Church Life Series Introduction

If the Traditions Series highlighted negatives, or how not to be a church, then here Beresford moves on to the positive and demonstrates what the Bible actually does teach about being a church.

The whole subject is dealt with as comprehensively and as practically as possible, and Beresford describes this series as, “Everything you ever wanted to know about being a church but were afraid to ask!” These studies run in tandem with the Spiritual Gifts Series, the Communion Series and the House Church Conference talks which are all designed to both augment and complement them. We therefore recommend that all these talks are heard in order for the complete picture to emerge.

What is a Church? CL 1

The beginning is always the best place to start and so in this opening talk Beresford takes nothing for granted and commences with the absolute basics. Working through both Old and New Testaments he shows the way in which God carefully paved the way for His master plan of the church with a series of types, or foreshadowings, of what was to eventually come to pass. The differing aspects of the church relative to time and space, and life and death, are outlined, with everything coming together in a full and biblical definition of what a church actually is. So if you want to know what this has to do with Checkpoint Charlie and houses on stilts, then this talk is for you.

What is Fellowship? CL 2

If a church is an extended family of God then fellowship is the basis of our mutual relationships within that family. The actual meaning of the word fellowship is therefore clearly defined, and it’s outworking amongst believers demonstrated. The difference between fellowship with the Lord and fellowship with each other is dealt with, and the relationship between the two explained. Questions such as, “Should the ideal church be a community with a common purse?” are tackled, and aspects such as, “Where does the emphasis on fellowship most lie, on giving or receiving?” are also brought out. The rest of the series builds on all this in much greater detail with these first two talks laying the necessary foundations.

The Threefold Aim of a Church CL 3

If you aim at nothing in particular and everything in general then it’s usually nothing in particular that actually happens, so Beresford therefore explains the way in which a church can avoid that trap. However, it is also vital that where things are being got on with, they are actually the things which are supposed to be going on and which honour the biblical order of priorities. This biblical order is therefore clearly outlined, along with the reasons for the priorities being such as they are. If a church gets this wrong then it will, at worst, be sowing the seeds of its own destruction, or at best, ensuring that its development in the Lord will never be as the Word of God teaches.

A Worshipping Church CL 4

The following six talks are in-depth explanations of the priorities outlined in the last study, each being dealt with in order of importance. In this study the subject of the worship of a church is tackled, with some rather amazing things being brought out from the Bible that you may well not have been aware of. For instance, there are no less than eleven different Greek and Hebrew words in the scriptures which get translated into the English word praise, and the specific meaning of each is examined enabling a full picture of what worship actually is to emerge. And if you want to know what twisting and twanging and dogs have to do with it, then we recommend that you avail yourself of this talk forthwith.

An Obedient and Mature Church CL 5

Part of God’s plan is for each believer to have their lives sorted out and their minds renewed by the Holy Spirit, and this study shows the importance of being part of a church in order for this to be accomplished in us. Although one must never lose sight of the fact that each of us must grow and mature individually in the Lord, it is also of the greatest importance to realise that such individual growth can only occur properly when experienced corporately. As Beresford puts it, “We must grow individually, but we must grow individually together.” He also deals with a principle which, although quite incontrovertible, tends to get somewhat ignored by Christians today, and it is simply this: One is far more likely to cultivate obedient believers if they are part of an obedient church. Without this second aspect of a church’s number one priority, we are not likely to get very far.

Loving One Another CL 6

We now move on to the first aspect of our second priority: that we live in relationship to each other in the church through the very love of God Himself. This is examined in terms of the importance of accepting one another just as we are, thereby providing the kind of loving and safe family atmosphere in which God’s discipline and work in our lives can produce fruit, rather than the insecurity and fear which breeds in some churches. Examples are given of ways in which churches can fail badly in this regard and badly damage those who attend them. The key point is simply this: a good family provides both a loving and disciplined environment in which children can be trained to maturity and correct behaviour. Therefore, if a church, as a little local extended family of God gets this wrong, it is building on a foundation of quicksand and will never be able to properly accomplish what God desires for it.

Serving One Another CL 7

The second aspect of our responsibility towards one another in the family of the church is that of practical service and caring. Love can only be verified in the nitty-gritty process of getting stuck in to the job of meeting each others needs on whatever level they arise. Various ways in which this can be done are suggested, and with particular emphasis on the part that financial giving ought to play. (See as well ‘Is Tithing Scriptural?’ GT 36-37). Only through mutual servant hood can we take our place in the church and truly prove to each other our commitment and love. The Lord wants above all for His people to really look after one another, and for each church to be an environment in which all are fully and properly cared for in the most practical and comprehensive of ways. However spiritual or charismatic a church might otherwise be, without this it’s all just so much hot air and the merest puff of wind.

Evangelism CL 8

We now proceed to the first aspect of our responsibility to the world, and that is to preach the gospel. Evangelism is defined and put into its proper context, along with the role each of us must play. Careful account is taken, however, of our differing characters and personalities, and therefore of the different ways in which the Lord uses different people. Cultural identity and the danger of Christian cloning are dealt with, as is the relationship between what we say about the Lord to unbelievers and the way in which we live. The biblical pattern for bringing people into the Christian life is outlined, thus highlighting the woefully inadequate and sub-scriptural evangelistic processes which have sadly become the norm today. Perhaps the most important thing about evangelism, as far as the Bible is concerned, is that it is, by definition, a local church based thing carried out on the assumption that new believers will be brought into churches which are themselves in comprehensive submission to God’s Word.

Doing Good Works in the World CL 9

Unless we are serving the world and showing forth God’s love for the people in it, then the message of the gospel will simply be discredited through our own hypocrisy. There are two aspects to this: firstly, the way we treat people and regard them, and secondly, what we actually do for them. The fact of unbelievers being made in the image of God is fully explored and the implications made clear, and Beresford warns against the danger of seeing people as merely souls to be saved and mere salvation fodder. The uniqueness and dignity of every individual as created in the image of God must be respected and preserved. Practical examples of service to unbelievers are given, and the part churches ought to play in regards to social issues is covered.

Commitment and Membership CL 10

This talk lies at the heart of the entire series and deals with the nature of commitment and membership. Beresford explains why it is not biblical to have official church membership, or commitment forms and the like, and demonstrates what the Bible actually does teach concerning being a member of a church. The extent and limits of genuine commitment is dealt with, along with the reasons why it is important that people be free to be less than fully committed to their church without being subjected to any kind of pressure.

Body Life CL 11

If the church is the body of Christ, then the dynamic behind it is that it’s members move together only at the direction of it’s Head, Jesus Himself. It is the nature of this dynamic, along with its practical implications that are explored in this talk. Growth, development, even biblical patterns of structure and the like must only be implemented as directed by the Lord Himself, and according to His timing. This is what differentiates churches which are organisms from those which are merely organisations. Beresford also deals with the issue of the clergy/priesthood and laity divide, demonstrating just how far removed from the teaching of the Bible it actually is. It is quite impossible for body life to become a reality in a church as long as false and totally unbiblical divisions of personnel are to be found within it.

Church Government CL 12

The series now moves on to a group of talks which cover the whole subject of leadership in the church and structures of authority. This first study therefore defines the Bible’s teaching concerning this, and the issue of just how a church ought to be governed is clearly laid out. Elders, presbyters, shepherds, pastors and bishops are all clearly defined and explained! As you will see it’s all so simple, yet has been made so very complicated by wrong teachings accepted by all too many believers. (We refer you to the Traditions Series.) This subject is absolutely fundamental to the life of every church, and where churches get this wrong so much else goes awry too.

The Qualification of an Elder CL 13

If leadership is as important as the Bible teaches, then it is clearly the case that bad leadership will make for bad churches. This talk therefore covers the extremely detailed teaching the Bible gives regarding the stringent qualifications for elders, and the things that must and must not be true concerning their lives. Although not necessarily what many Christians seem to think they are, these qualifications are necessary in order to protect the people in the church from any leadership that might potentially end up doing more harm than good. If you want to know just how many academic qualifications and college degrees aren’t needed before someone can become an elder, then this is the talk for you.

The Function of Eldership CL 14

What are elders supposed to actually do then? What does being an elder entail in practical terms? What is the relationship of elders to the church in regards to their function? And what isn’t the relationship of elders to the church in regards to their function? These questions are answered clearly and in great detail, and answered in the light of the fact that it is the unfortunate experience of many believers that a large number of leaders in churches today aren’t quite what the Bible says they ought to be. It all boils down to a simple test: Are you being nurtured, or dominated? Are you being led, or driven? Are you being brought into increasing dependence upon Jesus, or into increasing dependence upon your elders? Is your church’s leadership defending and protecting your personal biblical and God-given rights as a Christian, or is it limiting and curtailing them? This talk will leave you in no doubt as to how the Lord envisages eldership.

The Nature of Eldership CL 15

Without a proper understanding of the nature of eldership the risk is all too great of simply replacing the old heresy of the clergy/laity divide with that of a shepherd/sheep one. The idea of an elder being just a fellow pleb – one of the lads, so to speak – is not everywhere adhered to, and yet is, as Beresford here clearly demonstrates, what the Bible teaches in no uncertain way about leaders. Authoritarianism, along with leadership from above, rather than among the people, have blighted many churches, and the failure to see leadership as functional, rather than positional, has led to a thousand ways for Satan to bring dishonour on the body of Christ. This talk also covers the subject of recognising new elders who are being raised up by the Lord.

Eldership Authority and Submission CL 16

The New Testament says virtually nothing about the authority of elders in the church, and absolutely nothing about believers who comprise a church having to submit to them. In fact, the only reason most people think such submission is taught in the Bible is because of wrong translation in our New Testaments. Beresford therefore deals with this from the original Greek. Further, what transpires is that elders don’t actually govern the church at all, and Beresford shows from scripture that church government is actually meant to be both corporate and consensual. This is all far from the usual understanding on the Christian scene today, but it is nevertheless undoubtedly what the Word of God teaches. Ministers and pastors and leaders who like to think they are in charge of the church don’t respond very well to this teaching, but we nevertheless make it available as a clear biblical presentation of a vitally important truth concerning church life.

Putting Believers Out of Fellowship CL 17

The Bible teaches that there is a time to actually put people out of the church and have nothing to do with them. This talk covers what the Word of God says about this and explains who this would apply to as well as the when and why of it. The necessary principles and rules are outlined as is the issue of elders in sin. This may not be a subject for the faint-hearted, but then faint-heartedness is not what the Lord has called us to. An unpalatable, but extremely necessary, study!

Deacons CL 18

What exactly are deacons? What do they do? How are they appointed? What qualifications are needed for the job? This talk clarifies the issues and answers these important questions from the Bible. And in so doing Beresford returns to the vitally important principle, first encountered in the earlier study on Body Life (CL 11), that any development in church structure, even biblically based developments, must only occur at God’s leading and in His timing. We must constantly keep in mind that the church is an organism of the life of Jesus, and not an organisation of mere people.

Women in the Church CL 19-21

The talks below concentrate on the teaching in the Bible concerning the prohibitions on women, particularly in regards to eldership. The difficult passages in Paul’s letters, so controversial today, are faced head on and examined in detail with careful reference to the original Greek. Beresford refuses to compromise on this and exposes the position of the pro women leadership lobby for the error it is. He also tackles the teaching concerning how women ought to dress and explains the biblical principles that lie behind it. The second talk was too long for one tape when recorded and so appears as two talks.

The Rest of the Gifts CL 22

Most Christians think that the gifts of the Spirit are limited to things like tongues and prophecy and healing and the like. This is actually far from being the case, and there are a number of somewhat unknown and neglected gifts lurking in the pages of both Romans and 1 Corinthians. It is these which are examined in this talk. For instance, do you know what the gift of helpers is? Or acts of mercy, or the gift of exhortation? After all, you can’t move in gifts, however necessary they might be, if you don’t even know that they exist, or have no understanding of what they actually are. “Roll up, roll up, ladeez and genelmen, and get yer spiritual gifts ‘ere!”

What Are Apostles? Part 1 CL 23

Only two ministries remain to be covered now: apostles and prophets! In this first of two talks on the subject of apostles, Beresford demonstrates that the New Testament reveals that there are actually three different types, with two no longer being around today. The two which are no longer around are examined in this study with special emphasis on demonstrating their totally unique and unrepeatable nature, and explaining clearly just why they were one-offs and can never happen again. The danger of getting this teaching wrong is outlined in no uncertain terms.

What Are Apostles? Part 2 CL 24

Having shown in the previous talk what an apostle today most definitely isn’t, Beresford now turns to explaining what a ‘type 3 apostle’ actually is. The nature and function of this ministry is clearly outlined, and its relationship to eldership and church authority shown. Though having nothing whatsoever to do with being at the top of some spiritual pyramid over subordinate churches, as some erroneously teach, it does, however, have everything to do with one Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of a certain Starship Enterprise.

What Are Prophets? CL 25

The key to the subject of prophets in the church today is not so much in understanding what they are, but rather, as we saw with the question of apostles, understanding what they are not. Beresford therefore manages to identify five distinct and different kinds of prophet in the Bible, and clearly demonstrates which of these ministries are still functional today, and which are not. So is there an ongoing ministry of prophet today then? And if so, which kind is it? And what does it actually entail? This talk is of the utmost importance to any who wish to steer a safe course through current false teaching.

The Church Under Attack CL 26

Satan doesn’t waste his ammunition, so it is clear that any church which is truly in obedience to the Lord will at times come under carefully planned demonic attack. Beresford outlines the devil’s strategy and shows that he has two quite different approaches in his bid to hinder the Lord’s work. However, only one of these approaches seems to prove effective, and only then if the Bible’s teaching is not carefully and properly followed. Should that not be the case though, then any church experiencing such attack will eventually find itself in deep trouble. This talk clearly shows the way to handle Satan when, as will most surely be the case, he eventually pops up and battles away.

When the Going Gets Tough…. CL 27

The Lord always eventually has His own way (it’s just part and parcel of Him being the Sovereign God over all things), and even satanic attack against the church is used by Him to His own advantage. This talk therefore deals not only with that particular fact, but also with the testing that He will Himself bring along in order to settle who is genuinely committed to the church, and who is not. Four degrees of commitment, along with the dangers of three of them, are outlined. Also explained is the way in which genuine, as opposed to sham, commitment to a church can be reliably defined and therefore avoided.

Putting the Crowd Outside CL 28

Continuing the theme of the last two talks a tremendously important biblical principle is here outlined in this final study of the series, and it is the danger of what Beresford terms the crowd. Exactly what he means by this is clearly explained and its inherent dangers fully dealt with. This talk hits hard and is controversial, but if being part of a church is on the kind of wrong footing that Beresford identifies here, then progress won’t be properly made. Not one for the spiritually faint-hearted