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Lesson 21

The Organization Of The Church Of Christ

1. The Bible mentions only one church (Eph. 4:4-6), which is built on one foundation (Mat. 16:18). "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is ____________ ____________" (1 Cor. 3:11). We therefore must use the Bible to ascertain God's pattern for the organization of the church of Christ (Mat. 15:13).

2. The term "church" is used in two ways. (A) It is used in the universal sense with reference to all baptized believers under Christ's authority (Eph. 1:22-23). "so we (Christians), being many, are _____ _______ in Christ, and every one members one of another" (Rom. 12:5). (B) It is also used in a local sense referring to the group of Christians in a community, who regularly assemble themselves together (1 Cor. 1:2). Since every church of Christ is ruled by a plurality of elders by the word of God (Acts 14:23; 1 Pet. 5:2-3). Therefore, every church of Christ is independent and autonomous one to another.

3. We find that there are offices of elders and deacons in the church of Christ. Paul wrote to the Phillippians with these words, "...to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the __________ and _________" (Philp. 1:1). Every full-grown or fully established church of Christ ought to have a plurality of elders. "And when they (Paul and Barnabas) had ordained them elders in ________ church..." (Acts 14:23).

4. The elders were also called to be overseers and pastors by Paul. Having called the elders of the church of Ephesus before him (Acts 20:17), Paul instructed them, saying, "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you __________, to _______ the church of God ..."(Acts 20:28). Accordingly, these names are referring to the same office; however, their different aspects of works are described. "Elders" describes their maturity in the Faith (1 Tim. 3:1-7), and "overseers" their rule over the church (Acts 20:28; Heb. 13:7, 17), and "pastors" their teaching role to the believers (1 Pet. 5:2-3).

5. The office of deacons is mentioned in 1 Tim. 3:8-13. "... let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a __________, being found blameless" (1 Tim. 3:10). They are special servants in the local church ruled by the eldership (Acts 6:1-6).

Conclusion: According to God's word, every mature church has her scripturally qualified elders who oversee the body of believers by God's word through their examples (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 5:2-3). Deacons are appointed to serve under the eldership for the special ministry of a local church (1 Tim. 3:8-13). Every church is independent and autonomous one to another. The local church is all sufficient to carry out God's purpose in the world (Eph. 3:11).



Author: Howard Cheung

Updated July 1, 1999