And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 20, Number
In this issue:
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. (Galatians 5:16-17)
Each of us chooses either to live spiritual lives or to satisfy the flesh. Just as Jesus said we cannot serve two masters, the apostle teaches we cannot walk (live) by the Spirit and after the flesh at the same time. They are opposite tendencies that produce opposite fruit. The works of the flesh will keep its bearer out of the kingdom of heaven, while the fruit of the Spirit evidences kingdom citizenship (Gal. 5:19-23).
To walk “by the Spirit” means to live by the gospel which the Holy Spirit revealed (cf. Gal. 3:1-5; 5:18, 25). We will bear the “fruit of the Spirit” in our lives when we “walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22-23).
To accomplish this walk one must willingly subject himself to “the things of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:5-8). Let us heartily renew our minds and conform to the will of God instead of this evil age (Rom. 12:2). May we more diligently “crucify the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof” and live in subjection to the gospel of Christ (Gal. 5:24).
As you make daily decisions affecting your life, be sure to consider how those decisions affect your soul’s salvation. “Let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27). To accomplish that, walk by the Spirit and not after the flesh.
Understanding and properly applying congregational autonomy continues to be
an important topic for God’s people.
I. NT CHURCHES WERE AUTONOMOUS.
(Autonomy: "self-law", hence, self-governing ...the right of
self-government...a self-governing community.)
Each Local Church is a Complete Organization Within Itself, Acts 14:23;
20:28; Phil. 1:1.
Each Local Church has its Own Elders to Whom its Members are Subject, Heb.
13:17; 1 Pet. 5:2-3; 1 Thess. 5:12-14.
D. Congregational Autonomy Provides a Safeguard for the Spiritual Well-being of the Saints, 1 Pet. 5:2-3; Heb. 13:17.
Summary to this point:
Does not Mean Each Church Decides What is True Doctrine for Itself.
2. Through study we learn the truth, 2 Tim. 2:15; cf. Gal. 1:8-9 (Eph. 3:3-4).
3. Revelation establishes truth, not congregational autonomy.
4. The case of the Jerusalem church, Acts 15:22-29. It did not make
or bind a decision upon any other church. It defended truth and communicated
that defense of truth to other churches.
5. Illus. of Autonomy violated: An “Ephesus-Pergamos Alliance” demanding Smyrna conform to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans (Rev. 2:6, 15).
B. Does not Mean Each Church is Immune From “Outside” Teaching, Reproof, Rebuke and Correction, 2 Tim. 3:16-4:5.
Some think each church is insulated from rebuke and protected from the
exposure of review. This idea of autonomy rejects the very nature of gospel
Rev. 2:14-16: The false doctrines being taught at Pergamos were addressed by
John (Jesus) to call them to repentance – and its false beliefs were made
known to the other 6 churches of Asia (which would help protect them by
exposing the error and sin).
Objection: “But Paul was an apostle - he could do that. We are not apostles,
therefore, we can’t.”
5. So, we can teach the
apostolic message (NT) regardless of congregational boundaries (autonomy).
C. Does not Mean it is Impossible to have Unity in Teaching and Practice, Jno. 17:20-21; 1 Cor. 4:17.
-The same truth taught in every
church will produce the same fruit in every church, Col. 4:16; 1 Thess.
1. Congregational autonomy / independence was not given to churches to shield them from the reach and scrutiny of divine truth. We cannot appeal to autonomy as a “King’s X” to escape the reach and power of truth, 1 Cor. 4:14-21.
2. Each church should be willing to receive instruction and rebuke from Christ (through His word) to remain true to the Lord (Rev. 2 and 3).
Online at bibleanswer.com/autonomy.htm
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 07/21/2018
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA