THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date – 8-8-10
LESSON TITLE: “GOD’S GLORIOUS CHURCH: WHAT IS GOD’S PLAN FOR THE ORGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH?”
Thank you for joining us this morning, let me welcome you to the program. The Living Word is a work of our Lord, dedicated to doing God’s Will in His Way! As always, it will be our privilege today to sing songs of praise and to study from His Word. In these acts of worship, may we all be encouraged, but ultimately may we each praise God according to the sacrifices to offer toward His Throne. It will also be our honor this morning to speak with God through prayer. Will you bow with me as we talk to our creator?
I hope you’re ready to praise God through song at this time. Our first song this morning reminds us of the many blessings which God has provided for those who obey Him. So, won’t you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together this encouraging song, its name “Face To Face?”
(SONG # 1)
If you’re like me, you have had a few spankings in your life time. It may be hard to believe, but I was not always the perfect child and every once in a while I had to be reminded that some things are just not acceptable.
With this in mind, think for a moment about what Job said in chapter 5, and verse 17 of his book! There we read, “Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.” The reality is, we all need to be corrected or disciplined from time to time. Why? Because none of us are perfect and we all have room for learning and growth. So what better place to receive correction and discipline, than from God almighty Himself. The only one who knows all things and is perfect, so that He may always correct us in the right way and discipline us as we need.
In the New Testament we find similar ideas presented. One such passage is found in Hebrews 12:5-8. There we read, “And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.’ If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.” These verses tell us that if we are truly loved and if we are truly sons of God we will receive discipline from Him. And why should this confuse us, do not our earthly fathers also discipline us because they love us and want to make us better?
Brethren not only do we need to be corrected from time to time, but I am thankful to God that He loves me enough to even see a need to correct or discipline me. We all must realize that it would be much worse for us all if God didn’t care enough to discipline and correct us. Because, only a true and loving father cares enough to correct one whom He loves.
So let me ask, “How are you responding to the discipline of God?” Do you get mad or upset with your Creator? Do you ignore His love, help and respect? Choose today to be happy in the correction you receive from God, because just as we read earlier, “Blessed is the man who God corrects!”
It just a few minutes, it will be time to begin our main study of the day. As far as our topic, we will be continuing our series entitled, “The Glorious Church.” Our specific lessons of the day, “What Is God’s Plan for the Organization of the Church?” So please stay with us this morning and after our next song together, I will lead us in the main thoughts of the day. Now it’s time to join in our second song, the name of this hymn, “Walking Alone at Eve.”
(SONG # 2)
By Ray Sullins
Thank you for continuing with us today as we now return to the study of “The Glorious Church” that certainly our God has blessed us with. In connection to that, I might begin by asking this question: Where is the headquarters of the church? To be more specific, we often ask: Where is the headquarters of your church? Really that second question is actually flawed because the church is not mine and the church is not yours. We know that the church is God’s church. He was the only one willing to do what was necessary to purchase and establish it. But nonetheless as people might ask that question, where is your church established or the headquarters of your church? The sad reality is that most denominations can tell you where in this country their headquarters is. In fact, even in our town of Springfield there are what are referred to as the headquarters of different religions. Now is that really what the Bible teaches us? Is that what we find in the scripture?
I don’t know about you but as I read the Bible and as we begin to study what God has taught us, God is a clear God of design and purpose, and from the beginning God has always been the King of His people.
I often think about what God did toward Israel when they wanted a king. Remember how sad God was? The wanted to put a man over them in place of God. In fact, God told Samuel, “They have not rejected you, Samuel. They have rejected Me because I was and am their King.” But what did man want? They wanted an earthly king. They wanted a man like them with no power, no ability that would be different from theirs, but yet a man that they could see. Isn’t it sad that religions today have declared that they will establish for themselves not only a location as the headquarters, but also a man or men as the leaders or those who rule or control their church? Well when you begin to look at it like that, maybe it’s not so farfetched to speak of their church or your church because when we talk about God’s church, there is only one kingdom. There is only one headquarters and there is only one head and that is God Almighty Himself.
Do you remember what we discussed several weeks ago? There in Ephesians chapter 1 verse 22 that God has put all things under His feet and gave Him, Jesus, to be head over all things to the church which is His body. Where is Jesus today? Interestingly enough, the Bible tells us yet again, there in Hebrews chapter 1 verses 3-4 tells us that “Jesus is now at the right hand of the Majesty on High.” Now if Jesus still exists and certainly He does an everlasting God, and if Jesus is still the Head of the church for He is the only Savior (Ephesians chapter 5) and He is the only purchaser of the church (Acts chapter 20 and verse 28), then where is the headquarters of the church today? There’s only one place. Heaven! My friend, the only place that could rule the church and be over the church and control the church and guide the church and let us know what is required is God and the kingdom of Heaven. Guess what God did for us. He established a clear covenant so that there is no question. Isn’t that what this book is? Is that not what we call the New Testament, the New Covenant, the Better Covenant as we discussed even in our last series, as we saw that Jesus because of His love for us gave us a clear distinct blueprint and pattern that we might follow and obey so that we might do what? Obey His Will completely. So that we might do all things that He has asked and give Him the glory.
Boy, there is nothing that makes me more sick than seeing those in this life and in this world that bow down to spiritual fathers of a fleshly nature. Why? Even Jesus said, “There is but one father and He’s in Heaven.” There’s but one leader. There’s but one Lord. There’s but one prince. There’s but one king. Who is that? God Almighty. Why would we serve any other? Why would we give glory to any other? Why would we do anything spiritually toward any other man that is simply flesh and blood except Jesus Christ who now reigns from Heaven itself?
Brethren, I encourage us to understand that a God of distinct pattern and discipline clearly tells us even in Ephesians chapter 4 verse 11 that, “He gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be pastors, some to be teachers.” God delivered to us through His Word a pattern that we should follow so we could organize ourselves according to His Will under Him and no one else. Not the counsels of men. Not an individual man. Not a group of men. Not those who tell us what to do, but those who guide us, even those who do help us, those who guide us in what our Leader, our Savior, our Head says. Jesus Christ.
Is that what happens in your church? Do you answer to God and God alone and to the Word of God or do you answer to the authorities of man and the powers that be of man within your religion? This is not the plan that God delivers to us in His Word.
Besides the fact that Jesus is clearly the Head of the church and let me remind you, the only Head! Let me remind you of a week or so ago we saw that a body has how many heads? One head! If your church has more than one head, there is something wrong. Jesus is the only Head.
So what is it that God has given us according to His authority and organization that helps us today in a spiritual sense as the church? Do we have those who assist or oversee us? Yes. But guess who they are under. The chief Shepherd!
I like the way Peter puts it if you’ll turn with me there to the book of Peter and understand what it was that he was trying to establish even in connection to the position of elders or bishops that is discussed in the scriptures. Here he spoke of those who should be the shepherds of God. If you’ll notice there in verse 2 he says, “Those who are overseers and not lords,” but those who are again applying scripture to the spiritually minded. But then in verse 4 he says this, “And when the chief shepherd appeared,” guess what, “no one,” Peter said, “in his day or in any day,” in connection to the church “would ever be the chief shepherd,” the head bishop, the big man. Jesus alone is that Chief Shepherd. Even those who might lead spiritually today have to only be under and submissive fully to His Will in applying the principles of His Will. What good is an ambassador? What good is someone who goes in the name of a king or a president, the individual who goes somewhere else but they only do it for themselves, and they only want the glory themselves, they only want the power themselves, they only want to make their own decision. Is that really someone that a king or a leader is going to put in place? Certainly not. God is the all powerful one who again has given us opportunities to know truth, but yet when we look at the truth we find that the pattern that man presents today often is contrary there to.
Not only do we see this idea of an overseer or a bishop, but you might turn there with me even to some places where we find qualifications for such. One such place is found there in Titus chapter 2. If you’ll notice here, he talks about the qualities of a sound church. But then just before that, back in chapter 1, he begins talking about the qualifications, if you’ll notice, of elders. Verse 5 says that, “Titus went to appoint elders in every church.” Guess what word he uses interchangeably there in the next verse, actually verse 7. He says, “For the bishop…” The elder, the bishop… Over in Peter, he said, “Elders and overseers.” What do you mean today that there are many offices in the church? God forbid! These were spiritual men who were older, who were able to oversee, not lord over, control, but to oversee the spiritual needs, guide people toward God and not themselves or their own desires or powers. That they might do what? Keep an order, as Paul told Titus, the church. To help things run smoothly. Not to be lords or dictators like Diatrophes who was condemned in the book of 3 John.
Oh yes, we learn also there in 1 Peter chapter 3 this idea of elders, bishops, presbyters, those who again were the only office that seems to be able to, as it says, “to rule over spiritually,” not because they follow their will, but the apostles that continued in the Will of God, the Spirit delivered Will found even in scriptures.
Another office of more, as we would say physical work that is found in the Bible, for instance there in Acts chapter 6 is that referred to as the work of the deacons. Generally we see the deacons getting down and maybe willing to get their hands dirty, not necessarily focusing on the spiritual, but maybe a lot of those more physical needs. We even see qualifications for those, and guess where they are found, again right after the elders, in those same passages of 1 Timothy chapter 3 and also Titus. We find here qualifications. Have you ever had somebody come to your door and claim to be an elder, claim to be an elder and they are only about 5 years older than a teenager, maybe 20, maybe they are even in their teens still and they claim to be an elder? Have you ever read the qualifications of an elder in the Bible, of a bishop? Have you ever seen what the scriptures say there, “A husband of one wife…, children that believe are in subordination that obey the father, who has shown himself to be worthy as a leader.” How is that possible with someone that has never become a Christian? Why do I say these things? I say these things because I want us to realize that God has given us a clear pattern for the organization of the church and there is no such thing as anything of this earth ruling or leading us. God alone does so. Each church found in the New Testament by example and command certainly was an autonomous congregation that established itself with its own spiritual leaders of elders that they might help the flock to keep faithful to their God, not control the flock, but to keep faithful. Each congregation had its deacons. Why? Those who might do the physical services of the church and these individuals none were to be put in as great men or those who would be over, in the sense as God was, but simply as servants. Isn’t that what a Christian is supposed to be anyway? Isn’t that what a good elder is supposed to be? Isn’t that what we are all supposed to strive for? To be good servants for God.
I also find it quite interesting that in every case the concept of plurality is always mentioned. Never “the elder” addressing the elder, or “the deacon” addressing the deacon. Always in plurality. God never intended for any man or any group of men to write their own deeds and creeds and desires and to follow something that was contrary to the law that He had already established.
I want to encourage each of us to study the Word of God, to find our place as servants in the kingdom of God, bondservants, owned, bought and paid for with the blood of Jesus Christ and then fulfill to the best of our abilities all we can to His glory and praise knowing that when we are faithful in the end we will be given the crown of life and the eternal reward in Heaven.
(SONG # 3 - “This Is My Father’s World”)
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today, in this offering to God. I know our time together has been an encouragement and blessing to all of us. We invite you back every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God!
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Is your religion organized by God or man? May we always make sure that all we do and say is according to God’s Will and not our own!