Ask Your Preacher
THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
Where in the Bible does it say that the kingdom is the church? From my reading, the kingdom is still in the future when Christ comes back.
Looking For Citizenship
Dear Looking For Citizenship,
Jesus and John the Baptist said the kingdom was near (Matt 3:1-2, Matt 4:17). Jesus taught His disciples that the kingdom would come within their lifetime (Matt 16:28). Jesus also taught that His kingdom wouldn’t be a physical kingdom, but a spiritual one (Lk 17:20-21, Jhn 18:36). Jesus used the terms ‘church’ and ‘kingdom’ interchangeably (Matt 16:18-19). The Bible teaches that you enter them both through baptism (Jhn 3:3, Acts 2:41). The Bible teaches that God is calling people into the church (1 Cor 1:2), and He is calling people into the kingdom (1 Thess 2:12). Lastly, Paul says that the christians who are in the church are also in the kingdom (Col 1:13). The church is synonymous with the kingdom.
I was reading one of your previous answers, and I came across a couple of statements that confused me. Can you please tell me where the scripture is for the following statement: "The church is allowed to spend money on anything God commands the church to do"?
It seems that a previous argument you posted for this statement was summed up as: "Whatever is necessary to fulfill a command is automatically allowed".
I see several problems with the second statement as it relates to the first. Of course whatever is necessary is needed because it is just that… NECESSARY. On the other hand, what we view as necessary, may very well in fact not be. For example, if someone said, "Wash my car," should I build a car wash? We seem to equate the command to assemble with the necessity of a building; when in fact, it is not a NECESSITY. Which works require the use of money by necessity?
The examples we have of the early church using funds were for benevolence, benevolence to needy saints and needy preachers. The Corinthians were commanded to take up a collection on the first day of the week for the needy saints in Jerusalem (1 Cor. 16), and Paul received support as a preacher (2 Cor. 11:8).
I would appreciate your feedback.
Needs Vs. Wants
Dear Needs Vs. Wants,
A building isn’t necessary for a congregation to assemble, but it is necessary that the local church have somewhere to assemble (Heb 10:25)… that is the crux of the issue. We both agree that if something is necessary, it is allowed – that is basic logic. To use your example, if someone said, “Wash my car”, you wouldn’t be required to build a car wash… but you would be required to find some sort of system for washing that car. Any system is allowed, but not all systems would be wise. It wouldn’t be wrong for you to build a car wash, but it would be pretty foolish. Likewise, the church has the authority to do anything that is necessary to fulfill the work God has given it. Read “The Purpose Driven Church” for more details on what the church is authorized to do.
However, what we can do and what we should do are not the same things. As much as the church has the freedom to do whatever is necessary to fulfill its duties, we are also warned not to burden the church with tasks that weigh it down from its primary focuses (1 Tim 5:16). We are also told to be wise and faithful stewards (1 Cor 4:12). This principle is true in our individual lives, and it is also true for the local church. Having a church building isn’t wrong. After all, it is necessary that every congregation have a place to assemble, and the early church met in all sorts of different places. However, each congregation must assess whether owning a building is the wisest and most expedient use of the Lord’s funds.
My husband and I just started a church plant in September. Any advice for a new church planter’s wife?
Dear Mrs. Seed,
The only advice we can give is to hold very carefully to the Bible pattern, and the congregation will be blessed. The religious world is full of people that try and make churches grow by doing all sorts of things that have nothing to do with New Testament Christianity. If the congregation strives to use book, chapter, and verse for everything it does – it will be a success no matter how many members it has. You may find the article "Down With Denominationalism" useful, and we also have an article entitled "Finding A Church" that might interest you because it gives the perspective of what the Bible tells people to look for in a congregation.
In an earlier post, you stated that the church of Christ (if following all of the biblical teachings) is the "one true church". Would that also be true if the church name were to be a different "biblical" name (such as church of God)?
Dear Teachable Student,
The name a congregation puts on its door must be a biblical name, but it doesn’t have to be ‘church of Christ’ – it can be any of the names for the church found in the New Testament. Our congregation here in Monroe goes by the name ‘Monroe Valley church of Christ’ because ‘church of Christ’ is a biblical name for a congregation (Rom 16:16). There are other congregations like ours scattered across the country and the world. Most of them use the name ‘church of Christ’. There are many reasons for this. One reason is that it makes it easier for brethren across the country to find congregations if they are traveling, moving, etc. Another practical reason is that many of the other biblical names (such as ‘church of God’ – Gal 1:13) are already used by churches that aren’t following God’s Word, and it gets confusing for people when we use a name that our society has associated with a particular denomination. It isn’t required that a congregation use the name ‘church of Christ’; what is required is that we always follow the Bible pattern for everything we do, and that includes the name we use.
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus tells Peter He is going to build His church on him. Why would Jesus build His church on a man? I know, in a sense, it also had to do with Peter's confession in the previous verses, but Jesus specifically says He will build His church on the apostle Peter. Why was Peter given a higher level of authority?
Dear Building Inspector,
Jesus didn’t build His church on Peter; He built it upon a much sturdier foundation – Peter’s confession. This is one of those times where what Jesus said can be a little confusing to us English-speaking folks because there is a little bit of color that the Greek text gives that makes the text a little clearer. In Matt 16:18, when Jesus tells Peter, “You are Peter”, He uses the word ‘petros’, which means ‘a small stone, boulder, a detached stone’. Then Jesus says, “Upon this rock I will build my church”. The word used for ‘rock’ is ‘petra’ in this case. ‘Petra’ means ‘a rock ledge, cliff’; ‘petra’ is the word used for a massive and immovable rock that is attached to the earth. Jesus is making a play on words in Matt 16:18. In essence, He is saying that even though Peter is a rock, Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Son of God is an even sturdier foundation than Peter is. Peter is a small rock, but faith in Jesus as God’s Son is a massive, living rock that you can build the church upon.