I. THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH HAS CHRIST ONLY AS HER HEAD.
“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22).
II. THE CHURCH IS TO BE SUBJECT TO NONE BUT HER HEAD.
No one has the right to exercise authority over others in the church, and surely no outside body of men has the right (Matt. 20:24-28).
III. BIBLE EXAMPLES OF CHURCHES ACTING INDEPENDENTLY — OUR PATTERN.
1. The church acted independently in electing one to take Judas Iscariot’s place (Acts 1:15-24).
2. The church acted independently in selecting seven men for the office of deacon (Acts 6:1-6).
3. The church acted independently in sending Barnabas on a special mission to Antioch (Acts 11:22).
4. The church acted independently in sending missionaries (Acts 13:1-4
a. Holy Spirit called them;
b. The church sent them out; and
c. The Holy Spirit sent them forth.
5. The Antioch church acted independently in sending out missionaries, and other churches acted independently in helping to support them (II Cor. 8:1-4; 11:8,9; Phil. 4:15,16).
6. The church acted independently in determining to send relief to the poor saints at Jerusalem (Acts 11:27-30).
7. The church in Antioch acted independently in choosing whom they wanted to carry their gift to Jerusalem (Acts 11:30).
8. The church is instructed to act independently in using the keys of the kingdom (Matt. 16:19; 18:18).
IV. THE CHURCH’S INDEPENDENCY IS LIMITED UNDER GOD.
1. A church is limited to the laws of Christ (Matt. 28:20).
An inherent right means a natural right in one’s self to do a thing. A commissioned right is a right received from another who has the power to bestow that right. The one commissioned has only the right to do that for which he is commissioned. Therefore the church cannot legislate nor turn her work over to others.
2. A church’s independency is limited to that which is scriptural” Scriptural baptism, Lord’s Supper, no other instructions than the Word of God (II Tim. 3:15-17).
3. A church is limited to preaching the gospel to lost souls, but God must do the saving. A church is not at liberty to change the gospel message.
4. Jesus said that His church was not of the world (John 17:16). The church is independent from world organizations and should remain so that her testimony may not be hindered.