By Norman Manzon
In the study foundational to this one, The Universal Church, we examined those declarations of the AMC Statement* that refer to the universal body of Christ or universal church. In this study, we'll examine those that apply to the local congregation or local church. Each applicable sentence will be examined in detail, though not in its order of appearance; but first, let's review the entire Statement.
The Body of Messiah
We believe that all believers in Yeshua are members of the universal body (community) and bride of the Messiah. The body of Messiah began at Shavuot (Pentecost) with the baptism of the Holy Spirit after the ascension of Yeshua. Membership in the body is based solely on faith in Messiah. This body is distinct from Israel and is composed of both Jews and Gentiles made one in Messiah. These members are under the solemn duty to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of love. We believe that the ordinances of the local congregation are water immersion and the Lord's Supper. We believe that the purpose of the local congregation is to glorify God through worship, instruction, accountability, discipline, fellowship and outreach. Its eldership is open to men who fulfill the qualifications for elder as set forth in the New Covenant. The Scriptures encourage the active participation and regular assembly of believers in the local body. (Matthew 16:15-18 Luke 22:24-27; Acts 1:5, 2:14-36; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 2:11-18, 5:23-27; Colossians 1:18, 3:14,15) *Full AMC Statement
1. What Is a Local Church or Congregation?
In the common perception, the local congregation or church is a group of Christians that meets regularly to hear a sermon, sing hymns or other Christian songs, take the Lord's Supper and perhaps engage in other activities perceived as Christian. Biblically, though, the ideal local church or congregation matches up to this definition offered by Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum:
"[A] local church is a group of professing believers in the Messiah who have been baptized and have organized themselves under the leadership of elders and deacons for the purpose of carrying out the Great Commission; for conducting the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper; for building up the Body through the worship of God, the fellowship of believers, the teaching of the Word, and the exercise of spiritual gifts" (Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arnold G. Messianic Bible Study 106: The Local Church, p. 5. San Antonio: Ariel Ministries Press).
The Bible encourages informal fellowship, but even a fellowship that meets regularly for mutual ministry is not a full-fledged local congregation by biblical standards. Local congregations have organization, authority, responsibilities, and safeguards in place that informal fellowships do not. Modern evangelistic organizations, mercy ministries and other such groups, valid as they are, may not be considered local congregations either. It is important to distinguish between the local congregation and other groups of believers in order to rightly divide those portions of the Word of Truth that have to do with these matters, some of which will be discussed in this study.
2. The Local Congregation or Church as Distinguished from the Universal Body of Christ
To review, the universal body of Christ or Messiah is that organic unit which is composed of all true believers from Shavuot (Pentecost) until the Rapture, with Messiah as its Head. Whereas there is only one universal body of Christ, there have been countless local congregations or churches around the world throughout the Church Age. Whereas the body is composed solely of believers, a true local congregation must be led by believers, but may, unwittingly or not, contain unbelievers in its membership as well as believers (Matthew 13:24-30, 31-32). Whereas the formation of the universal body takes place from Pentecost to the Rapture and all around the world, a local congregation may begin at any point in time during the Church Age, it exists in one locale (though some of its members may be itinerant ministers), and its longevity is not guaranteed. In theological terms, the universal body is sometimes called the invisible church as only the Lord knows who all of its members are, and the local body is called the visible church because it is visible to the natural eye.
Now, to examine the applicable sentences of our Statement:
In Romans 15:5-6, Paul told the church at Rome, 5: And may the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like minded toward one another according to Christ Jesus, 6. so that with one mind and one mouth you may glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
John 4:23-24: 23. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him. 24. God is a spirit, and they who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.
Acts 24:14 (Paul to Felix): But I confess this to you, that after the Way which they call heresy, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things that are written in the Law and in the Prophets.
1 Corinthians 14:25: And so the secrets of his heart become revealed. And so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.
Philippians 3:3: For we are the circumcision who worship God in the spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 4:17: For this cause I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved son and faithful in the Lord, who shall remind you of my ways which are in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every congregation.
1 Corinthians 4:19: yet in a congregation I desire to speak five words with my mind, so that I might also teach others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.
1 Timothy 4:9-11: 9. Faithful is the Word, and worthy of all acceptance. 10. For to this we both labor and suffer
reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the preserver of all men, especially of those who believe. 11. Command and teach these things.
2 Timothy 2:2: And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit the same to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
b. to its elders
Hebrews 13:17: Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit to them: for they watch in behalf of your souls, as they that shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief: for this were unprofitable for you.
d. to a brother or sister we've offended
Matthew 5:23-24: 23. Therefore if you offer your gift on the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you, 24. leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Galatians 6:1: Brothers, if a man is overtaken in a fault, you the spiritual ones restore such a one in the spirit of meekness . . . .
15. But if your brother shall trespass against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16. But if he will not hear you, take one or two more with you, so that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it to the congregation. But if he neglects to hear the congregation, let him be to you as a heathen and a tax-collector.
1 Corinthians 5:3-5:
3. For as being absent in body but present in spirit, I indeed have judged already as though I were present concerning him who committed this thing; 4. in the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are gathered together, with my spirit; also, with the power of our Lord Jesus; 5. to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Yeshua.
46. And continuing with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they shared food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47. praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
Hebrew 10:24-25: 24. and let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works, 25. not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
18. And Yeshua came and spoke to them, saying, All authority is given to Me in Heaven and in earth. 19. Going, then, make disciples of all nations; immersing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20. teaching them to observe all things I commanded you. And, lo, I am with you all the days until the consummation of the age. Amen.
Acts 8:4: Then, indeed, the ones who had been scattered passed through, preaching the gospel, the Word.
Two acts that the Lord commanded fall into a category of their own: water immersion and the Lord's Supper. Some theologians have designated them "ordinances," some "sacraments."
Dr. Fruchtenbaum offers this definition of an ordinance: "An ordinance can be defined as a rite or ritual or practice prescribed by the Messiah to be performed by the Church, as an outward sign of the saving truth of the Christian faith" (Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arnold G. Messianic Bible Study 108: The Lord's Supper, p. 5. San Antonio: Ariel Ministries Press).
Scripture presents each of the two ordinances as a portrayal or representation, not as an act of substance in itself; nor does it present either of them as an agent of grace, which may, in this context, be defined as unearned, freely bestowed spiritual blessing from God. Those who believe that water immersion and the Lord's Supper are means of conveying grace refer to them as "sacraments"; but because they do not convey grace it is best to refer to them as "ordinances."
Dr. Fruchtenbaum also writes, "The best way of determining the qualifications of an ordinance is to apply three tests," (Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arnold G. Messianic
Bible Study 109: The Ordinance of Baptism, p. 5. San Antonio: Ariel Ministries Press) and presents them as follows:
1. Was it commanded by the Lord?
2. Was it observed in the Book of Acts?
3. Was the rite or ritual expounded upon in the Epistles?
The fact that the Lord saw to it that a particular act was recorded in the Book of Acts and expounded upon in the epistles indicates the seriousness with which He wants us to view them.
In consideration of the above, I would rewrite the qualifications of an ordinance as follows:
1. It is an act that the Lord commanded.
2. It is a rite or ritual that portrays the saving truth of the Christian faith.
3. He inspired Luke to record instances of it in the Book of Acts.
4. He inspired a writer of the epistles to expound on its theological significance.
Only two acts meet these criteria: water immersion and the Lord's Supper. They are the two ordinances of New Testament scripture, and only believers may partake of them, as we shall see.
The qualifications of water immersion as an ordinance are:
1. It is an act that the Lord commanded: Matthew 28:18-20.
2. It is a rite or ritual (Acts 8:36-38) that portrays the saving truth of the Christian faith (Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:11-12).
3. He inspired Luke to record instances of it in the Book of Acts: Acts 2:38, 41; 8:12-13, 36, 38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:15, 33; 18:8; 19:5.
4. He inspired a writer of the epistles to expound on its theological significance: Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:11-12.
Some dispute the term immersion because it demands complete submersion in water. They prefer the term baptism because its perceived non-specific meaning allows for sprinkling or affusion, the latter of which is the pouring of water on the head. However, the fact is, the meaning of the Greek word translated baptism means immersion. According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia,
baptism. But in general the term baptizo, as is common with such forms in the late Greek, is simply equivalent to bapto (compare Luke16:24) and means "dip," "immerse."
John the Baptizer immersed his disciples. John 2:23: And John was also baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. He wouldn't have required much water if sprinkling or affusion were his method.
After Jesus was baptized, He came up immediately out of the water (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10). After Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch, they had come up out of the water (Acts 8:39). Jesus, Philip and the Ethiopian had to first be in the water before they came up out of it.
Baptism by immersion was a Jewish ritual long before John's baptism. Here's a description of how it was performed:
Toward the beginning of the Christian era, the Jews adopted... the custom of baptizing proselytes seven days after their circumcision. A series of specific interrogations made it possible to judge the real intentions of the candidate who wished to adopt the Jewish religion. After submitting to these interrogations, he was circumcised and later baptized before witnesses. In the baptism, he was immersed naked in a pool of flowing water; when he rose from the pool, he was a true son [follower - ed. note] of Israel. After their baptism, new converts were allowed access to the sacrifices in the Temple.
"Baptism: A Pre-Christian History" by Ed Barnes of the Loudon Church of Christ, TN,
To this day, Jews practice no form of baptism other than immersion.
From Old Testament days to the present, the key significance of water immersion is identification. The proselyte to Judaism identified with Judaism by means of immersion. Those who identified with John's the Immerser's message showed it by being immersed. Those who receive the Gospel are to ritualistically identify with it by immersion.
Water baptism is symbolic of the true baptism, the one baptism of Ephesians 4:5, which is Spirit baptism (1 Corinthians 12:13), the dynamic of which is described in Romans 6:3-5:
3. Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4. Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father; even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5. For if we have been joined together in the likeness of His death, we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection;
Immersion into the water represents the crucifixion, death and burial of the old man into and with Christ, and coming up out of the water represents the resurrection of the new man in and with Him. (Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ, and I live. . . .) Immersion and coming up out of the water picture this clearly, but sprinkling and affusion do not picture it at all. It is immersion that Jesus commanded in the Great Commission: Going, then, make disciples of all nations, immersing (baptizo. Thayer: "to immerse, to submerge") them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit . . . (Matthew 28:19).
Water immersion is only for those who understand the Gospel and actively exercise faith in Christ, eliminating infants and all others who do not meet these
conditions. Acts 8:36-38 makes this clear:
|36. And as they passed along the way, they came on some water. And the eunuch said, See, here is water, what hinders me from being baptized? 37. Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, it is lawful. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38. And he commanded the chariot to stand still. And they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch. And he baptized him.
The qualifications of the Lord's Supper as an ordinance are:
1. It is an act that the Lord commanded: Luke 22:19-20.
2. It is a rite or ritual that portrays the saving truth of the Christian faith: 1 Corinthians 11:26.
3. He inspired Luke to record instances of it in the Book of Acts: Acts 2:42, 46, 20:7.
4. He inspired a writer of the epistles to expound on its theological significance: 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; 11:23-31.
The Lord's Supper is described in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26:
23. For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread; 24. And giving thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body, which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of Me." 25. In the same way He took the cup also, after supping, saying, "This cup is the New Covenant in My blood; as often as you drink it, do this in remembrance of Me." 26. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you show the Lord's death until He shall come.
At this last seder (Passover service and meal) before His death, the Lord commanded that His disciples eat and drink the traditional seder elements, the matzoh (unleavened bread) and the wine, to commemorate His death until His return, indicating that it is to be done by all of His disciples throughout the Church Age. We are to eat the unleavened bread to remember the sinless Lamb whose body was broken for us on the cross (leaven represents sin), and to drink the wine to remember His shed blood, the price of the New Covenant (1 Peter 1:18-19).
The Lord said of both the matzoh and the wine, do this in remembrance of Me. They were to serve as memorials. If they actually became His body and blood (the doctrine of which is called transubstantiation), as the Catholic Church and perhaps, others, hold, they would not be memorials, but the real thing; and the partaking of them would constitute a re-crucifixion of the Lord, whereas the Scripture says that His body was offered once for all time (Hebrews 10:10, Analytical-Literal Translation). Jesus did say, Take, eat; this is My body and This cup is the new covenant in My blood (1 Corinthians 11:24-25); but He also said, I am the door (John 10:7, 9). There is no more reason to believe that the matzoh and the wine actually become His body and blood than there is to believe that He became a door when He said, I am the door. He was simply speaking metaphorically.
Consistent with its meaning, the Lord's Supper is only for believers. 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 reads,
27. Therefore whoever shall eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup. 29. For he that eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment unto himself, if he discern not the body.
These words were written to believers. If a believer can be unworthy to partake, how much more would one be unworthy who is in a state of unbelief concerning the Gospel?
The formally ordained spiritual leaders of the local church or congregation are called its elders or presbyters, pastors or shepherds, or overseers or bishops, and they are one and the same. (Compare Acts 20:17 with 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:2 with 5:17; Titus 1:5 with 1:7; 1 Peter 5:1 with 5:2.) The common practice today is to have one pastor and a group of elders (often mistakenly called deacons) under his authority. This is not the biblical practice. A search of the Brit HaChadashah (New Testament) will reveal that all elders worked as a plurality, though they may have operated in different capacities.
Elders must minimally meet the qualifications for deacons (1 Timothy 3:8-12) as the deacons are the helpers of the elders. Above and beyond that, they must meet the qualifications laid out specifically for elders (1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9). The qualifications noted in both passages are very similar. Titus 1:5-9 reads,
|5. For this cause I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed you, 6. if anyone is blameless, husband of one wife, having believing children, not accused of loose behavior, or disobedient. 7. For an overseer must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not full of passion, not given to wine, not quarrelsome, not greedy for ill gain; 8. but hospitable, a lover of good, discreet, just, holy, temperate, 9. holding fast the faithful Word according to the doctrine, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and to convict those who contradict [sound doctrine].
Scripture declares that the elders in a local congregation must be men. We will first look at those scriptures, then the underlying theological principles that are cited in these and related passages, and then consider whether the way the principles were applied in the early congregations must be applied the same way today.
2. The Scriptures
1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6 each states that an elder must be the husband of one wife. In addition, 1 Timothy 3:4-5 states that he must be 4. ruling his own house well, having children in subjection with all honor. 5. (For if a man does not know to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the congregation of God?)
Consistent with these scriptures, whenever the gender of an elder is indicated, and there are many such passages, it is invariably male. Nevertheless, various interpretations based on linguistic, cultural, circumstantial and, perhaps, other considerations, have arisen that allow the eldership of women. I have therefore made every effort to deal with the issue as extensively, carefully, honestly, and fairly as I could.
3. The Underlying Theological Principles
The underlying principles that are given for the headship of the man in the home and the congregation are the same, and are all theological, meaning that they must apply in all homes and congregations everywhere throughout the Church Age. One's cultural orientation and circumstance must always bow to theological principles. This will become clearer as we proceed; and as we proceed, we will be careful to separate the theological principles from the manner in which they were applied to eldership in the early congregations, and how they are to be applied today. It must also be stated that, although other applications of the principles will be noted, the issue of men and/or women in eldership is the only application that we will pin to the ground in this study.
The key principle is that of subjection. The Greek words used are hupotage and hupotasso. According to Strong's Concordance, hupotage means: subordination. According to Young's Analytical Concordance, it means: subjection, submission. Hupotage appears in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 in the context of the need for women to quietly receive instruction with all submissiveness, to refrain from teaching men, to refrain from exercising authority over them, and to maintain silence in the congregation. According to Strong, hupotasso means: be under obedience... be in subjection to, submit self unto. According to Young, it means: ... put in subjection unto, put under.... It is used in 1 Corinthians 14:34 in the context of the requirement of silence for women in the congregation. It is also used in Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18, Titus 2:5 and 1 Peter 3:1, all in the context of the need for wives to submit to their husbands' leadership in the marriage. The principle of the subjection of women to the men in the local congregation may also be found in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, which deals with the requirement of women, perhaps only married women (Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arnold G. Messianic Bible Study 106: The Local Church, p. 42. San Antonio: Ariel Ministries Press), to wear a headcovering in honor of male headship. The passages dealing directly with congregational eldership are consistent with these, and must logically be viewed as relevant to the general requirement of the subjection of the women to the men.
The specific fundamental underlying theological reasons that are given for the necessity of the subjection of the woman to the man are these, which I have listed in
a logical order:
1. 1 Corinthians 11:8: For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man.
2. 1 Timothy 2:13: For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
3. 1 Corinthians 11:9: Nor was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man.
4. 1 Timothy 2:14: And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
5. Ephesians 5:23: For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, and He is the Savior of the body.
6. 1 Corinthians 11:3: the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
Three levels of headship are mentioned here: God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of the man, and the man is the head of the woman. The apostle's
implication is that the principle of headship of the man over the woman begins with God the Father and cascades down the chain from God the Father to Christ to the man to the woman.
7. 1 Corinthians 11:7: For a man . . . is the image and glory of God. But the woman is the glory of the man.
Six of the seven passages appear in the context of the subjection of women to men in the local congregation. The exception is Ephesians 5:23, which speaks of the subjection of wives to husbands; but even here Paul uses the relationship to illustrate the relationship of the universal body of Christ, the bride, to her heavenly Groom, the Chief Shepherd (Pastor) of the church (1 Peter 5:4). Paul explained, I speak concerning Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:32). In the context of the issue at hand, one must note that God ordained that our Chief Pastor, the Lord Jesus, be born male, not female.
4. How May the Theological
Principles Be Applied Today?
In view of the timeless theological principles cited by Paul, one must conclude that the women are to be in subjection to the men in all congregations. That being the case, is it possible in any culture or circumstance for a woman to be in subjection to the men if she is an elder over them with the authority to sit on the decision making counsel and to exhort, admonish and discipline them? How can it be? It is a logical impossibility.
All things considered, this writer cannot help but conclude that, in order to preserve the requirement for the subjection of women to men in the church or congregation throughout the Church Age no matter what the culture or circumstance, men must be in the positions of spiritual headship over the women, and no woman may be in spiritual headship over a man. An elder must be the husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6), a man (1 Timothy 3:5). If a woman is in a missionary situation, leads adult males to the Lord and begins to disciple them, it behooves her to bring them under capable male leadership as soon as possible.
5. Pastors' Wives as Pastors and Women Assistant Pastors
Some say that, if a man is a pastor, and his wife is in subjection to him, then the requirement for subjection has been met and she can therefore be a pastor. But this is not logical. She is still a pastor, and the men in the congregation would still need to be in subjection to her and, as we have seen, this must not be allowed. The principle applies to women as assistant pastors, as well. An assistant pastor is still a pastor.
An even stranger form of "logic" may be found today. In many churches, particularly charismatic churches, when a man becomes a pastor, his wife is automatically crowned pastor as well, and functions as one. Not only is she is not a man, but neither is she scrutinized as closely as her husband as to character, background, strategy and capability. Where in the Word is such a practice authorized? This is not treating the Word of God with reverence, but frivolity.
Those who would force the issue of female eldership face a wall of biblical evidence that resists them. Certainly, love must reign in the congregation, but it will reign in proportion to the degree to that its leaders and members honor the guidelines of Scripture. As a wife must lovingly submit to her husband's leadership in the marriage, so women must lovingly submit to exclusive male eldership in the congregation. Inversely, the men must guard the domain that the Lord has set aside exclusively for them. Paul warned, I have laid a foundation, and another builds upon it. But let every man take heed how he builds upon it (1 Corinthians 3:10).
One more thing: Although, in many churches, women are in positions they should not be in, they are still there, in most cases, by authorization of her denominational superior or pastor, and many of them do not realize that they should not be in those positions. Although rectification of such situations is to be sought, as long as women are in these positions and serving the Lord with a clear conscience, they are to be treated with respect and as under the authority of her superior.
23. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering (for He is faithful who promised), 24. and let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works, 25. not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
~ Hebrews 10:23-25 ~
This passage cautions us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, and tells us why: that we may provoke one another to love and to good works, and to be exhorting one another. Such interrelationship cannot be carried out in front of a TV, radio or other non-face to face medium no matter how good the service. And though we are to minister the Lord's love, truth and godly counsel to one another in informal fellowship, and though an informal assembly may carry out many of the functions of a properly constituted congregation, it is not such a congregation unless its leaders are ordained by an elder who, himself, has been appointed or publicly recognized by a properly ordained elder. Only such an elder has the biblical authority to determine if the group's leaders meet the qualifications for eldership and if the group will, indeed, carry out the functions of a properly constituted congregation.
Functional congregations existed in Crete that did not have ordained elders, and they met no rebuke; yet, Paul told Titus, For this cause I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed you (Titus 1:5).
Just as Paul appointed Titus to a position of spiritual oversight (overseer) over Crete, Titus was to appoint elders in functional congregations within the area in which his authority to do so was expected to be recognized. It is true that Titus was given spiritual authority over a given geographical area, and that in most non-missionary locales today such a situation does not exist. Nevertheless, it is reasonable that a congregation that seeks to function with as full authority as possible conferred by God and by man - both are biblical - ought to follow the principle of having its leaders examined by a recognized elder for ordination if they qualify. It is also reasonable that members of an assembly that is not fully constituted also consider being members of one that is, for only such an assembly and its elders have passed the examination of already recognized elders.
It is the formally organized local assembly with properly scrutinized and ordained elders that has been ordained by God as the forum in which believers might exercise their spiritual gifts and coordinate their efforts under spiritually mature oversight, guidance, judgment and discipline to accomplish all the purposes that the local congregation is biblically required to fulfill.
24. and let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works, 25. not forsaking the assembling of
ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
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