THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 11-3-02
LESSON TITLE: AUTHORITY IN RELIGION: “BIBLE AUTHORITY IN THE
ORGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH!”
Here we are together again on a wondrous Lord’s Day Morning. Privileged to
serve our God in songs of praise and through the study of His Word. We welcome you
to this time of offering to God.
I hope each of you had a great week and I hope you are ready today to think on
things above, and to give full attention to our Creator who has done so much for all of
us. In fact, this morning we want to begin by talking to our God in prayer. Won’t you
bow with me at this time before the throne of God.
At this time we want to get started by singing our first song of the morning.
Won’t you all join in with the congregation at this time as we lift up our voices together,
in the hymn, “Kneel At The Cross.”
(SONG # 1)
How many times have you gone to bed crying? Probably all of us have at one
time or another. Maybe you lost a loved one, or possibly you lost your job. Maybe the
problems of life were just closing in on all sides. Yes, often the things which get us
down are major things in this life. However, sometimes we get upset and cry over
smaller things. Maybe our girlfriend or boyfriend dropped us or maybe we had to eat
something we really didn’t want to.
You see, no matter who we are or what the reason is, when we are the ones
with the problem, it always seems to be the most important thing on this earth.
I wanted to read a verse this morning that reminds us that we don’t have to let
these things in life get us down. In Psalm 30:5, we read, “…weeping may endure for a
night, but joy comes in the morning.” Have you ever heard that old saying, “sleep on it,
and things will look brighter in the morning.” Where do you think that came from? The
great Psalmist David knew exactly what it was like to go to bed with problems or sins
that cause us to cry. But he also realized that if we will always refocus on God, these
things will seem a lot less important in the morning.
But why? God is there for us and God forgives! The first part of the same verse
which we just read says, “for his anger is but for a moment, his favor is for life.” God
may not like what we do and may even be angered by it, but He is always there to
accept us back and to forgive us if we are willing to do our part by repenting. Have you
forgotten that things are always better in the morning with God?
Why not rely more on God? Commit to doing His will and you will find that
things are easier in this life. Decide to “cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for
you,” 1 Peter 5:7. We truly serve a great and mighty God.
In our study this morning we will again focus on, “Authority In Religion.” Our
specific topic today is entitled, “Bible Authority in the Organization of the Church!” So
please continue with us and in a few minutes I will return with this study of the morning.
Now, let’s join in our second hymn of the morning. The name of the song, “Let the
Lower Lights Be Burning!”
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
I hope you have your Bibles handy this morning and I hope you are ready now to study
God’s Word as we look at our specific study of the morning. We’ve been having a
great study together on Biblical authority and we’ve been trying to see specifically what
God has to say to us. I think that now in our program this morning we are ready to look
into that after singing some beautiful songs and being able to approach the throne of
God in prayer. Now let’s look to His Word and see what He has to say to us in
reference to this area.
We specifically want to look this morning as we have said at the area of organization in
the church. A very, very important issue because as we look around the religious
world, it is confusing to find so many different concepts, so many different types of
heads and boards and groups that rule and run different churches. We find so many
different headquarters to churches and how that one church will claim to be
headquartered here and another there and have really men over these groups and
making decisions in relationship to doctrine and in relationship to really all that they do
in their different denominational groups. Well again, we need to go to God’s Word to
find answers for all of these things. Since God the Father or the Son, the apostles or
the Spirit are no longer actually just in front of us to give us all the answers, they have
left us a book as we have said, the Bible that is, that is perfect and complete and will
guide us and lead us into every good work, a book furthermore that will give us the
answers to all things pertaining to life and godliness. So this morning we want to find
those answers in relationship to church organization. If I wanted to organize myself,
the church that I am a part of, the Lord’s church, in a way that is pleasing to Him, what
should I do? I should go to His Word and do what He said. But you might say, “But
Ray, can I improve on hat? Isn’t there some way that I can make it better?” Well, I
don’t think there is anyway that we need to, nor should we be arrogant enough to say
that we can improve on what the Lord has set into motion. There are reasons for
everything that God did. In fact, He asked that things be done in a certain way
generally in a very simplistic way and the purpose is so that we might give Him glory,
none other, no man, no group of men, no church itself, but we might give God the glory,
in fact in whom all things have been made possible by.
We might begin this morning in the book of Romans just to start introducing us to our
topic in looking at the concepts or the different organization that really is set up inside
of the church, that is what God really intended from the beginning as far as what His
people would do in the body of Christ. Begin with me if you will in chapter 12 of
Romans and verse 4. “For as many as we have members in one body, but all members
do not have the same function. So we be many or one body in Christ and individual
members of one another, having then gifts according to the grace that is given to us, let
us use them if prophecy. If prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith. Or
ministry, let us use it to our ministering. He who teaches in teaching, he who exhorts in
exhortation, he who gives with liberality, he who leads with diligence, and he who
shows mercy with cheerfulness.” Then he goes on to actually talk about that we might
behave like a Christian, that we might live as we should to be perfected or complete in
the eyes of God. Well then the church then as we consider that we all have specific
parts. There are many members all making up the body. The Corinthian letter talks
about that and how that although we are many members we all have special functions.
There are different things that God has really set up that we might all partake in. But
again, in relationship to what He has designed. In relationship to what He has set up.
Not so that I might have authority or take authority. But so that I might give authority to
where it is due and its found no other place but in God. Obviously God being the great,
the creator giving His Son, has then designed a certain way that we must show proper
authority in all things and has to be based in Him and what He has said and what He
I might also mention in relationship to the beginning of our lesson that we also have a
word known as “autonomous.” If you investigate and look really through command and
example, inferences made in the New Testament, every congregation was
independent. Every congregation was autonomous. They were working independent
one of another. Yet, we would find that they would come together at times and
encourage one another. At times when there were famines, we would find that one
church might send help to Jerusalem church and help those brethren to have the food
that they needed or the money to assist them in a certain thing or a certain work. The
church at Antioch, a mission church, would send out missionaries at times and then
other churches along the way would actually also help and assist these men to do the
great work of our Lord. But we never, not one time, in scripture find any clue, any
inference, any example, any command, about a headquarters, about a group of men on
this earth that really is to be over all churches and to guide and to lead all churches as
we find in many religions today. In fact, we find just the opposite. Every congregation
did its own work. Every congregation was required to do all that God had asked it. Not
to say that it is their job or their responsibility or that’s what the headquarters is
supposed to do, but that we all are to take the gospel to the whole world. We are all to
worship God fully. We all are to live as God has asked us to. In everything, every
congregation being completely what God has asked it to it’s fullness to be found
pleasing in His sight.
But now as we look then to the church and we consider the headship of the church,
who on this earth should be head? Well, the Bible tells us that there is only one who is
head. In fact, it eludes to us that the one who was on the earth, who should be head,
no longer is, therefore, our head is not of this earth or any longer on the earth. Christ
in heaven was known and given to be head by the Father Himself and really this
intention was made from the very beginning before the creation of the world.
I want you to look with me in the book of Ephesians chapter 1. There in verse 22 notice
what this inspired writer, the Holy Spirit guiding Paul said to the New Testament church
there at Ephesus. He said, “And He, referring to God, put all things under His feet and
gave Him to be head over all things to the church which is His body, the fullness of Him
who fills all in all.” You see, all is fulfilled and all is completed in what? That Jesus
Christ according to the Will of the Father was made the head of the church to be all
things over the church, to accomplish that. And why not? Who would be better? Did
you die for the church? Did I? Did some group of men die? Certainly not. Christ is
the Savior of the body. He gave His own life and gave Himself. Who better to be over
the body of Christ? Who better to be the head of the church than the one who all
fullness was brought about by again according to the Will of the Father that is in
I might also remind you in just a few chapters over in Ephesians 5, a very familiar verse
in verse 23, that it reminds us there again that for “the husband is head of the wife, also
Christ is head of the church.” Christ is the head of the church. There is no other. In
fact, he goes on to say why in that verse again. He says, “He is the savior of the body.”
Verse 25 goes on to say that “He was the one that was willing to give Himself for her.”
That is the church. So again, as we talk about the head of the church and who should
be over us, and who should lead the church, there is no other than Jesus Christ. “He is
the head and no better head could be found than the one who gave His own blood and
purchased the church with His own blood,” Acts 20 and verse 28.
I might also remind you as we look in these verses and as we look at what the Bible
says, as Christ built His church and said that He would build the church, His body, the
kingdom, that these things are confirmed to be that which is of Christ according to the
Will of the father and again not of man. How could a man be over a church that is
heavenly in nature? I believe it is an impossibility and therefore I think that we must
organize ourselves and find our place in relationship to what God has said, not in
relationship to what I think or to what you would think or to what another would think.
If we look there in Ephesians in chapter 4, we see that Paul continued to deal with this
issue in showing that there are certain things that the Lord established in His church to
fulfill the function, not to be head over the church, not to rule the church in a wrong
way, but to be head or to help organize as those of this earth who are head, in some
way to really help guide the things in relationship to what Jesus being the fullness of all
really had said. I want you to notice with me what was said there in Ephesians 4 and
verse 11. “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some
evangelists, some pastors, and teachers.” Notice in verse 12, “For the equipping of the
saints, for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Notice here that
he has said that there were certain works given to all. All of us are different. All of us
have different talents. There are certain works that we all can and should fulfill. Why?
“To equip the saints, the body of Christ,” as he mentions here, “to accomplish that
which needs to be done in the knowledge of Jesus Christ for all that are in the body of
Jesus Christ.” In fact, in verse 13, he goes on to say and says this, “the knowledge of
the Son of God may be made perfect in the measure of the fullness of the stature of
Christ.” There again, the concept that the knowledge be made known and that the
fullness be brought forth about Christ, not about me, not about some man, not about
some headquarters, not about some church, but about Jesus. You see, it is all again
about God. It’s all again about Christ. And as we of this earth are under Him, He is the
one head. Now at times, He might place us over things in the church as we see here
the concept of pastors and elders. But yet, at the same time there is no time that these
individuals would be taking the authority from Christ or somehow overruling Christ. It
only would be in connection and conjunction again with that which has already been
delivered from Him and that is from the scripture, the Word of God.
Now I might mention to you the office that we might say in the church that seems to
have been at least from an earthly standpoint over the church and it is really not in a
spiritual sense. It is not a headship type of sense of taking the place of Christ, but it is
in a sense of really spiritual things, and that is the eldership, the area of what we refer
to as being a pastor, the concept of being overseers, the concept of being shepherds.
The Bible often talks about Jesus Christ being the chief shepherd, the head of His
church. But it also talks about the church having spiritual shepherds of this earth. In
other words, men. Spiritual. Older, as the word implies itself, eldership. Those who
are mature in the faith who will help spiritually to guide in all things. Notice, not
according to what they think or what they want or what they believe, but again
according to what the chief shepherd has laid down already in His Word and through
I find it furthermore interesting that in 1 Timothy chapter 3 as well as Titus chapter 1
that it clearly is given to us there that there were qualifications that these men had to
meet. It wasn’t good enough that they just be Christians. They were so to speak
maybe the special priests, the higher priests, those who really were above reproach,
those who have shown themselves in all ways to be worthy before God. But again,
even the scripture tells us that there is only one high priest today, again Jesus Christ.
But under Him, we find spiritual shepherds of this earth who are known as elders again,
as pastors, as those who help guide us more in a spiritual sense so that we might know
better and more perfectly the Will of God, not according to again their own beliefs or
desires, but according to what they can find and prove again through that which God
I might also refer you to look specifically at the book of Titus chapter 1 that we
mentioned a moment ago where there Titus was encouraged in verse 5 to “go into
Crete and that he should set in order the things of the church.” There Titus was told to
go to some of these churches in Crete and help them set things in order. Notice what
he told him to set in order though. He went on to say, “those things that were lacking
such as the appointing of elders in every city as I command you.” There we have it a
command. An example that was given to Titus and Timothy also, being instructed at
times to go and to build up these churches and to give them elderships. And why? To
set things in order according to what? Not what man thinks. But what God thinks. So
that a church, an individual congregation might have men in it that would help them
spiritually to know what they should do and how they should live and to guide them
more perfectly as more mature people in the faith in the things that God had designed.
And notice that he said, “Appoint elders in every church.” He didn’t say, “Appoint them
in one church in Springfield and that all of those other churches can go to that same
eldership and they are all under that eldership.” He says, “Every church, every body
needs it’s own eldership.” Why? So that those members are always around those
leaders and those helpers who will guide them spiritually in the things that they need to
do. In fact, we find also that they as leaders, as spiritual shepherds are not lords, so to
speak. We might in a sense say, “Well, they are heads of the church.” But really they
are not because it goes on to say and really proves for us in for instance the book of 1
Peter. In 1 Peter chapter 5 and verses 1 through 4, they are warned that “as
shepherds they are not to be lords over the flock.” Not to in some way dictate or to
maybe impress things that were in some way their own concepts and ideas but to guide
the flock, to be a part as servants, as Christ was a servant and to be a part of all those
things again pertaining to what God says in things, again, not what you or I think or feel
is best. Why? Because again, there in Peter he said, “Christ is the chief shepherd.
He is the one that gives out the design. He is the one that lines us out as far as what
we should do and how we should live.”
Another office we might call it. I don’t even know if office is a good word. But another
work, another service under the fold of God besides the eldership is really the concept
of being a deacon. A deacon in the church. In fact in Acts chapter 6, they were told “to
look among themselves and to find deacons, special servants for special works.” So
deacons again, not to be heads over the church or to take Jesus’ place, but to be
servants for Christ, servants of the other members to accomplish certain works and to
organize certain things. So again, deacons were there again in New Testament times.
Not only that but we find their qualifications in 1 Timothy 3, verses 8 through 10.
So they had certain qualifications to meet. We’ve already read a verse back in
Ephesians as well as we’ve looked now in several books now like Romans that have
talked to us about other positions like evangelists, and teachers, and all members. We
all have a work to do. We all need to organize ourselves truly in a way that is profitable
and in a way that will bring glory and honor to God but ultimately it still has to be in the
way that will do this because of what God has said. How can we bring glory and honor
to God if it is not in His way?
I might remind you of another verse in 1 Corinthians chapter 12. You’ve no doubt
heard it before in verse 12 reminding us about the same things in the body of Christ.
“For as the body is one and has many members, being many, we are still one body for
also is Christ.” So again, the concept of many members, all one body in Jesus Christ.
Why again? Because He is the head of that body. And as He is the head, He is our
Savior rightfully so because of all that He has done for us.
So as we look at ourselves and as we ask the question according to Bible authority,
“How must we organize ourselves?” The simplest way even though it is the way that
God gave to me would be the best way and to simply do what God has said and set up
each congregation in a way that doesn’t really shun one another but works
independently to accomplish the task of taking the gospel to the whole world and
ultimately still helping one another and working together as best we can to encourage
one another in the faith as all being one in Christ Jesus. But ultimately, doing these
according to Biblical authority, according to what has been founded through Biblical
statement and command and example and inference so that we know that what we are
doing is not of man or of any individual or council or group, but is truly of God because
the only way that we can be pleasing to our God is when we do it His way according to
(SONG # 3 - “O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee!”)
What a wondrous time we have had together in participating in the things of
God. 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.
Now let me ask if you have any questions or comments about today’s lesson?
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As we determine what God wants, from the Bible, may we organize ourselves in a way
that is pleasing in His sight and according to His Will.