A Voice in the
Wilderness

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" Family or Church? "
    "...of whom the whole family in Heaven and earth is named," (Eph3:15)

    "...and you will be saved, you and your household. And they spoke the Word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house." (Ac16:31-32)

    "when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also." (2Tim1:5)

    "Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be in subjection, as the Law also says. And if they desire to learn something, let them question their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church. Or did the Word of God go forth from you? Or did it come only to you?" (1Co14:34-36)

    Let wives be... "to their own husbands" (Eph5:24, Tit2:5, 1Pet3:5)

There is a mailing service which, if I were to name it, many of you would be familiar with the ministry. They provide much useful information; and indeed I save some of their mailings in a special folder for reference purposes. But the man is also a self-proclaimed "baptist", and while he claims in his testimony that when he was saved back in the 70s he dug into the Scriptures, and the Bible is what he stands on, there are nevertheless some things in his southern baptist roots from his unsaved youth that have never been weeded out.

I've never been a baptist (in heart). However, I have likely worked in and fellowshiped with baptists more than any other denomination; on a few occasions I've even signed on to the membership; but in other cases where the by-laws said that somebody who ministered in their midst needed to be a member, they never required it of me. Perhaps it was obvious from my fruits that I knew the Lord, such that they didn't need a signature on paper? On paper, when reading their published doctrinal statements, in past years (I don't know about today) they (along with Evangelical Free) used to typically be closest to sound Biblical Doctrine of any of the denominations.

But a few things I loathe about traditional typical fundamental baptists (no matter which of the 'Heinz 57 varieties' it might be):

  • Their repetitious 4-fold invitations up the aisle for:
    Salvation, Rededication, Baptism, Church Membership
  • their labeling everything in the Bible as "baptist" ("babdist") doctrine
  • their notion in practice that the pastor is almost pope-like
  • that the church (building) is where all ministry is to occur
None of these things is found in Scripture, and yet typical Baptists hold to them tooth and nail as if they were; and if somebody doesn't agree with these four tenets, they might as well be considered 'heathen'

This mailing service, which will remain unnamed for this commentary, recently sent out an informational/warning file regarding one of the popular homeschooling programs; they explained a bit about the program and curriculum, and then headed a special section on one area in which the people behind the curriculum are allegedly in gross "error": That they condone "family church" to the exclusion of meeting with a congregation, presumably in the 'building'(?), with a pastor, elders and deacons. That they teach a variation of (what I recognize as) "come out of her My people" (Rev18:4)

This commentary is not about that homeschooling curriculum, nor the people behind it; I am not familiar with either; but about this notion of it being supposedly "WRONG" to leave an organized congregation in favor of "family" worship. This preacher in other mailings regularly PUTS DOWN the concept of "home" worship; saying that a "church", to be Scripturally legitimate, must have a duly appointed pastor/elder as a specific 'office'. And he uses the few NT references here and there where elders were "appointed" (Ac14:23, Tit1:5, 2Tim2:2) I don't recall if he has ever addressed Rev18:4, or how he views it?

The person and his mailings will remain unnamed here, because this concept is not his sole domain. It is not even the sole domain of "baptists"; but I dare say that -most- denominations, to one degree or another, hold to this tenet. And in the extreme, it all harks back to Babylon, the entity from Rome that claims that everything is dispensed through "the church" (theirs, headquartered at Rome) and must be blessed by the pope or priests; and if it isn't, it is sin. Many baptists will proclaim many detailed treatises and published books against the errors of Rome, and yet tenaciously hold to this error for themselves.

But what is the preponderance of the evidence in Scripture? What is Scriptural 'history' on the matter? What is Biblical teaching? Is it "family" or the "building"? ...or both? ...or neither?

  • In the Cain & Abel sacrifice incident (Gen4), where Abel's offering was pleasing to God, but Cain's was not, and then Cain killed Abel: Who was Cain and Abel's -pastor-? Which church 'congregation' did they meet with regularly? They were brothers... FAMILY

  • When Noah was found pleasing to God and was saved through the flood, and after the flood he offers sacrifices (Gen8:20), which 'church' did they attend, and were they 'members' of? Who was their -pastor-? Who was the priest who officiated the animal sacrifice? It was Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives... FAMILY

  • When God called Abraham, the promises were to Abraham and his "seed". (Gen12:7) When he built the altar, who was the presiding priest? But notice that God's promise was to his "seed"... FAMILY

  • After the Shechem/Dinah incident when God tells Jacob to go to Bethel and make an altar, who went to worship? All the people of the land, led in worship by a high-up priest with seminary letters behind his name? As preparations for the trip are made, Jacob communicates with his "household" (Gen35:2)... FAMILY

  • God is repeatedly called: the God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob (Ex2:24, 3:6,16, De6:10, Mt22:32, etc)... FAMILY

  • The tribe of Levi was chosen for the priesthood, one of the 12 'brothers'... FAMILY

  • As Jesus died for sin, His mission was to His "brothers"; within the same context as "the assembly" (Ps22:22, Jn1:11)... FAMILY

  • When a person receives Jesus unto Salvation, they become "children of God" (Jn1:12)... What is a "child", if not FAMILY
As a result of Jesus' work on the cross, where there had been a covenant of Law for a time, Jesus fulfilled those priestly functions, to where we are able to "come boldly to the throne of grace" (Heb4:16) Jesus (not a human priest) is our Advocate before the Father (1Jn2:1) who "makes intercession for us" (Rom8:34)
  • Regarding God's relationship with Israel: "For your Maker is your husband; Jehovah of Hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. He shall be called, GOD OF THE WHOLE EARTH." (Is54:5) What is a Husband (& Wife), if not FAMILY

  • Regarding the Church: "For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body." (Eph5:23) Same argument as the preceding paragraph... FAMILY
Then, we come to the baptist's favorite "church membership" passage:
    "Then those who gladly received his word were immersed; and that day about three thousand souls were added. And they continued steadfastly in the apostlesí doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers... So continuing day by day with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart," (Ac2:41-42,46)
If a person reads what those verses -say-, did you see "membership" -anywhere-? In their minds, baptists will read, "three thousand souls were added (to the membership roles)" But does the passage -say- that? It simply says that 3000 souls were "added". What is the function of addition? When addition is complete, what do you have? -MORE- There was the core group of Jesus' disciples in the upper room, and as evangelism commenced, there were 3000 -MORE- Believers.

Also, anybody please tell me where the NT church had building programs. Where they had fund raisers, had ground breaking ceremonies, built buildings, along with contests to "fill the building".

Since the Church began in Israel, with Jews, the temple was still there. It was destroyed in 70AD, but the Church continues. But notice that the fellowship went "from house to house". What is a house? A place where FAMILIES live.

When Saul persecuted the Church, where did he look for Believers? The 'building' they had built? No... "entering every -HOUSE-" (Ac8;3)

There were churches in people's houses (Rom16:5, 1Co16:19, Col4:15, Phm1:2)

There is no place in the NT where any of the churches had a building program, nor built buildings. Evangelism was not OUT OF THE CHURCH at the approval of the pastor (and offerings brought into the -local- storehouse), but God would send Philip to Gaza (Ac8), and once the Ethiopian was converted, Philip then "was found at Azotus" where the Spirit "caught" him away; it was the Holy Spirit who told Philip to join the chariot; not the local church "Committee on Evangelism"

Also: Please, anybody, proclaim to us-all where the Bible exhorts the running of "Sunday School". And no, when Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me" (Mt19:14) please show us the text where He says to bring them into the Sunday School program. Children come TO JESUS; and what is the result? "...for of such is the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN"

When the Law was given, the exhortation was included:

    "And these Words which I am commanding you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (De6:6-9)
When you "sit in your house" and on the "doorposts of your house". What is a house? The residence for FAMILY. Who is teaching whom? Fathers teaching -their- children. Again: FAMILY

Well, that was Old Testament, and they did things differently in their culture. OK then:

    "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but nurture them in the discipline and admonition of the Lord." (Eph6:4)
Ephesians is "New Testament", right? What is the relationship of fathers to their children? FAMILY

In the opening passages, notice that Timothy's faith was a result of FAMILY teaching from mother and grandmother. Not the local Sunday School

When the exhortations are given to women, notice that a woman is not subject to the "men of the congreation", the "church eldership" or pastor, but "her -OWN- husband". Again: FAMILY

When they counter with "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some" (Heb10:25); but the seeker has troubles finding a God-honoring congregation; the advice often given is to "pick the BEST one" in your area. Thing is, if they are -all- unbelievers, which is the "best" of the bad? If a container is full of rotten apples, how does one pick the 'best' of the rotten ones? If they are unregenerates, but a person attends anyway, one is guilty of being yoked together and fellowshiping with unbelievers. Please see: [link]

It is not a matter of "making do" with the "best" (least bad) church. A congregation is either Godly or it isn't. And if it is apostate, being part of Babylon, God -clearly- commands to "come out of her My people, so that you not share in her sins, and so that you not receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to Heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities." (Re18:4-5)

    "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what agreement has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you." (2Co6:14-17)
The ritualists cling to their rituals; everytime the doors are open they expect the 'faithful' to be in attendance; claiming that God's ministry is through the magisterium. And they condemn those who don't hold to their form of ritualism. In their published "Statement of Faith" they proclaim sound doctrine; and they stand on those published pieces of paper. But what does Paul teach on that? This is the topic of Romans ch2; please read it. And he concludes the chapter with...
    "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God." (Rom2:28-29)
If a congregation is apostate (which most are today), they are "unbelievers". If there is no congregation with whom to fellowship, God is followed at the family (or individual) level...as has been the case down through the millennia ever since Cain and Abel. Churchless Abel was called "righteous", and is a testimony to us, even today. (Heb11:4)

Amen!


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