THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 1-28-07
LESSON TITLE: "I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH: THE CHURCH IS SCRIPTURALLY ORGANIZED"
"In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth!" Good morning! Thanks for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. We are excited to have you with us for this time of offering and encouragement, as we participate in the things of God. We are glad that you have joined us for this worship to our Savior.
Our commitment this morning is to give glory to the Creator through the singing of songs of praise and through the study of His Word. I hope and pray that each of us will do our part to make this service acceptable in His sight. Now will you bow with me in prayer.
This morning we want to begin our songs of praise by singing a song which considers the common bond we share as Children of God. So, at this time, won't you join in with the congregation as we sing together, "Bless Be The Tie That Binds."
(SONG # 1)
Isn't it wonderful to serve such a magnificent God? I think we sometimes forget just how wondrous our God is! He has done so much for us and given us so much in this life. However, if we go to the writers of the Bible we find that these followers of God, understood and proclaimed exactly who God is.
For example consider some of David's thoughts which are found in Psalm 18:49-19:1. There he said, "Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name...The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament show his handiwork." David acknowledges God as the giver and creator of all, just as we read in the first few chapters of the book of Genesis.
Notice also what Isaiah said in Isaiah 64:8, "But now, O LORD, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand." This great prophet of God here acknowledges that our God is the very giver of life. He is the maker and the molder of all that we are or all that we become. Again, I am sure that Isaiah had Genesis in mind, as we read that God created man and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.
Even Paul and Peter in their books continually referred to the mighty power or hand of God! Again confirming to all who read that the God they served was worthy of all homage and devotion. Everyone who heard them, saw them or met them could truly see their belief and confidence in the God which they served. But we must ask, is this also what people see in us as servants of the one and only God of the universe.
Until we all come to a clearer understanding about this great and mighty God we serve - we will never be motivated to be everything He asks us to. The question is, have you acknowledged the awesome God we serve through an obedience to His Will? If not, Why not? Won't you chose to follow His Will and to Do what He says today?
Today we are happy to have a guest speaker with us, brother Kevin Patterson. Brother Patterson is the minister for the Highway 13 Church of Christ in Bolivar, Missouri. We are glad to have him with us today and look forward to him guiding our thoughts at the appropriate time.
As far as our topic of the day we will be continuing to consider the statement of our Lord, "I Will Build My Church." Our specific lesson of the day is entitled, "The Church Is Scripturally Organized." So, please continue with us this morning, and after our next song together brother Kevin will be returning with this study from God's Word. The name of our next hymn is, "When Upon Life's Billows!"
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Kevin Patterson
Good morning. It is again an honor and a privilege to be with you this morning to share with you in this time of devotion to God's Living Word.
In this past few weeks, we have been studying the theme, "I Will Build My Church," which is a statement that Jesus made in Matthew chapter 16 and verse 18. This morning we are going to take a look at how that church is scripturally organized.
In any organization, any system of organization we see at least two components: a leader and a follower. I want you to consider the following for just a moment as an example. The United States of America, we have a president and we have the American people who follow his leadership. In a business, you have an employer and you have employees who follow his leadership. At the same time, in the family, you'll generally have at least one parent and you have children who are to obey those parents and follow their leadership. The church is no different. We have a leader in the church and the church itself follows His leadership. Let us first examine how Jesus is the leader of the church.
When Jesus said, "My church," in Matthew 16 and verse 18, "Upon this rock, I will build My church," He clearly explains two complete components that are necessary for the scriptural organization of the church, Jesus and the body. By calling the church His church, Jesus demonstrates ownership of that church. How is it that He came to own that church? Well in Acts chapter 20 and verse 28, we read that the church was purchased with Jesus' own blood. Since He purchased the church with the shedding of His blood on the cross, that makes Jesus the boss. My wife owns a business in our hometown of Bolivar, and although our family and others help her with the work of that business, it is her name that is on the sign and that makes her the boss. Likewise, it is Jesus who owns the church and He is the head of it.
Colossians chapter 1 and verse 18 says, "And He is the head of the body, the church who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead that in all things He may have the preeminence." We have to recognize with this passage of scripture and others like Ephesians 5:23 that simply says, "Christ is the head of the church." We have to realize that He is the person who is in charge. He is the boss. It is His way or no way at all. You might have even heard the expression, "It's my way or the highway." In the relationship with Jesus and His church, it's the same way. It's Jesus' way or the highway that leads to destruction.
In John chapter 14 and verse 6, Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." That's simply how it works. Jesus is the head. Jesus is the boss. Jesus is the leader. He is the one in charge. What He says goes and is final.
What about the second component of this organization? What about the church? And how do we fit into our relationship with the head? We've already established that Jesus is the head and so that makes the church His body. In Colossians chapter 1 and verses 24, Paul wrote to the church at Colossi. He said, "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ for the sake of His body which is the church."
What is the proper response of the body to the head? Well, Ephesians 5, verse 24, "The church is subject to Christ." That means we follow His leadership. We obey His commands. What He says, we do without question.
James chapter 4 and verse 7 sums this up as Jesus was God in the flesh and Jesus is God according to John chapter 1 and verse 1, James writes in James 4 and verse 7, "Therefore submit to God." In other words, we yield our lives to Jesus and to His instructions. We follow what our head says. It is interesting that in our own physical bodies, we have a head and we have a body, and that body does whatever the brain which is located in our head tells it to do. When I want to raise my right arm, when I want to raise my left arm, when I want to speak, when I want to smile, whenever I choose to do something, my body follows the leadership of its head. As a result, we are to do the same thing in our relationship with God. And in our relationship specifically with Jesus, the head of the body, there is little reason to wonder as to why Paul said in Galatians chapter 2 and verse 20, "I have been crucified with Christ. Nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith and the son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me." Paul considered himself an empty vessel ready to be filled with the Will of God.
Now although everyone, at least nearly everyone who claims to follow Christ will acknowledge that He is the head of the body and that the body is the church, not everybody wants to follow the simple organizational structure of that church. Let me give you a few examples.
Some for instance have added positions to the organizational structure of the church that God simply has not authorized. For instance, some have added the position of the Pope to the scriptural organization of the church. The word "Pope" is not even in the Bible. This is a position that has been created to mediate between God and men and yet at the same time we realize Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and men. So where does this teaching come from? Well interestingly enough, it came from Matthew 16 and verse 18 the passage of scripture that serves as the theme of this entire study. When Jesus said in Matthew 16 and verse 18, "You are Peter and upon this rock I will build My church," some people have confused the couple of words that are used there. In the original Greek, the word "Peter" means "rock." So interestingly enough, one could say that, "You are a rock and upon this rock, I will build My church," and therefore the teaching that Peter was the first pope came into being. But that is not at all what it says. The word for Peter doesn't simply mean "rock," it means "little pebble," and the rock that Jesus said He will build the church upon is a word that means bedrock or this enormous shelf of rock, this very solid foundation.
Well so what was Jesus referring to? He was not talking about building the church upon Peter. He was talking about building the church upon the confession, that great confession that Peter had made just two verses earlier when he said to Jesus, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God."
Well, some people have also added the position of priest to the organizational structure or scriptural organization of the church. Interestingly enough, the word "priest" is found many times in the Bible but not from the standpoint of how many use it today where they elevate one man to a religious position over the rest of the people. Interestingly enough, the Bible in passages like 1 Peter chapter 2 and verse 9 calls the church a "royal priesthood" where in other words all members of the church are priests as they all serve under the leadership of our High Priest, Jesus Christ.
Some have added the position of "father" to the scriptural organization of the church. Of course, we are not talking about like an earthly father as I am a father to my children. We're talking about using this term in a religious manner when we once again elevate a man and refer to that man as "father." Jesus said very clearly in Matthew 23 and verse 9, He said, "Do not call anyone on earth your father for one is your Father, He who is in heaven."
Some have added the position of "reverend" to the scriptural organization of the church. A lot of people just simply do not understand what this word means. Interestingly enough, the word is only used one time in the entire Bible in Psalm 11 and verse 9 and even then only in the King James Version of the Bible. In the King James Version, it says, "Holy and Reverend is His name," talking about the name of God. Now if I came up and introduced myself in incorrectly so, but if I were to come up and introduce myself to many in the religious world as "Reverend Kevin Patterson," a lot of people would not have a problem with that because they don't understand what the word means. But in most of our modern translations, translations like the New King James Version of the Bible or the New American Standard Version of the Bible or even the New International Version of the Bible, all of these translations and many others translate the word for "reverend" as the word "awesome." Now if I came up to you and said, "Hi! I'm Reverend Kevin Patterson," maybe you might not have a problem with that if you didn't understand what that word meant, but if you understood what that word meant, or if I came up to you and said, "Hi! I'm awesome Kevin Patterson," I would hope you'd have a problem with that. The sheer arrogance of suggesting that I am on any caliber even remotely associated with that of God would be egotistical at best. What we have to realize is that this is a word that is used to demonstrate the awe inspiring nature of God. It is a word that should be used in relationship to Him only.
Some people have even added the word "preacher" to the organizational structure of the church. Somebody might say, "Well, but there are preachers in the church." And you're exactly right. I preach for a congregation of the Lord's church. But in some ways, people have elevated the preacher above that which he actually is. He is but another member of the body of Christ. He is not in a position over the church. He is simply one of the church. It is just his particular talent or blessing is preaching the Word, and he has qualifications. He has requirements. In 2 Timothy chapter 4 and verse 2, Paul tells the young preacher, Timothy, "Preach the Word." He even goes on in Titus 2 and verse 15 to tell Titus, "When you preach, do so with authority." When a preacher preaches the Word and does so with authority, he is fulfilling his requirements. But if a preacher does not preach the Word, in fact, if he replaces it with something else or he ceases to preach the Word with conviction, then he needs to step down because he has ceased to be qualified to preach God's Word.
Even though some have wrongly added positions to the scriptural organization of the church, there are within the body of Christ offices of leadership and service that the Bible points out may be held by those who are qualified to do so. These are the positions of the elder and the deacon. We're going to take a look at the elder first.
There are three Greek words in the New Testament that are translated into six English words for the same position. The word "presbuteros" means presbyter or elder, an older man. The word "episcopos" means bishop or overseer, one who would oversee the church of the Lord. And "poimane," a pastor or a shepherd. Remember a pastor is a word that refers to an elder not a preacher. So what does a shepherd or a pastor do? He is one who tends to the flock, who cares for the flock, who nourishes the flock and defends or protects the flock. Well all of these words are used to describe the very same person in the same way that based upon your relationship with me the word "Kevin" might mean different things such as my parents. They call me "Kevin," but they think of me as their son. My wife calls me "Kevin," but she thinks of me as a husband. My children better not call me "Kevin," but if they understand my name is Kevin, they look at me as a father. Well it is the same way with the position of an elder. There are many words that describe what an elder does.
In Acts 20 and verse 28, Paul tells the elders at Ephesus to, "Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood."
In Titus chapter 1 and verse 5, we're taught that there is a plurality of elders that are necessary to serve in a congregation which is why you don't have just one man who serves in this position in a particular congregation, but you have two or more. There are qualifications that are given for an elder. In 1 Timothy chapter 3 verses 1-7 such as, "He must be the husband of one wife," which suggests to us that the Bible teaches that an elder is a man who is at the very least married, and you go on to read that he has children and that he oversees or manages his own household well in order to do a good job for the Lord's church.
If there is a plurality of men who desire this task and who are qualified to serve in this capacity, then Hebrews 13 and verse 17 teaches us that the rest of us are to obey those men and to submit to their authority. Remember not everyone can be an elder, but if an elder does not desire the task, he ceases to be qualified, then he needs to step down from that position.
There is also a position called "deacon," and the deacon is very simply by the definition of the word "a servant or a minister." There are qualifications for these men in 1 Timothy 3 verses 8-13. These are men who are not leaders in the church, but they do serve in specific functions generally as they are overseen by an eldership.
The scriptural organization of the church is quite simple. Jesus is the head and the church is the body. Thus, Christ gives the commands and we obey them. Within the church, there are older men who serve and oversee the flock and deacons who serve in specific ways, but let us be careful not to go any further than the scriptural organization the Bible gives us.
(SONG # 3 - "To Christ Be True!")
Again, let me thank you for choosing to be with us this morning. I hope we all have been encouraged through our time spent together. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God.
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Thanks be to God that He has given us a clear plan for His church, as to the way He wants His body organized. May we always respect God and His Word and organize ourselves exactly as He has commanded!