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Keralabrethren.net: General Forum: Ekklesia, Sunagogue, the Assembly--commonly known as the Church

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# 07752 :  Ekklesia, Sunagogue, the Assembly--commonly known as the Church

Introduction

In studying the doctrines in the Scriptures, we should try to stay away from statements such as: “I agree,” “I agree with you,” and so on. This may appear as a radical viewpoint, because we are familiar with agreeing and disagreeing each other. When we use such statements, then we indicate that our agreement is what makes the doctrines valid. We are not interested in the validity of premises, but we are interested in its truth from the Word of God. If we are studying mathematics, then we are interested in the validity of mathematical statements, because mathematics does not deal with truth. The Word of God is the words of the Truth and we are interested in the truth. We should be willing to agree in submission before God and to His Word.

In studying the Scriptures, we should take extra care in understanding what God is communicating. This aspect is the most important factor that will help us. When we try to communicate and understand each other, for the purpose of establishing what we think as the final truth, then we will stray away from what God wants us to know. Let me try to show what I mean by this, using a story that I read some time before. Once upon a time, a blind man (let me call him ‘Joe’) from birth, asked another man who is not blind (let me call him ‘George’), a question, “What is white?”

George replied, “White is a color and snow is white.”

Joe replied, “Oh, it is sort of cold and damp and melts in your hand, but very slippery to walk.”

George replied, “No, let me help you. Let us forget about snow. A paper is white.”

Joe smiled and said, “I see, it rustles.”

George replied, “It does not rustles, my rabbit is white. I have it with me.”

Joe touched the rabbit and said, “I see, white is fluffy and soft.”

George tried to help his newly found blind friend and said, “White is not soft and fluffy, Porcelain is white.”

Joe was happy to hear that and said, “Thank you for helping me. Now I know that white is a brittle color.”

This story illustrates the difficulty of communicating between two people without a common experience. Joe, who is blind, understands about snow, paper, rabbit etc. from his experience while George also understands about those from his experience. Their experiences may have commonalities as well as diffferences, but they comprehend about the thing according to what they experienced before.  

Our common experience is that we are children of God and we have that experience not because we think or read the Bible. We are children of God because we are given that right by the Eternal God through Jesus Christ our Lord (John 1:12). This common experience demands that God’s Word should be the final authority in our faith and conduct. The writings of men, how scholarly they may be, will not establish the doctrines. Only the Word of God will do that.

Please remember that the meaning of words is not in the words, but in our experience in those words. When a philosopher thinks about language, he views it as arranged by the organizing experience of the mass of the people. This operational philosophy is prevalent in this world. In our discussion, the operational philosophy is that the Word of God is what defines our experience and walk.

The process of making something known, in abstract, is by defining the terms. Therefore, the definitions are the manifestation of our experience stated from our vocabulary. If our vocabulary is inadequate, the need for definition arises to give us an experience in abstract that matches with the person who already has an experience. The all-knowing God, provided to His children, such definitions of what we have not experienced for knowing what we do not know. God has explained the meaning of what we should know without experiencing them, but He expects us to practice them without exception. When we study about the various aspects of the Assembly (εκκλησια –EKKLESIA = the Church) our intent is to understand what God has revealed about it in the Scriptures using words in the human language(s) that He selected and inspired His apostles and prophets to write them down.

We are not to discuss about the ideas that prevails among Hindus, Muslims, and so on. Even, we are not interested in following how any Christian conducts his/her Church. We are interested to know “What is the Assembly (εκκλησια –EKKLESIA = the Church), according to the scriptures?”

I wish to make a few more thoughts about our approach in discussing this subject on the Assembly (εκκλησια –EKKLESIA). It is not our duty to consider doctrines in the Bible as theory or practical. Usually we use the word ‘practical’ in connection with doctrines. In the Bible, we do not read about the practicality of any doctrine. It is not man’s responsibility to decide about the practicality of doctrines. God gave these doctrines and man is to live by them in obedience to God. The search for any practicality of doctrines is rooted in the desire of man to change the God given doctrines, at our will.

What about theory? There are many theories in science. They are derived from observations. The observations are the ‘sense data’ that are collected using our senses. The theory is derived from these sense data as ‘universal statements’ to represent all observations, past-present-and-future. Let us consider the theory of falling bodies. The theory of falling bodies states that all bodies fall at the same rate, in a vacuum, on the earth. No one has seen this happening, because no one has observed bodies falling in a vacuum space. If we ask any scientists about observing the falling of bodies in a vacuum, he will say that we can make only a sort of vacuum and not a perfect vacuum and therefore it is not observable. It is a theory and could be validated by observing under certain imperfect conditions. An example is a stone falling to the ground as opposed to a feather. The doctrines in the Bible are not what some men compiled as the result of observation, collection of data, analysis, testing of hypothesis, etc. God gave them to man to learn and live by it in obedience.

If there is a theory, then there are many applicability of that theory. A theory is not the truth. It is a premise that is in need of validation. We could use the knowledge of a particular theory along with others to modify the results. We can drop a bomb with precision. The precision of falling bodies could be increased by continuous correction of its descend using technology. When it comes to doctrines, we are not expected to modify or correct them. Our human nature may make it difficult to live a perfect life. This imperfection of our human nature should not be used as an excuse to modify God given doctrines. If we do, then it will be similar to modifying the Theory of Gravitation, because a feather does not fall to the earth as a stone does. The descending rate of a body as observed using our senses varies from object to object. If anyone tries to change the theory based on the sense-data, then the new theory will be wrong beyond any excuse. Apostle Paul wrote about this from his life, not about falling bodies, but about God’s word and the difficulty to live according to it. We never read that our human nature should be used as an excuse not to obey the Word of God, either. Out Lord Jesus Christ asked a Lawyer, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” We are to read what is in the Bible as it is written and not as we would like to read. This is not a single incident. Lord Jesus Christ said similar expressions in other places. Please read: Matthew 12:3, 12:5, 19:4, 21:16, 21:42, 22:31-22; Mark 2:25, 12:10; Luke 6:3, 10:26, 20:17; John 7:22-23; Acts 4:11; and 1 Peter 2:6-7.

When it comes to sacrifices to God, Cain offered a theoretical sacrifice. He gave what he had to God on an altar. It was not accepted, because it was not according to what was required of him by God. By the reason of the theory of sacrifice, Cain could justify his sacrifice saying that it was all that is ‘practical’ for him to do. He was not a shepherd to bring a lamb, but he was a farmer and could bring the fruits of the ground that was cursed by God. God said that Cain had still time to correct, but he did not. Instead of correcting, he chose to kill his brother who followed the demand of God, as he knew, without changing it. Cain might have thought that by killing his brother, Abel, he had taken away any option for God to prefer another person’s offering. Thus, Cain became a vagabond and a fugitive; not only in thought and action, but also in his walk on the earth.

Man may manufacture many theories on the Assembly, but God gave only one doctrine–The New Testament. Are we interested to know that doctrine? Alternatively, are we interested to establish what we consider as our theory of doctrine by claiming that our theory should supersede the truth?

It is our responsibility to know the will and mind of God, with respect to the doctrines and all that is revealed in the Word of God. We read about this in Deuteronomy 29:29. When God revealed His requirements to the children of Israel, who were redeemed by the blood of the lamb and showed the salvation of God, it was told, “The hidden things belong to Jehovah our God; but the revealed ones are ours and our children forever, to do all the words of this law.” Similar statements from God are given in Amos 3:7, Romans 15:4, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, etc. When the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ was on this earth, He challenged the Pharisees and His disciples about what is written in the laws of Moses. He even asked them how it is written and how do they read. In Deuteronomy 29:29, we read that only the revelation is to be followed and it should not be done partially. “To do all the words of the law,” is what we read. Unfortunately, many Christians say that it is not necessary to know and follow all the doctrines. What we are to know and do are revealed and there is no justification to postponing the knowing of that revelation by saying that we will know everything after “We cross over into the world that awaits us.” What is revealed is to be known, while we are on this earth, and we should have no excuse about not knowing them. We are accountable without exceptions and excuses.

Shalom Malekim!!!

(To be continued)

Note: Please wait till I complete the postings, for adding your contributions.

Post by : George P. Koshy  View Profile    since : 21 May 2015


Reply by : George P. Koshy   View Profile   Since : 28 May 2015 4:40:03 PM Close

Ekklesia (Ekklhsia), the Assembly (the Church)

 

To define ‘Local Assembly,’ we could accomplish it by understanding what is meant by ‘Assembly’ in the scripture and then adopting that to a locality. In defining a word or a concept from the Scripture, various methods are used singly as well as in conjunction with each other. I am using ‘the law of first occurrence,’ ‘the law of context,’ and ‘the law of relevance’ for making inference on what is an assembly.

 

Let us look into the law of relevance: The word assembly is the translation of the Greek word ekklhsia (EKKLESIA). It is a compound word from ek (EK = out) and klew (KLEO = called), and the meaning of the compound word is ‘called out.’ To the Greek, it stood for: The select group of free citizens convened for the transaction of public affairs, in which the common populace, strangers, and such as had forfeited civics rights, had no place. We see such a group in Acts 19:22, 39, and 41. There we read about a group of people who were citizens of that city or place coming together out of the many who lived there. Those who came together were the ‘called out’ for a certain purpose out of the many that did not come together. Those who came together were not strangers or aliens to that community. They were not passing through that place. They lived there as citizens of that place. Those who came together were people who did not forfeited their civil rights. They were in good standing at that place, doing their civil duty as its citizens. Over and above, they were not slaves, but free men. Those who came together met all the requirements to be called as an ‘assembly’ (ekklhsia = called out) compared to the common populace.

 

When we read about the children of Israel in the wilderness were an assembly (Acts 7:38), they also met all the criteria that is applicable for them to be called so. They were not slaves. They were freed from their masters on Egypt by the decree of the Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. When he tried to reclaim his authority over those whom he declared to be free, he was killed and the freed people saw the power of salvation from God on the shores of the Red Sea. They were the ‘called out’ of the nation of Egypt by being redeemed by the blood of the lamb. They were in the wilderness for the purpose of performing a transaction of public affairs that was given only to them. That was to obey their God, Jehovah, and to inherit His blessings in a promised land by obeying Him and worshipping Him, and Him alone. They did not forfeit their civil rights, though there were attempts to do so, many times. They lived in the wilderness, in the presence of God. Thus, the children of Israel met all the criteria to be called as an EKKLESIA (ekklhsia), assembly, in the wilderness. Unfortunately, influenced by the Reformed Theology or Covenant Theology, the translator of KJV and other translations, translated this portion as, “the Church in the wilderness.” It should have been “the assembly in the wilderness,” or more literally as, “the called out in the wilderness.”

 

The Assembly (ekklhsia) in the New Testament is a people that are freed from the power of Satan by the Son. We are set free by the Son as He said, “The Son shall set you free.” We are the “called out” with a purpose to show God’s grace to the undeserving sinners by conforming the ‘called out’ to the image of His dear Son. This ‘calling out’ was from the common populace of this world, both Jews and Gentiles. As the citizens of heavens, we have not forfeited our civil rights, though we try to do so, repeatedly. We are not strangers or aliens to His kingdom. We are the children of God. In John 1:12 we read that this status to us is given as a right and not as a privilege. This ‘called out’ group from both Jews and Gentiles meet all the criteria to be called an EKKLESIA (ekklhsia), an Assembly. There is a great difference between Ekklesia—the called out and the Synagogue (συναγωγε)—the gathering of the ‘called out.’  We should not confound this truth with the other assemblies that are mentioned in the Word of God in Acts 7:38; and 19:22, 39.

 

Now let us use ‘the law of first occurrence,’ and ‘the law of context’ in defining ‘the Assembly.’ The word ekklhsia (EKKLESIA) occurs 115 time in the New Testament. In KJV it is translated 112 times as CHURCH, and 3 times as ‘assembly.’ The first occurrence of it is in Mat. 16:18, there our Lord Jesus Christ said, “I will build My assembly.” In 1 Tim. 3:15 it is called “God’s house.” In John 14 we are told that our Lord will come to receive us to be with Him when He completes the abode in His Father’s house. In Ephesians we read that it is His bride. In Revelation our Lord revealed it as the New Jerusalem, the bride of the Lamb. We understand from the scripture that it is built from the day of Pentecost till the rapture. This is further detailed as a building built with living stones in other parts of the Scriptures, such as 1 Peter 2.

 

Using ‘the law of context,’ we understand that in a given locality, those who are gathered together are also called ‘the assembly.’ Is should have the basic characteristic of being built by the Lord. In the New Testament, Christians in a house as well as in cities are called ‘the assembly’ to indicate the local assembly. The local assembly’s character come short of what it should be as we see in Corinth, Galatia, and other places. The falling short of its intended characteristic is evident among the seven assemblies in Revelation 2 and 3. Our responsibility to keep the local assembly pure is also given in the New Testament, especially in Revelation 2 and 3.

 

Our Lord Jesus Christ also told about our responsibility in keeping the assembly that He builds in its purity. In Matthew 18:15-20 we read about the offender, the one who was offended, one or two others, and the assembly. That implies the assembly consists of more than the first three groups. That is more than four in number. Our Lord also stated in verse 20, “For where two or three are gathered together unto My name, there am I in the midst of them.” This could be in connection with the ‘one offended’ with the ‘one or two’ meeting together, as in verse 16. This gathering (sunagwgh - SYNAGOGUE) has the same implication as that of an assembly. We read about the gathering assembly in many places. Matthew 18:20, 1 Corinthians 11:18 are two of them. All the local assemblies mentioned in the New Testament by name are the gathering assemblies of the called out people. In gathering, they may be mixed with those who are not called out by God. They are the main reason for the errors, deceptions, falling away, etc. happened among them, even in the life time of the apostles. Such impurities are not in the called out saints and they will be presented to the Father by the Son without spot and wrinkle. Without going into a longer dissertation, this is the justification of separation from those who hold unscriptural doctrines in places we live and gather together unto His name.

 

The following is my understanding of a ‘local assembly’: A local assembly is a group of Christians who should be born of God (John 1:12, 13; 1 Peter 1:22-25) and indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13) are members of the body of Christ to which He is the Head (Ephesians 1:22, 23; 4:4; 1 Corinthians 12:12, 13; Romans 12:4, 5). A local assembly seeks to express the truth of one Body of Christ by gathering together unto His name, appropriating His promise to be in the midst (Matthew 18:20), and acknowledging the guidance of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:1-11). “That He might have the first place in all things” (Colossians 1:18).

 

ASSEMBLY vs. GATHERED:

(Ekklhsia vs. Sunagwgh--Ekklesia vs. Synagogue)

I have some difficulties with the human logical reasoning using the logical paths, such as: “If it does, then . . ,” and “If it does not, then . .” These kinds of reasoning are based on a binary thinking; “If you are with us, then it is good,” and “If you are not with us, then it is bad.” This kind of approach makes it impossible to have a discussion and creates divisions.

Are we being confused with ‘Ekklesia’ (Ekklhsia) and ‘Synagogue’ (Sunagwgh - SYNAGOGUE)? Ekklesia means ‘called out,’ and Synagogue means ‘Gathered together.’ In KJV, ekklhsia (EKKLESIA) is translated as ‘assembly’ three (3) times and as ‘church’ 112 times. At the same time, sunagwgh (SYNAGOGUE) is translated as ‘assembly’ once (1), as ‘congregation’ once (1), and as ‘synagogue’ 55 times. Following this pattern of translation, we have a tendency to confound the Ekklesia and Synagogue. By confounding two different and distinct things always leads to confusion and error.

When Christ said that He will build the assembly the word used is ekklhsia (EKKLESIA). This word appears in the New Testament about 115 times. The same word is used for both unruly and unlawful gathering of people as well as lawfully designated groups. This is what we read in Acts 19:32, 39, and 41. In Matthew 16:18 the Lord Jesus Christ said that He will build the “Ekklesia” (ekklhsia). When He uttered those words in Matthew 16:18, He said that as a future event. Indicating that the Ekklesia (the Assembly or the Church) did not exist at that time.”I will build” is about a future event that He will undertake. We have to distinguish the group we are talking about, especially when we are discussing about ekklhsia (EKKLESIA). Let us limit our discussion to the one Christ said that He is going to build.

This act of building the Assembly (ekklhsia) started on this earth on the day of Pentecost and will end at the time of rapture. This is the complete Assembly or ekklhsia (Ekklesia) mentioned in Hebrew 12:23. On a given day, we could say that there is a group of ‘called out’ people on this earth, which is the equivalent to the one that was at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. I consider this the cross section of the assembly on the day in question or at any other date. Then there are assemblies at various locations, which we call as local assemblies. There were assemblies at Corinth, Galatia, Thessalonica, and so on. In our time, there are local assemblies at various geographical locations. We are members of one or the other.

We also read that God added daily to the assembly, God gave the increase at other places, and so on. It is God who adds and it is we who assemble at a given location. Of course, in the strictest sense of the word a local assembly consists of all the saved ones in that location. Now we are getting into the definition of a place or point, its neighborhood, and members. The best definitions can be attained from one of the branches of mathematics, called Real Analysis. I am not going to go into this, at this time.

Let us consider the first assumption: “If it does, then it might include all of the believers in a certain locality.” For simplicity, let me change the wording “believers” to ‘Indians’ and “locality” to ‘Thiruvanandapuram.’ Can we say that the Assembly at Thiruvanandapuram exists because all the believers from that geographical location are in it? I did not say that they are living at that location, but from that geographical location. We should remember that many of them are all over the world. It is practically impossible to make all believers from Thiruvanandapuram to come back to that place at the same time. This could have been achieved under the Roman emperor Augustus, may be. Because of this difficulty, could one say, there is no Assembly at Thiruvanandapuram? Many believers are gathering under various names and at various neighbor-hoods within Thiruvanandapuram. I am sorry about this dilemma; especially there are a lot of people who are proud to be called members of Thiruvanandapuram Assembly, the ‘called out’ ones by God from Thiruvanandapuram, but not living in that place. This was also the situation in the first century. Those believers who live in Thiruvanandapuram are those who are members of the Assembly at Thiruvanandapuram. Those who have gone to different locations in this world belong to the local assembly of the place in which they live.

Let us consider the next assumption: “If it does not, then it is composed of those who are assembled at that particular time.” In Acts 14:27 we read, “… they were come, and had gathered (sunagwgh - SYNAGOGUE) the assembly (ekklhsia - EKKLESIA)….” Here they have to gather together as an assembly, or they are a ‘Synagogue’ the ‘Ekklesia.’  In 1 Corinthians 11:20 we read, “The whole assembly” was gathered together at one place. What is the difference? When we read that they gathered as a local assembly, the whole may not be attending the meeting, but they were expected to do so. In other words, the whole assembly must be there. A partial gathering of the saved ones in a locality is accepted, not by me or by anyone else, but by the Holy Spirit. When we say ‘Local assembly’ what we mean is those that are gathered together unto the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ at a certain point or geographical location as required and expected by God. This requirement is associated with the Lord’s Table and the Lord’s Supper. Those who gather differently, for the sake of hearing testimonies, hymn singing, preaching, etc. are in violation to this expectation of God. If any gather separately because of their preferences to man-made names, teachings, and preferences, then that is similar to the gathering at Corinth as we read in 1 Corinthians 3. The Holy Spirit spoke against such actions of men through Apostle Paul.  

In the general semantics, we do not have to have every member of a group to call it a group or a set. All we need to have is that each and every one should have the same characteristic. To say about oranges or apples in a place, I do not have to talk about all the oranges and apples that are available in that geographical area. All we need is to talk about fruits that have the characteristics of oranges or apples at that locality.

One last point, do we remember the incident about those who were casting out demons in the Lord’s name? The disciples asked Christ’s permission to forbid them from doing so. Our Lord replied that if they were not against Him, then they are for Him. Christ did not ask those who were casing out demons in His name but did not join Him and His disciples to join Him. Our Lord did not ask His disciples to join them either. He told his disciples later, more than once, “If you love me keep my commandments.” If someone does not want to join us, then are we worried about it? Knowing the Lord and His commandments is the individual’s responsibility to join Him at His Table to remember Him following His command. Why are we taking our eyes of Him, and be concerned about those who do not want to be with us. It is written, “Knowing good, and not doing is sin.”

Shalom Malekim!!!

(To be continued)

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Reply by : George P. Koshy   View Profile   Since : 2 Jun 2015 1:38:59 PM Close

THE ASSEMBLY (the Church)

-- THE BODY AND BRIDE OF CHRIST --

The Assembly is the work of the Devine sovereign grace and power. The doctrine connected with it was unfolded through God’s appointed vessel Saul, who is known as Paul the apostle and bondman of Jesus Christ. In fact once he was the greatest enemy of the Assembly as seen in the early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, which is the history of early years of the Assembly.

2.1. THE PROCLAMATION OF THE ASSEMBLY (the Church)–THE GOSPEL:

In the early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, the Gospel as it was preached was one of repentance for the nation that rejected its Messiah, Jesus Christ. The nation was exhorted that the rejected Messiah will return to establish His righteous reign on the earth. During this period, as the disciples have not gone to Samaria and “the uttermost parts of the earth,” the Assembly consisted of mainly converted Jews. God was still dealing with Israel. With the stoning of Stephen we see Israel’s final rejection of their God culminated to its zenith that started in the rejection of the prophets and God’s word through them. They rejected the Son at Calvary and the Holy Spirit in their rejection of His ministry, as manifested in stoning of Stephen in Acts 7:51.

Before the stoning of Stephen, Peter opened the door of the kingdom to the Jews at the Day of Pentecost at Jerusalem, and also to the Gentiles at the house of Cornelius. Peter preached the gospel to the Jews and it had the kingdom characteristics (a risen Christ, His return to reign). In contrast, Paul was given the responsibility of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. He preached and taught that the Assembly is one body with its head being the glorified Christ who would return for His heavenly people. Thus Apostle Paul was the unfolder and announcer of the doctrine of the Assembly--the Church (1 Corinthians 3:10; Ephesians 3). The Gospel that was preached by Apostle Paul is seen in Romans 1:16-17 and 2:16. Previously we contrasted the Assembly with Israel and Kingdom. The gospel preached by Apostle Paul has its roots in eternity, before the foundation of the world, in the counsel and purposes of God that will have its complete fruition in the eternity after this age (Ephesians 3:8-21). All the New Testament writers unfolded the truth about man’s relationship to God and God’s purpose for man. We learn these truths mostly from the epistles of Apostle Paul. Peter’s epistles are of kingdom character, while that of John is of a family character. This is why the epistles of Paul are connected with the Body of Christ and we find terms such as: “The fullness of Him that fills all in all.”

2.2. THE STRUCTURE OF THE ASSEMBLY (the Church):

The Holy Spirit came down on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) and indwelt in all (John 17:17:23) who possessed God-given faith (Ephesians 2:8) and formed of them one body (1 Peter 2:5) joining them to Christ, the Head in glory (1 Corinthians 11:1-3), and to one another. He thus formed them God’s house in which He dwells. Thus the Holy Spirit dwells in believers individually and corporeally (1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19, 12:13; Romans 12:5). God’s work is viewed in two ways. The knowledge of this bifurcation is of utmost importance to understand the Assembly.

  1. As God’s building it was formed and indwelt by the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. It was and is operative as a living body in this world till the rapture. While saints are added and go home daily, to be with the Lord (1 Corinthians 12:27).
  1. As God builds it continually, it is continuously growing to its completion. When the last saint is added, the growth of the Assembly is completed. Then the Lord will gather it to His glory. (Ephesians 2:21).

Structurally the Assembly is seen in two ways:

  1. God’s Building:  The Lord is the Builder (Matthew 16:18, 1 Peter 2:1-5). This is a perfect work forming the true Assembly composed only of true believers indwelt by the Holy Spirit (John 14). This is not manifested to this world.
  2. Man’s Building:  Men are the builders (1 Corinthians 3:9-10). This is a work deteriorating in proportion to the skill and condition of the builders. This deterioration results in the present mixed company of good and evil. This is manifested in the local assemblies.

Once formed at the Day of Pentecost by God the additions to this building and its operation were turned over to men. This is where God’s Building and Man’s Building are to be understood. Still it is God who adds to the Assembly those that were to be saved (τους σωξομενους – TOUS SOXOMENOUS) (Acts 2:47). In Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament by Jews about 200 years before Christ, represented as LXX in literature ), this expression is used to indicate the remnant of Israel whom God was sparing. It is used to indicate the character of escaping instead of the fact of being escaped. The word is used here to indicate that these Jews are added to the Assembly during the days after the Day of Pentecost. Thus the adding is by the sovereign grace of God. We should not forget the fact that to partake of these privileges and responsibilities of the Assembly by individuals is by profession (1 Timothy 6:12; Hebrews 3:1, 4:14, 10:23). The Assembly as Man’s Building will be larger than that of what God’s builds and this will be proportional to the influence of the flesh in the members of this body (1 Timothy 6:21; Titus 1:16). When writing the first letter to Timothy, Paul indicated the unity of these two spheres by calling it God’s house (1 Timothy 3:15-16). By the time the second letter was written the visible sphere became the great house (2 Timothy 2:20). Thus that which was God’s house is termed a great house. Today where the evil is harbored, God calls it a ‘great house.’ In a great house, the unity as desired by Lord Jesus Christ (John 17:11, 21, 23) will not be found. The God’s Building is the invisible Assembly while Man’s Building is the visible Assembly. However, the God’s Building will give the Assembly the Christian character that it should have.

2.3. VARIOUS ASPECTS OF THE ASSEMBLY (the Church):

To develop the truth of the Assembly in the light of its privileges, relationships, hopes, responsibilities, etc. the Holy Spirit uses five different aspects. They are:

1.      The Body of Christ

2.      The House of God

3.      Lamp

4.      The Temple of God

5.      The Bride of Christ

2.3.1. The Body of Christ:

In Romans 12:5 we view the Assembly as a living organism whose head is Christ and every believer forms the body that is joined to the head. Holy Spirit brings each member into this vital relationship as He indwells in the body corporately and each member individually. The Head is the source of all commands and functions of the body. Each member is a channel for the flow of that commands and function to adjacent members. The true and vital Assembly is God’s work. Therefore, no one can join it without His invitation and submission to Him. This process was visible at Pentecost for a short time. Then it became invisible because of the failure of man. The development of the body is fully discussed in Ephesians 1:22-23, “… gave him to be head over all things to the Assembly, which is his body the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

2.3.2. The House of God:

The Assembly is viewed as God’s house built together by man as a builder and maintainer of its holiness. This is achieved by maintaining the orderly operation in God’s dwelling place. To accomplish this, profession is necessary for its fulfillment and responsibility must be personally accepted. This is made clear in 1 Corinthians 1:2, “… all that in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both theirs and ours.” This is what we see at Pentecost and shortly thereafter. The doctrine concerning the house is provided in 1 Corinthians. However, man’s failure is seen in the change from the God’s house in 1st Timothy to a great house in 2nd Timothy.

2.3.3. Lamp:

When the Assembly is considered as lamp, then its testimony is the prime focus. Testimony is connected with man’s responsibility. Therefore the doctrines in the epistles to Corinthians, Timothy and Titus are of importance. However, the Assembly’s (the Church’s) responsibility is to manifest Christ to the world is stressed. In this world, the Assembly is the only scriptural testimony to Christ. The only scriptural fulfillment is through the local Assembly. The Assembly is composed of individual members and not assemblies. The local Assembly is a lamp with its own base and individuality. This truth is revealed to us in Revelation 2 and 3.

2.3.4. The Temple of God:

Here the Assembly is viewed in relation to worship. It is God’s work of grace. As a building it has the New Testament apostles and prophets as its foundation. Jesus Christ is the corner stone. The saints are its super structure. When the last saint of this dispensation is placed in its place this holy temple in the Lord will be completed. This is the temple where God is worshiped according to His purpose of grace. It is the “holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:21).

2.3.5. The Bride of Christ:

The Assembly is viewed as the bride of the Bridegroom. As the heavenly consort of the King for His pleasure in the glory it will reign with Him. It is the complement “of him who fills all in all” and the result of His work of grace who bought it with Himself and cleanses it Himself. It is the Assembly complete, when having cleansed, He presents it in glory to Himself as His bride. This is revealed in Ephesians 5.

Shalom Malekim!!!

(To be continued)

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Reply by : George P. Koshy   View Profile   Since : 10 Jun 2015 5:48:22 PM Close

THE ASSEMBLY (the Church)--THE BODY OF CHRIST

Proper distinction of the various aspects of the Assembly is essential for our understanding. Confounding of the aspects will create confusion and difficulties in understanding the scriptural teaching of the Assembly. One of the examples is the confounding of the aspects of the Assembly in Ephesians and that in Corinthians. The Ephesians provides us with God’s view of the Assembly while Corinthians deals with the governmental aspects. We may say that the truth that is revealed in Ephesians are positional and in Corinthians are administrative. A body implies an organism composed of members placed together in a perfectly balanced nature with an operational purpose and goal (1 Corinthians 12:14-31). This aspect of the Assembly is God’s work and composed only of all those who have received the God-given faith (Romans 10:17; Ephesians 2:8) in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a work of God in sovereign grace and power. It is completed in this earth at a time between Pentecost and rapture and those who enter to their privileges and responsibilities are by professing to believe on Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, Lord, and God. Historically, this body was visible as God’s house sometime previous to 2 Timothy, where it is seen as a great house. When it became a great house, the God’s house became invisible.

3.1. The Body of Christ:

       Its Structure and Operation:

 Before we consider the Assembly as the body of Christ, let us look into, what is a body? A body of a person is everything except the head. There is a unity between the body and its head. This inseparable unity is what makes a person or a being as we understand on this earth. A living body is to be united to a living head. A dead body may be connected with a dead head, but that need not be true always.

Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians and Colossians are the four epistles that teach us that the Assembly is the body of Christ. The unity of the body to its Head, the Assembly to Christ, is by the Holy Spirit. We are saved by faith and united to Him by the Holy Spirit. We are not united to Christ by faith. Similarly, we are not united to Christ by life. We have the life of Christ and are related to Him by faith. In Ephesians 4:1-16 we read about the head being Christ and the body being the Assembly. The Assembly as a living organism is united to its head, the risen Lord. Its Head was never dead and never will be, because it is the risen Lord that we are talking about. This headship of Christ implies that the Assembly did not exist before the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In Revelation we read that He was once dead. We also read in the Scriptures that He is the first fruit from among the dead. His death was before His resurrection. The risen Lord went up to the Father’s right hand and took His place above all and then He became the head of His body, the Assembly. That took place on the day of Pentecost. Therefore, He asked His disciples to wait for the Power from above to come and not to leave Jerusalem (Acts 1).

Those who claim the existence of the Church from Adam, Reformed Theology teaches this, hold indirectly the death of the head of the Church on the cross. If that is true, then the body also died with the Head. We do not read anywhere in the scriptures about the resurrection of the Church. On the day of Pentecost, we became by the Holy Spirit to be united to Christ and not Christ got united to us. The Assembly being the body of Christ is alluded to in Romans 12:4-5. In the Scriptures we only read about one body of Christ. It is sad to say that there are many Christian bodies to day and it shatters the unity of His body. In breaking the bread we express the unity and fellowship of the body on this earth. By partaking of the cup of blessing, the communion of the blood of Christ (1 Corinthians 10), we show the redemption ground on which we stand and the truth of the oneness of the body.

How are we united into this one body of Christ? The answer is seen in 1 Corinthians 12:13, “For also in the power of one Spirit we have all been baptized into one body.” Here we see the baptism with the Holy Spirit and it is to unite us into the one body of Christ. This baptism with the Holy Spirit took place on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) when the body was formed and united to the risen Christ, as its Head. We are all been baptized into that one body. Those who claim or wait for the baptism with the Holy Spirit as a second blessing tell us that they are not in the body of Christ during the intermediate waiting period. We do not see this doctrine (teaching) in the scriptures. We read in 1 Corinthians 12:27, “Now you are the body of Christ.” Ephesians 4:4-5 we read, “There is one body, and one Spirit, as you have been also called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.” Here the one body is connected by one baptism unto one God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit–the Trinity) is brought to light.

There is only one baptism with the Holy Spirit and it was for the body of Christ for the purpose of being united to the Head. For this purpose the whole body is baptized and made pure. However, feet-washing is necessary for the body that is walking in this world (John 13). That feet-washing is to be done one to another for the benefit of all, while in this world. Now we are united to that body which was baptized at the day of Pentecost at the time of our salvation. It is written in 1 Corinthians 12:27, “Now you are Christ’s body and members in particular.” We are not to take membership in any other local expressions of this wonderful body. If we do, we are dishonoring the body of Christ, because by doing so we give only a secondary preeminence to the work of the Holy Spirit.

To a local Assembly, it is written, “You are the body of Christ.” When we read the letter to the Corinthians, it becomes clear that they were not all Christians living a holy life. The meaning and expression of a local Assembly is that it is the body of Christ. It is united to Christ in glory. It receives its supplies from Him who is in glory. It is expected to walk according to the riches received from Him who is in glory. But the sad condition is, like human body, it suffers from infirmities while on this earth. When we get sick, we are expected to go to the physician and not to men who have no knowledge of how to treat that sickness. A local Assembly is to be viewed as the ‘Body of Christ’ in that location. When that body gets sick, we must go to the Physician who has the knowledge and wisdom to make it well. We learn from the Scriptures that Christ is the wisdom of God.

God’s eternal counsel is seen in Ephesians 1. Its center is the glory of the Son, a glory that is associated with His manhood. Therefore, men were marked out to form the fit to complement the Son in that glory. Here we see the purpose and counsel of God. In Ephesians 2, we see the same power that raised the Son from among the dead forming and empowering that body in its new and vital position. In Ephesians 3, we see that body as God’s secret unfolded to the universe with the vested authority of its administration. This mystery is made known to us by God using Apostle Paul. The mystery is the revelation of this new and wonderful structure called, “Christ and the Assembly” (Ephesians 5:23). Jews and the Gentiles are made one in unity of the body of Christ. We cannot find this aspect of the body of Christ in the Old Testament. In Ephesians 4, we see the body with Christ as its head in heaven and every member is joined to Him and each other. These members are vitally joined together by the indwelling Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13). Those who believe in receiving the Holy Spirit as a second blessing are in error regarding the truth about the body, the Assembly, and it’s Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who hold the error that the activities of the Holy Spirit are a second blessing must be careful not to make it a fallacy and a paradox.

Let us look into what is meant by error, fallacy, and paradox. While adding two numbers if we get a wrong sum, then it could be considered as an error. An example: If an elementary school student was asked about, what he will receive if $25 is to be shared along with five other friends of his and he replies $14. This could be considered as an error not knowing the basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. If this wrong answer is the result of some kind of a logical argument that makes it appear to be true, then the error is a fallacy. In the above example, if the student shows that he is right, then it is a fallacy. Suppose that he was asked to show, how it is $14, when $25 is divided among 5 people, he shows something like this:

5) 25 (, since five does not go into 2 but it will go into 5, the process of division could begin as:

5) 25 (14

      5

    20

    20

      0

There is a very serious error in this type of arithmetic operation. When challenged to show how this was possible and he was told that he was in violation of the rules of division in arithmetic, he showed it by adding 14 five times (14+14+14+14+14) to get 25. He went on to demonstrate it as follows:  He wrote 14 five times, one below the other, then adds up each four and then continued to add the “1” to it , without stopping, (4+4+4+4+4 = 20+1+1+1+1+1 = 25) and came to the total of 25. Now what started as an error has become a fallacy. He is trying to use some logic to show that when $25 is divided among 5 people, each should get $14. If we do not know what the fallacy is, then it is a paradox. In our example, if the boy is not aware of the folly of his logic and believes that it is true, then it becomes a paradox. He will be thrown into confusion and despair when he finds that there are no five sets of $14 dollars in $25, while his logic and his arithmetic show that there are.

Similarly, the paradoxes in doctrinal teachings are the results of wrong explanations of the scripture using false premises, logic, rhetoric, and so on. Elimination of the fallacious reasoning produces a ‘purified’ teaching of the Scripture. This is what we read in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Strive diligently to present yourself approved to God, a workman that has not to be ashamed, cutting in a straight line the word of truth.”

In the epistles to the Romans and 1 Corinthians, we have the relationship of members to one another, as they are united to the Head in one body. In Ephesians we have the relationship of the body of Christ to its head. In Colossians we have the relationship of the Head to the body. To understand the dangers of not having the unity of one body united to its Head will not become clear unless we study all these aspects together. They should not be studied as mutually exclusive and independently distributed letters or epistles. They are inspired, immutable, and inerrant or infallible words of God that are not open for private interpretations. The Colossians failed to hold on to their head. We live in an age that is filled with added dangers of not seeing what is to be an Ephesian saint. An Ephesian saint is the one who knows to be in the counsels of God, who is instructed to walk according to his calling, for the purpose of conforming to what was predestined by God to him. Thus he will be in time what he is called to be.

In the operation of the body, all necessary supplies flow down from the head to each of its members. So is the flow from the Head to the Assembly, the body.  This flow is from member to member according to the placing on the body. This is the perfect teaching of the human body in its heavenly operation. This flow of supplies is known in the Scriptures as the gift that is given to the members of the body of Christ.

3.1.1. The Foundation Gifts:

To understand the gifts, we must know what the gifts are, the endowment of the gifts, and exercise of the gifts.

The Gifts:

 In the New Testament there are three lists of gifts. They are seen in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. At a glance they seem to be quite different. This has resulted in many confusing explanations clouding the simple truth. This is the result of not “cutting in a straight line, the word of truth,” forgetting the relationship of scripture. In Ephesians, we see the God’s view of the body; therefore, the classification of gifts is from the Head down to the members of the body. In 1 Corinthians we see the man’s view of the body; therefore, the gifts are not classified but are in individual display. In Romans 12, we see the responsibilities of the individual believers in relation to the fruit of the doctrine of the gospel. Therefore, the display of the gifts is moral in nature. In analyzing the gifts, we see that apostles and prophets are foundation gifts (Ephesians 2:11). These are the foundation upon the structure of the Assembly is built. Therefore, with the establishment of the Assembly and the completion of scriptures governing it they no longer exist. Remember, no foundation extends itself into the building’s structure going into its roof. The foundation is on which the structure of the building is built upon. The foundation is laid and remains as laid. The foundation is not repeated after that is laid. The other three gifts – evangelists, shepherds, and teachers are to be found operating during the entire sojourn of the body upon the earth. To distinguish these three classes: the evangelist brings in the new converts; the shepherds feed and develop to be full-grown; and the teacher expounds the doctrine.

  1. The Endowment of the Gifts:  In Ephesians 2, we see that the glorified Christ is the giver of gifts from the glory. It is for the purpose of breaking the power of Satan over man before man could be blessed. The gifts are not given to the Assembly, but it is to individuals. It is given so with the view that the edification of the body comes from the actions of its members. Every member receives at least one gift and the grace to exercise it (1 Corinthians 12:11-31).
  1. The Exercise of the Gifts:  In 1 Corinthians 12, we see the exercise of gifts. Here the responsibilities and privileges are brought forward. The Holy Spirit is the distributor and operator on the earth. Here we learn that a gift, to be exercised for the glory of the Son, and must be exercised in the power of the Holy Spirit. In doing so the flesh is immobilized and complete dependence upon the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Since the local Assembly is the only expression of the body (1 Corinthians 12:2), it is the only sphere of exercise of the gifts. It should be remembered that the body is composed of individual believers (members of the body) and is never mentioned in the scriptures as being made up of assemblies. Any groups of Christians who practice centralization of authority are doing so contrary to the teaching of the word of God. In order to exercise the gifts, we may think that we should know about, “What gifts have I?” This may seem as a reasonable question. The scripture gives no personal test to answer this question. If we knew, especially when young in faith, it might be very difficult to immobilize the flesh. Depending upon God, if we permit the Holy Spirit to act in us to perform whatever work may be at hand, we can be sure that our gift will be exercised to the glory of God, whether we are conscious of it or not.

3.1.1.1. Apostles:

The name Apostles is from the Greek word αποστολος (APOSTOLOS) which means ‘one who is sent.’  In this sense, we read Christ as the Apostle of our confession (Hebrews 3:1), and the one sent by the Father to preach the gospel (John 14:24; 17:3). The original apostles, appointed by the Lord upon the earth, were sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. After the crucifixion and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the number of apostles was reduced to eleven by the defection of Judas Iscariot. To these, the risen Lord gave another commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them to the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have enjoined you” (Matthew 28:18-19). This activity was to start at Jerusalem (Luke 24:47, Acts 1:8). This command was obeyed as described in the first twelve chapters of the Acts. There, the gospel was of a kingdom character calling upon the nation of Israel to repent with a promise of the reign of Messiah on earth (e. g.: Acts 3:19). After the stoning of Stephen, we find that Peter was thrust out to the nations in the person of Cornelius. In Acts 13, we see a different order of Apostles and their commission for the work among the nations. Paul received his call from the glorified Christ and with Barnabas sent to the nations by the Holy Spirit from Antioch. Antioch is a new home base. It is the place the believers (disciples) were called Christians for the first time by God (Acts 11:26). This new order of Apostles preached Jesus as the Son of God instead of Messiah. Ephesians 4:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:28 tell us that there are others who were appointed as apostles and their name s are given in the scripture. They are: Barnabas (Acts 14:4, 14), Andronicus (Romans 16:7), and Junias (Romans 16:7). Epophroditus is called an apostle in Philippians 2:25, but the Greek word αποστολος (APOSTOLOS) is translated as ‘messenger’ and we do not read him as an apostle. Titus is mentioned as an apostle in 2 Corinthians 8:23. There the Greek word αποστολος (APOSTOLOS) is translated as “messenger” and we got lost in that translation. When we study 1 Thessalonians 1:1 and 2:6 together, we come to learn that Silvanus and Timothy are apostles. This is the Assembly’s (The Church’s) foundation. Peter’s preaching of the kingdom character of the Assembly was never lost (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:5-6). Paul preached the Christ who died for our sins, who was buried, and who was raised from the dead on the third day, according to scripture (1 Corinthians 15:3). 

Shalom Malekim!!!

(To be continued)

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Reply by : George P. Koshy   View Profile   Since : 16 Jun 2015 3:22:24 PM Close

3.1.1.2. Prophets:

A prophet is one who brings a direct revelation from God to implore the conscience of people in certain situation. In the Old Testament time the prophets foretold the future events towards this goal. In the New Testament the gift of a prophet is a foundation gift. Before the completion of the Bible, God communicated His mind through His prophets (Acts 2:17-18; 19:6; 21:9; 1 Corinthians 11:4-5, 13:9, 28-29; 14:1,3,4,5,24,31,39). Foundation is what we lay before the walls and floors are erected. It is the beginning of any building. If anyone teaches that there are prophets today, then they are teaching about laying a different foundation. This different foundation is laid after the walls were raised on the foundation that was laid by God. There is an error; if not an error, then there is a fallacy; if there is no fallacy, then there is a paradox. God does not lay different foundation for the same building. If anyone does so, then he will not complete the building any time. God laid the foundation once and Christ is building on that foundation with living stones (1 Peter 2). Today, we may speak in the character of prophesy by bringing the already revealed mind of God. Therefore, in Revelation 19:10 we read, “For the spirit of prophesy is the testimony of Jesus.” The gifts of prophesy as a direct revelation from God about His mind has passed off the scene.

In the light of apostles and prophets being mentioned in the scriptures, why are they not present in the Assembly, today? They were used administratively during the early days of the Assembly to establish the local assemblies and uniting them into one body. Their teachings are the foundation of the local assemblies, as they were established. Their letters to those local assemblies provides the way of administration and their teachings to us. An example is that a man does not continue to dig out the foundation after he lays the foundation stones for his house. Similarly, once the foundation is laid apostles and prophets are not needed to continue to lay another foundation.

3.2. The Body – Its Ministry:

Ministry should be differentiated from gift, though there are similarities between them. Because of the similarities, they are universally misused and misunderstood and almost always connected with a special class regarded as clergy, pastors, priests, …  Here we are introduced to the doctrine of Nicolaitanes, rulers or overlords of laity, whom the Lord Jesus Christ says “He hates” (Revelation 2:6,15).

When looked into the scripture, “to minister” means, “to serve.” In John 13, we have the principle of ministering is showed by our Lord as a pattern for all with His exhortation to all to imitate Him. Gifts can be exercised by those who possesses them and one can exercise it only if he possess the gift. In contrast, every member is to serve in relation to the needs that exist. Spiritual condition is utmost importance to the execution of both gift and ministry. Ministry is one of the broadest activities of Christianity. Examples are:  In Galatians 6, it acts toward an individual in connection with a fault. In 2 Corinthians 9 one group is ministering (serving) another in connection with physical want. A ministry is the unhindered, continual outflow of the love of Christ, motivated by the Holy Spirit under any condition and circumstances.

3.3. The Body – Its Display:

This aspect of the Assembly is primarily stated in Ephesians 4:1 through 6:9. The Assembly as the body of Christ is solely a work of Divine sovereign grace and power. In this light we may think that the members of the body, if not the body, have no responsibility in holding the body. In Ephesians nearly half of the epistle is detailing the display that is necessary in connection with such a great work of grace. It also provides the means and power for its accomplishment. Ephesians 4:1-16 details the means and 4:17 through 6:9 details the display. In this passage, we see the body’s intrinsic vitality, its effect, and its contrast to everything else.

The basis for the intrinsic vitality is based on how we learned about the preciousness, the power, and comprehensive nature of its heavenly relation to Christ. Christ said that He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). This includes all that is wrought in Christ, through the humiliation of the Son of God in connection with God’s dealing with man. To us, who are called Christians by God (Acts 11:26), this has a two fold aspects, namely: First, “Having put off the old man” (Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9-10), and secondly, “Having put on the new man” (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:9-10). The old man has the attributes of the fallen man, Adam. The new man has the characteristics of Christ, as He is his Creator.”So if anyone be in Christ, there is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Having these characteristics, the Holy Spirit gives the pattern and power for the perfect display of this new creation. The indwelling Holy Spirit is the source and power (Ephesians 4:30) and God Himself is the pattern (Ephesians 4:31-5:1).

The effect of display of the body and its contrast in connection with the world is seen in Ephesians 5:1 through 6:9. Our pattern in imitating God is the only Man who ever did it to its perfection, the Man Christ Jesus. A normal Christian life is a sweet savor of Christ to God. It is serous indeed to think that we can appear to this world that crucified Him as we being “asleep.” This is not a normal behavior. What is normal is that we imitate God with Christ as our pattern in the power of the Holy Spirit. We are to be lights reflecting the glory of the True Light who perfectly displayed the heart of God to us and for us. In the display of the body, all relationships to this world are covered. First, the domestic relationships are explained in Ephesians 5:22-6:4 and Colossians 3:18-21. Among this the chief one is the relationship between husband and wife, then parents and children. This order is the only solution for the general moral and teenage problems. Second, the economic relationships are explained in Ephesians 6:5-9 and Colossians 3:22-25. The relationship between masters and servants is the only solution to correct the problem of capitalists and labors. Socialism is not a solution to that problem, as the world thinks.

3.4. The Body – Its Powers:

The power of the body is detailed in Ephesians 6:10-20. Nothing has compelled Satan to promote the activities that are under his power against any other act of God as the creation of this body, the Assembly, and its display. He has and will employ every means to destroy it. A line of power from the throne of God is provided to maintain the display of the body to be victorious against all the onslaughts of the enemy. There are two things that are necessary to keep us in direct contact with this power that is supplied. They are: the strength of our Lord (not that of ours), and to stand fully fitted with the Armor of God to face all not attack from the enemy. These two indicate the spiritual condition of the one who has dealt with the flesh and who has put on Christ. Consequently, those who have not apprehended the truth of Romans 6 will not enjoy this power supply in their life. In these evil days, the days when Our Lord Jesus Christ is rejected by the world, we are to stand in His strength covered by the seven-fold armor of God. They are:

  1. Loins girded with truth, so nothing can make us to roll over.
  2. Breastplate of righteousness, so a good conscience is maintained.
  3. Feet shod with the preparation of the glad tidings of peace. It is the apprehension of the redeemed of the peace of Christ who made it, and of God who planned it.
  4. Shield of faith to complete dependence upon God.
  5. Helmet of Salvation, so the mind will stay upon all that of God is in Christ.
  6. Sword of the Spirit that is the only offensive weapon and belongs to the Holy Spirit. Only He can use it when we are holding it.
  7. Prayer – having done all these, we are exhorted to STAND.

Shalom Malekim!!!

(To be continued)

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Reply by : George P. Koshy   View Profile   Since : 23 Jun 2015 1:03:49 PM Close

THE ASSEMBLY (the Church)

THE HOUSE

Ephesians 2:19-22 and 1 Timothy 3:15

In our study, this is the second aspect of the Assembly (the Church; εκκλησια--EKKLESIA). The first was the Body of Christ in relation to Christ. The house is the place in which specific person lives and that house will be known after his name. The Assembly (the Church; εκκλησια--EKKLESIA) is named as the house in connection with God because He dwells in it. The Candlestick is that which carries the light given by the Holy Spirit. The Temple is where the worship takes place. The Bride is connected with its heavenly and eternal character.  

1. The Household of God:

“You are fellow citizens of the saints, and of the household of God, being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the corner stone, in whom all the building fitted together increases to a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19-22)

“… in order that you may know how one ought to conduct oneself in God’s house, which is the Assembly of the living God, the pillar and base of truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15)

The idea of God dwelling among His people is seen for the first time in Exodus 15. This idea is not seen when the blood of the Pascal Lamb redeemed Israel from the Egyptian bondage. When they were out of the land of Egypt and after crossing of the Red Sea we read about God dwelling with His people in the song they sung. In Exodus 15:2, they sung, “I will prepare Him a habitation.”  God answered it in Exodus 25:8, “They shall make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”  Outside Egypt and in the wilderness a tabernacle is made. Its pattern was kept on high in heavenly glory. A shadow seen in the Old Testament, teaches us that a complete separation from the world is needed for the believers to be the true house of God on earth. In Revelation the real house of God is seen coming out of heaven to the new earth.

1.1. The God’s House:

Indubitably the God’s house includes all believers alive in the world at any time between Pentecost and the rapture (1 Corinthians 3:9, 16). The exhortation “how one ought to conduct oneself” establishes the fact that the God’s house consists only those who are living and able to conduct themselves. Therefore, this must be limited to the earth. If we make this house a mysterious one that composed of the dead and the living, then we are robbing all power of the exhortation in 1Timothy 3:15. A glance through the epistle shows that every activity of a saint during his life on earth must reflect the character of the house. God dwelling in man individually and collectively is a precious teaching that is given to us. No greater association could be imagined in this world, than this.

1.2. The Assembly (the Church) of the living God:

The Assembly of the living God is God’s dwelling place. It is beyond our imagination that the Eternal God who is the source of all life and its power, calls men who are at enmity with Him and do not search for Him in this world; calls them out of the world, sets them apart for Himself, indwells in them individually and collectively, vitalizing them with Devine life—eternal life, and giving them the power to express it and makes it His dwelling place.

1.3. The Pillar and Ground of The truth:

As Christ Himself is the truth (John 14:6); all things are made in perfect relation with God through Him. As He is at God’s right hand, God’s dwelling place on this earth is the only testimony on earth for Christ. Therefore, the Assembly is the maintainer and supporter of the truth (ground) and the announcer or displayer of the truth (pillar). In a temple the pillars should stand on firm ground. God seeks for fellowship with man and it could be accomplished only on the basis of His character. God’s dwelling place on earth is inferred for the first time in Genesis 28:17-22. This inference was by Jacob and he called that place בּ (Beth-El), House of God. At the God’s house, the boldness of believers (Ephesians 3:12; 1 Timothy 3:13; Hebrews 10:19) is standing in contrast with the fear of Jacob. It is where they meet to remember the Lord Jesus Christ. Our boldness is derived from the eternal purposes of God. In John 4:24 our Lord said to the Samaritan woman, “God is a spirit, and they who worship him must worship him in spirit and truth.” When we come together to remember our Lord Jesus as He wishes, we are to be led by the Spirit and we worship God in Christ who is the truth. He said, “I am the truth,” and He did that more than once. The Assembly is not the truth; she maintains the truth on this earth. She is the pillar that upholds the truth in truth. She should not and will not compromise on the truth. Let the sons of Ishmael persecute the real son of Abraham, the son of the promise. The Assembly of God is placed on this earth, at a given location, to hold on to the truth tenaciously. She is the lone lamp at that locality.

2. The Formation of the House:

2.1. The House: A Devine Work of Grace and Power:

“… on this rock I will build my Assembly, and hades’ gates shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

“To whom coming, a Living Stone, cast away indeed as worthless by men, but with God chosen, precious, yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Because it is contained in the Scripture: Behold, I lay in Zion a corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believes on Him shall not be put to shame. To you therefore who believe is the preciousness; but to the disobedient, the Stone which the builders cast away as worthless, this is become head of the corner, and a Stone of stumbling and Rock of offence; who stumble at the word, being disobedient, to which also they have been appointed, But you are a chosen race, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a people for a possession, that you might set forth the excellencies of Him who has called you out of the darkness to His wonderful light; who once were not a people, but now God’s people; who were not enjoying mercy, but bow have found mercy.” (1 Peter 2:4-10)

“… To the assembly of God which is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called saints, with all that in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. , both theirs and ours: … ” (1 Corinthians 1:2)

The God’s house is formed and built by a devine work of grace and power. The Lord Jesus Christ took the full claim as its builder (Matthew 16:18) and it has the claim of the Assembly of the living God. The foundation Rock (Petra) is Himself and the confession is that He is the Son of the Living God. Peter (Petros = PETROS = a stone) was added to the building at the day of Pentecost. This is so, because in Matthew the house is a future building. Peter explains this in his first epistle, 1 Peter 2:4-10. Those who come to the Living Rock (Christ) become living stones and being built up to form a spiritual house, a holy priesthood. The Holy Spirit is the one who perform this work of grace and power, imparts life, indwells in individuals to form a chosen race, kingdom of priesthood, holy nation, and a people of His possession–a God’s house on this earth. Peter derives this using Israel’s temple as a type where the priests’ work within the sanctuary was worship. This must be the holy character of our priesthood. In verses 9 and 10 the priests’ work outside the sanctuary was the testimony. This should be the royal character of our priesthood. As each believer is a priest unto God, nothing is to interfere with their exercise of this high office and must be carried out as the privilege and responsibility bestowed upon us by God.

“To the Assembly of God which is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called saints, with all that in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both theirs and ours:” (1 Corinthians 1:2). The Assembly is formed by God’s mighty work in grace and power. By taking us out of the world and setting apart by God to Himself in Christ Jesus, His Son, we become the Assembly of God at a given locality. This is how the believers in Corinth became the Assembly of God at Corinth. By His call of grace and power we are made set apart ones (saints). This is how Christ builds God’s building—God’s house.

In Ephesians 2:19-22 we read that the foundation is apostles and prophets while the corner stone is Jesus Christ himself. “So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow-citizens of the saints, and of the household of God, being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the corner-stone, in whom all the building fitted together increases to a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.” In 1 Corinthians 12:27-30, we read that the apostles and prophets are those who received special gifts and in Ephesians they are the foundation of the house of God. “Now you are Christ’s body, and members in particular. And God has set certain the assembly; first, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers; then miraculous powers; then gifts of healing; helps; governments; kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all in possession of miraculous powers? Have all gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” The two gifts – apostles and prophets - are foundation gifts of the Assembly.

What is a foundation? When one starts to build a house he lays the foundation, and that is done only once. Others will laugh at the one who repeatedly lays foundation after foundation, because he cannot start building the walls until the foundation is finished. The foundation is the first part of the house that is completed and is not repeated. The foundation is built on the corner stone also. But the walls will continue to be built till the house is completed. In the light of all these verses along with others, the Scriptures teach that the gifts of apostles and prophets existed during the beginning of the building of the Assembly, that is the first century, as the foundation gifts. After the foundation was laid, God will lay no other foundation. Therefore, those two gifts ceased to exist. Those who claim that those gifts, apostles and prophets, exist even now are those who believe in strange foundations other than what was laid by God. The walls of the true house of God are still being built in many locations around the world, and will continue to be built until the snatching away or the rapture of the Assembly from this world to Him who is coming.

When a man builds a house he can do one of many things–he can sell it to make more money and make a profit, he can rent it out to make some income on the long-term basis, or he could live in it to enjoy the fruit of his plan and labor. God decided to do the third option and residing in the house built by His dear Son, He calls it the ‘House of God.’ There is only one house. That is the reason for not to have divisions in the house of God (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).

Every work of grace has an outward expression of privileges and responsibilities incumbent upon the recipients of that work. The Holy Spirit makes this clear to us in the later part of the verse, “… all that in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” A newly saved person can enjoy this new relationship only by becoming associated with other members of His body. This he achieves only through professing to be a child of God (Acts 4:32; 8:26-40; Timothy 3:15-16; 2 Timothy 2:19-22). Both believers and unbelievers are capable of making this outward profession. Two examples of unbelievers who made such profession in the first century are: Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:9) and Simon Magus (Acts 8:18-24).

2.2. The Spiritual Character of the House:

In the previous section man’s responsibility was looked upon in connection with God’s work of forming the Assembly. In every dispensation God’s work of grace toward man was marred by man’s failures. The Assembly is the greatest work of God’s grace and we should consider its spiritual character, as seen in the Scripture.

2.2.1. The God’s House:

Acts 4:32; 1 Timothy 3:15-16:  When the Assembly was formed on the day of Pentecost; its constitution was not given. The constitution of the Assembly was given mostly through Apostle Paul. The complete Scriptures, particularly the epistles of Paul, are the only sustaining factor to maintain the Assembly, as a separate company in this world. When the Scripture was not completely given, the Holy Spirit acted in a miraculous way to maintain its pure character. Such acts of the Holy Spirit are given to us in the early part of the Acts. Examples are:  Ananias and Saphira in Acts 5, and Simon Magus, the magician, in Acts 8. In Acts 4:32-35 we see the high spiritual state of the new converts. They enjoyed their first love for Christ and were kept by the Holy Spirit. As the Assembly increased and progressed in size that first love cooled, the flesh became more active and introduced problems. Apostle Paul discusses these problems in his epistles (1 Corinthians, Galatians, Colossians, etc. ) and dealing with them was the responsibility of the local assemblies. While this deterioration increased, the Assembly, characteristically remains a visible separate company (1 Timothy 3:15-16) and the Holy Spirit still identify it as God’s house.

In any local place, the Assembly of God is all true believers in that locality and none others. Others, though they profess to be a believer while they are not, are not in the Assembly that Christ builds, though they may appear as members of the local assembly. There is a day in the future, when the rejection of such persons will happen. Even in Peter’s time this was evident. He wrote about judgment must begin in the house of God (1 Peter 4:17).

2.2.2. The Great House:

 "Yet the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, The Lord knows those that are His; and, Let everyone who names the name of the Lord withdraw from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also wooden and earthen; and some to honor, and some to dishonor.” (2 Timothy 2:19-20)

The progression of deterioration was so great that by the time the Second Epistle to Timothy was written, the Assembly as the “God’s house” became invisible. The Holy Spirit recognize it as “the great house,” it is no more “God’s house.”  Its outward character is no more one of separation, but it is a haven where the world and the true saints are indistinguishably joined together outwardly. The mark of the great house is, “… the Lord knows them that are His” (2 Timothy 2:19). Therefore, the exhortation, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord withdraws from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19), is given to us. During the apostolic time the first love for Christ was waned in the Assembly and the flesh became active and the character of the world became more evident. This change prevented the Assembly from distinguishing and resisting the errors or evil. The wolves were permitted to enter and destroy the sheep.

The difference of these two terms, ‘God’s house’ and ‘the great house,’ becomes significant when we hear similar statements from our Lord. In John 2:16, He said about the Jewish temple “My Father’s house.” This was at the beginning of His earthly ministry. After His rejection, in Matthew 23:38 we read Him say, “Behold, your house.” This was after they rejected Him. In John 2, Lord Jesus Christ went to the temple in Jerusalem and found sellers of oxen, sheep, dove and moneychangers. This was not the condition of the temple built by Solomon, but the one built by Herod. Still, the Herod’s temple was seen as “My Father’s house of merchandise.” A sad condition!  What about the Christian churches of today? Are they not more concerned about money raising and sellers of merchandise to raise more money? This is contrary to what we see in the scriptures. Those who are involved in such activities find fault with those who remember the Lord as He wishes.

Those who are accustomed to the modern day Herod’s temple worship do not hesitate to make fun of the children of god who worship God in spirit and truth as ‘performing funeral services.’ We, who gather together on the first day of the week to remember our Lord at His death, resurrection, ascension, and His promise of coming to snatch us away, are gladly willing to suffer this persecution. In Galatians we read that when Ishmael made fun of Isaac, the son born out of time, he was really persecuting the heir of promise. We read about the persecution of Ismael on Isaac in the Epistle to the Galatians. Let us rejoice and be glad to be counted worthy to bear the shame as our Lord showed for us. When we hear such persecutory statements, let us start singing the Hallelujah chorus!!!

In connection with God’s house, we should consider Psalm 27:4, “One thing I asked of Jehovah, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of Jehovah all the day of my life, to behold the beauty of Jehovah, and to inquire of Him in His temple.” David, the man of God’s own heart, wanted to dwell in the house of Jehovah all the days of his life. That dwelling was to behold the beauty of Jehovah. If we are living in the house of God, do we behold the beauty of God? Or, are we trying to show the beauty of our ingenuity? If that is what we are doing, the ‘God’s house’ will soon become the ‘great house.’ David also wanted to live in the house of Jehovah to inquire of Him. What about us? Are we interested in inquiring of God? Our Lord Jesus Christ told the seven assemblies to hear Him. “Those who have ears to hear, let him hear” was His call to the individuals in those assemblies. We read this call in Revelation 2 and 3. Those who heard and obeyed are called “overcomers,” by the Lord.

Shalom Malekim!!!

(To be continued)

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Reply by : George P. Koshy   View Profile   Since : 1 Jul 2015 5:31:34 PM Close

4.3. The Responsibility of the Assembly (the Church):

 1 Corinthians 2 and 3:

In 1 Corinthians 2 we learn that it is the Holy Spirit that establishes the principles of inspiration, revelation, and communication with respect to God’s truth. As the gifts are distributed to all, this makes it the responsibility of all to know and practice it. This responsibility is equally distributed in the body of Christ, the Assembly. For we read that the things of man can only be known by the spirit of man, similarly the things of God can only be known by the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:11). God first revealed His truth to those who are called by His Son to be His apostles through His Spirit and used them to communicate it to us using their written and spoken words that were inspired by the Holy Spirit. In these days, He reveals it to us from the written word by the Holy Spirit that indwells us. Therefore, it is not wise but foolish to say that the truth is too deep for us! We also read in the Scripture that he who is spiritual judges all things (1 Corinthians 2:15). In 1 Corinthians 3 we read that carnality alone keeps us from the deep and precious things of God. There the Holy Spirit develops the responsibility of the individual member (‘brethren’–αδελφια) in 1 Corinthians 3:1, and not the ‘Assembly’–εκκλησια, in connection with God’s house. The expression ‘brethren’ teach us that it is the responsibility of both male and female believers. In doing so, He reveals the basic cause of the members’ current failures.

4.4. Man as the Builder:

1 Corinthians 3

The local responsibility is brought forward in its simplest and most absolute terms. Irrespective of gift or titles (shepherds, elders, teachers, etc.) each and all members of the body are servants of God and are used by Him for the edification of the local Assembly. First He shows that the local Assembly is God’s field and it should be tilled and planted. Then it is told that it is God’s building and it should be built up. The responsibility of tilling the field and building the building belongs to individual members. We also see the authority and the unique responsibility of apostles. As the master builder Jesus Christ laid the foundation of the building on which man is the builder.

Having done this, He turns over the infrastructure of the building to each member of the Assembly (1 Corinthians 3:10). In doing so, He shows us that there are two kinds of builders and three kinds of work. The first kind of builder is a true believer (1 Corinthians 3:12-15) and the second is a professing destroyer who never received a work of grace (1 Corinthians 3:17). The true believer is the temple of God, because the Spirit of God dwells in him (1 Corinthians 3:16). The first kind of builder builds with gold, silver, and precious stones, or may be using wood, hay, and stubble. The destroyer performs only the third type of work, corrupting or destroying. The two kinds of builders build on the foundation—the Lord Jesus Christ. However, the second kind of builders build with materials that were created on the third day of creation and their works will be burned. There is a third kind of work mentioned in 1 Corinthians 3:17.  That work is not building on the foundation. Those who are doing that work will be destroyed by God. In contrast to the second kind of builders who build with wood, grass, and straw, these workers will be destroyed; but the second kind of workers will be saved without receiving any rewards.

When the works are judged, the true believer himself does not come under condemnation. He is either rewarded or suffers loss, so as by fire. However, the destroyer himself is destroyed. The Greek word for “corrupt” or “destroy” is PHTHEIRO (φθειρω) and is used in 1 Corinthians 15:33; 2 Corinthians 7:2; 11:3; Ephesians 4:22; Jude 10; Revelation 19:2 in connection with those who corrupt the assemblies through divisions and their destruction by God. These corrupters may claim to be His children, but they are not the children of God because they do not obey Him (John 14; James 3:15).

These corrupters are like the five foolish virgins in the parable told by our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 25:1-13). There, the wise and foolish virgins were together waiting in anticipation for the appearance of the Bridegroom. At the announcement of the arrival of the Bridegroom the foolish virgins went to buy the oil in a state of panic or urgency. When they came back, the Bridegroom told them that He doesn’t know them. In 1 Corinthians 3, the gold, the silver, and the precious stones are the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer for the glory of God. The wood, hay, and stubble are that which men produce in the power of the flesh. The wood, hay, and stubble indicate the frailty of the first creation. On the third day’s creation included trees, grass, and herbs (Genesis 1:11-12). Wood, hay, and stubble are from the trees, herbs, and grass of the third day of creation.

Thus we see that the character of the local Assembly demonstrating the quality of the ‘construction work’ of each of its members. This building responsibility is not only imbedded in the various meetings of the Assembly (Hebrew 2:3; 10:25), but also include our conduct as His royal priests in every activity and circumstances of our lives. Those who work with corrupted doctrines can be compared to ‘Noah’s Carpenters.’ I assume that Noah employed carpenters to build the ark that took 120 years in the making. When the flood came, none of the hired carpenters were saved. We should not forget the fact that those carpenters received their wages from Noah and not from God.


Shalom Malekim!!!

(To be continued)

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Reply by : George P. Koshy   View Profile   Since : 6 Jul 2015 5:36:11 PM Close

Maintaining Holiness:

I Corinthians 4-10

Indubitably, the results of their carnality caused by the power of the flesh made it imperative for the exhortation regarding the individual responsibilities at Corinth. In the early chapters of Acts, the Holy Spirit maintained the holiness of God’s house. In Corinth, the flesh’s activities are stifling the work of the Holy Spirit. In Corinth, it is carnality instead of spirituality characterize the Assembly. Therefore, they condoned evil both moral (1 Corinthians 5), and doctrinal (1 Corinthians 15). To the saints at Corinth, it was impossible for them to recognize this. They considered themselves superior spiritually because they depended on their gifts (1 Corinthians 1). The religious flesh produced within them various schools of thought (1 Corinthians 1). It is important to note that this started with individual believer and was not promoted by the teachers or elders. There existed a manifestation of wood, hay, and stubble in the building material.

In this connection, we should remember that the individual believer is also called as the temple of God in 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own?” In Ephesians 4:30, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you have been sealed for the day of redemption.” These two verses teach us that a believer could grieve the Holy Spirit, which he received from God. We do not read about the Holy Spirit leaving a believer. We are asked not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God which is in us. We are His temple and are sealed by the Holy Spirit. When we grieve the Holy Spirit, there is no filling of the Holy Spirit when the occasions occur. In other words, the action of grieving the Holy Spirit will affect, negatively, the filling of the Holy Spirit later. There is another reason for being filled by the Holy Spirit, as happened to Peter. That is when he was to act on behalf of others and God, Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit. After he was freed from the prison by the angel, the Holy Spirit also filled all those who were in the house. All these teach, that we need to be filled or completely under the control of the Holy Spirit to be enabled to do His work. Therefore, we should not grieve the Holy Spirit to be filled with Him, repeatedly.   

Shalom Malekim!!!

(To be continued)

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Reply by : George P. Koshy   View Profile   Since : 14 Jul 2015 5:14:06 PM Close

Stewardship:

1 Corinthians 4:

We read about a believer’s position of responsibility. Every believer is a servant or steward of God. Everything that is committed to him by God must be used for the Lord’s glory. The Lord will call each person to give an account of his or her actions. The accountability is not limited to material things only, it is inclusive of gifts, special abilities, … We must be concerned about whether we are using wood, hay, and stubble for our personal glory or satisfaction.

Morals:

1 Corinthians 5:

Believers are under God’s government and the individual cases are considered. Corporate actions on the presence of evil are of utmost importance. In Corinth, the evil was permitted to continue as an acceptable conduct and carnality was the prime reason for its acceptance. If they had been spiritual, though ignorant of God’s government, they would have brought those practices before the throne of grace. The flesh is incapable of entering in to God’s sanctuary. The power of “Christ crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2) is the only thing that will keep us pure before God. Therefore, we should be in His presence. For this reason, the remembrance feast on the first day of the week is seen in 1 Corinthians 5:7 and 11:17-32. The Corinthian are reminded that Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us. They were exhorted to keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:8). The Passover Feast began with the Passover and lasted for seven days. This will bring us back to the first day of the remembrance feast again.

Shalom Malekim!!!

(To be continued)

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Reply by : George P. Koshy   View Profile   Since : 21 Jul 2015 3:41:19 PM Close

Lawsuits:

 1 Corinthians 6:1-11:

We read about the existence of lawsuits among the members of the Assembly. Such law suits are indubitable proof of the greatness of the love for earthly things compared to the love for Christ. The saints of God are to judge not only the world, but also the angels. The Corinthian were told that the least among them, in their ability and spirituality, was more capable than the unbelieving magistrates, in the act of judging. The Assembly must handle its matters and not to permit others or other assemblies to act with or for them, unless directly involved.

 

Fornication:

1 Corinthians 6:12-20:

We read that fornication is having unlawful intercourse between opposite sexes, usually with the unmarried. Adultery is, usually, having intercourse with the married. It is the unbridled lust of the flesh. It is uniquely connected with the body that is for the Lord and the Lord for the body as will be manifested in the resurrection. Literally, fornication joins a believer to a harlot, while he is joined to Christ!!!  Two principles act on a believer as his motives for holiness:  First, the Holy Spirit indwells the believer; and second, the blood of Christ redeems him.

 

Marriage:

 1 Corinthians 7:

We read that if a man or a woman cannot conduct themselves for the glory of God, then they should marry. It is an ordinance of God at creation (Genesis 1:27; 2:18-24). When an individual is not married, they have more time and energy to devote for the Lord. They are not burdened with the responsibilities of a family. If a believer marries, that should be to another believer. There can be no fellowship of light with darkness. If a married person is converted after the marriage, under no circumstances can they leave their spouse because the spouse is not converted. If one leaves under such circumstance, such an action will be the worst possible testimony. If they had children, then it would be the rejection of God given responsibility. When one is converted, they are in a sanctified position in which their conversion placed their spouse and children.

Shalom Malekim!!!

(To be continued)

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Reply by : George P. Koshy   View Profile   Since : 29 Jul 2015 6:02:09 PM Close

4.5.6. Idolatry:

1 Corinthians 8:

An idol is that which takes the place of God in us. This could by a man or woman, animal, elements of nature, molded object, a carving, a painting, a product of the mind, etc. Idol displaces the presence of God in a believer with that of itself. It replaces the existence of God with its own existence. Israel when redeemed from the Egyptian bondage lived in a world where idol worship was prevalent and animal sacrifices were the means of accomplishing it. When God established the old covenant at Mount Sinai, idol worship was abolished for the children of Israel, but animal sacrifices were continued as types of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. When the new covenant was established at Mount Calvary, the animal sacrifices were brought to an end. The Assembly members are not to have idols or animal sacrifices in their personal or corporate worship. The idols deny the existence of God by replacing God by itself. In a believer, the most vulnerable area for attack is the mind. The enemy has used knowledge to displace God from the minds of many believers. When believers possess knowledge in God, there is nothing more beneficial than that. We are exhorted to benefit each other through ministry and practice in the power of the Holy Spirit. When the knowledge possessed by any one is the result of the activity of ones religious flesh, then “my doctrines” becomes more important than God. Many have changed the use of the term ‘my doctrines’ to ‘Christian doctrines’ to justify the neglecting of the use of the term, ‘scriptural doctrines.’  This is the beginning of the present day idolatry and evil doctrines. Under all circumstances, the knowledge of God acts in love and grace, for the sole purpose of edifying the believers in true holiness.


Shalom Malekim!!!

(To be continued)

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Reply by : George P. Koshy   View Profile   Since : 5 Aug 2015 3:22:19 PM Close

Pattern of Service:

1 Corinthians 9:

Every believer is a minister or servant!  1 Corinthians 9 is where we read about the pattern of a servant. In John 13 we see his necessary attitude. Christianity does not nullify God’s principles of government. Therefore, we read, “You shalt not muzzle the ox that is treading out corn” (1 Corinthians 9:9; Deuteronomy 25:4), and “The workman is worthy of his hire” (1 Timothy 5:18). Since the first century, the so-called servants and ministers of God have abused these principles. However, Paul was a pattern for every believer; therefore, the exhortation, “Be my imitators, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1; 3:10; 7:8; Philippians 3:17). The ox that treads the corn has a prescribed circular path in which to do the work. It goes round-and-round on that circular path over-and-over again-and-again. If he deviates from it, instead of corn he will receive shouts of orders and stripes. What about the so-called servants of God? The so-called servants of God take away everything that belongs to God and lead the people down the path of Judas Iscariot; “He became leader to those who took Jesus” (Acts 1:16). In Revelation these so-called servants are called Nicolaitanes, as they claim to be leaders of the people. To the servants of God the prescribed circle is given – he would work with his hands accepting nothing, lest by receiving the truth may be compromised, even in the eyes of worldly believers. They that attend the altar partake with the altar (1 Corinthians 10:18) is a beautiful example of priestly responsibility and privilege. Since service is the subject, the sphere of profession is involved. The Holy Spirit compares the course of service to that of the Olympic Games (1 Corinthians 9:25). The race itself is profession and those who finish are possessors. The Apostle Paul manifests what he is throughout the course and there is no doubt as to his prize. Thus we see the pattern in 1 Corinthians 9.

Shalom Malekim!!!

(To be continued)

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Reply by : George P. Koshy   View Profile   Since : 15 Aug 2015 1:04:40 PM Close

Warning for the Course – The Pathway:

1 Corinthians 10:1-15:

Before God, the believer’s pathway begins at the cross with God-given faith. Before men, it begins with the profession and water baptism. As Israel as a type of the Assembly, similar things happened to them. Israel was freed from the Egyptian bondage by the blood of the Paschal Lamb under Moses and was baptized in the cloud and the Red sea unto Moses (1 Corinthians 10:2). Those who were saved by the blood of the lamb were baptized in the cloud, a type of baptism in Holy Spirit, and that of the Red Sea was a type of water baptism. It was not a warning in connection with possessing faith and perishing, but it was against professing without possessing. A professor is an outward partaker of all blessings – ministry and privilege poured out by Christ for those who are redeemed by His blood. Therefore, all such are responsible to fulfill the demands of a Holy God in relation with the exalted position. To sustain a believer through his path, three principles are given. They are: first, in relation with self - “Let him that thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12); second, in relation to God – “God is faithful …” (1 Corinthians 10:13); and third, in relation to the world – “Wherefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14).

Shalom Malekim!!

(To be Continued)

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Reply by : George P. Koshy   View Profile   Since : 19 Aug 2015 4:55:31 PM Close

God’s Government:

Government, in general, is connected with authority. God’s government is related to His authority over His creation. In human way of thinking or according to human notions, God’s dealing with men are limited to the time after death and fail to conceive that both believers and unbelievers are under God’s government, all the time, throughout their life time and after. The ultimate of this judgment is death (1 Corinthians 11:30). In principle, it is, “for whatever a man shall sow, that also shall he reap” (Galatians 6:7). In God’s government increased privilege brings added responsibility. Holy Spirit reiterates the consistency of God’s governmental action, “but the end of all things is drawn nigh: be sober therefore, and be watchful unto prayers;” (1 Peter 4:7), “The judgment begins from the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). We read the same in Isaiah 10:12; Jeremiah 49:12; and Ezekiel 9:6.

In the Old Testament, if God had a special governmental interest in His house that was built of stone with hands, how much more with His spiritual house. This spiritual house is His present dwelling place that is built with the hands of the Son on this earth. The principles to govern this spiritual house are given to those who are responsible to maintain the house. The ultimate objective is to make this spiritual house fit for His presence. When this responsibility is disregarded, then those who are in responsibility question the honor of His Son. God may act to preserve His house and the salvation of His people as in 1 Corinthians 11:30.

God’s kingdom and the God’s house are parallel truths for the believers of this dispensation. Therefore, it is necessary to consider the responsibility to carry out God’s government in connection with both.

Shalom Malekim!!!

(To be continued)

 

 

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Reply by : George P. Koshy   View Profile   Since : 27 Aug 2015 2:16:38 PM Close

The Kingdom:

Matthew 18:15-20:

In the earlier part of Matthew 18, we see dependence and humility are the characteristics of the disciples who are occupying the Kingdom for their Lord in His absence. In contrast, Israel’s hope is to inherit the earth. The Lord gives His principles for maintaining order among them. The occupiers of the Kingdom are imitators of their King. Therefore, their actions must be for the purpose of blessing, edification, and restoration of those who are erring and for all. The one who was sinned against must act to restore the one who sinned. Therefore, he must go to the one who sinned alone. This is to be done in grace to accomplish restoration and not spreading the failure. If this attempt failed, then he is to take another with him under the same conditions for the same purpose. If the second attempt failed, then he is to a third one with him for same objective. If this also failed, then the matter is to be brought before the whole Assembly of disciples. If the sinner refuses to hear them, then he is to be treated as one who is not a disciple. Matthew 18:20 shows that the King as associating Himself with them as they come together during the time of His absence.”For where two or three are gathered together unto my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). According to this He acknowledges them as occupying for Him during His absence. He associates Himself with them in all their actions according to His word during that time.

Shalom Malekim!!!

(To be continued)

 

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Reply by : George P. Koshy   View Profile   Since : 1 Sep 2015 4:26:07 PM Close

The Discipline in the Assembly (the Church):

Galatians 6:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-16; 1 Timothy 5:19-20; 1 Corinthians 5; Titus 3:10-11; 1 Timothy 1:19-20; 2 John 9, 11:

The basis for God’s principles to govern an Assembly is what He gave to His disciples. There is no room for flesh in the Assembly. God gave the principles of government by which its members are to deal with it for its immobilization and the salvation of individuals. The flesh expresses itself in two ways: namely, moral and doctrinal. In an Assembly where there is faithfulness, the actions of the flesh will be discerned while it is individual in scope. Where there is spirituality, it will be effectively dealt with to the restoration of the individual by the application of the principles of the kingdom as seen in Matthew 18. This result will be accomplished before it permeates the local company of believers and must be dealt with in public by the Assembly. The Assembly must consider no charge of any kind, if the accusation is brought against a brother by anyone without two or three witnesses to substantiate the charges. This ‘anyone’ who brings the accusation could be from within or without the Assembly. Then the principles of Matthew 18 should operate. When a brother or sister carries a tale about another brother or sister, then it is the responsibility of the hearer or the Assembly to question about the accuracy of the accusation. This should begin with the talebearer and he or she must be held responsible to provide the evidence to substantiate the accusation. The accused and the accuser must be brought face to face immediately. Otherwise Matthew 18 is rejected and instead of the matter being settled it becomes a festering sore.

Shalom Malekim!!!

(To be continued)

 

 

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Reply by : George P. Koshy   View Profile   Since : 18 Sep 2015 1:31:15 PM Close

Moral:

The moral expressions of the flesh are connected with the life of the believer. They may be listed as below:

Fault:

Galatians 6:1:

A fault is a single act of sinning. It would not be characterized by bringing public reproach to the local Assembly. (Examples could be: A single act of over-indulgence in private; fraud of an individual under pressure; or tale bearing). The God’s government will act to restore such ones through those who are spiritual who in turn realize their own susceptibility. Public exposure is not needed.

Public Sin:

1 Timothy 5:19-20:

This is a single act of sinning done in public that could bring reproach to the local Assembly. (Examples could be: A single act of public over-indulgence; fraud of many outsiders, or character assassination). This is of utmost seriousness; when the sinner is in a place of respect in the local Assembly, such as a shepherd. Restoration is according as in Matthew 18. However, because of the public nature of this sin, this person must be publicly rebuked in the Assembly.

Disorderly Brother:

 2 Thessalonians 3:

`           A disorderly brother is the one who refuses to walk according to the apostle’s instruction and thus undermining the fellowship of God’s people. (Examples are: Those refusing to work; talebearers; any course of life that comes short of denying the person or work of Christ). If they refuse the apostle’s instructions when applied on the basis of Matthew 18:12-13, the Assembly must act according to God’s government to isolate such a one within the company (Matthew 18:14-15). They are to be regarded as a brother as to their place at the supper but all personal contacts and ministry from them is to be cut off.

Moral Evil:

1 Corinthians 5:

A moral evil is a course of life that publicly dishonors the person and work of Christ. It need not be an act, but may be an attitude. (Examples are: a life that is characterized by fornication, greed or avariciousness, idolatry, railing or abusiveness, drunkenness, or rapaciousness). This condition can only exist after the principles of Matthew 18 have been applied and rejected. The Assembly must act in accordance with God’s government by completely rejecting such a person. Since this person is dishonoring the person and work of Christ, he/she must be treated as an unconverted person. If this person’s corrupt conduct is condoned by his/her presence at the Lord’s Supper, then the person and work of Christ acknowledges evil. The Assembly’s (The Church’s) action must be the same as that of the apostle’s: “To deliver him, I say, being such to Satan for the destruction of the flesh” (1 Corinthians 5:5).”Whom I have delivered to Satan” (1 Timothy 1:20). When a professed believer is removed from all association with the people of God and he should be left to Satan’s influence (without the ministry of the Holy Spirit) to be buffeted by him so that his flesh might be dealt with. The destruction of the flesh will manifest his true belief.     

Shalom Malekim!!!

(To be continued)

 

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Reply by : George P. Koshy   View Profile   Since : 1 Oct 2015 3:03:51 PM Close

Doctrinal:

2 Timothy 2:14-18:

Doctrine or teaching is the plan of truth as outlined in God’s word. The development and manifestation of the flesh is traced in 2 Timothy 2:14-18. It begins with the intellectualism or disputing words and advances to error that undermines the doctrine. The instructions to deal with the flesh acting in doctrinal evil are given in the second epistle of Timothy. Again, the first action of God’s government should be in accordance with Matthew 18 for the immediate restoration (2 Timothy 2:23-25). When this is not practiced, the foolish questions develop into error resulting in heresy.

1. Heresy:

Titus 3:10-11:

A heretic is the one who teaches contrary to that is given in the scripture as truth and seeks to build a group around himself and his teachings. This increases the responsibility of the Assembly to hold to the truth of God to diminish the rising of heretics among them. In dealing with a heretic the principles detailed in Matthew 18 is the basis. They are to admonish him. If he refuses to hear, they are to be done with him.”To be done with him” must vary with the degree of heresy, for there are two kind of heresy:

2. Error:

An error is a teaching that is contrary to the scriptural doctrine with respect to the Assembly, but not blasphemous (denying the person and work of Christ). Examples are: the post-millennial rapture, the mid-tribulation rapture, or the second blessing, etc. In the case of error, if the first or second admonition is rejected, the individual may be allowed to break bread but rejected as to social contacts and ministry.

3. Evil:

An evil is the teaching that denies the person and work of Christ. Therefore, it is a blasphemy. An example: The teaching of universal brotherhood of mans the fatherhood of God. There should not be any hesitation or compromise with evil. It must be dealt with immediately. The actions should be based on apostle’s judgment in 1 Timothy 1:20 which is also seen in 1 Corinthians 5.

Association:

2 John 9-11:

Willful association with either moral or doctrinal evil should not be tolerated. When such association exists, the principles detailed in Matthew 18 are applicable. The individual must be completely rejected. This is not limited to social, but from all privileges and responsibilities of Christian fellowship.

Shalom Malekim!!!

(To be continued)

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Reply by : George P. Koshy   View Profile   Since : 7 Oct 2015 5:46:57 PM Close

Fellowship:

1 Corinthians 10, 11:

In the scripture Christian fellowship is of two ways: first, it is the gathering of those who were brought to God in Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. We see this in 1 John 1 and 1 Corinthians 1:9. Second, is the enjoyment of the fruits of those who are brought into it. The Greek word for fellowship is KOINONIA (κοινωνια) means: fellowship, association, joint participation, working together, etc. It may have its derivation from naval practices of two small ships sailing together helping each other for mutual deliverance in a vast unknown and terrifying sea. In 1 Corinthians 10, we have the Lord’s Table that is the fellowship that God has formed. In 1 Corinthians 11 we have the Lord’s Supper for fellowship with each other. This is brought to us as the fruit of the work of Christ. Therefore, the fellowship should have the character of the work of Christ. The Lord’s Table is the one He has formed and the Lord’s Supper is the one He has asked us to celebrate by eating the bread and drinking the cup. Though these two, the Lord’s Table and the Lord’s Supper, cannot be separated, difficulties and errors can result from not being properly distinguishing them.

1. Lord’s Table:

1 Corinthians 10:

In 1 Corinthians 10 all true believers alive on the earth are viewed as one loaf in one vital association with the Lord, “Because we, being many, are one loaf, one body; for we all partake that one loaf” (1 Corinthians 10:17). This is indubitably is a work of the Holy Spirit and is the only Christian fellowship. In the order of the elements of the table the cup of blessing is mentioned first in 1 Corinthians 10. It is due to the fact that the blood of Christ is the foundation for God’s work of grace in forming a guilty sinner into the company of fellowship with His Son. The Christian fellowship rests upon the blood of Christ, therefore it is the cup that the redeemed of the Lord bless is the foundation of fellowship. I Corinthians 10:16-17 state that the believers in the world are partaking of these elements physically and together. Though, this partaking is not taking place at a particular time and place, yet is in vital fellowship. Partaking of the cup (singular) and one loaf contemplate a spiritual fellowship. Here we learn about one body to drink from one cup and to eat one bread. There are not two or more bodies to drink from more than one cup or to eat multiple breads. 1 Corinthians 10:18 tell us that the Jews were in fellowship of the sacrifices in communion with the altar with all privileges and responsibilities. If this is true of the Jewish fellowship, how much more true of what God has vitally formed? How does a redeemed one today partake of this loaf? This partaking can happen only by being in a company that is keeping this feast in its simplicity and upon his profession (1 Corinthians 1:2) is to be received to exercise all Christian privileges and responsibilities. I can be seen that there could be those at the Lord’s Table who are not eating the supper.

2. Lord’s Supper:

1 Corinthians 11

Everything in Christianity has been depreciated and deformed by the enemy. Of these, the Lord’s Supper has been depreciated above and beyond all others. This aspect of depreciation and deformation itself is the proof of its importance and should be maintained in its simplicity. As Jews and disciples of the Kingdom of Heaven, the disciples received it from the Lord Himself. When instituting this Supper, Christ named it as the New Covenant (New Testament) for them. Though we have no connection with the Old Covenant (Old Testament), while being disciples in the same kingdom, we have a claim to its fruits. His precious blood and body are not only the foundation for all earthly blessings, but are the foundation for everything that is eternal. Therefore, the blessings belong to the Assembly. In 1 Corinthians 11:23, this precious privilege is given as an Assembly ordinance. Since the kingdom is for the earth and the Assembly for His glory, there are two ordinances for the kingdom–baptism and Breaking of Bread, and one ordinance for the Assembly–Breaking of Bread. In the supper, everything is to draw out the affections of the redeemed to Christ.

Therefore, the feast was instituted on the night in which He was delivered up. The supper stresses the appreciation of the redeemed of the person of Christ rather than the result of His work (the table). In this context, the loaf, His personal body given, comes first. The beautiful portrait is in “the body given” and not in a ‘simple loaf of bread.’ The importance should not be on the thoughts related to the loaf—the symbolic representation of the body. There are many things involved in the thought related to a loaf. They are: the plowing of the field, seeding the field, fertilizing, growing of the herb, harvesting, milling of the grain, the fine flour, adding of the water, the kneading of the dough, the baking in the oven, the life sustaining qualities of a loaf, etc. are not of importance. “The body given” is what is important. Similarly, the cup speaks of “the new covenant in my blood.” Again in connection with the blood we could think about planting of the vine, pruning of the vine, picking of the grapes, crushing of the grapes, fermentation of the grapes, etc. The thought of the blood of the grape showing the bitterness and suffering turning in to joy for us may be appealing to our thoughts. This is not the purpose of partaking of the cup, but remembering the blood of Christ establishing the new covenant is of importance.

Some may insist on unleavened bread and grape juice. Its proponents prefer unleavened bread because Christ was without sin. On this point this appears to be acceptable except it is in contradiction with 1 Corinthians 10. There we are taught about our association with Him in His death, and without the fruits of His death that death is unavailing. Its proponents may also point to the fact of the evil of alcohol to justify their preference of grape juice. This also seems acceptable except that it denies God’s goodness in that it says that all things He gave are not good. It shows ignorance in the Jewish order of the Passover where they could be using nothing but wine. It also shows the ignorance in the making of wine, for it is impossible to produce anything but wine from the blood of the grape without altering or tampering with it. It also shows the ignorance of the offering of the first fruits, wine is one of the offerings that are to be presented to Jehovah. The blood of the grape becomes the wine only by the active undertaking of what god placed on the grapes, before they were picked from the vine. It is not by a leaven introduced by man from outside to ferment it. It is a natural process placed in that fruit of the vine by God and not by man.  To remove the natural alcohol or not to allow it is removing or rejecting the joy.

When this feast is to be kept? In 1 Corinthians 11:26, “as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink this cup;” indicates it should be as often as possible. In Acts 2:46 we read that the disciples were “breaking bread in the house.” In Acts 20:17 we read that the breaking of bread was done “on the first day of the week,” which is the maximum interval between the celebration of the feast, the Lord’s Supper. In 1 Corinthians 5:7-8, the Passover feast and the unleavened bread are brought to our memory as a type of us celebrating the feast. When the feast is celebrated in its simplicity we “announce the death of the Lord, until He comes.” This announcement is to the heavenly host more than to this world. This announcement to the heavenly host shall continue till He comes, when the Father Himself shall do the announcement of His value of His son’s death on the cross in making His enemies His footstool. There is the need for one to prove himself (self-examination) and partaking (1 Corinthians 11:28). Some say that the self-examination is a kind of weekly confession resulting in a clean up to make one fit to partake. But this self-examination is in the light of examining His body given. This becomes a continuous thing rather than a weekly confession and clean up. Therefore, it is about the manner in which we celebrate the Lord’s Supper at the Lord’s Table. “For also our Passover, Christ, has been sacrificed; so that let us celebrate the feast, …, but with unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1Corinthians 5:7, 8).

The Lord’s Supper is shared by the local assembly as gathered together in one place, with respect to the locality, and is shared or participated by individuals. The participants are gathered together into one place not just to see someone blessing the bread and the cup. They are there to partake of it as the local body of the Assembly.   

Shalom Malekim!!!

(To be continued)

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Reply by : George P. Koshy   View Profile   Since : 20 Oct 2015 2:10:02 PM Close

Operation of the Local Assembly (the Church):

In 1 Corinthians 11 through 14 and; Acts 2:42, we learn about the doctrine of the Lord’s Table and the Lord’s Supper. They are: Fellowship, Breaking of Bread, Gifts, Love, and Ministry and Prayers. In these 5, we have already looked into the first, Fellowship.

The operation of the House can only be considered in its corporate capacity. At the same time, the various activities cannot be limited to certain meetings. This is so, because the meetings also have an individual sphere of operation. It is important to note that the order of meetings in Acts is different from that of in 1 Corinthians. In Acts, the apostolic Assembly was led completely by the Holy Spirit through the apostles’ doctrine. As this was unfolded, the fellowship was developed. The central activity of this fellowship was breaking of bread. The sustaining power of this fellowship was prayer. In 1 Corinthians, the doctrine is spelled out from its God-appointed official source, Apostle Paul. In 1 Corinthians the order is: (1) Breaking of Bread, (2) Exercise of Gifts, (3) Love, (4) Ministry and Prayers.

Shalom Malekim!!!

(To be comtinued)

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Reply by : George P. Koshy   View Profile   Since : 26 Oct 2015 6:06:46 PM Close

1. Breaking of Bread:

1 Corinthians 11

This of all activities must be considered as the vital character and foundation of Christianity. Breaking of Bread portrays the cross in its simplicity, both symbolically and operationally. For this reason, the enemy attacked and continues that attack viciously, as early as at Corinth. He started this attack by connecting the breaking of bread with Passover of the Jews and the love feasts of the demons. He has made it the pawn to false doctrine such as trans-substantiation and con-substantiation and has depreciated it to the point that it is generally regarded as non-essential. Even in some gathering of Christians, it has become subservient to all other activities. We must keep it in the place that scripture places it. It must be in the top place, since it gives the character to all other Assembly activities. It must be operated in its simplicity that was given by the Lord and ordered by the apostle. We must bear in mind the importance of the ONE loaf and ONE cup. Its frequency of every first day of the week is an absolute minimum and not to be a maximum.

2. Exercise of the Gift:

1 Corinthians 12

This is the second activity in order. It is the means by which the Holy Spirit develops the unity of one body that He has formed, the Assembly. This activity is that which maintains growth and spiritual condition of an Assembly. The exercise of the gift for the development of the Body of Christ is shown in 1 Corinthians 12. The basis for this development is based on the fact that the Holy Spirit formed the Body of Christ on the Day of Pentecost by baptizing all believers into one vital organism. It is composed of every believer joined to each other and to Christ, the Head in the glory, by the Holy Spirit. The Body of Christ is viewed as operating on the earth. The Holy Spirit is seen as the contributor and operator of the gifts. This does not contradict what we see in Ephesians. In Ephesians the view is from heaven and Christ is the Giver. Holy Spirit uses the structure of the human body to teach us this development. As in human body, there are two basic things necessary for its proper existence. They are unity and health. Unity is necessary for its very life and health is necessary for its growth and proper condition.

3. Unity:

1 Corinthians 12

Nothing demonstrates unity as effectively as the human body where each member is so completely different in appearance and activity yet when properly related and operated, from a perfect unity. “But now God has set the members, each one of them in the body, according as it has pleased Him” (1 Corinthians 12:18). Too often this has been limited to the universal aspect of the body. This epistle was written to a local Assembly, because a local Assembly is the local expression of the body. According to the Scripture, there is no other lamp than the local Assembly. Too often man rejects His leading. When that happens, then there is no local Assembly, formed of God that is not self-operative and supporting in every sense of the word.

Shalom Malekim!!

(To be continued)

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Reply by : George P. Koshy   View Profile   Since : 10 Nov 2015 3:06:51 PM Close

4. Health:

1 Corinthians 12, 13, 14

The placement of members at their right places on a body does not mean a healthy human body. It must function, as it should be, otherwise the body is diseased. When a member malfunction or fail to function, then it is an indication of the body is ill or defective. With the Assembly, this is quite evident locally, as well as universally. “You are Christ’s body, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:27). When a group of believers come together locally, then it is an expression of the Body of Christ, because each one is a member of that body. This is the doctrinal rebuttal to anyone who teaches that the Body of Christ is composed of assemblies. It is composed only of individual members. They are redeemed individually and called sons of God individually.

A local Assembly is any company of believers in Christ coming together or gathering in one location. As a local Assembly they profess to carry out the privileges and responsibilities connected with the truth of the one Body. Some of the local assemblies that met in houses are: “The Assembly at their house” (Romans 16:5), “Aquila and Priscilla, with the Assembly in their house” (1 Corinthians 16:19), “The Assembly which [is] in his house’ (Colossians 4:15). When all the gifts being exercised in the power of the Holy Spirit in their proper relationship, the Body grows as a healthy one. A healthy body is the one that has normal growth and operation, so with the Assembly too. Growth, both physical and spiritual, can be attained when the gifts are in proper operation. The shepherds and teachers are largely responsible for spiritual growth and evangelist for physical. There is interdependence between the shepherds, teachers, and evangelists. The shepherds and teachers build up the evangelists to do his work. In turn, the work of the evangelist not only gives growth to the Assembly, but the gospel itself builds up the shepherds and teachers. With the right kind of food, the appetites of hungry believers can be satisfied.

In 1 Corinthians 12:8-11 we read about the gifts and the operation of the Holy Spirit, “For to one, by the Spirit, is given the word of wisdom; and to another the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit; and to a different one faith, in the power of the same Spirit; and to another the gift of healing in the power of the same Spirit; and to another operations of miracles; and to another prophecy; and to another discerning of spirits; and to a different one kinds of tongues; and to another interpretation of tongues. But all things operate one and the same Spirit, dividing to each in particular according as He pleases.” All these gifts are distributed among the many members of the Assembly according to the pleasure of the Holy Spirit. None of them were asked to tarry, pray, fast, or lay hands on for this reception of these gifts. It is clearly stated that ‘one’ or ‘another’ receives these gifts. These gifts are not bestowed on a single person, but are distributed among the members according to His pleasure and not according to any man’s pleasure. What about the present Christian communities which operate under the leadership of man-made pastors and ministers? In such communities, the pastor must preach, exhort, teach, convert, dispense communion, visit the sick, bury the dead, be an evangelist, and to cap it off leads the congregation in worship. Thus one person claims all gifts to himself and denies the true operation of the Holy Spirit in the temple of God using the temples of the Holy Spirit. This is nothing but spiritual robbery at its finest manifestation.

In 1 Corinthians 12:28 we see a list of spiritual gifts of which the gift of tongues is the last and the Corinthians were proud of it, and placed it as the first in their practice. They thought that to stand up and talk in some unknown tongues are wonderful things. Many contemporary gathering of Christians also imitate this Corinthian error and insist on practicing it with or without knowing their error. The Corinthian Christians possessed these sign-gifts (that is, gifts that are given as signs to unbelievers, as well as unbelieving believers) and used them like children with new toys. They showed them off and behaved as if they were in the time of Babel. We read in 1 Corinthians 14:22, “So that tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers.”  Peter was an unbeliever of equality of Jews and Gentiles in the Assembly; he was taught about the equality of the two groups by the Holy Spirit by giving the sign-gift of tongue to both groups.

In 1 Corinthians 12:28, the gift of prophecy is second in the list. In 1 Corinthians 14:22 we read, “But prophecy, not to unbelievers, but to those who believe.”  We are discussing about the sign-gift known as prophecy, and not about predictions, statistical projections, or foretelling of future. Prophecy is a sign-gift to believers, while tongues are to unbelievers. Are there prophets now? Not in the sense that there are people today who speaks the mind of God for the first time as the apostles did. At the time of the apostles, the prophecy was given for the revealing of God’s mind for the Assembly at the time of laying its foundation. The foundation of this building is not repeated. Presently, the walls are built using the living stones. When the laying of foundation of the house--the Assembly--was finished those sign-gifts associated with the foundation were done away with (1 Corinthians 13, Ephesians 2:20).

If anyone claims the existence of prophets in the sense of 1 Corinthians 14:3, then we have nothing against it. Those whom the Holy Spirit guides speak to men in edification, and encouragement, and consolation could be considered as prophets in the sense of Revelation 19:10, “For the Spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus.”  Those who equate the foretelling of Nostradamus to that of the pronouncements of God’s mind by His prophets are evil speaking. They equate the work of the Holy Spirit through holy men to the work of evil spirits through evil men, unbelievers. We must not hesitate to call them what they are. A bother in Christ who studied the prophecies in the Bible could stir up our hearts and mind towards our God. I have no hesitation to call him a prophet, of course not in the sense that he is speaking the mind of God for the first time as a direct revelation from God. This good brother is edifying his fellow brethren through his studies.    

Shalom Malekim!!!

(To be continued)

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Reply by : George P. Koshy   View Profile   Since : 18 Nov 2015 6:59:22 PM Close

5. Love:

1 Corinthians 13

“God is love,” (1 John 4:8) indicates that love is an attribute or nature of God. It is the power to accomplish God’s programs through His people by the Holy Spirit. Any other motivating power is valueless regardless of its accomplishments. This is a revealing and searching truth when men are said to “move mountains” in the name of Christ. God is in “the still small voice,” as in the Old Testament (1Kings 19:12-13). That which is accomplished through the Holy Spirit is for eternity and that in which He glories; yet grace upon grace, He credits it to the one that permits His Spirit to accomplish it. This may appear to men as a paradox, yet such is the heart and grace of God.

6. Ministry and Prayer:

1 Corinthians 14

Opposing circumstances of every kind are continually besetting the God’s people on every side to undermine their faith. Such a situation makes it necessary for the continual “building up and stirring up” (2 Timothy 1:6; 2 Peter 1:13; 3:1). For this reason each member is exhorted above all to seek prophecy. In 1 Corinthians 14:29-30, the gift of prophecy is to be under the direction of the Holy Spirit. The Christians were to come together in to one place for this purpose (1 Corinthians 14:26) and coming together is connected with prayer: it is the basic, necessary link to the throne of grace to avail ourselves of His enabling grace and power.

Ministry in the Assembly is for the profit of others. This is what we read in 1 Corinthians 14:18-22. We are to understand and obey the instructions for the Assembly that is given in the scriptures through the apostles and prophets. “The whole Assembly come together in one place” is the statement of Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:23. When the Assembly at Corinth gathered in one place, they were uninstructed (1 Corinthians 14:26-33). They were all active at the same time. This epistle tells them that they must act with order among them. The Spirit that guides them is not a Spirit of disorder, but of order. The disorder comes from some other source, a source that is not theirs. The order is two or three speaks and that is to be done one person at a time. If one speaks in an unknown tongue and there is no one to translate, the speaker must keep silence, because he is not edifying the Assembly. When one is speaking, the Spirit of God raises another to speak, and then the first must sit down. This is in the spirit of “I must decrease, and He must increase,” as well as, “Not my will, but Your will be done.” The instructions in 1 Corinthians are not limited to the saints in the Assembly at Corinth only. In 1 Cor. 1:2 we read, “With all in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Therefore, it is to all of us.  

Thus we have a minimum of four corporate activities: Breaking of Bread, Exercise of Gift, Love, and Ministry and Prayer.

Shalom Malekim!!!

(To be continued)

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