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Alan

The Local Church.

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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

Edited by Alan
grammar

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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.

Edited by (Omega)

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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

Edited by Alan
plural to singular

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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.

Edited by Alan
scripture reference grammar

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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

Edited by Alan
grammer

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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).

Edited by John Young

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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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Galatians 1:1-2, “The Churches in the Province of Galatia”

The apostle Paul wrote, “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia.” Galatians 1:1-2

The Roman Empire in the Era of Paul the Apostle

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Courtesy of: BibleStudy.org

 

The Roman Province of Galatia

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Courtesy of BibleStudy.org

 

 

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“… unto the churches of Galatia.” In the days of the apostle Paul, Galatia was one of the Roman provinces in Asia Minor. In recent times, the area of Asia Minor is modern Turkey. The apostle Paul wrote the Epistle to the Galatians to the various churches in that province. The Epistle to the Galatians was to be handed from congregation to congregation, in order to be read, studied, and believed. The gospel message contained therein, and the other doctrines contained therein, were a revelation from the Lord Jesus and later through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.“For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Galatians 1:12

The Churches were Plural in Number

“… churches of Galatia.” The churches in the province of Galatia were plural in number. To me, if there was a concept of a “universal church” Galatians 1:2 would have been more correctly phrased, “… to the universal church in Galatia.”

The Churches were Regional or Local Assemblies

“And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily. Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia.” Acts 16:5 & 6

All of the churches that Paul established were regional, or local, churches independent of one another. J. A. Shackleford makes this observation, “Soon churches were planted in Philippi, Corinth, Ephesus, Thessalonica, Colosse, Rome and Gallacia. These churches were all modeled after the church at Jerusalem, being: First. Independent in their organic relations, one from another.”i

No Church Council or Bishop Mentioned

Since the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church, the various denominations have had “bishops” over numerous area in a region. In the regions of Galatia, and the other regions mentioned in the scriptures, there are no bishops over the churches in that region. The concept of bishops being over the churches in a particular region is not a biblical concept. The concept of bishops being over the churches in a particular region is a man-made doctrine.

J. M. Carroll has the scriptural interpretation, and description, of a bishop as recorded in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Peter 5:1-4, “B. H. Carroll said, “This organization or church, according to the practice of the Apostles and early churches was given two kinds of officers and only two – pastors and deacons. The pastor was called “Bishop.” Both pastor and deacons to be selected by the church and to be servants of the church.” ii

 

i Shacklelford, J. A., Compendium of Baptist History. Louisville, KY: Press Baptist Book Concern, 1892, page 40.

ii Carroll, B. H. The Trail of Blood. n. p., n.d., page 8.

No Record of Paul Referring to a “Universal Chruch”

As recorded in the Book of Acts, the only churches established by Paul, or any of the other Apostles, were local, independent churches: there was no “universal church,” or “denomination” established.

J. A. Shackleford makes this observation, “That a large proportion of Christians do not know what constitutes a gospel church, is seen from the diverse opinions respecting it. People talk about the “universal church,” “the church at large,” “branches of the church,” etc. these expressions convey but an indefinite idea of a church, and one without any foundation in Scripture. They show, however, a necessity for an investigation of the subject from a scriptural standpoint.”i

Shackleford is correct in his acute observation. The opinions within the various denominations are varied, vague, indistinct, subject to the opinion, and definition, of denominational bias, and have no foundation in scripture. Hence, Shackleford concludes, an scriptural investigation of what constitutes a New Testament church is in order without denominational, or a para-church organizational, bias in needed within the ranks of concerned saints.

i N Shacklelford, J. A., Compendium of Baptist History. Louisville, KY: Press Baptist Book Concern, 1892, page 14.

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I would like to add to this study on the local church a quote by Brother David Cloud.

Brother Cloud stated, “The Lord's apostles planted autonomous congregations and they did not build denominational structures yoking the congregations together. The New Testament gives detailed instructions for the government and discipline of the assembly, but there are no instructions for the establishment of intra- or extra-church institutions. Denominational structures are man-made entities that have no biblical authority.”1

As we have found out, repeatedly, in this study on the local church, all of the New Testament churches were local assemblies and autonomous. The Lord Jesus, nor the apostles, created any hierarchical authority over any church. Therefore,  denominations are man-made organizations.

1 Cloud, David, Way of Life Literature, Article, “Why I am Not Southern Baptist,” February 11, 2009, (Way of Life Literature: Port Huron, MI)

 

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Brethren,

I am in the process of preparing the next lesson on the local church. After looking at the command of Paul the Apostle in 1 Timothy 3:15, we have already looked at the local church in the book of Acts, Ephesians, parts of Matthew, Third John, and lastly Galatians.

In my next lesson I am preparing to look at the local church in the book of Philippians.

Before I continue, if there are any questions, comments, or discussions, that pertain to any of the previous lessons, please bring them up.

God bless you all.

Alan

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Due to the subject matter of the local New Testament Church, I have included, or merged, the previous thread on the local church called, "The Beginning of the New Testament Church," in order not to repeat the important passages concerning the foundation of the local church in this thread that we had previously studied. Below is the link to the "The Beginning of the New Testament Church" to refresh our memory and to give the newcomers to this study an opportunity to study the foundation of the local church.

 

All of the passages mentioned in, "The Beginning of the New Testament Church," will be considered an integral part of this study.

Alan

Edited by Alan
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