Friday, December 6, 2013

Fifty-Two Assumptions of Matters of Faith & Practice NOT Found in Scripture - Part 1 of 2

Written By: John Vuckovich
*Contributions and Edited By: Bobby Kmiec

In the Scriptures there is no principle or record of….

1.    The constructing of buildings dedicated solely for the body of Christ’s gathering – commonly referred to today as “the church."
2.    Local churches run by a “Senior Pastor.”
3.    Pastors treated as paid professionals or experts that are contracted to provide shepherding at the cost of salaries and benefits.
4.    A body of believers being identified by a name rather than their geographical location.
For instance: The church at Corinth vs. “First Baptist Church of…”
5.    The church being urged to invite unsaved souls to take part in their gathering.

In the Scriptures there is no principle or record of….

6.    Churches collecting money on a routine basis and calling it the tithe.
7.    The church gathering for the sole purpose to have a “service.”
8.    The church being a building people meet at to attend.
9.    The pastorate superseding the priesthood of the church body.
(The epistles treat the pastor as one of the sheep like everyone else in the church).
10. A dress code beyond the work attire first century peasant slaves wore.

In the Scriptures there is no principle or record of….

11. Using the gathering of believer’s time together (church) to evangelize the lost.
12. The word pastor being synonymous with the word preacher.
(All New Testament saints were considered preachers. Mark 16:15)
13. A clergy laity divide and distinction within the body.
14. The entire body being smothered and suppressed so that one person can monopolize the church gathering time.
15. Pastor’s being told to preach to the saved.
In the Scriptures there is no principle or record of….

16. The church consisting of employees and staff.
17. The church having a budget.
18. The church surrendering its sovereignty and seeking partnership and incorporation from the Roman Government for tax-exempt status.
19. The pastor being called an “under shepherd”.
20. Christians believing that anything above a “tithe” is an offering.
(New Testament believers considered an offering to be the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ).

In the Scriptures there is no principle or record of….

21. Evangelists defined as men who go about from church body to church body selling and peddling their wares while preaching to God’s people spirited theme topics to the saved.
22. Church as a body of believers limited in functioning in their area of gifting.
23. Church understood as a place where we are a part of an audience or spectators.
24. Coming to church for the benefit of getting something out of it.
25. The Great Commission being defined as approaching lost sinners with a message of, “Come to church” rather than, “GO ye therefore and teach all nations…”)
26. The word “sermon” or a 'sermon' being given in the Bible.

As a note to point #26, Jesus never called His teaching in Matthew 5-7 “The Sermon on the Mount.” This has been coined by man. Matthew 5:2 says,And he opened his mouth, and taught them.” The Grand Architect and Master Builder of the church is none other than Jesus Christ. He said, “…upon this rock I will build MY church.” [1] He has right to claim it as MY church because it is His idea. It sprung from His heart. It is also His church because He, “loved the church, and gave himself for it” [2] shedding His life’s very blood. [3] Jesus continued the building of His church through His Apostles where we read in Acts, “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach.” [4] Our Saviour had a specific model He began to formulate, which means it was NOT complete upon His ascension. This household of God is said to have continued through the Apostles and prophets. [5] We should look to their example as recorded in the epistles as to how the Lord Jesus continued to build His church. 

If the 26 things above reveal a different model and understanding from that which you understand and practice to be church today, then sobering questions worthy of prayerful study are in order.  It would be wise to begin this study with some thoughts such as, “Lord, my understanding of church is and looks so different from that which is described here that I don’t know who built the church system I am a part of today. Please show me what church is to be and how it should be practiced and function. Give me your heart concerning church Jesus. A heart that desires to be as closely aligned with the truth as possible.”

Only one who values truth above loyalty and longevity in their current inherited idea of church will find the answers. The New Testament lays out a detailed blueprint for us to follow. Perhaps your journey will reveal that what we have inherited as church today has been hijacked, re-imagined and redefined. If the American model of church does not look like the church in the Bible then we can only draw one conclusion. The accepted mainstream church of today has man as its architect and master builder. There are only two choices. We are either in a church constructed by Jesus or constructed by man. So let’s ask Jesus, “Lord, is the church I am associated with today your church? Why does the church that I’ve inherited look and function so remarkably foreign than those recorded in the pages of Scripture?”

I believe people who love the Lord and with good intentions have made changes to Jesus’ church without realizing the ramifications or consequences. Tweak by tweak, inch by inch, a shift here, a move there, the church has been tailored and altered to fit with the times and man’s ever changing ideas. The average person considering this might tend to think, “So what? God’s blessing it and it works.” Allow me to use an analogy we can all relate to. America was forged and given to us as a free country. If our founding fathers could look into America’s future and see us today they would not recognize what they left behind as an inheritance for us to enjoy and keep. Nor would they call what we have today as progress. They would be heartbroken. The same is true for Jesus’ church. Well-intending people have reshaped and redefined what He shed His blood for – the church. [2] Because Jesus gave His life’s blood for His church; I believe He would take our changes to His church personally.

Some would say, “We have to change with the times and customs of the day.” As we journey to discover Biblical New Covenant church, let us remember that truth transcends time, culture, and customs. Therefore, truth will always look and function the same no matter the time, culture, and customs. To say, we live in a different country and a different time than the early church is to say truth is not universally consistent. A lie is morally wrong and inexcusable no matter our cultural background, customs, or era. Please do not confuse this with the idea that early Christians didn’t drive a vehicle to assemble for church so this must mean we cannot either. We are speaking of truths and how they look and function, not advances in technology and the social habits of our current social structure. We can see today that our social structure ebbs and flows constantly.

Jesus left us a blueprint for church that works for all nations, cultures, customs, and times. Therefore, it should look and function consistently the same. Let’s not hide behind our own understanding [6] and make excuses because we are in the 21st century in a modern American society. Our hearts should be so in tune to Jesus that the world mistakes us for being 1st century Christians in a 21st century world. I invite you to walk back in time through the epistles, a time machine of sorts. We have at our disposal prayer, the Word of God, and a guide of truth, and God the Holy Spirit. These heavenly helps can show us what church was meant to be like. God bless you and thank you for allowing me to share these words of discovery with you. I trust this two-part blog will be used of God to do a work in your heart. May God direct your steps. [7]

Scripture References:
[1] Matthew 16:18, [2] Ephesians 5:25, [3] Acts 20:28, [4] Acts 1:1, [5] 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 2:19-21
[6] Proverbs 3:5, 6, [7] Psalm 37:23

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