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Organization of the Church (Part 2 of 2)

by Michael S. Cole, M.D.

DEACONS

The word deacon comes from a Greek word meaning “servant.” We find the first deacons being chosen because of a specific need in Acts 6. The needs and circumstances of a given situation in the New Testament church determined when deacons were appointed and how many were required. The deacons had authority only as they were assigned to be over some specific business.

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Upcoming Events for November 24, 2019

UPCOMING EVENTS

November 22

Area wide singing.  Green Plain church of Christ. 7 pm.

November 29

Singing.  Union Hill church of Christ. 7 pm.

December 1

Ladies’ service project after evening singing service

December 7

Ladies’ Ornament Swap and Meal at Vickey’s

December 8

Fellowship meal after morning service. Service at Parkview at 1:30.

December 15 

Ladies’ service project after evening service

January 5

Ladies’ service project after evening singing service

Upcoming Events for November 17, 2019

Tonight Ladies’ service project after evening service

November 22 Area wide singing.  Green Plain church Christ. 7 pm.

December 1 Ladies’ service project after evening singing service

December 7 Ladies’ Ornament Swap at Vickey’s

December 8 Fellowship meal after morning service. Service at Parkview at 1:30.

December 15  Ladies’ service project after evening service

Organization of the Church (Part 1 of 2)

by Michael S. Cole, M.D.

Jesus said, “and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it..” – Matthew 16:18

THE CHURCH

The church that Jesus built was HIS church. Jesus Christ is Himself its foundation (I Cor. 3:11). He is the Savior of the church (Eph. 5:23). It was purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28). He is the Head of the church (Col. 1:18). The church is the bride of Christ (II Cor. 11:2). The church is the body of Christ (Eph. 1:23). The Bible says there is only one church (or body) (Eph. 4:4).

Since the church belongs to Jesus Christ, the New Testament is our only reliable guide to the church’s organization and the regulations for entering His church. No man-made churches are described or authorized in the Bible (Psm. 127:1).

The New Testament often refers to “the church” in a universal sense, encompassing the entire family of God throughout the world (Mark 16:15). Also, the scriptures frequently refer to “the church” in a local sense (I Cor. 1:2).

The Bible authorizes no organization for the universal church, except Jesus, who is the absolute ruler (Eph. 1:20-23) with absolute authority (Matt. 28:18). The New Testament does present Christ’s plan for the organization of the local church.

The only way to construct the true, original organization that God approves of is to look into the scriptures. Let us examine the organization of the local congregation in the first century.

MEMBERS

The church was established in Jerusalem on Pentecost, about 33 A.D. (See Acts 2). After this, the New Testament makes no reference to anyone being saved without being in the church. God automatically adds the saved to the church (Acts 2:47). Entrance into the church (the body of Christ) occurs with baptism (Gal. 3:27, I Cor. 12:13, Acts 2:38-41).

In the first century church, members were simply called “Christians” (Acts 11:26, I Pet. 4:16). They were also referred to as “saints” (Acts 26:10, Rom. 1:7, I Cor. 1:2, Eph. 1:1). Christians were also considered to be “priests” (Rev. 1:6, I Pet. 2:9).

The New Testament is filled with instructions for Christians, including how to act, how to respond to others, and how to serve God (II Tim. 3:16-17, Titus 2:2-8).

Though men and women are equally valuable in God’s eyes, they are to fill different roles in His church. It is by God’s design that women are not permitted to assume positions of church leadership (I Cor. 14:34, I Tim. 2:12).

From among the members are chosen teachers, preachers, deacons, and elders.

TEACHERS

All Christians are expected to be able to teach the lost (I Pet. 3:15, Matt. 28:19). All Christians were told to “teach and admonish” one another in the first century (Col. 3:16). Those qualified with considerable knowledge of the Scriptures can teach in a more formal manner. Those who do, have greater responsibility (James 3:1).

God expects teachers to present the Word accurately and fully (II Tim. 2:15, Acts 18:26, Matt. 28:20). The scriptures gravely warn Christians about false teachers (II Cor. 11:13-15, II Tim. 4:3-4, I Tim. 4:1-3, Matt. 24:24).

PREACHERS

Men who choose the ministry as an occupation (I Cor. 9:14) are called preachers (Rom. 10:14), ministers (Col. 1:23), and evangelists (Acts 21:8). They have no duty to God different from any other Christian, just greater responsibility to work full time for the Gospel.

The apostle Paul instructed the young evangelist Timothy to “Preach the Word” (II Tim. 4:2, 5). First century preachers were primarily concerned with pleasing God (I Thess. 2:4, Gal. 1:10); therefore they preached the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

A minister is to serve (Matt. 20:26-28). The preacher can be a leader in the church (Phil. 3:17). But no where does the Bible authorize him to be a ruler.

New Testament preachers diligently studied the Word of God, using references from the Bible to support their preaching (Acts 2). They believed the Scriptures alone were sufficient and condemned those who taught otherwise (I Tim. 4).

Faithful New Testament evangelists preached the gospel fully (Rom. 15:19), forcefully (Acts 18:28), simply (II Cor. 11:3), urgently (I Cor. 9:16), boldly (Eph. 6:19-20), and in love (Eph. 4:15).

Their preaching was aimed at converting the lost to Christ, restoring the wayward Christian, and keeping the saved saved.

To be continued…

I Wish You Were Mine…

by Glenn Hitchcock

In The Whisper Test, Mary Ann Bird writes: I grew up knowing I was different, and I hated it. I was born with a cleft palate, and when I started school, my classmates made it clear to me how I looked to others: a little girl with a misshapen lip, crooked nose, lopsided teeth, and garbled speech.

When schoolmates asked, “What happened to your lip?” I’d tell them I’d fallen and cut it on a piece of glass. Somehow it seemed more acceptable to have suffered an accident than to have been born different. I was convinced that no one outside my family could love me.

There was, however, a teacher in the second grade whom we all adored—Mrs. Leonard. She was short, round, happy—a sparkling lady.

Annually we had a hearing test. . . . Mrs. Leonard gave the test to everyone in the class, and finally it was my turn. I knew from past years that as we stood against the door and covered one ear, the teacher sitting at her desk would whisper something, and we would have to repeat it back—things like “The sky is blue” or “Do you have new shoes?” I waited there for those words that God must have put into her mouth, those seven words that changed my life. Mrs. Leonard said, in her whisper, “I wish you were my little girl.”

God says to every person deformed by sin, “I wish you were my son” or “I wish you were my daughter.” He is still the God of the second and many more chances and boy I am glad.

~Adapted From Edward K. Rowell~

1 John 3:1-5 – Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.