Does what the Bible teaches really matter?
Many people believe that what the New Testament tells us about the local church does not apply today. It's mainly of historical interest.
But if you study the New Testament you will find that it does apply today.
The difficulty, of course, is to decide which parts of the Bible are meant to be normal practice for today, and which parts are there just to teach us a moral lesson from the past.
We do know that everything we read in the Bible is there for a purpose:
1 Cor 10:11 - Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
2 Tim 3:16 - All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
Quite a lot of the New Testament is about the local church. There must be a reason for this.
The "story" books of the Bible, such as the book of Acts, were never intended to be just interesting stories for our entertainment. They are part of the revelation of God, and therefore have something important to say to us.
The book of Acts presents the ministry of some of the apostles - particularly Peter in the first part and Paul in the second.
If we see the Apostles establish the same pattern of local church repeatedly, and in different places, this must have some meaning for today.
If the pattern is different from or contrary to the culture of the times the case is strengthened.
If the pattern is consistent with, or an outgrowth of the doctrinal teaching of Scripture, then we must conclude that it was meant as an authoritative example for the local church.
The apostles were specially chosen and commissioned by Christ himself, and were given a unique authority as part of the foundation of the church:
Eph 2:19,20 - you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone,
Surely then, if the apostles were part of the foundation of the church, the form of local church they gave their lives to establish must be taken very seriously.
The New Testament presents church matters in the "imperative mode" - not in the "indicative." This means that they are commands - not suggestions. For example:
1 Tim 3:15 - I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God
The "ought" is the Greek "die" which means "must". Thus the church principles and practices of 1 Timothy are compulsory - not optional.
Also in another passage about church order, Paul says:
1 Cor 14:37 ... the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.
New Testament church practices should be restored today. This is called a "restorationist" ecclessiology and is clearly taught by Scripture.