EVANG-03 - The Organization, Worship, and Name of the Church
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How is the church of the New Testament organized? How does it
worship according to the Bible? By what designation or name is the church
identified in the New Testament?
We welcome you to our third series in our evangelistic lessons. We
hope that you'll have your Bible ready as we're going to study these
subjects together today.
In Acts 14:23 the Bible clearly teaches that the organization of the
church it is governed by a plurality of elders. When we're talking about
organization, we realize Jesus is the head of the church, but those whom
God has put in place are elders and deacons. All members work for the
same common goal with them. Notice the plurality of elders mentioned in
Acts 14:23. The Scripture says, “So when they appointed elders in every
church and prayed with fasting, they committed them to the Lord in whom
they had believed.” Now the question we want to ask based on Acts 14:23
is, didn't these inspired men appoint elders in every church? Bible clearly
says they did. They appointed elders in every church. Well friend, would we
be right if we did as they did in appointing elders, a plurality of elders, in
every congregation? If we followed that pattern, wouldn't we be following
the pattern of organization of the Bible? What about if we put something in
place different than that? Could we be wrong if we did not organize the
church the way these inspired men did? Meaning if we put one man in
place, we put a board of deacons or a one-man pastor system is that
according to the Bible? No, it's not. In fact in Acts 20:17 and verse 28 the
elders are designed to be the overseers of the church. Acts 20:17 Paul is
writing to or discussing with the elders of the church in the area of
Ephesus. He says to these men in Acts 20:28 “Take heed to yourselves
and all the flock among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.” Are
the elders designed to be overseers? Yes, they watch over they care for
people's souls. They try to help keep the church pure as God designed for
it to be.
Now friend as we think about elders in the New Testament, there are
clear qualifications that you find in the Bible for who can and who cannot be
an elder and what their responsibility is. Notice Titus 1:5-7 as it discusses
the qualifications of an elder. The Bible says for this reason, Paul speaking,
“I left you in Crete that you should set in order the things that are lacking
and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you. If a man is
blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children, not accused of
dissipation or insubordination, for a bishop must be blameless as a steward
of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent,
not greedy for money, but hospitable.” When we think about the
qualifications of elders in the church, it's clear that not everybody meets
those qualifications. You got to be an older person, married, have children.
It must be a man. The husband of one wife clearly designates that
responsibility was given for male leadership in the New Testament. We
want to make sure that these men are qualified who are put in. 1 Timothy
3:1-7 again mentions these qualifications. From that, must an elder be
married? Well yeah. He's got to be the husband of one wife. Must an elder
have children? Having faithful children the text clearly says. Can a new
convert or a novice be an elder? The Bible clearly says that he cannot.
There are definitive guidelines for putting in elders in every congregation.
Each congregation is autonomous in that that local eldership tries to
oversee and lead that congregation according to the word of God.
Now what about further noting about the organization of the church?
According to 1 Timothy 3:8-12 the church also has deacons. Listen to 1
Timothy 3:8 of the qualifications and roles of deacons. The Bible says,
“Likewise deacons must be reverent not double tongued, not given too
much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a
pure conscience, but let these also first be tested. Then let them serve as
deacons being found blameless. Likewise their wives must be reverent not
slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be the husband of
one wife, ruling their children, and their own houses well.” Now what's the
office under discussion here? It's a deacon. As we find in the Bible, the
word Deacon means a servant. They're given an official capacity to serve
in, and thus is it God's plan that there be qualified elders and deacons in
every congregation? Yes, that's the pattern that you see. In fact Philippians
1:1 kind of puts in a nutshell. Paul writes to the elders, deacons, and the
bishops or the bishops and the deacons and all the saints in Philippi. Here
you've got kind of organization in a nutshell bishops or elders deacons and
all saints or all Christians. If we're going to think about being the if we want
to be the church of the New Testament, then it's got to be organized the
way God wants it to. Someone says, ‘well what's the importance of all
that?’ I ask you to consider this; where in the New Testament do you find
things like you find today for organizations of various groups? Meaning,
where do you find the Pope in the New Testament? Where do you find one
man running the whole show? We don't find that. In fact here's what you do
find in Matthew 23:9 Jesus said, “Call no man Father.” We're not to look up
to someone and call him Father in a religious sense. Where do you find a
board of deacons running the congregation? Not without elders, and the
elders are always the ones who are the overseers or the shepherds of the
congregation. Where do you find women elders or deacons? We don't find
that in the New Testament. Both are to be the husband of one wife- which
clearly designates that as a role that men are to fulfill and to submit to.
And so, the organization of the church helps us to identify the Lord's
church as the body you find in the New Testament. As we think about the
new church, New Testament church, and being a member of the Lord's
church, we also want to realize that the way the church worships helps us
to designate it as the church you find in the New Testament.
How did the church worship in the first century? Do you remember
John 4:24? Jesus said, “God is a spirit and those who worship Him must
worship in spirit and in truth.” Friend is it the case that we've got to worship
God in spirit? Meaning are our whole person emotion it be engaged it and
in truth? Absolutely! I've got to worship God not just with the emotion and
the feeling it and heartfelt, but it's got to be guided by truth which is the
word of God. John 17:17 reminds us what truth is. Jesus prayed to the
Father “Sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth.” What is truth?
Jesus clearly said the word of God is truth. Here's the application. Since
we've got to worship God according to the truth, must we worship God as
He's told us to in the New Testament? Friend that's where we find what
Let us never forget that the putting of man's tradition as
commandments and doctrine is clearly condemned in the Bible. Jesus said
this in Matthew 15:9 “In vain do they worship Me teaching as doctrine the
commandments of men.” First question we ask is, is it possible to worship
God in vain? Well, yeah. Jesus clearly said there some were worshiping
Him in vain. How did they do that? If we worship God according to the
commandments of uninspired men, is God going to accept that? He's
clearly not because that would not be following the teaching of the Bible.
Let's then direct our attention to how the church of the New
Testament worshiped and how we ought to follow that pattern as well.
What did the New Testament Christians do as part of their worship? The
first thing we notice is that Jesus commanded His disciples to eat the
Lord's Supper. I want you to listen to the words of Luke chapter 22 as
Jesus discusses the Lord's Supper as an action of paying honor and glory
to God. He said these words beginning in verse number 19 Jesus said,
“And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it and gave it to them saying
‘This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.’
Likewise He also took the cup after supper saying, ‘This cup is the new
covenant in my blood which is shed for you.’” Do, Jesus will then go on to
say again ‘do this in remembrance of Me.’ Is it the case that Jesus
commanded His site disciples to partake of the Lord's supper? He
absolutely did! Jesus clearly said ‘Do this.’ There's the command. ‘Do this
in remembrance of Me.’ Now we learn from 1 Corinthians 10:16 the cup
that we bless is the cup of the communion of the blood of Christ, and the
bread that we break it's the communion of the body of Christ. As we think
about the Lord's Supper, the cup represents the blood and the bread
represents the body the totality of the sacrifice that Jesus gave.
Here's another question we want to consider. How often should
Christians partake of the Lord's Supper? Some people do it three times a
year, some monthly, some maybe even different than that. Is there any
type of designation in the Bible when Christians did that? Would you direct
your attention to Acts chapter 20? And I want you to notice what the Bible
says in verse number 7. That's Acts chapter 20. Let's see how often did the
New Testament church partake of the Lord's Supper? Acts 20:7 the Bible
says, “Now on the first day of the week when the disciples came together to
break bread, Paul ready to depart the next day spoke to them and
continued his message until midnight.” They came together on the first day
of the week. Now there's a parallel in the Old Testament that helps us to
really crystallize how God wants us to interpret this language. Let me give
you an example. Do you remember in Exodus 20:8 where God said to the
Israelites ‘Remember the Sabbath. Keep it holy’? Okay. When God told the
Israelites ‘Remember the Sabbath,’ how did they interpret that? Did God
mean for them to keep every Saturday that rolled around? Well He
absolutely did and that's how they interpreted that. When those Christians
met on the first day of the week to eat the Lord's Supper, did they do it on
the first day of each week? Absolutely! Should Christians today eat the
Lord's Supper on the first day the week? According 1 Corinthians 16:1-2,
they came together every first day of the week. What's the purpose of their
coming together? To break bread was a big part of that purpose. They're
coming every first day of the week, and it's for the purpose of breaking
bread and remembering the great sacrifice that Jesus made for them.
Now a second item that we see that the New Testament Christians
participated in was giving. I want you to notice 1 Corinthians chapter 16.
And friend please understand as we're talking about giving, we're talking
about an individual giving at the local level at the congregation that he is a
member of all the first day of the week. We're not begging you for money
today or things like unto that. This is a command of God between God and
man, and it occurs in the local congregation. Listen to 1 Corinthians 16:1-2.
The Bible says, Paul speaking, “Now concerning the collection for the
saints as I given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also on
the first day of the week.” Some versions say ‘every week on the first day of
the week let each one of you lay something aside storing up as he may
prosper that there be no collections when I come.’ Is it God's will that we
give as we've been prospered? Yes. Paul specifically said, ‘give as you've
Are we to make a contribution to the local congregation on the same
day we partake of the Lord's Supper? I want to show you an inconsistency
here that helps us to realize people can understand the language of the
Bible. 1 Corinthians 16:1 says ‘on the first day of the week, we're to lay by
in store as we've prospered.’ Anywhere you go, almost 99% of places
anywhere you go, are going to pass the collection plate every Sunday. You
know what's amazing? The languages are parallel on the first day of the
week. We're to ‘lay by in store, eat the Lord's Supper on the first day of the
week.’ How come we can understand that when it comes to contribution,
but we have a hard time understanding that when it comes to the Lord's
Supper? That shows an inconsistency that we can actually and people do
understand that language.
Now a third action that Christians participate in when it comes to
worship of the church is singing. Ephesians 5:19 designates that we are to
sing and praise God with our voices. Listen to these words. The Bible says
we are ‘speaking to one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs
singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.’ Are Christians to sing
as a part of the worship? Well the Bible specifically says ‘sing and make
melody.’ Does this passage here though mention mechanical instruments
of music? When we read through it, it says ‘sing, make melody in your
heart, praise God with our voice.’ We find no mention here of mechanical
instruments of music. In fact church historians tell us that the followers of
Christ did not use musical mechanical instruments of music in their
worship. For hundreds of years after Christ left the earth, the Greek
Orthodox Church which split off from the Roman Catholic Church has never
used it in their worship. In fact when you attend the worship of the church of
Christ, you'll notice we don't use mechanical instruments of music. And
here's maybe you a comparison to help you understand why, in Genesis
6:14 think with me about Noah building the ark. In Genesis 6:14 here's
what God told Noah, ‘Make you an ark of gopher wood.’ Now think about
this with me. When God told Noah what to do, was that all that He wanted
doing? Did God specify? Would Noah have sinned if he had built the ark
out of let's say mud or metal? Well, yeah. God said make it out of wood.
Would Noah have sinned if he built the ark out of oak or Ash or Hickory?
Yeah! God not only told of the type, but the kind of wood to be used. And
so, God told Noah of the three that we mentioned today metal, mud, or
wood- which did God say? Wood- of three different types of wood oak, Ash,
or gopher which did God say? Gopher. He not only told the kind or the
type, He told the kind.
Now when we think about music, this is a parallel. When God said
‘gopher wood’ that automatically eliminated any other kind of wood. When
God said ‘sing make melody in your heart’ that automatically eliminated any
other kind of music.
You’ve got music, and then you got two types of vocal and
mechanical or instrumental. God said ‘sing’ not play. God specified how
we're to worship Him according to song. Remember Leviticus 10:1-2?
Nadab and Abihu offered an unauthorized fire to the Lord which He had not
commanded them. Where in the New Testament is the command to use
instruments of music? Now I know people say ‘well wait that was under the
Old Testament. Remember we've already studied in the Bible authority
lesson that we're living under the New Testament. That's the law we're to
be judged by. I don't worship, and I'm not saved like they were under the
Old Testament.’ Think about it this way, was God upset when Nadab and
Abihu when they made changes to His law? You bet He was! Must we be
careful not to make changes today?
Let me illustrate it like this. In Matthew 26:26-29 Jesus instituted
Lord's Supper. He took the unleavened bread. It represented His body. He
took the fruit of the vine. It represented His blood, and He commanded
them. ‘Eat this bread and drink this fruit of the vine. Do this in remembrance
of Me.’ You ask yourself, this would it be a sin if we put grape jelly on the
bread to make it taste better? Would that be okay? Might taste a little
better. Would that be alright with God? Well God has not commanded us
to. Would it be a sin if we were to spice up the grape juice a little bit instead
maybe we put Dr Pepper on the Lord's supper on Sunday morning, would
that be okay? Just make it taste little better. Maybe someone doesn't like
grape juice. I like Dr Pepper better. Would it be okay if we did that can we
make changes like that? Would it be a sin to put maybe hamburgers and
milkshakes or pizza and sweet tea on the Lord's Table? Would that be
okay? Friend we realize those things are not authorized. God told us what
He wanted. He wanted unleavened bread, fruit of the vine-not bread and
jam, not hamburgers not milkshakes. God wants music, and He specified
the type and the kind. ‘Sing and make melody in your heart to the Lord.’ We
realize Noah would've sinned if he used any other kind of wood beside
gopher. God didn't approve at all of Nadab and Abihu making changes to
the fire, and He reigned down fire from heaven and killed those men.
Friend if it was wrong for them to make changes, why would it be
right for us to do the same today? We need to realize, God has authorized
how we're to worship Him in the New Testament.
But friend as we think about the Lord's church today, let's also realize
that God has specifically told us how the church is to be designated- that is
the name that is to be called by. Do you remember Matthew 16:18? Jesus
said to Peter, “And I say to you that you are Peter on this rock, this
statement you made, I am the Christ the Son of the living God, on this rock
I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Friend who built the church according to Jesus words in Matthew 16:18?
Jesus said, “I will build my church.” Jesus said He was going to build
whose church? His church. If Jesus said He was going to build whose His
church, whose name should it wear? In Acts 20:28 Paul told the elders in
Ephesus, “Take heed to yourselves and to the whole flock among which
the Holy Spirit has made you overseers to Shepherd the church of God or
the church of the Lord which He purchased with His own blood.” Who paid
the price? Who purchased the church? Jesus did with His own blood. If
Jesus purchased the church, whose name ought it to wear? Whose name
should it wear that brings glory and honor to the one who purchased it? In
fact not only that, but do we realize that naming religious groups after men
is actually condemned in the Bible?
I want you to listen to 1 Corinthians chapter 1. In the New Testament,
they tried to name the church after men and Paul specifically forbids them
from doing that. 1 Corinthians chapter 1, I want you to notice what the
Scripture says beginning in verse number 10. Paul says, “Now I plead with
you brethren by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you all speak the
same thing and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be
perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it
has been declared to me concerning you my brethren by those of Chloe's
household that there are contentions among you.” Now watch what they're
doing Paul says, “I say this each of you says ‘I am of Paul or I'm of Apollos
or I'm of Cephas or I'm of Christ’ is Christ’ divided? Was Paul crucified for
you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?” Ask yourself this, would it
have been a sin in the New Testament according these words to name the
church after Paul or Apollos or Cephas or any other human being?
Absolutely! Paul said ‘Don't do that. Division's wrong.’ If the church were
named after Paul, who that glorify? Well it would glorify the apostle Paul. If
the church were named after some religious act such as repentance, who
would be glorified? Repentance. If it's a sin to name the church the Pauline
church, would it be a sin to name the church the Lutheran Church glorifying
Martin Luther? If it were a sin to name it the repentance church glorifying
repentance, would it be a sin to name it the Baptist Church glorifying
baptism? Where do you find Lutheran, repentance, or Baptist Church in the
And so, we want to consider that these names are not authorized in
the New Testament. But here's what we do know, did you know the church
of the New Testament is specifically called the church of Christ in the
Bible? Now I want you to see for yourself. Look in Romans chapter 16. I
want to direct your attention to verse number 16. That's Romans 16 look in
verse number 16. The apostle Paul says, ‘Greet one another with a holy
kiss. The churches of Christ greet you.” The churches of who? Christ. Does
that designation give honor to Christ? Does it show praise and glory to the
one who died for and built the church? Absolutely.
Now friend here's the challenge we would leave with you today. The
denominational names that exist today, find those in your Bible. Search the
Bible. Are those names in there? Remember Colossians 3:16 says
‘whatever we do in word or deed, we've got to do all by the name or the
authority of Christ.’ You can't find them in the Bible. How can we say our
faith is based on the word of God and we're a part of the church that you
read about in the New Testament?
In our third lesson, we've noticed these things about evangelism,
about these lessons: We've learned that Jesus is the builder and owner of
one church. It is His church, and He is the head of it. Christ wants unity
among His followers, and He wants them all to be one. For that to exist,
we've got to go to the New Testament as our only guide to learn the
organization, worship, and name of the church. If we're going to worship as
a church the way God wants us to, we've learned that we partake of the
Lord's Supper. We teach God's word. We pray. We sing. We make a
contribution on the first day of the week, and we learn that the name church
of Christ is scriptural and found in the Bible and would be a name that
brings glory and honor to God and to His Son.
Friend if you're not a member of the Lord's church, we're begging you
to become one. If you'd like to learn more about how to become a
Christian, please call us or write to us or email us.
Keep studying with us. In the next lesson we discuss what God says
one must do to be a Christian to be a member of the Lord's body.
Study Questions for: “Evangelism Series: Lesson 3”
1. According to Acts 20:28, what are the elders designed to do in the
2. What are the qualifications of an elder according to Titus 1:5-7?
3. How do we know it is a male position according to Titus 1:5-7?
4. Must an elder be married and have children according to 1 Timothy
5. What are the qualifications of a deacon according to 1 Timothy 3:8-12?
6. According to Philippians 1:1, what organization of the church is there?
7. What does Jesus tell us not to do in Matthew 23:9?
8. How must we worship according to John 4:24?
9. According to Acts 20:7, when did the New Testament church take the
10. What does Ephesians 5:19 tell us to do as a part of our worship? Does
it mention mechanical music?