Pauline Practice In the Churches of God

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Pauline Practice in

The Churches of God

Intended to be a Companion Text to the Work:

Four churches

By Robert E. Patenaude, Th.D.

© Copyrighted 1999, 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

From our work, four churches, and the section entitled THE CHURCHES OF GOD - CHURCHES OF CHRIST, we repeat the following paragraphs (with slight revisions):

The Lord 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, 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, any believers meeting around the name of the Lord Jesus and obeying these principles will discover a local church planted by the Lord, and not by man (see Psalm 127:1).

Guide for Any New Congregation for First Study in the

Church Epistles

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

Guide for Any New Congregation for First Study in the

General Epistles

Other primary and practical passages in the "General" Epistles for local church order and behavior include:

Hebrews 10:24, 25; ch. 13 (Also written by the Apostle Paul, but to Hebrews).

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 are made for church order.  Any instruction from the Gospels for the local church must be consistent with the Epistles in order to be accepted as New Testament order.  [One example would be the instruction for church discipline, comparing Matthew 18:15-18 with Galatians 6:1-5 and other Pauline passages.]  Special precedent in this regard should be given to Paul's Epistles.  When you meet instructions in Matthew, Mark and Luke, believed literally, that are inconsistent with Pauline instructions, you must be careful that you will not be adapting  (Israel's) Kingdom instructions wrongly to this dispensation.  Of course, where they are 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).

So Getting Started...

Using these principles of Bible interpretation, we intend to enunciate principles of Pauline practice for the Churches of God (or Churches of Christ), directly from the Scripture list given.  While not presenting this work as a general commentary on the Epistles, our task will be accomplished in an almost expository method.  We will work from the Scriptures in the following order:

First (I.):         Post Acts Period Epistles

Second (II.): Acts Period Epistles

Third(III.):      Non-Pauline ("General") Epistles

The Reason for This Order is Not Difficult to Comprehend

(2 Timothy 2:15)

(I.) Post-Acts Period Epistles. The epistles written after the Acts history (e.g. after Acts 28) contain none of the connection with Israel, in regard to the use of sign gifts (see 1 Corinthians 1:22 with 14:22). The post-Acts epistles were written after that  "present time," when God was calling out "a remnant [of Israel] according to the election of grace." (see Romans 11:5)   The post-Acts period epistles highlight "[Paul's] gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was [or had been until revealed to Paul] kept secret since the world began."  (Romans 16:25)  Paul's post-Acts work contains the "....meat: [that] hitherto [the Corinthian Church was] not able to bear" because they were "not...spiritual...but...icarnal, even Christ."  (1 Corinthians 3:1, 2; and see chapter 13:8-11) 

In the epistles written after the close of the Acts history, the sign gifts had passed from use, as far as revelation and instruction for the church is concerned.  The churches at Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse and Laodicea may never have had a copy of 1 Corinthians or even Romans from which to learn the use of sign gifts.  Furthermore it is almost certain that they never saw a copy of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark (imagine Gentile Christians without Mark 16:15-18!), or Luke.   Therefore none of the believers in Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, Laodicea, or other churches afterward, were taught to practice the sign gifts of iicasting out devils, speaking in an unknown tongue (speaking with new tongues), taking up serpents, drinking deadly things, laying hands on the sick that they should recover, prophesying, or raising the dead (Mark chapter 16; 1 Corinthians chapter 14).   If there were lingering local applications of the sign gifts (e.g. in Corinth), we are not told this in the post-Acts epistles.  The post-Acts epistles, being the closest to us in progressive revelation are:

1. Ephesians

2. Philippians

3. Colossians

4. 1 Timothy

5. 2 Timothy

6. Titus

7. Philemon

(II.) Acts Period Epistles. Paul's epistles written previously to the above seven and during the history recorded in the book of Acts are:

1. Romans

2. Galatians

3. 1 Corinthians

4. 2 Corinthians

5. 1 Thessalonians

6. 2 Thessalonians

7. Hebrews (the "bridge" across from the Acts to the post-Acts dispensations).

All seven of this last set, in contrast, do contain references to the use of sign gifts (e.g. Mark 16:15-18): sometimes their legitimate and genuine use, and sometimes the counterfeiting or misuse of them by carnal men (1 Corinthians chapters 12-14), false prophets and angels of light (2 Corinthians chapter 11), and by the Man of Sin (Antichrist) himself (2 Thessalonians chapter 2).  The sign gifts were properly operating, all through the Acts history, in accord with God's yet direct dealings with the children of Israel, to whom, first, the Gospel should have been preached, and by whom, first, the Gospel should have been received (Romans 1:16; Acts 3:26; 13:46; Isaiah 28:11, etc.).

(III.) Non-Pauline ("General") Epistles. The third set of epistles are those written by ministers of the circumcision (see Galatians 2:7-9), and therefore have more of a Jewish emphasis and flavor altogether.  They were all written during the Acts history.   It is obvious in these that a final appeal to the children of Israel, themselves, is the first and foremost motive.  The assemblies contemplated by the authors were primarily Jewish believers or potential Jewish converts (see, for example,  James 1:1 - " the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad..." and  1 Peter 1:1 - "to the strangers scattered...").  These epistles are:

1. James

2. 1 Peter

3. 2 Peter

4. 1 John

5. 2 John

6. 3 John

7. Jude

Note, once again, that Hebrews "bridges" the Acts with the post-Acts dispensations.  It is the link between 1 Corinthians and Ephesians. It was written to Hebrew people, and the Apostle Paul was attempting a final appeal to win over Jews who were on, either the verge of believing the truths of Christ from the Old Testament Scriptures, or on the fatal precipice of unbelief.

Written during the Acts history, as God was dealing specifically with His earthly covenant people Israel as the principle recipient of His Word and intention to re-establish the Davidic Kingdom, the last listed seven epistles also contain references to the sign gifts (James chapter 5, for example).

It will be noticed that none of the Epistles, in any of the three sets, present a list of specific instructions for the "planting" or setting up of local churches (much less any teaching of a succession of local church authority). Local churches, however, obviously exist in the New Testament record.  It is clear that when believers are meeting around the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, His Word, and New Testament principles (as opposed to the outward form), that the Lord Himself will plant and establish the churches.

Text-By-Text Principles

(I.) Post-Acts Period Epistles

Ephesians chapters 4 through 6

Eph. 4:1-13.  In order to keep the unity of the Spirit, it will be important to recognize the gifts given to the Church from Christ, in His ministry to His Body from heavenly places.  These gifts are men, given to the Body of Christ.  They are listed as:

  • 1. Apostles
  • 2. Prophets
  • 3. Evangelists
  • 4. Pastors and Teachers

There are both a chronological and a prioritive aspect in the order, as evidenced further from a useful cross-reference, 1 Corinthians 12:28.

"And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues."

Note first that "diversities of tongues" was last in the list in the prioritive aspect, even when the sign gifts were operating for the sake of Israel (Isaiah 28:11).  The use of  "first...second...thirdly" also indicates a chronological aspect, because there are both kinds of gifts listed together:

(1.) gifts of men to the Body of Christ; and

(2.) sign gifts that could be practiced as well by those who were not apostles, prophets, or pastors - even by women!

There are no more apostles with the same authority and signs of those found in the New Testament of the Bible, because the foundation is already built, and God is not, at present, inculcating his Kingdom message to Israel.  There is a sense in which a missionary might have an apostolic call, where it concerns authority over the churches that are founded under his ministry.  This ecclesiastical authority, however, seems to be very limited and temporary (and dangerous when used by ambitious men).

There are no more prophets, because we have the complete and full Revelation of God in His written word.  If a man prophesies today, and his prophecy is consistent with the written word, then his "ministry" is unnecessary to begin with.  If his prophecy is not consistent with the written word of God, then he is to be rejected.  All extra-Biblical revelation is to be rejected: Joseph Smith (Mormon), Mary Baker Eddie (Christian Science), Ellen G. White (Seventh Day Adventist), Azusa Street and Brownstown (Pentecostal and modern Charismatic), just to lend examples.  Simply put, there are no more such prophets.

Other than the missionary as an "apostle," that leaves two remaining in these final generations of the church age: evangelist and pastor-teacher.  "Evangelist" is not mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:28, indicating that the work of the evangelist was done by the Apostles and elders (see 2 Timothy 4:5) during the Acts history.  Paul distinguishes the evangelist as one of the man-gifts given to "some" of the members of the Body of Christ, and these may be more properly the "missionaries" of today.  "Missionary" is not a word found in our preserved English Bible.  The use of the word, however, may be understood scripturally from a diplomatic sense (see "ambassador" in 2 Corinthians 5:20 in context). I'm not sure that by the time the church age closes, that the evangelists will be all but gone and done away.  God may be withdrawing this gift from the Body.  The New Testament nowhere indicates that the iiievangelist is a "revivalist" preacher who travels from church to church for three-day, one-week, or two-week meetings, straightening out the churches.

The pastor-teacher of 1 Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11 may be the one remaining dominant man-gift to the Body of Christ, in the last days before the Rapture. He is to also "do the work of an evangelist" (2 Timothy 4:5) - evangelizing!  His principal function, however, is to lead the believers into the fresh green pastures of the Great Shepherd of the sheep; the pastures of his own Chief Shepherd (Psalm 23; Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:2; 2 Timothy 2:2; 1 Peter 5:1-3).  The pastor is not to create his own pastures, plant his own grass, or build high fences around his own grazing territory.  Apostolic-style authority is not indicated in his responsibilities or qualifications.  If God does not place respect for the pastor-teacher in the hearts of the congregation, then a ruling elder's autocracy is no less wicked than popery.  God hates the clergy-laity (clergy-over-laity) distinction - "nicolaitanism"  (Revelation 2:6, 15).  There can and may be more than one pastor given to and within one local church.  These would be the elders of a local church (see Acts ch. 20).  This does not address the offices of the local church: bishop ("presiding" elder) and deacon.  The offices will be discussed under the texts of 1 Timothy chapter 3 and Titus chapter 1.  Here the principle is concerning the man-gifts given by God for the edification of the Body of Christ.

1. Christ gave to some [of the members of the Body] apostles.  Those members were living during, and just following, the final probation and calling of Israel as a nation (@ 30-68 AD).  Those men included the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb (or of the circumcision), plus those (of the uncircumcision, or to the "heathen") connected with the mystery Church: Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Apollos, Andronicus, Junius,  possibly Sylvanus, and possibly even Timothy.  There are no more, unless the missionary is to be considered to be "an apostle without the sign gifts."  God did not, however, promise apostles to all of the members of the Body through the church age.

2. Christ gave to some [of the members of the Body] prophets.  Those were to be spirit-filled believers within assemblies to instruct the church regarding God's purposes, when as yet the written Revelation of God had not been  fully given (the New Testament had not yet been completed).  Interesting to consider is that these local church prophets were never told to record for future generations the prophecies given through them during any assembly of the local church in their day.  If any were recorded, the Spirit of God does not preserve them in the canon of Scripture.

3. Christ has given, and maybe continues to give, to some [of the members of the Body] evangelists, if this is what missionaries and others truly are.  If  missionaries are the evangelists of Ephesians chapter 4, it is obvious that few of them really consider the gift that they are, and neither do the Bishops of local churches consider where missionaries fit into Ephesians 4: 8-11.  A great number of Bishops (local church pastors) consider missionaries to be hirelings or iv"employees" of the churches.

4. Christ gives to some [members of the Body] pastors and teachers (one gift: pastor-teacher).  This is not taken seriously in our day.  Pastors, in general, are not feeding the flock (Acts 20:28; 2 Timothy 3:16; 4:2; 1 Peter 5:1-3), and thus believers who have pastors too often fail to recognize that pastors and teachers are a gift to them, and they fail to treat their pastors accordingly.

Note: No elders are spoken of in the New Testament sense until Acts 11:30, four verses after believers are said to be called Christians for the first time. (11:26). No believer was called a Christian until the Gospel was clearly in Gentile territory.

Eph. 5:18.  All believers are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit; filling not being restricted only to the "ordained" ministers.  Since being filled with the Spirit requires saturation with the word of God (Colossians 3:16), we may not expect to see many spirit-filled church folks in these last days of the Church.  Many pastors today attempt to stifle serious Bible learning out of fear that their own pulpit will be threatened by their church members who have a deeper grasp of Bible truth than the man in the pulpit (the "clergyman").

Eph. 5:19.  Worship (only one of the reasons for assembling) may be as a body or assembly, and may include music in the form of singing.  True worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24) is largely neglected by latter twentieth century professing Christians.  The use of slow liturgical music from the early Protestant Reformation era does not necessarily indicate that true worship is being offered to God.  True worship, as in John 4:24, is not led, but takes place spontaneously, as man views it on Earth.  You can't schedule a "worship service."  When a church meets, it will worship if that is what the individual believers intend "in spirit and in truth."  If a "worship service" is advertised, but only religious exercise is practiced, it mocks true worship and mocks God. See our pamphlet, Notes on Church Music and Worship, April, 2006.

Eph. 5:21.  Submission is to be to one another, and not to a priest class of ministers (clergy), even if it is a Baptist clergy!  Many Baptist preachers, while preaching a so-called "individual priesthood of the believer," have not abandoned the attitude of an over-lording clergy.

Eph. 5:23.  Christ is the Head of the Church (the Body of Christ), as well as its Savior.  This certainly ought to be obvious in the local visible assemblies of believers.

Eph. 6:18.  Prayer is to be an integral part of the life of the churches: in every meeting; special prayer meetings; cottage prayer meetings; prayer rooms prior to regular meetings; etc. (1 Timothy 2:8).

Absent from the book of Ephesians are the following subjects:

1. Step-by-step instructions as to how to plant a local church.

2. Instructions as to how to arrange church services.

3. Instructions for the practice of water baptism and the Lord's Supper.

4. Suggestions to buy property or build facilities.

5. Suggestions to apply to civil government to perform any New Testament function or to be recognized by the state.

6. Mention of hierarchies and denominations.

7. Reference to historical lines of succession for either the local churches or their ministers.

8. Constitutions and by-laws.

Philippians chapter 1

Php. 1:1.   Local churches have bishops and deacons.  The book was written to "all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi,...."   We are not told how many autonomous congregations there were in Philippi, or if there were multiple bishops and deacons in one assembly, which there may very well have been.

Concerning the "multiplicity of elders":  Many modern Baptist churches of great size often make use of a multiplicity of elders, while preaching against it.  There exists among Baptists particularly, and others, a great fear of the word "elder" and of the expression "multiplicity of elders."  Then they practice a form of elder multiplicity by substituting the words "'assistant' or 'associate' pastor."   These churches, for fear of their reputation among their Bible College alumni, will not use the word "elder."  When needed (or just wanted for prestige), however, "assistant pastors," "associate pastors," "youth pastors," "visitation pastors," "seniors citizens pastors," "music pastors," "young-marrieds pastors," "Spanish (or other ethnic) pastors," "prison ministry pastors," "pastors emeritus," "senior pastors," "co-pastors" and all kinds of other "pastors" are installed.  This is, of course, the use of a multiplicity of elders, without saying so.  What most Baptists really mean is that they do not accept, over the local church, rule by a professional class of men (who are not necessarily God-called preachers, but perhaps businessmen or well-known community leaders) called "elders."  The use of professional men, whether they are preachers or not, is common in Presbyterian, Reformed  and other forms of church "government."   Baptist fear notwithstanding, there is no scriptural problem in calling all of the God-called ministers ("they who labor in the word and doctrine") in one church by the title of "elder."

Philippians chapter 4

Php. 4:3.  Women who labor to assist Gospel ministers may be supported or helped financially.  This in no way implies they are to preach, teach, or to usurp authority over men. Neither does this support a common Filipino practice of using "Bible women." There is no instruction here for women to leave the homes of their fathers or husbands to become live-in servants to the church or to the pastor. A woman who labours to assist Gospel ministers must still remain under the proper headship of her husband or of her father.

Php. 4:9.  Paul is to the Body of Christ what Moses is to Israel.

Php. 4:15-18. It is a well-pleasing sacrifice to God to give toward the necessities of ministers of the Gospel. Note that the poorest churches of Macedonia were more given to this grace than were churches in wealthier areas such as Corinth.

Absent from the book of Philippians are the following subjects:

1. Step-by-step instructions as to how to plant a local church.

2. Instructions as to how to arrange church services.

3. Instructions for the practice of water baptism and the Lord's Supper.

4. Suggestions to buy property or build facilities.

5. Suggestions to apply to civil government to perform any New Testament function or to be recognized by the state.

6. Mention of hierarchies and denominations.

7. Reference to historical lines of succession for either the local churches or their ministers.

8. Constitutions and by-laws.

Colossians chapters 3 and 4

Col. 3:13. (see also Ephesians 4:32).  Forgiveness between brethren is to be "automatic" based on Christ already having forgiven believers.  We are not to seek God's forgiveness based on our forgiveness of others (contrast the Kingdom doctrine of Matthew 6:14,15).

Col. 4:16.  The Scriptures are to be read in the church. (1 Timothy 4:13)

Absent from the book of Colossians are the following subjects:

1. Step-by-step instructions as to how to plant a local church.

2. Instructions as to how to arrange church services

3. Instructions for the practice of water baptism and the Lord's Supper.

4. Suggestions to buy property or build facilities.

5. Suggestions to apply to civil government to perform any New Testament function or to be recognized by the state.

6. Mention of hierarchies and denominations.

7. Reference to historical lines of succession for either the local churches or their ministers.

8. Constitutions and by-laws.

1 Timothy  chapters 2 through 6

1 Tim. 2:1-3.  The church is to pray for all in civil authority to this end, that the church may "lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." If the church doesn't live quietly, peaceably, godly and honestly, it may not expect favorable treatment from the king or those in authority. The church is to  supplicate, pray, intercede, give thanks, live quietly, live peaceably, live godly, and live honestly. God said this is good and acceptable in His sight.

1 Tim. 2:8.  There is to be intensity of prayer in the church. (Ephesians 6:18)

1 Tim. 2:9, 10.  Women in the church are instructed how to dress, appear, act, and work.  Note the emphasis on modesty, shamefacedness (ashamed to be seen out from under the headship of her husband), sobriety (seriousness of life). This applies to both wives and daughters. See our booklet, Modesty and Christian Demeanor, March, 2002.

1 Tim. 2:10-15.  Women are not to teach, nor to usurp authority over the men in the church.  They are expected to learn in silence.  A woman who teaches men or usurps authority over them will be highly susceptible to deception by Satan, and so will any church that allows women to teach men, or hold office over men (see 1 Corinthians 11:10).  The forward application of this principle will be that all governance in the church is to be by men.  Women being on committees which make decisions for the church also violates the principles of these verses.  Any "democracy" (we are in no way suggesting either democracy or female participation in church business) in the church must be altered and conditioned so that men can not be out-voted by women.  The local church is not a platform for the advancement of women's suffrage.  If the unity of husbands and wives as one flesh is observed by the church (Ephesians 5), there is never a need for wives to participate in decision making or voting in the church.  Widows and unmarried women, then, should be submissive to the bishops, elders, and deacons, who will consider their needs.  Therefore, the local church is not a "democracy," but instead a mini-republic, with the heads of families as the representatives in decision making, led by a presiding elder,  the bishop.

1 Tim. 3:1-7. The qualifications of bishops (ruling elders), commonly called, the pastor.

1. Only males are qualified.

2. He must be blameless (not sinless).

3. He is to have only one wife.  A woman can not have a wife - disqualifying the female from the office altogether.

4. He must be vigilant.

5. He must be sober (serious in life and ministry).

6. He must be of good (Biblically correct and principled) behavior.

7. He must have a habit of being hospitable.

8. He must be apt (with ability and love) to teach.  How would any bishop prove this qualification, who sends his preacher boys off to others (e.g. to Bible college) to be trained?  He simply cannot!  See 2 Timothy 2:2.

9. He would not enjoy alcoholic drink.

10. He is not easily enraged so as to strike someone in anger.

11. Money and personal gain are not objects of his ministry.

12. He must be patient.

13. He must not love to enter into physical altercations.

14. He must not be covetous.

15. He must rule his own house, and train his children in subjection to parental authority.  Millions of men in the office of bishop in America (and elsewhere) are disqualified by failure in this point, but this is now tolerated by the apostate church of the last days.  When taken with the Scriptures on the father's duties to train the children, and the wife's duties in the home, we see further the prohibition of women serving in the office of the bishop.

16. He must have experience in the Word and in fulfilling the above qualifications before he becomes a bishop.

17. He must be deserving of certain respect even by those outside of God's church, in that they can not bring accusations against him regarding his public dealings.

1 Tim. 3:8-13.  The qualifications of deacons.

1. Only males are qualified.

2. He must be grave (serious in life and ministry).

3. He must be honest in all of his dealings.

4. He will not enjoy alcoholic drink.

5. Money and personal gain are not objects of his service.

6. He must understand the mystery of the faith from God's Word, and know his sins are forgiven.

7. It will be obvious to the church, from the life of the man, that he is qualified for the office.

8. He must be blameless (not sinless).

9. He must have a serious, honest, kind, and faithful wife.

10. He is to have only one wife.  A woman cannot have a wife, disqualifying the female from the office altogether.  There is no Scripture to warrant a "deaconess" as an office in the church.

11. He must rule his children and his house well.  This disqualifies millions of American church deacons currently serving, but the worldly churches tolerate their lack of qualification.

1 Tim. 4:13.  The church will hear readings from the Scriptures (Colossians 4:16), hear exhortations from the elders, and observe doctrine.

1 Tim. 4:14.  The "laying on of the hands of the vpresbytery" is probably a reference to a previous impartation to Timothy of an apostolic gift.  The instruction to perform this was revealed through a prophet.  This is not necessarily an example of what is practiced today as ordination into the ministry. Laying on of hands, however, in prayer over a man who is being ordained is not unscriptural.

1 Tim. 5:1, 2.   Age and youth, both, are to be given their rightful place in the church.  This in no way indicates a toleration of youthful lusts, worldliness, or immaturity.  The very purpose of childhood and youth is training for adulthood.  That young men can indeed develop maturity, and be used mightily by God in the ministry, is borne out in the lives of men such as Charles Spurgeon and Ira Sankey, and others who could let go of the world at an early age, and follow the Lord.

1 Tim. 5:3-16.  Here is a substantial section on the church's treatment of believing widows.

1. A "widow indeed" is one who has no means of support other than the gracious care of the church, trusting the Lord (vv. 3, 5).

2. A widow who has either immediate or extended family members who are (as they should be) responsible for her care are not "widows indeed."

3. Children and extended children (nephews and even nieces) are to relieve their widows, and not place this burden on the church (vv. 4, 8, 16).

4. Widows under sixty years of age are not stated to be the wards of the church (vv. 9).

5. The younger widows (the text seems to indicate those still in their childbearing years) should remarry (vv. 11-15), but only in the Lord (see 1 Corinthians 7); that is, they should only marry believers.

6. Widows, sixty years of age and older, who are "widows indeed" (see No. 1), may have their basic necessities provided by the church.  This is similar to the situation in Acts chapter 6, where men actually served the (meal) tables for the widows.  This is not a mandate upon the widow, however, to come under the authority of the church with regard to her personal property or other matters.  The widow of any age may decline the church's care.  (vv. 9, 10).

1 Tim. 5:17, 18.  The elders that rule well, their labor being in the Word of God and in doctrine, are to receive monetary support from the believers.  Their worthiness (not necessarily what the congregation should be bound to) is perhaps unto twice ("double honour") the average income of the congregation.  This is balanced, however, by the spiritual man of God being content with food and raiment (6:8), and having a spiritual understanding of money (3:3; 6:9-11).  There may also be appropriate times and situations for God's man to decline monetary support (see 2 Thessalonians 3:7ff; 1 Corinthians 9:12-15).  None of this prohibits a pastor from working outside of the ministry itself for family support if necessary. See our pamphlet, Do the Scriptures of Truth Prohibit Working Preachers?, 2001.

1 Tim. 5:19, 20"Two or three witnesses" is the cross-dispensational universal code for any disciplinary action (see also Matthew 18:16).  The church is to utterly disregard any single individual's accusation against a man of God.  But if brought by multiple witnesses and verified, any sin is to be openly rebuked, whether committed by elders or others.

1 Tim. 5:21.  No democracy.  No partiality.   That leaves only spiritual discernment.

1 Tim. 5:22.  No ordination of ministers is to occur without God's hand being evident on a given candidate.  Purity is vital for the testimony of the church in the world.

1 Tim. 5:23.  The fruit of the vine, both raw grape juice and sometimes fermented wine, due to the presence of certain enzymes and "friendly" bacteria, are useful when treating many stomach and digestive ailments.  Medicinal use of wine is not to be considered a disqualification from church offices (cp. 3:3, 8).  This verse, on the other hand, is not license for fermented wine either at the Lord's table or for the purpose of socialization.

1 Tim. 6:1.  The church is not a platform for civil rights or human rights action.

1 Tim. 6:17-20.  It is proper and legitimate for the elders to charge wealthy believers concerning the use of and attitude toward their resources.  Israel, having forfeited her restoration under probation, and God having withdrawn the last kingdom offer to that nation until the Church is translated, there is no laying of money at any Apostles' feet.  By the time Paul wrote these letters to Timothy, the Church which is Christ's Body had begun to settle in for her own prolonged "age."  Now men may retain their own resources, and even plan resources for their succeeding generations (see 2 Corinthians 12:14).  Trust, however, must be in the Lord, and not in riches.  The wealthy must be ready to part with their wealth, in giving to the Lord's people and work, and this is to properly apprehend eternal things (v. 19).  See, in comparison, the kingdom doctrine of Matthew 6:19 and 20, which is usually applied in this age from the aspect of 1 Timothy chapter 6.

Absent from the book of 1Timothy are the following subjects:

1 Step-by-step instructions as to how to plant a local church.

2. Instructions as to how to arrange church services.

3. Instructions for the practice of water baptism and the Lord's Supper.

4. Suggestions to buy property or build facilities.

5. Suggestions to apply to civil government to perform any New Testament function or to be recognized by the state.

6. Instructions to send young men away to Bible colleges or seminaries.

7. Mention of hierarchies or denominational structures.

8. Reference to historical lines of succession for either the local churches or their ministers.

9. Constitutions and by-laws.

2 Timothy chapters 2 through 4

2 Tim. 2:2.  Ministers of the Gospel are to be trained locally by the men of God.  This means, quite frankly, that pastors who send men, who God has called into the ministry, to be trained by others, are derelict in the performance of their calling.

2 Tim. 2:9-14.  Suffering for Christ in this life, and how to deal with it, is to be preached as a subject in the church (see also 2:12 and 2 Corinthians ch. 4).

2  Tim. 2:15.  The Bible is to be handled in a manner that makes the distinctions between God's dealings with distinct classifications of peoples and nations, particularly dividing the Jews, the Gentiles, and the Church (see 1 Corinthians 10:32).  See, for example, our work four churches.

2 Tim. 2:19-26.  Following on from the qualifications of the Bishop in 1 Timothy chapter 3, we have these practical instructions for the "workman" and "servant of the Lord."   Repetitive is the characteristic "apt to teach."  This qualification and characteristic is extremely rare in our day.  As a result, colleges and seminaries have sprung up, as local church bishops do not have the burden to train the young men God has placed under their ministries.

2 Tim. 4:2 (with 3:16).  Preaching heard in the church is to have one of these three purposes.

1. Reproving.  Making known what sin is, and what sins are.  This, by the way, is precisely the subject of Romans chapters 1-3.  REPROOF, defined by Noah Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828, is "blame expressed to the face; censure for a fault; reprehension."

2. Rebuking. Christ suffered our rebuke.  (see Matthew 8:26 and Luke 4:39).  Romans 4-7.

3. Exhorting.  To incite a good testimony for Christ.  Romans 8-16.

All reproving, rebuking, and exhorting is to be from and by the Word of God, preserved on paper in a book, which we have in the Bible.  Therefore modern psychology and psychiatry are useless to the church.  Just preach and obey  the Book!

Absent from the book of 2 Timothy are the following subjects:

1. Step-by-step instructions as to how to plant a local church.

2. Instructions as to how to arrange church services.

3. Instructions for the practice of water baptism and the Lord's Supper.

4. Suggestions to buy property or build facilities.

5. Suggestions to apply to civil government to perform any New Testament function or to be recognized by the state.

6. Instructions to send young men away to Bible colleges or seminaries.

7. Mention of hierarchies and denominational structures.

8. Reference to historical lines of succession for either the local churches or their ministers.

9. Constitutions and by-laws.


Tit. 1:5.  Titus, directly under apostolic authority, being one man, could himself "ordain" (that is, appoint) elders in every city to be bishops (ruling elders).  There is no reason to conclude that this ordaining was necessarily with any ceremony, nor that it was based on a "democratic" vote by any council or church congregation.  This was apostolic.  The ordination councils and ceremonies typically used in the Baptist churches of today are from tradition, copied from Rome and the Protestant Reformers.

Tit. 1:6-9.  Again, the qualifications for the bishop (ruling or presiding elder). See 1 Timothy chapter 3.

Tit. 2:1-15.  Sound doctrine, then, includes the preaching of the believer's proper behavior and character.  Sound doctrine includes the wives and servants finding their proper place within the home.  The women do indeed have a Biblical ministry: that of teaching younger women, specific godly behavior (vv. 4, 5), not looking for a place in the authority or decision-making apparatus of the local church.  Why would a godly woman, under her head (husband, or father, if unmarried) ever want to sit on a committee to plan or make decisions for God's church?  It is because modern churches are not Biblical in their thinking, and have come to believe that the local church is a democracy, and that church order must include "women's suffrage" and "civil rights."  This is Laodicea, pure and simple, and the churches of God are lukewarm and powerless as a result.  Christ, who was not a civil rights leader (as Martin Luther King, Jr. implied to black congregations in  America) is standing outside of the door of our churches - knocking.  Nobody seems to be letting Him in.

Tit. 3:1, 2.  God's churches are to have believers who are conscious of authority structures: civil, ecclesiastical, and domestic.  God's people are not to be lazy, evil speaking, or brawling, but gentle and meek (see also v. 14).

Tit. 3:5.  Churches are made up, biblically, of regenerated and washed people, those who have experienced the work of the Holy Spirit (the New Birth; regeneration), upon belief in the Gospel of God's Grace.  God's people are those who are pupils of Grace (2:11-13), and this includes their looking for that blessed hope... which will be the translation of the Body of Christ out of this world.  Unfortunately, we have churches in these last days controlled by people described in chapter 1, verse 16, "profess[ing] that they know God; but in works they deny him,...."  Local churches are, sadly, not made up entirely of regenerated people.  The Body of Christ, however, is exclusively regenerate.  Again, see our work four churches for the doctrinal distinctions to be made between the Church which is Christ's Body, and the churches of God (local churches).

Tit. 3:9.  Churches are not true or false based on either genealogies or historical charts.  God has not ordained that churches be tested according to their historical line of succession, if one exists.  Churches are to be tested as to their faithfulness to the written Revelation of God, the Bible.

Absent from the book of Titus are the following subjects:

1. Step-by-step instructions as to how to plant a local church.

2. Instructions as to how to arrange church services.

3. Instructions for the practice of water baptism and the Lord's Supper.

4. Suggestions to buy property or build facilities.

5. Suggestions to apply to civil government to perform any New Testament function or to be recognized by the state.

6. Instructions to send young men away to Bible colleges or seminaries.

7. Mention of hierarchies and denominations.

8. Reference to historical lines of succession for either the local churches or their ministers.

9. Constitutions and by-laws.

(II.) Paul's Acts-Period Church Epistles (written previously to the set just discussed, toward the historical end of the Acts period )

Romans chapters 12 through 16

Rom. 12:4-8.  The use of gifts, as God has given them to men for edification.  Writing toward the close of the final offer of the kingdom to Israel (Acts 28:17-29), unknown tongues are not mentioned in the list.  Had tongues passed out of proper usage to Israel already?  Prophecy is still at the top, as more years would  pass before the completion of the written Revelation.  The list includes:

1. Prophesy - according to the proportion of faith (see 10:17).

2. Ministry - wait (attend, don't neglect) on it.

3. Teaching - wait on it (e.g. concentrate on teaching).

4. Exhortation - wait on it (that is, serve using exhortation).

5. Giving - with simplicity ("without an artificial stratagem, but with a fair open profession and practice of evangelical truth, with a single view to obedience and to the glory of God" - Noah Webster, 1828)

6. Ruling - with diligence.  For example, the ruling elder - the bishop.

7. Showing Mercy - with cheerfulness.  Tending to the poor, orphans, widows, bereaved, and so forth.

Rom. 12:9-21.  Here are instructions which describe and enhance the maintenance of a Christian testimony in the world.  The whole context is summarized in the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22,23. Each phrase is self-teaching to any person who approaches the Word honestly. 

"Without dissimulation" (v. 9) means unfeigned; not fake.

Conscious abhorrence of evil (v.9) will require honesty about the wickedness that we subject ourselves to on a daily basis in the 21st century through television and other electronic media.  How many local church members are woefully ignorant of the evil being dumped on their children in the schools, but they don't abhor it, they don't even take the time to examine the school atmosphere to which their children are subjected!  There is no outcry against the deadly poison and abomination of sodomy in society either, because the pulpits have gone silent!

Rom. 13:1-7.  Compare Matthew 22:17-22.  Obedience to this passage will require the Bible-believing student to examine the governmental system alongside which he strives to serve the Lord in the country where he lives.

Romans 13 is used most often by preachers trying to convince church members to:

1. Pay income taxes;

2. Don't rock the boat. Get any license the civil authorities say they require;

3. Subject even the operation of God's churches to the scrutinies of unregenerate civil bureaucrats.

None of these are included in the purposes for the writing of Romans chapter 13!!

The Roman Empire during Our Lord's Earthly Ministry

and in the Apostolic Day

"Caesar."  A dictator, e.g. Augustus, Julius, Nero, etc.

"tribute."  A poll-tax paid in Roman money by each person who was enrolled in the census, and paid to the emperor.  It was collected from inhabitants of annexed territories who were not properly Roman citizens (see Matthew 17:25), and cannot be compared to any income or wage tax exacted from citizens by their own government (e.g. from the United States Treasury's Internal Revenue Service).  "Tribute" is paid to a dictator who, or a tyrannical governmental system which, comes after you with his conquering armies and places you in captivity!  The Twelve Apostles in Jerusalem were subjected to the payment of  "tribute" to Caesar because they were Palestinian Jews; Palestine being annexed by force to the Roman Empire, and forced to labor for Caesar.  Paul the Apostle, on the other hand, was a free-born Roman citizen (Acts 22:28), not subject to "tribute."


TRIBUTE, n. [1.] An annual or stated sum of money or other valuable thing, paid by one prince or nation to another, either as an acknowledgement of submission, or as the price of peace and protection, or by virtue of some treaty.  The Romans made all their conquered countries pay tribute, as do the Turks at this day; and in some countries the tribute is paid in children.

[Underscoring is ours for emphasis]

The American Republic (The united States of America)

on the North American Continent

"Caesar."  By the nation's founding documents is to be the individual sovereign citizen, not a king, president, or federal government.  In other words, civil government in the u.S.A., in obedience to Matthew 22:21, is supposed to render unto the sovereign citizen the things which are the sovereign citizen's.  Further, civil government is duty bound to render unto God the things that are God's.

"tribute."  According to the biblical Christian philosophy of America's founding fathers: customs, duties, excise taxes, and licensing fees which are paid by non-citizens wanting to do business in the united States of America; taxes paid by inhabitants of protectorate territories (e.g. Puerto Rico, Guam, Mariana Islands, &c.); marriage license fees paid by foreign nationals when marrying natural born American citizens or for cross-racial marriage (a fee which was properly demanded before the War of Northern Aggression (known by some as the War Between The States, or unfortunately by most, the Civil War).  "Tribute" is never properly defined as a graduated confiscatory income or wage tax exacted from natural-born sovereign citizens.

Some Christians outside of the united States of America may be studying this.  The governmental history and foundations of your country may not designate the sovereign natural-born citizen as "Caesar" or as the "higher power."   You may have to recognize a federal or national government as "Caesar."  Still, in order to obey Romans 13, and in order to obey the "higher powers" and "rulers" (whoever they are), their qualifications given in the context must be met, viz.:  (1.) "rulers are not a terror to good works..."  (2.) Rulers are, on the other hand "a the evil...a minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."  (3.) Rulers must be "ministers of God to thee for good."  Good and evil must be defined according to God's law, not man's law or contemporary public policy!

We encourage you to stop right this moment and ask the following questions:

1. Do your civil authorities profess that Jesus Christ is the only Savior and Rightful King?

2. Do your civil authorities hold out any reward or praise to you in the raising of your children and the nurture of your families according to the precepts of God as expressed in His Holy Word, the Bible?

3. Do your civil authorities encourage and praise the propagation of eternal truth through the preaching of the Gospel of the Grace of God; salvation in Jesus Christ?

4. Do your civil authorities encourage and praise the establishment of churches that preach and teach people the truth of the Bible?

5. Does the education philosophy in your country reflect the knowledge of God in His Word?  Do the teachers of your nation's children read the Bible in the class, pray, and insist on the standards, spiritually and morally, as taught in the Bible?

6. Do your civil authorities really do whatever they can do to keep alcohol, drugs, pornography, gambling, sodomy, and satanic arts from destroying the public morals and conscience?

We all know the answers to these questions.  Civil government fails, as per Romans chapter 13. So what compels pastors, many who claim that their local churches are the Church that Jesus is building, to allow unregenerate, Christ-hating, Bible-rejecting civil authorities to take charge of the Lord's churches?  What compels pastors to submit the operation of God's churches (and their Christian schools) to the devil's crowd?  Many pastors will take every license, submit to every examination and inspection, pay every fee and tax, follow every rule of lost educators, submit to God-haters the details of every plan, without protest, thinking all the while that they are obeying Romans chapter 13!  And they submit to the enemies of God all the while they preach Matthew 28:18-"...All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth," and Ephesians 1:22 - "And hath put all things under [Christ's] feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church..." 

Jesus Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of Romans 13:4.  "Every soul" of verse 1 includes every president, king, prime minister, emperor, czar, dictator, senator, congressman, city councilman, zoning board member, education secretary/minister, party chairman and bureaucrat.  Jesus Christ is the "higher power" to Whom they are all commanded to be "subject."  If the Christian, therefore, is subject to Jesus Christ, he cannot be in violation of Romans chapter 13.  Furthermore, Christians have the prerogative, yeah, duty to insist that their governmental leaders obey Jesus Christ and His Word!

Concluding this particular line of instruction, the child of God is certainly obligated to obey, honor, and pray for civil authority, when that civil authority does not act to violate the word of God, or cause the believer to violate it.  Compare 1 Timothy 2:1-4.

Rom. 13:8.  The churches are not to be indebted.  For a church to have a loan contract with a bank is to be "unequally yoked together with unbelievers..." (2 Corinthians 6:14).  Loan contracts with the world's banking system also place the gifts made by God's people to His work in unnecessary jeopardy.  Furthermore, borrowing from the world denies Scriptural teaching on the subjects of faith and God's provision; and presents to the world a testimony that the churches are little more than the world's philanthropic civic organizations (e.g. Lions Club, Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.).

Christians still owe love one to another.  This debt is rarely paid, especially among professing Bible-believing ministers, who are perpetually in competition one with another in these last days for numbers of church members and elaborateness of church facilities (their own "earthly kingdom").

Rom. 13:11-14.  The churches are not to remain in a state of spiritual lethargy, but are to be looking for the culminate salvation, that of the body in the rapture.  The attributes of the churches of God in this regard are to be: (1) honesty; (2) soberness; (3) modesty; (4) simplicity; (5) graciousness; (6) non-competitiveness.  That is "cast[ing] off the works of darkness..." and  "... put[ting] ye on the Lord Jesus Christ."

Rom. 14:1-9, 13-23.  The churches are not to place restriction on diet (e.g. vegetarianism versus meat eating). Biblical preaching would include certain principles about the believer's body, health and testimony (vv. 7,8,12; 1 Corinthians 6:19,20; 10:31, &c.)  Still, standing in godly liberty with thanksgiving (Galatians 5:1; 1 Timothy 4:3) is the view the world should have of God's children in the churches of God.  Further, the individual Christian is to so crucify himself that he would not "put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way" by diet, fashion, tradition or behavior.  Instead he is to seek peace and to seek to edify others (Rom 14:19; 15:1-7).

Rom. 14:5, 6.  There are absolutely no mandates or instructions in God's word for the observance, by Christians in the Body of Christ, of any holidays or special occasions.  There is no "Christmas" in the Bible; no "Easter."  There is no "Pentecost" for the Gentile Churches of God; no "Advent" observances. In this late hour of the Church, they are usually the observers of Christmas and Easter, who negatively judge those who observe not!  They are usually those who observe not, however, who have more of an over-all grasp of biblical truth from Genesis to Revelation.

Most professing Christians today, at least in the West, expect their pastors to maintain traditional Roman Catholic sentiment in the observance of holidays.  It is no wonder, then, that pastors have no Sundays on which to preach the Bible. They are expected to prepare special sermons for New Years, Valentine's Day, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Grandparent's Day, Groundhog Day, National Day (e.g. July 4th in the u.S.A.),Veteran's Day, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving Day (perhaps the only truly Christian observance in the United States; if observed with thanksgiving to the God of the Bible in Spirit and in truth), Christmas, and more!  Then it starts all over again.  A Baptist preacher may preach the Resurrection of Christ from his pulpit two hundred times in a year, but let him pay no attention in his ministry to the traditional Romanish Easter holiday, and just see if he's not forced to find another church to pastor! Church members' insistence on holiday observances reveals the carnality, immaturity, worldliness, and vain religiosity of the churches. There is so very much to accomplish for Christ and for souls in this life, there shouldn't be any time to play these holiday games.

Rom. 15:8.  The churches are to understand that it is not in their commission to blindly imitate the Kingdom principles and practices of the disciples held and performed during the earthly ministry of our Lord.  The Gentile churches of God have not known "Christ after the flesh" (2 Corinthians 5:16), but instead must "walk...after the Spirit.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:1,2).  "In the days of [Christ's] flesh" (Hebrews 5:7) the developing Kingdom Church of that period (Matthew 16:13-18) was still worshipping in the Temple and in the synagogues, and subject to the whole law of Moses - including the dietary laws and observance of certain days.  See this subject just discussed above.  Read our companion work four churches for further study in this area.  Here it is vital for us to compare 15:8 with 15:16, and to not avoid the contrast the Apostle is trying to make.  At the very foundation of sound biblical interpretation is the truth that Paul's ministry, following the revelations made to him by Christ from the Heavenlies, is not the same as that given to the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb (see Revelation 21:14 with Matthew 19:28) while the King was walking on Earth.

Rom. 15:20,21.  A nutshell rendering of the commission given to the Body of Christ through Paul.  This is to be the subject matter of every Gospel presentation.

Rom. 15:26, 27.  It is very New Testament, in order, for churches to contribute to the necessity of churches in areas of the world where calamities have struck.  This was the purpose for the giving by the churches of Macedonia (1 Corinthians ch. 16; 2 Corinthians chs. 8 and 9).  These passages do not teach the modern "Faith Promise Missions" scheme.  When God blesses missionary giving, those blessings are not the result of following a scheme, but the result of the pleasure God takes when His children are generous toward Him, and toward one another, and when they have such an increased sacrificial burden for the lost.  The scheme is inconsequential.  To force a scheme as a kind of New Testament law is to remove the matter of giving from the realm of the Spirit; to serve "in the oldness of the letter" rather than "in newness of spirit" (Romans 7:6).  Believers who, through the word, are taught by the Spirit what it means to walk after Him, need no schemes.  For further explanation of this giving see the section on 1 Corinthians chapter 16.

Rom. 15:30-32.  A function of a church of God is to "strive together with [the men of God] in [their] prayers to God for [them]."  Much of the practice of New Testament Christianity (above, giving; here, prayer) is corporate, involving local churches.

Rom. 16:1, 2.  It is Scriptural to assist women (Yes, even financially!) who have given themselves to ministries of being a "succourer (helper) of many."  This might include (1) raising orphans or other needy children; (2) lodging strangers; (3) extending general aid and comfort to saints; (4) comforting, assisting, or medicating the sick, injured, or handicapped; (5) and other good works in Jesus' Name (see 1 Timothy 5:10).  This passage does not endorse any kind of preaching ministry for women.  A woman, however, may be a "servant of the church," without holding a church office or usurping any authority. This passage does not teach the concept of "Bible women," as commonly practiced in the Philippines.

Rom. 16:5.  A bone fide church of God can be in somebody's house.  No dedicated church facilities were contemplated by the believers of Paul's day, and none are mandated in the New Testament.  New Testament Christianity, in reality, has absolutely nothing to do with physical (see 14:17) structures except for the believer's body which is the Temple of the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 6).  No building built in this age for a dedicated place of meeting or worship is "the house of God."  A dedicated building may be handy, but most often they become idols!  Preachers with them often become demigods over preachers without them.  Pastors with big ornate buildings become chiefs over pastors with smaller, simpler ones.  Elaborateness should be seen for what it is, wasteful!  Money given to be spent on stained glass should be spent on missionary activity and training men for the ministry instead!

Rom. 16:16.  The Russian believers obey this-men kissing men-on the lips!  Women kiss the women on the lips, as often is done in America, as well.  In the Appalachian (eastern uSA) Mountains, male believers often greet with kisses, usually on the back of the jaw near the ear.  This practice is humbling.

The churches of God are also called "the churches of Christ."  There is no such thing in the Bible as an ecumenical "church (singular) of Christ."

Rom. 16:17,18.  The local church has authority to mark out for avoidance all preachers and teachers who do not adhere to Pauline doctrine.   Nicolaitains (Revelations chs. 2 and 3), Pharisees (Romans 14), Judaisers (Galatians), and others are to be marked out and avoided.  Preachers in our day, then, who practice Romanism and popery under the cloak of Baptist local church authority are to be avoided.

Absent from the book of Romans are the following subjects:

1. Step-by-step Instructions as to how to plant a local church.

2. Instructions as to how to arrange church services.

3. Suggestions to buy property or build facilities.

4. Suggestions to apply to civil government to perform any New Testament function or to be recognized by the state.

5. Instructions to send young men away to Bible colleges or seminaries.

6. Mention of hierarchies or denominational structures.

7. Reference to historical lines of succession for either the local churches or their ministers.

8. Constitutions and by-laws.

1 Corinthians chapters 1 through 7

1 Cor. 1:10-13 with 3:3-9,21-23 and 4:6,7. There are to be no factions in the churches based upon the popularity of certain personalities, or upon the gifts or charisma they seem to possess.

1 Cor. 1:14-17.  Water Baptism.  See our treatment of the subject of water baptism under 1 Corinthians chapter 11, as baptism relates to the other ordinances of the New Testament.

1 Corinthians chapter 5.  The Practice of Discipline and Purity.  The concern, besides the restoration of the sinning brother, is the testimony of the assembly in the world.  Knowing that "a little leaven (type of sin) leaveneth the whole lump," there are times to "purge out therefore the old leaven." (vv. 6,7)  But first, there must be honest and Biblical attempts at restoration (see 2 Corinthians 2:1-11; 12:20,21 and Galatians 6:1-5).  There is no inconsistency in using the instructions found in Matthew 18:15-19.

The testimony of the churches of God require purity (vv.8-13).  We must, as ambassadors for Christ, approach a lost and vile world to declare the Gospel of Christ.  This sometimes requires "keep[ing] company" among them.  If the Lord never intended to call us for such service, He would have already taken us out of this world.  That calling, however, is quite different than allowing wickedness to permeate (to "leaven") the work of God by some assumption that people just need to be "included and involved" to be straightened out.  The world mocks any assembly that tolerates openly sinful practices in the company of professing believers.  The Gospel ministry is thereby made of none affect.  The church that tolerates worldliness has no more power than the Rotary Club, Lions Club, Kiwanis, and the Masonic Lodge.

The open sins specified here are: (1.) fornication (general sexual sins), (2.) covetousness, (3.) idolatry, (4.) railing (to molest with words; to scoff at truth; to use insolent and reproachful language), (5.) drunkenness, (6.) extortion.  Six is the number of man, and these cover very well the brands of leaven you will most often encounter in the assembly.  Watch for them.

"The immoral church member who borrows his habits from the outside world, and the moral man outside the church who borrows his virtues from the church, are stumbling blocks only because their inconsistencies are not clearly understood by the unconverted."

From "The Fruits of the Tree."

By viWilliam Jennings Bryan

1 Cor. 6:1-8.  God's people are not to use the (civil) courts of the unconverted to settle disputes among one another.  Believers who are proven "wise" but  "least esteemed"  (those of little wealth, influence or public position; having nothing to gain) in the church are to be called on as arbiters.  To go "to law" (before unregenerate civil authorities) is a "fault" (v. 7) and a "shame" (v.5).  The spiritual brother will "take wrong," "suffer," and "be defrauded" before he will take another believer before a lost judge.

1 Cor. Ch. 7.  This chapter does not contain as much instruction for the church as it does for fathers and for Christian homes.  If fathers practice the principles herein, there will be fewer conflicts in the church.

1 Corinthians chapters 11 through 14

1 Cor. 11:1.  Paul followed Christ as he received instruction through visions and revelations from the Son of God seated in the Heavenly places, superceding many of the kingdom instructions given to disciples of the Lord during the Son of Man's earthly ministry.

1 Cor. 11:2.  The "ordinances" given in this context are as follows.

                The Ordinance of Headship (vv. 3-16). In biblical order, headship descends from (1.) God the Father to (2.) Christ the Son to (3.) the man to (4.) the woman.  This order of headship is to be observed in both the church and the home.  As an outward testimony of this headship, men are not to have long hair, and women are not to have short hair (the hair is the woman's covering given as a sign that she is under submission to her head).  Basically, there should be a distinction between the sexes in appearance.  It is obvious in our day that the confusion of the sexes in hair and fashion trends is both a cause and an effect in the destruction of homes and the promotion of sodomy and effeminacy in society.  It is often observed by Christian missionaries that societies with abnormally strong matriarchal tendencies produce very high numbers of effeminates and sodomites (some call them, "homosexuals") among their sons.

                Note that one societal benefit of biblical order, then, is to prevent sexual perversion. The Scriptures absolutely do not recognize any individual's right to "sexual preference." "...God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." (Genesis 1:27)

                The Ordinance of the Lord's Table, or the Lord's Supper, or Communion (vv. 17-34).  The instructions Paul delivered to the Corinthian Church were those he received directly from the Lord Jesus, and not from a previously written account or from other Apostles.  The custom of the church was to have a common meal in fellowship one with another, to be followed by the memorial observance using the One Bread and the One Cup.  Each person or family brought their own provisions, and while the rich had plenty, the poor often had little or nothing.  Sectarianism often divided the common meal into groupings of people, also excluding many.  These carnal divisions, then, also corrupted the observance of the Lord's Table.  Paul admonished, therefore, that in this atmosphere, there should be no observance at the Lord's Table.  The atmosphere around the observance of the Lord's Table is to be that of unity in the Body. The apparent instruction for the observance at the Lord's Table was....

1.  Individual believers would examine and judge themselves as to the manner in which they intended to observe the Lord's Supper. ("Let a man examine himself"..."judge ourselves").  This would include whether they were selfish, gluttonous, intoxicated, or sectarian in their behavior among the brethren just prior to the observance, e.g. at during the common meal, if one had been taken.

2. A single loaf of unleavened ("sinless") bread was taken, perhaps by the bishop, one of the elders, or by another designated brother.

3. Thanksgiving was offered for the bread.

4. The bread was "broken" (assumedly into bite-sized pieces) in the sight of the congregation by hand (not cut with a knife).

5. Instruction was given ("take eat") and before it was actually consumed;

a. the symbolism was given ("This is [Jesus'] body which is broken for you: "),

b. and the reason for this action was given ("this do in remembrance of Me.").

6. A single cup of unfermented ("sinless") grape juice (new wine) was taken:

a. the symbolism was given ("This cup is the new testament in my blood:"),

b. the instruction was given ("this do ye"),

c. the frequency was given ("as oft as ye drink it"..."as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup" - It was most likely observed every first day of the week),

d. the reason for this action was given ("in remembrance of Me. do shew the Lord's death"),

e. and finally, perpetuity of this observance was given ("till He come.").

"Unworthily" in verse 27 is an adverb referring to the manner in which the Lord's Table is observed, not an adjective describing the worthiness of the partaker.  Believing sinners are made worthy in Christ, not only to observe the Lord's Table, but even to go boldly into the Throne Room of God (Hebrews 4:15,16).  The "damnation" here is physical weakness, sickliness, and even death under viiApostolic discipline of the churches (see Acts 5:1-10; 1 Corinthians 5:3-5), being appropriate to that dispensation of God's continued dealings with Israel during the Acts Period.

A single cup of grape juice would better symbolize the blood of the singular Savior much more vividly than having the juice pre-divided into individual cups.  We also recognize that, in our day, care must be taken to prevent the spread of disease.  A single cup, however, could be taken before the congregation to show the one Blood offering, and then be divided into individual cups in the hands of the participants.

It is interesting in this chapter and context, including Headship and the Lord's Supper, that there is no mention at all of any ordinance of water baptism.  Let us backtrack somewhat to include some remarks from the doctrinal portions of 1 Corinthians concerning water baptism.

1. There was childish division in the Corinthian church involving water baptism (1 Corinthians 1:11-17).  Men claimed fame, favor, power, or prerogative based on identification with the particular Apostles who had baptized them (1:12).

2. All men mentioned as water baptizers were Apostles (1:12).  In fact, the only non-Apostle we read about who performed water baptism in the New Testament was Philip (and we can not be sure that he had not received apostolic commissioning).

3. Paul was very careful choosing candidates on whom he would perform water baptism for fear that people would falsely accuse him of baptizing in his own name.  It is obvious that Paul did not teach water baptism to be sacramental in any way, and would even refrain from baptizing if he feared its purpose would be misunderstood (1:14, 15).

4. Paul didn't keep records of baptisms (1:16)!

5. Paul's commission did not include the practice of water baptism (1:17).  To be "sent" is to be commissioned.

6. Paul's preaching of the Gospel and the Cross to the Gentiles, then, did not include any necessity to be baptized in water (1:17).

7. It seems that there were people mistakenly having themselves baptized for their dead loved ones (as is practiced in Mormonism today), in hopes of a resurrection for them (1 Corinthians 15:29).

When taking the above points together, we draw the following conclusions for practice:

1. When preaching the Gospel, always be careful to clarify that no ordinance performed by man can contribute in the least way to the soul's salvation, nor can non-performance hinder salvation.  Water baptism is in no way a means of Grace, either before or after salvation.  Indeed, a preacher should clarify that those who go into the water with a sacramental view of baptism have not understood salvation by the Merits of Christ alone, nor have they grasped justification by faith alone.

2. A clear testimony of faith in the Person and Finished Work of Christ is to be sought from the baptismal candidate before the baptism takes place.  The content and benefits of the Gospel must be clear, having been genuinely  received by the candidate.

3. If there seems to be any misunderstanding of the Gospel, lack of assurance and faith in the right Object (see No. 2), or confusion regarding the purpose of water baptism on the part of the candidate, then water baptism should not be performed.

4. No.s 1-3 will indicate that young children, in most cases, should not be baptized in water.

5. Nos. 1-3 also indicate that water baptism should not be either hurried or forced.

6. It is better not to baptize in water at all than to cause it to be a stumbling block to genuine faith in Christ and His Work and Merits.

1 Cor. 12:4-8.  Verse 7 tells us that the manifestations of the Spirit are for the profit of others ("to profit withal").  Not one of these manifestations has for its purpose personal selfish gratification, whether worldly or religious.  This is to be remembered when you hear adherents to the Charismatic movement talk about the manifestation of tongues being a "private prayer language."  There is no such thing.  Tongues are "for a sign" (14:21,22) to Jews (1:22) to convince them either (1.) that God is fulfilling Kingdom-related prophecy in their generation, or (2.) that a particular movement of God (e.g. the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on believing Gentiles in Acts 10) is genuine.

Another reminder is in order here, that 1st and 2nd Corinthians were written during the Acts history, when the offer of the Davidic Kingdom was still being offered specifically to Israel as a Nation.  1 Corinthians 14:21 refers us back to the Old Testament prophecy (Isaiah chapter 28) for both the definition of tongues, and for the purpose for their introduction.  Biblical tongues have nothing whatsoever to do with Gentiles going into viiimystic trances or prayer languages.

The churches of God may, in the 21st Century, still experience unusual outpourings of faith.  God still does heal miraculously, according to His purposes for individuals in response to prayer, and is pleased to perform other manifold miracles for His children.  God may also choose to withhold physical healing when it is grace that is needed.  God's grace, given in these cases, will be sufficient, and His strength will be made perfect in the physical weakness or infirmity of His children who suffer (see 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 and 12:7-10).

The Apostolic gift of healing has, since Acts chapter 28, been withdrawn.  Paul's own authority to heal was withdrawn sometime after his ministry was changed at the close of the Acts history.  Paul had to leave Trophimus in Miletus sick. (2 Timothy 4:20) Paul told Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach's sake and for his oft' infirmities (1 Timothy 5:23).  Toward the end of Paul's ministry a transition was already taking place regarding the sign gifts.  Israel, coming to the end of their final probation period, and the Acts history coming to a close, God would not leave in place those specific sign gifts which were meant to inculcate His call to that Nation.

1 Cor. 12:8-11.  The word of wisdom and the word of knowledge are Apostolic gifts (2 Corinthians 12:12).  These were important before the completion of the written Word of God.  Apostles were able to give a judgment about any given situation from a distance without seeing the situation with their own eyes.  Such was the case in 1 Corinthians chapter 5, regarding Paul's judgment of the one who had his father's wife.  Note verse 3.  Paul was absent in body but present in Spirit, and could judge as though he were present.  Bishops and elders today must be present to get a judgment in any matter of discipline.

1 Cor. 12:12-31.  Although the sign gifts have been withdrawn, the understanding of the truths of  the Body of Christ should not be neglected.  If we place Paul's local church membership and authority according to the standards of today's Baptist successionists, it would have been at the church in Antioch, not Corinth.  Yet Paul included himself as being in one and the same Body as the Corinthian believers (12:13).  This is that Body which is Bone of Christ's Bone and Flesh of Christ's Flesh.  For a fuller discussion, see four churches, and the section, The Church Which Is Christ's Body.  Unity in the Body of Christ is sought.  This unity is not the same as what we know today as ecumenicalism.  Bible-believing Christians are not engaged in uniting denominations or forging cooperative ventures with elements of apostate Christendom.  It is too often our pride and sectarianism, however, that prevents us from advancing a godly Christian testimony in many areas where we could be occupying together till Christ comes.

We identify historically with Baptist peoples.  Many entire movements of "Baptists" in our day have apostatized.  Those who still profess to adhere to Biblical doctrines of the Faith are divided into dozens of camps built on (1.) allegiances to certain mission agencies, schools and seminaries; (2.) the following of certain personally strong charismatic leaders; (3.) differences in the specific "tools and methods" used in church growth; (4.) whether a local church must have a "mother church" to be one of the churches that Jesus is building; (5.) other minor points of practice.

The practical demonstration, for the common believers, of the unity of the Body is found in the local church.  This is because consistent edification, succouring, provoking (unto love and good works), praying one for another, encouragement in personal evangelism, and discipline all require a localized setting and regular meeting.   Obviously, then, the Lord intends the offices and ordinances of the church to be locally applied. Hence the dominant presence and testimony in the New Testament of the Churches (plural) of God is set forth.

1 Corinthians chapter 13.  The churches of God are to operate through genuine Holy Spirit generated love as defined here, which is always based on (1.) genuine faith in the right object, that is, sound doctrine; (2.) a good conscience...; (3.) a pure heart  (see 1 Timothy 1:5).  Genuine Biblical love, then, excludes that cheap, religious sentimentality commonly demonstrated by the modern Charismatic movement.  Charismatics and neo-evangelicals believe that "the greatest of these is charity" (1 Corinthians 13:13) means that sound doctrine, literal belief of the Scriptures, and a holy life are expendable and worth sacrificing to sentiment and religious organizational unity (one-world ecumenicalism included).  Many Baptists sacrifice holy living and the literal belief of the Scriptures for sectarian unity.  1Timothy 1:5 interprets 1 Corinthians 13:13 for any who have ears to hear.

1 Corinthians chapter 14.  As long as God was calling a remnant of Israel according to the election of Grace (Acts history), the churches were not discouraged from the practice of all of the spiritual gifts, including speaking with unknown tongues and prophesying.  The latter was to be preferred, as it edified, exhorted, and comforted the church, while the former generally did not (14:4,5), unless it was also interpreted.  Interpretation by the Spirit was, obviously, often a missing element.

The rules for speaking in an unknown tongue were:

1. The "tongue" must have been a language understood by dispersed Jews residing in the region of that church (14:21-25 with 1:22).  It had to be a distinct and certain language (14:7, 8), not gibberish or unintelligible syllables.

2. There was to be a preference for prophesying over speaking with an unknown tongue (14:1, 5).  Edification was to be the objective (14:5, 12, 26, 39).

3. The person speaking in an unknown tongue was also to receive from the Lord, and deliver, the interpretation for those unlearned in that tongue (14:13).

4. A maximum of three people were allowed to speak in an unknown tongue in any given gathering; and that by taking turns (14:27, 40).

5. One person was to interpret for each speaker.  If there was no one to interpret, then no one was allowed to speak with an unknown tongue (14:27, 28).

6. Women were not permitted to speak in an unknown tongue (14:34, 35).

Obviously these rules, found clearly in 1 Corinthians chapter 14, are ignored by the modern-day Charismatic movement(s).  There is no legitimate speaking with unknown tongues today in the sense of 1 Corinthians chapters 12 and 14 because God is not dealing directly with Israel as a Nation.  This gift was of use in the "childhood" of the church (1 Corinthians 13:11).  When the mystery of the Body of Christ was revealed and received through the ministry of Paul, then the church was expected to grow up to manhood.  In manhood, the childish things would be put away.  Simply, tongues ceased at the close of the Acts history  (13:8).  The legitimate use of speaking with unknown tongues may resume when the Kingdom order resumes after the removal of the Body of Christ to the Heavenlies, and Israel's King re-establishes His communications directly with that Nation.

1 Corinthians chapter 16.

1 Corinthians chapter 16. The Corinthian Church met together on the First Day of the week, as was obviously the practice of all New Testament Churches of God.  The First Day of the Week was never called "The Lord's Day."  The Lord's Day (Revelation 1:10) is the Day of the Lord, which is a protracted period of time, including both the Time of Jacob's Trouble  (Tribulation Period) and the Kingdom Age (Millennium).  The Day of the Lord (Isaiah 2:12; 13:16; Jeremiah 46:10; Joel 2:1; 3:14; 1Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 1:10; etc.) always refers to Israel's prophetic calendar, and never to any day on a weekly calendar, or to the functioning of the Body of Christ during this dispensation.

                A word of warning to my students and readers: With all of your understanding of what the Lord's Day (Revelation 1:10) is, in prophecy, do not become cynical or high minded when you hear the old godly and spiritual preachers refer to Sunday on the weekly calendar as, "the Lord's Day," when they are exhorting God's children to set aside Sunday for service to our dear Savior.  We are not our own; God bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23)!  Christians in the British Isles, generations ago, and perhaps even now, have referred to Sunday as "the Christian Sabbath." Now, those who rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15) know that the New Testament Christian actually observes no Sabbaths (Carefully study Colossians chapter 2 and Romans chapter 14.). Nevertheless, the New Testament Christian cannot possibly read the New Testament honestly before God and not see the preponderance of instruction given to us to devote our time and energies together to serve Jesus Christ.  Now look(!), Christian, at what day has fallen, by the historical providence of Almighty God, in both Roman Catholic and Protestant/Baptist countries, that most commonly lends itself to the meeting of God's people, even to our times, just preceding the calling up of the Church.

Even with our modern and shifting times, Sunday, "the first day of the week" (1 Corinthians 16:2), is still the very best day for the joint efforts of the Church to serve Jesus Christ, Who deserves our full devotion. Even now, I want to preach on the subject of the importance for Christians to abandon their selfish attitudes with regard to their "personal" time and resources.  I appeal to you biblical dispensationalists, with all of your excitement over learning how to soundly interpret your Bible, do not forget Paul's admonition in texts like 2 Timothy 2:1-7 with regard to the meeting together of believers, or the instruction of Hebrews 10:24 and 25.  I want to say more here, but let us return to the subject of the purpose of the special offering that was laid by the believers in store in 1 Corinthians 16:2.

The special offering in this chapter ("the collection for the saints," v. 1) was neither a tithe nor a "faith promise" missions offering.  The effort exerted here was to provide for the poor saints in Jerusalem (see Romans 15:26).  At the beginning of the Acts history, the believers at Jerusalem had sold all of their earthly possessions, and laid all the proceeds at the Apostles feet (Acts 2:43-46; 4:32-37).  The Jerusalem Church practiced Kingdom "communism," fully expecting the Second Advent within their lifetime, say, around seven years hence, giving time for Daniel's 70th Week to be fulfilled.  The Jerusalem Church was certainly not looking for any kind of succession of Baptist churches to link the following two millennia together, nor had they been instructed to look for such a thing.

God was, at the time this Epistle was written (at the time a re-offer of the Kingdom of Heaven was being made to the Nation of Israel), changing the program, due to Israel's continued rejection of the Gospel, continued rejection of their King, and even rejection of  the Holy Spirit's movement through the Apostolic ministry.  A transition was taking place.  Gentiles were being preached to.  Churches were forming among Gentile converts, and Gentiles were beginning to win Gentiles to Christ without the direct witness of the Jewish Nation.  The Kingdom promised to Israel was beginning to remove to the other end of an unprophesied expanse and dispensation, the duration of which nobody knew (and nobody knows today!). The King would not return in the time frame expected by the Jerusalem Church.  So now their resources were depleted.  They were now poor.  Who would help?  We know that the churches of Macedonia did help (see 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9), and the Corinthian Church had also promised to help.  Hence, the instructions were given.

1 Cor. 16:3, 4.  Nevertheless, there is a precedent indicated here for honesty and accountability, when monies are given and sent to any work, endeavor, or act of Christian charity.

1 Cor. 16:10, 11.  The churches are not to despise young ministers of the Gospel, who are "work[ing] the work of the Lord."   See 1Timothy 4:12.  The church here is not being asked to tolerate immature church workers, as we see so much of in our day.  Their work must be obviously and certifiably "of the Lord," and the young man must be "an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity."

1 Cor. 16:13, 14.  The churches of God are to "watch," "stand fast in the faith," "quit you like men," (become mature), and do all things "with charity (love)."   Where are there any of these churches of God in 2006?  The modern, supposedly fundamental Baptist churches are "watching" nothing but television, the Internet, and the ball games.  The modern "soul-winning" schemes teach nothing about "stand[ing] fast in the faith."  Baptist churches don't appear to be maturing in either their knowledge of the Scriptures or in their stand for Christ against the New World Order philosophies of our day.  There is little "charity," but rather priestcraft, factionalism, sectarianism and democratic action.

1 Cor. 16:19.  A Biblical church of God can meet in a family's house.  When 1 Corinthians was written, there was no contemplation, among New Testament believers, of building church edifices. There were no permanent dedicated church facilities among Bible-believing Christians for the first 300 to 400 years of Church history. Christians met in the houses of the believers, in the forests, in the mountain caves, perhaps later in borrowed facilities. Bible-believers in those days were much more interested in devoting their resources to direct missionary activity.

1 Cor 16:20.  See note on Romans 16:16.

Absent from the book of First Corinthians are the following subjects:

1. Step-by-step instructions as to how to plant a local church.

2. Instructions as to how to arrange church services.

3. Suggestions to buy property or build facilities.

4. Suggestions to apply to civil government to perform any New Testament function or to be recognized by the state.

5. Instructions to send young men away to Bible colleges or seminaries.

6. Mention of hierarchies or denominational structures.

7. Reference to historical lines of succession for either the local churches or their ministers.

8. Constitutions and by-laws.

2 Corinthians 2 through 9

2 Cor. 2:1-10 along with 12:20,21.  This is further instruction concerning restoration for brethren who have been involved in sin; restoration consistent with a pure testimony for the church.  The first consideration is an honest attempt at restoring a fallen brother.  If restoration fails, though separation from the sinning one is bewailed, it must be the rule, to guard the church's purity, witness and effectiveness in the world.

2 Cor. 4:1-6"This ministry" is the ministry of reconciliation of chapter 5:18-21.  The ministry of the churches of God is not that of the modern competition soul-winning crowd, which requires, and prolifically uses, hidden things of dishonesty, craftiness, and handling the word of God deceitfully (v. 2).  Modern competition soul-winning hides the Gospel from the lost, in unwitting collusion with the "god of this world" (v. 4).  The deceit involves telling people on the street or on the door stoop that they will go to Heaven if they simply repeat the personal worker in a formulated prayer.  Repentance and faith (Acts 20:21) are made secondary, marginalized or left out altogether.  Along with these hidden things of dishonesty is the false notion that a person is saved at one point (e.g., during a rite of prayer, repeated after the "soul-winner"), but doesn't really know it until he graduates from an assurance class. Such teaching is, of course, a direct denial of verses like 1 Thessalonians 1:5.  If the Gospel is truly preached and truly believed, immediately the "light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God [will] shine unto them."

2 Cor. 4:7 through 5:17.  These verses explain more things that are to be regular subjects of ministering in the churches of God, among many other things:

1. The definition of "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ" (4:1-7).

2. The preserving, sustaining, and sanctifying effects this light has upon the Children of God as they walk through this world (4:7-16).

3. That the believers afflictions, whatever they may be, are to be considered "light" (regarding burden), and nothing in comparison to future glory in eternity (4:17).

4. The believer's looking out and up for presently invisible but eternally real things (v.18).

5. The truth that the believer will receive a new body ("tabernacle...not made with hands, eternal in the heavens") (5:1-5).

6. That the promise of that new body is the ever abiding "earnest of the Spirit" (5:5).

7. That the true believer is ix"always confident" and doesn't live in fear of death (5:6-8).

8. That there will be the Judgment seat of Christ for believers (5:9-13).

9. That we are not to pattern our lives and ministries after that of our Lord's earthly sojourn, with the exception that from His sufferings, we are to learn how to handle and respond to sufferings and persecutions (see 1 Peter 2:21) (5:16, 17).

The earthly ministry of the lowly Jesus was in presentation of the King and His Kingdom to a particular Nation, Israel, and to present the principles of that Kingdom. We are talking about that Kingdom which will one day be seen on Earth, the 1,000-year Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ.  If you want to establish a kingdom church, you pattern it in the Gospel records (Matthew through John).  If you seek to form a New Testament church for the current dispensation, you begin with Paul's epistles (Romans through Philemon), where you find the doctrines of the "new creature." (see Ephesians 2:15; Galatians 6:15) Only then will you properly make applications for New Testament Church order and function from the spiritual teachings of the Gospels.  Getting this out of whack is precisely the reason Christendom suffers the Charismatic movement, the Roman Catholic and other liturgical churches, the cults and Baptist hyper-successionists (Baptist-Briders). Not understanding these things is the reason that pastors of local Baptist churches in the Philippines believe that the New Testament Church is a "theocracy," and why so many of them take to themselves a kingly and priestly position over their people.

2 Cor. 5:14-21.  This is a vital section on the "Ministry of Reconciliation," the direct commission for evangelizing the world, without regard to distinction between Jew and Gentile.  Whereas the "Great Commission" of Matthew 28, Mark 16, and Luke 24 carries with it very Israeli and Kingdom connotations and "to the Jew first" methodologies, this passage emphasizes no such characteristics.  Nothing here crosses the grain of the Prison Epistles.

The ministry of all of Christ's Ambassadors (all Christians) is to "beseech" and "pray" (v. 20) and "persuade" (v. 11) sinners to be "reconciled to God" based on the truth of verse 21.  Christ "was made to be sin for us" (God's holiness and justice relative to man's offenses against Him and the Law were fully met in the judgment of Calvary), and God offers to every sinner the only righteousness by which entrance is gained into the presence of God, the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  Christ's Ambassadors don't negotiate the terms for God. They declare the Good News (the Gospel), that Heaven is opened to all who will repent of their own way (religious or otherwise) and simply trust the Merits of Christ.  The sinner must accept these terms or go to Hell!

Repentance, in this matter, means the abandonment and repudiation of all religion (rites and sacraments, indulgences and ceremonies, chants and prayers, genuflections and gestures, works and charities, denominations and memberships, associations and affiliations, meats and drinks, Sabbaths and holidays, feelings of self worth and esteem or any other form) as having any hope whatsoever of satisfying God in regard to the salvation of the soul.  Jesus Christ is all there is.  His Blood and Righteousness satisfied God for every sinner.  The sinner must accept His righteousness alone, or fry in the Lake of Fire for all of eternity.

Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness

My beauty are, my glorious dress;

'Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,

With joy shall I lift up my head.

Bold shall I stand in that great day,

For who ought to my charge shall lay?

Fully absolved through these I am,

From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

Lord, I believe Thy precious blood,

Which at the mercy-seat of God

Forever doth for sinners plead,

For me, e'en for my soul was shed.

Lord, I believe were sinners more

Than sands upon the ocean shore,

Thou hast for all a ransom paid,

For all a full atonement made.

Nicolaus L. von Zinzendorf


2 Cor. 6:1-10.  In this "accepted time" (Isaiah 61:2; Luke 4:19) and "day of salvation" we are to pay heed to the testimony of the ministry.  Compare verse 3 with 1 Corinthians 10:32, which deals with the three divisions of mankind, which have dispensational and doctrinal bearing on doctrine and prophecy.  We approve our ministries "in" some things (6:4,5), "by" some things, and "as" some things.  Compare 11:23-29 and 12:9,10.

2 Cor. 6:14-18No unequal yokes are to be borne with unbelievers.  In our day, local churches worldwide are fashioning unequal yokes with unregenerate governmental bureaucracies, through incorporations and registrations with, and submission to, licensing and tax agencies.  Incorporations with human governments, registrations with securities and exchange commissions, filings for (United States Internal Revenue Service code) 501c3 status, filings for local, state or provincial tax exemptions, and other such things, are not stipulations for being one of the Lord's churches.  Churches yank themselves out from under Christ's Headship, Lordship and Authority, in order to adhere to a legalized churchianity, and a contemporary "churchy culture."  This means, they are willing to have their churches to be state churches in order to own properties and to build buildings, while there are no mandates or instructions at all in the New Testament to own properties or to build buildings.  "But if we don't incorporate or register, the electric power company will not switch us on," they say.  For electricity, therefore, they become a part of the state apparatus.  Of course, Baptist churches do this while they profess to believe in "the Separation of Church and State" as a "historical distinctive." The consequences of so-called New Testament churches having failed to make earthly governments aware of Christ's Lordship and Headship over His churches, and the consequences of their thoughtless acquiescence to government lordship, now over several generations, will appear very soon.  What would things be like today had all of God's churches in the United States, from the very beginning and up to the present, just simply refused the incorporation of their churches, and declined any status with the Internal Revenue Service? You see, don't you(?), that Baptist congregations in the "free" West have, en masse, surrendered up their historical distinctive of "the Separation of Church and State." Of what are the churches really afraid?  They are afraid that they may, by exercising a testimony autonomous from man's governmental system, experience what you just read in 2 Corinthians 6:4-10!  Christians in the 21st century are not willing to suffer for any testimony for Christ or for His sovereignty over His own churches.

                When local churches enter into problems with governmental agencies and courts, due to their ownership and development of physical properties (real estate), they are very much on their own relative to any written final authority as to how to act, because the Scriptures just don't address such issues.  Real estate is not a part of, nor an issue in, genuine New Testament Christianity!  Pastors may pray, and then it seems to them that they have serious difficulties knowing the mind of the Lord, when problems, disputes, charges, law suits and such arise over the church real estate. They can search the Scriptures, for in them they think they have biblical warrant for physical properties, but they are they that are silent!  Simply, the Bible didn't tell the church to buy. The Bible didn't tell the church to build. Most of the time, churches buy what they buy, and build what they build, based on tradition and human expectations as to what "church" is all about.  And then church members cry and complain over all the trouble they encounter with zoning boards, building inspectors, licensing and tax authorities, bank loan officers, and so forth. If churches want the buildings, they should just stop crying, deal with the difficulties, and go on.

                Local church pastors or boards of trustees might say, "God told us to buy! God told us to build! God told us to spend!" Okay, if God told them to do those things, then we're not interested in hearing any crying or fussing or moaning, which they like to do every time the building department wants them to spend so many thousands of dollars for this, or that. If it was really God who directed those churches to build, then we are not interested in hearing about the church's objections to satisfying every building code, every fire code, every health and safety code, every environmental impact requirement, and all the rest. Just stop fussing, pay the big bucks for that beautiful edifice you wanted, and go on!  And when someone sues the church in court because their child broke his leg in your big fancy New Testament gymnasium or on your New Testament tennis court, well, God knew all about that too, so just dig deeper to pay those lawyers fees and court costs, and go on!

                Are we somehow teaching here that it is always a violation of God's Word and Will for churches to purchase land and to build church houses? No, we are not teaching that.  What we are teaching is that the Bible itself never one time mandated such things, and such things can never be presented by God's ministers as an integral necessary part of New Testament Christianity. Americans who may be reading this are having a big, big problem with what we are writing.  You see, Americans are so ignorant of anything outside of American "churchianity" that they cannot deal with the admonitions of a missionary who has labored underground in two communist countries.

                What if the Scriptures had included physical properties (real estate) as an integral and necessary part of New Testament Christianity? Millions upon millions of God's children through the Church Age could never have complied with the Scriptures!  Even today, millions of believers under communist, Islamic and other totalitarian regimes could not comply, if the New Testament were to teach that churches should have permanent facilities. Whatever the obligations and mandates of New Testament Christianity truly are, they can be met by any Christian on the globe, regardless of their level of poverty or wealth, their status of freedom or bondage, or level of illiteracy or education.

                So, if you live in a free country, and you believe God wants your church to spend its money on real estate and buildings, then go after it, My Brother, and please don't let us hear you complain over all the difficulties it brings to your flesh. But don't suggest that the real estate and buildings are mandated by the Scriptures, and don't suggest that your ideas about these things must be appreciated by your Christian brethren who live in poverty, whether they are in West Virginia, the rain forests of the Philippines or the steps of Mongolia. And don't make your western "churchianity" the standard for what are probably much more spiritual congregations meeting in secret in basements and abandoned warehouse buildings outside of Taiyuan, China, Hanoi, Vietnam, or Baghdad, Iraq. Don't suggest that those Christians should get under the same kinds of unequal yokes that you take on yourself to acquire your western luxuries!

2 Cor. 7:1-16.  The churches are to have cleansed members, free from filthiness in flesh and spirit; perfecting holiness in the fear of God.  The Corinthian church had repented of their tolerance of sin in the camp (toleration of the sin of 1 Corinthians 5:1,2).  They had taken care of the matter.  When a church does deal with open sin scripturally, it is then to be encouraged to go on and serve the Lord as per 7:1.

2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9.  These two chapters illustrate and instruct in the matter of grace giving.  These passages are used in many churches today to promote a system of missionary support called "Faith Promise Missions," created by the late Oswald J. Smith of Canada.  This system of missions giving has now been taught so prolifically in the churches, using these chapters, that most church members actually believe that the giving being encouraged in these chapters to the Corinthian church went to church planting missionaries. Actually, the money was being collected to give to the poor saints in Jerusalem, and not to evangelize anyone at all.

                Note: The Scriptures should be taught for what they actually teach and say, not for what they are presumed to teach and say.  Once the literal words of Scripture are taught and understood literally, according to their contexts, then other spiritual applications may be made, providing that, in the applications, the Scriptures are not broken or otherwise violated.

Some pastors use the text to promote giving for various church projects, building programs and the like.  There is nothing at all about the tithe in the text; not a hint of Malachi 3:8-10 in spirit.  The text speaks nowhere, directly, of missionary support, but rather of "the fellowship of the ministering to the saints" (8:4; 9:1).  The companion text in 1 Corinthians is chapter 16 and the end purpose of the giving is explained there.  The heart of the giving, however, is explained in 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9, and here are principles for giving to anything biblical and Christ-honoring.

Principles of New Testament Giving

New Testament Giving is....

1. a grace, in which any believer may abound  (8:1,7).

2. performed with joy, even when the giver is in deep poverty.  Thus even those in deep poverty should not be discouraged from exhibiting this grace (8:2, 3).

3. performed willingly (8:3; 9:7).

4. first, of one's self to the Lord  (8:5).

5. not in response to any commandment of any man (even of the clergy).  (8:8).

6. proof of the sincerity of love (8:8).

7. not based on what you don't have, might have, or promise to have, or imagine what could come your way over the following year of the missions calendar, but based on what you actually possess, in hand (8:11)!

8. to supply the "want" (necessity) of believers in need, and is to be reciprocated equally when the need arises (8:13-15).

9. to have accountability (8:21,22).

10. a "sowing" for which there is also a "reaping" (9:6).

11. performed as a believer "purposeth in his heart" (9:7).

12. not done "grudgingly" (9:7)

13. not forced upon the believer (9:7).

14. pleasing to God when performed cheerfully.

15. supplied by God to the giver, making him able to abound in every good work (9:8-12).

16. something which prompts "many thanksgivings unto God" (8:12).

2 Cor. 10:12.  Local churches are not to compare themselves with other local churches in the matter of results in numbers, facilities, programs, assets, or any other thing.  Any comparisons in these regards prove a lack of wisdom; such wisdom probably being first absent in the pulpit.  Why would any true Christian desire to be a part of any church which lacks in such basic of all wisdom.  Yet, churches all over the world are infected with the copycat syndrome.  The xsuper-churches and mega-churches in America today are golden calves to which missionary churches often bow down. Many foreign national pastors are brought to America these days, and they believe that what they see in the big churches in the USA should be the rule for churches in the other countries, so they attempt to raise American funds to imitate American "churchianity" in their own country. All such is wickedness!

2 Cor. 12:20,21.  See our comments on 2 Corinthians 2:1-12.

Absent from the book of Second Corinthians are the following subjects:

1. Step-by-step instructions as to how to plant a local church.

2. Instructions as to how to arrange church services.

3. Suggestions to buy property or build facilities.

4. Suggestions to apply to civil government to perform any New Testament function or to be recognized by the state.

5. Instructions to send young men away to Bible colleges or seminaries.

6. Mention of hierarchies or denominational structures.

7. Reference to historical lines of succession for either the local churches or their ministers.

8. Constitutions and by-laws.


Gal. 1:8,9.  The local church is to judge whether any visiting preacher is expounding the true Gospel or a false one.  If any preacher expounds any message of eternal salvation which violates the doctrines of sufficiency and simplicity of the Cross (1 Corinthians 1:18-21), the church is to consider that preacher as being accursed.  Strong word, "accursed," but that is the plain fact of the matter.

The Epistle to the Galatians continues in a doctrinal format through the fourth chapter; these chapters do not specifically address practice.  But then Paul instructs in the matter of Christian "liberty" in chapter five.

Gal. chapter 5.  A true believer, walking in true liberty, will never feel bound by vain tradition, liturgies, sacramentalism, formalism, or any other expression of religion of the flesh.  Being a true Christian is not what you do or practice, but what you are made in Christ by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit; and that on the principle of faith (Romans 1:17; 2 Corinthians 5:7,17).  Yes, this will affect practice in the local church, when people enjoy how free they really are in Jesus Christ. The fruit of right doctrine is right practice. No "dead on arrival" traditionalist or formalistic church members (or clergy) will be able to cancel the joy of true living saints.

Gal. 5:13-15.  The law of God is fulfilled in us by the law of Christ; the Holy Spirit shedding the love of God abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:5).  This makes possible the practice of love one for another.  Church members will therefore refrain from "bit[ing]and devour[ing] one another."

Gal. 5:16-18.  The admonition to "walk in the Spirit."  This, of course, is, in reality, the work of God in us, as we dwell in the Word of God and enjoy the Savior. See Ephesians 5:17-20 and Colossians 3:16, 17. Being filled with the Spirit is a result of the Christian saturating himself or herself with the Word of God and being willing and ready to obey the Word of God.

Gal. 5:19-25.  The "fruit of the Spirit" is not what you attempt to practice, but is the product of the Holy Spirit's working from within.  It is "fruit" in contrast to the manufactured goods of the flesh (sometimes religious goods) which dishonor God.

Gal. 5:26 along with 6:4.  See 2 Corinthians 10:12.  Too many of our Baptist churches today have "vain glory," "provoking" programs, and "envying one another" as the stimuli for so-called evangelism and xichurch growth.  Pastors are envious of other pastors.  Envy is endemic in the pews, because it is epidemic in the pulpits.

Gal. 6:1-9.  See 1 Corinthians chapter 5 and 2 Corinthians 12:20, 21.  Restoration is to be preferred to the ejection of any fallen brother.  A lack of honesty on the part of the fallen one is often the roadblock to restoration.  At other times sanctimonious leadership or self-righteous church members prevent restoration.

Gal. 6:10.  Charitable acts are to be common in the church.  The priority is to be toward God's own children, but not neglecting "all men" as a witness to our care for their souls.  Do not allow charitable acts of giving or physical supply, however, to insulate lost people from understanding their true need of the salvation of their eternal soul.

Absent from the book of Galatians are the following subjects:

1. Step-by-step instructions as to how to plant a local church.

2. Instructions as to how to arrange church services.

3. Suggestions to buy property or build facilities.

4. Suggestions to apply to civil government to perform any New Testament function or to be recognized by the state.

5. Instructions to send young men away to Bible colleges or seminaries.

6. Mention of hierarchies or denominational structures.

7. Reference to historical lines of succession for either the local churches or their ministers.

8. Constitutions and by-laws.

First Thessalonians

1 Thess. 1:3.  What is the work of the churches?  Faith!  What is the labor of the churches? Love!  What is the patience of the churches?  Hope!  Where did we ever get the idea that the work and labor of the churches is to acquire properties and to build facilities?  We got that idea through tradition and human expectations of what "church" is all about, as a result of our competition with Rome and apostate Protestants!  See 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13.

1 Thess. 1:8.  The churches are to "[sound] out the word of the Lord, having received the word...," so that our "faith to Godward [will be] spread abroad..."

1 Thess. 1:9,10.  True believers are those who have experienced this kind of repentance, and are to be waiting for the translation ("rapture") of the Body of Christ.

1 Thess. 2:12,13.  The admonition to "walk worthy" does not specify practice.  Again we argue that the New Testament does not teach as much about what to practice as it does about what we are and are to be in Christ.  When we receive the word of God it "effectually worketh also in [us] that believe." The practice that will result from the Word of God effectually working in the believers has already been summarized in verses 3 through 10.  It involves witnessing for Jesus Christ (sounding out the word of the Lord; spreading abroad our faith toward God), something in which every believer is to participate.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:...

1 Peter 3:15

                Personal evangelism is the responsibility of every member of every church of God, not just the responsibility of an ordained clergy.  It is not a matter of a church having a visitation program, or soul winning program. It is a matter of every individual Christian being grateful for the work of the Cross in Redemption and deliverance from condemnation and Hell, being in love with Christ, looking forward to Christ's return, and a loathing to see others in a lost condition on their way to eternal fire.  God puts His love in us that produces and spreads abroad a love for souls (Romans 5:8).  Whether or not the church has an organized visitation program, every Christian is to be an individual visitation program; each one a personal evangelist.

1 Thess. 2:14.  The "follow[ing]" of churches here has nothing to do with programs, numbers, properties, facilities or methods, but of suffering at the hands of those who hate Christ and the Gospel.

1 Thess. 3:6-13.  See 1:3.

1 Thess. 4:4,5.  This is admonition for moral purity and self-control. The means is Holy Spirit control.

1 Thess. 4:6-9.  God's people in the churches are to keep their word one with another, and not defraud one another.  Love one another.

1 Thess. 4:11,12.  A strong work ethic is to be the rule among the people in God's churches.  Physical and manual labor is sanctified and honored by the Lord.  The Churches, therefore, should in no way encourage or even condone laziness or slothfulness among the men in their number.  See 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15, 1Timothy 5:8 and Ecclesiastes 3:9-13.

1 Thess 4:13-18.  God's people in the churches are to comfort one another at the passing of saved loved ones with the hope of the resurrection and the coming translation ("rapture") of the Body of Christ.

1 Thess. 5:1-11.  The churches are to avoid spiritual lethargy and intoxication on the things of this world, while we await the culmination of this dispensation.  Faith, hope of the salvation of our body (translation), and love are to be our armor and defense.  Physical church walls are not to be for hiding or protection.  The comfort and edification (the building and fortifying) of fellow believers, instead of physical facilities, is a true Pauline practice in the churches of God.

1 Thess. 5:12,13.  Churches have Bishops and elders which are overseers.  These offices are local in nature, not denominational or hierarchical in nature.  Believers are to be aware of the biblical duties, responsibilities and burdens of overseers and admonishers.  Believers are to esteem them very highly in love, not for their persons' sakes, but for their works' sake.  If their work fails in New Testament qualifications, they deserve no esteem, nor are they to expect esteem merely because they hold an office.   As a result of the correct valuation of those in the Gospel ministry, there is to be no strife among God's people.

1 Thess. 5:14-27.  Here is a solid checklist for New Testament Church practice:

1. "warn them that are unruly" (those who have no rules or discipline; disorderly);

2. "comfort the feebleminded" (the fainthearted; those weak in the faith; the immature);

3. "support the weak" (edify new believers to prevent falling);

4. "be patient toward all men";

5. "See that none render evil for evil unto any man."  "See that" implies that the church has the responsibility to guard the testimony of the church against those within who may have a vengeful spirit or behavior.

6. "ever follow that which is good ... " (the Bible is the authority for "that which is good");

7. "Rejoice evermore";

8. "Pray without ceasing";

9. "In everything give thanks";

10. "Quench not the spirit";

11. "Despise not prophesyings".  Remember that this book was written before the revelation of God or the fulfilling of the word of God (Colossians 1:25) was completed.  Prophesying (Ephesians 4:11) was still a necessity.

12. "Prove all things [prove all things by the Bible, not by the denominational handbook; not even by the Baptist handbooks]; hold fast that which is good";

13. "Abstain from all appearance of evil".  Not only abstain from evil itself, but from the very appearance of evil;

14. "Pray for [those who labor in word and doctrine]";

15. "Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss".  Practiced to this day in Russia, Eastern Europe, and many places in the Smoky Mountains, USA;

16. Read the Bible in the churches.

Absent from the book of First Thessalonians are the following subjects:

1. Step-by-step instructions as to how to plant a local church.

2. Instructions as to how to arrange church services.

3. Suggestions to buy property or build facilities.

4. Suggestions to apply to civil government to perform any New Testament function or to be recognized by the state.

5. Instructions to send young men away to Bible colleges or seminaries.

6. Mention of hierarchies or denominational structures.

7. Reference to historical lines of succession for either the local churches or their ministers.

8. Constitutions and by-laws.

Second Thessalonians

2 Thess. 1:3"Charity" (love) is first produced in personal character, then it makes its way out through demonstration, and thus may be said to be a practice in a Pauline church of God.

2 Thess. 2:15 and 3:4, 6.  The "traditions" here are the teachings and "command[ments]" of the Apostle Paul, and not the vain religious traditions of generations of clergy.  When we read "hold the traditions,...etc." we are reading the instruction to follow Pauline Practice in the Churches of God, plain and simple.  We can only know what Paul taught "by word" by what he taught in his "epistle[s]."  We are not to surmise any further doctrine or instruction than what is revealed in the preserved written Word of God, the Bible. See 2 Timothy 2:7.

2 Thess. 3:1, 2.  Pray for ministers of the Gospel "that the word of God may have free course (be free from satanic or political hindrance), and be glorified...And that [they] may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men:..."

2 Thess. 3:5"Patient waiting for Christ" is a Pauline precept to be observed by the churches. See 1 Thessalonians 1:10 and Titus 2:13.

2 Thess. 3:6, 7, 14.  Here is confirmation of sound church discipline instruction as taught concerning church members who remain unrepentant even after honest biblical attempts at restoration (1 Corinthians chapter 5; 2 Corinthians 2:1-11; 12:20,21; Galatians 6:1-5).  Further, withdrawal is from those who refuse, marginalize or pervert Pauline revelation; those who insist on a Kingdom form of doctrine and practice for the church.

2 Thess. 3:8-14.  The church is to practice and enforce the Christian work ethic.  Although it is right for a church, when capable, to fully support its ministers (1 Corinthians 9:9, 14), there is no sin or fault in a pastor when he is working to provide, from outside of the church, for his own support and for the welfare of his family.  If a bishop (pastor), using discernment, believes that his testimony would be strengthened by (either temporarily or permanently) working with his own hands to feed his own family, then he is not in violation of the Scriptures to work (1 Corinthians 9:15 and here).  Sometimes the minister working for his own support is necessary to quell false accusations that affect the church's financial integrity.  At times a Gospel minister must prove that his ministry is not for the purpose of burdening, or taking advantage of, God's people (to "not be chargeable to any..."); to demonstrate that his ministry is not for filthy lucre's sake.

We have noticed, on some xiimission fields, the teaching in Baptist seminaries that a "full-time" worker is not to seek gainful employment outside of the church.  Such teaching is very clearly an abuse of the Scriptures.  We have interviewed young national preachers in the Philippines who claim to be burdened about a mission work in a particular locality, but will not go there until churches support them.  These men will refuse to work with their own hands to support themselves and their ministry, because that is the mind set placed in them by their Bible college or seminary.  This teaching is wrong.

If a male church member will not work (that is, if it is his will to refrain from gainful employment; he is a sluggard; he is lazy), he should receive no help at all from anyone in the church.  Furthermore, if the church has a fellowship supper, the sluggards should not be allowed in the line for food.

Christians should work to support themselves and should xiiienjoy the fruit of their own labor (see Ecclesiastes 3:13).   Laziness, on the other hand, is a matter for church discipline.

2 Thess. 3:14,15.  Note that the church must exercise discipline, and yet with the heart that restoration is always possible-"count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother."

Absent from the book of Second Thessalonians are the following subjects:

1. Step-by-step instructions as to how to plant a local church.

2. Instructions as to how to arrange church services.

3. Suggestions to buy property or build facilities.

4. Suggestions to apply to civil government to perform any New Testament function or to be recognized by the state.

5. Instructions to send young men away to Bible colleges or seminaries.

6. Mention of hierarchies or denominational structures.

7. Reference to historical lines of succession for either the local churches or their ministers.

8. Constitutions and by-laws.

(III.)The General Epistles

Paul wrote the book of Hebrews in an effort to pull the "almost persuaded" Jews out of the dispensation of temple worship and ceremonial law, and across the line to the "better" things of Christ's sufficiency.  James and Peter were ministers of the circumcision (Galatians 2:8, 9), writing to the dispersed Jews during the Acts period. James' and Peter's epistles are also profitable for post-Acts church order, where they are consistent with Paul's teachings.   Review pages 1 through 3 for the basis of our reasoning, and for the format we have used in this booklet.  There are elements of the General Epistles which are Hebraic, Jewish and Messianic in their implications.  Passages containing such elements seemingly appear to contradict Paul's church epistles.  These elements will be very important to those who become believers after the Body of Christ has been translated (raptured); those who live in Daniel's 70th Week, when God will indeed bring the world back to the Hebraic, Jewish and Messianic prophetic events.

We will survey only the following: Hebrews chapters 10 & 13; James chapters. 2 & 5; 1 Peter chapters 3, 4 and 5.


Heb. 10:24, 25.  Consistent with Pauline revelation is the admonition to assemble.  Don't forsake it.  By all means, increase the frequency of meeting for the purpose of edification and comfort.  For illustration, see Malachi 3:13-18. Our Lord is coming.  His Day is approaching.  Provoke (stir; encourage) one another to love souls and saints, and to perform good works which honor Christ and make him known to others.

Heb. 10:34.  See 2 Corinthians 11:8.  Christians should learn sacrificial giving to supply the needs of godly men in the Lord's service; especially those in distress (e.g. "bonds").

Heb. 13:1.  Let brotherly love continue.

Heb. 13:2.  Admonition to Christian hospitality and simple kindness.  This is one of the qualifications for the office of the Bishop (presiding elder) in the local church (See 1 Timothy 3:2).

Heb. 13:3.  Don't forget kindness and care for Christians who suffer in bonds for their faith and conscience.  There are thousands, if not millions, of God's children who have been imprisoned, tortured and martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ.  The churches should be aware of this and ask the Lord how to minister to these. Have empathy with believers who suffer.

Heb. 13:4.  This is God's view of marriage and the sexual relationship.  This is not instruction to the church, but the violation of this principle by church members may require church discipline.

Heb. 13:7, 17, 24.  Here is an excellent outline for instructing the church concerning its relationship to the men of God:

"Remember them."  Don't forget or neglect their needs.  Don't forget to pray for them.  Follow their faith, as long as it is a biblically-revealed faith.

"Obey them."  Submit yourself to them.  The qualification is that they only require your obligations to that which is clearly taught in the written Word of God.  Those who are the true ministers of God watch for your souls.  That is, they are concerned and burdened for your spiritual welfare, not for the advancement of their own ministerial empires.

"Salute them."  Address them with kindness, courtesy, and honor.  Further, when they are leading a charge for the cause of Christ, cheer them on!  Wave the flags!  Shout the victory for them!

These verses in no way imply that a minister has the authority to place any Christian under spiritual or moral bondage to himself or his aspirations.  These verses do not teach any infallibility on the part of bishops, elders, pastors, or deacons (or missionaries, for that matter).  These verses do not teach pastoral authority outside of the affairs of the local church; such authority does not extend into the home of other church members. In the home the father is the "pastor"/head (1 Corinthians chs. 7 & 11).

1 Corinthians chapter 11 teaches us that God is the Head of Christ, Christ is the Head of the man and the man is the head of the woman. Ephesians chapter 5 teaches us that Christ is the Head of the Church. The Bible nowhere teaches that the bishop (pastor) is the head of the church, or that he is the head of anything or anyone, except his own home, and the women in his own home.

The bishop of the local church is not the pastor of any home except his own.  Where the home maintains a testimony that does not bring reproach on the church, the local church bishop should never interfere.  The local church bishop has no authority to require Christians to participate in his personal ventures; economic, commercial, or otherwise.  Fathers are the authority for determining the education and training of children (Galatians 4:1, 2), not the bishop of the local church.

The home is the primary institution; the first ordinance and sphere of authority found in the Bible.  No local church bishop has the authority to require any Christians to sacrifice the well-being, safety, health, harmony and peace, or proper education of the home, or the authority of the father, merely for the success of local church programs, or for the advancement of the bishop's own ministerial ambitions.

You will recognize a true minister of our Lord by this qualification: He leads Christians into the rich green pastures of God's Word to the best of the abilities and gifts God has given him.  His ministry of the Word, supported by his spiritual and moral example, will be that which guides fathers, mothers, and children to fall in love with Jesus Christ, and understand their roles in the home and in the true work of the Savior.  True Gospel ministers seek no honor for themselves, but only for their Master.  They recognize that it is the Lord, Himself, Who builds His Church, and not the local church bishop.  The true servant of the Lord will desire that every believer become a Bible scholar, making practical daily application of the Word.  Such a servant will suffer no jealousy, fear or intimidation over church members excelling in their knowledge and enjoyment of God's Word.  See 1 Peter 4:10,11; 5:1-4.

True ministers of God, then, are to be remembered, obeyed, and saluted.  Egotistical, self-serving clergymen (especially when they claim to be fundamental Baptist preachers) should be forgotten, disregarded, and laughed at (!), unless they can be restored.

Absent from the book of Hebrews are the following subjects:

1. Step-by-step instructions as to how to plant a local church.

2. Instructions as to how to arrange church services.

3. Suggestions to buy property or build facilities.

4. Suggestions to apply to civil government to perform any New Testament function or to be recognized by the state.

5. Instructions to send young men away to Bible colleges or seminaries.

6. Mention of hierarchies or denominational structures.

7. Reference to historical lines of succession for either the local churches or their ministers.

8. Constitutions and by-laws.


James 2:2-9; 5:1-3.  There should be no partiality in the assembly, especially with regard to levels of wealth among the believers.  This is consistent with the rebuke given by Paul to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians chapters 1 and 11 because of their divisions, factionalism and unkindness to the poor.

James 2:14-26.  The faith of the local church as a body (as well as of individual believers) ought to be demonstrated practically in Christian works.

James 5:4-11.  It is certainly consistent with Pauline revelation to practice patience and endurance, waiting for the Lord.  The language of James chapter 2 points to the Second Advent for the setting up of the Messiah's Kingdom. James didn't write about the rapture of the Church of the current dispensation.  We are waiting for the removal of the Church, which is to occur prior to the period of waiting (Tribulation Period) of which James speaks.  The principles of patient waiting while planting seed and looking for God to bring in His harvest, however, are universally applicable (see Psalm 126).

James 5:13-15.  Here are some elements that are apostolic, and related to a future period when Israel, as Job (see verse 11), will need their captivity turned (e.g. overturned or reversed).  The believing remnant of Israel (see James 1:1) will be the deepest and most thorough students of Job who ever lived.  That believing remnant will be on earth during Daniel's 70th Week, the Time of Jacob's Trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), when Elias (Elijah, see verse 17; Revelation chapter 11; Malachi 4:5, 6) will be back on the scene for 3-1/2 years, preaching just as John Baptist did, "...the coming of the Lord draweth nigh," (v. 8) and "...behold, the Judge standeth before the door." (v. 9; and cp. Revelation 3:20).  We need to remind you that John the Baptist was announcing the soon coming of the Davidic Kingdom, not the establishment of any Church that we know exists in this current dispensation.

Medical doctors will be hard to find in the Day of the Lord, the Tribulation Period.  Hospitals will not attend to you unless you possess the mark of the Beast.  The elders of local churches in the Tribulation, all of them underground like the true assemblies in China and Vietnam today, will gather around the sick, anoint them with oil, and watch God raise them up by the prayer of faith.  It will be a time of genuine Holy Ghost faith healing, manifested in the sphere of local assemblies.  There will be no crusade-style faith healers with tents or with thousands in attendance in civic arenas.  The Charismatic movement as we see it today will, by that time, have been completely merged with the Antichrist's one-world church.  Their faith healers will all be sporting the mark of the beast, and will be operating under the 666 principle, and be as counterfeit as they are today.  But God will be healing true believers in response to the prayer of faith of a persecuted remnant of local church elders.

The question is then asked, "Should local churches today practice James 5:13-16 literally?"  I answer, "Yes."  No damage is done to Scripture, even when anointing with oil, and even when praying in faith.  The dispensational differences, however, must be clearly understood.  Christians today must understand that God has individual purposes for individual believers.  He heals or allows suffering according to His purposes on an individual basis in the Church Age; not on a prophetic National basis, as will be the case in the Tribulation, and as is reflected in James chapter 5.  Healing, as found in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 and James chapter 5, is a sign gift related to God's prophetic counsels for the Jews (see 1 Corinthians 1:21).  Healing is not a sign for Gentiles (which stand by faith-Romans 11:20) or for the Body of Christ (which walks by faith-2 Corinthians 5:7).

The churches of the current dispensation should be teaching believers that God's grace is sufficient, and that His strength is made perfect in the physical weakness of His children who trust Him and resign their temporal conditions to God and His purposes. Study 2 Corinthians chapters 4 and 12 very carefully.

Absent from the book of James are the following subjects:

1. Step-by-step instructions as to how to plant a local church.

2. Instructions as to how to arrange church services.

3. Suggestions to buy property or build facilities.

4. Suggestions to apply to civil government to perform any New Testament function or to be recognized by the state.

5. Instructions to send young men away to Bible colleges or seminaries.

6. Mention of hierarchies or denominational structures.

7. Reference to historical lines of succession for either the local churches or their ministers.

8. Constitutions and by-laws.

First Peter

1 Pet. 3:8,9; 4:7-10.  These verses emphasize a special point made by this work: the New Testament is not a textbook of programs or procedures to be carried out by local churches.  The New Testament tells us much more about what we are and are to be as God's children, than it does about the details of conducting any particular ministry.  This is a great age of God's grace, when God's sons are led by God's Spirit (Romans 8:14).  What we see at the turn of the Twenty-First Century is an age of great envy and contention among professing Bible-believing churches over things the Bible doesn't even address.  That is why we include a section at the end of each New Testament book called Absent from the book of _______________are the following subjects:.  Preachers today argue and condemn one another over methods and procedures, programs and means, on which the Bible is altogether silent.  At the same time, we ignore basic principles of the simplicity of Biblical faith that are screaming from the pages of God's word!  Where is real faith?  Where are Christians of character?  Where are true Christian homes?  Where are the Merits of Christ Jesus proclaimed and exalted?

1 Pet. 4:10,11.  Refer to our comments at Hebrews chapter 13 about identifying the true ministers of God.

1 Pet. 4:17.  I believe that God will judge the churches before he judges the nation.  The churches should cry out against the wickedness of the nation and for righteousness.  The churches (as so with individual believers) should be light and salt within any nation.  Instead, however, the churches have bowed to unregenerate government in shameful acquiescence for legal status and tax exemption.  The churches, instead of declaring to the state what they are, according to the Final Authority of God's Word, have allowed the state to define what a church is and where it may fit in to the society according to society's antichrist philosophies and public policies.  Thus the churches are powerless (large attendances notwithstanding), the state sees them as nothing more than religious Kiwanis or Rotary Clubs.  Thus God will begin His judgements at the house of God!

1 Pet. 5:1-5.  Again, refer to our comments at Hebrews chapter 13 about the sphere and authority of the local church bishop.  Note particular phrases here, such as:

"Feed the flock..."

"Not by constraint, but willingly;..."

"not for filthy lucre"  (not for personal financial gain)

xiv"Neither as being lords over God's heritage"  (e.g. God's children)

Absent from the book of First Peter are the following subjects:

1. Instructions as to how to plant a local church.

2. Instructions as to how to arrange church services.

3. Suggestions to buy property or build facilities.

4. Suggestions to apply to civil government to perform any New Testament function or to be recognized by the state.

5. Instructions to send young men away to Bible colleges or seminaries.

6. Mention of hierarchies or denominational structures.

7. Reference to historical lines of succession for either the local churches or their ministers.

8. Constitutions and by-laws.


This has not been an exhaustive study.  The Scriptures included in this work, however, are good "starters" for Christians forming a new congregation of believers.  Leaders of study groups using this text as a guide should form sets of questions as a part of any organized learning exercise.

It is our prayer that those who read this text will ask:

1. Am I truly a child of God by faith in Christ's Merit's and Work on the Cross?  Or am I merely a convert to modern "profession-making?"

2. Am I led by the Spirit of God, and do I walk by faith?  Or do I merely kowtow to the clergy?

3. Is the church of which I am a member truly a Bible-believing church?  Or does the pastor re-interpret the Bible to build his ministerial empire?

4. Is my church practicing Pauline doctrine (in contrast to Kingdom doctrine)?   Am I learning the difference?

5. Is my church's Christianity just a form handed down from a denomination, association, missionary movement, or seminary?  Or is it truly Christianity according to God's Word?

6. Are my church and pastor led by the Spirit, or do they just follow a pattern of competitiveness with other churches?

7. Do I sense Christian liberty in my involvement in the ministry of my church?  Or am I coerced or threatened into involvement?

  • 8. Is my giving a matter of Grace, compassion and Holy Spirit leadership? Or is it a matter of coercion and threats of being under a "curse"?

9. Do I have genuine compassion for the lost, and so am compelled by the love of Christ to evangelize, or do I participate in "soul-winning" programs in a spirit of competition with others in the church?  Am I coerced into forcing people to make professions of faith in order to have a good report of my "soul-winning" activities?

Reader:  The Endnotes are important to this work.  Don't neglect reading them.


i Exercise of the sign gifts, then, was never necessarily spiritual, as revealed by the entire context of 1 Corinthians, a very carnal church.  Carnal babes in Christ could speak with an unknown tongue, if it met with God's purpose of showing a sign to the Jews that He was speaking and dealing with them particularly (Isaiah 28:10-12), calling that nation to repentance and faith in their Messiah King.

ii Here we will be accused of saying that God won't miraculously rid someone of a devil, or heal sickness in our day.  What we do believe, precisely, is that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18), and that when anyone will believe the Gospel, God will regenerate that individual, and the devil or unclean spirit cannot inhabit the same temple as the Holy Spirit.  The believer is delivered from oppression of devils by saturation in the Word of God, prayer, and obedient service, resisting the devil (and by extension, any of his hoards), he will flee from the believer.  Certainly, if there is oppression, other believers may pray for the afflicted one as well.  When believers are sick (uninfluenced by unclean spirits), God has an individual purpose for each individual child of His.  Sickness may be to glorify God in the exemplification of His grace bestowed to the sick believer; a demonstration to that believer of the power of God (2 Corinthians chapter 12; etc.).  It may be used to give certain direction to the sick one or to that one's family.  Sickness may be a roadblock in the way of God's child taking a wrong course or against involvement in sin(s).  Sickness may be chastisement and correction.  It is our belief, precisely, that we may pray, making our requests known to God, concerning the sick.  Then we must ask the Lord to fulfill all His will in the sick one, whether that means healing, a worsening, or even glorification through death.  God will never do wrong to His children!  We trust Him!

iii We do not deny that God has used, does use, and will use revivalist preachers who preach the Gospel and help men to know what they have in Christ, and help the churches.  We merely state that the word "evangelist" in Ephesians chapter 4 is not necessarily a reference to these men.

iv A letter from a Bishop in Florida to a missionary in the Philippines (May, 1999) states "...we do view every one of our missionaries (e.g. any missionaries receiving support contributions from that church) as an extension of our staff and faculty."  A missionary with ninety or more supporting churches would have it tough to be considered "an extension of the staff" of every one of them, would he not?  "Staff...faculty" are terms loved by the modern, not-so-spiritual intellectual church of our days, the last days!  Missionaries being mere "hirelings" of local churches or of denominations is only one of the negative consequences of modern "corporate Christendom," wherein local churches become corporate entities under the government.

v There are Baptists who will (believe it or not) make the ridiculous statement: "Jesus was baptized by a 'Baptist' and so that made Him a Baptist."  Using the same logic we might say, "A 'presbytery' laid hands on Timothy and so that made him a Presbyterian."

vi William Jennings Bryan was a great American statesman of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.  Bryan was an attorney from Nebraska, and served as Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson.  He was thrice candidate of the Democratic Party for the presidency of the united States.  Later he was a supporter of  and participant in the Revival efforts of the Spirit-filled American evangelist Billy Sunday.  Bryan was a life-long teetotaler, and preacher of temperance (the prohibition of alcohol as a beverage).  He was also famous for defending Bible-literalism and the Genesis account of creation for the State of Tennessee in the landmark "Scopes Monkey Trial."   Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee is named for William J. Bryan.  This author highly recommends a survey of Bryan's life and career.

vii The local churches under the Apostles were not autonomous in the absolute sense, as is now the order of Baptist churches in the West.  Apostles, having the "gift of knowledge," could issue disciplinary judgments from near and afar, as the matters required.  This is still practiced by Baptist hierarchies in countries of the Soviet Union, they wrongly assuming still to have such apostolic prerogatives.

viii Counterfeit "tongues" as practiced by the modern-day Charismatic movement are also practiced by cults including Catholics, Mormons, Watchtower, Seventh Day Adventists, and even by Eastern cults such as Buddhists, Shintoists, and Daoists.

ix This is one of the great verses which flies in the face of those who teach that doubt of salvation is "normal" for the believer.  In current professing Christian churches, doubt is as common as heart disease is in the American population, but is also as abnormal as heart disease.

x Examples of "golden calf" churches in America which have become the cult templates of Baptist churches on foreign mission fields are: First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana; Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg, Virginia; and many others.

xi Church growth is not a New Testament concept at all.

xii There are Filipino men who go to the United States seeking support from American churches so that they can be "full-time" in the ministry.  Some of the American churches who give to support the Filipinos have American pastors who must work "on the side" to support his own family.  Many of these fund-raising Filipinos would refuse to do this in their own country, and, therefore, they are disqualified. Why should those Filipinos, who have such a limited understanding of the Word of God, be allowed to parade themselves around the United States raising money as though they were qualified for the ministry. Philippians 2:20, 21 describe well what we have observed in the independent Baptist movement in the Philippines.


xiii The Bible in no way supports Marxism or socialism, or government regulated redistribution of wealth.  The Bible clearly teaches people to labor, and enjoy the fruits of their own labor, tempered by generous and sacrificial giving to the Lord's work, and to be ready to give to others, uncoerced by government or clergy, but moved by the Holy Spirit and Christian compassion.

xiv Bishops, practicing lordship over God's children, is a phenomenon that I have been witnessing in the Philippines, in Baptist churches, more than I have ever seen in any other country.  It is present in the United States, but many Filipino Baptist pastors carry it to an entirely higher plane altogether.  Recently we learned of a Baptist pastor who preaches to his people to withhold nourishing food from their children so that they will have more money to give to the church.  This pastor, in setting the example, has withheld nourishment from his own children for so long that they are now almost blind.  Such a pastor deserves to be horse whipped and then chased out of town.  No such wicked and cultic character should be pastoring a Baptist church!

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