Acts The Church and Ministerial Training

Kaitiaki's picture

Basically this is just a "what do we learn about the Church from Acts?" thread. As we watch Paul and Barnabas and then Paul and Silas building the Church in Acts, what can we learn about their concept of the Church as a whole? Robert suggested my original plan was too cumbersome so asked me to create new threads.

Thread Moderator: Kaitiaki

There are two aspects to this thread: the training of the local congregation (for the work of ministry - as in Ephesians) and the theological training of ministers (or pastors).

Acts shows us local congregations that trained young men (and women) for every appropriate aspect of Church work. That included the work of ministry and missions. Discuss this statement. Do you think it is valid? What implications (if any) are there for the present system in almost every denomination of sending young men to a seminary to be trained? How does your Church seek to apply those implications in the way they train ministers and missionaries?

CLARK E. WADE's picture

The "order of service" is our Protestant Mass..(revised)

I pray that I am speaking in love here, but am speaking boldly. What I am advocating is a return to the traditions that Paul passed on to us in his writings to the churches. (I Cor. 11:12).

I know it riles a lot of people to say this, but I believe the "order of service" is an albatross around the neck of the church that hampers the every-member functioning that Paul clearly and explicity taught us to do in our assemblying together. The "Order of service" is the apple that fell off the tree of the Catholic Mass and if understood correctly we would see it as the Protestant Mass and our golden calf. Touch the golden calf that sits at the center of the protestant/evangelical meetings and the reactions tells us how venerated this ritual is. But in my opinion, this very ritual, which is a tradition of men and not of or by Christ, nullifies the traditions and teachings handed down to us as the very commands of God. All this while many of us proudly claiming we are following scripture and are biblical churches. But is that really the case? Can that really be our boasting when we compare the scriptures with our own practices?

II Tim. 3:16-17 writes that "every scripture is God-breathed and profitable for instruction...for correction of error and discipline in obedience..."

If we just stick with scripture, then we can see and measure our own ecclesiastical practices and see that they are wanting and we are not doing as we ought.

Just as Paul writes, these passages corrects our error and tests our obedience:

"Don't neglect to assemble together but ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER." Heb. 10:25

"I am satisfied about you my brethren that you yourselves are rich in goodness, amply filled with all knowledge and competent to admonish and counsel and INSTRUCT ONE ANOTHER. " Romans 15:14

"His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints that THEY (not the work of a clergy class) should do the work of ministerng toward building up Christ's body." Eph. 4:12

"Let the word spoken by Christ hasve its home in you in all its richness as you TEACH AND ADMONISH AND TRAIN ONE ANOTHER in all insight and intelligence..." Col. 3:16

"What's the right course? When you assemble together, EACH ONE OF YOU has a song, a teaching, a revelation, a tongue, and interrpretation of tongues." I Cor. 14:26

"So LET TWO OR THREE PROPHETS SPEAK, (sounds pretty clear-cut to me) those inspired to preach or teach, and let the rest pay attentiona and weigh and discern what is said." I Cor. 14:29

Paul is writing by inspiration here. This is a part of "all scripture" that is profitable for our instruction, our correction of our error, and tests our obedience. He says

"Let two or three prophets speak..."

He doesn't say these are the same two or three saints week after week either.

So, if the "order of service" hampers our obedience to these passages of scritpures, written to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, what are we to do? Do we know better than Paul? Do we know better than the Spirit of Christ who has plainly inspired Paul to write these passages admonishing us to teach and train and exhort and encourage one another?

In the meetings that you attend, do they allow two or three prophets to speak as Paul commanded here? Nothing is said here about listening to sermons? or falling a rigid order of service that follows the same procedure week after week that strangles any way or hope of "letting two or three prophets speak" to display the richness of Him, the infinite variety of Him, who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.

And what of "bible exposition." The early Christians didn't have the bible as we know it. Is there a passage where we can find the early church gathering together around a bible expositor, or lectures on the bible? Paul decried the Corinthians church as aligning themselves with special teachers, an Apollos, or a Paul and told them not to "boast in men."

I don't see biblical exegesis, homiletics, systematic theology taking front and center in the ekklesia, but they preached Jesus Christ and Him crucified. There is no indication that they gathered together to "preach the bible."

Paul only had one sermon, and it was this:

"AS FOR myself, brethren, when I came to you, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony and evidence or mystery and secret of God [concerning what He has done through Christ for the salvation of men] in lofty words of eloquence or human philosophy and wisdom;

For I resolved to KNOW NOTHING (to be acquainted with nothing, to MAKE A DISPLAY OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF NOTHING, and to be CONSCIOUS OF NOTHING) among you except JESUS CHRIST (the Messiah) AND HIM CRUCIFIED." I Cor. 2:1-2

I think Paul and the work of his co-laborers was to equip the saints to "build themselves up in the faith" without special teachers and clergy-folks taking the front place. Their assemblies were based on a round-table model rather than a pulpit to pew model. This idea of sitting in an audience and having ministry "done to us" didn't come from the scriptures as I read them but from the ways of the world.

The day I hear teachers and preachers admonishing the saints to gather together under the Headship of Jesus Christ, to encourage and admonish and teach and train one another, is the day that I will be able to say that I have heard authentic apostolic preaching.

Anyway brother, I've been accused of being "ridgid" on these things, but this is my passion, to see the church return to her beginnings as the root of her power and magnetism in Christ. While there may be those who think what we do now is an improvement on Paul's teaching, I am plainly not in this camp but as one who holds up the traditions that Paul passed on to us as the Way of Christ.

I really do believe "ALL of scripture," including the passages that confront us, challenge us, corrects us in our error, and calls us to obedience, is inspired by God and calls us to repentance for following a different course laid down by the traditions of men rather than the traditions of the apostles and prophets.

I know alcoholics need to come to a place where they see their addiction to alcohol is a real problem. Perhaps much of the church world in the West needs a 12-step program to help it out of its denial to its addiction to these traditions of men that keep her so lead-footed and hard-headed to the eternal purposes of God.

It's no longer enough to be "of Calvin" or "of Arminius" or of "Luther" or of "Wesley" or of "Aimee Semple McPherson" or any of a dozen other "isms" of the Protestant faith and practice. Oh Lord Jesus Christ! Let us know Your voice! Let us follow You and Your ways! Forgive us for our addictions to the old ways of doing things that nullify Your express commands for us regarding the way we assemble together. Grant us Your Spirit Lord to lead us to all truth, but more importantly, grant us ears to hear what the spirit has already said to the churches in these very passages we are pondering. Amen Lord.

Your brother,