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Excellent lesson Alan. I especially like this part: "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."

This is something that most leave out of lessons and even just plain conversation. They never identify a Baptist church, in name, as being identified with John the Baptist.

I have recently taught this concept, both in my church and here on OB.

For a New Testament church to take the name "Baptist" is an affirmation of the lineage of the church that Jesus built. It also identifies with the teaching, ministry and person of John the Baptist.

It is also not without great significance that John's title of "The Baptist". was given to him by The Lord himself:    Mt 11:11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 

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Well done Alan, I wouldn't change a word of this lesson. The thought you put into this is very obvious, correct and something that most lessons on the local church do not teach. They might correctly t

Acts 8: 1-3 and 9:31, “Persecution against the Local Church” Acts 8:1-3, “And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Je

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

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On 9/7/2018 at 11:53 PM, Jim_Alaska said:

It is also not without great significance that John's title of "The Baptist". was given to him by The Lord himself:    Mt 11:11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 

Jim,

I appreciate you mentioning Matthew 11:11 and your comments.

Alan

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Brethren,

We will continue the study of the local church (churches), in the book of Acts by discussing Acts 8:1-3 and 9:19-31Both of these passages are connected with Saul /Paul before he was converted and after his conversion.

As before, we will be looking at the context of the passage to determine the meaning of the word 'church' and 'churches.'

Alan

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I am grieved over the lack of doctrinal truth and spiritual discernment found in the majority of local churches today (e.g., false doctrines, bibles rarely being used, the name of Jesus almost never mentioned, worldly sermons, glorifying self, etc.). I would go as far as to say that nearly 90% of local churches (if not more) do not uphold to biblical truths; and especially not with what "church" has become here in the waning days of the Lukewarmness which abounds. It is typical of people who have adopted an easy and comfortable way of doing things not only to proclaim themselves "right" in their wrong-doing, but also to find fault with others who ARE doing it right. Why? Because such individuals challenge their comfort. Also, if they can get the people who are doing it right to do it "their way" instead, then they will feel much more secure in their wrong approach. This is, after all, how the devil got a third of the angels to join up: not only were they doing what they wanted to do (instead of doing the right thing) but with so many doing it there was safety in numbers. A third of the angels can't be wrong, can they? Yes they can. So many Christians going to church where the Word is NEVER taught or else is error is taught about it can't be wrong can they? Yes they can.

Everyone should attend church, but why are we going there? If it's not to learn the truth and grow spiritually from it -- the whole reason for Christian assembly -- then we are only wasting our time . . . or worse (if what is being "taught" is contrary to the truth which is often the case). Churches today tend to be little more than social get-togethers, so that even though there may be differing in their formal creeds, really no one believes much of anything (anything of the truth, that is). So whether a church in question focuses on wowing the congregation with "worldly" music, or hell-fire and brimstone, or speaking in tongues, or extensive high ritual, what they have in common is no truth (or very little of it) and very often falsity instead. 
     
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
     
The assembling of believers OUGHT to be an occasion for mutual edification and motivation for learning, teaching and believing the truth and living it out. That is the PURPOSE for the assembly. It's about the purpose! We can find some BAD examples of this all throughout the Bible. Here are a few passages about assemblies that do not accomplish the purpose:
     
When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. (Isaiah 1:12-14)

I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemmn assemblies. (Amos 5:21)

Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the LORD of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand. (Malachi 1:10) 
       
Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, [but for the worse]. (1 Corinthians 11:17)
     
I certainly encourage every Christian to fellowship with other Christians who are likewise dedicated to the truth so that by such fellowship they may be encouraged and helped even as we encourage and help them -- and to bring Glory to God. That is what local churches of Jesus Christ is supposed to be doing -- and what better and more efficient way of doing so than face to face? Churches which teach false doctrines and damnable heresies are a dime a dozen these days, and those are lies. And we are not required to believe lies.  Rather, we are to refute them with the truth. It's all about the truth, and that is a difficult commodity to come by in the vast majority of churches today . . . and they are very few and far between.

God Bless!

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27 minutes ago, (Omega) said:

Everyone should attend church, but why are we going there? If it's not to learn the truth and grow spiritually from it -- the whole reason for Christian assembly -- then we are only wasting our time . . . or worse (if what is being "taught" is contrary to the truth which is often the case). Churches today tend to be little more than social get-togethers, so that even though there may be differing in their formal creeds, really no one believes much of anything (anything of the truth, that is). So whether a church in question focuses on wowing the congregation with "worldly" music, or hell-fire and brimstone, or speaking in tongues, or extensive high ritual, what they have in common is no truth (or very little of it) and very often falsity instead. 

Omega,

I appreciate your thoughts.

The above quotation from you is the the same thought in one my future lessons on the local church. In one of my previous lessons I mentioned that the Lord Jesus is the invisible head of the local church: Revelation 1:11. Eventually, I hope, we will be discussing that all of the 7 churches in Asia, Revelation 1:11-3:22, were local churches. A lot of the churches in our age, as you said, are "... a little more than social get-togethers." 

I appreciate your comments. They are a helpful addition to this study.

Alan

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On 9/13/2018 at 6:35 AM, Alan said:

Omega,

I appreciate your thoughts.

The above quotation from you is the the same thought in one my future lessons on the local church. In one of my previous lessons I mentioned that the Lord Jesus is the invisible head of the local church: Revelation 1:11. Eventually, I hope, we will be discussing that all of the 7 churches in Asia, Revelation 1:11-3:22, were local churches. A lot of the churches in our age, as you said, are "... a little more than social get-togethers." 

I appreciate your comments. They are a helpful addition to this study.

Alan

Yes Alan,

This reminds me of Mr. Osteen and his congregation where the Satan has sown tares in Christendom ("Christiandumb"). It seems pretty clear to me that there is at the very least very LITTLE (or ZERO) spiritual depth to his inspirational pep-talks. In this, of course, he is far from unique. Contemporary Christianity has elevated the sermon-format to the centerpiece of corporate "worship", and it has come to be a mere form of entertainment (if it was ever truly anything else). Mr. Osteen has merely packaged this church-o-tainment in a way that is apparently attractive for some people's tastes. But it is certainly the case that aspiring to pablum of this sort instead of solid spiritual food is not what any Christian who truly loves the Lord Jesus ought to be doing. The more one grows spiritually from careful attention to and belief in the Word of God, the more it becomes glaringly obvious when a particular teacher or brand of "teaching" is lacking in substance.

God Bless!

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On 9/14/2018 at 3:26 PM, (Omega) said:

Contemporary Christianity has elevated the sermon-format to the centerpiece of corporate "worship", and it has come to be a mere form of entertainment (if it was ever truly anything else).

One of (there are several), the reasons why I started this thread is that I noticed two things. One of the reasons lies in the word "corporate." 

1. Corporate.

Denominations are like corporations. Businesses are operated  in a "hierarchical" manner  in order to grow a business. The "headquarters" of a denomination or a business is to run the church or the business. The Lord Jesus, and the Apostles, never started a denomination. All denominations are "hierarchical" in nature in order to perpetuate the denomination. A businessman understands the how, and why, a denomination operates.

Balaam, heretics, the cults, denominational heads, inspirational preachers (men like Joel Osteen), are "covetous" and are in the "religious" business. "And through covetous shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you. whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and  their damnation slumbereth not." 2 Peter 2:3 These men, and women, are in the churches trying to promote themselves," merchandise," and their doctrines.

One of the main reasons why inspirational preachers, and the Charismatics, have experienced great growth is they realized that a lot of people want to be entertained in a religious or Christian environment. And, one of the main reasons why it is hard to convince the Charismatic brethren that their doctrine,and belief of the Holy Spirit is in error, is due to their emotional involvement in tongues.

The denominational heads, and inspirational preachers, use this emotional involvement to make huge amounts of money.

Alan

 

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Thank you Alan. I love maps when used in conjunction with proper teaching. They just make the lesson come alive when you can actually see the places mentioned.

I liked your Scripturally correct points on the proper rendering of both the word, church and churches. This proper teaching regarding Acts 9:31 is but one instance (and a very important one) that shows the fallacy of any kind of argument for "Universal Church".

The statement of gotquestions, org that said; "should actually be the singular church" is not only in error, but also shows the blatant disregard for the inspired writing of the Holy Spirit himself. We can just lump that kind of statement into the "bible changers" category. These people are proud boasters in presuming to be able to interpret Scripture better than the original interpreters of the bible.

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I appreciate your comments Jim.

In a study like this one the maps are useful. I would recommend all of the brethren get a good Bible atlas.

I have noticed before (in this study and others), the blatant disregard by para-organizations, denominational material, inspirational preachers, numerous Bible scholars, internet theologians, and many others, of the clear words of the writings of the Holy Spirit in scripture on a doctrine. 

God bless all of you.

 

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On 9/14/2018 at 2:42 PM, Alan said:

Baalam, heretics, the cults, denominational heads, inspirational preachers (men like Joel Osteen), are "covetous" and are are in the "religious" business. "And through covetous shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you. whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and  their damnation slumbereth not." 2 Peter 2:3 These men, and women, are in the churches trying to promote themselves," merchandise," and their doctrines.

One of the main reasons why inspirational preachers, and the Charismatics, have experienced great growth is they they realized that a lot of people want to be entertained in a religious or Christian environment. And, one of the main reasons why it is hard to convince the Charismatic brethren that their doctrine,and belief of the Holy Spirit is in error, is due to their emotional involvement in tongues.

The denominational heads, and inspirational preachers, use this emotional involvement to make huge amounts of money.

Alan

 

Absolutely Alan!

Nearly all churches outside of most Baptist denominational churches are absolutely CLUELESS as to what biblical preaching entails. They all have nothing to do with helping their congregation to grow by preaching in one way or another, that is, proclaiming, instructing, sharing, explaining the truth of the Word of God. The problem is with what the English word "preach" means today to most, and "preaching" today is nothing more than fables to tickle the ears of those who in their hearts actually resent the truth. In fact of course, "preaching" in most churches has almost nothing whatsoever to do with the Bible. "Preaching" is generally a short and highly rhetorical tour de force wherein the preacher attempts to use colorful and emotive words, rhetorical flourish, emotional manipulation, a booming and/or lilting voice, and a dramatic presentation to impress those listening (e.g., T.D Fakes, Pastor Creflo "give me a dollar", Joseph Prince, et al.).  

In this case, I would rather listen to teaching. Because teaching on the other hand, could care less about impressing people as long as the information is communicated effectively. Good Bible teaching always results in those listening learning something about the truth and thus drawing closer to the Lord. So preaching (as the word is understood today) is a concept foreign to scripture, and the present day practice of "preaching" is inimical to good teaching. But many people find it enjoyable and many preachers find it capable of inducing guilt and other unhelpful emotions, wrongly directed (which can lead to greater donations, etc.). 

God Bless!

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Brethren

Besides the work of the church, I am now involved in the collecting, and double-checking, of a series of lessons that I did previously here on Taiwan, in Chinese, on "The Biblical Gift of Tongues" in order to print the series into book form in Chinese.  It is a daunting task that is taking up almost all of the time that I can spare. 

I have not forgotten this study on the local church. I hope to continue this study next week.

Regards,

Alan

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Acts 18:22, “The End of the Second Missionary Journey”

The Apostle Paul and Silas are now completing their second missionary journey. At the completion of the journey we read these words: “And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went to Antioch.”

“And when he had landed at Caesarea ...” The Apostle Paul finished his boat trip in Caesarea.

“… and gone up …” is usually meant that he went up to Jerusalem.

“… and saluted the church ...” If he went 'up' to Jerusalem, he 'saluted the church.' As discussed previously, the number of local assemblies in Israel were numerous even before Paul's completion of the second missionary journey. So, at this point in the early church the individual assemblies were more numerous. The very context of the word 'church' expressly shows us that, whether in Jerusalem or not, the church was a local church and not a 'universal' assembly of all the believers.

I would also like to point out another fact. There is not even a 'council' that the Apostle Paul attended. Apparently, there was no need for another 'council' to convene in the early church at all.

“ … he went to Antioch.” As with the completion of his first missionary journey the Apostle Paul reported by to his home church: Acts 14:26-28

In reporting back to the churches in Israel no denominational board of any sort or manner, nor an universal assembly of all the believers, nor a council, is mentioned or inferred too.

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I agree Alan. Any reasonable person would understand that "the church" that Paul saluted was his sending church at Jerusalem. It certainly was not some universal church represented by any convention or denominational board.

It is amazing to me that anyone can study their Bible and come to any kind of conclusion regarding how missionaries are sent out and how they are to operate in an exclusively local church setting.

We do not read one time where any missionary was sent out from, or reported back to, any mission board or convention. In every instance the interaction between both missionaries and church was local in nature.

I guess I am just a hard nose in this respect; the authority to send men to any mission field resides exclusively in the local church. Denominational mission boards have no authority.

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7 hours ago, Jim_Alaska said:

It certainly was not some universal church represented by any convention or denominational board.

Jim,

Thank you for your welcomed addition to this study. Excellent observation.

In the scriptures there is no denominational board or universal church. All of the churches mentioned in the book of Acts are local, independent, New Testament churches. As I mentioned in the early lessons, a local, New Testament church is comprised of saved people. To become a member of a New Testament church salvation is the prerequisite.

And, we must remember the personal pronoun of Matthew 16:18, "... my church ..." A genuine, New Testament church is with the Lord Jesus as the Head. There are a lot of assemblies in the world that the Lord Jesus is not the Head and they are not Jesus' church.

Brethren,

In this study I have had to scroll the internet and seek the viewpoints of the proponents of the universal church and different denominational boards. As before I started this study, I reinforced my belief concerning denominational boards, the universal church movement, and church conventions.

1. The end result of the Universal Church Movement is Ecumenism.

3. The end result of Church conventions is Ecumenism.

4. Almost all of the para-church organizations actively push the universal church.

5. The reason why almost all of the para-church organizations are actively pushing the agenda of the universal church is that way they can reach all of the members of all of the different denominations with their books, agenda, asking for contributions, enlarging their ministry, and conduct their ministry like a business corporation.

3. The universal church movement, with a Charismatic prophet in league with the Roman Catholic Church,  is leading up to the one-world church monstrosity in the Book of Revelation.

4. In order for the proponents of the universal church to succeed is that they must replace the biblical description of the "general assembly of the church of the firstborn, which are in heaven" and supplant it with the words "universal church."

5. Also, in order for the proponents of the universal church to succeed they must supplant, and replace, the biblical appellation of the New Testament word, and meaning of: saints, the bride of Christ, the family of God and the body of Christ.

Alan

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Thanks Alan! I tried to post a study on the Identity of the Antichrist and how He will play a major role in the One World Church but could NOT for some odd reason.

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Brethren,

I am working on the next lesson, Acts 20:17.

In Acts 20:17-38 the Apostle Paul gives his farewell speech, given at the city of Miletus, to the elders, or pastors, of the church at Ephesus. As this lesson is on concerning the local church, I will try and concentrate mostly on the aspects of the local  church within the speech. As the speech is aimed directly at the elders, pastors, of the church, in a specific city, Ephesus, I will need to direct our attention to the book of Ephesians.

So, if you can read not only the speech Paul gives in Acts 20:17-38 but also the book of Ephesians, it would be helpful to us all.

Alan

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Reading ahead in any study is always a good thing. It prepares the heart, causes us to contemplate, and focuses our attention in the desired direction. I always encourage people to read ahead, and not just read, but consider thoughtfully and prayerfully what they are reading.

On the negative side I have to say that I have also found that very few do take the time and effort to read ahead. Unfortunately, we live in a day where most want to take the easy way, which usually means letting the teacher tell us what we are supposed to be reading and studying for ourselves.

This has the capacity to allow false teachers to have their way, since no one has studied and is then able to accept or reject their teaching.. This is why Paul warned about false teachers and preachers in the lesson coming up, as well as other places such as:  2Tim 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

The word "ashamed" in this verse should serve as a solemn warning to all who read it. The last thing a preacher or teacher wants is to be ashamed at something he has taught through lack of study.

 

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Jim, I agree with you.

In my life, I have appreciated those brethren who add notes to their studies, like to know the background of the lesson, to  know of other potential passages to read that may have a bearing on the particular subject, and, if possible and practicable, give references. It is extra work, but it does help some folks.

So, as in this case with Paul talking with men who have a direct bearing on his remarks, I felt it appropriate to let the readers know that the Book of Ephesians  would be helpful in knowing the background of the speech.

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Acts 20:17, “Paul's Speech to the Elders from the Church at Ephesus”

Map of Miletus

image.thumb.jpeg.441af3f16235ea9071257da16344adbc.jpeg

https://bibleatlas.org/full/miletus.htm

The Apostle Paul is now concluding his second missionary journey. In an effort to arrive at Jerusalem he sent word to the church at Ephesus for the elders, or pastors, of the church to travel to Miletus in order to give a farewell speech.

Acts 20:17, “And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.”

Titus 1:5-7, “For this cause I left 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, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre.” Also, Ephesians 4:11, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.” The word 'elder' or 'bishop' and 'pastor, is the appellation for the same office of the overseer of the local church. The word elder, bishop, or pastor, is interchangeable as the overseer of the local church. There are no titles given to any office outside of the local church; i. e., a universal church.

Also, the elders of the church that the Apostle Paul sent for were the pastors of the church. The elder, or pastor, is the 'overseer' of the local church. The pastor, or elder, or bishop, is the visible head of the local church under the invisible leadership of Christ. This is also clearly brought out by the context; verse 28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”

Therefore, the meeting was with the Apostle Paul and pastors of the local church at Ephesus. The concept of a “Universal Church” meeting is not only false but ludicrous.

A Warning Concerning the Local Church at Ephesus

Acts 20:29, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” The Lord Jesus warned the apostles: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16

False teachers are called 'grievous wolves' by the Apostle Paul. The intention of a false teacher is to destroy the saints within the church by false doctrine, perverted teachings, and aligning the church with its own denominational teaching.

Acts 20:30, “Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” The apostle Paul is very clear in his warning to the pastors of the local church in Ephesus. Within the local church at Ephesus, men, like cunning wolves, would rise up and try and pervert the very doctrines that the apostle Paul taught.

The Webster's 1828 Dictionary has the following meaning for 'Perverse.'

1. Literally, turned aside; hence, distorted from the right. Milton.

2. Obstinate in the wrong; disposed to be contrary; stubborn; untractable. To so perverse a sex all grace is vain. Dryden.

3. Cross; petulant; peevish; disposed to cross and vex. I'll frown and be perverse, and say thee nay. Shakespeare.1

Doctrines Distorted in the Book of Ephesians

I must add a few words of caution to this list.

1. This list is only a partial list of the doctrines being perverted, distorted, among denominations, cults, false teachers, and just about every internet theologian in our current age.

2. Most of the items listed have already been hashed and re-hashed on the pages of OnLineBaptist. It is not my intention to re-hash them again in this thread. My main intention is to show how the warning of Paul the apostle given to the Ephesian pastors in Acts 20:29 & 30 was fulfilled to the letter.

3. Concerning this thread, I want the reader to understand that the local church and the General Assembly are two different subjects. In the book of Ephesians the main emphasis of the Apostle Paul is “spiritual blessings in heavenly places.” Therefore, Paul is referring not only to the local church (a true New Testament local assembly is comprised of saints), but also to the “heavenly places,” i. e., the saints in heaven.

4. I consider this list an addendum to this lesson for your reference.

1. 1:1, “saints” A saint, in either Testament, is a person who has trusted in God for the eternal salvation of the soul. The Roman Catholic Church has distorted the doctrine of who is a saint and who is not. Only 'saints' are members of the church of Jesus Christ.

2. 1:3, “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” The blessings given to the saints in the age of Grace are spiritual blessings in “heaven.” The saints in the church age are not promised any physical blessings. The physical blessings of land, and other literal prophecies given to the prophets, are given to the nation of Israel and will be fulfilled in God's timing.

3. 1:4 and 5, “he hath chosen us … predestinated … according to the good pleasure of his will” has been distorted by John Calvin and his followers.

4. 1:6, “has made us accepted in the beloved” has been supplanted with the doctrine of the “Universal Church.”

5. 1:10, “the dispensation of the fulness of times” as with, “other ages” 3:5, has been distorted by just every denomination, and even among good brethren in good churches, to some extent.

6. 1:18, in the saints” has been supplanted by phrase “the Universal Church.”

7. 1:20, “heavenly places” it is very clear that the main emphasis of the book of Ephesians is spiritual.

8. 2:22 & 23, “to the church, which is his body ” a true church is comprised of only 'saints' and the Ephesian pastors were cognizant of this fact and knew that the church, all of the saints from every church, were part of the 'body of Christ'.

9. 2:1-3, “dead in trespasses and in sins,” has been distorted by John Calvin and his followers.

10. 2:7, “ages to come,” again, the book of Ephesians is primarily written about heaven and eternity and all of the doctrines in the book of Ephesians need to be interpreted thereby.

11. 2:8 & 9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith...” Salvation by grace, through faith, has been distorted by too many denominations and false teachers to list.

12. 2:12, “being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel … Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints.” Please notice the important word “with.” At the moment of salvation, a Gentile saint, in the New Testament church, is “grafted” into, “with,” the Jewish saints in the Old Testament: Romans 11:15-17, “For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? For is the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree.” The 'church' does not replace Israel, nor become Israel. The Gentile saints, “a wild olive tree,” in the New Testament are “grafted in” with the saints in the nation of Israel. In the English language, with” and “grafted in” does not mean, “replace.” The Replacement Theology doctrine is a distortion.

12. 2:19, “household of God” is being supplanted by “the Universal Church.”

13. 2:19-22, “foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone,” has been distorted by the denominational churches and the Charismatics.

14. 3:5, “other ages” as with, “dispensation” in 1:10, has been distorted by many.

15. 3:9, “who created all things by Jesus Christ,” the biblical creation of the world has been distorted by pagans, Darwinist, liberals, and theistic evolutionists.

16. 4:1-5 and 4:13, “unity” in the local church, and among the saints, in our modern age has been supplanted to mean “unity among the different denominations.”

17. 4:8, The “gifts” of God have been distorted by every Charismatic since the days of Charles Parham and William Seymour.

18. 4:12, “edifying of the body of Christ” has been supplanted by, “edifying the universal church.”

19. 4:25, “even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it.” Is a direct reference to the 'saints' in Ephesus, the 'saints' in every local church, 'the beloved,' 'the body of Christ' and to the “general assembly” in heaven. All of the aforementioned appellations have been supplanted by the appellation, “the Universal Church.”

God, the Holy Spirit, deliberately, did not use the word “universal church” one time, in either the English, nor the Greek language, in the New Testament, as a reference to all of the saints in either the local assembly nor in the general assembly in heaven.

Conclusion

The warning given by Paul the apostle to the elders, or pastors, of the church at Ephesus in Acts 20:17-31, is applicable every pastor in every New Testament local church in every age. The pastor is to defend the flock from the infiltration of false doctrines by wolves in sheep clothing trying to get disciples to start their own church, internet study, or home bible study.

 

 

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

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Well done Bro Alan. I especially liked your take on "Replacement Theology" in 12. 2:12. I find this very prevalent today. Many use it as an excuse to teach the keeping of certain parts of the law. Of course those "parts" only apply to their pet theories, not the whole law.

I have also found that there are otherwise godly men that will teach or refer to parts of replacement theology without understanding what it is  they are actually saying.

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Jim,

Ephesians 2:12 is very clear. Even a cursory reading of Ephesians shows the saint how far us Gentiles are from the promises of God, how we ought to be thankful for the wonderful blessings that are bestowed upon us, particularity being included WITH the commonwealth of Israel and the household of God. Replacement Theology is a sad doctrine in all aspects. The subject of hope (a spiritual blessing in itself), is prevalent in Ephesians and distorted doctrines takes away many things and one thing is hope.

Omega,

Not surprised about John Hagee and his false beliefs concerning the Jew and conversion. When your in the entertainment business everything goes I guess.

Alan

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In regard to "Replacement theology" I want to point out that "commonwealth", in the overall context of Ephesians 2 and the rest of the bible, does not mean the Gentiles are now in the same physical or "spiritual" country called "Israel" but rather only share in the same economy and governance. We Join in to the same "household of God" by faith and in the "Body of Christ" but in regard to the nations, they still remain separate nations, even into the millennium. We partake in Israel's "common wealth" of faith but not Israel itself. Some natural branches of God's "household of faith" were broken off because they did not have faith but gentiles were graphed in because they did have faith. An example of this in the past was seen in the British commonwealth with Canada, Australia, south Africa, and India, etc who joined in a shared economy and shared style of governance with the Queen as their symbolic head but remained independent countries. So too we Gentiles of faith join the OT saints of faith in heavenly places with Christ but do not join into the nation of Israel itself nor with their particular covenant unless by "Circumcision of Moses" (Acts chapters 15, 21 and Exodus 12:48).

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John,

Thank you for further elaborating on the 'commonwealth,' household of God,' and  the 'household of faith.' 

It appears to me that a separate study on, 'the commonwealth of Israel' may be in order. If you would like to do a study on this aspect of salvation I am sure that it would be a benefit to all of us.

Alan

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Brethren,

We will be looking at the local church in 3 John 3-9; the love thereof, the joy thereof, the problem thereof,  the evil thereof, the solution thereof, and the good thereof.

In order to obtain the full riches of 3 John 3-9 we will need to look at the context of the rest of the book of 3 John and the short book of 2 John

The Apostle John expressed the  joy of every true pastor in 3 John 4, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." 

Alan

 

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3 John 3-12, “Truth, Joy, Problems, Evil, Solution, Good, in the Local Church”

3 John 3-12, “For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellow-helpers to the truth. I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, If I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true.”

The Local Church

The story, the individuals, and the events of 2 John, take place at a local church, or an assembly, or a congregation, at an unmanned location. Although the author of the epistle is not named, since early church history most historians agree that the apostle John is the writer. In my study I will take the position that in this case the historians are correct. Also, I will use the terminology church, congregation, and assembly, interchangeably, to mean a local, indigenous, group of saints assembled together in a local, or regional, location.

The apostle John is giving direction to a man named Gaius. He is presumably the same Gaius that the apostle Paul baptized in 1 Corinthians 1:14, the Gaius who traveled with Paul, Acts 19:29, and mentioned as the host of Tertius as mentioned in Romans 16:22 & 23.

Truth

The apostle John added this very important phrase in the introduction, “…whom I love in the truth.” 3 John 1. In this very short epistle the subject 'truth' is mentioned in verse 2, 3,4,8, and 12. Truth is mentioned in 2 John in verse 1, 2, 3, and 4, as the prerequisite for determining if a teacher is a deceiver, or an Antichrist, in the church. Also, the adherence to truth will determine our rewards in heaven and our relationship with the Lord Jesus. Truth is personalized in the person of Jesus Christ, written in book form, the Bible, and is the foundation of the doctrines and practices of the local church. The 'truth' of the scriptures is the only authority necessary for a local congregation.

Truth watered down in the Universal Church Movement

The doctrines, as written in the scriptures, are numerous and cover every aspect of the character of God, the character of the Lord Jesus, the character of the Holy Spirit, the history of the creation, the history of the Jews, the history of the world, the prophecies of the end times, the reality of heaven, the reality of hell, the Body of Christ, the local church, the eternal salvation of the soul by grace through faith, the future restoration of the nation of Israel, the inspiration of the scriptures, the preservation of the scriptures, details concerning the Spirit world, and love of God as expressed by the death of the Lord Jesus on the Cross of Calvary. All of these subjects are essential and the scriptures are the repository of all truth in every realm and subject.

The proponents of the Universal Church movement are not only supplanting the truths concerning the body of Christ as found in the book of Ephesians, they are watering down, neglecting, ignoring, so many other essential biblical truths.

Most para-church organizations are promoting the universal church so they can, like a business or a politician, reach as many people as possible in different churches of different beliefs to seek donations, sell their religious wares or program. I will give a case in point. Focus on the Family is a self-proclaimed para-church organization. On the Focus on the Family website, in an article called, “Looking for the 'Right' Church?” by Robert Velarde, Velarde quotes Robert M. bowman, Jr., “Although Christians are united on essentials such as the deity of Christ and His bodily resurrection, there is a lot of room for diversity on secondary issues, meaning different approaches and interpretations of Bible prophecy, varying means of baptism, differences regarding the details of communion, etc. There are also varying forms of church government such as episcopal, presbyterian and congregational.”i So, Robert Bowman lists only two essentials of the faith, “the deity of Christ and his bodily resurrection,” and regulates all other doctrines as, “secondary issues.”

Joy

3 John 3 & 4, “For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” The Apostle John rejoiced greatly when he received word of the faithfulness of Gaius in the truth of the doctrines of the scriptures. As discussed before, the local church is the bedrock of all biblical truth. 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 truth of the scriptures not only sets us free, John 17:17, but it brings true joy.

In the early church, the apostles were part of the foundation of the church; Ephesians 2:20. As part of the foundation, they were the personal representative of the Lord Jesus Christ within the local assemblies. And, as an apostle, and as a personal well-loved friend of Gaius, the Apostle John is giving personal direction in the adverse situation that arose in the local assembly. As this epistle is written to a close friend, and the Apostle John is an old man, he refers to himself as an 'elder.'

The initial adverse situation that arose in the local assembly was that men, evidently missionaries, or evangelists, traveling from other areas, were not taken care of properly by the local assembly. The second adverse situation that arose was that when the Apostle John wrote to the leader of the church, Diotrephes, to rectify the situation the Apostle John was ignored and his leadership not respected. Diotrephes then had the gall to reject the admonition of the Apostle John but also to slander the Apostle John. This epistle was written in order to give instructions to Gaius to rectify both adverse situations.

Non-denominational and Local

The Apostle John did not instruct Gaius to appeal to a bishop over the church, a denominational headquarters, nor to the ‘universal church’ or to have a council to rectify the situation. The common practice of having a bishop over a local assembly is a man-made commandment started by the Roman Catholic Church, practiced by the Reformers, and is the foundation of every denomination since then.

In all of the New Testament assemblies, the bishop was the pastor of an individual, and local, church.

The Problem – Two in Number

Verse 9 & 10, “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, If I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.

The apostle John clearly stated, “I wrote unto the church ...” Obviously, the church the apostle John was referring too was a local congregation of saints. Therefore, the context proves that 'church' cannot in any form, or fashion, mean a 'universal' church.

There were two problems in the church.

1. Diotrephes would not receive, or help, traveling ministers of the gospel and had cast them out the church. So, obviously since a saint cannot be cast out the body of Christ, the context proves that 'church' cannot in any form, or fashion, mean a 'universal' church.

2. Diotrephes verbally maligned, slandered, and refused the instruction of the apostle John.

 

 

Diotrephes and his Character

“…but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.” Diotrephes loved prominence, fame, the applause of the church. Diotrephes is an example of the Pharisees in the life of Christ. Matthew 23:5a, “But all their works they do for to be seen of men.”

Starting from the Roman Catholic Chruch, the denominational churches, and the Charismatic Movement, churches are full of men like Diotrephes in the pulpit.

The Evil in the Church

3 John 11a, “Beloved, follow not that which is evil…” The evil that the Apostle John warns Gaius, and us, not to follow is the person, and deeds, of Diotrephes, and those men of like character.

In 2 John the apostle John is clearly warning all of the saints that many deceivers are in the world, in the churches, and all over the internet. I added the last phrase, “… and all over the internet” on my own accord. The apostle John added that the false doctrine of these deceivers are “evil deeds.” “For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” 2 John 11

Also, we must note the Diotrephes does not meet the full qualification of the pastor of the church. 1 Timothy 3:1, “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach. Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous.” Diotrephes was not blameless, was not given to hospitality, nor was he of good behaviour .

The Solution

Verse 11, “Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.” By insinuation, the apostle John stated that the deeds of Diotrephes was 'evil.' To follow God is to follow 'good.' This standard is a sound biblical standard. The Christian is to follow 'good' and not 'evil' in the church and in his daily life. Proverbs 11:3, “The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.”

The Good in the Church

Verse 12, “Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true.” The apostle John is bearing record that a member of the congregation, Demetrius, is worthy of the leadership of the local assembly. In this short testimony, we can note that the reputation of Demetrius meets several of the qualifications for the position of the elder, or the pastor, of the church. 1 Timothy 3:1, “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach. Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous.” Also, Demetrius met the qualifications of a pastor as listed in 1 Timothy 3:7. “Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into the condemnation of the devil.”

I must repeat the words of Paul the apostle when he stated, “If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.” The office of the pastor of a New Testament church is a 'good' work and the apostle John is cleaning the local church of an 'evil' pastor and selecting a 'good' pastor.

i Velarde, Robert “Looking for the 'Right' Church?” Focus on the Family. Founder. James Dobson. 2008. Sept. 26, 2018. <https://www.focusonthefamily.com/faith/becoming-a-christian/how-can-i-be-saved/finding-the-right-church>

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Bro Alan, thank you for an excellent study on local church, but especially for the warnings in regard to certain men like Diotrephes, who gain a position of influence in our local churches. They are especially dangerous in that, they are "the enemy within". As you pointed out, the local church is "the pillar and ground of the truth". If a person like Diotrephes is allowed to consummate his agenda there is great danger to the local church simply because he is acting in the capacity of a denominational "Elder, Bishop, Cardinal" or whatever title they choose.

Men like this get their power and influence due to weak church members simply not recognizing "a wolf in sheep's clothing". The Apostle Paul warned about this danger,  Acts 20:29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 
 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 
 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

I would add that men of this caliber are not always easy to discover. There are those that have the same agenda, but are very secretive about it, pretending to be sound Independent Baptists. They gain the respect of the congregation as teachers, Deacons, or any number of ways to be seen as responsible, Godly, respected church leaders/members. 

In reality they are simply waiting for the right moment to implement their agenda. The right moment could be a determined vendetta against the existing Pastor, or more likely a move to take over the church in the event a Pastor leaves or is incapacitated. I have lived through such an experience and it is both very dangerous to the church as a whole and individual members who may be weak enough in the faith to follow such a man. Our church lost almost 3/4 of its members to just such a situation a few years ago. We have recovered from this disaster, but it was a very discouraging and dangerous time.

This is only one of the dangers that local churches face, there are many more. But I thank God through Jesus Christ that He has promised to protect His church and has done so down through the ages until this very day. Of course I speak here of the "institution" we call "church", because individual churches have fallen or ceased to exist down through time.

I am also thankful for Godly church members, well learned in the Word and truth, that have the ability to be effective watchmen.

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I understand Jim.

Initially, I was hesitant to do a lesson on 3 John due to the problem with the leadership of the church. Almost all of the other lessons on individual churches were fine examples of the local church, members being added, and the apostle Paul, and the others mentioned, were all of a spiritual nature. In the example of the Jerusalem assembly, multitudes were being saved and as the disciples were scattered new congregations were established. With the previous examples, the leadership of the local church was exemplary and the problems that arose was outside the church. So, I was hesitant to include an example of an early church with the problem within the leadership of the church.

God bless you all!

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