Within any society and era, there are a number of critical issues which must be biblically addressed by the church. The following information outlines what the elders of Faith Bible Church believe is a biblical approach to some of the key societal/moral issues of our day. Our goal is to help our people apply the scriptures to contemporary issues.
A. Salvation Requires Christ to be Lord of the believer
1. The Scriptures indicate that Christ is Lord and true believers will acknowledge Him as such.
John 20:28 Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
Acts 2:36 God has made Him both Lord and Christ.
Rom 10:9-10 That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.
Phil 2:9-11 that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord…
Rev 19:16 “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
2. The term “Lord” (kurios) was a normal term in the Greek language used for “master”, someone that was to be obeyed and to whom one must submit.
Matt 6:24 No one can serve two masters (lord/kurios) for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other.
Matt 24:45 Blessed is that slave whom his master (lord/kurios) finds so doing when he comes.
Col 3:22 Slaves, in all things obey those who are your master (lord/kurios) on earth…
3. The Scriptures consistently link saving faith with a life of obedience and submission to Christ.
a. Submitting to the Lordship of Christ is not something added to belief, but is part of true saving faith.
b. Acknowledging Christ as Lord is not a work. Rather it is a desire of the heart that the Holy Spirit enables through His regenerating ministry.
John 3:36 He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life…
Acts 5:32 And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.
Rom 6:16-17 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed.
Heb 5:9 And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation
4. The Scriptures indicate that there is a kind of faith that does not save.
Jas 2:14 What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?…You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons believe, and shudder.
5. It is unscriptural for persons to say that they want to receive Christ’s free offer of salvation yet at the same time deny that He has any ownership over their lives. It is impossible to separate the person and work of Christ.
B. Carnal Christians, Backsliders, etc.
1. The label “Carnal Christian” (as well as similar labels like ‘backslider,’ etc.) is dangerous because it gives false spiritual assurance to someone who may not be saved.
2 Cor 13:5 Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you– unless indeed you fail the test?
2. A definition of Christianity that includes carnality infers that believers can live in indefinitely long periods of sinfulness without examining the genuineness of their faith.
1 John 3:7-8a Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil;
“Church Discipline” is a term that has been used to describe the corporate body’s loving involvement in the personal lives of professing believers who are struggling with sin. Church discipline is always to be done with an attitude of deep humility and gentleness with the express goal of repentance and restoration.
Though church discipline most often occurs on a private level between two believers, the elders in a local church have the responsibility and authority to ensure that the biblical guidelines are followed in all such matters. Prayer and the person and work of the Holy Spirit are crucial in the church discipline process. It is only through His working that anyone will turn from their sin, which is the ultimate goal of church discipline.
What offenses are worthy of church discipline?
1. Matters of personal conduct & lifestyle
• Lying to and testing the Holy Spirit, hypocrisy (Acts 5:1-11).
• Sexual immorality, greed, idolatry, slander, drunkenness, swindling
(1 Cor 5:1-13).
• Idleness, busybodies (1 Thess 5:14, 2 Thess 3:6, 11-13).
2. Unresolved interpersonal issues (Matt 18:17).
3. Matters of church conduct
• Divisiveness, upsetting the faith of some (Rom 16:17-18, Titus 3:9-11).
• Hypocrisy, leading others astray (Gal 2:11-14).
• False teaching (Titus 1:10-16, Rev 2:14-16, 2 John 9-11).
• Insubordination (Titus 1:10-11, 16).
• Blasphemy (1 Tim 1:20).
4. Matters of belief, doctrine (Jas 5:19-20, Rev 2:2, 20).
• See FBC’s Essential Truths for a list of vital doctrines.
5. Sin in general: disobedience to Scripture (Gal 6:1-2, 2 Thess 3:6, 11-15, Jas 5:19-20).
What is the general process of church discipline?
Church discipline involves the corporate body seeking the repentance & restoration of a professing believer. Matt 18:15-17 gives the general principles for the process.
Step 1 = Confront the sinning brother/sister privately. (v.15)
• This is to be carried out by the person who is aware of the sin. There is no need for anyone else to know.
• Publicity and gossip at this point only creates unnecessary anger and bitterness, especially if it really is not a case of sin, but rather a simple misunderstanding.<
Step 2 = Confront the sinning brother/sister with one or two witnesses. (v.16)
• Assemble your efforts with those who will be witnessing the action (with one or two witnesses). Involve that person’s ministry leader. Establish the facts to confirm the truth of the accusation.
• The purpose of the witnesses is to: (1) help protect everyone from misunderstanding, misquotation, further sin, etc., (2) verify the sin so that there is no unjust accusations, (3) create necessary support and basis for further action, and (4) obey the Lord.
Step 3 = Have the whole church call the sinning brother/sister to repent. (v.17)
• This step is initiated and determined by the eldership of the church.
• The person and his/her offense will be publicly reported to the body for the purpose of mobilizing those that know him/her towards restoration. This information is not to be gossiped about, but used to pursue and pray for him/her.
• Those who know the sinning brother/sister must make every effort to call them to turn from their sin, to Christ in obedience.
• Those who don’t know him/her must pray for God to change his/her heart.
Step 4 = Ostracize the unrepentant from fellowship and worship. (v.17)
• This decision is also determined by the elders of the church.
• At this point, the person is no longer welcome at any of the activities of the local church, and will be asked by a ministry leader to leave if he/she shows up.
• The congregation is to have little interaction with the person – basically they are to shun the professing brother/sister in sin except to confront them on their sin. They are not to fellowship with them in any way, but rather should pray for and exhort them to repent, and seek restoration to the church through the eldership.
• Though removed from our fellowship, we should still desire and pray that there would be repentance and restoration.
What concludes the church discipline process?
Things that will not stop church discipline:
- Stopping church attendance (Heb 10:24-25).
- Ending/withdrawing membership.
- Filing lawsuits (1 Cor 6:1-9).
There are only two actions that will terminate church discipline:
1) Repentance, as described in Matt 18:15-17 and 2 Cor 7:10-11.
2) Realization and profession by that person that Christ is not their Savior, and they are not a Christian.
What are the benefits to church discipline?
The primary benefit of church discipline is that it’s the God-ordained process for the restoration of sinning brother (Gal. 6:1-2). Additionally:
- The Church maintains internal purity of doctrine and character
(1 Cor 5:6-13).
- Within the church, God places a greater fear of sin (1 Tim 5:17).
- Outside the church, a purer testimony is maintained with the surrounding unsaved community (1 Pet 2:12).
How is church discipline and restoration to be practiced?
Again, the primary goal in any church discipline is to “turn him back” (Jas 5:19-20) and bring the person to repentance so that he/she can be restored to the body. The kind, length and severity of the discipline depends on the nature and circumstances of the sin.
Sin: A momentary, uncharacteristic lapse into sin where there is genuine grief and repentance.
1. Private reproving that results in gentle restoration at the point of repentance.
Gal 6:1 Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you to be tempted.
Sin: More blatant sin (willful disobedience) or over a longer duration, or unclear repentance.
1. Reprove in private… if no repentance proceed with step two (Matt 18:15).
2. Bring along a witness… if no repentance proceed with step three (Matt 18:16).
3. Tell it to the church… if no repentance proceed with step four (Matt 18:17).
4. Separate the person from the fellowship of the body (Matt 18:17).
5. Forgiveness, comfort, & love when repentance is demonstrated (2 Cor 2:6-8).
6. Restoration to appropriate ministry after a significant pattern of obedience has been established (Luke 16:10).
Sin: Severe sin on a long-term basis, and no repentance.
1. Judgment (1 Cor 5:3).
2. Corporate grief (1 Cor 5:1-2).
3. Expulsion from fellowship (Matt 18:17; Rom 16:17, 1 Cor 5:2, 11-13, 2 Thess 3:6, 11-15, Titus 3:10-11, 2 John 9-11).
4. In some instances, delivering to Satan to do what he wants in their life
(1 Cor 5:4-5; 1 Tim 1:20).
5. Forgiveness, comfort, & love when repentance is demonstrated (2 Cor 2:6-8).
6. Restoration to appropriate ministry after a significant pattern of obedience has been established (Luke 16:10).
Sin: e.g., divisiveness, sin by an elder
Response: the process of discipline can vary, according to Scripture
1 Timothy 5:19-20 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all.
Titus 3:10-11 Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.
A. General Principles
1. Believers should be hesitant before suing.
Prov 25:8-10 Do not go out hastily to argue your case.
Rom 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
2. If at all possible, believers should seek to settle out of court.
Matt 5:25 Make friends with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way…
3. Believers should pursue a selfless attitude as much as possible.
Matt 5:40 If anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.
B. “Christian” Lawsuits
1. Christians must not sue or go to court against a fellow believer (1 Cor 6:1-7).
2. Believers will judge the world and angels, and should able to judge the affairs of this life (vv. 2-3).
3. Unbelievers judging between Christians brings shame to the church
4. It is better to be wronged and defrauded than to sin by going to court against a believer.
1 Cor 6:1, 7 Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? … Actually then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?
A. God is the Creator & Sustainer
1. The universe came into existence because God created it.
Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Col 1:17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
2. It continues to exist by the Word of His power.
Heb 1:3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high;
B. The Genesis Account
1. The early chapters of Genesis are the factual, complete and accurate description of creation.
2. The word “day” (yom) as used in the Genesis account means a literal twenty-four hour period of time.
Gen 1:5 And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
3. When yom is used with the numerical adjective, it always means a 24-hour day.
4. When yom is united with the phrase “morning & evening” (over 100 times in the Old Testament), it always means a 24-hour day.
5. If Gen 1 is not a literal 7-day creation account, then death would have entered the world prior to sin. This is contrary to Rom 5:12.
The ultimate goal of both the church and the Christian home is the glory of God. Specifically, the goal of the family is to: (1) reach children for Christ; and (2) equip them so that they may become mature Christian adults (“complete in Christ”).
(For more on this, please refer to FBC’s philosophy of ministry.)
A. In the Home
1. The family is the God-designed, natural place for training to occur.
Deut 6:4-9 ~ Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
a. The primary responsibility for spiritual instruction has been given by God to fathers. Fathers must not surrender this responsibility to their wives, another adult, or to any organization (church, Christian school, etc.).
Eph 6:4 ~ And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
b. Mothers are equally important as they share the labors alongside fathers in the administration of his great task.
2. The Man’s Role in the home is to provide headship and leadership for the family.
Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.
a. He must love his wife by sensitively communicating with her, protecting her purity and encouraging her spiritual growth.
Eph 6:28-29 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church.
1 Pet 3:7 You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow-heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
b. He should provide for the tangible needs of his household.
1 Tim 5:8 But if any one does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.
c. He should train his children to be faithful followers of Christ.
Deut 6:5-6 And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
Eph 6:4 And fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
3. The Woman’s Role in the home is to be a helper for her husband.
Gen 2:20-23 …a helper suitable for him…
a. Although equal with men as far as identity and person, women have a distinct and different role.
1) The Scriptures teach that women are equally created in God’s image.
Gen 1:27 …in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.
2) In relation to salvation and standing in Christ, women are equal with men.
Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
b. Scripture indicates that the primary responsibility for women is within the family.
1 Tim 5:14 Therefore I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house…
Titus 2:4-5 That they may encourage the younger women… to be workers at home.
1) God has also sovereignly allowed singles and women without children to have a unique freedom for other ministry, cf. 1 Cor 7:33-34.
c. Within the marriage, the woman is called to lovingly submit to her husband. This is not blind obedience, but rather loving service, cooperation and prayer, united with volitional submission to the husband’s God-ordained role as leader and head. She is to mirror the church’s joyful and voluntary submission to Christ.
Eph 5:22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
1 Cor 11:3 But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.
d. Raising children is the primary means by which women can have an influence for the kingdom of God.
1 Tim 2:15 But women shall be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.
Titus 2:4 & 5 That they may encourage the younger women… to love their children…. to be workers at home.
B. In the Church
Since the local church is a community of believers with a variety of gifts, this necessary vehicle for spiritual growth must be accessed by parents in the training of their children.
1. The Christian family is a part of the local church and cannot fulfill its God-given design without being actively involved in one.
a. The church is to equip and encourage families.
Col 1:28-29 ~ And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ. And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.
Eph 4:11-13, 16 ~ And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ… from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
b. Individuals are to submit to elders.
Heb 13:17 ~ Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
c. Believers are to minister their gifts.
1 Pet 4:10 ~ As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
1 Cor 12:7 ~ But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
2. In the local assembly, God has given both authority (the right and power to command) and responsibility (the obligation to command) to elders (Acts 20:28-34). Within the family, authority and responsibility has been given to fathers (1 Cor 11:3-16; Eph 6:4).
a. Fathers are to be under the authority of the elders while having God-given authority to parent their children. These will not be in conflict with each other so long as the principles of the Word of God are upheld. Preferences can be determined individually.
b. Fathers are primarily responsible for the spiritual welfare of their own children and this training must occur in the context of the local church.
3. The Men’s Role in the church is to serve as the leaders, both in serving and teaching, of the local church.
1 Tim 3:1-13 It is a trustworthy statement; if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife…Deacons likewise must be men of dignity…
a. Men are to be noted for prayer in the church.
1 Tim 2:8 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.
b. Older men are to be wise and dignified examples to the younger men and the rest of the congregation.
Titus 2:2 Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.
c. Younger men are to be wise examples of good deeds, with purity in doctrine and speech.
Titus 2:6-8 Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, in order that the opponent may be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.
4. The Women’s Role in the church is to utilize their spiritual giftedness in ministry to the Body.
1 Cor 12:7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
a. One of the primary avenues of ministry is for older women in the church to teach younger women.
Titus 2:3-5 Older women…teaching what is good, that they may encourage the younger women…
b. The Scriptures teach that women are not to teach or exercise authority over men in the church.
1 Tim 2:12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.
1 Cor 14:34 Let the women keep silent in the churches…
A. God’s Original Design
God’s original design was a man to be married to a woman, for life.
Gen 1:27 Male and female He created them.
Gen 2:24 For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife…
B. God’s Condemnation
The Scriptures condemn homosexual behavior. This is not a cultural response, but an expression of God’s attitude towards behavior that mocks His original design.
Lev 18:22 You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.
Rom 1:26-27 God gave them over to degrading passions… men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
1 Cor 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, not idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals… shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
C. God’s Cure
Ultimately Christ and the spiritual resources He provides (the Holy Spirit, prayer, the Word, fellow believers) are the only answer for this sin. Just as with any other sinner saved by grace, Christ’s cleansing is sufficient to enable a person to begin a new life.
1 Cor 5:9-11 Do not be deceived; neither fornicators…nor homosexuals… shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of God.
1 Cor 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.
A. General Teaching
1. The Scriptures imply that life begins at conception.
Ps 139:13-16 Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in the book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.
Jer 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.
2. The Scriptures indicate that all children are a gift from the Lord (Not just those that are “wanted” or physically perfect).
Ps 127:3 Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward.
Exod 4:11 And the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?
3. In light of the above statements a biblical conclusion is that abortion is murder.
Jas 2:11 …(if you) commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.
B. Specific Teaching
The Hebrew word translated “miscarriage” in this verse usually refers in the Old Testament to a live birth. Thus, there was a fine for a premature live birth, but the death penalty was invoked for “further injury”, which was the death of the prematurely-born baby.
Ex 21:22-25 And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall surely be fined…. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty, life for life.
A. The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts
1. “Spiritual gifts” are special abilities given by God to individual believers for spiritual service in ministry (1 Cor 12:7, 11; 1 Pet 4:11).
2. Spiritual gifts are a direct stewardship from God, to be used for His glory (1 Cor 12:18; 1 Pet 4:10).
3. Believers can fail to utilize their giftedness (1 Tim 4:14), and are able to control when they use their giftedness (1 Cor 14:27-33).
4. The unique gifting of every believer is necessary, required for the health of the church, and as vitally important as every other Christian’s ministry in the body (Rom 12:4-5; 1 Cor 12:14-27; Eph 4:11-16).
5. All Christians are commanded to practice what some are specially enabled to do (e.g., Luke 6:36; Rom 12:13; Deut 6:4-7; 1 Th. 5:11). There is no excuse for a believer to neglect obedience by saying, “I’m not gifted.” For example, “I don’t need to be merciful, because it’s not my gift. I don’t give because I don’t have the gift of giving.”
B. The Temporary Nature of Some GIfts
1. The plan of God has been revealed progressively throughout history (Rom 11:25-26; Eph 2:11-16; Heb 1:1-2). How He acts in history is not static (e.g., Gen 9:11).
2. There are only three time periods where the miraculous had a major emphasis in biblical history—Moses, Elijah & Elisha and the New Testament church.
3. In the first century church, certain spiritual gifts served a unique purpose. These are often referred to as the “sign gifts” (miracles, tongues, etc.) because their purpose was to authenticate the message being shared.
Acts 2:22 Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst…
a. The apostles had a foundational role in the spread of the Gospel and the establishment of the church (Eph 2:20). The primary purpose of the sign gifts was to verify their authority and message (Acts 2:43, 5:12-16, 19:11).
Matt 10:1 And having summoned His twelve disciples, He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.
2 Cor 12:12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles.
1) Some suggest that Mark 16:15-18 is a permanent commissioning for the manifestation of sign gifts. Looking closely, it is evident that Jesus explicitly states that the sign gifts will accompany the apostles, to testify to the gospel message. Mark 16:20 states that this preaching and the confirming signs were accomplished (past tense) by those present.
Mark 16:20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.
Heb 2:4 God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.
4. Because the sign gifts were given as an authentication of the message of the apostles, they became unnecessary as the New Testament canon was completed and the Gospel spread.
a. Scripture teaches that the gifts of prophecy and knowledge will be set aside, and that the gift of tongues will stop itself.
1 Cor 13:8-10 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.
1) Though some take “perfect” to mean the eternal state, “perfect” (teleios) in v. 10 is better translated as “mature” (cf. 1 Cor 2:6, 14:20).
2) Paul is referring to the “maturity” of the church; as it grew, there would no longer be a need for the sign gifts’ authentication of its gospel message.
b. The gift of healing visibly fades from the life of the church.
2 Tim 4:20 Trophimus I left sick at Miletus.
Jas 5:14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church…
See the following section on “Healing”
c. The gift of apostleship has ended.
1) Apostleship was a gift as well as an office (1 Cor 12:28-31; Eph 4:7, 11).
2) A qualification to be an apostle required having seen Jesus risen (Acts 1:22; 1 Cor 9:1-2).
3) The apostles, along with the prophets, were given to build the foundation of the church.
Eph 2:20 …having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone
C. Questions about Specific Gifts
1. What is the gift of tongues?
a. The gift of “Tongues” is the ability to speak in a real language not understood by the speaker yet known by some who are present.
Acts 2:4, 6 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance…6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were bewildered, because they were each one hearing them speak in his own language.
1) The gift of tongues is not a devotional or prayer language.
a) Paul’s statement in 1 Cor 13:1 is sometimes used to support this.
1 Cor 13:1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
b) Paul is speaking of a hypothetical situation rather than an actual ability. This is the case in each of verses 1-3, where he moves from the actual to the hypothetical, to explain the necessity of love.
1 Cor 13:2-3 And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
|Speak with the tongues of men||And the tongues of angels||I do not have love||Only noise|
|Have prophecy||And know all mysteries, and have all knowledge, and all faith||I do not have love||I am nothing|
|Give all my possessions||And my body to be burned||I do not have love||No profit for me|
b. Tongues were primarily for a sign to unbelieving Jews.
1 Cor 14:21-22 “By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people…” So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers.
1) God also used the sign gift of tongues to confirm to the Jews His gift of salvation to the Gentiles.
Acts 11:17-18 “If God therefore gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 And when they heard this, they quieted down, and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.” (cf. Acts 10:45-48)
c. There is no record of the gift of tongues in later epistles.
1 Cor 13:8 …if there are tongues they will cease…
1) See above on “The Temporary Nature of Some Gifts”.
2. Are the gifts of healing and/or miracles still in effect?
a. The gifts of healing and miracles primarily verified the authority of Jesus and those He sent out. They are no longer given as gifts to the Body.
1) See above on “The Temporary Nature of Some Gifts”.
2) These acts were done instantaneously and were beyond the reach of medicine, many even of today’s medicine (Acts 9:33-42).
3) While the faith of the recipient is mentioned on occasion, it is not essential to the process (Acts 28:8).
b. Just because someone may appear to perform miracles does not indicate that it is from God.
Matt 7:21-23 Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name, and in your name perform miracles?
Matt 24:24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.
c. Satan appears as an angel of light and is able to perform miracles (2 Thess 2:9; Rev 13:14).
d. God can still bring healing supernaturally and uses faithful prayer as the method to meet those needs.
Jas 5:14-15 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.
1) Notice that James instructs the sick, persecuted believers to call for the elders’ prayer rather than a Christian gifted in healing.
3. What is the gift of prophecy and does it still happen?
a. A prophet is one who speaks for God and declares His will to people (Jer 23:21-22).
1) The information a prophet states is gained by direct revelation from God, and not from insight into Scripture (Eph 3:5; John 4:18-19; Matt 26:67-68; Acts 27:22-24).
b. Like Old Testament prophets, those gifted in prophecy were able to predict (foretell) the future.
1) The Old Testament is clear that prophesy involves prediction (Deut 18:20-22; Acts 2:30-31, 3:18-25; 1 Pet 1:10-11).
2) There are only a few New Testament examples of prophesy and they all involve prediction (Acts 11:27-28, 21:10-11; 1 Tim 1:18; Rev 1:3).
c. There is no indication of a lesser type of prophet, who is “sometimes” accurate.
1) Predictions are not vague, general statements, but specific predictions that can be verified within a reasonable period of time (Acts 21:10-11).
2) The predictions a genuine prophet made were always true (Deut 18:20-22).
d. Prophets are part of the foundation of the Church, given as a gift for the establishment of the Church (Eph 2:20).
1) With the close of the canon, there is no longer a need for prophecy.
a) Revelation, the last book of the Bible, covers the entire time period from when John wrote it until the eternal state.
b) Rev 22:18 declares a severe penalty on anyone who attempts to add to its prophecies. Therefore any alleged prophecy subsequent to what’s written there is counterfeit.
2) Though there will be prophets, after the Rapture of the Church, during the Tribulation who will have a ministry to Israel and the rest of the world (Joel 2:28). They will not be prophets gifted by the Spirit for the building up of the church, since it has departed.
Despite the variety of governmental forms evident in today’s churches, the Word of God remains abundantly clear regarding how each church is to be ruled and led.
A. General Teaching on Church Polity (Government)
1. The church is to be led by a plurality of biblically-qualified men (called elders) who unanimously, equally, and autonomously shepherd, oversee and lead the local church.
1 Pet 5:1-3 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you… 2 shepherd (lit., “pastor”) the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.
Titus 1:5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might set in order what remains, and appoint elders in every city as I directed you,
Acts 14:23 And when they (Paul & Barnabas) had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
B. Specific Teaching on Pastors
1. As seen in 1 Pet 5:1-3, the words for elder, pastor and overseer are used interchangeably to describe the same person/role. Paul does the same thing in Acts 20:17, 28. Each word describes a portion of the work that an elder does. Hence, it is a team of equals – there are none who are superior to the others.
a. The whole of the New Testament never speaks of “the pastor” with regard to a church (unless it’s referring to Jesus Christ Himself, cf. John 10:16, 1 Pet 5:4).
b. Historically, within the first century, no Christian ever took the title of sole/singular ruler, overseer or pastor of a church.
2. Evident in Titus 1:5 (cited above), the priority for Titus was to establish elders (plural) in every city. It is apparent that the congregation, on its own, is not enough.
a. Furthermore, there is no evident need for a special designated pastor/elder to lead the church, for Paul gave no command to find/hire one. This same principle is evident in Acts 14:23.
1) In fact, when establishing churches, Paul never ordained a priest, pastor or particular elder to perform the church’s ministry. When a church was established, a plurality of elders was chosen from among the believers to jointly oversee the local community.
b. It is further evident that Titus was not going to remain and be such a man since Titus 3:12 exhorts Titus to return to Paul.
3. Yet Scripture also states that some of the elders should be financially recompensed for their ministry — this is the modern-day category of ‘pastor.’
1 Tim 5:17-18 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”
C. Unity & Diversity in the Eldership
1. As unity in purpose, mind and doctrine is commanded of the whole body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 1:10, Eph 4:3-4), how much more is it both expected and necessary of the eldership!
Acts 15:23, 25 and they sent this letter by them, “The apostles and the brethren who are elders, to the brethren… 25 it seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to…
a. The apostles and elders of the Jerusalem church debated at length (15:6-7) what was essential for Gentile Christians. The decision was made only after they had become unified in their thinking.
2. On an elder team, each man is equal in status, but there exists an acknowledged and beneficial diversity of gifting.
1 Cor 12:7, 11 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good… 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
a. God, through His Spirit, distributes spiritual gifts to each person at the time of salvation.
b. Every believer (including elders) is spiritually gifted by God for the benefit of the body.
c. Each person is gifted differently so that the church is edified completely (cf. Eph 4:7, 15-16).
“Missions” is the sending forth of qualified leaders by a local church to facilitate the establishment of functioning, multiplying local congregations in any community of people without an already accessible church.
A. General Teaching of Scripture
1. The “missionary call” is found throughout all of Scripture.
a. God blessed the nation of Israel to benefit their testimony to the world, so that all the nations would know God’s salvation.
Ps 67:1-7 God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us— 2 That Thy way may be known on the earth, Thy salvation among all nations. …7 God blesses us that all the ends of the earth may fear Him.
b. Jesus gives a future command, to take place at the formation of the church (“when the Holy Spirit has come upon you”, cf. Acts 2). The church is to be His witnesses locally (Jerusalem), regionally (Judea and Samaria), and globally (the remotest part of the earth).
Acts 1:8 but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.
2. All who know God are to declare His greatness.
a. Israel’s purpose was to proclaim God’s greatness to other nations, demonstrating and declaring man’s total need for Him. Israel was designed with missions in mind (Ps 96:1-13).
b. Peter states to New Covenant believers, Jews & Gentiles, that God saved us with the intention that we would declare His greatness to others.
1 Pet 2:9-12 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light
3. The object of missions has always been to “all the nations.”
a. This focus on other nations is found in God’s covenant with Abraham (Gen 12:1-3). It was God’s desire from the beginning to bring Gentiles into His redemptive plan, cf. Gal 3:7-9.
b. As David brings the ark of God into Jerusalem, we see it declared that part of God’s purpose for the nation of Israel was for them to go “among the nations” and proclaim the good news of salvation (1 Chron 16:23-24).
c. Isaiah points out that the coming of the Messiah was not for the sole benefit of Israel but was expressly so that salvation would extend “to the end of the earth.”
Isa 49:6 He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
B. Specific Teaching of the New Testament
1. Christ commanded the church to reach all people-groups.
Matt 28:18-20 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
a. Lexically, “all the nations” in Matt 28:19 does not refer to individuals, but to ethnic groups (a.k.a. “people groups”).
2. The local church is to ‘do missions’ locally, regionally & globally.
Acts 1:8 but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem (local), and in all Judea and Samaria (regional), and even to the remotest part of the earth (global).
3. Paul was ordained by God to teach & demonstrate how the church was to function
Eph 3:8-9 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things
a. The mystery which Paul is referring to in Eph 3:9 is the church (cf. 3:4-7). Paul was divinely ordained by God to bring to light the specific rules and guidelines for how the church was to operate.
b. Paul states in 1 Cor 3:10 that he laid the foundation of the church from which we’re to build on. Therefore we must continue the building in line with the pattern and model set out by the original builder.
1 Cor 3:10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation…
4. The goal of missions work is planting & strengthening churches
a. This is evident in the pattern that Luke records of Paul’s missionary labors in Acts.
1) New Fellowship established in Antioch — Acts 11
2) Leadership trained up at newly founded church — Acts 11
3) Team of qualified men sent from the established church — Acts 13-14
Evangelize strategic cities
– Teach in religious centers
– Preach in open air
– Reject rejecters/ Affirm believers
Return to the already evangelized cities
– Gather them into a local church
– Encourage and strengthen the disciples
– Appoint elders
– Commend them to the Lord
Return to “home base”(Antioch)
– Gather the believers together
– Report what God had done
– Spent a long time with the disciples here
4) Cycle Repeats — Acts 15:40-18:22
5. The priority of missions is unchurched regions where new people-groups will hear the truth
a. Romans was written from Corinth, towards the end of Paul’s third missionary journey. Over the course of each journey, Paul had “aspired” to build churches where others had not planted them. His method was to preach the Gospel.
Rom 15:20 And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, that I might not build upon another man’s foundation
b. Paul says that he had “fulfilled” the gospel in a huge area (southern Palestine to northern Italy).
Rom 15:19,23 from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached (lit., “fulfilled”) the gospel of Christ… 23 but now, with no further place for me in these regions…
1) Though there were many unsaved people left in these regions, Paul believed there was no further place for him to work there.
2) His concept of the missionary task was not the reaching of individuals, but the evangelism of unreached peoples.
C. Key Principles to Observe
Sending (Acts 13)
Missions is not based on individual initiative, but rather on a corporate body of believers sending out from their midst.
Qualified Leaders (Acts 13)
The selection of who is sent is a crucial issue. It must be based on the Holy Spirit’s guidance, united with proven faithfulness and giftedness.
Equipping (Eph 4:11-12)
The entire Mission’s enterprise is vitally linked with equipping, mentoring & training leaders within the local church.
Local Church (Acts 13)
The sending base for missions must be a local church and not a missions agency or denominational board. The local church is the God-ordained instrument for missions.
Facilitate (Acts 14:21-25)
The first church planters were primarily evangelists & facilitators. From the very beginning the local churches were indigenized. Thus, there was no painful transition from missionary to local church leaders. Likewise, church planters will not likely stay at a church long-term. For a people-group to be broadly reached, indigenous preachers and churches are required.
Establishment of Churches (Acts13 & 14, Rom 15:19-23)
The goal of the missionary effort must be establishing local churches, not merely winning individuals to Christ. Long-term missionary activity in one location which is having questionable fruit should be evaluated carefully.
Divorce & Remarriage
A. General Principles
1. God designed marriage to last a lifetime (cf. 1 Cor 7:10-11).
Gen 2:24 a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
Mal 2:15-16 Take heed then, to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth. 16 For I hate divorce, says the Lord, the God of Israel
3. God also permits this evil to take place, under certain conditions.
Jer 3:6-8 And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also.
Matt 1:19-20 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly.
B. When God permits Divorce
The Bible clearly allows divorce when…
(a) there is unrepentant sexual sin
Matt 19:9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery
(b) an unbelieving spouse seeks the divorce (1 Cor 7:12-16)
1 Cor 7:12-16 if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, let him not send her away…15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.
(i) Paul’s earlier usage of “leave” in v.11 evidences that he uses this term synonymously for divorce.
(ii) Lexically, the word “leave” refers to ‘a physical separation’ – not emotional, mental, or spiritual ‘abandonment’
C. When Remarriage is Bibiblically permissible
Remarriage is biblically permissible for the believer when…
(a) it’s to the spouse from whom they had previously separated, assuming no other marriages have taken place
1 Cor 7:10-11 the wife should not leave her husband 11 (but if she does leave, let her remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not send his wife away
(b) the spouse has died
1 Cor 7:39 A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.
(c) the other spouse has remarried someone else
Matt 19:6 they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.
Matt 19:9 whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery
(d) the divorce took place before the individual became a Christian and their ex-spouse remains separated from the faith
2 Cor 5:17 Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
2 Cor 6:14-18 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?
(e) for all biblically permitted divorces as defined in #2
1 Cor 7:15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.
1 Cor 7:27-28 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you should marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin should marry, she has not sinned.