THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 4-13-08
LESSON TITLE: "GOD'S PECULIAR PEOPLE: A PECULIAR ORGANIZATION"
Paul once proclaimed, "Godliness is profitable for all things." Are you striving to be godly?
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. And how blessed we are to offer the fruit of our lips to God Almighty. So, won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we lift up our voices together, in the hymn, "Fairest Lord Jesus."
(SONG # 1)
Physical fitness seems to be almost an obsession with many in our day and time. You can look almost anywhere and find health clubs or gyms to work out in, in order to improve your physical strength or your physical appearance.
For many of us our favorite characters and hero's are the strongest, who seem to be able to accomplish anything because of their strength. Some of us like certain sports, where again athletes spend a great deal of time on building their physical bodies to prepare themselves to adequately execute their sport!
With these thoughts in mind, I am reminded of a verse in Psalms that makes me think of the same kind of strength in the Lord. David said, "Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, Which cannot be moved, but abides forever," Psalms 125:1. Here we see that those who have God are like a mountain, which can not be moved! Furthermore, they will abide forever.
This verse helps me to think of how spiritually strong we are when we have God on our side. If we have God on our side and we exercise ourselves spiritually, then we know that we can endure or withstand anything, just as a strong, unmovable mountain.
Another remarkable verse along the same lines is found in 1 Timothy 4:8. There we read the word's of Paul as he said, "For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come." Notice again the emphasis here on the spiritual rather than the physical. Not to say that bodily exercise is wrong, but it really profits little because some day our bodies will simply return to the dust, Genesis 3:19!
However, also look at the great benefit we gain from spiritual exercise! This verse tells us that it profits us for all things. It make us better in every way today, right now. Furthermore, it also prepares us and makes us ready for all of that which is to come - even Heaven.
So, as those who love God, let's always try to exercise ourselves unto godliness. In so doing, we will make ourselves better servants today and tomorrow for all the things which God has in store for us.
In our study this morning we will again focus on, "God's Peculiar People." Our specific topic today is entitled, "A Peculiar Organization!" 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, "Face to Face!"
(SONG # 2)
By Ray Sullins
Have you ever wondered just where do you fit in to the kingdom of God? What is it that He wants you to do and really what is it that you can accomplish as a servant of God? Then we also know the Bible speaks of those who were special servants in different ways. The reality is that God has determined a specific organization for His church. If we look in the Bible we find that this is commanded throughout the pages of the New Testament that God determined that His peculiar people would be unique and that they would have a peculiar or a special organization. In the fact that it is special, it is very simple. As we look at what the church is supposed to be according to the Will of God, we really find something quite different than that which we find throughout a lot of areas of the religious world today.
If you'll look there in the Bible with me it is clear that God had an organization that He desired for man to follow in order that they might set themselves up as He commanded. Beginning there in Ephesians chapter 4, you might notice with me in verse 11 that it says that, "God Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors, and some teachers." The fact is that God, from the beginning of time and actually before He created the world, predetermined that not only would Jesus come, that He would die and purchase the church and when the church was established that God would then organize the church in a certain fashion. There would be individuals such as apostles mentioned here, also prophets.
But you and I know we no longer live in the days of the apostles, those who were specifically called by Jesus who saw with their eyes Jesus, and who knew Christ in a way that you and I will not until we die and go to heaven know Him, for they were with Him. They were a part of the life and the day and time of Jesus.
Then we know prophets, those who were given special revelation that they might tell about what there was to come in the future concerning Christ. Why was this necessary? The apostles? Why were the prophets necessary? Because the Word in its perfection had not yet been given by the Holy Spirit. The writing of the scriptures had not yet been given by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17) that we might be fully equipped in every thing that we need to know and do to be right with God.
And so today, what is still left? Well not special apostles or special prophets. The only thing we can prophesy about are those things that we know or are prophesied here in scripture. But certainly there are still evangelists then. There are still pastors. There are still teachers. There are still Christians. And so what we want to understand is: What is it then that God established these people for?
The next verse, verse 12 says, "These groups were set up to perfect the saints, to establish them in the Word of God, to edify them as the body of Christ." So who then would be the head? The obvious head of the church, the body of Christ. Well we read in the same text, Ephesians 4 down in verse 15, "To speak the Truth in love and grow up in all things to Him who is the head." Then what does it say? "Christ Jesus." There is but one head of the church.
In fact, we read also in the same book in Ephesians chapter 5 and verse 23, "The husband is head of the wife as Christ is head of the church and Savior of the body."
No wonder in Romans 12 and in 1 Corinthians 12, we see the church described as being a body with a single head. A body as you look at our physical bodies is only having one head. And why is that? There is only one head that can guide it. If it had two or three heads, how would the body know what to do? There is but one head to every body. And so the church is described in such a way and that the members make up the body so there are many members in the body yet there is still one head over the body. Who is that head? Well we've mentioned now in two verses it is Jesus Christ, but we also see that power being given to Jesus in Matthew 28 and verse 18 that "all power and authority was given to Jesus Himself." And why? Who else would be fitting but Christ to be the head of the church for He was the Savior of the body. He died and shed His blood for the body, gave His life for the body and was the one who gave all according to what God had determined to see that we would have the chance to be the children and have eternal life.
There is no one else qualified. No man before. No man since to be called Head of the church or to lead or rule the church. God alone, Jesus Christ, His Son, has been determined to be the head of the church, the body that He died for that He shed His blood for.
Therefore, I find it interesting that in the book of Matthew even more specifically Jesus deals with this same issue in trying to help them understand there is but one head to the church. In Matthew 23, we certainly see that Christ here clarifies this point. He says, "Do not call me 'Father' or anyone else 'Father'." Why? Verse 9 says, "For one is your spiritual Father and He is in heaven." The idea being there is no spiritual, earthly father who is man, only God. You and I know Jesus was not only a man, but He was God in the flesh (John chapter 1). So therefore, there is only one head that is God through Jesus Christ and He alone is the head of the church. So what does that tell us then about men, about organizations that might refer to individuals spiritually as "fathers", as those who are spiritually above them, who has in some way may have reached certain merits that others can not? Certainly that is not what Jesus is talking about here. He is saying that it is not right to call a man, "Father" in a spiritual sense for there is only one Father in spiritual matters and that is God the Creator and His Son Jesus Christ who alone again was set up as Head of the church.
These things are again confirmed for us in Colossians chapter 1, verses 18 that "we are translated into the kingdom of His dear Son," and who is the head of that kingdom? Verse 18 says, "Jesus Christ." Who is the head of the church? Jesus Christ. Who is the head of the body? Jesus Christ. Who then do we look for for the answer as to how we should live, what we should do, what the Will of God is, and how we should organize ourselves? Jesus Christ. And where are the words of Christ and God? In the Bible. He said, "I will pray to the Father that He will send you the Comforter and when He comes He will guide you in all things." Then we know the scriptures tell us that "the Word of God is given to us by holy men that were led by the Holy Spirit sent by the Father that we might know the Truth."
Can we know the Truth? John 8:32 says, "We can know the Truth but it's not because of me, not because of you or some man or an earthly father. We can know the Truth because God has revealed it completely to us in the Word of God."
Well, who is the head of the church? Jesus Christ! Next in order, we find that there were offices or groups set up in the church in order that under the head these groups might help in a spiritual sense to carry out the functions that were necessary. What would be the two obvious things that would be needed in any group or any type of a work? Well, spiritual and physical. So what we have then is the Bible speaking about an eldership, those who are pastors or deacons.
The idea of elders is something clearly spoken of throughout scriptures. In Titus chapter 1 and verse 5, Titus, the young evangelist, is actually exhorted by Paul to go into different areas and to churches and do what? Appoint elders. And now notice what he said? "Appoint elders (plural) in (what?) all the churches." He didn't say to "appoint an elder over all the churches in that area." He didn't say, "Appoint elders who would be over all the churches." He said, "Appoint elders in EVERY church." That means a plurality of elders, men who are chosen by those who have certainly been brought to Christ and are followers of God, but those who meet the qualifications as clarified for us in the book of Timothy and Titus and men who are also spiritually able to lead us in our lives and to help us know the Will of God from the Word and to understand it unto obedience. Elders, pastors, overseers, as other verses also help us to understand.
A verse there in Acts 20 and 28 helps us to see the idea that there were overseers over the church that Jesus Christ purchased with His own blood. Again, why is He head? He purchased the church alone with His blood. And who are those spiritually who are over the church in a spiritual sense? The elders.
I want you also to notice with me though in the book of 3 John and other places such as Peter, it tells us that elders are not lords. They are not to be dictators over the church. They are to be compassionate, loving, under the guidance of Christ and the Word of God, spiritual leaders who help guide us, understand and answer questions that we might all do the Will of God as Christians, equal Christians with equal rewards.
Then we've also mentioned the idea of deacons. Not only do we need those who help us in spiritual matters, who are not our heads but certainly are able to spiritually guide us as those who are more mature, but we need those who help physically.
In the book of Acts we begin early on in chapter 6 and following to see the need for certain things: those to help widows, those to help orphans. So he said there to them, that is the apostles, "Look among yourselves and choose those who have the Holy Spirit and appoint them as (what?) deacons," those servants, those who will carry out and administer in areas of the church. What are areas of the church today? What about buildings that we often have and the grounds and the yards and organization and ordering, all of the different facets of a church that keep it functional that really aren't involved spiritually, but really is involved more with earthly matters that still are a part of accomplishing the task that God has set before us.
So elders are the spiritual leaders. Deacons, notice that deacons also were always given to us in a plural form. Notice also that they were always given to us to meet certain qualifications. What does that tell us? Not just anyone can be an elder. Not just anyone can be a deacon. But they have to meet qualifications and when they have met the qualifications and the flock is willing to serve under them, then they are placed in these positions under Christ, under the Word of God that they might help in leading or encouraging the brethren. Then and only then are they, in a plurality in a sense of many, able to help. Why? For there is no head except Christ. There is no one man who controls the church or your church or the church I attend, but Jesus Christ. But we do need those who know more, those who have given more time to study, those who are older in order that they might help us to know the ways of the Truth, the ways of the Father that were according to the Will of God.
Then certainly we see other passages, other scriptures that we've already looked at such as Ephesians 4 that talk about those who evangelize and preach. You see, pastors, elders, the ideas of deacons and then evangelists. You know that a preacher may be a pastor at times, but he has to meet those qualifications again that are found to be bishop or an elder. He has to meet those qualifications because God set that up according to His organization. If he meets those qualifications then he still has to be placed in that position by the congregation. So I might be an elder, but I might be a preacher. I might be either of the two or I might be both, but yet they are not one in the same. That's the point I am trying to make. But then every member must strive to get their life organized to reach these higher positions, these opportunities of greater service in the kingdom of God to be able to not only be led but to also help in leading others to Jesus Christ, but at the same time realizing that we as brethren, as Christians, are all one in the same. We were all bought and paid for with the same blood. And in the eyes of God no matter who we are, none of us are Fathers, none of us are Heads. We are all Christians. We are all recipients of the same promise, the same reward if we are willing to show ourselves faithful to the end.
So what will you do with your life? Will you live the life that God has commanded? Will you do what it takes to be right today and to do even more for God than you have ever done before in your life?
(SONG # 3 - "Walking Alone At Eve!")
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.
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Thanks be to God that He has left us a clear pattern for organization in spiritual matters. The question is, will we accept it and submit to it just as He prescribes?