“Non-institutional” churches do not support institutions other than God’s institutions of the church and the home. Are their convictions merely opinion or necessary to following Christ? The sincerity of these churches and their Christian examples are admirable and encouraging. However, are these scriptural beliefs? This author pleads with all readers to go to the Bible and reconsider the collection and its ministry for the saints.
Is Institutionalism a Sin?
“Institutionalism” is a broad term and can be ambiguous to define. Non-institutional leaders teach that there is only one institution of God, the church (maybe two including the home as an institution). They find that churches bypass the authority of elders when they support any organization of Christians or an individual Christian within an organization serving in benevolence, evangelism, education and, or training preachers.
Non-institutional churches do not support from their collection an organized group of house parents, counselors, and managers that make up a home for orphans. These churches cannot support in good conscience an organized group of teachers, evangelists, and preachers training students who form a school, college, or university. Instead of generally giving to an organization, these churches give only directly to such people (such as foster parents) who may work independently from any such organization. These congregations may give like this, but this is their opinion. If they bind upon other churches, then they exclude other churches from fellowship. These Christians are very generous and often do support these institutions from each person’s own giving.
Where Is the Authority?
Non-institutional churches are right in so many things regarding salvation, baptism, worship in assembly, and elders in church organization. However, the leadership of these churches need to reexamine the use of scriptural authority for consistency. They ask, “Where is the authority?” A worthy and necessary question for things for which God has specifically addressed, but this is misleading otherwise if God has given liberty. The apostle Paul instructed Christians to maintain the traditions just as delivered to them from Christ (1 Cor 11:2).
Regarding things that God has specified in His written Word, they are right that Christians need biblical authority. However, God’s specific authority does not extend beyond anything that God does not address in Scripture. For example, God gives no authority for driving cars to a congregation’s building and Christians are at liberty for choosing transportation. “Non-institutional” congregations do not need authority for using websites and using PowerPoint presentations in the assembly. In these instances, non-institutional churches do recognize that God’s authority does not apply to what God has not specifically addressed in Scripture on these matters.
When is authority not needed? When God does not specify how Christians are to accomplish a command, then there is freedom. When the Scriptures have not given any specific instructions, this leaves liberty. When a Christian brings food to a mourning neighbor, it does not matter whether one brings the food in a glass dish or basket, but whatever is expedient. However, when specifics are given in God’s Word, then Christians must observe these instructions completely. When considering worship in assembly and church government, Christians must have God’s authority. Why? This is because God has given specific commands regarding assembly and polity. Therefore, one must be careful not to exclude matters of liberty and expediency by misapplying the specifics of authority in God’s Word.
Posing the question, “Is that authorized?” can go beyond what is written in Scripture. How? Consider: Where is authority in the Bible to teach the gospel using projectors? There is none. Why do Christians have no problem with a projector that God did not authorize? Because the Bible has no specifics on how believers display the sacred Scriptures, but God blesses Christians when they do. What about the use of codex-books rather than scrolls? Where is the authority? The first-century church initially used scrolls until the rise of the codex. No authority exists for this change, yet no one judges churches for using a bound book for the Scriptures without scriptural authority. Christians are free to choose unless God specified otherwise in the Scriptures.
Disputing over authority about subjects that God did not specifically address is avoidable. Such disputes are unfruitful, distracting, and often harmful (2 Tim 2:23–36). The authority of God’s Word does overcome the traditions of men. Adding incense to prayers, prayers to the dead, and sprinkling and pouring for baptism are wrong by adding to God’s Word (Gal 3:15; 2 John 9). Yes, unauthorized worship is wrong, because God has specified the true worship that God authorized. Changing church government is sinful, because God has specifically authorized Christ as the Head and He established elders over individual congregations. Unless the aim is to cause many divisions by a neglectful misapplication of biblical authority, then all Christians must plead for authority according to what God has revealed in Scripture (cf. 2 Tim 3:16–17). Christians must not add or annul from God’s covenant (cf. Gal 3:15).
Are Sponsoring Churches Wrong?
Some non-institutional leaders consider sinful the act of giving financial support from one congregation to another congregation who would deliver that support unto missionaries and other workers. According to “non-institutional” leaders, churches must give directly to missionaries and to needy Christians, and never pass their giving through the hands of another congregation, organization, or person. They find that giving to other churches through another church to missionaries is to give authority to another congregation to govern those missionaries like a missionary society. They find that some congregations have made themselves into missionary societies that bypass the authority of other church elders. This can be a real concern if passive elders turn their oversight over to another eldership. The non-institutional brethren are right that missionary societies are not scriptural and not the biblical way. Missionary societies do often bypass the autonomy of churches. If a missionary society were simply a group of missionaries, then this would be of little concern, but rather these missionary societies are often boards who circumvent church autonomy and govern missionaries. These also neglect the personal fellowship between congregations and missionaries.
Another valid point of “non-institutionalism” is that a congregation could act as a missionary society, and so one eldership could bypass the elders of other congregations. Yes, this is wrong for any eldership or board to govern the work excluding other elders and churches. One eldership over another is an unscriptural hierarchy. However, this is not common practice or intention.
Some non-institutional leaders can accuse other churches of acting as a missionary society too hastily. Christians must not hear a charge without by two or three witnesses (2 Cor 13:1; 1 Tim 5:19). However, no such practice is prevalent. Where are the testimonies and accounts of such abuses? Have elders given to other churches whose elders pass their gift to a common missionary? Yes. Does doing this give one eldership a higher authority over another? No. Have these supporting elders who give to another church also given up their oversight and any personal relationship with the missionary? No. This is all cooperation between churches. Is such cooperation scriptural? What does the written Word reveal?
Sending financial support by cooperation with other congregations is scriptural, practical, and less expensive. The churches of Galatia (1 Cor 16:1), the churches of Macedonia (2 Cor 8:1), and the brethren in Achaia (Rom 15:26) all worked together having their collections gathered together and delivered to the church elders in Jerusalem for needy saints. They did this all together. This is the cooperation that “non-institutional” churches do not practice and believe this is wrong, because this would either support a central church, person, or group of people as an “institution” that could bypass the oversight of elders of other congregations. However, church cooperation is scriptural.
Were the churches in Judea “sponsoring churches”? These Judean churches received help for the famine and church elders oversaw its distribution (Acts 11:29–30). On this occasion, which elders determined who got what support? Were the elders in Judea bypassing the oversight of other church leaders by receiving and distributing this gift?
The later giving to Jerusalem for which 1 Corinthians 16:3 shows the church at Corinth participated with the churches of Galatia to send money by approving of someone to go with Paul for delivering their gift to Judea. Was Paul another “unauthorized institution”? Was he bypassing the elders? This cannot be! Furthermore, would Paul receive support from congregations for his work and share such with other Christians who helped him like his scribes (Tertius, Luke, or Sosthenes), messengers (like Epaphroditus), fellow teachers (like Apollos), and those he trained (like Timothy)? Would Paul have then established an “institution” contrary to the church of Christ? No. Would giving to Paul and his fellow workers support an institution contrary to the church? No. Would he then have bypassed the elders? No.
Anyone could label any organization for Christian service as an “institution” to reject it. This is the overt fault of “non-institutionalism.” God did not authorize such labels to exclude liberty. Furthermore, in 2 Corinthians 8, Paul sent Titus with another man chosen by the churches. Were these men sponsored messengers and their home congregations “sponsoring churches”? No. However, the churches employed such men as the “messengers of the church” (2 Cor 8:23). Did this bypass the elders of other churches when each church selected a messenger? No. A congregation’s financial support can pass through the care of others even when they are organized, yet this is not making any person, group, or congregation an unauthorized institution that bypasses the authority of an eldership, which is something that all Christians must oppose.
Should “Christian” Schools Exist?
Non-institutional churches perceive that there is no authority for “Christian” schools. They mean this in two ways. They do not believe in supporting such organizations by congregational support, and many do not believe in calling such an institution “Christian.” However, these Christians do support schools organized by Christians as individuals apart from the church collection. These convictions are not wrong until such divide Christians. All Christians on all sides of these issues should sincerely consider Romans 14 and avoid causing another brother to stumble.
What does the Bible say about schools? The churches were supporting Paul’s work from the beginning (Phil 1:3–7; 4:10–20; cf. 1 Cor 9:1–14). Any support of the churches would have helped supply the apostle Paul when he taught disciples in the school of Tyrannus for two years (Acts 19:9–10). His teaching in this school was to convert and to teach Christians. Paul’s whole ministry was a school of training disciples to proclaim the gospel just as Jesus taught His disciples. Paul was rightly supported by congregations, and he was not usurping the authority of elders. He was evangelizing, making disciples, and most likely training others to become teachers (cf. 2 Tim 2:2). Who was supporting those who were receiving instruction? Would Paul have used support from churches to support his students? Must congregations and individuals give directly to each student? Does this mean that congregations could not help needy students except individually? No. Those who supported Paul supported those whom he trained.
A school is simply an organization of teachers instructing and training students, and such a school often includes other people who are necessary administrators for the organization of the teachers and students. Paul had his assistants in ministry such as scribes and fellow teachers. If Christians compose an organization for the education of Christians to teach a trade or for the training of Christian preachers and teachers, then the adjective “Christian” and “school” does describe them in their organization. This is reasonable and scriptural use for the word “Christian” to describe disciples who identify by the name of “Christ” in an organized work.
A few among these congregations believe that the congregation should not have Bible studies in their building besides the gathering of the whole congregation. In other words, they do not have separate studies for children and leave this to their parents. Parents have the right to make this personal decision. Furthermore, such churches are right that the assembly should include the whole congregation, but this does not exclude using the building for school, Bible studies, and other works (1 Cor 14:23). Is it a waste to use a building for only two or three hours a week?
Some of these congregations look down on Bible studies called by other names like “VBS,” “Bible School,” “Ladies’ Day,” and “Bible Class.” This is because the descriptive names for such Bible studies are not verbatim in the Scriptures and may sound denominational. These names simply specify the different approaches for the evangelizing the world and for the edification of the church. Christians should prefer to use other terms apart from denominational terms, but this does not change the scriptural work of studying together and with all people. Christians should not avoid Bible classes because “class” is not biblical and John Wesley organized believers via “Bible classes.” From the beginning of the church, there have been different studies for children, for women, and for evangelism (Titus 2:3–5). However, many object when a name is given to the study. Would they have not referred to these studies in specific ways when the women gathered for teaching or when the children regularly gathered to learn the words of Christ? Would they have called women studying “the women’s bible study” or “women’s meeting”? Again, Christians must be very careful not to misuse of biblical authority to support these conclusions when the New Testament gives freedom.
Should Christians Eat in the Church Building?
Many of the non-institutional leaders find that kitchens in church buildings are unauthorized, yet they accept bathrooms and baptisteries. The Scriptures authorize none of these, but these are not unauthorized. Some of these churches refuse to fellowship congregations who have inherited a building with a room large enough to serve others and provide a place of fellowship. While there is no explicit reference to churches purchasing their own places of meeting from the church collection, non-institutional churches reject this practice of building rooms for “socializing,” which those who accept this call “fellowship.”
What is wrong with a congregation using the kitchen in their building that they have inherited or purchased? Is there anything wrong with a congregation building a room for Bible studies and other meetings? This is not unauthorized. What would be wrong in eating in such a room outside the assembly? What would be wrong in having the supplies and appliances available to prepare meals for those in lengthy studies and labors of the church? Must those laboring around the building leave the building for every meal. Paul did not leave the upper room to eat when he taught in Acts 20. Can one not do a day’s work without returning home, going out, or stepping off the property to eat a sack lunch? Why cannot needy Christians eat on the grounds?
If eating in the location of the assembly in wrong, then the apostle Paul should have known before he ate his own meal at the meeting of Christians in Troas (Acts 20:7, 11). There is apostolic precedent to eat in such a place. However, Christians are not to eat the Lord’s Supper as a common meal in the assembly (1 Cor 11:17–34). The Spirit of Christ spoke through Paul revealing, “For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is filled. […] But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come” (1 Cor 11:21, 33). Many cite these scriptures to condemn eating together in the meeting room of the congregation. Yes, outside of the assembly, they broke their bread together in their houses (Acts 2:46), yet Paul ate in this meeting place of the assembly.
The non-institutional churches quote the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:22, “What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the assembly of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.” These Corinthian Christians were shaming the assembly. The Corinthian Christians should not eat the Lord’s Supper for hunger and to fill themselves with drink. However, this first-century occurrence has nothing to do with eating in a room of a church building outside of the assembly.
When any of these congregations need something, they often do not object to doing so indirectly through another person besides the church collection. Why not provide housing for the preacher with a large room and a large kitchen? Then the congregation could eat together, and “non-institutional” churches would see nothing wrong with this. However, the congregations who have church buildings with kitchens are doing the same when they provide a place for the ministers to eat and the church to fellowship.
According to them, churches are not authorized to build a building on the church’s property where someone might eat and socialize unless that place is the minister’s home. Those who say that the church had no buildings for meeting besides houses should reconsider. The first churches met in synagogues (Jas 2:2 ASV; cf. Acts 18:7–8; 1 Cor 11:22, 34), halls (Acts 19:9), the porch of the temple (Acts 2:46), and upper-rooms that were built for festal gatherings, funerals, and more (Acts 20:7–8). Upper rooms were places of eating, yet that room or the home below had such rooms that would have a kitchen. Christians can assemble and worship in many places even places with kitchens.
Should Christians Share with All from the Church Collection?
In the Scriptures, needy Christians received help from the collection. The non-institutional churches would say that the collection is only for Christians. However, they allow visitors to come into the shelter, protection, and comfort of their buildings that the congregation provides and maintains through the church collection. In the Scriptures, visitors did come under the same shelter of Christians gather as churches (1 Cor 14:16, 24; Jas 2:1–4). Guests to non-institutional churches use their roofs, walls, bathrooms, air-conditioning, heating, carpet, seats, songbooks, lighting, projector, and so on, which they purchased through the congregation’s collection. However, will they give the needy guest food or water purchased from the church collection? Some object. The guests who believed and were baptized entered into their baptisteries as unsaved to rise saved provided by the church collection. Christians used the collection of the church to help the lost, but the Scriptures do limit this help (1 Tim 5:3–16).
The non-institutional congregations also aid God’s institution of the home through individual foster parents, yet they object to providing for house parents of an orphanage from the collection. They do this because these house parents are a part of an organization or “institution,” and they are not working independently as foster parents. A few have admitted that their collection cannot go to help orphans, because these children are not yet Christians. This is not an accusation that these Christians have the heart of any Pharisee, yet this reasoning does appear to many as the Pharisees’ Corban in Mark 7:10–13. The Pharisees refused to help their own parents, because they claimed their money for giving was given to God. Some will only give to repentant baptized believers.
What does the Bible say about helping non-Christians? In 2 Corinthians 9:12–13, Paul may make a strong case for helping the needs of the saints and sharing liberally with all. However, some Christians understand that this passage is referring to specific saints in Judea and the reference to “all” includes all Christians and not all people. There is no reason to argue this point.
Suppose a non-institutional church survived a storm and purchased a water tank with their collection to aid the needy members of the church. Would any surplus go to waste at their building while others were in need? Would the church not give to their neighbors because the church believed that they purchased the water from the church collection? Could not the members take their share and give it freely to their neighbors and in doing so demonstrate the glory of Christ? Could Christians not take their individual shares and give to their neighbors? “Non-institutional” convictions would not allow them to do that if strictly applied. These churches share their building, air-conditioning, and water in their bathrooms with their neighbors, but they might think twice about giving disaster relief to neighbors from the church collection. What a shame and a waste of goodwill! For these churches are tender-hearted, kind, and care for others, but these beliefs restrict them.
Non-institutional churches refrain from helping Christian orphan homes and elderly homes from the church collection. They only help if they are able as individuals. However, the purpose of the church collection is to do what individual Christians cannot do alone. Would they think the apostles would have hesitated to aid widows who lived together and were cared for by organized caretakers? The apostles oversaw the care of needy widows. Some were neglected from the “daily distribution” in Acts 6:1, and that distribution came from the collection (Acts 4:34–35). However, according to most non-institutional churches, giving to such widows who have organized Christian caregivers from the collection is wrong; although, doing so supports their elderly and orphans. They believe that one should only help from one’s own income as God blesses them. They are right to be so generous individually rather than expecting only the church to carry the burden. This is how they apply and observe James 1:27, which reveals, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit [look after] orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
How Are Non-Institutional Churches Right?
Church collections do have limits. Those who do not work do not eat (2 Thess 3:10). The Scriptures teach that widows are first helped by family and then by the church (1 Tim 5:16). If Christian widows are first helped by their family, then would this not apply that all Christians first seek aid from their family? The principle is from Scripture, “But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God” (1 Tim 5:4). Paul also noted, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim 5:8). Christians are to honor father and mother by caring for them as they age. Christians are to show piety and support to their own families first, and then the church can help true widows without families to support them. Non-institutional churches are right to give cautiously to those who are truly in need.
Why would any Christian easily give money to needy unbelievers before caring for their own? The collection should aid the family of God before unbelievers. Paul referred to the purpose of the collect as “the relief of the saints” and “the ministry of the saints” (1 Cor 8:4; 9:1). The congregational collection should first be distributed to true widows in constant distress and to needy Christians for disaster relief. At the same time, this does not mean that churches, who are able, cannot show charity to their denominational and unbelieving neighbors from their abundance in the ministry of the saints. No need to write large checks or give cash to help the needy false teacher or atheist around the corner, but rather Christians can give a cup of water, a bag of food, clothing, or shelter to everyone whether as an individual or from the abundance of collective support of the church. Giving to the lost and unbelievers is not the primary purpose of church collections, but the purpose of the collection is for sharing the gospel, supporting true widows, and helping Christians through disaster relief. Non-institutional churches are right to emphasize the purpose of the collection as for “the ministry of the saints.”
One minister personally observed thousands of dollars given in groceries to the unfaithful in a the community in Christian love, yet the people of the world never considered the gentle invitations to come to Christ. They never stepped through the door on the Lord’s Day to hear the gospel of Christ that compelled these Christians to give to them in the first place. In fact, the minister witnessed that many resented the faith of these Christians who helped them (Matt 6:33). After feeding the five thousand, Jesus did not give those coming to Him again when they would not partake of Him as the bread of life (John 6).
Elders must remain good stewards of the collections. The priority for the collection is to support the saints first as they seek first the kingdom of God and the bread of life. In observation, Christians would be better to give from collections to needy saints and then give to unbelievers out of one’s own pockets. Those unbelievers would more likely consider the personal charity and faith of individual Christians rather than disregard mass distribution from a church as charity for little recognition of Jesus Christ. The cautious giving of “non-institutional” churches should encourage all churches of Christ to be good stewards of the collection.
Should These Matters Cause Division?
Let the non-institutional churches have their convictions and work by the wisdom that God has given them. May God bless all Christians humbly to love one another so as to cause further study on these matters. However, opposition to institutionalism is a position dividing many believers. This writer encourages all to continue to lead by their example of generosity and pattern of right giving. For this reason, this writer pleads with all to go back to the Bible and reconsider giving. Likewise, may all Christians consider further biblical ways to give and maintain the church collection. This writer urges all Christians not to push “non-institutional” believers away or call them “legalists” or “antis.” May God help all Christians so that there are no divisions among the church.
Greetings, in the name of the Lord.
I agree with “most” of your article. However, those who reject the idea of “institutional church systems” which include the 501 (C) (3) registered Government run “churches”, which I am one, who is strongly against these “institutions”. I stand against them for they are not built upon the Foundation that Jesus Christ and His Apostles taught. They are for the most part built upon the imaginations of men according to traditions established by the Roman Catholic Church system.
I strongly disagree with you regarding; Bible College’s, Universities, Seminaries, and Christian Schools for children. Nothing within the New Testament scriptures give any type of support for these types of “institutions”.
Jesus is the Master over His true church, the Bride, then through the Holy Spirit are men placed to be Bishop’s, Elders, teacher’s, pastor’s over the flock of Christ. Then the Parent’s of children, are the ONLY ones to teach their children. What the men learn through Holy Spirit appointed teacher’s, they are then instructed to teach the wife and the children. The believing Parent’s are the only ones who have the full authority of Lord to teach their children. Therefore Christian schools where “parents” send their children to be educated are in fact giving up their authority over their children by allowing another person to teach over them. A stranger has authority over their children, which is not supported by Scripture.
I need to go, but I am willing to continue on with this discussion.
Thank you for your time and this article…….it gave me some insight.
The Lord bless you…
In His Love….
I respect your convictions on these matters and I’m open to reconsidering and making revisions to this post.
I agree that parents have the primary authority over a child’s education but that does not mean that parents specifically fathers cannot choose their instructors and tutors as in Galatians 4 or Paul training Timothy like a son.
Furthermore, Paul was educated in the biblical languages. We certainly have a great need for our leaders to attest to the accuracy of biblical translations. Like Paul training others such as Timothy and Titus, he followed the model of Christ of training disciples which in Greek means “those taught.” Their direct training in the field of experience is a school and would have been more useful and effective for ministry than many schools of ministry today. However, there is a setting for training in academics of the languages and more. I think we need to look at the biblical model noted in the article above.
I agree that the government has no place in directing our churches and homes. I don’t see that happening unless you’re referring to how many churches bent to government lockdowns in 2020. That has certainly exposed those who trust the false prophets and beasts over God’s Word.
And there too, many of our non-institutional brethren have a better approach! Mentorship.
I have met three of those, and it works well for most.
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Please give me the scripture that supports your comment “but that does not mean that parents specifically fathers cannot choose their instructors and tutors” Galatians 4 does not address this in any manner. Paul training Timothy like a son, is due to Timothy’s father was not ever around, because he is not mentioned. The Holy Spirit of God picked Timothy to be taught by Paul, to make that an example to justify to build a “Christian School” for children is quite a stretching of the truth, and adding unto the Lord’s Word.
As far as your argument for Paul being educated in biblical languages, he was trained in Jewish Schools I would imagine. That is not a very good argument again because we are not under the Old Covenant. And regarding Paul training Titus & Timothy, he did follow the model of Christ who trained His Disciples, but that was a group of 12, and there were no “fees” being paid to Christ to train them. Did they receive any BA, PHD’s, or Master diploma’s in philosophy, the arts or theology? No, your argument can not hold any type of honest water.
We have Bible Universities, College’s, Seminaries that students pay thousands of dollars to be educated and “trained” for the “ministry”, creating large debts to be paid.
And where does the Lord’s Word support that these students are ready to “feed the flocks” of the Lord’s, as long as they have obtained their Diploma’s in the fields of “Theological” specialties?
The only “official” acceptance of a person to be placed in Ministry comes from the LORD through the choosing of the Holy Spirit.
Why is the “Church of Christ” a Registered Government 501 (C)(3) charitable organization or I should say a “Corporation”?
Nothing you have stated justifies the establishment of Government controlled Colleges, Churches, Universities, Seminaries, and so-called “Christian Schools”. ALL of them are controlled and managed by Masonic Influences. I’ve seen the documented proof, and have it stored away for my articles to warn believer’s that they need to come out from “the Harlot system”, and the Church of Christ is one of them.
Thank you for the discussion.
In His Love….
Corporations are formed to do legal business, like acquiring property.
Although I follow your reasoning on some, I cannot help but wonder about your religious affiliation. You place churches of Christ among the great harlot. How do you get there??
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I have no religious affiliation. I am a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, born-again by the Power of the Holy Spirit chosen by the Will of God, unto Salvation. Also called to be a Eunuch for the Lord, single, never married….
I have left the whole institutionalized Church system….He called me to come out from among the “Harlot system”….for the Lord is the Living Tabernacle, built without hands, and who does not dwell in buildings built by men’s hands. I have been out of the “main-stream” system for over 20 years.
As during the time of the Apostles most met in person’s home’s, and like Jesus rented a space for the Last Supper. Jesus said it Himself, “where two or three are gathered in His Name, He is in the Midst of them”……and all the Power of the Godhead is with them.
They at times did meet in Temple’s, but they were cast out, as Jesus was cast out of Jerusalem and died at Calvary.
I hope this answer’s your question….
Thank you for the discussion….
In His Love….
Why are you out of “the system”? Plant a church. Christ promised to build His church and He bought it with His blood (Matt 28:19-20; Acts 20:28). Christians need one another (Heb 3:12-13; 10:24-25). There are no Christians independent of the church in the New Testament. We are meant be a part of the community of God’s people to be a body of disciples following Christ.
If you read and study the Bible, you know that you should be a disciple among disciples in the church. You may identify the Harlot of Rome but that doesn’t exclude your from being a faithful disciple in the church that Christ built.
I’ve been to every “system” under the sun, except for your “system”. I could not join your system because of what you teach. I am not free will believer, I am also not a anti-millennial believer.
And I have been called out of the “Harlot system” by the Lord . “IF” I am to plant a “church” the Lord will guide me to do so. At this time I am a “Watchman” warning believer’s what is Of the Lord and what is not.
The Lord does the planting, I just wait upon Him to do so. Yes, the Lord always has a remnant separated from the rest of those who walk not in Him but after the Tradition’s of men. Many such examples are revealed throughout the Lord Word Old and New Testament.
I believe in a total separation of Church and State. We have no authority to make the world into a Moral society through Government involvement. I believe we have no business in encouraging believer’s to be involved with Politic’s, the military, voting, protesting in the streets or to elected officials. I do not vote, I do not get involved with the wicked ways of fallen men who govern this world, as according to the Lord’s commands. I just pray for Government leader’s. I am against Abortion, and all of the other sinful ill’s of human society, but it is NOT up to me to condemn any of the sinner’s in this world. The Holy Spirit was sent to “Convict the world of sin and Judgement”. We are to reveal the Love of God in the Power of the Holy Spirit, not in the “urgency” of fleshly religious men.
Like Christ and His Apostles we are called to Preach and teach the Gospel of Christ when and where the Lord through His Holy Spirit guides us too. The Lord has foundations which the true Body of Christ is to follow and adhere too. Otherwise it is all wood, hay and stubble, and anything built upon the “sand” shall fall and crumble.
I hope this explains my stance for you…
In His Love….
I also have a question for you. Does the COC churches teach and believe in the literal Kingdom of God in Heaven? Do you believe that heaven is only a spiritual existence, NOT a literal place?
In His Love….
Don’t call us COC churches. That’s very disrespectful. I’m not talking down to you. Why are you condescending to us?
Yes. We believe in the actual kingdom of God. Christ is king. The church are His people. The heavenly country is the eternal dwelling at our resurrection.
The resurrection is physical and real. The faithful will resurrect to eternal life in our immortal bodies (1 Cor 15). We are the kingdom now (Col 1:13; Rev 1:5-6). We will enter the eternal kingdom (2 Pet 1:11).
Me abbreviating the “Church of Christ” COC is not disrespectful it’s only in your imagination. I am not condescending actually. It is you, because in my research your “body” actually believes if anyone does NOT join your “church organization” then they are out of the will of God. Is this correct?
What about the Person of the Holy Spirit? Do you believe He is also a person, who acts on behalf of the Father and the Son?
Thank you for your time, and responses.
Also I would like to add that you state you only do what God’s Word has to teach, correct?
How’s this for some proof that your International Church of Christ does NOT adhere to the word of the Lord.
Singapore court case
The Central Christian Church in Singapore, which is a part of the ICOC family of churches, won a court case (SINGAPORE HIGH COURT – SUIT NOs 846 and 848 of 1992 Judges LAI KEW CHAI J Date 29 August 1994 Citation  1 SLR 115) where the judge ruled against a newspaper that had accused the Church of being a cult. An expert on religious studies testified that the Central Christian Church’s practices were “neither strange, unnatural or harmful.”
The Lord states that we will be slandered and falsely accused by the those in the world, correct? Why in this instance did this branch of the COC take a “newspaper” for accusing them of being a cult” to court?
Are we not instructed to “turn the other cheek” when we are prosecuted for our faith?
Did Jesus or the Apostles take the Jewish religious leaders to court for their false accusations against Jesus Christ and His Apostles and followers?
Are we not taught that we should NOT retaliate against those that hate us?
Or is it that this branch of the International COC hated that it was accused of being a “cult” that caused your system to retaliate, because it was true, and they needed to cover it up! It was and still is true. I have been reading people’s testimonies why they left the COC, because it was a Cult! Control is your main objective just as it is with the RCC, The Jehovah Witness, and most “main-stream” so-called Christian churches. Such as John MacArthur, the SBC etc…..
Your “church” system loves to separate the children from the Parents so you can teach them! That is against the Lord’s desires for the family as stipulated by the Apostles. But you just justify your ungodly, and unholy ways to build your own kingdom, just like every other cult.
I know what a cult is, for I had been involved with one while a babe in Christ. And I left them and you know what? Everyone involved with that cult their faith is ruined!
I have every biblical right to strongly rebuke false teachers, and cult’s because it is dangerous for the babe’s in Christ and the immature to be involved with such, so they need to be aware of the wolves that go around seeing whom they can devour.
Anything that is NOT built according to the Lord’s Foundation and the Apostles is built upon sand, and that house shall fall, your’s has already.
It has been judged by God’s Word, which condemns those that are of the Anti-Christ spirit pretending they follow the Narrow way and seduce other’s to follow them into Hell!
“The Church of Christ” has no centralized authority which tells congregations what and what not to believe. Technically, anyway…
There is no reason to limit heaven to a “spiritual” place. We get a true glimpse of heaven in only a few places – and no, the New Jerusalem is NOT heaven.
Isaiah gives us a glimpse, Steven gives us a glimpse, and John gives us a glimpse. And that is all we know about heaven.
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I place the “Church of Christ” amongst the “harlot system” because they first deny, that the forgiveness of Sins through the Blood of Christ is not enough to be born-again. That one needs to be baptized also to be completely saved, and that is not true. Perfect example is the thief on the cross next to Jesus who believed and Jesus informed him he would be with Him in His Heavenly kingdom. He was never baptized, and Paul did not think it too important also since he Baptized one in water.
Also CofC follows after the traditions of men in regards to their worship, schooling, bible institutions for “educating” men for the ministry, which is not supported by scripture.
The CofC also believe in a works salvation, which is not correct. And I looked into the History of the CofC and the men which assisted in “founding” this denomination makes me question from God’s Word if they were truly born-again by the Holy Spirit or just religious through their self-will decision to follow Jesus Christ.
I hope this helps to understand where I am coming from.
In His Love…..the Lord bless you.
The problem with your first statement is that you seem to leave the statement/command of Jesus includes baptism, followed by being taught all that Jesus commanded, which includes baptism.
Peter puts that into practice in Acts 2. His message is: This is what you thought about Jesus. This is who Jesus really was. The response is a question: What must we do? The response is simple: Repent (Change your mind about who Jesus really is, in this context), be baptized for forgiveness of sins.
Simple, isn’t it? The incorrect idea of removing baptism from all that is involved in salvation is relatively modern, actually. And some of our Baptist friends are beginning to understand that removal was a mistake.
And once again, the man on the cross – you realize that the command to baptize into the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit was not in effect at that time, right?
It was the resurrection (not his death, not his burial) that proved Him to be who He claimed to be (Unless you don’t believe Paul when he writes, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ…”
Not only that, but why would Peter’s answer include baptism?? The same Peter, who later clearly connects baptism and salvation!
Sure, they met in homes. But other places are mentioned as well. So making a point of that seems a bit iffy. Now, I wholeheartedly take issue with multi-million dollar edifices. That, and the ever-increasing clergyfication (Not a word, I know). More than 80% of ‘budgets’ go for salaries and real-estate, and we seem to have forgotten our reason for existence: Seek and save the lost.
You seem to use a very subjective standard when you say, “makes me question from God’s Word if they were truly born-again by the Holy Spirit or just religious through their self-will decision to follow Jesus Christ…”
What exactly is “born again by the Holy Spirit” look like?? Where do I find a Biblical description of that process?
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I need to state that I have been baptized, so I am not against Baptizing in any manner.
I’ve been Baptized 3 times. Once when I was about 11 or 12 years of age in California, at a Baptist Church. I said the “sinner’s prayer” at the request of a family member. I was Baptized shortly thereafter, was involved with the choir and the “Boys Brigade”, and sunday school, read my bible and won a contest for reading the most scripture in a week.
You can read about my life in the “About section” of my blog, and my testimony also.
However behind the scenes I was struggling with homosexual acts, ever since I was 9 years of age. So I grew up thinking I was a “saved” Christian. But in 1978 the Lord came and sought me out, and the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to hear and to see that I was not born gay, and that the homosexual life was a sin. I met the true Jesus Christ that night, no bible, no human, I was stunned at the truth, and was convicted of my sin, and then knew Jesus Christ was alive, and real! I never knew Jesus was truly real, and alive before…….. I wept, asking forgiveness, and to please forgive me and cleanse me…..I then realized that as a boy I was not a Christian, that I was not saved! It was a shock but the truth.
I digress, I say this because after I became born-again by the Holy Spirit, I searched out a church to attend, because I needed to be where Jesus was with other Christians. I was forgiven, and the joy that invaded my soul that winter’s night, was something I had never experiences before. Forgiven and cleansed!!! For hours I was reeling with Joy, and wept at the same time. Well about a month after that at a church I was then Baptized. However I was forgiven and born-again before I was baptized.
The point I am making in disagree with you is that it is the Blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses us and redeems us from our sin’s before Baptism ever occurs, being Baptized is giving an outward public testimony of being saved by His Blood, and rising out of the water is a symbol of His Resurrection unto life. That evening when Jesus came and saved me, I was sealed with the Holy Spirit.
So person’s who become born-again saved by the remission of their sins through the Blood of Christ and die before they are baptized are saved and dwell with Jesus for all eternity.
Now regarding the Scripture you gave in Acts 2, it states this:
Act 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Act 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Act 2:39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
Your insertion of the words “Change your mind about who Jesus really is, in this context). Those words do not appear in this scripture, however I understand why you inserted, nevertheless they do not appear within the scripture.
Now in verse 37 it states “they were pricked in their hearts” the word pricked means: G2660
From G2596 and G3572; to pierce thoroughly, that is, (figuratively) to agitate violently (“sting to the quick”): – prick.
Who brings conviction of sin to persons within this world? The Holy Spirit.
And let us not forget that Peter spoke those words in the Power of the Holy Spirit and those who were granted the Grace to believe did so, and 3000 person’s were truly Born-again and added unto the “church”, which was NOT made by the hands of men.
Joh_16:8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
Who gives person’s a new heart and a change of mind? And writes His Law’s upon the heart? God through the Holy Spirit, there is no other way, because men do not seek out the Lord, it is God that gives humans the Grace to believe.
Eze 36:23 And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.
Eze 36:24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.
Eze 36:25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
Eze 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
Eze 36:27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
Joh 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Joh 1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Jesus said it Himself to Nicodemus;
Joh_3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Joh_3:4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
Joh_3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Joh_3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Joh_3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
Joh_3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
So anyone who is truly born-again from above is “born of the Spirit”. Hope this explains the being born of and through the Holy Spirit, for without the Spirit we are not saved.
This is enough to write concerning baptism and being born-again through the Holy Spirit. I will address your second to last paragraph shortly.
The Lord bless you…..
In His Love….
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While I disagree with your understanding of baptism, God bless you for your faith and repentance. I don’t see baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit as any other than the “one baptism” when repentant believers receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Matt 28:19-20; Acts 2:38; Eph 4:5).
As a kid, I remember the world as an evil and frightening place filled with hatred, threats of violence, perverted words of immortal sex from men and women, and constant hypocrisy. All the world was dark, evil, and hopeless apart from the light of God. I did not want to grow comfortable with the world. I wanted to be free, so I sought out God. God is the only One who makes sense of the world. I saw God’s work in His creation and I stood in awe. I loved God for giving me life. I grew up hearing the truth that is Jesus Christ in the churches of Christ. Jesus made sense of God. I loved Christ for His life, death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus overcame the evil the world and He freed me when I was united with Him in the burial of baptism at age 11. God poured love into my heart through the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5). I was saved, forgiven, and received the Holy Spirit at baptism (Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet 3:21). I was born again when I was born of the water and the Spirit (John 3:3, 5; Titus 3:5). That was all the work of God despite what false teachers say who speak against the Word of the God (Col 2:12-13). Now, my hope is on the resurrection of Jesus Christ to resurrect like Him on the last day (John 6:40).
I could say so much more but my point is that my experience aligns with God’s written Word so that the words of God attest to my salvation sealed by the Spirit of God.
So have you read my testimony? Do you have any problems with it? If so I would be interested in knowing what they were “if” any. The Lord expects us to be honest with ALL men, whatsoever is asked of us, we should always have answer.
In His Love…
So you are saying that my salvation experience is not according to God’s Word?
That is rather presumptuous and filled with Pride and self-righteousness.
You are deceived………. very deceitful and evasive…….but that is typical of one who walks in the flesh, and not the spirit. Matter of fact, where is my comment asking certain questions Like, to believe that Heaven is only a spiritual place instead of an actual place? How about your rejection that the Holy Spirit is a person?
The Church of Christ is a cult….plain and simple……..When a person is born-again by the Convicting Power of the Holy Spirit and cleansed by the Blood of Christ shed for the sins of man, granting that person the Gift of Repentance, that person before being Baptized is immediately becomes part of the Living Body of Christ without becoming a member of a “church”. Period…….
You are on the road to hell……….very sad…….
Reading your testimonial confused me. Not only that, but I found serious contradictions with biblical accounts of conversion experiences. And since those are the one and only measure we have to go by, I would have to strongly disagree with your explanations.
And I already know your response: I am not looking at the biblical text correctly. I would like to have more communication, but would rather take that off-line, if that is acceptable to you?
No, I desire not to take it private……..
Your reaction to my Born-again testimony……reveals much to me.
I shall no longer throw pearls before swine…….
Why do you speak lies of slander about us?! You shall not bear false witness. We’ve always taught the blood of Christ for forgiveness. You speak of the thief on the cross before Jesus died, was, buried, resurrected, and commanded baptism in Matt 28:19-20 and Mark 16:16. Why? Can you receive salvation apart from Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection?
You even say that the thief was not baptized (by John) but you don’t know that. You don’t know of what your speak. You speak like those who rejected baptism in Luke 7:30. You don’t know where we came from or where we are going. If you wanted to know our history, you could identify it from the source of truth. We’ve been here from the beginning and we will rise on the last day.
The churches of Christ are not a registered 501c3 organization. The churches of Christ have no headquarters. Each congregation is autonomous.
Being dismissive of scriptures rather than addressing them is not an honest approach to truth. Can you clarify what you believe or how you arrived there?
That is good to hear, that you are not a 501 C 3 organization. My error, forgive me, so you must pay heavy taxes for your church properties, and incomes for Pastor’s, teacher’s, ect…
School teacher’s, Bible college’s……
And how am I being dismissive of scriptures? I am presenting all things honest as the Lord requires of me.
I have stated that Only those chosen of and by the Lord through the Holy Spirit chooses those who are to teach, exhort, and evangelize. Mater of fact the Lord’s Word states: 1Jn 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
Yes, here is my testimony:
In many states the church of Christ has to be registered to complete business transactions.
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Thank you for clarifying that many Church of Christ congregations are a 501 (C)(3) IRS registered charitable organizations, for “Business transactions”.
The label “non-institutional” refers to a distinct fellowship within the Churches of Christ who do not agree with the support of parachurch organizations . It means that these churches do not support the institutions that are commonly supported by the “mainline” congregations.
Where do the scriptures state that Paul was supported by churches when teaching in the Hall of Tyrannus?
And yet: these congregations are as autonomous as all other congregations. If that is their decision, what makes it your issue to disagree?
If you really are concerned about biblical ways to spend congregational funds? How about limiting this to missions, widows and orphans? For that, we have biblical examples! Where do you see investment in millions upon millions in real estate? Hundreds of thousands in payroll? Borrowing money from the government PPP fund?
So before a critique of non-institutional congregations, you might take a closer look at home.