House Church Talk - Re: The Local Church

Paul Cox paulcox2 at
Mon Sep 29 10:58:51 EDT 2003

Hi Jim, 

I only used the one man leadership thing as an example.  I think I might
have said it was only an example.  If not, please forgive my oversight.
It is only one example of how the traditions of man can come in and
usurp the original intent of God.  If I didn't believe such compromises
are the ongoing work of the Enemy to the church, then I myself would be
compelled to go back to Mary worship.  I believe we all have come out of
something that we realized was off the mark so far as God's moving among
men is concerned.

The point I was trying to make is that when we see things in the Word,
such as what Bruce mentioned about no churches being established where
lone brothers went, they can be light to us - light that brings us into
a closer walk with the Lord and a clearer view of what His way is among
men.  By the same token, if we take that "light" and try to force it on
others dogmatically, then it becomes a division in the Body.

Concerning the Galatians Churches, I think the issue there was law
verses grace; not Jewish or non-Jewish.  I don't think the Lord was
doing Law at Jerusalem, but grace at Antioch.  The Lord gradually
brought his people out of Judaism.  Their refusal to make a complete
break from it was dealt with by the destruction of Jerusalem, in A.D.

So why did Paul take care not to stumble when he returned to Jerusalem?
I know that he said he became all things to all men.  However, there are
many notable scholars and students of the Bible who will tell you that
when Paul went back to Jerusalem and shaved his head to take part in
ceremony there, it was a mistake at a moment of weakness.  He may have
gone beyond just taking care not to stumble.  I think this blends in
well with what I think should be our proper view of Paul - a fallible
man who was still in the process of transformation, as are we.  My prior
Catholic view of him would have been of "St. Paul", who could do no

Personally I think it is interesting to watch Paul grow throughout the
book of Acts.  But his mistake at Jerusalem arose from a genuine
heartfelt burden he had for his fellow Jews.  So tremendous was this
burden that he said he would be willing to be lost himself in order for
his kinsmen according to the flesh to be saved (Rom. 9:3).  Again, this
is my view, and that of others also I'm sure, but certainly not dogma to
be forced on anyone.  We can agree to disagree until that day, when we
will all be clear about what the Lord meant.  In the meantime I don't
think any of us are going to change His mind.  One thing we can all
agree upon is that He is fairest of ten thousand.  Let us run to Him.

Your brother


-----Original Message-----
From: House Church Talk -bounces at
[mailto:House Church Talk -bounces at] On Behalf Of
goodwordusa at
Sent: Monday, September 29, 2003 7:59 AM
To: House Church Talk
Subject: House Church Talk -  Re: The Local Church

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
use (as in mis-use) of Scripture.  We do not become scholars (students)
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
saying.  We too often toss out the actual historical examples given to
judging the men of God in the first century of the church by our own
limited) 20th century views.

Even in your own example of James in Jerusalem, you forget, or maybe
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
follow the convictions that James had for only one reason -- the
were not Jews.  (Yet when Paul returned to Jerusalem he also tried to
bringing an offense.)  This does not make James wrong; it merely shows
error of the Galatians in trying to be Jews.

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

The one example of New Testament believers that we are missing today is
they followed the Lord Jesus Himself.  Scripture shows us individuals
this and local groups doing this.  They brought their concerns to Him,
then they acted on whatever He gave them to do.  Paul went to Jerusalem
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
last one to advocate a particular HC style of church structure.  Rather,
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 Lord Jesus is able to lead His church.  We do not need any one man,
even a group of very sincere and earnest men, to tell the whole church
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
the Scriptures, even using it to sit as judge and jury over men of God
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,
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
and others did not.

Hope this helps to clear up any confusion.


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