The church is a kingdom over which Christ rules as King (1 Timothy 6:15; John 18:37; John 19:19). Chirstians are citizens in this kingdom (Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 12:28; Revelation 1:9). The world is the territory of this kingdom (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8). The new birth is the way we enter this kingdom.
The church is the body of Christ and Christ is its only head (Ephesians 1:22,23; 4:4). He has all authority (Matthew 28:18; Colossians 1:18). He has never given this authority to anyone else. Because Christ is the head, we take our instructions from Him. Because He is King, we must obey Him (Ephesians 5:24).
The Organization of the Local Church
The church has no earthly headquarters. The headquarters of Christ's church is in heaven. Each congregation of the Lord's church is independent and self-ruling. There is no pope, council, conferences, or group of people controlling all the congregations of the Lord's church.
Elders are to be appointed in every church (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5). In the New Testament, elders are also called: presbyters (1 Timothy 4:14): bishops (Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1,2); overseers (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2); pastors (Ephesians 4:11,12); and shepherds (1 Peter 5:1-4).
1 Timothy 3:1-7 (KJV):
" 1This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."
Titus 1:5-13 (KJV):
" 5For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: 6If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. 7For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; 9Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. 10For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: 11Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake. 12One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. 13This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith:"
In addition to being a faithful Christian, an elder must be a man with a wife and faithful children. He cannot be a new member and be qualified. Also, there must be more than one elder serving in the local congregation. The Bible says "elders" plural (Acts 14:23; 20:17,18,28).
These elders are to guide, guard, feed, and rule the flock of God (1 Peter 5:1-4; Acts 20:28: Hebrews 13:17; 1 Timothy 5:17).
Deacons are to be appointed in every church (Philippians 1:1). Their qualifications are listed in 1 Timothy 3:8-13.
1 Timothy 3:8-13 (KJV):
" 8Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. 11Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 12Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus."
The work of deacons would include what was done as recorded in Acts 6:1-6. Again, deacons can only be men. Women are not qualified to be deacons because they cannot be the "husband of one wife."
Preachers have the responsibility to "preach the word (2 Timothy 4:2-4). As with elders and deacons, preachers are men (1 Timothy 2:8-15).
Anyone who has obeyed the gospel are members of the Lord's church (Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 1:3). Members of the church are to obey the elders (Hebrews 13:17). They are to teach the lost (Acts 8:4; 2 Timothy 2:24, 25). They are to practice "pure religion" (James 1:27).
The leadership of the Lord's church is made up of qualified men. If a church does not have this kind of organization, it cannot be the church that Jesus built. He is only the head of a church with the scriptural organization.
If the church of which you are a member has women elders, deacons, and/or preachers, that church cannot be the church Jesus built.
- Written by John M. Grubb for Truth for the World -