There is a theory put out by the hard line Churches of Christ that Jesus gave the apostles all the rules for the work, worship and organization of the local congregation between his resurrection and his ascension. This is then called the “doctrine of Christ” or the “gospel” by these Churches of Christ. Why do they believe this? Because their raison d’être relies upon the belief that they have discerned all the rules for the work, worship and organization of the congregation, by looking at the examples of the apostles in the book of Acts and the epistles, that no other religious group or denomination has discerned these rules, therefore they are the only ones who are pleasing to the Lord.
This belief is based on the fact that during the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt Moses received the Ten Commandments and the plans for the tabernacle worship on Mount Sinai. Therefore if Jesus is the new Moses then Jesus must have given the plans for the work, worship and organization of the New Testament church to the apostles. It just isn’t written down in the same way as the tabernacle worship is written.
Nothing could be farther from the truth of what Jesus accomplished.
Several authors have noticed that the Exodus motif runs throughout the Bible story.
1. Matthew takes up the theme in his gospel account. Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus journey into Egypt and return to Israel, just as the Israelites spent 400 years in Egypt, finally returning to the land of Canaan in the book of Exodus.
3. Jesus is transfigured on the mountain, just as Moses was transfigured on Mount Sinai when he received the Ten Commandments, the Law and the tabernacle worship. At Jesus’ transfiguration he meets with Moses and Elijah who speak to him of his coming “Exodus”.
4. Jesus is the Passover Lamb, sacrificed to deliver us from slavery to sin.
5. The Day of Pentecost is the Feast of Booths or First Harvest. 3000 are baptized, filled with the Holy Spirit. Not just Moses is filled with the Spirit. And the fiery pillar in front of the tabernacle is now on each one of them. The Law is delivered in their hearts, not on any written stone or format.
6. Annanias and Sapphira are struck dead for lying to the Holy Spirit, just as Nadab and Abihu were struck dead for using strange fire before the Lord.
So the book of Acts, far from being a book that contains all of the rules of the work, worship and organization of the church, is really a record of the response of the first believers to the good news of Jesus Christ leading us in our exodus.
There are no specific rules for the work, worship and organization of the church. The rules are defined by the moving of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. So James tells us that the law of liberty which judges us with mercy ought to be motivating us to treat poor people equal to rich people. Forgiveness should be coursing through each vein in our bodies such that we ooze forgiveness towards everyone. That is the work of the church.