Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 30, 1967
NUMBER 30, PAGE 10b-11a

"Tell It To The Church"

M.F. Manchester

Jesus says: "(Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between him and thee 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 to the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen and a publican." Matt. 18:15,17)

Without doubt this means the church in a local sense, because the church universal has no earthly organization, but the local church does. This is made plain in Acts 14:23. "And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended to the Lord, on whom they believed") Also we find the local church set forth in Phil. 1:1. ("Paul and Timotheus the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons".) In these passages we have set forth before us local units, or congregations that is empowered to take action when the need should arise. There is likewise in the teaching of Jesus, when he said, "Tell it to the church" the necessary inference that one should be a part of, or belong to a local congregation. Otherwise, how could a sinned against brother "tell it to the church?" If a brother had sinned against me, and would not make things right between us, the only church I could "tell" would be the local church of which I am a member. I could not take our troubles over yonder to another church, because that is not where the trouble is. If I read my Bible right each local church is independent of all others, and is subject to Christ alone. This being true, it strikes a death blow at the efforts to have the church universal to function. It has been given no earthly organization, and any effort on the part of brethren to have it function, is going beyond that which is written. II Jno. 9.

That Christ deals with local churches there can be no doubt. We find that made quite clear in the book of Revelation, to the seven churches of Asia. Of the seven only two met the approval of the Lord. They were the churches in Smyrna and Philadelphia. See Rev. 2:8-9-3:7-10)

Now the actions of the other five congregations had no effect upon these two, that met the Lord's approval. He said of the church in Ephesus: ("I will remove thy candlestick out of his place except thou repent." Rev. 2:5) In other words, if the Lord did remove the candlestick, it would cease to exist as far as he was concerned. The candlesticks were the churches. See Rev. 1:20.

Now these local units could take action with regard to false teaching or ungodly living on the part of the members, but the church in Ephesus could only act for itself, and not for the church in Sardis.

The congregation in Ephesus had grown cold by leaving her first love, and needed to return thereto. Of the church in Pergamos the Lord said: ("But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication. So hast also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent, or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth " Rev. 2:14,16) Of what did the Lord want the church in Pergamos to "repent" if it was not to take action against these false teachers?

The brethren in Corinth were instructed by Paul concerning the member that had taken his father's wife, to "purge out the old leaven that they might be a new lump." I Cor. 5:7) In verse four he says: ("In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 5 — To deliver such a one unto Satan, for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus")

Notice that this action is to be taken when: "Ye are gathered together." We gather from this that the local church can function only when it is assembled. It follows therefore that a brother that has been sinned against by another brother, must "tell it to the church," in its assembled capacity.

Individual christians compose the church both in a universal and a local sense, and the term "the body of Christ, is applied to both. Locally the congregation in Corinth was called the "body of Christ." ("Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." I Cor. 12:27) As I have pointed out, the church universal has no organization through which to function, or act, but the local church can, because it is an organization. Let us note however that it has no power to act other than in harmony with the word of God. It cannot formulate laws, and pass decrees of its own free will.

As individual christians we are to work "out our own salvation, with fear and trembling," but this does not mean that we have no obligation as members of the local unit. May I say in conclusion that none should get the idea that the local church is of little importance.

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