LESSON 4 ADDITIONAL NOTES
The Local Church
Key Objective: To understand God's plan for the church.
See the Additional Study on the 1st Century Church below at the end of this page.
2 Corinthians 11:4,15.
Remember, Satan has another Jesus, another spirit, another gospel, and his own disciples.
Satan’s churches teach many false things like “works for salvation.” The Bible is not one authority, plus many more lies. It is our only authority.
Bible Believing churches started from our Lord’s disciples. Bible Believing churches never “protested” from within any religion. We are not Protestants. Disciples from Bible Believing churches have made disciples and started other Baptist (though not always known by that name) churches since Christ’s first disciples.
What the Local Church is Not
It is not just a building. Although we may meet in a building, we worship God in spirit and truth.
It is not to be connected to governments. It is to be self-governing and obey laws that do not conflict with the Word of God. We call this church an autonomous church.
It is not to be controlled by other churches. However, we may cooperate with other Baptist churches to start churches.
It is neither to be isolated from the world, nor should it imitate the world. Rather, the church should be involved in evangelism and discipleship. The motivating factor for this is the understanding that we will give an account to God for our lives.
It is not to make schools or other good things its priority, but rather teaching and preaching the Word of God.
It is not to save the world from destruction. Although the church is to promote all that is good, and the church is to care for its own in time of need, the greatest need is for the Gospel because it tells all how to escape the coming judgment.
What is the Local Church?
A true New Testament Bible-believing local church is a group of saved and discipled men and women who assemble together for worship and ministry with the leaders God has given them under the Word of God.
What does the Bible say about church leaders who stop following the Word of God?
1 Timothy 6:3-5
If any man teach otherwise. . . from such withdraw thyself.
What are the qualifications for pastors?
1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1: 5-9
How should you regard your church leaders?
Hebrews 13:17 Obey and Submit
Who is the Chief Pastor of your Church?
1 Peter 2:25; 5:4 Jesus Christ
What does the Bible call the church in relation to its pastor?
1 Peter 5:2-3 A Flock
What is the purpose of the church leadership?
Apostles (Christ’s first disciples) and prophets (men who spoke as God gave them the words to say) were in local churches until the Bible was completed around 90 A.D. Then, they were no longer needed.
There are two responsibilities in the local church for the leader to fill today. “Pastors” are the shepherds of the local church. “Teachers” are also Disciplers. You are training for this position in your local church!
The Leadership of the local church is to “perfect the saints, for the work of the ministry.” Saints are believers. The work of the ministry is making disciples. “Perfect the saints for the work of the ministry for the edifying of the body of Christ.” To edify is to mature or build up. The leadership of the local church is to mature you to make disciples.
Pastors and Church Leaders:
Inspire people to have a heart for God.
Include people in a loving church family.
Instruct the people from the Word of God. (Discipleship)
Involve the people in the ministries of the local church.
Impact a region with the Gospel.
How do I find the local church God wants me to be in?
Observe the church and see if it obeys the Word of God.
Do they teach what the Bible says?
Does it fulfill God’s Mission of making disciples?
What are the distinctives of a Bible Believing Church?
The Bible is our final authority
We are not bound by tradition, board decisions, papal decrees, or any other extra-biblical books (book of Mormon, Watchtower publications, etc.)
The autonomy of the local church
Each church is self-governing and self-propagating. The church answers directly to Christ, the Head of the Church.
The priesthood of each individual believer
Each believer has access directly to God. There is only one Mediator he must go through – Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5).
Two ordinances (the Lord’s Supper and baptism)
We do not practice sacraments (something that conveys saving grace).
Saved membership only
We do not place infants on our roll. Each member, regardless of age, must give a testimony of salvation (a conversion experience).
Two officers (the pastor and deacon)
We do not have separate elders, bishops, or other officers for church government.
Separation of church and government
The church is not separated from the state (she is active as a voice in policy-making decisions and should vote, etc.). The state is separated from the church (the state has no power to enforce unbiblical statutes upon the church nor does she have the right to have a state-sponsored church).
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Key Objective: To understand the importance of baptism.
Additional Study on the 1st Century Church
God has a very specific plan for reaching out to a world of lost people
His plan is the multiplication of disciples through disciple-making local churches that only teach and preach the Word of God. Notice God’s plan in action:
Jesus had finished three and a half years of teaching and training His disciples in 33 A.D.
We call this the Great Commission. Jesus had finished three and a half years of teaching and training His disciples. He died on the cross and rose from the grave. Then Jesus again gives His disciples clear instructions: go and make disciples.
Jesus told us to be witnesses to the farthest places in the world. Christ is the One working, and He has a plan: first, Jerusalem; then Judea and Samaria; then to the uttermost parts of the world. Notice the mathematical words in the following verses.
After Peter preaches a message we have an addition of 3,000 souls.
They obey the command of Christ to teach them to observe all things.
In chapter 3, Peter preaches again and the result was 5,000 men.
We see the message they are preaching.
We see the sacrifice for the thousands of new disciples. We believe they sold their possessions to disciple full-time.
Here we see subtraction due to sin in the life of the believers.
We see more addition because we never stop witnessing. In Jerusalem multitudes believed after hearing the Word of God from Christ’s first disciples. Notice the action is addition.
We see what they did with these new believers - they discipled them.
In less than two years after the resurrection, we see the result of preaching, soul winning and discipleship: disciples multiply.
The first disciples of Jesus Christ obeyed the commands in John 13 and Matthew 28 to “...love one another as He had loved them…” and to “teach them to observe all things…” They sacrificed to meet with all these new believers and disciple them. The result: the disciples multiply greatly. When disciples multiply, the Word of God increases.
After Stephen preaches a message, he is killed for his faith (subtraction) at the command of Saul. When disciples multiply, Satan attacks.
Persecution scatters the disciples (division) from Jerusalem except for the Apostles. Why is this important that we know the Apostles did not leave?
The disciples were scattered everywhere preaching the Word. They could proclaim the Word of God because they had been discipled.
Saul receives Christ and one disciple is instructed by God to contact him.
JUDEA, GALILEE AND SAMARIA
Groups of disciples multiply, and churches start in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and multiply. This means that people became believers and they began to be discipled under the leadership of mature disciples, forming a church in that location: a local church. This is God’s plan in action.
Churches are multiplying everywhere by multiplying disciples. We are able to look closely at one: the church at Antioch.
Seven years after the disciples are scattered from Jerusalem starting Bible-believing local churches, a local church starts in Antioch. This church is our pattern to follow. The Word of God now focuses on this church and not the Jerusalem church.
A great number believes upon Christ in Antioch with Barnabas as Pastor.
More people receive the Lord in Antioch. Addition begins again. The believers are taught (disciples) and first called Christians in Antioch.
They take an offering for the first Jerusalem disciples. Jerusalem disciples are reaping rewards from discipleship.
We have subtraction again because of spiritual warfare.
Multiplication of the Word of God is the same as multiplying disciples.
TO THE UTTERMOST
Acts 13:2, 14:23, 16:5,
Three years later, the church at Antioch sends missionaries (division) who go and start churches. Those churches start other churches and so on.
Acts 13:38-39, 48-49
Their message, the response, and the result: the Word is through disciples.
They start more churches and return home to report.
They start adding multipliers and we have division again.
God’s Plan works because there are churches established.
Acts 16:5, 30-31
More are sent to start churches that in turn start churches. They are adding more multipliers. Their message is seen.
Acts 16:7,10 17:16
It is the Spirit of Christ in charge of all evangelism, discipleship, and ministry.
Acts 18:22-23, 28
They are adding more multipliers.
We see a well known preacher influenced by faithful from disciplers.
In about 23 years, all of Asia heard the Gospel (we call this area Asia Minor today; the central city was Ephesus) from leading people to Christ, multiplying disciples, and starting local churches that make disciples.
The Word of God grows through disciples multiplying and churches multiplying.
The disciples met the first day of the week.
Warnings are given about those who hurt and steal disciples.
The Word of God is what builds us up.
This is the last verse in the Bible that uses the word disciple. It refers to disciples as an “old” disciple or one who had been faithful for many years.
In about 35 years after the resurrection, everyone in the known world heard the Gospel through leading people to Christ, multiplying disciples, and starting local churches that made disciples. The plan of God is the same today for you and me.
The Lord’s Supper is only for people who have trusted Christ as Savior.
You are to examine yourself, judge yourself, and purify yourself before taking part in the Lord’s Supper in your local church. Jesus wants you to examine your motives and your following of Him. He wants you to be truthful with yourself as to what is really in your heart for Him.
He wants you to cleanse yourself by confession of sin and repentance of sin. This is not for salvation, but for communing and staying close to Him. The consequences are severe to disobey this.
As a disciple you must live a life worthy of following. Your disciples will follow your example. It is vital that we are saved and walking in obedience to God’s Word as we participate in the Lord’s Table. God wants your heart to be for Him. He wants you to keep Him on the throne of your life.
There are those who will teach unbiblical doctrines about this special ordinance. Some will teach that you actually “receive” Christ during (what they would call) this sacrament as the cup and the bread literally changes into the body and blood of Christ.
These people do not understand the phrase, “In remembrance of Me…” There were no cameras to take snapshots for future keepsakes. Jesus did not choose to be remembered by a miracle, but rather by a meal, because people eat often. The Lord’s Supper is one of remembrance. It is symbolic; there is no saving power in either the juice or the bread.
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