Government of God

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The Government of God

The Government of God is God's way of life, the way Jesus lived his life. It is not a political administrative system, nor is it any system of governance within a church organization.

 

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GOD's SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT

 

The only system of physical government delivered and endorsed by God is the FAMILY – which is spoken of by Christ himself in Mark 10:2-9:

"...2 Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, 'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?' 3 He answered them, 'What did Moses command you?' 4 They said, 'Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.' 5 But Jesus said to them, 'Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6 But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. 7 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.'..."  [NRSV].

 

This is a direct quote from Genesis Chapter 2, where Adam and Eve were married from the time of Eve's creation from Adam's rib – they were created of one flesh; God had married them by virtue of this creation and after the creation God calls them "man and wife".

Gen 2:22-25

"...22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, 'This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.' 24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed..." [NRSV].


God introduced this system of government while man was still in Eden – it is the first and only system of government delivered by God, the Word. While it was decreed by God that man would have superiority over the animals, where humanity is concerned authority (government) is both by decree and by order of priority through which the man becomes the superior partner. Most importantly, it is God, not man, who established this only form of proper government by creating marriage and the structural relationship within marriage.

Gen 2:18

“…And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion who will help him.’…” [NLT].

Gen 3:16

“…‘Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.’…” [NKJV].

 

Marriage then becomes a type of the relationship and fellowship which is to exist between Christ and the Church:

Eph 5:22-25

“…22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Saviour of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,…” [NKJV].

 

Just as instructions are given to the husband, in Eph 5:25, as to the extent of his love for his wife, so too is the wife given further instruction in Titus 2:5,

“…To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed…” [KJV].

 

The purpose of marriage is to create a family (Gen 1:28) and so the marriage system of government is actually a family system of government. In the New Testament God elaborates and provides us with the detail as to how relationships are to operate as a governmental system within the family (Col 3:18-21) – here the husband, wife and children are included.

Gen 1:28

“…Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’…” [NKJV].

 

Col 3:18-21

“…18 You wives must submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord. 19 And you husbands must love your wives and never treat them harshly. 20 You children must always obey your parents, for this is what pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, don't aggravate your children. If you do, they will become discouraged and quit trying…” [NLT].

 

Accordingly, the physical family is both the foundational unit of the nation, as well as being the nation itself under the direct rule of God – we find no other system of physical government delivered and approved by God.

 

 

The Old Covenant

 

On a national scale we are given the example of ancient Israel and the Old Covenant. Here again we see marriage as the governmental system delivered and endorsed by God when the Old Covenant was established. The Old Covenant relationship is made clear in Jeremiah 3:14, where God said:

"…‘Return, O backsliding children,’ says the LORD; ‘for I am married <01166> to you.’…” [NKJV].

 

In this verse, a number of translations and commentaries have adopted “your master” in favour of “married”, but Strong observes the subtle difference between the two Hebrew words as follows:

Strong’s 01166  bâ ‘al (baw-al’)  – means marry, husband, wife; whereas

Strong’s 01167  ba ‘al (bah-al)  – means master, owner, lord, man.

 

This same word, bâ ‘alis used in Gen 20:3 where God describes Sarah as Abraham’s wife:

“…But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, ‘Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man's wife.’…” [NKJV].

 

Previous passages in Jeremiah (3:1 and 3:8), where God refers to whoredom, harlotry and eventually divorce, make it very clear that although a more dominant type of relationship is implied, God is indeed referring to the state of marriage between Himself and Israel in Jer 3:14 and not one of master/servant.

 

So, even as nations, the sole example of the governmental system we have been given by God, as His system of government from the beginning, is that of the FAMILY. In this system no person shall have authority over any other person, except as He has decreed through the family unit and that authority is to be exercised in a loving way not a master/servant way. The physical example of the original ancient nation of Israel is the type for the New Testament Church (spiritual Israel) and the type for the ultimate government reality in the Kingdom of God (Heb 8:1 – 9:28).

 

 

The New Covenant

 

The Old Covenant was the physical type of the New Covenant (which is spiritual – Heb 9:8-9):

 “…the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. It was symbolic for the present time…” [NKJV].

 

And like the Old Covenant it too is a marriage covenant. However, the principal difference between the two is that while the Old Covenant was entered into fully, the New Covenant exists only partially at present – God’s people (spiritual Israel) are only being betrothed at this time.  The marriage (covenant relationship) is to be between the ascended members of the Church of God and the risen Christ at his return. At present we are now under the principles of the New Covenant (Heb 8:1 – 9:28), only being the betrothed of Christ and making ourselves ready for the wedding,

Rev 19:7

“…Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready;…” [NRSV].

 

Many do not realize that this spiritual covenant will not be sealed until the spiritual marriage and therefore look to some physical fulfilment of promises made under the New Covenant. However, it should be clear that this is a spiritual covenant which applies to literal spirit beings and therefore the promises made under the covenant will not and indeed cannot be fulfilled until all parties are spirit beings. We do not yet see the promises being performed to anywhere near what is written, because fulfilment of the covenant is possible only when the marriage takes place between Christ and the risen Church (all parties then being spirit beings) – the physical cannot take part in this arrangement.

1Cor 15:50

“…What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable…” [NRSV].

 

Man has invented many systems of government, but God’s system of government is the FAMILY – this we have seen from the beginning through Adam and Eve, then through the original nation of ancient Israel, currently through betrothal of the Church to Christ and in the future through the marriage of the Church to Christ.

 

 

Other forms of government seen in the Bible

 

God’s system of government is a one-on-one relationship with each individual and He demonstrated this approach at Sinai. However, the people of Israel said that they preferred a human intermediary rather than a one-on-one relationship with God (Ex 20:18-22):

“…18 When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear. 19 And they said to Moses, ‘You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!’ 20 ‘Don’t be afraid,’ Moses answered them, ‘for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!’ 21 As the people stood in the distance, Moses approached the dark cloud where God was. 22 And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Say this to the people of Israel: You saw for yourselves that I spoke to you from heaven.’…” [NLT].

 

The fundamental aspect of a one-on-one relationship with God will be covered in detail shortly, when the New Testament Church is discussed, but for now it is important simply to understand that this relationship is a basic tenet of all Godly government and was set forth as an underpinning principle with the ancient nation of Israel even before it entered into the Old Covenant with God. It was for the purpose of keeping the people from sinning; it was to be the means by which God would keep them a pure people; it was to be the method by which God could ensure blessings upon the people, not death. Understanding this fact is crucial to understanding the difference between what God has endorsed and what He has tolerated concerning governmental systems. Nevertheless, sin and death would come, because the people chose to distance themselves from God.

 

Some of the other systems of government seen in the Bible are,

·        Mosaic autocratic theocracy;

·        Jethro system;

·        Judges/Military Leader system; and

·        Monarchy

 

Mosaic autocratic theocracy

Having established God’s position on the matter of government, it may now be seen that the Mosaic system of autocratic theocracy was merely tolerated by God, it was never endorsed by God as His system God's system was DIRECT rule by Himself.

 

Jethro system

The main point to observe here is that the Jethro system is not a primary system – it is a sub-system of the Mosaic system; it is a bureaucracy to assist with the Mosaic system. The other two points to be noted are, firstly, it is not a system of control over people, it is a system to ease the burden put on Moses by the people (Ex 18:18-19).

"...18  You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19  Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him..." [NIV].

 

Secondly, as an extension of the existing Mosaic system that put a third party between God and man, it served to perpetuate an unapproved system and therefore it too was wrong. Looking at the above verses, God was nowhere consulted on the matter – this was advice from a man to his son-in-law. Had God's way been followed, with God being directly in charge, then Moses and the people would not be worn out. There would have been no need to create a bureaucracy which institutionalized a third party being between God and man! This system was and is wrong – it is a man-made solution to a man-made problem!

 

Judges/Military Leader system

 

Between the time of Moses and the institution of a monarchical system there was a time known as the Age of the Judges. The time is commonly recognized by certain people being temporarily used to lead various tribes against outside enemies. However, the realities of this age were more far-reaching than a few people being appointed as temporary leaders. The predominant aspects of the age were as follows:

  1. Israel was a theocracy and God was still the Ruler (King).

  2. The tribes were very independent and having God as the overall Ruler of the Israelite nation was the sole factor that held it together as a people with any semblance of nationality.

  3. When an outside enemy threatened, only those tribes directly affected were involved in the defence – there was no unity on a national scale, no sense of care for brothers. This attitude can be accurately described as "Laodicean".

  4. The word “judge” is translated from the Hebrew shaphat, which has a much broader meaning than is given by the relatively modern word “judge”. Shaphat can mean to judge, govern, rule, litigate, pronounce sentence, arbitrate or generally decide between right and wrong.

 

Such functions as mentioned in item (4) may be the province of God Himself (Gen 16:5), a leader (Ex 18:16) or individuals (Num 35:24). Although this is what the Judges of renown did during the Age of the Judges, more importantly this is what the people did individually:

Judges 17:6 and Judges 21:25

“…In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes…” [NRSV].

 

This is the true reason why the period is known as the Age of the Judges – ALL the people did (judged) what was right in their own eyes! As judgment by individuals is actually commanded by God (Num 35:24) this is not what is being condemned – the thing being condemned is that the overwhelming majority of the people actually formulated their own morality and did not consult God, who was still their Ruler, their King. They did not diligently seek out the will of God. This situation is alluded to in Rom 1:28,

“…When they refused to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their evil minds and let them do things that should never be done…” [NLT].

Prophets of God were available to the people, but in view of the above two Scriptures it is obvious that they, as sources of Godly knowledge, were not very well utilized by the Israelites.

 

The other principal failing here is that the people still relied on a visible individual leader for deliverance, rather than directly on God – the people were still insisting on an intermediary and resisting direct government by God, which insistence resulted in sin, oppression and death. For this reason the Judges system was wrong and merely tolerated by God, not endorsed. Also, while the system was tolerated, the unacceptable behaviour of the people was not God withdrew the blessing of physical protection from enemies (Judges 2:7-15). 

 

Monarchy

 

The people demanded a physical ruler over the whole nation just as the gentiles had physical rulers – they demanded to be governed in accordance with a pagan system; 1Sam 8:5,

“…and said to him, ‘You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.’..." [NRSV].

 

Instituting a monarchy "like other nations", a physical head over Israel, was directly rejecting God as their Ruler (King) and God is very clear on the matter in 1Sam 8:7-8

“…7 and the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you’…” [NRSV].

 

The Israelites were, in effect, asking God for a divorce and abandoning the family as a system of government. God was not pleased.

 

The monarchical system is a master/servant relationship, it is a system with far less freedom for the people and is a system rooted in dominion and oppression of people by other people – it was the very antithesis of God’s system. In opting for this pagan system, the people were rejecting any semblance of what remained of God's system of physical governing and were instituting a Satanic system. God's reaction, in verses 7 & 8 above, shows that this was the worst of any of the systems chosen by the ancient Israelites, nevertheless it was still tolerated by God. The Biblical meaning of “king” is, one who has absolute rule over his subjects. While he may be answerable to a higher or stronger "king", he can still do as he pleases with his people. Only under God is such power properly exercised; under man the system is impersonal, despotic and oppressive. Nimrod, a Cushite, was the first human king (Gen 10:8-10; further comments by Barnes, Adam Clarke and Keil and Delitzsch) and he was responsible for instituting the Statist system that opposed God's family system of physical government . The family is the only system ordained of God any other system is an invention of man in opposition to God's system. In the family system no man has authority over any other man, whereas the Statist system is actually based on men controlling other men there could be no two systems that qualify more as being diametrically opposite.

 

The monarchical system is a Statist system and therefore in direct opposition to God. In rejecting God as being their King, the Israelites were rejecting God's way and demanding Satan's way.

 

 

 

GOVERNMENT OF GOD

 

 

The Government of God is God's way of life, the way Jesus lived his life. It is not a political administrative system, nor is it any system of governance within a church organization. It is totally voluntary, or government by consent – it is not a system of management or control over others.

 

The Government of God describes the right relationship between God and an individual by using the Holy Spirit to diligently seek after God’s way of life. This right relationship is given by the two great commands in Matt 22:37-40,

1.     Love God (Respect, honour and care for God);   and

2.    Love your neighbour as yourself (Respect, honour and care for your neighbour as yourself). It is well to remember that when we do wrong to another person, we are actually sinning against God (Psa 51:4), because it is God's Law that we are transgressing – God defines sin as the transgression of the His Law (1John 3:4).

 

These are the commands which form the basis of the Government of God, but HOW these commands translate into government is the substance of most concern to individuals. In order to accomplish the intended righteous outcome of His Government, God knew we would need help and so He instituted the “New” Covenant: –

Heb 8:8-12

“…8 But God found fault with the people and said: ‘The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 9 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. 10 This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 11 No longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’…” [NIV].

 

Here God is describing the new relationship with His spiritual nation of Israel – His law will be in the minds and hearts of His people. God tells us He will accomplish this by placing His Holy Spirit within us –

Ezek 36:26

“…‘And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart.’…” [NLT].

 

At this point it is important to remember that the Government of God involves the direct relationship between TWO individuals only – God and you, The Government of God is the right relationship between God and you; it is not the Church, it is not any church organization, it is the right relationship between God and you.

 

The Holy Spirit is the power of God (Micah 3:8) – it strengthens us in time of trouble; unclouds our minds to be able to recognize the truth of God; inspires us in speech, actions and thoughts; and reveals the truth of God to us on an individual level in accordance with God’s personal plan for us.

John 14:26

”…‘and the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom [which] the Father will send in my name, he [it] will teach you all things, and remind you of all things that I said to you’…” [YLT]. 

 

Different translations variously render the Greek word parakletos as Helper, Comforter or Counsellor – all are acceptable interpretations. The most important point to remember is that the Holy Spirit is NOT an entity as God, or we are entities; it is a divine power sent from God to assist the saints in various ways throughout the days of our conversion here on Earth. Both in Micah 3:8 and later in Luke 24:49 it is made clear that the Holy Spirit is a power for use by the receiver. In Micah, being filled with the Holy Spirit is shown to be synonymous with being filled with power and in Luke when Christ promised that the disciples were to be imbued with power, they in fact received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost 31AD. This is God’s part in His perfect Government granting us His Holy Spirit in order that we may understand and grow in His way.

 

As for our part, God makes it clear that we will never be able to obey Him perfectly while still physical human beings – we can only strive to do our best. This is shown through God’s instruction for us to “grow” in His way of life. Conversion (converting to God’s way of life) is a growing process and takes place over the entire lifetime of a Christian. Conversion does not happen overnight, or immediately upon receipt of the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is the power of God that helps us to grow in the way of God.

Matt 5:48  “…‘Ye are therefore to be [become] complete even as your heavenly Father is complete.’…” [JFB Commentary].

1Pet 2:2   “…Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation;…” [RSV].

2Pet 3:18  “…But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ…” [RSV].

 

The Government of God in action is shown to us in Paul’s personal example   Rom 7:14-25.

"...14 We know that the Law is spiritual; but I am a mortal man, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do; for I don't do what I would like to do, but instead I do what I hate. 16 Since what I do is what I don't want to do, this shows that I agree that the Law is right. 17 So I am not really the one who does this thing; rather it is the sin that lives in me. 18 I know that good does not live in me — that is, in my human nature. For even though the desire to do good is in me, I am not able to do it. 19 I don't do the good I want to do; instead, I do the evil that I do not want to do. 20 If I do what I don't want to do, this means that I am no longer the one who does it; instead, it is the sin that lives in me. 21 So I find that this law is at work: when I want to do what is good, what is evil is the only choice I have. 22 My inner being delights in the law of God. 23 But I see a different law at work in my body — a law that fights against the law which my mind approves of. It makes me a prisoner to the law of sin which is at work in my body. 24 What an unhappy man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is taking me to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who does this through our Lord Jesus Christ!..." [TEV].

 

Paul, an Apostle of God, shows us here that life as a Christian is a continual struggle with our carnal nature and that struggle will continue for as long as we are physical human beings under the Government of God. The right relationship with God is not being perfect, for while we are physical that can never be; the right relationship with God (which is the Government of God) is seeking God's way and striving to live that way because we believe it is the right way to live.

 

 

CHURCH GOVERNMENT

 

Church Government, like the Government of God, is not a man-made political or administrative system. Also, it is not complying with the rules of governance of any corporate church entity, which is to say it is not a system of management or control by men over others.

 

Church government is a system of voluntary obligation among the ekklesia (people of God’s Church); it is service to others using the gifts God has given each of us, through the holy spirit, for the benefit of the whole Church.

Eph 4:12

“…Why is it that He gives us these special abilities to do certain things best? It is that God's people will be equipped to do better work for him, building up the Church, the body of Christ, to a position of strength and maturity;…” [TLB].

 

Although the previous verse, verse 11, only refers to a few gifts the principle is the same for all the gifts of God – He does not change (Mal 3:6). These gifts are not man-made or magically received upon appointment to positions in church organizations. Spiritual gifts in individuals are from God for the purpose of benefiting the whole Church.

 

In the recognized church organizations people who have been promoted to positions of authority have often been appointed due to their allegiance to the organization and without regard for God-given gifts or the lack thereof. Such men are not to be regarded as ministers of God – rather, they are merely over-rated liaison officers (men with the ability to speak) appointed to manage and control people. A change in thinking is needed so we may discern what God says is Church government – it is God, not man, who does the organizing of His Church and He does this by providing us with spiritual gifts. People thinking that they were to do the organizing was an issue in the early church and was something that had to be clarified by God in order that His people would no longer confuse His ways, His government, with the ways of the world; in the context of Church organization this is alluded to in Rom 12:2,

"...Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God what is good and acceptable and perfect..." [NRSV].


Also, Jesus gave a direct command in Luke
22:25-26

“…25 But he said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors.  26 But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves…” [NRSV].

 

Church government is where the people of God are acknowledging and properly using all the spiritual gifts God has given to His people. These gifts are likened to the various parts of the body which all work together for the benefit of the body (Rom 12:4-8; 1Cor 12:12-26; Eph 4:4-7, 11-12; Eph 2:18-22 and Phil 2:1-3). The human body is used by God to reveal the type of government to be in operation in the Church of God,

Rom 12:3-6

“…3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them:…” [NKJV].

 

Also, in 1Cor 12:4-27

“…4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:  8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. 12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free — and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many. 15 If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honourable, on these we bestow greater honour; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honour to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honoured, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually…” [NKJV].

 

This is how Church government is supposed to work – all individuals helping and contributing, of their own volition, in order to benefit the congregation as a whole. Using the body as an example, the arm does NOT tell the hand what to do – the arm does its part to assist the hand do its part, with each part being individually instructed by the head. So, too does Christ (the Head) instruct us (individual parts of the body) through the Holy Spirit.

 

Each local congregation forms a miniature body (ekklesia), with that body being instructed by Christ through the Holy Spirit. All matters of governance are local, for local congregations – there is no Scriptural authority for the existence of any super-organization. All ekklesiai together form the total body of Christ which again is directed by the one Head, Christ himself. There is no division, there is no confusion. Those who support the existence of a super-organization claim it is necessary in order to prevent confusion and ensure uniformity of doctrine. However, such a view is without faith – it presupposes that Christ is not the Head of his Church and thereby calls God a liar; it is in effect stating that Christ is not the one directing spiritual matters through the Holy Spirit. God says that the one who has authority over all local congregations is Christ, himself.

Col 1:18  “…And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence…” [KJV].

Eph 1:22  “…And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,..” [KJV].

 

There is no confusion, as all of God’s people have the same spirit – the Spirit of God – which is not divided.

 


PREACHING and OTHER GIFTS

 

All men who are so disposed, according to the gifts of God, are required by God to preach.

Rom 12:6

“…Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them:…” [NKJV].

 

This requirement simply comes from a more detailed look at Church government, which is a system of voluntary obligation among the ekklesia (people of God’s Church); it is service to others using the gifts God has given each of us through the holy spirit for the benefit of the whole Church.

Eph 4:12

“…12 Why is it that He gives us these special abilities to do certain things best? It is that God's people will be equipped to do better work for him, building up the Church, the body of Christ, to a position of strength and maturity;…” [TLB].

 

These gifts come from God for the purpose of benefiting the Church overall – they do not come from sitting in a certain seat or being “ordained” to a position by men. They are from God for His Church and those in His Church were predestined from before the foundation of the world. Being predestined means that we were chosen in advance to be used for a particular purpose (Rom 8:29-30 and Eph 1:11). In other words, what we are now was chosen for us by God before His Church began. We are God's building materials and materials in particular by virtue of our gifts from God when He foreknew us.

Rom 8:28-30

 “…29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified;…” [NKJV].

Eph 1:11

“…In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,…”  [NKJV].

 

God likens this situation (of predestination and raising up different ones at certain times) to constructing a building. In 1Cor 3:9 we are told that we are God’s building, which is to say something that He built.

“…For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building…” [NKJV].

 

In Eph 2:21 we are told that we are “fitly framed together” to form an even greater building. This is the master builder at work – the builder of the universe. In chapters 38 and 39 of the Book of Job God challenges Job to understand the greatness and detail of His work in building the universe and the earth.

God is indeed the master builder and any builder of basic skills selects his materials before commencing to build. God would hardly do less. Accordingly, any predestination (selection of material for His building) would have been done no later than the creation of mankind.

 

Also, as the master builder, He expects a brick to behave like a brick, not a piece of plaster-board – He expects results, the right results, from entrusting His gifts within us this is shown in the parables as we look at Luke 19:15-23;

“…15 "And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.  16 Then came the first, saying, 'Master, your mina has earned ten minas.'  17 And he said to him, 'Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.'  18 And the second came, saying, 'Master, your mina has earned five minas.'  19 Likewise he said to him, 'You also be over five cities.' 

20 "Then another came, saying, 'Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief.  21 For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.'  22 And he said to him, 'Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow.  23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?'…”  [NKJV].

 

Let us just clarify one part of this parable for future reference – God is very fair. If He gives the gift of teaching to one He does not expect something different as a result of that gift, BUT He does expect that person to use the gift and to use it for the benefit of the body, the Church. The unprofitable servant was NOT using his gift at all, even though he was well aware he possessed the gift – He claimed God was unfair, but it was he who was neglecting his obligations to the Church.

 

Looking more closely now at the gift of preaching, or teaching, we have been given examples of preaching by the ordinary membership (the scattered brethren) in Acts 8:4, Acts 11:19-20 and Apollos (Acts 18:24-28).

Acts 8:4

“…4 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word…”  [NKJV].

Acts 11:19-20

"...19 Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. 20 But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus..."  [NKJV].
 

Regarding those who were scattered abroad, we are told in Acts 8:1 that they were definitely NOT the apostles, who stayed at Jerusalem:

“…And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles [KJV].

 

These were ordinary Church members, acting on the gifts of God and the drive to use those gifts – there is absolutely no evidence that any of them had any man-ordained authority to preach. These people did what they had to do because ignoring the gifts of God is NOT an option for any of us.

 

I know of no Church of God organization that regards any man as a preacher (minister) who has not been ordained by the organization. HOWEVER, God proves the exact opposite to be true by raising up Stephanas and Apollos to the ministry. It is testified in 1Cor 16:15 that Stephanas was a self-appointed "Minister", but what appears to be presumption is simply a man using a God-given gift, which was ordained of God, to benefit the Church?

1Cor 16:15.

"...But brothers I exhort you. You know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruit of Achaia, and they have appointed themselves to the ministry [service] of the saints"  [GIB].

 

God tells us in Eph 1:22 that Christ is the head of the Church and governs all things pertaining to the Church,

“…And He has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church…”  [NRSV].

 

Now if Christ really governs his Church, and he does, there is no way anyone can usurp that authority and appoint himself to any position. The interpretation by intent is that Christ, knowing God’s gift to Stephanas, inspired him and his household to serve the brethren. This position of service was by gift and approval of God – Stephanas was not appointed by men. Obviously, many "servants" of the Church were selected by the recommendation of the brethren in accordance with Biblical instruction for such appointments, but this is a clear case of self-appointing due to inspired initiative.

 

There are other cases where important functions in the church were initiated by an individual simply deciding to do something, such as Apollos. Apollos began teaching on his own, but was later accepted by Paul and the brethren (Acts 18:24-28; 1Cor 3:6).

Acts 18:24-28

“…Now there came to Ephesus a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria. He was an eloquent man, well-versed in the scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the Way of the Lord; and he spoke with burning enthusiasm and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the Way of God to him more accurately. 27 And when he wished to cross over to Achaia, the believers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. On his arrival he greatly helped those who through grace had become believers, 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the scriptures that the Messiah is Jesus…” [NRSV].

 

Notice also, the significance of spiritual recognition by the members, who wrote to other disciples telling them to “welcome” Apollos. This is Church government in operation – the spirit of God recognizing the spirit of God and acting upon that recognition. There is no indication of any “ordination” of Apollos by men, but we can see from 1Cor 3:6 that he was very much accepted by Paul as a co-worker preaching the gospel,

1Cor 3:6

“…I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase…”  [NKJV].

 

We have now seen two separate accounts of preaching by ordinary members, a personal account of the very powerful preacher Apollos and Stephanas a "self-appointed" minister. None of these people were "ordained" of men to do any kind of work; they all simply responded to their obligations by inspiration of the Holy Spirit in accordance with the governing will of Christ over his Church. Clearly, it is God who does the “ordination” through predestination and the granting of gifts – it is not men.

 

Likewise with other gifts through the Holy Spirit, the gifts of healing and faith do not recognize any form of rank or authority – they and others are gifts of God come from God alone who places people with all manner of gifts in the body for the benefit of the body. Again, with the gift of healing we see how Saul (Paul) had hands laid on him for healing by ordinary member Ananias,

Acts 9:10-18

“…10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, ‘Ananias!’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he answered.

11 The Lord told him, ‘Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.’

13 ‘Lord, Ananias answered, ‘I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.’

15 But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.’

17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord — Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here — has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’

18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized,…”  [NIV].

 

Men have tried to appropriate for themselves the authority to order the Church of God, but this is patently against Scripture and such men have succeeded only in politicizing positions in the body of Christ and lording it over the people of God those entrusted to be shepherds of God's people have become the oppressors and denied Christ as being Head over his Church.

 

The Greatest Gift

 

In a discourse concerning Godly gifts it is important to realize that there is a difference between gifts of the spirit and physical gifts. To determine which is the greatest gift and in which category it lies we need to look at two factors:

  1. The plan of God,   and

  2. How much coverage the gift receives in the Bible.

 

1.  The Plan Of God concerns bringing humanity into His Kingdom as members of the God family – something not begun physically in heaven until Christ, the Word, became the son of God. That Christ should become the Son of God had been predetermined in the timeless age before the universe began, but the actual necessary for the Godhead to begin a family relationship did not occur until the Word was born into a human family as the Son of God. This was necessary preparation for Christ in becoming head of the new system of government in heaven – that system being the family system. Accordingly, the plan of God gives us our first clue as to where we may find the greatest of God's gifts – it is in the physical category known as family.

 

2.  The coverage this gift receives in the Bible is enormous, but it is exceeded by how we may be a man or a woman. From the first couple in Genesis to the Book of Revelation we are provided with instruction as to how we should be a man or a woman. The attention given to this subject is very great and leaves us in no doubt as to which is God's greatest gift it is His gift to us that we are physical men and women, in order that we learn about family and family responsibility now so we may be prepared for His Kingdom.

 

Gifts of the spirit are fine and are needed for the well-being of the Church, but they are not the greatest gifts. Gifts of the spirit are "flashy" compared to the mundane existence as a man or woman, but there should be no mistake that this is where the great God has placed most importance. How we are to relate to each other as human beings overall tells us how we are to relate to all beings in the future family of God. Gifts of the spirit are given as an aid to help us fulfill our lives as physical men and women, which are the greatest of all gifts and of these two one is not greater than the other both are essential for family. In 1Cor 13:1-13 we are straightly told that almost all spiritual gifts will fail (cease to be of significant utility), but love or how we positively relate to each other as humans will remain.

Gal 5:14 "...The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.'..." [NIV].
 

 

BAPTISM

 

Except for the question of who has the authority to baptize, the subject of baptism is one separate from the topic of government. Accordingly, only the authority to baptize shall be addressed at this time.

 

For decades it has been taught in the Church of God that only ordained ministers have the authority to baptize another into the Church. However, God does not support that view. There are examples in the NT showing that baptism was performed by people ranging from ordinary members of the Church to those known as deacons and the Apostles.

Saul (Paul) was baptized by ordinary member Ananias - Acts 9:10, 17-18:

"...10 Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, 'Ananias.' He answered, 'Here I am, Lord....'

"...17 So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, 'Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.' 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized,..." [NRSV].
 

Apollos was an ordinary Church member and nowhere is it recorded that he was ever "ordained" to the preaching ministry, but he preached and baptized. God simply refers to him as an eloquent man, not an Apostle or even a "minister". In Acts 18:24-26 we see how his method of baptism was corrected by members Priscilla and Aquila taught him the truth more accurately.

"...24 Now there came to Ephesus a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria. He was an eloquent man, well-versed in the scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the Way of the Lord; and he spoke with burning enthusiasm and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the Way of God to him more accurately..." [NRSV].
 

Later we see in 1Cor 1:12-14 (where the subject is baptism) how Paul had to chastise the people for creating factions within the congregation, preferring one man's baptism over another thus showing that Apollos did indeed continue to baptize, but with the Holy Spirit.

"...12 What I mean is that each of you says, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apollos," or "I belong to Cephas," or "I belong to Christ." 13 Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,..." [NRSV].
 

Philip, an ordinary member, chosen by the congregation to serve the widows of the Church ("serve at tables" Acts 6:1-6), which is to say ensure fair and equitable food distribution to the widows, also baptized (Acts 8:36-38). Today he would be known by the incorrect and non-Biblical title of deacon.

"...1 But with the believers multiplying rapidly, there were rumblings of discontent. Those who spoke only Greek complained that their widows were being discriminated against, that they were not being given as much food in the daily distribution as the widows who spoke Hebrew. 2 So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. "We should spend our time preaching, not administering a feeding program," they said. 3 "Now look around among yourselves, dear brothers, and select seven men, wise and full of the Holy Spirit, who are well thought of by everyone; and [we will] put them in charge of this business. 4 Then we can spend our time in prayer, preaching, and teaching." 5 This sounded reasonable to the whole assembly, and they elected the following: Stephen (a man unusually full of faith and the Holy Spirit), Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, Nicolaus of Antioch (a Gentile convert to the Jewish faith, who had become a Christian). 6 These seven were presented to the apostles, who prayed for them and laid their hands on them in blessing..." [TLB].
 

Philip baptizes - Acts 8:36-38:

"...36 As they rode along, they came to a small body of water, and the eunuch said, 'Look! Water! Why can't I be baptized?' 37 'You can,' Philip answered, 'if you believe with all your heart.' And the eunuch replied, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.' 38 He stopped the chariot, and they went down into the water and Philip baptized him..." [TLB].
 

So, while there are no specific directions in the New Testament as to who should perform baptism, the Biblical examples are clear baptism can be perfomed by any member of the Church of God.

 

To gain further insight into this matter we must return to physical circumcision, the original type for baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:16 and Col 2:11-12). The example of God attacking Moses because he had neglected to circumcise his son shows us three things, namely:

bullet

God attacked the father, not the mother, thus indicating primary responsibility for circumcision (baptism) lies with the father or the male member of the family;

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Women, also have authority to baptize under certain circumstances, such as if the man is incapacitated (as in the case of Moses) or if no converted males are available. The example of baptism (formerly circumcision) in this situation is given to us in Ex 4:25;  and the clear conclusion to be drawn from this example is that the one responsible for bringing life into the world is also responsible for the circumcision this is symbolic of the spiritual reality that the one responsible for bringing the Word of God (life) to someone is also primarily responsible for their baptism.

bullet

Where circumcision (now baptism) is required, the death penalty is the result of non-compliance God shows He will exact the penalty from the one who was supposed to perform the circumcision (baptism). This clearly shows that there is very limited responsibility on the "babe in Christ", but a huge responsibility on the one called upon to perform the baptism. If someone is requiring baptism, then the baptism MUST be performed unless there are obvious reasons not to proceed such reason may be clear non-repentance as in the case of Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8:18-21). We cannot presumptuously refuse to baptize someone God has called. Full obedience to God is NOT required for baptism, but repentance and acceptance of Christ as saviour is required this is all that is required of those requesting baptism. There is to be no interrogation or inquisition into past behaviour. On the Day of Pentecost 31AD there were 3,000 added to the Church (Acts 2:5-41). Allowing time for the preaching (started around 8-9AM), then for people to be convicted, then for the word to be spread in the community and those receiving the word to come to the disciples, if only the 12 Apostles did the baptizing, then each baptism would have taken about 1.5 - 2 minutes, but if all the disciples (120) were involved we are talking about 15 - 20 minutes per baptism. 20 minutes is enough time to establish sincerity of belief and then perform the baptism decently and in order, but hardly time for an in-depth inquisition into past behaviour 2 minutes is simply unrealistic to consider as sufficient time for an orderly baptism. The example of Philip and the Eunuch is a similar case in point, where sincerity was the issue (Acts 8:36-38) not past behaviour. Conversion and obedience to God is a life-long process and the level of obedience expected is in proportion to the level of understanding given by God. This is alluded to in Acts 21:25, where the initial level of obedience required from the gentiles was extremely low, because they had not previously been familiar with any of the Law of God.

 

By combining the requirements and example for the physical type (circumcision) with the requirements and examples of the spiritual reality (baptism with the Holy Spirit) there is now a much clearer picture of what is involved and how to proceed. The real issue is not so much about who has authority to baptize, the real issue is more about the obligation to baptize those who require baptism and this obligation lies primarily with the one responsible for bringing that person to the truth of God (life).

 

In this age, where communicating the truth of God to people may be via the internet from someone in a different country, there is nothing to prevent the person wanting baptism, being baptized by another member of the Church who may be very much closer geographically.

 

Procedure for Baptism

 

A baptism is to be conducted in accordance with the procedure as revealed over the course of the Book of Acts. The recipient must have knowledge of Christ, who he is and what he did, knowledge of Christ's message of the Kingdom of God and an understanding of sin and repentance. Once this knowledge and understanding has been established, together with the belief that Jesus is the Christ, the individual shall be baptized in the name of Jesus, the Lord, by immersion in water for the remission of sins; then receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands, again in the name of Jesus.

 

Steps in baptism

 

1

Person requests baptism.

2

Question  No 1:

Do you accept Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, who  died for your sins and after 3 days and nights rose from the dead?

Note: Ensure the individual is aware of the definition of sin – that sin is the transgression of the Law of God (1John 3:4), the penalty for which is death (Rom 6:23).  The Law of God is personified in the way Jesus lived his life. In short, the Law of God is God's way of life. 

3

Question  No 2:  

Do you repent of living the way of sin, the way of life that necessitated that Jesus die  for you?

Note 1: Ensure the individual is aware of the definition of repentance – repentance is wanting give up any way not approved by God and then striving to live God's way for the rest of your life.

Note 2: Ensure the individual is aware of why there is the need for repentance – throughout his ministry Jesus taught the gospel of the Kingdom of God, which is a "how to" message of obtaining eternal life. This can be achieved only  through repentance, baptism and receipt of the Holy Spirit.

Note 3: It is here that one can determine whether or not the one requesting baptism has the “fruits needed for repentance” (Matthew 3:8), noting that when Christ gave this instruction to the Pharisees and Sadducees it was obvious that they were unrepentant. Their hypocritical way of life was condemned continually by Jesus. Also, remembering that the whole process should take no longer than 15 to 20 minutes.

4

People requesting baptism need to be aware of the Gospel (their future in the family of God) and how Christ made it possible to achieve that future. Accordingly, these brief explanations should be offered as part of the baptismal service you are providing. Remember, the explanations are to be provided freely as a matter of information – there are to be no conditions attached. The person is simply to be advised that further understanding of these and other matters will be granted by God as He sees fit.

 

Assuming the eventual answer to both questions is, "Yes", the procedure is as follows:

1.  Baptism of the individual by immersion in water, with the person doing the baptizing stating that the baptism is in the name Jesus Christ and asking God for remission of the individual's sins in the name of Jesus Christ.

2.  The person doing the baptizing then lays hands on the individual and requests the Holy Spirit be granted to the individual in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2: 38 and Acts 19:4-6).

 

 

Being taught and learning what is and how to live God's way of life, for the most part, takes place after baptism. As can be seen from the above the one performing the baptism is the one who must provide most of the answers at that time. The one who performs the baptism must be prepared to continue answering questions from this person and nurturing them in the way of God for as long as that person expresses a need, just as parents would provide for their new children. Do not stifle or lecture them, just try to answer, to the best of your ability, any questions they put to you and provide encouragement as the opportunity arises.

 

 

 

 

ORDINATIONS

 

If someone is required for a full-time position such as preaching, then the church members select (ordain) one who has shown that he possesses the gifts and character required for that position. Remembering that women are commanded, "... to keep silent in the church..." (1Cor 14:34), only a man may be selected (ordained or appointed) to a church duty such as full-time preaching and this is done by a majority vote from the men of the congregation (Acts 14:23).

Acts 14:23

“…and having appointed to them by vote <5500> elders in every assembly, having prayed with fastings, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed...” [YLT].

 

When Paul, Barnabas and Titus “ordained” elders in every town where they went, it refers to them presiding over the procedure by which congregations select (by vote) elders for that congregation. This is the context in which 2Cor 8:16-19 and Titus 1:5-9 are to be understood and NOT that the Apostles became personally involved in ordinations as a privilege or function of their Office – such privilege or function is non-Scriptural and contradicts the Biblical example of the procedure given in Acts 14:23 and Acts 6:3.

 

Speaking of Titus in 2Cor 8:19;

“…and not only so, but who was also appointed by vote <5500> by the assemblies, our fellow-traveller, with this favour that is ministered by us, unto the glory of the same Lord, and your willing mind;…” [YLT].

 

Strong’s 5500 (ceirotonew cheirotoneo )

1) to vote by stretching out the hand

2) to create or appoint by vote: one to have charge of some office or duty

3) to elect, create, appoint

 

Concerning this procedure, JFB Commentary states as follows:

And when they had ordained them elders, [Cheirotoneesantes de autois presbuterous] - literally, 'Having chosen them elders by show of hands' that is, having superintended such choice on the part of the disciples; and there is the best reason to conclude that this is the sense intended by the historian, and not "ordained" (as our version, following in this case the Vulgate and Luther, rather than Beza, have rendered the term). There is no evidence in the New Testament that, in apostolic times, the word had lost its proper meaning: this is beyond doubt its meaning in 2Cor 8:19; and there is indisputable evidence that the concurrence of the people was required in all elections to sacred office in the earliest ages of the Church.

 

In Acts 6:3 we see the Church (Ekklesia – assembly or ordinary membership) voting into positions of service seven men:

“…Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint <2525> to this task,…” [NRSV].

 

The words we may are not part of the original text – they have been inserted and the insertion forms no other purpose than to provide the erroneous impression that there is some body of men, superior to the congregation, that needs to give its approval prior to an appointment by the congregation. The Greek word used here is kayisthmi (kathistemi Strong’s 2525) and simply means to set, place, or put. Since it is the congregation that selects these men for the purpose of ministering to the Church, it is also the congregation that makes the appointment, not the Apostles or any other body of men – this is what God says in the original text.

 

God has shown us the procedure for appointment of a preaching ministry and while the detail is not provided in every case, we can know for sure that it is always intended to be the same, because God does not change and He is not the author of confusion:

Mal 3:6

“…For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, have not perished…” [NRSV].

 James 1:17

“…Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning…” [KJV].

 1Cor 14:33

“…For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints…” [KJV].

 

As for Christ, the head of the Church, we are told in Heb 13:8,

“…Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever…” [KJV].

 

 

CHURCH SERVICES

 

When Church services are spoken of, it generally brings forth an image of someone giving a sermon and the rest of the congregation sitting and listening to what is being said. However, Church services actually have two components:

1.  Fellowship;   and

2.  Speaking Format.

 

Fellowship

 

It is generally understood that when ones attends Sabbath services it is for the purpose of worshipping God. While this understanding is correct, it is not correct to believe that sitting and listening to someone speak or expound the Word of God is the totality of the worship that God had in mind when He commanded the weekly holy convocations (Lev 23:3). In fact it is not correct to believe that sitting and listening to someone speak is even the most significant part of Sabbath services. This aspect is important to be sure, but in obedience to God we are also commanded to pay greater attention to the “…weightier matters of the Law…” (Matt 23:23) and we shall now look at these aspects of obedience in more detail.

 

At its simplest and most complex, the Hebrew word used for Worship (shachah –Strong’s 7812) means to bow down before in reverence and is used to signify genuine obedience. This simple meaning is shown in many places where obedience is allied with the use of the word worship in an interchangeable sense one such place is 2Chron 7:19-20

“…19But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods, and worship them, 20 then I will uproot them from My land which I have given them; and this house which I have sanctified for My name I will cast out of My sight, and will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples.’…” [NKJV].

 

The Geek word proskuneo (Strong’s 4352), used in the NT, has a similar meaning to the Hebrew shachah (Strong’s 7812). Now we have the word “worship” in very understandable terms – obedience to God. In John 14:15  Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (a similar statement is also found in Deut 30:20) and in Matt 22:37 & 39 Christ gave us those commandments, (paraphrased):

1.  Love God (Mat 22:37);   and

2.  Love your neighbour as yourself (Mat 22:39).

 

Here, the original Greek word used for "love" is “agapao” and a close translation of that word would be to, “respect, honour and care for”.  With this understanding we can now rewrite the two great commands, using more familiar words, as  follows:

1.  Respect, honour and care for God; and

2.  Respect, honour and care for your neighbour as yourself.

 

In 1John 4:20 God goes further and calls those liars who say they Love Him and not their brothers:

1John 4:20-21

“…20 If any one says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also…” [RSV].

 

In Eph 4:32 God reveals HOW we should fellowship with one another:

“…And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you…” [NKJV].

 

Clearly, God is saying we must respect, honour and care for our brothers and sisters before we can say that we love Him. For this cause sincere fellowship is the principal part of Church services and is the purpose for us attending services on the seventh day Sabbath – this is how we truly worship God on the Sabbath. Deliberately avoiding the Sabbath or not fellowshipping on the Sabbath is NOT an option, for it is commanded in Heb 10:25 that we should not forsake the gathering of ourselves together:

“…Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting [encouraging] one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching…” [NKJV].

 

All the commanded assemblies (convocations) of God are listed in Lev 23:2-36 and the first in the list is the seventh day weekly Sabbath:

Lev 23:2-3

“…2 Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: These are the appointed festivals of the LORD that you shall proclaim as holy convocations, my appointed festivals. 3 The Sabbath, Passover, and Unleavened Bread. Six days shall work be done; but the seventh day is a Sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation; you shall do no work: it is a Sabbath to the LORD throughout your settlements…” [NKJV].

 

There are many other Biblical references concerning relationships, but they are too numerous to mention in this section about the simple command to fellowship on the Sabbath.

 

 

Speaking Format

 

Any speaking format will depend, to a large extent, on the size of the congregation. However, when God’s people are gathered together and there are any speaking activities God has made some statements of fact and given us certain principles by which the speaking is governed. These matters will now be addressed in conjunction with what the Churches of God currently utilize as a speaking format. The format for Sabbath service speaking with which we are all familiar is as follows:

Hymns;

Opening Prayer;

Sermonette;

Hymn;

Announcements;

Sermon;

Hymn;   and

Closing prayer.

 

While there is no denying that the above is an orderly format, it has little Biblical basis.

 

Is there a need for hymns? In the OT Hymns have been sung, at gatherings, to honour God. In ancient Israel God blessed certain Levites (known as cantors) with singing ability to serve in His temple (1Chron 9:33 and Chapter 15). While there is ample reference to singing in the NT, any specific reference to singing at Sabbath services is difficult to find. Most of these references are regarding a state of mind and concern actions of Christian sincerity that can come only from the heart. One Scripture that appears to encourage such singing is Col 3:16:

"...Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing each other, in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, in grace singing in your hearts to the Lord;..." [YLT].
 

However, of this verse Adam Clarke states as follows:

"Through bad pointing this verse is not very intelligible; the several members of it should be distinguished thus: 'Let the doctrine of Christ dwell richly among you; teaching and admonishing each other in all wisdom; singing with grace in your hearts unto the Lord, in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.' This arrangement of the original will not only bear, but absolutely requires it, and has no sense without it. The singing which is here recommended is widely different from what is commonly used in most Christian congregations; a congeries of unmeaning sounds, associated to bundles of nonsensical, and often ridiculous, repetitions, which at once both deprave and disgrace the church of Christ. Melody, which is allowed to be the most proper for devotional music, is now sacrificed to an exuberant harmony, which requires, not only many different kinds of voices, but different musical instruments to support it. And by these preposterous means the simplicity of the Christian worship is destroyed, and all education totally prevented. And this kind of singing is amply proved to be very injurious to the personal piety of those employed in it; even of those who enter with a considerable share of humility and Christian meekness, how few continue to sing with GRACE in their hearts unto the Lord?"
 

In view of the preceding verses and commentary, it is considered that singing at services is a personal choice and if there are any who enjoy participating in singing, regardless of number, then they should sing to bring joy to God, the congregation, and themselves through the exercise of their Godly gift to sing. Compelling people to sing is unfruitful it is done reluctantly and without joy, neither of which is pleasing to God. The ability to sing is a gift of God which has the capacity to be amazingly uplifting for the listeners when the singing is properly performed. We each have our individual gifts and the pattern for use of gifts has already been set by God they are to be used for the benefit of the body, to heal the body, to uplift, to encourage, to edify, to strengthen, to build up, to do good.

Eph 4:16

"...Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love..." [NLT].
 

Is there a need for opening and closing prayer? While it is certain that a number of things are intentioned and indeed mentioned in these prayers, they have the overriding intent of requesting God’s presence and special blessing for the duration of the services. Such intent is odd, because God has already said that He will be there – not  as a promise conditional upon some action, but as an unconditional statement of fact:

Matt 18:20 [NRSV].

“…‘For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’..."

Matt 18:20 [NLT].

“…‘For where two or three gather together because they are mine, I am there among them.’…"

 

In 1Cor 14:17 there appears to be an acknowledgement of what might be considered opening or closing prayer, but it must be recognized that firstly, the context was one of criticism regarding speaking in tongues and being pretentious about gifts and secondly, the prayers of the Synagogue, according to JFB Commentary, were more eulogies than specific opening or closing prayers.

1Cor 14:17

“…You will be giving thanks very nicely, no doubt, but it doesn't help the other people present…” [NLT].

 

Opening and closing prayer is a tradition of men, not a doctrine of God and no matter how well intentioned is the tradition it should be avoided. The Jews added to the law with the intention that their regulations may prevent any possibility of disobeying God’s Law regarding the Sabbath. However, their additions became so institutionalized that they were confused as being genuine requirements of God. These traditions were actually burdensome to the people and were condemned by Jesus. God does not want men to add or take away from His Law – it stands alone and is something with which man is not to meddle. Once the Law is tampered with by addition, there is the danger of it becoming tradition and once it is tradition it becomes an institutionalized practice mistaken for the Law of God.

 

Many people may be sincere in asking for God’s presence during Sabbath services, but He has stated, unconditionally, that He will be present so any request for His presence is superfluous at best. It would be appropriate to give thanks to God after services for His presence, but any prayers relating to the service may best be done in private as a personal matter between the individual and God. This approach would also be avoiding any appearance of evil (1Thes 5:22), which is desirable in this matter because apparently there were – and still are – men who simply feed off the adulation of others for the sake satisfying their hunger for attention, rather than for the purpose of giving glory to God.

Matt 6:5 

"…‘And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.’…” [RSV].

 

We are commanded to give thanks for all things (1Thes 5:18), but this should  be done in accordance with God’s instruction regarding prayer (Matt 6:6).

1Thes 5:18

“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you…” [RSV].

Matt 6:6

"…‘But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.’…” [RSV].

 

To summarize this aspect of services it can be said that while there is no Biblical basis for opening or closing prayer, thanking God for His presence would be appropriate. However, the command relative to this matter in Matt 6:6 shows that such thanks are best given in private.

 

Is there a need for a Sermonette and a Sermon? The stated Church of God purpose of the Sermonette was to introduce the Sermon and provide the Sermonette man with some experience in speaking to a congregation. However, there is no such speaking classification in the Bible as "Sermonette" and there should be no speaking on the Sabbath merely for the purpose of practice – all structured speaking on the Sabbath is for the sole purpose of edifying the people of God.

1Cor 14:26

“…What then, brethren? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification…” [RSV].

1Pet 4:11 

“…Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen…” [NRSV].

 

In this section any Biblical reference to prophet, prophecy or prophesying has to do with preaching the Word of God – inspired expounding of the oracles of God (1Pet 4:11) for the benefit of God’s people (1Cor 14:26) – it is not to do with the foretelling of future events. The most specific instructions on the speaking aspect of services is given in 1Cor 14:29-35 :

"...29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to someone else sitting nearby, let the first person be silent. 31 For you can ALL prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged..." [NRSV].

"...34 women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home..." [NRSV].

 

Notice, any man may speak, but the number is limited to two or three at the most, regardless of the size of the congregation. The command here does not infer that at least two must speak, but is limiting the number of speakers for the purpose of an orderly speaking service one or none may speak and if there be none, then the entire service is one of fellowship. All who have a topic on which they wish to speak may do so in turn, as decided by the congregation or the elders of the congregation – each may have his turn to speak. Here, only the order in which a man speaks is the prerogative of the church, not whether or not a man may speak. It is not permitted for women to preach or ask questions at Sabbath services, as is given by the context of the commands in 1Tim 2:11-12 and 1Cor 14 and by use of the word "church" (ekklesia), meaning group or assembly, in 1Cor 14.

1Tim 2:11-12 

"...11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence..." [NKJV].

 

Also, an important difference between the recognized format and the authorized format is that the recognized format does not allow for any interactivity in accordance with the Biblical command found in 1Cor 14:30:

"...If a revelation is made to someone else sitting nearby, let the first person be silent..." [NRSV].

 

Although interactivity is authorized, it is important to realize that the command also contains instructions concerning restrictions on that interactivity. The command does not give licence for frivolous or vexatious interruption; neither does it give licence to have a prolonged question and answer session with the speaker; and neither does it give licence to anyone to come prepared to speak out of turn by means of a premeditated interruption. The tenor of verse 30 is that any interruption of the first speaker by another must have a significant or superior bearing on the subject of the current speaker, or be a reasonable question about the subject of the current speaker. Even this being so, such interruption must be done in a manner which is polite and considerate of the disturbance to both the current speaker and the congregation. With this interactivity comes the possibility for conflict and it seems that is what was happening in the Corinthian Church, which is why God had to address the issue in 1Cor 14:26-37. 

 

Are personal opinions permitted? If what you say has no Biblical support there is no need to keep silent on the matter, but it should be stated, up front and clearly, that what you are about to express is your opinion, NOT the Word of God. There is nothing wrong with discussing the Word of God and His plan and speculating on the possible ramifications of certain Scripture, but such speculation is opinion and has no place in establishing doctrine. The proof of doctrine must come from the clear Word of God – let there be no attempted proof from vague Scripture or opinion. This way there are absolute restrictions on what is and what is not doctrine without inhibiting personal opinion and healthy discussion about various non-doctrinal issues. This being so done, there should be no dissention among brethren about doctrine. However, balance is required and while allowing for the expression of personal views we should not allow this dominate our time at services or allow it to lead to empty philosophizing at the expense of general discussion about the Word of God or His way of life. In relation to this matter we should remember what God says in Col 2:8, 

“…Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ…” [KJV].

  

 

How a Local Church Functions

 

Essentially, this is another way of saying, “How to start and maintain a local congregation” or, how to meet in peace with our brethren-in-Christ on the seventh day Sabbath and other commanded assemblies. In order to proceed with this undertaking there are four main points which must be borne in mind:

  1. Meeting on the Sabbath is a command of God (Heb 10:15) – it is not a suggestion. There may or may not be a prepared discourse, but there is always to be fellowship, which is the main purpose of the Sabbath meeting;

  2. Always keep foremost in our thoughts that we are never alone – God has made an unconditional promise that when two or more meet in His name that He will be there (Matt 18:20);

  3. The Church is a family, both locally and globally. This means that we are to honour and respect each other as family members and do our best to preserve the peace within that family (Philp 2:3);  and

  4. As members of a family (the body of Christ) we each have individual gifts, which are granted by God for the purpose of each person contributing to the well-being of the family (Eph 4:16). Accordingly, our position or function in the Church has already been decided by God and we are not to argue with God (Rom 11:29“for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable”, NRSV). Depending on the size of the congregation there may be more than one with the same gift, but in a small group this is unlikely so we should take care and not be presumptuous in thinking we can do better than someone else – be realistic, be honest.

 

With our gathering together being governed by the above four points, the establishing and functioning of a Local Church becomes simple and should proceed along the following lines: 

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At least one Elder should be appointed by the congregation. There is no indication that God considers size to be a factor in the functioning of a local congregation and therefore selection of an Elder is determined by whether or not there is a congregation, not the size of the congregation (Acts 14:23 - Cheirotoneesantes de autois presbuterous literally, 'Having chosen them elders, by show of hands, in every church'). The Elder is to ensure that all of the people are consulted on all issues, conducts anointing for healing and presides over any matter upon which there is to be voting. Essentially, the Elder is the servant of the people and by such service is also the servant of God. 

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Church services may be in any venue of a size suitable for the needs of the people. 

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There may be up to two or three speakers at services, but on occasion there may be one or none. Any speaking to the congregation as a whole must be done as inspired expounding of the oracles of God (1Pet 4:11) for the benefit of God’s people (1Cor 14:26). Healthy discussion of Biblical matters is always a part of fellowship and may also replace individual speakers, especially if there are none. 

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A speaker speaks according to gifts and inspiration and may be any male member of the congregation

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There may be singing at church gatherings depending upon individual gifts. 

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Appointment (ordination) to church positions, functions or duties are by majority vote of the congregation. 

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Baptisms are to be performed by the person (almost always male) responsible for bring the truth of God to the individual requesting baptism.

 

Click here to go to Your Questions/Comments

 

Review

 

God's System of Government:          The only system of physical government delivered and endorsed by God is the FAMILY. 

Government of God:                       This is the right relationship between God and an individual through the Holy Spirit. For there to be a right relationship one must be obedient to God in the spirit, as exampled by Paul in Rom 7:14-25

Church Government:                       Is where the people of God are acknowledging and properly using all the spiritual gifts God has given to His people. These gifts are likened to the various parts of the body which all work together for the benefit of the body (1Cor 12:12-26; Eph 4:4-7, 11-12; Eph 2:19-22 and Phil 2:1-3) under direction of the head, Christ.

Preaching and other Gifts:              All men who are so disposed, according to the gifts of God, are required by God to preach (see the Parable of the Pounds  at Luke 19:12-26). Examples of preaching by ordinary membership (the scattered brethren) are given in Acts 8:4Acts 11:19-20 and Apollos (Acts 18:24-28).

Baptism:                                       Baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:16) is what was pictured by physical circumcision (Col 2:11-12) and under normal circumstances it is to be performed by the man (any man) who was instrumental in bringing the person to be baptized to the truth.  Saul (Paul) was baptized by ordinary member Ananias (Acts 9:10-18).

Ordinations:                                   Ordination (selection) to full-time duty such as preaching is done by a majority vote from the men of the congregation (Acts 14:23).

Church Services:                          All services should be conducted "...decently and in order...", as commanded in 1Cor 14:40. How this is to be accomplished is detailed in the preceding verses – 1Cor 14:26-37.

 

How a Local Church Functions       All functions within a congregation are to be undertaken by those with the God-given gifts to perform those functions for the purpose of benefiting the congregation (Rom 12:3-6, Eph 4:12 and 1Cor 3:9).

 

 

 

 

 

Scripture List

 

 Heb 8:1 – 9:28

1 Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.

3 For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. 4 For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; 5 who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, "See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain."   6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.

8 Because finding fault with them, He says: "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah –  9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD.  10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  11 None of them shall teach his neighbour, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.  12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."  

13 In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

 

Hebrews 9:1-28

9:1 The Earthly Sanctuary (cf. Ex 25:10-40)

Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. 2 For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; 3 and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, 4 which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

6 Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services.  7 But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people's sins committed in ignorance; 8 the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. 9 It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience – 10 concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.

11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

16 For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17 For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. 19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you."   21 Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. 22 And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.

23 Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25 not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another –  26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.  [NKJV].

 

 

Rom 7:14-25

14 For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. 15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17 But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, 23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin. [NRSV]
 

Rom 12:4-8

4 For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6 We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7 ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8 the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness. [NRSV].
 

1Cor 12:12-26

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body Jews or Greeks, slaves or free and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot would say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear would say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. [NRSV]
 

Eph 4:4-7, 11-12

4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. 7 But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ's gift.

11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, [NRSV]
 

Eph 2:19-22

19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God. [NRSV]
 

Phil 2:1-3

2:1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. [NIV]
 

Luke 19:12-26

12 So he said, "A nobleman went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return. 13 He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave them ten pounds, and said to them, 'Do business with these until I come back.' 14 But the citizens of his country hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We do not want this man to rule over us.' 15 When he returned, having received royal power, he ordered these slaves, to whom he had given the money, to be summoned so that he might find out what they had gained by trading. 16 The first came forward and said, 'Lord, your pound has made ten more pounds.' 17 He said to him, 'Well done, good slave! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small thing, take charge of ten cities.' 18 Then the second came, saying, 'Lord, your pound has made five pounds.' 19 He said to him, 'And you, rule over five cities.' 20 Then the other came, saying, 'Lord, here is your pound. I wrapped it up in a piece of cloth, 21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man; you take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.' 22 He said to him, 'I will judge you by your own words, you wicked slave! You knew, did you, that I was a harsh man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then did you not put my money into the bank? Then when I returned, I could have collected it with interest.' 24 He said to the bystanders, 'Take the pound from him and give it to the one who has ten pounds.' 25(And they said to him, 'Lord, he has ten pounds!') 26'I tell you, to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. [NRSV]
 

Acts 8:4

Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. [NIV]
 

Acts 11:19-20

19 Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. 20 But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. [NKJV]

 

Acts 18:24-28

24 Now there came to Ephesus a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria. He was an eloquent man, well-versed in the scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the Way of the Lord; and he spoke with burning enthusiasm and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the Way of God to him more accurately. 27 And when he wished to cross over to Achaia, the believers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. On his arrival he greatly helped those who through grace had become believers, 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the scriptures that the Messiah is Jesus. [NRSV]
 

Acts 11:16

And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' [NRSV].

 

Col 2:11-12.

11 In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. [NIV].

 

Acts 9:10-18

10 Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." He answered, "Here I am, Lord." 11 The Lord said to him, "Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight." 13 But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; 14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name." 15 But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; 16 I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." 17 So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized,
[NRSV].
 

Ex 4:25

But Zipporah, his wife, took a flint knife and circumcised her son. She threw the foreskin at Moses' feet and said, "What a blood-smeared bridegroom you are to me!" [NLT].
 

Acts 8:18-21

18 When Simon saw that the Holy Spirit was given when the apostles placed their hands upon people's heads, he offered money to buy this power. 19 "Let me have this power, too," he exclaimed, "so that when I lay my hands on people, they will receive the Holy Spirit!"
20 But Peter replied, "May your money perish with you for thinking God's gift can be bought! 21 You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right before God.
[NLT].
 

Acts 21:25

"As for the Gentile Christians, all we ask of them is what we already told them in a letter: They should not eat food offered to idols, nor consume blood, nor eat meat from strangled animals, and they should stay away from all sexual immorality." [NLT].
 

 

 

Acts 14:23

And when they had ordained <5500> them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. [KJV]

Acts 14:23

and having appointed to them by vote elders in every assembly, having prayed with fastings, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed. [YLT]

Strong’s 5500

ceirotonew cheirotoneo

1) to vote by stretching out the hand

2) to create or appoint by vote: one to have charge of some office or duty

3) to elect, create, appoint

 

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary

And when they had ordained them elders, [Cheirotoneesantes de autois presbuterous] - literally, 'Having chosen them elders by show of hands' that is, having superintended such choice on the part of the disciples; and there is the best reason to conclude that this is the sense intended by the historian, and not "ordained" (as our version, following in this case the Vulgate and Luther, rather than Beza, have rendered the term). There is no evidence an the New Testament that, in apostolic times, the word had lost its proper meaning: this is beyond doubt its meaning in 2 Cor 8:19; and there is indisputable evidence that the concurrence of the people was required in all elections to sacred office in the earliest ages of the Church. The expression used (says Lechler) leads to the idea that the apostles appointed and conducted a congregational election; and to this also points the precedent (in Acts 6) of the election of the seven deacons in Jerusalem, conducted by the apostles.
 

1Cor 14:34

women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says. [NRSV]
 

1Cor 14:40

but all things should be done decently and in order. [NRSV]
 

1Cor 14:26-37

26 What should be done then, my friends? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn; and let one interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let them be silent in church and speak to themselves and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to someone else sitting nearby, let the first person be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged. 32 And the spirits of prophets are subject to the prophets, 33 for God is a God not of disorder but of peace. (As in all the churches of the saints, 34 women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. 36 Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only ones it has reached?) 37 Anyone who claims to be a prophet, or to have spiritual powers, must acknowledge that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord. [NRSV]
 

 

Rom 12:3-8

3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6 We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7 ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8 the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness. [NRSV]
 

1Cor 12:4-31

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot would say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear would say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
[NRSV]
 

Judges 2:7-15

7 So the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD which He had done for Israel. 8 Now Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died when he was one hundred and ten years old. 9 And they buried him within the border of his inheritance at Timnath Heres, in the mountains of Ephraim, on the north side of Mount Gaash. 10 When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.
 

11 Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals; 12 and they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the LORD to anger. 13 They forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel. So He delivered them into the hands of plunderers who despoiled them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. 15 Wherever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for calamity, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn to them. And they were greatly distressed. [NKJV]
 

Gen 10:8-12

8 Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD. Therefore it is said, "Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD." 10 The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11 From that land he went into Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and 12 Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city. [ESV].

 

Barne's Comments

In this episode, {#Gen 10:8-12} the author turns aside from the table of nations to notice the origin of the first great empires that were established on the earth. “And Kush begat Nimrod.” The author had before enumerated the sons of Kush, who were heads of nations. Here he singles out one of his sons or descendants, who became the first potentate of whom we have any record. He notices his qualities for rising to this position among men. “He began to be a mighty one in the land. He was mighty in hunting, before the Lord.” Hunting is a comprehensive term, indicating the taking of any species of animal, whether of the air, the sea, or the land. Nimrod’s distinction in this respect was so great as to become proverbial. The expression, “before the Lord,” intimates, not merely that the Lord was cognizant of his proceedings, for he knoweth all things, but that Nimrod himself made no secret his designs, pursued them with a bold front and a high hand, and at the same time was aware of the name and will of Yahweh. This defiant air gives a new character to his hunting, which seems to have extended even to man, as the term is sometimes so applied. {#1Sam 24:11,jer 16:16} His name, which literally means “we shall rebel,” is in keeping with the practice of an arbitrary and violent control over men’s persons and property.

 

Adam Clarke Commentary

Nimrod

Of this person little is known, as he is not mentioned except here and in, {#1Ch 1:10} which is evidently a copy of the text in Genesis. He is called a mighty hunter before the Lord; and from, {#Gen 10:10} we learn that he founded a kingdom which included the cities Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Though the words are not definite, it is very likely he was a very bad man. His name Nimrod comes from marad, he rebelled; and the Targum, on, {#1Ch 1:10} says: Nimrod began to be a mighty man in sin, a murderer of innocent men, and a rebel before the Lord. The Jerusalem Targum says: "He was mighty in hunting (or in prey) and in sin before God, for he was a hunter of the children of men in their languages; and he said unto them, Depart from the religion of Shem, and cleave to the institutes of Nimrod." The Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel says: "From the foundation of the world none was ever found like Nimrod, powerful in hunting, and in rebellions against the Lord." The Syriac calls him a warlike giant. The word tsayid, which we render hunter, signifies prey; and is applied in the Scriptures to the hunting of men by persecution, oppression, and tyranny. Hence it is likely that Nimrod, having acquired power, used it in tyranny and oppression; and by rapine and violence founded that domination which was the first distinguished by the name of a kingdom on the face of the earth. How many kingdoms have been founded in the same way, in various ages and nations from that time to the present! From the Nimrods of the earth, God deliver the world!

 

Keil and Delitzsch Commentary Extract

 

The name itself, Nimrod from maarad, {see definition 04775} ‘we will revolt,’ points to some violent resistance to God. It is so characteristic that it can only have been given by his contemporaries, and thus have become a proper name.

 

In addition to this, Nimrod as a mighty hunter founded a powerful kingdom; and the founding of this kingdom is shown by the verb watªhiy {see definition 01961} with w consec. to have been the consequence or result of his strength in hunting, so that the hunting was most intimately connected with the establishment of the kingdom. Hence, if the expression ‘a mighty hunter’ relates primarily to hunting in the literal sense, we must add to the literal meaning the figurative signification of a ‘hunter of men’ (’ trapper of men by stratagem and force,’ Herder); Nimrod the hunter became a tyrant, a powerful hunter of men. This course of life gave occasion to the proverb, ‘like Nimrod, a mighty hunter against the Lord,’ which immortalized not his skill in hunting beasts, but the success of his hunting of men in the establishment of an imperial kingdom by tyranny and power. But if this be the meaning of the proverb, yªhaaowh {see definition 03068} lipªneey {see definition 06440} ‘in the face of Jehovah’ can only mean in defiance of Jehovah, as Josephus and the Targums understand it. And the proverb must have arisen when other daring and rebellious men followed in Nimrod’s footsteps, and must have originated with those who saw in such conduct an act of rebellion against the God of salvation, in other words, with the possessors of the divine promises of grace.

 

(Note: This view of Nimrod and his deeds is favoured by the Eastern legend, which not only makes him the builder of the tower of Babel, which was to reach to heaven, but has also placed him among the constellations of heaven as a heaven-storming giant, who was chained by God in consequence. Vid., Herzog’s Real-Encycl. Art. Nimrod.)

 

Micah 3:8

"...But as for me, I am filled with power, with the spirit of the LORD,..." [NRSV].
 

Luke 24:49

"...'And now I will send the Holy Spirit upon you, just as my Father promised. Don't begin telling others yet-stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.'..." [TLB].
 

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary on 1Cor 14:17

The prayers of the synagogue were called "eulogies," because to each prayer was joined a thanksgiving. Hence the prayers of the Christian Church also were called blessings and giving of thanks. This illustrates #Col 4:2 1Th 5:17,18. So the Kaddisch and Keduscha, the synagogue formulae of "hallowing" the divine "name" and of prayer for the "coming of God’s kingdom," answer to the Church’s Lord’s Prayer, repeated often and made the foundation on which the other prayers are built [TERTULLIAN, Prayer].