Vol. 12 No. 3 March 2010
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
There are certain things about the church of Christ that stand out in contrast to manmade churches. As we noted last month, the church of Christ is unique in origin, as is clearly seen in her builder, her base, and her beginning. This month, we endeavor to note another feature of the church of Christ that makes her divinely unique.
The church of Christ is unique in OVERSIGHT.The true church of the Bible must be overseen in the same way that the first century church was overseen. The authority of any given congregation must match the authority about which we can read in the New Testament, or else she cannot be the same divine institution of the New Testament! Synods, counsels, popes, bishops and even business meetings are all foreign to the New Testament regarding the oversight of the church. Man is often good at making exceptions for why the above are used for oversight, but the fact remains these are not God’s way!
The church of Christ is unique in oversight because of her Head. Paul clearly stated that Jesus is the Head of the church (cf. Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18). If another head exists, then that church cannot be Christ’s! The head of any organization dictates exactly what that organization does and does not do. The organization that honors its head does only those things that the head dictates. There is not a democracy in the Lord’s church! Christ dictates the rules, and the church follows them exactly! In the church belonging to Him, Christ “…is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15b). The church that honors Christ is unique because of her Head!
Secondly, the church of Christ is unique in oversight because of her Guide. The Psalmist so eloquently affirmed, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). The church belonging to Jesus is illuminated and guided by only one Book (i.e., the Bible). You see, dear readers, creed books, confessions of faith, man’s traditions, man’s opinions and latter day revelations are all inferior to the Bible and certainly not safe guides for salvation! If a religious group has more than the Bible, it has too much, if it has less than the Bible, then it has too little! The church of Christ supports and upholds the truth of God’s Word (1 Timothy 3:15), and those who receive, teach or practice another gospel are in great danger (Galatians 1:6ff)! The church of Christ is unique in oversight because of her Guide!
Thirdly, the church of Christ is unique in oversight because of her organization. Jesus, through His Word, was specific and direct as to how His body was to be organized! First, elders were to be appointed in every congregation (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5). If this was the command in the first century, why have some changed it? Congregations that desire to belong to Jesus must actively seek, teach and desire to have elders, who fit Scriptural qualifications (cf. 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). Secondly, deacons are appointed to special service areas. Deacons are neither junior elders nor do they “oversee” the congregation in any venue. They are under the oversight of the elders to serve in special areas, and they too must fit strict scriptural qualifications (Acts 6:1ff; 1 Timothy 3:8ff). Thirdly, preachers are designated in a local congregation to fulfill a scriptural office as well. The office of a Gospel preacher involves a man studying (2 Timothy 2:15), preaching and teaching the Word (2 Timothy 4:1ff), as well as committing sound doctrine to faithful men who can teach others (2 Timothy 2:2). If elders are not present or do not lead, if deacons are not present or do not work, and if preachers are not present or do not preach, then the church is not what God desires her to be! The true church of Christ is unique in oversight because of her organization.
Religious bodies that are overseen in any other way certainly could not belong to God! God is very precise as to how He wants His body to be overseen. The right Head, the right Guide and the right organization are certainly unique to the religious world of today. In fact, someone may even say to demand such is quite peculiar. However, when I stand before the Judge at the end of this life (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:10; Acts 17:31), I want to make certain I belonged to the body that respected Him and His Word and was truly unique. Are you an active part of the unique body of Christ? Consider carefully!