Church Discipline The makeup of this church was also demonstrated in the incident just previous to the one discussed in the last essay, where Ananias came in and laid a bag of silver at the feet of Peter for distribution. Now if the disciples of that day had the same bearing as some and were as irreverent as people in assemblies called churches today, there would have been catcalls, hand clapping and shouts like, â€œYou go Ananias, youâ€™re the manâ€ and such like. But that is not what happened.
You know we do it differently now. A preacher may have good response in a location, and he will pull up on his own and go elsewhere when he gets a better offer, or some members will pull him up and send him on his way with no offer at all. And we seem a lot more interested in converting in foreign lands than in our own living rooms. But the record of the Jerusalem church says this: “And the word of God increased and the number of disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly and a great company of the priests were obedient.” (Acts 6:7)
After these incidents came another concerning the Jewish converts and obedience to circumcision and the Law of Moses. The incident is covered in the 15th chapter of Acts beginning in verse one: “Certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’ Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.”
Who raised the question and started the controversy? In verse one it only says “certain men” from Judea began teaching this in the church, but in verse 5 it clarifies it some more. There the recorder states, “Some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, ‘It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the Law of Moses.’” Then it is clear that some of the converted Jews who were formally members or adherents to the teaching of the sect of the Pharisees had not let the traditions and laws of their religion go and they were teaching it to others as what they said was to be an indispensable part of the religion of Christ.
You should know that this is exactly how the gospel of Christ has been changed by the various teachers and denominations over time, and you should also know that this is why the worship of the church has varied so widely from the apostles’ doctrine and the examples set from within the scriptures.
The apostle Paul says this in Galatians 2: 4, 6: “But this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.”
We can note then that things started in that day have continued unimpeded to this day. That there is certainly, “nothing new under the sun.” There will always be those whose thought is to do as they feel compelled and not as God has dictated, and there will be followers for each one. The question remains, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
The answer is sure – that God will be worshipped in spirit and in truth by those who seek him. And so the church will also endure.