Which Church? New Testament Churches Had No Headquarters On Earth

Which Church? New Testament Churches Had No Sectarian Title

Modern ecclesiastical bodies consist of a central authority with numerous congregations responsible to that central office. The format differs from group to group, but there are general assemblies, synods of bishops, central oversights and so on. This concept of a headquarters on earth is alien to the Word of God.

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Which Church? New Testament Churches Had No Sectarian Title

Which Church? New Testament Churches Had No Sectarian Title
In our day, each of the sects and denominations of Christendom bears a title to distinguish it from other groups. Some take their name from a founder, and so there are Wesleyans and Lutherans etc. Others are identified by their form of church government, and so there are Presbyterians and Episcopalians. Some are known by a particular doctrine or practice that they hold, and so there are Baptists and Pentecostals. To willingly take any name that does not include all believers is to be

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Which Church? What Is A Church?

Which Church? What is a Church?

Many people refer to a religious building as a church, but in the New Testament, buildings were never called churches. In fact, there are verses which show that buildings accommodated churches, so obviously, the building itself was not the church. For example, churches met in the homes of Philemon, and Aquila, Philemon 1:2; Romans 16:5. The church was the congregation of people who met in these homes, so the church was made up of

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Which Church? A Problem

People who are newly saved are often faced with a great difficulty. Which group of believers in the area should they join? There are many sects and denominations around, so the task of deciding is not easy. To attend the nearest ‘place of worship’ is no answer. It could have a modernist preacher who would wreck your faith. To look around for nice people with an exciting form of worship could lead to something remote from the teaching of scripture. To search for a good preacher is no safe course of action. His term of ministry may be relatively brief, and then what?

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Forsake Not Stirring Up One Another

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries”. Hebrews 10:23-27

We have all heard the verse “forsake not the assembling of thyselves together” (KJV) or “not neglecting to meet together” (ESV). The writer to the Hebrews exhorts the recipients to not neglect meeting together. Pretty straight forward, correct? Let’s think about the context of the passage.

The writer of Hebrews is concerned about the spiritual well-being of Christians who have left the Jewish faith after believing. The argument presents various aspects of the Jewish faith and compares these aspects to the Lord Jesus. In each comparison, Jesus Christ is found to be far superior, complete, perfect, eternal, substantial, and real in contrast to that which is incomplete, imperfect, temporal, symbolic, and temporary.

Within that context, we get to Chapter 10. In Chapter 10, Lord Jesus Christ is compared to the priests of old and their sacrifices. The conclusion is that Christ’s priestly work is far superior and that His sacrifice, which was Himself, is far superior!

There are some very practical benefits that result from His sacrifice. The Holy Spirit draws our attention to these by repeating a phrase “Let us” followed by something we should make real in our life. It is within this context that we come across the phrase we are discussing – “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together…”

We are directed to invest in each other’s lives by “stirring up one another to love and good works” as a result of and because of the Lord’s sacrifice of Himself on the cross! Immediately following that exhortation is the directive which reminds us that meeting together as believers is a responsibility, not an option. The two exhortations are linked by the Holy Spirit and should be linked in our lives as well. While we certainly have modern conveniences that may allow us to “stir up one another to love and good works” via social media, email, and telephone, God’s Word would have us accomplish this primarily by attending meetings of the local assembly.

When is the last time you attended a meeting of the local assembly because you wanted to impact someone else’s life? According to the Word, it seems to be one of the main reasons we should gather (worship, prayer, and receive teaching are others). Acts 2:42 indicates that the early church continued steadfastly in fellowship!

Continuing steadfastly has the essence of purposefulness at the cost of other things. Sadly, many Christians today feel like their attendance at most of the meetings of the assembly is no more important than whether they attend a sporting event or other social event. Some believers have fallen into the habit of attending meeting when it is convenient to them or when they themselves benefit from the meeting. The Word of God would correct both of those attitudes if believers would allow the Holy Spirit to apply the Word to our lives!

As believers who desire to follow New Testament principles, one of those principles is the regular, consistent, purposeful, selfless attendance at the meetings of the local assembly so that you can be useful in stirring up other believers to love and good works.

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Digital Sojourner would like to thank Mike Stoudt for writing this guest post. Mike fellowships with the saints who gather at Grace Gospel Chapel in Allentown, PA. Mike is a Certified Public Accountant and owner of Stoudt Financial Services and serves as the General Manager of Greenwood Hills Camp & Conference Center.

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Sharing Good Things – A New Testament Principle

In Paul’s letter to the saints in Galatia, he deals with some false teaching as it pertains to the gospel. The primary focus of the letter is to ensure that the Galatians are not being led astray by false teachers who would seek to bind them to a system of legalism. The substance of the letter reveals how vital good, solid teachers are to the spiritual life of an assembly. The Bible also gives us clear instruction about how believers should value teachers and support them.

One of the practical points of instruction in this letter addresses this topic. In Galatians 6:6, Paul writes “One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.” This command (notice the word MUST) seems to be pretty clear and yet how many believers today actually practice this on a personal level? Notice as well, that the instruction says “ONE who is taught”. This is not a CORPORATE principle; rather it is an individual principle.

Sadly, it appears that many believers have abdicated this responsibility and the responsibility of ministering to the Lord’s work and His workers to the corporate body or some other para-church ministry. Rather than giving based on an individual spiritual exercise as specifically burdened by the Lord, believers tend to routinely give to the local assembly and then feel that their job is done.

The assembly becomes a conduit for collecting funds – often far more than what is needed for the ministry and the expenses of the local assembly. Then a few of the brothers decide what to do with the excess funds. Clearly, as the funds are distributed by a few, they are not being distributed the way that each individual in the assembly would minister them. The corporate disbursement of funds does NOT alleviate the individual responsibility to minister as burdened by the Lord.

How have YOU shared with the one who has taught you the Word? Let me ask this question a different way. How have you OBEYED Galatians 6:6? By giving to the assembly? Does every assembly minister financially to the men (often local) who teach the Word? Often times, the answer is NO. Let’s look at Galatians 6:6 again. Notice that there is NO mention of the Bible teacher’s needs or wants. This command is not for the benefit of the teacher. It is for the benefit of the student. It is GOOD for the people of God to be exercised to support those who labor among them! It is good for the people of God to think about what they minister and to whom they minister.

Yes, we need to provide for the needs of the local assembly and the work of the local assembly, but if the assembly is merely a conduit for our routine giving – one without exercise, we are not practicing New Testament principles as outlined in Galatians 6:6, as well as 1 Corinthians 9:11, 1 Corinthians 9:14, and 1 Timothy 5:17-18.

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Digital Sojourner would like to thank Mike Stoudt for writing this guest post. Mike fellowships with the saints who gather at Grace Gospel Chapel in Allentown, PA. Mike is a Certified Public Accountant and owner of Stoudt Financial Services and serves as the General Manager of Greenwood Hills Camp & Conference Center.

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