HOME BIBLE STUDIES
"The church that is in their house."†† Romans 16:5
††††††††††††††† Because home Bible studies are on the rise in many circles, both orthodox and heretical, I have been asked by many what I think of them and whether I encourage them. While I cannot and must not try to govern what other pastors and churches promote, it is my responsibility to teach you what the Scriptures teach.
††††††††††† THERE IS NO DOCTRINAL BASIS OR BIBLICAL PRECEDENT FOR HOME BIBLE STUDIES BY SELF APPOINTED TEACHERS. Without question, in the New Testament many local churches met in private homes (Rom. 16:5; I Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Phil. 2), even as they do today. But there is no indication anywhere that a part of any local church ever got together in isolation from the whole congregation for Bible study. I realize that there may be exceptions, but as a general rule, home Bible studies quickly degenerate into Bible rap sessions, in which everyone has an opinion and no one teaches with God given, God ordained authority. In such sessions the Word of God becomes an object of debate and speculative conjecture, and the oracle of God comes across not as a message to be believed and received, but as an opinion to be considered.
††††††††††† CHRISTíS ASCENSION GIFTS TO HIS CHURCH, FOR THE PERFECTING OF HIS SAINTS AND THE EDIFICATION OF HIS BODY ARE PASTORS AND TEACHERS, GIFTED AND CALLED OF GOD FOR THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY (Eph. 4:11-12). Yes, all believers are Christís witnesses. All may and should tell others what God has done for them by his marvelous, free grace in Christ. Yes, all believers are themselves priests unto God. Each one does business with God in the holy place in prayer and worship. Yes, every believer should read, study, and seek to understand the Word of God. But not all are pastors. Not all are teachers. Pastors/teachers are men whose God given gifts have been recognized by his church, who teach the Word of God with divine authority, which is recognized by those who voluntarily submit themselves to their ministries (I Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:7-9; Heb. 13:7, 17). Independent, self-appointed, freelance preachers and teachers (especially those recently converted) should always be held in suspicion. The Word of God is a sharp, two-edged sword. Only a fool gives a sword to a novice or a child!
††††††††††† HOME BIBLE STUDIES TEND TO DEVELOP SCHISMS WITHIN A LOCAL CHURCH. There are several small groups around the country that meet in homes watching or listening to tapes. Having neither pastor nor local church, they do the best they can. Some churches have been raised up from such groups. But where God has established a faithful church and a faithful ministry, the welfare of the church, the unity of the body of Christ, and the testimony of the gospel are best served by the whole church being faithful to the established worship services. Home Bible studies are not needed where Godís servants faithfully proclaim his Word.
Donald S. Fortner, Pastor †- Grace For Today Radio Message #561
Grace Baptist Church of Danville - Danville, Kentucky 40422-9438