The New Testament Church - What Is It? - Part 4

I have made many mistakes in my life. Years ago when I was dating a young woman who has now become my wife, I planned to spend a day with her at Six Flags, Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey. I had worked all week, and was really looking forward to getting away with the love of my life. I checked the map, gassed up the car, and headed out. We hopped on route 295N and were off.

On the way to her house the sun shone brightly - not a cloud in the sky. It was a perfect day for a trip to Six Flags. We talked on the way, listened to the radio, and just enjoyed each others company. It was not long until the roller coaster came in sight. She loves roller coasters. I hate them.

Nevertheless, we both enjoyed the day, and time slipped away quickly. Looking at my watch, I realized it was past time to leave. We headed for the exit to make the 45 minute trip back home. We got back on route 295 and started out. The sky was still clear although darkness had set in. Stars twinkled above as we drove on.

The drive was simple enough. From my wife's house we made a couple of quick turns and followed 295 straight to the park. The drive home should have been just as simple, but I knew something was wrong after traveling for more than an hour with nothing familiar in sight. I checked the map (this was before GPS) noting I should be on route 295. I looked for road signs. Sure enough we were on route 295, so I kept driving.

An hour turned into an hour and a half turned into two hours. I knew something was wrong when I passed the sign that read "Welcome to New York." You see, for the past two hours I had been traveling north on 295 when I should have been traveling south. By this time, we were both exhausted, and we still had close to a three hour trip back through New Jersey to Pennsylvania.

I sincerely believed I was going the right direction. My intentions were good. In my heart, I really believed I was right. But the truth was, I was sincerely wrong. All my good intentions, all the belief in my heart did not make things right. Sincerity of heart is not the issue. Truth was the issue. So as we close this series let me ask you, does it matter what kind of a church I attend?

Now, let me answer that question for you. Absolutely. You see, there are many so-called churches that are not really churches at all. Not all churches teach the Truth. Sincerity is not the issue. Truth is the issue. So what was the doctrine of a New Testament church keeping in mind it is still the same today? Here are seven things to consider when seeking a New Testament church to attend.

Does the church teach -

The Sole Authority of the Scripture -

If the Bible says it, that settles it. The Bible is the sole authority for our faith and practice. Does the church hold to the verbal-plenary inspiration of Scripture? In other words, God so guided the human authors that not just the ideas were inspired, but that the very words were God-breathed (verbal). Not only that, but that every word is the Word of God (plenary), and equally inspired. All other Biblical beliefs stem from the fact that the Bible is trustworthy and complete. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." (II Timothy 3:16, 17)

Salvation by Grace through Faith (Ephesians 2:8, 9)

The only hope mankind has is in Jesus Christ. He alone is the answer to man's sin problem. He can only be known through faith. Salvation is a gift and can not be earned in any way. The sacraments do not save. Baptism does not save. Keeping the Ten Commandments does not save. Only Jesus saves.."Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

Eternal Security


I know this is a controversial subject, but we must let God be true. The simple fact is that if we can lose our salvation, Christ;s sacrifice on the cross is not worth much. By believing we can lose our salvation cheapens the precious blood whereby we are saved. You can not possibly keep your own salvation, but God can and does. I have written other hubs on the subject so I will not go any further into this for now. "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled." (John 17:12)

The Autonomy of the Local Church

In other words is the church self-governing with Christ as her head? We have mentioned this before, but it is very important to understand that the New Testament churches were not built on or by hierarchies. Each church functioned on its own under these seven guidelines that I am listing for you here, looking only to Jesus, "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence." (Colossians 1:18)

The Priesthood of the Believer

You have been declared to be priests and kings. You have the privilege of coming directly into the presence of God through only one mediator, Jesus Christ ." (I Timothy 2:5) You and you alone answer to God for the life you lead, and the decisions you make, Priests are those that intercede before God on behalf of others. You have that privilege to uphold others in prayer and minister to them as the Lord leads you. " And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.: (Revelation 5:10)

The Two Ordinances

An ordinance is simply a command. This differs from a sacrament which supposedly adds saving grace to the action. Thus a sacrament is a work of man. An ordinance is a command of God and He has given us two for the church to follow:

Baptism - Baptism is a mark of identification with Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. All three are pictured in baptism by immersion. Sprinkling or pouring as a mode of baptism is never mentioned in the Bible. Both are man-made inventions and do not accurately depict the death, burial, and resurrection of the Savior. "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:4)

The Lord's Table - "This do in remembrance of me." This ordinance was clearly given for
the purpose of remembering what the Lord accomplished on the cross for our sins. We would soon forget if we were not given the command to remember.

This is not a sacrament. The Lord's Table has no saving merit. Its only purpose is for us to remember and shew His death until He comes. The archaic word shew does not mean show. it actually means to preach. By sharing the bread and cup we preach or witness to each other of the saving grace of God as we remember His sacrifice. "And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come." (I Corinthians 11:24-26)

Separation of Church and State

Separation of church and state is not what most people think. If each individual is responsible to God, then certainly the state should not dictate to anyone what religious beliefs they should hold. It seems that the New Testament church has always been under some form of persecution, but the true church will always obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29). Just as the state is to have no control of an individual’s beliefs, neither is the church to attempt to control the state. We should however be concerned about the state of politics. "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God." (Romans 13:1)

Other doctrine of the New Testament church would include but is not limited to the trinity, the incarnation, virgin birth, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ; the reality of the Second Coming, and Heaven and Hell.

These basic doctrines are fundamental to the Christian faith. We may not always agree, but each one is Biblical. Between you and God, are you following the pattern of the New Testament Church?

Are you following the pattern of the New Testament Church?

  • Yes, completely.
  • I think I am.
  • Somewhat.
  • No, I only follow my pastor.
  • No. Not at all.
See results without voting

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Comments 18 comments

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

I have been listening to so much teaching lately, really heavy stuff and I do believe if Jesus does not come soon you will not be allowed to stand up in your church and preach the truth of God, not if it goes against the wants of the members for a large percent of them don't want the truth but want to say they are all going to heaven, regardless. On one side yes you must teach how easy it is to be saved and on the other you have to tell them they cannot continue to live in sin and expect it to all be OK, right? (Oh, I don't mean you specifically. My remarks sometimes get taken wrong.) Think I am going to find me a Moravian Church.

Ordered your book last night, look forward to reading it.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 2 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

A Moravian church sounds like a pretty good idea, Jackie. Things are definitely going to get harder for Christians to stand. The message of tolerance applies to everybody but Christians. The funny thing is that quite often it is the "church" that does the persecuting. Hang in there. We're almost home! Oh, and yes - You're right.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

I really enjoyed your series and especially this wonderful ending! Jesus is the way, the truth and the life ... and He is the only way to the Father! I am so glad you explained about the man made rituals such as the sacraments and what really counts as far as our salvation. I loved your story about going to SixFlags as my husband and I would go often to the one in Georgia when we were dating. We had gotten lost and headed for another state one or two times too. Thank you for always bringing us the truth ...the Good News. Up and more and sharing. Blessings, Faith Reaper


lambservant profile image

lambservant 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest

I love that you began the hub with the story. Simple illustrations often make a truth more clear. On a side note, what a terrible way to end a date. She married you still so she must have a forgiving patient heart.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

Beautifully presented as always my friend. I was looking at this as a writer, and the introduction was superb. Great story (metaphor) to start the whole ball rolling. Well done.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 2 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Hi Faith,

Glad you enjoyed it, and glad to hear I'm not the only one with a terrible sense of direction - no wait a second, just because you got lost doesn't mean you have a terrible sense of direction, but I certainly do! Thanks for the votes and the share.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 2 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Good Morning Lori,

Yes, she certainly is patient and forgiving. I've come to the conclusion that if I were her, I wouldn't want to be married to me, but she still puts up with me, even after all these years. Other than salvation, she's the biggest blessing God has given me, and I'm so thankful for her. It was actually her mother that wasn't too happy when I dropped her off at 2:00 in the morning.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 2 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Thanks Bill. I've been trying to improve the introductions and incorporate some of the suggestions you give on your hubs so I thank you if I got it somewhat right. You've also been a big encouragement to me so thank you for that as well. Have a great day!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean

Lifegate, the entire series is informative and edifying to the believer. I agree that the topic of eternal security is controversial; most people need clarification. I listened to the Stanley video. What is the reward that the believer loses when he stands before God? How is that reward different from eternal life? Will check back for a brief answer. Thank you.


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 2 years ago from Southern Minnesota

Your personal illustration is so true. We can be so far off and not even know it and worse yet be convinced we are on the right track when we are not.

It is difficult to find a church that contains all the elements that you describe. I love the people of our church and for the most part the big stuff is agreed upon but I do have issues with the denominational stuff at times and have had to put it way because I sincerely believe this is where God wants me to serve.

I was reading some of the commentary on your article and Moravian church was mentioned. I have never heard of it. will look that up.

Thought provoking article.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 2 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Hi MsDora,

That is an excellent question. I hope I can explain it clearly. The Bible has much to say about rewards. I'll only give a couple of examples. In I Corinthians 3:13-15 we read, " Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."

There is coming a day when we will stand before God to give an account of our lives. The things we've done for Christ will be rewarded. The things we've done in the flesh will be burned away, but we won't lose our salvation (". . . he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." ). By the "skin of the teeth" some will be saved.

II Corinthians 5:10 says, " For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." All of God's children will appear before His judgment seat to receive rewards or loss depending on what they did in this life.

I posted a link under the Stanley video to my hub, "Oops, I Lost My Salvation." That might add some clarification as well. I'll be glad to supply you with more information if you want. Just let me know. Have a great day in the Lord!


lifegate profile image

lifegate 2 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Hi Tammy,

The Moravian church is mostly history - more so than a denominational tag. It began in Moravia, and saw one of the greatest revivals of all time. They sent out tons of missionaries which continued to change the lives of thousands of people. No doubt they suffered much persecution for their beliefs. No doubt the church that stands on the New Testament doctrine will also face persecution, so get ready for it. As always thanks for stopping by and adding your thoughts.


PlanksandNails profile image

PlanksandNails 2 years ago from among the called out of the ekklesia of Christ

Lifegate,

We are living in the times where the "church" has gone off course, and in the same way is heading north instead of south. Maybe it is all the hype and carnal experiences of the carnival atmosphere that has distracted them completely off course.

This article is a great summation of basic doctrine, but why is it so foreign to many? The NT pattern seems like it has become an underground movement that many deem as radical and revolutionary. The fact is, there is only one model to follow, and that is the standard that Jesus Christ founded.

News flash....following Jesus Christ is radical and revolutionary.

Many sincerely think they are on the right path, but we should all have the ability to know completely. All we have to do is read Scripture for ourselves to find these truths.

Thank-you for clarifying them.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 2 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Hi PandN,

I think one of the reasons it's foreign to many is because very few teach it anymore. One can only give what they possess. It's one of those dinosaurs left over from the past.

I also think the day is coming (very soon) that the true church will face persecution more than ever. Why? - because we will be considered radical and revolutionary. The persecution will come not because we make a stand for Jesus, but because we will be considered enemies of the state. Time is so short, so go get 'em! As always, thanks for stopping by and commenting.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean

Thank you for your response. I believe that I will get back to you, a little later. I appreciate you sharing.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 2 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Okay MsDora, I'll be waiting to hear from you.


mylindaelliott profile image

mylindaelliott 2 years ago from Louisiana

Very good series.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 2 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Thanks for stopping by Mylinda, and for taking the time to read and comment.

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