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The World's intrusion of the Christian Faith
No Christian convert ever came into the Faith without preconceived concepts which impinge somehow on the character of Church life.
Accordingly,
the history of Christianity well illustrates how the social norms of a particular time, including what was considered as best management practice, found its way into Church organisation and conduct and eventually became set as the norm.
 
 
For instance, the 547 AD mosaic in the church of Saint Vitale, Ravenna, Italy, shows their emperor Justinian carrying the eucharist 'offering' (with a halo about his head and not that of the bishop), just as in earlier times to then an emperor himself would have led the sacrificial procession in an important pagan temple.
 
Note then:  Unless rigorously guarded against by a thorough comprehension of the Biblical principles of Church life,
this subtle corruption of Church life and practice is always inevitable.
 
While
this is easier to note concerning other epochs, such as Roman, Byzantine, and Medieval times, it is no less present in our modern era today. Accordingly, those Church communities whose management form is not dominated by the hierarchical models arising from earlier times, tend in this era to adopt best business practice models of management as is seen in our present day society.
 
 
The local top level church committee, whatever it is called, is commonly seen as the church executive which sets parameters within which the pastor or pastors must function, similar to the board of directors' supervision of the chief executive of a company.
 
This
is most unfortunate even though it offers benefits of efficiency, as its presumptions of power help to blind local church leadership to the special guidance of the Holy Spirit and His lordship in the direction of Church life.
 
 
In some extreme cases in North America today, the pastor of the local church sometimes even tends to be seen simply as a chaplain employed by the church executive to carry out his special duties of growing the church.
 
The
true life and growth of the Christian Church lies in the place of the Holy Spirit and in His practical ministry among the believers.
“Living in the fear of the Lord and in the encouragement of the Holy Spirit – the church increased in numbers.”
Acts 9:31
This
requires an attitude of the local church leadership which is free from the management presumptions of their own time/culture. An example of this for our guidance is the manner in which the new advance of Christianity was initiated from the local church in Antioch, described for us in Acts 13.
 
Note
that the local church leadership did not choose Barnabas and Saul for a mission to Cyprus. The church leadership at no stage exercised any authority whatsoever over the mission to Cyprus of these two members from their leadership of the church in Antioch.
 
  "While they [the three 'prophets' and two 'teachers'] were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said,
'Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them'."
Acts 13:2.
 
Their mission is not defined, for it lay in the personal relationship of the Holy Spirit to these two individuals. Their fellow church leaders are simply instructed through this prophecy to relieve these two of their duties in the Antioch church so as to follow what God had already laid in their hearts personally.
 
  "Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off." Acts 13:3.
 
This devotional exercise is supportive, as is also the laying on of hands. Unfortunately, in the history of Christianity the practice of laying on of hands has been corrupted to be an authorisation or endowment of authority. It has no such connotation at all in Holy Scripture if we read it in its own context.
Exodus 29:10, 15, 19;
Leviticus 3:15; 8:14,18,22; 16:21;
Numbers 8:10, 12, etc.
 
The practice is an old method of identification, as expressed in sacrificial worship in which the hand of the worshipper was laid on the head of the sacrificial animal when offered as a substitute life. In other words it simply expressed identification and conferred nothing. That is a later corruption.
 
This idea of identification is expressed negatively in our New Testament when Paul warns Timothy to not lay hands on anyone suddenly (impetuously) so as to, through identification/delegation, not be a partaker in other men's sins.
1 Timothy 5:22.
The
completing words of mission, "sent them off", express support, which may have included financial help, but it in no way expresses conferred authority from a Missions Committee in management of their mission. This is a modern corruption as beneficial as it may even be in some circumstances.
 
  The Church is the Lord's  —  purchased by His blood  —  and chosen by God for Christ's sake.  
The Holy Spirit is the only fully unconditionally authorised representative of Jesus Christ within the Christian Church if it is truly Christian.

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