A House Church?
Many have written to ask me about the “house church” movement.
Whether or not it is scriptural depends on the definition. A proper New Testament church can meet in a house or in its own building or in the forest. The location is irrelevant. The thing that determines whether or not a church is scriptural is not its meeting place, but whether or not it is organized along scriptural lines.
The church is exalted in the New Testament as the house of God, the pillar and ground of the truth. Paul wrote to Timothy,
“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15).
The context of this statement in 1 Timothy 3 is the qualifications for pastors and deacons. It is obvious, then, that the “church” described here is not a “universal” church of which all born again saints are automatically members. It refers, rather, to the local assembly.
Paul instructed Timothy that there is a right way to conduct the church. The “Pastoral Epistles” (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus) focus on this theme.
Some of the things that are required for a church to be scriptural are the following: a strong biblical doctrinal foundation (1 Timothy 1:3), the ordination of qualified leaders (Acts 14:23; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; 1 Timothy 3; Titus 1; Hebrews 13:7, 17), a biblical disciplinary system (1 Corinthians 5; 1 Timothy 5:19-22), and a proper biblical objective, which is the fulfillment of Christ’s Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:44-48; Acts 1:8).
Paul wrote to Titus and said, “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee” (Titus 1:5). There were believers in Crete and doubtless there were Christian families there, but something was lacking. The believers needed to be organized into proper churches and pastor-elders ordained. Today, though, there is widespread resistance to pastoral authority. We realize that some pastors have abused their authority. We are 100% opposed to such abuse and have published many warnings about this error, but the abuse of a biblical pattern is no excuse to reject it.
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17).
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