OceanSide church of Christ
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CHURCH ORGANIZATION (1)
A General Study
Victor M. Eskew
A. I Corinthians 14:33
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
1. This verse reveals one aspect of the nature of God. He is a God of order. He desires things to be arranged logically, comprehensively, or naturally.
2. His orderly nature can be seen in many places:
a. Within the Godhead
b. Within Creation
c. Within the home
d. Within society
B. God has also put order within the church.
1. I Timothy 3:14-15
These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
a. This passage marks the dividing point in Paul’s first epistle to Timothy.
1) Chapters 1-3 provide information about behavior in the church.
2) Chapters 4-6 are personal instructions to Timothy as a gospel preacher.
b. NOTE: God wants His church to know how to behave. He wants order. He does not want chaos and confusion.
2. Titus 1:5
For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are want-
ing, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.
a. Titus was to “set in order the things that are wanting.” “Set in order” means to straighten further, that is, arrange additionally.
b. Again, God desired for order to be present with the churches.
C. Every congregation of the Lord’s people should desire to be ordered as God commanded.
1. Over the course of the next several Sundays, we will be studying “Church Organization.”
2. This morning’s lesson will involve some general information on the topic.
I. DIVINE AUTHORITY
A. Everything in the Universe is ultimately under the divine authority of God, the Father.
1. Psalm 103:19
The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.
2. The Father is even over His Son Jesus Christ (I Cor. 11:3).
But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
B. God delegated His authority to Jesus Christ.
1. Matthew 28:18
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
2. Now, He is the sole Head of the church (Col. 1:18-19).
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.
3. His position is referred to by other names:
a. King of kings and Lord of lords (I Tim. 6:15)
b. The Captain of our salvation (Heb. 2:10)
c. The Apostle and High Priest of our profession (Heb. 3:1)
d. The Shepherd and Bishop of our souls (I Pet. 2:24)
e. The Chief Shepherd (I Pet. 5:4)
C. Jesus delegated divine authority to His apostles.
1. Jesus chose twelve men to fill the apostolic office.
a. The original twelve: Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Thomas, Matthew Thaddaeus, James the less, Simon, Bartholomew, and Judas (Matt. 10:2-4).
b. Judas fell from his apostleship and was replaced by Mathias (Acts 1:21-26).
c. Paul was later appointed to be an apostle out of due season (I Cor. 15:8-9).
2. These men and their teachings became part of the foundation of the church of Christ (Eph. 2:19-20).
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.
D. The authority given to the apostles would eventually be put into a book, the New Testament of Jesus Christ.
1. The apostles were provided with divine guidance by the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised that the Spirit would guide them into all truth (John 16:13).
Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
a. The Holy Spirit fell on the apostles at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).
b. When these men spake, they knew that they had the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 2:16).
c. NOTE: Either these men received all truth or they did not. If they did not, then Jesus is a liar.
2. Eventually, the divine message was placed into written form.
a. That which is perfect came (I Cor. 13:10).
b. The unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God was delivered (Eph. 4:13).
c. The faith was once delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
E. Now the Bible is the divine authority within the church.
1. It is to be preached and spoken (II Tim. 4:2; I Pet. 4:11).
2. It is not to be added to or taken from (Rev. 22:18-19).
3. If anyone proclaims “another gospel,” he is accursed (Gal. 1:6-9).
F. We cannot emphasize enough the matter of divine authority.
1. God has not left man to function within the church on his own.
2. Man is not set free to do as he pleases.
3. What we do or say must involve the authority of God (Col. 3:17).
And whatsoever ye do, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
II. LOCAL CHURCH AUTHORITY
A. The church can be viewed in two ways.
1. The church universal
2. The local congregation
B. Within the local congregation, God has deemed it necessary to install a group of men to oversee the affairs of the church. We refer to them most commonly by the title, elders.
1. The first reference we have of elders existing within the church is in Acts 11:30. Relief was sent from Antioch to the brethren in Judea.
Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
2. On Paul’s first missionary journey, he is said to have ordained “elders in every church” (Acts 14:23).
3. The fact that these men are overseers of the church is revealed to us in Acts 20:28.
a. Paul was traveling to Jerusalem and stopped at Miletus.
b. From there, the called “the elders of the church” at Ephesus (Acts 20:17).
c. Part of his words to them is found in Acts 20:28.
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood.
4. Another text that teaches that these men have oversight over the local church is found in I Peter 5:1-3.
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the suffer-ings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
5. Some of the things they oversee:
a. The souls of the members
b. The teaching that is given to the flock
c. The finances of the church
d. The works of the church, including those led by the deacons
e. The preacher(s) of the local congregation
C. The responsibility of the local flock under the oversight of the elders is to submit to their authority (Heb. 13:17).
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
A. Our focus for the next several weeks will be upon this group of men within the local church called elders.
1. We will examine some of the basic facts about the eldership next week.
2. We will then look at their qualifications.
3. Lastly, we will examine the work they are called to do.
B. After these lessons, we will turn our attention to the office of a deacon. We will look specifically at the qualifications of the position found in God’s Word.
C. We are preparing the church for a search for more elders and deacons.