest has come to dine with us.’ ‘He’s welcome, she replied.

 

“And when, at last, the meal was o’er, the priest at once began To teach his hostess all about the sinful state of man;

The greatness of our Savior’s love, which Christians can’t deny to give Himself a sacrifice and for our sins to die.

 

“‘I will return tomorrow, lass, prepare some bread and wine; The sacramental miracle will stop your soul’s decline.’

‘I’ll bake the bread,’ the lady said. ‘You may,’ he did reply. ‘And when you’ve seen this miracle, convinced you’ll be, say I.’

 

“The priest did come accordingly, the bread and wine did bless. The lady asked, ‘Sir, is it changed?’ The priest answered, ‘Yes,

It’s changed from common bread and wine to truly flesh and blood; Begorra, lass, this power of mine has changed it into God.’

 

“So having blessed the bread and wine, to eat they did prepare; The lady said unto the priest, ‘I warn you to take care,

For half an ounce of arsenic was mixed right in the batter, But since you have its nature changed, it cannot really matter.’

 

“The priest was struck real dumb — he looked as pale as death. The bread and wine fell from his hands and he did gasp for breath. ‘Bring me my horse.’ the priest cried, ‘This is a cursed home.’

The lady replied, ‘Begone, tis you who shares the curse of Rome.’

 

“The husband too, he sat surprised, and not a word did say  At length he spoke, ‘My dear,’ said he, ‘The priest has run away; To gulp such mummery and tripe, I’m not, for sure, quite able; I’ll go with you and will renounce this Roman Catholic Fable.’“

 

LUTHERAN

 

Consubstantiation: In years past this was the thought that as the bread and wine descended into your stomach it became the actual body and blood of Christ. This is a bit more believable than the Roman view. This has changed, I have been told, to a system of belief that the elements are bread and wine, however as you receive them you receive the body and blood of Christ which is in and around the elements.

 

The original Lutheran, Martin Luther, believed that grace was transmitted through the elements. This is natural because he was coming out of the Roman church and would not have been able to change all of his false teaching overnight. From a Short Exposition of Dr. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism P 26 “…that in the sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us….” This is based on Matthew 26:28 “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Since remission of sins comes from the blood of Christ — to say there is forgiveness in communion is to say that the wine IS the blood of Christ.

 

They speak of the “real presence” of Christ in the elements.

 

TRADITIONAL

 

These people believe that the elements are as they were when Christ used them — symbolic of the body and blood. There is no change of elements nor benefit in the taking of the elements.

 

It is only a remembrance of the Lord’s death on the cross for our sins. There is no grace or benefit forthcoming neither from the elements nor from the observance itself.

 

HOW OFTEN

 

The Christian church I attended as a child held the communion service every Sunday as an integrated part of the worship service. While speaking of the past I might observe from my childhood and adulthood, a marked difference in the observance and the people participating. In my unsaved childhood days, I observed a very marked reverence toward the observance. The older men of the church served the elements after two of the men had a devotional and prayer. There was lots of goofing off in my area during church, but when the communion service was in progress the order of the day was no fooling around, no reading, no gum chewing and nothing else. You were to sit quietly and do nothing. I KNEW there was something special about this observance though I did not know what it was.

 

 

The majority of churches that I have attended over the years have observed it once a month.

 

We were in a church in Parkersberg, PA years ago and they were trying to get back to the “Biblical standard” of the Lord’s Supper. The following is a part of the paragraph explaining this desire in the bulletin. “We will have the Lord’s Supper the first Sunday of each month.” Now you know — it

Is every first Sunday. Others hold the communion every three months.

 

Who is correct and why are they correct? The Bible says “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread….” DAILY might be suggested. At Troas, they did it on the first day of the week for sure but maybe more — we aren’t told. “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread,” Acts 20:7 (We assume that break bread is related to the Lord’s table.)

 

We don’t have a command of scripture that states, thou shalt — but we do have the idea that it was at a meal. The idea of daily may have no justification in history, yet think about it. Every time you break bread, you remember the Lord’s death. I have to wonder just how much of an impact that would have on the believer’s daily life.

 

So, before you draw conclusions you need to consider: What is communion? Why do we do it? How do we do it — what is the formula? Who is to be involved? Should we call it communion? Are we doing it right? Do we need both elements? Do we need either element?

 

Another question of some minor significance to people in the U.S. but of importance to the Swedish. Can you do communion over the TV? They have had some serious theological discussion on the subject.

 

If you are going to be a missionary there are other questions for you to struggle with. For example should you use orange juice and crackers as for the Lord’s table as they do in some of the tropical areas of the world, or should you maintain the grape juice and cracker standard? (Actually this is not correct if you are going to be specific. The New Testament people used wine and unleavened bread.)

 

Should we use unleavened bread instead of the usual fish food? After all, the bread of Passover is unleavened.

 

 

Should we use wine? There is a growing debate about this in our country at this time in our history. Some are beginning to think that we should and others abhor the possibility.

 

Can you have the Lord’s table with someone in a hospital, care home or laid up at home? Can you have the Lord’s Table at camps, Bible studies and Bible colleges? These questions have some ramifications if we hold to the observance being an ordinance of the church. That would indicate that the local church is the one that is to be involved and no other organization.

 

IN BRIEF

 

Lord’s supper is an observance commemorating the Lord’s death on the cross. It is a remembrance of His suffering for our sin.

 

1. Instituted By: Christ Himself.

 

2. Occasion: Christ wanted to celebrate the Passover with the disciples Mark 14:14-16.

 

a. As a Jew He would want to keep the Passover.

 

b. As Christ He would want to keep the Passover as part of His perfect life.

 

c. As Jesus, a man, He would want to be with His disciples before His death Luke 22:15.

 

“And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer”

 

The Passover was depicting Israel’s firstborn being saved, while the cross was where provision for the salvation of mankind was made. A lamb was slain and eaten as a sacrifice of thanksgiving in the Passover. In the Church Age a Lamb was slain and we eat the bread that symbolizes His flesh as the sacrifice for which we offer thanksgiving.

 

3. Elements:

 

a. Bread — unleavened from the Passover meal.

 

b. Wine — fermented if you believe the wine they drank everyday was fermented, or non-fermented if you believe the wine they drank everyday was non-fermented. (We won’t try to answer that one. Do consider however Paul’s use of the thought of controlled by wine in Ephesians five when he talks about being filled with the Spirit. Control by wine demands fermentation.)

 

4. Participants:

 

a. In the Gospels it was Christ and the eleven disciples. (Judas had gone — John 13:30)

 

b. In the book of Acts it was all Christians.

 

c. In 1 Corinthians it was the believers at Corinth. (1 Corinthians 1:1, 2)

 

d. Today it should be those that have reason to remember what the Lord did — believers.

 

5. Setting: In the Gospels it was the Passover MEAL and in the book of Acts it is tied with a MEAL and in 1 Corinthians 11 it is tied with a MEAL.

 

The question which arises: Is it permissible to have the observance as a part of a meal? Why or why not? I have been told of churches that place the Lord’s table as an integrated part of a potluck dinner and having it work quite well.

 

6. Time: In the Gospels it is in the evening. Other than the Gospels, I don’t believe there is any indication in the New Testament as to the time of day.

 

7. Reasons For

 

a. Remember His death.

 

b. Remember His death till HE COMES.

 

c. The death remembered till He comes indicates as well the resurrection.

 

8. In History:

 

a. 125-135 AD The Didache (teaching of the apostles) states, “On every Lord’s day — His special day — come together and break bread and give thanks, first confessing your sins so your sacrifice may be pure.”

 

b. Unger mentions, “In the earliest notices of the Lord’s Supper a simple and almost literal imitation of the meal as instituted by Christ is prevalent.” This would indicate similar to the Passover meal. (Unger, Merrill F.; “Unger’s Bible Dictionary”; Chicago: Moody Press, 1957; P 666)

 

c. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia and Matthew Henry hold to similar thought — that of a meal with the observance as an integral part of the meal.

 

d. Vincent, in his word studies, makes a lengthy comment that is worth mentioning. “The emphasis is on Lord’s.” “…supper represents the principal meal of the day, answering to the late dinner. The Eucharist proper was originally celebrated as a private expression of devotion, and in connection with a common, daily meal, an agape or love-feast. In the apostolic period it was celebrated daily. The communion-meal of the first and second centuries exhibited this character in being a feast of contribution, to which each brought his own provision.” (Vincent, M.R.; “Word Studies In The New Testament”; Mac Dill AFB, Florida, Mac Donald Publishing, (no copyright) PP 787-788)

 

9. Historical setting: Jesus, a Jew with Jewish disciples, desired to celebrate the Jewish Passover. The only thing in the Lord’s mind was based on the Old Testament. The Passover feast was a sacrifice of thanks for their first born having been spared. (Exodus 12:27)

 

He wanted to incorporate a new concept into His disciples’ thinking. He was introducing the new covenant which was about to be sealed by His blood. New elements or old elements with meaning added is the question.

 

It seems that He used the old elements of the meal (the wine and the bread) and gave them new significance. (Hebrews 9:15 mentions the new covenant.)

 

It Is Entirely Possible That Christ Was Dying On The Cross As The Jews Were Killing Their Passover Lambs.

 

 

We would be remiss not to suggest a possible application of all this to our personal lives. We have spoken of sacrifice in this study however it is concerning the lamb of the Old Testament and the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Ought we not talk of the sacrifice that Christ calls us to make? Romans 12:1,2 mentions that we should present ourselves a living sacrifice, Phil 2:17 mentions that the faith of those we lead to the Lord are sacrifices (soul winning), Hebrews 13:15 mentions that prayer is a sacrifice and Phil 4:18 states that giving is a sacrifice. We enjoy and remember his for us but do we sacrifice for Him?

 

We are to remember His death till he comes However That Includes His Death, Burial, Resurrection, and Ascension. At times we may want to dwell on the somber side of the remembrance, and other times we may want to dwell on the joyful side of the remembrance. The Passover was thanksgiving. Christ Himself placed the observance within that general context for our benefit. We should remember, but also be thankful for what He has done on our behalf.

 

In my adulthood I have seen all sorts of variations of methodology used in an attempt to make the time more meaningful for the participants. In general, I would guess “TRADITION” is a term that describes it in many churches. Ritual is a close second to tradition.

 

I would submit one further observation and suggest that the most meaningful Lord’s Table observances were in a church years ago when the pastor centered the entire service, including his message, around some aspect of the Lord’s Table. This was very meaningful to all the people.

 

Don’t be afraid to make the observance of the Lord’s table meaningful. Take an entire service and center it around the observance. Try your church board sometime when you get brave, and see if they would go with having it as a part or ending to a congregation meal.

 

I would suggest you read a poem by Helen Steiner Rice entitled “Man Cannot Live By Bread Alone.”

 

 

BAPTISM

 

Christ commanded baptism in Matthew 28:19, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them….” It is to be the normal course of action as we are going. Baptism should be an integrated part of what we do in our ministry.

 

Every believer is to be baptized. Not there is danger of losing salvation, but there cannot be a proper walk with the Lord unless the believer has been obedient to the Lord in baptism.

 

Matthew 10:32-33 mentions,

 

“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”

 

How much we want to build here I’m not sure. The thought of refusing to identify oneself with Christ seems very serious however.

 

Since baptism is an outward sign of an inward change, it would be natural for the believer to want to be baptized. On the other hand, if there is no desire to give this sign, then one is left to wonder if there is an inward change.

 

Can we say that a person that is knowledgeable of baptism and is not baptized is living in sin? Yes. What is the sin? The sin is disobedience, since the command is to be baptized.

 

The natural reaction when a person was saved in the New Testament was to be baptized. It should be the natural thing in our own generation as well. If anyone reading this is not baptized, then I would encourage you to take that step of obedience as soon as you can.

 

BAPTISM DEFINED

 

Webster tells us, “Christian sacrament marked by ritual use of water and admitting the recipient to the Christian community…a non -Christian rite

 

 

using water for ritual purification….” (Webster, Merriam; “Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary”; Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster Inc.,

1986)

 

In general the term relates to the act in which a person is ritually sprinkled, immersed or poured upon for identification, purification or regeneration.

 

A little more to the point, from a fundamental view it is the public testimony by which a new believer identifies with the universal and local church. It is an act which signifies his salvation experience.

 

“Baptize” is a transliteration of the Greek term “baptizo.” All Greek words used of baptism in the New Testament come from this term. It means whelmed or covered wholly with fluid. It is used in Mark 7:4 and Luke 11:38 as a purification of the Pharisees. They dipped their utensils. Dipping into water is hard to change into “sprinkle” or “pour upon” to most theologians. The question of immersion versus sprinkle or pour is based on personal desire rather than a study of the Scripture. Scripture seems to teach immersion.

 

There are some questions concerning Baptism. Who is baptized? Who baptizes? What mode is used?

 

The who are all knowledgeable believers. The ones baptizing are the representatives of the church. This may be the pastor, the elders, the deacons, or the janitor if he is spiritual. Anyone that is spiritual may be appointed to the task of baptizing by the church leaders.

 

Someone once asked me in a class, “Is it wrong for a woman to baptize?” I hadn’t thought of it before. I don’t know that it would matter whether a man or woman baptizes. The thought of a woman baptizing women has some possibilities tied to it. I suspect that through history the men have done the work due to the fact that if a small woman attempted to baptize a large man there might be some difficulty. There may also be a feeling that the church leadership should do the ministry of baptizing.

 

In looking at the book of Acts, we see that hundreds of people were being baptized. In such a situation it would seem that to accomplish such a massive operation might call for both men and women to have been involved. In considering the question, I can think of no scripture that would prohibit women from baptizing.

 

MODE

 

We want to look at the different modes of baptism so we can properly understand them.

 

SPRINKLING OR ASPERSION

 

Normally this is done over a basin of some sort and the head is sprinkled lightly as the baptismal formula is repeated.

 

The Roman Catholic Church practices this mode and the Evangelical Free, Methodists, and United Brethren in Christ allow it in their churches.

 

POURING OR AFFUSION

 

Again as in sprinkling a basin is used to catch the water and a pitcher is used to pour water upon the top of the head as the formula is repeated. Methodists, Evangelical Free, and the United Brethren in Christ allow for this mode in their churches.

 

IMMERSION

 

Within immersion there are several variations. The idea in all of these is that the person baptized must go completely under the water, in order to properly signify the aspect of death and resurrection.

 

Among the methods are these: Some dip the person under three times in quick succession and one member of the trinity is mentioned each time the person is dipped. Some dip the person and use the formula as above only they take the person under water front wards rather than the usual backwards of most churches.

 

Many groups use immersion: Baptists, Independents, Brethren, Christian, Church of God, 7th Day Adventist, and Mennonite. There may be others as well.

 

 

In some communist countries where it is illegal to baptize the candidate is blindfolded and they use bathtubs. This way the one baptized cannot tell the police who baptized them.

 

IMMERSION EXAMINED.

 

1. The term used, “baptizo,” has a primary meaning of immerse.

 

2. There are two prepositions which are used of baptism and they indicate the idea of immersion rather than pouring or sprinkling — “Into” and “out of.”

 

3. Romans 6:1-4 show baptism as a picture of death to the old way and resurrection to the new. Immersion best pictures this. (In death you are buried and in resurrection you are raised.)

 

Some including myself question that this speaks of water baptism, however it indicates spirit baptism. It is a complete thing for the believer, thus since there is a close similarity between spirit and water baptism — immersion may be indicated.

 

4. The early church when baptizing could have used immersion. There is no logical reason for this not to have been the case. There is no idea of pouring or sprinkling hinted at in the accounts.

 

5. The Greek language has words for pour and sprinkle but they are not used of baptism.

 

6. John the Baptist went where there was much water to baptize. It would be illogical to go into the country side and use muddy river water when good clean water was available in the city. (John 3:23; 2 Kings 5:12ff shows the Jordan to be very dirty; Mark 1:15 shows that the Jordan River was used.)

 

7. The Ethiopian Eunuch and Phillip came up out of the water after the baptism. Coming up out of would indicate they were down in the water.

 

“And when they were come up out of the water….” Acts 8:39. For that matter if they were pouring why would it take two men to get a pitcher of water?

 

 

8. Christ is mentioned as coming up out of the water. Why would the Lord and John the Baptist get your feet and legs wet if they were going to pour or sprinkle? Matthew 3:6

 

9. Matthew 3:11,

 

“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:”

 

We have three baptisms mentioned here; one by water — John’s, one by spirit — Holy Spirit, and one by fire — judgment. The final two would involve complete immersions (spirit involves the whole person and also judgment would involve the whole person), thus it would seem that the water baptism would also be a complete immersion as well.

 

10. Immersion was the order of the early church. The first indication from the church fathers of baptism other than immersion is that of pouring in the case of people that were sick and could not be immersed. This was called clinical baptism. The people, so baptized, were viewed as inferior. There is a possibility there was an element of baptismal regeneration in their thinking. Cyprian quoted an Old Testament verse that mentioned a sprinkling for purification.

 

Cyprian (A.D. 200-257) seems to be one of the first to introduce sprinkling.

 

The early Anabaptists were known to have sprinkled and poured in the early days. This was probably due to the fact they were just out of the Roman Cath. church. The fact some of them were in Switzerland in the middle of the winter affected their methodology a bit also.

 

INFANT BAPTISM

 

There are a number of groups that practice infant baptism. This is viewed as an entrance into the church body and regeneration is definitely in their minds. We need to look at this topic for a moment. Others desire infant baptism for much less spiritual reasons. I recently heard of a young mother that wanted her baby baptized because she had heard that baptismal certificates were acceptable if you lost the child’s birth certificate.

 

 

THE SUGGESTED PROOF OF INFANT BAPTISM

 

1. The rite of circumcision is introductory to the old covenant, so the rite of baptism is the introductory rite to the new covenant.

 

Since Circumcision is done on infants, then so should baptism.

 

2. The scriptures show that entire households were baptized. Acts 16:33. The assumption is there were children and infants in the households.

 

3. The New Testament shows that whole households can be saved if one parent is, thus we should baptize all members. 1 Corinthians 7:14.

 

4. Since baptism saves, we must baptize immediately so the child will not slip into hell if it should die.

 

5. Matthew 28:19-20 tells us to baptize all nations. That includes babies and senior citizens.

 

INFANT BAPTISM REFUTED

 

1. There are no New Testament references of babies being baptized. If it were important to them for salvation, the writers of Scripture would have told us about it.

 

2. The New Testament shows that baptism follows repentance, believing, or accepting or some combination of these. An infant can do none of these things. (Acts 2:38-39 stipulates repentance before baptism)

 

3. The early church fathers rejected this thought. From the Didache we read, “Before the baptism, moreover, the one who baptizes and the one being baptized must fast, and others who can. And you must tell the one being baptized to fast for one or two days beforehand.” (125-135) You cannot tell an infant something, and infants do not fast.

 

4. Let us consider the baptizing of households. We have no indication that infants were present or indeed if there were, they were baptized.

 

In one of the household texts is Acts 16 and in verse 32 we see, “And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.” They spoke. If they were speaking then all that heard must have heard. That would mean understanding minds and not infant minds.

 

 

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia raises a question that is probably tongue in cheek, yet very appropriate. They ask if we are going to press the thought of “household,” if we should suggest that dogs and cats need to be baptized.

 

1 Corinthians 16:15 mentions the house of Stephanas as serving God. Infants cannot serve. If the household idea is to be carried forth there is a problem in using this text.

 

5. Baptism is not related to salvation other than a picture. Mark 16:16 shows that disbelief is that which causes damnation.

 

John 1:12 mentions receive — you cannot do that as an infant.

 

Acts 10:47 shows they had the Holy Spirit before they were baptized. If baptism is needed before regeneration, then how could they have been indwelled by the Holy Spirit?

 

6. In the case of likening circumcision to baptism, we have a slight problem. If this is true then we should only baptize men, for only men were circumcised in the Old Testament. Indeed Genesis 17:12 mentions that it is to be done on the eighth day or older.

 

7. Matthew 28:13-20 mentions discipling and teaching. This also is impossible with an infant.

 

8. Ephesians 2:8-9 Mentions that salvation is of grace, and that works are not involved. Baptism is a work — something that man does and it can have nothing to do with salvation.

 

The whole thought of infant baptism is tied up in the thought of baptismal regeneration, the idea that baptism is an integrated part of regeneration. I would submit two more points to refute the idea of baptismal regeneration.

 

1. Paul mentions that he baptized few (1 Corinthians 1:17). If this is the case, and if it were the case that salvation was part of baptism, then wasn’t Paul very remiss with his evangelism? If baptism is required for regeneration then Paul would have baptized those that he talked to.

 

2. A very clear proof that baptism is not a part of salvation is seen in the thief on the cross. The Lord told him he would be in paradise, yet the thief had not had the opportunity to be baptized.

 

 

I was in a class where a man from the Christian church was invited for a visit. We asked him about the thief on the cross and he said this was a special case. No other explanation was forth coming.

 

Some might wonder why people believe that baptism is part of salvation. Might I suggest a few possible reasons?

 

a. The “tower of Babel syndrome.” (Attempting to reach God by their own accomplishments.) They think there must be something they can do to help in the process of salvation.

 

b. The “I’d rather do it myself syndrome.” They haven’t trusted Christ to take care of all there is to do.

 

c. The “that’s the way it’s always been done syndrome.” That is what they have been taught and that is the way it’s been and that’s the way it’s going to be no matter what you say, and no matter what the Scriptures say.

 

My employer’s wife once asked me just before their grandchild was going to be baptized if I thought infants should be baptized. I told her that I did not think that the Scriptures taught that concept. I sat down that night and put down some references for her and took them in the next day. She did not listen to a thing, and felt that it was right and proper to have their grandchild baptized.

 

Baptism, to some, brings some benefit to the one that is baptized. The Roman Church sees the rite of baptism as a means of accepting grace and it is part of their salvation. “The sacrament of Baptism confers grace.” (Morrow, Louis LaRavoire; “MY CATHOLIC FAITH”; Kenosha, WI: My Mission House, 1955, P 252)

 

Some Lutherans feel that baptism is part of their being saved. I’d like to quote from a Lutheran in Makoti, North Dakota. “Baptism is not merely a symbol. It is the means God uses:

 

(1) to forgive sin,

 

(2) to save us,

 

(3) to create spiritual life through the giving of the Holy Spirit, thus beginning of formal membership in the church,

 

 

(5) [not sure where 4 went — it was missing] to adopt us into His family wherein we become legal heirs of His Kingdom, and

 

(6) To make us partners in Christ’s death and resurrection.” (from a church bulletin)

 

In considering baptism another question might come up. Is there any reason for an unsaved person to want to be baptized? In my childhood I was not well taught in the Bible though I was in Sunday School and church every Sunday. I had no idea what baptism was all about. The church I was taken to as a child, believed in baptismal regeneration. About ten or so my mother pushed me physically into the aisle to go forward for baptism. I returned to my seat though a few weeks later did ask to be baptized. I was taken into the church and all was proper even if I didn’t know what it was about.

 

Others might be baptized because of popularity, or for an increase in stature in the community, however the scripture speaks to the thought of unsaved people being baptized. a. Matthew 3:7-9 John the Baptist condemned some for wanting baptism when they were unrepentant. b. It is a picture of the death burial and resurrection, so why would any unsaved person want to identify with it? c. It is an identification with Christ and His church — why would a lost person be interested. It is only an empty work if they should be baptized. It would have no meaning to the world, nor to them.

 

Another question. Is there any reason why a person would, or should be rebaptized? Yes. This was what the anabaptists were all about. They were Catholics that had been sprinkled or poured upon as infants. When they had understanding of salvation they were rebaptized as believers. This is also seen in the case of the disciples of John the Baptist in Acts 19:1-7. This by the way shows there was a difference between the baptism of John the Baptist and Christian baptism.

 

If a person was baptized before they were saved then the proper step would be for rebaptism. This was the case in my own life. When I was saved there came a time when I knew that my baptism had no meaning to me or anyone else, so took steps to be baptized again in the church where I was saved.

 

 

Occasion of Baptism: When should a person be baptized, after they are saved? Some Baptists desire and push for immediately. Some independents tell their converts whenever, and they do it as they feel they want to. The sad part of this approach is that some never do. Most independents feel that it is to be done as soon as the believer fully understands it. This may be awhile or it may be immediately.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

 

1. Never baptize without talking with the person concerning their salvation, the purpose and intent of baptism, and the ramifications or responsibilities of being baptized.

 

2. Never push, but do encourage them — teach them the how and why soon after their conversion. For many years there was no real strong significance to baptism in this country, but more and more it is a real testimony of leaving an old life and beginning a new one. In other countries it is very significant and may be the act that solidifies your conversion to the world. In Ireland that is the last thing that the Catholics will allow. They may allow going to the Bible Church, even maybe being saved, but the baptism is the BREAK with Holy Mother Church and the believer is in for ostracism from friends and relatives.

 

We have not discussed the baptismal formula that the Lord specified. Matthew 28:19 “…baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” Just what is the implication of this formula? To the Jew they were making a commitment to a belief in Christ as the Messiah and a public recognition of his deity. God The Father, God The Son — the Messiah come, and God The Holy Spirit.

 

There is a difference between the baptisms that are mentioned in the New Testament. We will not go into detail on these aspects of our topic. There is a short listing of thoughts in Appendix five at the end of the book for further study.

 

In brief: Baptism shows the inward death of our sin nature and the creation of our new nature. It also shows our belief in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. These three are also pictured by the mode of immersion.

 

 

As in other topics we would like to apply the truth that has just been studied. The obvious application is to the believer that has not been baptized. The ordinance is something that comes under the thought of obedience. If a believer understands baptism properly and does not move toward being baptized, then they are involved in the sin of disobedience. May we encourage anyone in this position to consider moving toward a complete obedience to their Lord’s command?

 

A side application might be that, as teachers of the Word, we should see to it that new believers understand the major doctrines of the faith and call them to obedience.

 

We trust the reader now has a complete understanding of the ordinances so that we can move on to the final portions of our study.

 

 

6. THE PHYSIQUE OF THE CHURCH

 

“Physique” is defined by Webster as “bodily makeup,” thus we want to discuss the body makeup of the church. Just how are we arranged? We have discussed the leadership and many of the things that the believers in a local church are to do, but just how does God view the family that He has assembled? He views us as a body. We want to discuss the body of Christ for a time.

 

THE BODY OF CHRIST

 

Who is Head of the church? The pastor? The board? Mrs. Stuffed Pocketbook? Mrs. All-wise? The answer lies in the word itself — Head.

 

Psalm eight speaks of the dominion of the Lord before He was incarnate. Ephesians one mentions that He has dominion or Headship over the church.

 

Ephesians 1:22, 23

 

“And hath 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 that filleth all in all.”

 

Christ is the head and the church is the body. Let’s think about this a moment. What implications are there in this short phrase?

 

What does the head do?

 

1. It controls the body. What happens if this control is removed? Ever see a chicken just after its head is removed? As a child I used to go to my aunt’s place with my mom. Mom used to make me get clear over to the corner of the yard, and then my aunt would chop a chicken’s head off in the middle of the yard. the body of the chicken would take off flopping and rolling and flapping around for some time. Ever see a church after its head is removed? A man can remain conscious for a short interval of time after his head is separated from his body, but not for long. A body without a head cannot function.

 

2. The head contains some important equipment which some church members seem to think are located in the body.

 

 

a. The Eyes. Christ alone is all seeing. He can see far into the future and make plans. If He sees a chuckhole in the road He can guide the church around it quite well. He doesn’t need a busybody telling the church what to do.

 

b. The Brain. Christ alone is all knowing. He does not need the unceasing wisdom of the rich elder that has built a fortune, or the sage pastor that has built a kingdom for himself. He doesn’t even need the all-knowing teen that knows the church is being run all wrong. He — Christ can control the body.

 

c. The Nose. He can smell out trouble and alert the pastor or elders to it without the self — appointed gossip helping.

 

d. The Ears. He hears enough gossip without us. God has one that is in the business of reporting our errors to the Lord. A poem by Martha Snell Nicholson entitled My Advocate relates to this point.

 

e. The Tongue. You might try a long detailed study of James 3 concerning the tongue? Our tongues are not really necessary except in witnessing and praising Him.

 

3. The head tells the body what to do and where to go. How far do we let this go? To what extent do we let Christ lead in the church? It would seem from Matthew 10:30 that Christ wants to lead in all areas of our life, “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”

 

A woman in Denver needed a pair of shoes. She found two pair that might work she really liked and wanted the expensive pair and the cheaper pair were almost ugly. She told the Lord to help her know which pair to buy. She allowed Him to choose. She tried both pair on. The cheap pair did not fit at all. The pair she liked fit perfectly.

 

We as individuals and as a church are His Body. A close relationship. He is interested in every part of our personal life and our church life. We should learn to take even small things to Him for a decision.

 

4. The head in the case of the church is the life giver. As the physical body dies without the head, so dies the church without Christ.

 

How do we treat this head of ours?

 

 

Ephesians tells us that God has raised Him, but I wonder if we don’t often lower Him. We try to humanize Him and bring Him down to our level.

 

God placed Christ at His right hand, but many churches put Him beside Rock and Roll music in the sanctuary in the name of evangelism.

 

God placed all things under His feet, but we tread upon Him — we say we serve Him yet seldom do anything for His work.

 

He seems to have little power over His church in America today.

 

God made Him Head of the Church, but for the most part He is more like a headstone in front of a grave full of bones.

 

A rewrite of Ephesians 1:20-23 might show what man has done to Christ today. “When they lowered him to the depths of humanism–and set him under their feet in every earthly place–and hath placed him as dust, under foot, and gave him to be head over the church which is his dried bones, the emptiness of him that once filled the universe.”

 

Let’s consider some verses in Ephesians 1:15-23.

 

15. “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what [is] the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set [him] at his own right hand in the heavenly [places], Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath 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 that filleth all in all.”

 

Let’s consider that phrase, “All things under His feet.”

 

 

1. All things are subject to Him; the earth, the heavens, all mankind (not outwardly toward Him but He is in control), and the Devil. All the universe is subject to Him, yet He allows the believer to decide his own subservience to his Lord — the one that has the position and power to command subservience.

 

2. Matthew 28:18 says all power was given to Him.

 

a. He has the power to provide for us. No matter what our financial position. He is in the business of supplying. (Matthew 6:33)

 

b. He has the power to protect us from danger, from sin, from the Devil.

 

c. He has the power to prove us. That problem you had last week may have been a test.

 

d. He has the power to perpetuate Himself through us. By our witnessing, His power can bring people to Himself. Notice: His power.

 

Another phrase to consider, “Head over all things to the Church.”

 

The key word is “all” — Every area. There is no area of your life that Christ is not over. Not an area that He isn’t interested in. In the church the matter is the same. There is nothing in the operation of the church that Christ should not be over.

 

“Which is His body.” As a local assembly with Him as Head are we a 90 lb. weakling or a Charles Atlas? For the younger generation let me explain what a 90 lb. weakling is. When I was a child there was an ad that used to be on all the magazines and comic books. A scrawny guy with a beautiful girl was lying on the beach. A huge muscle man came along and kicked sand into the 90 lb. weakling’s face and took his girl away from him. Somewhere in the ad was a picture of an even bigger muscle man with the earth on his back. This of naturally was Charles Atlas, the man that was selling the course on muscle building.

 

With Christ’s power we’re Charles Atlas — ready to hold the world on our back. Without His power we’re a 90 lb. weakling.

 

“The fullness of him that filleth all in all.” The church is the fullness of Christ. Do you really believe that? Think about the church as a whole today. If this is the fullness of Christ, then Christ is a pauper and beggar. We have failed to show forth the fullness of Christ. Imagine — we can show forth the fullness of the one that filleth everything.

 

“filleth all in all.” This phrase has the idea of cram. This is the only usage in the New Testament of this word. Many years ago at work we used to have one trash can in the shop. It was a long way out to where we dumped it. We prolonged the inevitable by pushing it down by hand until we can’t push it down any more, then we would use our feet to stomp it down a little more, and then we would stack it so high that it fell on the floor. Then sometimes we would find a box to sit by the trash can which we would cram as full as we possibly could by pushing and stomping.

 

Christ fills all in all like we used to fill that trash can. He crams every corner and overflows all there is.

 

That’s my Lord. I trust that the church today can sometime visualize what they could do if they applied this text. How do we get ahead in our churches today? Make Christ the one in charge.

 

What application do we find in this doctrine of the headship of Christ?

 

CONCERNING THE LOCAL CHURCH

 

1. He should be consulted on all decisions being made. This is done by the prayers of teachers, elders, pastors, and all Christians in that church.

 

2. He should be preeminent in all things. Everything should be geared to furthering His gospel and His glory.

 

3. We should seek to build up the body to make it strong, as well as bigger, for Him. The body will one day be His bride.

 

Concerning The Church Invisible:

 

1. Many will be surprised to see who is in the body. Many of those we disagree with doctrinally will be there. This is not to say that we should be associated with them. Some, I think, will be as members with a disease. They will become holy through Christ’s transforming power at the rapture.

 

 

2. You can disagree with other churches if they don’t give Christ this place of Head in their group or church.

 

Concerning The Believer:

 

1. This doctrine could also be entitled the Lordship of Christ. Christ is Head — He is Lord. There is one distinction. He’s officially Head, but only Lord as we allow Him that position. This is true for the church as well. Allowing Christ Lordship is simply allowing Christ to have control of our life, and to have access to every area of life; be that area your innermost secret, or innermost problem, be that area your dating, be that area your job, be it anything.

 

Christ is Head officially — now let’s let Him be Head in practice. Let us as individuals and churches begin to allow Him to make the decisions.

 

We need to consider this picture that is used to describe us. We are told that we are the body of Christ. Consider that picture for a moment or two. First, there are several bones in the body of Christ. these bones are also found in each one of us. How well the body gets along depends on how much these bones are used.

 

1. Knee bone — How much prayer is offered on the bended knee?

 

2. The backbone — how may great laborers do our churches have.

 

3. Wishbone — This is often put to use instead of the knee and backbone. (“Oh, I wish the church would grow.”)

 

4. The most used bone in the church today should be the least used — the jawbone. It has its good use — when it’s operating for the Lord.

 

5. Finger bone — It points to everyone’s faults.

 

6. Rib bone — Rib the pastor till he can’t take it anymore.

 

7. Shoulder bone — It does the work.

 

Some churches I’ve seen remind me of my own body at times. My mouth runs before my mind is engaged. Sometimes I feel like I’m hooked up backwards; my nose runs and my feet smell.

 

 

We sometimes begin to think we’re pretty important, but remember as you sit there you are worth $.90 chemically. You’re pretty much worthless, unless you are energized atomically, then you become worth millions per pound because you could produce 11 million kilowatts per pound of flesh.

 

Spiritually we’re worthless without the Holy Spirit, but with Him we are priceless to God.

 

What kind of a body are we for Christ? The next text has specific reference to the local assembly as does Ephesians four, but by application we could see truths for the invisible church as well.

 

Take a few moments to read this text, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. Some facts from the text:

 

V. 12) One body, many members

 

V. 13) All are placed in the body via the Holy Spirit. This is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This takes place at salvation.

 

V. 15) If a member, out of disgust, declares himself not of the body, he still is in the body, like it or not.

 

V. 17) There is a diversity of types. The body isn’t just an eye. The body isn’t just an ear. It’s a complete body, arms hands, legs, feet etc.

 

V. 18) God placed us where He wanted us. This includes what we are. He chose what member you are and placed you in the body where He wants you.

 

This passage has direct application to every one of us today. How? 1. We should carefully find out what local assembly He wants us working in. 2. After we know where we are to be, we should find out what we should be doing. This means more than just sitting idle while the hand scratches your foot. Every member of a healthy body functions. What are you supposed to be doing? 3. God placed. Not man. We are not to judge another member’s place or ability. God thinks his ability is what He wants in that place. You may feel I am a rotten teacher. Maybe I am. Maybe I don’t have interesting studies. Maybe I am bald. Maybe I don’t have a sense of humor. Maybe I tick you off with all of my detail. But — you did not place me in this position. At this time god wants me here no matter what I’m like. Tomorrow He may want me in some other position. This can be done in a number of ways. Don’t judge God’s placement of members.

 

Vs. 21-22) One member can’t do without the other if it is going to function properly.

 

Every job in the church is important to the smooth functioning of the body. Imagine if your left knee joint was rendered inoperative. Just how well would your back feel after hobbling along with a stiff knee? Every job is important to the body.

 

V. 23) We should try to honor these less important members. This is done by giving credit where credit is due and giving a thank you and pat on the back once in a while.

 

V. 24) God gives honor to these less important parts, by spiritual blessing, by joy in serving, by rewards later.

 

A missionary friend once told a church that he’d help with their Vacation Bible School. He didn’t get to speak in that church. He served them as a less important member. On his next furlough the church opened a day of services to him and support followed.

 

V. 25) This honor is done so there is no division in the body.

 

All members should care for one another. If there isn’t a mutual caring, then someone’s spiritual life is not in a proper relation to God.

 

There is a phrase in the Scripture that is very indicative of what we are talking about. “One another.” The Bible mentions many things that we are to do for and to “one another.” I would suggest a study of these passages for your further enrichment. It will take a while, yet the benefit will be well worth it. The listing of these passages is in Appendix six.

 

V. 26) There should be common suffering and rejoicing: How do you feel when your tooth aches? Do you feel great all over? No. How do you feel when it’s fixed? Great — all over. So we might surmise that if one member of the church body is off center then the whole body is slightly askew.

 

Some of the members have certain spiritual gifts to train, while all of us have a gift or more for the enrichment of the whole. Let’s look at

 

 

Ephesians 4:11-16 and see how this relates to the body of Christ. Vs. 11) Some gifts given for a purpose. Vs. 12) We see there is a reason in this verse: For the perfecting of the saints. (complete as a machine, ready to go.) In short, the purpose is to teach every Christian so that he is ready and able to go for God. Be it witnessing or whatever.

 

The pastor is to be helping complete the others in the church. At the same time there may be others in the church that can help in completing the pastor. This is not open season on telling your pastor what and how to do his work, but there may be opportunity for you to assist him in his ministry in a way that he learns.

 

The result of this mutual completing is a church that is growing maturity wise as well as number wise. It is a process by which a church can begin to function as a unit and not an octopus with many tentacles flailing the water.

 

Let’s recap:

 

We — every one of us — is a member of a local assembly.

 

It does not matter if you hold membership or not. If you are attending a gathering you are in essence a part of that body. You — every one of you — has a spiritual gift. God placed you in your local church at this time because of your gift. It is needed to do what God wants done at this point in time.

 

These gifts are varied. You may have more than one. You may have the gift of giving, of helps, of pastor-teacher, of evangelist, of governments (oversight), of ministry (material, deacons), of exhorter (paraclete), of ruler (elder), or of mercy.

 

No matter what your gift you should be sharing that gift with the other believers. If you aren’t sharing that gift, you are hindering and impeding the health of the body. What is worse — you are hindering and impeding the work of God.

 

It’s easy to sit back and relax while others do all the work, but when you see it in its true light it’s the fact that you are hindering and holding up God’s work. Are you ready to admit to that?

 

 

There is another warning that might be drawn from this thought. The church leadership which does not allow all of the people to minister is throwing up a roadblock to God’s work as well. Every gift is present for a purpose and should be used in the assembly.

 

God can work around you. He can do this is two ways: 1) by shifting your load to someone else, or 2) by bringing other people into the assembly to take your work.

Is someone else doing work in your assembly that you should be doing? Not only should we be suing our gifts in the local church, but we also have other responsibilities.

 

Every organization has rules and regulations — no matter how loose the organization. Every organization has members. those members have set responsibilities. Even in the hippy groups of the 60’s there were certain responsibilities. The hippy dress was to be different than the straights. They wore patches and rags so they could be different. My question is this — if they were so different why did they all look alike when they dressed differently? At any rate, they had certain responsibilities to the group.

 

This holds true concerning the members of the body of Christ. We will be looking at these responsibilities for a moment.

 

A. The first responsibility is to mature. Even though there are many immature Christians that have been saved for twenty-five years, our prime interest is in maturing and learning in our new life. This can be done in many ways.

 

1. Regular attendance at services. Not just the am, pm, & Wednesday, but all that are available. Many churches have training hours and different age group fellowships.

 

2. Daily prayer is needed to keep the channels of communication open. All the sermons, lessons, and devotions in the world will be useless unless you are on your knees asking God to apply them to you.

 

3. Regular personal Bible study. A very good place to begin here is to read through the Bible so you know what’s there. Then get into detailed studies. Mix your ways of studying up so that you don’t become bored.

 

B. You are responsible to honor other members of the body.

 

1. This does not allow for talking behind someone’s back. This does not allow for backbiting. Our pastor years ago preached on the armor of God. He explained carefully how the front of the body was well protected, but there is no protection in the rear. He explained that the Christian soldier was always to be going forward. He also mentioned that it should have included protection from the rear. He told us that he had had more trouble from the rear, from Christians, than he had had from the front.

 

He didn’t say it, but what has happened in today’s church is this -the Devil has infiltrated the Lord’s ranks by getting Christians to sin.

 

2. This includes a mutual trust between members. All members are Christians and as such should be honest. If you have any proof of wrongdoing, go to the person in question. If you have only suspicions, be quiet. If God has placed a person in a place of leadership then it is your duty to keep his or her reputation, not tear it down.

 

C. You are responsible to support the body.

 

1. This can be in the form of help. Helping in the ministry. All are to be working. Every member. It is wrong to push all responsibilities onto one member. Remember your spiritual gift is to be used to support the body.

 

2. Spiritual support between members is needed. A mutual encouraging of one another. a. This can be on a one to one basis. b. This can be in informal fellowship. c. This can be during testimony times.

 

D. You are responsible to build up the body.

 

1. By personal witness. The early church was built by Christians witnessing, winning and bringing people into church.

 

2. As you talk to others about your church don’t dwell on the dim side, like how little room there is or about how boring the Sunday School class is, but emphasize the positive.

 

 

E. You are responsible to keep your attitudes straight.

 

1. Personal attitudes in a church are very important to smooth operation.

 

2. Don’t get hurt when a vote goes against what you wanted.

 

3. Don’t get upset if someone gets a job you wanted. Volunteer…

 

F. It is your responsibility to mind your own business. Our world is changing drastically. Everyone is out to mind everyone else’s business.

 

1. It used to be that how you raised your children was your business, but it seems everyone has to get into the show. A man shared with us once that he had taken a child out for several applications of the board of education on the seat of learning. Still the child gave trouble so he got up again and every person in the church turned and stared. To which the pastor said, “Now you people never mind — that child needs that.”

 

2. It is proper and courteous to allow others to have a different opinion and leave it at that. Today, especially on spiritual things, if you have a difference of opinion you are treated like the scum of the earth. Many times when you take a stand on something you believe in, you are radical and stupid. This oft times is worst from Christians.

 

G. It is your responsibility to be content with what you have and with where you are in the body. 1 Timothy 6:8 “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” 1 Timothy 6:6 “But godliness with contentment is great gain;”

 

I. You are responsible to apply what you hear and learn from Scripture to yourself and no one else. When you hear something don’t say, “Oh boy, does so and so need that.” Say, “Does that relate to me?” Let the Holy Spirit work on everyone else. He can do it if you let Him. He is God, and conviction is one of His ministries to the believer.

 

J. You are responsible to keep your family in proper order so they are an honor and asset to the body.

 

1. The man has a set responsibility in the family (Ephesians 5:22-25). We’ve been studying Christ’s headship. The husband is the head of the family. I see no reason given in Scripture whereby this relationship can be changed.

 

2. Children are to obey their parents. Colossians 3:20 “Children, obey your parents in all things; for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” Also see Ephesians 6:1-3. Note obey and honor are two things for us to do. Another good study for insight is the term “honor” and the term “obey.”

 

As a teenager I was very cautious of honoring my father. He was the county treasurer — above reproach. Never did wrong. One night I went sliding around a corner and sped off only to be followed by a flashing red light. The first thought in my mind was not of the money or embarrassment to me, but of what my father would say and secondly what his friends and acquaintances would say. In court I was thinking about my name being in the paper and the dishonor it would mean to him. As children — not only kids and young people, but everyone that has living parents — it is your duty to honor your parents. Keep their esteem and worth in view in all that you do.

 

K. You are responsible to help keep unity in the assembly. A group of people bound together by a shared goal will be united behind that goal and the effort to obtain that goal. If you find you are at odds with the group, check to see if you are spiritually (sin-wise) prepared to make your decision, and then make your decision on a Scriptural basis. Don’t decide on what you think, but on what God says. If you are at odds you might try prayer.

 

If all of us keep our end of these responsibilities we can expect a smooth running church that will be quite honoring to God. If we begin to slip in these areas we can expect strife, hurt feelings, and trouble.

 

We’ve been talking about the body of Christ and the responsibilities of the members. Our study now should turn to how the members can be responsive. Really the only way. Take a moment and read through 2 Timothy 2:14-26

 

How do your religious conversations go with other people? Are they argumentative? Are they calm or heated? Are they based solely on Scripture or upon what someone thinks or feels? Are they profitable?

 

 

If they are heated or argumentative or based on thought, feeling or philosophy, then they are unprofitable and will subvert the hearers. Possibly an illustration of this concept would be good. Many years ago I was working on an F.M. radio. I was trying to align or adjust it in a certain manner. My boss said, “You can’t do it that way.” I said, “You’re crazy — I’m doing it.” A lengthy argument ensued which became heated. At last my boss, an electronics engineer conceded that I, only a technician, was right. What were the last four words about a heated argument? Will subvert the hearers. I had convinced a friend of mine, also. The problem came when I found I couldn’t align the radio in that manner. Thinking back I found where I was wrong. The point? A heated argument subverted my friends and my bosses’ thinking. I then had to not only tell them I had argued them into falsehood, but that I was sorry for the whole mess.

 

This happens many times in religious discussions. The same is true when we draw conclusions from discussions based on philosophy or someone’s thoughts and beliefs.

 

Paul says — subverting is the result.

 

Vs. 15 “Study to show thyself approved….” Someone has asked the question: If you were arrested and tried for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you? Think about it. If you took your case before God right now and said, “Lord, I’ve studied in the Word in the following areas and I’ve spent this many hours a week studying your Word,” would He say, “Here is your reward faithful servant.” Or would He say, “You’re a slothful servant. You will have no reward.” Would He put His stamp of approval on you?

“…a workman….” This assumes that you are working for Him. Are you? “…that needeth not be ashamed….” Have you ever witnessed to someone, or been in a discussion concerning religion and found you can’t answer questions put to you — or you feel you were a miserable witness? If so this is your problem. You are ashamed. Why? Because you aren’t an approved workman. Why? Because you haven’t studied diligently.

 

This does not require length in study, but diligence to the study you have.

 

 

“…rightly dividing the word of truth….” Another area where embarrassment enters in when someone catches you teaching something wrong from the Word. Again this usually comes from poor study.

 

Vs. 16 “…stay away from babblings….” Another way to explain the discussions of v 14. If you are subverted and continue, you will be increasing your ungodliness. If you are a teacher and teach others, you are multiplying your ungodliness.

 

Paul goes on to give information concerning false teaching and the importance of being very careful in our acceptance of things taught. I have told classes and congregations all my life to check up on what their pastor tells them and to check up on what I tell them. Indeed, that is a good warning to the reader. There may be things in this volume that are false. Not because I am desirous of misleading you but there are ways in which falsehood can creep in.

 

We trust that this look into the body aspect of the church has been helpful and that the reader will continue to do further study on the subject as time permits.

 

 

7. SPIRITUAL GIFTS

 

There has been so much written about spiritual gifts that it doesn’t seem logical to go into great detail in this section. I would like to just share some information that might be of use to the reader.

 

Miscellaneous information and thoughts concerning Spiritual gifts.

 

1. Gifts Are Not Synonymous With Natural Talents. The gift may however be a supernatural enhancement of a natural talent. An example is a case of a man in Nebraska that was asked to paint a large Vacation Bible School banner for the church. He was somewhat of a sign painter, however made many mistakes and goofs in his work. He was very reluctant to take on this banner. The pastor encouraged him to do it. The man set out to do the banner and did not run into any difficulties and it came out quite nicely.

 

Many can teach as we see in the public schools however only the gifted can teach spiritual things in a powerful life changing way.

 

2. Gifts Are Not Ministries. The Lord gifts for the ministries for which he has called you. He will not give you the gift of pastor if you are never going to do any pastoring. He prepares you for whatever He desires for you to do.

 

3. Gifts Are Not Offices. Those holding offices will have gifts and their gifts may well relate to their office, yet it is not an office as such. The gift of pastor teacher is not the office, though the man holding that office should have the gift of pastor and the gift of teacher. (See appendix eight for more detail on this.)

 

4. Gifts Are Not Spiritual Maturity Or Fruit Of The Spirit.

 

5. Everyone Has One. (Ephesians 4:7 “unto every one of us is given grace”; Romans 12:6-8.) The gift or gifts are given by the Holy Spirit for the building up of the church. Each believer has a gift, whether he knows what it is or not. In some cases a person will not know their gift for some time after salvation.

 

6. They Will Differ From Person To Person (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:11.) Everyone in a church will not have the same gift, though there may be several that have the same one. For example there will normally be several gifted teachers for the training of the saints. In a large church there may be more than one “pastor-teacher” for the ministry of the saints.

 

7. Gifts Are For The Common Good Of The Body (1 Corinthians 12:7, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit.” The profit will be to the person, yet to the body as well. The whole purpose of the gifts is to benefit the body of Christ. Christ set the church into motion for a purpose and these gifts are to aid and assist in the body’s completion of that task.

 

8. The Gifts Are Given Through The Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:7) Ephesians four declares that Christ gifted some, but He did it through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is assumed that Christ specifies the gift and the Holy Spirit empowers or gifts accordingly.

 

9. The Purpose Is The Edification And Growth Of The Body Of Christ (Ephesians 4:12-14.) If everyone has a gift and the gifts are for building up of the body then it follows that if some of the people are not ministering in the church, that the church is not growing properly.

 

10. We Are To Know About Them. (1 Corinthians 12:1, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.” This is not to say that a believer should set aside all he is doing to seek and find his gift. The believer is to look at the Word and know of the gifts and then as they walk with the Lord their gift will be revealed to them. There was a time in the 70’s in which the church in general seemed to be stuck on gifts. All the new books were on the gifts, all the sermons were on the gifts, and the concentration of believers was diverted to the gifts rather than other things of ministry. This was not all bad, for the spiritual gifts prior to that time were very subdued in the church; however it tended to sidetrack people.

 

11. The gifts can be abused as is evidenced in the book of 1 Corinthians where Paul comments on the proper/improper use of the gift of tongues.

 

12. Most Feel That You Can Have More Than One Gift. They quote 1 Peter 4:10 “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” I am not sure what they are seeing in this verse. The NASB mentions a “special” gift which might possibly indicate a special as well as a not so special gift.

 

There are some the teach a primary/secondary gift line of thinking. They feel there is a primary gift in which the believer actually does most of their ministering, and then one or more secondary gifts which assist them in their overall ministry. For example the pastor may have primary gifts of pastor and teacher while also the secondary gift of helps which he uses in ministering to sick and shut-ins. Though there seems little Scripture to base this on, observation over the years seems to indicate it.

 

13. If You Know What Your Gift Is Then You Should Function In That Area Of Your Church. If you are not functioning with your gift then you are in sin. The gift was given for use.

 

14. Most Believe That The Gifts Are Given For Life. If you are given the gift of pastor, then you will die a pastor gifted person. You may not be able to function as before, but your mind set will function around that gift that you have been given. If you have the gift of giving and you find yourself one day on a very limited Social Security income — you still have the gift of giving and you will probably be a real giver even though it is limited.

 

HOW TO DISCOVER YOUR GIFT

 

The normal question from the person that does not know what his gift is, centers on how to find what their gift is. Let’s consider that for a few moments.

 

1. Know what the gifts are, what they mean, and the action that each is able to perform.

 

2. Go to work and find out what area you seem to flourish in. The old adage “God can’t steer a parked car.” is very appropriate. Get busy in several different areas and see if you function well in them. This may take some time so don’t be discouraged. (Stephen is seen as a deacon but is soon preaching. Phillip as well.)

 

 

3. Consider what part you would like to have in the local church. The desire will be found resident if the gift is there. If you really like to teach then teaching may be your gift.

 

4. Dedicate yourself to the Lord and to serving Him the best way you can (Romans 12:1-5). Be controlled by the Holy Spirit and allow Him to lead you.

 

5. Try to develop the gift you think that you might have and see if the gift is there or if it is just a talent.

 

6. Wait and see if others view you as having the gift as well.

 

7. Do not worry if you do not know or find your gift. You can function in the church without knowing.

 

8. Take a test and know what your gift is. I have passed out tests and have seen tests which are billed as “Indicators” of your gift. I have seen people take these tests and “KNOW” what their spiritual gifts are. NOT SO. These tests usually are accurate in indicating what a gift might be. In people that know their gifts and have taken the tests, the tests seem fairly accurate. Be careful however not to base your knowledge of a gift on a test. Allow the Lord to lead you to what your gift is.

 

I would like to give some listings of the gifts in different groupings for your personal study and reference. These are to be found in appendix seven.

 

THE GIFTS EXAMINED BRIEFLY

 

Prophecy: This gift is quite often listed in the sign gift area due to the revelatory nature of it in the New Testament. “But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.” (1 Corinthians 14:3) Some feel that prophecy rightly belongs in the ministry gift area due to this verse. In truth it would seem that possibly the gift of prophecy had a redefinition in the New Testament times. In the Acts the gift has the idea of forthtelling with the future involved as in the Old Testament prophets. While this verse (1 Corinthians 14:3) sounds very much like a gift that belongs in the Ephesians four category.

 

 

Some see different aspects of the gift in the New Testament. There is the prophetic aspect of revealing God’s message to man, there is the forthtelling of God’s message as in what we view as preaching. I’m not sure there is enough evidence to justify either side of the case. The important item is this, if you see the gift of prophecy in place today, be sure that you explain what you mean by that gift, and not allow people to believe there is prophecy of the New Testament revelation type going on today.

 

Faith: This gift seems to be the God given faith to see something that God wants done and to go forward planning and praying toward that end. This would probably be in view in the book of James. “And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up;” James 5:15

 

This might be the little old lady that Knows That God Is Going To Send Someone Into The Ministry From Her Church. A professor of mine at Western Bible College in Denver, CO shared that he had been a secular school teacher for some time, and the Lord began leading him into the ministry. He had a master’s in education and he was planning to go on now to seminary. His pastor asked him to share this in church, so he did. After the service a little old lady came up to him and was shaking here skinny finger in his face and she said, “I’ve been praying for years that God would raise up someone from our church to go into the ministry, and for the last three years, I’ve been praying that it would be you.” The moral of my story? Watch out for those little old ladies, or you may become a missionary or who knows what.

 

Word Of Wisdom: This is usually seen as a sign gift, and rightly so, however there may be a sense in which you should watch the wisdom that comes your way as you walk through life. I personally believe that the gift of wisdom is a sign gift, yet I have seen some very wise men that God has placed in my path. Don’t discount wisdom when it walks up to you and says hello. Learn from it.

 

It seems to be the ability to take the facts and consider all information and wisely choose the course of action to be taken. You may run into this fellow when you begin trying to figure out what the Lord wants you to do with your life. You may give him all your assets and fears, and he will work through your fears and help you to an understanding of what you can do and encourage you toward that end. Not all people are as wise as they profess, so be very careful, of those that you take advice from. If you don’t have confidence in them, if you don’t see evidence of wisdom in that life then don’t ask them advice.

 

Word Of Knowledge: The ability to search the scriptures, systematize and communicate the knowledge received. Again this is usually viewed as a sign gift and should be. There is the idea of it in our own day also however. Hopefully this is what we have in the books that we are reading. The men of God of our day and past days are looking at the word, looking at the language, and looking to other areas of research and are setting down information that we might be able to use in our own lives.

 

Healing: The miraculous bringing about of cures to all manner of diseases. Another sign gift. This is seen as the complete and immediate cure of the malady. This is seen in several accounts of the healing in the Book of Acts. It is significant to note that the apostle Paul healed many in the book of Acts, yet in later life he could not heal himself or others mentioned in the epistles. This is proof that he no longer had the gift of healing.

 

We might make comment also that God is able to do as He pleases in response to our prayers, and based on this it should be noted that He does heal at His choice and discretion. This healing is done directly and not through a faith healer or some other third party.

 

Miracles: The supernatural intervention of someone with the laws of nature to bring about some work via a command or prayer. Again this is a sign gift that is no longer in existence. The fact that God works in miraculous ways in this day is not disputed. He, as we have said, can do as He pleases, and does intervene at times in wonderful ways.

 

Discerning Of Spirits: The ability to discern the difference between a spirit of truth and a spirit of error. Though I believe that the gift has passed away, I would encourage you to develop your impressions and feelings toward people and what they teach. As you go along you may feel, with no cause there is something wrong. Go carefully and see if your feelings or impulses are correct.

 

I have noticed many times that we will meet someone in a secular setting and I will tell my wife that I would bet the person is a charismatic. I have been quite accurate. We arrived for a deputation meeting in Oregon and about fifteen minutes into the Sunday School lesson, I leaned to my wife and said that I thought there was something very wrong in the church. She said that she felt the same thing. Within a couple of weeks someone told us that the church had gone charismatic.

 

Tongues: The supernatural ability to speak in a previously not known tongue or language. This is definitely one of the sign gifts and is not for the use of the believer today. The so called heavenly tongue that many claim

to use is easily proven to be of something other than the Lord and His plan.

 

Interpretation Of Tongues: The supernatural ability to interpret what is spoken by the person speaking in tongues.

 

Apostles: This would seem to be the office that the disciples and Paul held. There is no equivalent to this office or gift today.

 

MINISTRY GIFTS

 

Ministry: This would seem to relate to the work of the Deacon. This is the ministering to the physical needs of the saints. I rather suspect that

many people have this gift in there is so much to be done in this area of the church. Indeed, I have to think that many of the bench warmers that we have in our churches may well have this gift, for there is quite often too much ministering to be done for those that minister.

 

Teaching: The God given ability to search the scriptures and declare that truth which has been learned. This seems to carry with it the ability to create interest in spiritual things and have insight into the needs of the students. We have many teachers in our churches, but I’m not sure how many gifted teachers we have in our churches. (That are busy Ministering at any rate.)

 

Exhortation: The Spirit given ability to comfort and help those that call you alongside for help or assistance. The term is also used of the Holy Spirit in relation to his ministry as the comforter. The person who has this gift quite often finds that people with problems seek them out for help, advice or just a listening ear. If you have this gift PLEASE use it at every opportunity. Many in our churches are hurting and have no one to talk to.

 

 

Giving: The ability to give money for the ongoing work of the Lord with a single minded commitment to continue to do so as long as the Lord allows. This does not mean that you are or will be rich. We had a supporter that felt that giving was his gift. He was on a disability income from social security and is unable to work. He and his wife give as much as they can and are determined to do so as long as the Lord gives them income and life. Even though they are low income, they seem to have the gift of giving.

 

Ruling: Some would lump this into the gift of governments however there is a possibility that the two are different. Ruling may have the idea of ruling over the church as in oversight. The idea of the one that guides the church along.

 

Mercy: The ability to show mercy or kindness to those in the body of Christ that is hurting and/or is in need of encouragement. This will normally be a part of a pastor’s ministry; however there may be some in the body that could do a much better job of mercy. We should teach people this so that the pastor is not burdened with a ministry that he is not gifted to do. The pastor can do his part and allow others to come in and hurt with the people. I’ve noticed in the past, however that normally the pastor does do well in this area and is probably gifted for the ministry.

 

Helps: The ability to step into any situation and assist in accomplishing the task at hand. This gift may well involve the ability to organize and carry through on a task until done. In a church in Nebraska there was a man that always headed up everything. At potlucks if something needed done he was in the middle of rounding up workers to get it done. His motto was, “Everybody works.” Many joked of the man’s work, but he was a man that got the work completed in quick and good order.

 

Governments: As opposed to Ruling this gift would be in the area of administration. The smooth running of the church affairs. Possibly an assisting of the different church leaders. We have churches and organizations with gifted people in this area, but the heads of the groups are too insecure to allow them to minister and have a great effect upon the body.

 

Evangelists: The gift that enables it’s bearer to share forth the Gospel to the unsaved in a way that is both powerful and effective unto the leading of souls to the Lord. Some churches are seeing an advantage in having an evangelist on staff. This is a man that is equipped, not only to evangelize, but to train others to do the same. He is usually head of outreach for the church and is given a certain amount of time in the pulpit to exercise his gift among the assembly.

 

It is not necessarily the man that is called in for evangelistic services. The order of evangelism in the New Testament is for the church to train workers that go out evangelizing and then bringing the new converts into the church for training. (I think that you have read that before.) If the church was functioning properly, there would be no need for an outside evangelist to come in for meetings.

 

Pastor-Teacher: (Again, I would suggest you read appendix eight for more on this topic.) The shepherd of the flock that can both shepherd and feed the flock with the food from the Word of God. This man may well have the gift of administration in a small church, yet not in the large church where they have a very good business manager. When you are organizing the church as it develops, be sure to see what qualified and gifted people you have. This may well help you know what ministries the Lord has in mind for your people. If you are in a city and find that you have three evangelists and four or five pastor-teachers, you might conclude that a few satellite churches would be in order.

 

Let’s look at a few views of the gifts by other groups.

 

Old Time Pentecostal View:

 

1. They believe in the New Birth.

 

2. They view Spirit Baptism as Post Salvation.

 

3. They lay emphasis on all the miraculous gifts especially tongues and healing.

 

4. Tongues are the evidence of the Spirit Baptism.

 

Current Pentecostal View:

 

1. Hold to Spirit Baptism. (May be pre or post salvation.)

 

2. The book of Acts is a pattern for today.

 

 

3. You are spiritually lacking without tongues.

 

4. Healing is also seen as very “today.”

 

Protestant — Non Pentecostal View:

 

1. Miraculous gifts.

 

2. Spirit Baptism is at salvation.

 

3. All gifts are active today.

 

4. Each believer has one or more.

 

5. They rely on experience. One of the leading seminaries fired three men for holding to this position. At the time of hiring they knew the men leaned this way, but when they shifted and started propagating their beliefs the seminary let them go.

 

Protestant — Non Pentecostal — Non Sign Gift View: (Body life movement people.)

 

1. The lack of gifts has hindered the church.

 

2. They emphasize interpersonal relations and normally are light on the theology.

 

3. Many differences on the types of gifts.

 

4. Many differences on definitions of gifts.

 

5. Many differences as to which gifts are for today.

 

Protestant — Average Fundamental View:

 

1. The sign gifts were for the establishment of the Gospel message in the time of the apostles.

 

2. The ministry gifts are for today for the edification of the local church.

 

3. There are differences as to which are active today but usually this difference is prophecy.

 

 

4. The gifts are for the believers use within the church, but it is not a “hurry up and find it” attitude. The gifts will surface as a person is active within the church.

 

5. Misuse or none use of a gift would be considered sin. (That is assuming that you know what your gift is.)

 

For a number of years the emphasis was upon the gifts. You must find yours. What is yours? Etc. It was not unlike the world’s quest for knowing their astrological signs. Many would ask what your gift was before getting to know you.

 

The better emphasis is very definitely upon the giver of the Gifts, Jesus Christ. Christ’s provision of the gifts through the Holy Spirit was for the building up of the church.

 

To dwell on gifts is to be a poor steward of your time. To uplift your gifts is to be a poor steward of your humility. May we all seek to minister in the church to the best of our ability? Indeed, that is what the Lord would have us do. We should function as we are gifted to the best of our ability.

 

A WORD OF WARNING CONCERNING GIFTS

 

There are some in the church that will not allow others to minister in the area of their gifting. I really have to wonder if those people won’t be held accountable for limiting the gifted peoples function in a particular instance.

 

As you go out into the ministry, seek to help people find their gifts and then use them in the assembly.

 

Realize that unless all are functioning properly, then the church is not functioning properly. If you have bench warmers, then the church is not functioning properly. If you have absentees, then the church is not functioning properly. Apply that one when you want to go to the mountains. If you are not involved in a local church then some local church is not functioning properly, unless you are in an itinerant type ministry.

 

A pet view of mine follows and I am not sure that I could prove it from scripture, but I believe that the indications of scripture run along this line.

 

 

Every church or organization has just as many gifted people as they need to do the work that God intends to have done. This may mean that if something is not being done, then someone is not functioning. Either from inability to or lack of desire to. This means that if a new aspect of ministry comes along and there is no one present that can do it, then you should begin praying for the person needed and look to the Lord for His provision. This means wait till the provision is made before launching out into that ministry. It means that if your only gifted teacher is transferred to South Africa there may be one present and just not knowledgeable of his gift. You should check around and train him when you find him.

 

SOME CLOSING THOUGHTS

 

I trust that you will pay attention to the next section of information. I believe that if it isn’t helpful now, that it may well be useful to you at some time in the future.

 

We have been talking about spiritual gifts and the fact that you have one or more. God has called many people into ministries of many different character.

 

Some in the ministry begin to question whether they should really be there or not. Usually this question is raised because they are in ministries that are not going well or not going at all.

 

The following thoughts are based on observation, plus a bit of scriptural indication.

 

SOME BIBLICAL INDICATORS

 

Paul always went to the Jews each time he entered a new area. They rejected his message. Take Note Of Some Things: The rejection was of Christ and not of Paul. The rejection did not mean that Paul was a failure. The rejection did not indicate that the Lord did not lead Paul to that place to minister to the Jews.

 

Some of the Prophets of the Old Testament were sent to a non-listening people. God told the prophet up front that the people would not hear. Take Note Of Some Things: The not listening was not because the prophet did not communicate well. (It was because their ears were plugged with sin.) The judgment that followed was not the prophet’s fault. The judgment was due to the sin and the not turning back to God, not any lack on the part of the prophet.

 

NOW SOME APPLICATION AND SOME OBSERVATION

 

1. God may lead you to minister in an area where there will be no visible lasting result. This is not your affair to worry about. It is God’s desired result for His desired ministry for you.

 

2. God at times gives a people or an area every conceivable opportunity to come to Him, and then when they have turned their backs, He will give them another opportunity.

 

I have seen men go into an area that has had abundant opportunity for a church and the men will work their hearts out and not see any real results. That Is God’s Business And His Desire, Or They Would Not Be There. The key to this type of situation is to be open to the Lord’s leading as to when to leave. Be open to the Lord to be sure that your life is straight before Him. Be open to the Lord to be sure that you are doing all that you can. THEN, if there is no result it is due to God’s plan. He will care for it.

 

I really believe that He gives every opportunity to some, just so they will have no valid comment at the judgment seat, be it the bema or the Great White Throne, they did not know what to do.

 

3. Your only responsibility is to be right before God and do the work that He leads you to do.

 

4. There may be times when you will minister in an area for years with no real success. It is God’s success that we should be interested in.

 

There are many accounts of missionaries that have labored a life time to

see very little results. The next generation of missionaries, however usually reap the benefit of those works and see great things done for God.

 

God will give the increase in His day and His time. Just because you do not become a rousing success in one place of ministry, do not assume that you have no gift and that you are a failure. You may indeed have the

specific gift needed in that case and be a rousing success in God’s mind and plan.

 

 

If I were to measure my success in light of man’s standards I would become very discouraged. I try to keep my eyes on the Lord and His leading and trust that He is seeing all that I do as a success.

 

Be realistic, and understand that this is not an easy thing to do. There will be times when you have doubts concerning your abilities. There will be times when you become disgusted because you can’t do something that you feel is needed, because the Christians are to dead to get involved. There will be Monday mornings. There will be times when you become discouraged. There will be times when you type up your resignation.

 

The Point Of All I’ve Said Is That You Need To, At Those Times, Go Before The Lord And Ask For More Of His Strength.

 

1. Be thankful.

 

2. Don’t be prideful.

 

3. Don’t look down your nose at those that we have spoken of in the preceding section.

 

4. Be an encouragement to your brothers and sisters in ministry that are having ruff times.

 

 

8. THE DISCIPLINE OF THE CHURCH

 

I personally have only been in a church involved in church discipline one time and that fairly recently. Church discipline is a topic that many let slip for many years. It is coming back into the foreground again for which we should be very thankful.

 

It is the means of keeping the local assembly pure, and it is a needed tool at times.

 

It is not hard to recall a minister that has fallen from his position due to immorality or theft. It is not hard to remember several members of local congregations that have gone off into open sin. The hard thing to recall or remember may be that any of these people were ever disciplined for their activity.

 

In the past there have been many that have taken church discipline very seriously. We have a series of Questions and Answers from history that were set forth by Menno Simons in 1550 concerning how the disciplined person should be treated. The “ban” in these questions refers to the fact that the sinner is banned from the local congregation.

 

I would like to share some of these questions for you. So you can see how seriously some believers in the past were about discipline.

“Should husband and wife shun each other on account of the ban?” “Should we greet one that is banned, with the common, everyday greeting, or return our respects as his greeting?”

 

“Are we allowed to show the banned any charity, love, and mercy?” “Are we allowed to sell to, and buy of, the apostates….?”

“Are we allowed to be seated with an apostate in a ship or wagon, or to eat with him at the table of a tavern?”

 

We might assume from the questions on the ban that these people were serious about what the word says about church discipline.

 

I read an article some time ago that mentions a study in the south. The author had done some research on church discipline in a specific area (Mississippi). The church members did not know of any serious church discipline, except for one person that remembered a discipline of a singing star in Hollywood. The point? Church discipline is not a common thing.

 

Someone has, tongue in cheek suggested, that church discipline today is the pastor and elders keeping quiet about the sin in deacon Jones life so that he won’t rock the financial boat.

 

To say the least, discipline is not a prime topic of activity or discussion these days in the local church, yet the Bible very clearly teaches that open sin should be dealt with by the church body.

 

DEFINITION

 

Let us define church discipline as the correction of action, or the removal of the erring believer from the local church body, for the purpose of correction and/or restoration. This is normally undertaken for immorality or deviation from approved doctrine.

 

At the outset we must realize that discipline is NOT to make the church sinless. It is to maintain a proper testimony before the world. Anyone thinking that discipline can make the church sinless does not understand the teaching of man and his relationship to sin.

 

Matthew 5:23-24 is a text that would indicate we should be right with any brother that has anything against us before we offer to God. This is under the law but in the New Testament context I would assume we could apply this to coming before God with our gifts or offerings. In short if we have anything against a brother, we should settle it before we move into a place where we are approaching the Lord.

 

This alone would eliminate many of the problems of the church. We need to work on these items as we attempt to build a body for the Lord.

 

Matthew 18:15-17 is the text which gives us the guidelines for correcting a brother. If you have problems go to the brother alone and confront him. If this does not work take one or two with you so all can be established in front of witnesses. If this fails then tell it before the church. If this also fails then “let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a tax collector”.

 

 

Some might wonder if this text is appropriate for the church age. The fact that it appears after Matthew 13 where the Jews seem to reject the Messiah, and He begins to teach of things other than the millennial kingdom indicates that it is for this age. Even if you saw it for the kingdom age the principles seem to be good, and I think some of these ideas are born out in the epistles.

 

Most definitely the most drastic account of church discipline is found in Acts 5. Ananias and Saphira have lied to the church and more specifically to God, and their discipline is very quick and strong. Their lives are taken upon confrontation with their sin. This is a text which relates to the apostolic leadership however the idea that the sin was confronted and cared for immediately should be usable to us today. Note should be made that it was God that took their lives and not the church. The church confronts and in our age takes action of reprimand and/or removal. This is the extent of the churches authority. God may and I personally believe in some cases does, take further action in the lives of unrepentant believers. I believe that John 15:1-14 and 1Corinthians 11:30 show that God may remove a sinning believer that is unwilling to turn from their sin from this life.

 

In Romans 14:1-15:1 Paul sets down some principles for handling differences of opinion. This chapter shows clearly that differences of opinion are not in view for church discipline. These items are of personal decision and Paul lays down principles to deal with these situations.

 

The basis for removal of an erring believer from the assembly is based on 1 Corinthians 5:4-11. I would like to consider this for a moment. First of all is this a believer or nonbeliever? It seems to most that this is a believer for we see in verse 5 that Paul is concerned for his soul. If this was a nonbeliever their soul would be on the way to destruction and there would be no need to turn it over to Satan.

 

Some suggest that verse 11 mentions him as being a so called brother or lost (“…any man that is called a brother….”). However, the context seems to shift in verse 9 from the man in sin to another topic.

 

This man was involved with his father’s wife. Paul is quite plain there is a problem and that it should be dealt with. Verse 7 uses the terminology that indicates the removal of the person from the church assembly. “Purge out.” The term purge would indicate there is to be a cleansing action in the whole process. If you have removed a man that is in open sin, you certainly are cleaning up the church.

 

In verse 5 they are to deliver him to the Devil for the destruction of his flesh. The purpose of discipline is seen in 7 and 8. Sin is like leaven and you must get it out of the lump before it leavens the whole lump. (Leaven is the same as yeast.) Leaven is usually seen as a type of sin in the Bible.

 

I have wondered if Paul’s choice of words wasn’t deliberate. “Puffed up,” would picture a lump with leaven throughout — fully raised. His comments then in 7 & 8 would call on them to clean out that pride — which is sin — they can be a new lump. Indeed vs. 6 indicates this.

 

It seems somewhat hard to envision a church that is proud of the sin that is within. The idea may be they were proud of how tolerant they were of the sinners. Tolerance is not something that is to be desired in the church, be it tolerance of sin, tolerance of false doctrine, or tolerance of improper activities.

 

We attended a Sunday School class in the South while on vacation and the teacher was involved in this idea of being pleased about how tolerant the people in her church were of one another. She mentioned they even had fundamentalists and liberals in the church and they all got along fine. That is not getting along, that is being tolerant of false doctrine in your church assembly.

 

We need to look briefly at 2 Corinthians 2:6-11 before we move on. Most agree that this is speaking of the man in 1 Corinthians 5 that was to be put out of the church. Paul tells them to commend their love to him and to forgive him and comfort him. Restore your fellowship with him would be the idea of the text.

 

Another text which relates to the topic is Galatians 6:1, 2. If anyone be taken in a fault restore him in meekness. The warning also is given to consider yourself so that you aren’t tempted in the same manner.

 

The question is, “Does this relate to church discipline?” Specifically I would doubt it. It seems more of a generic type sin rather than immorality etc. The principles set forth may well apply however. Restore in meekness — and seeing to it that you don’t become tempted. Along with this we must not forget that Christ was very forceful when he ran the money changers out of the temple (John 2:12-17), and most consider him meek.

 

There seems to be evidence that unruliness or disobedience is also a basis for taking steps of discipline. 1 Thessalonians 5:14

 

“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, encourage the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient toward all men.”

 

2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14, 15, mentions that we should withdraw from those that are disorderly and those that walk not after “the tradition which he received of us.” Verse 14 tells us to “have no company” with anyone that disobeys the words of the epistle.

 

The elders or church leaders are not exempt from the possibility of discipline. 1 Timothy 5:19, 20,

 

“Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.”

 

Trouble with elders should be heard only if two or three witnesses are available. Then confront him before the assembly.

 

In our “don’t scare people” atmosphere today we don’t dwell on the aspect of hell because we don’t want to scare anyone into heaven. This text tells us that disciplined people will cause fear in the assembly. Fear is not the best motivation to obedience however; the Word states that it is a possible motivation.

 

Titus 3:10-11 sets a basis for discipline for divisiveness. “A man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject, knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” This verse tells us to reject after the second admonition the heretic. The term heretic seems to have the idea of one that is divisive.

 

Another text which we need to look at is 2 John 7-11. First of all we need to see that verse 7 shows these to be lost people. This seems quite clear that we are to have no part with “Religious” people that have a wrong view of Christ. This would be in the realm of having them in our homes for hospitality and encouragement. I’m not sure it prohibits having them in to witness to them yet I’m not sure that is a good idea either. You might run into difficulties. We can certainly witness to them — that is not a thought in the text.

 

From what we have seen there is plenty of evidence to show that we should and must discipline believers that are in sin. If we do not then we are allowing the leaven that Christ spoke of to contaminate the entire assembly. If we do not discipline, then we invite trouble and strife into our churches.

 

Discipline is not popular in our churches today. I have talked with pastors that have taken a needed stand and found themselves questioned for their activities.

 

The next question. What offences do we discipline for? I would submit a list of topics and references for your consideration.

 

a. Immorality. 1 Corinthians 5

 

b. Unresolved disputes between brethren. Matthew 18:15-17

 

c. Elders that sin. 1 Timothy 5:19, 20

 

d. Repeated troublemaking. Titus 3:10

 

e. Outward sin, such as divorce or immorality.

 

A related question. Are there others that we should separate from?

 

a. Those teaching false doctrine. 2 John 7-11.

 

b. Professing people involved in fornication, covetousness, idolatry, railing, drinking or cheating. 1 Corinthians 6:11

 

We have shown that discipline is Biblical and that it is being ignored in our day. So, why do churches today fail to discipline? May some possibilities be set forth for your consideration and future avoidance.

 

a. Afraid to rock the boat. Financial problems will come if we make trouble. We might hurt someone’s feelings. How would it look to the community?

 

 

b. Indifference. We don’t care.

 

c. There is always the usual outcry that “We can’t judge.” This argument is illogical. God states that we are to discipline. Thus we

must assume that discipline is not “judging,” or else God is telling us to do something that He has told us not to do. Now, just how logical is that?

 

All of these allow the leaven to leaven the whole lump.

 

Now that we see discipline to be correct we need to consider who it is that should do the disciplining? Yes, the individual should confront, yes there should be witnesses on the second trip. These witnesses should be the elders so they are involved from the beginning. Several references indicate that the elders are the ones to become involved. Acts 20:28 show the

Elders over the church. 1 Thessalonians 5:12 mentions some are over the church for the purpose of admonishment. Hebrews 13:7, 17 mentions those that rule over the church and that the church is to submit them.

 

If you have been reading newspapers or listening to the network news over recent years you know that churches have been sued for disciplining a member. There is a lot of worry about lawsuits.

 

First of all we need to remember that the law of man is not the law of God. God tells us to discipline. If the law of the land punishes us for doing so, then so be it. We must do that which God has said.

 

The lawsuits that I have heard about seem to have been caused by improper application of the discipline. One lawsuit in particular was brought because the church broadcast the sin of the person far and wide. There is nothing in the Bible to suggest that we should take out a personal want ad to advertise a person’s sin. We should be as discrete about discipline as possible without causing hurt.

 

We need to consider a few easy steps of prevention that might save your church from a lawsuit.

 

I might suggest an article from Christianity Today, “Church Discipline Without a Lawsuit” by Carl Laney, Nov. 9, 1984 which deals with this problem. I have adapted some of Mark Laney’s points into the following list for you in case the magazine is not available to you.

 

 

1. Get insurance for the problem. Some church insurance companies have it available. We have insurance to avoid lawsuits for accidents etc. so there should be no real moral question in taking this step. Yes, it is sad that our Christian society has degenerated to the place where we have to insure ourselves against such activities, but this is the society that God has asked us to operate in.

 

2. Don’t slander while the discipline is going neither on nor after. There is no need to cause pain and suffering. Present the facts to the church family, act and keep your mouth shut.

 

3. Don’t spread the information outside the church family. This is a family problem and there is no need to take it outside the family, no matter how badly you want to talk about it.

 

4. Include in your constitution a clause that allows for church discipline. Have each member sign the constitution as they join the church. This may or may not take care of the possible situations.

 

5. Possibly a visit to your lawyer in your state would be of good advantage.

 

Include just what you believe church discipline is, why it is to be used, and the procedure which is to be followed. Indeed if there is no clause in your constitution, put one in and ask all to sign it, be they new members or old.

 

Dr. Laney suggests the inclusion of a paragraph which forbids the member to sue the church leadership or the church if they bring church discipline action against the member.

 

I would work into this statement, something that covers you and the church in case they withdraw membership during the procedure. This would give them a moral obligation not to sue. You could also include information on the fact that Scripturally the believer is not to go to law with a brother etc.

 

5. If someone tells you something in confidence then you are bound to keep that confidence. If there is a real problem it will probably come to the surface in time.

 

 

I might take a side track for a moment and state there is a real lack of keeping confidences in the church today. Many of the illustrations I hear come right out of counseling sessions. That is not confidence.

 

6. In all of the activities attempt not to embarrass those that are involved. This can only hurt and bring about hard feelings. The desired result of discipline is restoration and hard feelings will not aid in this process.

 

7. During the process be sure to reveal only the information that is necessary for a proper procedure. Disclosing all of the little details is not necessary.

 

If at all possible, keep all discipline activities within the local assembly. If the person tries to transfer membership to another church, you should be bound to let the new church know they are under discipline. The details may not need to be given unless it affects the new church’s decision.

 

If it is a pastor that is disciplined then there should be contact with the men of his ordination council, so that proper steps can be taken if any are needed.

 

Now, the following is my Opinion. Doctrine of Derickson.

 

If you have someone come to your church for membership from a church close by, take time to find out why they left the other church. It may save you a multitude of trouble. Usually when people leave it is because of problems. You don’t need those problems. If this is the case it would be good to talk to them and ask them to return to their previous church to solve their problem, and then they can be considered for membership.

 

8. If a lawsuit comes into your future, find a good lawyer so that you know you are doing things correctly and seek an out of court settlement. This will allow you to not go to court with your brother. If this is not possible, then you are bound by the law of the land to answer the charges and you must do the best you can to bring about a peaceful end to the matter.

 

9. Be very careful to inform the congregation. A church in Oregon discovered a teacher and woman were involved. They were guilty and would not cease their activity. The elders wanted to keep it quiet because both parties were very prominent members. The couple left the church voluntarily, but the elders did not inform the congregation. Rumors began flying and the elders still kept quiet. Before the situation was over others left because they mistakenly thought that the elders had kicked the erring couple out of the church with no reason.

 

Let’s draw some conclusions to our study.

 

1. Church discipline is not a four letter word. It is taught in Scripture and we should be practicing it.

 

2. We need to know our own attitudes. Discipline is to be done in love and concern for the other person. Forgiveness is the required when confession and repentance are forthcoming. (1 Corinthians 5:2; Galatians 6:1; 2 Corinthians 2:7)

 

3. There should be a restraining influence from discipline upon the rest of the membership. 1 Timothy 5:20

 

4. For the church that is contemplating not bringing discipline I would recommend they read Revelation 2:12-17

 

5. 1 Peter 1:15 calls us to holiness. 2 Timothy 3:2 mentions that the elder is to be “above reproach”. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 calls us to avoid any appearance of evil. Let these be your guide.

 

In light of such verses, we as local churches must maintain the purist assembly that we can. This comes from personal purity. This comes from prodding our friends to purity. This comes from purging impurity, if need be.

 

Years ago we attended a church in Denver, CO that had a mission’s conference. Two missionaries from Africa came to the conference and were talking about how great the church was doing in Africa. It was growing, it was evangelizing, and it was an alive church.

 

I asked the two missionaries why the church in Africa was such an alive, growing church. The younger missionary quipped out some quick answers that I accepted. (I wasn’t convinced that he had answered my question.) The next day the older missionary came to me and said, “Stan, I think I can answer your question from last night with one word. “Purity.” He went on to explain that the church was pure on a personal basis and they were pure on an ecclesiastical basis as well. That was an answer that made much sense.

 

6. In the end result, I believe our emphasis should be squarely upon the Word of God. If lawsuits come they come. If bankruptcy comes it comes. God’s Word must stand and we for it.

 

Mark Laney ended his article with 1 Timothy 3 12, “Indeed, all who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…”

 

I suspect that the following is the best policy. Probably The Best Cure For Church Discipline Is Church Discipline’. If we teach them right there will be less chance for error.

 

Some other references which might add to your personal study: Exodus 12:15-19; Exodus 13:7; Leviticus 2:11; Deuteronomy 16:4; Matthew 16:6, 12; Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1; Galatians 5:9; 1 Corinthians 6:11.

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

This is the second of the sections of my theology that I have gone through, to convert my class notes into book form. It has been a very joyful experience to review the greatness of the church, the body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, yet I am discouraged to a point in what I see in so many local assemblies.

 

There is so little genuine caring for the lost, for the newcomers, or for the membership at times. There is so little genuine teaching being done. The preaching is not all that great at times either. I have discussed this with many church people and pastors and they feel that my observations are valid.

 

So, why is this the case when we have the Holy Spirit empowering us, teaching us, leading us and comforting us? So, why is this the case when we have Christ Himself in charge of the work?

 

I am confident there is no problem with the Lord Jesus, and I am just as confident that the Holy Spirit is doing His work properly and adequately. We must assume from logic then that it is not the Head nor the plan, nor the power source. That leaves only one answer.

 

US.

 

We the people are the problem and there is nothing that can be done until we do it. Don’t worry about your neighbor and how sinful he is, don’t worry about your pastor and how uninteresting he is, and don’t worry about the church membership and how worldly they are. You worry about you and your relationship to the Head of the church. You should be sure you are in a proper mode, and then pray that the Lord would bring about needed changes in the assembly.

 

There is one subject which is somewhat related to this thought of the church. I have not made comment on it as such but feel that it is important to do so.

 

If the church is Christ’s body and if it is His desired vehicle for reaching the world and I believe it to be, then why do we have para church organizations all over the world?

 

 

I am not condemning the para church groups for they are doing a job that the church is not doing, however that is not the point. They are not the church.

 

The church in our generation should begin to correct the problem that has developed over the years. Most of the groups give lip service to the thought of allowing the local churches to have a say in things. Most will say they are an extension of the local church however, the control that the church has seems to end at the purse strings.

 

There is no reason why the church shouldn’t, indeed must, take steps to do the ministries of these groups. The groups ought also to take steps toward allowing church control. There are some that are already working on this by adding pastors and laymen to boards, by having yearly get togethers of supporting churches and mission leaders. These are good steps and should be continued, but more must be done.

 

Possibly one of the easiest ways for the corrections to begin is to see to it that new ministries become the extension of a local church or two, and see to it that the ministry remains under that control. This would place ministries under the control of spiritual men within the church that can lead and guide the ministry.

 

Moving on I would like to mention that the section concerning other types of church government was brief and intentionally so. There are other works that elaborate in detail these systems.

 

As I have moved in and out of churches over the years I have observed many problems. I have also discussed problems with pastors and laymen. The result is that I realize that the elder form of government can, if run properly, create a church environment which would eliminate many of these problems. There are many difficulties when we work with people however; the creator of these people has set forth a system for governing those people in the Word. If He has given these guidelines then it is logical they will be the best possible method of operation.

 

Even if a died in the wool Congregationalist must reject the thought of accepting this form of government, at least give credence to the process of qualification. There must be a qualified leadership or the job is doomed to failure.

 

 

The principles set forth in this section can and do work. I have knowledge of a few churches that are operating with this form of government. As we see more and more churches becoming involved, I am personally confident that we will see some great results in the area of church relationships, as well as church growth. As we believers function Biblically, church growth will be automatic.

 

One final topic. The thought of a “paid” pastor is one that is currently accepted, yet it is not historically nor Biblically. The Bible allows for it and I am not saying get rid of paid pastors, however we need to consider the possibility of non-paid people running a church. Many of our small churches today are pastored by non-paid or poorly paid pastors. As observations go, I feel that often these men are considered less than normal. They, after all are not “full time” in their ministry.

 

There seems to be a real hierarchy developing in our church thinking. There are full time, there are part time, there are the laymen, there are janitors and then there are missionaries. My teaching has always included the thought that we are co-workers with Christ. If we are co-workers then there is no level of importance.

 

May we consider our developing problems in the church get in touch with the Head and move on to solve the problems.

 

I did not go into the idea of fellowship, of what the church should be in the social realm, or many of the other thoughts that relate to the church. I did include a section in appendix nine relating to how we view ourselves. Are we a society as believers, or are we really the “body” that the Lord wants us to be. Be sure to read this appendix.

 

 

APPENDIX NUMBER ONE

 

 

A CONSTITUTION FOR A MULTIPLE ELDER FORM OF GOVERNMENT

 

This document comes from a compilation of many hours of study and reading on the subject. There was input from many sources including two college level theology classes which went through this study of the church with me. One of the projects in those classes was to create a church constitution based on the Biblical principles which we had studied. (This document is a rework of one of those constitutions.)

 

I thank all those that gave information and thought to this document, which by the way is not inspired. It could serve as a bare bones start for a constitution for a church that desires to have this form of government. There might be things that a particular congregation would like to add. The basics are based on the Word of God and we trust that the suggestions will be of assistance to churches in the future.

 

CONSTITUTION OF FIRST CHURCH OF ANYTOWN

 

1. PREAMBLE

 

We the people of                                  church believe that the Scriptures show both a universal and a local church. The Universal church is that body made up of all believers that are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. The local church is an assembly that is gathered and organized for the purpose of edification and evangelism.

 

2. PURPOSE

 

The purpose of this local church is to edify the believers who in turn will go out evangelizing. (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11-16)

 

Jesus Christ is the head of both the universal and the local church. The individual believer will seek to know Christ’s will for himself as well as for this local gathering of saints.

 

 

3. MEMBERSHIP

 

Anyone desiring to enter into fellowship with this church must:

 

1. Have accepted Christ as his/her personal savior and have a desire to achieve the purposes set forth in the preamble.

 

2. Have prayerfully read and considered the church constitution and believe it to be based on God’s Word. The person should desire to commit themselves to abide by that which is set forth in the church constitution.

 

3. Have agreed that if at any time he/she should determine to disagree with the constitution, he/she will without trouble withdraw from the fellowship, giving the pastor and board permission to erase his/her name from the membership.

 

4. Agree to accept the discipline of the church in accordance with this constitution or separate themselves from the membership according to number three above.

 

Process of becoming a member:

 

The person desiring to unite with this church will request to be considered by the elder board. The elder board will hear their testimony of salvation and recommend the candidate to the general assembly for vote. The person will give their testimony publicly before the church votes.

 

4. COVENANT OF THE LOCAL CHURCH

 

We as a local body, having been redeemed by God (Revelation 5:9), being the body, of which Christ is the head (Colossians 1:18), and being indwelt by the Spirit (Romans 8:9), believe God has saved us by his grace, through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8), do hereby establish this covenant.

 

Those that join this fellowship know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and they shall share in its privileges and also the duties required (John 1:12, 13; 8:12; 10:27).

 

As a fellowship we pledge ourselves to walk in Christian love, remember each other in prayer, aid each other in Christian living (1 John 4:7,8), and to help those who are sick and in need (James 5:14). There should be no gossip, backbiting, and anger, being slow to take offence and quick to reconcile, keeping unity and peace (Ephesians 4:31, 32).

 

We covenant together with the desire to promote the true church’s spiritual and physical wellbeing: by regular attendance, supporting its worship, services, ordinances, discipline and doctrines (1 Corinthians 15:58), and assisting in whatever way possible in supporting the operation of the church (1 Corinthians 16:1, 2). Finally our desire is to spread the gospel here at home and abroad (Acts 1:8).

 

We as members of this body should educate our children in the Christian faith (Deuteronomy 6:5, 7; Titus 1:6). We also should refrain from fleshly lusts, and practices and associations, that would dishonor Christ and/or the church (1 John 2:15-17).

 

We also agree to cooperate with those in leadership, to submit to and oversee discipline in a loving way, (as officers and members of this church Hebrews 13:17), and accept responsibility and positions such as God has qualified and called each to do through the Holy spirit (Romans 12:1-8).

 

By the guidance of the Holy Spirit I accept this covenant. I also promise if I find myself at any time in the future in disagreement with doctrines and standards of the church I will withdraw my name from the membership and not cause any friction among the members (Romans 12:18).

 

I further submit myself to the Scriptural authority of the church leadership and will abide by the churches disciplinary policies if there be cause for discipline due to sin in my life.

 

5. MISSIONS

 

In keeping with the purpose of evangelization, there will be a missions committee maintained at all times for the purpose of stimulating the membership to give, pray and go in relation to Christ’s commission to evangelize and disciple all nations. (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8)

 

This committee will be responsible to schedule missionaries to share their burden and call of God with the membership of the church.

 

This committee will oversee the missions giving of the church body through the church treasurer. Funds designated by the church for missions will be distributed in accordance with the policies set forth by the church leadership.

 

6. GOVERNMENT POLICY

1. The church will not be ritualistic in practice.

 

2. It will not be subject to any authority or power save its Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and its own leadership.

 

SUPPORT

 

All church expenses including pastor’s salary, Sunday school expenses, various organized bodies, are to be raised by voluntary, and free will offerings. (The pastor’s salary will be set according to the needs and funds available.)

 

BUSINESS AFFAIRS

 

1. The annual business meeting of the church shall be held

                            , and the new church year shall begin                           .

 

All officers of the church and heads of departments shall give reports of their transactions at this annual business meeting.

 

2. Special business meetings may be called at any time with a two week notice given publicly at each normal service of the church.

 

3. Beyond the routine weekly affairs, no meeting shall be carried on without the pastor, except to determine his continuance as pastor.

 

4. A quorum of more than two thirds of the members of adult age (21 and older) is required to hold a business meeting of this congregation.

 

7. CHURCH LEADERSHIP

 

PASTOR CALLING A TEACHING ELDER (OR PASTOR)

 

This is not to assume that a paid teaching elder is required by this constitution. If there is a qualified elder present in the congregation that desires to fulfill this function and it is agreeable by a 3/4 vote of the elder

 

 

board, then this should be accepted. He may be paid if the congregation so desires.

 

1. A pulpit committee shall be formed of two elders and two deacons. (If no elders are available then deacons shall fill these spots. If there aren’t enough deacons, members will be elected from the congregation) and two members from the congregation.

 

2. The pulpit committee shall secure names of prospects. Prospects shall be supplied with a copy of the church constitution and any other information the committee deems appropriate.

 

3. An application form shall be sent to all interested prospects. The application shall include questions concerning the applicant’s qualifications and a request for references.

 

4. The qualifications for the pastor shall be those listed in 1 Timothy three and Titus one that pertain to elders.

 

5. Qualified prospects shall visit the church at least one Sunday and one Wednesday in a row during which he will fill the pulpit. Time shall also be scheduled for the combined boards to interview the prospective candidate. There will be a concerted effort to encourage the church membership to have the candidate and his family into their homes for meals and/or fellowship so they can get to know the family on a first hand basis.

 

6. The candidate will then in two weeks be presented to the congregation for a vote. The elder and deacon board chairpersons will give a report on their board’s feelings concerning the candidate.

 

The candidate shall be called if there is a 3/4 majority of those voting members present.

 

It is recommended that the candidate be informed of the numerical outcome of the vote of the congregation.

 

7. The candidate will be informed from the beginning that he will be expected to go through and complete the qualification process as set forth in this constitution.

 

 

TERM OF THE TEACHING ELDER

 

1. The pastor shall serve as long as mutually agreeable to him and the church.

 

2. The pastor may be removed from office by unanimous vote of the other elders and by a 2/3 vote of the congregation. (Good reason for removal should be the basis of the elder board moving to dismiss. Good reason would include personal ongoing sin, and immorality as well as other problems deemed proper.)

 

DUTIES

 

1. The pastor shall serve as a voting member of the elder board, supply spiritual leadership to the board and the congregation as a whole.

 

2. The pastor shall be an ex-officio member of all organizations and committees.

 

3. The pastor shall fill the pulpit of the church at regular meetings, or supply such from time to time as needed or appropriate.

 

ADDITIONAL STAFF

 

1. Assistant pastor(s), Youth pastor(s), Associate pastor(s), etc. may be added according to the need of the church.

 

2. These would be called in the same way as the teaching elder and have the same office term as the pastor, unless otherwise specified by the elder board and congregation. They will be ex-officio members (without voting privileges) of the elder board and their duties would be specified by that same board.

 

3. The pastor should be very much involved in this choosing of staff; so that the church is assured that the two men can minister effectively together.

 

 

ELDERS & DEACONS CHOOSING OF ELDERS AND DEACONS

1. All candidates for the elder or deacon board shall apply to the elder board in writing. Applications shall assume that the candidate’s feels qualified according to I Timothy three and Titus one and shall state why they are applying and why they feel they desire the position.

 

2. The elder board shall publish the name of the candidate to the congregation and investigate his qualifications. They shall especially seek advice from the deacon board and/or other members of the church. It is recommended that the elder board speak with the candidate’s neighbors and secular coworkers concerning the man’s character. The family of the candidate should be considered as another source of information as to the qualifications of the man.

 

3. The prospective member will meet with an elder board specified representative for a period of three months during which the two men will evaluate the scriptural qualifications and the prospects own feeling of his living up to those qualifications. During this time the congregation would be encouraged to share any information pro or con to the chairman of the elder board to be used in evaluating the prospect.

 

4. At the end of this three month period the prospect will be presented to the full elder and deacon boards for questions and answers.

 

5. Upon approval the prospect will be presented to the congregation for confirmation. If the prospect fails to gain the approval of the boards or the congregation, then he will be referred upon mutual agreement to another six months of encouragement along the lines in which he was found deficient. At the end of this six month period another appearance before the board would be in order. Failure to complete the qualification process is not indication of something negative, but on the other hand a recognition there are things that the person needs to work on in their spiritual life, a condition that is true in most church members.

 

6. The prospect shall be approved by a unanimous vote of the elders and a 2/3 confirmation of the congregation.

 

 

7. There shall be no limit as to the number of elders in the church; however a minimum of three elders will be required. Elders should be added as there is a need in the overall organizational structure of the church. If the board becomes too large, and its own members unanimously agree, a system may be set in place whereby the elders would serve on a rotating basis with active and inactive elders. Inactive elders may attend and have input at meetings but only active elders would have voting privileges.

 

If three qualified elders are not available, then the church should modify its government slightly and use the elders that exist as a guiding board with the congregation the final authority in most decisions.

 

TERM

 

1. The elders and deacons shall serve as long as mutually agreeable to the officer and the church. Lifetime seems to be the acceptable unless there are reasons for considering less.

 

2. An elder or deacon may be removed from office by unanimous vote of the elders and by a 2/3 vote of the congregation. (This action should only be taken in light of sin in the elder’s life and his unwillingness to repent of that sin. In the case of immorality and divorce there would be an automatic removal.)

 

DUTIES OF THE ELDERS

 

1. The elders shall be responsible to oversee the churches spiritual growth and vitality. They are to see to the proper teaching and direction of the church.

 

2. The elders shall elect from among themselves a head elder, or chairman and a secretary to record minutes of meetings.

 

3. The elders shall meet jointly with the Deacon board once a month for the exchange of information and to inform the deacon board of any recommendations for their action.

 

4. The pastor shall chair the joint meeting or delegate the responsibility to another elder.

 

 

5. If the church doesn’t have enough qualified men for elders the remaining elders and deacon board with the leadership of the pastor shall perform as many of the duties as they are gifted and able to perform.

 

6. Any action taken by the deacon board that is deemed detrimental to the church can be overruled by a unanimous vote of the elder board.

 

Upon such veto the deacons may, if they desire, submit the proposal to the congregation for a congregational vote. The meeting will be called by the elder board and both the elder and deacon boards will be given time to submit their feelings on the proposal.

 

A 2/3 vote of the congregation will pass the proposal.

 

DUTIES OF THE DEACONS

 

1. The duties of the deacons are to be servants of the church and to meet the physical needs of the church body.

 

2. Special attention should be paid by the deacon board to the needs of the poor and widows of the church.

 

3. The deacon board shall be responsible for the church property and funds. The funds will be expended according to the needs of the church with the elder board approving of any major expenditures over $50 item.

 

4. The deacons shall elect from among themselves a head deacon, or chairman and a secretary for the keeping of records.

 

5. The deacons shall meet jointly with, and report to, the elder board once a month.

 

8. QUALIFICATION PROCESS

 

All teaching elders, elders and deacons will go through a process whereby the church body and the individual desiring the office will attempt to determine the candidate’s qualification for his desired office. Pastoral staff may be added to the church without going through the process; however they will enter into this process at the first opportunity. Failure to qualify does not mean they will be dismissed. The elder board will consider the candidate’s position and recommend steps by which the candidate may correct any deficiencies or they will recommend dismissal. The candidate will enter into the process at the next earliest opportunity if they are retained on staff.

 

1. There will be a time of self-examination by the candidate during which he will consider the qualifications for his office with the Lord. An existing elder will assist the person in this process with explanation of the qualifications and prayer.

 

2. References will be sought from the candidate for the purpose of sending out letters to request information about the candidate. Letters will be sent to the person’s employer, one coworker, two neighbors and his last church in the case of a pastor or newer member.

 

This letter will request information concerning the person’s qualification and character.

 

These letters will not be the sum of information that a decision will be based on. They will be only a part of the total information used in determining the person’s qualification. (These letters should not be sent out until the candidate has completed his personal evaluation before the Lord and the elder board.)

 

3. The church body will be given a list of candidates for their earnest prayer. The church should desire great wisdom in this process to choose its leadership.

 

4. The church body will be given a list of the candidates with space for comments wither positive or negative for the consideration of the elder board. These documents will remain confidential and must be signed in case the elder board desires to investigate any negative responses.

 

5. The head elder will stress the importance of this process, and the prayer behind it, to the congregation. This can be accomplished through the bulletin or from the pulpit.

 

6. There will be a minimum of 90 days given for this process with more time to be taken if needed.

 

7. The elder and deacon board will spend time with the candidates for the purpose of getting to know them and praying with them.

 

 

8. There will be a class taught concerning the qualifications, responsibilities and lifestyle of the offices. This will be required of new candidates and will be open to all that might desire to gain this knowledge. This class will be offered yearly if there is interest or candidates. (It could be offered during the Sunday School hour as an elective.)

 

This process is to allow the church time to consider the candidate and a time for the candidate to look at the church, his future responsibilities and his life before God.

 

It should be emphasized that if a candidate or the church feels that the candidate is not ready for leadership that the candidate is welcome to enter the process the following year. There should be no feeling of inadequacy or inferiority if a person does not enter an office. We are attempting to find well qualified men that meet the Biblical standard set forth by God for the men that would lead His church.

 

All Christians are to be striving to attain this same level of Christian living.

 

9. CHURCH DISCIPLINE

 

Discipline may be defined as the correction or expulsion by the church of one or more of its members for immorality of life, or heresy of doctrine.

 

Discipline is of God (Job 36:10; Hebrews 12:6), to maintain sound doctrine (Titus 1:13), to correct disorder (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15), to rebuke offenders (1 Corinthians 11:34), and to remove the unrepentant (1 Corinthians 5:3-5, 13).

 

God disciplines His own directly concerning matters of their family relationship to Him. But he has also ordained mediate discipline by the church concerning those affairs that concern the life and walk of the corporate household of faith.

 

There are two kinds of offenses of which a church member may be guilty, namely public and private. (Matthew 18:15-20; Acts 5:1-11)

 

Church discipline whether private or public may take one of three forms and should be kept in the local church (1 Corinthians 6:11).

 

1. Private reproof.

 

 

2. Public reproof.

 

3. Breaking of fellowship.

 

(Matthew 18:15-17; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 11-15; 1 Corinthians 5:3-5; 11- 13; Matthew 5:23-24; 2 Corinthians 2:6-8)

 

Our attitude toward the believer in sin should be one of love and humility seeking to heal and restore their attitude. The purpose of all discipline must be to restore the person to his Lord and the church body. (Galatians 6:1; 2 Corinthians 2:4).

 

All effective and true discipline can only be carried out in an attitude of prayer.

 

10. AMENDMENTS TO THIS CONSTITUTION

 

1. Any member may propose an amendment to the elders.

 

2. The elders then will prayerfully consider the amendment.

 

3. If the amendment proposed is rejected, the elders are to contact the person who wants the addition or subtraction and explain the reason, or reasons for rejection. If the member proposing the amendment feels the elders have acted wrongly, opportunity will be given to the member to present his/her thoughts to the congregation. If the congregation feels by a majority vote that the elders should reconsider the proposal they shall give the matter another sixty days consideration and prayer. If the proposal is deemed inappropriate after this time of consideration and input from the congregation then the matter shall be dropped. If they feel the amendment has merit, then they shall proceed as with any other amendment.

 

4. If the elders approve the amendment, it must be put to the vote of the active members of the church.

 

5. Proper written notification to members will be given by posting and announcing thirty days in advance what is to be voted on as well as the time and the place of voting. A meeting may be called before the written notification is given for explanation and information.

 

6. The amendment will require a 4/5ths majority of the members present to pass.

 

 

7. If approved, copies will be added to all future constitutions and copies will be made available to the membership to amend their own copies.

 

11. ORDINATION

 

Those desiring to be ordained by this church will make their request known to the elder board and they will consider the possibility along with the congregation. If there is interest the elder board will enter the candidate into the elder/deacon qualification process to ascertain the candidate’s qualifications.

 

Upon completion of this process the elder board will call a proper meeting of the congregation for the ordination of the candidate to the Gospel ministry.

 

The church will maintain contact with the person for his entire ministry and give due consideration to any inappropriate activities that might warrant the withdrawal of recognition or ordination.

 

12. DISSOLUTION

 

In the case of this church closing or disbanding the assets will be distributed among foreign missionary agencies to be determined by those members remaining in membership at the time of closing. These agencies will be groups that hold to the major doctrines set forth in this constitution.

 

 

APPENDIX TWO

 

This appendix contains all of the references that contain the terms elder, elders, deacon, and deacons.

 

ELDER

 

Luke 15:25 — Romans 9:12 — 1 Timothy 5:1; 5:19 — 1 Peter 5:1; 5:5 —

2 John 1:1 — 3 John 1:1

 

ELDERS

 

Matthew 15:2; 16:21; 21:23; 26:3; 26:47; 26:57; 26:59; 27:1; 27:3; 27:12;

27:20; 27:41; 28:12;

 

Mark 7:3; 7:5; 8:31; 11:27; 14:43; 14:53; 15:1;

 

Luke 7:3; 9:22; 20:1; 22:52; 22:66;

 

Acts 4:5; 4:8; 4:23; 6:12; 11:30; 14:23; 15:2; 15:4; 15:6; 15:22-23; 16:4;

20:17; 21:18; 22:5; 23:14; 24:1; 25:15;

 

1 Timothy 5:17;

 

Titus 1:5;

 

Hebrews 11:2;

 

James 5:14;

 

1 Peter 5:1;

 

Revelation 4:4; 4:10; 5:5-6; 5:8; 5:11; 5:14; 7:11; 7:13; 11:16; 14:3; 19:4

 

 

1 Timothy 3:10; 3:13

DEACON

 

 

 

Philippians 1:1

 

1 Timothy 3:8; 3:12

DEACONS

 

 

APPENDIX THREE

 

I’m going to be intellectual for a while in this appendix. Eisenhower defined an intellectual as, “…a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows.”

 

What I am including in this section may be just that.

 

In light of the comments made in this work concerning pastors and their working in secular work I feel that this section may be of help to the reader.

 

PRINCIPLES FOR VIEWING MATERIAL THINGS,

IN LIGHT OF YOUR PROBABLE LOW PAYING MINISTRIES

 

– OR –

 

HOW TO ENJOY HAMBURGER 555 WAYS.

 

When in college we helped produce a college student’s cookbook designed for the poor wife that had to figure out how to fix the hamburger tonight. I might add that the wives were very inventive. The college was given a truck load of Scooter Pies (chocolate covered graham cracker and marshmallow). After a while they were trying to decide how to fix scooter pies in a tasty manner. We ate them for breakfast, lunch and dessert for supper.

 

These are just some thoughts and illustrations that might help you to understand, how some believers chose to live, and it may challenge your own life now, or in the future.

 

One of the frustrations of my early Christian life was the lack of help I had been given in knowing how to live the Christian life. I stumbled and faltered my way through until I finally found some answers. The area of finances was a real problem to me at times, for I had some ideas of what God wanted, but I was constantly hearing “experts” in money telling me that I was doing it all wrong. I hope that some of what I teach will help you avoid some of the frustration and confusion that I had to go through.

 

 

You will all come to a place where you need to make some real commitments to the Lord in the area of finance. This study is not to show how spiritual I am nor is it meant to shoot how other people live their financial lives before the Lord. I know many people who live according to similar principles and don’t feel there is anything special about themselves other than possibly in the area of their commitment.

 

God has chosen to deal with Faith and I as He has, and I have decided to walk as I have, with the full discussion and assistance of my wife. We are in agreement concerning how we live and enjoy it as is.

 

I want to illustrate these principles so you have some practical guide to go by if you ever need to use them.

 

I might introduce these thoughts with a reminder of the widow and her two mites. She was one of the last illustrations that Christ gave to the disciples before his death. You should note as you consider her offering, that it was all that she had. She could have saved half for food, but she didn’t. Do you suppose she had heard Christ tell the followers not to worry about what the morrow shall bring? She gave till she was forced to live by faith in the Lord’s provision. Can you imagine how many missionaries we could send out if all Christians began to practice that philosophy of giving?

 

Principle One: Be a good steward — as directed by God.

 

Not as directed by someone else. You get on your knees and see what God wants for you.

 

Stewardship may mean investing to some. I disagree if you are looking to save up for rainy days. If God gives us an overabundance we usually find places to put it. If we don’t have needs, we try to find others that do. We try to share what we have with others. If we have an abundance of food we invite people over to share it while we fellowship. If we don’t have extra food we still invite people for the fellowship. It isn’t wrong to have someone in your home without food, though with food is more fun.

 

Principle Two: Always be willing to give up all you have to move to another ministry or to another place of residence if the Lord should lead you to do it. For that matter is willing to give up all you have if the Lord should lead you to do so.

 

We have sold all we could sell several times to finance the trips cross country to college and to ministries. One time we sold everything we wanted to get rid of and loaded the trailer. The next day we headed to the next town where our in-laws lived and found that our car did not have enough power to pull the trailer. We drove in 2nd gear for 40 miles. We backed up to their garage — unloaded everything and began sorting the essentials from the non-essentials. We began a large pile of stuff that we wanted to leave and decided that we should give it away. We called the pastor and asked him to contact needy families and send them over. We Made Their Day — And I Might Add He Made Our Day

 

We really enjoyed seeing those folks get some of the things they needed. We reloaded with about half the stuff and continued on the next day. Miss the stuff? Some we have missed at times, but those things we really needed we always had the finances to replace them when we needed them. For the most part it was non-essentials that we left.

 

We have always felt that our belongings were for conversion into cash if we had need. We have sold many things at many different times to make up where the bankbook left off.

 

It has been interesting at times to consider the things that we absolutely could not sell. We for five years tried to sell our piano at a very good price. There were no takers. We did finally sell it when we were selling everything that we could so that we could make a move. That particular move was very expensive and our income was interrupted for a sizable time. The money from the piano carried us through those incomeless days.

 

We have never suffered from having sold anything. There are times when we wish we had such and such but we have either replaced it or done well without it.

 

It has been fun to see how the replacements of things we wanted to replace came about. When it came time to replace, quite often the only thing in our price range was something on sale that was much better quality than what we had sold.

 

 

We started our college days with a $10 stereo amplifier and a very poor am/fm tuner. The next one was a stereo that didn’t work that was given to me in about 100 pieces in a cardboard box. I was able to repair it and we sold it later for a sizable price. We sold and replaced many times with very little cash outlay over what we sold the old one for and today we have a 30 watt AM/FM tuner amp and speakers that are worth more than $400. We paid very little for it. By the way we have tried to sell that outfit many times and couldn’t.

 

Principle Three: Always be willing to give of your prizes as He leads.

 

I became interested in coin collecting in the 80’s when the silver and gold prices were low. I was not selective in coins that I purchased, but bought those that caught my interest and those that might increase in value.

 

I had quite a collection of neat coins gathered together. I was becoming quite attached to them because they were so very interesting.

 

One day the silver prices started going wild. I watched the market and decided not to buy any more silver coins. As the market went up I decided that to own silver coins was foolish. There was no way that I could collect them on our budget, so had been thinking about selling them.

 

One day at church a friend mentioned he wanted prayer for their finances. He was due to register for seminary shortly, and had to come up with several hundred dollars to pay off the preceding semester’s bill in order to register.

 

Faith and I wanted to help but had no money. The coins crossed my mind so we discussed it and went for it. We had no idea what we could raise in the way of money, but decided anything we could do would be a help.

 

I packed up all the coins and headed for the coin store. The silver price was up even more than before. The man totaled up all that was before him and he gave me the figure. I told him to give me the cash.

 

The total was enough to pay the seminary bill plus enough to reimburse us for all that we had invested in the coins. The very next day the silver market plunged.

 

 

Principle Four: If you are offered free insurance or retirement benefits, it would be sensible to accept them.

 

This may be the method by which God is going to provide for you.

 

We have had this come up several times in our lives. We have seen God provide for medical needs and dental needs through free and very inexpensive insurance. Faith worked for Penney’s and they offered med/dental insurance for the family for under $15 a month. We opted for it and received benefits far above the premium, in care.

 

He does not always provide in that way. We had an emergency a few years ago that cost more than $2000 and took me away from work for a couple of months. We had no insurance and little income. Would you

believe that the Lord was able to handle it? He provided through a good job after the time off, that gave us enough to live on and pay on the bill. He also provided through a good church that helped in many ways.

 

You Do All That You Can And God Will Fill In The Gap.

 

I was offered a retirement plan that was totally free. I was planning on being in the area only three years and it would not have benefits for five years so I told my Jewish boss no thanks and told him why I thought that it would be unnecessary. He said, “Stan you don’t know how long you will be here so you sign it.” I signed it, and we were in the area for seven or eight years.

 

When I left the company they informed me we would receive two checks over the next few months, but they didn’t know how much they would be.

 

We moved away and found that we had some large needs when we arrived at our new ministry. The first check arrived and it was for over $1000, and it took care of the needs. See, God can provide our needs, at times eight years before we know about them. The second check was around $800. All that for a signature. Anyone want to make me an offer like that today?

 

Principle Five: Keep your eyes on God, and not everyone else’s paycheck.

 

 

I Guarantee That This Will Be A Major Job. Realize that God deals in different ways with different people. He may choose to put you through the mill and someone else on easy street.

 

During our first year of college we were eating pancakes to many times a day. We were really in a bad way. One day in chapel they opened a time for testimonies. One of the Sophomores stood and told that he had gotten a job at a grocery store and that the boss was giving him a good wage and told him that he wanted to provide all his groceries for the rest of his college days.

 

Yes, I was wondering why him and not US. God needed to teach me through that testimony time that He does as He wills. The pancakes still filled us and so we went on for a time.

 

Principle Six: In particular situations seek all info — figure — think — pray — decide.

 

You must use the wisdom that God gives to you when you ask in accordance with James 1.

 

At times it is wise to wait. At times it is wise to move quickly — let God tell you which one.

 

We needed a car in a very bad way at one time. We had prayed and the Lord had given us $200 toward a car. We were looking and praying. We found several possibilities, all of which seemed good and affordable. We did not have peace about any of the cars. We waited and prayed. We waited for over a month with this looking and seeking and no peace.

 

Finally, I told Faith that I thought that we should go back to our hometown and see what we could find. I called my father to ask him to begin looking around for us. He picked up the phone and we went through the hi, how are you routine, and before I mentioned anything about cars, he said, “By the way Stan, could you and Faith use a car if it was free?” Naturally, I told him we weren’t interested. HA. We went back to pick it up and it was unbelievable. The car was a former highway patrol interceptor and believe me, a neat car. We drove the car for some time, free of charge.

 

 

By the way we have had three cars given to us over the years that have given a total of around 150,000 miles. Two of them came from people that had no idea that we needed them.

 

On the other hand we have driven cars that belonged in junk yards, because that is what the Lord had provided. One we had burned oil so bad that when you stopped at a stoplight and the sun was shining you could see this cloud rolling from under the hood. I used to sit in total embarrassment when we got caught on a red light. However, we drove that car for over a year and a car dealer gave us $250 for it when the Lord provided another.

 

Principle Seven: If you find that you have an excess of money and you usually are broke, don’t go out and spend it immediately, unless you have the Lord’s direction that you should.

 

Many times in our lives we have been given large sums of money — get all excited about how we were going to use it, and find out in a few days that the car needed a set of tires, or the daughter needs teeth pulled, or the wife is in the hospital, or whatever God may have provided it for.

 

At other times the Lord just enjoys making a bright spot in your day.

 

Principle Eight: God promises to meet our needs. I assume that is a lifelong promise.

 

I will warn you that trusting in this promise gets harder as your age increases. As the poor health years approach and the possible need to stop ministering due to health approaches all sorts of worry can set in. This was especially real to me when we moved to Cheyenne, WY and could not find work of any sort for some weeks. Then as I worked at my part time janitorial job, I really wondered about the wisdom of not having had a savings account, paid for home and an IRA.

 

Just another thought: As you reach retirement consider — God has provided your needs for 65 years and didn’t go broke so 15 to 20 more years shouldn’t strain Him too much.

 

Principle Nine: Give as you are able and as God directs.

 

We’ve attempted never to go below a tenth, and have given at times as much as 50%.

 

 

There were times when we felt that the Lord would have us really skimp in our own lives and give heavily to help missions. These have been usually brief periods of time. I have often wondered if He was just interested in seeing if we would do it. There are other ways of giving as well. There are material things that can be given to missionaries.

 

We had an electronic keyboard for a number of years. We never used it and had it out at every garage sale that came along at a ridiculously low price. During a missions conference a man ministering in South America mentioned they used them in Brazil. My brain lit up. A way to get rid of that thing in the closed that is always covered with dust. God had a place for it and He just asked the Dericksons to keep it dusted.

Principle Ten: Watch and enjoy how God decides to provide for you. God has a good sense of humor and timing. I had a professor in graduate school that took most of a class period to tell us that God does not provide for students through the mail box. Now, I don’t know of many students that have not at one time or another gained great financial help through their mail box. It is just one of the ways that God works with Bible school students. God does do great things through mailboxes.

 

True we should not sit on our duffs waiting for the bucks to fall, but at the same time God gives through the mailbox at times.

 

I do not fault this faculty member, because he was formerly a banker that had never had any reason to live by faith. He always had the money and always controlled it well.

 

After this long session on the practical aspects of money, I was in the library and one of the students asked me if I agreed with the professor. I said that I didn’t and shared some of the times when the Lord had supplied through the mail box. He had been very concerned that he was in error, because the Lord gave money to him at times through the mail box.

 

I didn’t think too much more about it. We were preparing to make a major move cross country and had decided we would need around $2000 for a different car and trailer expenses. We hadn’t really been praying about the money yet because we hadn’t done any exact figuring.

 

 

That day when I went home for lunch I stopped for the mail and found a letter with a check in it. $2000. The next day I sat down by the student and said, “Say, do you know what I found in my mailbox just after we talked yesterday?” When he said no, I slid the check out of my checkbook enough for him to see the amount.

 

God provides in many ways, so don’t try to box Him in even though He likes mail boxes.

 

There is one other area that I might mention. Debt or credit.

 

FACTS

 

1. It costs dearly. On one account we had we paid a payment of $22.00 per month and the interest was $18.37 per month.

 

2. It is very handy to have at times.

 

3. It can be a trap.

 

4. It is not against scripture to borrow.

 

a. Romans 13 mentions owe no man anything. If you are current, you don’t technically owe. When you are delinquent in your payment, then you owe.

 

b. The Old Testament has laws of usury or interest and it was all right to loan and to borrow.

 

5. If you never borrow you will be the better for it. It is spending what you don’t have, and that is never best.

 

6. A guide: If the benefit of the item purchased is more than the finance charge, then you will profit from it. (You would profit more if you paid cash however.)

 

7. If you know someone in debt don’t give them a guilt trip. I became sick of guilt trips years ago, when the super saints felt we shouldn’t be in debt. At that time we shouldn’t have been, but we realized it after the fact, and the guilt trips helped very little.

 

We have always tried to stay debt free, but at times take on debt.

 

 

Most people who are against debt own homes that are financed. That is debt even if they call it an investment. Most make payments on cars as well.

 

You let God lead you in your decisions. Gather facts — pray — think — plan — pray and follow Him.

 

These are just some thoughts that I have jotted down and I’m not sure that the Derickson family has always functioned under these principles as we should have.

 

These are set forth for your consideration and not as a teaching of scripture. I believe they are based on the Bible and what God would have us do, however these are convictions and decisions that you need to make with your mate and your God.

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

1. Don’t expect this type of answers to your prayers.

 

God is far to inventive to answer yours as he has ours. Indeed, He seldom answers my prayers like I think He might.

 

2. We dropped all life insurance in the 60’s due to several reasons:

 

a. We were broke and owed $6000.

 

b. We decided that God can take care of Faith without my help if I should die before she does.

 

c. We felt that this would be more in keeping with the thought of living by faith and laying up treasures in heaven.

 

3. Some time ago a student asked me if we saved money, and I sidestepped the question. My answer? HA.

 

At times we have put extra aside toward some project or some need that we knew that was coming. Usually and normally we do not put money away. In recent years due to our income we have not had reason to consider it.

 

As far as retirement goes, I am trusting that the Lord will keep me active until He decides I should go home. We did not opt out of Social Security as some ministers do, because I could not in good conscience sign the statement. The statement declares that you feel that it is against your belief system.

 

If Social Security fails before I get to the retirement age I will not be totally surprised, nor heart broken. God can use other means than the United States government to support us. INDEED, the United States government may not be here when I’m 65. God has brought about changes that most would have deemed impossible in 1987 in the Eastern Block. Don’t put your stock in the institutions of this world for they rise and fall, but put your stock in the Lord — He never changes.

 

Many lost loads of money when the Savings and Loan scandal hit. Some will never recover their losses. You cannot really plan for the future. We have some older friends that had sold a business and invested very wisely. They had planned for a set amount to live on and a set amount to give on a monthly basis to the Lord through missions when they retired. The economy did some strange things after they retired and they are not living as they had planned. The Lord has supplied and they live nicely and still give according to what they have but it is not what they had planned.

 

Do not put your trust in what you can do, save, accomplish, for God may well have other plans for you. Plan to the best of your ability with wisdom from the Lord and allow Him to do the rest.

 

I trust that this has not been to boring.

 

I also trust that it has been a time of uplifting the Lord and His watchful care over us.

 

In closing, do not tell people this is what I teach as the proper way to live. You consider it and see if you feel it is Biblical and if it is, apply it to yourself, and then teach others.

 

One last point. These principles came about over a period of years. I didn’t just up and one day institute them in our lives. They are things that Faith and I have discussed and considered before the Lord, and decided we wanted to be a part of our life together.

 

Part of all this is that God has always chosen to keep us on short accounts financially. It is easy to live by these principles in that circumstance. Give us a million dollars, and I have no idea how we would apply these principles.

 

You do the very best you can using what God has given you to work with. You care for your family as you can. If you can’t care for them like you want, or like others think you should, don’t worry about it. God knows what He’s given you to work with — He is your master not others.

 

 

APPENDIX FOUR

 

Since I have made reference to the Baptist distinctive is seemed good to give a listing and brief explanation of these for the reader.

 

Baptists believe in the usual fundamentals of the faith, however due to their history and convictions they are distinctively “Baptist.” Most are Baptist by conviction and are convinced that the Baptist stand is correct.

 

This is somewhat of a consternation to other Biblically sound people in that the distinctives which we will soon see are Biblical distinctives first and the Baptists have by nature held to them through the years. The Bible church movement holds to these same Biblical distinctives also.

 

The difference may be that the Baptists have held them longer. However there is evidence there were Biblically centered people much earlier than the Anabaptists.

 

“Baptists believe in the scriptural teaching of the priesthood of believers, which is the spiritual principle underlying their democratic type of church life. They believe that every believer receives salvation and has free access to God the Father at any time for spiritual comfort and forgiveness of sins through the one and only High Priest, Jesus Christ our Savior. With this principle in mind, Baptists have opposed any distinction between the clergy and laity that savors of priesthood.” (From a pamphlet What Baptists Believe by Robert Torbet)

 

They feel that the congregation has the final authority in all matters. Due to their persecution by state churches in their early days they have held tenaciously to the separation of church and state.

 

The Baptists have what they call “Baptist Distinctives”. These are some beliefs that Baptists from the early days have held to be Biblical. They are not Biblical distinctives but “Baptist Distinctives”. I have discussed this often with many Baptists and always end up with the same frustration.

 

These things are doctrines of the Scriptures. God made them up and not Baptists. They are doctrines that Baptists for years have held but they are still Biblical distinctives. I feel that if you hold these ideals and doctrines you are a Bible believing Christian. I say what I say knowing that I am as Baptist as most Baptists. I have been educated in two Baptist schools and feel more comfortable with Baptist churches than any other.

 

BAPTIST DISTINCTIVES

 

1. Biblical Authority. The Bible is the rule for faith and practice in all areas of life.

 

What’s more the Bible is the only authority for your life as opposed to the Roman church that the Baptists fought with in their early days. A church system has no authority over the believer. This is not to say that the individual of a local congregation can’t be disciplined if there is sin in their life. The thought of a church hierarchy telling a person what is spiritual is what they oppose.

 

2. Autonomy Of The Local Church. This means that the local church is independent of all ties with other organizations.

 

There are fellowships of Baptists which are loosely knit gatherings of pastors and laymen for the purpose of fellowship and mutual edification. There are some churches that will work together in the areas of youth work and evangelism.

 

Some are very strong on not being linked in any way with other churches — even of their own kind. In Denver years ago there were at least a dozen independent Baptist churches with Christian day schools. They wouldn’t even go together to buy paper and supplies together to get a price break.

 

3. Priesthood Of All Believers. The emphasis is on ALL believers. Each and every believer has the right to go before the throne of grace with his needs and sins to set them right before God.

 

4. Two Ordinances. There is the Lord’s table that is usually open to all believers, but not always. Some have closed tables for their own members only. The second ordinance is that of baptism by immersion as an outward sign of an inward change.

 

5. Individual Soul Liberty.

 

 

6. Saved, Baptized Church Membership. All people desiring to be part of an assembly must be baptized and saved before they can become members.

 

7. Two Offices. Pastors or as they very seldom say but usually admit to elders and deacons. The deacons are the board that keeps the church running. Most deacon boards are very active in the spiritual end of things as well as the physical.

 

8. Separation Of Church And State. They are opposed to any state intervention into church affairs. Be it worship or day school.

 

I agree with their feeling and would back them on their feelings however in turn, logic demands that the church not be benefited by the state. The majority of Christians be they Baptist or other would be up in arms if the government took away our tax exempt status. Now if we really want separation of church and state shouldn’t we welcome the lifting of tax exempt status?

 

From the above distinctives you can see why a congregational form of government has been the hallmark of Baptists churches. It is only in recent years that some have begun to stray from this distinctive.

 

If the individual believer has access to God on his own and can be lead and guided by God then it follows that the church should be led by all the people as they are in tune with God.

 

The balance between “Baptist Distinctives” versus “Biblical Distinctives” was met by a college prof of mine. Mark Richard Muntz told us that the distinctives were not purely Baptist, but they were points of doctrine that the Baptists have closely followed through history. He mentioned that the points are needed to fully achieve the Biblical local church. He also stressed that if a church did not follow these points of doctrine, they were not truly a Baptist church.

 

 

APPENDIX FIVE

 

The listing of references that speak of the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God. Read each reference and see if you can find out if there is a difference between these two kingdoms and if so what that difference is. Also try to determine what the kingdoms are.

 

KINGDOM OF GOD

 

Matthew; 6:33; 12:28; 19:24; 21:31; 21:43

 

Mark; 1:14; 4:11; 4:26; 4:30; 9:1; 9:47; 10:14; 10:23-25; 12:34; 14:25; 15:4

 

Luke; 4:43; 6:20; 7:28; 8:1; 8:10; 9:2; 9:11; 9:27; 9:60; 9:62; 10:9; 10:11;

11:20; 12:31; 13:18; 13:20; 13:28-29; 14:15; 16:16; 17:20; 18:16-17; 18:24-

25; 19:11; 21:31; 22:16; 22:18; 23:51

 

John; 3:3; 3:5

 

Acts; 1:3; 8:12; 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23; 28:31

 

Romans; 14:17

 

1 Corinthians 4:20; 6:9-10; 15:50

 

Galatians 5:21

 

Colossians 4:11

 

2 Thessalonians 1:5

 

KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

 

Matthew; 3:2; 4:17; 5:3; 5:10; 5:19-20; 7:21; 8:11; 10:7; 11:11-12; 13:11;

13:24; 13:31; 13:33; 13:44; 13:47; 13:52; 16:19; 18:1; 18:3-4; 18:23; 19:14;

19:23; 20:1; 22:2; 23:13; 25:1; 25:14

 

 

APPENDIX SIX

 

This is a partial listing of the references concerning “one another” or “one toward another” in the New Testament. See a concordance for a complete listing.

 

“ONE ANOTHER”

 

Romans 2:15; 12:10 13:8; 14:13; 15:7; 15:14 16:16

 

1 Corinthians 16:20

 

2 Corinthians 13:12

 

Galatians 5:13; 5:15; 5:26

 

Ephesians 4:32

 

Colossians 3:13; 3:16

 

1 Thessalonians 4:9; 4:18; 5:11

 

Titus 3:3

 

Hebrews 3:13; 10:24; 10:25

 

1 Peter 5:14

 

1 John 3:23; 4:7; 4:11; 4:12

 

2 John 5

 

Revelation 6:4

 

“ONE TO ANOTHER”

 

Romans 1:27; 12:10; 12:16; 15:5

 

1 Corinthians 4:6; 6:7; 11:33; 12:25

 

Galatians 5:15

 

Ephesians 4:25; 4:32; 5:21

 

 

Colossians 3:9

 

1 Thessalonians 3:12

 

1 Timothy 5:21

 

James 5:16

 

1 Peter 3:8; 4:9; 4:10; 5:5

 

1 John 1:7

 

Revelation 11:10

 

 

APPENDIX SEVEN

 

 

SPIRITUAL GIFTS

(LISTED IN ORDER BY REFERENCES) ROMANS 12:6-8

Prophecy, Ministry, Teaching, Exhorting, Giving, Ruling, Mercy,

 

1 CORINTHIANS 12:8-10

 

Word of wisdom, Word of knowledge, Faith, Healing, Miracles, Prophecy, Discerning of spirits, Tongues, Interpretation of tongues,

 

1 CORINTHIANS 12:28-30

 

Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, Miracles, Healings, Helps, Governments, Tongues,

 

EPHESIANS 4:11

 

Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and teachers

 

SPIRITUAL GIFTS

(arranged to show duplicate listings)

 

ROMANS   12:6-8

 

I CORIN 12:6-8

 

I CORIN 12:28-30

 

EPHESIANS   4:11

 

Prophecy

 

Prophecy

 

Prophets

 

Prophets

 

Ministry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teaching

 

Teachers

 

 

 

 

 

Exhorting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giving

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mercy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Word of wisdom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Word of knowledge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healing

 

Healing

 

 

 

 

 

Miracles

 

Miracles

 

 

 

 

 

Discerning of spirits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tongues

 

Tongues

 

 

 

 

 

Interpretation of tongues

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apostles

 

Apostles

 

 

 

 

 

Helps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Governments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evangelists

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor/teachers

 

 

 

SPIRITUAL GIFTS (LISTED BY SIGN VS. MINISTRY GIFTS.) SIGN GIFTS

Prophecy, Faith, Word of wisdom, Word of knowledge, Healing, Miracles,

Discerning of spirits, Tongues, Interpretation of tongues, Apostles

 

MINISTRY GIFTS

 

Ministry, Teaching, Exhortation, Giving, Ruling, Mercy, Helps, Governments, Evangelists, Pastors and teachers

 

Those that make distinctions between sign and ministry gifts normally reject the sign gifts for our own day. The sign gifts were for the apostolic days and this can be shown in several different ways.

 

 

APPENDIX EIGHT

 

 

THE GIFT OF PASTOR-TEACHER EXAMINED

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

OUTLINE

 

 

1. The Context Of The Gift

 

2. The Description Of The Gift

 

3. The Meaning Of The Gift

 

4. The Application Of The Gift Conclusion

INTRODUCTION

 

In my early college days the Lord laid it on my heart to prepare for the ministry of teaching at the college level. All of my college and seminary work was aimed toward that time when I would be teaching in a Bible college or Bible Institute. The Lord used a number of things to help me understand that I had the gift of teaching. To begin with, I found that I seemed effective as a teacher with several age groups. Many people responded positively to my ministry and finally there were many that told me they felt that I had the gift of teaching.

 

I proceeded to pray concerning where the Lord might be able to use me and it seemed obvious that teaching was the area. From that point on I attempted to be involved in that ministry. As time went by, I discovered that the usual college/institute teacher was a pastor that had decided later in life to go into teaching. Many of them as I observed were men that did not do that well in the pastorate.

 

At one point in my life I was faced with deciding whether I should go into the pastorate. I was not comfortable with doing the work that we normally assign to the pastor. The roll of marrying, counseling, funeraling etc. As I considered these things it crossed my mind that I was certain what a teacher was, but that I was not certain about what a pastor was. As I considered this, a word study about the word “pastor” seemed appropriate.

 

1. THE CONTEXT OF THE GIFT

 

The gift is listed in Ephesians four. Please take time to read verse 11-16. Notice that the gift of pastor is linked to the gift of teaching. This gift is listed in Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:28-30, and Ephesians 4:11. We cannot look at the gift of pastor without considering the gift of teaching. Some link these two gifts together showing there is a gift of pastor-teacher and a gift of teaching. The thought being that the pastor of a church should have the gift of pastor-teacher while a teacher would have the gift of teaching.

 

The text seems to indicate that the Lord gifted different men in different ways. The emphasis is on the man that is gifted in the text. The man that was listed as a pastor also received the gift of teaching. This is not to say that every pastor must have the gift of teacher, only that Christ gifted some with both pastor and teacher. You might wonder why I give emphasis to this. The church is given the gifts that it needs. We have a wrong concept of what the pastor of a church is. Today a pastor is a man that preaches, teaches, counsels, calls, visits, mows lawns, cleans floors, and everything else.

 

I believe, and I believe that Scripture teaches that this concept is grossly wrong. A pastor is not all of these things. A pastor is a man that has the gift of pastor. This man may be the local undertaker, or the banker, or the butcher. He is a man in the church that can do the work of a pastor. We will look at what I mean as we go along, but we MUST get rid of the thought that the pastor of a church is the man that does everything.

 

Paul in Ephesians was not trying to say that the pastor-teacher was the head of the physical local assembly. He was telling the Ephesians that the Lord had given some men the gift of apostleship, some men the gift of prophet, some men the gift of evangelism, some men the gift of pastoring and some men the gift of teaching. The first two, the gifts of apostles and prophets were among the sign gifts that have passed away. He stated by coupling the gifts of pastor and teacher together that some men have both gifts. He was not requiring that the pastor be a teacher or that every teacher be a pastor.

 

There are two gifts. Pastor and teacher. The pastor gift is not listed elsewhere in scripture. Indeed the translation of this Greek word by the term “pastor” is misleading and probably due to the wrong concept of pastor that the church has had for many years.

 

The Greek term translated pastor here is actually translated differently every time it appears in the New Testament. It is normally translated shepherd, which is a totally different idea than what we have for the pastor of our day. Let’s consider all of this for a while.

 

What are the terms that are used in Eph.? The term translated pastor is “poimeen” and it is normally translated shepherd. Indeed, it is never translated pastor, except in the Ephesians text. The term translated teacher is “didaskalos” and is translated “master” in the Gospels and teacher in the rest of the New Testament.

 

2. THE DESCRIPTION OF THE GIFT

 

Let’s look at the term “poimeen” and find out just what a shepherd should be. There are only two references containing this term in the epistles and both of them are referring to the Good Shepherd Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25)

 

The other uses of the term are found in the Gospels. We won’t take time to look at these, but they show the ministry of a shepherd to his sheep. Probably the reference that depicts the overall idea is Matthew 9:36 which show the overall concern of the shepherd. “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they were faint, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” You should note that this Shepherd not only had the compassion for the people, but His entire ministry was the steps He took to relieve their misery. It was a caring, and ministering to the sheep.

 

I would like to sum up the thoughts of the other Gospel references and just list the items that can be seen concerning the shepherd. (These references contain the word “poimeen”. Matthew 9:36 (Mark 6:34); Matthew 25:32; Matthew 26:31 (Mark 14:27); Luke 2:8-20; John 10:1-

16.)

 

THE SHEPHERD

 

Gathers the sheep. Collect, control, draw, and limit are part of gathering sheep.

 

Keeps the sheep from falsehood or things that are not true. In the case of Christ, He died for the sheep.

 

Watches over the sheep.

 

Stick with the sheep to assure their safety. Won’t leave them.

 

Know his sheep. His sheep will also know the shepherd.

 

This is not descriptive of many of our churches today. We won’t go into these thoughts. You can apply these things for yourself.

 

3. THE MEANING OF THE GIFT

 

If the man is gifted to be a shepherd then he is one that practices the art of shepherding with a flock of believers. The man that is a teacher is teaching the sheep to do the work that the Lord has for them to do.

 

It is of interest to me how the apostle Paul operated. Some of the apostles were active in the local church at Jerusalem while others according to tradition went out evangelizing as Paul did. Acts 13 mentions there were prophets and teachers that were active in a local assembly. One of those men was Saul, or Paul as we know him. He was either a prophet or teacher and I would guess that he was one of the teachers, because there is no indication in the NT that he was a prophet.

 

Now, why did Paul never settle down in a church? The only reason that I can think of is that he realized that he was a teacher and that the Lord wanted him out teaching. He did not practice the gift of pastor in the NT as far as I can find. He knew his gift and he practiced his gift where he could. He did not stuff himself into a pastoring position because he knew he was not gifted in that area.

 

 

I trust that as we continue on through life that we will seek to find ways of allowing the gifted to practice their gifts instead of placing them where

they do not belong.

 

A teacher is a teacher and a pastor is a pastor. If a men is both then he should do both. If a man is a teacher, he should be a teacher and if a man is a pastor, he should be a pastor.

 

May we make some observations:

 

1. There are five gifts listed in the text. This may have application in three areas: a. This could mean that you will have one man with two gifts, that of pastoring and teaching. b. This could mean that you have one man that is a shepherd and one man that is a teacher if you have a plurality of leadership. If you have only one leader then the man should have both gifts. c. This could mean that a teacher should not be the soul leader of a church. If that is all you have then you should look around until you find the man that is gifted to be a shepherd. Use a “teacher only” if that is all you have, but I believe there will be a shepherd if there is a need.

 

2. Shepherd is a gift separate from the gift of teaching.

 

3. In Ephesians 4 we see that these men are there for the training of the believers. We must assume that the shepherd is involved in training as well as the teacher. Let’s think about how the two might be able to train believers.

 

The Shepherd: Leads to proper food, corrects, protects from falsehood, guides, motivates to move, and gathers.

 

The Teacher: Teaches proper principles of living, interpreting etc., teaches the Word, warns from the Word.

 

There seems to be a difference of ministry between the two. We must realize that one cannot do the other, and they are a complimentary pair of gifts. Indeed, the evangelist can train the believer in areas that the shepherd and teacher cannot.

 

The teacher can teach principles of evangelism, however it is the evangelist that can take the believer out and show them how it is done.

 

 

All three gifts work to train the believer, yet the three cannot operate alone and be effective.

 

(Some feel that the gift of prophet is current today but that it is functioning in a different way than in the sign gift days. They feel that the prophet is the preacher. This does not detract from what we have stated thus far.)

 

4. THE APPLICATION OF THE GIFT

 

The importance of all this is seen in the fact that we may have a man that is a pastor and a teacher at the same time, but it is also true that we may have a man that is a pastor and a man that is a teacher and that we could function well as a local assembly with either situation.

 

I include this study in the hope that we will change our concept of “pastor” to one that is Biblical and not traditional. I have met many men that would love to preach and teach from a pulpit in churches, but they do not feel they are able to handle the other parts of “pastoring” which the church has laid upon the man in the pulpit.

 

On the other hand I suspect that we have many men that can shepherd that would never be capable of entering into a preaching or teaching situation that are not functioning in the local church because the pastor does those things.

 

If we had a proper understanding of the term pastor, we could operate a church with a teacher in the pulpit, in the class room or in the Bible study and a pastor in the sick room, or in the counseling room, or in the visiting room.

 

CONCLUSION

 

Christ gave gifts to all believers. Some of these gifts are for training the sheep.

 

As we move into a new century for the world and the church might we look into the scripture for our forms and organization, rather than into the traditions that we have inherited from past generations.

 

May we seek to minister to one another as Christ has gifted us.

 

 

May we determine that we are not going to cram a teacher into a pastoring positions or a pastor into a teaching position.

 

I might mention there are churches that have realized these things and have allowed their teachers to teach and their pastors to pastor. These churches have a plurality of leadership and function quite nicely with these principles. I am told that A.W. Tozer was a teaching elder in his church and that others did the shepherding.

 

 

APPENDIX NINE

 

 

BODY BUILDERS OR SOCIAL CLIMBERS?

 

I would like to consider whether we, as local assemblies, are bodies as the Scripture states we are to be, or are we societies.

 

Forgive me for the length of this quote. Society according to Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary is: “1: companionship or association with one’s fellows: friendly or intimate intercourse: COMPANY 2: a voluntary association of individuals for common ends; esp: an organized group working together or periodically meeting because of common interests, beliefs, or profession 3 a: an enduring and cooperating social group whose members have developed organized community, nation, or broad grouping of people having common traditions, institutions, and collective activities and interests 4 a: a part of a community that is a unit distinguishable by particular aims or standards of living or conduct : a social circle or a group of social circles having a clearly marked identity … b: a part of the community that sets itself apart as a leisure class and that regards itself as the arbiter of fashion and manners 5 a: a natural group of plants usu. of a single species or habit within an association b: the progeny of a pair of insects when constituting a social unit (as a hive of bees); broadly: an interdependent system of organisms or biological units” P 1119 (By permission. From Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary copyright 1991 by Merriam-Webster Inc., publisher of the Merriam- Webster (registered) Dictionaries.)

 

Let’s list the aspects of “society” from this definition:

 

1. Society is companionship with others.

 

2. Society is association with others.

 

3. Society contains friendly conversation.

 

4. Society contains intimate conversation.

 

5. Society is being with others toward a common end.

 

 

6. Society is being with others because of interests.

 

7. Society is being with others because of common beliefs.

 

8. Society is being with others because of a common profession.

 

9. Society is an organized group of people with traditions.

 

10. Society is an organized group of people with institutions.

 

11. Society is an organized group of people with collective activities.

 

12. Society is an organized group of people with collective interests.

 

13. Society is a recognizable community because of their aims.

 

14. Society is a recognizable community because of their standards of living.

 

15. Society is a recognizable community because of their living or conduct.

 

16. Society is a group of people that stand out because of their identity.

 

17. Society is a group of people that set themselves as a standard of fashion or manners.

 

To begin with I see little difference between the above list and the church in America today. I took a class in college on sociology that required us to read a book that held to the teaching that society was based on groups of people that are playing games. The doctors play the doctor game and do what doctors do, the lawyers play the lawyer game and do what lawyers do, and the laborers play the laborer game and do what laborers do. The author’s thought was that the doctors did things that doctors do because that’s what doctors do, etc. Naturally the Christians would be playing the Christian game and would be doing what Christians do.

 

I am beginning to believe that some Christians and churches are playing the Christian game. We talk a good talk, we work a good work, and we do what is expected of us because we are Christians playing the Christian game.

 

SO, what is the difference between the Christians in our day and the idea of society? Is the church a society within the general lost society of our world today? Is the church a mini-society that operates among the other mini societies in the world?

 

The church is told that it is a body. Just what did the Lord mean by that? How can we relate that concept to the church? Can we be a body and also fit the thought of a society? Because we have already stated that the church seems to be a society, is there something that we should be doing that would automatically change us from the status of being a society to the status of being a body?

 

Body vs. Society: Let’s consider the ideas of body and society for a moment.

 

1. A body is living while a society is organized. Even though the church may be loosely organized, the primary emphasis is supposed to be on the living.

 

2. A body is made up of interdependent parts that must draw life from the common physical bond, while a society is made up of people that are drawn together because of a common mental or ideological bond.

 

3. A body part cannot exist apart from the whole, while a part of society can exist and thrive apart from the whole.

 

4. A body is directed by one source, the head, while a society is led by the dictates of the whole.

 

5. A body is in the business of survival of the whole, while a society is open to destruction of the parts and/or the whole for the survival of the other.

 

Illustration: The communist block was a whole that is now in the process of destruction for the survival of the parts. The church body must and will survive because we have the Head, Jesus Christ, directing toward that end.

 

6. The body exists to grow and develop, while an organization may or may not desire to grow and develop.

 

7. In the body, growth and development is automatic because it is living, while an organization must plan and labor to grow and develop.

 

 

8. A body is sensible, or it can sense the world outside of itself in all respects, such as emotional, mental, and physical, while a society may or may not sense the world around them.

 

Are these differences important? I suspect that the differences are the keys to why many of us originally felt that the church fit into the definition of society. The differences, if realized and maintained in the church then should move a local assembly from the place of being a society to the place of being a body.

 

Let’s list these differences in a short thought that would help us work on being sure that our churches are bodies and not societies.

 

1. A Body Grows Naturally: A living body is growing naturally because of individual parts reproducing themselves (cells). In the broader thought, the head is teaching the limbs and parts to work together for the common good.

 

A body is an organism not an organization. An organism lives, while an organization is given life by its participants.

 

2. A Body’s Parts Are Interdependent: Every part is interdependent, thus every part is of supreme importance as a part. A part missing is a part that is not supplying something to others in the body.

 

3. The Part Cannot Survive Alone: A believer apart from a local assembly falters spiritually, thus when a part absents itself the whole Ought to be concerned rather than being critical or allowing them to go their own way.

 

4. The Head Directs The Whole: When the parts begin to direct the whole rather than the head, the group cannot be a body.

 

5. The Body Will Survive: This would have application in the area of problems that we allow to develop into church splits. A body cannot split and survive, so why do we feel that a church can?

 

6. The Body Exists To Grow: The Church should exist to grow and develop. This eliminates the purpose of growth for any other reason than this. Growth is not to provide for building of personal kingdoms, of buildings, budgets etc.

 

 

7. The Body Is Living: How much energy is spent in the church organizing growth campaigns, and contests to produce what should happen naturally?

 

8. The Body Senses its Surroundings: Are we as a body of believers really sensitive to the hurt and destiny of the world? Are we really sensing the impending danger of hell for those around us? Are we open to helping a hurting person?

 

Body has been described as a mass of matter. Some indicate it is a mass that is different from other masses. Now, to call the church a mass is not too appropriate, however the idea of a mass that is distinct from other masses Should Be descriptive of the church. We should be distinct from the rest of the world. We should be, shall I say, easily distinguishable from the world.

 

So why do we dress, act, spend, live, invest etc. like the world?

 

Another item that is important for us to consider is the attraction of those outside the church to the church. Is that attraction because they desire to be a part of a living, thriving, growing body or are they attracted to what the society can do for them. I fear that many in our churches are socially attracted rather than spiritually attracted.

 

I trust that you will consider the differences between the body that we are supposed to be and the society that we seem to have become. I trust that you will commit yourself in your local church to work toward being a body rather than a society.

 

 

THE LORD’S TABLE — WHO WHAT WERE?

 

Question: Is it correct for an institution or organization aside from the local church to offer and/or celebrate the Lord’s table?

 

DEFINITIONS

 

1. Local Church: An organized body of believers gathering for the purpose of edification of the saved, and the evangelization of the lost.

 

The term organized would refer to the fact that they have a pastor and/or elders and deacons functioning for the leadership of the body of believers.

 

2. Ordinance: Theissen, “We may define an ordinance as an outward rite appointed by Christ to be administered in the Church as a visible sign of the saving truth of the Christian faith.”

 

Bancroft in Elemental Theology p 310 mentions, “The word ordinance comes from two Latin words which in their final meaning signify ‘that which is ordered or commanded.’“ (Taken from the book, Elemental Theology by Emery H. Bancroft. Copyright 1977 by Baptist Bible College. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.)

 

Ryrie in A Survey Of Bible Doctrine p 149 mentions, “an outward rite prescribed by Christ to be performed by His church.”

 

OBSERVATIONS

 

1. The Church is the church and organizations or institutions are not the church.

 

The Church has a specific organization, purpose and function.

 

Any organization that is not a church will have a different organization, purpose and function.

 

Example: A Bible Institute declares its purpose to be, “                                   is a highly specialized institution raised up by the Lord for intensive and comprehensive training in God’s Word. It exists to prepare men and women to serve the Lord as pastors, evangelists, missionaries, youth leaders and Christian education workers.”

 

The only organizations that function with a leadership of pastor and/or elders, and deacons are churches. No other organization or institution that this author knows of has this type of organization nor terminology.

 

2. No organization other than a church claims to be a church.

 

3. Most doctrinal statements, if they mention the ordinances list them as “ordinances of the Local Church.”

 

The above Bible Institute’s doctrinal statement mentions,

 

“5. We believe that there are two ordinances given to the local church:

 

a. “Water baptism….”

 

b. “The Lord’s Supper, which is to be observed only by believers as a memorial to the death and coming again of our Lord Jesus.”

 

Note should be taken of the phrase, “given to the local church”

 

This, in essence, would indicate that no other organization or institution has the right to practice the ordinances.

 

4. Since para-church organizations are a relatively new movement there are no Scriptural references which may be quoted to support their use of the Lord’s table. By the same token the church fathers and their writings would not have reference to our question.

 

5. The text usually presented to show the institution of the ordinance is usually one of the Gospel accounts of the Lord celebrating the passover. He used the elements that were present on the dinner table. He mentioned that He would not drink of the fruit of the vine until He came in His Father’s Kingdom. (Matt.) Luke in 22:19 records, “This is my body which is given for you; this do in remembrance of me.” Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:17-20.

 

6. 1 Corinthians 11 is the other text which relates to the question at hand. Verse 2 mentions, “…keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.”

 

 

Paul himself had given them the information they needed for the observance. Items to observe from this text. a. It is an ordinance. (V 2) b. It is for the church. Paul is speaking to the church in Corinth and he also mentions the “church of God” in verse 22. 1 Corinthians 10:16ff shows that the church at Corinth had been taught of the Lord’s table prior to this letter.

 

7. Matthew records in 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” There is no mention of the church in this text. Indeed the church did not exist. The context of this verse is prayer. There cannot easily be an organized local church with three members.

8. The early church might be suggested as an example of the Lord’s table. Acts 2 is where most place the beginning of the Church. It might be of interest to note that the apostles did not observe the Lord’s Table prior to Pentecost. The day of Pentecost was 50 days after the Passover (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia p 2318) and Acts 1:3 mentions that the Lord ascended about 40 days after the Passover. This would indicate several days (8 to 10) between the ascension and the day of Pentecost — surely enough time to have the Lord’s table if they thought it important. (Indeed one must wonder if they were waiting for the Lord’s quick return to have it with Him.)

 

Indeed it is difficult to show from the Scriptures that the apostles participated in the Lord’s table after the day of Pentecost.

 

Acts 2:42 mentions for the first time the “breaking of bread” which most hold as being the Lord’s table. Verse 46 states, “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their food with gladness and singleness of heart.” Might one suggest that these phrases may well indicate sharing of meals and not the Lord’s Table. The next text relating to food is in chapter six where they were eating as a group. Again there is nothing specific about the Lord’s table.

 

One further text uses the term “breaking bread” but again the way it is stated to read into it more than eating is just that reading into it. “When he, therefore, was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.” Acts 20:11

 

One is left to wonder if the early church indeed did practice the Lord’s table prior to the teaching of Paul. It could easily be suggested that the Revelation to Paul from the Lord may have been the first and official institution of the Lord’s table.

 

c. Christ revealed this information to Paul personally. It is not meant to be a quote from the Gospels, but it is meant to be the exact information that the Lord gave to him.

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

1. The Lord has so designated the Church as His body and His organization to work in and through. It is this writer’s opinion that one must assume heavily to even suggest that there is any other organization that is qualified to initiate or perform either of the ordinances, be it Baptism or the Lord’s Table.

 

2. Is it wrong then, for other organizations to perform these functions? Let this be answered by another question. By what authority might they presume to function? There is no authority given in Scripture to any group other than the Local Church.

 

3. In specific relation to Colleges, Seminaries and Bible Institutes one must take into consideration several items:

 

a. Do the schools feel that they are an extension of the Local Church? Most schools make no such claim nor do they seek to become an extension of the church.

 

b. Does any Local Church have any control over the schools? The answer to this is no unless they are denominational schools.

 

c. Is there any organizational or intended connection between schools and local churches other than by speaking, attendance, or membership of individuals from the school? Again the answer is no.

 

d. At most, the schools could possibly be classified as an arm of the Local Church; however this is not indicated by most schools. This is not to say that they are the local church nor is it to say that they have any authority as does the local church.

 

They have authority only over their own people and students. That authority that does exist comes from their own organization and the individual’s submission to it, not from Scripture? The school has no authority in the area of church discipline nor ordinances.

 

4. Many conservative pastors and teachers feel that the Lord’s table may be held anyplace and under most circumstances IF the service is under the authority of the Local Church.

 

Bancroft in his Elemental Theology p 312 mentions, “There are a number of questions which may be asked in relation to the two ordinances, such as these: What is the proper method of observing baptism and the Lord’s supper? Who is qualified to administer them? Who are fit subjects or recipients of them? And to whom does the responsibility for their proper observance or administration belong? Suffice it for us to say in general that these are church ordinances and are therefore not to be administered or observed in promiscuous assemblies, or by individuals, but by the church in the regular local assembly, and according to the pattern furnished by the Lord Jesus Christ.” He follows this statement with his doctrinal summation on ordinances. “The church is the custodian of the two ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and is responsible for their administration.” (Taken from the book, Elemental Theology by Emery H. Bancroft. Copyright 1977 by Baptist Bible College. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.)

 

 

DIVORCE/REMARRIAGE

 

 

PRESUPPOSITIONS

 

1. This is not to condemn anyone in any relationship.

 

2. This is to present the Scripture involved, and draw conclusions.

 

3. This is to reprimand the Church for its steady decline and slide toward the world in relation to this subject. The Churches divorce rate if about that of the worlds.

 

4. This is to confront people in this situation with a head on look at what God says concerning the subject. Many today have accepted the norm for themselves, and have never looked into the Word to see what God has to say.

 

5. Malachi 2:15b, 16 States, “Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.”

 

Note: God hates the putting away of the wife of your youth. If you do, you deal treacherously against her. This is the context that this study must be done in. All else that the Scripture states must be understood in light of the fact that God hates divorce, and that the person that does go ahead and divorce, is dealing treacherously with their spouse.

 

6. This is also a call to the church to commit itself to two items:

 

a. Begin to properly teach the principles of marriage.

 

b. That it begin to minister to those already in the divorce/remarried situation.

 

 

First I would like to present some of the views held today on the topic.

 

 

1. NO DIVORCE

 

 

NO REMARRIAGE

 

 

2.   DIV. OK IN SOME CASES

 

 

NO REMARRIAGE

 

 

3. DIVORCE OK

 

 

REM.   OK IN CASE OF FORNICATION

 

 

4. DIVORCE OK

 

 

REM. IN CASE OF FORNICATION AND   DESERTION

 

5. DIVORCE OK

 

 

REM. OK IN ALL   CASES

 

 

 

One, three and four are held in conservative circles, although four is not widely held. Three is the past favorite. Two is fairly new and not to much is being done with it. One is very conservative but I believe that it is growing rapidly due to the rethinking of the old position of number three.

 

Most view death as grounds for remarriage though Paul indicates that staying single may be best (1 Corinthians 7). Paul hints that young widows probably ought to remarry in one of his epistles if they can’t handle the life of a single. (Which is hard for most young people that have lost a spouse via death. 1 Corinthians 7:7-8 mentions it is better to marry than burn, however that is specifically in the context of single persons considering not marrying for the first time and widows. It has nothing to do with the divorcee’s situation.)

 

Let us begin with a text that God set forth through Moses long before any of the texts that we will consider, were given.

 

Genesis 2:23-24,

 

“And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of

 

 

Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.”

 

May I add a New Testament passage also? Matthew 19:4-8,

“And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made [them] at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.”

Most agree to this. Marriage is between two, and in the beginning, was for life. “Leave” is imperative to a good marriage. The cleave is indicative of

holding to one another and no one else, as in parents or friends (This is not

the idea of moving away from parents, for the Old Testament concept was the family staying together. The one flesh is indicative of the unity of the marriage.

 

How can you divide one flesh? This is the dilemma that faces those that see divorce as an option. They just don’t deal with it.

 

I might add immediately that a legal separation may be very wise and in some states divorce. This will provide legal protection in some cases for the person. It Should Never Be Seen As A Division In The Marriage For The Law Cannot Divide Flesh. Death Is The Only Divisor Of The One Flesh Of A Marriage.

 

Let us look at the passages that seem to relate to the problem. Exodus 20:14 “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” The clear command of God in one of His ten big ones. He says that you shalt not do it.

 

 

Leviticus 18:16 mentions that it is not right for a brother to uncover the nakedness of his brother’s wife. This would be in the case of a brother with his presently married brother’s wife I would assume.

 

Leviticus 18:20 mentions that adultery defiles the man.

 

Leviticus 20:10

 

“And the man that committeth adultery with [another] man’s wife, [even he] that committeth adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.”

 

This passage is clear that death was the laws answer to the adulterous activities of the Israelites. Christ, living under that law, obeying that law and fulfilling that law would naturally have known of this passage. He would have had to be thinking of this when He announced the so called exception for fornication. He knew that under the law, death was the answer to fornication, and there were no other cases whereby adultery was acceptable. It is not acceptable in the case of fornication, but is cause for death.

 

Let us look at the relationship of Christ to the law.

 

1. Christ was made of a woman under the law: Galatians 4:4

 

2. Christ came to redeem those under the law: Galatians 4:5

 

3. Christ came to fulfill the law: Matthew 5:17-20

 

4. Christ would have to keep the law to fulfill it: Matthew 4:13-17 (“fulfill all righteousness”)

 

5. Christ taught the keeping of the law: Matthew 19:16-19

 

6. Christ did not come to destroy the law, nor to set it aside: Matthew 5:17

 

In light of this it seems doubtful that the Lord was giving an exception for divorce, but rather He was stating there was no reason for divorce. Indeed, the reaction of the disciples indicates that they viewed marriage for life and not something that could be dissolved.

 

 

If Christ had such strong feelings about divorce/remarriage, why shouldn’t the minister of God, why shouldn’t the woman of God, why shouldn’t the man of God abhor divorce/remarriage within the family of God?

 

Deuteronomy 5:18 “Neither shalt thou commit adultery.” This is a repeat of the commandment.

 

Deuteronomy 24:1 We need to understand this text in light of the Malachi passage concerning God’s hate for divorce, and realize that the New Testament mentions this was allowed because of the hardness of their hearts. (Matthew 19:8)

 

1. “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.

 

2. “And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.

 

3. “And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife;

 

4. “Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the Lord: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”

 

Some brief information on the words used: v 1 some = 1697 (from 1696) = “dabar (daw-baw) = twot 399a; relates to saying, speech, word, or business. uncleanness = 6172 (from 6168) = “ervah” (er-vaw) = twot 1692b; relates to nakedness and shame, or exposed. bill of divorcement = 3748 = “keriythuwth” (ker-ee-thooth) = twot 1048; means divorce or dismissal. v 4 defiled = 2930 = “tame” (taw-may’) = twot 809; This tern relates to being unclean or impure. It can be sexually, ceremonially, or religiously.

 

The use of the word “dabar” would indicate that this uncleanness may be related to the spoken word. It could be cursing, or more to the point probably, would be the confession of some uncleanness. However, when you put this word with the word “ervah” you have a double term indicating other than the thought of uncleanness, but rather the thought of some spoken nakedness or exposure. This could relate to most any exposure of information that causes the man to decide he does not want this woman for a wife.

 

Many believe that this passage relates to the engagement period, before the actual marriage. It is something that the man finds out before the actual marriage ceremony and consummation of the marriage.

 

The term married = 1166 = “baal (bah’-al) = twot 262; Strong: “…to be master; hence…to marry:-have dominion (over), be husband, marry….” twot “possess, own, rule over, marry.” Neither mention the thought of engagement period. This would indicate that they were indeed, married; however, since marriage is for life and the penalty for adultery is death, it seems right to assume that the text may well be speaking of the engagement period rather than an actual completed marriage.

 

Barne’s Notes has a good comment which needs to be considered. (Cook, F.C., editor; “The Bible Commentary”; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House; no copy, pp 315-316) The author mentions that these four verses are actually one sentence. “Moses neither institutes nor enjoins divorce. The exact spirit of the passage is given in our lord’s words to the Jews; ‘Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives’ (Matthew 19:8). Not only does the original institution of marriage as recorded by Moses (Genesis 2:24) set forth the perpetuity of the bond, but the verses before us plainly intimate that divorce, whilst tolerated for the time, contravenes the order of nature and of God.” He goes on to state, “Moses could not absolutely put an end to a practice which was traditional, and common to the Jews with other Oriental nations. His aim is therefore to regulate and thus to mitigate an evil which he could not extirpate.”

 

Since this is a text that we can’t really nail down as to meaning, it should be subjected to a proper level under the institution of marriage in Genesis and the thought that God hates divorce. The most you might conclude from this text would be there is something revealed that causes the problem. You should not assume that this is basis for the divorce rate we see today.

 

 

A New Testament illustration of this would be Matthew 1:19 when Joseph considered putting Mary away before they had consummated and completed the marriage.

 

In an informal paper from Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland, OR, the faculty was trying to work through the issue of divorce/remarriage. They state of the Deuteronomy 24 passage, “Divorce in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 was allowed but not ordered. What was commanded is this: if there were a divorce, the person being divorced must be given a bill of divorcement….” They go on to emphasize that the divorce was due to the hardness of their hearts.

 

It seems that the emphasis is not on allowing divorce, but that if you are going to be hard hearted enough to divorce then gives a bill of divorcement.

 

The term defiled in v 4 is “become unclean” according to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. It is used in the following texts: Leviticus 18:20 defiling a neighbor’s wife; Ezekiel 18:6 defiling a neighbor’s wife; Numbers 5:133, 14, 20, 29; This is strong number 2930.

 

The first husband caused his wife trouble evidently because she went out and remarried.

 

NOTE: The 2nd divorce or idea that she is defiled to the point she is not able to be married without adding problems to the situation indicates that the defilement is permanent. Marriage is for life.

 

Divorce is only recognized in this text, and is not commanded. Divorce is not even condoned in this text. Divorce is only recognized as being in existence in this text.

 

The first husband and I would assume all others are not to marry this woman. She is defiled for life. The text does not state it but the second marriage is what defiled her. She is not to remarry.

 

If the husband divorces he is to do the paperwork that is involved. This is all that this text is getting at.

 

The standard of the woman for marriage was: Being a virgin Deuteronomy 22:13ff, Matthew 1:18ff; or a widow — Ruth and Boaz produced a child in the line of Christ.

 

 

The defilement of this woman was lifelong. Barne’s Notes backs this line of thinking as well.

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

This woman defiled herself when she married the second time. This woman had caused problems in the marriage.

This woman would defile any one that she married.

 

Thus the divorcee that remarries is defiled or unmarriable for life. The second and succeeding spouses are defiled because of the marriage to the divorcee.

 

The defilement in the case of the divorcee is for life, while we aren’t told of the second spouse. The indication of Leviticus 22:7 is that the priest would be defiled. If there was a possibility of him removing that defilement the Bible is silent. I would assume that if he were to put her away, then his defilement would end.

 

Leviticus 21:7

 

“They shall not take a wife [that is] a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he [is] holy unto his God.” (v 14 also)

 

The priest is not to marry a divorced woman because he is holy. This is very plain and the indications are very clear that the divorced woman would be a defilement to the priest.

 

An associated passage is Leviticus 22:13. A priest’s young childless — widowed or divorced daughter may live with the priest, but no strangers are to eat there. Since this text mentions the widowed, I would assume that the danger here is that some unwanted possibilities would exist if a

stranger were to drop in for a period of time.

 

Conclusions from the Leviticus texts might run along this line. If a man marries a divorced woman he will become defiled or unholy.

 

It should be pointed out that 22:13 tells us that associating with the divorcee is not defiling. The divorcee needs to be ministered to and that is a real problem for the church. We have many divorcees going to churches that are inadequate doctrinally because they find acceptance there and they don’t in our fundamental churches.

 

A word of warning: I think that a close relationship to a divorcee could well damage a good marriage, so there is a real danger in this. The divorcee can affect in a negative manner a happily married person to the point of damaging the marriage.

 

Some suggest many things from Deuteronomy 22:13-21. There is a lot built on this text that is not really there. If you see comments on it be sure that you look very carefully. The context is a woman that is claiming to be a virgin and is trying to publicly get away with her lie. Note: If she is virgin the marriage bond is for life. Divorce in vs. 19 is literally “send her away”. This is a problem that arises before the marriage is consummated. (virgin)

 

It is of interest that Joseph (Mary’s husband) knew this ruling. If he thought that Mary was a non-virgin He may have been showing a great love for her by trying to divorce her quietly. He didn’t want to chance any harm for her and her baby.

 

Deuteronomy 22:22 Remember for a while, the fact that verse 22 mentions death as the punishment for adultery. Divorce is not in view here.

 

Deuteronomy 22:28, 29 is of interest while we are in the vicinity. It speaks of a single man and single woman that have relations. The point of the passage is marriage and payment of money to the father. The passage ends with a command, “…and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days. This idea is in v 19 as well. It seems Moses wanted to emphasis the point. Unless I am seriously wrong, this is a command that a marriage is for life. It would not seem logical to penalize these particular situations for life, so we should see it as general principle — marriage is for life. If there is divorce, the person is defiled when remarried.

 

Ezra 10:3, 19

 

“Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel

 

 

of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. And they gave their hands that they would put away their wives; and [being] guilty, [they offered] a ram of the flock for their trespass.”

 

Chapter nine and Nehemiah 13:23-31 are also background for this text.

 

This speaks of putting foreign wives away; however there is no mention of divorce or bills of divorcement which Deuteronomy required.

 

The most you can draw from this is that the Jews were allowed to separate themselves from foreign wives — not divorce. The term used here “put away” is “yasa” which means to go out from. (This is Strong’s 3318 and twot’s 893) This is not related to the terms for divorce in the Old Testament. This was a step to keep the Messianic line pure, and I have

not found any that speak of this being for today.

 

Proverbs 6:32

 

“[But] whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding he [that] doeth it destroyeth his own soul.”

 

There are two things mentioned here. The adulterer lacketh understanding, and he destroyeth his own soul.

 

Just what the last item means is another thing. It would probably be readily accepted that this is not talking about eternal things. It would seem that it speaks of the man’s earthly life. The soul is the center of our world consciousness, thus the thought should relate to how the man relates to his world. Adultery certainly has been observed to seriously affect the mental and emotional side of people involved, and these two often can cause problems within the physical realm as well.

 

Thus the destruction probably relates to the life, or quality of life of the people involved. I once was told by an older woman of a part of her life. Her account relates to this point. She had divorced her first husband and had remarried. She began to look at the Bible and realized that she should not be married. She mentioned that she went through many years of guilt feelings because of her situation. She said that she was very relieved when her first husband died. She felt that she had been freed.

 

 

Jeremiah 3:1

 

“They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with

many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.”

 

God views the put away wife that remarries as an harlot, or as we’ve seen

— defiled.

 

Jeremiah 3:8, 9

 

“And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.” And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.”

 

The whole tenor of the text should set the person contemplating adultery at odds with their straying desires.

 

Several things to note:

 

Israel committed adultery and was put away: This might indicate that the exception of the New Testament for fornication had Old Testament basis. This is God that did this.

 

It could better be said that it is an understandable picture that God gave to the Jews, and that He did not really give them a divorce — He just put them away for their spiritual adultery.

 

The thought of Israel being His wife is merely a picture, thus so would be a divorce from her. If you make the mistake of making this a real divorce then you have him married to Israel and divorcing her, while he is married to Judah. You might tack on the fact that Christ will marry the church one day. Bigamy on the part of God — not a tolerable teaching.

 

God gave a bill of divorce: Again this does not indicate an Old testament basis for the exception of the New Testament. Even if this is a true event of divorce on the part of God, it was for the fear factor in others. He did it to salvage a relationship with Judah. Application of this might run along the line that any divorce in this age should be an example and a case to cause fear in other people’s relationships. It is of interest, that if this is true, then the people of our day have done as Judah — feared not and played the harlot.

 

Conclusions from this text:

 

1. The thought of the text is that God was trying to set an example and salvage another relationship.

 

Those today that do not take the example of others divorcing are not fearing God and the party that is unfaithful is an HARLOT.

 

2. This text should be taken within the context of all prior Old Testament information on divorce, and putting away. The Jewish mind would have understood this terminology because of their background.

 

The thought that God actually issued a bill of divorcement should not be taken as a literal writing and delivering, nor should it be taken as an okay for man to do so.

 

I personally feel that it was a picture for Judah and that it was an illustration. As were the anthropomorphisms of the Psalmist. They picture an attribute or act of God. He merely saw their adultery and put them away because of it.

 

Verse one “they say” may refer to Deuteronomy 24:1-4

 

The most you might come up with here is that the wife that plays the harlot, and continues in it for many years — not a onetime act of adultery, may be put away. Remarriage is never an option here. However to view this as a basis for putting away, I believe that it would be stretching the text. Indeed, reconciliation is the thought of all that God does in the book of Jeremiah. He is always calling his people back to Himself. If you see divorce for adultery in this text, then you must also see no thought of remarriage to another, as well as the key thought of reconciliation. Note should be made that this adultery was over many years and even generations and God still wanted them to return to Him.

 

Some information on the words used: “committed” and “adultery” are one word: 5003 na’aph {naw-af’} a primitive root; TWOT — 1273; It seems to mean to commit adultery. It is used of men/women/figuratively of idolatry. “her a bill”: 5612 cepher {say’-fer} or (feminine) ciphrah (Psalm 56:8 [9]) {sif-raw’} from 5608; TWOT — 1540a, 1540b; it has the idea of a book, document or legal document. “of divorce”: 3748 k@riythuwth {ker-ee-thooth’} from 3772; TWOT — 1048a; simply refers to dismissal or divorce. “harlot”: 2181 zanah {zaw-naw’} a primitive root [highly-fed and therefore wanton]; TWOT — 563; relates to commission of fornication, adultery, or harlotry.

 

Jeremiah 5:7

 

“How shall I pardon thee for this? Thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by [them that are] no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses.”

 

The spiritual adultery of Israel should let us know how God feels about it in the physical realm. Words like these should move the believer to refrain from the act, to abhor the act, and to teach against the act.

 

Jeremiah 7:9

 

“Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not;”

 

This use of adultery is speaking of physical and not spiritual adultery. Adultery is related to stealing, murder, lying, and idolatry. Are these things that a believer wants to involve themselves in? I fear in our “gray area” Christian society, believers feel free to be involved in these areas with no thought.

 

Jeremiah 23:14

 

“I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.”

 

Again, how can the believer desire to have anything to do with adultery if God feels this way about it? Indeed, there may be a harsh message to the pastors and leaders of our day that give the idea that divorce/remarriage are correct methods of operation. Pastors have now, in some cases, decided it is acceptable for them to be divorced/remarried.

 

Jeremiah 29:23

 

“Because they have committed villainy in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and have spoken lying words in my name, which I have not commanded them; even I know, and [am] a witness, saith the LORD.”

 

This passage would call the erring believer to realize that God is witness of what they do in the dark. He is also their judge, the judge with the perfect, truthful, and unfailing witness — Himself.

 

Ezekiel 16:32 “[But as] a wife that committeth adultery, [which] taketh strangers instead of her husband.” A bold, concise, and clear statement of what adultery is.

 

Ezekiel 23:37

 

“That they have committed adultery, and blood [is] in their hands, and with their idols have they committed adultery, and have also caused their sons, whom they bare unto me, to pass for them through [the fire], to devour [them].”

 

This passage should wake some up to the effect their life style has on their children. God states that the adultery of the father may well be passed on to the family. Indeed, this is easily observed within the fabric of our society today.

 

Ezekiel 44:2

 

“Neither shall they take for their wives a widow, nor her that is put away: but they shall take maidens of the seed of the house of Israel, or a widow that had a priest before.”

 

Hosea 2:2; Hosea 4:2; Hosea 4:13, 14.

 

Matthew 5:27

 

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh

 

 

on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

 

Christ related the wondering mind’s eye to the wondering physical eye. If you are involved mentally with one that is not your spouse, you are involved in adultery. Christ relates this new truth to the commandment that we have already seen in our study.

 

One might ask the question, if a person involved in pornography comes to know the Lord does that person need to remove his mind from the pornography? I think that the overwhelming answer would be YES. If the one involved in mental adultery needs to come out of their sin when they are saved, why shouldn’t we teach that the physical adulterer should set aside their adultery when they become believers?

 

Matthew 5:32

 

“But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

 

It is of interest to me that Christ assumes that the person will remarry. This is related to the society they were operating in. The woman would have no way of living without a husband, so would naturally look for another husband.

 

The statement is clear — If a man puts away his wife, he causes her to commit adultery. Further, if one marries her he also commits adultery. “committeth adultery” is a present tense verb which indicates that this is an ongoing adultery, not just a onetime act.

 

Q. What is this adultery that is committed? Is remarriage equal to one act of adultery, or is remarriage equal to moving into a relationship of ongoing adultery? It seems logical that it is ongoing rather than a one-time event. There is no logical basis to relate the act of marriage to the sin of adultery. Getting married does not make you an adulterer; the intimacy of marriage to one not your spouse makes you an adulterer.

 

Some might suggest that remarriage = adultery = one time = this is what Christ was saying = leaving the spouse. If this is true then the application of that concept is that any man stepping out on his wife the first time commits adultery — one time act, and then following occurrences of infidelity are not adultery. The adultery was the original leaving. Believing that the adultery is a onetime sin that is forgiven once, is not a logical conclusion.

 

Context: The Jews and no one else. This is a group of instructions given to the Jews to prepare them for life in the Kingdom. This is a Jew talking to Jews, in a Jewish setting, in Jewish times, in a Jewish law discussion, in Jewish land, with Jewish leaders about a future Jewish age, under a Jewish ruler.

 

Most use this verse to show that divorce is okay in the case of fornication. Most relate fornication to the sin of adultery. By the way none I’ve read mentions in this context that the Old Testament penalty for adultery was death.

 

The contrast of “some say” and “I say” is of interest as well. Christ is not teaching on what “some say”, but on what He says. This whole section seems to be His expansion and explanation of some of the Old Testament concepts that indeed had been misinterpreted by the Jews of His day.

 

You might easily view this verse as stating that in the case of fornication the death penalty (Deuteronomy 22:24) is to be carried out and there is no remarriage in that case for the person is dead. This was Christ, the one that lived the law perfectly, that is speaking, and this would certainly be His interpretation I would think. It is also to be noted that Christ is speaking of the Kingdom in which He will reign with a rod of iron and judgment of wrong will be immediate. This would mean the adulterous parties will not be around long enough to remarry.

 

In the case of divorce for any other reason the resulting remarriage is sin. The term fornication is discussed at times but usually is related to adultery. Some miscellaneous information on some possibilities that have been presented. beastiality: the result was to be death, Leviticus 20:16; Exodus 22:19; Homosexuality: Death, Leviticus 20:13; These were sins of the people that God destroyed at the hand of Israel as they entered the land, Lev 18:22-24

 

 

There is a study of the term “fornication” at the end of this paper. Basically the term is any sexual activity that is incorrect. In these cases it refers to adultery.

 

Some would suggest that the death for adultery was not being practiced in this time. The method of death was stoning. Stoning was yet present in Stephen’s and Paul’s time. John R.W. Stott in “DIVORCE” mentions that stoning continued until 40 AD.

 

Matthew 14:3-14; Mark 6:14ff (Herod)

 

John The Baptist had told Herod that it was unlawful for him to have his brother’s wife. Why? It would seem that his brother was still alive and he along with his wife was breaking the law. What law? The law of God that states that the man and woman are one flesh until death. Unger in his Bible Dictionary mentions that the Herod and Herodias eloped while both were still married.

 

John The Baptist was confident enough in His God to accuse even the king, of adultery, yet when a pastor suggests church discipline for the same thing in this generation, he is held up to ridicule.

 

Matthew 19:3-12 We have here some questions and answers in this text. Question: v 3 “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” Christ answers, Haven’t you read: Christ refers to the Genesis 2 text.

 

Question: v 7 Why then did Moses “command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?” This Is A Misrepresentation Of Moses. Christ corrects the comment, and tells them that it was because of the hardness of their hearts that Moses Permitted not commanded it. But,

This was not so from the beginning. Would Christ return to the beginning if He thought there was any basis for divorce or putting away? Not logical.

 

The term hardness of heart is used normally of unsaved and non-believing. (Pharaoh; Mark 16:14; 3:5; Romans 2:5.) This may indicate that divorce is allowed in the unsaved world due to their unbelief and hardness; though I’m not sure you can even build that case.

 

 

Christ then goes to the thought of adultery for those involved in a second marriage after a divorce. No man in the text would include a husband. No man should cause separation.

 

The reaction of the disciples was of interest. They decided it would be better not to get married. (Matthew 19:10, “His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.” The discussion that follows makes it clear that they were talking about not getting married. Their reaction can only give evidence that they felt marriage was for life and that there was no way out.

 

Matthew 19:18

 

“He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,”

 

The Lord repeated all of the commandments except the Sabbath, thus telling us they are still valid for today. Clear and concise — no adultery.

 

So, how can a believer be involved in divorce/remarriage? If they are they are openly before all that know, breaking one of God’s commandments in an ongoing manner.

 

Q. How involved can someone in this position be in the local church? A good question. Today we have men pastoring in this situation. Would we have an active murderer teaching our youth group? Would we have an active thief teaching our beginners class? Probably not, so why do we have divorced/remarried people involved in these ministries?

 

I once spoke to a man that had recently divorced his first wife. They had both remarried and all four were singing in the church choir — an evangelical church — there was constant division because he felt that she and her husband shouldn’t be involved in the choir. What A Testimony For Christ.

 

Mark 10:2-12 This is similar to Matthew 19, except for one very curious exception. The exception clause of fornication is not mentioned. Now if

the book of Mark was written for the edification of Gentiles it would seem that the exception clause would be explained for them, rather than not mentioned, if indeed there is an exception. Is Mark just applying the thought that death is the result of fornication and there are no exceptions? It would seem entirely possible. Christ is asked by the disciples again in private and Christ states clearly there is adultery in the case of ANY divorce — remarriage situation.

 

Some would submit that the reader would assume the exception clause due to their knowledge of the Matthew text. This is foolishness for the reader of Mark probably did not have the Matthew text to read. Mark was writing to specific people. Indeed, since this is true, the exception clause should have been present, if there was any case for remarriage without adultery being involved.

 

Some suggest that his leaving it out was to emphasize the concept of no divorce that the Scriptures set forth as the best. The fact that Matthew mentions the exception is because the Lord wanted to be in keeping with the letter of Deuteronomy 24. Mark just eliminated it to emphasize the importance of lasting marriages. This to me seems to leave Mark in the position of being somewhat dishonest with his readers.

 

Some thoughts: Mark is probably the first Gospel written. He was presenting the message to a gentile audience that probably would never see Matthew. If he left out the exception, then he was dishonest and misled the readers. On the other hand, if he viewed Christ’s “exception” as this paper indicates, as not really an exception but death to the adulterer, then we have Mark setting forth a proper and complete picture of what Christ said.

 

This text is even clearer that the divorce/remarriage is a sin based on the breaking of the original marriage. “committeth adultery against her”, is clearly stating that his new marriage is against the original spouse — it is adultery against her. Can we ever delegate this to a one time act? I don’t know how.

 

The divorce is not the adultery, nor is the remarriage. It is the divorce/remarriage that leaves a person in an adulterous relationship.

 

Can one that is divorced/remarried before salvation receive forgiveness for their sin when they accept Christ? YES. Does the wrong situation change because of salvation? NO. Does the first marriage suddenly disappear or become null and void? NO. Does the adulterous situation disappear or become null and void? NO.

 

The use of tenses in this text backs up the thinking presented here that the adultery is continuing. The verb for putting away is aorist (one time action), the verb marries is aorist (one time action), and the verb commits adultery is present (continuing action).

 

Verse 12 continues on, “And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.” Again the married is aorist while the committeth adultery is present — continuing.

 

This use of the present tense would indicate that the Lord and the three Gospel writers considered the adultery as an ongoing state of affair rather than a onetime act. If this is an ongoing condition then the person that is divorced/remarried is living in open ongoing sin with no thought of ceasing from their activity.

 

Corinthians tells us that open, ongoing, unrepentant sin is cause for the removal of the person from the assembly. Someone asked me once what I would suggest for the divorced/remarried person. He asked if I would recommend divorce. When I said that this would put them closer to the thought of marriage (one for life) and that it would remove them from sin, he stated that he thought it was foolish of me to suggest divorce because it was sin. The man did not think that in God’s eyes there is no second marriage, so there is nothing wrong with going through a secular, legal “divorce.”

 

I would suggest a question in answer to this thought of suggesting a second divorce. What would we ask a Mormon with four wives to do if we led him to the Lord? Would we welcome all four wives and the husband into the membership of the church? No, we would teach them the Bible and pray that the Holy Spirit would lead them to do the right thing. Missionaries have faced similar problems on the field over the years and find that the men with multiple wives normally separate from all wives but the first and support all wives and children involved.

 

Luke 16:18

 

 

“Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from [her] husband committeth adultery.”

 

Notice that Luke also fails to mention the “exception.” He was not writing to Jews either, so would present the complete picture of no divorce. Matthew on the other hand was writing to Jews. He would naturally comment to them from the Jewish background which included the thought of death to the adulterer. Since their question was based on Moses, Christ had to respond to the Old Testament information.

 

Luke 18:20

 

“Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother.”

 

It doesn’t sound like the Lord appreciated adultery.

 

John 8:3

 

“And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.”

 

I would like to look at this text for a moment. It might be used as a proof text to show that the Old Testament death penalty was being set aside. Not so. Christ told them that were without sin, to cast the first stone. None of the men were without the same sin, so none cast a stone. Since Christ was not a witness to the act, nor was he in the position of judge, he would not be involved in carrying out the command to stone. The scribes and Pharisees did not deal with the woman as they should have under their legal system. They should not have taken her to Christ.

 

Romans 2:22

 

“Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?”

 

This passage encourages the one that condemns adultery to be sure that he does not fall into the sin which he condemns. This is a strong admonishment to the pastors and leaders of our churches. Some leaders are now doing what they have always condemned.

 

Romans 13:9

 

“For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

 

Again, definitely in the church age, we have a clear statement of “Thou shalt not commit adultery….” We Cannot have church leadership, nor even teachers that are committed to the open breaking of God’s clear commandments.

 

1 Corinthians 7:10, 11 mentions a woman leaving her husband. Some state this allows her to divorce him. Not so. Divorce is not mentioned — only leaving. She is told to remain unmarried.

 

Galatians 5:19

 

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,”

 

Adultery is mentioned as a work of the flesh. This passage is contrasting the works of the flesh with the works of the Spirit. It might well be pictured as the works of the lost contrasted with the life of the saved. The least we can draw from this text is that the believer should not be involved in the works of the flesh. If they are in an open manner, how can we allow them to minister in the church? We should not. Verse twenty mentions, strife and heresies. These are causes for church discipline and removal from the assembly, so why would we want someone living in open adultery actively ministering in our churches?

 

One might wonder why the church has left its strong stand of removal of divorced/remarried people from the assembly. The thought that the father that is in adultery, brings danger to his son in the same area, may well relate to why the Church today has the same divorce rate that the lost world has. Because a few divorces were tolerated they became more acceptable, etc. Some miscellaneous references containing “adultery”: James 2:11; 2 Peter 2:14; Revelation 2:22.

 

Question: When is adultery, adultery? Each intimacy with one not your spouse is adultery. The life style would also be a life, or living in adultery. The key is that the adultery is an ongoing thing as long as there are intimate contacts.

 

This is illustrated for us in the spiritual adultery of Israel. They could have ceased their adultery at any point by leaving their “other gods” and returning to God. This by the way is also an illustration of the proper remedy for divorce/remarriage adultery in our own day in the physical realm. Leave the one that it not your spouse and return to your original spouse.

 

Question: Is there any sin whereby it is sin for the lost and not for the saved? Only one that I can think of and that being the rejection of Christ’s finished work. All other sin is universally wrong, incorrect, and unacceptable to God.

 

Thus if adultery is deemed sin in any manner wouldn’t it seem that it is sin in all manner? If it is sin for the unsaved, then being saved does not change it to non-sin.

 

One closing thought concerning divorce/remarriage. Spiritual adultery is leaving God for other gods. The remedy is leaving the other gods and returning to God. In marriage adultery is leaving your spouse and going to other women. The only remedy is to leave the other women and returning to your spouse.

 

Conclusions to the study:

 

1. The most you can say from Scripture is:

 

a. Divorce for sexual problems was tolerated for Jews because of the hardness of hearts in the time of Moses.

 

b. Divorce is not commanded in any circumstance. This leaves the thought of working it out as the option.

 

c. The Jews are the only people involved in this idea of divorce, even if you hold to the possibility of the adultery clause in the Gospels.

 

 

d. If you reject the Matthew text being to the Jews then you must do two things.

 

1.) Accept that divorce in the case of adultery is allowed — Not Commanded Nor Encouraged.

 

2.) You must prove that the stoning for adultery was set aside before the time of Christ.

 

e. You may from 1 Corinthians 7, envision a separation but not remarriage.

 

f. Remarriage seems to be out even if you hold to an exception clause due to the defilement problem of the Old Testament. If you marry a divorcee then the defilement is transmitted to you as well.

 

g. The church, and parents are to blame for our divorce problems today among Christians. We have not been teaching proper ideas of marriage, and when trouble comes we are not teaching a Biblical concept of divorce and adultery that follows.

 

2. Notes of interest:

 

a. Leviticus 21:7; 22:13 show that associating with divorcees does not defile you. However, beware of their possible negative influence on your own spiritual life and marriage.

 

b. A priest’s daughter can be divorced without bringing change to the priest’s status of holiness or position.

 

We need to apply this to the parents of today. A pastor or layman that has a divorced daughter need not have his status in the church changed. The divorce was an adult decision by the daughter and does not affect the father.

 

c. Jeremiah 3:1-8: God put up with generations of adultery with Israel. This is not permission to people to remarry, but is an illustration of God’s longsuffering. Indeed, it shows that the spouse of a longtime adulterous partner can have the grace to look toward a reconciliation.

 

 

d. If God puts a couple together how can man do anything to tear it apart? The thought is foolishness. God put it together and there is nothing short of death that can change that fact.

 

3. The present tense indicates the adultery is of a continuing nature and not a onetime act at the time of the remarriage. Matthew 19:9; Mark 10:11; Luke 16:18.

 

Some say these usages are a special use of the present tense which means that it was a onetime adultery. I have asked several Greek scholars if there was a grammatical basis for saying this, and they said there is not.

 

4. The idea of the adulterous woman in John 8 is of interest. She was continuing in sin and was told to go and sin no more. She was forgiven of the past sin, but told to stop.

 

5. If the adultery of the divorcee is viewed as a onetime sin, then all succeeding sexual relations are of no consequence. This seems to be illogical. The person that is married and has activity outside of his marriage is considered to be in adultery at each occurrence. Adultery is an intimate relation of a married person with a person not their spouse.

 

6. Some suggest that if a person was divorced and remarried before they were saved that they are not held accountable for what they did before they were saved. Let’s think about that for a moment. If you murdered

before you were saved are you not still a murderer after you are saved. Are you not liable for all consequences of the murder before you were saved? Salvation does not change our marital status nor does it negate the consequences of past sins.

 

7. Some ask what the person is to do. They suggest that a second divorce is wrong. The second divorce would be correcting the sin of the remarriage and is the only logical answer to the situation.

 

Indeed, is the second divorce a wrong? There is no second marriage in God’s eyes, so the second divorce would be a legal tool to return to the situation that God wants them in. One that is divorced and remarried before salvation has this option open to them and should consider it. Yes, it would be very difficult. Yes, there would be hardship. But the Scriptures mention the consequences and hard ship that follows our sins.

 

 

The business man that is saved Cannot just break contracts on bad deals because he becomes a Christian. The alcoholic that is saved is forgiven, but he has a lifelong problem facing alcoholism.

 

8. The problem we have today is twofold.

 

a. We have divorcees and people that have remarried in our churches. We must deal with these people as believers that need to be ministered to. We must attempt to minister to their needs. We do not have to condone their past actions, nor do we set aside the clear teaching of Scripture just to use them in the church. Timothy’s clear command from Paul was that the elders were to be one woman type men, and that does not allow for divorcees and remarrieds.

 

b. The second problem is that we still aren’t teaching our children and church people what proper marriage is, nor are we speaking out against divorce and remarriage.

 

We must minister the Word and allow people to be confronted with it even if they don’t like it. God has spoken — that is what they will have to dislike.

 

9. How do we handle the already divorced and remarried?

 

a. Do not allow them to condemn themselves. God still loves them. Teach them the proper principles of marriage/divorce and allow the Holy Spirit to lead them to the correct conclusion.

 

b. Help them to understand that any restriction on their usability is not the leadership’s fault but that it is the leader’s responsibility from the Word.

 

c. Remember Abraham, David, Solomon and others. bigamy is in the end, adultery and they were used greatly by God, however they did

not have the indwelling Spirit of God as we do. Their short comings are more understandable. We will be held to a higher accountability due to our further revelation and the Holy Spirit’s ministry to us.

 

10. It is a very hard subject for our day. There are multitudes of situations that are seen by some to be “special” or “different,” but the fact remains that the Scriptures have made some very specific demands of the believer.

 

 

It is our responsibility to look at the Scriptures and then in light of them, view every situation.

 

11. Divorce is not the best course, nor is it desired, but may be the legal protection a spouse needs to protect themselves from high bills and problems. The divorce in this case is only a legal tool and cannot be viewed as changing the marriage bonds in any way. God has set the standard, not man.

 

The most liberal view that has any basis in scripture would be that divorce and remarriage is okay in view of adultery. Even if you ignored the above pages of proof against that position and believed it was okay, then you are still faced with the key thought of God waiting generations for his people to return from their adultery (That by the way is idolatry or leaving God for other gods.) and always desiring to have them come back to Him.

 

12. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 is a verse to consider.

 

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

 

Just how does this relate to our problem? A reading of vv 9-11 will show that Paul is listing types of unsaved people. He uses this to contrast the proper living of the believer, or at least the hoped for living of the believer.

 

13. Perhaps some questions and answers would help to put some of this information into perspective.

 

Question: What is adultery? Adultery is a married person having relations with other than their spouse. In our society a single person having

relations with a married person would also be considered in adultery, I would suspect, however the single person, Biblically, would probably be guilty of fornication.

 

Question: When is adultery adultery? Every time the sexual relations occur.

 

 

Question: Is adultery pre-salvation forgiven after the person is saved? Yes.

 

Question: Is adultery post-salvation forgiven because of the pre-salvation forgiveness? No. This sin can, and will be forgiven any time the person uses 1 John 1:9. Any blanket forgiveness post-salvation is not a Scriptural concept.

 

Question: How can adultery be considered as a onetime act in the remarriage situation, but not continuing in the case of a man cheating on His wife? It cannot. Both MUST be the same. Both are ongoing.

 

Question: Can a continuing sin which stems from a pre-salvation remarriage be forgiven once for all because of the cross? No.

 

Question: Does not everything belong under the blood? This question is of recent consideration. I have not seen, read or heard it until recent years.

 

All sins — pre and post salvation — are or can be forgiven, however on a different basis. Pre-salvation sin is automatic in the acceptance/redemption process. Post-salvation sin is cared for only as the person seeks forgiveness, and attempts to rectify their improper action. If post- salvation sin were automatically cared for then license would be the result in our lives.

 

Question: Is there any indication that adultery is not sin each time sexual relations occur? No. Adultery of the mind is a onetime act (aorist tense), yet it can be repeated and would be adultery each time as would actual relations.

 

Question: Is there a difference between continuing in the same sin week after week and being a person that has a different sin each week? Are not both people the same — in sin?

 

In God’s eyes, yes, sin is sin, however there is a difference and I believe that God views the two people differently. The one that continues in the same sin is not changing as the idea of repentance and confession imply. The person that is in different types of sin is a person that deals with this week’s sin and puts it behind them. When they find themselves in another sin they need to deal with it. This person is progressing in their spiritual life, whereas the other person is continuing in their sin with no attempt to correct their lives.

 

Question: If I am in a divorce/remarried situation, what are my alternatives?

 

1. Abstinence: This should be on the basis of mutual consent according to 1 Corinthians 7:5; however this will be a very hard alternative. This may sound terrible, and it would be a serious strain on the relationship, however many couples have continued through their life in marriages where one partner was unable to have sexual relations due to physical limitations.

 

2. If the remarriage has not yet occurred, then wait until the first spouse is dead. Many people that have found themselves divorced by their spouse have remained single until the spouse died.

 

3. Separation or divorce. This would be the step which corrected the problem. Again, a very hard alternative.

 

4. If you find yourself divorced, then do not allow yourself to enter into friendships that might lead to a desire to get married.

 

5. Continue in your present situation. This is not a recommendation, but is a very real solution of many believers around the world. It can be observed that God continues to use the divorced/remarried person. The question is just how much more the Lord could use them if they were not in this situation.

 

One item of information that has not been discussed in this paper and that I have never heard brought into the divorce/remarriage discussion is the item of vows. The wedding vows are promises that the people make to one another before man and God. A brief word study in the Old Testament concerning vows and God’s view of them would be good for anyone considering divorce.

 

This paper is not designed to give all the answers to all the questions that might arise in the readers mind. It is, I trust an honest look at the Scripture as it relates to the topic.

 

 

To reject the conclusions of this paper cannot be a simple mental rejection of the conclusions. To reject you must find different conclusions based on the texts given. You must not fall into the temptation to spiritualize or allegorize. We believe in literal, plain, easy interpretation of Scripture and must practice it in ALL studies we do in the Word.

 

You must deal with the present tense verbs that the Gospel writers use. You must deal with the Malachi passage that tells us that God hates divorce and treachery. You must deal with the teaching of the Lord concerning the subject.

 

MISCELLANEOUS INFORMATION ON RELATED WORDS

 

ADULTERY

 

The Greek word “moichos” is the noun form of the word. It means according to Vine, “…denotes one who has unlawful intercourse with the spouse of another….” “moichalis” is the term for the woman, “an adulteress” according to Vine. (“moicheia” is the adjective form, “moichao” and “moicheuo” are the verb forms.) See complete word study in divorce/remarriage file.

 

FORNICATION

 

We need to consider for a moment the thought of fornication in the Gospels. Most, I have read and heard consider this to be adultery within the marriage. The Greek words are as follows: Noun forms, “porneia” and “pornos”, Verb forms, “porneuo” and “ekporneuo.”

 

VINE ON THE WORD

 

“pornia”: “…of illicit sexual intercourse….” It is also used metaphorically of idolatry. Vine mentions that it includes adultery but can be distinguished from adultery. (Matthew 15:19)

 

“pornos”: “…denotes a man who indulges in fornication, a fornicator….” “poneuo”: “…to commit fornication….”

 

 

“ekporneuo”: “…a strengthened form of No. I…to give oneself up to fornication, implying excessive indulgence….”

 

So fornication can be adultery, but may be other things as well. Matthew 15:19 states, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:” The text goes on to state “These are the things which defile a man….” Not an activity that a believer ought to be involved in once, much less on an ongoing basis.

 

Adultery in the Matthew text is the Greek word “moicheia.” Fornication in the Matthew text is the Greek word “porneia.”

 

References that contain the term with some comments: 2 Chronicles 21:11; Isaiah 23:17; Ezekiel 16:29; Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:9; John 8:41; Acts 15:20; Acts 15:29; Acts 21:25; Romans 1:29; Romans 7:2-3 This is an illustration of the person’s relation to the law. Under the law, it has dominion over you for life. Thus in marriage the vow has dominion over you all your life. Paul’s clear statement is that the person that remarries while the spouse lives is an adulterer. His other clear statement is that death breaks that bond and that the person is free to remarry. In essence, because Christ died and fulfilled the law we are free to take Christ since the old bonds and dominion of the law are broken; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 6:13; 1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Corinthians 7:2; 1 Corinthians 7:10ff This is a series of orders. vs. 10 the wife shouldn’t leave husband/vs. 11 the wife if leaves remains unmarried or reconciles/the husband is not to send her away/vs. 15 if there is an unbelieving mate that leaves then let

them go but live in peace. They are free from the need to keep the marriage together. Ezra 10 may relate to this. vs. 39 the wife is bound to the husband as long as he is alive/free to marry when he dies –”In The Lord”. However, Paul mentions she may be happier alone and not remarried. It is of interest that this may have been written before Matthew If this is true then was Paul not very remiss in not mentioning the exception clause if indeed it exists? The term bondage is never used in relation to divorce in the New Testament. Remarriage in the case of abandonment is not found in this text. The text is clear that marriage is for life; 1 Corinthians 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Ephesians 5:21-33 The

 

 

marriage relationship is used to illustrate the relationship of Christ to the church. If the marriage bond is separable then the bond between Christ the head and the church His body is also separable and this is unacceptable. Both bonds are permanent; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 1:7; Revelation 2:14; Revelation 2:20; Revelation 9:21; Revelation 14:8; Revelation 17:2; Revelation 17:4; Revelation 18:3; Revelation 18:9; Revelation 19:2.

 

The term is not well defined by the passages. The fact that it is used allegorically of nations or kings fornicating with the great whore could lead us to believe that it is illicit relations, but whether it is among singles, or among a married and an unknown, is not clear.

 

It would seem easiest to understand the word to refer to literally, any improper sexual activity, and allegorically any improper relationship with those you should not be having relationships with.

 

Since the Gospel texts are in the context of married partners and new married partners, it would seem that fornication is adultery. Adultery would cover any improper activity outside of the marriage, which also fits into the definition and usage of fornication.

 

Two other Greek words that need to be mentioned:

 

Both of these terms are related to divorce. “apoluo” which is a term used in secular Greek for dismissal from the army, or from jail. It also is used of setting a debtor free. (From Wayne A. Detzler’s book, “New Testament Words In Today’s Language”; Wheaton: Victor Books, 1986, p 124.) This is the term translated “put away” in the Gospels.

 

“apostasion” which is used of the bill of divorcement. The Septuigent writers used this tern to translate the word in Deuteronomy 24:3. This is used in Matthew 5:31; 19:7; Mark 10:4. This is also the term the Septuigent writers used in Jeremiah 3:8 for bill of divorcement.[1]

 


[1] Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. B.A. (n.d.). DERICKSON’S NOTES ON THEOLOGY: A STUDY BOOK IN THEOLOGY.

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