The Local Chruch: The Mind of God

 

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•Special Edition Presents The LocaltheChurch _______and _________ Mind of God by Johnny Pike “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.” - Mark 1:3 Contending for American Freedom • Contending for Fundamental Christianity

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PRINTED MISSIONARY Ronnie and Terry Williamson Evangelist/Editor Steve and Rebekah Lilly Staff Missionaries CrossVue School of Missions Presents The Local Church and the Mind of God by Johnny Pike The Voice in the Wilderness is a nonprofit, independent incorporation, founded by Rev. Dr. J. Royce Thomason D.P.D. Ph.D., evangelist and medical missionary. The organization is dedicated to the spreading of the whole gospel to the world, especially in foreign lands. The program consists of building mission stations, supporting American missionaries and native pastors by partnering with the local church in various areas of ministry and preaching Christ to the lost. We are supported by the gifts of those who care. Contributions to The Voice in the Wilderness for projects or to support the ministry of a missionary will be used as indicated by the donor following approved policies and procedures. Gifts are tax deductible and should be made out to The Voice in the Wilderness. A fundamental publication, published quarterly in behalf of the work of the Lord and preservation of the liberties of our United States. Printed sources imply from material from other does not necessarily an endorsement t h i s m i n i s t r y. § § § Permission is granted to print for personal study. Contact the author or The Voice in the Wilderness for further permissions. See Contact Info below Resources for your Android Device For Personal Correspondence, Contributions, Address Changes, New Subscriptions, There is no subscription charge; all interested people of good will may have a copy sent regularly to their address simply by requesting it. Address all correspondence to: The Voice in the Wilderness, PO Box 7037, Asheville, NC 28802. www.thevoiceinthewilderness.org E-mail for address changes only: visionpartners@thevoiceinthewilderness.org Sign-up for The Weekly Voice e-mail and Blog: membersnp@thevoiceinthewilderness.org Dr. Ronnie L. Williamson Dr. J. Royce Thomason Memorial Voice in the Wilderness P.O. Box 7037 Asheville, NC 28802 Voice (828) 649-1043 Write to us 2•The Local Church and the Mind of God

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Dear Friends: Jesus said, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” I Timothy 3:15 records the apostle Paul’s admonition, “…that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” Bible believing local churches across America and around the world must stand up, reclaim and declare, based on the absolute authority of God’s Word the power given to them by the Creator. Shortly after I trusted Christ as my Lord and Saviour, I joined one of these local Bible preaching churches. It was through that church’s ministry I began to grow and mature in this walk of faith. The church offered a Bible memory program that I enrolled in memorizing scripture seven days a week. Each month, quarter, and year I received a reward in the form of a special book after saying the assigned scripture verses. Also at year end, a certificate was given for the course completion. Then the pastor was teaching a soul-winning class. He trained the students how to share their faith along with weekly opportunities through the bus ministry and church outreach to practically apply the classroom training. In conjunction with Bible memory and soul-winning there was a “Church Training Class” I attended where lessons were taught equipping the disciple to serve faithfully in various aspects of the local church. This globe is networked and connected with God’s living organism called “The Church.” His church is endued with power to be salt and light in this present age. The New Testament Scripture is very clear as to our commands and responsibilities until the last trump. The following lessons and outlines are given to help pastors and teachers share with believers the Biblical perspective of the local church. I pray this presentation will be a help. For Christ and souls, Ronnie Williamson More resources at www.thevoiceinthewilderness.org •3

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The Local Church _______and the_________ Mind of God by Johnny Pike Before the foundation of the world, God conceived a plan by which He would create a special witness unto Himself on the earth during the period of time in which we now live, “The Church Age”. This special witness would be for a testimony of His glory and the preservation of His truth. (Col. 1:18; Rom. 15:5-11; Eph. 3:21) God purposed, in Himself to create a new class of people—a new humanity exhibiting His life. It would be created in Christ Jesus. A supernatural work created by the triune God and ordained to be His testimony before the world. (Eph. 2:1-10; 15) The Epistles refer to this as the great mystery kept secret from previous ages but now clearly revealed to us (Eph. 3:4-11; 10-11; Col. 1:26; 1 Cor. 2:10). It is further identified as the body of Christ consisting of all born-again believers: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” the Church (1 Cor. 12:13). The doctrine of the Church and its application to the local assembly is worthy of our attention. The word “CHURCH” will be more meaningful to us when we reflect upon the Divine plan, purpose, and priority of the local church and consider the pastor’s position as its teacher and overseer of the local congregation of these new creatures. (Eph. 4:12; 2 Cor. 5:17; Acts 20:28). There is an unmistakable emphasis upon the local church in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit in Acts and the Epistles focuses the reader’s attention upon the position and the function of the local assembly as being God’s primary witness unto Himself in this age and as most precious to the Lord and also subjected to subtle and vehement attacks by the devil. 4•The Local Church and the Mind of God

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Despite all the emphasis on the local church in the Bible, it appears to be the least understood the most underrated and the most abused of all that pertains to the Lord’s work! The local church of God, must not to be undervalued but held in high esteem, with diligent attention given to its vital place in God’s program. The word used for “church” in the New Testament is used more than one hundred times. Eighty-five of these refer to the “local assembly” of believers. Even though this subject is one of the most important in the New Testament, its revelation and application regarding the local church tends to be neglected. Merely to make references about the universal church leaves us unaware of the potential of the local assembly of believers and its inherent glory. As we are reminded of the truth involving a “body energized” by the life of God, and a “building inhabited” by the Spirit of God, we will be encouraged to study the Epistles more carefully. We should be challenged to apply these facts and principles to our local assembly in a practical and functional way. The Greek word ekklesia translated “church” in our English Bible carries with it the classical meaning of an “assembly” of “called out people”. When we use the word “assembly” for the word “church” in every instance, we will recognize the prominent place that the local church has in the Book of Acts and in the Epistles. Many people, even believers, see the “church” as merely a building or organization and not as a “living organism”--the Body of Christ. The local church is God’s chief instrument for the spreading of the gospel and the maintenance of the truth before the world. (Matt. 28:18-20; I Tim. 3:15; Acts 1:8) Failure to effectively accomplish this task is due, for the most part, to the spiritual weaknesses of the local church and its failure to comprehend its significant role in the Church Age. The word church is also used in a “universal” sense. By universal More resources at www.thevoiceinthewilderness.org •5

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we mean the collective whole of all the born again members of the body of Christ universally (from every geographical area). However, for all practical purposes the universal church has no “functional” ability to be involved in the work of Christ beyond the local churches and the individuals who make up their membership. If there is to be a revival of the work of God, at home and abroad, it must come from a spiritual renewal of the believers’ understanding of what it means to be a biblical local church. Only a correct understanding of this most important subject will enable the Church to accomplish all that God has commanded it to do. If the local church’s view of itself is less than biblical, then the work of the ministry will be destroyed or weakened to the same degree! If the work of the ministry is to be what it ought to be then it will necessitate healthy churches. The absence of spiritually healthy churches will lead to the destruction of the work of God in all its various aspects. In order for a local church to be spiritually healthy it must have a correct biblical view of itself. In Matthew 16:18, Christ promises to build His church, “universal,” upon the foundation of the truth contained in Peter’s confession of who Christ is. This is the first mention of the term “church” relating to this present age. It is used in this passage in a “universal” sense. The next time the word church is mentioned is in Matthew 18:15-17, where the subject is the discipline of those, within the local assembly. This discipline would be impossible were it attempted within and by the universal body. In order for discipline to be executed in an orderly manner, it would have to be done within each local assembly of believers. In this passage we can begin to see the “functional” aspect of the local church revealed. As glorious as the universal body of Christ is with all of its wonderful truths, it has no “functional” aspect that can be demonstrated apart from the local assemblies. The world and sadly much of the contemporary church sees institutional Christianity as a relic, fading in significance and to be replaced by a more human-centered philosophy of Christianity. This replacement is being accomplished through a less than biblical 6•The Local Church and the Mind of God

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approach to authority and practice. Some formerly conservative churches have through peer pressure and a desire for the world’s approval adopted questionable programs and novel methods in evangelism in order to accomplish what God never intended. Much of the compromise within the fundamentalist movement has found its way in through the “Trojan Horse” of evangelism. The problem is not that evangelism is less important, but that compromise is seen as necessary in order to evangelize. This is the problem. (The Greeks infiltrated the city of Troy by hiding soldiers in a wooden horse that the besieged people thought was a gift. It was filled with dangerous enemies who exited the horse under cover of darkness and conquered the city from within.) The local church has allowed many worldly methods and philosophies to enter the church through the idea that the evangelism of the lost would be enhanced by such compromise. We should not be concerned over what the world thinks or predicts. Nor should we be swayed by this spirit of competition either to reach men or to please men. We should not be a part of a worldly Christianity nor participants in a compromised evangelical movement. We know that local churches, consisting of Scripturally-based, bornagain believers in Christ, are in God’s plan and purpose. We should feel concerned if and when we detect in our midst any lowering of the morale, any tendency to try to impress the world, or any lack of emphasis upon true function and purpose of the local church. The local assembly should take precedence over all other entities because it was formed according to the purpose of God to possess and to radiate His glory. It is not merely incidental to the divine plan More resources at www.thevoiceinthewilderness.org •7

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for this age, it is foundational to that plan. The local church is very important and has a potential to accomplish much for the glory of God and the souls of men. (Eph. 3:9-11) We must realize that Satan is constantly utilizing deception to prevent God’s people from understanding the real significance of the local church. (2 Thess. 2:7; Eph. 1:23) The existence of local churches was a fact ever present in the minds of the writers of the New Testament Epistles. A deep love and concern for the believers in the various assemblies surfaces again and again. Paul writes to the Thessalonians “as a father doth his children” (1 Thess. 2:11). He expresses himself to the Colossian church in these terms: “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you...” (1:24); and, “I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you...” (2:1). Paul certainly indicated his “care of all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:28). In fact, the way he wrote in his second letter to the church at Corinth is so touching that it should convict us of our tendency to take the local church for granted? “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears” (2 Cor. 2:4); “O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged” (2 Cor. 6:11); and “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy” (2 Cor. 11:2). _____________ In his admonition to the E phes ia n el d ers Pa u l said, “Therefore watch, and The work of God is only remember, that by the space of as healthy and viable as three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with local churches. tears” (Acts 20:31). This is love for a church. Everything meaningful in _____________ the Work of God during the Church Age was meant to grow out of local church congregations scattered throughout the world. The work of God is only as healthy 8•The Local Church and the Mind of God

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and viable as local churches. This is true in each local church’s “Jerusalem,” and it is also true of the work of God that should be going on beyond its “Jerusalem.” The Local Church is to be the foundation for all the work of God, both at home and abroad. If every local church were to close, for all practical purposes, all the work of God would cease. There would be no preachers or teachers or missionaries to train in Bible Colleges, therefore, they would cease to have a spiritual reason to exist. There would be no missionaries to send, so mission agencies would be out of business. There would be no tithes and offerings to underwrite the operating expenses of all the Para-church organizations so they would go out of business. The local church is to be the seedbed from which all things relative to the health and well-being of God’s work are to be drawn. Without vibrant, Spirit-filled local churches there would be no hope for the work of God. He has designed it this way, and as the local church “is,” so “will be” the remainder of His work. How many communities have been left without a viable witness because of the failure of a local church? And how many more such communities have no gospel witness because local churches have failed to mother a local church in that community? Denominations and all other Para-church organizations die or weaken spiritually because the foundations upon which they depend, local churches, grow weak. The Great Commission, the heartbeat of God, was given to the local church and the execution of that Commission is today, only as healthy as the local congregations which underwrites all its needs. The same is true of Bible training centers. They are only as healthy as the local churches that feed them. If we are to see a revival of the work of God, which is greatly needed, we must have a Spiritual awakening within the local church. Both the problem and the solution can be found in the local church which is the foundation upon which all else rest. God, help this generation to refocus all its energies on building strong Biblecentered, Spirit-filled local churches. This is the emphasis we will focus upon during this study. More resources at www.thevoiceinthewilderness.org •9

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UNDERSTANDING THE LOCAL CHURCH Teaching Outline “A Review of the Local Church in the Book of Acts” The Word of God—Our Authority 1. Sure Word of Authority (2 Pet 1:19) 2. Inspired Word of Authority (2 Tim 3:16 3. Preserved Word of Authority (Matt 24:35; I Pet 1:25; Isa 40:8; 4. Precious Word of Authority (Ps 19:10) 5. Foundation upon which all doctrines must be established (Matthew 4:4-10; I Peter 1:23) I. The Local Church’s Foundation—Christ Jesus--Matt 16:1418 A. Jesus’ Question 1. Whom do men say that I am? a. A correct understanding of the “person of Christ” is imperative b. The world and the religion has their opinions 2. Whom do you say that I am? a. This is an important matter 10•The Local Church and the Mind of God

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b. This is a personal matter B. Peter’s Answer 1. Thou art the Christ a. The O.T. Messiah b. The One promised as far back as Gen 3:15 Who would bruise Satan’s Head 2. The Son of the Living God a. Deity (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; Mt 1:23; John 1:1-5; 17:5; Phil 2:6; Col 1:17; Hebrews 1:8; I John 1:1-2) b. The Alpha and Omega; the Mighty God; the Great “I Am” (Isaiah 44:6; Revelations 1:8, 11; 21:6; 22:13; Exodus 3:14) c. The Word of God (John 1:1; Revelations 19:13) d. The Preeminent One (Colossians 1:18) e. The Almighty (Revelations 4:8; 11:17) f. Counselor, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), Savior (Luke 2:11), King of Kings, Lord of Lords (I Timothy 6:15: Revelation 19:16), Rose of Sharron, Lily of the Valley (Song of Solomon 2:1), Bright and Morning Star (Revelation 22:16) g. Son of David (Matthew1:1:1-17) i. Virgin born Son of God (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-25) C. Christ’s Response to Peter’s Statement 1. Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you a. This truth is not acquired by “observation” More resources at www.thevoiceinthewilderness.org •11

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b. Or human intellect 2. My Father has opened your eyes of understanding to see this truth a. This the Divine work of the Father (John 6:44, 45) b. Through the powerful influence of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13) D. Christ’s Application of This Truth 1. This truth is the foundation upon which the Church will be built a. This foundation could not be a man or a group of men (1) men are flawed – None righteous (Romans 3:10) (2) men are frail – Of few days (Job 14:1) (3) men are fluid—ever changing (Heb 7:23) b. Christ is forever our High Priest (Hebrews 6:20; 7:17) 2. I will build my church upon this very doctrinal truth. (Acts 4:12) a. Christ is the only sure foundation (Acts 4:12; I Corinthians 3:11) b. This was the doctrine of the Apostles and Prophets (Eph 2:20) c. Christ is the Chief Cornerstone (Isaiah 28:16; Ephesians 2:20) II. The Local Church’s Pre-Formation—The First Assembly—Acts 1:1-26 A. Place of the Assembly (1:12-13) 12•The Local Church and the Mind of God

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1. In Jerusalem (1:12) a. Center of Judaism b. Center of Rejection of Christ 2. The upper room (1:13) a. Private place—not yet public b. Place of exclusion—The world is not yet invited B. Participants in the Assembly 1. 11 Apostles (1:13) 2. With women (1:14 3. Mary, the mother of Jesus and his earthly brethren. (1:14) 4. Grew into 120 (1:15) 5. A diverse group of people—fishermen, tax collectors, house wives, a. He would build a church of all people b. No exclusions in the Body of Christ c. A Precious, Praying, Purposed people C. Practices of the Assembly 1. Waiting (1:4) a. [Hard, excited, afraid, confused, uncertain, Needy] b. They needed the Holy Spirit to: (1) Equip them, (2) Enlighten them, More resources at www.thevoiceinthewilderness.org •13

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(3) Energize them, and (4) Encourage them. 2. Regular gatherings (in those ten days until Pentecost, 1:15) 3. Prayer and supplication (1:14, 24) 4. Teaching (1:16-20) 5. Business—by lot (1:21-24) a. Not a democratic vote of all b. Lot was usually Rocks of different colors or such c. Each drew out one and the one receiving the correct one won. 6. Reflection upon the Scriptures (1:20) III. The Local Church’s Birth--The Baptism of the Holy Spirit—(Acts 2:1-4; 1 Cor 12:13; Rom 8:9) (See Appendix 2: Birth of the Church) A. The Unity of the Believers—One accord in one place (Acts 2:1) B. The Unifier of the Believers—Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4) 1. His Prominence in the Scripture (See Appendix 3; Holy Spirit references in N.T.) 2. The Personal dependence of the disciples upon Him C. The Display of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4) 1. Sound as of a rushing mighty wind—Symbolic of the Holy Spirit (2:2) a. No wind—just the sound as a wind 14•The Local Church and the Mind of God

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b. Symbol of Holy Spirit (John 3:1-8) power 2. He would be the power source through which the Church would accomplish its task. (Acts 1:8) a. Begin in Jerusalem—their own city b. Continue in Judea—their own state c. Stretching further into Samaria—country d. Extending even unto the uttermost parts of the world—all nations 3. Filled the house where they were (2:2—No place void of His Presence) 4. Sight: appeared cloven tongues as of fire and it (singular) sat on each of them equally (Symbolic of the giving of spiritual gifts to each and every believer by the Holy Spirit: [I Corinthians 12, Entire Chapter]) 5. They spoke in tongues—symbolic of the: a. judgment of God on unbelieving Israel and the b. mission of the church (to take the gospel to every nation-every creature) (See Appendix 1: The Gift of Tongues) D. Only Seven References to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit 1. First Five are Prophetical (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:5) 2. The Sixth reference is Historical (Acts 11:16—Peter recalls the events of Corneleus’ salvation) 3. Final Reference is Doctrinal (I Corinthians 12:13) These seven references constitute all the Bible has to say on this More resources at www.thevoiceinthewilderness.org •15

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