As we look around us, we see order, we see beauty, and we see elegance. That’s because our Creator designed it that way. It didn’t happen by accident. As we continue our study of the Lord’s church, we see that God designed her as well. He didn’t leave her to be molded and organized by men. He left a divine pattern for us to follow. When we follow the pattern, the Lord’s church is recognizable. She has order, beauty, and elegance. If a congregation strays from the design, or pattern, it is no longer the Lord’s church; it has become a manmade organization. How do you know if you’re worshiping with the Lord’s church? Pay attention to the leadership, the worship, the teachings, and if it matches up with what the Bible instructs, you’re in the right place.
To begin this study, we’ll start with Matt. 28:18. Since this is our third Bible-marking study on the church, the front of your Bible should look this:
The Lord’s Church
It’s Establishment- Dan. 2:44
It’s Illustrations- Rom. 12:4,5
It’s Organization- Matt. 28:18
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.'”
Circle the word “all,” and underline the word “authority.” Because Jesus has all authority, we follow His commands. His Words always trump man’s. At the end of the verse, write John 12:48.
“He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him–the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”
Underline “the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” The Lord’s church follows Jesus Christ because she belongs to Him. He has told us that we will be judged according to His Word, and He has the authority to do that. At the end of the verse, write Col. 1:18.
“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.”
Underline “He is the head of the body, the church.” You might also note that “He” refers to Jesus (see vs. 13ff). Christ is the head of the church, not any man. At the end of the verse, write Acts 14:23.
“So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”
Underline “appointed elders in every church” and circle the word “every.” Instead of having a council, each congregation is to have appointed leaders that are responsible for the spiritual oversight of the church. Also, notice that the word is plural. There should be more than one elder serving. At the end of the verse, write Tit. 1:5-9.
Because of the length, I will not write out the passage here. In the margin of your Bible next to this passage, write “qualifications of elders.” According to this text, elders are to be good leaders of their own families, self-controlled, patient, knowledgeable in the Word, holy, etc.
Here are responsibilities of elders. You can choose if you’d like to include this in your Bible-marking here.
1. Oversee & be examples- 1 Pet. 5:2,3
2. Watch & warn- Acts 20:28-31
3. Watch over & give account for souls- Heb. 13:17
4. Labor & admonish- 1 Thess. 5:12,13
And here are other names for elders. Again, you can choose if you’d like to include this in your Bible-marking.
1. Overseers- Acts 20:28
2. Shepherds- 1 Pet. 5:2
3. Pastors- Eph. 4:11,12
4. Bishops- 1 Tim. 3:1-7
As we move on in our study of the organization of the Lord’s church, the next verse is Phil. 1:1.
“Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.”
In addition to elders, there are to be deacons in the Lord’s church. Deacons are men who are appointed to serve in ways that will meet the needs of the local congregation. Underline “deacons.” At the end of the verse, write 1 Tim. 3:8-13.
Again, for the sake of space, this passage will not be written out here. Like elders, deacons have qualifications to meet. They must be reverent, blameless, good leaders of their homes, etc. Underline the word “deacon” in verses 8, 10, 12, and 13.
According to the Bible then, there is a clear organization of the Lord’s church. Christ is the head of the church. Elders are appointed spiritual leaders in each congregation. And deacons are men appointed to serve under the oversight of the elders. All of us are in subjection to Christ, the Head. Next month we will continue our series by looking at the pattern for worship in the Lord’s church.