Church Leaders and the Law:
Are They Needed Any More?
NCW 29, Special Edition II (January 1996):
Answering the Third Rebellion
Q. Where in the Scriptures does it teach that the Church is to be founded on apostles, or indeed, on leaders of any kind? Didn't Paul teach that Christ had abolished the law and ordinances altogether by His death (Eph.2:15), so that now He is our only Leader?
This is completely wrong -- you have fundamentally misunderstood what Paul is talking about. He is not talking about the abolition of the whole Law and the Ordinances, but the abolition of those laws and ordinances which created a dividing wall between God's people, Israel, and the Gentiles. A modern translation gets the sense of this over very clearly:
This passage does not say that God abolished the whole Law, or Torah, but that He set aside those laws, regulations and ordinances which had been designed to keep Jew apart from Gentile -- laws designed to preserve Israel from apostasy because of the tendency of human nature to imitate the pagan ways of the neighbouring states.
"For Christ Himself is our way to peace. He has made peace between us Jews and you Gentiles by making us all one family, breaking down the wall of contempt that used to separate us. By His death He ended the angry resentment between us, caused by the Jewish laws which favoured the Jews and excluded the Gentiles, for He died to annul that whole system of Jewish laws. Then He took the two groups that had been opposed to each other and made them parts of Himself; thus He fused us together to become one new person, and at last there was peace" (Eph.2:14-15, Living Bible).
But now, in Christ, this wall of partition is no longer needed. The laws which were added to the Torah because of the disobedience of Israel, are now removed, and thus the obstacle to fellowship between Jew and Gentile.
It is very dangerous to come to premature conclusions about Bible texts without understanding the context, a warning the Patriarchate has issued time and time again. It must be said that many popular translations of the Bible are faulty because they are biased towards certain traditional Christian interpretations.
As for Paul or any of the apostles teaching that Christ was to be the only leader of the Church, this is simply nonsense. If you bothered to read on a little you would see the folly of such a position, for it is written:
Was Paul talking about the writings of the apostles, as most orthodox Christians maintain? Of course not, because they weren't yet complete -- the New Testament didn't yet exist. The writings of the Apostles were still being written! Why not be honest and admit that the true Church of God is build upon the FOUNDATION OF APOSTLES AND PROPHETS WITH CHRIST THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE. Indeed, we may confidently assert, that any Church or fellowship that is not built on this pattern is a false Church!
"So then you [Gentiles] are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the APOSTLES and PROPHETS, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone..." (Eph.2:19-20, RSV).
The Body of Christ, here called a "temple" by Paul, has a specific structure. There are four parts to it: (a) Christ; (b) Apostles; (c) Prophets; and (d) the saints.
The prophet Isaiah records: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation" (Isa.28:16, NIV). This is the same as the "capstone" mentioned by David in the Psalms: "The stone the builders rejected [Christ] has become the capstone" (Ps.118:22; cp. Mt.21:42; Mk.12:10-11; Lk.20:17; Ac.4:11; 1 Pet.2:7). The use of this word to describe the Messiah is an interesting one. The word "capstone" literally means "head of the corner"; the word "corner" was a Hebrew metaphor for "chief ruler". In other words, this capstone (Jesus Christ) has become the most important stone in the structure of the new world order that God is bringing about through Israel. It follows that if there is a "chief ruler" that there must be other "rulers" also. Jesus Christ is therefore the Chief Ruler or a new World Order (Zion) over other rulers who govern the masses. This Messianic prophecy is a part of the revelation on the Millennial World Order.
If Jesus is the "chief ruler" of Zion, who are the other "rulers"? Paul answers that for us, does he not? They are the apostles and prophets. Who do these apostles and prophets rule over? "The saints and members of the household of God" (Eph.2:19, RSV).
A building with no foundation cannot stand. A Church with no apostles or prophets to lead the saints cannot stand. To maintain the position that only Christ is required is completely unbiblical. The New Testament everywhere contradicts such a position. The Household of God (Church) must be governed, and it is governed by men (leaders) appointed by God: "And in the Church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers..." (1 Cor.12:28, NIV).
How is the mystery of Christ revealed to the saints? "...the mystery of Christ...has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets" (Eph.3:5). Indeed, it was for this reason that Christ "gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to pastors and teachers..." (Eph.4:12). Why? "...to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the Body of Christ [Church] may be built up UNTIL WE REACH UNITY IN THE FAITH AND IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE SON OF GOD AND BECOME MATURE, ATTAINING TO THE WHOLE MEASURE OF THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST" (Eph.4:12-13, NIV).
Let the schismatics mark these verses well! No apostles, prophets, pastors, evangelists, teachers, etc, and what do you have?:
What, then, does Paul say to those who reject divinely ordained Church leadership: They will remain as "infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming" (Eph.4:14, NIV).
(a) No proper works of service;
(b) No proper building up of the Church;
(c) No unity of faith;
(d) No proper knowledge of the Son of God;
(e) No maturity;
(f) No attainment of the fullness of Christ.
The schismatics have written letters, and made phone calls, to all the members of the New Covenant Church of God, hoping to persuade them of their point-of-view, which, amongst other things, is that there is no Church leader than Christ, there are no covenants in the New Testament Church, we are never to promise anyone anything, the Old Testament Law is completely dead and buried, and other utterly absurd notions.
What, then, shall we do? We shall obey the commandments and covenants of Christ. Instead of listening to the silly doctrines of the schismatics, we shall continue "speaking the truth in love [that] we [may] in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ" (Eph.4:15, NIV).
The schismatics (Third Rebellion) either ended up rejecting the parts of the Bible they didn't like or the Bible as a whole. The leader of the Third Rebellion, who subsequently divorced, is today an existentialist Deist having more in common with the New Age than Christianity (980508).
This page was created on 8 May 1998
Last updated on 8 May 1998
Copyright © 1987-2008 NCCG - All Rights Reserved