Of the Church.
Chapter 26, Paragraph 15.
“In cases of difficulties, or differences, either in point of Doctrine, or Administration; wherein either the Churches in general are concerned, or any one Church in their peace, union, and edification; or any member, or members, of any church are injured, in or by any proceedings in censures not agreeable to truth, and order: it is according to the mind of Christ, that many Churches holding communion together, do by their messengers meet to consider, and give their advice, in or about that matter in difference, to be reported to all the Churches concerned; howbeit these messengers assembled are not entrusted with any Church-power properly so called; or with any jurisdiction over the Churches themselves, to exercise any censures either over any Churches, or Persons; or to impose their determination on the Churches, or Officers.”
2 Corinthians 1:24
1 John 4:1
When a disagreement arises in a church, it is fitting that it should seek out the counsel of like-minded churches. There is no perfect church, so there is wisdom and humility in obtaining advice outside of its local structure. Associating with other churches is healthy and Biblical.
When seeking the advice of other churches, however, it is important to note that this advice is not binding. The local church does not have to submit to the advice given. It is up to the congregation to decide what action to take, if any. There is no authority above the church except for Christ, so an assembly of churches cannot impose a decision upon a church.
Reading this, you may wonder: what does this have to do with me? Assemblies, church decisions, jurisdiction of authority – it seems to have no bearing on the average woman in the pew. However, knowing that a local church is answerable only to Christ gives a heightened responsibility to its members. It is incumbent upon you to determine the best course of action for your church. With the Spirit’s help, you are to study the Scriptures diligently so as to learn the doctrine contained in them. You are to seek peace and righteousness as much as you are able, so that division and strife are handled lovingly and Biblically. The actions of church members have a great impact on the church. Take your membership seriously.
Questions to Consider
- Do you consider theological debates and discussion among church associations to have no bearing on your role in your church?