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The doctrine of the Church
Luke’s second book [Acts] does not seem to have
a conclusion. At the
end, Paul is still preaching in Rome, and the book does not tell us
what became of him or of the rest of the church. Luke had a theological
reason for this, for the story he was telling shall not come to an end
before the end of all history.1
When Jesus said, “I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Mt 16:18) he meant it. Jesus, at no time, lost control of His church through the many ages of struggle. Jesus said, “I will build My church” and the fact remains that He did and He is still working on it to perfect it. He also said, “the gates of Hades will not overpower it” which still remains in effect today. At no time has the devil been able to overpower it, notwithstanding what many in the church today believe.
2. What is the church?
2.1 Its nature
The birth of the church was on the day of Pentecost as the Holy Spirit came on all those who have believed on Jesus. It was on this day that “there were added about three thousand souls” (Ac 2:41) to this new organism.
The church is that group of people who has believed in Jesus Christ and henceforth is a part of the body of Christ. As people believe in Christ He adds them to the number of the church (Ac 2:47).
2.2 Its visibility
The church is at once both visible and invisible. The church is invisible as the fellowship of all true believers. We cannot see into people’s hearts and know what their condition is. Only God knows who are His (2 Tim 2:19). This invisible church is only known by God. On the other hand, the visible church on earth is the church that Christians see. The visible church includes all who profess faith in Christ and prove this faith in their lives. This visible church is not that which the world sees, but that which can be seen by true believers. The world will see just about any church that claims the name Christian for itself, as Christian. This will include groups like the Roman Catholic Church. However, true believers will be more discerning than that. When Paul wrote his epistles he wrote to the visible church in certain locations (1 Cor 1:2; 1 Thes 1:1).
2.3 Its locality
The word church in the New Testament may be used of a local group meeting in someone’s house—local church—or as abstract as all believers together from the birth of the church—universal church. The word “church” may be use of (1) house churches (Rom 16:5; 1 Cor 16:19), (2) area churches (1 Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 1:1; 1 Thes 1:1) or the universal church (Eph 5:25; 1 Cor 12:28).
2.4 Its aliases
There are other metaphors and terms used of the church in the New Testament.
2.5 Its purpose
The purpose of the church is ministry. This
ministry may be divided
into three categories.2
2.5.1 Worship: Ministry to God
We are encouraged several times in the New Testament to bring glory and praise to God (Col 3:16; Eph 1:12). One of the results of being filled with the Spirit is worship unto God.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,  addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart (Eph 5:18-19 ESV)
2.5.2 Nurture: Ministry to believers
The church has an obligation to bring its people to maturity and to nurture them to full strength. The ministry in the church is “ for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;  until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” (Eph 4:12-13) As Christians we are all involved at some level in this ministry, and our aim should be the same as Paul:
that we may present every man complete in Christ. (Col 1:28)
2.5.3 Evangelism: Ministry to the world
Some of the last words Jesus ever spoke were to make disciples of all nations.
 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I commanded you (Mt 28:19-20)
A very necessary part of evangelism is to show God’s kindness and mercy.
 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Lk 6:35-36)
3. The Church and Israel
When it comes to Israel and the church, there are basically three ways to interpret Israel’s relevance to the church today.
First, in Covenant Theology (CT) it is attempted to read the Old Covenant as though it were the New Covenant. In CT, there are two overarching covenants: the covenant of works made with Adam, which came to an end when the covenant of grace was instituted; the covenant of grace was instituted under Moses. The covenant of grace has two administrations. One from Moses to Christ, and the other from Christ on. Since there is only one covenant of grace—divided into two administrations—which is the basic assumption of CT, there has to be only one Church, and as a result, Israel has to be one with the church today.
Second, in Dispensational Theology (DT), the Old Testament is read as though it were the New Covenant. DT believes that all nations must bless Israel or incur God’s wrath. According to DT, God has an earthly purpose with Israel and a heavenly one for the church. DT believes that all of history is seen in terms of Israel’s history. In essence, DT is Israeli-centric.
Lastly, in New Covenant Theology (NCT), which is the author’s view, the Old Covenant is seen as obsolete and done away with, and that the New Covenant is now in effect which completely and utterly replaces the Old Covenant.
3.1 Promises and fulfilment
In Gen 12:1-7 God spoke to Abraham with a promise and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” As a result of God’s promise, He made a covenant with Abraham (Gen 12:7-21) with a short glimpse into Israel’s history: bondage in Egypt for 400 years; judgment upon Pharaoh; the Exodus; and finally, entrance into the promised land of Gen 12:7. After the time of Joseph, Israel did go into bondage to Egypt for 400 years, whereupon Pharaoh was judged by God (Ex 12:29-33). The result was that the Exodus from Egypt did occur (Ex 13:20-22) and the Israelites entered the promised land (Josh 1:2-6).
However, in the DT camp, it is believed that God must still fulfill the promises to Israel and that the struggle in the Middle East today is a direct result of that. They pour millions of dollars of their own money into supporting this cause. DT believes that everything must be done to this end, no matter who else lives there. Yet, Scripture is clear that the land promises to Abraham and Israel have been fulfilled.
So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had spoken to Moses, and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Thus the land had rest from war. (Josh 11:23)
 All the cities of the Levites in the midst of the possession of the sons of Israel were forty-eight cities with their pasture lands.  These cities each had its surrounding pasture lands; thus it was with all these cities.  So the LORD gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it.  And the LORD gave them rest on every side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all their enemies stood before them; the LORD gave all their enemies into their hand.  Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass. (Josh 21:41-45)
However, even though promises were made to Israel and were fulfilled as we can see in the Joshua passages, the New Testament is clear on the ultimate fulfillment of these promises. Under the New Covenant these promises are shown to have been mere shadows and types of the real fulfillment that waited for the church in the New Testament. Concerning these passages in Joshua, the New Testament has this to say:
 For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that.  So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. (Heb 4:8-9)
The complete fulfilment that awaited the people of God can only be realised in Christ and in the New Covenant. Paul interprets what God actually told Abraham when He made the promises to him.
 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, And to seeds, as referring to many, but rather to one, And to your seed, that is, Christ.  What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.  For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise. (Gal 3:16-18)
Since the promises to Abraham were kept and fulfilled in the book of Joshua, we can now see the proper fulfilment in Christ. The promises have all been fulfilled in Christ and Israel no longer has to wait for earthly promises to be fulfilled. Since the priesthood changed, the law changed with it (Heb 7:12), and on the same basis as this change, Jesus lives forever and as a result of that the priesthood will never change (Heb 7:24). So, since the priesthood will never again change, there can never be anymore animal sacrifices offered by anyone ever. Jesus is the mediator of a better covenant (Heb 8:6), since the first or Old Covenant was faulty (Heb 8:7-8). Therefore, since we have a New Covenant, Scripture is clear that the Old Covenant has been made obsolete (Heb 8:13).
What is the result of all this, then? In Christ, there “is neither Jew nor Greek… for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28) What does this mean for us as the church? The Scriptural fact stands that “if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise.” (Gal 3:29)
The outcome of all this is that God’s program no longer runs with an earthly kingdom in mind—such as that of setting Israel up in the land of Palestine—but rather a spiritual kingdom, which for now—until Christ returns to set up His kingdom—is proclaimed by the church and realised in Christ as the head of the church. All blessings are now appropriated in Christ.
However, some will claim that the promises made to Israel and the covenant with her were eternal in nature and therefore could not come to an end. Yet, this shows a basic misunderstanding concerning the New Testament message with Christ as the fulfilment of all promises made to Israel. In order for us to understand the eternal nature of the promises and their fulfilment in Christ we can also look at the “eternal” aspects in the worship system of Israel in the Old Testament.
It is clear that the Lord has done away with the old—priesthood, passover, sabbath, circumcision—and that He has put in place the new. If we can believe that the Old Testament priesthood or passover has been done away with and fulfilled in the New Testament—notwithstanding that all-encompassing word “eternal” or “everlasting”—then surely we can see and believe that the land promise—fulfilled already in Joshua’s day—has a better fulfilment in Christ!
Israel is no longer the people of God. They broke God’s covenant and rejected the gospel, and as a result, God rejected them as His people. Right through the pages of the Old Testament we read of Israel as the unbelieving people of God. Time and time again God had to bring judgement on Israel to bring them back to Him. Israel was known as the people of God (Rom 9:1-5; Ex 3:7-10; 2 Chr 7:14); however, Israel was rejected as the people of God (Dt 31:14-29; Jn 15:1-9).
 And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him,  and saying, Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.  Jesus said to him, I will come and heal him.  But the centurion said, Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, "Go!' and he goes, and to another, "Come!' and he comes, and to my slave, "Do this!' and he does it.  Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.  I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven;  but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Mt 8:5-12)
As a result of Israel’s rejection by God, God instituted a new people of God, the true Israel…the church!
 And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God,  you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  For this is contained in Scripture: BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.  This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,  and, A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.  But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;  for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. (1 Pet 2:4-10)
There is a new people of God, a people of God in which there is no Jew nor Gentile. In this people all are one. This people of God is the church (Eph 2:12-19). It is made extremely clear under the New Testament—the last covenant ever made with man by God—that the children of promise and not the physical descendants (Israel) are regarded as descendants of Abraham, and therefore are the real Israel today.
 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel;  nor are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but: THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED.  That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. (Rom 9:6-8)
It has never been the case that all Israel will be saved lock-stock-and-barrel. It has always only been the remnant that would be saved (Rom 9:27). This has been the pattern in the Old Testament from the beginning and we can see an example of that in the life of Elijah when he was facing the evil queen. God had to remind him that there was a remnant standing with him. Those who trust in Christ are the true Jews, the Israel of God (Gal 6:16).
 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.  But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. (Rom 2:28-29)
4. Church unity and purity
True church unity cannot exist apart from true church purity. As far as the church preaches pure or true doctrine, there may also be unity in the church.
4.1 Church purity
4.1.1 True and false churches
Wherever we see the word of God sincerely
preached and heard, wherever
we see the sacraments administered according to the institution of
Christ, there we cannot have any doubt that the church of God has some
It has to be understood that when a church preaches what is contrary to the truth of the gospel on a fundamental level, then that church cannot be noted as a church of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Naturally, the Roman Catholic Institution claims to be the only true church and that the visible church that descended from the apostle Peter and the rest of the apostles is the only true church. However, based on the multitude of false doctrine that they teach, they cannot be a true church. The Mormon Church and the Jehovah’s Witnesses can also be classified as false churches.
4.1.2 Varying degrees of church purity
When we read the epistles of Paul, we can acknowledge that the church was in no way a perfect church even at that early stage. Those Christians whose cry is to move back to the New Testament church will first have to tell us which one. When we look at the Corinthian church we find different factions (1 Cor 1:10-17), legal disputes among Christians (1 Cor 6:1-11), sexual immorality (1 Cor 6:12-20) and really bad worship services (1 Cor 11:2-14:26-40). If we look at the Galatian church, we find them deserting the gospel for a false gospel (Gal 1:6). In Colossians we find that false teachers were already coming to mislead the flock (Col 2:8), and Paul had to warn them against this.
Thus, we cannot even find the perfect New Testament church in the New Testament. From the beginning there were those who were less pure in their teaching than others. This can be backed up by reading Paul’s epistles.
However, since we cannot find a perfect church in the pages of the New Testament, it does not mean we must not attempt to live and teach as close to the truth as we can. This is a subject very close to Paul’s heart.
Paul is very serious on the point of teaching correct doctrine. First, he instructs us to watch out for those who teach doctrines opposite to the truth and to avoid them.
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. (Rom 16:17 ESV)
Second, we must be diligent in handling the truth of the gospel. It is important for the church to teach the truth in a consistent manner.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Tim 2:15 ESV)
Third, Paul instructs Titus to appoint elders in the church at Crete that are able to refute those who contradict the truth.
holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. (Tit 1:9)
Paul very eminently demonstrated the importance of refuting false doctrine when he rebuked the apostle Peter for not handling the truth correctly in his attitude toward the Judaizers.
But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews? (Gal 2:14)
It is very important to understand that if we do not hold ourselves to the highest degree of truth in our own lives and doctrine, that we are not displaying love in the Biblical way.
[love] does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth (1 Cor 13:6)
To read more about truth in the church, read the second theological study on truth.
4.2 Church unity
The New Testament has a strong emphasis on the unity of the church. Jesus wanted His flock to be one flock with one shepherd from the beginning (Jn 10:16). In His High Priestly prayer He prayed that His people be one (Jn 17:21). He also made the unity of the church as part of its witness to unbelievers (Jn 17:23).
The relationship between church purity and church unity is a close one. Without the truth, there can be no Biblical unity. Unity can only be based on truth. Any unity based on love that excludes the truth, has no Biblical love or unity. Love, and as a consequence unity, rejoices with the truth (1 Cor 13:6). To learn more about the importance of truth in the church, read the second theological study on truth.
4.3 Separation from a church
What are valid reasons for leaving a church? The question could also be asked, does the New Testament ever give a Christian the right to leave a church?
The New Testament is dead set against divisions in the church. In fact it speaks against it fairly frequently. Paul was so concerned that Peter was not showing the truth of the gospel when he separated from the Gentiles to eat with the Jews only, that he rebuked him to his face in a public setting (Gal 2:11-14). Jude goes so far to say that those who cause divisions are worldly people devoid of the Spirit (Jd 19).
The New Testament emphasises unity in the church and when it speaks of separation, it is separation from unbelievers, not believers. Paul instructs us not to be bound together with unbelievers (2 Cor 6:14), but to be separated from them (2 Cor 6:17). These are the kind of people we are to avoid:
 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,  unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good,  treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,  holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. (2 Tim 3:2-5)
These are the marks of unbelievers, showing us to avoid unbelievers, not believers who we differ with. In 2 Tim 3:8 Paul explains further that these people “oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith.”
The ones we are to separate from are those who do not teach the truth. Paul urges us very seriously to keep our “eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.” (Rom 16:17). Those who do not teach the truth should be avoided.
The question is, How far from the truth must a church’s teaching be before we feel that we need to separate from them? In order to put this question in a darker setting: Should we not leave a church when it has left the teaching of the gospel and therefore is teaching a different gospel? This means, when we can say of a church that it is no longer a Christian church, then we have a right to leave that church. One should therefore only leave a church who was no longer teaching the essentials of the gospel, but has turned from it to teach something different to the essentials. In order to learn more about the essentials of the gospel, read the study called What is the gospel?
What reasons are there for leaving a church?
When a church has deviated from the Biblical gospel and standards in a serious way, whether in its official documents or in its actual belief and practice, one should consider leaving. How does one measure this deviation? We have already seen that the New Testament never gives us a command to separate from a true church, as long as they are part of the body of Christ.
 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.  If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting;  for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. (2 Jn 9-11)
It is clear from this passage that if someone comes to you with a message that is not the “teaching of Christ” we should not receive him into our houses or our churches. The one who walks with such a person (gives him a greeting), he in effect participates in the false teacher’s evil deeds. What does this tell us? We should separate ourselves from false teachers. If we air a program on a TV channel that is dedicated to false teaching, we should rather withdraw our program so that we do not participate in their evil deeds. So, if a church supports a group or movement that teaches false doctrine, we should be wary of that church. A church that refuses to part ways from a false teacher or false movement, can no longer claim to walk in the truth of the gospel, since they participate in the evil ways of the false teachers.
Therefore, when a church teaches or supports those who teach heretical views on one of the major doctrines—Trinity, person of Christ, atonement, man’s sinful condition, inerrancy of the Scriptures, salvation—it would be wise to leave such a church.
If a Christian does not have the freedom to teach or preach his conscience as he feels informed by Scripture, then it would be wise to leave. If it comes to the point where you believe different on things which the church frowns upon, and you do not feel that you have the freedom to teach or preach what you believe the truth to be—tithing, Arminianism vs Calvinism, eschatology—then for conscience sake it would be better to leave.
Some people might also find it necessary or at least wise to leave a church on the basis of conscience if staying implied approval of some unbiblical doctrine or practice within the church, and thereby encouraged others to follow that wrong doctrine or practice.4
When a church hinders one from effectively discharging one’s ministry, it may be a practical consideration to leave the church to actively pursue one’s ministry before the Lord. However, this should be considered in a prayerful attitude.
On the other hand, it may be practical to leave a church simply because of location.
5. Authority in the church
The power of the church is its God-given authority to carry on spiritual warfare, proclaim the gospel, and exercise church discipline.5
5.1 Spiritual warfare
5.1.1 2 Cor 10:3-6
 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,  for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.  We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,  and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. (2 Cor 10:3-6)
When it comes to spiritual warfare, there have been many abuses, obviously encouraged by books like This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti.
As we turn to our passage in 2 Cor, we find that Paul is answering a complaint against his ministry in verses 1-2. Some in the Corinthian church have said that Paul is “meek when face to face” with them and “bold toward [them] when absent.” They therefore concluded that Paul was not walking in the Spirit, but “according to the flesh.” It is from here that Paul writes in verses 3-6 concerning spiritual warfare.
First, “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh,” meaning that Paul did not execute his ministry in the flesh, since he was divinely called by Jesus Christ Himself (Ac 9:1-19). Paul’s preaching is not in the flesh, but it is “divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”
 for WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.  How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?  How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!  However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Rom 10:13-17)
It is only through the preaching of the gospel that people can come to a saving knowledge of Christ. There are no mystical ways through which God works! God has chosen the base things of the world to confound the wise (1 Cor 1:27). The teaching of the cross is foolishness to the unsaved; yet, it is the power of God to those who are being saved (1 Cor 1:18). Our spiritual warfare is not based on human wisdom (1 Cor 1:21). The warfare we are speaking of here is not based on commanding demons everywhere to leave (would that not be great, since we would simply command them to leave the earth? Why stop at our cities?), but it is based on the preaching of the cross of Jesus Christ. It is the gospel which is the power of God for salvation (Rom 1:16), not the wisdom of men (1 Cor 1:25) which is simply warfare in the flesh.
When Paul writes that “we are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” (2 Cor 10:5) he clearly does not mean we are binding demons everywhere. Paul’s language here seems to refer to subtle philosophical rhetoric and arguments with no basis in the gospel. He refers to the godless opinions of men raising themselves against “the knowledge of God.” How are these thoughts taken captive for Christ? It is through the preaching of the gospel that God’s power works to take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”
5.1.2 Eph 6:10-19
 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.  Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS,  and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE;  in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,  and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel (Eph 6:10-19)
This is one of the most abused passages in what is known as the Charismatic section of the church. This passage has been used as proof for the expulsion of demons out of communities and cities and to bind the evil spiritual realm from activity. This supposedly opens the heavens for God to work in people’s hearts to prepare them for the reception of the gospel. This is definitely not the sovereign God of the Bible.
We are told to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Eph 6:10) and to “put on the full armor of God” (v11) in order “to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (v11). Our struggle is not against humans but against the devil and his schemes (v12). We are to “take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day” (v13).
In this passage, again, nothing is said about binding demons and casting them out!
What does this passage then say? Are we to get up in the morning and take each piece of the armour of God and actively imagine ourselves putting it on? This is ridiculous exegesis of this passage! In our Christian faith and in our daily walk, these are the qualities that should be with us at all times:
We are not told here at any point to drive demons out of cities and countries. This is in no way what is meant by spiritual warfare in the Scriptures. It is through the preaching of the gospel that the forces of darkness are pushed back. We are to destroy “speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are” to take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5). This is only done as we preach the truth of the gospel, since the gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16).
After two years of prayer and fasting
proclaiming the [gay] games would
not be held the Christians in Canada were unable to stop the Gay
Olympics held in Vancouver. (Prophecy today magazine). David Wilkerson
wrote in his newsletter April 1991, “The entire church structure in
America could not stop the showing of (The blasphemous film) “The last
Temptation of Christ”…in twenty five years, have we stopped abortion?
No, it’s worse than ever…there are Christians right now who claim they
are taking the world for Jesus. But I do not know of any one country
they have taken.”6
5.1.3 Acts 17:16-18
 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols.  So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present.  And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. (Ac 17:16-18)
When Paul came to Athens he found a city engulfed in idolatry. What did he do about this? He definitely did not do any kind of spiritual mapping to discover the demons in control of the city. Further, he did not do spiritual warfare to drive the demons of idolatry (or Zeus for that matter) out of the city to prepare it for the gospel! Finally, He reasoned “in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present.” He even conversed with the “Epicurean and Stoic philosophers.”
The rest of this passage (v19-33) explains to us how Paul continued to preach the gospel to them and that some believed.
5.1.4 Col 2:15
When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. (Col 2:15)
Not only did Christ cancel “out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us” and “nailed it to the cross” (Col 2:14), He also “disarmed the rulers and authorities” and “triumphed over them.” It was at the cross that Christ overcame the devil and His works. Our victory is in the cross, not in any “railing judgment” (Jd 9) against the devil. Our victory has been won…by Christ on the cross!
the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. (1 Jn 3:8)
The reason why Christ came, especially to die on the cross, was to destroy the works of the devil. Who destroyed the works of the devil? Christ did!
5.1.5 Mt 16:13-20
 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, Who do people say that the Son of Man is?  And they said, Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.  He said to them, But who do you say that I am?  Simon Peter answered, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.  And Jesus said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.  Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ. (Mt 16:13-20)
In this passage Jesus queries His disciples as to who they think He is. It is Peter who responds, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” As a result Jesus calls Peter blessed, since it is upon that statement—the rock—that Jesus will build His church. The church that Christ planned to build was not a church that needed to be reconstituted every couple of hundred years when it lost its direction. This is a church against which the gates of hell could not stand. At this point Jesus told Peter that He would give him the keys of the kingdom, and whatever he bound or loosed on “earth shall have been bound [or loosed] in heaven.”
What does this really mean? The fact is that Jesus Christ was going to build His church. Yet, upon what? “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This is what we preach. We preach Jesus, the Messiah, who is the “Son of the living God.” We preach Jesus, the One upon whom His church is built. Jesus is the cornerstone of the church (Eph 2:20; Ac 4:11). The fact that Jesus is the cornerstone of the church makes it impervious to the gates of hell. The gates of hell will be denied its power by the keys of the kingdom. What are these keys of the kingdom? It is in the context of Jesus building His church, that He said this to Peter. Therefore, the “keys of the kingdom” must have something to do with building the church of Jesus Christ upon this earth. The one with the “keys” has power to exclude or permit entrance into the kingdom. How is one given permission to enter the kingdom? It is by the preaching of the gospel (Rom 10:13-17). It is by the preaching of the gospel—the good news of the kingdom—that the doors of the kingdom are opened to many (Ac 2:14-39; 3:11-26). This is how Jesus builds His church through the preaching of the gospel and adding many to the church. However, these “keys” will also cause many to be shut out from the kingdom (Ac 4:11-12). Jesus will bring division among men where “members in one household will be divided” to the point that “father [will be divided] against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Lk 12:51-53)
Binding and loosing have therefore nothing to do with binding the devil and casting him out of regions, etc. The concept has to do with opening the gates of heaven with the “keys” provided in the statement of Peter. Binding and loosing occurs as we preach the gospel to a dying world. This idea of “binding and loosing” can be verified by the fact that Jesus “warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.” The time of Christ to be revealed as the Messiah was not yet and it was incumbent upon the disciples to keep to His wishes. In a real sense, this was part of the binding.
When we look at Jesus’ words that “whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven,” we need to once again look at the Greek grammar behind those words. In both phrases—“ shall have been bound” and “shall have been loosed”—we find participles in use. One thing of the participle is that its tense
is relative to the time of the leading verb.7
In both these cases the form of the words used is that of a perfect passive participle. For “binding” it is δεδεμενον—dedemenon—and for “loosing” it is λελυμενον—lelumenon.
The Greek perfect tense denotes the present
state resultant upon a past
action relative to the principal verb may be expressed by
the aorist or the perfect participle.9
So, how do we look at the passage in question? (Mt 16:19) dedemenon in heaven had already occurred and had a resultant state of being “bound” by the time the apostles would commit any “binding.” The exact same can be said of lelumenon. So, the translation of this verse can be:
whatever you bind on earth shall have already been bound in heaven and is currently bound, and whatever you loose on earth shall have already been loosed in heaven and is currently loose.
In this case the Updated Edition of the NASB of 1995—that is quoted in the introduction to this section—has a better translation than that of 1977, which simply says
whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
The 1995 edition of the NASB is therefore also a better translation than the NIV on this passage. In this case the updated edition of the NASB is also a better translation than the KJV, NKJV, RSV, NRSV, NLT, ISV and ESV.
Therefore, believers can only confirm what has already taken place in heaven. In this sense, with the preaching of the gospel, “binding” and “loosing” of people by the gospel can only occur as they have already been “bound” or “loosed” in heaven. This is a clear case of the elect that have already been “loosed” in heaven to become believers based on the particular gospel call on their lives. Peter, having been spoken to by Jesus on this occasion,
is authoritative in binding and loosing only because heaven has acted first (cf. Ac 18:9-10). Those he ushers in or excludes have already been bound or loosed by God according to the Gospel already revealed, which Peter, by confessing Jesus as the Messiah, has most clearly grasped.10
5.2 Church discipline
5.2.1 Its purpose
First, the concept of keeping discipline in the church is to restore and reconcile the stray believer. The church needs to see that its members behave correctly—restoration—and that love be shown among all members—reconciliation. Such discipline can clearly be seen in Mt 18.
 If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.  But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.  Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.  Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.  For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst. (Mt 18:15-20)
The idea in church discipline is to win a brother back, not to separate brothers. This can be seen in verse 15. However, it is clear if a brother like this does not listen to reason, the next step is to take some witnesses to the brother. If the brother still does not want to repent, the matter is to be taken before the church (it does not say the church “board”). The last resort is to excommunicate such a person and to treat him as an unbeliever.
In all of this the purpose is to restore believers. Paul delivered the incestuous brother over to Satan “for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Cor 5:5).
Furthermore, discipline in the church keeps sin from spreading to the rest of the church. (Heb 12:15) In the context of the incestuous relationship in 1 Cor 5, Paul also speaks of the fact that “a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.” (1 Cor 5:6). Excommunicating someone in such a case will stop sin from spreading to the rest.
Lastly, church discipline protects both the purity of the church and the honour of Christ. Paul, writing to the Corinthians concerning the incestuous relationship of a man who has his father’s wife (1 Cor 5:1-6), expressed his total amazement at this situation. Paul clearly felt that they were “arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst” (v2). Later, in 1 Cor 6:1-10, Paul expresses shame to the account of the Corinthians. They were taking each other to the courts of justice of the world. Paul states that those who wrong and defraud their brothers are as the unrighteous of the world who will not see the kingdom of heaven.
5.2.2 Its extent
What should the extent of church discipline be? What sins should be disciplined by the church?
This surely will include sins of a personal nature between individual parties. This can be clearly seen in the escalation of a personal sin to a sin before the whole church (Mt 18:15-20).
5.2.3 Its method
How should church discipline be exercised?
First, using Mt 18:15-20, we can see that church discipline should be kept to the smallest possible group. It starts off with a private meeting between the offended and the offender. The next step is to bring in one or two witnesses. Only after this is the issue to be taken before the church.
Second, it can also be seen from this passage in Mt 18, that there should be an increase in disciplinary measures until a solution is found. Obviously the very last solution is that of excommunication.
Third, if the discipline in the church involves a church leader, then no partiality should be shown.
 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.  Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.  I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality. (1 Tim 5:19-21)
However, church elders should be protected from personal attacks as can be seen that “two or three witnesses” should be provided. “Those [elders] who continue in sin,” should be rebuked “in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.” Just because a person is an elder in the church does not mean that he should be protected against public chastisement (v21). The reason for this is that an elder “must be above reproach” (1 Tim 3:2).
Lastly, church discipline should not be with an attitude of vengeance, or to punish, but to restore and heal. We see this from Paul as he tells us to forgive and comfort.
 Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority,  so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.  Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. (2 Cor 2:6-8)
It is important that our attitude in church discipline be correct.
BRETHREN, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. (Gal 6:1)
6. Church government
Is there such a thing as a New Testament pattern for church government? Is one pattern preferable above another?
Today, different denominations have different types of church government.
6.1 Officers of the church
Several people are named as ‘apostles’ in the New Testament. How do they all relate to the office of apostle as specified in Eph 4:11? Would it be correct to say that there are different levels of ‘apostle-ship’ (get the pun?), or should we look for a different translation or interpretation for αποστολος where it does not directly fit into being a foundation of Christianity as in Eph 2:20? There is great division on this matter in the church with some saying that the 5-fold ministry (offices) is still for today, and others who deny that apostles and prophets are valid for today.
188.8.131.52 Who were apostles?
Those who propose that the office of apostle is for today to the same degree as in the New Testament will present a list of names from the Bible with an open-ended ellipsis(…) at the end, or an ‘etc’ noting the continuance of the office. Those who believe that the office of apostle finally closed when John left will obviously give a shorter, definitive list.
The obvious list must start with the 12 apostles (Mt 10:2; Mk 3:14f; Lk 6:13; 9:10; 17:5; 22:14; Ac 1:26; 5:29; Rev 21:14), minus Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, plus Matthias (Ac 1:12f). Then we add to this the apostle Paul (Rom 1:1; 11:13; 1 Cor 1:1; 9:1f; 15:9; 2 Cor 1:1; Gal 1:1; Eph 1:1; Col 1:1; 1 Tim 1:1; 2:7; 2 Tim 1:1, 11; Tit 1:1) for obvious reasons. Next we add Barnabas (Ac 14:14). Those who do not want Barnabas on this list must literally jump through hoops not to have him added. No serious student of the Bible can exclude him. Ac 14:14 clearly says “when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it” they jumped into action to stop the sacrifices offered to them. So, that makes it 14 apostles.
Now we come to those who may or may not have been apostles in the sense that the 12, Paul and Barnabas were. Let’s start with James, the Lord’s brother. Paul writes in Galatians 1 that after his calling by the risen Christ Himself, he first went to Arabia, then Damascus, and three years later he went to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Peter and stayed with him for fifteen days.
“But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.” (Gal 1:1911)
The International Standard Version (ISV12) says
“But I didn’t see any other apostle except James.”
The New King James Version (NKJV13) has it
“But I saw none of the other apostles except James.”
The New International Version (NIV14) puts it
“I saw none of the other apostles – only James.”
The first three translations are probably more likely than the New International Version. Grudem writes that the New International Version here is not unlikely, yet
“the translation ‘except James the Lord’s
brother’ seems clearly
preferable, because (1) the Greek phrase is EI MH, which ordinarily
means ‘except’ (BAGD, p. 22, 8a), and in the great majority of New
Testament uses designates something, that is part of the previous group
but is ‘excepted’ from it; and (2) in the context of Gal. 1:18, it
would not make much sense for Paul to say that when he went to
Jerusalem he saw Peter, and no other people except James…”15
Paul also recognized James with Peter and John as pillars of the church in Jerusalem (Gal 2:9). Also, after Paul and Barnabas related the signs and wonders among the Gentiles, it was James who answered and suggested regulations for the situation. He exercised considerable leadership in the Jerusalem Council which would be appropriate to the office of apostle. Paul also lists James on the list of post-resurrection appearances (1 Cor 15:7-9). Notice that Paul lists him ahead of all the apostles, concluding the apostles with himself “the least of all the apostles.”
“Finally, the fact that James could write the
New Testament epistle
which bears his name would also be entirely consistent with his having
the authority which belonged to the office of an apostle.”16
This would bring the number of those in the office of apostle to fifteen (the Twelve, Paul, Barnabas, and James). The next verse is touted by many (some charismatics and most of the liberals) that even women could hold to the office of apostle. They cling to Rom 16:7 “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles” as such a lifeline. The International Standard Version here calls them “prominent among the apostles.” The New King James Version has it as those “who are of note among the apostles.” There are two ways to interpret this verse: 1) they were outstanding, prominent and of note as apostles, or 2) they were recognized as outstanding, prominent and of note by the apostles. Now, I would say that this verse should not be something you lose your head over. Even BAGD, the most noted New Testament Greek lexicon, has it “either apostles or honored by the apostles.”17 Grudem has a note which says volumes:
“Some have claimed that Junia was a common
woman’s name in ancient
Greece, but this is incorrect, at least in written Greek literature: A
computer search of 2,889 ancient Greek authors over thirteen centuries
(ninth century B.C. – fifth century A.D.) turned up only two examples
of Junia as a woman’s name, one in Plutarch (c. A.D. 50 – c. 120) and
one in the church father Chrysostom (A.D. 347-403), who referred to
Junia as a woman in a sermon on Rom. 16:7. It is not common as a man’s
name either, since the search found only one example of Junias as a
man’s name, in Epiphanius (A.D. 315-403), bishop of Salimus in Cyprus,
who refers to Junias in Rom. 16:7 and says he became bishop of Apameia
in Syria (Index of Disciples 125.19-20; this quotation is the most
significant, since Epiphanius knows more information about Junias). The
Latin text of the church father Origen (d. A.D. 252) also refers to
Junias in Rom. 16:7 as a man (J.P. Migne, Patrologia Graeca, vol. 14
col. 1289). Therefore the available data give support to the view that
Junias was a man, but the information is too sparse to be conclusive.”18
Here we have, then, two points to make about Andronicus and Junias in Rom 16:7:- 1) We cannot be sure if they were apostles or just honoured by the apostles; and 2) Junias could be a woman or a man, but this is inconclusive too. So, we cannot add these two to those who belonged to the office of apostle.
Dr. Bill Hamon, of CI International represents the other side of the coin. He lists those “recognized as apostles by being called apostles by name or identified by association, implication or root meaning of words.”19 He starts with the original twelve and then moves on to what he calls "The Expanded Circle of Other Apostles of the Lord."20 In this list he includes all those mentioned above (including the ones we excluded), and adds Silas, Apollos, Epaphroditus, Timothy and the two unnamed apostles (2 Cor 8:18b, 22b).
Does Paul include Silas and Timothy as apostles in 1 Thes 2:6 “as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority,” since the letter begins “Paul and Silvanus and Timothy” in 1 Thes 1:1? It is unlikely that Timothy is included as an apostle: 1) Four verses earlier (2:2) Paul writes “we had already suffered…in Philippi, as you know.” This refers to the beating and imprisonment of Paul and Silas, and not Timothy. Paul knows that his recipients will understand the “we” statements when he does not mean to include all three of them. 2) The “we” cannot include Timothy in 1 Thes 3:1-2, since the “we” sent Timothy to the Thessalonians. Here the “we” could be Paul and Silas or just Paul (Ac 17:14-15; 18:5). It seems Silas and Timothy came to Paul at Athens (Ac 17:15) although their arrival is not mentioned by Luke. Paul later sent them back to Thessalonica to help there (Ac 18:5).
So, concerning Silas, it is just possible that he was an apostle and 1 Thes 2:6 hints at that. He was also known as a leader in the Jerusalem church (Ac 15:22). He certainly could have seen Jesus after His resurrection and then have been appointed as an apostle by Him. Although, we cannot be absolutely certain of this.
We now have a list of fifteen, maybe sixteen men who were called to the office of apostle.
184.108.40.206 Attributes of apostles
An apostle received his calling by none other than the Lord Himself. He does not have his calling by virtue of any calling of a body of elders, or by recognition of any church. Paul even had to defend his ministry as apostle to the Corinthians (2 Cor 10). It is only by the will and call of God that a man could be an apostle (Rom 1:1; 1 Cor 1:1; 2 Cor 1:1; Gal 1:1; Eph 1:1; Col 1:1; 1 Tim 1:1; 2 Tim 1:1). Paul makes it clear that his calling is from the Lord alone “not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father.” (Gal 1:1). Paul stresses this point again in 1 Tim 1:1 “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and Christ Jesus our hope.” He makes it clear that his calling was a direct command from heaven.
In 1 Cor 4:8-10 Paul uses sarcasm to show the Corinthians how full of themselves they have become. In the middle of the point Paul is making, he writes that as apostles, they are exhibited as men condemned to death, “because we have become a spectacle to the world” (v9). He knew that as apostles the likelihood was great for the apostles to have to die for what they believe in as leaders of this “sect.”
People are really gullible! They will believe almost anything they are told. Especially if it arrives in the “Inbox” of their emailing system. . We have all received “virus warnings” and “urban legends” via e-mail, and it is shocking just how many people believe all that garbage. Especially, since they have a wonderful research tool right at their finger tips. The Internet!. Of the uncountable amounts of virus warnings and stories of 4-year old Billy-Bob who has cancer, how many times did you just pass it on to your 400 e-mailing buddies (congesting the Internet with garbage) and how many times did you actually try to use the Internet as a research tool to find out the validity of the latest hoax? Now, just imagine how difficult it had to have been for the Corinthians when someone came to Corinth questioning Paul’s apostlehood. They could not research Paul the we can do today using the Internet. So, they simply accepted that Paul obviously was not a real apostle. Paul had to defend his calling as an apostle and the circumstances under which he was allowed to deploy his calling (1 Cor 9:1-7). Paul then makes the point that he has the right to marry just like the rest of the apostles and Peter. Celibacy was never a prerequisite for a pastor, bishop or “Pope!!” (The word here is “celibrate” and not “celibate.”)
Another attribute of an apostle was that he performed signs and wonders. In Ac 5:12 we find that the apostles performed many signs and wonders. Paul writes “The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles.” (2 Cor 12:12)
An apostle has the gift that is first among gifts. “And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.” (1 Cor 12:28) When Paul enumerated the “offices” in the church he again put apostles first (Eph 4:11). The reasons why apostles are first should become clear when we next look at The Purpose of Apostles.
220.127.116.11 The purpose of apostles
The first purpose of the apostles was to carry out the orders of Christ (Ac 1:2). Jesus gave orders to the apostles before He was taken up into heaven. This probably was not much different to what He told them in Mt 28:19-20. He then told them to make disciples, baptize them and teach these disciples “to observe all that I commanded you.” Meaning, that it would become a repetitive action. Disciple, baptize, teach disciples who must disciple, baptize, teach disciples, who…
Next, we read from Paul’s epistle to Titus that Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ “for… the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness” (Tit 1:1). The International Standard Version has “the full knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.” The apostles, who brought us the New Testament had to ensure that the gospel was preached by others in complete accuracy and that the gospel preached by others was the truth as delivered to them by the remembrance of the Holy Spirit. We find that Paul, especially, was very conscious of the fact that truth was very essential in the preaching of the gospel and that correct doctrine was unmistakably part of the gospel. Paul writes in Tit 1:9 that an overseer must be “devoted to the trustworthy message that is in agreement with our teaching. Then he will be able to encourage others with healthy doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” (International Standard Version) Soon after Pentecost we already find that the church adhered to the teaching of the apostles (Ac 2:42). Even Peter, in his second epistle, stirs up the readers to “remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.” (2 Pet 3:2) This was also reiterated by Jude in verse 17 “remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Third, the mystery of Christ (“that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” – Eph 3:6), had to be revealed to someone, and Jesus chose His apostles and prophets to reveal it to. This mystery, which was now revealed, was then taken out and preached by the apostles.
Fourth, there was nothing more important to an apostle than the preaching of the gospel. Paul knew it well, for he writes that he was “set apart for the gospel of God” (Rom 1:1). Without the gospel, the apostles would not have had anything to do, because it was their bread and butter. They gave powerful testimony to the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Ac 4:33).
Another purpose of the apostles was “for the faith of God's elect” (Tit 1:1 ISV). Those that God had chosen to partake in salvation are very important to God, and the apostles had to keep on building their faith, and as a result we have the New Testament that was written under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, mostly by the apostles.
Sixth, the apostles, together with the elders had to decide on church matters. Some Judaizers went down to Antioch from Judea, and preached that salvation was impossible without circumcision. This was the old “Law” debate! Paul answered this well in his epistle to the Galatians. This problem had to be decided on and so the apostles and the elders came together to so in Ac 15:2, 4, 6, 22f; 16:4.
Last, the apostle and prophets became the foundation of the church. Paul wrote to the Ephesians, telling them that they are now of God’s household “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone” (Eph 2:20). The apostles were the initial carriers of the gospel. They were the ones who were told
“Therefore, as you go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you every day until the end of the age" (Mt 28:19-20 ISV).
They were to lay the foundation of the church by preaching and teaching the gospel, establishing the church. It was their duty to ensure that the gospel was preached, and that the content of the gospel was pure. They also brought us the New Testament.
[It] is not surprising that no further Scripture
would be written until
this next and greatest event in the history of redemption occurred
[coming of Jesus and His redemptive work]. This is why the New
Testament consists of the writings of the apostles. It is primarily the
apostles who are given the ability from the Holy Spirit to recall
accurately the words and deeds of Jesus and to interpret them rightly
for subsequent generations.21
Jesus promised the disciples that when He was gone the Holy Spirit would remind them of all He said. This would then assist them in writing the New Testament. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you… But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you” (Jn 14:26; 16:13-14).
18.104.22.168 Qualifications of an apostle
According to the New Testament there are basically two qualifications that someone had to fulfil to be counted as an apostle. Now, I admit that nowhere in the pages of the New Testament do we find something like “These are the qualifications of an apostle, and they are...” On the other hand, neither do we find the word “trinity” in the Bible, but we do believe it, because the concept is unmistakably taught in the pages of the Bible.
The first qualification of an apostle is that he had to have seen the resurrected Jesus with his own eyes. He had to have been an “eyewitness.” This is indicated to us by Ac 1:21-22
Therefore, one of the men who have associated with us all the time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning with the baptism of John until the day he was taken up from us, must become a witness with us to his resurrection. (ISV)
“he had suffered, he had shown himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them through a period of forty days and telling them about the kingdom of God.” (Ac 1:3 ISV)
In Paul’s writings, he is adamant that he indeed did meet this qualification, even though it was in a very unusual way (Ac 9:5-6; 26:15-18). Paul, in defense of his apostleship wrote
“Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?” (1 Cor 9:1 NIV).
He also said
“then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles” (1 Cor 15:7-9 NASB).
The second qualification of an apostle is that he received specific appointment by Christ Himself. The term “apostle” is not common in the gospels, yet the disciples are called “apostles” in a context where Jesus commissioned them by “sending” them:
JESUS summoned His twelve disciples … Now the names of the twelve apostles … These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them… (Mt 10:1-7).
Jesus reminds them that they will be His witnesses in Ac 1:8. When the need arose to replace Judas Iscariot, the eleven apostles went straight to the Lord to reveal His choice of replacement:
And they prayed and said, You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place. And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles (Ac 1:24-26).
Even Paul insists that his appointment as apostle was by Jesus Himself on the Damascus road:
But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; (Ac 26:16).
Paul also starts most of his epistles with the fact that he is an apostle by the will of God.
22.214.171.124 Do apostles exist today?
First, based on the above section Qualifications of Apostles, I have to conclude that there are no apostles today. Naturally, there may be objections that Christ could appear to someone today similarly as to Paul, to appoint him as an apostle.
The second point, which is also in answer to the above objection, comes from Paul in 1 Cor 15 when he writes of all those whom the Lord appeared to after His resurrection (first qualification of an apostle),
then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. (1 Cor 15:7-8).
Paul was the last person that the resurrected Christ appeared to. The Greek term for “last” is ESCHATOS (εσχατος)from which we get our word eschatology, which is the study of last days or end times.
[Its meaning is] with reference to a situation
in which there is
nothing to follow the ESCHATOS.22
Third, we find Paul writing in Eph 2:20 “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone.” The foundation for the church has been laid. There is no need to “move to new premises” with a new foundation. If new apostles can be appointed today, are we to believe that new christs are to arise too? False ones, perhaps! In the context here the corner stone is laid down but once. Why should the foundation be laid down repetitively? (“having been built!”)
An objection may be made that Eph. 4:11 provides us with the 5-fold ministry list, and therefore it should continue today. Looking at Eph 4:11 we immediately find “and He gave” (kai autos edōken - και αυτος εδωκεν) which signifies a one time event in the past when He poured out initial giftings on the church. This verse merely establishes the fact that these offices were given, not whether more people would be called to each of these offices. This has to be determined from the rest of the New Testament.
In fact, we see that there were many prophets,
pastor-teachers established by Christ throughout all of the early
churches, but there was only one more apostle given after this initial
time (Paul, ‘last of all,’ in unusual circumstances on the Damascus
The term “apostle” can be used in a broad sense to mean “messenger” or “pioneer missionary,” but in a strict sense it includes the fifteen or sixteen apostles mentioned in the New Testament.
The qualifications of an apostle were two-fold: 1) He had to have been a witness of the resurrection of Christ, and 2) He had to have been called directly by the Lord Himself.
We have also found that for several reasons the office of apostle did not continue beyond the calling of the apostle Paul.
Anyone calling himself an apostle today would rather cause confusion in the church by conjuring up the idea of authority to the magnitude of the New Testament apostles.
126.96.36.199 Plurality of elders in the New Testament
The pattern of appointing a team of elders in a church seems to be consistent in the New Testament. Since Paul’s first missionary journey, he started the practice of appointing elders in every church (Ac 20:17).
When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed. (Ac 14:23)
Paul instructed those who assisted him to also appoint elders in the churches they worked with (1 Tim 4:14).
For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you (Tit 1:5)
When James wrote his epistle he started off with the assumption that in all churches—the dispersion (Js 1:1)—there would be elders to care for them (Js 5:14). Even Peter wrote—not to the elder, but to the elders to shepherd God’s people (1 Pet 5:2). As with the epistle of James, 1 Peter is a general epistle directed to several churches scattered in certain Roman provinces in Asia Minor (1 Pet 1:1), in which he assumed that in all the churches there would be a plurality of elders. Apart from Jerusalem also being led by elders (Ac 11:30; 15:2), the writer who wrote to the Hebrews also instructed them to obey their leaders—plurality—and to submit to them (Heb 13:17).
The evidence shows that a diversity of church government did not exist in the New Testament and that all churches were led by a plurality of elders.
188.8.131.52 Aliases for ‘elder’
Elders are also known as “pastors,” “bishops” or “overseers.”
The word “pastor,” (ποιμην - poimēn) that is used so commonly in the church today is only found once in the New Testament in relation to an officer in the church.
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers (Eph 4:11)
The verse is probably better translated
“pastor-teachers” (one group)
rather than “pastors and teachers” (suggesting two groups) because of
the Greek construction (though not every New Testament scholar agrees
with that translation).24
In the footnotes related to the quote of Grudem’s above, Grudem states that the
phrase “some pastors and teachers” has one
definite article in front of
two nouns joined by kai (“and”), a construction that always in Greek
indicates that the two nouns are viewed by the writer as unified in
This Greek rule is known as the Granville Sharp rule. However, when we look at Sharp’s rule, then we find that it cannot rightly be applied to the “pastors and teachers.” This is how Sharp constructed the rule:
When the copulative kai connects two nouns of
the same case [viz. nouns
(either substantive or adjective, or participles) of personal
description, respecting office, dignity, affinity, or conexion, and
attributes, properties, or qualities, good or ill], if the article ho,
or any of its cases, precedes the first of the said nouns or
participles, and is not repeated before the second noun or participle,
the latter always relates to the same person that is expressed or
described by the first noun or participle: i.e. it denotes a farther
description of the first-named person.26
Importantly, Sharp only discussed substantives—nouns, substantival adjectives, substantival participles—that are of personal description, but not those that refer to things. His discussion also only relate to the singular and not the plural. His rule could therefore only be applied to personal, singular, non-proper nouns. Based on the correct construction of Sharp’s rule, Grudem’s interpretation of Eph 4:11 concerning “pastors and teachers” being unified in some way according to his use of Sharp’s rule, “pastors and teachers” cannot be seen as referring to one and the same person or office based solely on Greek grammar.
Even though the word “pastor” is only used in Eph 4:11 of church officers, the verbal form “to shepherd” (ποιμανω - poimanō) is used of the Ephesian elders in Ac 20:28. Peter uses the same verb in relation to the elders in 1 Pet 5:2.
Another word used for an elder is “overseer” (επισκοπος - episkopos). From Ac 20:17, in Paul’s sermon to the Ephesian elders, he uses three different words or concepts for the same office or work. Paul called to himself the “elders” of the church, and charged them as “overseers” of the flock to “shepherd” (pastor) the church of God. Here, these elders are seen as having been made “overseers” (episkopos) of the flock (church).
184.108.40.206 Purposes of an elder
The elders are to govern the church well (1 Tim 5:17). This is very much related to the management of his own home (1 Tim 3:4-5). Peter tempers the elders’ ideas concerning church governance and how to tend to the flock of God (1 Pet 5:2-5). When the Hebrews were instructed to “obey [their] leaders and submit to them” the writer certainly had a leadership in mind that had some governing authority over the church.
The elders also had the responsibility to teach in the church. Apart from the fact that we have already shown that we cannot unite “pastors and teachers” grammatically in Eph 4:11, we do have Biblical evidence that pastors (or elders) were also to teach. The elders or overseer must be “able to teach” (1 Tim 3:2).
The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. (1 Tim 5:17)
[An elder must hold] fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. (Tit 1:9).
It is clear from these passages that elders, especially those who “work hard at preaching and teaching”, are worthy of double honour. On the other hand, an elder has the duty, privilege and mandate to ensure that he is holding onto “the faithful word which is in accordance with the” truth of the gospel. This means that elders must not waste time on worldly things like searching for wealth, but to rather daily study and search the Scriptures for the truth. It is only in this way that an elder can “exhort in sound doctrine and  refute those who contradict.” Elders who are not busy searching the Scriptures daily are not worthy of double honour.
220.127.116.11 Qualifications of an elder
 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,  not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money.  He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity  (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?),  and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.  And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1 Tim 3:2-7)
 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you,  namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.  For the overseer must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain,  but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled,  holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. (Tit 1:5-9)
When one looks at these qualifications, it becomes clear that Paul
combines requirements concerning character
traits and heart attitudes
with requirements that cannot be fulfilled in a short time but will
only become evident over a period of several years of faithful
Is it not amazing that whenever a new convert arrives in the church who has had great success in business, that the tendency in the modern church is to see him as a suitable candidate as elder? This is contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture. In his writing to Timothy, Paul tells him that an elder must not be a “new convert” (1 Tim 3:6). It will certainly take time—in years—for someone to be proven as one who holds “fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict” (Tit 1:9).
Elders should not be appointed in haste.
Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily (1 Tim 5:22)
In the context, elders were just discussed in the previous verse, and this most probably means that elders should not be set apart publicly too hastily. We can see the laying on of hands as such a setting apart in Ac 6:6; 13:3; 1 Tim 4:14.
The word “deacon” comes from the Greek word for “servant” (διακονος - diakonos). When this word is used in a context not dealing specifically with church officers, it simply means “servant.”
 NOW at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food.  So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables.  Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.  But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.  The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch.  And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them. (Ac 6:1-6)
Even though the noun diakonos is not used in this passage, a related verb (διακονεω - diakoneō) is used in verse 2 where the twelve said that it was “not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables.” It thus came that they chose seven deacons to serve.
 Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain,  but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.  These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach.  Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.  Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households.  For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. (1 Tim 3:8-13)
6.2 Women as church officers?
Men and women are seen as equal in the church in terms of value. Both have equal access to the blessings of salvation.
However, when it comes to being an elder or pastor in the church, what does the New Testament teach us?
For this we need to look at some pertinent passages.
6.2.1 1 Tim 2:11-14
 A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.  But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.  For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.  And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Tim 2:11-14)
This passage discusses the issue of women as elders in the church most directly.
We know the setting of this epistle to Timothy from 1 Tim 3:15,
I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.
It was important for Paul to let Timothy know how things should be done “in the household of God,” especially since he wanted Timothy to “remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines” (1 Tim 1:3). Some in the church at Ephesus departed from true doctrine and incorporated false teaching in their doctrine. However, Paul tells us little to nothing about this false doctrine since he knew that Timothy was familiar with the issue at hand. Therefore, we need to be careful not to make too much of the nature of this false doctrine in the church at Ephesus and how it influenced women there.
We will, then, take a cautious approach to this
matter. In our
exegesis, we will use only those aspects of the false teaching that may
be clearly inferred from the pastoral epistles and related New
Testament passages to shed light on the text. Some of the aspects
specifically relevant to 1 Timothy 2:11-15 are:
We know that these false teachers encouraged women to abstain from marriage (1 Tim 4:3). To counter this, Paul instructs young widows to marry (1 Tim 4:14). Paul sees this issue in a very serious light “for some have already turned aside to follow Satan.” (1 Tim 4:15)
It is because of these aberrant positions of the false teachers that Paul wrote “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man.” These are functions performed by elders, and so are specifically prohibited for women in the church. Naturally there are objections to this interpretation of this passage.
First, there are those who object with the rationale that this passage applies to a specific situation in the Ephesian church, where women most probably taught heresy, which Paul wrote against. This objection is in no way persuasive, since we do not have any indication in the text of 1 Timothy that women indeed taught heresy. In this case, when Paul writes, “I do not allow a woman,” he means “not any woman.” He did not say “certain” women in any way. He did not say that only women that teach heresy may not “teach or exercise authority over a man.” What is Paul’s real reason for giving this prohibition? Paul’s reason is that “it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” This reason refers back to the order of creation. He does not deal with situational ethics here, but the way that God created all things. Paul refers to the order of creation before the fall, and also before the fall created a perversion of male and female roles.
A second objection is that women were not well educated in Paul’s time, and as a result could not qualify for the roles of elder and other church offices. The question to this objection is whether Paul even gave such a reason for his prohibition. Again, as in the previous objection, Paul’s reason is based on creation and its God-given order. When we look at the qualifications of an elder as written to Timothy and Titus, we can nowhere see that Paul made educational qualifications part of his qualifications of an elder. Formal training was not an issue at the time, as we can see when we look at several of the apostles. Several of them had no formal training (Ac 4:13).
The third objection is the fact that women were to “learn” (v11) itself implies that they would eventually teach. This may be true, but under the prohibitions of Paul, they may not “to teach or exercise authority over a man.” This, however, does not say anything concerning a woman teaching or having authority over other women or even children. On the other hand, is it correct to conclude that simply because someone learns he will eventually end up teaching too?
Certainly if we mean by teaching an officially recognized activity of expositing and applying a section of Scripture, this is not the case. Neither do the texts cited by Spencer prove this. All Jewish men were encouraged to study the law; did they all become rabbis? Similarly, all
Christians are encouraged to study the
Scriptures; but Paul expressly
limits “teaching” to a restricted number who have the gift of teaching
(cf. 1 Corinthians 12:28-30). Of course, if we define teach in a
broader sense-the communication of Christian truth through private
conversation, family devotions, etc.-we may conclude that all
Christians do indeed “teach.” But this is not the kind of teaching Paul
is talking about in this context. Neither does it seem to be what
Spencer means, for her point is that this verse validates women as
teachers even in positions of authority in the church. It is manifest,
then, that the encouragement to women to learn gives no reason to think
that they were also to be engaged in expositing and applying Biblical
truth to men.29
The fact that Paul prohibits women from teaching or having authority over men—based on his reason of created order—even prohibits those women, therefore, who have been given permission by their husbands—a common charismatic practice—to hold such a position.
6.2.2 1 Cor 14:33b-36
[33b] For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints,  the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.  If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.  Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? (1 Cor 14:33-36 ESV)
The difficulty that this passage poses is that Paul clearly allowed women to actually speak in the assembly.
But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head (1 Cor 11:5)
Many see the 1 Cor 14 passage as prohibiting women from speaking in the church altogether. This will contradict Paul in 1 Cor 11. Paul clearly allowed women to pray and prophesy in church, albeit with their own cultural restrictions.
What, then, does this passage restrict women from? The immediate context—apart from Paul having told us that praying and prophesying being allowed for women—instructs us that Paul’s limitation on women “speaking” has to do with the issue of evaluating prophecies given in the assembly.
More broadly, a strong case can be made for the
view that Paul refused
to permit any woman to enjoy a church-recognized teaching authority
over men (1 Timothy 2:11ff.), and the careful weighing of prophecies
falls under that magisterial function.30
Paul, by prohibiting women from critiquing or evaluating
the assembly—“this would be a ruling or
governing function with respect
to the whole church”31—is
concerned with the preservation of “male
leadership in the teaching and governing of the church.”32
6.2.3 1 Tim 3:1-7; Tit 1:5-9
The Scripture texts can be read above at section 18.104.22.168 Qualifications of an elder.
Since we have already dealt with the qualifications of an elder, we would have noted that Paul explicitly notes the elder as a man by writing that he must be “the husband of one wife” (1 Tim 3:2; Tit 1:6). Paul also writes that “he must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)” (1 Tim 3:4-5).
7. Receiving grace in the church
When we speak of receiving grace in the church, we mean the different activities in the church through which we receive blessing. This blessing within the church is not restricted to one or two activities, but may come to us through all Biblical activities in the church. We will make use of the list as set forward by Grudem.33 I believe it to be sufficient in most cases to simply supply Scripture quotations.
7.1 Teaching of the Word
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Rom 1:16)
 we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,  but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Cor 1:23-24)
 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;  so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16-17)
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Mt 28:19)
When we are obedient to God in any activity in our lives it is sure to bring us blessing. Apart from being a public confession primarily before the whole church of the fact of Jesus Christ being our Saviour, it is also a sign of our death and resurrection with Christ (Rom 6:2-5; Col 2:12).
7.2.1 The method and meaning of baptism
New Testament baptism was carried out in only one way: immersion.
First, the Greek word baptizō (βαπτιζω), means “to dip” or “immerse.” This is the commonly understood meaning even outside of the Bible in ancient literature.
Second, the sense of “immersion” is the logical conclusion when certain Biblical passages on baptism are studied. People “were being baptised by [John the Baptist] in the Jordan River.” (Mk 1:5) After being baptised, Jesus came “up out of the water.” (Mk 1:10; see also Jn 3:23; Ac 8:36-39)
Third, when one considers the meaning or symbolism of baptism, it is logical to conclude that baptism should be by immersion. Baptism is a symbol of our own union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection (Rom 6:3-4; Col 2:12).
7.2.2 Who may be baptised?
Only those who have a profession of faith should be baptised. This means that only those who personally believe in Christ qualify for baptism.
First, this can be seen from the different passages in which people were actually baptised (Ac 2:41; 10:44-48; 16:14-15, 32-33; 1 Cor 1:16).
But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. (Ac 8:12)
Second, it can also be seen from the meaning and symbolism of baptism. Since baptism symbolizes the beginning of a Christian’s life, it should only be given to those who can actually give evidence of such a Christian life. Infants can in no way at all give such evidence.
7.2.3 Contrary views
First, in the Roman Catholic view, baptism should be administered to infants since it is necessary for salvation, as the act of baptism is a source of regeneration. This view is simply a works salvation view.
Second, there is also what Grudem calls the Protestant Paedobaptist View (PPV).34 In the PPV it is believed that infants may rightly be baptised if they are children of believing parents. Churches such as the Lutheran, Episcopalian (Anglican), Methodist, Presbyterian and Reformed churches (such as the Dutch Reformed) support this view. This view commonly goes as follows: Circumcision was the outward sign of entrance into the covenant community in the Old Testament when an Israelite baby boy was eight days old. Therefore, since baptism is the outward sign of such an entrance into the New Testament Christian (“covenant”) community, it follows that baptism in the New Testament is the counterpart to Old Testament circumcision. As such, baptism should be discharged to infants of believing parents. This parallelism is drawn upon from Col 2:11-12,
 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;  having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
The question that the PPV must answer is that since in the Old Testament not only the infants of the “covenant” community were circumcised but also their servants, should it not be incumbent upon Christians to also baptize their servants?
7.3 The Lord’s Supper
 Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?  Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread. (1 Cor 10:16-17)
 When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him.  And He said to them, I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;  for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.  And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, Take this and share it among yourselves;  for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.  And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.  And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. (Lk 22:14-20)
And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. (Ac 4:31)
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb 4:16)
 But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.  God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (Jn 4:23-24)
for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh (Phil 3:3)
7.6 Church discipline
It is through church discipline that the purity of the church is maintained. However, if the Holy Spirit does not convict the wrongdoer to produce a godly sorrow (2 Cor 7:11), there will be no “repentance without regret, leading to salvation.” (2 Cor 7:10). The end should be to “restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” (Gal 6:1) On the other hand, church discipline should follow a Biblical pattern (Mt 18:18-20).
Giving is ordinarily done through the church as
it receives and
distributes gifts to the various ministries and needs cared for by the
church. Once again, there is no automatic or mechanical bestowing of
benefits on those who give.35
To read more about New Testament giving, see 2 Cor 8-9 and the article Giving in the Bible..
7.8 Spiritual gifts
As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Pet 4:10)
The gifts are not to be used to gain more prestige in the church, since the fleshly manipulation of the gifts is not “for the common good.” (1 Cor 12:7).
But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. (1 Cor 12:11)
If we simply allow the Holy Spirit (as if He needs to be “allowed”), to send His gifts when He wants to, there will be more “common good” in the church and less fleshly outbursts of a demonic nature.
A spiritual gift is any ability that is empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in any ministry of the church36
First, as we have noted from 1 Cor 12:7, the gifts are “for the common good” of the church. As soon as we believe that we can use a gift at our own will, it loses its “common good.” It then becomes a tool for the upliftment of our own egos.
Second, the gifts are given to the church for the period between Pentecost and the return of Christ. We can see how Paul connects the return of Christ and the time period of the gifts when he says that the Corinthians “are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:7). Later (1 Cor 13:10), Paul tells us that the gifts are imperfect, “but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.” The perfect comes when Christ returns for us on that great and glorious day!
Third, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was for much more than the gifts. The ultimate purpose of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit is to “receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses”(Ac 1:8) wherever we go.
Fourth, the gifts are for “the edification of the church.” (1 Cor 14:12)
7.8.2 How many gifts?
In 1 Pet 4:11 two gifts are mentioned.
Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
“Speaking” here covers several vocal gifts and “service” covers gifts of service.
The fact is that the way Paul has enumerated the gifts in the different texts shows us that he did not intend giving us an exhaustive list of all possible gifts. The other point is that to categorize the gifts into different groups of gifts is simply folly. Not even Paul did that.
7.8.3 The folly of grouping gifts: Motivational gifts?
 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.  For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function,  so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.  Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;  if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching;  or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (Rom 12:3-8)
22.214.171.124 The rationale of those who teach motivational gifts
How many of you have done some kind of motivational gifts test at your church, Bible study group, or elsewhere? It is quite the in thing to do at many churches to help people find their motivational gifts. The idea of motivational gifts come from our text for this study: Rom 12:3-8. These gifts are enumerated as:
The gifts mentioned in the New Testament are broken into basically three groups:
The idea behind this is that each one of us was born with one or more of these motivational gifts inherent in our natures. These gifts are not seen as Holy Spirit empowered gifts, but as gifts given at birth. They can almost be seen as character traits by those who espouse them as motivational gifts. One could be motivated by the prophetic motivational gift, which in this case is not the same as the gift of prophecy from 1 Cor 12. This prophetic motivational gift helps one to see everything in black and white, right or wrong. A person motivated by this gift sees things as they are and they call a spade a spade. In this way we can go down the list.
The question is, however, is the idea of the gifts mentioned in Rom 12 as motivational gifts a valid one, or should we look for a proper hermeneutic of this passage? The answer to this question is that we need to look for a proper hermeneutic of Rom 12:6-8.
126.96.36.199 The proper interpretation of the gifts in Rom 12:6-8
Remember, we want to discover from the text of Rom 12:6-8 if the gifts mentioned there are motivational gifts; gifts that we are more or less born with that we carry with us through life, or as Holy Spirit empowered gifts..
In order to find out the meaning of this passage, the first thing we need to do is look at the context. I remember someone telling me many years ago: A text without a context is a pretext. This has proven so true in the church today. Much of what is preached from pulpits today are mere overlays of the preacher’s preconceived ideas, onto the text of Scripture. This creates a complete distortion of the proper meaning of the Bible into a deception forced upon the church.
We already know how the other passages on gifts are interpreted, especially the spiritual gifts from 1 Cor 12. On the most part, interpretations for 1 Cor 12 are correct. In order to find out what Paul meant by this list of gifts, we will compare the Rom 12 passage with the passage in 1 Cor 12.
188.8.131.52.1 A comparison with 1 Cor 12
We have already seen the gifts mentioned in 1 Cor 12. Now we will look at the broader context of the setting of this “gifts” passage. As we look at the 1 Cor 12 gifts in their context, we will keep referring back to the Rom 12 gifts passage.
184.108.40.206.1.1 Many members
When we look at 1 Cor 12 and the context of the gifts in this passage, the first thing we notice is that Paul puts the use of the gifts in the context of the many members of the church. We see this in 1 Cor 12:15-27. Here Paul illustrates how the eye cannot be the ear, and the hand cannot be the foot. The importance of this passage is highlighted when the Corinthians are notified of the necessity of even the weaker members of the body. Each member of the body has an important task. When last did you kick your little toe against a chair? Even though you never give your little toe the smallest of thoughts, when you kick your little toe, your whole body is in pain together with your toe. In this way, each of the members of the body of Christ has an important place. The one with the gift of prophecy is not more important than the one with the gift of discernment. In fact, each manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good, not for the personal use of the one with the gift (1 Cor 12:7). The Spirit does the distributing of gifts when it is needed to whomever He wills (1 Cor 12:11).
Now, let us go back to Rom 12. Have a closer look at Rom 12:4-5! Remember the context! Paul writes that we are all members of one body and “all the members do not have the same function” (v4). We “are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (v5). As in 1 Cor 12 the gifts of Rom 12 find themselves in the same context of the “many members” with all having different functions.
220.127.116.11.1.2 Loving members
Next, we find the gifts passage of 1 Corinthians in the context of love. Paul ends 1 Cor 12 with “earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.” (v31). He then proceeds with showing the Corinthians a more excellent way. The way of LOVE! Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians is one of the most well known passages of Scripture of all time. No matter how many gifts you perceive yourself to have and to lay claim to, without love, they mean absolutely nothing. It is then that the gift of tongues will lose its validity by simply sounding like a “noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (v1). Even if I somehow know everything, perhaps through the gift of prophecy, “I am nothing” (v2). Giving to the poor does not guarantee that we have love. Paul writes that we can give to the poor without love, but “it profits me nothing” (v3). The passage then carries on about the perfection of love and that all gifts will cease, yet love will never fail.
How does this fit into the context of the gifts mentioned in Romans 12?
As soon as Paul finishes the list of gifts in Rom 12, he proceeds with “Let love…” (v9). He then carries on with the topic of love till the end of the chapter in verse 21. Once again, the contexts in the two different passages are the same.
18.104.22.168.1.3 The use of gift
Let’s jump back to 1 Cor 12! The Greek word for gift in 1 Cor 12 is χαρισμα (charisma). “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.” (v4) We see it again in verse 9 “to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit” and also in verses 28 and 30. Finally, Paul writes in verse 31 “But earnestly desire the greater gifts.” The gifts that the Spirit distributes to the church when needed are free gifts. The meaning of this word is “free gift.”
Which word for “gift” is used in Rom 12? “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly” (v6). The word for gift here is also χαρισμα (charisma). These gifts are given to us according to the grace given to us. The word for grace here is χαρις (charis). Grace in the New Testament is always free and can not be worked for. This grace is a grace bestowed on us by God.
So, what have we learnt from our little study of Romans 12 in conjunction with 1 Cor 12?
We have learnt that Romans 12 has exactly the same context as that of 1 Corinthians 12. The gifts mentioned in both passages are surrounding by the same two topics:
We have also learnt that the same Greek word for gift (χαρισμα - charisma) is used in both passages to teach on their respective lists of gifts.
So what is our conclusion?
In the final analysis of these two passages, we have to conclude that the gifts mentioned in Rom 12 are not motivational gifts, but spiritual gifts. These gifts are not motivational gifts that we are born with, but gifts that the Holy Spirit distributes to us.
 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Heb 10:24-25)
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Ac 2:42)
When we assume attending church services to be optional extras in our daily walk with Christ, we cultivate the same thought patterns and attitudes in our children’s lives. Usually, the first sign of a teenager going bad is when they no longer want to attend church. It is our duty as parents to cultivate the correct attitudes and lifestyles in our children. Like it or not, these attitudes and lifestyle are inherited from their parents.
It is only as we fellowship with the church that we are able to “bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:2)
Reading through the book of Acts the reader will notice that
a frequent connection between proclaiming the gospel (even in the face
of opposition) and being filled with the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:4 with
vv. 14-36; 4:8, 31; 9:17 with v. 20; 13:9, 52).”39
 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Mt 28:19-20)
7.11 Personal ministry to individuals
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Col 3:16)
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. (Eph 4:29)
Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. (Js 5:20 NIV)
 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? (1 Jn 3:16-17)
Index of tablesTABLE 1: ALIASES FOR THE CHURCH
TABLE 2: CHRIST – THE ANTITYPE
TABLE 3: EXAMPLES OF SINS DISCIPLINED IN THE CHURCH
TABLE 4: CHURCH GOVERNMENT STYLES
TABLE 5: QUALIFICATIONS OF AN ELDER
TABLE 6: QUALIFICATIONS OF A DEACON
TABLE 7: THE GIFTS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
Endnotes Gonzalez, Justo L., The Story of Christianity, Complete in One Volume, The early church to the present day, Prince Press, Peabody, Massachusetts, First printing—December 1999, Introduction xvi.
 Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1994, pp867-868.
I am using the three categories of purpose in the churches ministry from Grudem, since he puts it so succinctly.
 Calvin, John, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 4 Chapter 1 Section 9, Volume 2, Translated by Henry Beveridge, Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1989, p289.
 Grudem, p881.
 Grudem, p887.
 Let Us Reason Ministries, Spiritual Warfare: Biblical binding and loosing, http://www.letusreason.org/Pent13.htm.
 Machen, J. Gresham, D.D., Litt.D., New Testament Greek for Beginners, The MacMillan Company, 1923, p105.
NOTE: More can be read in Vaughan, Curtis and Gideon, Virtus E., A Greek Grammar of the New Testament: A Workbook Approach to Intermediate Grammar, Broadman Press, Nashville, Tennessee, 1979, p157, under the section “The Circumstantial Participle.”
 Machen, p187.
 Vaughan, Curtis and Gideon, Virtus E., A Greek Grammar of the New Testament: A Workbook Approach to Intermediate Grammar, Broadman Press, Nashville, Tennessee, 1979, p157.
 Barker, Kenneth L., and Kohlenberger, John R., Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary Volume 2: New Testament, An abridgement of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1994, p79.
 Scripture quotations without version information are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB). “Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”
 “Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, International Standard Version. Copyright © 1999 by the Learn Foundation, Yorba Linda, CA. Used by permission of Davidson Press, Inc. All rights reserved internationally.”
 “Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
 “Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.”
 Grudem, p908.
 Grudem, p908.
 BAGD, p99.
 Grudem, p909.
 Hamon, Bill, Apostles Prophets and the coming moves of God, Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., Shippensburg, PA, 1997, p4.
 Hamon, p5.
 Grudem, p60.
 BAGD, p314, 3b.
 Grudem, p911.
 Grudem, p913.
 Grudem, footnote 13, p913.
 Sharp, Granville, Remarks on the Uses of the Definitive Article in the Greek Text of the New Testament: Containing Many New Proofs of the Divinity of Christ, From Passages Which are Wrongly Translated in the Common English Version, B.B. Hopkins and Co., Philadelphia, 1807, p3 -> as quoted by James White, Granvillle Sharp’s Rule, http://aomin.org/GRANVILL.html
 Grudem, p916.
 Piper, John & Grudem, Wayne, editors, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, paper by Douglas Moo, What does it mean not to teach or have authority over men?, Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois, First Printing 1991, p177.
 Moo, p180.
 Piper & Grudem, p143.
 Grudem, p939.
 Grudem, p939.
 Grudem, p951-961.
 Grudem, p975.
 Grudem, p957.
 Grudem, p1016.
 If the word “gift” (charisma) in this one verse has absolutely no bearing on this chapter in which Paul clearly contrasts being married and being celibate, then somehow we will have to bend this verse to point to some “gifts” outside of this chapter. Paul just wished that all men were as himself (celibate) in verse 6. Then two verses after verse 7—the verse in question—in verse 9, he concedes that if they did “not have self-control” they should marry. In the midst of this he writes that “each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.” If this “gift from God” does not relate directly to either being married or being celibate, then surely context has no meaning!
 Grudem has this list of the gifts on p1020.
 Grudem, p958.