Monday, January 26, 2015

Church Government Or Not?

The ruling leaders of the New Testament churches are called bishopspastor-teacherselders, andoverseers.  Paul states clearly, “Let the elders who rule [lead, direct, guide, manage] well be counted worthy of double honor” (1 Timothy 5:17a).  Dr. Grudem writes, of the main purpose of the elders: “One of the major roles in the New Testament is to govern the New Testament churches.”  He then references 1 Timothy 5:17 and 1 Timothy 3:4-5 (ibid).  Dr. Alexander Strauch writes, “Elders…lead, direct, govern, manage, and care for the flock of God” (ibid, p. 25). So, the Bible is clear that certain men are given the responsibility and gifting to lead the local church toward the purposes of God.
Besides the elder ruling structure, we also observe the use of deacons in the local churches.  There is much less in the New Testament in regards to the role of deacons compared to elders, bishops and overseers.  The word deacon is a translation of the Greek word, diakonos, which is the ordinary word for servant, whenever it used in the context of dealing with church officers.  Deacons are mentioned in Philippians 1:1: “…To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.”  We find no specifics as to their function, other than a distinction from the elders/bishops.  Deacons are also mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 in reference to the needed qualifications for those in such responsibility.  The list of character and moral qualifications for deacons follow closely the list given for elders.
 brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, 6 whom theFrom the list in 1 Timothy 3, we observe that the deacons must have had some responsibility with finances, administration and counseling.  The best example of the elder and deacon branches of leadership might be found in Acts 6: 1-6. 
Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. 2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore,y set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.
Every believer has the biblical right to call for an audience before the whole congregation if a problem cannot be worked out. Basically it is so that no one or small group in the church can dictate Church ecclesiastic justice. This also goes for the pastor. If a member is being disciplined and or disfellowshipped, it could be a false accusation and there must be 'two ot three' for an accusation to even be received,much less to convict with. Any pastor or leader who does not afford justice to one and all is a tyrant and not qualified to serve in God's ministry.

The over-lording system most churches use with the pastor as omnipotent dictator is not how the  Apostles taught. Paul told the Church of Corinth that "They must put out" the man who married his fathers wife. He told them to administer the discipline. However, if the man was innocent he had redress. The focus is that Paul was teaching the Church it was a congregational matter, not one leader's purview,   

So many assemblies allow the ministry to do things in back door ways quietly rather than use God's way for the Church to be edified. Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft even when people claim it;s better to hide the sin in the Church. There is much more to God's purpose for obedience to his word,  and we must beware of those who think they have a better solution that the Word of God. Church discipline God's way builds the's way destroys it. 

Matthew 18 gives us a snapshot of how to begin a matter the Church may need to judge. Now if a pastor tells a person (w/family) they must leave the fellowship....that is not biblical and a sin against that member who then can take the pastor to others. Preferably an elder or two who can have influence over the pastor. 

15Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.15"If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother.
The Ministries of Love that Should Be in God’s Church

According to the Bible, God’s New Testament Priesthood did not originate from the family of Aaron or Levi, but from the Lord Jesus Christ, our High Priest and Father, who was Melchizedek in the Old Testament. The great apostle Paul speaking of this wrote: “For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest” (Heb 7:12-15; cp vss 3, 7-8, 15, 21, 25-26).

Since the laws concerning the priesthood have been changed, the laws of the Old Testament priesthood cannot be applied to God’s New Testament priesthood; for one thing, in the Old Testament, only the children of Levi could be priest, but in the New Testament all born-again believers are priest! Therefore, God’s New Testament priesthood cannot operate by the Levitical laws of temple duties, sacrificial offerings, tithes, and other things; for Jesus is the one and only sacrifice for sin, and they are the temple of God, also they are the priests of God!! Because of this, their tithes should go to the support Church, that is, the expenses of the Church, and after that to provide for the needs of the faithful poor children of God in their congregations, and then after that to the faithful poor children of God around the world.

The Church of the Book of Acts took love offerings to feed and clothe the faithful poor among them and around the world. Dr. Luke speaking of this wrote: “Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul” (Acts 11:28-30). These early saints knew how to love in both word and in their actions. This is exactly what Jesus meant when He said:“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35). Paul speaking of the love the early Christians had for one another wrote: “For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints, which are at Jerusalem. It hath pleased them verily” (Rom 15:26-27).

It is God’s responsibility to meet the needs of all His children, especially those who are poor. God has always cared for the poor among His children in both the Old and New Covenants. God has always given that responsibility to His children. This is why He told His children, who were under the Old Covenant: “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the LORD your God” (Lev 19:9-10). Let us never forget that Jesus cast all the hard-hearted, selfish materialistic minded goats in the Lake of Fire. Why? He said it was because they did not minister to the needs of His Children. Jesus said it this way:“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: ‘for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Mt 25: 41-46)

Who did Jesus mean by the expression, “one of the least of these” in verse 45? In verse 40, Jesus gave us the answer, He said: “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” Our Lord and Savior called His children His brothers. When Paul was killing His children, Jesus told him: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me” (Acts 9:4)? Brother, when you bless one of God’s children with food, clothing, and shelter, you are blessing Jesus; when you deny them the necessities of life, you are cursing Christ! Let my beloved readers take note, these lost children of God were sentence to Hell, because they turned their backs on the needs, not wants, of their brothers and sisters in Christ, in their local church and around the world.

James, the Lord’s brother, rebuked those in the church who did not love their brothers and sisters in Christ; those who turned their backs on them when they saw their needs. He said: “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world…. What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (Ja 1:27; 2:14-18).

The apostle John said the very same thing, but said it this way: “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another…. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1Jn 3:11, 17-18). Another way of saying this is: “if you see your brother or sister hungry feed them; if you see they have very no or very little clothing, give them some; if you see they have no place to live, give them one or help them to obtain one; if you see them without work give them a job or help them find one; if you see that their car, refrigerator, washing machine, or any other necessary of life is broken, help them to fix it or give them your old one, if you have one. If you see a brother or sister is a single parent, and you are old enough to be their grandparent, be one; if you see that older saints need help around or in their house, help them, and etc. Anything less than these things is not love.”

These things are without a doubt have always been the true ministry of God’s holy, loving, compassionate and unselfish Church (Rom 12:13; 15:26-27; 1Co 16:1-3; 2Co 8:1-5, 14-15; 9:1-9). There are many of God’s children here in the US and around the world who have basic needs like these mentioned in the above passages of scripture, and all the church can think about is building bigger buildings, and buying things for a building, or how to invest their money in banks or the stock market. Instead of investing their money into something eternal, they either hoard it up, or throw it away on something that will rot and decay. Now please do not misunderstand what I am teaching, I am not teaching against having a nice building, or saints not supporting with their finances the monthly expenses of operating the church, but ministering to poorer saints in your church and around the world is our greatest financial responsibility! Jesus said it this way: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mt 5:16).

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