Translate

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Requirements for Fellowship? Ever gotten one of these?




…Questions on Fellowship…

Fellowship
(koinwni>a), "joint interest, or the having one common stock. The fellowship of the saints is twofold:
1. With God (1 John 1:3; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 13:14);
2. With one another (1 John 1:7). Fellowship with God consists in knowledge of his will (Job 22:21; John 17:3); agreement in design (Amos 3:2); mutual affection (Romans 8:38, 39); enjoyment of his presence (Psalm 4:6); conformity to his image (1 John 2:6; 1 John 1:6); participation of his felicity (1 John 1:3, 4; Ephesians 3:14- 21; 2 Corinthians 13:14). Fellowship of the saints may be considered as a fellowship of duties (Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17, 18; James 5:16); of ordinances (Hebrews 10:24; Acts 2:46); of graces, love, joy, etc. (Hebrews 10:24; Malachi 3:16; 2 Corinthians 8:4); of interest spiritual, and sometimes temporal  (Romans 12:4, 13; Hebrews 13:16); of sufferings (Romans 15:1, 2; Galatians 6:1, 2; Romans 12:15); of eternal glory (Revelation 7:9)." [1]

You are looking at a response to a document entitled:

“Requirements for Participation in Fellowship.”

The document came to me via a friend – it was circulated by the Pastor of a church he was thinking about joining and asked me what I thought – and I thought plenty.

While we uphold the American tradition and constitutional right of Americans to freely assemble together in groups of like mind, we have to wonder at whether or not as the document claims (“According to the New Testament, the requirements for participation in fellowship in the local assembly are as follows…”) the Scriptural basis for such a claim.  Note: this is in no way to impugn the reputation or beliefs of the writers of this document.  Many sincere believers can be mistaken, or their words misunderstood.  What I am attempting here is to look at the “requirements” set forth in the document and determine if they have a truly Biblical base, and if they do, that they are being applied properly against the only back-drop available to us, G-d’s Holy Word.  As always, it is the Scriptures that should determine these matters, not man’s traditions or man’s interpretations of the Holy Word.  We humbly ask the Holy Spirit of G-d to lead us in this discussion, and to provide us insight and Truth, as only He can; we ask this in the blessed name of our Savior, Christ Jesus, and Amein….

Why do we have questions concerning these “requirements” at all?  It is because that we have seen certain movements that have occurred in the Church in the past that were discredited after time and proper reflection are beginning to make their way back into G-d’s Church, and it is our desire that no one be hurt by the misapplication of these principles, especially the name of Christ.  I am not accusing anyone of being a part of this “movement”, or of being influenced by it, but one has to wonder especially in the light of statements contained in the document we are looking at.  The document contains certain “buzz-words” that identify this “movement”, and that is why we question it.  I have to admit; I do not know where this epistle will take me or you, beloved reader.  I have placed the outcome in the hands of G-d, so that I can approach this without preconceived notions.  I am teachable and correctable; may G-d always see me as such.  My prayer is that others are also.  We will first look at the document, article by article, and then examine the entry from the Cyclopedia quoted above.  Again, I approach this with all reverence and no malice, only wanting the Truth of G-d’s word to be first and foremost the deciding factor in all things.  May G-d bless us in this endeavor, beloved, may G-d lead us. 

To first understand why questions have risen, we have to give you some background on the “movement” that we are afraid is trying to creep back into the Church. 

Founded in the 1970’s, a movement called “Christian Growth Ministries” started out in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  Founded by Derek Prince, Bob Mumford, Charles Simpson, Don Basham, Ern Baxter and John Poole, propagated a church government of delegated authority and covenant loyalty known as “Shepherding” or “Discipling”.  The idea was that the love of G-d came about by the church government, through submission to one man, and then trickling down.  “Prophetic” or personal revelations (rhema words) from the leader, and were given on a par with Scripture.  To their credit, after about a decade of such teaching, (but not before personal enrichment by the tithes and offerings), these men began to see that what they had created was little more than a technique of “mind control” and starting with Derek Prince, one by one publicly repented for what they had done, and the harm it had caused.  Today though, this movement under new terminology, new leaders, and slick new packaging, is once again making inroads into the Christian community.  Under the guise of “Apostle”, new leaders and a new wave is moving, seen as the next form the church must undergo.  C. Peter Wagner is at the forefront of this movement, calling it the “New Apostolic Reformation”, and it has new “buzz-words”, words most Christians have heard, yet they now carry little known but new meanings: words like “Apostolic”; “The Local Church”; “Apostolic Mandate”; “Submission”; “Tithing”; “Church Government”; “Theocracy”; “Five-fold Ministry” and others.  This movement is designed to bring “unity” to churches in a localized area, all under the “Apostolic Mandate” of one leader, who then delegates authority to the churches under his “care” and “leadership”, with the tithes and offerings of all these churches eventually making their way into a generalized coffer, to be distributed in a manner to be determined. [2] Now, this is not to say all of this happens at once.  Like all movements of this type, it takes time to develop over an area.  But as church memberships shrink or grow, pastors sometimes look for outside help, and deception can slip in.  I’m not saying that pastors deliberately set out to deceive or be deceived; but as the times get harder in America, much more diligence is needed to protect the flock, and we know that satan’s ministers appear as ministers of light, so we must always be watchful.  At the end of this epistle, I will list links to several appendices, from various sources.  These are not intended as the end all's needed for one to base a decision upon, but are presented as something to think about. 

The word of G-d tells us to:

1 Thessalonians 5:21 (NKJV)
21Test all things; hold fast what is good. [3]

We are to be watchmen, let it be so, and if we are despised or cast off or out, so be it.  Better to be cast off that cut off for being silent.  As I’ve said, I’m teachable and correctable.  If any can show me my arguments aren’t Biblical, I will humbly repent and stand before G-d and man corrected.  If you find, though, that my arguments are based upon solid Scriptural teaching, then what you do is between you and G-d.  I’ve done my job.  Let me just say this, I have seen the damage that wrongful teaching can do.  I’ve seen hurt men and women reject Christ because of the damage done by unbiblical doctrine.  I willingly would take no part in shouting out a warning if I did not believe a warning is needed.  I seek to hurt no one, yet Truth is everything.  May G-d see us all through the times ahead, my beloved…

CLAIM #1:

“Saving faith in Jesus Christ and confession of such faith (John 3:16; Acts 16:31).  This faith must be expressed by confession because there is no salvation apart from confessing that Jesus is Lord and Savior (Romans 10:10)”

First, we must look at the Scriptures cited to see if they support the claim made as it is worded.  Make no mistake: if you are going to set up requirements for fellowship, then we must:

a) State the requirement clearly;
b) Back it up with Scripture – IN CONTEXT;
c) Define the terms according to the Sacred Language (Hebrew) or the Majority Text (the Greek Textus Receptus). 

This way, G-d’s intent cannot be watered down by man’s translations of the Holy Writ,

John 3:16 (KJV)
16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. [4]

Acts 16:31 (NKJV)
31So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” [5]

Romans 10:10 (1901 ASV)
for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. [6]

believeth. “In the New Testament, when belief is said to lead to eternal life, as is the case here, the tense expressing continuous action is always used while the tense expressing a single action is never used. The stress is thus placed on a continuous faith rather than on an isolated moment of faith. Never in these passages expressing belief in eternal life is one’s eternal security said to be guaranteed by a single, isolated act of faith” (George Allen Turner and Julius R. Mantey, The Gospel According to John, p. 99, who for the final sentence, given as footnote 20, cite E. A. Mills, “Terms for Belief in John’s Gospel”; thesis in Asbury Theological Seminary, 1952). See related notes (Mt 24:13n. Ga 2:20n. 1 Ti 4:1n. He 6:4n, 6n, 9n. 1 J 5:13). T#865. ver. *18, *36. Jn 1:12. +4:39. +5:44. 6:35, 47. 12:46. 20:29. Is 28:16. 45:22. Mt 11:28. Mk 9:23. Lk 7:50. Ac *10:43. 16:31. Ro 1:16. *4:5. 9:33. 10:4. Ga 3:7, 9, 22. Ep 2:8-10. 1 Ti 4:10. He *6:12. 10:38, 39. 1 P 2:4-6.[7]
“believeth” is the word (G4100) πιστεύω pisteuō (pist-yoo'-o) From G4102; to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), that is, credit; by implication to entrust (especially one’s spiritual well being to Christ): - believe (-r), commit (to trust), put in trust with. [8]

The same Greek word is used in Acts 16:31.  If we go to Thayer’s definition of “believeth” we find:
πιστεύω pisteuō
Thayer Definition:
1) to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in
1a) of the thing believed
1a1) to credit, have confidence
1b) in a moral or religious reference
1b1) used in the NT of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of soul
1b2) to trust in Jesus or God as able to aid either in obtaining or in doing something: saving faith
2) to entrust a thing to one, i.e. his fidelity
2a) to be intrusted with a thing
Part of Speech: verb [9]

Now, let’s look at Webster’s 1829 Dictionary for the definition of “believeth”:

“…BELIE'VE, v.t. To credit upon the authority or testimony of another; to be persuaded of the truth of something upon the declaration of another, or upon evidence furnished by reasons, arguments, and deductions of the mind, or by other circumstances, than personal knowledge. When we believe upon the authority of another, we always put confidence in his veracity.

When we believe upon the authority of reasoning, arguments, or a concurrence of facts and circumstances, we rest our conclusions upon their strength or probability, their agreement with our own experience, &c.

2. To expect or hope with confidence; to trust.

I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Psa 27.

BELIE'VE, v.i. To have a firm persuasion of any thing. In some cases, to have full persuasion, approaching to certainty; in others, more doubt is implied. It is often followed by in or on, especially in the scriptures. To believe in, is to hold as the object of faith. "Ye believe in God, believe also in me." John 14. To believe on, is to trust, to place full confidence in, to rest upon with faith. "To them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." John 1. Johnson. But there is no ground for much distinction.

In theology, to believe sometimes expresses a mere assent of the understanding to the truths of the gospel; as in the case of Simon. Acts 8. In others, the word implies, with this assent of the mind, a yielding of the will and affections, accompanied with a humble reliance on Christ for salvation. John 1:12. 3.15.

In popular use and familiar discourse, to believe often expresses an opinion in a vague manner, without a very exact estimate of evidence, noting a mere preponderance of opinion, and is nearly equivalent to think or suppose…” [10]

When we look at these definitions, we can see: yes, the word “believeth” or “believe” does carry with it the implication of faith, particularly saving faith; yet, does this constitute the second premise that that there is “no salvation apart from confessing Jesus is Lord and Savior”?

If we look upon Acts 16:31, and see it in it’s context, this is what we see:

Acts 16:28-34 (1901 ASV)
But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. 29And he called for lights and sprang in, and, trembling for fear, fell down before Paul and Silas, 30and brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house. 32And they spake the word of the Lord unto him, with all that were in his house. 33And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, immediately. 34And he brought them up into his house, and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, with all his house, having believed in God. [11]

Here, we see that the only requirement for the jailer was to believe in Jesus Christ.  Paul did not tell him, “Believe and confess and you will be saved…”  But in fairness to the word “confess”, the implication is there.  For what does “confess” (or “confession”) really mean?

There are several examples in the Greek New Testament where the words are translated “confess” in English.  Two examples are:

1)      James 5:16 (KJV)
16Confess your faults [trespasses, sins, iniquities] one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. [12]

Here the word for “confess” is the word ἐξομολογέω exomologeō (ex-om-ol-og-eh'-o) (G1843), defined by Thayer as: “…forth from the heart, freely; …to profess publicly, openly…”[13].  Strong’s Concordance defines it as: “…to acknowledge or (by implication, of assent) agree fully: --confess, profess, promise…”[14]

The second example is taken from 1 John 7:9:

2)      1 John 1:9 (1901 ASV)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [15]

The word used here is ὁμολογέω homologeō (hom-ol-og-eh'-o) (G3670); “1) to say the same thing as another, i.e. to agree with, assent…; 2b) not to deny…; 2b3) to confess, i.e. to admit or declare one’s self guilty of what one is accused of…”[16]

                In James 5:16, an examination is taking place.  The sick or infirmed are to examine themselves, see their sin, agree that it is so and declare it openly.  This way, hindrances and impediments to their healing are removed.  Does this guarantee a healing? No, as we see at the end of verse 16 “…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much…”  Young translates this as “…Be confessing to one another the trespasses, and be praying for one another, that ye may be healed; very strong is a working supplication of a righteous man…”[17]  This “confession” then is the coming into agreement with the Word of G-d as to the nature of ourselves, to then make an open avowal, to agree with G-d that we are in need of a healing, and want our sins removed to clear the way for this to happen.

                Our first example is usually understood within the Catholic Church context.  “Confess your sins one to another…” is the embodiment of the Catholic confession, but it must be realized that it is not man that we are to be confessing to; we are coming into agreement with G-d over our sins.  Let me say one thing to this: no matter how transparent we attempt to be, some sins I’m just not going to tell you about.  These are between my Father and me.  If it needs be revealed, then the Spirit directs me to do this, and no matter what, I’ll do it.  Why it is this way, I don’t know, but just look at Scripture if you don’t believe this to be true.  Paul says he was buffeted by satan with a “thorn in his side”…  Scholars and commentators have speculated for almost 2000 years about what this “thorn” was, yet Paul, by lead of the Spirit, never revealed it to us.  If “confession” is so good for the soul as they say, why wasn’t Paul transparent to us?  G-d’s grace is truly sufficient my beloved.  That is all I need to know, and that is all you need to know also.

In our second example, 1 John 1:9, we see the “confession” most associate with, but rightly, just don’t understand.  Go with me to Romans 10:9-10.

Romans 10:9-10 (KJV)
9That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. [18]

“…That if thou shalt confess…” Confess is the word homologeō; if we consent, if we agree that Jesus is Lord…  This is the agreeing.
“…and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved…”; this is the doing.

Again, if we look at Thayer’s definition:

(G3670) ὁμολογέω homologeō
Thayer Definition:
1) to say the same thing as another, i.e. to agree with, assent
2) to concede
2a) not to refuse, to promise
2b) not to deny
2b1) to confess
2b2) declare
2b3) to confess, i.e. to admit or declare one’s self guilty of what one is accused of
3) to profess
3a) to declare openly, speak out freely
3b) to profess one’s self the worshipper of one
4) to praise, celebrate
Part of Speech: verb [19]

We can see, by Thayer’s definition, that the Philippian jailer met the requirement of “confession” when he “…rejoiced greatly, with all his house, having believed in God…”  The Bible does tell us that “…every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess [agree with G-d] that Jesus is Lord…”, but the requirement that there is no salvation without confession, what we are required to do is believe.  First and foremost.  From here, we will then confess Him; if we are truly His, nothing can prevent that!  But first, we must believe – this is our salvation, to believe on the One sent by G-d.  Once we believe, we will confess (agree) that He is our Lord.  You won’t confess Him if you do not believe, and there is no salvation in speaking “Jesus is Lord” if the heart doesn’t agree [Matt 7:21].  Therefore, the premise that there is no salvation apart from confessing that Jesus is Lord and Savior is false- there is no salvation apart from believing- and this comes only from G-d [John 6:44; John 14:6].  Then will our hearts rejoice, and our tongues confess.  [see John 20:31; 1 John 5:13; 1 John 3:23; John 14:1; Matt 7:21; John 9:35-38; Rom. 10:13-15]

CLAIM #2:

“Repentance from sin (Acts 2:38).  There must be a turning away from the life of sin and self interest.  “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creaton: old things have passed away; behold, all things become new” (II Cor. 5:17)”

Acts 2:38 (KJV)
38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. [20]
2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)
17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. [21]

Repentance is the act of not just turning away from the old life; it must be accomplished by the act of turning to something. 

Let's look for a minute at what Paul preached in Thessalonica and how it can serve as a model for us today. 

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 (1901 ASV)
For they themselves report concerning us what manner of entering in we had unto you; and how ye turned unto God from idols, to serve a living and true God, 10and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, who delivereth us from the wrath to come. [22]

Paul did not come into Thessalonica full of fire and bluster about how they were going to hell because of the many gods that were worshipped there, gods such as Apollo, Venus, or the other many and varied Roman Gods.  He didn't come in denouncing the ribald lifestyle, the partying, the sexual immorality, and all the other vices found in that day.  What Paul did was simply this: he preached Christ.  When he did this, what happened?  They turned from idols, from false gods, from wicked ways and turned to God.  Notice his words here.  Paul says that they..."turned to God from idols..." not “They turned from idols to God..."  What's the difference you say?

Let's look at this model:  "... how ye turned to God from idols ...".  Wrapped up in this statement is what Christ should effect in all of us today, repentance that leads to salvation.  Repentance and believing are essential to salvation, two steps in the process of redemption and wrapped up neatly here in one package.  When Paul preached Christ, when we preach Christ the same thing happens: those that hear will turn to God from idols.  Here is the work of faith: they turned to God.  Faith did this; it accomplished its work.
John 6:29 (KJV)
29Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. [23]

When Christ was preached, not only did they turn to God from idols, they turned from idols.  This was truly repentance.  You see, this followed the turning to God; it didn't precede it.  Preach Christ, they'll turn to God; they turn to God and the idols fall.

Let’s take a practical look at repentance.  Repentance is hard to preach.  How can you describe it?  Try this: raise your hand and hold it so that your palm is facing you.  Now turn it around.  Where's your palm?  It is facing away from you.  Think about it.  You cannot turn to Jesus Christ without turning from something.  This turning is repentance.

Preach Christ.  At times I sometimes think it’s a novel idea.  We see so much else preached today: we hear prosperity, blessings,  "who I am in Christ", and a host of other soft easy doctrines.  Preach the cross, and suffering for Christ?  Almost unheard of.  Die to self?  Means you don't matter anymore, it is Christ alone.  Repentance?  From what?  Addictions, idols, TV, whatever, just don't call it what it is-sin.  Today, like in Paul's time, we need to hold up Jesus Christ as the Savior from sin.  Man needs to know he is a lost sinner.  He can sit and weep about his sins till judgement day and it won't do him a bit of good.  A healthy dose of Johnathan Edwards "Sinners in the hands of an Angry God" would be a good place to start...  Addicts will weep and moan about their additions, drunks will cry in remorse for their drunkenness, the immoral will bewail their indiscretions and some will want to repent, but if they repent before they turn to Christ it is all for nothing.  Repentance does no good unless you turn to Christ first.  It is only when a person turns to Christ that he turns from something.  He will turn from his sin; if he doesn't turn from it, it is because he has never turned to Christ.
As the Thessalonians turn to God from their idols, what happened?  They got busy with the labor of love.  They turned from idols to serve the true and living God and their faith abounded and was spoken of all around.  It was because they realized that things happen in proper order: turning to God meant that they had to turn from their idols.

So we can see, that the new creation only exists as the word says, “if any man be in Christ…”  We return to G-d, that is repentance.  The Hebrew concept of repentance is to return from where you started; G-d is that starting point, not just a turning.  I can (and did) go round and round, because all I did was turn.  I had to return.

CLAIM #3:

“Scriptural water baptism in the name in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5; Col. 3:17)

There are two areas in the church today where controversies abound more than in most others, and that is water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  I don’t believe that either one of them will be settled in this epistle.  Here are the texts given in the claim:

Acts 2:38 (DARBY)
38 And Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptised, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for remission of sins, and ye will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. [24]
Acts 8:16 (1901 ASV)
for as yet it was fallen upon none of them: only they had been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. [25]
Acts 10:48 (CEV)
48 Peter ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and they asked him to stay on for a few days.[26]
Acts 19:5 (GNB)
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. [27]
Colossians 3:17 (NABWRNT)
17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. [28]

It has to be said here, that the act of water baptism was a practice of the early church.  What also must be said is how is it used in this context, of claim #3?  If there is attached to the act of water baptism any significance other that as a sign or show of one’s agreement with the death and resurrection of Christ, then we have to say that that basis is unscriptural and unbiblical.  The act of baptism has nothing at all to do with salvation; at least not water baptism.  I have covered this extensively in my epistle titled “Baptism is not water” which I will include with this epistle.  Appendix 6 also contains a good article on this subject.  So what can I say of this matter?  Without knowing the context of Claim #3, about how baptism is viewed, I hesitate to pass comment.  What I will say is this: if we as the body of Christ choose to withhold fellowship from another believer because he or she has not been water baptized, then shame be upon our heads.  The only baptism that matters is the one defined by Christ in Mark:

Mark 10:38-39 (NABWRNT)
38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
39 They said to him, “We can.” Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; [29]

Only the baptism of the blood is what matters.  The daily dying to self, the carrying of the cross, the agonizing over sin, these are the baptism we share with Christ.  Water cannot save, nor is it ever in the Word a prerequisite for fellowship or membership of the body of Christ.  As a symbol, as an outward declaration of our faith, water baptism serves a purpose in the believer’s life; any other significance is attached to it, say that it is required for salvation, is wrong. (My opinion folks! Let any who disagree, disagree with Scripture!)

CLAIM #4

“Acknowledge scriptural baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4; 10:44-46; Mark 16:17).  Acts 19:1-6 describes a situation in which Paul met “certain disciples” (verse 1) who had not yet heard of this experience.  “And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied” (verse 6). Clearly, this baptism was the normal experience for a Christian in that day, and it was promised just as clearly to future generations and to “afar off” believers (Acts 2:39).”

There is no greater area of misunderstanding in all of Christendom then that of ministry of the Holy Spirit.  This is not surprising; since around 250AD theologians and scholars have disagreed on just about every aspect of who and what the Spirit is. Less is written about Him in the Scriptures than there is about the Father or the Son, yet He is throughout the Bible, starting in Gen. 1:2.  To reach the depth of understanding that is needed is far beyond the scope of this epistle, but I will share with you (in as condensed a form as I can) some history, and then some commentary.  Please bear with me, for truly, the misunderstanding of the baptism of the Spirit has led to more abuse of believers and the cause of Christ than any other doctrine.  Deception comes in when we take away from Scripture something that is not there, and call it doctrine.  So, a brief outlined history:

HISTORY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE EARLY CHURCH
Þ     Background Thoughts:
à         Holy Spirit dwells within us; the relationship between Holy Spirit and believers needs to strengthen, to increase.
à         With the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the righteousness of Christ is in us.
à         Careful: fear breaks faith.
à         The purpose of being filled with the Holy Spirit is not to speak in tongues (though this is just one of the direct manifestations of being baptized in the Spirit), But to be a Bold witness for Jesus Christ, for the Spirit is the power of Christ.
à         This power, from on high, comes only from a relationship with the Holy Spirit.
à         As the Holy Spirit quickens the Word to our soul, TRUTH is imparted.
à         This power isn’t just for a select few within the church, for their enrichment or enjoyment,  but is given corporately to the Church, the body of Christ, for edification and encouragement.
à         In this vein, the Church today needs a closer relationship with the Holy Spirit, it needs to embrace the Spirit of God.
à         The Holy Spirit is our constant companion.
Þ     The Person and the Work of the Holy Spirit

This study comes under the heading of systematic theology:  our guidance comes from what Jesus sent to us to guide us home to Him.

·         POINTS TO REMEMBER
1)      GOD:  Implants, Cares, Creates
©       Creation, Providence, and the Plan of Salvation are the objective work of God
©       The Holy Spirit needs to be the instructor, our teacher of Truth.
2)      The subjective work of God:
©       The Persons God works His objectives for.
©       The Application of His Divine Saving Work to Human kind.
·         The Jobs/Ministries of the Persons of the Trinity:
©       Different Ministries and Works of the Godhead
©       Holy Spirit quickens Salvation to our Spirit, to bring about the Plan of God.
·         The Ministries of the Trinity:
©       The Father:
Å      Highlighted in Creation and Providence (God, the Father, Our Provider)
©       The Son:
Å      Has Effected salvation to Mankind
©       The Holy Spirit:
Å      Applies the redemptive work to us by giving us faith to yield to God for the purpose of salvation.
·         REMEMBER:  The Father:          Creation and Providence
                                   The Son:              Redemption
                                   The Holy Spirit:  Applies Redemption to Us
·         The Holy Spirit quickens us, i.e. draws us to God...
©       Makes Available to us what Jesus Supplies
©       Makes our Salvation Clear
·         This is accomplished through the quickened Gospel Message
·         Understand that Salvation only comes from the Shed Blood of Christ Jesus.
·         We must spend time studying the Holy Spirit, spend time with Him before we can go on to understand what the Holy Spirit does.
à         Wherever the absence of Jesus is:  Chaos Exists.
©       The Holy Spirit comes in the Power of Christ Preached, quickening it to convict of sin and draw men unto the Living Christ.
©       The Boldness of Christ to confess and Preach Christ to men must come from the Holy Spirit.  We MUST impart the Words of Life to a lost world.
©       We MUST allow ourselves to be used by the Holy Spirit, as the Body of Christ, and as individuals.
·         The Importance of the Doctrine of The Holy Spirit:
à         Its significance to us:
1.       Point #1:  The Holy Spirit is the point where the Trinity becomes real and personal to the believer...
Å      We meet God here, with the Holy Spirit
Å      The Holy Spirit comes only by the will of G-d
Å      If allowed to by us, and not stifled by our will, He will give us everything
Å      Full potential of our calling comes from the yielding of our will to the Holy Spirit
à         To be filled with the Holy Spirit allows us to be an Empowered Believer...
Å      This Empowerment allows us to:
·          Do God’s work with boldness
·         To be and work in God’s Glory:  All honor to Him
·         To Bring Glory to God
·         All we receive from God is because of the Gift of God
·         All we can do is share God’s word with the lost:  The Holy Spirit quickens them in their soul and God saves- salvation is by the will of G-d.
à         Some reasons why there is confusion about the Holy Spirit, and why His power is denied:
Å      The Father seems removed, far away in Heaven
Å      The Son, lived in past times, and people feel He is unknowable
Å      There is confusion as to the truth of the Holy Spirit:  He is active and resident within us, but people don’t realize this truth
à         The Holy Spirit is the Power and Presence of the Father
Å      God’s word is Holy.  When we come to God’s Word and seek to be taught by the Holy Spirit, it is precious in God’s eyes.
Å      Fostering a relationship with the Holy Spirit allows Him to teach us:  the secret is to get alone with God, with the Holy Spirit and to earnestly seek to learn of Him.
2.      Point #2:  We live in the period [the NOW] when the Holy Spirit’s work is more prominent:
Å      God’s primary work (His ministry) was performed in the Old Testament Period...
Å      The Son’s, Jesus, work was in His three year ministry up to crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension...
Å      The Holy Spirit’s ministry started at creation and continues to this present day and age...
·            We must be in touch with the activities of the Holy Spirit
3.      Point #3:  This current culture in which we live demands experiential situations;  the converse is that when the Holy Spirit allows us to experience God:
Å      We can only lay claim to our errors…
Å      God does all else.
Å      Therefore, in a culture that demands an “experience”, IT CAN BE DECEIVED.  Only in a true relationship with God through the Holy Spirit can TRUTH be revealed.

·         It’s through the Holy Spirit’s work that we feel God’s Presence:  He becomes real to us, and transcends the natural.  He:
Å      Allows the Word to saturate your being:
·         With it, the gates of hell cannot prevail
·         You must go in the Power of the Holy Spirit though, for this is the Believers Warfare
·         Put yourself in the hands of God Almighty:
W      Do not resist the Holy Spirit, allow Him to move in You

·         Some Difficulties:
à         Understanding is often incomplete, or confused
Å      Revelation of the Holy Spirit is limited
Å      The Son and the Father are spoken of more
Å      By allowing the Holy Spirit to work, we experience God’s Glory.  All we should see is Christ.
Å      Remember, the Holy Spirit’s main job is to declare the Son.

(John 14:16 NIV)  And I will ask the Father, and he will give[1] you another Counselor[2] to be with you forever[3]--

1 "GIVE":  See Luke 11:13, note
2 "COUNSELOR":  Greek <parakletos> meaning <one called alongside to help;> thus, <a consoler, an advocate;> in 1 John 2:1, "one who speaks to the Father in our defense." Christ is the Christian's Paraclete with the Father when the Christian sins; the Holy Spirit is the Christian's indwelling Paraclete to help his ignorance and infirmity, and to make intercession (Rom 8:26 - 27). See Holy Spirit, Acts 2:4, note. Furthermore, Christ also intercedes as well as advocates (Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25).
See 1 John 2:1, note
3 "FOREVER":  <Holy Spirit> (N.T.): vv. 16 - 18,26; John 15:26. (Mat 1:18; Acts 2:4, note)

à         Why the difficulties?
Å      God is understood; He is our Father, and fathers are familiar, a tangible thing..
Å      Jesus the Son was begotten to us in human form; He was reported on, talked about, so as the Son of Man, He can be identified with..
Å      The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, is INTANGIBLE, hard for us to visualize..
·         In this attempt to visualize the Holy Spirit, we must be careful:
W      Accept all things God has by FAITH
W      Also, honor God the Father by being obedient to the Holy Spirit

·         Here and now, we experience God by the Holy Spirit:
Å      Holy Spirit indwells us, meaning that God Almighty lives in me..
Å      Submit to the Holy Spirit:
·         We must be “yoke fellows with God, letting the Holy Spirit lead in all things”:  Just Follow.
·         Another problem is the nature of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in relation to the Father and Son.
Å      The Holy Spirit’s ministry is to Guide us in all TRUTH [IN THE NOW], to quicken us in understanding.
Å      He serves the Father and the Son, carrying out their will, which, IS THE SAME AS HIS.             
·         In this respect, we are reminded of the Son’s ministry, where He subordinated Himself to God the Father.
·         Do we then view the Holy Spirit as being somehow inferior to God or the Son?
Å      We should not.
Å      We must embrace the Holy Spirit, for by doing so, we embrace God.
Å      Remember, the Holy Spirit will bring us to do exploits, the preaching the Gospel in boldness and power.
·         The reason for being filled with the Holy Spirit is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ with boldness.
·         The empowerment of the Holy Spirit was given to the Church, the Body of Christ, for the specific reason of proclaiming Christ by and in the empowerment of Christ!
Å      We need to be taught the proper way of tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit, and proclaiming Christ in His power.

(Rom 12:1-2 NIV)
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy[1] , to offer your bodies[2] as living sacrifices[3], holy[4] and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. {2} Do not[5] conform any longer to the pattern of this world[6], but be transformed[7] by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is[8]--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

1 "MERCY":  Rom 3:21 -8:39
2 "BODIES":  i.e. <offer once for all.> Cp. Rom 6:12 - 13
3 "SACRIFICES":  vv. 1 - 2: Phil 4:18; see Heb 10:18, note
4 "HOLY":  <Sanctification> (N.T.): vv. 1 - 2; Rom 15:16. (Mat 4:5; Rev 22:11)
5 "NOT":  <Separation:> v. 2; 1 Cor 10:20. (Gen 12:1; 2 Cor 6:17)
6 "WORLD":  Lit. <age>
7 "TRANSFORMED":  Rendered <transfigured,> Mat 17:2; Mark 9:2
8 "IS":  Cp. Eph 5:1 - 21

©       Be transformed, renew your mind, reject the world, Put on Jesus Christ and let God use you.
Å      The misuse of the GIFT of the Holy Spirit is to draw focus unto ourselves.
Glory to God through the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ MUST be the purpose of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
·         Early History:
©       Some Points to remember:
Å      Doctrines or teachings are elaborated when there is controversy
Å      Relatively little was said in the early church
Å      Holy Spirit was said to be the movement of God
Å      Some of the discussions were whether or not the Holy Spirit was:
·         A Movement
·         An attribute
·         Wisdom
·         Mainly an ontological argument  i.e. was the Holy Spirit the same essence as God and the Son...
·         Quick REVIEW:
Å      Fellowship:  to practice the sharing of the word of God w/others
Å      The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit has had ups and Downs:
·         We must remember that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit
W      Do we honor this temple of the Most High God as we should?
Å      The teaching of the Holy Spirit is BY the Holy Spirit:
·         We can be taught
·         We can be empowered
·         We can do exploits for God
·         We can do all these things ONLY through the power and leading of the Holy Spirit
·         Always remember:  Chaos exists because of the absence of Jesus Christ

·         Early History [con’t.]
Å      2nd Century Theology:
·         Irenaeus believed the Holy Spirit to be an attribute of God, divine wisdom
W      Division and confusion about the identity of the Holy Spirit comes from the absence of His leading and teaching.  The quickening of interpretation of scripture and revelation of scripture comes only from the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, the word of God is just words, dead to the reader or hearer.
W      The only way to learn of God is through the leading of the Holy Spirit.
·         Origen moved away from the belief that the Holy Spirit was of the same essence as God, of God, was God.
W      Origen was a literalist, but the philosophy he espoused tended toward rationalization, a changing of the outer man, but effected not the inner man.
·         Victory is shown when we yield to the Holy Spirit, Who then leads us to Jesus Christ.
Å      Growth comes from failure, yielding the way to victory
Å      Put your failure under the blood, and then move on, becoming one who has made himself available to God.
Å      Let the Holy Spirit guide you in truth with the scriptures
Å      Avoid head knowledge...
·         We are blessed by the doctrine that has been “fleshed” out by the Holy Spirit
·         Let the Holy Spirit witness and confirm what you hear, read, or see
·         Be aware, we are responsible for what we receive
·         The Holy Spirit cannot fail us, we will never be deceived if we put all we do to His test.
·         Don’t ever be satisfied where you are; fellowship with the Holy Spirit always.
·         Other Points:
Å      Be obedient to God, led by the Holy Spirit, under the authority of Jesus Christ
Å      The formation of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit has been on-going for a long time
Å      The Holy Spirit gives revelation but not neccessarily interpretation

2 Timothy 3:16-17
16 Every scripture is divinely inspired, and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; 17 that the man of God may be complete, fully fitted to every good work. [30]

Å      The only righteousness is Christ, who imputes it upon us as a gift of love.
Å      God honors obedience, and wants submission.
Å      Submit yourself to God, to His authority, to He Who sits in authority;  Be submissive to God and ALLOW GOD TO USE YOU!!
Å      Reach out to God for all He has for us
Å      The Holy Spirit “checks” us when we are out of His will

Galatians 5:16-25
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; that ye may not do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, parties, 21 envyings, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they who practise such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 meekness, self-control; against such there is no law. 24 And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof. 25 If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk. [31]

Å      The Holy Spirit comes to us by invitation  (in other words, Put on Christ)
Å      If we walk in the Spirit, then we will supercede our will by Him.
Å      Beware idolatry – which is ANYTHING that gets in between us and God, (could be works, jobs, ministry, doctrines, ANYTHING).
Å      Christ’s death of the Cross was the true grasp of love, holding us in His hand in a divine grip of love.
Å      Know who Christ is in you!  Stand up in the power of the Holy Spirit!
Å      GIVE UP the things of this world.
Å      There is an intrinsic power, a life in the Word with the Holy Spirit, available IF we avail ourselves of it.  LET THE HOLY SPIRIT USE US!!!  
Å      In the absence of the Holy Spirit, THERE IS NO QUICKENING OF THE WORD OF GOD.
Å      Faith is how we are justified.  Reason can never justify any of the beliefs of Christianity.
Å      Whenever the Holy Spirit reveals scripture to you, this very act proves the truth the Word of God and the God of the Word.

As you can see, there is a lot to be said, a lot to hold close to our hearts and ponder.  On both sides of the issue of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, different groups have wrestled with Scripture to prove their “arguments”, but in reality, there is only one Truth to the matter.  Paul’s observations on the nature of the “gifts” of the Spirit and on their proper exercise are noted in 1 Corinthians, chapters 12 and 14.  Of special consideration is 1 Cor. 12:11:

1 Corinthians 12:11 (NKJV)
11But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. [32]

It cannot be ignored that there are those who say the gifts were for a past time; it also cannot be ignored that there are those who say the gifts are still with us.  For any to say, and it doesn’t matter which side you are on, for any to say that if you speak in tongues, then they must be counterfeit, that is wrong.  It is also wrong to say if you don’t speak in tongues, then you have not been baptized in the Holy Spirit.  The proof of this is found in the Scripture above.  It is the Spirit who decides who gets a gift and what gift is given, not man or a congregation.  To get to an answer requires much study, and quite frankly, a heart and mind open to be able to be taught and corrected.  I have a lot to say, but I’d like to just share instead the thoughts of Professor Jesse Stearns, who is an instructor at the Covenant Bible Seminary in Lakewood, WA:

“…Is there a way to deal responsibly with the considerations raised by both sides of this dispute?  Because the issue has a significant effect on the fashion in which one conduct’s one’s Christian life, and even on the style and tone of the Christian life, the question cannot simply be ignored.  While few dogmatic conclusions can be drawn in this area, a number of significant observations can be made.
                We begin with the question of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  We note first that the Book of Acts speaks of a special work of the Spirit subsequent to new birth.  It appears, however, that the Book of Acts covers a transitional period.  Since that time the normal pattern has been for conversion/regeneration and the baptism of the Holy Spirit to coincide.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:13 “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentilesc, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”[33]  From verse 12 it is very clear that this “one body” is Christ.  Thus Paul appears to be saying in verse 13 that we become member’s of Christ’s body by being baptized into it by the Spirit.  Baptism by the Spirit seems to be, if not equivalent to conversion and new birth, at least simultaneous with them.” [34] 

He goes onto explain the transitional period in Acts, of the post conversion indwelling of the Holy Spirit, as the result of those believers being the last of the Old Testament believers.  They were regenerate because they believed in the Torah and Tanakh (Old Testament) and feared G-d.  They had not yet received the Holy Spirit because Christ had not yet ascended.  Keep in mind that the Apostles didn’t receive the fullness of the Spirit until Pentecost.  After Pentecost we can find no clear cases of post-conversion experience among the Jews.  What happened to the Jews as a group in Acts 2 also happened to the Samaritans (Acts 8) and Gentiles (Acts 10).  Thereafter, regeneration and the baptism of the Spirit were simultaneous.  The disciples of Apollos in Acts 19 was a matter of incompletely evangelized believers, for they had been baptized in the baptism of John, a baptism of repentance, and didn’t even know of a Holy Spirit.  If you look closely at Acts 19, I believe, they weren’t aware of Christ either.  In all these cases there is no indication that the Holy Spirit did not come upon all the members of these groups.  “This interpretive scheme seems to fit well with the words of Paul in 1 Cor. 12:13, and with the fact thatScripture nowhere commands us to be baptized in or by the Holy Spirit, and with the record in Acts.”[35]

In conclusion:  “What we must do, then is to evaluate each case on its own merits.  This does not mean that we are to sit in judgement on the spiritual experience or the spiritual life of other professing Christians.  What it does mean is that we cannot assume that everyone who claims to have had a special experience of the Holy Spirit’s working has really had one.  Scientific studies have discovered enough non-spirit-caused parallels to warn us against being naively credulous about every claim.  Certainly not every exceptional religious experience can be of divine origin, unless G-d is a very broadly ecumenical and tolerant being indeed, who even grants special manifestations of His Spirit to some who make no claim to Christian faith and may actually be opposed to it. Certainly if demonic forces could produce imitations of divine miracles in biblical times (e.g., the magicians in Egypt were able to imitate the plauges up to a certain point), the same may be true today as well…

                In the final analysis, whether the Bible teaches that the Spirit dispenses special gifts today is not an issue of great practical consequences.  For even if He does, we are not to set our lives to seeking them.  He bestows them sovereignly; He alone determines the recipients )1 Cor. 12:11).  If He chooses to give us a special gift, He will do so regardless of whether we expect or seek it.  What we are commanded to do (Eph. 5:18) is be filled with the Holy Spirit (a present imperative, suggesting ongoing action).  This is not so much a matter of our getting more of the Holy Spirit; presumably all of us possess the Spirit in His entirety.  It is, rather, a matter of His possessing more of our lives.  Each of us is to aspire to giving the Holy Spirit full control of our lives.  When this happens, our lives will manifest whatever gifts G-d intends for us to have, alone with all the fruit and acts of His empowering that He wishes to display through us.  It is to be remembered, as we noted earlier, that no one gift is for every Christian, nor is any gift more significant than the others.

                Of more importance, in many ways, than receiving certain gifts is the fruit of the Spirit.  These virtues are, in Paul’s estimation, the real evidence of the Spirit at work in the Christian.  Love, joy and peace in an individual’s life are the surest signs of a vital experience with the Spirit…             
                But what is the proper procedure with regard to an actual case of modern-day public practice of what is claimed to be the biblical gift of glossolalia (speaking in tongues)?  First, no conclusion should be drawn in advance as to whether it is genuine or not.  Then the procedure laid down by Paul so long ago should be followed.  Thus, if one speaks in tongues, there should be an interpreter, so that the group as a whole may be edified.  Only one should speak at a time and no more than two or three at a session (1 Cor. 14:27).  If no one is present to interpret, whether the speaker or some other person, than the would-be speaker should keep silent in the church and restrict the use of tongues to personal devotional practice (v.28).  We must not prohibit speaking in tongues (v.39); on the other hand, we are nowhere commanded to seek this gift.

                Finally, it is to be noted that the emphasis in Scripture is upon the One who bestows the gifts rather than upon those who receive them.  G-d frequently performs miraculos works without involving human agents.  We read, for example, in James 5:14-125 that the elders of the church are to pray for the sick.  It is the prayer of faith, not a human miracle-worker, that is said to save them.  Whatever be the gift, it is the edification of the church and the glorification of G-d that are the ultimate importance…”[36]

There is so much more to be said but let us come to this conclusion: the saved man is in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit.  How much of our life we give to Him determines when we are allowed to us our gifts for Him.  If I won’t give Him my whole life, why would He empower me with a gift, that I could possibly misuse?  Let us acknowledge what Scripture clearly shows, believers have the Holy Spirit.  John the Baptist said Christ would baptize with the Spirit and with fire.  Shouldn’t that be all the acknowledgement any need?  I don’t need tongues to prove to anyone I’ve been baptized in the Spirit; the fruit will tell.

CLAIM #5:

“Regular participation in the church’s worship, Bible Study, and the ordinances (Hebrews 10:25; ii Timothy 2:15; I Cor. 11; John 13).

Hebrews 10:25 (KJV)
25Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. [37]

2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV)
15Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [38]

1 Corinthians 11 (RSV)
1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
2 I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5 but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head—it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6 For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her wear a veil. 7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 (For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.) 10 That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels. 11 (Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.) 13 Judge for yourselves; is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that for a man to wear long hair is degrading to him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her pride? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God.
17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you assemble as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you meet together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal, and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.
23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are chastened so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
33 So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34 if any one is hungry, let him eat at home—lest you come together to be condemned. About the other things I will give directions when I come. [39]

John 13 (1901 ASV)
13 Now before the feast of the passover, Jesus knowing that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto his Father, having loved his own that were in the world, he loved them unto the end. 2And during supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all the things into his hands, and that he came forth from God, and goeth unto God, 4riseth from supper, and layeth aside his garments; and he took a towel, and girded himself. 5Then he poureth water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6So he cometh to Simon Peter. He saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt understand hereafter. 8Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 10Jesus saith to him, He that is bathed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11For he knew him that should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. 12So when he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and sat down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13Ye call me, Teacher, and, Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15For I have given you an example, that ye also should do as I have done to you. 16Verily, verily, I say unto you, a servant is not greater than his lord; neither one that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17If ye know these things, blessed are ye if ye do them.
18I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled: He that eateth my bread lifted up his heel against me. 19From henceforth I tell you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he. 20Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. 21When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in the spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. 22The disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake. 23There was at the table reclining in Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24Simon Peter therefore beckoneth to him, and saith unto him, Tell us who it is of whom he speaketh. 25He leaning back, as he was, on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? 26Jesus therefore answereth, He it is, for whom I shall dip the sop, and give it him. So when he had dipped the sop, he taketh and giveth it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27And after the sop, then entered Satan into him. Jesus therefore saith unto him, What thou doest, do quickly. 28Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. 29For some thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus said unto him, Buy what things we have need of for the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. 30He then having received the sop went out straightway: and it was night.
31When therefore he was gone out, Jesus saith, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him; 32and God shall glorify him in himself, and straightway shall he glorify him. 33Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say unto you. 34A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
36Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered, Whither I go, thou canst not follow now; but thou shalt follow afterwards. 37Peter saith unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee even now? I will lay down my life for thee. 38Jesus answereth, Wilt thou lay down thy life for me? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice. [40]

“Regular participation in the church’s worship, Bible Study, and the ordinances…”

Beloved, my heart grows heavy when I hear our read such statements.  Not because I disagree with worship, Bible study or ordinances (though this term troubles me); but it is because of the ownership that is claimed: “the church’s”.  The problem that confronts me is this: how are we defining terms?  What does the phrase “in the church’s worship, Bible study, and the ordinances…” truly mean?  Friends, the followers of Jim Jones and David Koresh had “regular participation in the church’s…” activities, right up unto the end, but G-d’s?  I don’t believe that all of those folks died following G-d’s plan of worship, Bible study and ordinances.  We have to be very, very careful beloved.  Do we follow man or G-d?  Do we follow the Word of the Living Christ, or do we do as we are told by church leaders?  Whose authority are we to submit to, Christ’s or man?  How we define this statement is the real question.  Now, let this be not misconstrued: I do not oppose regularly gathering with believers for the worship of G-d, or for coming together to study and discuss the deeper things of G-d, nor do I oppose the corporate communion.  I oppose any “church” claiming the ownership of these activities, just as I have a problem with anyone calling the ministry that they are a part of “Billy Bob’s Ministry” of “John Boy Walton Ministries”.  The ministry always belongs to Christ, as does the “worship, study and ordinances.”  Now, we can dance around this subject all night, one can say that the “church” refers to the body of Christ, or the “church” refers to the local assembly, or the “church” refers to a particular congregation, so on and so on…  One can say, that the wording could have been better, that I’m reading way to much into things…  All points that could have some validity to them (as I said, I’m teachable and correctable).  What does bother me the most is simply “Why?”  Why do we have to have requirements for fellowship in the first place, other than those basic requirements that were set down by the Jerusalem council in Acts 15?

Acts 2:41-47 (NKJV)
41Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. [41]

It seems to me brethren, that once we believe, we will want to come together and worship, to be taught and to teach, to break bread and remember our Lord.  It seems to me brethren, we will provide for one another, we will be “day by day, attending the temple…”, praising G-d.  And G-d will supply the increase.  Now, I don’t want to go into a house of worship and find bedlam.  No, Paul says all things in order.  That isn’t what I’m talking about.  And by the same token, I don’t want to come into G-d’s house and try to worship if a voo-doo witch doctor is sitting right next to me (well, maybe… one of us is going to get converted, and it won’t be me!).  I think you can get my drift here.  The idea is that all concerned will strive to have “continued steadfastly…” in our Lord.  But let it be G-d’s worship; the church could be wrong.  Let it be the Holy Spirit’s study from the word; the church might need correction.  Let it be the ordinances as given by Christ; that way man’s traditions won’t bring the things of G-d to no effect.  Words have meaning.  When we are speaking about Holy things, let us not use words lightly.  We will answer for every word we utter one day; do you not think I tremble when I write these words?  I make every attempt to get my words correct, as led by the Spirit.  Doesn’t mean I’m perfect, and yes, I extend that same grace to others also, for sometimes we all get it off-center just a bit. 
Let me put it this way.  Which is the better way – to say “Who I am in Christ” or to say “Who Christ is in me”?  Both statements seem to say the same thing, right?  Or do they?  “Who I am in Christ” puts “I” before Him; “Who Christ is in me” just by the nature of the wording, says Christ is preeminent.  Without Christ, I am nothing.  I hope brethren that I’m making some sense to you here, it is a difficult thing that I am doing.  I am not trying to destroy or create controversy.  Yet, all ministers, pastors, teachers and lay-men alike, we all must be transparent and open for questions or critisism.  None of us have the ability to be right all the time and if we will truthfully and humbly acknowledge this fact, then and only then can we come together and reason together, and find the truth from the Scriptures.  It can only be G-d who is worshipped in Spirit and in Truth; those are the requirments.  It can only be His Words we study, and His Spirit that interprets these words for Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:16-20 (NKJV):

16For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 18And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation… [42]

Now the word used here for “prophecy” is (G4394) προφητεία prophēteia (prof-ay-ti'-ah).  Thayer defines it as thus:

“Thayer Definition:
1) prophecy
1a) a discourse emanating from divine inspiration and declaring the purposes of God, whether by reproving and admonishing the wicked, or comforting the afflicted, or revealing things hidden; especially by foretelling future events
1b) Used in the NT of the utterance of OT prophets
1b1) of the prediction of events relating to Christ’s kingdom and its speedy triumph, together with the consolations and admonitions pertaining to it, the spirit of prophecy, the divine mind, to which the prophetic faculty is due
1b2) of the endowment and speech of the Christian teachers called prophets
1b3) the gifts and utterances of these prophets, especially of the predictions of the works of which, set apart to teach the gospel, will accomplish for the kingdom of Christ
Part of Speech: noun feminine
A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G4396 (“prophecy”)” [43]

Now one can discourse the word “prophecy” to death.  A study on most commentaries shows  a common thread, that “prophecy” emanates from G-d, and that it is His word. “prophēteia” comes from the Greek word (G4396) προφήτης prophētēs  (prof-ay'-tace), formed from a compound of G4253 and G5346:



G4253
πρό pro (pro): A primary preposition; “fore”, that is, in front of, prior (figuratively superior) to. In compounds it retains the same significations: - above, ago, before, or ever. In compounds it retains the same significations. [44]

G5346
φημί phēmi (fay-mee'): Properly the same as the base of G5457 and G5316; to show or make known one’s thoughts, that is, speak or say: - affirm, say. Compare G3004. [45]

prophētēs”  means a “foreteller” or an “inspired speaker”.  All Scripture is the Word of G-d, therefore the argument can be made that all Scripture is prophecy, and therefore not open to our interpretation, but only that of the Spirit’s.  I’m not hear to engage in pointless discussions on definitions:  I present what I’m led to present – that all things come from G-d, and must be examined only in His light, not a “church’s” or a pastor’s or a teacher’s.  Let G-d’s word prove out what is correct, in study and ordinances.

Let us move on:

CLAIM #6:

“Support of the local assembly by prayers and offerings (Eph 6:18; Gal. 6:6; 1 Cor. 9:1-14; 2 Cor 9:6-7)

Ephesians 6:18 (NKJV)
18praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— [46]

Galatians 6:6 (NKJV)
6Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. [47]

1 Corinthians 9:1-14 (KJV)
1Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? 2If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord. 3Mine answer to them that do examine me is this, 4Have we not power to eat and to drink? 5Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wifea, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? 6Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? 7Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? 8Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? 9For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? 10Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? 12If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. 13Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things liveb of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. [48]

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (DARBY)
6 But this is true, he that sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he that sows in the spirit of blessing shall reap also in blessing: 7 each according as he is purposed in his heart; not grievingly, or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. [49]

We have no argument that the people of G-d should and did support one another, in all things. We also declare a workman is “…the workman is worthy of his meat…” [50] (Matt. 10:10).  But let us look at this for a moment.

In Vincent’s Word Studies we find this:
“The workman is worthy, etc. Mat_10:11, There abide, etc.
“The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles,” a tract discovered in 1873 in the library of the monastery of the Most Holy Sepulchre at Constantinople, by Bryennios, Metropolitan of Nicomedia, is assigned to the date of 120 a.d., and by some scholars is placed as early as 100 a.d. It is addressed to Gentile Christians, and is designed to give them practical instruction in the Christian life, according to the teachings of the twelve apostles and of the Lord himself. In the eleventh chapter we read as follows: “And every apostle who cometh to you, let him be received as the Lord; but he shall not remain except for one day; if, however, there be need, then the next day; but if he remain three days, he is a false prophet. But when the apostle departeth, let him take nothing except bread enough till he lodge again, but if he ask money, he is a false prophet.” And again (ch. 13): “Likewise a true teacher, he also is worthy like the workman, of his support. Every first-fruit, then, of the products of wine-press and threshing-floor, of oxen and sheep, thou shalt take and give to the prophets, for they are your high-priests....If thou makest a baking of bread, take the first of it and give according to the commandment. In like manner, when thou openest a jar of wine or oil, take the first of it and give to the prophets; and of money and clothing, and every possession, take the first, as may seem right to thee, and give according to the commandment.” [51]

The idea was to provide for the needs of the messenger of the Good News, not for the personal wealth and gain of such.  This is not to say that a congregation cannot support it’s pastor; by all means this is right.  For the preacher should only have to concern himself with the things of G-d; this being said, one cannot cite 1 Cor. 9:1-14 and not also include the rest of the chapter as proper context for what Paul was speaking of…

1 Corinthians 9:15-27 (KJV)
15But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void. 16For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! 17For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. 18What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.
19For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.
24Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. [52]

Brethren, what I bring up is a warning.  Do not stop supporting the local assembly or the pastor, but do hold them accountable.  How many ministries, how many souls have been lost to the cause of Jesus by churches and ministers that abuse the free-will offerings of the congregations?  By all means, we should give so that others can be helped.  By all means, we should give, as it is what we do, a part of the good works that the Gospel prepares us to do.  But any thinking Christian knows of the excesses that he/she has seen, any thinking Christian has see the damage done to Christ’s name by greed and covetousness; what did Paul say on this matter himself?
2 Corinthians 6:1-10 (KJV)
1We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. 2(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) 3Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: 4But in all things approvinga ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 5In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumultsb, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; 6By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by love unfeigned, 7By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; 9As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.  [53]
18What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel. [54]

We pray for all the saints of G-d, not just the local assembly, for the body is the local assembly, for we are one.  Furnish unto G-d what is His, and this includes supporting the pastor; but be ye not fooled; if all is right, then the minister should have no problem with letting the congregation know how G-d’s money is being spent.

CLAIM #7

“Willingness to testify to the gospel message (Acts 8:3-4; Matt 5:13-16; 10:27, 32-33; 28:19-20; Col. 3:16; Mark 16:15-20; Jude 3)

Not all of us are called to be evangelists, yet we all preach.  The life we lead will be our chief witness of the goodness of G-d, and this is if we say not a word at all.  I find it unconceivable that one who is truly Christ’s will not speak about Him to all they meet, that the Gospel message must be proclaimed.  The above passages do show a pattern of witness, though some are geared more toward edification within the body than for witnessing to the lost, but, be that as it may, we are to share our Christ.  Friends, if you love Him, you can’t help yourself.  To make this though a requirement to fellowship?  How does one intend to do this?  Better yet, how does one intend to enforce this?  Is there a score card to be kept on each member of the congregation and if they haven’t spoken to anyone about Christ each day, is there a punishment to be dealt out?  Brothers and sisters, if you are His, you will speak.  The Spirit will lead you, and give you the boldness to proclaim Christ.  The Lord knows when He wants you to speak, some of us speak all the time, some of us once in a while; some may speak only once or twice, yet G-d Himself will ordain the time and the place, and a heart will hear.  As I said, just you walking in the Spirit may be all the witness some one needs to know that Christ is alive; all I needed was to hear 3 words to break my hard heart and bring me to my knees, that is the power of “Jesus loves you…”  No one required that young boy to say those words to me; the only one keeping score was G-d.  His fellowship with G-d did not hinge on his witness; mine did, though, and G-d made sure I heard the words that save, made sure I heard the name of Jesus.  Brethren, let’s not cheapen this wondrous and miraculous act we call witnessing by making such a callous remark that it is a “requirement for fellowship”. G-d leads me to witness for the sake of His Holy Name, and for the furthering of the Kingdom of G-d, and for no other reason.  We don’t overcome because we are “required” to witness; we overcome by the words of our testimonies and the blood of the Lamb.  It is because of His stripes that we are healed, and by these stripes and His blood, we will want to testify, praise Him forever and ever. 

CLAIM #8

“Loving submission to the God-appointed ministry which has been given responsibility of leadership (Hebrews 13:7, 17, 24; Eph. 4:11-14; Acts 20:28)”

Excuse me for just a second:  “Whew.  Kool-aid drinkers of the world unite.”  The Branch-Davidian’s of Waco Texas thought their leader was God-appointed.  The 912 souls of the “Peoples Temple” under Jim Jones in Guyana thought that he was God-appointed.  Countless others have been duped into thinking that G-d has appointed their leaders, and have followed blindly into the abyss. Let us look at these Scriptures cited and see:

Hebrews 13:7 (KJV)
7Remember them which have the rulea over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

Hebrews 13:17 (KJV)
17Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Hebrews 13:24 (KJV)
24Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you. [55]

Verse 7 deals with those saints that had passed on before, due to martyrdom.  What Paul is saying here, “These that were the heads of the various ekklesias, showed you a life to live by the way they died…”  This is supported by the word used: (G2233) ἡγέομαι hēgeomai  (hayg-eh'-om-ahee).  This is different from the word used for “ruler” or “leader”, which is the word (G2232) ἡγεμών hēgemōn  (hayg-em-ohn').  Adam Clarke says of this verse:

“Heb 13:7  Remember them which have the rule over you - This clause should be translated, Remember your guides, των ἡγουμενων, who have spoken unto you the doctrine of God. Theodoret’s note on this verse is very judicious: “He intends the saints who were dead, Stephen the first martyr, James the brother of John, and James called the Just. And there were many others who were taken off by the Jewish rage. ‘Consider these, (said he), and, observing their example, imitate their faith.’” This remembrance of the dead saints, with admiration of their virtues, and a desire to imitate them, is, says Dr. Macknight, the only worship which is due to them from the living.” [56]

Heb. 13:17:  “Obey” is the word (G3982) πείθω  peithō (pi'-tho) defined by Strong’s as: “A primary verb; to convince (by argument, true or false); by analogy to pacify or conciliate (by other fair means); reflexively or passively to assent (to evidence or authority), to rely (by inward certainty): - agree, assure, believe, have confidence, be (wax) content, make friend, obey, persuade, trust, yield.” [57]  It is a point to note that here the word is translated “obey”, and yet in the very next verse (v18) the same word is used again:

Hebrews 13:18 (KJV)
18Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly. [58]

Heb 13:18  PrayG4336 forG4012 us:G2257 forG1063 we trustG3982 we(G3754) haveG2192 a goodG2570 conscience,G4893 inG1722 all thingsG3956 willingG2309 to live honestly.G390 G2573  ([59])

peitho” here is translated as “trust”.  Let us look at it from a literal view.


Fig.1[60]

You can see from the interlinear snapshot that a literal translation is “be persuaded”. Now how does this relate to our discussion?  In verse 7, the idea was to imitate their faith, if what we observed in their life was deserving of it.  See how this idea is similar to what Paul remarked in 1 Cor. 11:1: Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.  The other idea of submission is characterized by Barnes as:

“And submit yourselves - That is, to all which they enjoin that is lawful and right. There are in relation to a society:
(1)  those things which God has positively commanded - which are always to be obeyed.
(2)  many things which have been agreed on by the society as needful for its welfare - and these are to be submitted to unless they violate the rights of conscience; and
(3)  many things which are in themselves a matter of no express divine command, and of no formal enactment by the community. They are matters of convenience; things that tend to the order and harmony of the community, and of the propriety of these, “rulers” in the church and elsewhere should be allowed to judge, and we should submit to them patiently…” [61]

This idea of submission is further explained by John Wesley:

“…17. Obey them that have the rule over you - The word implies also, that lead or guide you; namely, in truth and holiness. And submit yourselves - Give up (not your conscience or judgment, but) your own will, in all things purely indifferent. For they watch over your souls - With all zeal and diligence, they guard and caution you against all danger. As they that must give account - To the great Shepherd, for every part of their behavior toward you. How vigilant then ought every pastor to be! How careful of every soul committed to his charge! That they may do this - Watch over you. With joy and not with groans - He is not a good shepherd, who does not either rejoice over them, or groan for them. The groans of other creatures are heard: how much more shall these come up in the ears of God! Whoever answers this character of a Christian pastor may undoubtedly demand this obedience…” [62]

The idea is not to blindly follow, or to bow your life to the church or church authority – that providence belongs to
G-d only – but to be guided till the time as noted in:

1 John 2:27 (KJV)
27But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in hima. [63]

The time comes when we need no man, but the Spirit of G-d.  This is not to say that authority is not required.  When I go into a man’s house, I do not assume control over his house, but defer to him in matters that concern his place.  By that same token, with respect we defer to the authority of the house of G-d, and the one that is in charge.  All things in order, as long as it is done in deference to the word of G-d.  This is not blind obedience.  No one should ask this, for we have but one head, and that is Christ.  The western church has forgotten how to let the Holy Spirit of G-d lead it. Sometimes it’s just best to wait on the Lord. 
Ephesians 4:11-14 (KJV)
11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13Till we all come ind the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; [64]

“…The concept of the five-fold ministry comes from Ephesians 4:11, "It was he who gave some to be (1) apostles, some to be (2) prophets, some to be (3) evangelists, and some to be (4) pastors and (5) teachers." Primarily as a result of this verse, some believe God has restored, or is restoring, the offices of apostle and prophet in the church today. Ephesians 4:12-13 tells us that the purpose of the five-fold ministry is, "to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." So, since the body of Christ definitely is not built up to unity in the faith and has not attained to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ, the thinking goes, the offices of apostle and prophet must still be in effect.

However, Ephesians 2:20 informs us that the church is "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone." If the apostles and prophets were the foundation of the church, are we still building the foundation? Hebrews 6:1-3 encourages us to move on from the foundation. Although Jesus Christ is most definitely active in the church today, His role as the cornerstone of the church was completed with His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. If the work of the cornerstone is, in that sense, complete, so must the work of the apostles and prophets, who were the foundation, be complete.

What was the role of the apostles and prophets? It was to proclaim God's revelation, to teach the new truth the church would need to grow and thrive. The apostles and prophets completed this mission. How? By giving us the Word of God. The Word of God is the completed revelation of God. The Bible contains everything the church needs to know to grow, thrive, and fulfill God's mission (2 Timothy 3:15-16). The cornerstone work of the apostles and prophets is complete. The ongoing work of the apostles and prophets is manifested in the Holy Spirit speaking through and teaching us God's Word. In that sense, the five-fold ministry is still active…” [65]

What do we as believers think is missing in today’s church?  I don’t believe it is offices or ministers.  In some large “mega-churches”, we have ministries on top of ministries.  You have the latte-stand ministry, the parking lot ministry, the greeters ministry, the children’s ministry, the audio-visual ministry, and on and on.  We have those who call themselves prophets, apostles, evangelists, pastors and teachers; ministers and priests, reverends and bishops.  Deacons, elders, Pastor of Spiritual Formation, Minister of Assimilation, Magnification Pastor (someone who preaches or leads worship on Sunday), Executive Pastor (or the Minister of Education), the Children’s Director… I think you get my drift.  We spend so much time worrying about the administration of the church and who is “in charge” that we forget the only thing the “church” truly needs to be concerned about: the cross of Christ.  Forget the administration – it will work itself out.  G-d will bring one gifted in administration to help keep the books, and pay the bills.  Preach Christ.  Stand before a room of people.  Maybe they’re diverse.  Moslems, Hindu’s, Mormons, Catholics, atheists, humanists, secularists; all the –isms and the –ists you can find.  Compare the religions, the philosophies, the competing stratagems that make up a diverse world.  There will be discussions, arguments, all voices trying to be heard over the other.  Do you want to know when the voices will go silent?  Do you want to know when all will give their undivided attention?  The last 20 minutes.  In that last 20 minutes, preach the cross.  Impassioned, anointed preaching. There is nothing like the cross of Christ, in all the world, in all the religions, in all the philosophies, the cross stands alone.  Deep within the hearts of all who live on this planet is the in-born knowledge of the cross of Christ.  There is no excuse for man.  He knows.  When he hears, he knows.  It is the only Truth that resonates within the soul.  He can shake it off, close his heart and walk away, but deep within, he knows.  When the cross speaks, men go silent.  When the blood of the Savior falls, hearts weep.  When the echoes of blows of the hammer dim, so do the voices of the darkness; all goes silent before the cross.  This, this my friends, my beloved, is submission.  This and only this do I bow to; and so should you.

CLAIM #9:

“Living a life consistent with the Christian faith and the message of the New Testament (Matt 5-7; 1 Peter 1:16; Galatians 5:14-26; Titus 2:11-13)”

To this I say “Yes and Amen.”  To this I have to add, why just the New Testament?  The church of Christ is a Jewish church.  Shocked?  The first 15 leaders of the first century church were Jews.  Eusebius, one of the most famous of ancient church historians details that the church was led by Jewish bishops up until the Roman invasion by Hadrian, approximately 100 years after the death of Christ.  He writes:

“…For at the time the whole church under them, consisted of faithful Hebrews who continued from the time of the apostles, until the siege took place… The first, then, was James called the brother of our Lord; after whom, the second was Simeon, the third Justus, the fourth Zaccheus, the fifth Tobias, the sixth Benjamin, the seventh John, the eighth Matthew, the ninth Philip, the tenth Seneca, the eleventh Justus, the twelfth Levi, the thirteenth Ephres, the fourteenth Joseph, and finally, the fifteenth Judas.  These are all the bishops of Jerusalem that filled up the time from the apostles until the abovementioned time, all of the circumcision…” [66]

G-d did not give us half a Bible.  He gave us a whole book.  Isaiah is quoted 411 times in the New Testament; Psalms, Genesis and Exodus are quoted extensively by the New Testament writers.  Zechariah was quoted 71 times; Ezekiel was quoted directly or indirectly 65 times.  Other non-canonical books of Jewish wisdom are quoted throughout the New Testament.[67]  We cannot overlook this vital part of our heritage as believers.  Our Savior was a devout Jew, who kept the Torah, and the Festivals of G-d.  The message of the New Testament is grace, mercy and the cross.; the message of the Old Testament is the grace, mercy and the cross.  Jesus is the same, today, and yesterday, forever.  G-d never changes.  We cannot understand the Christian walk if we don’t understand the Torah and the prophets.  If we continue to ignore half of what G-d taught and all of what Jesus believed, we are a poor people indeed.

CLAIM #10:

“Recognition that a New Testament assembly is a theocracy under Christ its head, not a democracy of the people; that it is a living organism, not a religious organization and institution; acceptance of one’s responsibilities to the local assembly, and concurrence in its Scriptural discipline (1 Cor. 5; 12; Romans 16:17; II Thess. 3:6-15; Titus 3:10-11; Matt 18:15-17)”

Let us begin with quoting from the CultWatch Organization’s white paper on this particular subject (entire 11 part series can be found in Appendix 7). 

“…Super Apostles and Church Government

In this third installment of our series exposing the Super Apostles we focus on one of their most cherished concepts, that of "Church Government".
The Super Apostles claim the New Testament Church was run by a governmental system, and that system was a Theocracy. The Super Apostles desire to "restore" Theocracy to the modern Church, with themselves, of course, at the head.
The Oxford Dictionary defines Theocracy as "A form of government by God or god directly through a priestly order".
An actual Super Apostle applies this Theocracy idea by building his church's one over one structure thus: "God the ultimate source of all authority", over "Jesus Christ the head of the Church", over "Pastor [Name Removed] - Apostolic ministry under the headship of Jesus Christ", over "Local Pastor - Under delegated authority of Pastor [Name Removed]", over "Local Eldership - Plurality, co equality of eldership as far as persons but not as far as divine ability and gifting and experience are concerned", over "Ministry overseers, department leaders - i.e. youth, children, cell groups, worship team, ushers, security etc.", over "Cell leaders".
As keen as the Super Apostles are on their beloved Theocracy they face formidable opposition from Scripture, Matthew 20:25-28 "Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave-- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." See also Mark 10:42-43 and Luke 22:25-26.
The Book "Damaged Disciples" by Ron & Vicki Burks was a by-product of the first wave of Mind Control that swept the Church in the Seventies. It has this to say regarding Matthew 20:25-28, "The word translated 'to lord it over' appears in Matthew 20:25-26, Mark 10:42-43, Luke 22:25-26, and in Peter 5:2-3. Actually the word does not suggest oppression or abuse of power. It simply means 'to rule over' or 'to be lord over.' Coercion or the abuse of authority is not the issue here. What is being said is that there is among the Gentiles a hierarchical system of authority that is not to be imitated in the Christian community." (Also the book "Studies in New Testament Language and Text" edited by J. K. Elliot backs up this explanation)
…Further discussion regarding the Super Apostles' postulated Theocratic Church Government can be found in the Cultwatch article "Church Leadership Authority" at www.cultwatch.com/ChurchLeadershipAuthority.html…
Our online article concludes, in part, that there is not enough evidence from Scripture to support or exclude any particular type of Church governmental structure. It is as if this issue, so important to men, is of little consequence to God, except that a one over one Theocratic structure is specifically banned.
So, in summary, our Super Apostle friends need Theocracy to be the only option for running the Church, but not only do they fail to prove that Theocracy is essential, their Theocratic aspirations also come to grief on the teeth of Scripture. The fact that the Bible forbids one over one authority structures should be enough for us to discount the Super Apostles completely…” [68]

Now we shall look at the Scriptures cited in the claim as well as those cited in the passage above.


Neither 1 Corinthians chapter 5 or chapter 12 speak to an organizational arrangement in the ekkelesia.  They speak to gifts, being distributed as G-d sees fit, but the way I read these sections, there is no ranking of members above any one another.  The only clear distinction of authority is to declare Christ the head (1 Cor. 5:4) and Paul, by virtue of the apostolic position he enjoyed by the will of G-d, having authority to pronounce punishment on the members that were practicing sexual sin in the gathering.  This type of authority rested with the first Apostles only: for they witnessed the risen Lord firsthand.  In verse 5 an unusual punishment is given:  Clarke’s take on it is thus:

“…1Co 5:5 
To deliver such a one unto Satan - There is no evidence that delivering to Satan was any form of excommunication known either among the Jews or the Christians. Lightfoot, Selden, and Schoettgen, who have searched all the Jewish records, have found nothing that answers to this: it was a species of punishment administered in extraordinary cases, in which the body and the mind of an incorrigible transgressor were delivered by the authority of God into the power of Satan, to be tortured with diseases and terrors as a warning to all; but while the body and mind were thus tormented, the immortal spirit was under the influence of the Divine mercy; and the affliction, in all probability, was in general only for a season; though sometimes it was evidently unto death, as the destruction of the flesh seems to imply. But the soul found mercy at the hand of God; for such a most extraordinary interference of God’s power and justice, and of Satan’s influence, could not fail to bring the person to a state of the deepest humiliation and contrition; and thus, while the flesh was destroyed, the spirit was saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. No such power as this remains in the Church of God; none such should be assumed; the pretensions to it are as wicked as they are vain. It was the same power by which Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead, and Elymas the sorcerer struck blind. Apostles alone were intrusted with it…” [69]

I will in this instance concur with Clarke’s assessment.  I know of no instance today where such a thing has occurred, and would be hard pressed to accept it unless sufficient evidence was produced.  Why?  To tell you the truth, I do not believe that there are believers today that could wield this type of power with the responsibility that comes with it.  I’m not saying that such a man does not exist; I just haven’t met him.  This type of faith is the mustard seed faith, and beloved, few are able to produce it, let alone use it in the humble tradition of the Apostles. 

Throughout the rest of chapter 5 Paul is exhorting the ekkelesia to purge itself, to if you will, hold court upon itself, to judge righteously concerning the sin within its members.  But no where is there any delegation of authority other than that mentioned above.  This does not mean that there wasn’t a structure in place; it simply means that one cannot use these passages as “proof” text of a Theocracy.

Chapter 12 lists only one head- Jesus Christ.  It contains a detailed explanation of the various gifts, yet does not give a clear outline of any authority structure.

1 Corinthians 12:11-12 (DARBY)
11 But all these things operates the one and the same Spirit, dividing to each in particular according as he pleases.  12 For even as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of the body, being many, are one body, so also is the Christ. [70]

Here it is clear that Paul treats the “congregation” as one body, under the headship of Christ.  Again Clarke says “…God has given no gift to any man for his own private advantage, or exclusive profit…” [71] Therefore G-d holds true as being no respecter of persons, showing no favoritism.

Romans 16:17 (NABWRNT)
17 I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who create dissensions and obstacles, in opposition to the teaching that you learned; avoid them. [72]

This passage once again speaks to the Apostles place of authority, not to the authority structure in the ekkelesia.  You cannot pull this verse out of context; you have to include with it the rest of the Paul’s warning:

Romans 16:17-19 (NABWRNT)
17 I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who create dissensions and obstacles, in opposition to the teaching that you learned; avoid them.
18 For such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites, and by fair and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the innocent.
19 For while your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I want you to be wise as to what is good, and simple as to what is evil; [73]

It is their obedience to Christ that Paul is commending them for; for holding fast to the teachings of the living Savior as passed to them by His Apostles, and for shunning false apostles or teachers that sought to have gain over them, to separate them into opposing groups within the body.

In 2 Thess. 3:6-15, Paul gives instructions on how to deal with one who rejects or won’t follow the teachings of the Apostle, hence the teachings of Scripture.  Again, this has more to do with one who chooses not to follow the Word of G-d, and not the word of man.  This only establishes that the teachings of Christ were the deciding factor, for we know what Paul taught; Christ crucified and risen.  In verse 15 though, Paul shows the compassion we as Christians are supposed to show to one who errs.  Barnes puts it so:

“…2Th 3:15  Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother - This shows the true spirit in which discipline is to be administered in the Christian church. We are not to deal with a man as an adversary over whom we are to seek to gain a victory, but as an erring brother - a brother still, though he errs. There was necessity for this caution. There is great danger that when we undertake the work of discipline we shall forget that he who is the subject of it is a brother, and that we shall regard and treat him as an enemy. Such is human nature. We set ourselves in array against him. We cut him off as one who is unworthy to walk with us. We triumph over him, and consider him at once as an enemy of the church, and as having lost all claim to its sympathies. We abandon him to the tender mercies of a cold and unfeeling world, and let him take his course. Perhaps we follow him with anathemas, and hold him up as unworthy the confidence of mankind. Now all this is entirely unlike the method and aim of discipline as the New Testament requires. There all is kind, and gentle, though firm; the offender is a man and a brother still; he is to be followed with tender sympathy and prayer, and the hearts and the arms of the Christian brotherhood are to be open to receive him again when he gives any evidence of repenting…” [74]

Titus 3:10-11 (KJV)
10A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; 11Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself. [75]

These verses appear in a section of Titus where Paul is addressing many different situations.  We will see Matthew Henry’s take on this matter, and then take a look at the last Scriptures cited and try to tie this all together.

“…II. But because, after all, there will be heresies and heretics in the church, the apostle next directs Titus what to do in such a case, and how to deal with such, Tit_3:10. He who forsakes the truth as it is in Christ Jesus, who broaches false doctrines and propagates them to the corrupting of the faith in weighty and momentous points, and breaks the peace of the church about them, after due means used to reclaim him, must be rejected. “Admonish him once and again, that, if possible, he may be brought back, and thou mayest gain thy brother; but, if this will not reduce him, that others be not hurt, cast him out of the communion, and warn all Christians to avoid him.” - Knowing that he that is such is subverted (turned off from the foundation) and sinneth grievously, being self-condemned. Those who will not be reclaimed by admonitions, but are obstinate in their sins and errors, are subverted and self-condemned; they inflict that punishment upon themselves which the governors of the church should inflict upon them: they throw themselves out of the church, and throw off its communion, and so are self-condemned. Observe, 1. How great an evil real heresy is, not lightly therefore to be charged upon any, though greatly to be taken heed of by all. Such a one is subverted or perverted - a metaphor from a building so ruined as to render it difficult if not impossible to repair and raise it up again. Real heretics have seldom been recovered to the true faith: not so much defect of judgment, as perverseness of the will, being in the case, through pride, or ambition, or self-willedness, or covetousness, or such like corruption, which therefore must be taken heed of: “Be humble, love the truth and practise it, and damning heresy will be escaped.” 2. Pains and patience must be used about those that err most grievously. They are not easily and soon to be given up and cast off, but competent time and means must be tried for their recovery. 3. The church's means even with heretics are persuasive and rational. They must be admonished, instructed, and warned; so much nouthesia imports. 4. Upon continued obstinacy and irreclaimableness, the church has power, and is obliged, to preserve its own purity, by severing such a corrupt member which discipline may by God's blessing become effectual to reform the offender, or if not it will leave him the more inexcusable in his condemnation…” [76]

Matthew 18:15-17 (KJV)
15Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. [77]

These words by our Savior need no explanation.  What does deserve an explanation is why?  The claim is about the theocracy of the church.  About, for lack of a better way to put it, just exactly who is in charge.  For the passages that are cited, I can only infer one thing, and that is no dissension to authority will be tolerated.  This, this disturbs me my beloved.  For if these same “requirements” were set down at the time of Christ, then by these rules, I can only conclude Christ would not have even be allowed to speak.  It was because of rules and ordinances like these that Christ did speak out, and denounce the established rulers of His day.  Look again at the section from CultWatch.  The Scriptures cited are:

Matthew 20:25-28 (KJV)
25But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. [78]

Mark 10:42-43 (1901 ASV)
And Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they who are accounted to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43But it is not so among you: but whosoever would become great among you, shall be your minister; [79]

Luke 22:25-26 (CEV)
25 So Jesus told them:
Foreign kings order their people around, and powerful rulers call themselves everyone’s friends. a 26 But don’t be like them. The most important one of you should be like the least important, and your leader should be like a servant. [80]

1 Peter 5:2-3 (KJV)
2Feed 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; 3Neither as being lords overa God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. [81]

These verses do not speak of a theocracy, but of service and humility, of lovingly coming along side the flock, ministering to them, to your own hurt if need be, just as Christ did.   For is it not Christ we are to imitate?  Brethren, a flock lovingly cared for has no need of a rod of iron.  A flock well taught by the precepts of G-d will not stray into heresy, but will be well fed at the fountains of living water.  A flock well fed of the cross of Christ will be one that worships and witnesses and gives; it won’t need to be threaten or cajoled.  It will be a city on a hill, and all will rejoice in the power of G-d that flows through it.

CLAIM #11:

“Belief in unity and oneness of mind concerning the Word of God and its relation to all matters concerning Christian life, as well as the refusal to engage in any criticism of the local assembly, its membership, or its ministry (1 Cor. 1:10; 10:1-12; Phi 2:1-4; Titus 3:1-2, 10-11; Proverbs 6:16-19; Romans 16:17; James 3)

1 Corinthians 1:10 (NKJV)
10Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. [82]

1 Corinthians 10:1-12 (NKJV)
1Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3all ate the same spiritual food, 4and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. 5But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 6Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 7And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” 8Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; 9nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
12Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. [83]

Philippians 2:1-4 (NKJV)
1Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. [84]

Titus 3:1-2 (GNB)
3 Remind your people to submit to rulers and authorities, to obey them, and to be ready to do good in every way. 2Tell them not to speak evil of anyone, but to be peaceful and friendly, and always to show a gentle attitude towards everyone. [85]

Titus 3:10-11 (NLT)
If anyone is causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with that person. 11 For people like that have turned away from the truth. They are sinning, and they condemn themselves.[86]

Proverbs 6:16-19 (NRSV)
16 There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that hurry to run to evil,
19 a lying witness who testifies falsely,
and one who sows discord in a family. [87]

Romans 16:17 (CEV)
17 My friends, I beg you to watch out for anyone who causes trouble and divides the church by refusing to do what all of you were taught. Stay away from them! [88]

James 3 (KJV)
1My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnationa. 2For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. 3Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 4Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. 5Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matterb a little fire kindleth! 6And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the coursec of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 7For every kindd of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11Doth a fountain send forth at the same placee sweet water and bitter? 12Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.
13Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 14But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensualf, devilish. 16For where envying and strife is, there is confusiong and every evil work. 17But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partialityh, and without hypocrisy. 18And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. [89]

Brethren, my heart is saddened.  According to the requirements of this document, Paul would have been put out of fellowship for his criticism of Peter.  John Mark would have never been allowed back on the missionary road; Onesimus would have been shunned for he disobeyed his master.  Christ would have never been allowed into any synagogue, would not have been allowed to preach in the temple and John the Baptist would never have been able to make straight the path for G-d.  In fact, I dare say that the Christian religion would have lasted 10 years, let alone almost 2000.  Many voices have drifted through the air in these centuries.  One look at Fox’s Book of Martyrs will show you how many lives would have been saved if they had only done what this document says to do.  Martin Luther could have saved himself much grief and just let the Reformation never happen; after all he was openly critical of the local assembly, its membership and its ministry.  Tyndale would not have been burned at the stake, the Apostles would have all died of old age and hundreds of lions would have gone hungry in the Coliseum. If no one questioned the leaders and the authority of the church, only clergy would be allowed to read the Bible, the rest of us would be under penalty of death.  If only those pesky Chinese Christians wouldn’t demand the right to worship freely, and just stick with the state sponsored churches, then the folks at Voice of the Martyrs could print song books instead of telling us about persecution of the brethren.  We would still think that the sun revolved around the earth and that maybe the Flat Earth Society would be main stream. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would not have been thrown in the furnace, Joseph would have obeyed Pharaoh’s wife and committed adultery, Moses wouldn’t have gone up against Pharaoh and the list goes on and on.  Honest, G-d fearing men would not sit around and reason together about the things of G-d, because they might not be in unity, and we all would deny that the Holocaust ever happened, instead of swearing “Never Again!” 

This is the logic of “Requirements For Participation in Fellowship”.  Taken as bits and pieces of Scripture, one can justify any position.  Taken as a whole, and Scripture unlocks for us this wondrous, life changing tapestry of words and pictures that are too beautiful to describe, they can only be seen with the heart.  A G-d who will appear out of the whirlwind and interact with His creation; a G-d that will argue His case as He did with Job; a G-d willing to let His Son die for a stiff-necked and stubborn people, just so He can draw them to Himself; O brethren, how can anyone stifle this?  What I don’t understand, I want to question!  When I’m hurt, I want to be able to look into the heavens and ask why! When I’m scared, I want to know if He’ll comfort me!  If I’m wrong, I want to know His people won’t shut me out, but will take me in, good theology or no theology – just show me His heart; O please, when I hurt, someone say “Jesus loves you…”  When I doubt, someone please say “Jesus loves you…”  When I’m lost, please tell me Jesus loves me.  When I’m wrong, correct me, when I’m right, lift me up.  When we come together, I might not sing like you, I might not worship as you do, but does that make it wrong?  I might disagree with you, just don’t shut me up.. one of us might be wrong, one of us might be right- that is why we reason together, and He is exalted.  Are you going to deny me fellowship because I don’t fir one or more of your requirements?  Will you discipline me when all I can give is my heart?  If I don’t bow my knee to your authority because I believe only G-d deserves that act of submission. Am I to be excluded?  Because I’ve written this epistle, am I unwelcome?  If I’m afraid for the brethren, afraid for the pastor that they are being taken in by error, is it wrong for me to speak?  Look again my brothers and sisters!  If I am wrong, then G-d’s Word will be the judge!  If I’m right, then G-d’s Word will Confirm!  O hear the heart of G-d, and open yourself to Him…  I seek not to offend, only warn. The time is too short to waste it being deceived.  Let us pray:

Father, into Thy Hands we commit Your Holy Word.  May by Your Holy Spirit only Truth be revealed, and I stand ready to be corrected if I am wrong, and I stand ready to help if Your Words are true.  Come, let us reason together, and walk into the light of day, and not the shadow of darkness… In the name of Yeshua Ha’Machiach, Amein and Amein

….May the Lord richly bless you and keep you my beloved….



[1] CYCLOPEDIA of BIBLICAL, THEOLOGICAL and ECCLESIASTICAL LITERATURE, by James Strong & John McClintock, (electronic edition), AGES Software Rio, WI USA Version 1.0 © 2000
[2] Information compiled from http://www.cultwatch.com/saseries.html “The Super Apostles Series” ©2002 Cultwatch Inc. For the complete series, see Appendix 7.
[3]  The New King James Version. 1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4]  The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[5]  The New King James Version. 1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
[6]  American Standard Version. 1995 (Electronic edition.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
T#865 865. To faith in Christ. Jn +3:16.
* * Clear cross reference
m m  Critical, significant cross reference
+ +  More references at verse indicated
[7] Smith, J. H. (1992; Published in electronic form, 1996). The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge  : The most complete listing of cross references available anywhere- every verse, every theme, every important word (electronic edition of the Rev. ed. of: The Treasury of scripture knowledge.) (1188). Nashville TN: Thomas Nelson.
[8] Strong’s Dictionary,( electronic edition), e-Sword®, ver. 7.9.8,  copyright ©2000-20008 by Rick Myers
[9] A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, by Joseph H. Thayer, Copyright ©1977, Baker Book House Company
[10] Webster’s Dictionary, 1829 Edition, ( electronic edition of the 1828 version), e-Sword®, ver. 7.9.8,  copyright ©2000-20008 by Rick Myers
[11]  American Standard Version. 1995 (Electronic edition.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[12]  The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[13] A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, by Joseph H. Thayer, Copyright ©1977, Baker Book House Company
[14] Strong numbers for WHNA (only NA part) v2.0 ● Copyright © 2007 Scripture4all Foundation
[15] American Standard Version. 1995 (Electronic edition.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[16] A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, by Joseph H. Thayer, Copyright ©1977, Baker Book House Company
[17] Young’s 1894 Literal Translation of the Bible, by Robert Young, ©2004 Greater Truth Publications
[18] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[19] A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, by Joseph H. Thayer, Copyright ©1977, Baker Book House Company
[20] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[21] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[22]  American Standard Version. 1995 (Electronic edition.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[23]  The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[24]  Darby, J. N. (1996). The Holy Scriptures : A new translation from the original languages (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems.
[25]  American Standard Version. 1995 (Electronic edition.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[26]  The Contemporary English Version : With Apocrypha. 1997, c1995 (electronic ed.). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[27] The Good News Bible : Today's English Version. 1992. New York: American Bible Society.
[28] The New American Bible : With revised New Testament. 1986; Published in electronic form by Logos Research Systems, 1996 (electronic ed.). Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.
  [38–40] Can you drink the cup...I am baptized?: the metaphor of drinking the cup is used in the Old Testament to refer to acceptance of the destiny assigned by God; see the note on Ps 11, 6. In Jesus’ case, this involves divine judgment on sin that Jesus the innocent one is to expiate on behalf of the guilty (Mark 14:24; Isaiah 53:5). His baptism is to be his crucifixion and death for the salvation of the human race; cf Luke 12:50. The request of James and John for a share in the glory (Mark 10:35–37) must of necessity involve a share in Jesus’ sufferings, the endurance of tribulation and suffering for the gospel (Mark 10:39). The authority of assigning places of honor in the kingdom is reserved to God (Mark 10:40).
[29] The New American Bible : With revised New Testament. 1986; Published in electronic form by Logos Research Systems, 1996 (electronic ed.). Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.

[30] Darby, J. N., 1890 Darby Bible, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.
[31] 1901 American Standard Version, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1994.
[32]  The New King James Version. 1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
c  Gentiles: Gr. Greeks
[33] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[34] From: The Work and the Person of the Holy Spirit, pg. 22,  by Prof. Jesse Stearns, ©2003, Jesse Stearns (lecture series, Covenant Bible Seminary)
[35] From: The Work and the Person of the Holy Spirit, pg. 23,  by Prof. Jesse Stearns, ©2003, Jesse Stearns (lecture series, Covenant Bible Seminary)

[36] From: The Work and the Person of the Holy Spirit, pg. 23-24,  by Prof. Jesse Stearns, ©2003, Jesse Stearns (lecture series, Covenant Bible Seminary)
[37] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[38] The New King James Version. 1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[39] The Revised Standard Version. 1971 (Electronic edition.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[40]  American Standard Version. 1995 (Electronic edition.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[41]  The New King James Version. 1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
[42]  The New King James Version. 1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
[43] A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, by Joseph H. Thayer, Copyright ©1977, Baker Book House Company
[44] Strong’s Dictionary,( electronic edition), e-Sword®, ver. 7.9.8,  copyright ©2000-20008 by Rick Myers
[45] Strong’s Dictionary,( electronic edition), e-Sword®, ver. 7.9.8,  copyright ©2000-20008 by Rick Myers
[46] The New King James Version. 1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
[47] The New King James Version. 1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
a  wife: or, woman
b  live: or, feed
[48] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[49] Darby, J. N. (1996). The Holy Scriptures : A new translation from the original languages (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems.
[50] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[51] Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament, by Marvin R. Vincent, (Electronic edition of the 1886 edition ©Hendricks Publishing,  ) e-Sword®, ver. 7.9.8,  copyright ©2000-20008 by Rick Myers
[52] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
a approving: Gr. commending
b in tumults: or, in tossings to and fro
[53] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[54] 1 Cor. 9:18 - The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

a  have the rule: or, are the guides
[55] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[56] Adam Clarke’s Bible Commentary, by Adam Clarke, (electronic edition) e-Sword®, ver. 7.9.8,  copyright ©2000-20008 by Rick Myers
[57] Strong’s Dictionary, (electronic edition), e-Sword®, ver. 7.9.8,  copyright ©2000-20008 by Rick Myers
[58] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[59] The Holy Bible : King James Version w/Strong’s Numbers, (electronic edition), e-Sword®, ver. 7.9.8,  copyright ©2000-20008 by Rick Myers
[60] Image snapshot from : ISA basic  2.0  RC 6  Copyright © 2008 André de Mol. All rights reserved
[61] Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, (electronic edition), e-Sword®, ver. 7.9.8,  copyright ©2000-20008 by Rick Myers
[62] The Complete Works of John Wesley, Commentary on the Bible, by John Wesley, (electronic edition) http://www.godrules.net/library/wesley/wesley.htm
a  in him: or, in it
[63] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
d  in: or, into
[64] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[65] Quotation taken from http://www.gotquestions.org/five-fold-ministry.html
[66] Eusebius, Pamphilus, The Ecclesiastical History of, Translated by Christian Frederick Cruse, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1992), ppg 130.
[67] The Passion Conspiracy, by Dr. Randall A. Weiss, ©2004 Randall A. Weiss, Excellance in Christian Books, Cedar Hills, Texas, pg 35-36
[68] Information compiled from http://www.cultwatch.com/saseries.html “The Super Apostles Series” ©2002 Cultwatch Inc. For the complete series, see Appendix 7.
[69] Adam Clarke’s Bible Commentary, by Adam Clarke, (electronic edition) e-Sword®, ver. 7.9.8,  copyright ©2000-2008 by Rick Myers
[70]  Darby, J. N. (1996). The Holy Scriptures : A new translation from the original languages (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems.
[71] Adam Clarke’s Bible Commentary, by Adam Clarke, (electronic edition) e-Sword®, ver. 7.9.8,  copyright ©2000-2008 by Rick Myers
  [17–18] Paul displays genuine concern for the congregations in Rome by warning them against self-seeking teachers. It would be a great loss, he intimates, if their obedience, which is known to all (cf Romans 1:8), would be diluted.
[72] The New American Bible : With revised New Testament. 1986; Published in electronic form by Logos Research Systems, 1996 (electronic ed.). Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.

[73] The New American Bible : With revised New Testament. 1986; Published in electronic form by Logos Research Systems, 1996 (electronic ed.). Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.

[74] Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, (electronic edition), e-Sword®, ver. 7.9.8,  copyright ©2000-20008 by Rick Myers
[75] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[76] Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary of the Whole Bible, by Matthew Henry, (electronic edition), e-Sword®, ver. 7.9.8,  copyright ©2000-20008 by Rick Myers

[77] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[78] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[79]  American Standard Version. 1995 (Electronic edition.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
a  22.25 everyone’s friends: This translates a Greek word that rulers sometimes used as a title for themselves or for special friends.
  22.26 Mt 23.11; Mk 9.35
[80] The Contemporary English Version : With Apocrypha. 1997, c1995 (electronic ed.). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
a  being lords over: or, overruling
[81] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[82]  The New King James Version. 1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
[83]  The New King James Version. 1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
[84]  The New King James Version. 1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
[85]  The Good News Bible : Today's English Version. 1992. New York: American Bible Society.
[86]  Holy Bible : New Living Translation. 1997, c1996 (electronic ed.). Wheaton: Tyndale House.
[87]  The Holy Bible : New Revised Standard Version. 1996, c1989 (electronic ed.). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[88]  The Contemporary English Version : With Apocrypha. 1997, c1995 (electronic ed.). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
a  condemnation: or, judgment
b  a matter: or, wood
c  course: Gr. Wheel
d  kind: Gr. Nature
e  place: or, hole
f  sensual: or, natural
g  confusion: Gr. tumult, unquietness
h  partiality: or, wrangling
[89] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.