THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT

PROGRAM AIR DATE – 12-18-16

LESSON TITLE: “THE ORGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH”

WELCOME

GOOD MORNING AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS! ISN’T IT A WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR AS WE ALL ENJOY THIS WINTER SEASON. IT IS AGAIN MY PRIVILEGE TO WELCOME YOU TO THE LIVING WORD PROGRAM, A WORK OF THE LORD DEVOTED TO DOING AND TEACHING HIS WILL, ACCORDING TO HOW HE COMMANDS US IN THE BIBLE. WON’T YOU CHOOSE TO CONTINUE WITH US THIS MORNING AS WE PRAISE OUR GOD IN WORSHIP TO HIM! AT THIS TIME LET’S GO TO THE FATHER IN PRAYER!

PRAYER: OUR GOD AND FATHER IN HEAVEN, WE THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS DAY AND THE MANY GREAT BLESSINGS OF LIFE - THE PRIVILEGE THAT WE HAVE TO BE CALLED YOUR CHILDREN AND TO SERVE YOU EACH AND EVERY DAY. HEL US TO LIVE ACCORDING TO YOUR WILL FATHER THAT WE MIGHT BE FOUND FAITHFUL IN THE END AND RECEIVE THAT GREAT REWARD OF HEAVEN WHICH IS PROMISED TO THE FAITHFUL. AND FATHER, WE THANK YOU FOR JESUS - FOR IT IS ONLY THROUGH HIS GREAT SACRIFICE AND RESURRECTION THAT WE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE THIS ETERNAL LIFE. IN JESUS NAME WE PRAY, AMEN.

ONE OF OUR GREAT PRIVILEGES TODAY WILL BE TO PRAISE OUR GOD IN SONG. SO, WONT YOU JOIN IN OUR SONGS OF PRAISE THIS DAY. IT’S NOW TIME TO JOIN IN OUR FIRST HYMN TOGETHER. THE NAME OF THE HYMN, “TO GOD BE THE GLORY.”

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

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 PSALMS 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?

IT’S TIME FOR OUR NEXT SONG TOGETHER AND AFTER THAT SONG WE WILL RETURN WITH OUR STUDY OF THE MORNING AS WE CONTINUE TO FOCUS ON THE TOPIC OF “THE BRIDE OF CHRIST.” WE HAVE A GUEST SPEAKER TODAY WHO IS FAMILIAR TO US ALL, BROTHER BRENT GREEN. BROTHER BRENT IS THE MINISTER FOR THE HWY 13 CHURCH OF CHRIST IN BOLIVAR, MISSOURI AND HE IS ALSO AN INSTRUCTOR AT THE BIBLE INSTITUTE OF MISSOURI. WE THANK HIM FOR BEING WITH US THIS MORNING AS HE LEADS OUR THOUGHT IN THE LESSONS ENTITLE, “THE ORGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH!” PLEASE STAY WITH US FOR THIS EXCITING STUDY FROM GOD’S WORD. NOW, WILL YOU JOIN IN WITH THE CONGREGATION AS WE SING, “THIS WORLD IS NOT MY HOME.”

LESSON

BY BRENT GREEN

WHAT A GREAT PRIVILEGE IT IS AS ALWAYS TO STUDY THE WORD OF GOD - WHAT WE HAVE BEFORE US THE IDEA IN THE BIBLE OF HOW THE CHURCH IS ORGANIZED. WHY IS THAT SO IMPORTANT? WELL, WHEN WE LOOK AROUND AT THE RELIGIOUS WORLD, OF COURSE THERE IS A WIDE VARIETY OF DIFFERENT THINGS THAT YOU SEE; DIFFERENT OFFICES, DIFFERENT POSITIONS, DIFFERENT HEADS, AND LEADERSHIPS IN DIFFERENT WAYS THAT DIFFERENT GROUPS WOULD ORGANIZE THEMSELVES. BUT OUR QUESTION IS: WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY? WHAT AUTHORITY MUST WE FOLLOW? WELL OF COURSE WE'VE BEEN GIVEN AUTHORITY TO FOLLOW THE WORD OF GOD. WE'VE GOT TO MAKE SURE WE SUBMIT OURSELVES TO THE ORGANIZATION THAT CHRIST HAS LEFT US WITH AND HIS HOLY WORD. WE KNOW THE AUTHORITY OF CHRIST IS GIVEN TO HIM THERE IN MATTHEW CHAPTER 28 VERSE 18 WHEN HE SAID, “ALL AUTHORITY HAS BEEN GIVEN TO ME IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH.” THAT AUTHORITY OF CHRIST STILL EXISTS TODAY. WHAT WE DO IN ALL MANNER OF LIFE, RELIGIOUSLY - HOW WE WORSHIP GOD AND HOW WE LIVE FOR GOD. BUT ALSO HOW WE ORGANIZE OURSELVES HAS TO BE DONE BY THE AUTHORITY OF JESUS CHRIST. FURTHERMORE, PAUL SAID IN COLOSSIANS CHAPTER 3 AND VERSE 17 THAT WHATEVER YOU DO IN WORD OR DEED DO ALL IN THE NAME OF THE LORD. AGAIN THAT'S OUR AUTHORITY PRINCIPAL. WHAT WE DO IN MATTERS OF RELIGION HAS TO BE BY THE AUTHORITY OF GOD. SO HOW IS IT THAT THE CHURCH IS TO BE ORGANIZED SCRIPTURALLY ACCORDING TO GOD'S WORD? LET'S START AT THE TOP.

WHAT IS, OR RATHER, WHO IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH? AGAIN, IN THE RELIGIOUS WORLD THERE MIGHT BE MANY DIFFERENT GOVERNING BODIES - MAYBE RULED BY A SINGLE MAN OR A WOMAN OR MAYBE A GROUP OF INDIVIDUALS MAKES DECISIONS AS THE HEAD FROM THEIR HEADQUARTERS. WELL, WHAT ABOUT THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH AS GIVEN TO US IN THE BIBLE? IF WE START THE TOP WE KNOW THAT JESUS CHRIST IS THE HEAD. LET'S LOOK THERE AT GOD'S WORD - FIRST IN EPHESIANS CHAPTER 1 VERSES 21 THROUGH 23. SPEAKING OF JESUS, WE FIND, IN THE WORD OF GOD THIS IT SAYS, “FAR ABOVE ALL PRINCIPALITY AND POWER AND MIGHT AND DOMINION IN EVERY NAME THAT IS NAMED NOT ONLY IN THIS AGE BUT ALSO IN THAT WHICH IS TO COME. AND HE 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 AND ALL.” WHO’S OVER ALL THINGS? WHO'S THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH? ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE IT'S JESUS CHRIST. THERE'S NO ONE ABOVE HIM. HE SITS AS THE SOLE AUTHORITY OF HIS CHURCH. ALL THINGS HAVE BEEN PUT UNDER HIS FEET.

A GOOD PARALLEL PASSAGE IS ALSO FOUND A FEW BOOKS OVER IN THE BOOK OF COLOSSIANS. COLOSSIANS CHAPTER 1, WE FIND THERE IN VERSE 18 WORDS THAT ARE VERY SIMILAR BUT AGAIN SUPPORT THE CLAIM IN THE SCRIPTURE THAT INDEED THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH IS JESUS CHRIST. WE FIND IN COLOSSIANS CHAPTER 1 IN VERSE 18 THESE WORDS, IT SAYS THAT, “HE IS THE HEAD OF THE BODY, THE CHURCH, WHICH IS THE BEGINNING, THE FIRSTBORN FROM THE DEAD THAT IN ALL THINGS HE MAY HAVE PREEMINENCE”. ONCE AGAIN JESUS IS HEAD OF THE BODY. AND EVEN MORE SO THERE IT SAYS THAT HE HAS THE PREEMINENCE. WHAT DOES THAT TELL US ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION HERE? THAT AT THE TOP IS JESUS CHRIST. HE IS THE HEAD OF HIS CHURCH. WELL, AS YOU MIGHT UNDERSTAND NOW FROM THE SCRIPTURE THAT JESUS IS THE HEAD. TO GO ALONG WITH THAT, WE MIGHT ASK THE QUESTION - WELL, WHERE ARE THEIR HEADQUARTERS? ARE THEY IN SOME CITY HERE ON THE FACE OF THIS EARTH, WHETHER IN SPRINGFIELD OR SALT LAKE CITY OR ROME OR ANY OTHER CITY WHERE A RELIGIOUS GROUP MIGHT'VE SET UP THEIR HEADQUARTERS? WHERE ARE THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE HEAD JESUS CHRIST? YOU'VE GOT TO ASK YOURSELF: WHERE IS JESUS? THERE IN JOHN CHAPTER 14 JESUS TOLD US BEFORE HE LEFT THIS EARTH THAT HE WAS GOING TO PREPARE MANSIONS FOR US WHERE? IN HEAVEN ITSELF. HE GAVE US THAT PROMISE. THAT'S WHERE JESUS IS. EVEN THERE IN ACTS CHAPTER 1, WE SEE THE VERY FINAL THING BEFORE HE LEFT THIS EARTH - HIS ASCENSION. AND AS HIS APOSTLES STOOD THERE WATCHING HIM HE ACSENDED IN THE CLOUD AND WHERE DID HE GO TO SIT? AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE THRONE OF GOD. FURTHERMORE, OVER IN ACTS CHAPTER 2, WHICH I THINK IS IMPORTANT FOR US TO LOOK AT AS WELL, WE FIND THERE PART OF PETER'S SERMON WHAT HE SAID ABOUT JESUS. AND OF COURSE PETER WOULD USE, AS PART OF HIS ILLUSTRATION HERE, DAVID - KING DAVID OF THE OLD TESTAMENT - HOW DAVID WOULD SIT ON A THRONE. EVEN DAVID WOULD HAVE TO AKNOWLEDGE A HIGHER POWER. WELL, THINK ABOUT THAT IN RELATIONSHIP TO HEAR WHAT IS SAID ABOUT JESUS CHRIST. THERE IN ACTS CHAPTER 2 VERSE 33 SPEAKING OF JESUS IT SAYS, “THEREFORE BEING EXALTED TO THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD AND HAVING RECEIVED FROM THE FATHER THE PROMISE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT HE POURED OUT THIS, WHICH YOU NOW SEE AND HEAR. FOR DAVID HAD NOT ASCENDED INTO THE HEAVENS BUT HE HIMSELF SAID - THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES YOUR FOOTSTOOL.” EVEN DAVID WOULD ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THERE WAS ONE OVER HIM! WHO DO WE HAVE TO ACKNOWLEDGE TODAY IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH? IT'S JESUS CHRIST. AND WHERE DOES HE REIGN? HE REIGNS FROM HIS HEADQUARTERS HEAVEN ITSELF WHERE HE SITS AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE THRONE OF GOD.

IT'S IMPORTANT FOR US TO UNDERSTAND BIBLICAL ORGANIZATION - THAT IS THE ORGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH - AND AT THE TOP WE HAVE JESUS CHRIST AS THE HEAD. FURTHERMORE, WHAT IS THE LAW THAT WOULD GOVERN THE CHURCH? YOU KNOW AGAIN, IN THE RELIGIOUS WORLD THERE MIGHT BE GROUPS OF PEOPLE THAT GET TOGETHER AND DECIDE THE RELIGIOUS LAW FOR THEIR GROUP. THERE EVEN MIGHT BE THOSE ONCE AGAIN WHO HAVE ONE PERSON AT THE TOP AND WHATEVER THAT PERSON SAYS BECOMES A LAW FOR THOSE WORSHIPERS UNDER THAT INDIVIDUAL. WHAT IS THE LAW IN THE BIBLE GIVEN FOR THE CHURCH? YOU KNOW, THERE IS A PRINCIPAL THAT HERE IS GIVEN ONCE AGAIN THAT WOULD GOVERN US IN THE RELIGIOUS WORLD AS FAR AS HOW WE ORGANIZE OURSELVES IN THE CHURCH. EVEN OUR COUNTRY HAS A CONSTITUTION. YOU COULD ASK IF FROM THAT STANDPOINT WHAT IS THE CONSTITUTION OF THE CHURCH? WELL IT IS THE WORD THAT GOD HAS GIVEN TO US. ONCE AGAIN WE CAN ANSWER OUR QUESTION HERE FROM THE SCRIPTURE - ARE WE STILL WAITING FOR TRUTH TO BE REVEALED? ARE WE STILL WAITING FOR THE LAW TO COME? IS IT STILL SOMETHING THAT'S IN PROGRESS? NOT AT ALL - ALL THE TRUTH FROM GOD HAS BEEN REVEALED AND WHAT HE HAS REVEALED BECOMES A LAW FOR HIS CHURCH TO FOLLOW. ONCE AGAIN, IN THE SCRIPTURE WE FIND THINGS LIKE THIS; WHEN YOU WILL BACK UP TO THE NEW TESTAMENT AND YOU FIND THERE IN SECOND CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 5 THE WORDS OF PAUL ONCE AGAIN. HE WAS ONE OF THOSE WHO WAS AN APOSTLE OF JESUS CHRIST AND HE AS WELL AS THE OTHER APOSTLES WENT OUT WITH THE WORD THAT WAS GIVEN TO THEM. AND WHAT DID THEY DO WITH IT? WHAT WERE THEY? WELL, SECOND CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 5 VERSE 18 SAYS, “NOW ALL THINGS ARE OF GOD WHO HAS RECONCILED US TO HIMSELF THROUGH JESUS CHRIST AND HAS GIVEN US THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION.” THAT IS THAT GOD WAS IN CHRIST RECONCILING THE WORLD TO HIMSELF NOT IMPUTING THEIR TRESPASSES TO THEM AND HAS COMMITTED TO US THE WORD OF RECONCILIATION. NOW THEN WE ARE AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST AS THOUGH GOD WERE PLEADING THROUGH US. WE IMPLORE YOU ON CHRIST BEHALF TO BE RECONCILED TO GOD. WHAT WERE THE APOSTLES DOING? THEY WERE TAKING THAT WHICH HAD BEEN GIVEN TO THEM BY GOD THROUGH JESUS AND THEN SPREADING THAT TO THE WORLD. THEY WERE AMBASSADORS TAKING GOD'S WORD OUT. IT WAS WHAT GOD HAD GIVEN TO THEM. WHAT ABOUT THAT WORD THAT THEY PREACHED? THAT WORD THAT THEY TAUGHT IN THE FIRST CENTURY. ACCORDING TO FIRST THESSALONIANS CHAPTER 2 AND VERSE 13 THAT WAS WHAT GOD HAD REVEALED UNTO THEM. WE KNOW EVEN THE PROMISES MADE BY JESUS TO HIS APOSTLES BEFORE HE LEFT. THERE IN JOHN 14:26 AND JOHN 16:13 HE PROMISED UNTO THEM THE HOLY SPIRIT WHO WOULD GUIDE THEM UNTO ALL TRUTH. AND THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED - THESE MEN WERE INSPIRED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT AND WHEN THEY WROTE AND SPOKE THEY WERE PROCLAIMING GOD'S VERY WORD. AND THAT'S WHAT WE HAVE TO FOLLOW STILL TODAY. WE KNOW THAT WHICH IS PERFECT HAS COME. IN GREATER CONTEXT THERE OF FIRST CORINTHIANS CHAPTERS 12 THROUGH 14 IT TALKS ABOUT THE THINGS THAT WERE IN PART THE MIRACLES THAT WOULD ONE DAY CEASE BUT THEY WOULD BE REPLACED BY WHAT? THAT WHICH IS PERFECT - THE VERY WORD OF GOD. AND WHAT WE HAVE IS THAT PERFECT WORD THAT IS OUR LAW TODAY.

AS WE ORGANIZE OURSELVES WE ARE ALL UNDER GOD'S LAW - NOT THE LAWS THAT MEN GENERATE AND COME UP WITH IN THE RELIGIOUS WORLD. WE'RE UNDER WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN. OF COURSE ALL SCRIPTURE THERE IN SECOND TIMOTHY CHAPTER 3 IN VERSE 16 IS GIVEN BY THE INSPIRATION OF GOD. THE WORDS OF MEN TODAY CANNOT MAKE THAT CLAIM BUT WHAT GOD SPOKE TO HIS HOLY MEN OF OLD - SURELY THOSE INDEED ARE THE WORD OF GOD. AND EVEN THERE IN SECOND PETER CHAPTER 1 IN VERSE THREE: DO WE STILL WAIT FOR SOMETHING ELSE? NO, BECAUSE THERE IT TELLS US THAT GOD HAS GIVEN US ALL THINGS THAT PERTAIN TO LIFE AND GODLINESS. WE'RE NOT WAITING FOR SOME COUNSEL TODAY TO DECIDE WHAT THE LAW IS. NO - GOD HAS ALREADY GIVEN THAT AND WE'RE UNDER THAT LAW AS HIS CHURCH SO WE MUST INDEED DERIVE OUR FAITH FROM THE FAITH THAT WAS ONCE FOR ALL DELIVERED TO THE SAINTS ACCORDING TO JUDE VERSE THREE. AS WE ORGANIZE OURSELVES WE ARE UNDER THE HEAD AND WE ARE TO FOLLOW HIS LAW.

FURTHERMORE AS WE TALK ABOUT CHURCH ORGANIZATION - WHAT ABOUT THE CONGREGATIONS THAT EXIST? AS WE CONSIDER THAT WE'VE GOT TO UNDERSTAND THAT CONGREGATIONS ALL MAKE UP THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST. EPHESIANS 4 TELLS US THAT THERE IS BUT ONE BODY, HIS BODY - THE CHURCH. BUT OF COURSE WE CAN'T ALL MEET TOGETHER IN ONE PLACE ON ANY GIVEN SUNDAY. BUT WE MEET IN OUR RESPECTIVE CITIES WHERE THE CONGREGATIONS GATHER TOGETHER TO WORSHIP GOD IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH. BUT AS WE DO THAT ON A LOCAL LEVEL THESE INDIVIDUAL CONGREGATIONS MAINTAIN THEIR INDIVIDUALITY OR THEIR AUTONOMY - MEANING THEY ARE SELF-GOVERNED - OF COURSE THEY ARE ALL SUBJECT TO JESUS CHRIST AS HEAD - THEY ARE ALL SUBJECT TO FOLLOW HIS LAW BUT THEY ARE INDIVIDUAL IN THEIR NATURE. THEY DON'T HAVE TO ANSWER TO EACH OTHER, THEY ANSWER TO GOD. THEY ANSWER TO JESUS CHRIST. WE UNDERSTAND THIS, EVEN AS WE MIGHT LOOK AT THE SCRIPTURE ONCE AGAIN AS PAUL ADDRESSES HIS EPISTLES. THERE IN FIRST CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 1 IN VERSE TWO, HE WROTE TO THE CHURCH THAT'S AT CORINTH. AN INDIVIDUAL CONGREGATION THERE. YOU MIGHT THINK OF ANOTHER LETTER THERE; THE LETTER TO THE THESSALONIANS. 1ST THESSALONIANS CHAPTER 1 IN VERSE TWO. THERE HE WROTE TO THE CHURCH THAT IS AT THESSALONICA - OR AS HE WROTE THE BOOK OF GALATIANS; GALATIANS CHAPTER 1 IN VERSE TWO HE WROTE TO THE CHURCHES OF GALATIA. THERE BEING MANY CONGREGATIONS IN THAT REGION THERE. BUT HE WROTE IDENTIFYING THAT THESE CHURCHES MET AS THEY WOULD ASSEMBLE IN DIFFERENT CITIES, THEY WERE EACH INDIVIDUAL CONGREGATIONS THAT ALL MADE UP THE BODY OF CHRIST. WE SEE THAT AUTONOMY THROUGHOUT THE NEW TESTAMENT. THESE INDIVIDUAL CONGREGATIONS SPOKEN OF ARE INDEPENDENT - THEY ARE SELF-GOVERNING. AGAIN, THEY SHOULD ALL BE THE SAME THOUGH BECAUSE THEY ALL FOLLOW THE SAME HEAD; THEY ALL FOLLOW THE SAME LAW BUT ONE DOES NOT CONTROL ANOTHER AS THEY ALL SUBMIT THEMSELVES TO THE WILL OF JESUS CHRIST AND FOLLOW HIS LAW. THEY SHOULD BE THOUGH ALL THE SAME AS YOU LOOK AT THEM AS THEY FOLLOW THAT PATTERN THAT JESUS HAS GIVEN. BUT AS THESE CHURCHES DO THEIR LABORS THEY DO THEM INDIVIDUALLY. THERE IN ACTS CHAPTER 13 VERSES 1 THRU 3 WE SEE THAT THE CHURCH IN ANTIOCH SENT OUT MISSIONARIES. THEY DIDN'T HAVE TO ASK THE CHURCH AT THESSALONICA IF THAT WAS OKAY. THEY DIDN'T HAVE TO GIVE TO THE BRETHREN AT CORINTH FIRST TO GET THEIR PERMISSION. NO, THEY SIMPLY COULD DO THE WORK THAT GOD HAD COMMANDED THEM - TO TAKE THE GOSPEL TO THE WORLD AND THEY WERE DOING THAT. AND AS THEY WOULD DO THAT IN THAT LIGHT THEY ALSO MAY HAVE HAD ELDERS AT THAT CONGREGATION. MEN WHO WOULD OVERSEE THE CONGREGATION THAT THEY WERE A PART OF; FIRST PETER CHAPTER 5 IN VERSE TWO. DOES THAT MEAN JUST BECAUSE THESE INDIVIDUAL CONGREGATION'S MAINTAINED THEIR AUTONOMY THAT THEY CAN'T WORK TOGETHER? WELL NOT AT ALL! WE SEE THE EXAMPLE ALSO IN THE BOOK OF ACTS OF HOW THESE INDIVIDUAL CONGREGATIONS WOULD AT TIMES WORK TOGETHER. SUCH AS THE EXAMPLE THERE IN ACTS CHAPTER 11 WHEN THE CHURCH IN ANTIOCH HELPED THOSE CHRISTIANS IN JUDEA IN THEIR TIME OF NEED. FURTHERMORE, WE SEE IN SECOND CORINTHIANS CHAPTERS 8 AND NINE, HOW CHURCHES IN GREECE - BOTH IN NORTHERN GREECE OF MACEDONIA AND THE SOUTH THERE IN AKAI WOULD COME TOGETHER, EVEN PULL THEIR FUNDS AND SEND THEM BY THE HAND OF PAUL TO HELP OUT CHRISTIANS IN JERUSALEM. SO NO, WE NEVER HAVE TO SUBMIT AS ONE CONGREGATION WOULD TO ANOTHER. WE'RE NOT GOVERNED BY ANOTHER BODY OF CHRIST HERE ON THIS EARTH. WE ALL SUBMIT TO THE HEAD. BUT AS WE DO OUR WORK INDIVIDUALLY AND AUTONOMOUSLY AS INDIVIDUAL CONGREGATIONS WE CAN STILL WORK TOGETHER ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD.

WHAT ABOUT ON A LOCAL LEVEL THOUGH? WE STILL NEVER REALLY ADDRESSED THE ISSUE THERE OF HOW THE CHURCH MIGHT BE ORGANIZED LOCALLY. ARE THERE MEN IN CHARGE? IS THERE SOME ORGANIZATION THERE FOR THE INDIVIDUAL CONGREGATIONS THAT DO EXIST? WELL LET'S START WITH THAT FUNCTION THERE OF THE ELDERS. THIS IS A SPECIFIC POSITION GIVEN IN THE NEW TESTAMENT OF MEN WHO RULE THERE AT A LOCAL LEVEL. THE WORDS USED THERE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT TO DESCRIBE THIS POSITION - THAT OF AN ELDER; AN OLDER MAN. THAT OF A BISHOP; BEING ONE WHO SUPER INTENDS OR OVERSEES. AND EVEN THAT OF A PASTOR; ONE WHO SHEPHERDS THE FLOCK. THOSE THREE WORDS THERE - THOSE THREE EXPRESSIONS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT ALL IDENTIFY THE SAME ROLE. AND THAT IS OF A MAN WHO AMONG SEVERAL MEN WOULD LEAD THERE ON THE LOCAL CONGREGATIONAL LEVEL. WE CAN SEE THAT ALSO IN THE SCRIPTURE. THERE IN ACTS CHAPTER 20 AS PAUL WOULD CALL FOR THE ELDERS OF EPHESUS AND EXHORT THEM TO SHEPHERD THE FLOCK OF GOD. BECAUSE THAT WAS THEIR JOB AS SHEPHERDS TO WATCH OUT FOR THE SHEEP - THAT IS THE INDIVIDUAL CHRISTIANS OF THE CHURCH THERE THAT MET AT EPHESUS. AND THESE MEN IN FIRST PETER FIVE IN VERSE TWO AS WE MENTIONED ARE EXHORTED AGAIN TO BE SHEPHERDS OF THE FLOCK OF GOD. THEY HAVE THAT GREAT ROLE, ACCORDING TO HEBREWS 13:17, TO WATCH OUT FOR THE SOULS OF THOSE OF THE CONGREGATION. WHAT A TREMENDOUS RESPONSIBILITY GIVEN TO THESE MEN. THESE MEN AREN'T JUST ANY MEN THOUGH - THESE ARE MEN WHO ARE QUALIFIED. ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURE IN FIRST TIMOTHY CHAPTER 3 AND ALSO TITUS CHAPTER 1 GIVES US ONCE AGAIN THOSE QUALIFICATIONS. THESE MEN HAVE TO MEET ALL OF THESE QUALIFICATIONS, ONCE AGAIN GIVEN IN GOD'S WORD, AND IF THEY MEET THEM THEN THEY ARE SERVING THOSE LOCAL CONGREGATIONS THAT THEY'RE PART OF AS ELDERS. THAT'S THEIR ROLE ONCE AGAIN THAT IS GIVEN BY GOD. LET ME MAKE ONE MORE COMMENT ABOUT ELDERS - NO CONGREGATION CAN BE SERVED JUST BY ONE ELDER. IF ELDERS ARE TO EXIST THEY'RE TO EXIST IN A PLURALITY. WE CAN SEE THAT IN THE SCRIPTURE. THAT SUCH AS IN ACTS 11 VERSE OR THE CHURCH AT JERUSALEM HAD ELDER'S - PLURAL. OR THERE IN ACTS 14:23 THAT PAUL AND BARNABAS WERE TO GO AROUND AND APPOINT ELDERS IN EVERY CHURCH. IF THEY ARE MEN WHO ARE SO QUALIFIED BY THE SCRIPTURE LET THEM SERVE AS TWO OR MORE IN A LOCAL CONGREGATION. THAT'S THE ORGANIZATION OF THE SCRIPTURE.

YET ONE FINAL PIECE OF ORGANIZATION AT THE LOCAL LEVEL IS THAT OF THE POSITION OF A DEACON. THESE ARE SPECIAL SERVANTS AND INDEED THAT WORD DEACON COULD BE USED IN A GENERAL SENSE AND APPLIED TO EVERY CHRISTIAN. BUT HERE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THOSE WHO ARE SO QUALIFIED ONCE AGAIN ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURE TO SERVE IN A SPECIAL CAPACITY. THESE QUALIFICATIONS TOO ARE GIVEN THERE IN FIRST TIMOTHY CHAPTER 3. AND JUST LIKE ELDERS, A MAN WHO WOULD SERVE AS A DEACON, MUST MEET ALL OF THOSE QUALIFICATIONS TO SO SERVE IN A LOCAL CONGREGATION. THESE MEN ARE SELECTED TO DO A SPECIAL JOB - A JOB APPOINTED TO THEM BY THE ELDERS TO DO. NOW, TO REMEMBER THAT THESE MEN, JUST LIKE ELDERS, MUST MEET ALL THOSE QUALIFICATIONS. THESE MEN WHO WOULD SERVE AS DEACONS ALSO MUST BE MEN, BECAUSE ELDERS AND DEACONS MUST HAVE WIVES. WHAT WE UNDERSTAND IS THAT GOD HAS GIVEN SPECIFIC QUALIFICATIONS FOR THESE SPECIAL SERVANTS TO SERVE. WHERE THERE ARE ELDERS THERE CAN BE DEACONS. BUT IF THERE ARE NO ELDERS THERE CANNOT BE DEACONS BECAUSE ONCE AGAIN DEACONS THEMSELVES WILL SERVE UNDER AN ELDERSHIP. AND AS THEY ARE GIVEN A SPECIFIC JOB TO DO, LET THEM DO IT WITH ALL THEIR HEART SERVING IN THE GREAT CAPACITY THAT GOD HAS GIVEN THEM.

WHEN WE BEGIN TO LOOK AT THE BIBLE WE SEE ALL THESE POINTS OF ORGANIZATION. IT'S NOT FOR MEN TODAY TO DECIDE - WELL, WE'LL ORGANIZE OURSELVES IN THIS WAY. WE'LL ADD TO - WE'LL TAKE AWAY FROM THE LAW. WE'LL DEVELOP FOR OURSELVES WHAT WE SEE FIT. NO. WE HAVE AN ORGANIZATION FOR THE CHURCH GIVEN TO US IN THE HOLY SCRIPTURE. JESUS CHRIST IS THE HEAD. HIS WORD IS ITS LAW. CONGREGATIONS EXIST WITH ELDERS AND DEACONS AND SUCH IS THE ORGANIZATION.

CLOSING COMMENTS

WHAT A BLESSING IT HAS BEEN THIS MORNING, TO GIVE THIS TIME TO GOD. IT IS OUR HOPE AND PRAYER THAT YOU WILL JOIN US EVERY SUNDAY MORNING AT 7:30, AS WE COMMIT OURSELVES TO STUDYING GOD’S WORD AND LEARNING TO DO THINGS HIS WAY.

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MAY GOD HELP US ALL TO HAVE A GREATER LOVE WHICH DOES NOT ENVY!