Question: You often make reference to the one true Church that is talked about in the Bible; please comment on that Church.

Answer: Part 5. Church government has for many years, been a source of discussions and difference of opinions and has led, at least to some degree, to religious division. And we all know that religious division is sinful (John 17:20-21).

Yet, in the Bible, Church government and its function is spelled out very clear and is extremely important to the salvation of our souls.

Church government has to do with control, rule, direction, etc. and man has always had his hand in these matters pertaining to the church. However, God has very plainly showed us that the church of Christ (Romans 16:16) is able to do “all” that God intend for it to do on earth.

It is true that God has placed three laws among mankind: the law of the patriarchs, the Law of Moses, and the gospel or the law of Christ. When Isaiah prophesied of the birth of Christ he said the “government” would be upon His shoulder and His government would be endless (Isaiah 9:6-7). Therefore it is the law of the gospel that governs the church and the Christian today. In Isaiah 2:3 Isaiah also said that God would teach us of His ways and out of Zion (Jerusalem) would go forth the law.

Here is something to keep in mind; the total law of the United States of America is its constitution of the United States. Therefore any other government having any other law cannot be the government of the United States. Agreed? Now, the law of the church of Christ, found in the Bible, is the total New Testament gospel of Christ and the apostles. Agreed? If any other church has a law that is not book, chapter and verse out of the Bible, then it is not the God given law that governs the church. Is it?

In order to understand church government we will consider four things: the organization of the church; the eldership; the deacons and the evangelists.

The organization of the church: Paul said in Philippians 1:1 that the local church of Christ in Philip was composed of elders (bishops), deacons and saints (Christians). In all cases the number is plural not singular. Meaning there is, by the Bible, to be more than one elder and more than one deacon. Acts 14:23 tells us that each local congregation was to have it own elders. Also, in Acts 11:28-30 we learn that the elders have the responsibility of supervising the work and worship of the local church of which they are members. With elders in each and every church of Christ supervising the work and worship of the congregation, the whole congregation is to busy themselves with “making known the manifold wisdom” of God (Ephesians 3:10). After all are not Christians the only hands God has on earth today (2 Corinthians 3:3)?

The eldership: according to Paul each local church of Christ (Romans 16:16) is to have its own elders (Titus 1:5). These elders are to feed the church that is among them keeping in mind that the church belongs to Christ (Acts 20:28). Why? Because Peter said it this way: “Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:3). When elders rule or govern the congregation with this kind of attitude and leadership, then the congregation, by God’s decree, has no other alternative but to surrender to their guidance, because they are “Watching in behalf of souls” (Hebrews 13:17). One last thing to note; the Bible uses the terms pastor, bishop, and elder to describe the office of elder, but nowhere in the Bible is one elder (pastor) authorized in a local church.

The deacons: When Paul showed the organization of the local church to be made up of elders, deacons and saints (Philippians 1:1) and then set forth qualifications for these men (1 Timothy 3:8-18) along with the elders qualifications (1 Timothy 3:1-7) he thus indicates a repeatedly establishment or reputable office—more than just an everyday servant—a special servant. The Greek word from which deacon comes means someone who attends to, waits on, etc. or applies to Christians one and all. But, a deacon (servant) in a local church of Christ congregation is an appointed man assigned to a special function working under the oversight of the elders. A good example of how a man as a deacon might serve the congregation in a special role may be seen in Acts 6:1-6.

While on the subject of deacons (or servants) in the local church let’s talk a bit about a very current subject of “women” servants. In Romans 16:1 Paul called Phoebe a “servant” using the Greek word (diakonos) which is the same word we get deacon from; the question—did Paul call Phoebe a deaconess of a local church? While it is apparent and true that Phoebe was a Christian servant in the local congregation at Cenchera the Bible is silent (Deuteronomy 29:29) on her or any other woman being appointed to the office of deacon in and/or holding that position in an official capacity.

The evangelist: a position placed in the local church by God Himself (Ephesians 4:11). In the early church Phillip was an evangelist (Acts 21:8). Evangelists are to take heed to themselves, the doctrine (gospel), making sure that the and only thee gospel is what they believe and teach, because that is the way souls are saved (1 Timothy 4:16). And, last but not least; a true gospel preacher will preach only the word (book, chapter, and verse) from the Bible (2 Timothy 4:2). Thus the true gospel preacher will study (2 Timothy 2:15) to make sure he is preaching “only” that which the apostles preached!

If Christ, truth and righteousness mean anything to us, it should mean everything to us!

Watch for Part 6: Unity. Do you have a Bible question or comment you would like to have answered? Please call Marshall Stubblefield at (423) 272-2404.