OceanSide church of Christ
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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT…
Victor M. Eskew
A. The church was always in the eternal plan of God (Eph. 3:10-11).
B. God brought the church to fruition on Pentecost Day following our Lord’s ascension into heaven (Acts 2:47).
Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
1. Jesus had mentioned the church during His earthly ministry, but he spoke of it as a future reality (Matt. 16:18). “I will build my church.”
2. Acts 2:47 is the first time the church is spoken of as being in existence.
C. The church is referred to by several descriptions.
1. It is the kingdom of God (Matt. 16:18-29; Col. 1:13).
2. It is the body of Christ (I Cor. 12:12-27).
3. It is the household of God (I Tim. 3:15).
4. It is the temple of God (I Cor. 3:16-17).
D. In order for these figures to hold true, the church must be organized.
1. In other words, there must be structure within the church.
2. There must be order within the church.
3. There must be authority in the church.
4. There must be law and rules that are to be followed.
5. There must be accountability to the ordinances of God.
E. This is our second lesson in a series entitled: “Questions & Answers About…” In this lesson, we will look at Questions & Answers about….church Organization.”
I. WHY IS CHURCH ORGANIZATION NECESSARY?
A. The word “organization” comes from the word “organize.”
B. God is a God of order, not chaos.
1. I Corinthians 14:33
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
2. Since He is a God of order, He wants order in the church He planned (I Cor. 14;40).
Let all things be done decently and in order.
C. If there were no organization:
1. How would we know what to do?
2. There would be many individuals who would be fighting for control.
3. There would be strife and division among the members.
II. WHO HAS ULTIMATE AUTHORITY IN THE CHURCH?
A. God the Father has ultimate authority (I Cor. 11:3; 15:27; Eph. 4:6).
B. God, however, has given Jesus all authority at this time (Matt. 28:28; Acts 2:36; I Cor. 15:27; Eph. 1:20-22).
1. He is the Head of the body (Eph. 1:22-23; 4:15; Col. 1:18)
And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.
2. He is the King of the kingdom (I Tim. 6:15; Rev. 17:14; 19:16).
Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of Lord.
3. He is the High Priest over the Temple of God (Heb. 3:1; 7:26; 8:1-3; 9:11; 10:21).
Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.
C. NOTE: There is no authorization in the Bible for any man to occupy a position of “The Head of the Church.”
1. When the apostles of Jesus desired to be put on His left hand and right hand in the kingdom, Jesus taught them a powerful lesson (Matt. 20:25-28).
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosover will be great among you, let him be your minister. And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
2. Some argue that Peter was given the keys of the kingdom (Matt. 16:19). This is true, but keys are designed to open things. It was Peter who opened the door of the church to the Jews on Pentecost (Acts 2:14) and to the Gentiles (Acts 10:21-25).
3. There is absolutely no Bible authorization for an earthly father, a pope, a Vicar of Christ, a Supreme Pontiff, or a Primate of Italy to be the head of the church.
4. There is one Head of the church, and He is Christ (Eph. 5:23).
III. HOW DOES CHRIST LEGISLATE OVER THE CHURCH?
A. As the Head, Jesus legislates through the words found in the New Testament.
1. Hebrews 1:1-2
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.
2. Hebrews 8:6
But now he hath obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
B. The Word of God is the rule book.
The Word of God is the Constitution.
The Word of God is the standard.
C. There are some people who ridicule the idea that the Word of God is the “law of order” for the church.
1. It was revealed by men.
2. It is old and out-dated.
3. It cannot be understood alike by all.
4. It is opened to many different interpretations.
D. However, the fact is that the New Testament is the charter for the church.
1. I Thessalonians 5:15
Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or by our epistle.
2. II Thessalonians 3:15
And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.
3. I Timothy 4;16
Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
IV. WHERE DO THE APOSTLES FIT INTO CHURCH ORGANIZATION?
A. The apostles occupy the highest human office in the church of Christ (Eph. 2:20).
B. There are thirteen positions.
1. The original twelve.
a. Jesus called twelve men from all His disciples to be apostles (Matt. 10:1-4).
b. Judas betrayed the Lord, and by transgression fell from his apostleship (Acts 1:25).
c. Mathias was chosen to replace Judas (Acts 1:26).
2. Saul of Tarsus was converted and called to be an apostle. He referred to himself as “one born out of due time” (I Cor. 15:8).
C. These men were commissioned to take the gospel to the world (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; Luke 24:44-48).
1. They orally spoke forth the Word beginning on the Pentecost Day (Acts 2:1-4).
2. They also wrote the message down giving us what we have today in the pages of the Bible.
3. Their words were authoritative.
a. These men were promised by Jesus to be led into all truth by the Holy Spirit (John 16:33).
b. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine…” (Acts 2:42).
c. “That ye be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of the apostles of the Lord and Saviour” (II Pet. 3:2).
4. These men continue their authority over the church through the written revelation found in the New Testament.
V. HOW IS THE CHURCH DIVIDED?
A. The only division of the church is into local congregations of the Lord’s people.
1. A local congregation is a group of Christians who are established in a given locale.
2. Ex., the OceanSide church of Christ, the Arlington church of Christ, the Dean Road church of Christ
3. We read of local congregations in the New Testament.
a. The churches of Judaea (Gal. 1:22)
b. The churches of Galatia (Gal. 1:1)
c. The churches on the isle of Crete (Tit. 1:5)
d. The churches of Asia (Rev. 1:11).
4. Various epistles are written to local congregations: Rome (Rom. 1:7), Corinth (I Cor. 1:2), Ephesus (Eph. 1:1), Philippi (Phil. 1:1:2); Colossae (Col. 1:2), Thessalonica (I Thess. 1:1).
B. NOTE: There is NO denominational division within the church.
1. This structure does not exist in the New Testament:
2. This is a man-made division of the church.
3. It promotes divisions in the body of Christ rather than supporting unity.
C. In the first century, there were only local congregations which together made up the church universal.
1. When Paul wrote: “The churches of Christ salute you,” (Rom. 16:16), he had in mind various local churches who were paying their respect to the church at Rome.
2. Local churches were all organized the same way (Tit. 1:5) and taught the same thing (I Cor. 4:17).
VI. DO LOCAL CHURCHES HAVE AN ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE?
A. Yes. There were men who were designated to rule over the local congregation.
1. These men are known by six titles: elders, presbyters, bishops, overseers, pastors and shepherds (I Pet. 5:1-3).
2. These men must meet the qualifications given in the New Testament in order to serve in this position (I Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 2:5-9).
3. Within the local congregation, there is always supposed to be a plurality of men in the eldership (Acts 15:5; 20:17; Phil. 1:1; I Tim. 5:17; James 5:14).
4. These men are commanded to rule (I Tim. 5:17).
Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in word and doctrine.
a. They rule by making sure the local congregation obeys the teachings of Jesus found in the New Testament.
b. They also rule by making decision in matters of option within the local congregation (e.g., times of services, Bible classes, which mission works to support, speakers for gospel meetings, etc.).
5. The members of the local congregation have been commanded to obey them and submit to them (Heb. 13:17).
B. Under the elders, there are other positions within the church: deacons (I Tim. 3:8-13), preachers (II Tim. 2:24-26), teachers, and, then, the members.
A. We noted in our first point that church organization is necessary for there to be order and harmony within the church.
B. Church organization is also important from the stand point of locating the true church today.
1. The organization of the Catholic Church is not the Biblical order.
2. The organization of denominations is not the Biblical order.
3. The organization of a one-man pastor system is not the Biblical order.
C. The church of the New Testament still exists today. You can become a member of it (I Cor. 12:12).