Monday, March 30, 2015

The unity of the visible church and terms of communion #2

"And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them". (Acts 15:4)

  • the work of salvation cannot be separated from the nature of church communion, there must be qualifications for the latter 

"And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter" (v6)

  • the unity and government of the church in the new testament follows on directly from that of the Old Testament. We have a passing reference to the office of elder as assumed to be continued in the New Testament together with church courts. 
  • Deliberation and decision on matters relating to terms of communion rest with representative presbyters in church courts.

"Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they". (vv10-11)

  • the terms of communion under the mosaic administration involved a burden that was too heavy to bear

"Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things." (v14-17)

  • Scripture must be the ultimate authority to appeal to in order to confirm experience
  • the church is a people named with the name of God and under his authority and his possession
  • the church is the continuation of the church of Israel under the Old Testament
  • there is now no separation between Jew and gentile in the communion of the church

"Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God" (v19)

  • unscriptural terms of communion trouble the people of God