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The Local Church

I Timothy 3:15, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”

The “house of God” that Paul is referring to the local assembly of the believers. The Apostle Paul is admonishing Timothy to behave himself in the local assembly of believers; the church. The local church was an assembly in an area of a community. It was the visible assembly of the saints in the New Testament. The church may be in a house, a rented building, or a building that was bought for the purpose of the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In 1 and 2 Timothy Paul the Apostle give Timothy, and every saint in the New Testament, instructions “how” to behave himself in the local assembly of believers in the church.

This behavior includes the following two offices in the local church:

 

1. The qualifications of the pastor, or bishop, in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, and called an elder in 1 Timothy 5:17. These qualifications are for the pastor of the local church.

2. The qualifications of the deacon and his wife, 1 Timothy 3:8-13. These qualifications are for the deacon(s) of the local church.

The local churches were Independent in Authority and Fellowship

Colossians 4:15 and 16, “Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house. And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.”

Nymphas had a church in his house. This assembly was local in scope, visible, and limited in authority,

There was another church, or another visible assembly of believers, in Laodicea. Paul admonished the two assemblies to share in the reading of the Epistle of

Colossians. There were no "bishops," or denominational headquarters, over the two assemblies.

Denominations & the so-called “Universal” Church

There are no denominations in the New Testament. All of the denominations, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, etc… have a starting

point in history, a leader, and a religious hierarchy that is unknown in the New Testament scriptures.

There is no “universal church” in the New Testament. There is a “General Assembly,” in heaven of all the saints, “But ye come unto mount Sion, and unto the city

of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels. To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in

heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” Hebrews 12:22 and 23

 

All of the assemblies mentioned in the New Testament are visible, local and independent. The Apostle Paul gave detailed instructions for the qualifications of the

pastor and the deacon as the visible head of the local church. 

 

Edited by Alan
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3 hours ago, Alan said:

The Local Church

I Timothy 3:15, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”

The “house of God” that Paul is referring to the local assembly of the believers. The Apostle Paul is admonishing Timothy to behave himself in the local assembly of believers; the church. The local church was an assembly in an area of a community. It was the visible assembly of the saints in the New Testament. The church may be in a house, a rented building, or a building that was bought for the purpose of the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In 1 and 2 Timothy Paul the Apostle give Timothy, and every saint in the New Testament, “how” to behave himself in the local assembly of believers in the church.

This behavior includes the following two offices in the local church:

 

1. The qualifications of the pastor, or bishop, in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, and called an elder in 1 Timothy 5:17. These qualifications are for the pastor of the local church.

2. The qualifications of the deacon and his wive, 1 Timothy 3:8-13. These qualifications are for the deacon(s) of the local church.

The local churches were Independent in Authority and Fellowship

Colossians 4:15 and 16, “Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house. And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.”

 

Nymphas had a church in his house. This assembly was local in scope, visible, and limited in authority,

There was another church, or another visible assembly of believers, in Laodicea. Paul admonished the two assemblies to share in the reading of the Epistle of Colossians. There were no "bishops," or denominational headquarters, over the two assemblies.

Denominations & the so-called “Universal” Church

 

There are no denominations in the New Testament. All of the denominations, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, etc… have a starting point in history, a leader, and a religious hierarchy that is unknown in the New Testament scriptures. 

 

Brother Alan, since you posted this, I am left to assume that you do indeed wish to continue discussing the point and that you do not wish to remain silent on the subject.  Even so, I am now choosing to engage with you --

I AGREE with EVERYTHING that I have included in the above quote from your posting.

However, concerning the following portion of your posting, I have some questions:

3 hours ago, Alan said:

There is no “universal church” in the New Testament. There is a “General Assembly,” in heaven of all the saints, “But ye come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels. To the general assembly and church of the

firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” Hebrews 12:22 and 23

 

All of the assemblies mentioned in the New Testament are visible, local and independent. The Apostle Paul gave detailed instructions for the qualifications of the pastor and the deacon as the visible head of the local church. 

 

In this portion of your posting, you indicate that the "General Assembly" is (1) "in heaven" and that it is an assembly (2) "of all the saints."  I myself AGREE COMPLETELY that the "General Assembly" is in heaven, and ONLY in heaven.  Furthermore, I would contend that ANY man-made attempt to reproduce a form of this "General Assembly" on earth is UTTER FALSEHOOD (which is why I UTTERLY REJECT any form of episcopal hierarchy, any form of denominational hierarchy, and the teaching of ecumenicalism).  However, my questions to you focus upon your indication that this "General Assembly" is an assembly "of all the saints."

1.  When you use the phrase, "of all the saints," are you including New Testament believers that are presently on the earth at this very present time?
2.  When you use the phrase, "of all the saints," are you including only New Testament believers that are presently in heaven (through death) at this present time?
3.  When you use the phrase, "of all the saints," are you including both New Testament believers and Old Testament believers together?

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20 minutes ago, Pastor Scott Markle said:

Brother Alan, since you posted this, I am left to assume that you do indeed wish to continue discussing the point and that you do not wish to remain silent on the subject.  Even so, I am now choosing to engage with you --

I AGREE with EVERYTHING that I have included in the above quote from your posting.

However, concerning the following portion of your posting, I have some questions:

This study is just on, "The Local Church." I do not not want to continue the debate on the previous thread.

4 hours ago, Alan said:

Denominations & the so-called “Universal” Church

 

There are no denominations in the New Testament. All of the denominations, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, etc… have a starting point in history, a leader, and a religious hierarchy that is unknown in the New Testament scriptures.

 

There is no “universal church” in the New Testament. There is a “General Assembly,” in heaven of all the saints, “But ye come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels. To the general assembly and church of the

firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” Hebrews 12:22 and 23

 

All of the assemblies mentioned in the New Testament are visible, local and independent. The Apostle Paul gave detailed instructions for the qualifications of the pastor and the deacon as the visible head of the local church. 

I simply pointed out that there are no denominations in the New Testament nor does Hebrews 12:22 & 23 have anything to do with the local church on the earth.

 

4 hours ago, Alan said:

in heaven of all the saints,

 

20 minutes ago, Pastor Scott Markle said:

1.  When you use the phrase, "of all the saints," are you including New Testament believers that are presently on the earth at this very present time?
2.  When you use the phrase, "of all the saints," are you including only New Testament believers that are presently in heaven (through death) at this present time?
3.  When you use the phrase, "of all the saints," are you including both New Testament believers and Old Testament believers together? 

I did not quality the term "of all the saints" (nor do I intend to do so in this thread), as it is dealing with the "general assembly" that is in heaven and does not refer to the local church on the earth.

Who, "all of the saints" are is a study in itself. Maybe you can start a thread on this subject. This thread is only about "the local church" not "the general assembly."

20 minutes ago, Pastor Scott Markle said:

In this portion of your posting, you indicate that the "General Assembly" is (1) "in heaven" and that it is an assembly (2) "of all the saints."  I myself AGREE COMPLETELY that the "General Assembly" is in heaven, and ONLY in heaven.  Furthermore, I would contend that ANY man-made attempt to reproduce a form of this "General Assembly" on earth is UTTER FALSEHOOD (which is why I UTTERLY REJECT any form of episcopal hierarchy, any form of denominational hierarchy, and the teaching of ecumenicalism). 

I whole-heartedly agree with you and am grateful for your stand.

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4 hours ago, Alan said:

The local churches were Independent in Authority and Fellowship

Colossians 4:15 and 16, “Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house. And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.”

 

Nymphas had a church in his house. This assembly was local in scope, visible, and limited in authority,

There was another church, or another visible assembly of believers, in Laodicea. Paul admonished the two assemblies to share in the reading of the Epistle of Colossians. There were no "bishops," or denominational headquarters, over the two assemblies.

Brethren,

It is my contention that Paul the Apostle, as he preached the gospel, and folks were saved, he then had these saints assembled together in a local assembly: a church in a local area.

This thread is to follow Paul, by giving examples, as he, and the other apostles, obeyed the Great Commission in seeing souls saved and churches established.

Alan

 

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5 minutes ago, Alan said:

This study is just on, "The Local Church." I do not not want to continue the debate on the previous thread.

I simply pointed out that there are no denominations in the New Testament nor does Hebrews 12:22 & 23 have anything to do with the local church on the earth.

I did not quality the term "of all the saints" (nor do I intend to do so in this thread), as it is dealing with the "general assembly" that is in heaven and does not refer to the local church on the earth.

Who, "all of the saints" are is a study in itself. Maybe you can start a thread on this subject. This thread is only about "the local church" not "the general assembly."

I whole-heartedly agree with you and am grateful for your stand.

Brother Alan,

I do apologize, for I misunderstood.  Because you included some discussion concerning Hebrews 12:22-23 and concerning the "General Assembly," I was under the impression that you were open to further discussion thereof.  Now that you have clarified the intention of this thread discussion as being strictly about the local church, I shall withdraw my questions concerning the membership of the "General Assembly."

I shall look forward to any further study that you do herein concerning the New Testament's teaching on the local church.

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1 minute ago, Pastor Scott Markle said:

I shall look forward to any further study that you do herein concerning the New Testament's teaching on the local church.

And, I also look forward to your participation, and the participation of others, on this noteworthy subject.

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A big contention against local autonomy is Acts 15 were they say the "Jerusalem Council" is determining doctrine for "the whole church" but to me it seems to be a case for local autonomy. As it started out with certain men trying to force the gentiles in Antioch to live as Jews for salvation but they went to Jerusalem to resolve the issue because the offending people were members of the Jerusalem church. While some of the apostles weighed in with guidance on the matter, it was James, the pastor of the Jerusalem church and not the apostles that passes sentence on the matter and the letter is written by that church as a clarification of their doctrine and as a request, not as a decree. Its basically Matthew 18 but with automatons churches, showing us how issues between churches should be resolved and not showing a denominational church hierarchy.

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5 hours ago, John Young said:

A big contention against local autonomy is Acts 15 were they say the "Jerusalem Council" is determining doctrine for "the whole church" but to me it seems to be a case for local autonomy. As it started out with certain men trying to force the gentiles in Antioch to live as Jews for salvation but they went to Jerusalem to resolve the issue because the offending people were members of the Jerusalem church. While some of the apostles weighed in with guidance on the matter, it was James, the pastor of the Jerusalem church and not the apostles that passes sentence on the matter and the letter is written by that church as a clarification of their doctrine and as a request, not as a decree. Its basically Matthew 18 but with automatons churches, showing us how issues between churches should be resolved and not showing a denominational church hierarchy.

John,

Thank you for bringing out that Acts 15:1-32 does not infer that a "Council" or a "denominational hierarchy" has any authority over the local church but that is was a good example how churches can get together in unity for fellowship and seek counsel with one another in order to discuss common issues. All of the local churches in the New Testament were autonomous and there was no denominational authority over any local church.

We will be discussing Acts 15:1-32 in more detail (with an emphasis on Acts 15:4, 13, 19, 22, 23, 25 & 30), later as I wanted to discuss a passage of scripture to show how Paul conducted his ministry in starting churches.

Alan

 

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I am of the belief that what we see happening in Acts 15 is nothing more than sister churches clarifying their doctrinal stand on issues of keeping the law. For ease of typing this morning I am going to cut and paste a lesson I did for my church that speaks directly to this issue. I do this because it it is early morning and I am preparing to leave of a trip, I just don't have the time to look it all up again.

I hope by doing this I am not stepping on Bro. Alan's toes with his study on the local church. Hopefully what I write will simply fortify what he is teaching.

I have to apologize because the forum formatting is changing my lesson formatting and the text does not make sense. I have to leave and just don't have time to reformat the lesson because i have t leave.

I'll try it again this evening.

Sorry   :15_1_63:

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Jim,

I am sure that the lesson that you have planned for us to view on Acts 15 will be a blessing to us all and fortify the study on the local church.

As with a lot of the scriptures, denominational leaders mis-use Acts 15 to try and control their churches.

Alan

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OK, it is "this evening" and I still cannot copy and paste my lesson without the forum scrambling the formatting. I use MS Word and evidently it is not compatible with how the forum formatting sees it.

Perhaps it may be better to just include the lesson as a downloadable file attached to this post. I'll try to do that now. So look for a file you can click on in this post.

This lesson is done in MS Word format, hopefully your word processor can hold the MS Word formatting, or you have MS Word on your computer.

Acts 15.doc

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21 hours ago, John Young said:

A big contention against local autonomy is Acts 15 were they say the "Jerusalem Council" is determining doctrine for "the whole church" but to me it seems to be a case for local autonomy. As it started out with certain men trying to force the gentiles in Antioch to live as Jews for salvation but they went to Jerusalem to resolve the issue because the offending people were members of the Jerusalem church. While some of the apostles weighed in with guidance on the matter, it was James, the pastor of the Jerusalem church and not the apostles that passes sentence on the matter and the letter is written by that church as a clarification of their doctrine and as a request, not as a decree. Its basically Matthew 18 but with automatons churches, showing us how issues between churches should be resolved and not showing a denominational church hierarchy.

I have a couple questions.

1.How do we know the Judiazers were members of the church at Jerusalem? I don't recall reading that.

2. How do we know James was the Pastor of the church at Jerusalem? I also don't recall reading that but I do recall hearing a few preachers say it.

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Bro. Jordan,

The answer to your first question is found in verse1 and 2. They came down from Judea and Paul and Barnabas determined to go to Jerusalem about the matter that they had brought up.

I can't find the exact scripture about James being the pastor right now, but will look for it later.

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Jim,

I liked your study on Acts 15 and felt it was noteworthy to copy and paste in its entirety on this study. I changed only one thing; the spelling of Barnabas.

Acts 15

Country Baptist Church

May 23, 2012

By James Foley

 

Paul and Barnabas have returned from their first missionary journey. At this point in time they had been at Antioch fellowshipping with the church there a long time. This short time of relative ease is about to come to an end. Paul had, in the past, no small disputation with some of the church members at the Jerusalem Church who had been holding on to their Jewish customs. This situation is going to become a point of contention, as well it should be; keeping the law has no place in regard to salvation or in the teaching of the Lord’s church in regard to salvation. Romans 10:4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

 

Ver.1 These men were members of the church at Jerusalem. There can be no doubt that these were pretenders. Paul had dealt with this problem in the Jerusalem Church before. Galatians 2:1-6

 

These men were not even good at being pretenders. This church at Antioch was a sound church; to hear from members of a sister church that they believed that salvation was of the law would cause quite a stir.

 

Ver.2 This is a very good example of an incident that never should have happened. The very fact that they came down to Antioch and taught, tells us that they were teachers in the church at Jerusalem.

 

We need to be very careful about who we put in a place of instruction in our churches. Teachers need to be well grounded in the faith and very spiritually minded; Godly men.

 

We have ample instruction for just such situations. 2Thess. 3:6 “Now we command you,

brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.”

 

The church at Antioch could have decided this matter themselves, why didn’t they, why go to the church at Jerusalem?

 

Situations like this create doubt, not doubt about what is right, but doubt about what a sister church might believe or teach. This would be of utmost importance to the church at Antioch because this church was started by the church at Jerusalem. Now to hear that the church that sponsored them might believe something contrary to what they had been taught was very troubling. It could even be cause for them to break fellowship with the sister church if what these men were saying was actually what the church at Jerusalem believed.

 

The church at Antioch was spiritual enough to decide this issue for themselves, this is why there was such a sharp contention regarding what these men were teaching; the church knew it was wrong. They sent men up to Jerusalem on a fact finding mission, it was imperative

that they determine what their sister church believed, the law or grace? So they send Paul and Barnabas to find out.

 

Ver.3-5 Notice in Ver.3 Paul and Barnabas are brought on their way by the church. This speaks volumes regarding church authority; these men did not go up to Jerusalem on their own, the church sent them. This is also not a question of one church having any authority over another. Each New Testament church is autonomous. This is solely a matter of fellowship between churches and their members.

 

In Ver.5 we see that there were men within the Jerusalem church that believed that the law must be kept to be saved. It says they were of the sect of the Pharisees, it also says that they “believed”. This is not to be understood as being saved. They believed, but it was a head knowledge not a heart knowledge. They believed Christ had come to save, but they also believed that once you were saved, you had to keep the law by being circumcised as Moses commanded.

 

This flies in the face of scripture: Romans 10:4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” The Son of God is the only man that ever kept the law in its entirety. It is only through Him, understanding that He kept the law for us, that we can be eternally saved.

 

In Christ we keep the law that we could not keep on our own. Rom. 3:21 “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

 

Ver.6-12 After much dispute among the Church members at Jerusalem, Peter rose to speak and put the whole matter in perspective. In doing so, he made the beliefs of this church clear to all, including those who thought that the law had to be kept also.

 

Peter puts the pretenders in this church in their place by firmly showing that salvation was wholly by Grace, without any works of the law mixed in. Ver.10 He puts it in perspective by telling these pretenders that they are tempting God, and putting a Yoke on the neck of disciples by their Jewish teaching concerning the law. The yoke he speaks of is the law.

 

In Ver.11 He goes on to show all, including the representatives of the church at Antioch, Paul and Barnabas, that this church believed in salvation by Grace and faith in Christ. God has one Gospel for all and makes no distinction between men,whether they are Jew or Gentile.

 

There are those that say they are Christians today that believe that Baptism saves. This teaching is just another way of saying you have to keep the law to be saved. If Baptism saves, then there is something you must do to be saved…be Baptized. “This is another gospel.” Which Paul spoke of in Gal. 1:6I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

 

Ver.13-21 Now the Apostle James has his say in the matter. He would put nothing on the new converts other than that they be Holy. Ver.19-20 He tells them that the Jews have many that preach the law, but this is not the job of a New Testament Church.

 

It should be noted here that this is not a “convention” as some teach, it is simply a meeting of two sister church’s to determine a point of doctrine. Conventions are foreign to the Word of God. Conventions are the product of associations and are strictly a modern invention brought about by those of no spiritual understanding. God’s Word teaches that churches are to be independent of each other and local in nature, rather than “universal.”

 

Ver.22-25 Now the church at Jerusalem has a business meeting and determines to send men to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas carrying news in a church letter that will clarify this churches doctrinal position.

 

We need to note in Ver.24 that although the pretenders went out from the Jerusalem church, they were not authorized to teach what they did. The church gave them no such instruction.

 

The words, “went out from us,” could have a quite different meaning than that they were officially sent out by the church at Jerusalem. It could very well mean that they went out from the fellowship of the Jerusalem church because of doctrinal differences and were no longer members of that body.

1John 2:19They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”

 

Ver.30-35 There is always cause to rejoice over preserved fellowship that centers around God’s truth.

 

John Young,

If you would like to upload your study on Acts 15 please do so as you feel led.

Brethren,

I was planning to upload a study on Acts 14:21-23. I do want to reserve the right to upload that study at my discretion.

Alan

 

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10 hours ago, Jordan Kurecki said:

1.How do we know the Judiazers were members of the church at Jerusalem? I don't recall reading that.

The answer to this question is found by seeing the contextual relationship between Acts 15:1-2 & Acts 15:14.

Acts 15:1-2 -- "And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.  When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this questions."

Acts 15:24 -- "Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment . . . "

Now some thought questions:

1.  Were these "certain men" preaching and teaching a false gospel?
2.  If they were, should they have been disciplined from the church and marked as false teachers?
3.  Was it Biblically righteous for Paul and Barnabas to engage so strongly in dissension and disputation with them?
4.  Why was there so much disputing among the apostles and elders of the Jerusalem church over this matter? (See Acts 15:6-7)

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(1) I clicked onto your Acts 15.doc

(2) I pasted it onto a file document on my computer, Linux 18.3, LibreOffice, then saved it in my computer under your name in my document files.

(3) After it was saved, I noticed that Barnabas was spelled wrong so I changed it.

(4) I changed the formatting in LibreOffice.

(5) I then upload it onto OnLineBaptist. I did have to do a little more formatting as LibreOffice is a different format from Microsoft Office.

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2 hours ago, Jordan Kurecki said:

I have a couple questions.

1.How do we know the Judiazers were members of the church at Jerusalem? I don't recall reading that.

Verse 1 "certain men which came down from Judæa" and verse 24 "certain which went out from us have troubled you with words,"

2. How do we know James was the Pastor of the church at Jerusalem? I also don't recall reading that but I do recall hearing a few preachers say it.

James is the pastor because he is the one passing the final sentence about what the church will do. As seen in verse 19 "Wherefore my sentence is," and then in the letter his sentence is actually the church's will as seen in verse 25 "it seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord,". Additionally when Paul returns to Jerusalem he is always being instructed by James as in Acts 21:15-26

 

1 hour ago, Pastor Scott Markle said:

Now some thought questions:

1.  Were these "certain men" preaching and teaching a false gospel?

Yes, the certain were but the Believing Pharisees were not. The first said salvation could only come by circumcision of Moses, meaning they had to join the covenant of Israel before salvation of Christ could be available to them. The Jerusalem Church said these certain men were "subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law:". Whither they were lost themselves or doing it on purpose does not matter. They could have simply been well intention but wrong. The believing Pharisees put salvation of the Gentiles first but that after salvation it would be "needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses" probably as part of being in fellowship with the church. The first said salvation is available only for those in the covenant of Israel and the second basically said it was required for church membership as the church was like a spiritual Israel. The great disputing in Jerusalem was not about the certain men but rather the latter argument of the believing Pharisees.

2.  If they were, should they have been disciplined from the church and marked as false teachers?

They went out but probably not in official capacity as they were given "no suchcommandment:" and they were called certain men, probably because no one really knew them but that they just showed up and said they were from Jerusalem.Basically church hoping and teaching it as if it was what they were teaching in Jerusalem. Its kind of like when visitors show up and after a few Sundays start arguing doctrine and latter you check with their old pastor and he doesn't know who they are but tells you that they don't teach what they are arguing.

3.  Was it Biblically righteous for Paul and Barnabas to engage so strongly in dissension and disputation with them?

Yes. Because they were "subverting souls." and contradicting their doctrine of Faith in Chrsit alone. Whither intentionally or not, that is more than just having an opinion on secondary matters.

4.  Why was there so much disputing among the apostles and elders of the Jerusalem church over this matter? (See Acts 15:6-7)

They were disputing the "after salvation" aspect of the Gentiles in relation to fellowship with the church of Christ and Israel. Not the certain men's before salvation argument. Peter basically shows both Jew and Gentile is purified by Faith, so purification by the law of Israel does not apply to salvation and James makes clear by quoting Amos 9 that Believing Gentiles are not part of Israel like the Jewish Christians are but are still part of the church and therefor do not need to Join Israel for membership in the churches. They then requested they follow four things so that both Jew and Gentile could have fellowship in the same local church.

 

1 hour ago, Alan said:

John Young, If you would like to upload your study on Acts 15 please do so as you feel led. There is so much in Acts 15 that I basically just touched in passing on the local church anatomy. Brother Jim's submission pretty much covered the local church aspects of my notes. The only exception I would take with the notes would be calling the "Pharisees which believed" unsaved pretenders. While a case could be made for the certain in verse one, I believe this is an unfair accusation of devout believing Jews. As we see in Acts 21 the keeping of the law was still a concern to James and the Jerusalem Church and still part of the Jewish covenant and Paul still kept it unto God as part of that covenant. The "Pharisees which believed" were actually just confused with the differences between the two covenants God had with Israel and the church. They were not unsaved nor did they reject the salvation of the Gentiles as this is made very clear in: Acts 21:17-26 17 And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. 18 And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. 19 And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: 21 and they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise theirchildren, neither to walk after the customs. 22 What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. 23 Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; 24 them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law. 25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication. 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.

However, I digress as I can see how this can divert the primary aspect of the study here from the local church to one of church and the state of Israel of which my focus was on in my sermons on the chapter.

 

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I need to correct myself and say that the "request" are later called decrees they were to keep" in Acts 16:4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. 5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily. Though this may refer to the letter of Acts 15, may it also be the other epistles of James, Peter, and Jude as well? I'm still of mind that the four request were not the decrees but the resolved doctrine to be taught was the decrees as the doctrine was important but in references to the four request Paul noted that 1 Corinthians 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. and Romans 14:21-22 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. 22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. Showing the four request were request and not decrees but rather the decrees were Salvation, Church, And Israel, doctrines that were resolved.

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John,

Thank you for your lengthly, and detailed, exposition of Acts 15 and your notes on Acts 21:17-26, 1 Corinthians 10:23, and Romans 14:21&22.

I also think it is noteworthy on the notes concerning James being the pastor of the church.

Alan

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8 hours ago, Alan said:

Ver.3-5 Notice in Ver.3 Paul and Barnabas are brought on their way by the church. This speaks volumes regarding church authority; these men did not go up to Jerusalem on their own, the church sent them. This is also not a question of one church having any authority over another. Each New Testament church is autonomous. This is solely a matter of fellowship between churches and their members.

Jim,

Thank you for bringing out the biblical fact a true New Testament Church is autonomous.  

Alan

 

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Acts 15:1-32, “The Jerusalem Meeting”

Verse 1 & 2

The Apostle Paul and Barnabas were at their home church, the local Church at Antioch, Acts 14:26-28, giving their report of their first missionary journey to the Gentiles. While at Antioch, certain men had come from Judea and taught the brethren that a person must be circumcised according to the Law of Moses in order to be saved.

The Apostle Paul and Barnabas disputed with these teachers and their false teaching. The brethren at Antioch decided to send Barnabas and Paul to Jerusalem and confer with the other apostles and elders concerning this doctrinal matter.

 

Verse 3 “… And being brought on their way by the church ...”

 

As they traveled to Jerusalem other churches, on their own volition, and without any orders to do so, had Paul and Barnabas give their testimony concerning the conversion of the Gentiles. The churches decided on their own free will to take care of the needs of the missionaries as they traveled. There was no church hierarchy, nor church council, nor denominational headquarters, involved in any of the decisions to help Paul and Barnabas.

 

Verse 4 “… they were received of the church ...”

 

Once the apostle Paul and Barnabas arrived at Jerusalem they were warmly received by the church. In all of the travels by Paul in this passage of scripture, and in the complete New Testament writings, there are individual church making decisions by their own volition. There is no “universal church,” “church hierarchy,” denominational headquarters, nor “bishops” giving churches directions in any matter.

 

Please take careful note concerning the word “bishop” in the scriptures and in church history. In Titus 1:5-7 the word “bishop,” and word “elders” describe the same office, the office of the pastor, interchangeably. “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre.” Titus 1:5-7

 

The Apostle Paul also uses the word for the office of the pastor of a local church “bishop” in 1 Timothy 3:1 & 2.

 

The New Testament office of the bishop of the church is for an individual church. The usage of the word “bishop” by the denominational churches to mean the individual overseeing numerous churches is not scriptural.

 

Verse 5-12

 

The issue of whether or not the Gentiles should be circumcised in order to be saved is discussed and resolved.

 

Verse 13-21 “… James answered ...”

 

“And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” Galatians 2:9

 

“And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.” Acts 21:17 & 18

 

Throughout the book of Acts, James is the leader of the assembly at Jerusalem. James is the spokes man for the assembly at Jerusalem and quotes Amos 9:10 & 11 to prove that the Gentiles are saved without the need of circumcision nor keeping the Law.

 

Throughout the history of the true New Testament churches, and even in our era, the pastor is the spokesman for any assembly in his own church. The Apostle Paul, and the other apostles and elders, accepted his position as spokesman of the assembly.

 

Verse 22-29 “… with the whole church ...”

 

The churches involved in the discussion are all pleased with the results of the decision. There is no mention of the “universal church” nor is there a hint of a “universal church” involved.

 

The Apostle Paul, the other apostles, Barnabas, and the elders of the other churches are pleased. The result of the meeting was written down and delivered to other individual churches by Judas and Silas.

 

Verse 30-32 “So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: ...”

 

All of the churches involved were completely autonomous and local in scope and authority. The decree from the meeting in Jerusalem was accepted by the church at Antioch with no coercion involved. The church at Antioch could either accept the results of the meeting or reject the results of the meeting.

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Acts 14:19-23, “The Work of the Missionary”

The Apostle Paul is the Apostle to the Gentiles. The Apostle Paul is the pattern for the church in the area of missions.

 

In Paul’s first missionary journey we see how he preached the gospel, taught the disciples, confirmed them in the faith, ordained elders, or pastors, in every church that he started.

 

Throughout the journeys of Paul the Apostle, and in the Epistles that the Holy Spirit directed him to write, Paul never established a denomination, a church hierarchy apart from, or outside, the local church, a “council of churches,” nor a “universal” church. The Apostle Paul followed the command of the Lord Jesus as read in the Great Commission, Matthew 28:1-20, and as he was further instructed in his earthly ministry by the Lord Jesus.

 

The Apostle Paul, and the other Apostles, are part of the foundation of the church: “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone.” Ephesians 2:20 It is the responsibility for every church to follow the footsteps of the Apostles. Those churches who deviate from the example of Paul the Apostle are not in full accord with his teachings and example.

 

Acts 14:19-23, “And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they preached had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God. And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.”

 

The work of Paul the Apostle as the missionary to the Gentiles is self-explanatory. After being stoned (I believe unto death), Paul rose up and the next day he went to Derbe and preached the gospel. As he preached some folks believed in Jesus Christ as their Saviour. The Apostle Paul, Barnabas, and the other men in his company, taught the disciples.

 

They returned to cities of Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch and preached the gospel and taught the disciples.

 

In each individual city Paul then confirmed the disciples. The confirmation process included teaching them all of the doctrines revealed to Paul up to that time. And, before he left, “… they had ordained them elders in every church ...” According to the scriptures, the elders were pastors of individual, autonomous, independent, churches in the various cities. There is no “universal church,” denomination,” or any other church hierarchy. After Paul left the pastors were the visible head of the local assembly of disciples.

 

The work of a true New Testament missionary has not changed. The work of the missionary is to start local, autonomous, independent, churches of the country that God has called him too.

 

 

 

 

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Acts 13:1-3, “The Church at Antioch.”

“Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrach, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” Acts 13:1-3

 

“Now there were in the church that was at Antioch ...” The church at Antioch was a separate assembly of believers than the church at Jerusalem. The church at Antioch was autonomous and independent of any other church.

 

“… the Holy Ghost said ...” The Holy Ghost spoke to the church at Antioch audibly. The Holy Ghost did not use an intermediary of any kind. There was no bishop telling the church anything, there was no denomination headquarters, or church hierarchy, in the process at all. There was no universal church mentioned or implied.

 

“… Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” The Holy Ghost clearly called Barnabas and Saul (later on called Paul), for the “work.” The “work” was to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, teach them, confirm them into the faith, start a church, and ordain pastors in each church to take over when they left; please see Acts 14:19-23

 

“And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” The local church at Antioch obeyed the Holy Ghost. After prayer and the laying of hands on Barnabas and Paul they sent them away. There was no denominational headquarters, or another church, or a bishop, or other church hierarchy involved in the process.

 

The”work” is to start new independent, Bible believing, doctrinally correct, soul-winning, autonomous churches that are indigenous. Nowhere in the New Testament was a universal church, a denomination, a church hierarchy, started by the Apostle Paul or any other Apostle.

 

 

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Acts 14:26-28, The Gathering of the Church”

 

“And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been  recommended to the grace of God for the work which they had fulfilled. And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. And there they abode long time with the disciples.” Acts 14:26-28

 

“… from whence they had they had been  recommended to the grace of God

 

The church at Antioch was the home church of the Apostle Paul and Barnabas. The so-called “universal church,” or a recommendation from all of the other churches, or a denomination, or a church hierarchy, did not recommend  Paul and Barnabas for the work of missionary evangelism that they fulfilled.  The local church is the only authority for sending out missionaries for the work of evangelism in the world.

 

“… for the work which they had fulfilled.”

 

The work that the Apostle Paul and Barnabas fulfilled is clearly written in Acts 13:4 to 14:25. The Apostle Paul and  Barnabas left the area of the church traveled  to different Gentile cities, preached the gospel, had converts to Christ, taught the disciples, confirmed that the disciples believed the correct doctrines of the scriptures, ordained men to pastor  the different churches, and established indigenous churches. Not one time did Paul and Barnabas establish a church hierarchy of any sort, including a “universal church,” or establish a bishop or other church hierarchal organization to control the individual churches.

 

All church denominations, bishops controlling several churches, and the concept of a universal church, are man-made organizations.

 

“… and had gathered the church together …”

 

Even though there were other churches already  in the area, only the brethren at the church at Antioch were assembled together to listen to the report of Paul and Barnabas. So, it is very obvious that only the local church in the area of Antioch assembled to hear the two missionaries.

 

The conclusion is obvious. If there was a “universal church” than the other churches in the area would be assembled all together. Therefore, there the meaning of “church” can only be meant to be local in the area. Any other meaning  is not possible.

 

“…they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.”

 

The Apostle Paul and Barnabas established the practice of reporting to the church that sent them away. As other churches got involved with their ministry Paul and Barnabas reported  to them also by letter and or a visit. We have the local church at Philippi as an example. “Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.” Philippians 4:14-16

 

The meaning of “communicate” in the context of Philippians 4:14-16 is clearly helping financially and not just verbally. The local church at Philippi made the decision to support the Apostle Paul with financial gifts to help him in his financial needs. This decision was made at the local church level and not by a denomination, a mission board, a para-church organization, of some bishop outside the local church.

 

It is also very obvious that a “universal church “ was non-existent in the process of helping the Apostle Paul and his financial necessities.

 

As with the Old Testament, the willingness by the hearers of the gospel, through the giving of their tithes and offerings, provided the financial necessities of God’s work.

 

                1. Leviticus 1:3 and 2 Corinthians 8:9 and 9:7

                2. Leviticus 24:16 and  1 Corinthians 9:1-14

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Acts 15:40, “The Authority of the Local Church”

 

“And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. ” Acts 15:40

 

After the local church at Antioch recommended that the Apostle Paul start a second missionary journey Paul chose Silas to go with him. The only church involved in the process of recommending Paul and Silas to journey as missionaries was the local church at Antioch. There were no other churches, or a universal church, or a denomination, or a bishop over the churches, or any church hierarchy, in the process of recommending the missionaries.

 

The Chief Shepherd of the Churches

 

“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not sway.” 1 Peter 5:1-4

 

The Lord Jesus is the Chief Shepherd of the individual, local churches. The pastor is the under-Shepherd of the individual, local churches. The pastor is the visible head of the local church and the Lord Jesus is the invisible head of the local church. As in the individual family, the local church is only in subjection to Christ and is not to be in subjection to any man outside the local church. “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.” Ephesians 5:24 As with the family, the husband is the head of the family and any other individual that attempts to be head of the family is the one that is causing disorder in the family.

 

An Example of Christ as Head of the Local Churches

 

The scriptures give us a clear illustration of the spiritual leadership of Christ as the invisible head, the Chief Shepherd, of the local churches. The Apostle John saw the Lord Jesus as the invisible head of the 7 churches in Asia. “I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, what thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto  Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.” Revelation 1:9 & 10

 

As with the 7 churches in Asia, the Lord Jesus is the Chief Shepherd of the individual, local, New Testament churches. The pastor is the under-Shepherd of the Lord Jesus Christ and is the visible authority of the local church. As we see in the example of scripture, the only authority to send out missionaries resides in the local church. The pastor of an individual, or local, church is the final visible authority in sending out missionaries to the foreign field to preach the gospel.

 

Church Hierarchies

 

Ever since the start of the Roman Catholic Church denomination, the various denominations created a hierarchy in sending out missionaries to preach the gospel. Instead of the pastor being the final authority of the local church, a denominational headquarters becomes the final authority. 

 

The supplanting of the authority of the pastor of the local church as the under-Shepherd of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the leading of the Holy Spirit, is the objective of every denomination starting from the Roman Catholic Church to our day. 

 

Also, in these last days we are witness to the rise of, “The Ecumenical Movement,” as a method to supplant the authority of the pastor as the head of the local church and the Lord Jesus as the invisible head of the local church. In order to accomplish this corruption of the local church, the leaders of the denominations are banding together in “Church Councils” and using Acts 15:1-30 as a pretext.
 

The primary reason for the doctrine of “The Universal Church,” is the supplanting of the authority of the pastor of a local church and placing the authority of the local church to a denominational headquarters. All of the leaders of the denominational churches want to be “lords” over God's heritage.

 

In order to create a system that requires the pastor to be loyal to the leaders of the denomination, all of the denominations have a religious hierarchy, an organization, outside of the local church, that keeps the church in subjection to the denomination and not to the scriptures. The system uses the following methods:

 

1. A denominational school, or seminary, teaches the doctrines, practices, beliefs, traditions and ceremonies of the denomination. As the individual goes through the denominational school, he is also taught that only his denomination is correct and that those churches not in agreement with their doctrines are heretical. The school also creates an ill-feeling towards those churches who are outside of the authority of the denomination.

 

2. A denomination will create a system of professors and pastors who will spend the vast majority of their time writing books that promote their doctrinal beliefs. This includes the writing of “Church History” books that promote the denominations  history and belittle, twist, begrudge, slander, local church history and Baptist church history.

 

The man of God needs to realize that God only preserved the scriptures. God did not preserve a record of the true history of the church. All, may I repeat all, of the denominational “Church History” books are written by professors who are more loyal to the denomination than to the truth.

 

3. All of the denominations will eventually have a retirement program for the professors and pastors. If a pastor, or professor, forsakes the loyalty of the denomination than he forfeits his retirement. The retirement program makes the pastor, or professor, loyal to the denomination and not to the scriptures.

 

A retirement program is offered by most businesses in order to keep their workers loyal to the system. As with businesses, the denominations of the world are full of men who love “filthy lucre.” The  love of “filthy lucre” is the primary reason why men enter a denomination, remain loyal to a denomination, and err from the truth. “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1 Timothy 6:10

 

4. All of the denominations will have a system of bishops, or elders, or chain of command, over the pastor of the church.

 

Conclusion

 

The local church at Antioch recommended Paul the Apostle and Silas to proceed on a second missionary journey and not some, “universal church,” denomination, a bishop that is over more than one church, or other church hierarchy. A true New Testament church will follow the example of the church at Antioch.

 

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Jim,

Thank you for the kind words. Your posting is an encouragement to me.

"The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat," Proverbs 15:30

I will follow your advice and not change a word.

Alan

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Acts 15:41, “Confirming the Churches”

 

“And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.” Acts 15:41

As we study the history of the church in the book of Acts we need to remember a very important fact. Just about everywhere Paul went the unsaved Jews, heretics, and false apostles, verbally attacked him and incited mobs to cause him physical harm and embarrassment. After Paul left the area these religious zealots, false brethren, false apostles, heretics, and even brethren in the pew tried to infiltrate the local assembles and corrupt them with false doctrines. “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” Acts 20:29 & 30

Paul clearly stated, “Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” As I speak, Charismatics, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Mormons, Calvinists, Progressives, and even men claiming to be independent, fundamental Baptists, will enter local assemblies, or spew out their perverse teachings on the internet, and teach false doctrines in order to corrupt the local assembly and draw people out of the local church to their own church or entice them to be a part of their audience on the internet.

Confirming

Because of the need to assure that the churches already established were doctrinal correct, to give further instructions to the brethren, and to warn the brethren against false teachers, the Apostle Paul and Silas began their second missionary journey “confirming the churches.”

Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines confirming as, “Making firm or more firm; strengthening; ratifying; giving additional evidence or proof; establishing.” i

As the Apostle Paul and Silas traveled, they made more firm, strengthened, and gave additional instructions on the organization of the local churches that were already established. The Apostle Paul, through the revelations given to him and the other Apostles before the completion of the New Testament, gave additional doctrines, instructions how to establish a church, the qualifications of the pastor and other instructions as revealed to him as he met the saints and won folks to Christ. “It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 12:1

Furthermore, the word “confirming” clearly indicates that where a church was not established, the two missionaries established a local New Testament, independent, indigenous, church as revealed in Acts 14:21-28

Churches - Plural

At the start of the second missionary journey of Paul the Apostle with Silas, went to the regions of Syria and Cilicia confirming the “churches.” The scripture is very clear that it is not just one church but more than one: 'churches' The accepted definition of “The Universal Church” is an invisible assembly of all the saved. Quite clearly, Paul and Silas did not confirm “The Universal Church” in any sense of the word.

Therefore, the Apostle Paul and Silas did not confirm “the universal church,” but they confirmed several individual, local assemblies, or churches, of the saints.

i “Confirming” Webster, Noah American Dictionary of the English Language. 1828. Cincinnati, OH: C.J. Krehbiel Company, 2000.

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This was spot on Alan. I especially liked the last three paragraphs. This lesson really tore apart the "Universal Church vs Local Church" issue. This is one thing I have always driven home when teaching about the institution named Church. And that is that when Scripture talks about more than one church, it always says "churches", it never lumps them together to indicate them as one Universal church. The word "churches"  in these verses positively identifies that the word being in the plural affirms that there was more than one local church.

The act of Paul "confirming" the churches is exactly correct in indicating how mission works are to be "confirmed" by their sponsoring church. I consider this of paramount importance before any mission work is to be formally organized. It is a grave mistake to just turn a missionary loose and just "rubber stamp" his work without first making sure it is a solid work, ready to be organized into a New testament Church.

Thank you for putting this up, it is reassuring to hear these critical truths being taught today. 

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Acts 16:1-5, “Churches – Established & Increased”

Verse 1-6, “Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek. And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.”

 A Map of Paul’s Second Missionary Journey

Derbe, Lystra and Iconium

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The Map is the Courtesy of: biblestudy.org

Background

After traveling north from their home church in Antioch, Syria, The Apostle Paul and Silas continued preaching the gospel and establishing churches in Cilicia. In Cilicia they turned westward towards they region of Galatia and Asia (Minor). Chapter 16:1 finds them in Derbe were they encounter a young man, Timotheus, or Timothy, that will have a profound impact on the gospel in the life of the Apostle Paul.

 As they traveled, and as folks got saved, they established individual churches in every location and delivered the decrees from the first church at Jerusalem as discussed in Acts 14:1-29

Important Church History Note

“…they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.” A New Testament church is a continuation of the first church established by the Apostles and Elders in Jerusalem. A true New Testament church will follow the decrees, the methods, the practices, and the doctrines of the apostles as written in the scriptures.

 

The denominations, and or churches, and or Para-church ministries, who deviate from the decrees, practices, methods, and doctrines of the scriptures, are not New Testament churches.

 Churches – Plural - Established

 “And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.” As the Apostle Paul and Silas traveled churches were established in the faith and increased in number. Although the number of churches, or local assemblies of believers, are not recorded, the scripture is very clear that they were numerous and local, and independent of any denominational authority.

 Also, in no manner, or fashion, was there a “universal church” established or even hinted of. 

Edited by Alan
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On 9/2/2018 at 9:06 AM, Alan said:

Important Church History Note

“…they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.” A New Testament church is a continuation of the first church established by the Apostles and Elders in Jerusalem. A true New Testament church will follow the decrees, the methods, the practices, and the doctrines of the apostles as written in the scriptures.

A lesson on the first church in Jerusalem, as recorded in Acts 2:41-47, will be forthcoming.

Alan

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Acts 2:41-47, “The Church at Jerusalem”

 “Then that that gladly received his word was baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Acts 2:41-47

 Baptism

“… was baptized:” The converts were baptized with physical water, being fully immersed, after salvation.

 Baptism after Salvation

 Baptism is a solemn picture of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ; Romans 6:1-5 Baptism is one of the two ordinances given to the church. The church at Jerusalem is a perfect example of how baptism is to be accomplished after salvation, not before, and not a sacrament for salvation.

 The sacrament of infant baptism by the Roman Catholic Church, and the practice by the Church of Christ in order to be saved, are both grave errors and are not a New Testament church ordinance.

 John the Baptist

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone.” Ephesians 2:19 & 20 John the Baptist, as a prophet, and the forerunner, and baptizer, of Jesus Christ, is included as the foundation of the church.

 The Apostle Peter in Acts 2:22 stated, “Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.” The Apostle Peter, and the other apostles, clearly followed the teachings of John the Baptist concerning baptism. The baptism of John was by immersion: Matthew 3:13-17 and Acts 8:26-40

A New Testament church will follow the baptism of John. The practice of sprinkling, or pouring, by the Roman Catholic Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Methodist Church, and any other church, is not a New Testament church method of baptism.

 Those churches that reject the baptism of immersion as practiced by John the Baptist are going against the practice of the first church at Jerusalem. Furthermore, they are like the Pharisees who rejected the baptism of John the Baptist and therefore rejected the counsel of God. “And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.” Luke 7:29 & 30

Therefore, to reject the baptism of John the Baptist, immersion, after salvation, is a rejection of the counsel of God.

 Furthermore, the name of the individual who baptized the Lord Jesus was John. The title of John was, “the Baptist.” For a New Testament church who decides to fully follow as a disciple of John, and Jesus Christ, and call them themselves, “the Baptist Church,” is a good statement of where the church stands in relationship with John the Baptist and in doctrinal matters.

 “about three thousand souls”

 The first church at Jerusalem was a soul-winning church. A New Testament church is a soul-winning church. A church that is not a soul-winning church is not following the example of the first church at Jerusalem

 “in the temple“

Also, “ … and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch.” Acts 5:12. Solomon’s porch was part of the Temple at Jerusalem.

 The first church at Jerusalem met in the Temple at Jerusalem. The Temple was a physical structure, ordained by God Himself, for public worship. For a local church to met in a building, a physical structure, for the worship of the Lord Jesus as the head of the church is following the practice of the first church at Jerusalem.

Therefore, the first church at Jerusalem assembled in a building. The common practice of Baptist assemblies calling the physical structure that they meet in a “Temple” is also in accordance to the assembly location of the first church at Jerusalem.

 “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”

‘Church’ is in the singular as there was only one church in Jerusalem at the time of Acts 2:41-47 Therefore, the Jerusalem assembly was local.

 The preaching of the gospel, and the salvation of souls, and the addition to these souls to the church, continued on a daily basis.

 “apostles’ doctrine and fellowship”

As a part of the foundation of the church, the Lord gave the apostles the doctrines of the New Testament that the assembled church was to believe and follow. As the New Testament was not fully written, the apostles were the instruments that the Lord Jesus used to keep the early church doctrinal correct.

 The So-called, ‘Apostles Creed’

The so-called, Apostles Creed, is not the “apostle’s doctrine,” as written in Acts 2:42.

The Apostles

Along with the other Apostles, the doctrines of the early church are more developed as Paul, Peter, James, and John, write their epistles through the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The doctrine of the General Assembly, the Bride of Christ, the Body of Christ, brethren called saints, the church as part (not replacing) of the elect of God, are more fully developed, and understood, as the Apostle Paul reveals these other aspects of the church more fully.

Until the complete New Testament is written, the local assemblies listen, and follow, the teachings of the apostles. Not one time do any of the Apostles refer to a ‘Universal Church,’ or a denominational headquarters.

Edited by Alan
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