Bible Studies For Life

Life in the Church                    Session 9                     30 APR 17

MATT 16:17-18 As Dr. Herschel H. Hobbs would say, the church is a fellowship and not a membership. That is quite a difference that many do not recognize or appreciate. The New Testament never speaks of church membership but only of church fellowship [koinonia]. It denotes sharing in both privileges and responsibilities, but not as a commune. It denotes a family and not a group. It intends a unified family. John 17:21-23.

The “church”, what does this mean? Jesus said “my church.” Is this different from the church down the street? What denomination is it? Dr. Hobbs wrote in his Studying Adult Life and Work Lessons, January-March 1986, pages 80-81, “The word rendered “church” is ekklesia, the called out ones (ek, out of, kaleo, I call, note “ecclesiastical”). It may also read “assembly.”…[My church] This implies other kinds of churches….In the first century the word translated by “church” was used of a political assembly…Thus the word was used of a body of local citizens operating through democratic processes within the framework of the Roman empire…So, in effect, Jesus said, The Greeks have their ekklesia and the Hebrews have their ekklesia. Now I will build my ekklesia, and it partakes of the nature of both.” It refers to a local “fellowship” most of the time (93), but is also used of all saved throughout time (21). Dr. Hobbs noted “The singular word is never used in the New Testament of a group of churches. When more than one church is involved the plural is used (see Gal. 1:2).” Here it means Church (all saved). It will be Jesus’ Church. The only head of the Church is Jesus. (Col 1:18 RSV) "He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent." Knowing that, the verse is easy to read. Jesus said Simon Barjona was Peter. “Peter” is the Greek petros, meaning a small stone broken of a rock (petra). Jesus certainly would not build his eternal Church on a broken-off stone. Thus it is obvious that Jesus did not build his Church upon Peter. He built it “upon this petra.” The petra is the fact that (Mat 16:16b RSV) "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God"" in its truest meaning. This corresponds to the Moses time of (1 Cor 10:4 RSV) "and all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ." Thus Jesus build the Church upon the Rock-fact that he is the Lord Messiah. (Acts 4:12 RSV)  "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.""

1 PET 4:7-9 Peter is talking to "the exiles of the Dispersion" in 1 Pet 1:1. These are those primarily dispersed by Saul's relentless persecutions (Acts 11:19) and maybe some driven from Rome by Nero's early threat against Christians in the sixties. Thus he is not talking to just one local church but, in effect, an international association of church fellowships. His "one to another" goes across this international fellowship, which is in effect, the living-on-earth Church. This would include all churches of like faith and order, which is not exclusive to just Southern Baptist churches. For in the New Testament many fellowships the SBC does not call Southern Baptist in like faith and order, are in fact part of Peter's (and Paul's) definition of common fellowship. One such church would be the First Church of Jerusalem in A.D. 40. It was a Judaizer church whose faith and order is little like the SBC. Yet which SBC leader would say their members could not join the SBC? It was the original "New Testament church" which so many calls for a modern church to become like them. But they should not be.

            We cannot overlook the context of these verses which is (1 Pet 4:7 RSV) "The end of all things is at hand; ..." Just what is Peter writing? The Greek for "at hand" is 1448. eggizo, eng-id'-zo; from G1451; to make near, i.e. (reflex.) approach:--approach, be at hand, come (draw) near, be (come, draw) nigh. It was not anything is the far future like the year 2000. He meant something soon in their lifetimes. Peter died in A.D. 64 or 67. So if this letter was written in the early sixties, Peter is thinking about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The "all things" is the status of the Christian in the eyes of Rome. After the Jews revolted and were crushed, Rome began looking at Christianity not as an arm of the legal Jewish religion, but as an illegal religion. That would change everything for Christians in their day-to-day lives. With this pending (and certainly after it happens) Peter gave some sage and critical advice, the first of which was to (1 Pet 4:7b KJV) "therefore sober, and watch unto prayer." "Sober" means 4993. sophroneo, so-fron-eh'-o; from G4998; to be of sound mind, i.e. sane, (fig.) moderate:--be in right mind, be sober (minded), soberly. Clear thinking would be needed and included in prayers to the Father. To get through the crisis event and to survive the aftermath of Roman persecution, Peter stressed (1 Pet 4:8 RSV) "Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins." "Love" here is agape, God's kind of love. The fellowship would need to at least get around the defacto denominationalism of the day and live as one fellowship. This was nothing new for Peter to state. Jesus had prayed for this long before for every Christian. (John 17:21-23 RSV)  "that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. {22} The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, {23} I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me." Peter was calling for the same "oneness" as Jesus called. In trying times this is even more necessary, although it really never is less needed at any time in life. Christians, being still not yet perfected humans, have the old tendency of taking it easy in times of good. Based upon agape, the fellowship is to have "hospitality ungrudgingly to one another." "Hospitality" in the Greek is 5382. philoxenos, fil-ox'-en-os; from G5384 and G3581; fond of guests, i.e. hospitable:--given to (lover of, use) hospitality. It is two words meaning brotherly love and strangers. We are to show this to fellow Christians we do not know without a grudging manner. Some immature Christians take advantage of other Christians, so hospitality always involves a risk. Should you introduce a risk into your family? Is this to be extended to lost people also? Peter is addressing only those in fellowship here.

1 PET 4:7-10 "Gift" here is the same meaning as in 1 Cor 12:4-11. In past lessons we have seem that "gifts" are really tasks assigned by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of witnessing to the lost and the growing of the fellowship. So Christians are to serve fellow Christians and not just seek the lost. Matt 28:19-20. In the coming times of stress, taking care of one another would be critical since most outside help will go away for various reasons. The proof of context continues in verses 12-19. The "fiery ordeal" of verse 12 covers the period from 70 A/D. through 96 A.D.

1 PET 4:11 These are not the only tasks in a local church. Peter is setting the principle that whatever the task, do it as the Father wants it done. You are not allowed to create doctrine. You are required to preach and teach Biblical doctrine. This is the only way for there to be “order that in everything” so that “God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” “God” means God the Father.

1 THESS 5:15 Paul states a similar theme. Certainly agape does no "evil." Paul declared that doing good is to be toward "all". Peter would not disagree. But what does "all" mean? Paul's letter context is "To the church of the Thessalonians." So all would include Christians outside of this local church group. "All" would be Peter's international association of church fellowships. Does Paul include the lost here? The full context does not support it. Note (1 Th 4:10 RSV) "and indeed you do love all the brethren throughout Macedonia. But we exhort you, brethren, to do so more and more," Paul's "all" means " all the brethren throughout Macedonia" and not just the church of the Thessalonians. He is stressing again verse 4:10.

1 JOHN 4:9-14 Jesus practiced both what He preached and what He was as a Person of the Trinity. (Rom 2:11 RSV)  "For God shows no partiality." He loved women's souls as much as men's souls. In today's typical SBC churches, this is not practiced among the "all" of Peter's or Paul's definitions. A saved woman is no different in the Father's eyes and heart than a saved man. (Gal 3:28 RSV) "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Yet the SBC officially states and practices that women are not as equal spiritually as men. They are not allowed to do many tasks the SBC reserves for men.

Jesus did not live that at all. The reason He had no females Apostles (he had plenty of female disciples) was his society would not have accepted them. You cannot reform people all at once. Look at the church fellowship. Who is yet "like Jesus"? That still does not excuse the practice of officially keeping save women in a subordinate position to saved men. If Paul does not state the Gospel Truth in "there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus", then why should we believe anything else he writes? The woman of Samaria was as precious to Jesus as a woman of the Jews. So he took the time to witness to her and have her choose to become one with him in the family of the Father. We must care for "all" and have no more "partiality" than the Father. Is this in conflict with the context limitation above? Certainly not. The full situation is as Paul stated in (Gal 6:10 RSV)  "So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." Peter and Paul above were dealing with the " especially to those who are of the household of faith" part of this verse.

PHIL 2:25-30 Epaphroditus was one of those disciples who loved the all. He nearly died but God healed him back to further service. [Do you pray for healing with the intent to serve more?] Paul's praise of Epaphroditus was also a chide at the Galatians for their "lack of service to me." Epaphroditus had literally risked his life (we don't know how) to serve both Paul and those of the international fellowship. Yet the Galatians, in a situation of a lack of such risk, had failed to extend to Paul the following due him in to his role as an Apostle. He almost died in serving Jesus and once he regained health, he returned as enthusiastic as ever to serving Jesus through doing what Paul directed.

            What about us? We certainly have a lessor concept of "all" than either Peter or Paul. The solution? (2 Pet 3:18 RSV) "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." And practice the fact of (Gal 3:28 RSV) "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither

ROM 14:13 As Paul noted in 1 Cor 3, Christians can be classified into types depending upon spiritual maturity. He made two types there: Babes in Christ and the Mature in Christ. He does essentially the same in Romans, although he uses the terms strong and weak. As Peter points out in 1 Pet 1:5-7, there are several Growth Steps to get from a New Baby to a Mature Christian who is like the Father. In Romans Paul’s weak is more mature than ones being a new baby and the strong are not as mature as being like the Father. For himself, Paul was not yet ready to say. (2 Tim 4:7 RSV) "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." Keeping this in mind is significant to the lesson.

            Paul was hearing of conflicts between the Christians at Rome. The context situation is critical to our understanding. It is natural for mature Christians to want the immature to grow up and eliminate error from their spiritual lives. Paul said the church is a family of all maturity types. (Rom 14:1 RSV) "As for the man who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not for disputes over opinions." But the weak in faith often gets very defensives and tries to be offensive as well. So to both Paul said (Rom 14:4 RSV) "Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?..." The key is again “judgment.” The Greek is 2919. krino, kree'-no; prop. to distinguish, i.e. decide (mentally or judicially); by impl. to try, condemn, punish:--avenge, conclude, condemn, damn, decree, determine, esteem, judge, go to (sue at the) law, ordain, call in question, sentence to, think. In context Paul means to carry out a sentence that results from judging a person. Christians are not authorized to punish. The nearest action that comes close is in (1 Cor 5:11-12 RSV) "But rather I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber -- not even to eat with such a one. {12} For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?" “Judge” in 1 Cor here is the SAME word. Obviously Paul means to distinguish and call in question sin in the church. But only God can punish sin. Thus instead of thinking of punishment, Christians are to determine their on sins so he/she will not live the sins and be a (Greek) “hindrance” so as to (Greek) “cause one to fall.”

EPH 4:3-6 This is the great unity (oneness) doctrine which Baptists give a lot of lip serve to but don't really apply. It is worth repeating: There is no difference between what Paul said here and in (Gal 3:28 RSV) "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." And (Rom 8:17 RSV) "and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him." Jesus clearly and specifically defined what "unity" means in (John 17:21-23 RSV) "that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. {22} The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, {23} I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me." Thus all ARE EQUAL in "the unity of the (Holy) Spirit." One group or gender is not more equal with the Father than another.

You can make quite a list of verses that Baptists twist to keep their pet positions going, some of which were invented in the 1800's and continue in today's Baptist Faith and Message. Paul starts with Jesus' pray in his statement "There is one body." All the church denominations, etc. of today are not biblical. Every denomination fights Jesus' pray of (John 17:23 RSV) "I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me." The extent of our achievement of "one body" directly affects what the lost world thinks of Jesus. Consider how many people don't believe in Yahweh, let alone in Jesus as the only Son of God. It is easy to measure how much we are one "in the Spirit." Do people you talk to (1) Know Yahweh exists, (2) Know Yahweh loves them as much as the Father loves Jesus, (3) Know the Father has sent Jesus to them? If they don't it is the churches' fault! The less unified we are within ourselves locally and with Christians outside the local church, the less the world knows about God and Jesus. Normally we have to start by getting people to just believe God exists, let alone what kind of God Yahweh is. THIS IS NOT TO BE! Paul still calls us alongside of the Holy Spirit to be "one body" guided by "one (Holy) Spirit." And WE NEED THIS COMMAND MORE TODAY THAN IN PAUL'S DAY! And this is spiritual growth? Paul thinks NOT! Paul restates unity as (Eph 4:6 RSV) “one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all." In his book New Men In Christ, Word Books, 1974, Dr. Herschel H. Hobbs pointed out (page 73) "The primary thought of the apostle here is that regardless of a diversity of backgrounds in race, culture, or ability, there should be an overriding unity which enables Christ's body to dwell in peace and to function in its role in God's eternal purpose of redemption." Neither Paul nor Jesus states everyone has to look and act the same. Being one does not negate our individuality.

Different churches can have different worship styles BUT there is to be A SINGLE DOCTRINE about the HOPE, LORD, FAITH, BAPTISM, and God of the "unity of the Spirit." Yet even within SBC churches you will find variations on these doctrinal parts. This also ought not to be. Never has Dr. Hobbs' call for study of doctrine been more needed within the SBC!


            Life in the church is one of service to the lost and to the saved.


Marvin Ganote, Hobbs Study Class, Adult Teacher. Home Page: