Being A Christian – the Autonomous Local Church

There’s a lot I could say about the Local Church. One of the biggest errors in most Christian’s doctrines is in the area known as Ekklesiology – the study of the local church.

I have read countless statement of faiths, that profess a belief in a Universal Church. Using the rules of Hermeneutics, we turn to the rule that states, “When you have many verses that state a particular doctrine, and one or two that seem to say something else, we interpret the minority verses by the understanding we get from the majority.”

Weak Ekklesiology has caused COUNTLESS pastors and “Scholars” to do the opposite. The Bible has just over a hundred references to the church… and 94 of them clearly define the church as a visible, local entity.

Using the rules of Hermeneutics, we have to therefore define the word “church” biblically as a visible, local body. Any references to the church must then be understood in that context alone.

THe concept of a Universal Church then is literally unBiblical. We’re trying to force a concept (Universal) to fit a word outside of its Biblically given context (church), based upon a 5 verses in Ephesians.

Remember the Hermeneutic principle – if you have 94 verses that clearly show the church to be a local body, and 5 that suggest it is Universal…

…you can’t go by the 5. You have to go by the 94.

The concept everyone is trying to hang onto (Universal body of Christ) is being hung on the wrong word, here! IT should be hung on the word Kingdom!

As you read your Bible this year, try this – when you read the word Church, make sure you understand it as local only… and see how your understanding of this doctrine suddenly changes.

The concept of church now changes dramatically. Most christians have a truly weak Ekklesiology. If I were to rate it in intensity, it’s somewhere around a 10-watt bulb. It should be that of a 65-watt bulb.

Because of this error in the understanding of Church, men have chosen to create denominations. Denominationalism is unBiblical. There’s no dispensation given for, “we’re Methodists, and we do this…” “We’re Lutherans, and we do this…”

The Bible gives you doctrines, Ekklesiology, church polity, everything all wrapped up in its 66 books. If you deviate from what it presents – you’re in error.

Denominationalism is a grand example of that. If the Bible shows you believer’s baptism by immersion, and you sprinkle a baby and call that baptising… it’s wrong. It’s in error. You don’t have it right – you’ve got it wrong. There’s no dispensation for doing things wrong, just because you’re Episcopal, etc.

The next issue of the church is church polity. That means the rule of the church. Denominationalism gives you (usually) someone over your church that is not part of your church.

The Denomination can step in and say, “You’re not keeping according to our by-laws” – and you have to fix it or risk being kicked out. That simply can’t be found in the Bible. There’s special pastors who are over multiple churches, a completely unBiblical concept.

What the Bible presents is this – a local church. Whose in charge of it? The local church body. The Pastor functions as an overseer. Um… that’s about it.

How does a local church deal with an errant pastor? They assemble three persons, well thought of in the congregation, and they approach the pastor and say… “we need to talk”.

Nobody from another church is tapped to talk to the pastor. That’s a separate church interfering in the business of another church.

implicit in this is the concept of democracy. The congregation gets the vote in many things. Why? It’s the Biblical example. In Acts 6:5 the local church in Jerusalem selected deacons.

What about elder boards? Elder boards, even the concept of an elder – is completely unBiblical. The word elder (Presbyter) is interchangeable with Bishop and Pastor.

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;” (Ephesians 4:11, KJV)

“PAUL and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:” (Philippians 1:1, KJV)

“For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;” (Titus 1:5–7, KJV)

In Titus we see Elders (v. 5) suddenly called Bishops in v. 7. It’s the same office. An Elder is a pastor. What’s the Biblical name for a Pastor? Pastor, Bishop, Elder. Same term describes the same office. this means in Presyter polity churches with Edler boards, the Elders are going to find themselves having to account to God why they were not fulfilling the office of Pastor – indeed, why they undertook the office when not called to preach.

Not good, really. Pastors have to give account in ways that the average Christian does not.

Some churches like to create associations or conventions, for the purpose of being able to get together – as churches of like faith and practice – and do things. Picnicing is one thing – but inter-church cooperation in the purpose of missionaries, etc… that’s a question for that body to decide by vote. And the case has been made that it’s not really Biblical to have churches get together and create mission boards. A church calls and commissions a missionary, and several churches may all participate in sponsiring that missionary – that’s fine. And churches should be doing this, supporting missionaries.

I’m not going to go on and on about the local church. Since apparently I’m called to preach, I tend to want to talk about this topic for hours. Hopefully, you’ve learned something today!



Author: philipdean2013

Seminary graduate with a Ba. in Theology/Pastoral Studies, Happily married, Independent Baptist. I can't keep silent about what I see going on in Christianity any longer! Apostasy reigns around us, churches are sliding into worldiness, a whitewashed Gospel is preached everywhere... "Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. Jeremiah 6:16 (KJV) So, I'm speaking out. ...Why aren't you???