This Local Church And Service Agencies -- By: Warren Vanhetloo

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 04:3 (Fall 1961)
Article: This Local Church And Service Agencies
Author: Warren Vanhetloo


This Local Church And Service Agencies

Warren Vanhetloo

Executive Vice President
Central Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary

God has committed to the local church during this dispensation the task of carrying on His work, and God has determined to work through local churches. In spite of God’s plan and purpose, other agencies and organizations have been established in recent decades, and it behoves the Bible believer who understands the Scriptural place and purpose of the local church to give serious thought to the proper relationship of the local church to these newly established service agencies. All soul-winning efforts can be classified in one of two ways: God-instituted or man-instituted. God has instituted the church for His work in this dispensation; all other agencies and organizations are man-instituted, and must maintain proper relationships with that which God has begun and continues using.

God has not set aside the local church. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself declared that “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). God’s purpose today is still to honor and to use the local church testimony. The church has not failed, and the church will not fail. Other agencies have arisen in recent years because in the face of modernism many local churches did not remain true to the Word and even entire denominations departed from the faith. Individuals and groups of individuals established independent agencies for the proclamation of the Gospel, sometimes working within the local churches or at other times exclusively outside churches. Unfortunately, some Christians have become so enamored of the grandiose program of such activities that they have developed a disrespect for the work of the local church.

Local Church Position

That which God instituted, which we call the local church, is both an organism and an organization. As an organism, it is a spiritual body performing a spiritual activity. To the best of our ability, the organization corresponds to the organism, though there may be some who are members on the church roll who are not regenerated and thus part of the spiritual body. Usually, in speaking of the local church Baptists have reference to the organism, the local body of believers.

Each local church is a fellowship of believers united on a common doctrinal basis and endeavoring to carry on the work of the Lord in a unity of mind and spirit. This basis of church fellowship is referred to as “like faith and practice.” Whether stated or not, each local body of believers has some standard of faith and practice. The tendency today in certain areas is toward a minimal agreement in these areas, and yet the attitude taught in the Wo...

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