CHURCH-06 - Church Order
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CHURCH OF CHRIST
To a church that had a host of problems and sins to deal with, the apostle Paul said,
"Let all things be done decently and in order," 1 Corinthians 14:40.
In a world where there is mass confusion, chaos, and even anarchy at the
religious level. What does God expect from His church as it relates to church order,
following His will, holding His commandments, and doing things the way God wants us
to do? Those are some of the questions that we hope to answer in today's lesson from
What does God say about church order? We know God does want things done in
an orderly fashion. The Scripture says, "Let all things be done decently and in order." To
really understand the idea of church order, we need to realize more specifically what
we’re talking about. For example, let’s realize that the church is the people. In 1
Corinthians 12:27 Paul said to Christians, “You are the body of Christ and members
individually one of another.” As we talk about church order, worshipping, living, and
practicing doctrine correctly let's realize that begins on individual level. If the church is
made up of multiple members then for everything to be orderly and decent that first and
foremost has to begin with individuals. Let's also realize that our God by His very nature
is organized and orderly in everything He does. For example, think about creation in
Genesis 1. The Almighty God spoke the world into existence in great detail from day
one to day three and God looked and it was good. You can see the order the
organization and the logic that everything God creates had and that tells us about His
nature. God by His very nature wants things to be done decently in a logical order.
That's who God is, so if I'm going to please God I also must align my will to his will to do
things decently and in order. I want to strive to follow the pattern that the Almighty has
set forth. In what areas must we strive for this order and organization?
As we mentioned, for any kind of order to exist that has to begin with the
individual. If the church is going to be what God wants it to be, then let's break it down
to its most basic fundamental level. Each Christian must have their life in order for God
to work through them. What does that really mean when we say I've got have God's
order and organization my life? How does that apply, what are we talking about? First, it
means I've got to want more than anything else to live for Jesus every day. This is
where it all starts; I've got a want more than anything else to please the Lord. Jesus
said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be
added unto you.” Jesus wants me to put His kingdom first; Jesus wants me to think
about my soul and the seriousness of the Bible. Mark 8:36-37 says, “What will it profit a
man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul, or what will a man give in
exchange for his soul.” From those two heart wrenching questions of Jesus, we learn
what's really important: seeking first the kingdom, and making sure individually my soul
is where God wants it to be.
When we talk about living for Jesus every day we're talking about making sure
that our priority is God's priority. In Isaiah 43:7 we learn why we're here; why we exist
God said, “Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I
have formed him, yes, I've made him.” I'm here to fear God and keep His
commandments. This is the whole duty of man Isaiah 43:7; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. Paul
said in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether we eat or whether we drink, or whatever we do
we're to do all to the glory of God.” How might I have church order in my life? By making
sure that I say to myself every day, ‘you're here honor and glorify God, that's why you're
created, that's your divine purpose; that's your whole duty in this life.’
As we talk about giving ourselves to Jesus as individuals on a daily basis, let's
use some examples of that to help us to see the relative nature of what we’re talking
about. Paul serves as a perfect pattern. In 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul said, “Imitate me as I
imitate Christ.” How did you imitate Christ, Paul? Galatians 2:20 says, “ I have been
crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I
now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for
me.” What's it really mean to serve Christ? First, crucify self, die to the old man, and live
for Jesus. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Do you not know that you were bought at a
price; therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit, which are His.” That means that
I want to follow the pattern of faithfulness that Jesus set forth. How does Jesus define
faithfulness? “Be faithful until death,” Revelation 2:10. Luke 9:23 says, “If any man
desires to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow
me.” In Romans 12:1 Paul said to the Christians in Rome, “I beg you, by the mercies of
God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice.” Every day, my life and yours is to
be a sacrifice for Jesus Christ. On the most basic and fundamental level if church order
and organization are going to be done the way God wants them, it has to begin with me
and you putting Christ first in our lives.
Secondly, if my life is going to be ordered the way God wants, I've got a do my
best to abstain from this world and its sinful practices as a member of His church.
Question the world and God, and how their views differ. We're talking about the things
that keep us from putting first the kingdom. What's God have to say about that? James
4:4 says, “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world
is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself
an enemy of God.” Ephesians 5:11 says, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of
darkness, rather expose them.” I want to show you why from God's perspective this is
something He demands of us. Think about the damaging results the world has had on
some of God's people whom He loved. In Acts 5 Ananias and Sapphira had obeyed the
gospel, they were Christians, and they were members the Lord's church, but the world
got in their heart they lied to God. They lied to the apostles and God saw that greed had
ruined them. Both of them died because they lied to God over greed. How do you think
God felt about that? It broke his heart. In 2 Timothy 4:10, Paul said, “Demas has
forsaken me, having loved this present world.” Balaam sold-out the people of God for
money and lust and pleasure; Judas sold out the Lord for 30 pieces of silver. Solomon,
for example, was given wisdom from on high and yet all that lust and pleasure and
passion worked on his heart.
When I think about this world and how I've got to make sure that I don't get
caught up in it, there are so many examples that just shout out to us to be careful. In
Luke 12:15-21, a man had a great crop year, so good that he said to himself, “I’m going
to have to tear down my barns and build bigger barns and there I'll have room for all my
stuff.” He said you can take it easy eat, drink, and be merry, he said to his soul. You
know what God said to that man? “You fool this night will your soul be required of you.”
What was the problem? There wasn't any problem planting, wasn't any problem having
a great crop year, wasn't any problem being rich. Here's the problem that man thought
about everything except his soul, the most important possession he had. Another sad
example can be found in Mark 10:17-22, a rich young ruler comes to Jesus and asks,
“Good teacher what must I do to inherit eternal life?” It’s a wonderful question, what do I
need to go to heaven? Jesus said, “Keep the commandments: ‘Do not cheat,’ ‘Do not
murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not commit adultery.’” “All these I've done from my
childhood.” Jesus then looked a little further and said, “One thing you lack sell what you
have; give to the poor, come follow me.” The Bible says that man went away sorrowful
for he had great possessions. That's why God says, “Do not love the world or the things
in the world,” 1 John 2:15-17. I've got to make sure that my life is really where it needs
to be because I am and you are a member of the Lord's church.
For things to be done decently, organized, logically, and in order as is the nature
of God, 1 Corinthians 14:40, we must have order in Bible authority. Things cannot be
done decently unless there is a pattern, a plan, and a law to follow. God's given us that
who has authority. God and His son Jesus Christ have all authority. The author of
mankind has authority over His creation. Genesis 1:1, “God in the beginning created the
heavens and the earth.” God said, “Let us make man in Our image.” “God breathed into
man the breath of life, and man became a living soul,” Genesis 2:7. Whose creation am
I, who is my soul responsible to? God. Therefore, He has the right and the power to set
the guidelines. In Matthew 28:18 Jesus said, “All authority has been given to me in
heaven and on earth.” What about in the church today then? Jesus is still the head of
the church. Ephesians 1:22-23 says, “He put all things under His feet, and gave Him be
head over all things to the church.” The church has not been decapitated, we do not
need a new head; we don't need a human ruler. Jesus is reigning on high from heaven
itself, Hebrews 1:4. “God's word is already settled in heaven,” Psalm 119:89. If God in
Jesus are in authority, where do I find the order of their authority? In the Bible. The Bible
is where we find God's authority for today.
Two great questions are asked in Scripture. In Jeremiah 37:17 an evil king
asked, “Is there any word from the Lord?” Paul repeated this in Romans 4:3 when he
said, “What saith the Scripture?” The Scripture, the word from the Lord, is our final
authority today. John 2 teaches us a powerful lesson. When Jesus was at the wedding
in Cana, He and His mother were evidently invited, so He and His disciples attended
that. At the wedding they run out of what the Bible says is wine, so Jesus’ mother
recognizing somehow that He can do something about it asked Jesus somehow the
refill those pots. She knows He's going to and in John 2:5, Mary turns to the servants
and says, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Whatever Jesus says to you do it. “God has
in these last days spoken to us through His Son,” Hebrews 1:1-2. The Bible contains
everything I need for life and godliness. It is all inspired, able to thoroughly equip me for
every good work, 2 Timothy 3:16-17. It's all true, John 17:17. It's everything I need to be
free as truth, John 8:32. In 1 Corinthians 4:6, the apostle Paul said that some things had
been transferred to himself and Apollos for their sake. He said this that you may learn in
us not to think beyond what's written. Where is the order and organization? Where do I
find that at, don't think beyond what's written. What's that mean? If it's not in the Bible,
I'm not even going to go there; if it is in the Bible that's where my thoughts need to be.
Revelation 22:18-19 says that I'm not add to or take away from the word of God. “Do not
add to His word lest He rebuke you and you be found a liar,” Proverbs 30:6.
Let's also realize the system that God set up in the local congregation.
Understand that we recognize God has all authority. His Son Jesus has all authority, His
word and matters of doctrine and teaching has all authority. God has also on a
congregational level in matters of function and expediency placed elders of the local
congregation in authority. You find out about elders in 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, and Acts 20.
Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey those who rule over you and submit to them, for they watch
out for your soul.” We know from 1 Peter 5:1-5 that that is the responsibility of leaders in
the Lord's church. If the Bible said that we're to give on the first day of the week can
elders somewhere say we're only going to do this monthly? No, they don't have the
authority to change God's law, but they do have it in matters of function and expediency.
Here's what we mean by that: the collection is taken up on that first day of the week,
what are we going to do with that? We have guidelines; we're going to evangelize; we're
going to teach; we're going to save the lost; but, through what means are we going to do
that? Elders who meet the qualifications have that wisdom that the Bible speaks of;
have the authority to decide and my responsibility is to submit to their will as they follow
the teaching of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Church order begins with me and
begins with you our individual life.
Then we have to follow the authority of our God, but for the church to have the
organization that God wants, we also have to have order in our doctrine. Doctrine
demands that we follow the teaching of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That doctrine
is designed to promote unity among God's people. In 1 Corinthians 4:17 Paul said that
all the churches ought to teach and believe the same things. We're to have unity, Psalm
133:1, “Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” If we
follow the apostle's doctrine and fellowship breaking of bread and prayers, we have
unity, Acts 2:42. This order and doctrine it also demands that we have to defend the
faith found in the Bible. If things are being taught that are not correct, that are contrary
to the Scripture that are adding to or taking away, or not staying within the boundary of
God's law Christians have to defend that. Jude 1:3 says, “Beloved, while I was very
diligent to write you concerning our common salvation, I wanted to write to encourage
you about that salvation we all have in common.” He then said, “I found it necessary to
write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all
delivered to the saints.” “We must have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of error or
darkness,” Ephesians 5:11. Jesus would say to people who were teaching error in Mark
12:24 “you do therefore greatly err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.”
There are things that God's people need to have this unity and order. We need to
have order in doctrine, unity when it comes to the oneness of the Lord's church. As
we've stressed in this series, Jesus only ever intended to build one church. He said, “I
will build my church.” Jesus said to Peter, “Upon this rock (this statement that I am the
Christ the son the living God) I will build my church.” Did Jesus say upon these rocks I'll
build my churches? Did Jesus say upon these rocks I'll let other people build their
churches? Did Jesus say anybody who wants to can build a church on this rock? “I will
build my church.” Singular, belonging to Jesus, and built upon the truths that we find in
the Bible. No other foundation can any man lay except that which is laid. Another
specific doctrine is our teaching is concerning baptism for the remission of sins. In the
Lord's body, with one unison voice we need to proclaim and teach what the Scriptures
teach concerning baptism.
The Scriptures are not at all vague; they are crystal-clear on this subject. Jesus
said, “He that believes and is baptized will be saved; he that does not believe shall be
condemned.” What did Jesus say you have to do to be saved? Jesus did not say he that
believes will be saved; Jesus did not say he that is baptized will be saved. Jesus said,
“He that believes and is baptized will be saved.” John 3:5 says, “Unless a man is born of
water and the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Did Jesus say you have to be
born of water to go to heaven? He absolutely did. In Acts 2:38 when people who
realized the death of their sin, the seriousness of it cried out, “What shall we do?” The
answer was not saying the sinners’ prayer, the answer was not just believe in Jesus.
The answer was, “Repent and be baptized for the remission of your sins.” Baptism is for
the remission or removal of sin. If sin separates me from God, I can't be saved without
being baptized. 1 Peter 3:21 says this as clearly as any passage, “Baptism does now
also save us.” If God says baptism saves then we need to have church order in saying
that as well. We need order in our teaching concerning mechanical instruments of music
being sinful. The Bible says, “Sing and make melody in your heart.” The Bible doesn't
say make melody on organ, piano, guitar, bongos, or whatever you want to use. The
Bible says in your heart. The Bible says we're to teach and admonish one another in
Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. “Is
anyone happy, let him sing,” James 5:13-15. Church order is indeed possible, but here's
what it’s going to take.
First, I've got to look to my life, if the church is made up of individuals, and ask
am I really committed and dedicated to following Jesus above all else. Then we've got
to have order when it comes to Bible authority. God and Jesus are at the top. His word
is how He revealed that order. In local congregations, elders have authority in matters of
options and expediency. We must let God's doctrine have the order in our life and teach
what God wants us to remember. The Bible says, “Let all things be done decently; in
May God help us to have true church order.
Study Questions for: “Church Order”
1. According to 1 Corinthians 14:40, how should things be done?
2. Who is the church according to 1 Corinthians 12:27?
3. According to 1 Corinthians 10:31, what are we to do?
4. How long are we to be faithful according to Revelation 2:10?
5. Luke 9:23 says to do what, if we desire to follow Christ?
6. What should we avoid according to Ephesians 5:11?
7. 1 John 2:15-17, tells us to not love what?
8. Who is the head of the church according to Ephesians 1:22-23?
9. Should we add to the Word according to Proverbs 30:6?
10. According to Psalm 183:1, what is good and pleasant?