THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 1-18-04
LESSON TITLE: THE CHURCH WHICH JESUS BUILT: "CHRIST'S ORGANIZATION FOR HIS CHURCH"
"This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it," Psalms 118:24! Oh, how true these words should be to every follower of God! This is a great day! We should be rejoicing! We must be glad! WHY - We are blessed servants of God able to assemble before His throne on this, the Lord's Day!
I am glad you are with us this morning and thank God you have made the right decision to give this time to your Creator. I look forward to our time spent together today as we sing praises to the Almighty and as we study from His matchless Word! This Morning, I know we will all be edified through our time spent together. So let's all do our part to make this time profitable before God, and furthermore may we use it as a great encouragement one to another!
At this time, let's approach our Father's throne in prayer:
Today we want to again take a moment to acknowledge one of the fine congregations which support this work of Christ. Once again, we want to encourage our viewers in the Berryville, Arkansas area to visit with the Berryville Church of Christ.
This congregation provides many opportunities to worship God. In fact, this morning they will begin with Bible classes at 9:30. Immediately after class they will have a worship assembly at 10:20 and they will again assemble for worship at 6:00 p.m. A mid-week gathering is also provided at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday.
So we encourage you to visit with this congregation if you live in their area. If you need any further information about this body of Christ please contact their minister, Kevin Colley, at (870)423-3068. We again thank these good brethren for making this work of our Lord possible.
Well, it is time to join in our first song of the morning. So, won't you participate with the congregation at this time as we sing together, "Christ We Do All Adore Thee!"
(SONG # 1)
When was the last time you were afraid? Did you know that fear is a healthy part of the Christian life? However, let me clarify that we are not talking about an uncontrollable, unfounded or irrational fear, but rather a fear based on love, power and respect. We find many verses in God's Word which help us to see that importance of a healthy fear. One such verse is found in Hebrews 10:31. There it says, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." You see here faith is based on God's power and awesomeness. Brethren and friends we must never forget the power and might of our God.
Another writer that helps us with this topic is Solomon. What was it that he said as a summation of life, near the end of all things. Read with me from Ecclesiastes 12:13, were it says, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all." You see the all of man is centered around knowing and obeying God. And why, because God alone is God - He is all powerful - He must be our everything.
Finally, let's consider why fear is so necessary. Hear with me the words of God in Genesis 22:12, there God proclaims to Abraham, "Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." Do you see here why fear is so important and necessary to a child of God. It is that healthy fear that makes us do what our God asks and that causes us to achieve true obedience before our creator. So what about it, do your fear God as you should and thus do that which is pleasing in His sight?
In just a few minutes it will be time to begin our main study of the day. Our topic of study is still focused on, "The Church Which Jesus Built." Our specific study of the morning is entitled, "Christ's Organization For His Church." So please stay with us and after our next song, I will be leading us in this study from God's Word. Now let's join together in our next song of the day. The name of this hymn, "He Lives."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
"And He gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors, and some teachers for the equipping of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." Here in Ephesians chapter 4, verses 11-12, we introduce ourselves to the topic of the morning. The idea, if you will, about Christ's church and how He organizes it.
From the beginning of our study already, we've learned a lot about the church and as we try ourselves to ask the question, "Are we a part of the Lord's church?" I hope our studies thus far in our series have helped us to know more about what the church should look like so that when I compare the head of my church or what I do or how I do it as we'll see even later beginning next week with the "Worship of the Church" as I compare all of these things to what God said in His Word to what I do. Is it the church that I read about, that I learn about in the Word of God?
Well here again this morning, we talk about the organization of the church. Is the church that I am a part of, that you are a part of organized as is sanctioned in the Word of God. You might say, "Well, does this even matter? Could it matter?" Well certainly it matters. It matters because God Himself is the one who helps us to know all things through His Word and tells us what He wants. If you do it your way and I do it my way and everybody does it their own way, how are we really following the commands of God? How are we really unified? How are we really pleasing our God when I'm selfishly doing what I want?
So this morning we want to look at the organization of the church and as we clarified in our very first lesson of the series, obviously there is only one head to the church and that is Jesus Christ. So many verses clarify this as we have already read in that lesson especially in Ephesians 5 and 23 where it talks about the husband being head of the wife and it compares it to Christ being head of the church, Christ being the savior of the body. Why is it that Jesus is the proper head? Because He died for us. Did you? I didn't. Did some other man of this earth today die for the church so much so that we should listen to him and follow his will rather than the Lord Jesus Christ? Certainly not! Jesus died for the church and that makes Him head and worthy to be head. He is the savior. He is the one that tells us in Acts 20:28 "He purchased the church with His blood." There's no other man today or who has ever lived besides Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, who is worthy to bear such a title or to claim such Lordship or headship over the church. No doubt that, as well, is why Paul in books like the letter to Timothy and other books that we have clarified, even the book of Hebrews tells us over and over and over again that Jesus is the High Priest. He is the only one between the Father and the priests, of which we are the priests of God.
In fact, there in the book of 1 Timothy chapter 2 and verse 5, it clearly, clearly helps us in this text to understand that our Lord Jesus Christ is the only one worthy to be the mediator, the only one worthy to tell us and to help us know His complete Will. In chapter 2 of 1 Timothy and verse 5 the verse says, "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." There is but one who stands between myself today, between you and your God the Father. That is Jesus Christ. No other man. No other organization. No other group. No other individual or group of individuals. Only Jesus stands between you and your precious Lord above, God in heaven, Father, the one who delivered His Will through the Son, through the Spirit. Again, Jesus is that man.
So when we talk about the church and its organization, we must understand that only God gives us that which we need to know in His Word about how He wants His church to be organized. If it's a man's way, it's wrong. If it's God's way, it's proper. In fact, wasn't it Jesus Himself in the book of Matthew chapter 15, verses 8-9 who says that "There they were guilty of worshipping their God in a vain way." And why was their worship vain? Because they were following as doctrine the commandments of men rather than the commandments of God.
In Matthew 7 again and verse 21, Jesus proclaimed, "Why do you call me Lord, Lord, but you don't do the Will of my Father?" Well in organization do we also bear the responsibility of doing it God's way, of doing God's Will? Certainly. Why? Because only "Jesus received all authority," Matthew 28:18. All power, all authority was given to Him. Everything was placed under Christ Jesus. Why? Because He came. He lived. He died. He shed His blood. He rose. He suffered for you and for me. Jesus did these things. Again, that's why our Lord is the only proper head.
Then what did He do when He came to this earth? He chose men. In fact, we read about 12 men initially that He chose to do His work and those men were trained for years with Jesus as He was on the earth with them and helping them to know personally the Will of the Father through the things that He taught them. But then later in the book of John we find out that Jesus knew His time was about up and that He would have to leave His apostles and return to the right hand of the Father.
There in chapter 16 of the gospel of John and verse 13 he says, "When He the Spirit of truth has come." In other words, I am sending you someone even better, someone who will help you even more because He will be with you and tell you what to do and how to say it and where to go and He says when He the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truths." It goes on to say that "He won't speak of His own authority. He'll speak of the authority of the Father," just as Jesus did. The Spirit was sent by God to lead the apostles in all things. Why was that necessary? Because this book had not yet been compiled. Someone couldn't say, "Turn to John 16 and verse 13," because it had not yet been compiled. It was just beginning at that point to be considered as far as being written when the church had began and thereafter. So this book was not yet there. The Spirit hadn't been to guide men specifically and literally in order that they might know the Will and then do even miracles as it says in Mark 16 to confirm the Word that they were preaching that it truly be from God. So Jesus chose these apostles and they went about using miracles, preaching the Word that the Holy Spirit helps them to know in all things and helped them to do in all things.
Then after that, it wasn't long before men like Paul, men like Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, men like other writers Peter, other individuals, Jude, in the New Testament that began to pen these books that Jesus had really planned. In fact, they penned them as holy men of God specifically chosen for that duty. In fact, in 2 Peter chapter 1, verses 20-21 it says there that "Holy men of God were chosen and lead by the Holy Spirit to write the scriptures." It's not a private interpretation. It is from God. And what did they tell us? Verse 3 of the same text, 2 Peter 1:3 says, "All things pertaining to life and godliness have been given now by God through His Word."
Then in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, we are told there that "we are completely and thoroughly furnished unto all good works." How? Verse 16 says, "Scripture." All scriptures. Not from man. From God. God inspired. God breathed through these individuals, these writers who as we well know the Holy Spirit at one point had even used and taught through, "He used them to now record for us the perfect law of liberty," James 1 and 25.
And so we begin to see how the organization as God passed His authority through the Holy Spirit and the apostles and the Word being planned and the authority there. The truth being found in the Word as we read in John 8:32. And that truth able to bring us freedom in Jesus Christ because it is what God wants if we obey it, to those who obey it, to those who follow the commands. We are His disciples and we are His children.
And so now we come to the point where it says, "Okay, today we are in the church. The church is established. Jesus is the head and now the apostles have penned the Word and now we have not only the commands of the New Testament, but also the examples of the New Testament church and those things even inferred by the great writers of the Bible used by God Himself.
So what is it that they tell us that God wanted in organization? What was it that they chose? That a man be over the church? Certainly not! That a man somehow take authority from Jesus and that we follow a man or that a group of men somehow take Jesus' place and tell us what to do and tell us what to believe? Certainly not! That we as the priests of God, again as Peter said, as His royal priesthood come before the High Priest, the one mediator to approach the throne of God that we all be members of the body of Christ.
In fact, the book of Romans 12, the book of 1 Corinthians that we might look at a bit later talks about how that we are many members and one body and each member has a particular or peculiar function. We are all individual. So what is the further organization? If Christ is the head and we are all members, are there any offices, if you will? Any special services that we find mentioned in the New Testament that will help us to see what it was that God wanted of His church? Well the answer to that is "yes!" Because we find that as the churches were being established that there was something and someone that they were told to turn to for spiritual guidance, someone who would be wiser, someone who would be older, someone who would help them with things that they had learned through experience and through the Spirit and through the Word so that they might be able to guide them further especially as babes in Christ or those who did not know the proper way to go. And this group of men that we have the Bible referring to are elders. And it talks about there how that we are to "obey those that have the rule over us," Hebrews 13, verse 17. The elders, the older, the wiser. The concept there of the bishops, the presbyters, the ones who it goes on to say are our shepherds as they are over the sheep of God, the ones who are overseers or the superintendents of the things that God..., not to be our lords. Diotrephes tried that in 3 John and he was rebuked for being one who lorded over the brethren. But yet, elders were those who had rule or authority through the scripture, not because they're men, not because they are out here and they have opinions or what they think... The scripture says that their authority is the same authority that we have found in scripture.
Then we have also with elders the clear knowledge that in 1 Timothy chapter 3 as well as Titus chapter 1, there were specific qualifications for these men. It wasn't enough to pick just any man to be an elder. They had to be above reproach in the church, in the community. People had to see them as more spiritual than others, as those who stood out in wisdom, in knowledge, in godliness. Why? Because their duty is spiritual in nature to help guide and lead in a loving way as a shepherd would lead the sheep, not again to lord over, but a body over the church, the autonomous individual church here that I might be a part of, or that you might, that they could rule that group and that they could help them to know the things that they should, not that they feel, but are according to the Word of God. Therefore, we see that Paul told Timothy in Titus chapter 1 that he should appoint elders in every church, in every city. Why again? Because there were to be elders in every congregation, those who could help the members, the sheep that they knew and guide them in the proper way, help them to know the things that they needed to know in order that they could truly guide them spiritually in a loving and a caring way.
Now, who are we under? We're still under Jesus. We're still under the head Christ, but the elders are our spiritual leaders to help us to know more perfectly His Will when we're having problems.
Then what about deacons? The special servants of deacons are also mentioned. In fact, in Acts chapter 6 even before we have mentioned of many elders, we have the concept in Acts chapter 6 where there were some chosen to be deacons. Why? There were certain needs in the church. Certain works that were not getting done that needed to be done so certain men were chosen and put in those positions to see that the work was done. What are these elders and deacons? They're special servants. They're individuals who basically for God's sake do special works, great works, works to help, to lead, to guide, to love, to serve, not to lord over, not to take Christ's position. Why? Because there is only one head and as we organize ourselves as the New Testament church, why not do it in simplicity as Christ also ask us to? And then as we consider ourselves to be ministers, or pastors, or evangelists, or teachers, or workers, whatever it might be, whatever area we might be involved in, that we realize before Christ we are all one in Him. We are all equal. We all have the same reward if we have been found faithful in the end and we all must strive to do it His way. Why again? Because only God has the perfect plan.
I might end by asking this question. If Jesus Christ told us how we should organize ourselves, and it is a very simple way, who would know better? Wouldn't God in the flesh know better than anyone else especially since He was giving us the Will of the Father? Certainly He would. How arrogant I think it is sometimes of man to think that we know better than God. Choose today to organize yourself and to be in a church that organizes itself as God commands in His precious Word.
(SONG # 3 - "Peace, Perfect Peace!")
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today. I hope our time together has been an encouragement and blessing to us all. We invite you to join us every First day of the week, at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this time of Worship before God!
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How great it is to know that God alone is the head and ruler of His Kingdom. May we also do those things and organize ourselves according to what our head had authorized!