All Articles For Contending for the Faith

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It enables us to understand more clearly the doctrines of our Church. The reader will recall that we were calling atten­tion in our previous article to the benefits which we derive from a study of the history of doctrine. And we concluded our article with the observation that one of these benefits is that it unites us with the Church of the past. Another benefit which we derive from this study is that it enables us to understand more clearly the doctrines of our Church or Churches.

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The expression: “The promise of the Holy Spirit,” occurs in Acts 2:33, and we quote: “Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” It is not our purpose, in this brief article, to call attention to this entire passage. We are merely interested now in the expression: the promise of the Holy Spirit.

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Continuing with the views of the Church as en­tertained by apostolic fathers, we now call attention to another of these apostolic fathers, Polycarp. It is not at all improbable that he was the “angel” of the church in Smyrna to whom the Lord Jesus Christ had written in His letter to the church at Smyrna (see Rev. 2:10: “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”). He is said to have been a disciple of the apostle, John.

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This is indeed a most interesting subject. We can distinguish, as far as the government of the Church is concerned, between the episcopal and Presbyterian forms of church government. Incidentally, we have the Presbyterian form of church government. It is surely worthy of note that the episcopal form of church government characterized the life of the church of God until the Reformation. What do we mean by these two forms of church government? The Pres­byterian form of church government is characterized by the rule of or by the elders, the consistory.

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When discussing the organization of the Church of God during the first centuries of the New Dispen­sation (we discuss, of course, the organization of the Church when we call attention to the bishops and the bishop of Rome), we realize that the Presbyterian form of church government is the only conception of church government which is in harmony with the Scriptures. And this is also the Reformed conception.

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Continuing with the early views of the organiza­tion of the Church as entertained by the early Church Fathers, we now call attention to Irenaeus. In our preceding article we called attention to the views as expressed by Ignatius, one of the Apostolic Fathers and bishop of the church at Antioch. The great esteem in which he held the office of bishop appears from all his writings, although we also called attention to the fact that Ignatius also held the office of the presbyter or elder in high regard. Later the office of bishop was held in much higher esteem.

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