The Holy Spirit & the Local Church 1

Understanding the Local Church & Its Government
by Pastor John Hamel

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. … And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?  Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.” (Acts 2:1-4, 12-13)

These verses reveal the beginning of the Holy Spirit’s Ministry to the New Testament Local Church.  The Universal Church worldwide is made up of many local bodies of Believers meeting all over the Earth.  We call them Local Churches although they are all part of the Universal Church.  God’s Church is one Church.  The 120 Believers who met in the Upper Room (Acts 1:15) on the Day of Pentecost were actually the first local body of Believers to meet, without Jesus, after His Ascension. 

What a day it must have been.  It is my belief that the presence of the Holy Spirit was so strong that day that many of the people were falling down under the power of God, even as the Levites did when Solomon dedicated his Temple. (2Chronicles 5:1,2,13,14)  This is why many of the newly Spirit-filled Believers were accused of being drunk on wine. I believe that Solomon’s Temple Dedication is actually a picture of the Holy Spirit’s coming on the Day of Pentecost to set up the Church Universal. 

With this lesson we will begin a series on “The Holy Spirit & the Local Church.”  We are going to see in today’s lesson exactly what the Local Church is, how it is governed and what the Holy Spirit expects from us as Believers.  We cannot possibly understand what God expects from the Local Church until we first understand what the Local Church is.  Later in this series, we will look more specifically at how all Local Churches are to be under the control and guidance of the Person of the Holy Spirit.

The Local Church Is a God-Ruled, Not a Man-Ruled Body

"And he gave some, APOSTLES; and some, PROPHETS; and some, EVANGELISTS; and some, PASTORS and TEACHERS; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, WHICH IS THE HEAD, EVEN CHRIST:” (Ephesians 4:11-15)

Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church. (Matthew 18:16; Ephesians 1:21-23)  Through the agency of the Holy Spirit, He reveals His will for every Local Church to every local Pastor.  The Pastor is the Under-shepherd because no one is to be over him but Jesus.  Apostles and Prophets, Evangelists and Teachers have no right trying to tell the Pastor what to do.  Neither do the deacons or the congregation. 

The Pastor is the ultimate authority in the particular Local Church that the Holy Spirit has set him or her over.  The Local Church is not a democracy.  It is a Theocracy.  This means it is God-ruled, not man-ruled.  There is something wrong when the congregation is in charge of the day to day operation of the Church, what will be preached and how the Pastor will spend his time. This is unstable, ignorant and unscriptural.  There is something wrong when the musicians insist on having a voice in Church government and the Pastor, for fear of losing them, allows it.  A Body with more than one head is a freak.

The Local Church, as well as the Universal Church, is not a Monarchy, either.  We are not to have a Pope or any king other than Christ, the King.  The word “Pope” is never even used in Ephesians 4:11.  The “Doctrine Of Apostolic Succession” is not taught in Scripture, neither is the “Doctrine Of Infallibility.” 

Nowhere in the Bible are we taught that “Popes” are to be appointed one after another, or at all.  Nowhere in Scripture are we taught that anyone other than Jesus is sinless.  Peter, the “First Pope,” betrayed Jesus and was also rebuked for hypocrisy.  (Matthew 26:74; Galatians 2:1-11)  Peter also admitted to being sinful. (Luke 5:8)  God made His form of government clear here in Ephesians 4:11.  God’s government does not include a “Pope.”  Now, I was raised a Catholic.  I love and I respect the Pope.  However, we must be careful to not teach man’s doctrines as if they were God’s doctrines.  To do so is vain. (Matthew 15:9)

As stated, the Universal Church and the Local Church is a Theocracy.  “Theocracy” simply means “God-ruled.”  God is superior over His creation, and He passes His mandates down through what we call the “Ministry Offices” of Ephesians 4:11.   God calls an individual to Pastor in the Local Church. (Acts 20:28; IThessalonians 5:12,13; Hebrews 5:4; 13:7,17)  That Pastor cannot be voted in, neither can he be voted out.  To “vote out” someone whom God has voted in is unwise and dangerous.  

My Born Again father-in-law received the Baptism with the Holy Spirit while he was Pastoring a church in Kansas.  This Church rejected the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit.    Because of his experience, the Elders in the church refused to let my father-in-law back in the pulpit.  They “fired” him and forced his family to move out of the parsonage.  

Within a ten-year period one of the Elders ended up in an insane asylum and the remainder of these men all died tragic deaths, every one.  God did not do this to them. (John 10:10)  They did it to themselves by deliberately aborting a work of God in progress.  (Ecclesiastes 10:8)  God wanted His Pastor to bring the Baptism with the Holy Spirit to that Congregation.  The Elders who refused found themselves fighting God, His government and His plans and purposes.

The Local Church Is Holy People Not Holy Places

“Know ye not that YE ARE THE TEMPLE OF GOD, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1Corinthians 3:16)

The Bible says that God’s people are His Temple, or His Church.  The Local Church is not a building.  It is a group of local Believers.  In the Old Testament, holy buildings symbolized the fact that in the coming New Testament, the Holy Spirit would indwell human temples.  This is why we are now called the “Temple of God.” 

The woman at the well in Samaria asked Jesus where the best place was to go and worship God, Jerusalem or Samaria?  Jesus said, in essence, “Honey, those days are long gone.  From now on it does not matter where we worship, it only matters how we worship.”

“God is a Spirit: and THEY THAT WORSHIP HIM MUST WORSHIP HIM IN SPIRIT and in truth.” (John 4:24)

I love Israel and I love Jerusalem because God loves Israel and God loves Jerusalem. (Psalm 122, 126)  This is why we have developed the “Israel Study Centre” at our tuition-free  JHM Online Bible Training Centre.  But there are no more holy places, including Israel and Jerusalem.  From now on it is holy people.

“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up A SPIRITUAL HOUSE, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” (1Peter 2:5)

The spiritual Temple of God replaces the old stone Temple of God.  I do not have to visit some holy place for the Holy Spirit to move in my life.  All I have to do is go to the Local Church where there are two or more Believers and the Holy Spirit will manifest Himself in our midst. (Matthew 18:20)

The Local Church Is Built on Disclosure Not Discovery

“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the REVELATION OF THE MYSTERY, which was kept secret since the world began,  But NOW IS MADE MANIFEST, AND BY THE SCRIPTURES OF THE PROPHETS, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:” (Romans 16:25-26)

No one discovers God.  The Holy Spirit discloses God to everyone by revelation only.  He revealed God to you through the Scriptures, through the Prophets and even through nature. (Romans 1:20)  God cannot be found with a telescope, a microscope or a horoscope.  We do not choose God, God chooses us. (John 15:16)  We were not seeking after God.  God was seeking after us. (Romans 3:10,11)  We did not find God.  God was not lost.  We were lost and God found us. (Luke 19:10)  

So anyone who boasts about the great discovery they made of Jesus, can stop right there.  Man’s wisdom cannot find or know God. (1Corinthians 1:21)  The Holy Spirit revealed Jesus to you.  It was all Him and no you.  The Holy Spirit is about to reveal Jesus even more clearly at the Rapture (1Thessalonians 4:16,17) and Second Coming. (2Peter 3:10)

The Local Church Is Elective Not Selective

“And the Lord God TOOK THE MAN, AND PUT HIM INTO THE GARDEN of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And THE LORD GOD COMMANDED THE MAN, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:” (Genesis 2:15-16)

Adam did not get to select whether he would go to the Garden.  God elected to put him into the Garden and commanded him to care for the Garden.  So too, we do not select what Local Church we will attend.  The Holy Spirit elects which Local Church we will attend and sets us in it. (1Corinthians 12:18)  I hope you are in the right place.  

Your time on Earth is a probationary period and you are going to spend Eternity based on how obedient you were while you were here.  I hope you are building on obedience, not opinion.  I hope you are not in one Church while God has told you to go to another.  Ask God where He wants you and get yourself there quickly.  That is where your blessing, favor and prosperity are. 

The Local Church Does Not Suffer from "Rapturitis"

”But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18)

Some people get saved and think because Jesus is coming soon that they do not have to get involved in the Local Church or with the Bible.  This is a disease that I call “rapturitis.”  God did not save anybody to hang around waiting for the “Rapture Rocket” to take him or her out of here.  The Local Church is to focus on “growing up,” not just on “going up.”   

The Apostle Paul said that Jesus had the Holy Spirit anoint Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers “for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11,12)  The Pastor is to be training you to do the work of the Ministry.  Quit leaving everything to him, remaining a baby and get busy helping him to reach the community.  

There are conditions for making it in the Rapture.  If you are just sitting around thinking the Rapture bungee cord is going to snap you out of here just because you are saved, you are wrong.  You need to be operating in obedience and you need to be operating in faith when Jesus comes. 

Jesus said that we are to occupy until He comes. (Luke 19:13) The Greek word “occupy” means “to keep oneself busy.”  Anyone who is not keeping busy supporting the Pastor in the work of reaching the world is in for a disappointing Rapture revelation. 

The Holy Spirit rules the Local Church, which is people, not buildings.  You did not discover Jesus.  The Holy Spirit revealed Him to you and He alone elects where you are to go to church.  Once He reveals that Church to you, you are to lock in there and get busy and stay busy. 

You will spend Eternity based upon how effectively you followed the above revelations. (1Corinthians 3:10-15)

Be Blessed … John and Barbara Hamel



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