WHERE IS THE CHURCH?
ITIMOTHY 3:15: How men ought to behave themselves in the house of God which is the church of the living God,the
pillar and ground of the truth.
We have to acknowledge that we have some practical difficulties in the conduct of the work of the Lord.This must make us to enquire of Him and His word so as to get light in
our church affairs.
THE QUESTION OF THE CHURCH.
The churches in the New testament were
all local in their operation. In other words the local church in a particular area was connected to the Lord directly without being dictated on from an headquater somewhere.All born again believers in an area comprised the local church.
The idea of a person being in charge of all the churches did not arise in the establishment of the local church.This is the doctrine of the nicolaitanes (Rev. 2:6) “nico”-means
subdue, “laity” means the common man,ie making one believer inferior in the approach to God.Jesus Christ said,He hates such doctrine.
THE WORK OF THE CHURCH.
Although the church is local but the work is regional.God always appoints spheres of work for all local churches.Paul in 2nd Cor.10, was saying now we will not boast out of measure but according to the measure of the
rule which the God of measure has appointed to us, to reach to you also(Vs. 13,Darby).
No church can exercise jurisdiction over other localities, for its authority is essentially local, but the sphere of work is wider and can embrace several
localities ina single area, the balance has to be maintained. NB:Local church B can not operate in region 2 but can cooperate with all churches in region 1 and work together.
For example,we find in the scriptures Peter and John co-operating as a team in the work of one region, while Paul and Timothy labour together as another team in a different region.
The different groups of workers maintain contact and have fellowship with one another, but they have different working areas of operation.
THE REGION HAS
There is of course nothing like a regional church,
the widest scope of a church’s authority is its locality. The church has no regional council or headquarters, but, now we must be careful,as for the work is otherwise, because the work has a region and the region has a centre. This is the region
that in the book of Acts we see Jerusalem as a centre and Antioch as a centre. This is a work centre. This has been the key to the blessing of the many “centres” which have been established. The anointing of God will be experienced there;
based in this principle.
Region I Region II
Region I has a work centre at 1 in local church D, while region II has a work centre at 2 in local church Z. i.e. we have come to realise that Antioch as a local church is one thing while the work which takes
Antioch as a centre is another thing. Jerusalem and Antioch are of an equal stand point as Thessalonia as local churches, but as for the work, they are centres while Thessalonia is not a centre.
THE LORD’S PLAN
The Lord promised that when the Spirit is come, they shall witness in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and unto the outermost
part of the earth. Here Jerusalem is distinctly a working centre in the divine plan, in Acts chapter 1. In Acts 13, Antioch emerges as a new beginning at Antioch. Here the Holy spirit makes a new choice of men who go to work in other areas. It was the spirit
who began in Jerusalem and also began at Antioch.
PETER: IN A LOCAL AND IN A REGION
Peter was in Jerusalem local church as an elder, but in regard to the whole work, Peter was an apostle in the region. For this reason when they were writing to the church at Antioch they wrote as “ Apostles and elders.” (Acts 15:23 ). Only as the
apostles could, they write to other locals but not only as elders.
God would have His work in an area centred in one place, from which workers go and to which they return. In the local churches, it is elders who bear responsibility, but in a regional centre of the work, there are not only elders as such but also workers bearing
responsibility jointly with them. Scripture gives no support for the common practice of assigning a worker to a given locality for work and for government there. One must migrate to that locality and become a resident elder of the church there.
Some people have blamed peter and john for not going to all over the world to preach the gospel, but that was there
jerusalem,(local church)they could go at samaria but return to jerusalem.
All this was because jerusalem was his centre,where as samaria was only one of the cities in that
region of the work.
THE CHOICE OF A CENTRE FOR THE WORK
This must be quite clear that this is a matter not for man but for God.
Only God can
decide the place and only the HolySpirit can initiate the work. And the work must be for the Lord Jesus Christ. Only the Jerusalem of the spirit’s choice is Jerusalem in deed .
Examine Paul; was a member of a local church at Antioch. They ministered to the Lord there. They were gifted as teachers and prophets before the Holy spirit send them as apostles but they had to go and return back to their local church after the work.
They did not settle, permanently in other places but returned to Antioch. Their work was also within definite bounds, i.e., “according to the measure of the rule, which the God of measure has apportioned”
Caution: we should never appoint a worker from outside as elder of local church. It was only in Jerusalem that Peter was
an elder as well as an apostle. If you are a resident in a place, you can be an elder. You may go out as a worker to help other churches but you must return. Paul used to make long circuits and then return. Peter used to go straight and return directly.
TWO WAYS OF PREACHING THE GOSPEL AND ESTABLISHING CHURCHES.
The Antioch method.
2) The Jerusalem method.
The Antioch method:
From Antioch the apostles go forth in which the church recommends the HolySpirit appointed apostles to go forth either Paul and Barnabus, Paul and Sirus or Paul and Timothy. They would go from
place to place, to form churches, point elders and return.
The Jerusalem method.
saints are scattered abroad and go forth preaching. They can call their apostles to keep later if need be. Like the book of Genesis, the Acts of apostles reveals the beginning of God’s ways and what He did then sets a pattern for His work always.
THE SUMMARY OF THIS REVELATION
1) The church is local and
thus it is sphere of authority
2) The work is regional composed of several local churches
3) A region has a God appointed centre for the work and not authority
Workers leave a centre and go forth and return after the work
5) The workers can either be apostles or scattered saints who later
return to their regional centres.
6) Aregion has boundaries set by God.
The regional character of the work is based upon a strong testimony of the centre. If we should still hold to the traditional idea of one worker per church, we will soon reach
a stand still. In a centre we should have apostles and elders ministering God’s word and from time to time two or three from among them will go out to one place and another to strengthen and keep forward the work. We can have bond after bond of believers
moving out for the gospels sake and going to settle to the interior of every village for the Lord’s sake.
MAINTAINING A STRONG CENTRE
1)The centre should have a strong preaching ministry
2)There must be a continuous draining away of believers of a migration
3)The many who are sent out must go forth properly instructed if they are to become a source of strength and not weakness to the places to which they go. They must be able to ;
a) preach the gospel
b) win others to the Lord
c) Help towards building up the local church in the areas they migrate
Proper instructions at the centres must be done not just sharing a word of encouragement for the weak. We must do the work of the Lord instead of calling
God to help us to do our work. We must wake up soon this is the trumpet call
Proper training at the centres
must have ;
1) Special instructions classes along side other ministries in the church
2) Have weekly special meetings with a planned curriculum throughout the year.
3)The meeting should be for the 52 weeks of the year that no matter where one starts
he should finish the course.
When people follow God’s methods then God starts to work and people get saved. The work of God in any field does have a
centre and that centre implies fellowship. The opening chapters of Acts have a special lesson for the church of God in every age. Just as the Jerusalem above is a figure of church in heaven, so Jerusalem on earth sets an example to the church down
We must be faithful in these last days and be patient and faithful enough to press it into the way of God.
We have passed through much tribulation to discover this method in the word of God. Let us not lose it.
THE ORDER OF CHURCH OFFICES.
In the church, according to the scriptures we have only two offices. The offices are;
The office of the deacon.
2) The office of elders or bishops.
The work of the deacon is to serve. They are not authorities. They manage affairs of the church.
We should allow all the brothers and sisters to serve in a local church. Those who are steady, dependable and have spiritual weight can be deacons or deaconesses.
The purpose of a deacon is much as for the purpose of managing or governing the church.
An elder is not necessarily a minister of God’s word, although it is more commendable. The elders fill a church office that was established for the purpose of executing, governing and
supervising the whole church.
1 Timothy 5: 17 let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of
double honour especially those who labour in the word and in teaching.
THE BASIC QUALIFICATION OF A ELDER.
An elder should know spiritual things, posses spiritual understanding, familiar with God’s ways. Should discern spiritual condition of God’s children. Only a person who knows the spiritual way and is successful in his home management may govern
the church of God. Their life style must be worthy of the Lord, the church is a spiritual body and hence the first qualification to be raised is the one of spirituality, then ability and reliability. Spirituality is the predominant qualification for the choice
of any elder.
Paul lived in Ephesus for a time, in order to give the elders sufficient training,
to the extend that Paul said, “ I shrank not from declaring unto you anything that that was profitable and teaching you publicly and from house to house.” For I shrank not from declaring unto you the whole counsel of God, take heed unto yourselves
and to all the flock, in which the HolySpirit has made you overseers to feed the church of the Lord which He purchased with His own blood therefore watch ye, remembering that by the space of three years I ceased not to admonish every one
night and day with tears.
Paul advised Timothy and Titus
to train the elders whom they appointed in the churches. See the charges to the elders but the need for training was evident. These things I write unto thee, hoping to come unto thee, shortly but if I tarry long, that though mayest know how men
ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. –(1 Tim. 3:)
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN AN APOSTLIC WORKER
AND THE ELDERS.
apostolic worker appoints elders in a locality.
2) The apostolic worker commits all authority to their hands .
3) The apostolic worker is to observe them and train them to do things.
Only then can
the apostolic worker go to another place.
The elders must know that, submission to
one another is better than own opinions. We must deal with situations in the church not to avoid them.
There is not room for manipulation in the church.
We must speak firmly but with a tender spirit.
The elders must meet and consider things before God weekly,
not to make decisions but to consider things before God.
All children of God are
priests and all should serve God.
Several spiritual activities to all believers.
1). Preach the gospel .
2). Visit the new Christians
3). Take care of special needs e.g sick, funerals, weddings.