Robert E. Patenaude, Th.D.
© Copyrighted 1984, 1998, 2006, by Robert Edgar Patenaude, as per United States Code, Title 17,
Chapter 2, §201(a), §401(a-d) and H.R. 2589.EH, H.R. 2589.RFS
The word "church" refers to people who are called out on some definite principle(s), and come together for some definite purpose(s). In the Scriptures, the particular people(s) who are thus called out, and the principle(s), and purpose(s) under which they are called out, must be determined from the context of the particular passage(s) (local context) you are studying. A common mistake made by many Baptists (as I identify with Baptist peoples) in our day is that of applying the same grand usage of the word to every context where the word "church" is found. This kind of failure to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15), and failure to compare spiritual things with spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:13), has led to Baptist "Bride-ism," Romanism, Campbellism ("Church of Christ" and "Disciples of Christ," American denominations which teach baptismal regeneration) and many other cults and factions. Failure to distinguish between various usages and the difference between peoples according to context (see 1 Corinthians 10:32) is also the cause of the general weakness, in our times, with regard to Scripture knowledge and application. Many pastors, and others, spiritualize and devotionalize the Scriptures away, to hold either to a modern evangelical or ecumenical use for the word "church" (sometimes called the "Universal Church"), or to a century-old, hyper-local church position (which I call "Carrollism" after B.H. Carroll), which tends to promote an extreme successionism and, in the end, denies the fullness of Christ. Both extremes come preconceived to the Scriptures, based on motive: the motive of the given adherents.
Temples (or gatherings) of Pagan worship are called "churches" (Acts 19:37), because they housed (or included) people called out and assembled; and that, to worship a false deity. They were meeting the basic definition of the word "church" as they were called out and assembled. Is the King James Bible mistaken by using the word "churches" in Acts 19:37? Certainly not! The Holy Spirit gave us such references so that we would know better than to believe that the word "church" always fits the "Baptist Brider's" or the Vatican's definitions (there are similarities between the doctrines and leadership styles of Rome and those of the "Baptist Briders," especially in Roman Catholic-dominated countries where 1Baptist Briders have operated).
The root of the English word "church" is akin to the Scottish and Old English "kirk," identifying something that "belongs to the Lord." The word itself, as used in the English King James Bible, however, does not determine which lord, the true Lord God, or a false deity. This must be determined (and properly so) from the context.
It is interesting to note the New Testament books in which the word "church" is never used. They are Mark, Luke, John, 2 Timothy, Titus, 2 Peter, 2 John and Jude. The books containing the most frequent uses of the word "church" are Acts, Revelation, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians and Ephesians. The reasons will yield fruitful study, and so we give this listing. We don't have space here, however, to follow this line of study out. You may want to do that yourself.
I ask my readers to consider one additional thing by way of introduction to our subject. If you were a Grecian, reading a Greek Bible, you would run across the Greek word "ekklesia" in the Old Testament for congregation or assembly. If you were a Hebrew, reading a New Testament translated into Hebrew, you would read the word "kahal" instead of either the word church or ekklesia. This is interesting in that it means that it would be difficult for Baptist-Briders to use the same arguments in those languages that they use by their manipulation and construction of English definitions.
James Christopher Smith was correct when he wrote that the word "church" "is never applied to a building or edifice, but always to people; never to the place of assembly, but to those assembled; not to the place of worship, but to the worshippers."
The following will be a study from the exact words of the King James Bible. It will disregard tradition and the Baptist handbooks. The author encourages all readers to examine the Scripture references as you come across them.
Now on to visit the Four Churches. First we meet........
THE CHURCH IN THE WILDERNESS
The first "church" in the Bible consisted of the Children of Israel; an assembly which was called out of Egypt into the wilderness for definite purposes (e.g. Deuteronomy 4:1-13). This is the church in the wilderness, led by God's servant Moses (Acts 7:38). Israel was corporately God's firstborn son (Ex. 4:22) and God called that son out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1). Yes, Hosea prophesied of God's only begotten Son, Jesus (Matthew 2:15), because Israel itself, as a corporate Nation, was an Old Testament type of Christ, according to the flesh. The fact that Hosea chapter 11 refers to the Nation of Israel coming out from under Pharaoh's bondage, however, is in no way negated. The "church in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38) consisted of a single chosen and assembled Nation. In the case of Israel, not all of its individual members were saved, especially not in any New Testament sense. Not all of the Israelites in that "church" were the spiritual seed of Abraham.
To emphasize once again, in Acts 7:38 we read about a church that was a nation. This church was a political as well as a spiritual entity, and at times the spiritual part was all but non-existent. This church was a kingdom among the kingdoms of the earth. This church had earthly geographic and political boundaries. This nation-church had physical land grant promises made to it by God Himself. This church had laws that governed all earthly aspects of day-to-day life, similar to civil and criminal codes in modern nations. The Church of the current dispensation, the Body of Christ, on the other hand, has no earthly political position, as did Israel, because the Body Church is a heavenly people, not an earthly people. Also, no local church can be likened to the political earthly church spoken of in Acts 7:38 as far as its geopolitical presence. God promised no territory, political or otherwise, to either the Church which is Christ's Body, or to any New Testament local assembly! The New Testament Church, while made up of "strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 2:11), is subject to the laws of the various countries where Christians might be residing.
Christians in our current dispensation are not instructed to build separate Christian political entities reminiscent of Old Testament Israel. This mistake was made by Calvin in Geneva, and is attempted by the British Israelites and Postmillennial Reconstructionist cults. A nation may be overwhelmingly Bible-influenced and Christian-influenced, as was the United States at the time of its founding, but the New Testament Church has no land or territory promises, the likes of those God made to Abraham and his physical seed. Pastors are not kings on earth, nor are they earthly priests. Although faithful believers shall reign as kings and as priests unto God in the Millennial Kingdom, we do not assume any such position before we have our new bodies (Philippians 3:21). Pastors, therefore, are wrong to take to themselves the prestige or stature of kings or of priests. The error of men in the ministry assuming priestly position over other believers began to occur more and more from the third century, and that is why there is a Vatican State as a political entity with a king sitting, calling himself the Bishop of Rome and the Vicar of Christ. There are many pastors today who use Old Testament Israeli national kingdom passages to give themselves superiority and power over common people in their churches. They are mini-popes and their churches are mini-Vaticans.
Some of the Israelites were mere specks of the "dust of the earth" (Genesis 13:14-17), enjoying in their earthly lives God's blessings and protection upon the physical Nation through which He would bring forth His Savior and King Son (the promised Seed of Genesis 3:15; Galatians 3:16). Those were mere earthly seed. Others, though, followed the faith of Abraham, and are typified by the untellable stars of heaven (Genesis 15:5, 6). Those will, in the resurrection and regeneration of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-7; 54:13-17; Jeremiah 31:34; Hebrews ch. 8; Ezekiel 36, 37; etc.), ascend to be more than a mere earthly people, along with receiving the land and Kingdom promises made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and Christ. This, though, is not the New Testament Church (the Body of Christ).
Israel was a called out "congregation," and thus could be called a "church" when mentioned in historical reference in the New Testament. It is the use of New Testament literary terminology to describe an Old Testament entity. See Exodus 16:2; 29:44; 33:7; Lev. 10:17; 16:33; Psalm 22:22; Isaiah 14:13; Joel 2:16. Just take your concordance and start looking up all of the Old Testament references to "congregation," and you will see that this word describes Israel.
Israel was an "assembly," again meeting the definition of a church (See Ecclesiastes title). As with "congregation" use your concordance and run the words "assembly" and "solemn assembly(ies)" and "assemble." Examples include Isa. 11:12; 48:14; Jer. 4:5; Eze. 11:17; Deu. 9:10; 10:4; 18:16; Ps. 107:32; 111:1; Lev. 23:36; Num. 29:35; Neh. 8:18.
Treat what we are writing here with this caution: Israel, as an Old Testament "church," should never be mistaken for any New Testament Church, or for the local churches of the New Testament era. Israel must never be equated with the "church" of Covenant Theology (of the Calvinistic, Amillennial or Postmillennial Reformers). We are allowing contexts to determine the usage of the term, "church." We are not mixing up distinct bodies of people. The Holy Spirit keeps distinct bodies of people distinct (1 Cor. 10:32).
The members of this Old Testament Church, Israel, were those physically born in the seed line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with the promises and privileges thereof. Members could be added from among Gentiles-"strangers," under certain God-ordained conditions, including circumcision (Ex. 12:48; 33:34; Josh. 5:2-5; many other passages). Membership could also be stripped (Ex. 12:19; Lev. 17:8; Num. 15:30; 1 Corinthians 10:5; many other passages).
Secondly, we examine....
THE CHURCH BUILT UPON THE ROCK
The church of Matthew 16:13-20 is Davidic Israel; redeemed Israel, under her King and His Kingdom principles (i.e. Matthew chapters 5 through 7), and under the New Covenant (Matthew 16:16-19; Hebrews chapter 8; Jeremiah 31:31). The church of Matthew chapter 16 (since Acts chapter 28 especially) should now be viewed as the Israelitish church of future (Millennial) prophecy. As far as its earthly presence and position, it is in abeyance. There is no scriptural warrant to suppose that Jesus' disciples understood anything more in Matthew chapter 16 than the fulfillment of the Davidic Kingdom promises made to Israel-"keys of the kingdom of heaven" (16:19 cp. Isaiah 22:22ff; Revelation 3:7, 8). The earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, before His sufferings on Calvary, was specifically to Israel-the circumcision (Matthew 15:24; Romans 15:8), "for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers." The "fathers" here refer to the Hebrew fathers, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and so forth. The subject of a New Testament church (or of local churches, as we have known them since the time of Acts chapter 15), has no place in the physical (Abrahamic) promises made unto the fathers of Israel. The New Testament Church (the Body of Christ revealed in the Pauline Epistles) and New Testament local churches, are not subjects of Old Testament prophecy. Neither John the Baptist or Jesus Christ came to establish any New Testament Church, at least not during our Lord's earthly ministry. The New Testament Church was established by the resurrected and ascended Head, in His ministry seated in the heavenlies; in His Father's Throne (Ephesians 1:19-23; Colossians 1:18; etc.). At no time did John, Jesus, or the Disciples declare, or even intimate, that anything like the Body of Christ was "at hand" during our Lord's earthly ministry.
Many mistake "the kingdom [e.g., of heaven]" for Christendom, referring to the Church as "the kingdom," without defining "kingdom." Failure to distinguish between the various kingdoms of Scripture, has brought much confusion into the churches. Church folks will say, "We are trying to get more people into the kingdom." But they don't define "kingdom." Among Baptists, this confusion has been exacerbated by denominational Baptists which had been deeply influenced by Postmillennialism decades and centuries ago. Bible believers, however, should learn to rightly divide the word of truth better than this.
Note that Matthew chapter 2 gives the 'ecclesiastical' scope of the first coming and earthly ministry of our Lord and Savior.
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Harod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. (Matthew 2:1, 2)
Notice that those wise men did not ask, "where is he that is born Head of the Church?" Why? Because He was not born Head of the Church, but was born King of the Jews. He was later resurrected and ascended to be Head over all things to the Church (Ephesians 1:17-23). The difference between the "days of [Jesus'] flesh" (Hebrews 5:7) and Christ's ministry from the "heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:3), a difference disregarded by many, is of vital importance in the eternal purposes of God. We ignore these differences to our own confusion in understanding the things of God.
John came baptizing for the purpose of manifesting Israel's King to the Nation (John 1:31), and to effect remission of national sins (Luke 3:3). The recipients of John's baptism had some way to identify his baptism with the acts of Elias the forerunner (Isaiah chapter 3; Malachi chapter 4: Matthew 17:9-13; 21:23-32; Mark 9:11-13; Luke 1:13-17; 7:19-35; John 1:29-31; Acts 18:25 through 19:7, and the whole chapter of Matthew 11). The Baptism of John was directly related to the washings found in the service of the Old Testament Tabernacle and Temple (see Hebrews 6:2, note plural baptisms; Hebrews 9:9, 10, note plural Levitical washings, Greek, baptismos; Mark 7:1-9, the Jews traditional washings, Greek, baptismos, etc.). In title, John is the only Baptist found in the Bible, and his baptism had no relationship at all to the New Testament Church (Body of Christ) or to the churches of God as we have come to know them since Acts chapter 13. Since John's ministry had to do with the announcement of the arrival of the Prophet like unto Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15; Acts 7:37), the people could have even referred back to the baptism "in the cloud and in the sea" (1 Corinthians 10:4). John's baptism is found repeated in that practiced by our Lord's disciples and commanded at Pentecost (Acts 2:38,39-note: non-Trinitarian baptism).
Israel, as a nation, should have welcomed and received both the forerunner (Matthew 11:14) and the King, Jesus Christ. They did not (John 1:11)! The Nation, with rare individual exception, was so entrenched in the traditions of men (e.g. Matthew 15:6-the oral traditions later recorded, like those in the Talmud), and so wrapped up in self-righteousness (see Romans 10:1-3), that her leaders went about to destroy their Messiah-King. Eventually, they turned over their King to be murdered at the hands of Rome. Israel murdered the Lord of Glory (Acts 2:23; 3:13-15)!
Israel could have received their King (Matthew 11:28; 23:37). Had they done so, Caesar's thugs, occupying Palestine in that day, would have arrested Christ for sedition against the Emperor (see John 11:48 in its context). Rome would have crucified Christ, and would have borne all the guilt of that murder. Christ would still have shed His precious Blood for the sins of that Nation (John 11:45-53) and for all men, as He did. The perfect Sin Offering would still have been made, as it was (Isaiah 53; Hebrews chapters 9 and 10). Redemption would still have been accomplished (Luke 9:30,31), as it was. What would have been so different had Israel received Christ? First of all, Israel would not have suffered that guilt as a Nation (Acts 2:40).
Had Israel received her King, Jesus Christ, she would not have called for His crucifixion. Rome, accusing Him of insurrection and rebellion against the Emperor, would have murdered Him, the True King. See John 19:12, 15; 11:48-51; Luke 23:2. Had Israel received Christ, and not condemned Him, Rome would have borne the guilt of killing the Prince of Life, and Israel would not have suffered that guilt. But even if Israel had been innocent of Jesus' death, and even had Rome been the principal perpetrator, three days and three nights after His Roman-style crucifixion, the prophecies of David (Psalms 16, 22, 46, 68, 69, etc.), Jonah (Matthew 12:40), Isaiah (Isaiah chapter 53; etc.), Zechariah (Zechariah chapters 13 and 14) and the other prophets would still have been fulfilled, as they were. The world would indeed have a Risen Savior!
What would have been so different had Israel repented? The believing remnant of Israel, after being protected by God in the wilderness (yes, the extension of the church in the wilderness Revelation chapter 12 with Psalm 55:6,7; Psalm 57; Psalm 68; other), for the fulfillment of Daniel's 70th week, would have shortly afterward received the Davidic Kingdom, as promised by Peter in Acts 3:19-26 and 2 Peter 3:8ff (Peter did not write about the Rapture of the Church).
The Kingdom which was "at hand" (not the Church which is His Body, not a succession of Baptist churches, neither Christendom, nor a "Church Age") could have been established on this earth, perhaps, by 50 AD. The New Covenant (Hebrews chapter 8; Jeremiah chapter 31; Ezekiel chapter 37, which did not rely on the Body of Christ for its fulfillment according to revealed prophetic Scriptures) would have been realized without a New Testament Church era (e.g. without a "Church Age" as we have come to know it). Remember that the New Testament Church (the Body of Christ) had never been a subject of Old Testament prophecy, nor was it a subject of the writings of the Apostles of the Lamb (the original twelve apostles) in any direct sense. Where we see the New Testament Church in typology in the Old Testament, we see it only because we have the Revelation of the New Testament through which to view it. No Old Testament saint could ever have seen it there.
Remember that there was neither teaching nor intimation during the Old Testament era that there would be any "church age" at all. Such an age as this in which we have been living for the past nearly 2,000 years was never revealed, nor could it have been anticipated, or guessed at, before Saul's (Paul's) conversion. The Lord Jesus, during His earthly ministry, never spoke about or intimated any kind of dispensation, age or era as we have been born into. The Apostles, throughout the Book of Acts, could not have contemplated a protracted church age of even 100 years duration, let alone 2,000 years long.
By written Revelation, we know that there will be a seven year long period called Daniel's 70th Week (Daniel chapter 9). We know by written Revelation that there will be a 1,000 year Reign on earth of our Lord Jesus Christ (Revelation chapter 19). But where, in any portion of written Scripture, did God reveal a "Church Age" of 2,000 years duration? God, simply, did not reveal this! Many Bible teachers and preachers today treat and apply the Gospels and early chapters of Acts as if it were somehow known by the Apostles that there would be a protracted age such as we know to have passed behind us now in 2006. The Bible, its precepts and its commissions to the Church are, in our times, often applied as if the Apostles could have looked into the future to envision church buildings with steeples and all of the modern trappings of Christendom. Preachers wrongly interpret the Scriptures according to what we see around us today, instead of judging what we see around us by the Scriptures, which are the Divine Standard. Preachers try and try to find what we are practicing in our churches in certain passages of Scripture. Preachers thereby often wrest and twist the Scriptures to justify modern Christendom.
But before we do speak about the "Church Age" in which you and I find ourselves, we must digress, returning to the context of the church found in Matthew chapter 16. What does that church have to do with the Kingdom of Heaven? What does that church have to do with Hell and its gates?
"The gates of hell" (Matthew 16:18) are literal gates! There is no cross-reference in Scripture to indicate that the phrase "gates of hell" refers merely to the influence of demonic forces. Many Baptists want us to believe that "...the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" means that Hell's influences shall not prevail in stopping the perpetuity and succession of local Baptist churches through the church age. This is the basic premise in The Trail of Blood by B. H. Carroll. This is ballooned thinking, and gross failure to believe the Words of the living God literally. As we have already explained, many Baptists are reading church history back into the Scriptures as if the two thousand year church age which has transpired was actually prophesied and expected by Christ and His Apostles. The people who swallow Landmarkism read Matthew 16:18, 19 in the following way"
"And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will, over the following 2,000 years (the "Church Age"), tie together an unbreakable and documentable string of my local, visible Baptist churches; and the influences of hell and the devil shall not be able to stop an apostolic-type of succession and perpetuity of those churches. And I will give unto the properly ordained, commissioned and sent (in the opinion of the pastors in the succession themselves) the authority of the...ahhh, ... (What is this...??) kingdom of heaven: ..."
Wouldn't it be fun to write a facetious version of Matthew's Gospel called the BBV-the Baptist Briders' Version, wording the entire book as it is worded in the minds of rabid Baptist Briders, Landmarkers or Carrollites! It would be useful for illustrating what they believe. There are, however, some good booklets already written on the subject, like Dr. Ken McDonald's Here Comes the Bride!
The reading I gave above of Matthew 16:18, 19 is the basis upon which Baptist Briders and Landmarkers talk about "perpetuity" and "succession" of churches. They did not get their position from a plain reading of the context, but by a convoluted and preconceived purpose of controlling a string of local churches from the time of our Lord's earthly ministry all the way to the Rapture. No perpetuity of churches or succession of church authority from generation to generation through the following 2,000 years was expected or even contemplated by the Apostles. Many Baptist preachers, using church history as the final authority for interpreting Matthew chapter 16, have fogged their hermeneutic windshield. They interpret allegorically instead of literally. "The gates of hell" are literal, not figurative!
Hell has gates made of bars (Jonah 2:2, 6)! Hell has keys (Revelation 20:1)! Believing members of the Church in the Wilderness, Old Testament Israel, were confined there in Hell (in the heart or center of the earth). The Old Testament believers inhabited that part of Hell that is called Abraham's Bosom (Luke 16:19-31). Jesus Christ went there upon His death (Ephesians 4:9), preached to the spirits in prison (1 Peter 3:19), and then led the believing members of the Church in the Wilderness, those generations of the "Church on the Rock" that had been then present, but had died (during the Old Testament era and during our Lord's earthly ministry)-the captivity captive (Ephesians 4:8; Psalm 68:18), rose from among the dead, and ascended to His Father (4:9) with the souls of departed members of His Church (the only one being built and revealed at that time) following hard on! The resurrection of their bodies (Ezekiel 37, etc.) is yet future. Although they were believers, having the faith of Abraham (Romans 4:12,16-that's why they were in Abraham's bosom, or paradise-Luke 23:43), their souls could not enter into the presence of God until sin (Rom. 8:3) and sins (1 Cor. 15:1-4) had been dealt with by the one eternal Blood offering. "The way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest..." (Hebrews 9:8), and so the Forerunner had to first enter with His own Blood (Heb. 6:20; 9:11, 12).
If any still insist that Matthew 16:18 teaches the perpetuity and succession of local Baptist churches through history, then I must ask at least six questions:
1.) Where are the Bible cross-references to prove that "gates" merely means influence? Why should "gates" in Matthew 16:18 be denied as being literal?
2.) What do the "keys of the kingdom of heaven" have to do with your local church? Maybe you are confusing the kingdom [of heaven] with individual salvation or with Christendom, just as do all liberals, modernists and covenant theologians.
3.) Where is there one local church or succession of churches on earth that the influence of Hell couldn't destroy before next Sunday morning? Remember that our period of time is considered by most fundamentalist teachers of prophecy to be described by the church of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22), and the devil is destroying Baptist and other Bible-believing churches on a daily basis.
4.) What Bible passages teach that there was any plan for a Church Age or Church Era? Certainly, Matthew 16:16-20 fails to prophesy or even intimate a Church Age, especially as the charge then given was "tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ." The "end of the world" spoken of in both Matthew 24:3 and 28:20, properly interpreted by the apocalyptic prophesies of Matthew chapter 24, and the subject matter of Matthew as a whole, deal with the end of Israel's prophetic times (e.g. Daniel's 70th Week). It does not deal with the New Testament Body of Christ.
The dispensation being administered (God's provision and means of dealing with us) now was a mystery hid in God from the foundation of the world. Even God's Apostle Paul, with advanced Revelation from Christ as the ascended Head of the Church, had no idea that this present age would last beyond his own lifetime, let alone for the following two millennia! Paul was looking for the Son of God from Heaven (1 Thessalonians 1:10), not for local church perpetuity, until his head was removed in Rome. Nowhere did the Apostles teach local church perpetuity, succession, or the concept of the necessity of a "mother church." Any thoughtful student of the Scriptures and history must ask whether this "mother church" concept is not actually a religious hangover from Roman Catholicism at best (Rome and other cults also use Matthew 16:18 to teach self-perpetuity and succession). The concept has certainly proved to be an effective means of control over younger men who feel called into the ministry, and used for religious empire building by the more experienced elitist "clergy." This has been demonstrated by the self-ascendant leaders of the independent Baptist movement in the Philippines and by their missions and fund-raising organizations.
5.) After preaching that Matthew 16:18, 19 is dealing with the perpetuity and succession of Baptist churches, and after stating to your congregation that it applies to the legitimacy of your church, and the "bastard" nature of some other local Baptist churches, why do you not also give the command to your congregation, "tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ." (Matthew 16:20)? If you answer that that command was just for that specific time, and for a specific purpose, then are you not actually allowing and admitting to a dispensational change that you will allow to nobody else?
6.) Are the ministers of your local church literally practicing the instructions of Matthew chapter 10 and Luke chapters 9 and 10 (see below), as the Apostles and the disciples certainly did...LITERALLY(!)? If you say yes, I certainly would like to go on "soul winning visitation" with you! It would be amusing, if it were not such a violation of Scriptural order for this dispensation.
The "Church on the Rock" is composed of those who would (and perhaps will also in Daniel's 70th Week) "observe all things whatsoever [Christ] commanded" (Matthew 28:20) during His earthly ministry. Let's see some of those things that He commanded:
i.) Don't go to Gentiles or to Samaritans (Matt. 10:5) [The Apostles did later in the Acts period go to Samaritans and Gentiles, once commanded by their ascended Head (Acts 8, 10, &c.). The Jews will win the Gentiles during Daniel's 70th Week.];
ii.) Only go to Israel (10:6). See again, Matthew 15:25 and Romans 15:8;
iii.) Preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand (e.g., very near; ready to be established at that time) (10:7). This is not preaching that the Church or a Church Age is at hand. It's strange that the closer we get to the Lord's coming, the less we hear messages on the coming Kingdom of Christ on earth, which kingdom will be the restored kingdom of heaven! - "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10)
iv.) Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils (10:8). Yes, so why do we criticize the faith healers and the Charismatic movement?;
v.) Freely ye have received, freely give (10:8). So why are some Baptist mission agencies in America collecting free-will offerings from churches and lending it to foreign nationals, and demanding repayment with usury (?) while claiming to be something found in Matthew 16:18 and 28:20!;
vi.) You can't take any money on your person to do the work of the ministry (10:9);
vii.) You can't even take carry-on luggage to the mission field (10:10);
viii.) You can't own a second set of clothes! (10:10);
ix.) You can't even take a walking stick! (10:10);
x.) As you go, God will provide you with food ("our daily bread" - Matthew 6:11), enough loose change, clothes, should they ever wear out, etc., by people that God will have there to supply your need (loaves and fishes, John 6:9, hosts supplying, Luke 10:7, etc.) The account of the boy with the loaves and fishes (John chapter 6) is not given just for the purpose of teaching kindergartners! There is kingdom doctrine regarding the daily supply of the King's messengers as they go into all the world during Daniel's 70th week;
xi.) Go to one city and find a house of believers, and stay, live, and eat in that house until you leave that city. God will bring to you those who will hear the Word (10:11-14; Luke 9:4). This example is given in the Gospels precisely as the method of the Lord Jesus Himself during his earthly ministry (Mark 2:1-12; Matthew 9:9-13; 12:46-50; Mark 9:33ff; Luke 19:5-9);
xii.) No witnessing in the streets (Luke 10:4);
xiii.) No house-to-house visitation (Luke 10:7);
The commandments listed above are not figurative, symbolic or allegorical, nor are they to be spiritualized for convenience. They were given as literal, and were to be obeyed literally(!) by certain identified people. They were all commandments of our Lord, and were never withdrawn during His earthly ministry, or during His post-resurrection teachings to His disciples. We see a dispensational transition away from those commandments during the Acts period. I recommend that any Baptist preacher who is not obeying the above commandments quit trying to tie his ministry to Matthew 16:18 and 28:20. Be honest! You are not "observing all things whatsoever [Christ has] commanded you," if Matthew 16:16-20 or 28:20 are the basis for your ministry. Baptist preachers like to make Matthew chapter 28 out to be the mandate for water baptism, tithing, church attendance and obedience to the pastor.
Trying to spiritualize the instructions regarding the ministry of the Twelve and the Seventy in Matthew chapter 10 and Luke chapters 9 and 10 to make those instructions fit what you are doing in the ministry won't help you, if your Bible study is in tune with the Final Authority of the Holy Ghost. We observed in the Philippines, perhaps more than in any other place, how that young preachers will establish a practice by training or tradition, and then twist or spiritualize the Scriptures to justify their practice. But it happens in the United States, too, and it happens world wide. If you are not a Bible-literalist, then you have no argument against the doctrines and perversions of the Charismatic movement, the cults, Roman Catholicism, or Presbyterian Covenant Theology. Spiritualizing the words of Scripture to force them to fit their systems is precisely the method of all liberals, Charismatics, Postmillennialists and Amillennialists. Let's be honest. Hasn't hyper-spiritualing the Scriptures also become the interpretive method of the independent Baptist movement? What, then, makes your Baptist system any more authoritative than anyone else's systems?
When the Church on the Rock (Matthew 16:13-21; 28:18-20) resumes it's ministry (led by the 144,000 Jewish evangelists to the world-Revelation chapters 7 and 14; etc.), after the translation and departure of the Body of Christ, the set of thirteen instructions listed in Matthew chapter 10 and Luke chapters 9 and 10 may constitute that Church's methods once again, except for the command to avoid preaching to Gentiles. Daniel's 70th Week will have begun. When the Church which is Christ's Body (Ephesians chapter 3; etc.) is gone, there will be a remnant of Israel that will believe on Christ. The majority of Israel will be judged under the horrors of Jacob's Trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), and then those unbelievers will be destroyed. One hundred and Forty-Four Thousand (144,000) Jewish evangelists will go among the Gentile nations using the same methods you just read in Matthew chapter 10, 28:18-20 and Luke chapters 9 and 10.
The Jewish evangelists from the saved Jewish remnant will finally "go...and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:..." This will be Trinitarian Baptism, which was never performed by the disciples in the Acts period. "And [in continuation of that age] these signs shall follow them that believe; In [Jesus'] name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." (Mark 16:17, 18; James chapter 5; Joel chapter 2; Revelation chapters 5 through 19)
Note that the reason that Gentiles were avoided (except those who submitted to Israel's superior standing, e.g. the centurion in Matthew chapter 8 and the Syrophenician woman in Matthew chapter 15) during the Lord's earthly ministry was to give first priority to the Nation of Israel. "To the Jew first" was also literally practiced by the Apostles of the Lamb and the Apostle Paul all through the Acts period (Rom. 1:16; Acts 3:26; 13:26, 46). When they didn't listen, Paul also practiced Matthew 10:14 (Acts 13:51) Do you??? Look it up in your Bible! No, you haven't practiced this even once in your ministry!
At present, we are in a "prophecy gap," which began with Israel's final rejection of her King (Acts 7-28). As examples (among very many)....
A gap of centuries exists between "And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:"-gap-"But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked." (Isaiah 11:3, 4). Read from verse 1 through 9, and you will see both the First and Second Advents of Jesus Christ spoken of as if having taken place without any interruption. But we know that there was indeed an interruption-a gap-between the two. Verses 4-9 have yet to be fulfilled. Do you not see why it is important to teach that there is a prophetic gap in many Old Testament passages?
Note the gap in prophetic events between "Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen."-gap-"For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground; I will pour my spirit upon thy seed,... (Isaiah 44:2, 3).
A gap in prophecy exists between "...and to make reconciliation for iniquity (the Cross of Christ)," - gap - "and to bring in everlasting righteousness,..." (Daniel 9:24).
We are living in a parenthetical period of time between "After threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself" - gap - "and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city..." (Daniel 9:26).
It is a gap between "the sufferings of Christ" - gap - "and the glory that should follow" (1 Peter 1:11).
We are in a gap between "save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns" - gap - and "I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation [church] will I praise thee" (Psalms 22:21, 22).
We are in a gap between "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to....proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD," - gap - and "the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;..." (Isaiah 61:1, 2; Luke 4:18-21).
It is a gap even in Satan's attempts at destroying the work of God between "...and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne." - gap - "and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God,...." (Revelation 12:5, 6).
This gap (or parentheses) will end with the removal of the Body of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52; Philippians 3:21; Titus 2:13).
AN ETERNAL PROVISION FOR PROPHECY'S INTERIM
But wait! God certainly knew that Israel would falter and reject the offer of the King and of the Kingdom. So there had to be a provision in the purposes of God for this eventuality. That provision was 'something' hid in God from the foundation of the world (Ephesians 3:1-7; Romans 16:25), but purposed in Christ from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-14; etc.). Christ's Body has to do with God's eternal purposes in Christ; as eternal as the relationship between the Father and the Son (See Ephesians 3:11 and compare Proverbs chapter 8.). Neither Israel nor the local churches of the present era are spoken of in the same fashion.
The ascended Head of the Body of Christ revealed this "provision" first and directly to the Apostle Paul from Heaven. It is altogether a new thing relative to the prophetic purposes for Israel and of our Lord's earthly ministry. Paul emphasized that there is advanced revelation to what was given during Christ's earthly sojourn -
"Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh
[regarding Christ's earthly ministry]:....
"yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh
[Gospels, early Acts period (See Hebrews 2:3)],....
"yet now henceforth know we him no more.
[No man reading this can know Christ after the flesh]....
"Therefore if any man be in Christ
['in Christ' is a concept unrevealed in Matthew, Mark, Luke], ....
"he is a new creature: old things are passed away
[kingdom methods and principles, holy days, meats and drinks, new moons and sabbath days, carnal ordinances, &c. ] ....
"behold, all things are become new"
[a completely new thing, previously un-revealed] (2 Corinthians 5:16)."
This shows us also that 2 Cor. 5:17 has much more in view than an outwardly cleaned-up church member. We are certain that it includes God's workings in the testimony of his children. Some preachers, however, are not aware that 2 Cor. 5:17 means much more than a hair cut, shave, shirt 'n tie, and sitting on the front pew.
And that leads us to the third Church in our study.......
THE CHURCH WHICH IS HIS BODY;
THE FULLNESS OF HIM
Ephesians 1:23; Colossians 1:18, 19
Could any pastor of any local church stand and say the following?: "The church which I pastor is ‘the fullness of Christ.'" We know of only a handful of churches (no more than that, though there are probably more) which are what may be described as "Philadelphian churches in the Laodicean age." Not one of their pastors would have the gall or intrepidity to declare that the church that he pastors is "the fullness of Christ." No single local church in history has ever been "the fullness of Christ." What nonsense it is, then, to declare that the Body of Christ is nothing more than local churches in perpetuity and succession!
The Body of Christ is "the fullness of him that filleth all in all." (Eph. 1:22, 23). The Body of Christ is the literal, though spiritual, unity in Christ, which no local church could foster, influence, diminish or imitate, even though typification would be the goal of any local assemblies which understand the purposes of God. This Church was founded, yeah, created by the operation of God (Colossians chapter 2), not by organizational meetings, ordinations performed by man (e.g. carnal ordinances, Colossians chapter 2), charters, constitutions, by-laws, registrations with civil authorities, or any other acts of sinners.
There is one, and only one, Church in existence by which the manifold wisdom of God is made known to "the principalities and powers in heavenly places." (Ephesians 3:9, 10) The God and Father of our Lord and Savior says, in effect, to those principalities and powers, "Do you want to know my manifold wisdom? Then take a good look at My Son's Church. It was hid in Me from the time I created you (see 1 Corinthians 2:4-9), but now my intent is to show it to you, so that you can see what true Wisdom is all about. It involves a perfect and complete union between the sinner and his Savior-a union based on an eternal partnership between the Everlasting Father and His Son. It is a partnership in which the sinner is not a principle, but a beneficiary by Grace. This wise union, purchased by Righteous Blood, which satisfies My Holiness and Justice, cannot be forfeited by the sinner, as the responsibility for its maintenance has never been his. Satan, you can see now that you have no power to destroy this union, nor do any of your principalities and powers." Read Ephesians 3:9, 10 carefully and prayerfully. Could you say that God is pointing to your local church as the epitome of His Wisdom for exhibition to the principalities and powers in heavenly places? Would you be so foolish? No godly and humble pastor or Scripture-wise local church member would ever make such a claim.
In earth time, the Father gave Christ to be the head over all things to this Church at the resurrection and ascension (Ephesians 1:20-23), not during His earthly ministry. This Church could not have been revealed while as yet God was giving Israel a bona fide opportunity to receive her King, Messiah, and Savior (the subject of the Gospels). Though God may have begun placing members into Christ's Body as early as the day of Pentecost (if so, we are not told this in Acts chapter 2, or anywhere else), this Church was not revealed until after the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, who became the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 3:1-12; Romans 16:25,26).
The Body of Christ receives members by a baptism performed by the Holy Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans 6:3-7; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 4:5; Colossians 2:9-13), not by man. The recipients of this baptism are all those who have trusted Christ, after they have heard the word of truth, the gospel of their salvation, and are sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise (see Ephesians 1:13). There is no water involved in this baptism. The Spirit immerses us into Christ's Sufferings (Romans 6:1-10; Galatians 2:20) and into Christ Himself, and leaves us there, yeah, seals us there! The reason for such a glorious position is the satisfaction that the Father has taken in the perfect Work of His own Son, "wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." (Ephesians 1:6; Isaiah 53:11; 1 John 2:2; Romans 3:25). We are not accepted on the basis of any earthly qualifications: water baptism or communion of bread and wine, local church membership, or by any other association or act.
The Body of Christ is the "one body" of Ephesians 4:4, absolutely necessary for the context, which is "keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (4:3). All of the visible local churches through the Church Age, if ever assembled in one place on earth before their saved members are given new bodies, could not keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. This is something that is Spirit and not flesh (much like John 4:24-"God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."). Now, I am going to give here one qualification to the statement that I just made. In Acts chapters 2 and 3 you see a local assembly of believers. If God began to form the Body of Christ at Pentecost, then in those chapters, all of the members of the Body of Christ were together in one earthly assembly; in one earthly church in one city. That was the only time that it could be said that the Body of Christ and the local church were the same. But by the time the Apostle Paul was sent away from Antioch (Acts chapter 13) to undertake his ministry westward among the Gentiles, the Body of Christ remained one Body, while its members on earth were physically dispersed among many local assemblies.
This "one body" has only "one Spirit" that calls us in "one hope and calling" (Ephesians 4:4). No single local church with many spirits of sinners competing and rivaling could accomplish this. This "one body" has "one Lord," and "one faith." Local churches, even if they all claim to be Baptists (or by any other name given by men among men), do not genuinely have "one faith" beyond certain points of dogma laid down by historical confessions, or by men of particular persuasions. Local churches have divergent beliefs, creeds, views and methods.
This "one body" has only "one baptism" (Ephesians 4:5) Water baptism is only one of at least seven (and up to eleven) baptisms introduced in Scripture. The context, again, is that one baptism which is necessary to put a sinner into Christ, and keep the unity of the Spirit, not the unity of the local churches, or of denominations, or of any Baptist fellowship, or of any missions endeavor, or between a "mother church" and her "daughters," or anything else. Therefore water is nowhere in this picture.
This "one body" has only "one hope of [her] calling," which is found in Philippians 3:12-21 and Titus 2:13. This hope is the "high calling of God in Christ Jesus." No person in Christ needs to doubt that God will include him or her when Christ calls His Body on high to meet Himself, the Head. It does not depend on your standing with any earthly assembly. Neither does it depend on whether the local church of which you are a member can prove any line of succession back through history to the Apostles (No local church can prove any such line!). There will be no Baptist rapture! [Study further in this booklet as to the certain importance of the earthly assembly.]
The Body of Christ is the Church in which every soul is regenerated. All members are saved. The fact that it is called "the whole family in heaven and earth" (Ephesians 3:15) reveals that every single member of it is a child of God (cp. 1 John 3:1). Membership in no local church can determine sonship with God! A local church can operate with a large percentage of lost members (and most of them do!), especially in our day! Some will say that what I am describing is only called the "family of God." All right then, please find all of the Bible cross-references, and teach us what you believe the family of God is! If you stay in the word of God for your authority, rather than regress to Baptist "handbooks" (like those from Ashland Avenue Baptist Church, Ashland, Kentucky), you will discover the Body of Christ. The only reference you will find is: "Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,..." (Ephesians 3:15). Read the context! The context describes the sonship status of the members of the Church which is Christ's Body (vv. 3-12). Some members of Christ's Body are presently "[in] earth," while some now "sleep in Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 4:14), and their soul and spirit are awaiting the time when we all shall be glorified together. All in this age who are "justified by faith" share this same "hope of the glory of God." (Romans 5:1-5; 8:18,19; etc.).
The Body of Christ is the one and only Church in which "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). Although there ought to be a testimony of a sweet oneness in the local assembly, membership therein does not produce the characteristic "one in Christ Jesus." "One in Christ Jesus" and "one in the fellowship of the local church" are not synonymous concepts (although the former sure enhances the latter!). In local assemblies there could be Jews in fellowship with Gentiles. Servants and masters could worship side-by-side. Men and women enjoy the preaching of the Word of God together. In Christ, however, Jews are not with Greeks. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek. In Christ servants are not sitting alongside their masters. In Christ there is neither bond nor free. In Christ men are not seated with their wives. In Christ there is neither male nor female. Please see further distinction made in the discussion of women in the local assembly, later on in this work.
Spiritual and Literal At the Same Time
The failure, by many, to see that in Scripture spiritual things can also be literal things will prevent many from fully understanding the phrase "in Christ." If this problem plagues you, you might start with studying God Himself. "God is a Spirit:..." (John 4:24). He never was permanently a physical Being until He was conceived in the womb of a virgin by the creative power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 2:18; Luke 2:31, 35). We declare that God was a literal and real Being before that physical conception. Then study the angels. God "maketh his angels spirits..." (Hebrews 1:7). Are they any less literal because they are spiritual? No. So it is with the Body of Christ. This Church, though spiritual, is literal nonetheless. The Protestant Reformers often referred to the Body as the "mystic Body." You will notice this especially in the hymnology of their day. They took the word "mystic" from Paul's teachings on the "mystery." We choose not to use the word "mystic," but instead, "spiritual."
Belief in the Body of Christ as a spiritual entity does in no way lessen our respect for the local assembly. To the contrary, this understanding makes us seek a more spiritual nature for the local church; such a spiritual nature that is all too rare in the opening days of the Twenty-first Century.
The members of the Body of Christ, saved thus far, are already assembled. We believers are "in Christ." We are placed or assembled in one body by the Holy Spirit "fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth..." (Ephesians 4:16). We are already sitting "together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6). Our lives "are hid with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3). The members of this Church are "members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones" (Ephesians 5:30). The act of joining a local church could never make a believer a member of Christ's flesh and of Christ's bones. But this collective union is described in Ephesians 5 precisely as "the church" (v. 32); the glorious church which He will present to Himself, "not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing;..." (v. 27). No local church could ever be described this way. No local church or conglomerate of earthly churches will ever be presented to Christ in such a fashion.
The Body of Christ will know even as we are known (1 Corinthians 13:12), and be completed, when it's Head descends and we go to receive "the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus....Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself." (Philippians 3:14, 21). This is our "blessed hope" (Titus 2:13). The local church has no such hope, for local churches, as churches, won't get "raptured." There is no "high calling" for any one or for any collective grouping of local assemblies. Only Christ's Body will be translated. "Them that sleep in Jesus" and "we which are alive and remain" (1 Thessalonians chapter 4) are words and expressions that indicate they will be individual members of Christ who will be raptured, and not organized earthly churches. All who are "in Christ" will meet him in the air regardless of their affiliation with any local earthly body when Christ comes forth to gather His Body out. Saved, regenerated Baptists, Anabaptists, Moravians, Presbyterians, Bible Church members, Christian Church members, Brethren, Plymouth Brethren, Grace Brethren, Russian, Chinese or Vietnamese underground (un-named) house church members, others we know nothing about as yet, or those unaffiliated with any earthly body whatsoever, but who are "in Christ," will go out and up. There will not be one moment of hesitation on our Lord's part to take all who are in Him!
The Body of Christ has no earthly head, only One heavenly Head. Christ's Body has no single earthly pastor, but only one Bishop of our souls (1 Peter 2:25). This Church has no one, single meeting place given to it on earth, but is assembled "in Christ" in heavenly places, and will meet together in the air one glad day coming very soon. The Lord's Church exercises no earthly ordinances, and such ordinances do not determine standing in this Body in the least. Knowing that Christ's Body has no earthly head, no single pastor, no single meeting place, or sacramental ordinances, separates us from belonging to the unscriptural ecumenical "Universal Church" crowd. True Bible doctrine emphasizes separation (2 Corinthians 6:14-18): ....
from the wandering, non-principled religious professors of Christendom, who mingle with the antichrists, with the world, its system, its fashions, its music, and ...
from those who believe that "love" is the foundation, exclusive of sound doctrine (see 1 Timothy 1:5, 6).
In other words, there are no organizations, conferences, denominations, orders, meetings, events, media (e.g. radio, television, taped, etc) programs, or para-church associations or fellowships that exemplify true and sound unity in Christ. If the sound application of the principles of the unity of Christ's Body cannot be made within regularly functioning and scripturally-disciplined local assemblies, then I find no other means of application while living on this earth.
That last paragraph was a segue to the discussion of churches that do have biblically regulated earthly offices, ordinances, and meeting places. The last usage of the word "church" designates......
THE CHURCHES OF GOD - CHURCHES OF CHRIST
1 Corinthians 11:16; Romans 16:16; Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 1:2;
and many, many other passages
We are never directly commanded in Scripture to "plant" these. There are no Scriptures to support the concept of "mother" churches. There are no Scriptures that mandate "organizational meetings." There are certainly no Scriptures that require the purchase of properties or the construction of physical church facilities (Please remember that a missionary to communist China is writing this. Bible-believing churches there must be underground and usually in secret-no dedicated facilities are possible in most places). There is no example or mandate in the New Testament to support the registering of God's churches with corporate, licensing, or tax authorities of civil governments. (Think about churches in communist, Islamic or other such anti-Christian countries.) Forgive my sarcasm, but after all, what man could plant or build something that the gates of Hell could not prevail against? Can man plant the "fullness of Christ?" There are no sets of step-by-step instructions in the New Testament for planting churches. Many of the arguments that we may have between the brethren over church planting and church growth methods spring from the idea that there is a command and set of instructions laid out in Scripture for these things. There are no such direct instructions, because this is a great age of the grace of God. Your methods may not work in a communist intern camp, for example, and yet there can be a genuine local church of the Lord Jesus in such a place. Consider congregations of believers meeting inside anti-Christian Islamic countries! We may find it necessary to meet in secret in America before long!
The primitive New Testament testimony of local churches, generally speaking, has been lost in Christendom in these last days, any man sentimentally believing that he pastors the world's greatest church, notwithstanding. Even between the writing of 1st Timothy and 2nd Timothy, the churches had apostasized. In 1st Timothy Paul could speak of the local body as "the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." (1 Tim. 3:15). By the time he wrote 2nd Timothy, however, the churches were part of "a great house" (2 Tim. 2:20 - like Christendom), but no longer does Paul speak so firmly of any of them as being the "pillar and ground of the truth."
The Waldenses and Albigenses (called by Catholic antagonists, "Anabaptists"), being chased by Vatican forces through the Alps of Italy and France, were never guilt-ridden for not having planted something with a mailing address, or state recognition, or tax exemption, or a written membership roll. Consider also the persecuted children of God in modern days under communism and other forms of totalitarian governments.
At this writing we ourselves are conducting ministries inside two communist countries. It's not long after a handful of Chinese or Russians come to Christ and begin learning the Word of God, that they begin referring to their assembly as "our church." They will begin using the term "church" long before they have received any detailed teaching on the subject. It is appropriate, when this happens, for the missionary to begin from the new converts' primal concepts, and begin carefully teaching the nature and characteristics of New Testament assemblies from the precepts and examples given in the Scriptures:
- 1. the offices of 1 Timothy chapter 3, Titus chapter 1, Acts 20:17ff, etc., with warnings against Nicolaitanism, that is, warnings against the clergy over laity distinction ( Revelation 2:6, 15; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Matthew 20:20-28 and chapter 23; etc.);
- 2. the ordinances (Acts 8:36-39; 10:47, 48; 16:33; 1 Corinthians chapters 10 and 11; etc.), with warnings against sacramentalism (Colossians 2:8-13);
- 3. the use of gifts (Romans chapter 12; 1 Corinthians chapter 12; Ephesians chapter 4; etc.), with warnings against mysticism and the modern Charismatic movement[s];
- 4. honor and love among the brethren, based on truth and sound doctrine, not based on vain sentimentality (John );
- 5. Biblical respect for those who labor in word and doctrine (with warnings against priestcraft);
- 6. the exhorting ministry of believer to believer (Hebrews 10:24, 25; Titus chapter 2; etc.)
- 7. the local assembly's role in world-wide evangelism; both local and global missionary effort (2 Corinthians 5:18-21; etc.);
- 8. giving; the support of the local church and God's ministers, as well as sacrificial giving to the efforts of the church's designated missionary-evangelists, as well as the giving to the poor among God's people;
- 9. and much, much more.
Under communist, Islamic and other authoritarian regimes, people tend to get scattered much more frequently than Christians in free countries. A church only one-year-old could find itself split from one end of China to the other, all within weeks or months. This has happened to several congregations that we watched the Lord form under our ministry in northern China. Without the teachings regarding Christ's Body (Romans chapter 12, 1 Corinthians chapter 12, Ephesians chapters 1 and 3, Colossians chapter 1, etc.) these young believers would stay discouraged. When they understand deeper implications of their attachment to Christ (regardless of the immediate availability of a local church), they go forth as missionary-evangelists, no matter where their ruthless governments or rulers may send them.
Where the testimonies of churches do give Christ glory, and exalt His Word, they are the "church(es) of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." Where they only perpetuate a form of Christendom, without the power of the Holy Spirit, they are a part of the "great house" of Christendom, and nothing more, except that there may be members of Christ's Body languishing and groaning within them. This is true, even if they are "Baptist" churches, with supposed credible lines of succession through Anabaptist history (such standing in history, thank the Lord for His grace(!), is not a biblical standard or prerequisite).
There are, of course, examples of local assemblies-churches in the New Testament record. There is also the admonition (Hebrews 10:25) to "not [forsake] not the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but [to exhort] one another: and so much the more, as [we] see the day [of Christ] approaching." The truth of the doctrine of the Body of Christ as delineated above (one might say, "the true Church") does not diminish the necessity of the local, visible church in any way. The two doctrines do not militate against each other. The two doctrines dovetail perfectly one with the other in the New Testament. As long as we serve our Savior in this life, we all need to use our gifts and talents to edify other believers in a local, biblically-prescribed local assembly. We often talk to professing Christians who can't seem to settle in one assembly, stating that they can't find one that feeds them or satisfies their needs. Most of the time, this is because they are not looking for opportunities to (spiritually) feed and edify others. They want to be fed (they state), but they don't want to serve others. Many are looking for a church to attend wherein they get a religious or psychological "fix," week after week, during regularly scheduled services, but otherwise they want to be left alone.
There is an interesting illustration of our need to assemble actually found in the Old Testament book of Malachi. Chapter 3:13-15 teaches that:
a. At a time when the words of the ungodly and unbelieving world are "stout" against the Lord (v. 13); and
b. At a time when men do not serve God (v. 14); and
c. At a time when the proud are happy and the wicked are set up (v. 15);
Then comes that very emphatic word, "THEN they that feared the LORD spake often one to another..."
Now, Malachi had no knowledge at all that there would be a New Testament Church. His prophecy in chapter 3 has to do with a future believing remnant of Israel waiting for the Messiah-King during Daniel's 70th Week (still future). But we may ask for our own benefit, has there ever been a time in New Testament Church history when the conditions described in Malachi 3:13-15 have been more prevalent than they are at the opening of the 21st century? Then ought we not to be meeting more often than ever before? Are three hours per week and an occasional missions conference enough? No!
And since the examples and admonitions of the New Testament teach us to meet together on this earth as believers, we ought to observe the New Testament descriptions of gifts (Ephesians 4:11), and offices (1 Timothy chapter 3; Titus chapter 1). We ought to learn how to be Ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18-21), with all of the implications thereof: a clean and effective testimony (Titus 2:11,12; 1 Corinthians 15:34) not the least among them.
First Study For A New Congregation
The Lord Jesus Christ, through the writings of His Apostle Paul, gave to us characteristics of the earthly meetings of believers that will honor the Head of the Body, so that "unto him [will] be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end." (Ephesians 3:21) This glory is not produced by the church, but by Christ(!) in any church where New Testament principles are cherished and obeyed.
The following practical passages in Paul's epistles, having specific references to behavior in the assembly, might be recommended for first study by any new congregation contemplating the establishment of a local church. In reality, and better said, any believers meeting around the name of the Lord Jesus and obeying these 1principles will discover a local church planted by the Lord, and not by man (see Psalm 127:1).
Romans 12:1 - 16:19 1 Corinthians 11:1-14:40; ch. 16
2 Corinthians 4; 5:14-21; chs. 6-9 Galatians 6:1-5, 10
Ephesians chs. 4 -6 Philippians ch. 4
Colossians 3:12 - 4:6 1 Thessalonians 5:11-26
2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 1 Timothy chs. 2 - 6
2 Timothy chs. 2 - 4 Titus chs. 1, 2
Practical passages in the General Epistles for local church order and behavior include:
Hebrews 10:24, 25; ch. 13
James 2:1-13; ch. 5
1 Peter 3:1-17; 4:7-11; 5:1-9
Instructions in the Epistles regarding the assembly should be studied, understood, and embraced thoroughly before appeals to the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) are made for church order. Any instruction for the local church from the Gospels must be consistent with the Epistles in order to be accepted as New Testament (that is, "Grace Age") order for the Body of Christ. Special precedent in this regard should be taken from Paul's Epistles. When you meet instruction in Matthew, Mark and Luke, believed literally, that is inconsistent with Pauline instruction, you must be careful that you will not be adapting (Israel's) Kingdom instruction, mistakenly, to this dispensation. Of course, where not inconsistent with Pauline doctrine, and found useful as the Spirit of God directs the church, then "All scripture is....profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:..." (2 Timothy 3:16). One example of this might be instruction for local church discipline found in Matthew chapter 18.
Succession of Truth, Not Necessarily of Local Churches
Our position is that there is a historical succession and perpetuity of truth, not necessarily a historical succession of authority from one local church to the next. Remember these points:
1. The Bible itself must be our final authority for faith and practice, and not uninspired history books or genealogical tables.
2. There are innumerable gaps in the record of church history and Baptist history; virtual black holes in knowledge, making it absolutely impossible to trace the origins of any local church line of succession.
3. It cannot be proven that many of the groups claimed by Baptist successionists to have been our Anabaptist or Baptist forefathers actually were doctrinal forerunners of current fundamentalist Baptists. This is illuminated by the fact that the overwhelming majority of Russian, Ukrainian, and Eastern European Baptists today believe in a works salvation-"endure unto the end"-with no assurance of salvation in this life. Those Baptists are the Eastern line of the Anabaptists! The Mennonites and Amish in Europe, North America, and South America today (part of the Anabaptist Western line) claim the exact historical line of Anabaptist forefathers (dating from 1500 A.D. back to the Apostles), as claimed by the independent Baptist movement. But none of these groups are doctrinal companions with the Baptist church to which I belong!
Throughout the last nineteen hundred years, there have been local churches which have rightly divided the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15), held forth the word of life (Philippians 2:16), held fast the faithful word (Titus 1:9), and received the engrafted word with meekness (James 1:21). Many of these churches have been called "Baptist" churches. Many have been called by other names, or by no name at all. Some of the greatest evangelists and Bible teachers of the years between 1800 and 2000 have been known as "Brethren," "Grace Brethren," or "Plymouth Brethren." Many others have been called by other names indicating non-conformity to denominationalism, religious hierarchies, popery, priestcraft, and state control. There are, on the other hand, "Baptists" who pride themselves on their supposed succession from John the Baptist which don't know how to study the Bible at all.
Today in the United States, Canada, and around the world, there are local churches of scriptural order (many often descended from Anabaptist and Baptist missionary endeavor of the past) which are called "Bible Churches," "Missionary Churches," and so forth, or by no name at all. There are underground house churches all over Asia, under repressive governmental regimes, which are direct descendents of scriptural Anabaptist and Baptist churches, which have no name at all! One such is pastored by an old Chinese Baptist preacher named Lin Xian Gao ("Pastor Lamb"). Lin's church is known internationally as the Da Ma Zhan Church (Big Horse Station Church), because its one thousand plus members meet in an old dilapidated house in an area of Guangzhou City, China called, Da Ma Zhan. There can be no name on a building or on a sign in communist controlled China, if the church is Bible-believing and, therefore, not a state-controlled church. Pastor Lin, the son of a Baptist pastor, was trained by Bible-believing Baptist missionaries in Hong Kong during and after the Second World War. Brother Lin, still living and ministering at this writing, as far as we are aware, has suffered decades of persecution for Jesus Christ. Even now he ministers under the disapproving eyes of the Chinese Communists.
Local churches are where Jews and Gentiles can worship together, servants and masters can learn together, and men and women can pray together. The local church, however, is not where these are all made "one in Christ Jesus." The admonitions, themselves, in the Scriptures regarding church order, polity, and behavior, are proof enough that the local church is not the Body described in Ephesians chapters 1, 3 and 4 as "the fullness of Christ." One outstanding illustration of this deals with the necessity of the subjection of the female under the teaching and authority of the male in the church meetings.
Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. (1 Timothy 2:11-14)
For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. (1 Corinthians 11:10)
Because of any woman's greater vulnerability, in the flesh, to deception by principalities and powers (angels), when not under the headship of her husband, she is not permitted to teach men, or to exercise authority over men in the church. This means also that women may not hold church offices (1 Timothy chapter 3; Titus chapter 1). Where is one-ness in Christ then? It is just there...in Christ, in His Body, where there is neither male nor female. That kind of one-ness is not the product of the local church, where you have both male and female, and one is told to be in subjection to the other. In fact, peace and unity in the local church depend upon the woman recognizing unequal authority while in the flesh. Saved servants are to obey their saved masters, saved children are to obey their saved parents, and saved wives are to obey their saved husbands (Ephesians 5, 6). Inequality is in the flesh, and subjection of the woman, for her own protection, must be observed in the earthy church. What a contrast to the spiritual Body of Christ!
Our Practical Identity
We identify as King James Bible-believing, independent, fundamentalist, separatist Baptists. This identity is not based upon any ability we may have to trace our local church lineage back to John the Baptist. We wouldn't even try to establish any such genealogy for doctrinal purposes. We don't even believe it is possible, much less useful. The Bible, the Word of God, is our final authority, and not the history books or genealogical tables written by men. This is precisely why we are Baptists. We baptize, by immersion in deep water, those adults (and others old enough to articulate a clear testimony) who profess Christ under our ministry. Since I don't believe that water baptism is a sacrament, or that it affects salvation in the least, I avoid baptizing children (or any people, for that matter) who are not able to clearly testify of Christ. As missionaries, we accept the authority of our sending local Baptist church and pastor over our ministry.
Our standard of separation, is the literal interpretation of the Scriptures, themselves. If we preach the King James Bible, rightly divided, and if churches reject us for it, then that will constitute our ecclesiastical separation. If we preach Christ and His Blood, and salvation by grace through faith, and His Righteousness as the standard, and God's satisfaction with Christ's sufferings as the propitiation for our sins, and if men reject us for that, then that will be our doctrinal separation. If we live with a clean testimony and shun the fashions and trends and entertainments of this world, and people reject us for that, then that will be our personal separation. We are not finding any necessity to make a list of people with whom we will, and people with whom we won't, fellowship. Such would not necessarily be Biblical separation anyway. That could instead be Pharisee-ism. But preaching and acting upon the Truth of the Scriptures will determine and establish our separation.
An example of my position on separation is revealed in determining where I will preach the Word. If a Bible church pastor, for example, ever invites me to preach, I will not refuse just because of the name of his church. He may be just as sound in the faith as any independent Baptist pastor. There are independent Baptist pastors, evangelists and missionaries in America now who will support Russian Baptists who believe a person can be excommunicated out of Christ. Yet those same American ministers will not fellowship with a Bible church pastor across town who is sound in the doctrine of the believer's security in Christ. The same American preachers will castigate any fundamental church which does not have the word "Baptist" on the sign. Then they will fellowship with Russian "Baptists" which have only "Dom Melitivæ" ("House of Prayer") on their sign. You see, those Americans can't read Russian, so they pay no attention to what might be on the church sign when visiting Russia . Do you see how this thing works nowadays? If a missionary points out to the visiting American pastor that the name "Baptist" does not appear on the sign, some excuse for continuing fellowship will be created out of thin air. This, of course, is hypocrisy!
Think Like a Foreign Missionary for a Moment, Please
We never imply in our preaching that a 3physical building is necessary to a Bible-believing church. The Bible nowhere implies that a building is necessary. We will not criticize the use of buildings for the use of any church (we may, though, preach for simplicity and utility, and against luxury and elaborateness). We will, however, correct any person who enters in among those to whom we minister and implies that biblical Christianity cannot function (or not function well) without physical church facilities. We have served in communist China where no Bible-believing church can have a dedicated building. Bible-believers in China usually must meet in homes, abandoned warehouses, and restaurant kitchens. Sometimes they must meet in the middle of the night to avoid detection by communist authorities. We don't want any American to introduce to those dear believers any idea that they are somehow missing out on God's blessings because they lack a 40 foot by 80 foot auditorium with mauve carpeting, oak pews, raised platforms, fiberglass baptisteries, and gender-sensitive restrooms.
Furthermore, we refuse to criticize any North American (or other) house-church movement wherein New Testament doctrine is upheld. One of these days we may all be seeking a house church. One of these days true believers in America may have to meet underground, in hiding. Many are preparing for that eventuality even now, and we don't believe that they are so unwise.
We are not impressed by the hot air of independent Baptist gas bags who have a false separation based on their inconsistent, hole-ridden, and revisionist study of church history, in which they have used scholastic twine and glue to force the history books to concur with their distorted theologies. We do believe that a study of church history will yield much as to how to order a local assembly. Understanding the sufferings and sojourns of saints through the ages certainly puts grit in our souls and courage in our walk. I am a student of Baptist history, and it helps me in many ways. The history books, however, are not our final authority. We are not told to preach the history books, but to "preach the word" (2 Timothy 2:2). The King James Bible shall be our final authority. We shall preach the Gospel, pray for souls and help them to Christ. When they are saved by grace, we will baptize them in water as a testimony of their faith in the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ as their only Remedy for sin, and their only Justification before a Holy God. Then we will endeavor to teach them to meet in local churches benefiting from Biblical uses of gifts and offices, preaching Christ and Him crucified, and carrying out biblical missionary endeavor. We will teach believers to love one another, and to evangelize and win as many other people as they can in their lifetime. We will teach believers to be waiting for Christ's return, the Blessed Hope (Titus 2:13), which is the greatest encouragement to service found in the New Testament. We will teach believers Bible principles for godly and happy families; The home being the first ordinance or institution in the Bible, established long before the local church.
And we ourselves will continue to look for the Son of God from Heaven. (1 Thessalonians 1:10; Philippians 3:20,21; etc.)
 (page 1)Baptist Bride-ism, as a doctrinal system tends to appeal to people in countries heavily dominated by Roman Catholicism, because of the "mother church" idea of planting churches, and the theory of Baptist local church succession. The teaching of Baptist local church succession, unprovable through documented church history, let alone in the Scriptures, uses Matthew 16:13-19 as a textual springboard, just as Romanism uses the same text to teach succession of the Roman system of authority. By our observation, Pastors of Baptist successionist churches in Roman Catholic dominated countries also generally tend to take on an air of priestly authority over their people.
1Other publications available on these subjects include:
Pauline Practice in the Churches of God
Truth Doesn't Change When You Cross Borders (booklet series)
Are We Failing...To Get the Point Across?
Foundational Documents ("A People for His Name" Baptist Church)
The Spiritual Republic (Local Church Government)
Order these from Bible-Literalist Institutes USA, P.O. Box 95, Campbellsburg, IN 47108, or from Bible-Literalist Institutes Philippines, Adullam Baptist Encampment, Mt. Banahaw St. Ext., Barangay Sto. Niño, 4217 Lipa City, Batangas, Philippines.
2 The Questions below are from a questionnaire sent for my review from an American pastor...
Question: Do you solicit funds from the Stateside Churches for building on the field?
My Answer: Absolutely not - NEVER(!) for church buildings. We are not against church buildings, as long as they are built by the indigenous people on their own level of finances and without debt. AND THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH HOUSE CHURCHES!!!
Question: Are your people able to build a place of worship with local funds? (I.e. tithe, offering etc.)
My Answer: There's more money floating around [in Asia] in national churches than what most American missionaries (and mission boards) want American churches and pastors to be aware of. [Oh, if American church members could just see all of the late-model automobiles parked outside of the church buildings erected in the Philippines, for example, with American money!!] Not one penny of American $$ is necessary to carry out indigenous work, relative to physical churchianity. All saved people, anywhere in the world, have enough local money/resources to have New Testament local churches! If that were not true, then what we are doing is not ‘New Testament.' Whatever is of God as His Holy Spirit recorded in the New Testament can be done anywhere in the world, with or without money, especially foreign money. GENUINELY SAVED people will meet under trees, under stars, under thatched roofs, under canvas tarps, in houses, etc ALL THEIR LIVES, IF NECESSARY. Religious people might balk, but God's children won't.
Note: When the Apostle Paul collected that money from the Macedonian churches and from Corinth (1 Corinthians 16; 2 Corinthians 8,9), it was to take care of the food and clothing needs of the believers in Jerusalem who had practiced "socialism" (Acts chapters 2-15), waiting for Israel to repent and waiting for the fulfillment of Daniel 9, Joel 2 and the Second Advent, for which they had the scriptural right to look, upon the repentance of their nation (Acts 3:19-21). They were not looking for a "church age" to commence. As Israel continued to reject the Apostles pleas, and as God changed the program to take the Gospel to the Gentiles directly, the believers at Jerusalem found their resources depleted. They were now poor, having laid all of their sale proceeds at the Apostles' feet (Acts chapters 2 through 4). Many churches in Asia Minor were encouraged to help the believers at Jerusalem. This was not missions money, or church-building money. The believers in Jerusalem were, in fact, continuing to worship IN THE TEMPLE, and break bread from house-to-house. NO CHURCH BUILDINGS WERE EVEN CONTEMPLATED BY NEW TESTAMENT BELIEVERS EITHER IN JERUSALEM OR IN ASIA MINOR.
Since Chinese, Russian, and Filipino Christians have indwelling them the same Holy Spirit that we do, then....if we guide them into the Scriptural principles for local church .... worship, order, offices, ordinances (of which GIVING is one!!), purposes, commission (Gospel evangelism), family, work, discipline, giving, and love-THEN(!!!) THE INDIGENOUS CHURCH WILL BE FULLY ABLE TO DECIDE UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF THE HOLY GHOST where, and in what type of structure (or none at all), it ought to meet. Such an indigenous church will need NO American model or money introduced to it.
I do not even consider experience or leadership in the area of physical church-building (engineering or construction experience) as a pre-requisite for fruitful missionary service. That is an area that should be thrown into the laps of the indigenous church altogether. If the indigenous church falters because of a lack of buildings, then that only proves that the principles of Scripture as enunciated two paragraphs above were never taught effectively, and this would be failure on the part of the missionary. Teaching THOSE things is the missionary's task, not building physical church plants.
Question: Have you or your wife been married before?
My Answer: One-time-for-life!
Question: What is your position on Qualification for missionaries who have a living spouse and have re-married?
My Answer: That the qualifications in 1 Timothy chapter 3 are for the offices of bishop and deacon. I believe that some men who do not particularly meet those qualifications for bishop and deacon can be quite effective in evangelism and in helping missionaries. Divorced and re-married men should not, however, be in church office Many pastors and missionaries who have been married but once are disqualified on account of their failure to train their own children or keep their "one wife" in submission. Mouthy wives and rebellious kids are equal in their disqualifying nature as any remarriage. But nobody, it seems, asks questions about whether a missionary's wife and children are in submission.
Question: Do you tithe to your sending church in the States?
My Answer: Yes. We give to missions above our tithe and through our church.
Question: What questions would you ask of a missionary if you were a pastor?
My Answer: 1.) Where is the Word of God? 2.) What are the SCRIPTURAL principles for local church....worship, order, offices, ordinances, purposes, commission (TRUE Gospel evangelism), family, work, discipline, giving, and love ? 3.) Are your wife and children presenting a good testimony of the Lord's Grace and of Biblical home life to the national believers and the world? 4.) Do you allow your wife to teach men? 5.) Will you intend to personally train for the ministry the men God will call through your ministry?
6.) Define the substance of the Gospel of Christ that is necessary for belief, if a man hopes to be saved. 7.) How would you react in a situation where government authorities refused to recognize (or if they even persecute) the churches planted under your ministry? 8.) Do you believe that government recognition is necessary to the planting of a true New Testament Church?
These would yield ALL the answers you really are interested in, would they not? Principles need to be re-established, because the modern mechanics of missions are void of these things.
5. Basically, how will you teach these folks to select their pastor? It may not necessarily be their responsibility to "select" their first pastor. Democracy is not God's order. I may "ordain" (Titus 1:5), in the case of the first pastor. After that, the people should know how to recognize men who are full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, men sound in the faith. This is part of the PRINCIPLE teaching by the missionary. If he fails to teach believers how to recognize God's hand on a man-then this is a sad failure. I will teach the first pastor that one of the greatest parts of his ministry is to win to Christ, disciple, train, and ordain his successor locally, the Lord so leading. He should not rule out a successor from another place, IF THE LORD BRINGS THE MAN, but he should not necessarily be searching on the outside. Instead, he should be praying for men to train locally for the ministry. Any missionary who must send his preacher boys off to be trained by others may be ill trained in the Scriptures, perhaps lazy, and definitely derelict in his duties.
6. It is argued that "Bible Churches" and others are "evangelical" (e.g. neo-evangelical). We know this to be the case with many of them, and we can not fellowship with many of them. Remember, however, that we cannot even fellowship with many "Baptist" churches (e.g. big-'B' Baptists with the name proudly on the sign) which claim historical succession from John Baptist and the Apostles. In this day of apostasy, very many successionist Baptists in the Philippines are often liberal in their life-style, standards and order of worship. This author is fearful to let his family become too intimately friendly with modern successionist Baptists, because few of them today hold any real impacting testimony in the matter of dress, public behavior, amusements, entertainments, and family life. It is obvious in their children that they know very little about the Bible's teachings on the home and family. Simply, successionist Baptists today are too worldly. The pulpits are worldly! This author doesn't want that example set for his family!
After we had resided and labored in the Philippine Islands for more than six years, this author has learned that successionist Baptists there (apparently) are even afraid to preach against the trends of unisex, manly women, effeminate men, and the apparent public take-over by sodomites. Successionist Baptists as well as others (apparently) allow women to usurp authority over the men in the local churches through committees. Successionist Baptists (apparently) do not understand the Biblical Christian home, the issues of headship, or the Biblical discipline of children. This author asks, "What is the difference in the public testimony between successionist Baptist church members and the evangelical church members?" Answer: Not much, if any at all! The forced separation by successionist Baptists from other fundamentalist Baptists and evangelicals in the Philippines is based on their own wicked pharisaical pride. Simply put, they think too much of themselves and have grossly exaggerated their own holiness and importance in the scheme of church history and testimony.
SEVEN QUESTIONS FOR FOUR CHURCHES
Seven Questions to be Asked To Distinguish Between (or Assimilate any one or more of) the Four Churches:
- 1. Who are its members?
- 2. How does one become a member?
- 3. From what is the Church called out (seeing that "church" means a called out assembly)?
- 4. What is the Church's destination?
- 5. What are the Church's purposes?
- 6. Who are the Church's leaders?
- 7. How does one cease to be a member?
INSTRUCTIONS: Answer the following questions giving Scripture references. Do not assume that all questions can be answered in the affirmative form in which is it asked. When you can answer all twenty-eight questions correctly with Bible proofs, you will have essentially reached the objective of the semester.
The Church In the Wilderness (Acts 7:38)
- 1. Who are the members of the Church in the Wilderness?
- 2. How did one become a member of the Church in the Wilderness?
- 3. From what (where) was the Church in the Wilderness called out?
- 4. What was the destination of the Church in the Wilderness?
- 5. What were the purposes of the Church in the Wilderness?
- 6. Who were the leaders of the Church in the Wilderness?
- 7. How did one cease to be a member of the Church in the Wilderness?
The Church of Matthew 16:18
- 1. Who are the members of the Church of Matthew 16:18?
- 2. How will one become a member of the Church of Matthew 16:18?
- 3. From what (or where) will the Church of Matthew 16:18 be called out?
- 4. What will be the destination of the Church of Matthew 16:18?
- 5. What will be the purposes of the Church of Matthew 16:18?
- 6. Who will be the leaders in the Church of Matthew 16:18?
- 7. How may one cease to be a member of the Church of Matthew 16:18?
The Church Which is Christ's Body (Ephesians 1:17-23)
- 1. Who are the members of the Church which is Christ's Body?
- 2. How does one become a member of the Church which is Christ's Body?
- 3. From what is the Church which is Christ's body called out?
- 4. What is the destination of the Church which is Christ's Body?
- 5. What is the purpose of the Church which is Christ's Body?
- 6. Who are the leaders in the Church which is Christ's Body?
- 7. How may one cease to be a member of the Church which is Christ's Body?
The Local Church (1 Corinthians 1:1, &c.)
- 1. Who are the members of a local Church?
- 2. How does one become a member of local Church?
- 3. From what is the local Church called out?
- 4. What is the destination of the local Church?
- 5. What is (or are) the purpose(s) of a local Church?
- 6. Who are the leaders in a local church?
- 7. How may one cease to be a member of a local church?