Dec 11

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Yes, here we are once more, writing under the same heading! The question still remains, how do we ascertain New Testament Authority for what the church of our Lord is required to, and allowed to, do? Let me simply state, that the church today is required to do some things the first century church did and may do some things the first century church did. If this is not confusing, good for you.
What is the difference between: 1) what the church was and is required to do and 2) what the church was and may do? How do we tell the difference? The obvious place to start our search is at the birth of the church. Let us remember, just here, that Jesus promised to build his church, Matthew wrote in quoting Jesus: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). While we are looking at this verse, we will cover a point that is often missed in the denominational world. The point here is that many people believe that Jesus is saying, he will build his church upon Peter, but the Greek text reveals the truth on this point! The Greek word for Peter is “Petros,” and means: “a rock or a stone” (Thayer) and “a (piece of) rock” (Strong). Now, for the word “rock,” as used by Jesus; the Greek being: “petra” and means: “a (mass of) rock” (Strong) and Thayer gives us this: “a rock, cliff or ledge.” First, one can see that Jesus used two different Greek words: 1) “Petros,” or Peter and 2) “petra” or “rock.” I have often used the South Dakota great mountain, that the four faces of Presidents are carved out. If you were to see the “rocks” that have been blasted off the mountain, and I have seen them, you might think it is a “big” rock, but when the same “rock” is seen at the base of the mountain, it appears as it is, a small rock. This is the idea of Jesus’ words, Peter, and rock. It was upon this massive rock (petra), like the mountain with the faces of the Presidents carved upon, that Jesus said he would build his church. The “rock” is the truth, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God!
Just when did Jesus build his church? This took place in Acts chapter two, and verse forty-one, which reads: “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). It required the preaching of the gospel of Christ, to build his church; thus, the preaching of the apostles. Now, what is the first act of the church? Let Luke tell us: “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (verse 42). The most natural act of those who have been saved from past sins, is to worship God who make it possible! This was done under the oversight of the apostles; therefore, it is required of the church today. It is unthinkable, that those who are saved, would fail to worship God who made their salvation possible! Did those who were baptized, just happen to worship God, or did they do so at the teaching of the apostles? One must keep in mind, that the worship of the saved on that Pentecost day, was not like what was done before Acts two, and verse forty-two. Prior to this day, they all had worshipped according to the Law of Moses; but now, a new time had arrived; it is now the age of Christ, and all actions would be done according to the authority of Christ, or as we have stated, “New Testament authority!”
Now, let us notice the difference between what is required and what is allowed. Both actions are recorded on the same Pentecost day. Following the worship of verse forty-two, these words appear in the text: “And all that believed (These are the ones who had been baptized in verse 41) were together and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart” (Acts 2:44-46). Here, Luke is writing of activity of those who were saved; outside of the worship done in verse forty-two. These activities were done, as Luke wrote: “continuing daily.” May the church worship daily? Of course, she may and the saved would desire to do just this but, as we shall see in future articles in our study, those who were saved also did other things. Let us notice what the saved did; they “sold their possessions and goods and parted to all men, as every man had need” (verse 45). Of course, the selling of their “possessions and goods” took place outside the assembly of worship. This is also seen in these words: “breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart” (verse 46). The apostles did not tell the saved to do such, but it was done as their heart directed! Just how long did these actions take, we are not told but it was not done in a day, as Luke used the word “daily.” This action is an act of love for each other! Might the saved today need to do such? Yes! There may come such a time but let us hope not!
With this, we see the saved in worship and outside of worship! This was a joyous time, and it was shared by all.

Frank R. Williams

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