scriptually organized w/o deacons ?
PRESENTED BY STEVEN SCHILLER
Have you ever wondered why churches go 10,20,30,40,50 years without the pattern almighty GOD gave for the church?
Are these assemblies practicing SIN? Has the LORD built these assemblies or man?
YOU MAY CONSIDER FINDING A CHURCH FULLY ORGANIZED AS GOD WILLS
GOD ORGANIZED THE ASSEMBLY NOT MAN
In our previous study we saw that churches in the New Testament when completely and scripturally organized had a two-tier system... - cf. Php 1:1
Bishops (also known as elders, pastors), of which there always more than just one, who oversaw the local congregation
Deacons ministered to the congregation under the oversight of the bishops
The authority of the bishops (elders, pastors) was limited...
Over the years, many have not been content with the New Testament pattern...
Soon after the apostles died, changes in the organization of the local church occurred
Despite later efforts to reform or restore the church, similar changes continued to occur
[In this study we shall review these changes and to suggest their significance...]
CHANGES IN THE ORGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH
In the New Testament, churches that had elders (bishops) never had just one...
This certainly prevented a one-man rule over a church
But things soon changed; as noted by the Holman Bible Dictionary...
During the second century A.D. churches came to have a single bishop, and then that bishop came to exercise oversight over nearby rural churches as well as the city church so that his ecclesiastical territory became known as a "diocese" or "see" ("eparchy" in the East).
Bishops of churches that had been founded by apostles were said to be in succession to the apostles, and hence their teaching was held to be authentic and their authority collegial.
By 400 A.D. in the West, the bishop of Rome began to assume extraordinary authority above other bishops.
According to A. T. Robinson's Word Pictures: "Ignatius shows that in the early second century the office of bishop over the elders had developed, but Lightfoot has shown that it was not so in the first century."
Many denominations have simply adopted the later changes in church organization
Some go back to 400 A.D., and emulate an organization similar to Roman Catholicism
Others go back to the second century A.D...
And have a three tier system of bishop, elders, deacons within a congregation
Or where a bishop or group of bishops (presbyters) oversee a number of churches
Some who sought to restore New Testament Christianity later adopted changes that are not much different than what occurred in the past
The International Church of Christ developed a hierarchy of control over churches that emulates the structure found in Catholicism and other churches
The sponsoring-church concept adopted by many churches of Christ has the same effect as changes which occurred in the second century (elders in one area overseeing other churches or areas)
[One might wonder whether such changes have any importance. My response is yes, for several reasons...]
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUCH CHANGES
THEY REFLECT AN ATTITUDE...
It reflects an attitude toward the Scriptures and the Lord
That we are free to change whatever we desire
That we can come up with a more efficient plan of church organization and church cooperation than the Lord
The same attitude that allows changes in organization leads to changes in the work, worship, and doctrines of the church
THEY CHANGE THE PURPOSE...
Remember, organization (design) reflects purpose
Change the organization and you change the purpose
E.g., in the NT organization of the local church, the purpose of the elders is to watch and feed the flock over which the Spirit has appointed them
When elders become overseers of other churches or works in other areas...
They are no longer shepherds, but administrators
They presume authority in areas they have not been given
They take on works they really can't oversee (at least, effectively)
Their purpose as God's shepherds has changed!
THEY UPSET THE BALANCE OF POWER...
Changes in organization upset the "balance of power"
Other than the authority given the inspired apostles, no man or group of men were given more authority than the elders of a church - cf. He 13:17
A plurality of elders in one congregation also kept them in check
But when changes in church organization occurred...
It became possible for one man to control one or more churches
It became possible for a group of men to control a group of churches
Thus authority over churches which ought to rest in Christ and His apostles now becomes vested in uninspired men!
THEY INCREASE THE SPREAD OF ERROR...
Finally, the Divine wisdom to slow the development of error is hindered
Some changes in church organization were an attempt to restrain error
But whenever you have an organizational structure above the local church, the potential for error's spread multiplies!
If error creeps into a local church, it is less likely to spread if each congregation remains independent and autonomous
But if error creeps into a hierarchy like those developed in the second century and later, it can quickly spread to churches expected to submit to the hierarchy
Church history illustrates the danger of making changes in the organization of the church...
Changes in organization leads to changes in work and worship
Lack of respect of authority regarding organization is usually accompanied by lack of respect for other doctrinal matters
When Jesus said, "I will build My church", He knew the best way to do it...!
The New Testament reveals how He did it through His apostles
A clear pattern concerning the organization of churches in the New Testament reveals its simplicity and evidence of Divine Wisdom
If we are content to "continue steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine..." (Ac 2:42), then we will make sure that we follow their ways in Christ pertaining to the organization of the local church!
IS YOUR HEART RIGHT WITH GOD?