The Authority Of The Local Church pt 1

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:15–20)

The Authority Of The Local Church 

            In our text we see that the local church is given authority by Christ to handle difficult disciplinary matters under the authority of Christ. We typically hold it to be an important principle in Baptist belief and practice that the local church is free, and should be left free to handle her own business. Jesus certainly seems to have established this principle.

            One of the reasons that we hold to the local church is that the Scriptures never show us a regional or state church that has authority over local churches. Neither do the Scriptures present to us an association, or any other organization as being in authority over local churches. Furthermore, we see no evidence in the Scriptures that the local church has the right to concede, or delegate her authority over her own affairs to anyone else. Should someone assert otherwise, the burden of proof rests upon them to present a Biblical case for their assertions.

            It is important to note that the New Testament pattern shows that the local church is free to tend to her own business. In Acts chapter six, when there was a need for help in caring for the widows in the church, the apostles told the church what they needed to do, and guided them in doing it, but the church chose and approved the men who were to carry out the task at hand. In like manner, when the Holy Spirit moved upon the church at Antioch to set Paul and Barnabas aside to do the work that God had called them to do, the local church was free to attend to this in obedience to God. Likewise, as Paul commanded Corinth to exercise church discipline, he told them that it was their duty as the church to carry out this duty. The local church is autonomous and has the authority under Christ’s headship to carry out her own business.

Binding And Loosing In The Local Church

            Our text shows Jesus stating that there is, within the local church, the authority to bind and loose as long as it is in accord with what has been done in heaven. When we consider that the ultimate authority in the church is Jesus Christ (See Matthew 28:18-20;Ephesians 1:23;Colossians 1:18), and that God alone has the authority of forgiveness (And that forgiveness and judgment are the prerogative of Jesus. See Matthew 9:1-8;John 5:22;James 4:12), then we see that the binding and loosing must be done under the authority of Christ, or in harmony with the teaching of His Word.

            What does it mean to bind and to loose? Jesus shows us this in Matthew 18:21-35. It is here that the parable shows us how one can either be bound to, or loosed from his debt. When we see Jesus tells the church that we have the authority of forgiveness (John 20:23), we understand that He is speaking of the same thing. The binding and loosing refers to the sinning member who is put outside the fellowship of the church (See 1 Corinthians 5:1-13), thus being bound to his sins until he repents; and then receiving him back into fellowship through forgiveness, thus loosing him from his sin as God has done (See 2 Corinthians 2:1-11). 

The Gospel Of The Glory…

… the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.” (1 Timothy 1:9–11) 

                  When we look at the content of the message which we preach, we must realize that God is the gospel. Paul states that the gospel is of His glory and blessedness. Apart from God there is no gospel. Apart from the eternal Son incarnate we would have no good news to believe. God is the gospel.

                  If God is not glorious there is no gospel. The gospel testifies of the beauty, honor, and majesty of God. It declares that sin is horrible and ugly because it takes our eyes and hearts away from Him who is truly beautiful, desirable, and all together lovely. It declares that sin is idolatry because it puts the lesser ahead of Him who is forever worthy of our love, adoration, and obedience. The gospel of the glory of God then declares that God’s beauty, majesty, and honor are such that He intends to display it in such a way as to bring us to the point to give glory to Him forever. Thus He makes a way through the sacrifice of His Son that we might be forgiven according to His abounding grace, which abounds to His glory. God’s glory makes the gospel attractive: it would not be good news otherwise.

                  The gospel is also about the joy of God. It is the good news of the glory of the happy God. If God were grouchy, irritable, and only a judge, there would be no attractiveness to the gospel, because there would be no good news to make it truly gospel. God, however, is eternally happy. His joy never ceases. In His presence is full joy and eternal pleasures. God enjoys Himself so much that His joy overflows in goodness and grace that we might find joy in Him through the forgiveness of our sins, which reconciles us to Him. God calls us to proclaim this joy in the gospel.

                  The implications of this for our ministry are great. We should be a joyful people. Preaching should be a joyous task. Our proclamation should be centered upon the joy of the Lord and His pursuit of His glory through our rejoicing in Him. Should we ever begin to grasp this but a little, it would begin to eliminate legalism, judgmental attitudes, hatefulness, worldliness and most other ills that plague professing Christians today. If this truth captivates the souls of the preachers, perhaps it will capture the hearts of the hearers, and then perhaps we will grow to be more successful in our labors.

                  Brothers, let us proclaim the joyous beauty of the Savior!

Notes On The Deity Of Christ

Why Call Jesus God?

John 1:1-4,14;Colossians 1:15-19;Hebrews 1:1-4 He is Creator

 

 

Psalm 90:1-2 Being Creator, He is before time and thus eternal Micah 5:2 cf Matthew 2:1-6 see also Hebrews 7:1-3;13:8;1 John 1:1-3;5:20-22 (Isaiah 57:15)

Cf Revelation 1:8,11;21:6

This also shows us that the Son of God has no beginning. He is the beginning. He is timeless and eternal.

 

John 1:1-4;1 John 1:1-3;5:20-22 cf Genesis 2:7 He is life Deuteronomy 32:39-41

 

 

He is the JEHOVAH, the I AM Isaiah 40:3 (Here He is explicitly called God.) Matthew 3:1-3;John 1:19-34 cf John 8:58

 

 

He is Savior Matthew 1:21;Luke 1:47;2:11;John 4:42;Acts 5:31;13:23;Ephesians 5:23;Philippians 3:20;1 Timothy 1:1;4:10;2 Timothy 1:10;Titus 1:1-4;2:10-15;3:4-6;2 Peter 1:1,11;2:20;3:2,18;1 John 4:14;Jude 1:25

2 Samuel 22:3;Psalm 106:21;Isaiah 43:3,11;45:21-22;49:25-26;60:15-16;Hosea 13:4

These texts show us the following: there is only one Savior, God is that Savior, Jesus is that Savior. Seeing there is only one Savior, who is God, and that Jesus is our Savior, it follows that Jesus is God.

                                                                                    

 

God knows all things. This is an attribute that belongs to God alone. Isaiah 46:8-11 cf John 21:17;Hebrews 4:12-13;

 

 

 

Scripture calls Him the unchanging, eternal God. Hebrews 1:8-12 cf Psalm 102:24-27  and Malachi 3:6;Hebrews 13:8

 

He is the Lord from Heaven 1 Corinthians 15:44-49

 

 

He is omnipresent John 1:18;3:13

 

 

He is almighty Genesis 17:1;18:14 cf Revelation 1:8,11;(19:6-16)Here we see that the Lamb is the almighty God, who is King of kings.

 

 

He is the Son of God and one with the Father. John 1:1-3,14;10:27-30;14:9;Philippians 2:5-8

Why Is This Doctrine Important?

Mediator- 1 Timothy 2:5-6 cf Galatians 3:  The only way that our mediator could truly understand the way of God, represent God (John 1:18), accurately convey the heart and will of God (John 1:1-3,14;),and reconcile man to God (2 Corinthians 5:17-21), He must be God.

Savior-If Jesus is not God, He cannot save us. Only God is Savior Isaiah 45:21-22 cf Titus 2:11-14If Jesus is not God, we have no hope of future salvation at His return.

Worship- If Jesus is not God, He cannot rightfully be worshiped. No mere man is worthy of worship.

Service- The exalted Christ is the One Who is to be served and obeyed, not some mere human who deserves no honor and obedience as God deserves. Philippians 2:5-16

 

In short, this truth affects the whole of the Christian experience.

Of The Divine Essence

Of The Divine Essence

“We believe in one God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the same in essence, equal in power and glory.”[1]

 

What do we mean when we say that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are the same in essence? What is this essence? This terminology began to be used in the early centuries of the church when a man named Arius declared that the Son of God had a beginning, and that there was a time when the Son of God did not exist. A man named Athanasius stood up to combat this heresy. Athanasius said, “The Word who admittedly gives life and order to, and is in, the whole, must also be in the part; and in a part He manifested Himself—namely, in a human body. He gives life and being to everything, yet is essentially distinct from creation, being one in essence with the Father only.[2]The Son, Athanasius declared, is one in essence with the Father. The essence speaks of being. It speaks to us of nature and character. When we say that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are the same in essence, we are saying along with Christians of many centuries that they are the same being and of the same nature and character.

While it is indeed obvious that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are distinct persons, it is often difficult to see that they are one essence, being, or character. Let us consider the following:

  • The Father is God: “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9–11)
  • The Son is God: “Inthe beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1–3)

But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” (Hebrews 1:8)

  • The Holy Spirit is God: “But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” (Acts 5:3–4)

 

What we mean when we say this is that each of the Divine persons is of the same being, nature and character. Thus, if we say that God is eternal, we must say that the Father is eternal (Deuteronomy 32:39-41;Matthew 6:13). We must also say that the Son is eternal (John 1:1-3;Colossians 1:15-17;1 John 1:1-4). Then we must also say that the Spirit is eternal (Hebrews 9:14). Thus, the essence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is one.

It is necessary that we maintain this, because the Scriptures present us only one God. From the very beginning we are taught that the one true God created all things. It is He who said to Israel, “And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lordthy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:1–3) Again, “Hear, O Israel: The Lordour God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lordthy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4–5) There is only one God, and must worship only one God. God’s holy and righteous jealousy demands that (Exodus 20:1-7; 34:14). We do not worship three different Gods; but we do worship one God who subsists[3]in three distinct persons. Thus, to worship the Son as God is not to be a polytheist who is provoking God to jealousy. Neither is it sinful to say that Christ is in us (Colossians 1:27), when we are speaking of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling (Ephesians 1:12-14). Nor is it wickedness to call the Holy Spirit God, as though we were claiming that the Holy Spirit is a separate God from the Father; because we know that the Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of Him who raised up Christ from the dead (Romans 8:9-11). To worship God is to worship the three persons of God. We believe in the Trinity, the three-in-one God, the God who is three persons in one essence. To do otherwise would be to worship a god who is a figment of our sinful imaginations, as Scripture presents us three persons who are all God, and are the same in essence.

Finally, if the three persons are not of the same essence, then which is the God of our salvation? God is the only Savior, we find. “Tell ye, and bring them near; Yea, let them take counsel together: Who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? Have not I the Lord? and there is no God else beside me; A just God and a saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: For I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, The word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, Every tongue shall swear.” (Isaiah 45:21–23) Yet we also read that Jesus is our Savior: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) (See also 1 Timothy 1:15;Titus 2:13.) Then we read of the Holy Spirit in relationship to our salvation. “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:” (2 Thessalonians 2:13) Either the Bible is inconsistent and contradictory in claiming that all three persons are our Savior, or the Bible is teaching us that all three of the persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are equally God, being the same in essence. It is imperative for us and for our salvation that we believe that there are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one in essence, equal in power and glory.

To Him alone be the glory.

 

 

 

 

[1]Statement of Principles, Louisiana State/State Line Association Of Regular Baptist Churches.

[2]Athanasius of Alexandria, Athanasius: On the Incarnation of the Word of God, trans. T. Herbert Bindley, Second Edition Revised (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1903), 15–16.

[3]Subsist- to be, to exist

The Eternal Sonship of Jesus Christ

The Eternal Sonship of Jesus Christ

 

The eternal sonship of Jesus is a very important doctrine. It is also a doctrine that cannot be fully comprehended by mortal man.  On the other hand, mortals must at least accept this doctrine as being true.  Remembering that God is spirit and is not bound by time, space, and material/bodily constraints, will help us to more readily accept this truth.  Being the Son of God means that Jesus is God.  The Son has the nature of the Father.  This means that the Son is eternal. Though He was begotten and not made, the Son is eternal.  While these things are hard to be understood, let us attempt to attain a rudimentary knowledge of them.

 

The Son Eternally Begotten of The Father

Before Jesus was ever begotten in the womb of the virgin Mary He was the Son of God.  The Sonship of Jesus is not a physical sonship, but a spiritual one.  As Isaiah prophesied of the coming of Jesus, he told us, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” ( Isaiah 9:6) KJV  This passage tells us that Jesus was the Son before He became a man; He was givenas the Son.  Not only so, but He is one with His Father, which tells us that the Son of God is God.  We again read, “ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”  ( John 3:16,17) KJV  The Son was givenand sentthus testifying to the fact that Jesus was the Son before He became a man.

There has never been a time when God in all of His glorious perfection did not have a complete comprehension of who He is.  Never has there been a time in which God did not have a full understanding of all His nature and His deeds.  In the midst of this perception that God has of Himself is to be found the fact that God delights in Himself; He is the happy God (1Tim 1:11).  This idea, love, delight, and contemplation of His own perfections is so complete that it stands forth as another person.  This person is the second person of the Godhead, the Son of God.  This is a begetting in a spiritual sense because the One begotten is truly the eternal offspring of the Father.  The Son is eternally begotten, because there has never been a time that God has not had this perfect delight in, and understanding of, who He is.  This means that the Son is eternal.  It also means that the Son is indeed divine in all facets of His nature. (Note: We should not think of the Son being begotten as though He had a beginning. The terms “begotten” and “Son” actually refer to the relationship He has with the Father rather than speaking of origination and beginning.)  “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.”   (Hebrews 1:1-8) KJV   This passage speaks volumes about this wonderful truth.  It tells us that the Son is of the same character as the Father, He is the Son who is begotten of God, is due worship, and is God.

 

The Father’s Witness to The Son

The Father bore witness to the Sonship of Jesus at least three times while He was on earth.  The first was at His baptism: “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  (Matthew 3:16,17) KJV  The second time was when He spoke to Peter, James, and John in the Mount of Transfiguration: “ While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”   (Matthew 17:5) KJV  Finally, the Father testified of the Sonship of Jesus when He raised Christ from the dead.  Paul said that He was “ declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”  (Romans 1:4) KJV   This is, I believe, a faithful representation of the Sonship of Jesus Christ, our Creator and Redeemer.