The Church as an Organization
New Testament scriptures reveal that the church of Christ is a divine institution, organized by the apostles under the direction of the Holy Spirit. It’s divine purpose is furthering the spread of the gospel of salvation. The church is God’s means of saving the world. Since its establishment on the day of Pentecost, no soul has ever been saved or shall ever be saved outside of the sacred precincts of the church. The church of Christ is purchased with the blood of Christ Jesus (Acts 20:28).
Regarding its organization: first, as to its, name, the Scriptures affirm that Christians, in their collective capacity, were known as “the church,” “the church of the Lord,” “the church of God,” “churches of Christ.” No human designation was ever applied to it. In their individual capacity, were sometimes referred to as “disciples,” “brethren,” “saints,” etc., the only name they ever wore was that of “Christians.”
In a given locality these Christians were also identified as a group of Christian meeting regularly to conduct their worship of God and to carry on the work God assigned to the church. Each congregation was a separate unit answerable only to God in matters of doctrine and authority. Its only officers were elders (sometimes called bishops) and deacons appointed over each congregation. The elders or bishops were to oversee the church and labor for its spiritual welfare — to settle its difficulties, strengthen the weak and lift up the fallen.
Deacons were special ministers or servants whose duty it was to look after the temporal welfare of the congregation, caring for the needy and providing for the material necessities of the church. There were “evangelists” who served as preachers of the gospel, but they had no official capacity in the congregation. The word “minister,” that means “servant,” is variously applied to evangelists, apostles, and any other servant in the church.
The word “reverend,” used only once in the Bible, is applied to God -and never to a gospel preacher. The word “pastor” refers to elders, the spiritual “feeders of the flock.” Each congregation had a plurality of elders, but never in God’s word is there a record where one elder had authority over a plurality of churches.
In the study of the Bible as one studies the great truthsone is impressed by “the majesty of simplicity.” The foregoing is the simple arrangement of the organization of the church of the Lord. There are no higher officers than those we have named and, if we are to be scriptural in church organization, these and only these are the names, the offices, and the principles, which we may use.
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