. . . . . . upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
JESUS speaking in Mt 16:18

Nor should the actions and teachings of man! But, unfortunately most present day churches in no way resemble the congregations that are described in the New Testament. The church that JESUS established had specific purposes. These were later carried out by the apostles and the elders chosen by the HOLY GHOST to oversee the various assemblies.

Acts 20: 28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers,. . . .
Paul here is speaking to the elders at Ephesus

There are those who condemn the Bible as being old fashioned and that its principles/directives don't work in contemporary times. It is to these people that JESUS was speaking in John 12: 48
He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

Such thinking gives rise to the question, "If GOD's Word isn't adequate for the short span of life we spend on earth, how can we depend on it to provide for our eternity?"

The New Testament records for us the activities of the early church and serves as our example of what the body of CHRIST should be and should do. First and foremost it was made up of born again believers who for the most part, obeyed the teachings that came from GOD. From these records, we can glean several key functions and attributes of the church. By them all present day assemblies can be judged and they are:

  1. Glorify GOD
  2. Remember the sacrifice of JESUS
  3. Spread the gospel
  4. Baptize believers
  5. Care for its own
  6. Care for others
  7. Be taught by the HOLY SPIRIT & Elders
  8. Leadership/Oversight
  9. Be one with other congregations

Before we look at these specific functions individually, it is important to note that much of the Bible's teaching was directed to only one person or a small number of people, i.e., CHRIST's disciples, but we usually accept these teachings as applying to us. The best example of this is John chapter 3, spoken mostly to Nicodemus, but accepted by all of us as relating to our own salvation. With this in mind, it follows that when something applies to all believers, it is applying to the church since we are the church.

Glorify GOD

A primary reason that believers are left on earth once they have been saved, is to glorify GOD. Since being a Christian means being CHRIST-like then we should follow HIS example which HE recounts in HIS prayer in John 17: 4,
I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
The apostle Paul further tells us in I Corinthians 6: 20,
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

Accepting this directive as applying to all believers and therefore to the church, the question arises, How do we glorify HIM? Once again, the Bible gives us the answer. It is found in at least 3 verses:

  • JESUS speaking in John 15: 8, said, Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
  • Matt. 5: 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
  • I Cor. 10: 31 . . .whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
The common theme in these verses is activity on our part set forth in the words; "bear much fruit", "works", and "do" It is also important to note that our actions not only cause us to glorify GOD, but they can cause others to do so as well, i.e., ". . .they may see your good works, and glorify your FATHER . . ."

Most of what follows on this site, outlines what belivers are to do, individually and as a congregation. It is not found in the New Testament that building buildings, simply attending services or a myriad of other things modern man does, glorifies GOD.

Remembering the sacrifice of JESUS

JESUS explains best how we are to remember HIS sacrifice in: Lu 22: 17-19
And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: 18 For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. 19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
HE also mentions it in Mark chapt. 14 and Matt. chapt. 26. If this activity is important enough to be included in three Gospels, can we as true believers overlook it?

Paul details this remembrance in 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.

Soon after the coming of the HOLY GHOST, the apostles and new converts were said to be remembering JESUS with the breaking of bread daily!
Acts 2: 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

Later, the remembrance seemed to evolve into a weekly observance when congregations actually met.
Acts 20: 7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, . . . . . .

It is disheartening to see congregations today that do not have time in their busy schedules, to observe this communion (1Cor. 10: 16). For true believers, can anything be more important than CHRIST giving HIS life to make salvation possible? Yet so many congregations have relegated this observance to a quarterly, or annual event. Some ignore it altogether!

Spreading the Gospel

Man, through his various scriptural dictionaries has given many definitions to the word gospel. The word literally means 'GOD's spell' or in present day terms, 'GOD's Word', sometimes referred to as the 'good news'. This being the case, you may question, "GOD's Word as it relates to what?" First of all, if we look at the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, each records the life, activities, death and resurrection of JESUS. If that were all we were to spread, it would be a very worthwhile message. However, there is more. In Matt. chapter 4, we see the gospel that JESUS preached:
verse 23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
HE taught of the good news of the kingdom and how that kingdom is attained.

The apostle Paul further defines the gospel as it relates to salvation:
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Rom. 1: 16

If we as individuals and as a church, spread the word as it relates to JESUS, the kingdom of GOD, and man's salvation, we are probably in step with what CHRIST had in mind when HE commissioned us to do so.
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

JESUS speaking to believers in Mark 16: 15

It is not enough to say that the church must spread the gospel. Since the church is made up of individuals, it must be that individuals spread the gospel. For detailed studies on how individuals can present the gospel as it relates to salvation, please visit:

In addition to first hand witnessing, teaching, and preaching, the early church supported missionary work as in the case of the apostle Paul and his fellow laborers.
Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. 16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.

Philippians 4: 15-16
Paul here is commending the church at Philippi for their support of his ministry.

I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.
2 Cor. 11: 8
Here, he tells the church at Corinth how other churches supported him while he was serving them.

Although it was not always true for him, Paul points out that the ministery of missionaries, evangelists, and certain elders should be supported by his results.
Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?

1 Cor. 9:7
Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
1 Tim 5:17
These examples of the early churches' support of missionary work should show us how we can multiply our efforts in spreading the gospel by doing the same.

Taught by the HOLY SPIRIT, Elders, & others

JESUS talking to HIS disciples, promised them a teacher who would come after HE had departed.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 14: 26

A common complaint among non-believers (and some professing Christians) is that they are not able to understand the Bible. Because of this, new versions and translations are continuously being produced. The fact is a natural (unsaved) person, not having the help of the HOLY SPIRIT is not supposed to understand the things of GOD. Paul explains this in 1 Cor. 2: 13 - 14
13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

A lack of understanding even by saved church members usually results from one or both of 2 reasons:

  • They do not personally study the Bible; everything they know comes by way of someone else, or
  • They neither seek nor expect help from the HOLY GHOST. This help needs to be asked for in prayer, believing it will be forth coming.
Personal Note: At times I've read certain passages and failed to comprehend their meaning. Later, having asked for help and with pen in hand to make notes, these same verses became quite understandable.

After the HOLY SPIRIT, elders are to be our teachers.

Acts 20: 28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
The apostle Paul is here speaking to the elders at Ephesus. In the Bible, the word 'feed' and the term 'feed the flock' often refers to the teaching of GOD's Word.

Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

1 Peter 5: 2

While much of this chapter could apply to all believers, Peter does, in verse 1, address it specifically to the elders of a congregation, The elders which are among you I exhort, . . . . .

Other teachers in the Bible:

Paul, a missionary/evangelist spoke of teaching - 1 Cor. 14: 19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.

Timothy, a co-worker of Paul's and having perhaps a similar title, was told by Paul in 1 Tim. 4: 11 These things command and teach.
You may want to read all of chapter 4 to see what Timothy was to teach.

Faithful men, (lay men):

2 Timothy 2: 2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

2 Timothy 2: 24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

A Bishop:

1 Timothy 3: 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;


Titus 2: 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

They are to teach younger, less experienced women, but they are not to teach men.
1 Timothy 2: 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

Conclusion about being taught

One final note about teaching that causes some contention among even devout believers, is found in 1 John 2: 27,
But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

The anointing that John speaks of is the receiving of and relying on the HOLY GHOST. Having done this, we as believers have no need for the teachings of man. This is especially true for us in the U.S. where anyone can own a copy of the Bible. It has been said that had people not relied on the teachings of man, the David Koresh and Jim Jones tragedies could never have happened. The same can be said of numerous other misleadings of lesser proportions.

Baptizing Believers

Once more if we are to be CHRIST-like, we need to look to HIS example. Before HE began HIS ministry on earth, JESUS found John and was baptized by him.
Matt. 3:16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
Please note, Matthew says, "JESUS . . .went up straightway out of the water: . . ., leaving us with little doubt that this baptism involved immersion.

Not only do we have the example of HIS own baptism, but JESUS left us the instruction to do likewise:
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

Matt 28: 19

It is important to note who should be baptized and when. The records of John's baptizings, relate to people who believed in the one of whom he spoke that would come after him. That one was JESUS. John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose. . . .

Luke 3:16

Similar evidence is found in what the apostles did later.
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
Ac 2:41

The 'word' that these people received was Peter's preaching about JESUS.

But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Ac 8:12

All of the above concludes that people were baptized after they became believers and were old enough to make that decision on their own. No where in the New Testament do we find the practice of baptizing infants or sprinkling at any age. For more on scriptural baptism, please visit Water Baptism.

Care for its Own

The early churches tended to care for at least the widows in their congregations. Reference is made to this in Acts 6: 1-3:
And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. 3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

The apostle Paul describes to Timothy a scriptural widow and who is responsible for her care. 1 Tim 5: 3-16
Honour widows that are widows indeed. . . . . 5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. . . . . 10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. . . . 16 If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.
Please note that the first responsibility for her care is her own family; lacking any family that responsibility falls on the church.

In James 1: 27. the responsibility of the church and/or its members is said to also include orphans:
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

The church at Jerusalem made at least one attempt at communal living in Acts 4: 34-35:
Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35 And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
It seems the practice was not workable because of the human greed that is recorded in chapter 5. We find no further reference to this way of life.

Caring for other congregations

As should be the case today, the New Testament congregations of true believers considered themselves as members of the same body, CHRIST, and as such felt somewhat responsible for other kindred churches. In at least 3 different places, we find that one local church in financially helping another.

And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. 28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. 29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: 30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

Acts 10: 27-30

For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.
Rom. 15: 26

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. 3 And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.
1 Cor. 16: 1-3

While we have no fellowship with, nor responsibility for the false religions of man, GOD does view the assemblies of born again believers as one body in CHRIST:
So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
Rom. 12: 5

and HE does expect us to be somewhat responsible for each other.
That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
1 Cor. 12: 25


One of the most controversial points we'll cover is the leadership or oversight of the local church. Briefly stated, we as part of the body of CHRIST, have one leader and one body (plural) of overseers. Our scriptural leadership can be found in the following:
Rom. 8: 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Gal. 5: 18 & 25 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law . . . .25 If we live in the SPIRIT, let us also walk in the SPIRIT

The apostle Paul tells the churches at Rome and Galatia the results of being led by the HOLY SPIRIT. No where in the New Testament is there found any reference to this leadership being channeled through one man or woman. For an individual to declare himself (herself) as a 'Spiritual leader' is simply not scriptural.

For elders as our oversight, we can look to:
Acts 20: 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.
Paul is talking to elders at Ephesus and charges them with being overseers appointed by the HOLY GHOST. Can there be a more authoritative appointment? How can professing Bible believers ignore this action by the HOLY SPIRIT?

1 Peter 5: 1-2 The elders which are among you I exhort . . . . . 2 Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers. . . .
Almost the entire 5th chapter is devoted to the duties of elders, but in the first two verses Peter points out that:

  1. he is speaking to elders and,
  2. that they are shepherds/overseers of GOD's people.
It has been noted that traditionally shepherds walk behind their flock making certain that none go stray. In a leading position at the front of the flock, this observation would not be possible unless he were walking backward.

For a complete study of this subject, please visit Shepherds not Leaders.

Being one with other congregations

Not to be confused with the unity movement that would link us to religious organizations that teach and practice the doctrines of man, but the Bible does teach that true Believer congregations are to be one body. The apostle Paul wrote of that oneness in several of his letters.

So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

Rom. 12: 5

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
1 Cor 12: 12 - 13

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
Eph. 4: 4

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
Col. 3: 15

Just as important as being one body with other Believers, we are to understand that body is CHRIST and is not open to the manipulations and redirection of man.

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Col. 1: 18

The 'HE' Paul is speaking of is of course JESUS.

Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:
Col. 1: 24

As surely as we are taught to be one with other believers, we are also warned about separating ourselves from them. The most pointed reference to this is found in Paul's first letter to the church at Corinth.

For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

1 Cor. 3: 3-7

The desire by the members of this congregation to be followers of specific men was the beginning of what we now call separation by denomination. Every denomination that exists today can be traced back to an individual who had some differences with the established church at his or her time. Very often the spin-off's were over something insignificant, but they may have caused divisions between true believers. While the example in Paul's letter was initiated by the people rather than he, himself, or Apollos, the result was the same, a division of the believers. Paul condemned this as carnal (an act of the flesh/sinful).

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul pointed out that there should be no differences between believers.

Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

Col 3: 11

CHRIST, himself, warned of the weakness that results from divisions,

And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:

Matt 12: 25

This warning from the JESUS applies to HIS church as surely as it does to a kingdom, city or house. Who can disput the word of the MASTER?

Other sites that may be of interest to the scriptural church are: Glorify Him, Shepherds not Leaders, Soul Winning: Another Look, Scriptural Belief In JESUS, Water Baptism, Scriptural Prayer