April 17, 2017

Who Taught You to Think?

There are two basic premises in the process called thinking. Within each premise there are a variety of differences, but at the poles of each there is a difference as great as that between night and day. In philosophy, this idea is demonstrated in Raphael’s painting, The School of Athens. At the center of the painting, Plato is pointing upward and Aristotle holds his hand downward. Each of them is emphasizing his center of thought and authority - Plato the absolutes or ideals and Aristotle the particulars of earth.

The difference between these two foundational issues is critical to life and death. It is clearly demonstrated in the third chapter of Genesis. God is the authority, and everything He utters is true and flawless. Eve allows the devil to deny God’s Word and add his own ideas to God’s words. Then Eve follows that error and adds some words of her own. God’s Word is wholly without error; its statements are pure truth. Repeating what God has said is always trustworthy. This is the correct process of thinking with the words and mind of God. The majority of individuals in our world, however, have followed the thinking process that Satan invented. They deny truth or add error where they choose. Here you have the conflict between pure truth and truth that has been corrupted.
Some years ago, I started using a term to clarify this contrast. There are only two religions on earth. I know Christianity is not really a religion, but please bear with me. Christianity holds that the eternal, sovereign creator is God and that our authority is the pure Word of God. The other religion is “Humianity,” a play on words. All other religions are part of this. The god of Humianity is man, and his authority is human reason. Once again, you have the contrast of two authorities, two ways of thinking.
The problem is that human authority often borrows true statements from God, but then adjusts them to fit flawed human reason. The sad commentary is that believers who should know better often take the clear statements of scripture and either add to them or do the unthinkable - they deny the plain statements of scripture. Believers who can’t find the answer they were looking for simply go ahead and invent one. Unfortunately, the discipline of Systematic Theology is full of these inventions. They call them “different points of view.”
Just a reminder, in case you may have forgotten: Shepherd’s Staff isn’t about forcing answers on the reader; it is about making people think. So, before you get all bent out of shape, do some thinking, and beware of borrowing from flawed human reason.
We began this discussion by asking “Who taught you to think?” Thank God for churches, pastors, professors, parents, etc., who have reminded us that true thinking begins and ends with the Word of God. All other expressions are opinions. On the other hand, though, we also had teachers who ought to know better tell us that science, physical evidence, philosophers, and scholars are the true source of authority. As a result, we borrowed from human thought, experience, physical evidence, etc., and made them part of our authority. State education is particularly culpable in this shift of authority. In fact, almost everyone reading this - if not all of us - have been moved in our thinking and have adjusted the one trustworthy authority.
Science, as defined by man, has become an authority higher than God. Let me ask you this: has science ever been wrong? In the Old Testament, if a prophet gave one false prophecy, he was stoned. Why would believers ever doubt the clear statements of Scripture in order to please the false prophecies of science? Is God wrong - was there indeed a “big bang?” Read the plain statements in the book of Romans, and consider what God says about those who deny Him as creator.
This, however is the problem; the god of intellectualism permits men to deny the things that God has simply stated in His Word. Their argument is that it can’t really be that simple, so they borrow from another authority to get their way. That is why “intellectualism complicates to confuse” while the biblical thinker “simplifies to clarify.”
Science, falsely so-called, has information, but not truth. It is intellectual, but it does not have intelligence. Did you forget that those who deny the creator are absolutely sure that there was no “intelligent design” in what they call “nature”? It has knowledge, but it does not have wisdom; it has opinion, but not fact; it has belief, but no final authority.
It is easy to pick on intellectual pagans; however, we shudder to consider how deeply the wrong kind of thinking and the final authority of flawed human reason have made their way into theology. Most of my day, at this point, is spent in study and research in the Word. How can it be that theologians in our camp can go to the same text and come away with a dozen different conclusions? If they go to the same statements, with the same authority, why do they disagree? The answer is simple; you cannot go to the same text, and use the same language system and universal rules, and get more than one answer. I know that scholars tend to hate simplicity. It robs them of human creativity and the power to have it their own way. Remember, though, that the Bible was not written to scholars; it was written to the ordinary humble believer who finds peace in the fact that each text has only one interpretation. If the answer is illusive, there may not be an answer; but we certainly are not free to invent one. That is a major problem with historical theology - it certainly does have value, but it is not authoritative. An error long held is still an error. Any idea as to what you are thinking, or how you are thinking? Your next words will reveal that.

Shepherd’s Staff is prepared by Clay Nuttall, D. Min.
A communication service of Shepherd’s Basic Care, for those committed to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible. Shepherd’s Basic Care is a ministry of information and encouragement to pastors, missionaries, and churches. Write for information using the e-mail address shepherdstaff2@juno.com or Shepherdstaff

April 10, 2017

Archival Series: Lordship Salvation, A Misuse of Scripture

For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

There is one passage of Scripture that virtually always comes up in the discussion of repentance with advocates of Lordship Salvation and needs to be carefully explained. How does John MacArthur, for the Lordship view of repentance, interpret the first verse of this passage?

As metanoia is used in the New Testament, it always speaks of a change of purpose, and specifically a turning from sin. In the sense Jesus used it, repentance calls for a repudiation of the old life and a turning to God for salvation. Such a change of purpose is what Paul had in mind when he described the repentance of the Thessalonians: “You turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). Note the three elements of repentance: turning to God, a turning from evil, and the intent to serve God. No change of mind can be called true repentance if it does not include all three elements. The simple but all too often overlooked fact is that a true change of mind will necessarily result in a change of behavior. Repentance is not merely shame or sorry over sin, although genuine repentance always involves an element of remorse. It is a redirection of the human will, a purposeful decision to forsake all unrighteousness and pursue righteousness instead. 9

What is the gospel, after all, but a call to repentance (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30)? In other words, it demands that sinners make a change—stop going one way and turn around to go the other (1 Thess. 1:9). 10

Those quotes represent Lordship’s classic misuse of 1 Thess. 1:9. MacArthur starts by addressing the Greek word metanoia as it is used in the New Testament, and then quotes a verse that does not even contain the word metanoia. The Greek word for “to turn” is completely different; it is epistrepho (epistrephō) and means simply “to turn, turn to or toward.” Epistrephō does not mean “to repent.”

Through the balance of this section I am going to draw from the Inspired Commentary, the Word of God, to bring out the meaning and context of 1 Thess. 1:9. Before we can draw a conclusion on 1 Thess. 1:9 we need to begin by reviewing Paul’s initial evangelistic ministry to the Thessalonicans. In Acts 17:1-4 we find Paul arriving at Thessalonica and, “as his manner was,” preaching the gospel. He was preaching Jesus who suffered and rose again. He said, “…Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.” He is exhorting the Thessalonians, in their unsaved condition, to change their mind about Jesus. In verse four we see that some were persuaded, “some of them believed,” but some “believed not.” What was it in Paul’s preaching that some were persuaded of and believed? That Jesus, who suffered, died and rose again, was the Christ. In Paul’s evangelistic appeal to the Thessalonians is there any call or exhortation for “turning from evil” or the “intent to serve” for salvation? No, there is not! MacArthur is forcing “turning from evil (sin) and the intent to serve God…to forsake all unrighteousness” into the narrative of Paul’s sermon.

Those who “believed not” set in motion a wave of persecution against the new believers (Acts 17:5-9). The events at Thessalonica set a pattern for what we find in Paul’s two epistles to the Thessalonian believers.

In 1 Thessalonians 1 Paul acknowledges and praises them for their “work of faith” and “labor of love.” They set an example for others on what Bible Christianity should look like. Their fine example was being set with “patience” (v. 3) in the face of “much affliction” (v. 6; Acts 17:5-9). They were setting the right example for fellow believers (Macedonia and Achaia, vv. 7-8) to emulate how to go through persecution. The reputation of the Thessalonian church preceded Paul in his missionary travels; therefore he did not need to speak of it (v.8). Their testimony of faith and patience in the face of persecution was a living example and a sermon without words. With respect to Lordship Salvation, this raises a serious problem. If the example of the Thessalonians in their willingness to change their behavior after they believed is considered the necessary condition of true saving faith, then in what way were the Thessalonians “examples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia” (v. 7)? How could they be the example to all other believers when all believers in Christ will necessarily live and behave just like the Thessalonians as Lordship advocates insist?

1 Thess. 1:9 opens with, “For they… .” The “they” is their “faith to God-ward,” which became known abroad. The Thessalonians “turned to God,” which put them in a position for the capacity to serve God. The example they became to other believers was the result of their believing the message Paul preached unto themthe One who suffered and rose again is the Christ. The “patience of hope” (v. 3) is defined in verse 10, “And to wait for his Son from heaven.” While they expected and patiently waited for Him to come they kept working out their faith and labored in love. Today when so many are occupied with His coming, we would do well to learn from the Thessalonians that we should keep occupied (doing something for Him) until He comes.

Lordship advocates who use this passage as an illustration of repentance only quote verse 9, “and how ye turned (epistrepho) to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” Grammatically, however, there are two parallel infinitives of purpose, which are found in verses 9 and 10. The sentence structure, therefore, if breaking it down into main points and sub points, could be visualized this way:

v9, For
     they themselves shew of us
           - what manner of entering in we had unto you
           - how ye turned to God from idols
                 - to serve (douleuein) the living and true God
v10,             and 
                 - to wait (anamenein) for His Son from heaven,
                              -whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus,
                              - which delivered us from the wrath to come.

There is a major problem for the Lordship position in claiming that 1 Thess. 1:9 is making the intent “to serve” a necessary description (thus condition) of genuine repentance/faith. If “to serve” is a condition/necessary description, then syntactically so must the phrase “to wait” be as well. Wait for what? “His Son from heaven,” i.e. the Second Coming of Christ. There is no other passage in Scripture that conditions the reception of eternal life on believing in Christ’s Second Coming or waiting for it!

There is simply no way the two infinitive clauses can be separated. They are both present tense, active voice, infinitives, and they are both subordinate, dependent clauses that are parallel to one another and dependent upon the main, independent clause of 1:9, “how ye turned to God from idols.”

To be born again do the lost need to believe in the Second Coming of Christ? If we accept MacArthur’s view that the Thessalonians were saved by “turning from evil and the intent to serve,” then the Scriptures also demand waiting for the second coming of Christ as a third condition for conversion.

There is, however, an even larger point with 1 Thess. 1:9-10. This passage is not even describing their initial, saving faith. The emphasis of the passage is clearly upon describing their faithful example in following the Lord subsequent to their initial, saving faith. In 1 Thess. 1:9 Paul is not speaking of how to become a believer; he wrote to them about their growth and testimony as believers.

This interpretation fits perfectly with Paul’s introductory description of these Thessalonians in 2 Thess. 1:3-4. Notice there too they are described not as to their initial, saving faith, as if Paul is saying to them there, “Your conversion was genuine.” No, he is pleased with the fact that their “faith groweth exceedingly” (1:3) and that they were exercising “patience and faith” amidst the trials they were enduring (1:4).

This interpretation, furthermore, fits perfectly with the Inspired Commentary on the Thessalonian Epistles that we have in Acts 17, where the Thessalonians’ initial, saving faith is described in 17:1-4, esp. v. 4 “persuaded” (peitho) or “believed” (KJV) and v. 5 “were not persuaded” (apeitho) or “believed not” (KJV). The content of their faith is described in v. 3, that is, they believed in Christ’s substitutionary death and bodily resurrection, which were according to the Scriptures (1 Thess. 4:14; 1 Cor. 15:3-4). There is no mention of turning from idols, serving the living God, waiting for the Second Coming, etc. Instead, what we see is that immediately upon believing, these baby Christians in Thessalonica were persecuted for their faith (Acts 17:5-9), particularly by Jewish unbelievers (1 Thess. 2:14-16).

From the Scriptures we can firmly conclude that 1 Thess. 1:9-10 is a post conversion passage. Paul is addressing the things that followed their conversion. He was teaching them post conversion truth. In verse ten he concerns himself with their growth in light of the Lord’s imminent return. At the time of their persecution Paul and Silas were ministering to them as new believers (1 Thess. 2:8). In both epistles to the Thessalonians Paul is ministering to them as new believers. Every chapter in 1 Thessalonians ends with Paul referencing the Second Coming of Christ, which is a vital truth for believers. In 2 Thessalonians 1 we find Paul speaking of their growing faith, charity toward one another and patience in persecution. Paul is commending them for their faith that grew out of their believing the gospel.

Lordship’s repentance, as MacArthur defines it, is to “stop going one way,” i.e. stop sinning and replace sinning with the “intent to serve,” i.e. do the “good works” (Eph. 2:10) expected of a born again believer. MacArthur changes the gospel from repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to a man-centered message that conditions the reception of eternal life on the lost man’s, “purposeful decision to forsake all unrighteousness,” which is an upfront commitment to certain expected levels of behavior. Believing the gospel should result in some form of a change in behavior as one grows in grace. However, nowhere in Scripture is the gospel for the reception of eternal life defined by a sinner’s intention, commitment or resolve to change his behavior.

In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation, from the chapter, What is Biblical Repentance, pp. 133-138.

9) John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus: What is Authentic Faith,
p. 178.

10) John MacArthur, Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles, p. 33.

March 23, 2017

Think on This For a Moment

At some point in life when the future looks brief, it is a wise thing to take stock of one’s own life. With that in mind, it dawned on me that my life is really made up of the people I have known. Each of them has put something into my life. These days I am attempting to say thank-you to as many of them as I can. It has turned out to be a slow process, so let me turn to the Shepherd’s Staff to reach as many of you as I can. If you know me to any degree, you are one of those individuals. Our contact may have been brief, but you left something with me when our paths intersected.

Counting negatives is a waste of time, so let me major on the positives. I am thankful for a father, and also his father, who taught me how to work. Some of my employers added to that gift, and today I can say that I love to work. That is why at eighty-one years of age I am still working. This is the kind of gift we can pass on to our children, and our family of five have all exhibited a strong work ethic. My parents were products of the Depression. They had learned some hard lessons, and I inherited them. If we didn’t cut firewood, we would have frozen to death. If we hadn’t raised our own food, we would have starved to death. In my youth, I was angry about this, but now I thank God for those hard days.

My mother exhibited genuine Christianity. Instead of being bitter over the circumstances of life, she used them to minister to others. Even in her advanced age, she was ever the servant. It was her patience and love that drew me to her Savior. Many of her positive traits were a gift to me, and I am thankful for those qualities. They often say that it is the woman in a marriage who makes the man what he is. I confess that that is true in my life. Ruth’s remarkable patience has made all the difference. Mother-in-law jokes never worked for me. God gave me a great one, and I loved her dearly. There were many other family members who had a part in my growth, but these are just a few.

No one could have had a better pastor than I did. He loved his people and especially the teens. He was steady and firm. As a result, I came to Christ under his ministry, was baptized, licensed to preach, ordained, and married. (He threatened to do my funeral, too, but I conducted his instead!) I fondly remember a few adults in the church who set a high standard by the way they lived. It was in this same ministry that some of my fellow teens ministered to me, and some of those friendships are still alive today.


There were also those who taught me in the classroom. Some whose names I remember from the early years have passed from this life, but their influence remains. The years in Bible college brought onto my path more people who marked my life. The same is true of graduate and post-graduate work - too many names to remember. Thirty-seven years in the pastorate added some unbelievable people who helped to turn my life in the right direction. Many of those friends are still in touch.

Then came the years of education and missionary ministry. You will note that I have not mentioned many names so far. Recently, however, a great friend and theologian, Dr. Hoyle Bowman, moved to his heavenly residence. His passing was what started my effort to make a record of those people who have impacted my life in a special way. It also sent me on a journey to thank those who are still living. In every area of my life there were special people, but those peers in academics and ministry are especially on my mind. Please forgive me if I have missed you with this summary. I am thankful for your investment in my life.

I have just returned from a journey to the Middle East, where I have been ministering off and on for seventeen years. Our youngest son, Kraig, and Pastor Frankie Matthews were along for the ride. It would have been good if we could have visited all the countries we worked in, but time did not allow. Some of you who read this have blessed my life, and I would have loved to see your face one more time. In Egypt, we did see many of you. This allowed me to embrace you and say thank-you for what you put into my life. Thirty years in the pastorate was the center of ministry for me, but the last seventeen years as a missionary and educator in the heart of the Middle East was the capstone. The students there, and our fellow servants, poured their lives into mine, and I send you a collective package of gratitude.


Now it is early morning, and I have another day to say thank-you; and I will continue to work on this project of thanks for as long as I can. Today I can say thanks for loving pastors who have been a great source of encouragement to me. My wife, five children, fifteen grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren have also enriched my life. The members of my Sunday School class make another long list. Add to this a few men who are helping me with research for writing projects. Then there is the lady who edits my diatribes before they go to print. To list friends would be impossible, but they all have made an impact on my life. That would include a good group of couples who reside at Maranatha Village. This may sound strange, but I am thankful for those folks who are willing to bring me up short when I am “off base” - you know who you are. Perhaps you are now able to see why I used the Shepherd’s Staff to say how thankful I am for the hundreds of people who added something to my life to help make it worthwhile.


While I stop here and there to say a word of gratitude to many more folks, I still have some things to do. There are two books I have authored that have been in constant print for well over twenty years. Those are The Weeping Church: Observations on Church Polity and The Conflict: The Separation of Church and State. Both are available at FaithfullLifePublishers.com. There are three more in the works, but the most important one is The Normal Hermeneutic: The One Biblical Hermeneutic. This has become the centerpiece of our ministry. It has also been the core of the tremendously effective ministry in the Middle East. I can only ask that you pray that I will have the time and energy to finish it. Hani Hana, my spiritual son, is co-author; and the book will be published in both English and Arabic.

And so, to all of you I say thank-you for what you have put into my life that has helped to make it worthwhile.
Shepherd’s Staff is prepared by Clay Nuttall, D. Min.
A communication service of Shepherd’s Basic Care, for those committed to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible. Shepherd’s Basic Care is a ministry of information and encouragement to pastors, missionaries, and churches. Write for information using the e-mail address shepherdstaff2@juno.com or ShepherdStaff

March 13, 2017

John MacArthur Requested to, and Resigns from the IFCA

February 23, 2017
Statement Re: John MacArthurs IFCA International Membership

In John MacArthur’s recently published book Biblical Doctrine, his position regarding the nature and extent of the Atonement is clearly presented in the section entitled “The Extent of the Atonement” (pages 543-565). This section confirms that he changed from the position he held at the time of his admission into IFCA membership in 1980.

Dr. Les Lofquist, Executive Director IFCA
The specific change is regarding how to understand the following language in the IFCA Doctrinal Statement: “We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for all mankind as a representative, vicarious, substitutionary sacrifice” (IFCA Constitution, Article IV, Section 1.3.b). During several previous meetings and correspondence over the last ten years, I clarified with Dr. MacArthur how the words “for all mankind have been historically understood within the Fellowship of IFCA International. The IFCA Board of Directors also provided clarification to Dr. MacArthur in 2009 by correspondence and in a subsequent meeting IFCA Board President Jerry Smith and I had with Dr. MacArthur in his office in California.

Understanding the historical context of the words in the IFCA International Doctrinal Statement, and in comparison to the book Biblical Doctrine, yesterday 
I respectfully requested that Dr. MacArthur withdraw as an individual member of IFCA International, which today he has done.
This action is necessary to comply with the IFCA International Constitution which reads: “Each and every person, church, or organization, in order to become or remain a member of IFCA International, shall be required to subscribe to the following articles of faith” (Article IV. Section 1. Articles of Biblical Faith); and “In subscribing to these articles of faith, we by no means set aside, or undervalue, any of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments; but we deem the knowledge, belief and acceptance of the truth as set forth in our doctrinal statement, to be essential to sound faith and fruitful practice, and therefore requisite for Christian fellowship in IFCA International” (Article IV. Section 3. Covenant of Faith); and the IFCA International By-Laws: The following are specific causes for rejection of applicants for membership…doctrinal and constitutional disagreement.” (Article II. Section 6.b).

With mutual respect, we both simply acknowledge our doctrinal difference regarding the nature and extent of the Atonement and that this difference causes John MacArthur to be in doctrinal and constitutional disagreement with IFCA International in this matter. 

We want it to be known that this action is taken in a spirit of humility and with gratitude for Dr. MacArthur’s global ministry of expositional Bible teaching. While we graciously differ on this point of doctrine, we remain friends and rejoice in our common passion to serve God in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

Les Lofquist                                                               
IFCA International Executive Director                                  
Grandville, Michigan

I’m happy to withdraw from the IFCA with nothing but gratitude for the fellowship I have enjoyed through the decades. I am grateful for the exemplary faithfulness of the men who stand for the truth without compromise and have been willing to include me.  My confidence in those strong men who love the truth, written and incarnate, will continue to make them my friends.”
Dr. John MacArthur 
Related Reading:

March 7, 2017

That is Not a Church by Clay Nuttall, D. Min.

They say that confession is good for the soul but bad for the reputation.  There comes a time in later life when we are no longer threatened by this.  After fifty-seven years in the ministry, I still have in front of me a Scofield Reference Bible.  Back in Bible college we learned that, while the scripture text is always right, the notes inserted by men are not.
I am reading from Matthew 18:20 - “For where two are three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”  That is true because God is all-present, and that is the meaning of the text.  The note above this verse in the text before, however, says “the simplest form of a local church.”  Nothing in the text even hints at this being a church.  That is because two or three believers who are gathered together is NOT a church.  It is good way to have fellowship, but it is not a church.
The Old Testament prophets made it clear that there would be salvation for the gentiles.  In John 10:14-16, Jesus makes it clear that the future church would be composed of Jews and gentiles.  The idea was repulsive to the Jews.  In Matthew 16:18, there is a clear prophecy about the future church.  In the gospels, the church is eschatological, and the disciples would not have had a clue as to what was being referred to.  The church was a mystery until after the gospels, and the apostle Paul clearly explains this mystery in his writing.  In reference to Matthew 18:15-19, Scofield wrongly inserted “Discipline in the future church.”  There is nothing in that text to indicate such a command.  In fact, the disciples would have thought of the synagogue when he used the word.  While the book of Matthew may have been written for the church’s benefit, it definitely was not written to the church.  The content of Matthew demands that it was written to the Jews who were still under the law.  “Behold your King.”  The church could not have existed prior to Pentecost despite what historical theology claims.
The Bible calls the heavenly church the Body of Christ.  That body includes everyone who is redeemed in the time from Pentecost to the catching away of the church prior to any part of the tribulation.  Some of the members of that body are in heaven, others are alive on earth, and some have not even been saved yet.  In this age, God has chosen to use the local church to function and minister through.  Some members of the local church are members of the Body of Christ; others are not.  The local church is definitely not equal to the Body of Christ.  The local church represents the Body of Christ on earth.  Every true believer is part of the Body of Christ and should also be part of a local church body.  The local church is made up of people, not buildings.  It is God’s agent for ministry to carry the gospel message.
God helps us understand the ministry of the heavenly church by painting a clear picture.  The Body of Christ is a flock with a Chief Shepherd.  It is a body of redeemed members with Christ as the head of that heavenly body.  It is also a household, or home, and it is a theocracy.
The Bible clearly assigns these functions to the local church.  The local church is a flock with a local resident “under-shepherd.”  Members of a local church are sheep.  Obviously, some of them are wolves’ in sheep clothing.  The New Testament local church is supposed to function like a flock, not a political organization.  The local church is a body with a local resident head assigned by Christ himself.  It has members with different spiritual gifts, roles, and functions.  In reality, it is a theocracy.  The Bible is the rule book, the Holy Spirit directs the church, and the church administrates that which God has commanded.  Sadly, many have pressed a humanistic model onto the church by inserting culture into the text.  
Using the word “church” for a building or group does not make it a church.  It may be a gathering, assembly, fellowship, or small or large group; but any one of these does not make it a New Testament local church.  In Acts 19 you have an assembly in the theater at Ephesus, but it was not a church.  A true local church will be a functioning flock with a shepherd.  It will be a local body with members who have gifts and ministry through the church.  A Bible study group, a family, or a prayer group is not a church in itself.  Without a local church, an individual believer is without a flock and a shepherd.  He would be a member alone without the benefit of other members or a local resident head appointed by Christ.  He would be a person who is an orphan without a church home.
In our day, there are many groups who choose not to use the word “church” in their names.  That would be good, because many of them are not really churches.  There are those groups who one day were New Testament local churches, but their candlestick has been removed and God has written “Ichabod” over them.  They once were, but now they are not.
What about the churches who have the form, but not the content?  A true local church depends upon what a church believes and where its authority comes from.  The Word of God will be the final authority in all matters.  If a church denies the Word of God, it has denied the God of the Word.  So, if a church rejects the inspiration, inerrancy, authority, and sufficiency of scripture, is it a church?  You cannot reject the deity and virgin birth of Christ and expect to go to heaven, so is a church that rejects the real Christ actually a church?  If a church pulpit disrespects the clear truth of scripture, and the “worship” person leads them in singing lies, is it a church?
So, if a “church” meets once a week, and there is no real shepherding or flock interaction, if all the sheep get is a “cute” story time to sustain them for a week, is that a church?  If a so-called church body doesn’t interact daily in ministry with members who have atrophy, is that a church? Is it a flock, body, and home?  What would you think of a home where members only interacted once or twice a week?
There is no end to the questions that need to be asked, but the real point is this: Are you part of a local church, and is it a church?  I personally know a lot of people who have no idea what their church believes.  It may be a cult, and they wouldn’t know it.  Before you waste your time debating the above, consider reading the following, which has been in print since 1985.
The Weeping Church, Confronting the Crisis of Church Polity. By Clay Nuttall, D.Min.  Faithful Life Publishers, North Fort Myers, FL 33903.  FaithfulLifePublisers.com
SHEPHERD’S STAFF – February, 2017
A communication service of Shepherd’s Basic Care, for those committed to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible.  Shepherd’s Basic Care is a ministry of information and encouragement to pastors, missionaries, and churches.  Write for information using the e-mail address Shepherdstaff2@juno.com or Shepherd Staff.
Shepherd’s Staff is prepared by Clay Nuttall, D. Min.