Authority and Autonomy of the Local
Authority: the power and right given by Jesus to His church carry out the work of the great commission.
Autonomy: no body or institution has power or authority over the Lord's church. Each local body answers directly to Jesus Christ it's founder and not to a man made outside organization.
Authority was granted to the church in Matthew 16:18-19
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Peter, and rock from verse 18. The word Peter (Grk, Petros) was Jesus nickname given to Simon, it mean a small moveable stone. The word rock (Grk, Petra fem.) means a large outcropping of rock immoveable and steadfast. Jesus is making a play on words, based upon His question to the apostles of His identity. Peter answers the question for the group and Jesus responds with, “You are Peter (Petros, a small stone) and upon this rock (Petra, large immoveable bedrock) I will build my church. The words contrast showing the one who was the rock which the church would be built upon would be Jesus Christ, the one who Peter confessed.
With this agrees the rest of scripture whenever the symbol of a rock is used it always refers to God or to Jesus Christ. (1Co 10:4, Daniel 2:34, Eph 2:20, 1 Peter 2:6)
Keys: represent authority. Mt 6:19, Lu 11:52, Re 1:18, 3:7, 9:1, 20:1 "The keys are the symbol of authority, as we speak of honouring one by giving him the keys of the city." Robertson's NT Word Pictures
Kingdom of Heaven: the word kingdom mean reign or rule. The kingdom of Heaven is used synonymously with the Kingdom of God in the Gospels. Basically the Kingdom is all of God's reign and rule over mankind. At the time of Christ this was a tentative physical kingdom, dependent upon the acceptance of Jesus as Messiah. (Luke 17:20-21) At this present time (the church age) the Kingdom is being populated with citizens of that future Kingdom (Col 1:13, 4:11) and in the future the Kingdom in all its fullness will be instituted here on earth for a thousand years. (Rev 20:4)
The church is not the same as the kingdom. The church is a means of extending the Kingdom of Heaven. The church will be absorbed into the greater scope of the Kingdom at the end of the Church Age.
Bind, and Loose: "To bind in rabbinical language is to forbid, to loose is to permit." (RNTWP) things that would be lawful or unlawful.
Interpretation: Jesus was giving to the church through Peter as it's spokesman and later pastor, the authority to do heaven's work on earth. This authority was fully in keeping with God's will and was executive not legislative. If this is true then no other organization is authorized to carry out the Lord's work. (1Ti 3:15)
The church's authority is to carry out the Lord's work as His body on earth.
The authority to preach the gospel, to baptize, to preach, to discipline.
This authority is contained within the local church itself and not outside the church, as para-church or extra-church organization.
Any organization which usurps authority over the local church is not authorized by Jesus.
Synods, College of Cardinals, Bishops, Presbyters, Episcopals, Conventions and Associations.
Any organization which ignores or acts independently of the local church is not authorized by Jesus.
Evangelistic or Mission Organizations, Mission boards, Christian Colleges.
Any person who ignores or usurps the authority of the church is wrong. (3 John 1:9-11)
Polity is defined as the way a body governs itself.
The Lord's church is a pure democracy, all members have an equal voice.
If all believers are indwelt with the Holy Spirit then all have equal ability to make decisions.
Acts 1:26 The apostles put forth their lots The ancients used pebbles in voting, black for condemning, white in acquitting.-Robertson's NT Word Pictures
Acts 6:3 The congregation at Jerusalem chooses the first deacons.
Acts 15:22 All the assembly agrees to James proposal.
3 John 9 John shows strong disapproval of one man who takes preeminence over others in the church.
Other forms of Church Polity
Episcopalian Rule by bishops outside the church itself. One bishop has authority of several churches.
Presbyterian Rule is by council or groups of men outside the church.
Pastor Rule Rule is by one man within the church.
Balancing Church Polity with Pastoral leadership
The pastor must recognize that the church is the true authority.
The church must realize that God leads through the pastor.
Within the walls of any true, local New Testament church is the authority of all the Kingdom of God.
To the church has been given the power to carry out the Great Commission until Jesus the church’s founder returns for His bride.
We must never take or granted such a responsibility nor ever give up to another that which was entrusted only to the local church.