The workers say that they are the only ordained preachers since only they follow the example of how Jesus sent out His disciples as explained in Matthew 10. But how much of Matthew 10 are they following and did Jesus intend these instructions to be for all ages to come? Also, are there other Biblical functioning churches or are the meeting people the only ones? Let’s see.
Jesus sent out His disciples on a specific mission (proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand) to a specific group (lost sheep of the house of Israel). He gave them specific commandments as in Luke 9:1-6. They were given power to heal people, raise the dead and drive out evil spirits and those miracles continued after Jesus ascension. It was a short mission (4-6 weeks), Jesus himself would come afterwards. This mission took up a very small percentage of Jesus’s roughly 3.5 years ministry as we can see in the Gospels. We understand that when Peter said that they had left all behind that it was not for an unlimited period. He and most likely many others were married as we can gather from what Paul said and would not have left their families for an unlimited period. Those who truly have the gift of celibacy are another story, such as Paul who preferred it.
Do the workers adhere to all the requirements in Matthew 10?
– Don’t they go from house to house?
– Do they heal the sick?
– Do they drive unclean spirits out?
– Do they carry money with them?
– Do they travel with a change of garments and shoes?
– Do they take scripts with them (The Bible would be included as a script)?
– Do they go in the way of the gentiles?
– Do they raise the dead?
– Do they have female apostles/disciples preaching the gospel?
Unfortunately, we see they don’t follow all the requirements that Jesus gave His disciples on their short mission in Matthew 10. So why did the way the workers’ function change from how Jesus sent His disciples out for that short mission (4-6 weeks) even though the workers claim they still do the same today?
Then Jesus reversed some of those commandments in Luke 22:25-36. He wasn’t strict on people following the way He sent His disciples out to a “T” and we can see that in Luke 9:49-50. Jesus never said that those who preached the gospel have to be celibate. Some have the gift of celibacy but not all automatically have it and that has caused many problems in the religions where that’s been practiced, including in this fellowship.
We don’t read of Jesus going out “2 by 2”, we read of Him going out “1 by 1” or as in a group of 13.
After Jesus ascended, His disciples and apostles went preaching the gospel in different numbers, 1, 2, 3, groups of 4, 7 and 8. Only Judas was replaced and Paul called himself an apostle, he saw the risen Christ and was called personally by Him to go and preach the Gospel. Otherwise there were no new apostles replacing the 12. The names of the last 12 apostles that were sent out to preach the Gospel personally by Jesus will be found in the foundations of the wall of the new city of Jerusalem.
There were other apostles, but they did not meet the criteria that the original 12 met as described in Acts and nobody will meet those criteria today. If someone claims they have been sent out by God to preach today. They would have to prove it by miracles as the disciples and apostles of Jesus did. We can’t just accept someone’s word for it. They would also accept the authority of the Bible without question and measure every doctrine up to God’s Truth. We see clearly from what Paul says that most of the apostles must have been married, therefore they would have had homes. 1 Corinthians 9:5 “Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas.”
Paul clearly said that he doesn’t allow women to teach men or have authority over them. So the women who labored with him in the Gospel would not have been teaching men, most likely they would have taught women and children. It is not biblical for sister workers to teach men or have authority over them.
How do the workers and friends compare with the first-century churches?
– The disciples/apostles continued to heal people, raise the dead and drive out unclean spirits, thus showing that they were ordained by God.
– They sold their possessions and shared it amongst all so that there was equality. Acts 2:44-45
– There were visible signs when they received the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:4
– There was NO waiting period after a person repented of his/her sin and accepted Jesus as their Savior, they were baptized immediately. There was NO need to conform to rules of outward appearance to be baptized.
– They collected for the poor openly( everyone knew about it but did not know who gave what) and on a regular basis.
– They did not boast in any of their sacrifices or allow others to boast in or of them. All glory was reserved for God.
– They did not boast in a method of preaching the gospel, they gloried in the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus through whom we receive justification, righteousness, forgiveness of sins and our salvation.
– They were led by the Holy Spirit individually where they needed to preach the gospel.
– They were not sent out to preach by man but by God.
– They preached the gospel to crowds in the synagogues, outside in the open, next to a river etc. The New Testament churches didn’t call the apostles to come and preach the gospel to any newcomers, since they were capable of preaching the gospel themselves, led by the Holy Spirit. As disciples of Jesus, all believers are all called to preach the Gospel in our different capacities.
– Paul, the other apostles, disciples, evangelists, etc. preached the same Gospel message and gave the same instructions of conduct to all the churches. There were no controversies allowed amongst them. In the meetings, there are controversies regarding the deity of Christ, divorce and remarriage, salvation, history of the group, etc. In the meetings the workers also add requirements to salvation by making their ministry essential to salvation and by requiring conformation to unwritten rules of outward appearance to be baptized, therefore they are preaching a different Gospel.
What did Paul glory in?
Galatians 6:14 “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
We don’t read of Jesus’ disciples (followers of Christ), apostles, prophets, evangelists, etc. living continually with their converts to Christianity. Obviously, they would have stayed with some as needed. But since they moved to areas where the Gospel was not preached before they would have relied on the hospitality of strangers, thus proving that God will supply their needs as the earliest workers did and many others also did in the late 1800s and other time periods.
It is obvious that the 12 apostles insisted on concentrating on the Word after Jesus had ascended to Heaven since they were the “walking & talking” New Testament. But that would not mean that all preachers henceforth should not have regular jobs. Paul makes it clear that he wants other preachers to follow his example and work with their hands to support themselves and those less fortunate. We can’t assume Jesus didn’t work since He had nowhere to lay His head. He and His disciples most likely did work where they could to support themselves, their families and those less fortunate as Paul also did.
Anyone who claims to be following Jesus as the example minister should seek opportunity to serve others in the fellowship and also those outside, rather than expecting others to serve them. What did Jesus say? Luke 22:25-27,Mark 9:34-37,Matthew 23:11-12,Matthew 20:25-28
1 Timothy 3:16 (KJV) “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”
– Some workers believe in the deity of Jesus; others don’t. John 1:1,14; John 20:28; Hebrews 1:8,9; and 1 Timothy 3:16 make it clear that Jesus was and is divine. This is essential to our Christian faith, if we deny Jesus’ deity, we make God a liar, since God’s word says that Jesus was also God. So we have liberty to say, not God the Father but God the Son.
– Ephesians 4:11-15 Here we see clearly that there were different roles in the N.T churches to edify the body of Christ. The elders were the overseers and had specific biblical qualifications to be an elder. There was no exclusive ministry. Apostles (special messengers), disciples (followers of Christ) prophets, evangelists, etc., preached the gospel. Workers in overseers’ positions are not biblical.
– Jesus never established a hierarchy or autocratic rule in His ministry; neither do we read of it in the New Testament churches. He actually warned His disciples against this. In the N.T churches the elders, apostles and disciples came together to discuss major issues and their decision was made on a mutual consensus. There were also multiple elders in each church that made up the leadership in the individual churches. These leaders would have been well known by their church members and chosen by them, each church would have been responsible for their own conduct as we see clearly described in Revelations
“The New Testament does not support an extended church hierarchy covering large geographical areas. No elder in the New Testament was ever given authority over another elder, and each local assembly had its own elders/bishops/pastors.” (Quoted from GotQuestions.org)
Who or what is the body of Christ? Let’s see what the Bible says:
1 Corinthians 12:12-27 makes it clear that those that are baptized by the Spirit are part of the body of Christ. And this is the true church of Christ. No man has the authority to say who is part and who is not part of the body of Christ. And Christ and Christ alone is the Head of this body, His Church, and nothing would ever be able to destroy it.
I don’t mind if workers feel genuinely called to live as they do. But I do have a problem when they say they are following Jesus’ example of sending out His disciples and thus are the only ordained preachers. Yet if you examine their claim according to God’s word, you find that they only follow a small percentage of it and add their own human doctrine to it. I also have a problem when they add requirements to salvation. God’s word needs to be our authority.
Jesus connected with the poor, outcasts of society, children, etc. where they could find Him, on a mountain, in a synagogue, in the temple, on the streets, next to the sea of Galilee. If He was preaching today, he would for sure be there on the streets of the cities where He could reach the outcasts of society, the poor, at the orphanages with the children, the prisoners in the prisons and the sick in the hospitals.
I could not see Him merely putting an ad in a newspaper, having gospel meetings in convenient places where the possibility that He would reach the needy would be limited.
I don’t see Him spending His days idly going from one friend’s house to the next, being served by them. I don’t see Him hardly mentioning anything spiritual while visiting with them.
For most of His ministry, He and His disciples went out as a group. He worked as a carpenter for most of His life until around the age of 30. His disciples worked as fishermen for most of their lives and most likely did so after Jesus ascended since most of them were married. Jesus’ public ministry was roughly 3.5 years.
If the way Jesus sent His disciples out in Matthew 10 was supposed to be for all the ages to come it would have continued after His ascension to heaven, but as we have seen, He changed some of those requirements Himself and we don’t read of it being practiced exactly as given in Matthew 10 after His ascension.
The history of the meetings based on well-researched facts is that it started around 1897 through William Irvine and Edward Cooney; there is no evidence of it having been around before that. No workers list, convention lists, notes taken of what workers said or workers’ photos. George Walker acknowledged that it was started by some men then; other workers have also acknowledged that.
Many more have tried to hide it away for many decades–even a century. So, if as some workers now claim, these men revived God’s way then what happened to all the people from the last apostle that died around 100 A.D until 1897? Are those souls all lost because there were no workers around to be mediators for their salvation? Absolutely not! God’s true Church, which is made up of all true believers since Adam and Eve, has always been around on the earth. Jesus said that nothing will be able to destroy the Church He built. Jesus, and only Jesus, was and is forevermore the mediator between man and God.
Jesus, His disciples and apostles have laid the foundation on which we as Christians build. The foundation cannot be laid again. If you tried to relay a house’s foundation it would result in a wreck. If any man tries to relay God’s foundation, they will not be saved.
We don’t know how many unknown churches there are that are functioning as Biblical churches. I searched and prayed for a long time and found one that as far as I can read is a Biblical functioning church. Here is their website. But many more can be out there, and we would not know of them just like many don’t know of the meetings. http://www.house-church.org
The meetings don’t have a name; however, they are registered in some countries under different names for various reasons. But even so, they should technically call themselves “Matthew 10 church.” Even though they can only lay claim on “leaving all behind” which although admirable, is not a requirement to preach the Gospel according to God’s Word. But we do see that the workers in many cases aren’t leaving the comfort zone of the friend’s houses behind as the example we see in the New Testament to evangelize in areas where there are no friends to support them.
My prayer is that whoever reads this will pray about this, read their Bibles and see for themselves that this is true according to God’s word.
February 12, 2020