Core Normative Household Guidelines And Implications For The Church Of The 21st Century
Unit 4: Issue 1 – Project 1
Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. – Acts 6:3-5
Church establishment process –
Gather a Beachhead of Believers: But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles. – Acts 14:4
Build up the Flock into Disciples and Develop Them along in Their Faith: When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples. – Act 14:21-22
Appoint Leaders: And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. – Acts 14:23
Qualifications of an “Overseer” –
In Titus 1:5-11 Paul gives a short description of what to look for in an elder. This is elaborated on in 1 Timothy 3. It seems Paul was very concerned about the character and integrity of a man much more so than his deeds or accomplishments.
Men and Women
I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire.. – 1Ti 2:8-9
Men Called to Leadership in the Church –
He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? – 1Ti 3:4-5
Women Called to Leadership in the Church –
Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. – 1Ti 5:9-10
Conflict Resolution –
Galatians 2:1-14 describes the situation from Acts 15 in more detail where people were in a great dispute over whether it is necessary for a Christian to be circumcised to receive salvation. They came to the conclusion that it is not because salvation is a free gift given without partiality. They decided that if it were based on circumcision that it would be based on works rather than grace (Acts 15:11). This whole debate took place in the midst of Pharisees trying to cause even more discord and dissention among them by pretending to be Christians. The point of all of this being that it was up to the elders to dissolve the issue down to the facts. They reasoned that based on the Holy Spirit’s anointing being in uncircumcised men as well as circumcised, that if God shows no partiality, why should they? So the laws of Moses were for the covenant given from God for the Jews. But under the covenant of Christ there is a different set of guidelines for us to follow as the church. So the moral of the story is that major conflict resolution should be conducted by an elder team so that a quick and precise solution can be worked out. If not, something like this could tear apart the church, just as those Pharisees intended for it to.
Church Discipline –
1 Corinthians 5:1-6 deals with someone who is welcomed as a part of the church in his sin. Such a scripture could be used to defend the stance of removing people from the body of Christ for their sin. But the context of this story reveals a different way of looking at it. Paul was trying to correct the church in its entirety. The church of Corinth was so liberal and accepting of everyone, so far on the side of grace, that they did nothing to correct this person who was sleeping with his mother-in-law! Even people who weren’t Christian said “that’s jacked up”. Paul’s point was that the church needed to re-evaluate it’s standard of morality or he was gonna have to bring a rod to beat everyone into understanding the truth (1 Cor 4:21). Paul wasn’t afraid to kick someone out of the church to prove a point. And his mind it was even better for that person because then they would finally recognize the error of their ways. Does that mean we kick people out of the church whenever someone commits a sin that non-Christians are disgusted by? 1 Cor 5:9-12 says no. The sin that it mentions is sin that is reoccurring. We are supposed to remove someone who is not only unrepentant, but someone who is unrepentant and causing the church to be looked down upon in the community; thereby being destructive to the work of the Holy Spirit in that area instead of constructive.
In Acts 19:9 the group of believers that is being described meet daily, it says. But in Acts 20:7 another church is said to meet together once a week. Paul is said to have preached until midnight because he was leaving the following day and a man even fell asleep, indicating that such a frequency was uncommon. The frequency of when and how long a church gathers seems to be a free choice to make depending on what the needs of the church are and the resources available (meaning what the leadership is capable of providing).
Romans 16:5 indicates that one church met in houses throughout the city but the church in Jerusalem met as one big unit. It seems that where and how the church came together was unimportant as long as it happened, but not simply just happened. It was exceedingly important that the congregations be focused on working together as a cohesive group – family if you will – that continually strives to in every way portray and live out the way of the truth of the gospel before everyone so as to point one another to the gospel (1 Cor 11:17 – 14:38; Eph 5:15-21; 1 Tim 2:1-15; 4:6-16).
Giving and Financial Matters
Acts 6:1-7 discusses the first recorded instance where the church made a decision based on committing a charitable action. Acts 11:27-30 is another where they actually sent relief in the way of food and provisions. 1 Cor 16:1-4 talks of providing for ministries to take place elsewhere and 2 Cor 9 talks of giving willingly and sacrificially, not out of obligation or apathy. The church is meant not to be ran as a business, but like a business; using the funds and things that are provided by the church (the people) to in turn provide for ministries to take place and the gospel to be spread to new eyes and ears.
As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.” – 2Co 8:15
The point here being: if you gather a lot for personal gain you will spend it unwisely and be left with less than if you gather in humility spending what you get with frugality. This principle is applicable to the individual from both the aspect of giving [in the sense that if you give to receive something in return all you get is earthly praise/recognition. But if you give with humility not expecting anything in return – giving sacrificially – God will honor that and count it to you as righteousness (Galatians 6:8)] and receiving (in the sense that if you receive with a greedy heart to spend generously on yourself lacking appreciation and value, than that gift loses its impact and does nothing lasting to help. Such as the case of a homeless person receiving a few bucks to in turn spend it on alcohol or something destructive, rather than viewing it as what it’s intended for – a tool to help improve their quality of life).
Widows and Special Needs
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. – Rom 12:13
Needs Outside of the Church –
… but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. – 2Co 8:5
It’s good to give to needs and ministries outside of the church, but it is exceedingly important to tithe to God of your first fruits if you’re going to give.
Community Life and Ministry
Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 both discuss how to work together as one body as the body of Christ where Christ is the head.
Different Giftings and Contributions to the Body –
1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4 both discuss the differences in how God gifts each member of the church to function differently as if a different part of the body.
Relationships with the World
Live as an Example –
There is little to no specifications on how we are to engage the world outside the church. Rather, there is a lot of information and instruction on how to live out our faith. There are examples laid out in the book of Acts where Paul and other leaders speak, out boldly witnessing to people face to face. But so far as instructions go, all that is given are directions on how to walk with Christ. This implies that a huge witness as the church is how we endear ourselves to the public.
The book of Acts is full of scenarios where Paul and other leaders boldly proclaim the gospel to large crowds of people. But we also see that Jesus would even sit down with a Pharisee to discuss with him the truths of the gospel as a form of witness (John 3). So we have here two extremes which creates for us a freedom in form. It depends on the circumstances of the need for witness such as the culture and the hearts and minds of the individuals as to finding a way to best engage them with the gospel.