Identifying A New Testament Assembly
Compiled by Lonnie Ford for the Nepali Brethren
Chapter: IV. THE STRUCTURE OF THE ASSEMBLY
- THE LOCAL ASSEMBLY IS SET FORTH METAPHORICALLY BOTH AS AN ORGANIZED STRUCTURE AND AN ORDERLY LIVING ORGANISM.
- The local assembly is a formally organized body of men and women disciple to Jesus who are scripturally baptized into the body of Christ, and are learning to observe all things as commanded:
- This is first evident in that the local assembly has offices and officers (pastors and deacons 1 Tim. 3), which require that it be formal in its organization, (1 Tim. 3; Titus 1:5-9; Phi 1:1).
- Secondly, the fact that the assembly is a structured organism or organization is evident in that it has Divine Laws to govern it.
Thirdly, we find that it is an Organized Structure or Organism -- because it is "fitly joined together."
- The local assembly has divinely inspired laws that govern virtually every action, word, thought, and emotion in the lives of its members, (Matt. 16:18-19; 18:15-18; 28:18-20; 1 Cor. 5; 10:31; 2 Cor. 10:3-5; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21; Eph. 4:15-16).
- The members of the Assembly are explicitly forbidden to add to, diminish from, or in any other way change the Word of God.
- Rev. 22:18-19 -- "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." (Cp. Ex. 32:33; Deut. 4:2).
The Lord's Assembly was not an afterthought thrown together, to take the place of Israel, but was purposed, planed and fitly framed, (Eph. 2).
- As an organized structure, the local assembly is metaphorically called:
1) A building (Eph. 2:21; 1 Cor. 3:9).
As a living organism, the local assembly is also metaphorically called a physical body with many parts, all fitly joined together, also constituting a complex, organized entity, (1 Cor. 12; Romans 12; Eph. 4:15-16).
2) A temple (Eph. 2:21).
3) And a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5) with many parts, all fitly joined together, constituting a complex, organized structure, (Eph. 2:21-22).
Another way that we know that there is order to the Lord's Assemblies is that they each have a formal "Inside" and "Outside."
- Eph. 4:16 -- "From whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love."
- Here we see the many members, functioning together for the edifying of the whole body.
According to the Scriptures there is an immeasurable difference between those who are "inside" and those who are "outside."
- The local assembly has a "within" and a "without" -- an "inside" and an "outside," (1 Cor. 5:12-13).
- This constitutes a divine wall of separation between those "within" and those "without," (Eph. 2:11-22).
- In Matt. 18:15-18, the Lord deals with the rules governing the restoration of an erring brother or sister of the Assembly.
- Here, Jesus explains that the one who will not repent of an offense after being approached according to divine order, is by the authority of that Assembly, to be set out of the Assembly and treated as a "heathen man and a publican."
- He is put outside the assembly or as seen in 1 Cor. 5:12-13; he is delivered unto satan for the destruction of the flesh.
- When a person is put "without" the local assembly, he has lost everything except salvation from hell.
- He is stripped of every kingdom and covenant promise.