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    December 19, 1906

    “The Church of Christ.” The Medical Missionary, 15, ns, 25, pp. 202, 203.

    ATJ

    ALONZO T. JONES

    IN the order of the Church of Christ, each separate, local company of believers, is an independent, self-governing church, under Christ in the Holy Spirit.MEDM December 19, 1906, page 202.1

    The believers at Jerusalem composed “the church” at Jerusalem. The believers at Ephesus were the Church at Ephesus. The believers at Cenchrea were “the church which is at Cenchrea;” “the church of the Thessalonians,” “the Church of God which is at Corinth,” etc. The believers of the house of Aquila and Priscilla were “the church in their house.” The believers of the house of Nymphas were “the church which is in his house;” and those of the house of Philemon were “the church in thy house.”MEDM December 19, 1906, page 202.2

    The companies of believers of a certain region or country were “the churches” in or of that country or region; as “the churches of Galatia,” “the churches of Asia;” or collectively “the churches of the Gentiles,” “the churches of Christ,” “the churches of God,” etc.MEDM December 19, 1906, page 202.3

    Each church had the care of its own affairs, the sending out of missionaries from its own membership, and the preserving of order and Christian discipline in its own membership; as in the electing of the seven deacons by the church at Jerusalem; the sending out of Paul and Barnabas by the church at Antioch; the dealing with the transgressor at Corinth, and indeed with all who offend. “Go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church, [margin “congregation,” R.V.]: but if he neglect to hear the church, [“congregation,” margin R.V.], let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.... Whatsoever ye [the local individual church, or congregation] shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose in earth shall be loosed in heaven.”MEDM December 19, 1906, page 202.4

    CHURCH OFFICERS

    In each church there were ordained “elders”—not an elder or a bishop,—but always elders or bishops; as the “elders” at Jerusalem; the “elders” in “every church;” “elders in every city;” to the saints which are at Philippi “with the bishops and deacons.”MEDM December 19, 1906, page 202.5

    Beyond this order of things, in all the New Testament there is, in truth and righteousness, absolutely nothing but the church as the body of Christ, Christ himself in Person as the Head of the Church and of each individual in the church and the Holy Spirit, and the angels of God as the guide: And even in the matters of the angels of God, it must be understood that even they are subject to the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 1:20); so that in truth beyond the order of things outlined above there is absolutely nothing but the church as the body of Christ, Christ himself as the Head of the church and of each individual in the church, and the Holy Spirit as the guide of the church and of each individual in the church.MEDM December 19, 1906, page 202.6

    In point of organization, beyond the local individual church there is absolutely nothing but the church as Christ’s body of which he is the Head.MEDM December 19, 1906, page 202.7

    In point of government, beyond the local individual church the is [sic.] nothing but just Christ alone as the Head of the church and of each individual in the church.MEDM December 19, 1906, page 202.8

    In point of guidance and administration, beyond the local individual church there is nothing but the Holy Spirit to the church and to each individual in the church.MEDM December 19, 1906, page 202.9

    Thus beyond the local individual church as well as in it, the bond of unity of the church of Christ is the Holy Spirit, and her unity is only the unity of the Spirit.MEDM December 19, 1906, page 202.10

    Beyond the individual local church or congregation, there was no federation or formal association of any kind. Of the churches in Judea, there was no federation nor formal association, nor of the churches of Galatia, nor of Asia, nor of any other district, province, section or region to any extent nor in any way whatever. Beyond the individual local church or congregation there was only the church as the body of Christ and Christ as the Head of the church and of each particular member of the church, and the Holy Spirit as the guide of the church and of each particular member of the church.MEDM December 19, 1906, page 202.11

    And with that simple order of things in the church and among His disciples, the gospel was actually preached to all the then known world, “to every creature which is under heaven,” within the lifetime of men who were then already at the fulness of manhood.MEDM December 19, 1906, page 202.12

    But it was not long before there began to appear beyond the local individual church, other things than the church which is His body, Christ as the Head, the Holy Spirit as the Guide.MEDM December 19, 1906, page 202.13

    DEPARTURES

    1. We have seen that in the divine order there were “elders,” not an elder, “in every church.” These being only brethren under Christ, were all equal. But presently love of pre-eminence, self-exaltation, entered in, as illustrated in the case of Diotrephes—3 John 9, 10. John the apostle of the Lord wrote a letter to the church where Diotrephes “who loveth to have the pre-eminence” would not receive the letter, would not receive the brethren who carried the letter, forbade the brethren to receive them, and when some would receive those brethren and the letter he “cast them out of the church” “prating” against John “with malicious words.” Such procedure was at one stroke to supplant Christ as the Head of the church, to supplant the Holy Spirit as the Guide of the church, and to supplant the very church itself; and was to put one man in the place of Christ, in the place of the Holy Spirit, and in the place of the church itself. It was indeed to make one man to be the whole church and all that pertained to it.MEDM December 19, 1906, page 202.14

    2. The next thing was the formation beyond the individual local church an association, consociation or confederation, by delegates of the churches in a city or several cities, in a province, or a district. “This custom first arose among the Greeks, with whom such confederations of several cities, and the consequent conventions of their delegates, had long been in use.... Other provinces were induced to follow the example of Greece, and by degrees this form of government became general throughout the whole church.... The associations, however, thus introduced amongst the churches, and the councils to which they gave rise, although not unattended with certain benefits, and advantages, were, nevertheless, productive of so great an alteration in the general state of the church, as nearly to effect the entire subversion of its ancient constitution.”MEDM December 19, 1906, page 202.15

    3. This association of churches by delegates in provinces, was followed naturally enough by another association composed of delegates from the associations thus existing in many provinces. This developed three grand associations according to the three grand divisions of the earth—Asia, Africa, Europe.MEDM December 19, 1906, page 203.1

    FORMATION OF THE PAPACY

    The association of delegates in a province developed a chief or head of the delegation in that province. The association of provincial associations developed a chief of each of the additional grand associations in the three grand divisions of the earth,—Antioch, Alexandria, Rome; “to the preservation of which order of things, it being found expedient that a chief or superintending prelate should be appointed for each of the three grand divisions of the earth; and that, in addition to this, a supreme power should be lodged in the hands of some one individual bishop; it was tacitly assented to that a certain degree of ecclesiastical preeminence should be recognized as belonging to the bishop of Antioch, Rome, and Alexandria,—the principal cities in Asia, Europe and Africa—and that the bishop of Rome, the noblest and most opulent city in the world, should, moreover, take the precedence amongst these principal bishops, or, as they were afterward styled, patriarchs, and also assume the primacy of the whole Christian Church throughout the world.”MEDM December 19, 1906, page 203.2

    Thus arose and developed the world despotism and the world monarchy of the bishopric of Rome—the papacy. And it cannot be denied that the final development of the actual working papacy is but the steady logical growth and development of the very first step away from the individuality, the integrity, and the liberty, of the local, individual, Christian congregation as it is in the Book of Acts and throughout the New Testament.MEDM December 19, 1906, page 203.3

    And the papacy was in the first step just as truly though not in so full and vigorous workings as it ever has been since. For it put a man in the place of Christ, it put machinery in the place of the Holy Spirit, and put an earthly and heathen conception of human government in the place of “the church which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.”MEDM December 19, 1906, page 203.4

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