FOUNDATIONS

Lessons designed to promote the integrity of scripture and church!

I Corinthians 3:11“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is    JESUS CHRIST  

All articles are written using the NKJV, unless otherwise noted! All articles are written by David Hicks, unless specified otherwise.

 

"AUTONOMY!"

The word, ‘autonomy' means self-government. This was the Lord's intent for each of His local bodies. Each local church is subject to Christ, His authority, and is independent of each other for the work that the Lord gave them to do. This rule is predicated on two very important things:

1) The principle of independence of each local church.
2) The equality of all the churches of Christ.

 

I. The Lord Gave His Church a Congregational Form of Government.

The Lord designed for there to be elders in each church to shepherd and protect the individual flocks.

Acts 14:23 “So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”

Acts 20:28 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

Philippians 1:1 “Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons”

1 Peter 5:2 “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly”

 

These elders, who shepherd the flock according to the doctrine of Christ, only have authority over each local church (“flock” singular, “among you”). In this we see that they have absolutely no jurisdiction in any other location than over those who are among them, and cannot by design extend it any further!

In this we see the Divine order from the Lord for a local church. There is nothing smaller than a local church and nothing larger than a local church. This specific design excludes any other organizational form. It was also given to enhance the individual Christian's role and importance, note:

Ephesians 4:15-16 “but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

 

Each body of Christ (singular), through the participation of all its members causes the fulfillment of everything the Lord gave His church (individually – “itself”) to complete (Ephesians 4:12).

As the Lord dealt with His knowledge of each of the seven churches of Asia; He said, “I know your works” individually to each church (Revelation 2:2, 9, 13, 19, 3:1, 8, 15). The Lord closely watched each of His local churches and saw them as individual entities, each working to fulfill the role of an individual body of Christ (some successfully, some not).

 

II. Each Local Church Carried Out the Mission of the Church.

Each congregation did its own work supervised by its own elders. This work included the spread of the Gospel.

1 Thessalonians 1:2-8 “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, 3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, 4 knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. 5 For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.
6 And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. 8 For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.”

 

Each local church supported preachers laboring in the field.

Philippians 4:15-18 “Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.”

 

Each church made up its own funds for benevolent work and sent it by its own representatives to see it to the right hands for proper distribution.

Acts 11:29-30 “Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. 30 This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.”

 

The disciples of the church in Antioch of Syria, each gave according to their ability, sent the funds via their own chosen ambassadors (Barnabas and Saul), and had it delivered to the elders for proper distribution to truly needy saints.

1 Corinthians 16:1-4 “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: 2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. 3 And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. 4 But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me.”

 

By the order of Paul to the church of Christ at Corinth , the pattern is repeated, just as it was to each of the churches of Galatia . Each church sending its own representative who traveled all the way to the destination to see the benevolence delivered to the elders in Jerusalem (see: Acts 20:4; 21:15-17), each individual disciple giving as they had been prospered.

 

What is conspicuously missing in all of these illustrations is an institutional approach where churches band together in cooperation to fulfill the work that the Lord gave each local church. This due to the fact that the church is not institutional, it is organic! Each local body of Christ is made up of individuals who have been called out of darkness and into the light of the doctrine of Christ (Acts 26:18; Ephesians 3:8-12).

There is nothing given the collective work of the church that cannot be completed by each of the local bodies of Christ independently of one another. Fellowship (joint participation to a common goal) in each church towards completion of each churches work, is done by its individual members working in conjunction with each other.

Romans 12:3-5 “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.”

 

Each body of Christ shared in many of the same functions independently; such as worship on the first day of the week, partaking of the Lord's supper each first day of the week, collections on the first day of the week, praying, singing, etc…

Acts 2:42; 20:7, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34; 16:1-4; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16.

However, the only universal thing they shared was a kindred relationship to the Christ as the head of the body.

Colossians 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 may have the preeminence.”

 

No inter-congregational alliances, no corporate organization, no earthly headquarters, none becoming agents of others. Each church was completely equal and completely equipped to do all that the Lord had given; if it sought the wisdom of the Lord.

Since Christ is the only one to have preeminence in the church, we must avoid at all costs the undermining forces that destroy the autonomous nature of the Lord's church. Where are the local members individually completing the work of the church when community councils decide the work of the church; or presidents, boards of directors, headquarter churches, etc…???

 

God's wisdom must prevail!