Keith Hunt - Church Government   Restitution of All Things
  Home Previous Page   First Page

Church Government

What the New Testament teaches on how churches should be governed

             THIS IS THE FINAL PART IN ANSWERING
          NORM EDWARDS' PAPER ON CHURCH GOVERNMENT



Prophets - In the New Testament?(pages 13-15).

     I have no disagreement here with what Mr.Edwards has
written. The "prophetic role" in the Church has often been
overlooked and misunderstood. Many even claim it does not exists
any more since the days of the first apostles. Nothing could be
further from the truth!
     The study of the function of "prophet" is a most fascinating
one.  You may like to spend some time with a Bible Concordance
like Strong's under the word "prophet."  It is not the purpose of
this work to elaborate on this function of the ministerial
eldership.
     I will recommend to the reader a book that does do
that(elaborates in detail on the function of the prophet). The
book is entitled "HE GAVE GIFTS UNTO MEN - A Biblical
Perspective of Apostles, Prophets, and Pastors"  by Kenneth E.
Hagin.
     While I do not agree with every sentence in this book,
overall it is a work that the progressive Christian who believes
in the "gifts of the Spirit" still being given today, should
read.  The wealth of information, wisdom, and experience related
by Hagin in this book, is profound and edifying.

Other Congregational Functions(p.15-19).

     Administrator, Leader, Shepherd, or Pastor

     No problem with what Norman Edwards says here. I have before
shown that at the beginning of the NT Church, the
apostles/leaders/overseers, were responsible for both
the spiritual and physical duties of the Church. This can be
clearly seen from chapter one to five in the book of Acts. When
the Church was so large that physical cares were too great for
the apostles, they were inspired to delegate the physical
responsibilities to other persons, who had to meet certain
qualifications as directed by the spiritual leaders(the apostles
in this case).
     This was done in order that the shepherds could mainly
continue in "prayer and the word."
     Certainly if the situation arose in some very small
congregation, it would not be wrong for the Pastor/overseer to
function in BOTH the spiritual and physical duties of the Church.
But such a situation in my mind would be extremely rare today.
The principle and example given to us in Acts 6 and elsewhere, is
that persons are chosen from the congregation who meet the
qualifications to look after the physical matters of the
Church, and in so doing allowing the elders to concentrate on
"prayer and the word."

Apostle

     Covered above in some detail.

Discerner of Spirits

     No disagreement with N.E.  Some do have the gift of seeing
deep into the attitude and motivation of people. Can be of great
benefit to some churches who need that gift among them.

Evangelist or Gospel Preacher

     No problem with what Mr. Edwards states.

Exhorter
Faith-filled person
Giver
Healer
Help
Knowledgeable person
Love

     I am in full agreement

Minister or Helps(service to others, physical or spiritual)

     I agree with some things stated by not with all.  The third
section of this book (also the first and second) gets to the
"nitty-gritty" of where I disagree.

Miracle worker
Merciful person
Teacher or speaker
Tongues speaker and Interpretation
Wise person

     I have no problem with what is stated.

The Role of Elder(p.19,20).

     Most of what N.E. has said under this section I have no
difficulty with. Where I may differ has been covered already in
this work.
     It is interesting to note that he does allow for Titus to
have selected the men who were to be appointed, who were to be
"elders" in every city. He goes on to say that these men had to
meet qualifications, but thinks Titus "not knowing everyone in
every city, would certainly have asked the congregation which men
were qualified, as in Acts 6."
     I have little trouble with a congregation being part of the
process, as I have previously stated earlier, under certain
situations and circumstances. I told you about Fred Coulter, the
Biblical Church of God, the two congregations I was leading at
the time, and how my appointment or ordination as an official
Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ was determined. Yet to think
that Titus, or to say that Titus did not know everyone in every
city......well that is reading into, or adding something to the
word that is just NOT THERE! We have no facts at all to say how
much Titus had worked with paul in that area before Paul gave
those instructions to him. He may well have known every
congregation and all the leading men in each, for all we are told
about the situation. We are just not told, pure and simple, and
to guess otherwise is mere personal speculation at best, and
doctrinal dogmatism at worst.
     Acts 6 may have been applied, but we just do not know, we
are not told. Yet, if Acts was taken as a principle to be used in
other situations, as I have before proved, the last word on the
matter was still with the overseer/apostles/elders of the Church.
And in the case of appointing elders in the churches on Crete,
that would have been Titus, for he was by the authority of
Paul(one of the great men used by the Lord and inspired in
a special way) given that responsibility.

     I am in full agreement when Mr. Edwards says: "Elders are
responsible for shepherding the flock of the Eternal and to serve
as overseers. They are to be examples, not 'lords' over the
others. They are to anoint and pray for those in need of help.
They are to lay hands on others for spacial tasks. Those that do
a good job of overseeing or teaching should be paid for their
work. If leaders do sin, they should be corrected in front
of the entire congregation....."
     
     Today, some who would follow E.N's paper as a "sacred cow"
doctrine, are scared of the NT fact that men were employed full
time in the work of the Lord and lived off the people they
served, because that would make them a "special class" of
persons, different from the rest of the congregation, in their
eyes, and they would not want that. These people say "all are or
can be elders in the church(not sure if they think women can also
be) so why should some be paid and others not?"
     And with such a theology, I can see that would indeed create
problems over "paid ministers." For who would decide which men
would be full time and/or part time, with pay?  For how long? 
I'm sure many men, if having secular work problems, out of work,
not liking their work etc., would love to be employed by the
Church. Having the doctrine that all men can be elders or
ministers in the Church, could easily cause "politics" of
carnality to abound, especially as "clicks" of personality do
tend to evolve in any congregation of any size. I can see
personality pulls and lobbying tactics going on behind
closed doors, to influence the "vote" in WHO is, and for HOW
LONG, the ones to be full/part time "paid" elders.
     I would love to observe say for 10 years, a 100 member plus
congregation that teaches every man can be and is an elder, and
can help lead the congregation when his turn arrives.  I would
love to watch them as they vote in and out their overseers. I can
imagine the lobbying and politics in the corners, and the house
parties to win votes.  I would be surprised if any church
congregation could survive that kind of free for all and
still be doing any kind of work for God in ten years.

     Mr. Edwards goes through a number of OT examples and
scriptures concerning "lots."  Interesting, but besides the point
when we come down to the question of the NT Church Government. 
For to bring "lots" over into the NT Church we would have to find
NT examples and plain NT scriptures teaching us that we should,
as congregations, "vote" on who our overseers/pastors/shepherds
should be at times. And such teaching in the NT cannot be found!
     But, you say, what about Acts chapter one!  Well, let's look
at it and ask a few questions as we go.

     Did Jesus tell the disciples to wait for the promise they   

     heard from Him? 
     Yes, He did.

     What was the promise?
     It was the Holy Spirit (verses 1-5).

     Did the disciples continue together waiting?
     Yes, indeed (verses 12-14).

     Was Peter inspired to think about the prophecy concerning   

     Judas and its fulfilment?    
     He was (verses 15-20).

     Was there a basic qualification required to take the        

     position held by Judas?
     There was (verses 21-22).

     How many were appointed? Who did the appointing?
     Two men were appointed. It was "they" - all the disciples   

     who appointed. How it was done is not revealed.

     Then what did they do? 
     They prayed (verses 24,25).

     After they prayed what did they do?
     God was to give the answer to them via "casting lots."

     Why did someone have to take Judas' place?
     The answer can be found earlier in part three of this study.

     This is an important question.

     Were they filled with the Holy Spirit yet? 
     NO THEY WERE NOT! The majority had not yet received it. A   

     few may have received a token of it when Jesus breathed on  

     them and said, "receive you the Spirit" at an earlier date.
     The Spirit had not yet come as it would come on the day of  

     Pentecost (Acts 2).

     What are some of the attributes of having the Spirit?
     You may think about the "fruits of the Spirit."  You may    

     remember the verses that say it is the "power" of God, the  

     "divine nature" of God, the "sound mind" of the Lord, the   

     "love of God" shed abroad in our hearts, and other
     attributes.  Jesus said that both the Father and He would   

     come and live within the believer (John 14:23).
     It would be through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that  

     they would do this. The Spirit would also GUIDE the believer
     into all truth (John 16:13).

     Now, put it all together!

     The disciples, when having to choose another to take the
place of Judas, DID NOT HAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT!  They did not have
the nature, the power, the sound mind, the in-dwelling of the
Father and Christ in them. They did not have the Spirit that
would lead into all truth. They, in their natural state, could
not decide which of the two men God wanted to fill the position
and place held by Judas. They acted in this situation as others
had acted over the centuries under the Old Covenant. They
resorted to casting "lots" and praying to God to give the answer
by this method.  They were without the Spirit and so without the
mind of Christ. They were very much still carnal humans without
the nature of God in them.
     The Eternal did honor this use of an OT system, BUT IT WAS
FROM THE OLD COVENANT!
     After the day of Pentecost and the coming of the Holy
Spirit, when the very mind and nature of God was implanted within
the leaders of the Church and all the saints, WE NEVER READ OF OR
HEAR ABOUT, WE ARE NEVER INSTRUCTED IN THE USE OF THIS "CASTING
OF LOTS" AGAIN TO KNOW THE WILL OF GOD, FOR ANY MATTER OR
DECISION WITHIN ANY CHURCH CONGREGATION!
     Under the New Covenant, the Spirit of the Lord should be
quite sufficient, along with prayer and fasting, as NT examples
show us (i.e. Acts 14:23; 13:1-3).

     I cannot see ANY need to ever have a congregation "vote" on
anything except the issue of having to "disfellowship" a person
from the church's fellowship. That subject I have covered
in-depth with a separate study.  I am here talking about the
spiritual affairs of the Church, not the color of the carpet
etc., which possibly may need a general vote on.

     With the Elders overseeing  the spiritual matters in the
Church, and certainly the doctrines and truths of the Lord are
not "up for vote" but MAJOR issues being solved as in Acts 15.
With official servers or deacons taking care of the physical
matters, and all the saints with differing gifts of the Spirit
being used for all the needs and benefits of the Church and
community. With the Spirit of the Lord in every baptized member,
WHY would VOTING ever have to be resorted to?
     It was used, and worked well under the OC, but the vast
majority in Israel did NOT HAVE the Holy Spirit united with their
minds.  Today, under the NC, every begotten child of God in the
Church, has both the Father and the Son living within them. 
Surely the Spirit of the Lord is able to guide the different
people in different functions within the body of Christ to
administer their duties wisely and correctly, especially when the
"checks and balances" are in place, so no abuse can take hold (as
much of this study has been about abuse and false doctrines). 
     Then couple all that with "prayer and fasting"..........and
I see that voting to know the will of God is old and passed away.

It was physical and carnal for a physical and carnal people, but
today God is to be worshipped "in spirit and in truth, for the
Father seeks such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and they that
worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John
4:23,24).

Bible Teaches Attitude not Form (p.22-23).

     I have no large disagreements with what Norm Edwards says
under this heading.

If Everyone is Free to Disagree, 
Can Anything be Accomplished? (p.23-25).

     I agree fully with the basic understanding and teaching that
E.N. puts forth here.

What Happens when Serious Disagreement Arises? (p.25-26).

     No problem here, I agree with that is stated.

When Should a Person be "Put Out'? (p.26-28).

     I am in agreement.

Conclusion: How should the Congregation
be Governed (p.28-30).

     I agree with the overall teaching of attitude, but as this
book of mine shows, I would disagree with some specifics in
actual functioning of government within the Church of God.

Is it "Rebellion" Not to Follow an 
Established "Church Leader"? (p.30-31).

     Fully agree.

Was not "the Government of God" the First of the
18 Truths Restored by Herbert Armstrong? (p.31-32).

     I again agree with most of what Mr. Edwards says here. I
have personally never seen the list of these so-called 18 Truths
Restored by Herbert Armstrong. If Church Government was supposed
to be the first on the list, then all I can say is the list
starts off with a HUGE error!  HWA did not restore the truth on
NT church government, he CORRUPTED and PERVERTED it from the
truth he once knew and wrote about!
     E.N. talks about the last 20 years of the life of HWA as if
it was OTHER men who were to blame for the corruptions in the
WCG, and not HWA also.  I guess when you stay with an
organization until well after the death of HWA you will blind
yourself to the reality of the man heading that organization.  To
the idea that HWA did not know what was going on, I say,
nonsense, absurdity, tomfoolery, fiddle-faddle, balderdash, and
big files of garbage.
     Don't kid yourself for one minute!  HWA knew exactly what he
was doing once he had Stanley Rader off his back, out of the way,
and unable to blackmail him any more. He knew exactly what he was
doing after his wife died in 1967 and on into the 70's.
     From 1966 to 1986 HWA allowed a few new truths, some little
"growing in grace and knowledge" of our Lord and Savior to
continue in the WCG, but all that was FAR OUT WEIGHED  BY THE
MANY FALSE TEACHINGS, PERVERSIONS OF SCRIPTURE, CORRUPTIONS, AND
CULTIC ATTITUDES AND PRACTICES, THAT WERE EXHIBITED BY HIMSELF
PERSONALLY AND THE ORGANIZATION AS A WHOLE.

Other Misunderstood Scriptures (p.32-34).

     I fully agree with what is written by Mr. Edwards in this
section.



So ends my critique of Norman Edwards' paper.

            .....................................

Written 1996    


  Home Previous Page First Page Top of Page


Other Articles of Interest:
  The Calendar Question Disfellowship - What the NT really teaches Women's work in the church

 
Navigation List:
 

 
Word Search:

PicoSearch
  Help