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The Importance Of The Local Church -2: “The Nature Of The Church: The Benefits Of The Assembly”

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SIH STSTA ICON“…The house of God, which is the church of the living God,

the pillar and ground of the truth.”   (1 Timothy 3:15)

In this second lesson of our study on the Lord’s church, we will begin looking at the church’s four part role in the lives of those who have been saved by God’s grace by supplying care, the opportunity to serve, fellowship, and encouragement.

THE STUDY:

In our previous study we found that the Lord’s churches on earth can be defined as “A LOCAL, VISIBLE ASSEMBLY OF SAINTS THAT HAS BEEN SUMMONED BY GOD, MAKING IT UNIQUE FROM ALL OTHERS ASSEMBLIES IN THIS WORLD.”

As our study continued, we saw that the church, being a local body, helped us to understand that it was established to minister, first and foremost, in the local area in which it is situated.   Then we also learned that because the churches of the Lord are visible, they were meant to be a public, visible display of His love, care and grace towards those in that local community.

In today’s study we will be looking at the church’s characteristic of being an “assembly of saints”.  Please note that the Lord’s church is a group that is made up of individual members that have trusted in Christ as their Lord and Savior, and have professed this faith publically through the ordinance of baptism.

41) Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added [unto them] about three thousand souls.  42) And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.  (Acts 2:41-42)

Please notice in the above text, we find a clear order to events that result in church membership…

1.  The people “gladly received the word”, this is the acceptance of the truths of the gospel message resulting in belief in Christ as Lord and Savior.
2.  They “were baptized”, following their salvation they were in submission to the will of God by publically confessing their faith by being baptized.
3.   Following their baptism, we find them uniting with the local assembly “added unto them about three thousand souls”
4.  Their newly experienced church membership resulted in them being taught “they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine”; enjoying fellowship with their brothers and sisters in Christ “fellowship”; communal worship enhanced through the observance of the Lord’s supper “in breaking of bread” and joint prayers “prayers” .

Using this as the basic outline of our study, let’s begin looking at the church’s benefits that are offered to the saints of God:

1.  The Teaching Of God’s Word: Ephesians 4:11-16

11) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  12) For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  13) Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  14) That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  15) But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ:  16) From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.   (Ephesians 4:11-16)

The Lord gifted the men found in verse 11 to reveal the Word to believers through the ministry of His churches.  The apostles were inspired to reveal the NT scriptures.  The prophets were inspired to reveal the OT words of God.  Once the OT and NT were completed, the ministry of these offices were brought to an end.  Now the Lord uses evangelists (missionaries), pastors, and other teachers of the Word to teach the completed Scriptures to those who are members of His assembly.

The purpose of all of these men’s ministries is to teach His Word in an understandable fashion so the members of His church so that they can become mature Christians, equipped for service and able to discern true teaching from error.

2.  Fellowship and opportunities of service for Christ: 1 Corinthians 12:20-31

18) But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.  19) And if they were all one member, where [were] the body?  20) But now [are they] many members, yet but one body.  21) And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.  22) Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:  23) And those [members] of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely [parts] have more abundant comeliness.  24) For our comely [parts] have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that [part] which lacked:  25) That there should be no schism in the body; but [that] the members should have the same care one for another.  26) And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.  27) Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.  28) And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.  29) [Are] all apostles? [are] all prophets? [are] all teachers? [are] all workers of miracles?  30) Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?  31) But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.   (1 Corinthians 12:18-31)

Please notice the opportunities to serve the Lord in His assemblies are implied throughout this passage.  All the opportunities that open to us to support, help and share in the lives of other church members. All of these are opportunities of service to Christ.

The offices of service mentioned in verses 28-31 were given to the local assemblies to reveal God’s Word, teach God’s Word and accredit the church and her message. Most of these offices no longer exist in the local assembly to day (see vs 8-11 for a complete listing of the gifts that no longer exist), as they came to an end at the completion of the revelation of His Word to man in approximately 100 AD.  (more on this later in our study)

3.  Enriched Communal Worship: Ordinances (Baptism, Lord’s Supper) and Enhanced Prayer

Baptism

18) And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  19) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.   (Matthew 28:18-20)

The ordinance of baptism is given to the local church as a part of the great commission.

Lord’s Supper

23) For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the [same] night in which he was betrayed took bread:  24) And when he had given thanks, he brake [it], and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.  25) After the same manner also [he took] the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink [it], in remembrance of me.  26) For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.  27) Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink [this] cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.  28) But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of [that] bread, and drink of [that] cup.  29) For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.  30) For this cause many [are] weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.  31) For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.  32) But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.  33) Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.  34) And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.   (1 Corinthians 11:23-34)

The responsibility of observing the Lord’s Supper is expounded by the Apostle Paul to the local church at Corinth.

Prayer

15) Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.  16) But if he will not hear [thee, then] take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  17) And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell [it] unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.  18) Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  19) Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.  20) For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.   (Matthew 18:15-20)

In the context of church discipline and local church authority, we are told that no matter how small an assembly of believers, when they are gathered and in prayer making requests according to His will great things can take place and Christ is in their midst.

THE SUMMARY:

Based on our studies so far we can see that the nature of the Lord’s church includes:

1.  An assembly of individuals
2.  A local assembly
3.  A visible assembly
4.  A called our assembly
5.  A unique assembly

In the second part of our study we saw that the church, as an assembly offers to Christians the three-fold blessing of:

1.  the teaching of God’s Word – to strengthen, mature and ground them.
2.  the care and fellowship of other believers
3.  opportunities of service to Christ.
4.  enriched worship of the Lord through the observance of the ordinances and enhanced prayer effectiveness.

Why should we should attend, join and support the ministries of a local church?  I supplies to us the teachings of God’s Word, fellowship with believers and enriched worship.

May the Lord bless us as we seek His truth.

 

For a free study guide for this series in .pdf format:

https://settledinheaven.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/lordsassemblyprotected.pdf

For a free study guide for this series in .docx format:

https://settledinheaven.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/lordsassemblyprotected.docx

 

 


8 Comments

  1. robertjgood says:

    Hello Rob. “The offices of service mentioned in verses 28-31 were given to the local assemblies to reveal God’s Word and accredit the church and her message. These offices no longer exist in the local assembly to day, as they came to an end at the completion of the revelation of His Word to man in approximately 100 AD. (more on this later in our study)”

    Within those verses were sign gifts, teaching gifts, and administration/government gift. In addition to believing the sign gifts have ceased, do you also believe the gift of teaching and administration have ceased? If so, do you think any spiritual gifts still exist? Thanks. Bob

    • Rob Barkman says:

      Good catch. I didn’t realize that listing included gifts not shown in vs 8-11. My fault. I believe that all the gifts listed in vs 8-11 have all come to an end with the completion of God’s Word. But, as you say both teaching and administration still exists. Keep in mind, just prior to looking at the 1 Cor text. I explained that the gift of teaching still existed as shown in the Ephesians passage. Thanks again. Lord bless.

  2. SLIMJIM says:

    Thank you for this study!

  3. Naphtali says:

    Pastor Barkman, you know I truly enjoy and value your teaching and knowledge. My question is are you saying that the spiritual gifts ceased to exist in 100 AD? Gifts such as prophecy, speaking in tongues, miracles, signs and wonders, healing for examples? Like the former response from Robert Good why would God quit some and not the others? Or why did Jesus say, “you will do greater things than I have because I go to be with the father?” Am I reading your text incorrectly?

    3 John 2 says, “I pray you may enjoy good health and that all is well with you even as your soul is getting along well?” NIV

    If God doesn’t want to heal us now, then why do people go to doctors? Why are they taking medicine? Why have surgery? If they believe God doesn’t heal now or doesn’t want us well, then they are going against his word by doing or trying any of these things to get healthy. That verse changed my life many years ago. If I had to go through the rest of my life believing God doesn’t heal today as he did when Jesus was here, there would be no point in any of us living.

    I can honestly say, I have witnessed these gifts in other people and in myself. I grew up in a church that didn’t believe or activate these gifts. The only reason these gifts don’t exist in the local assemblies today is because the people choose not to believe them because I am in a church now that doesn’t because I have no where else to go that does.

    Would you please explain to me your position more so that I understand where you are coming from?

    • Rob Barkman says:

      Hi Cathy,
      It is good to hear from you.

      Let me answer your questions with short answers and then give you links that will give you more complete answers.
      Yes, I do believe that the sign gifts listed in I Corinthians 12:8-11 went out of existence in approximately 100 AD. The basic reason why these gifts were given was to accredit three things… the local church as the new worship place given by the Lord; the New Testament Scriptures as a part of the inspired Word of God; and the ministry of Apostles. These gifts lasted approximately 70 years (30-100 AD) and then went out of existence. These are recorded in the Bible which leaves us a written record of their existence (and by implication a written record of the accreditation).
      For example, to prove that the local church is the assembly that was given to us from God, all we need to do is place our faith in the record of its’ accrediting found in the Bible. We no longer have a need to see this accrediting actually take place over and over again. This is why some of the gifts still exist while others have gone out of existence. Some of the gifts (teaching etc.) are still needed by the assembly in today’s time; others (the sign gifts) are not needed any more.

      For much more information on this subject you can see three of my previous postings: http://wp.me/pU88A-f0 http://wp.me/pU88A-fg http://wp.me/pU88A-5J

      The Third John passage is simply John wishing to his readers that they would have good spiritual and physical health. I have that same wish for all of my readers, as I am sure you do as well.
      However, I also realize that the Lord will at times, allow or brings illness into our lives for our good and His glory… This whole concept will be covered in great detail in the upcoming series on “The Existence Of Evil”, in this series, the Lord’s usage of harmful things in our lives for our good is examined. This series will start, Lord willing on October 4th and continue for 7 weekly postings. Please look for it, I am trusting it will help explain many of your questions on these things.

      As far as personal life experiences, we will have to be very careful how we interpret these things. It is this very issue that we are currently dealing with in our series “Personal Experiences vs God’s Word” that began last week … http://wp.me/pU88A-2LC and will continue, Lord willing, on Sept 20 and Sept 27. By the end of this series, I hope we all will have a better understanding of the Word’s teachings on this issue of sickness, and other acts of harm, and its role in our lives.

      I would like to give you one thought… I think it would be profitable for you to ask your pastor about these things as well. For two reasons, I am sure he is more familiar with your personal experiences and background and can, perhaps address these issues in a more “personalized” way for you.

      Also,some of these verses can be looked at in different ways….
      For example in the John 14: “greater things” passage there are two ways to look at this…. The “greater things” are these gifts we have been speaking about that would exist for a temporary time then go out of existence, or they can be speaking about taking the gospel to the lands of the Gentiles. (In either case, this verse does not dictate that the accrediting gifts must exist today). Sometimes, it is good to hear the view of several others to get a full picture of the various teachings on a subject.

      Lord willing in 2014, SIH blog will be covering the Holy Spirit’s workings in a multi-part series. Within this series, will be a series of postings (10+) on the Charismatic Movement that will go into great detail and attempt to cover all of the verses that are used to defend the movement. You can expect to see it in early to mid 2014. I am trusting the Lord to allow the Biblical view of these things to be clearly presented in great detail. Again, by His grace, I am trusting this series will much more fully explain all of these issues.

      Thanks so much for your input, and your patience, to give me a chance to address this issue much more completely in the months to come. Lord bless you as you study His Word!

  4. Jesus defines in Mark 16 what will happen when you have the Holy Ghost. These gifts still operate in the “true church today”, Paul the apostle gives us over two chapters in 1 Corinthians, chapters 14 & 15 to explain to us the different between speaking in tongues, and porphecy. Yes the gifts are for today. Speaking in tongues is the “sign” that we have recieved the Holy Ghost according to Acts10:46, and Acts 19:1-12, and there are other scriptures that support this truth.The thing that stops them from happening today in peoples lives is unbelief. The Word of God “is Jesus Christ himself”.

    • Rob Barkman says:

      Hello Robert,

      Thanks for your input. Let me give you a quick answer to some of your points and then other links to get a more complete answer.

      The Mark 16 passage is describing signs gifts used by the Lord to accredit the Local church, the ministry of the Apostles and the message of the NT. These are no longer needed since the church was brought into existence in the early 30s AD, the last Apostle died in approx 100 AD (John) and the Word has been brought to completion in approx 100 AD. We now have a written record of these events that clearly show us that the Word, the Apostle’s ministry and the local assembly were proven to be of God.

      The passages you spoke of in 1 Corinthians 14: & 15: are preceded by 1 Corinthians 13: that teaches us that the sign gifts were temporary in nature and would go out of existence for the reasons given above.

      For the above points please see the following postings for more details:
      http://wp.me/pU88A-f0
      http://wp.me/pU88A-fg
      http://wp.me/pU88A-5J

      Also, please keep in mind, Lord willing in 2014, SIH blog will be covering the Holy Spirit’s workings in a multi part series. Within this series, will be a series of postings on the Charismatic Movement that will go into great detail and attempt to cover all of the verses that are used to defend the movement. You can expect to see it in early to mid 2014.

      Thanks for your input and your patience, to give me a chance to address this issue much more completely in the months to come. Lord bless you as you study His Word!

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