SHARPER THAN A SWORD

SERMONS

Hebrews 4:12-13 "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."

All articles are written using the NKJV, unless otherwise noted! All articles are written by David Hicks, unless specified otherwise.

The Local Church

Every major apostasy in the history of the church has begun as a corruption of the government of God's people. Respect for divine authority must first be corrupted in the hearts of God's people or they will not depart from His ways.

As fewer and fewer of today's Christians are able to discern the truth and intent of God's word, cooperatives have crept into the design of Christ's church. Many of today's churches have the look of a limited liability corporation, instead of the timeless design Christ gave His church (conclaves, board meetings, councils, conferences, conventions, caucus, committees, directorates, etc…).

Because of the break down in the true design of the church, further degradation and ignorance within the church have also become the norm. Christians are simply willing to do, try; experiment with any knew idea for the sake of trying! Reliance upon the wisdom of God, is a talked about subtlety that hasn't any real teeth towards obedience to God. As each generation progressively moves farther away from the organization and work God gave the church, starting with degradation and corruption of the original design, government, and authority of God's church, chaos and apostasy will ensue.

 

Is the organization of God's church ambiguous and optioned for man's redesign? According to scripture, Certainly Not!

_____________________________________________________

 

Autonomy means self-government. God gave to each congregation the right of self-government. Each local church is subject to Christ and His authority alone ( Matthew 28:18-20 ; Ephesians 1:22 -23 ; Colossians 1:18 ). This right of self government actually has and depends on two basic scriptural and simple principles:

Christ bought His church with blood ( Acts 20:28 ), and completed God's eternal purpose in the establishment of the church ( Ephesians 3:10 -11 ). For this reason, we, like the Apostle Paul, must bow our knee to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (for the government, design, and authority), in seeking His will for the church (and everything else - Ephesians 3:14 )!

 

There is only one head of the church, that being it's King and Savior!

Ephesians 1:22-23 “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

His complete authority over the church includes:

•  Legislative – Law Giver.

Hebrews 9:15 “And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”

•  Executive – King, Head.

Colossians 1:13-16 “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him .”

•  Judicial – Righteous Judgment.

Acts 17:31 “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead."

 

2. Elders in every church.

Acts 14:23 “So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”

Elders, bishops, pastors were within the local church and ruled over its affairs in harmony with the will of Christ (elders, bishops, pastors are synonymous terms in describing these men). They only had jurisdiction over the flocks that were among them ( Acts 20:28 – flock, not flocks! I Peter 5:2 – flock among you! This only gave them authority over the local collective of brethren).

This divine arrangement specified by the authority of Christ through His apostles excluded all other organizations or forms of government for directing or overseeing the affairs of the churches of Christ (the church is not a democracy, it is a monarchy!). They had nothing larger than a local church and nothing smaller than a local church! Any human arrangement providing this oversight or government is not an aid; but is rather an addition or substitution to the design of the Lord!

 

Each congregation did its own work under the supervision of its own eldership.

The local church sent out preachers (not sponsoring a ministry organization – Acts 11:22 ).

Local churches supported preachers laboring in new fields directly ( Philippians 1:4-7 ; 4:15 -18 ).

The local church raised its own funds for scriptural benevolence ( I Corinthians 16:1-4 ; Acts 11:27 -30 ).

The local church selected its own representatives to deliver benevolence directly to the elders of the church where the relief was needed ( Acts 11:30 ; I Corinthians 16:1-4 ; II Corinthians 8:4-6 ; 16-21 ).

Each local church was equipped with necessary tools to perfect its saints (to place all the parts in necessary order, for educating Christians for righteous living); to do the work of the ministry (the rendering of needed services to its membership, physical and spiritual); and the edifying of the body (establishment, and enlargement – Ephesians 4:11 -16 ).

There is nothing which God has ordained that the church should do which cannot be carried out through the organization which God has given the church. Each local congregation may posses all the attributes of the body of Christ that makes it complete, apart from others.

 

The local congregation was the only medium through which the Christian of the New Testament functioned in the work the Lord assigned the church.

Christians associated with a congregation ( Acts 9:26 ; Hebrews 10:25 ; III John 9-10 ).

Romans 12:4-5 “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” Fellowship (joint participation – collective work), necessitates working in conjunction with other members of the local congregation (This can also be seen in the first Christians in Jerusalem – Acts 2:42 ).

Each local church is a spiritual house to offer up spiritual worship, only! This is the reason that they assembled together ( Acts 20:7 ; Romans 12:1-2 ; I Corinthians 11:17 -22 ; I Peter 2:5 ).

Christians were admonished to work together, be at peace with one another, submit themselves to Christ under the direction of the eldership, and were held responsible for enabling the congregation to do its work ( II Corinthians 9:5-7 ; Ephesians 4:16 ; I Thessalonians 5:11-14 ).

 

Acts 2:44 -45 “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.”

The church in Jerusalem was presented as a pattern for the independent work the church was to accomplish. When problems arose within the scriptural work the church was to do, it responded within itself to handle the problems ( Acts 4:32 -37 ). This pattern, the support of preachers, the relief of brethren in other places, and the individual church work (all that we have already discussed); have been catalogued for our practice. These and these alone!

________________________________________________________________________

There were no alliances of congregations other than the universal relationship to Christ. All churches bore an equal and separate relationship to whatever work they engaged in doing. However, harmless it may seem to change such scriptural organization is wrong and inevitably leads to the destruction of autonomy.

There cannot be found a system of subordinate churches; a system of brotherhood agencies; head quarter churches; etc…

 

Each local church was to do the work the Lord gave the church within itself (perfecting, ministering, edifying – Ephesians 4:12 ), and was to have for itself the scriptural government of God ( Philippians 1:1 – Saints, Elders, and Deacons). Each Christian within each local church was given the responsibility to ensure the completion of the God given work, within this approved organization.

Ephesians 4:16 “from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

1 Timothy 1:3 “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia --remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine,”

1 Timothy 4:6 “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed .”

Titus 1:5 “For this reason 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”

Titus 3:8 “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works . These things are good and profitable to men.”

 

We worship an all powerful, knowing, and present God! How is it that we know that He created the heavens and the earth in all of their perfection, yet think that He needs our help to organize and re-methodize the means by which He gave the church to do its work? It is time we all stand as Joshua; “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”

( Joshua 24:15 )