|What do the Scriptures teach how God designed the Church?|
As with the home, God has an order for the Church, and that order is in the Scripture. There may be more that needs to be revealed from Scripture, but some things appear to be quite easily understood in the light that God has given today.
We believe that the Holy Scriptures teach:
Can these be counterfeited?
Yes. Every gift of God can be and is counterfeited by the human mind and by powers and principalities. Even salvation itself is counterfeited. Worship is counterfeited. The Bible is counterfeited with false translations. Ministries are counterfeited. Healing is counterfeited. Miracles are counterfeited. Prophecy is counterfeited. Tongues are counterfeited. And, of course, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers are counterfeited. This makes the real no less real, but, in all these things, God's people need discernment.
The Five-Fold Ministry or 5-fold ministry has become a popular subject in some circles, although the major revelation concerning this subject was unveiled by the Spirit of God about the middle of the twentieth century. Many of the newer human interpretations of this Divine revelation have modified the Truth to allow some people to cater to considerations of money, power, pleasure, and prestige. The original revelation concerning apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers didn't leave much room for the fleshly considerations of money, power, pleasure-seeking, and prestige. It was not an exercise of intellectual stimulation or entertainment. That is probably why the revelation was not too popular among the established church leaders.
Scriptural Church Order:
The term, 5-fold ministry is a misnomer. The apostle is an office. The other four, prophet, evangelists, pastor, and teacher, are all ministries. These four ministries are linked to the office of the apostle, though they can exist on the local Church level without the apostolic office.
The Church consists of many local Churches with overseers/elders and deacons caring for the flock of God. There are no paid ministries in the local Churches. The Churches are governed by apostles. Apostles are also overseers/elders and deacons caring for the flock of God, but not at the local level. It's a simple order. Apostles must be set by God, are all under the government of all the other apostles, and work in unity as one office. Apostles determine the doctrine. Once the apostles have been set, any other apostles are set by those apostles. Apostles set local elders and deacons. All of this is by the leading and direction and authority of the Holy Spirit. Finances are covered by local tithes and offerings that are given to the local Church and distributed from there. This pattern is plainly shown in Scripture. There is no other pattern in Scripture. Yet, there is no money, power, or prestige in God's order, so only a remnant will accept it. Only God gets the glory, so only a remnant will accept it.
All is based on the foundation as laid out in Scripture. The Bible still has the answers, but the human mind is deceitful, and many a Godly person has become puffed up and has gone astray because of his or her human mind. God has a pattern in Scripture that calls for a multiplicity of God-set ministries who are led by the Spirit of God in unity.
There are apostolic elders and apostolic deacons. There are elders (plural) and deacons (plural) in the local churches who are set by apostles and are in submission to the apostles.
An apostle must be set by God. No one can appoint himself to the office of the apostle. It is NOT an office that glorifies the individual now, any more than it was in the early days of the Church. There is no such thing as a maverick apostle or a chief apostle, just as there is no such thing as a chief local elder. The apostles are in submission to each other and the local elders are in submission to each other and to the apostles. All are in submission to Jesus Christ and the Divine pattern laid out in Scripture and revealed by the Holy Spirit. Apostles have authority over the Church Universal. Local elders pastor (care for as a shepherd) the local Church. Deacons on both levels are spiritual ministries who work at the direction of the elders with whom they are set. The one-man ministry of pastor in the local Church is non-existent in the local churches. It certainly does not exist in Scripture.
Revelation for the Church Universal is given to the Apostles and the Prophets. From there, it is delivered to the local Churches and the local elders are to teach no other doctrine.
This is a very quick sketch of some of the revelation that has been given by the Spirit and confirmed in Scripture and this Scriptural order has been functioning for the unfolding of revelation since about the mid-twentieth century.
God's Way is not a smorgasbord from which the Christian may pick and choose. For each person, God pulls back the veil of the flesh so the person can see some element of the Kingdom of God. The person either receives the revelation or not. We are all on the road somewhere. Many are stuck in a rut because they continually reject what God has revealed to them.
As stated above, many rejected the revelation when it was given. It is very difficult for a person who is getting the money, power, and prestige that often accompanies those who excel it is very difficult for a man to lay these things down. It's difficult for someone who has built a considerable organization to lay it down or to become simply, "one of the brethren." It is difficult for a person who is making his living by a disorder to correct the disorder and lose his income. This is part of what is meant when it is said, Salvation is free, but the Kingdom will cost you everything. As a result, many went out and tried to create the Kingdom of God in their own ways, and did not regard God's ways.
Some labeled the Scriptural order as, The primitive church order. There is, however, no other order in the Bible. God's Way is the only way. God will not honor man's way, though He blesses us all in spite of the fact that we have not fully fulfilled in every way.
What became known as The Latter Rain and the Charismatic movements had much good in them and much that was disorderly and destructive in them. God used them, but they are not at all the order of God. These rejected the Scriptural order and took part of the revelation. Many ran who were not sent, causing much confusion. Some got confused between the soul and Spirit.
The list of disorders that have been caused by rebellious attitudes is amazing. Some have sold seminars in which those who have paid the money are promised to be set as apostles, complete with a official certificates. The same thing has happened with other gifts and ministries. Some people are giving tests to try to find out Spiritual gifts, because they can't see the Scriptural order. There have been many cases of people who have not been sent who have laid hands and prophesied gifts over people for gifts and ministries, and those people have wondered why none of those things prophesied ever came to pass, or, worse yet, have tried to make the prophecies come to pass through human effort. Some have tried to put the apostles under a local pastor. The list of disorders could go on.
On the other hand, there are many who have been made hungry by the message of a Living, Powerful God. Some are hungry for something more than dead form and ritual. Some want to go on to the life that God has promised in His Word, and these are prepared to receive God's order and the dying to self that is required for anyone to receive God's order and God's sovereignty in every part of their lives.
Have you heard the song, "Little is Much?" I understand the author's intent, but the problem is that people think that being showcased as a talent is much. It is not. That is the "little" and that "little" is NOT "much". The doers of the so-called "much" are often not sent by God but they went anyway. To run when not sent is rebellion against God. Thankfully, God is very forgiving, and God will use the work that people do in this way. Sometimes people are helped or brought to Christ, but these false orders cannot bring about the Kingdom of God. God has his own methods and ways and we must learn to walk in the Spirit of God. There are many who have been sent, but there are many who just ran when they were not sent.
Some of the activities that we see are examples of Christians who are being led by the Spirit into ministry. Some of the activities are just the religious fleshly nature of mankind. It is bad enough that the local Churches are not following the orders of God, but there are so many extra-biblical organizations that are not following the orders of God. They think that anyone who is godly should be sending them money. You can hear it on the radio all the time. It is almost as if they were skilled in laying a guilt trip on other Christians. Some of them claim that if you send them money that God will then give you money.
The trouble is that this is a substitute for the true Church. The true Church handles finances in the ways of Scripture. It does not hold funding drives to take money out of the local Churches and send that money to these so-called "para-church" organizations. There are people in these organizations that are part of the Church, but these organizations themselves cannot be part of the Church because they are not following God's pattern--they are not following the Holy Spirit. This is not to say that these organizations are evil, but they are not following the orders and precepts of God. And people join them so that they can do much, but their much is indeed little because they are not following the Scriptural order of the Church. Most of these organizations have statements that say that they are not Churches. Yet, the members and leadership of these organizations are constantly tempted to consider their work to be even more important than the work of the local Churches. That may be because they don't know what the work and purpose of the local Churches or the Church universal is?
Last updated: Oct, 2011
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