CENTRAL BIBLE CHAPEL – A NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
When the New Testament was written, it included a pattern of church organization, meetings and gatherings, worship and behavior in the church. Those passages are scattered in different places because the writers were accustomed to those patterns and methods, and only when there was departure from them, was it necessary to call attention to them. The places where those passages are found will be noted as you read along through this pamphlet. It is our desire at Central Bible Chapel to follow the pattern that was established by the apostles of Christ. We don’t lay claim to perfection, and we don’t lay claim to have a monopoly on truth. We simply seek to honor the Lord Jesus in obedience to His Word.
THE LORD’S SUPPER:
Probably the most noticeable difference in our fellowship the worship meeting, called the “Lord’s Supper” or “Breaking of Bread”. It is a meeting whose theme centers on the remembrance of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ – His Person and His work, His life and His death, and His return. It is at this meeting that we focus on His love and goodness, demonstrating our love and appreciation for who He is and what He has done. There is no prearrangement nor pre-planned direction to the meeting except as the Holy Spirit directs. Each believer exercising his/her priesthood (I Peter 2:5-9) as the Spirit leads, men participate audibly, ladies participate silently (I Cor. 14:34, 35); with all things being done “decently and in order” (I Cor. 14:40).
Usually, towards the end of the hour, some brothers rise and give thanks for the bread. It is then broken and passed to all those who choose to remember the Lord as He commanded (I Cor.11.23-34). After the bread is passed,usually a different brother will rise and give thanks for the cup. The communion cups are then passed to those present (These are simply symbols of the Lord’s body which was broken for us, and His blood which was shed for us.) After this, an offering basket is passed for those choosing to share as the Lord has blessed Only at this meeting is an offering taken. We believe that only the Lord’s people should support the Lord’s work.
Only those who have trusted Christ as Lord and Savior should partake of the Lord’s Supper—you cannot remember Someone you don’t know. The Bible also states that the believer should first examine him/herself before they partake of the bread and the cup (I Cor. 11:27-29).We consider this the most important meeting of our fellowship.
WOMEN’S FUNCTION WITHIN THE CHURCH:
Certainly this is becoming an increasingly difficult issue within the church. It is also an issue that is very misunderstood. At Central Bible Chapel we believe that the godly woman truly desires to know what the Word of God has to say to her so that she may live a life that is pleasing to her Lord.
At Central Bible Chapel we believe that male and female can both enjoy an equal standing before God (Gal. 3:28). A man is not more spiritual simply because he is a man, nor is a woman more spiritual simply because she is a woman.The issue that we are discussing is the issue of roles within the church – We know that the woman is the child-bearer (I Tim. 2:15). She is also called the”weaker vessel” (I Peter 3:7) indicating that a man is to protect and deal tenderly with his wife. Any counselor who does not recognize the role and emotional differences between a man and a woman would be an ineffective counselor.
At meetings where the whole church has come together in one place (I Cor. 14:23,26; We feel that a meeting of the church is a meeting where the entire church can come together. This would exclude home Bible studies, Sunday School classes, any meeting where the church has been divided.) the woman is to “keep silent” (I Cor. 14:34, 35) and are “not to teach or usurp authority over the man” (I Tim. 2:12). Another noticeable difference in our meeting is that many of the ladies cover their heads in conformity with the scripture (I Cor. 11:2-13). There are three main reasons mentioned in I Cor. 11:2-13 for doing so:
1. An illustration of the order of headship as laid out by God (I Cor. 11:3-4). The head covering is an outward evidence of the woman’s inward submission to God’s order—that is, to her husband, who is her head; as the man’s uncovered head indicates his submission to His head—the Lord Christ. (There is also a sense in which we are to”be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility”—I Peter 5:5).
2. The man is the image and glory of God—the woman is the glory of man (I Cor. 11:7) When we come together, only Christ is to be seen; therefore, the glory of man is to be veiled. When a woman covers her head, she conceals the glory of man as well as her own glory (v. 15), allowing only the glory of Christ to be revealed in God’s presence.
3. Because of the angels (I Cor. 11:10). The Bible describes the angels looking on “to the intent that now, unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places, might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. 3:10). The church has the responsibility to teach or illustrate to the angels things they did not know about God. I heard someone explain it like this: the universe is like classroom, God is the teacher, the angels are the students, and the church is the object lesson.
To prevent the argument that a woman’s hair is a suitable covering in verse 15, Paul here uses a different Greek word meaning “mantle.” It is unfortunately translated “covering”in our English Bibles. Also, to prevent the cultural argument, Paul goes all the way back to creation ( vv. 9-10). Often verse 16 is cited to show that the head covering is not important. However,the Apostle Paul would not have spent fifteen verses on something that he did not feel was important. The phrase “we have no such practice.” In other words, if anyone wants to be contentious about this issue, this is the way that all the assemblies are practicing it.
At Central Bible Chapel no one will ever be turned away because of their view on the head covering. We believe the head covering is a New Testament practice that is still pertinent today; however,we believe it is an individual’s choice before God—as is the case with the Lord’s Supper, Baptism and giving to the Lord.
CHURCH ORGANIZATION ELDERS:
The scriptural pattern for a New Testament Church is that it be spiritually overseen by a group of recognized (not elected) elders called by two names in the Greek scripture, “presbyteros” and “episkopos,”translated in the King James Version as”elder” and “bishop” (See Titus 1:5-9 where the words bishops and elders are used to identify the same person and Acts 20:17, 28). The qualifications of those elders are listed in Timothy 3:1-4. These men should not be thought of as clergy, because we believe the scriptures teach against the idea of a distinction between clergy and laity—calling those who rule over the people “Nicolaitans” (Rev. 2:6, 15) and how our Lord “hates” that division.
In the New Testament there was no regional or national groupings of churches—that is, no denominational headquarters. There were also no regional or national conferences that directed or guided policy. Nevertheless, in order to fulfill certain needs, we have set up certain organizations. There is the Chicago based “INTEREST” as well as the Michigan based “UPLOOK” magazines designed to publish notices, letters,and articles they believe are important to Christians in this country. There is also an organization called Steward’s Foundation,based in Chicago, made up largely of retired businessmen who see themselves as providing financial services and help for new assemblies Another organization called CMML or Christian Missions in Many Lands, provides services and organizational help in sending missionaries to foreign countries, as well as serving as a means to transfer funds for financial support of missionaries in those countries. However, none of these organizations has, or would presume to have, control over local churches.
The office of deacon clearly seems to have been inaugurated in Acts 6:1-6. Ramsay writes of Acts 6: “It was therefore arranged that a new class of officers should be instituted— for whom no name is here given, but who were the origin out of which the deacon of the developed Church arose.” The deacon’s qualifications are described in 1 Timothy 3:10.
The deacons are responsible largely for the material and business management of the assembly. According to Ken Daughters in his book, New Testament Church Government, “The major purpose of the deacons,is to be the helpers of the elders, relieving them of responsibilities that would distract them from their duties.” This would in ton enable the elders to give themselves over to the spiritual needs of the assembly (Acts 6:3-4).
In the New Testament, brothers and sisters were commended to the Lord’s Word (Acts 13:2,3; 15:40). They are commended based on their spiritual gift and ability rather than on formal education. Commendation means that we “commend”or “recommend” certain individuals to the Lord’s work and assume responsibility for them regarding the work they are doing, as well as keeping them in prayer, and being financially and materially supportive of their needs. Usually those commended are published in INTEREST or CMML magazines so that other believers know that they are approved workmen. In that way, Christians nationwide may share in their support through their local fellowship, through Steward’s Foundation, or through CMML. They are in the Lord’s employ but are still responsible to the local assembly in which they fellowship. They can have their commendation removed upon the worker’s request or if he/she is found to be in doctrinal error or sin.
Men or women may be commended into the Lord’s work by a local assembly. We believe that all believers are given spiritual gifts that are useful in this country and elsewhere to the edifying of the church—for centuries wives and single women have been commended by our fellowships to the Lord’s work.
SELECTION OF SPEAKERS, TEACHERS, AND YOUTH LEADERS:
The selection of speakers and teachers for programs like Sunday School, Awana, Bible Studies (those at chapel as well as those in homes under the sponsorship of Central Bible Chapel), and youth leaders are all approved before-hand by our leadership meeting. They are selected only from those in regular fellowship at Central. Sunday morning’s speakers are approved by the eiders directly.
The term “fellowship” at Central Bible Chapel should not be confused with “membership” in another kind of church. There is no membership at Central except as there is membership in the body of Christ. We believe that every person who trusts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, resting solely on His work on the cross, is a member of the body of Christ (I Cor. 12:13; cp. Eph.1:13).
According to H.G. Mackey the word fellowship issued (singular and plural forms) some thirty-four times in the New Testament. However, in the English New Testament (KJV) there is not a single reference to church membership.Yet, in spite of these facts, church membership is taught on more frequently than church fellowship, and in Christendom as a whole, many remain unfamiliar with the biblical concept of fellowship.
From Acts 2:42 we see that fellowship was a common function at the very onset of the New Testament assembly. Paul used the word fellowship(Greek koinonia) to express how the Philippians were sharing financially in the support of the Gospel (Phil. 1:5).According to I John 1:1-3, fellowship (koinonia) was based upon a common knowledge and experience. The biblical concept of fellowship involves a sense of sharing (Matt. 23:30), a sense of being involved (Phil. 1:5), a sense of partnership (Luke 5:10), a sense of belonging (Acts 2:42), a sense of common knowledge (I John 1:3), and a sense of an experience (2 Cor. 1:7, 8; Heb. 10:33). Fellowship is a beautiful word used to describe the believer’s intimate relationship with the Father, His Son, and with those in the body of Christ. This fellowship expressed visibly when the believers gather to partake of the Lord’s Supper (I Cor.10:16).
Church membership is so often simply having your name put upon the roles of some religious organization. It is often far removed from the biblical concept of fellowship. Membership in the New Testament has to do exclusively with being a member of the body of Christ (I Cor. 12:12-13). It is clearly an act of the Holy Spirit. Once a person has received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit places them into (baptizes) the body of Christ. Thus,membership in the church takes place immediately upon conversion. It is based upon this membership that one is receive into fellowship.
Fellowship teaches us that you cannot join the Church, you must be born into it. It also reaffirms the truth that there is only “one body” (I Cor. 1:12, 12; Rom. 12:4,5; Eph.5:30; I Cor. 12:27).
At Central Bible Chapel you will never be approached to become a member of our church. Instead you will be received into fellowship (partaking of the Lord’s Supper, given responsibilities within the church, etc.) based upon the fact that you have received the Lord Jesus as your personal Savior.
We have attempted to list some of the differences between our fellowship and other gatherings of believers. We are open to suggestions as to how we may more accurately conform to the churches of the New Testament. However, the final decision as to whether those suggestions are scriptural, or would be perhaps division, must be in the hands of the elders.
The New Testament local church was not a democracy; rather, it was a small part of a scripturally described body with the Lord Jesus Christ, the Great Shepherd, as its Living Head, and was locally overseen by under shepherds called elders.
We at Central Bible Chapel are endeavoring to follow the pattern laid out by the apostles in the New Testament.