Minister's Message

"What Is a New Testament Church? Part 2"


Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Truly God has been gracious to each and every one of us, and for this we must say thank you, Father! Today, I’d like to continue a study on the question, “What is a New Testament church?” Jesus promised to build His church (Matt. 16:18,) and the Hebrew writer emphasizes that Jesus is also the mediator of the “New Testament,” (Hebrews 9:15.)


Last week, I ended with the thought that I would like to suggest some practical and biblical guidelines for discerning what practices were binding in the New Testament times and are binding upon us today as well. That there are four questions that should help us to discern what New Testament practices we should persist in following today. We’ll begin next week’s message with these four questions.


The first question is this: Was the practice in question universally and consistently followed in the churches of the New Testament? Those things which Timothy was sent to remind the Corinthian of were those things which the apostle Paul practiced and preached “…everywhere in every church,” (1 Cor. 4:17.) Such was the case with the head coverings (1 Cor. 11:16) and with women remaining silent in the church meeting, (1 Cor. 14:33, 34.) Consequently, the principle of the silence and subjection of the woman in the church meeting cannot be thrust aside as culturally oriented, no matter how devout, sincere or well-intentioned the followers of the liberation movement may be.


On the other hand foot washing was not practiced by the church at all. It was a lesson taught to the disciples by our Lord as an example of humility. Surely we need to learn humility and to serve one another, but unless the craze of wearing no shoes or socks continues, such would be unnecessary. Nowhere in the Scriptures do we see any evidence of the New Testament churches continuing this practice as some kind of ordinance.


The same thing can be said for meeting in houses. Although the church met in various private homes (Rom. 16:3-16; Philemon 2,) it also met at the Temple, in various synagogues for a time, and in the school of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9.) We must conclude that the church met wherever it was convenient to do so, and that no one kind of meeting place was superior to another.


The second question is this: Is the New Testament practice directly related to a principle which we would violate by neglecting that practice? For example, the New Testament churches knew nothing of having one man called “the pastor” who was the head of the church. Was this simply a practice of the ancient church which has been abolished for a new and a better way of church government? Behind this practice of plurality rule by elders is the principle of the headship of our Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is to have the preeminence in the church (Col. 1:18; cf. Matt. 23:8-10.) In addition, there is the principle of the ‘priesthood of every Christian (1 Pet. 2:5, 9) which is cast aside by the distinction of laity and clergy. Conversely, there is no principle underlying the meeting of the church in private homes, other than that of practicality. We’ll pick up this study with questions three and four on next week.


Until then, University, continue to remember our Mission and Vision statement we are: “A New Testament church seeking to evangelize, starting with the central core of Greater Cleveland. We will use our unique gifts and opportunities to engage with the community to bring souls to Jesus, develop and equip them for a 21st century ministry.” As we move forward, please remember that God loves you, Jesus died for you, I love you, and I am your servant for Jesus’ sake!

Yours because of Calvary,

Terrance R. McClain, PhD




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