Baptist Polity Workbook: 1 (Parital Proof Read)
|I. SECTION ONE: THE BODY OF CHRIST|
A. Sometimes we hear people say that the Scripture distinguishes between the Church that is the Body of Christ (Eph. 1:22, 23) and local churches.
1. What do people mean when they speak of “the Church which is the Body of Christ?” (Please define the term)
They are talking about the universal church. It is everybody who has been saved in this age – Pentecost through the Rapture. It is the group of members that Christ promised to build and for who he died. He is the head of the body and gives it instruction.
2. What Scriptural support can be given to support this doctrine? (List both references and their appropriate phrases)
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (Cor. 12:13)
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (I Pet. 1:3)
“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”
“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18)
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Eph. 5:25)
“And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” (Eph. 1:22-23) “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” (Col. 1:18)
3. What are some other names used to designate this doctrine?
Some other names used for this doctrine are “his Body” and the “invisible church”.
4. Do you agree with this doctrine?
5. If not, why not?
I believe this doctrine because scripture teaches a universal church, and the church fathers – Augustine, Luther, and Calvin – agreed with this doctrine. If you do not have a universal church all the references in the Bible to the church must be local and I do not think that would be good exegesis. Lastly, if you have a local church it has many imperfections but the universal church is perfect.
6. If a person holds this doctrine, what danger may there be in strongly emphasizing it?
If you strongly emphasize this doctrine you can lose focus on the local church. Also, you give people a wrong idea about the local church, a false since of hope that it has to be perfect.
7. What is the relationship of the Church that is His Body to the Local Church?
The local church is made up of those in the universal church and vice-versa.
B. The Beginning of the Church
1. When did the Church begin?
The church did not begin in the Old Testament. It began at Pentecost with the descent of the Holy Spirit.
2. How would you support your answer regarding the date for the beginning of the Church?
First, Matt. 16:18 states that Christ would build His church; which implies that it is going to happen in the future. Next, Corinthians 12:13 states, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit,” which identifies how the church was built. When regeneration takes place the believers are placed, by the Holy Spirit, into union with Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:22-23 shows the church as the Body of Christ. This verse stresses the union that believers have with Christ as soon as they are genuinely saved. Jesus tells his disciples in Acts 1:5, “You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” These verses show that the Holy Spirit had not yet placed believers into union with the Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 2:1-4 states, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance,” which shows us that this ministry began at Pentecost. Lastly, in Acts 11:15 Peter is discussing what happened at Cornelius’s house shows us that the Spirit came upon the Gentiles as it had with the Jews in the beginning.
II. SECTION TWO: THE IMPORTANCE OF THE LOCAL CHURCH
A. Give a definition of a New Testament local church, listing its essential features.
A New Testament local church is a group of professing believers who have been baptized. The essential features would be: having Pastors and Deacons; a unified belief system; and coming together for the purpose of worship, edifying and equipping believers, and evangelizing the lost.
B. Many people believe that the Local Church is the center of God’s program for this age. Do you agree with this? Please explain your answer (pro or con) and support it with Scripture.
Yes, I agree with the idea because in the New Testament God is using the local church to carry out all of his work. Here is a list of verses that proves this thought pattern.
Acts 5:11 – “And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.”
Acts 8:1 - “And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.”
Acts 15:4 – “And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.”
Acts 15:22 – “Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren…”
Acts 13: 1-3 – “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”
Acts 15:41 – “And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.”
Rev. 1:4 – “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne…”
Thess. 1:1 – “Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Acts 16:4, 5 – “And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.”
Acts 14:23, 24 - “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia.”
Also, if God does not work through the church who or what does he work through? If he does not then a person has to find out how God works without the church. Some people claim that he works through individuals speaking to them directly. Others say that he works through individuals who have been baptized in the Holy Ghost allowing them to speak in tongues and to have direct revelations from the Lord. I believe this is incorrect because of what the Bible teaches about charismatic gifts. I believe the gifts were given to the church: to give the apostles supernatural authority to benefit the early church; to lay the foundation for the church; and to help the new believers who did not have any written word. I believe this because of Rev. 22:18-19 and I Cor. 13:8-13 which states that these things would end at the closing of the canon.
III. SECTION THREE: THE ORGANIZATION OF THE LOCAL CHURCH
A. Its Membership
1. Do you believe the Bible teaches that a Local Church should have an official membership? What Scriptures would you use to support your answer?
Yes, I believe the Bible teaches official membership. I believe this because of the passages of scripture which talk about church discipline. Why would a church need discipline protection if it had no membership? Discipline would not be effective without membership. Also Dr. Jackson states, “Churches in the New Testament times transacted their business. And in order to do so decently and in order, it is logically necessary that a definite, qualified group be determined which can vote on such business.”
2. Please list all of the qualifications that you believe the Bible requires for Church membership and give support for each.
Romans 1:7 – “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” This verse shows Paul addressing a church who is beloved of God and called to be saints, and I do not think he would be talking about the unsaved this way.
Colossians 1:2 – “As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ.” Again, Paul is writing to a church recipient and talking about a member who is a faithful minister of Christ. An unsaved person cannot be a faithful minister of Christ.
John 4:24 – “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” If you are going to Church; as I gave a definition of before, you are going to worship. People who worship must worship in spirit and in truth. An unsaved person cannot do this.
John 3:3-6 – “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” This verse tells us that when you are born you are made of flesh, but when you are born again you are born of the spirit. Again, this shows us that you cannot be a member if you are not worshipping in spirit, and you cannot worship in spirit until you are born again.
I Peter 2:5 – “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”
Baptism: At the beginning of the church all members were baptized.
Acts 2:41 – “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” This verse does not say then they that gladly received his word joined the church. When they were saved they immediately got baptized.
Acts 6:35-39 – “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.”
Acts 16:32-34 – “And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.”
Acts 10: 47,48 – “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.”
Also in Matthew 28:19,20 shows the order in which we are supposed to follow. That order is to make disciples, baptize them, and teach them to follow the Lord’s commandments.
Sound Doctrine and Conduct: “While Baptists do not believe the Word teaches a probation period, the person coming into the church should be committed to the truth in faith and conduct and should subsequently demonstrate reality in both.”
Acts 8:13-24 – “Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.” This verse shows us that if Simon did not repent he would not be allowed to have any lot in the Lord’s work.
Romans 16:17 – “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”
2 Thess. 3:6 – “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.”
3. What would be a good practical procedure to follow in accepting people into Church membership in order to make certain your above-listed qualifications for membership are met?
1. Have a new member’s class in which you go over the basics of salvation, baptism, and conduct. If you do not have a new member’s class it is good to give the person a copy of the church’s articles of faith and a church constitution. Then the pastor and deacons should discuss questions and hear the person’s testimony.
2. “Informal discussion often clarifies the thinking of the immature or the uninstructed, and helps to establish them as fruitful members.”
3. If they have come from another church contact that church and just talk with the Pastor about the perspective member. Some people join church for the wrong reasons. Some members are people who jump from church to church starting problems which would be another good reason just to talk with the former Pastor.
4. How do you feel about Associate Membership? (Please define the term and then explain your answer.)
Associate membership is having a membership at one church and having affiliations with a different church. It is usually done for college students who have a home church but go to school away from home and need a church. They usually retain membership at their home church but affiliate themselves with the church near their school. I like it but I also see some issues with it. The first issue I see is of tithing. Who is to get the tithe the church back home or the church you are affiliated with? The church in which you have an associate membership usually does not allow associate members to vote. So, if you are giving your tithe there you have no say in where it goes. In my situation, my home church is very well off and my associate membership church is not. Second, what about faithfulness? My church here in Altoona thinks I am being unfaithful when I go home on vacation, but I am going to my home church. So, for me, I see issues with associate membership.
B. Its Government
1. What are the different kinds of church government practiced within Christendom? (List them and briefly explain them in your own words.)
Episcopal – The church has a hierarchy of government. The authority of the church is in the Bishops who do not run a church but numerous churches. These Bishops are able to ordain priests and ministers. An example of this type of church government is the Roman Catholic Church.
Presbyterian – The church is run by elders who make all the decisions of the church. The Pastor is an elder who acts as the head elder, or he may be an elder who just preaches. There are divisions in leadership in this form of government. There is a session, a presbytery, the synod, and lastly the general assembly which is the highest authority.
Congregational – The church is governed by all the members of the church. They are allowed to make the decisions because they should be able to discern for themselves. The congregations votes upon matters of the church in meetings.
2. What is the kind of church government practiced by most Baptist churches?
The congregational form of government is practiced most by Baptist churches in our circles, but that is changing. I know of three Baptist churches in my area that are switching from congregational to a form of eldership rule.
3. What Biblical support can you give to support this practice? (List several references.)
Acts 6:3-5 – “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch.” In this verse the congregation is involved in electing the deacons.
Acts 14:23 – “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.” The congregation is electing the elders.
Acts 11:22 – “Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.” The congregation sent Barnabas.
2 Cor. 8:18,19 – “And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches; And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind”
Acts 14:27 – “And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.” The church received Paul and Barnabas.
Acts 15:23-26 – “Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The whole church had decisions concerning circumcision.
I Cor. 5:12 – “But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” The whole church had to participate in discipline.
4. When we talk about the Independency of the Local Church, what do we mean?
When we talk about the independency of the Local Church we are not talking about isolation which is a dangerous tool of the Devil. Isolation is a tool used by Satan to strangle the church of precious God given resources. We are talking about being independent of the state and of other ecclesiastical authority.
5. Who is the ultimate human authority within the Local Church?
The Congregation is the ultimate human authority in the church.
6. What should the Church’s relationship be to the State?
“It will help to remember that the Lord established three great institutions: The home, the government, and the church.” We have responsibilities in all three categories given to us by the Lord. First, we have to obey our civil leaders because they are there to protect us form evil doers which we learn from Romans 13. Next, we have to pray for people who are in leadership above us. Lastly the church does not have any rules against being involved in civil affairs, but the Bible does make it clear that the state is not to interfere in the spiritual affairs of the church.
7. What should the Church’s relationship be to other ecclesiastical organizations?
A church is clear of all outside rule from other churches. The Bible does not talk about centralized church government. The discipline is the churches decision. Another church cannot tell a church when or how to discipline. A church cannot tell another church how to spend their money. Churches can still fellowship with other organizations if they are agreed in doctrine but they do not have any control over each other.
C. Its Officers
1. Scripture tells us that Christ is the Head over all things to the Church (Eph. 1:22, 23). What does this mean?
It means that the church is his body and he is the head. If he is not in control of the body then the body is not working correctly. Scripture teaches us that everybody in the church is part of the body, if they are working together the body is good, but when there is friction the body is not running smoothly. When the body is not working correctly Christ cannot use us. How good are the legs to the brain if the brain tells them to move this way and that and they do not listen?
2. How can this truth be practically demonstrated in the program of the Local Church?
When a person is committing a continual sexual sin they start to slowly withdraw from all aspects of the church. Now, people may not know about the sin, but the person is loosing fellowship which may interrupt the ministry. They are not following Christ or may be receiving chastisement from the Lord. That person cannot be used in the ministry of the church which is like losing an important body part, which hurts the cause of Christ.
3. The Bible uses the terms “Pastor,” “Bishop,” and “Elder.” Do these refer to the same or to different persons in the Church? Support your answer with Scripture.
I believe that these terms refer to the same person because they are used interchangeable in the New Testament.
I Peter 5:1-4 – “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” In this verse the Pastor is called an elder in verse one and then in verse two he is told to take oversight of the flock which is the word for Bishop.
Titus 1:5-7 – “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre.” The word elders and bishop are used in this passage interchangeable.
Acts 20: 17-28 – “And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Again, in this verse, Paul calls the elders of the church to be the overseers (bishops) and tells them to do the work of a Pastor!
4. What, in your own words, would be a good list of the Biblical qualifications for a pastor?
To be a pastor God expects a lot. His word tells us that a pastor has to be able to teach. A pastor does not have to be a super speaker he just needs to give the word to the people in fullness. A pastor has to be Godly. He must live a life so that nobody can accuse him of sin. He cannot have more than one wife or cannot be a divorced man. He must abstain from wine or other things that in access can hurt or damage the body. He must be self controlled, not giving in to his desires. He must be modest and well-arranged. He must be a man who is generous especially to strangers and guests in his home. He cannot be a person who is eager to fight either physically or mentally. A pastor cannot be a greedy person. He has to be able to be patient not trying to push his agenda over the Lord’s timing. He has to be meek, or not a person who tends to show their strength in more aggressive ways. He has to be able to rule his home and teach his children how to respect and love the Lord and others.
5. How can a Local Church determine practically if a man meets the New Testament qualifications before it calls him as its Pastor?
The church can do a few things to determine if a man meets the New Testament qualifications. First, they can design a committee consisting of the pastors, deacons, and some of the other church members. This committee would then practice by making choices for pulpit supply, evangelists, and other guest speakers. Then, in the event of having to choice a pastor they will have the knowledge and experience to provide choices to the congregation. This allows for the church to weed out some of the “televangelists” before they come to the church to candidate. Secondly, a Pastor can teach the church how to effectively find a Godly pastor before he leaves. Third, the committee can pray and decide which men would be apt for the church. The committee could then meet with the man to see him in his own environment. I do not recommend just calling. It is one thing to meet a person it is quite another to talk with them over the phone. Next, if the interest is there, the committee should sit down with the man and discuss his doctrine and his life. This helps the committee to get to know the man a little bit better, and to help them see if there is anything inconsistent about him. If the committee does not see any problems and feel this is where the Lord is leading they should invite the man to candidate at the church. The church can get familiar with the man and his family. I recommend preaching in the morning and a question and answer time in the evening. It is also good to have the man meet with different families for his. If the church votes to accept him as the new pastor he should be contacted immediately because he may not accept the position.
Often the word “Elder” is found in the plural (“Elders”) in the New Testament. Does the Bible teach that Local Churches need to have a plurality of Elders in order to meet New Testament standards? Please support your answer with Scripture.
I do not believe that the church needs to have a plurality of Elders in order to meet the New Testament standards. As I have stated, I believe in the congregational rule of the church, and I have thoroughly laid out why I believe in this form of government. Now to show you why I do not believe this I am going to list some reasons why I do not think elder rule is correct.
First, it defeats the purpose of the priesthood given to ever believer through Christ. Everybody who is saved is a priest in the eyes of God which helps these people to discern the mind of Christ. “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” (I Pet. 2:5) “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” (I Pet. 2:9-10) They are able to understand the word of God. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” (I Cor. 2:14, 15) “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” (Eph. 5:15-17) “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Rom. 12:1, 2) They can respond to the will of the Holy Spirit as it directs them. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” (Rom. 8:14-16) Lastly, it gives us access to the throne of God. “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” (Eph. 2:18) It is not like a special club where only the most gifted people get to make all the decision because all of us are gifted, but some people are on different levels.
Secondly, there are no checks and balances. They make all the decisions. If they are making decisions that are not right; nothing can be done about it. Plus, even though they are a group, there is always a leader. They have complete power which can waver with the person who has the strongest will.
Thirdly, God’s plan for authority is affected. All authority is based on God who is three persons in one. If you look at eldership rule they claim to have equal power which is not true because if they did it would equal itself out. Even in the trinity there is a structure of authority. God the father still has supremacy over the Son and the spirit. This is how the church is to be run.
6. What authority does the Pastor of a Local Church have? Is he the hired man of the Church, is he to be a dictator, or something in between? Please explain and defend your answer.
The Pastor of the church is God’s chosen leader for the church. “And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:17-28) “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed.” (I Pet. 5:1-4) He is not the hired man of the church. He is not the janitor or the man of all trades. He is the servant of the Lord who brings forth the whole council of God and should be treated as such. “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.” (I Tim. 5:17) “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.” (I Thess. 5:12, 13) Dr. Jackson states, “An elder, or pastor, is not to be rebuked (1 Tim 5:1) unless he is known to be walking in sin (5:20). No accusation is to be received against him unless there is adequate testimony to its accuracy (5:19)” The pastor is to guide as a servant-leader never a dictator or a man of power, through fear.”
7. What is the function and authority of Deacons in a Local Church?
I Timothy 3 states, that their function and authority were that of servants. They are to be a second hand to the pastor. They had authority only as wise and Godly individuals of the church. They did not rule the church. They did not act as a judging board of the pastor’s decisions. They served the pastor to help him focus on his main goal which was giving the word to his flock. They took up such things as distributing money to the poor and helping care for the widows, which we find in Acts 6.
8. What, in your own words, are the Biblical qualifications for a Deacon?
The qualifications for the Deacons are the same as the Pastor but have some differences. They are to be grave or have a venerable character. They are not to be double tongues, or telling different things to different people. They are to hold the mystery of faith with a pure mind. Also, the scripture goes on to talk about how their wives are supposed to act.