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T. Austin Sparks - Messages.

>> Pastors and the Church. Part 4. <<

> New Testament Church Spiritual Guidelines. <

>> What is the Vision of the New Testament Church? <<

Other than seeing, (as the Amplified Bible puts it) "....The overwhelming Preciousness and the surpassing worth and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord ...." [Philippians 3:7-10.]

The greatest and most thrilling longing second to that alone is "to see His glory so as I have seen Thee in the Sanctuary" - the Church. [Psalm 63:2.]

The two go together. If "Christ is all" personally, then there will be a desire for him to be "all" collectively in the Church, and that can only be "in all" for that is the full phrase in the sentence - ".... Christ is all and in all". [Colossians 3:11.]

*** It is impossible for Christ to be "all" in the midst of the Church as it gathers together if the "in all" is inoperative! ***

How poverty striken and inept much of the Church is today because of the traditional (handed down by many generations) apostate (Nicolaitane - "nico" = conquer, "laitane" = laity) pastor power regime over the Churches.

If we long to see a complete picture of Christ's glory through the reflecting glass of the pages of His Word as we spend time with him, then we will long to see the beauty of Christ and something of his fullness reflected and magnified through His body (the Church) in fellowship together.

May the Lord possess us more with a vision of his glory personally and collectively in the midst of His people.

The "Pastors and the Church" series were firstly presented as articles on the web at www.jesuslovesyoumission.com.
Serious review of presentation has not been undertaken with either the website presentation or printed versions.
Trust is in the Lord to give the general vision and inspiration that has come to my heart from the Lord, that the collective serious plight of the body of Christ today (as it has always been) is the ancient apostasy (illustrated in Revelation chapters 2 and 3) of man orientated Church.
The apostate poisonous tick of 'pastor power' has buried deep into the body of Christ and is unmovably enthroned in the institutionalised church systems of man. These systems of 'church' run deep where it shouldn't, amongst believers seeking collective life from Christ under the elevated importance of 'clergy/laity' man governance amongst the people of God.

>> Pastor Power:

(* For a fuller description of the terms pastor/bishop/elder see below under the heading - "The Shepherding of the Church".)
'Pastor power' is swelling in popularity at an incredible rate with the clamoring of women also to take to themselves the unscriptural 'title' bestowal of "Pastor"!
Should we not sit up and listen if the Lord speaks thus:- "Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker would soon take me away" [Job 32:21-22.]

When man takes to himself an elevated position, a gateway of automatic solicitation of admiration by others is opened at the peril of those impressed with man's position in the Church instead of Christ's.

The Lord open our eyes in these last days to cast off the importance of man and self and seek valiantly with all our hearts the "Preeminence of Christ".

>> The Word of God not Man's ideas:

Where in the Word of God do we get a clear picture of how to experience something of the fullness of Christ in the local assembly of the saints? That is, how to facilitate and enjoy whatever content of the fullness of Christ that may exist at any and every time that the Church gathers together?

Every Church will vary in the amount of the riches of Christ's fullness that it possesses. But are we not, after all that the Lord (the head of the Church) has for us, and wants to instill in us of his life, glory and power?

Week after week, is Christ void in the lives of all the company of believers that gather together except for one person, the designated 'pastor' of the Church?

Where in the Word of God is there a clear contrast between the common profile of singular ministry in the Church, and "diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit" and "diversities of operations but it is the same God which worketh all in all" [1 Corinthians 12:4-6.]

>> The Beautiful Simplicity of the Word of God. <<

One cannot help but marvel at the persistent blunder of imagination in matters of "the work of the Lord" among some missionary organisations.

What!! Did Paul train singular men as "pastors" as he returned on his missionary journeys visiting the young Churches that he planted?

"And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed." [Acts 14:23.]

Who were ordained to care for the Churches? Elders, plural in every Church! Bishops/elders are one and the same ... [Titus 1:5-7.] taking care of the Church in the two areas of need, one of spiritual shepherding, and the other being the 'office' (1 Timothy 3:1) of oversight watchfulness over all diverse ministry among the saints.
Do we follow the Word of God or not? Should we take example from the Word of God or not?

>> The Shepherding of the Church:

The only mention of the word "pastor" in the New Testament is found in Ephesians 4:11 in the list of gifted men to the body of Christ.... "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:" [Ephesians 4:11-12.]

The word "pastor" simply means "shepherd" [Strong's Hebrew and Greek dictionary.] These gifted men are given to the body of Christ which has a global dynamic of ministry. Bishops/Elders which are classified as an "office" among the people of God have a strictly local dynamic of ministry. Praise the Lord for his gift of many precious brothers to the body of Christ that have a global shepherding and teaching ministry that complements the local oversight shepherding ministry as they visit Churches across the world. The 'pastor' to the global body of Christ along with the rest of the list in Ephesians 4:11 like apostles, evangelists etc are not subject to the qualifications required for the ordained position and office of an Elder/Bishop in the local Church. The local shepherding ministry contains many elements of family type management, like that of a father with a family, and so applies all the marriage, family man qualifications required to take up the 'office' of a local Bishop/Elder/Shepherd among the saints in the local church fellowship. For a list of qualifications of a Bishop/Elder see 1 Timothy 3:1-7. Refer (click here to go) to "Pastors and the Church part 5" or alias "How? The Local church Edified" pages 2 & 5 for more on pastors/bishops/elders.

>> The Exciting Work of the Lord in The Book:

If we find that the Word of God illustrates thus and thus concerning the work of the Lord, should we not be careful to emulate such by the enabling of the Lord? Has not the wonderful work of the Lord in respect of the saving of souls and the building up of the saints, which is His body, the Church, been carefully recorded for us in the Word of God, providing a clear picture for us to follow with a passion, for his glory and expectation of great blessing?

>> The Essence of Great Blessing:

What is this great blessing? Do we find great blessing in attending a local Church meeting? Of course this great blessing is Christ!

How to see then something of the fullness of Christ, not a 'bit' of Christ but the full measure that is contained in him which is in every believer! Do you want it all? Or do you want just a bit?

Every servant of God should be busting his buttons to have manifested every bit of Christ's life and glory in the gathering of believers in fellowship.

Not every believer is necessarily bubbling over with life in the Lord at every gathering of the fellowship of a local Church; but whatever portion there may exist of a potential revelation of the exciting Life of Christ, such should be eagerly pursued and promoted, and under the liberty of the Spirit, to be expressed for His praise and the edification of all gathered together.

>> Proof for Active Aim after the Fullness of Christ:

Is there proof in the Word of all that is being said here? The proof is everywhere throughout the entire New Testament.

Please refer to "Pastors and the Church Part 5" or alias "How? The Local church Edified" on the web, pages 3-5 and in the printed version pages 11-22.

In "Pastors and the Church Part 5" is illustrated some spiritual and practical direction for a complete inclusion of the fullness of Christ being in active demonstration over a 2 meeting opportunity for fellowship on the Lord's day. A local Church will lack, possibly to a large degree "that which every joint supplieth" [Ephesians 4:16.] if it is reduced to 1 gathering opportunity on the Lord's Day. The early Church continued steadfastly in the vital 4. The apostle's doctrine - Fellowship - the Lord's Table - prayer. [Acts 2:42.] Be steadfast for "the fullness of Him that filleth all in all". [Ephesians 1:23.]

>> More about Jesus:

If we are hungry for more of Christ in the Word then we will be hungry for more of Christ in the Church as it gathers together. Christ's fullness cannot be demonstrated through only one member of his body but through the whole and if the minister singular or ministers plural in a Church ignore that, then, either ministry to the Lord is being diminished or the edifying of the saints will lack "the fullness of Him that filleth all in all" [Ephesians 1:23.] It is possible that both aspects of fellowship could be nullified where a church functions on the narrow base of a singular dominant minister and ministry; in which case such a church is in grave danger of being propelled towards discontent, boredom and lukewarmness.

>> Special Note 1: <<

>>> The Beauty of the Lord in the House of God:

The following is the joyful endeavour of sharing the glorious Vision of the Beauty of the Lord that can be enquired after and FOUND in the House of God whenever the saints meet together. [Psalm 27:4.] Notice in this verse that the emphasis is indicated that this "beauty" is seen in the house that is the house of the LORD. That is The LORD Jehovah - The self existent one; Almighty, and all powerful; the one who is Jehovahjireh which name wonderfully declares to us - "The Lord shall see to it" (Strong's concordance). Is the Lord really LORD over all things to the Churches today in which we are participating? Is The LORD allowed to be "Jehovahjireh", allowed to "see to it"? Or is man taking the high position to "see to it"; taking the high position (or a higher position) over the people and there is no liberty of the Spirit that may operate and bring forward his gifted ministry through others because of the hierarchy positions established by man?

The Word of the Lord from Zechariah to Zerubbabel in the battle to re-build the temple in enemy territory was ... "Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit saith the Lord of hosts" [Zechariah 4:6.]

>> What Praise of Glory there is to Offer Up:

As Abraham prepared to offer up to the Lord, Jehovahjireh wonderfully did the rest, even providing what was offered up! Peter said that we are built up a spiritual house, a "holy priesthood to 'offer up' spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ". [1 Peter 2:5.] Abraham at mount Moriah was to offer up Isaac, in which he received him in a figure from the dead, as a type of the offering up and the resurrection of Christ. [Hebrews 11:19.] It was at Mount Moriah that Solomon built the Temple of the Lord. [2 Chronicles 3:1.] At this very place that Abraham called "Jehovahjireh" was the Temple built.

It is on this very ground of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ that the Church is built to offer up "spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" and it is to be the place where the Jehovahjireh principle of - "The Lord shall see to it" is to operate.

Paul wonderfully declares that the saints are the house of God and that the Church when it meets together is God's habitation through the Spirit. And the Spirit is in every believer and again Paul says "where the Spirit of the Lord is there is Liberty".

"In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit". [Ephesians 2:21-22.]

"Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty". [2 Cor. 3:17.]

Just as Jehovahjireh saw to it with Abraham and his wholehearted offering up unto the Lord and the temple being built in the same place at Mount Moriah, so too the Lord will see to it with us if we are willing, like Abraham to offer up all to Him. He then will include us in his beautiful building work of that which is His Temple to contain His Glory and fullness.

>>> A Two-fold Glorious Vision:

To the Ephesian Church Paul clearly states the two-fold call of the grace of God upon him.... (1). Preach the unsearchable riches of Christ and (2). Strain with all determination (by the Grace of God) to help - "make all men see what is the FELLOWSHIP of the mystery".

"Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:" [Ephesians 3:8-10.
>> Preach The Unsearchable Riches of Christ:

In the text the object is "among the Gentiles". What a thrill to share the unsearchable riches of Christ among poverty stricken sinners and behold how rich they become in him! These riches are in all the saints and should be on display in the house of God. Paul said that if one unsaved comes in among you and hear all prophecy, they will say (because they have witnessed the greatness of blessing) that God is among you. [1 Cor. 14:25.] There are Great Riches in the body of Christ!

"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." [2 Corinthians 8:9.]

>>> The Beautiful Riches of the Lord. <<<

How real is the fact that there are the riches of Christ in all the saints? This is because the Lord "who is rich unto all that call upon him" [Romans 10:12.] lives in them! to the Church at Corinth Paul declared that they were "enriched by Him in all utterance and knowledge" [1 Corinthians 1:5.] and yet Paul said that they were "babes in Christ". [1 Corinthians 3:1.]

Every believer has Christ resident in them though he may not be dwelling in every part of their heart by faith. You can reside in a dwelling but not dwell in it because you may never move out of the kitchen. You only "dwell" in a residence if you occupy or utilise every room in the residence. Though a believer may be "in Christ" or have Christ living in them, that does not mean that Jesus dwells and governs in every department of their life. Paul clearly illustrates though, that there are these eternal riches in every believer with the words ... "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the Excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. [2 Cor. 4:7.] Every believer has this beautiful 'treasure' of Christ abiding in them and there should be encouragement in the gatherings of the saints for the display and enjoyment of this 'treasure' before Heaven, to the Glory of God and before one another, for the edification of the Church.

>>> Encouraging Buried and Unknown Riches to the Surface:

One wonderful way that these sometimes buried and unknown riches can be encouraged to the surface in the assembly of the saints, is the all important ministry to the Lord of Prayer (not song) praise and worship where every believer has an opportunity to thank and worship the Lord in prayer for all his bountiful dealings with them. How blest one becomes as the thanksgiving of others ascends to heaven for all the Lord's tender dealings and goodness. How rich is such a thing in the house of God! This sometimes can be more uplifting than the preaching! This suggested worship time is the fulfillment of the Word by Peter that the Church is "built up a spiritual House, an holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" [1 Peter 2:5.] and these 'sacrifices' are praises to God, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. [Hebrews 13:15.] Again Hosea puts forward that the sacrifices the Lord is really looking for from our hearts, is not the 'calves' of the field but the "calves of our lips" [Hosea 14:2.]

>>> "To Make All Men See":

This matter of the eternal riches of God in Christ among the saints being available to God and available for riches in fellowship is such a vital matter to Paul. He expresses that there is a non-stop urgency to pursue the enlightenment of the saints and the servants of God; to open their eyes to the greatness of God's glorious inheritance of the riches of Christ in the Church which will be on display in the eternal ages to come to principalities and powers in the Heavenly places and that nothing should diminish the mining and bringing to the surface the edifying power and glory of these riches now on earth in the assembly of the saints.

The proof of his fervent desire is the fact that in the beginning of his letter to the Ephesian church he shares this burden and heartfelt prayers for them that they might "see".

".... Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints," [Ephesians 1:16-18.]

>>> Continual Cinema Wonder in the Church:

It is a continual wonder to the writer that there is such widespread dim vision of the exciting fullness of Christ and enjoyment of such in the assembly of the saints. Men that have been serving the Lord for so long and yet the Church is allowed to behave like a bunch of people going to the Cinemas with their numbered tickets to sit in their designated spot in the dark and listen to one noise, focus their eyes on one spot and be entertained for an hour and then go home. Could the problem be that excuses are made about the volume of difference between Church function in Protestantism and in the Word of God? Could it be that there is widespread 'disobedience to the heavenly Vision'? [Acts 26:19.] One spiritually young sister in the Lord who was troubled about the discrepancy between how Christians and the Church followed Christ and what the Bible says; asked the ministers of a prominent denomination for some understanding and the answer was given in words to the effect ..."oh that is how things were in Bible times but things are different now in this modern age and we can't really follow exactly what the Bible says"!! There is much established tradition and order of things in the evangelical Church today that is mobilizing the people of God in spiritual directions and practices that are plainly contrary to the Word of God.

>>> Search the Scriptures to See Whether These Things are so:

If the immediate spiritual offspring of the apostolic Church of the New Testament can decline into disastrous apostasy, then it has to be acknowledged that there is easy weakness for spiritual loss of Heavenly Vision applicable to us all and there is an earnest heed we should give to what we have received and heard and learned lest at any time we should let them slip. [Hebrews 2:1.]

In these days there is certainly a profound need for the servants of the Lord to be like the believers at Berea who "searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so". [Acts 17:11.]

The Lord open our eyes more and more to "see" the great beauty of his person and the precious wisdom of His Word and thus experience the collective portrait of such beauty in the gathering of the saints.

>>> Who is to Benefit in Church Gatherings?

We are very prone (because of 'professionalism' in the Church today) to think that the Church is an institution that needs to be 'professionally' organized and controlled to maximize benefits to all involved and participating. But is God involved? What about the 'benefits' toward Him for all his participation? What is our Heavenly Fathers pleasure? With so much focus on how to please the people, what about His pleasure? With so many needs and concerns as to what to 'offer' to the congregation, what about the need to 'offer' unto the Lord? What is on 'offer' for Him? What about "His inheritance in the saints"? [Eph. 1:18.] How vast is the desert that the Church (?) has entered into today with all the scrambling to hold people in a particular Church by any means; even if it requires the acting services of a comedian behind the pulpit!

All out efforts are made to hold members and 'sign up' new ones. Is this the focus of the Lord? Is he running a club on the basis of membership and thus financial success and profit for all? We often hear of the repeated importance of the 'Sunday morning service'. Has God called his people to 'run' a 'service' or is his call to fellowship as John said ... "...That ye also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his son Jesus Christ". [1 John 1:3.] Fellowship is vital during the conducting of the gatherings of the Church. The more there is participation of believers in the gatherings the more there is of the real tangible fullness of the Life of Christ manifest in the midst. The main and only need for watchfulness is that the saints are fed food "convenient" for them. This matter of "feeding the flock of God" is the one main purpose apart from offering up to the Lord when the saints get together. Apart from these two important aspects of 'fellowship' there is wide opportunity for rich contributions of others to the Glory of God. The body of Christ when gathered together should not depict a quadriplegic person sitting in a wheel chair with the Pastor or Eldership being the only active part! Apart from fellowship gatherings, it is a lovely thing even at birthday celebrations if there is liberty to do so, for someone to give thanks for the goodness of the Lord in the life of the birthday person. Any social function, if there is liberty, is an opportunity to joyfully acknowledge the Lord and his goodness.

>>> The Great Need to See:

How great is the need for the whole body of Christ to 'see' the rich portion that our Heavenly Father has in the Church and to "offer up" those pleasures to him in the midst of the gatherings of his people. How often we may hear the phrase ... "I go to pastor John Smith's Church". Is the main outstanding feature of a local Church to be that of who the pastor is? Is it the pastors church or is it Christ's? Is it "the body of Christ" with all holding to their head (who is Christ) and having "nourishment ministered", by one another being "knit together in love and compacted by that which every joint supplieth" [Ephesians 4:16.] and growing up into him in all things? Or is it because of the lack of interaction in fellowship and lack of the body edifying it's self in love by every joint supplying nourishment ministered to one another there is left spiritual delight only in that which comes from the pastor or pastor's because of fellowship barrenness?

"And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. [Colossians 2:19.]

There is a great need to 'see' that if the local body of believers that gathers together lack spinal chord connection to Christ the head of his body with most of the connection and function coming from pastor control then such a body of believers will lack the preciousness of Christ with each other because there is very little vital supply from Christ, of his diverse fullness through each other that builds a LIFE dynamic preciousness of Christ in fellowship together. The purpose of God in the blessing of fellowship is that, the preciousness of Christ detected and shared with each other in the context of gathering together becomes imbedded in a collective heart and rejoicing in the Lord for and with each other.

Being so "fitly framed together" [Ephesians 2:21.] in the local church means that if a brother/elder/bishop/pastor(local) moves away or steps down from that position, the Church does not disintegrate, because the saints are not bound to the pastor but equally to one another and foremost to the Lord. It is for this very error that when pastor/clergy/laity order governs a local Church and the pastor resigns or moves, the church can disintegrate and collapse because the binding influence was not that which is from Christ binding each other together "with that which every joint supplieth" but the binding influence is a relatedness to the pastor. If there is a supply of the Life of the Lord through one another to each other then such a Church is STRONG in it's function "according to Christ Jesus" and strong also "according to Christ Jesus" in the precious blessing of the Lord through and for each other and not in a weakened position because the Church is held together by the sole blessing of the pastor! So to disintegration and collapse, so often a church goes, if something goes wrong with the singular or plural 'pastor power' control of a Church.
How urgent it is in these days to make his (the Lord's) paths straight and be definite and constructive about the fact, - "Let no man glory in men" [1 Cor. 3:21.] The Glory of the Lord in the midst is the highest prize to win because it means either emptiness or His fullness. ".... And hath put all things under his (Christ's) feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all. [Ephesians 1:22-23.]
"Unto him (God) be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." [Eph. 3:21.]

Though when such a phrase denoting that a particular Church belongs to a man, is nearly always an unintentional reference as to what Church a person may be talking about, it still can be an indicator of a lack in vision of the glorious high calling of God, that ... "Unto Him be glory in the Church" and not (under any circumstances) should there be glory and notation given unto man! Such elevation of man should be avoided in a deliberate way for in so doing there is an active acknowledgement of the Lordship of Christ, which spells out good edification of the saints and Glory to the Lord. The all important watch is that Christ may have the Preeminence in all things. "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 preeminence. [Colossians 1:18.]

>>> Primary Purpose of Church Gatherings:

When the Church gathers together it is not primarily to preach the gospel, for the "body of Christ" is made up of people that are saved. Though there may be the unsaved that have joined in with the saints, the prayer is that they will be quickened by the sweet savor of Christ as they observe the 'livingness' of the relationship and fellowship that believers have with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

Peter said that the Church is built up a spiritual house to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. [1 Peter 2:5.]

Primarily the Church has a twofold function as it gathers together. The function of "ministry to the Lord" which is openness toward the whole Church to "magnify the Lord together" [Psalm 34:3.] in prayer praise and worship. And to edify the saints in the Word of God and fellowship that the Church may be 'built up' in Christ.

>> Special Note 1 Finished. <<

>>> The Local church Defined: <<<

In the local Church outlined in the Word of God there are three groups of people.

(1).The saints. (Congregation) [Phil. 1:1.]

(2). The bishops. (Ordained from among and approved by the people) [Phil'. 1:1.]

(3). The Deacons (Ordained from among and approved by the people) [Phil. 1:1.]

"Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:" [Philippians 1:1.]

>>> (1). Glorious Riches in the local Church Congregation!

No, not just in the spiritually high powered church but also in the congregations not reputed for any notable attainments.

The Corinthian Church noted by Paul to be "carnal", was referred to by him as coming behind no other church in gift but enriched in all utterance and knowledge!

"That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:" [1 Corinthians 1:5-7.]

If a local Church is not lukewarm but open to the Lord Jesus Christ, then such a Church regardless of troubles and needs, and if not under the hindering whip and call of man is fully equipped for the rich supply of the grace of Christ in shepherding, ministry, and building up of the saints in Him to the Glory of God.

"Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." [Ephesians 3:21.]
This is a very exciting and Dynamic topic! The lot of such a people is a very blessed one, for the following reasons:

>>The Congregation is Equipped with All:

Notice the Word "including" in the following translation of Philippians 1:1.

Philippians 1:1 (HCSB)
"Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus: To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons".

The list above of Congregation, Bishops and Deacons are all included in the number 1 group (the congregation) because there is no distinction, higher or special level of position or spiritual attainment.

The Church is wide open to the Lord, and believers in the congregation know that there is room for them, as they grow spiritually to be used of the Lord if He calls and gifts them to minister the Word whether it is in a small way or with a special enablement from the Lord to preach and teach and edify the saints. There is no differentiating between those who hold an office in the Church and those who don't. Jesus said "... one is your master, even Christ and all ye are brethren" [Matt.' 23:8.] Why should there be? In such a Church or in any Church there could be a number of brothers that are used in a mighty way by the Lord in a Worldwide ministry of great blessing and glory to the Lord, and if there were 'rating' levels of importance then perhaps such brethren would fit into a special bracket of people in the Church that are in a higher level than the Pastor (singular) or Eldership (plural) of the Church. But truly it must apply what Jesus said ... "And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all" [Mark' 10:44.] There is only one person that ranks in the highest position in the Church and that is the Lord of Glory. So what is this difference of Clergy /Laity? It is a self serving difference; it is a difference that does not serve the Lord nor the spiritual truth of the Word of God nor the spiritual position of the saints of God. There is no ground for any separate level of ... 'the Pastor and the Congregation' or the Bishops and the congregation.

What an exciting expectation a New Testament congregation has; that by the Spirit of the Lord there may be raised up from the midst, rich gifted ministries supporting the 'oversight' in the wonderful purpose of the Lord, that the saints may be edified and built up in Christ's life and Glory in the midst.

>>> The Church - A Nursery and Training ground:

The Church is the nursery for babes in Christ and is the training ground for the development of spiritual maturity towards what ever is the calling of the Lord upon every individual. Room is made for these developments by the 'oversight' of the Church for the bringing forward of any and every gifted ministry that the Lord may bestow, for the building up of the saints and the edifying of the Church or the outgoing of a ministry of Gospel evangelism to the World, or teaching ministry to the body of Christ globally. Where does a Church gain its Bishops from? From the midst! As Paul instructed - "If any man desire the office of a Bishop he desireth a good work" and then Paul goes on to describe what the qualifications are for that brother in the midst to so qualify to join in the oversight care as a Bishop/Elder in the Church. Where do the brethren come from that qualify to be Deacons in the Church? Both the Bishops and Deacons of a Church come from the midst of the congregation.

>>> Up Close and Personal Qualifications:

There is a list of matters to be observed by the saints concerning a brother taking up the office of a Bishop or Deacon in the Church. The matter of bringing up children and a comprehensive list of other things can only be assessed if that brother and family are 'close up' in fellowship in the Church and also observed functioning in a responsible way in the local community. [1 Timothy' 3:1-13.] Paul instructed Titus to ordain Elders in every city; in other words ordain local men from within the local Church [Acts 14:23.] within that city. Not hire a man from wherever and re-locate that man into another Church in another city to be the Pastor of that Church. How out of touch with the Word of God is Christendom organized! There is no allowance anywhere in the Word of God for the hire of a professionally paid minister who is a complete stranger from another district to come in among a group of believers and take control of that Church. It is certainly only in time, that anyone coming into a Church congregation from another district, is going to have any understanding of the people and the needs, blessings and the problems within a Church. And if there are many years of fellowship history within a Church, then there is a great need for any ministry capable new comer to be in subjection, humbly seeking to understand the needs and the preciousness of Christ among the people, being available to be a blessing in whatever capacity the Lord may give opportunity.

In the Word the Church is likened to a family and the qualification of a brother in a local Church to be a Bishop is that he rule his own house well because as a brother is, or is not in his own home , so he will be in the Church. How are things in a balanced home? Does dad do everything? Do others get to speak and share their experience in the family collective time? At the dinner table is there only one who speaks? Or do all have an opportunity to share their thoughts? In a family is there only one contribution or is there much on the part of many? In a family there are no levels of importance. All are as important as each other and all are vital to the well being of the family, and so it is in the Church.

Just as Dad 'oversees' the function of all the members of the family in harmony with each other so 'oversight' in the Church is just that! It is 'oversight' of the function of fellowship as believers function "according to the effectual working in the measure of every part". [Ephesians 4:16.] Part of oversight care also includes (possibly along with others depending on the gifting of the Lord to that particular Church) the teaching of "the Word of His grace" for the building up of the saints.

>>> Every Believer Called of the Lord:

Every believer is chosen and ordained by the Lord in some ministry [John 15:16.] and there are "diversity of gifts" and "diversity of operations". Just as the Lord has abundantly provided such fullness in the earth, so the Lord has deposited such glorious fullness in his House. How could God neglect to furnish his house that cost him his dear son? The Church is God's 'husbandry' (Farm) and God's 'building'. [1 Cor' 3:9.] The apostles gave the instruction to the Church at Jerusalem to "Look ye out among you" [Acts' 6:3.] the men that were to be appointed Deacons in the Church. Both 'offices' of bishops and Deacons are furnished from within the local Church. Praise the Lord for all the multifarious beauty of the Lord among the saints that can be expressed where there is the 'predominance' of the Spirit of the Lord to raise up and use whomsoever he chooses, to preach, teach and edify the saints. How beautiful is the common ground and oneness among believers where there is no emphasis upon man but all the emphasis is upon Christ, the governmental head of the Church. What expectation and excitement there is when a Church congregation is looking to Jesus as his possession, waiting upon him for the working out of his life and glory in the midst. "The fullness of Him that filleth all in all" [Ephesians 1:23.]

>>> The Church Held in Stunted Growth:

Where a Church functions with diversity of ministry the Church is equipped for mobility to reach out into other localities with a witness for Christ.

In the liberty of simplistic function of all believers within the local Church there is opportunity for many to gain experience in ministry and the work of the Lord. A Church thus equipped contains all the necessary capabilities for outreach evangelism and Church planting. Where there is a lack of liberty for believers in the matter of diversity of function in the local Church there will not only be a stunting of spiritual growth but also there will be a corresponding lameness and inability towards the outgoing ministry of evangelism and Church planting.

>>> In What Context does God Choose? <<

--- King David:

Where did David come from? He came from the sheep pen duties as a son in the ordinary hum drum of family life in Israel. From where may the Lord choose his servants? He chooses them from the hum drum of ordinary life to exaggerate his ability to produce the end product of servants of God moulded alone by the power of God. Often this moulding takes place under the direction of Heaven in the midst of faithfulness in the hum drum of family life and work and being for others in the local Church fellowship. It is presumption to expect that there is an automatic selection and approval for ministry by God of someone who has undergone some seminary of Biblical studies. It isn't academic theory that qualifies, and how many would be servants have had to go through a tough course of being a disciple of Christ to qualify as a servant of the Lord?

A prominent Church leader in Singapore commented ...... "They go to Theological Seminaries for gold plating and the Church is dying by degrees".

Those who have qualified (by man's decree of degree) to serve the Lord, is a miniscule amount compared to the volume of the Servants of the Lord who have been chosen from the hum drum of daily life and in the business of being a blessing in the midst of the local Church.

Given the following examples of the Lord's choosing, it is extremely important and it behoves all the servants of the Lord to make room for God's unexpected choices. Samuel was, (to say the least) surprised with the final result and choice of young David. Samuel made room for the unexpected and didn't look for some professionalism of man to fill the position. [1 Samuel 16:11-12.] Samuel was led of the Lord and knew like Paul that, "God hath chosen the weak things of the World to confound the things which are mighty". [1 Cor. 1:27.] Samuel himself like David was chosen by the Lord in the weakness of youth. The Church is called God's husbandry and God's building. [1 Cor. 3:9.] He is the great manufacturer and we don't run the show and so it behoves ministers of the Lord to not "Limit the Holy one of Israel" [Psalm 78:41.] but make room for the full function of believers in the "diversity of gifts and diversity of operations" [1 Cor. 12:4-6.] in the local Church. The river of Christ's life is stifled wherever believers are held in spectator mode in the gatherings of the saints. Such liberties may produce 'boring' moments but these moments are important and produce an assessment in fellowship of where the benefit of life may be found and where there is need for spiritual support and encouragement. Much like a family, as the Church grows in Christ and there is exercise of spiritual gifts and experience there develops the movement of life because where there is movement of the body there is the issuing out of life. A body that doesn't move is a body that is deprived of life and is, or has the appearance of being in the realm of Death!

--- Elisha The Prophet:

The Lord chose Elisha from the 'hum drum' of daily life, plowing the field with a yoke of oxen on home ground. [1 Kings 19:19.] This is the prophet that was given a double portion of the Spirit. It is interesting to note that the special group of "the sons of the prophets" stood on the side line and taunted Elisha with the fact that his master Elijah (with no claim that Elijah was their master) was going to be taken from Elisha that day. This elite group or 'school' of the prophets were unperturbed about the pending great spiritual loss of such a mightily empowered man of God and "stood to view afar off". [2Kings 2:7.] But Elisha was purposed to receive even a double portion of blessing and like Jacob was not going to let go till he received it! Isn't it a wonderful thing that the blessing of God is bursting to be bestowed upon, and fill the longing soul! [Psalm 107:9.] The Lord give us a fervent spirit like Elisha to have a double portion of the Lord's grace and power that will make us a radical blessing of God in this needy world, just as Elisha was!

This occasion with Elisha is reminiscent of Paul's words - "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty". [1 Corinthians 1:27.]

--- D. L. Moody:

It is interesting that D. L. Moody by the persistent persuasion of Emma Dryer began efforts in providing education seminary training for women. This was the seeds of the eventual commencement of the Chicago Evangelization Society, now known as the Moody Bible Institute; and yet Moody himself was chosen from the 'hum drum' of daily life as a shoe salesman and serving the Lord in the local Church as a Sunday school teacher. Moody who stands out in history as one of the mighty servants of God and evangelistic preachers of the 19th century was never professionally trained at any seminary of Biblical studies. Moody's training program was tabled from Heaven!

--- Moses and Paul:

Academically Moses was a brilliant choice for the mighty task of delivering Israel from the Egyptians; he was a prince among them (as an adopted son of Pharaoh) and understood the political and spiritual measure of Egypt. He was trained in all the learning of the Egyptian way of life and also was fully versed with all the plight of Israel, and the Word and promises of God. Moses had a heart of grief for the needs of his people and yet God couldn't use him with all of his knowledge, skill and understanding. He had to learn to become a man of God. He had to learn that God works with meekness not with the grandeur of man's high profile and achievements. God was going to choose him not in the highness of being a prince in Egypt but in the lowliness of being a shepherd in the "backside of the desert" humbly serving his father in law. [Exodus 3:1.] Moses spent 40 years becoming somebody, 40 years becoming nobody and then 40 years learning to be the servant of God. Paul was also debriefed as a Pharisee in an out of the way place in Arabia and was trained in personal spiritual growth and in the learning of the Excellencies of Christ and his glory in the Church. Regardless of what academic learning that both Moses and Paul had attained, they both had to undergo the necessary spiritual training that we all must go through before we qualify to be the Lord's chosen vessel for his glory.

--- John Newton:

John Newton who wrote "Amazing Grace" was chosen from the 'hum drum' of the slave trade and became a mighty servant of God. He graciously declined the offer from a Seminary of Biblical study, to be credited with an honorary theological award. He declined the offer lest there be any chance of credit going to any man made qualification of learning, instead of to the Glory of God.

The New Testament Congregation, with the correct pastoral Shepherding of the local Church is a literal gold field of given grace "according to the measure of the gift of Christ" [Eph. 4:7.] to effect diversity of gifts and ministry amongst the saints for the building up of the Church towards "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" [Eph. 4:13.]

What sad minimum of blessing and huge spiritual loss exists where any congregation (as it gathers together Sunday by Sunday) is diminished to being on a guided tour, with the accompaniment of many words from one tour guide. The riches of Christ and gifted ministry of such lies dormant in the routine function of that Church.

>> Special Note: 2. <<

>> Lost Vision of the Work of the Lord:

How great are the dangers today of spiritual desperation to see fruit for labour, success in ministry, and success in missionary endeavours. One can only wonder about some devised modern day developments in reaching the lost. It appears that the danger and tendency toward apostasy in matters of the work of the Lord or the Church is an ever present real force to deal with; and as you look around there is much sad spiritual loss that is obvious and one cannot escape the burden and concern to speak up as Habakkuk said - "And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it". [Habakkuk 2:2.]

>> New Techniques to Reach the Lost: Such as, preaching the law in order to convince of sin so that the Gospel can appear to sinners as an obvious remedy for their need. Also on the mission field the modern call in some sectors of missionary work is to chronologically preach the Bible starting from Genesis and not preaching the Gospel till full progression is made through to the New Testament and then the Gospel is preached so that there can be a solid based faith in Christ as Saviour.(???) It is feared that intellectual reasoning is involved much in these assumptions. Sure, the Lord will bless every effort to reach the unsaved but as in all the matters of Church life and Christian experience, it is vital that Christ is not displaced.

>>> The Great Commission Cannot be Altered:

The great commission has not changed. Jesus said - "Go into all the World and preach the Gospel" [Mark 16:15.] not, chronologically preach the Bible! The Acts of the Apostles should continue to be our acts and they "ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ". [Acts' 5:42.] Peter spoke about preaching the Gospel "with the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven" [1 Peter 1:12.] and perhaps this is the real problem of our experience, that though the Church is mobilised, it lacks the power of God and so we seek by our own means of persuasion to effect results in the work of God.

The impact of such reasoning that circumvents the "great commission", leaves one speechless! Could we dare to alter the charter of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the "author of Eternal Salvation" [Hebrews 5:9.] and "God manifest in the flesh" [1 Timothy 3:16.] How dangerous! There is a similarity of such human reasoning as Paul discovered in the Church at Galatia, who supposed to improve on God's plan of spiritual growth through the Law! Paul had to remind them with stern words ... "This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the Law or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" [Galatians 3:2-3.] There is a striking similarity here. In the case of the Church at Galatia, the issue was concerning, continuing on in spiritual growth by the Law instead of by the Spirit, after receiving the Gospel and salvation. Concerning changing the great commission, the issue is reverting to the Old Testament of Covenants and eventually the Law to educate the need of salvation, not by the Spirit but by human reasoning and endeavour. The Law is never accompanied by the Spirit to either work salvation or produce a living experience of spiritual growth in Christ.
One of the obvious evidences in these last trying days is that we, the body of Christ, the Church, is failing of the power of God in personal daily living and in the collective experience of Church Life and in the work of God. "Christ (is) the wisdom of God and the power of God" [1 Corinthians 1:24.] and if Christ is 'displaced' from the Church in its condition and activity then we are left (as Jesus said to the Laodcean Church) "wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked" [Rev. 3:17.] which means that our spiritual experience is empty (in soul), mundane and lifeless in spirit. If Christ is 'displaced' in our preaching then what is sown and what is reaped will prove questionable. "The Gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth". [Romans 1:16.]

To all who would use the law to reach sinners with salvation; the following words of the Lord are very pertinent.

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
Of sin, because they believe not on me;
of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged". [John 16:7-11.]

>>> The Holy Spirit is not Applying the Law:

"He (the comforter, The Holy Ghost) is come". This is to be the unction and dependence of our preaching as afore mentioned of Peter's words - The Gospel preached with the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven is the great need for effective preaching of the Gospel. There will be no faultiness in the convincing work of the Holy Spirit. Dread the thought of sharing the Gospel in the energy of the self life. The 'ministration' of the New Testament is of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not applying the Law! He is applying the New Testament and not in the 'letter' form but in the quickening life of the Spirit. The Christian life from go to woe is, or is meant to be, a quickened life of living and abiding in Christ and knowing the power of His resurrection. [Philippians 3:10.] Whether we are talking to the unsaved or to the saved there is only one 'ministration' theme of the Spirit and that is Christ. This fact is born out in a thorough way by the Lord's words in John 16:13-15.

"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you".

>>> The Work of the Spirit upon the Believer and Unbeliever:

The verses under discussion are concerning the work of the Spirit upon the unsaved and the verses just mentioned are concerning the Work of the Spirit upon the believer bringing them into an ever increasing revelation of the glories and Excellencies of Christ. Make no mistake about it, that right from the outpouring of the Spirit and baptism of the Church into Christ at Pentecost, Peter standing up and representing the Church now endued with "power from on high" Preaches Christ, His Glory and Great Salvation. There were three thousand unsaved souls there that needed to be convinced that they were sinners and needed Christ. Did Peter take them on a little course of self examination that they were sinners because they had failed to keep the Law? No! Peter preached Christ and illustrated to them that in rejecting Him was their greatest sin. They had rejected the "Prince of Life" [Acts 3:15.] the one who was delivered for their offences and was raised again for their justification and if they reject Jesus they will bring upon themselves the greater condemnation. The only basis upon which the wrath of God abides permanently on a sinner is in the rejection and not believing on the Son of God. [John 3:36.]

>>> The Holy Spirit will Convict:

"He will reprove of sin, righteousness and judgment". An evangelist once said - "If the Holy Ghost doesn't convince you of sin then I will". Can we dare to think of ourselves, sufficiently clever enough to convince sinners of sin by juggling their thoughts and self estimations according to the Law? When we seek by technical use of the Law to convince men of sin, is that what the Holy Ghost is going to empower? Could that be self endeavour and mental argument to convince men that they are sinners? Are we seeking to 'reprove' when we use any clever means of debate to show up men's faults? The use of the Law in the production of personal holiness is utterly fruitless and also the use of the Law in the production of faith in Christ is fruitless. Faith cannot come out of a moral code. Works and self endeavour come out of a moral code. Faith lays hold on 'good news'. The Holy Spirit is not trying to convict of sin by the moral code. Men already know their own moral code is shot to bits, and if they revealed the true extent of that, even their neighbour would be shocked! Yes, the Holy Ghost is eager to reprove of sin but not through the use of the moral code prognosticators but through the preaching of the Gospel of Christ.

>>> Holy Spirit Conviction of Rejecting Christ:

"Of sin, because they believe not on me;" Why, here is a great eye opener! Did Jesus say the Holy Ghost will reprove of sin BECAUSE they have not kept the Law? No! He said that the Holy Ghost would reprove "of sin, BECAUSE they believe not on me". Seeing that the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Christ and seeing that the issue that he is about, is believing on Jesus, because the plane has already crashed and all the people on board are dying, what a useless novelty is the Law fiddlers! All sinners are already "dead in trespasses and sins" [Ephesians 2:1.] and facing the death knell already, and need to hear of the way of escape! The plane has already crashed; the human race is already doomed. What is needed is the bringing of "Life and immortality to light through the Gospel" [2 Timothy 1:10.] People know they are dying, and to unfold the mystery of Life and triumph over the grave is still the key. Through the foolishness of preaching those who believe are saved. [1 Cor. 1:21.]

The People dying on board the crashed plane don't need to know about a set of rules that they already know they haven't kept but need to know of the way of salvation and how to be raised out of the crashed plane of destruction and death. At this point the parachute is superfluous because there is nowhere to parachute to! The only escape is salvation by a personal Saviour and resurrection life from death and the grave.

>>> Beware Brethren! Of Non Holy Spirit Innovations:

Beware brethren! Preaching the Gospel of Christ to sinners has always been followed by his Power unto salvation over the Centuries to all sinners that believe whatever their sin, disadvantage, ignorance or darkness; the "Light of the Glorious Gospel of Christ" has shined unto them and they have been converted. [2 cor. 4:4.] Do we begin to counsel God? Have we better wisdom than him? Can we change the great commission that Christ has given the Church and expect to do well? The real need is to "Preach the Gospel with the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven" [1 Peter 1:12.] Heavenly power in the preaching of the Gospel will secure any sinner for Christ.


>>> Special Note 2 Finished. <<<

>>> The Highness of the Congregation: <<<

"For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,
Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee". [Hebrews 2:11-12.]

"Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people". [Hebrew 2:17.]

>>> Jesus Not Ashamed to Call us Brethren:

How special are the people of God! Notice in verse 11 Jesus is not ashamed to call us "brethren" and then in the midst of the Church (Congregation) he will "sing" praise and this is all about His joy over us and thanks to the Father! How wonderful is the Lord's prize of us!

>>> The Joy of The Lord Over The Saints:

How amazing is his enjoyment among us! No wonder the sadness of Jesus being outside the Church of Laodicea standing at the door and knocking, and yet, how great is his love for us revealed in his offer of so great a share in his high glory. His following words outside the door were; that upon the opening of the door and the invitation to come in he would first sup with us and listen to our conveyances and then he would allow us to come and listen and view and partake of his unspeakable glories! Also Jesus further adds, that to him that overcomes will he grant for us to sit with him in his throne! [Revelation 3:20-21.] Can we grasp the Highness of such a love and bountiful dealings of the Lord? What a high order of calling is the value of the saints to the Lord. How worthy and great is the value of his headship over the local gathering of the saints.

>>> Positions in the Midst:

If Jesus is in the midst of the gatherings of the saints and He refers to us all as "brethren" with joy and singing, how precious should our considerations be of one another. Does he have a special and higher referral to any person that may hold some professional position? Of course the answer is - No. Jesus in the midst of the saints calls every born again son of Adam, "brethren", and this is the true precious position of every brother and sister in Christ. "One is your master, even Christ and all ye are brethren". [Matthew 23:8.] There is to be no other special classification or title given that lifts any man up above another. There is no ministry or gift or qualification that lifts up any man above the special place of grace wherein every believer stands and rejoices in hope of the Glory of God. The whole "Congregation" is a house of spiritual wealth and the inheritance of God, and there are only two distinctions in the house of God: Christ and brethren; any further distinction becomes a schismatic element of difference in the body of Christ and promotes hierarchal trends.

The New Testament congregation must be kept by and under the power and (noted and emphasized) Lordship of Christ. Any elevation of man and subservience to man will render the local Church weakened in the experience, of the quickening Life of Christ.

>>> Local Church Membership: <<<

>>> Biblical Church membership:

The only recording of 'Church membership' mentioned in the New Testament is the recording of names in the Church ledger that exists in Heaven.

"To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect". [Hebrews 12:23.]

Where there is any Church hierarchy there is often the influence upon believers to become by written agreement and consent, listed 'members' of a particular local Church. Such practice promotes sectarianism and division. To promote a person with the charge that they belong to a specific group of people or for that matter any distinct group (as diverse from any other group) of people is to be formulating grounds for schism in the body of Christ. Our only reference to belonging is to our wonderful saviour and not to any specific man or group or organisation. Local Church membership does not carry any weight in Heaven and can provide a delusional sense of safety to those who place a false value upon local Church membership as being acceptance and qualification for admittance into the Kingdom of God. A local Church group membership tally roll means nothing to God. It has been interesting to observe that when like David, Church ministers decide to number and collate Church attendees information; that such grandeur of things can start to diminish. David was tempted to number Israel and gloat over such glory and by God's judgment the glory was diminished with great loss of thousands of Israel's best battle force.

>>> Ramifications of Man Made Membership:

There is an unfortunate tendency for us to consider the ramifications of local Church membership to be of little adverse consequence.

There is a Church membership Record in Heaven which binds us all together in 'one body', which is that of "The general assembly and Church of the first born". We are all bound to the "First Born", the glorious head of the Church which is His body, "the fullness of Him that filleth all in all".

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: [Ephesians 1:3. and also [Hebrews 12:23.]

The irksome issue with Local Church membership is, that it 'binds' us to man. This reality has varying degrees of influence. Once the 'pressure' is applied (which comes from the top echelons of Church man power) there can appear never ending expectations of allegiance to whatever the Church delineation is, of spiritual criteria for fellowship. Also whatever involvements are happening there can be expectations to contribute or be a part of those involvements.

>>> The Whip and Call of Commitment:

How many Christians are often subdued under the whip and call of 'commitment'! But the 'commitment' that is often called for is servitude to man's ideas, works and programs! Man made Church membership binds us to man and is a stumbling block to serving Christ alone and the liberty of the Spirit (that "lusteth to envy" [James 4:5.]) that we should be bound to Christ and Him alone!

>>> Binds that Unbind Blessing:

Where there are binds that create servitude to man or an organisation there is an unbinding of the blessing of the Lord. We are bound in the Spirit to every other believer in Christ as his body Worldwide and there is no other way to be bound to our fellow believers in the local fellowship. Once you start bringing in any other basis of fellowship other than that which is of the Spirit then there is created a weak foundation of human operation which begs complicity with man instead of the Lord.

Membership is a rudiment of the World that exists for the benefit of clubs and entertainment organisations which through membership become exclusive in benefits and liberties. A local Church should never have any aspect of exclusiveness that denies benefits to, (believer) non members or lessens the spiritual value and input of, (believer) non members. The signature on paper of complicity to man that produces a difference between believers and a difference of spiritual position and acceptance is a serious error that quenches the Spirit.

>>> The Body of Christ:

"For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit". [1 Corinthians 12:13.]

The Word of God is loud and clear that there never can be two levels among the saints of God. The action of God upon every believer in every local Church is "one" action by "one" Spirit into "one" body. Church membership divides and makes a difference unless there is compliance of all the non- members with the man made order of things in the local Church. The difference that may exist between members and non-members of a local Church is a critical one because it is a difference of spiritual conviction and standing within that Church; it is a difference and hesitation of attitude of compliance because membership comes with a set of rules that makes a difference between those who adhere and those who don't. O the messiness of these rules and statements of faith that seek to pin people down and lock them into the (no matter how spiritual they may be) words of man, when what there should be is the holding out to all for an open agreement that the Bible is the unerring inspired and infallible Word of God. That alone is the true God given statement of faith!

Where brethren may differ in the understanding of the Word of God there must remain the bonds of fellowship and the prayerful attitude as illustrated by Paul - "Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. [Philippians 3:15.]
O how tiring is man when he presumes to organise things in the Church in the power of the presumed partnership with God and himself for the establishment of what he thinks is best for God and the saints, instead of seeking on the knees for Heavenly Vision to understand the beautiful "simplicity that is in Christ" and the glory that comes with the "whole Counsel of God" [2 Corinthians 11:3. Acts 20:27.] "Esteeming all His precepts concerning all things to be right and hating every false way". [Psalm 119:128.]

Often, local Church non-membership blocks gifted believers from being used of the Lord in their gifted capacities in the ministry of the Word and as Sunday school teachers, Bible study caretakers etc.

How spiritually tragic and grievous to the Lord, when a sincere and devoted believer is sidelined because of non-membership. Oneness with the local believers may be sound and yet he or she is denied being a blessing from the Lord to that particular fellowship because 'membership' has been declined. This issue is suffered on the basis of a pure motive and conviction to maintain the position of liberty before the Lord of oneness with all believers. A non-member may have a very valuable contribution of the ministry of the Word to edify the saints and yet in the dark convolutions of 'membership' anomalies, such blessing to the saints is blocked till 'membership' (which is not a basis or requirement of the Word of God or the Spirit for fellowship) is agreed upon.

In some denominational Churches, (in the matter of the wrong ordinances of infant baptism) parents are denied baptism of their infants until they become members. Compliance with Church membership is an abyss of ungodly anomalies that is frightening when the whole man made thing is put under the microscope of the Word of God.

>>> Typical Church Membership Criteria:

There may be numerous variations of the requirements for anyone to become a certified 'member' of a particular local Church group.

Some of the requirements may be:

>>> Confession of faith in Christ.

Confession of faith in Christ is important but how easy is it to sign some form that you believe in Christ as your saviour if you want to 'fit in' but in actual fact the life can betray real knowledge of the Lord and yet now without actual real live fruit of the Spirit a person has been accommodated into the deciding core of the Church. With such precedence the way is opened up to more people being accepted upon a loose mechanical admittance into participation in the Church which can lead to the wrong people in vital positions of influence in the Church. Let's not hum and huh about such realities. There are many Churches that operate in the full blown command of the unsaved! Mans register of validity has holes in it! God's register is eternally sealed! Watch out when you fool around with spiritual and positional management of souls!

>>> Baptism.

This requirement for local Church membership is a sad contradiction of Scripture. Some Churches are very definite about such compliance to be on the 'roll'.

The contradiction is that every born again believer in Christ has been baptised into the body of Christ.

"For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit". [1 Corinthians 12:13.]

Yes, it is a wonderful step of testimony to go through the waters of baptism but what if some believer is young in the Lord and has not got it clear from the Lord what water baptism is all about and then has to face the issue that he can't become a member of a Church unless he is baptised and yet he is already a living vital part, by the Spirit of every believer that is a member of that Church. He then faces the pressure of baptism without the personal thrill of all that Christ means to him and for the mean statistic of acceptance on man's Church roll he conforms happily to the Church rule and is baptised. What sadness is that! This means that something extra of man is added to the significance of water baptism; this is worse weakened spirituality, than that of a believer who is baptised on the basis that he thinks, that something wonderful will happen to him when he is baptised. Water baptism is a joyful declaration that something wonderful has already happened! The Joy has already happened, and through water baptism a believer is declaring to the World and the saints that he is identified with the death, burial and resurrection of the might, and power of the Lord Jesus Christ. This new joy is also declaring that the old life is gone and now there is a walk of newness of life in Christ and a gladness for all the promised unsearchable riches in him.

Water baptism is not only a glorious testimony of a believers union with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection but also contains significance of the very precious union that every believer has with every other believer who has also been baptised by the same one Spirit into the one body of Christ.

*** Ephesians 4:4-6. ***
"There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."

When a Church group membership is validated by water baptism, it flies in the face of the fact that a brother or sister is already a member, not only of all the believers in that particular Church group but also of the whole Church and body of Christ Worldwide. Such emphasis reduces baptism (against the work of the Spirit already done eternally) to the fiddly aspirations of man, and his Church empire building and enterprise. For a believer to be promoted towards water baptism with the importance that such qualifies for acceptance into the mixture of spiritual and earthly spheres of the local Church group is to downgrade the glorious fullness indicated in water Baptism. The glorious realities of water baptism should never be tied in any way to the mean level of being a consolidating statistic of a local Church membership roll.

"Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it" [Psalm 127:1.]

>>> Allegiance to a Local Church.

We are warned with the error of the Corinthian Church; that Paul had to rebuke them very sternly and no less today when believers are coerced into following man instead of the Lord. Some said at Corinth .... "I am of Paul and I am of Apollos " and Paul said they were carnal. There must be every effort made in the local Church to emphasize Christ and de-emphasise man. Who is really being followed when the call is, to exclusively follow and give allegiance to one particular diverse group of people?

A call to be identified exclusively with one distinct group of believers in contrast positionally (in doctrine and spiritual judgment) with every other group of believers in Christ is sectarian and divisive. There is every encouragement in the Word of God to not be locked into such a position of difference.

The Denominations, independent, Charasmatic, fundamentalist and New Testament Churches all hold to spiritual and doctrinal differences of position and practice, and to take membership is to cement a position of difference when the Word of God encourages the position of "endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace". [Ephesians 4:3.] The Word of God is full of "be of the same love, being of one accord, of one mind" - Philippians 2:2 "Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind". [1 Corinthians 1:10] "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."

Paul said, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God. [Ephesians 4:3 & 13.] But we can never come to the "unity of the faith" if our deliberate position is a signed up contradiction to my brother in Christ and also contrary to the faith of the Word of God: If a brother is weak in faith, he can be stumbled by another brother who has a strong tie (of allegiance) with a Church that has a different doctrinal and spiritual position.

Many believed in Jesus when they saw the miracles which he did but the Word says that Jesus did not commit himself unto them [John 2:24.] but he committed himself unto him that judgeth righteously. [1 Peter 2:23.] The Word of God is so clear that we are not to commit ourselves to any man but commit the keeping of our souls unto him as unto a faithful creator. [1 Peter 4:19.] We are "called unto the fellowship of his dear son" [1 Corinthians 1:9.] not unto membership with some and an open signed and stated difference with others! Not unto exclusive membership with those of his dear son!

There are major points of question regarding membership allegiance to a Church group: What is the surrendered allegiance to? Statements of faith and creeds of men? Narrow corridors of doctrinal stance and commitment?

When the Word of God is the true fullness of the Christians foundation there is a glaring anomaly with such moves upon the saints of God. These questions are addressed in the following points.
It could be stated that joining membership and declaring allegiance to a particular group doesn't provide a barrier between true believers, and furthermore, we all know that we are one in the Spirit. The answer to such a mind set is - True, we are all baptised into one body, so why not stand there??? Didn't Jesus say that we revoke the Word of God by our tradition? [Mark 7:13. (HCSB)]

>>> The signing of documents of agreement.

Here lies unfounded authority of anyone to formulate criteria of belief and practice as a prerequisite for one believer to have fellowship with another. The Word of God is the only authority given by God to govern every believer in every matter of life and doctrine and fellowship.

In the case of non autonomous Churches that are under the authority of a national Church hierarchy, the issue of allegiance to a documented belief system is extremely dangerous because of the unrelated nature of a local Church being governed by distant powers and not by Christ as the head of the Church and the shepherding of local Church oversight. When man has a lot of power he becomes dangerous. Hitler was a satanic monster that had an insatiable lust for power and destroyed millions of lives. Man's power over people is destructive but where the Church is left under the headship, power and authority of Christ, and that is worked out through the plurality of oversight, then there is safeguard of the saints in the power of God. The only statement of faith that the Church has is the Word of God. If you narrow down the basis of fellowship to be less than the Word of God then that Church becomes sleepy to the fullness of spiritual reality.

Leave the saints open to "all the counsel of God" [Acts 20:27] and you have great potential of the fullness of God; focus them on the creeds of man, and the little club thus acquired, becomes a 'denomination' of stunted spirituality with indifference (because of the closed belief and spiritual position adopted) towards others in the body of Christ.

If membership is used to limit fellowship and participation in a local Church then 'membership' has taken the high ground instead of the Spirit of God and the Word of God. If a believer is in fellowship with the Lord and exhibits a high degree of spiritual maturity and because of non compliance with membership is denied ministry and the spiritual liberty of others to be a blessing and edify the Church, then that Church is suffering serious spiritual loss. What the Lord graciously gives to the Church, is for its edification and any denial of that is a serious misdemeanor against the Lord and also the well being of the Church.

Membership is an impingement upon the liberty of the saints in the Spirit to grow in Christ under his discipleship and authority and an imposition to serve the Lord according to the delineation of man on matters of doctrine, worship and serving the Lord in the house of God.

>>> Commitment to participation of some form.

Where a local Church is organised by the rules and ordinances of man there is the automatic call on others for commitment. Any club is membership dependent. It is membership orientated. If a local church is orientated around Christ, then the pressure upon believers is nonexistent and the capitulation is to the Lord for his working and motivation of believers according to his will and power and glory. Paul expresses beautifully the development of the local Church, that it is to "grow up into him in all things, which is the head even Christ." and that it is from him that the "whole body is fitly joined together by that which every joint supplieth". [Ephesians 4:15-16.]

>>> Admission and rights to vote at Church business meetings.

This matter is of grave consequence and has far reaching, potential devastating effects of the enemy upon the Church ("which is his (Christ's) body") in a locality.
As Watchman Nee says .... "God chooses men"; he didn't choose a committee derived from the weak and flawed criteria of a signed "application form" based "membership".
The devil himself could transform himself as "an angel of light", [2 Corinthians 11:14.] filter in with him a number of pantomime Christians with 'membership' power and you have a church taken over by the Devil! God chose Paul and Barnabas by his power to preach the Gospel; souls were saved and Paul and Barnabas "ordained elders in every Church" [Acts 14:23.] Paul didn't form a "committee" of signed members of allegiance to him or whatever for the purpose of decision making as to who were to be ordained as "Elders/Bishops" in all those assemblies founded in all the places visited in his first missionary journey. No "membership" based committee decided the establishment of Elders/Bishops over those Churches. Such was established by the power of God through two men raised up by him with his power and authority in His work. God did it. And he did it through two men not signed up as members with anything!
There are pages that could be written about the reality of Churches that have disintegrated into death through church "members" that have by membership rights been 'voted' into positions on committees with deadly power to stall or ruin the work of God.
'Organisations and clubs require 'membership'. Such is not to be required by man upon his brother or sister in Christ who is already a 'member' of HIM! And whose name is written in heaven and not to be contested or conflicted by any other 'membership' commitment of allegiance!
To become a church member and have power and influence is so easy - just sign on the dotted line that you believe ("the devils believe and tremble" [James 2:19.]) all in the church constitution and statement of faith and your IN! And in with the same power of influence with those who really believe from the heart and those who just say they do, but hide behind vain self efforts of righteousness and religious pride. There are people who are not 'born again" in profuse numbers on committees in churches, wielding power over the people of God to great spiritual loss! How did they get there? They got there by signed up CHURCH MEMBERSHIP! Just like signing up and joining the local club they attend for social enjoyment. It is just like agreeing with a program download conditions; don't bother reading it all, just tick that you agree! The Lord wake us up, out of our death sleep of falsity in the work of God, before we are labeled "Ichabod"!

>> Every Believer Called of the Lord: <<

Every believer is chosen and ordained by the Lord in some ministry [John 15:16.] and there are "diversity of gifts" and "diversity of operations". Just as the Lord has abundantly provided such fullness in the earth, so the Lord has deposited such glorious fullness in his House. How could God neglect to furnish his house that cost him his dear son? The Church is God's 'husbandry' (Farm) and God's 'building'. [1 Cor. 3:9.] The apostles gave the instruction to the Church at Jerusalem to "Look ye out among you" [Acts' 6:3.] the men that were to be appointed Deacons in the Church. Both 'offices' of bishops and Deacons are furnished from within the local Church. Praise the Lord for all the multifarious beauty of the Lord among the saints that can be expressed where there is the 'predominance' of the Spirit of the Lord to raise up and use whomsoever he chooses, to preach, teach and edify the saints. How beautiful is the common ground and oneness among believers where there is no emphasis upon man but all the emphasis is upon Christ, the governmental head of the Church. What expectation and excitement there is when a Church congregation is looking to Jesus as his possession, waiting upon him for the working out of his life and glory in the midst. "The fullness of Him that filleth all in all" [Ephesians 1:23.]

>> The Autonomy of the local Church: <<

The Local Church or congregation of believers is complete. "Christ is head over all things to the church". [Eph. 1:22.] As discussed in "Pastors and the Church part 1" a Bishop (singular) over Churches (plural) is contrary to the Word of God and a development of the apostate error of the early Church. Paul and Barnabas were called of the Lord from the midst of the Church at Antioch without being "discipled" by any man but prepared and chosen by the Lord and in oneness of spirit with the local congregation. These men were totally revolutionized by the Gospel and the Spirit of God and so contained the revolutionizing power of the river of Life that is Christ, ready to flow out to a dying thirsty World.

>>> The local Congregation to be Christ's Possession:

The Church at Jerusalem was not a participant with sanctioned approval of this marvelous first missionary journey of Paul. This Gospel power triumph to the Gentile World was sanctioned and commissioned on home ground in the local Church.

It is absolutely paramount that the local congregation (Church) is kept in reliance upon the Lord and not upon man. Man must only figure as a servant, serving the Lord Jesus Christ as an ensample to the whole Church that, all attention should be upon Christ and the completeness that the whole Church has in Him. If we want to be personally built up in Christ, then we need to be his possession. Similarly if the local Church is to be built up in him and by him as Jesus said, it needs to be His full possession. "I will build MY Church ..." [Matt. 16:18.] A Church that is under the control of man will not be built up spiritually though it may be built up in numbers and many other aspects by gifted professionalism. Such a Church will lack that real solid "growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord" [2 Peter 3:18.] and the resultant joy that follows. The result of a man featured Church or a concept featured Church or a Church that is featured by anything else other than Christ is a Church that can only be labeled as carnal. Such was Paul's declaration to the Corinthian Church in their confusion of man orientation, saying - "I am of Paul" and "I am of Cephas" etc. [1 Corinthians 1:12.]

>>> The Exciting Potential of the Local Congregation:

The main theme of this section in the previous points and also that which is following is the essence of the New Testament Congregation. The main point to grasp is that when the Lord by the ministration of the Spirit through his chosen vessel and the preaching of the Gospel works salvation among people in a given location and that group of saved individuals come together in one place, then they constitute a Church. An 'ekklesia' - a gathering of 'called out' ones. And within that church is all the wonderful gifting [Eph. 4:7-13.] of the Lord for the building up of the saints and the perfecting of the testimony of the Glory of Christ to the World. Within that Church the great shepherd of the sheep has gifted that Church with plurality of shepherds for oversight care of all the needs of the Church and also bestowed among the believers within the Church, diversity [1 Cor. 12:4, 6.] of gifts and diversity of operations in ministering to, and edifying each other in love, as the family of God. Paul stated to the Corinthian Church that they came behind in no gift and were enriched in all utterance and knowledge, [1 Cor. 1:5, 7.] and yet the Church was carnal! The local Church Congregation contains within itself all the ministries needed and more if the Church is held by the power of God through his servants according to the New Testament traditions and not suffocated by imposed singular ministry and the denial of multiple ministries. There is abundant life or potential abundant Life within a local Church that will flow like a river if released.

>>> The Completeness of a Young Church in Christ:

Paul's first missionary journey is a beautiful illustration of the completeness that comes from Christ in a new local Church that is formed through the preaching of the Gospel. Paul and Barnabas went up into Asia, to Derbe, Lystra, Iconium and Antioch of Pisidia and Perga, and in the space of approximately 2 years covered approximately 1000 miles return journey. On the return journey from Antioch in Pisidia to Antioch in Syria He and Barnabas "ordained Elders in every Church". [Acts 14:23.] Herein lies clear value of the fact that The Lord Jesus Christ as the head of the Church does and is able to fully furnish abundant provision for the shepherding of the saints from within a newly formed group of believers, even if that group are all new converts with only 6 or 9 months experience of salvation, and this "new life" in Christ.

>>> Is the Lord at Work or Man?

As servants of the Lord we must be sure of the Lord's working in all our positioning among the Lord's people and not think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think but think soberly [Romans 12:3.] and be reserved about putting our hands on the work of God. To be a pushy man in the things of God is a dangerous approach. The Lord has said - "I will work and who shall let it?" [Isaiah 43:13.] A New Testament testimony of the glory of Christ in a local Church where he "is all" is only accomplished through the ministration of the Spirit. No man can minister that! No Bible plan alone can produce that! If the forming of a New Testament Church is going to be "in Life", then only Christ, and only he alone can do it! Man is ruled out! These realities change our position, from determined standing to being humbly on our knees. The Vision is plain, and hallelujah! He can do it. The Vision is glorious, and lasting Glory can only come from Him!

>>> The Congregation and Evangelism:

Truly it is exciting to see what happens in a congregation that is enthusiastic with evangelism. Before you can be excited about evangelism you have to be excited about what you are evangelising with!

GET A CONGREGATION EXCITED ABOUT JESUS and you won't need the Church to run an evangelism program or start an Evangelism push: It will happen not as a chore but as an overflow. When people are excited about knowing Jesus, they won't be able to stop sharing Him. And when Jesus is shared, salvation is the outcome. It is the Lord's work to bring people to saving faith and also his work in a believer to continue believing more on Jesus as our everything.

This excitement about knowing Jesus more can only happen in a Church where "Christ is all" [Colossians 3:11.] as mentioned at the beginning of this article. From the previous provided information it is clear that the protestant movements of today have been soaked in the old apostasy of the early Church AD 200 where man is positioned to feature in the midst of the local Church. It is the absolute supremacy of Christ alone in the local Church that can produce this thrill of Knowing Christ more. Whatever percentage of man features in the local Church will be the percentage lost of Christ to the saints. It is simple maths - If man has his hands all over the happenings in the gatherings of the body of Christ, then it won't be Christ that emerges in full view. Let's go to Colossians 3:10-11.
"And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all".

From the above verses - How can Christ in a full measure appear in the midst of the Saints?
This "new man" is the new man in Christ and this new man is "renewed in knowledge". There are 2 transforming images of Christ that we can behold - One is - "Beholding as in a glass (The Word of God) the glory of the Lord we are changed into the same image from Glory to Glory...." [2 Corinthians 3:18.] and the second is - Beholding the Image of Christ in the saints; that is as verse 10 says we are renewed or "renovated" (Gk) in knowledge (in full discernment, that it is Christ in that brother or sister) after the very Image (and likeness and resemblance) of Christ as we fellowship together. Now in this experience there is neither Jew nor Greek - that is, there is no special person; the Jewish believer could be considered special seeing that the Jew is the "root" and bares the grafted in Gentile [Romans 11:19-20.] and that the Gentiles should fear because the Jews are the "natural branches" and were cut off. But NO, because there is no difference - "Christ is ALL and IN ALL". There is to be no difference, no special ministry, no special person that has to do all the teaching, preaching, exhorting, guiding etc. So this living "image" is not in one person but in "ALL" and the more the living image of Christ is revealed through "ALL" the more will be the "Renovation" of the saints into the "Image" ("Likeness) of Christ!

How wonderful is that! If there were 300 believers gathering that were all spirit filled and "ALL" ministered forth the beautiful "Image" of Christ, what "renovation" of the saints into a greater transforming "Image" of Christ would take place! Of course that would be impossible for such glory and power to be realised in a meeting duration of one and three quarter hours. But The Lord open our eyes more to "see" the beauty of Christ that should be aimed for in the local gathering of the saints whereby there can be a maximisation of the saints being "renewed" (renovated) in "knowledge" (knowing the Lord) after the "Image" of the Living Christ revealed through multiplicity of ministry (of prayer worship function of the priesthood of all believers) to the Lord and (ministry of the Word) to the people.

It is in this experience of Church "Life" that evangelisation will take place with a fire of excitement and no pain of "trying".


>>> Recommendation for titled Pastors. <<<

Step 1.

Take before the Lord the position of being one of the (non-titled) pastors/overseers among the flock as a brother in Christ who is possessed by a vision of the preeminence of Christ in the midst. This step will illustrate in a practical way your estimation of the nothingness of man and the supreme greatness of Christ by your identification with other brothers who spiritually qualify and some also that may potentially qualify as ministers in the Church. Take the precious position also with all the believers in the Church as a brother in Christ as Jesus said - "One is your master, even Christ and all ye are brethren". This step is simple and full of potential for a beautiful outcome! How many brothers in the Church love the Lord and have a rich ability (or potential rich ability) to share the Word of God? It is a vital truth that ... "Christ is all and in all" [Col. 3:11.] All that Christ is in a local Church can only be experienced as there is availability for the diversity of spiritual ministries to function in the life and operation of "all" in the Church.

Step 2.

Share with these (gifted) brothers the vision the Lord has given you of opening up towards a greater measure of the fullness of Christ in the midst through the diversity and function of spiritual blessing through others as well as yourself.

Step 3.

Meet with those various brothers (for prayer) that the Lord witnesses in your spirit that they have a desire to see Christ lifted up and glorified in the midst. Be personally prayerful and be looking for whom the Lord looks for; men that are of a "poor and contrite spirit and trembleth at my Word" [Isaiah 66:2.] It is amazing the statement that Paul made about Timothy that he was different to the common, that "all seek their own and not the things that are Jesus Christ's". [Phil. 2:21.]

Step 4.

Personally and collectively (with the brothers that have a burden for "the work of the ministry") look into the Word for the basic spiritual guides for fellowship and shepherding of the saints. For a little more along those lines check out the article **** "Past Conference 2011" and "How - the local Church Edified?" ****

The book "The Normal Christian Church Life" by Watchman Nee is very rich in spiritual truth of New Testament Church life and function. This book is highly recommended for a wealth of guidance in serving the Lord and in the experience of the fullness of Christ in the local Church.

Step 5.

Cease not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. The saints are blessed in knowing Christ more and more with the resultant experience of "the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him" [Eph.1:17.] Knowing Christ more is the answer for every spiritual need whether it be spiritual guidance or spiritual truth. - "Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth." [Hosea 6:3.]

There is no allowance anywhere in the Word of God for any predominately positioned brother that wields exclusive spiritual action as a professionally paid minister hired from outside the local Church and a stranger to the district to come in and take control of a Church. It is certainly only in time, that anyone coming into a Church congregation from another district, is going to have any understanding of the people and the needs, blessings and the problems within a Church. And yet if there are many years of fellowship history within a Church then there is a great need for any new comer to be in subjection, humbly available to be a blessing in whatever capacity the Lord may give opportunity.

The Lord BLESS. He does the BEST.

Grant Hayman.

Continue: Pastors and the Church Part 5. Or alias: How? The Local Church edified.