Sunday, August 5, 2012

Cairns 6: with the bishops and the deacons

“The church exists on two levels.  On one level it is an eternal, invisible, biblical organism that is welded into one body by the Holy Spirit.  On the other it is the temporal, historical, visible, human institutional organization.  The first is the end, the second the means.”

Christ started church polity by choosing the twelve apostles.  The apostles developed other offices as they were directed by the Holy Spirit.  “The new officials were to be chosen by the people, ordained by the apostles, and have special spiritual qualifications that involved leadership by the Holy Spirit.”  Inward call by HS, external call by the church voting, and ordaining by the apostles.  Both officials and members of the church were spiritual priests according to Ephesians 2:18.

Charismatic Officials
These are the ones who preach the word and guard Christ’s truth.  Paul divides them into apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.  Christ specifically called and personally trained all the apostles.  He even trained Paul when he called him to faith.

Prophets influenced the church by mostly telling messages directly from God.  As now, false prophets lived during those times, and people wrote the Didache to show real prophets from false ones.

Evangelists had certain itinerant missions.  Philip especially traveled to places that had not yet heard the Gospel.

Cairns cannot tell the difference between preachers and teachers in antiquity.  The Didache also describes them.

Administrative Officials
The apostles also established specific offices for just local churches, not Church as a whole.  The elder or presbyter took the highest office, and the New Testament uses bishop interchangeably with elder. 

Deacons were appointed to acts of charity while the elders taught.  They also gave Communion to the people.  Some women were deacons such as Phoebe and Philip’s daughters.

“Church signified a body of people in personal relationship with Christ.”  They met in homes, temples, school auditoriums, and sometimes friendly synagogues. 

People held worship services on the first day of the week, the day Christ rose from the dead.  There were 2 services that day.  The later one included a love feast that included Communion.  The Didache also describes early worship.  Deacons would distribute Communion to those who could nto come and they took up a collection for the lower income people. 

Christ instituted the two sacraments of Communion and baptism.  the Didache describes baptism as being done by pouring water over a head if one could not be immersed in a river.  Only the baptized could take the Lord’s Supper.

Church Life
Instead of a welfare system, the church cared for the poor and sick.  Christian slaves and masters remembered to love each other as equals in the Lord, like Onesimus and Philemon.  The church separated from the pagan neighbors in worship, but not from them in daily life.  Which shows that Sunday worship is specifically for Christians to experience heaven each week, not to entertain the unsaved who are not impressed anyway.

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