House Church Talk - Re: The Local Church

goodwordusa at goodwordusa at
Mon Sep 29 13:58:47 EDT 2003

Good Morning, Paul.

You wrote, in part:
> The lone shepherd leadership was the first degradation brought 
> in by some who, even though they had been directly under the 
> teaching of the apostles who had walked the earth with the Lord 
> Jesus, failed to escape this pitfall.  

> But yours is a much needed warning.  Even these things, if 
> considered as dogma, can become the very things which hinder the 
> Lord's move among us.  

You seem to be under the impression, Paul, that my post was somehow 
advocating a particular style of leadership -- one man as opposed to a 
plurality of elders.  My concern is not related to that at all, but to the 
use (as in mis-use) of Scripture.  We do not become scholars (students) of 
Scripture by merely reading our own ideas back into the text.

God has much to say in Scripture, and He is not saying what men are often 
saying.  We too often toss out the actual historical examples given to us, 
judging the men of God in the first century of the church by our own (very 
limited) 20th century views.

Even in your own example of James in Jerusalem, you forget, or maybe never 
noticed, that he was a Jew.  For Jews living in Jerusalem many customs of the 
Jews were observed for the sake of a witness, just as Paul urged care in 
eating meat among the Gentiles brothers.  The Galatians were not to try and 
follow the convictions that James had for only one reason -- the Galatians 
were not Jews.  (Yet when Paul returned to Jerusalem he also tried to avoid 
bringing an offense.)  This does not make James wrong; it merely shows the 
error of the Galatians in trying to be Jews.

Besides, I do not see James as a "lone leader" in Jerusalem anyway.  I see 
the elders all assembled and involved in reviewing the evidences, and in the 
discussion, and in the final decisions.  James spoke for the group, stating 
the consensus of all. And it was common among the Jews for one man to do so.

The one example of New Testament believers that we are missing today is that 
they followed the Lord Jesus Himself.  Scripture shows us individuals doing 
this and local groups doing this.  They brought their concerns to Him, and 
then they acted on whatever He gave them to do.  Paul went to Jerusalem with 
the “problem” of the Gentiles, in order to see that the whole church (Jews as 
well as Gentiles) would reach the same consensus.  And they did.

I am the last one to advocate an IC style of church structure, and I am the 
last one to advocate a particular HC style of church structure.  Rather, it 
is enough to follow the Lord Jesus in all things pertaining to life and 
worship, allowing the Scriptures to encourage us along in our walk with the 

The Lord Jesus is able to lead His church.  We do not need any one man, or 
even a group of very sincere and earnest men, to tell the whole church what 
is right, and how to interpret the New Testament Scriptures.  I see no 
difference in that practice and what the IC is doing already.

To take an idea -- any idea at all -- and read that interpretation back into 
the Scriptures, even using it to sit as judge and jury over men of God who 
lived long ago, is foolishness on our part.  

We tend to forget our ignorance of those times.  We neglect the fact that the 
Lord deliberately gives us only glimpses of the church in those days, and 
that the focus of Scripture is God’s own work, and not on the people 
themselves, except that some men and women believed and walked with the Lord 
and others did not.

Hope this helps to clear up any confusion.


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