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The Church - Lesson 13

The Church in 25 Lessons

Jon Gary Williams

Lesson 13 - The Church: Its Organization

The New Testament scriptures contain a plan of church government. To believe the Bible is inspired is to accept what it teaches regarding the structure (organization) of the church. It is complete in every respect. For men to try to improve on this arrangement, by adding to or taking from what has been revealed, is to reject the all-sufficiency of God's word. What exactly does the New Testament teach about heaven's arrangement for the church?

I. The use of the word "church"
A. The church in its universal, comprehensive sense.
  1. All Christians world-wide make up the church. (Matt. 16:18 Eph. 1:22,23)
  2. There is no earthly organization for the church universal. 

B. The church in its local sense.
  1. Includes Christians within a local congregation. (I Cor. 1:2 Acts 8:1; 13:1)
  2. Sometimes congregations are spoken of collectively. (Rom. 16:16 Gal. 1:2,22)
II. The organization of the local church
A. There is to be an established "order." (Tit. 1:5) (cf. I Cor.1 4:40)

B. All congregations were autonomous (independent, self-governing). There were 
no regional or district headquarters. There were no centralized synods or 
councils. All such has come from men, not God.

C. When men met the qualifications, a plurality of elders were appointed in the 
local congregations. (Acts 14:23; Tit. 1:5; Acts 20:17)

D. Likewise, when men met the qualifications, deacons were appointed in the local congregations. (I Tim. 3:8)

E. All the other Christians ("saints') together with the elders and deacons made up the local congregations. (Php. 1:1)
III. The church - the prescribed medium of the Lord's work
A. The Lord's work is to be done through the church. (Eph. 3:10)

B. Evangelism (Acts 13:1-3; 14:24-28) and benevolence (Acts 11:28-30) are works 
of the church.

C. Organizations created by men to do the work of the church have no authority 
from God and are, therefore, unscriptural. (For example: "Missionary 
Societies," "Ladies' Aid Societies" or "Evangelistic Associations.") 

D. Para-church organizations are not to be created. The church itself is sufficient. 

IV. Co-operation among local churches
A. Though independent, congregations co-operated in their work.
  1. In benevolence. (II Cor. 8:1-5)
  2. In evangelism. (II Cor. 11:8)
B. Congregations sometimes assisted one another. (Rom. 15:25,26; Acts 11:28-30)