Local Congregation

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Zenas, May 29, 2007.

  1. Zenas

    Zenas
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 7, 2007
    Messages:
    2,640
    Likes Received:
    6
    Where in the Bible are we told that church governance is to be handled exclusively by and through the local congregation?
     
  2. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    Messages:
    9,031
    Likes Received:
    0
    All the instructions from Jesus, and subsequent letters from Luke, Paul, et. al., were given to the local church (the general epistles of Peter, James, John, Jude excepted)
    Examples:
    Matthew 18: Interpersonal conflicts were to be ultimately handled by the local congregation if they couldn't be resolved at a lower level.

    The Great Commission was given to an assembled congregation. Jesus gave to it the preaching, teaching, disciple-making functions.

    Acts 1: The congregation in Jerusalem held a business meeting to choose a successor to Judas.

    I Cor 11: Paul urged the congregation at Corinth to guard the ordinances. He instructed the same church in the right way to observe the Lord's Supper.

    Paul gave instructions regarding the qualifications for elders and deacons. Elders (or bishops) are to rule over (but not lord it over) the flock--a local congregation.

    The congregation at Jerusalem refused to receive Paul into its membership until Barnabas vouched for him.

    The church at Antioch sent out Paul and Silas on a mission trip. They went under the authority of that congregation and reported to it upon return.

    I Cor 5: Paul urged the church at Corinth to exclude the man who was having an affair with his father's wife. They apparently did.

    II Cor 2: Paul urged the church at Corinth to forgive a man overtaken in sin who had repented. In both I Cor and II Cor, Paul was instructing them in the matter of church discipline--the exclusive province of the local congregation.

    The reason no such instructions were given to the "church," as in Universal Church, is that no such entity exists. And even if it did, it is impossible for it to carry out any of the instructions I've mentioned above.

    Churches assemble.
     
  3. Zenas

    Zenas
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 7, 2007
    Messages:
    2,640
    Likes Received:
    6
    Good job, Tom, and I don't disagree. But what about when the Church at Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas up to Jerusalem for an answer on the problem of circumcision? Clearly Antioch was submitting to the authority of the Church at Jerusalem on this issue.

    Also, Jesus said, "Upon this rock I will build my CHURCH." He did not say, "Upon this rock I will build my CHURCHES."

    So I repeat my question: Where in the Bible are we told that church governance is to be handled exclusively by and through the local congregation?
     
  4. Chemnitz

    Chemnitz
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2001
    Messages:
    2,485
    Likes Received:
    0
    No where. Governance is largely a matter of adiaphoran.
     
  5. Brother Bob

    Brother Bob
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    12,723
    Likes Received:
    0
    Churches try to use what Jesus teaches for our governance. Without it, you will fall apart.
     
  6. Matt Black

    Matt Black
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Messages:
    9,141
    Likes Received:
    0
    It depends on the subsidiaral context I guess. If it's about who does the cleaning and the flowers, who does the Scripture readings or distributes communion etc then obviously such matters are best dealt with at a local level. If however we are talking about major doctrinal issues eg: the Trinity, salvation by faith, the meaning of baptism and communion, then surely those are matters which pertain to the whole Church, not just the local meeting.
     
  7. Eliyahu

    Eliyahu
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2005
    Messages:
    4,762
    Likes Received:
    0
    Maybe, the Holy Spirit was not wise, if your claim is right.

    Acts 13:
    1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

    The Holy Spirit instructed the local Church of Antioch directly, without any discussion with Jerusalem Church.

    There was no church head quarters on the earth during the Early Church.

    There was No Superintendent, No Synod, No Pope, No Chairman of the church organization. (BTW, the " allegedly First Pope" Peter was rebuked by the local church-man, Paul in Antioch- Gal 2:11-14)

    The Head Quarters for the Church of the True Believers has not been on this earth, but in the Heaven, where Jesus Christ has been the Chairman and CEO.

    None of the epistles were written in the name of council or of synod, etc. Nor were they addressed to the Synod or Council, or Head Quarters.
     
    #7 Eliyahu, May 30, 2007
    Last edited: May 30, 2007
  8. Chemnitz

    Chemnitz
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2001
    Messages:
    2,485
    Likes Received:
    0
    The incident recorded in Acts is considered to be the 1st Jerusalem council.
    In addition, there are no given requirements for church government, therefore, any government which does not impede the Gospel or violate the moral law is acceptable.
     
  9. Matt Black

    Matt Black
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Messages:
    9,141
    Likes Received:
    0
    So, what about the Council of Jerusalem? And are you seriously suggesting that eg: the finer points of Christology should be settled by a congregational business meeting?
     
  10. Eliyahu

    Eliyahu
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2005
    Messages:
    4,762
    Likes Received:
    0
    Council of Jerusalem should be understood as the meeting of fellowship. They exchanged the views between the churches (Antioch and Jerusalem), the only difference may have been that the church of Jerusalem had some more experience in Jesus Christ as the churches were young at that time.

    Bible doesn't teach us that there was any organization superior to the local churches. We can have no idea that the Jerusalem church ruled over Corinthian church, neither Ephesian church nor Roman Church.

    There was no pope there. Peter called himself as an Elder ( 1 Peter 5:1).

    If your claim is correct, who can decide what belongs to local church and what others belong to the head quarters?

    None of the epistles were written in the name of Council. The human church government always involved the human hierarchy system and the clergy system which is called " Doctrines and Deed of Nicolatanes ( Rev 2:6, 15)" which Jesus hate.

    None of the epistles gives us the allusion that there was a head-quarter or a central organization, which is apparently a human invention.
     
    #10 Eliyahu, May 31, 2007
    Last edited: May 31, 2007
  11. Chemnitz

    Chemnitz
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2001
    Messages:
    2,485
    Likes Received:
    0
    Acts 15:1-6 But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." 2 And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. 3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. 5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, "It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses." 6 The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter.

    Acts 15:22-31 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, 23 with the following letter: "The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, 25 it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell." 30 So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch, and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. 31 And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement.

    That sounds a lot like a counsel having influence over a local congregation.
     
  12. Matt Black

    Matt Black
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Messages:
    9,141
    Likes Received:
    0
    What Chemnitz said

    Ah, but we can!


    Oooh, an easy one! The Holy Spirit both can and has done so.

    So what was it in Acts 15:22-23??
    And you know that that was what was meant by the 'Nicolatians' how exactly? Your explanation isn't in the Bible and I thought you were a sola Scripture type, no?
     
    #12 Matt Black, May 31, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: May 31, 2007
  13. Chemnitz

    Chemnitz
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2001
    Messages:
    2,485
    Likes Received:
    0
    I would also like to point out that many of the epistles, particularly the Pauline Epistles, are from a group of people.
     
  14. Eliyahu

    Eliyahu
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2005
    Messages:
    4,762
    Likes Received:
    0
    Paul and Timothy, or Paul and Silvanus, Paul and Sosthenes, were they council? But it just indicates the plurality of the elders which contradicts Mono-Pastoral system. That's it! But Paul wrote the letters for himself, alone to Romans, Galatians, Ephesus, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, etc too.

    Then was the Council of Jerusalem convened with the anouncement to the other churches in Samria, Cyprus, Iconium, Derbe, Ethiopia, Rome ( There were believers in Rome before Paul was converted), Caesarea, etc? and were they all represented there? Or it was discussed only between Jerusalem church and Antioch church?
     
    #14 Eliyahu, May 31, 2007
    Last edited: May 31, 2007
  15. Chemnitz

    Chemnitz
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2001
    Messages:
    2,485
    Likes Received:
    0
     
  16. Eliyahu

    Eliyahu
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2005
    Messages:
    4,762
    Likes Received:
    0
     
  17. Zenas

    Zenas
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 7, 2007
    Messages:
    2,640
    Likes Received:
    6
    Eliyahu says: "Acts 15 was not in the form of any Council, but it was a fellowship meeting based on the Bible."

    Eliyahu, can you say what Bible this "fellowship meeting" was based on since not one word of the New Testament had been penned at that time?
     
  18. Eliyahu

    Eliyahu
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2005
    Messages:
    4,762
    Likes Received:
    0
    It is quite clear that it was not any type of formal conference but the meeting between Jerusalem and Antioch. What I meant by fellowship is the term which we use today for the bible fellowship where we discuss the interpretation of the Bible or teachings etc.

    As I said, we don't find any representation from other churches than Jerusalem and Antioch. Throughout the Bible there was no HQ or Central organization for the whole churches.
    If any, we could have detected such in the epistles.
     
  19. Chemnitz

    Chemnitz
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2001
    Messages:
    2,485
    Likes Received:
    0
    It could be argued that the apostles formed such a governing body. They were the ones people turned to for guidance during these early years. When they spoke people listened and obeyed. This sounds like earthly leadership.

    It is the distinct silence of the epistles and other parts of the Bible on the matter of church polity that does not rule out congregations organizing into larger organizations with a headquarters or what have you.

    Again details about who were in attendance are next to nill. You cannot say with 100% authority that there were no representatives from other areas. And it is not as you say clear that it was an informal meeting between Antioch and Jerusalem.

    To be honest your description of "fellowship" sounds a lot like what the counsels are supposed to be.
     
    #19 Chemnitz, May 31, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: May 31, 2007
  20. Eliyahu

    Eliyahu
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2005
    Messages:
    4,762
    Likes Received:
    0
    It is plausible that Paul was talking about this conference in Galatians 2.

    1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. 2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately F3 to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. 3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: 4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: 5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. 6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: 7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) 9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

    It doesn't seem that Paul went to Jerusalem often.
    He went to Jerusalem 3 years after his conversion (Gal 1:18)
    Even when he was converted he didn't confer with any flesh and blood ( Gal 1:16). He didn't go to Jerusalem to see the apostles. ( Gal 1:17) but went to Arabia.

    It seems that Paul is talking about the Council of Jerusalem when he write Gal 2:1-10. He doesn't give us any lesson that it was the Council which we can hear today about Catholic Councils or Synod etc.
     

Share This Page

Loading...