"To testify the gospel of the grace of God." Acts 20:24
**PUBLISHED AS A MISSION PROJECT OF PILGRIMS HOPE BAPTIST CHURCH**
Bouquets and Brickbats
WWW: In your article about how churches in the New Testament only met in one place, do you mean one city or one building?
There doesn't seem any indication that there were Jerusalem churches, just the church of Jerusalem. But you quote authors in your first article on "Will there be a Baptist Pope?" that say the Jerusalem church may have had up to 50,000 members. Could 50,000 members fit in one building? It talks about in Acts how 3000 were baptized in one day. Could 3000 fit into one building? And such large crowds would draw the authorities suspicions, and in times of persecution be near impossible.
So wouldn't the church then have to have met in several different places in the city? Like one church in that city, but a couple of different congregations making up that church (maybe something like one church in each quarter?).
Editor's Comments: There are countless places where many, even 50,000 or more have and do assemble in one place. As for the day of Pentecost and the addition of 3,000, there is no doubt for we have Scripture which tells us that they were all in one place. Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. Peter is the one who preached the sermon and they were all in one place when the 3,000 were saved and added to the church. As to there being one church in Jerusalem which met in several separate assemblies, there is absolutely no evidence that this was the case. A church is an assembly, a local, visible assembly, and when it loses that distinction, it ceases to exist in the sense of the New Testament idea of a church. That is why I reject the concept of an international church with one assembly meeting in the United States (or other country) and another or other assemblies meeting in foreign countries. That is why I reject the novelty of a church being composed of two assemblies which meet in different parts of the city, state or nation. This is foreign to the New Testament concept of a church.
In his book, Three Witnesses for the Baptists, Page 93, Bro. Curtis Pugh makes the following and absolutely correct statement. "New Testament usage, secular usage and the Septuagint usage of the word "ecclesia" indicate it was only and always used of an organized, congregating body of people in a given locality." This being true, as it is, the notion that the CHURCH at Jerusalem might have been composed of several assemblies meeting in different quarters of the city, will not stand. In this statement by Bro. Pugh, I draw the attention of the correspondent and all readers to three essentials facts found in the word ecclesia:
An ecclesia is only and always an organized body. There is no such thing as an ecclesia that is not organized. Organization is inherent in the word.
An ecclesia is only and always a congregating body; it must assemble together to be a church. Two or more groups of scripturally baptized believers regularly assembling in two or more places cannot be properly and scripturally called an ecclesia, or one church.
An ecclesia is only and always a body that congregates in a given locality; it is not a body that congregates in two or more given localities.
Our correspondent will do well to keep in mind these three essential ideas inherent in the word ecclesia. Let me further point out that in those early days, though there was persecution, there is no biblical evidence that the churches assembled secretly for preaching the word but it was done in the market place, etc. so that they could reach the most people. Acts 3:11-12.
These folks were not meeting in secret, but were observed for their boldness in openly declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ. Acts 4:13; Acts 4:32-37. Reading this passage, it appears they were all assembling together. There is no doubt they were busily witnessing from house to house but if you read carefully the first few chapters of Acts you will notice they were boldly meeting and proclaim the word of God. When Peter and John were released from prison by an angel, he commanded them to go into the temple and preach. Acts 5:20-21
The whole multitude of the disciples in Jerusalem were together when they chose the seven to serve the widows tables. Acts 6:1-6 The suggestion by our correspondent that the church in Jerusalem was composed of several small assemblies meeting secretly out of the sight of the authorities for fear of persecution goes against the whole tenor of the first few chapters of Acts. The unity of this assembly is mentioned more than once. Their being in one place is mentioned more than once. These first few chapters of Acts do not at all support the conception which he suggested of one church in the city composed of two or more small churches. And, if there had been a small church in each quarter, the "churches of Jerusalem" would be the proper way to speak of them, not "the church at Jerusalem."
TEXAS: Editor's Note: We are rejoicing with Bro. Dan Cozart and Grace Baptist Church of Tyler, Texas. They are now meeting in their new church house. Bro. Dan writes,
Dear Brother in Christ, Rejoice with us! On Sunday, February 14, we met as a church for the first time in our new building. The attendance surpassed our expectation. Emotions ran high, many tears were shed, there was great rejoicing, and our gracious God was present.
It has been over two years ago that we left our former location. During that time we have been meeting in rented space. Now the wait is over and we are thrilled to have a place of our own.
Many of you have prayed for us during this time. Thank you so much for your love and concern. Listed below is our new mailing address, location and phone number. Please make note of it for future correspondence.
Grace Baptist Church
P.O. Box 8748
Tyler, Texas 75711
We will host the bi-monthly Grace Bible Conference on Tuesday, March 9. I hope you can attend.
Yours in His Grace, Dan W. Cozart
Ed. Note: Next month I will try to catch up on the publication of several letters for which there was not room this month.
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Last updated on Friday, March 04, 2011