The Organization and Structure of Christ's Church

Rev. Jim Bogle, given January 14, 2007

When Christ created the universe, He created it with structure and organization. Though millions, if not billions, of stars are whirling out in heaven, not one of them has, that we know of, collided with the other. The Big Bang theory is just that; a theory! If God saw the importance of structure in the universe, He also saw the importance of structure in the church. Though all Christians have been endowed with special spiritual gifts — some more, some less — not all have the same gifts, nor the same calling of God.

Ephesians 4:1-3

1: I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

Look at the word “vocation” used only once in the entire Bible. It is the Greek word, “klay-sis” which means invitation or calling. Read it this way, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech (exhort) you to walk worthy of the calling (invitation) wherewith you have been called."

Who is Paul addressing here? Believers — not just men, not just women, but all believers. Every Christian has a calling from God for service.

How are we to walk in this world, and by what manner are we to employ or practice our gift?

2: With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

3: Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

1 Timothy 2:1-4

1: I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

2: For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

3: For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

4: Who will have all men [Greek: Anthro-pos: Human beings] to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

My calling in Christ Jesus is not necessarily your calling in Christ Jesus. If I’m striving to take your calling for me, if you’re striving to take my calling for yourself, is there going to be unity in the Spirit? NO!

Is there going to be any PEACE in our fellowship? NO!

Is Christ going to be magnified or glorified in the midst of our struggling to take one another’s calling? NO!

God is not the author of confusion, but of PEACE. And there’s only one body of believers in Christ.

Ephesians 4:4-8

4: There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;

5: One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

6: One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Do not confuse Paul’s statement here with the unbeliever! The unbeliever is not a member of Christ’s church. The unbeliever can be a member of Powhatan Original Free Will Baptist Church, but that doesn’t mean they’re a member of Christ’s universal church. The universal church of Jesus Christ is in the heart. It’s not the Mormon Church. It’s not the Jehovah Witnesses, or the Seventh Day Adventists, or the Christian Scientists, or the Original Free Will Baptists of North Carolina. The Universal Church is God’s Spirit alive and well in the heart of the believer! And only members of God’s universal church have been called out for service to Him. Only members of Christ’s universal church have been baptized in the Spirit, and commissioned and gifted to minister on behalf of our Him.

7: But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

Whatever your gift, it is the gift of Christ Jesus! These gifts were not available to anyone until Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world that so limited our work for God on earth.

8: Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. [Greek: Anthropos: Human beings]

We are no longer prisoners bound in the cage of mortal sin, but we have been set free to enjoy the life that we have in Christ, and to be witnesses of the same as Christ has given us spiritual gifts and His grace to minister.

In the second chapter of Acts is recorded the fulfilling of the Old Testament prophecy of Joel where the Holy Spirit prophesied:

Joel 2:28

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy [Hebrew: nabah, to speak by inspiration or discourse], your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

Now we’ve just read, in Ephesians 4:8, that when Christ went back to heaven, he sent forth spiritual gifts to men (Anthropos: human beings).

You will remember God’s great commission to all:

Mark 16:15

Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel…

When God poured out His Spirit upon all that believe and receive Him as Lord and Savior, He poured the Spirit out upon men and women alike. But in that out-pouring, He controlled the gifts and He gave them to whomsoever He willed.

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

1: Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

2: Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.

3: Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man [Greek: ooden, neutral=no one] can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

4: Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

5: And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

6: And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

7: But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

8: For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

9: To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

10: To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

11: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

God has poured out all kinds of spiritual gifts to men and women alike! But these gifts have been poured out as God wills, not as we will.

1 Timothy 2:8-14

8: I will therefore that men [An’er, male] pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

9: In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;

10: But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

11: Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.

12: But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

13: For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

14: And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

Some believe this an outrageous statement and one that could only speak to the culture of Paul’s day. But others disagree.

o        The Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible (Leadership Ministries Worldwide, Chattanooga TN, 1991, Vol. 10, p. 150)

“The Christian woman is not to teach in church nor to have authority over a man. Ears perk up and eyes focus when this statement is read, and in some cases emotions are aroused, especially in societies where the struggle for women’s rights are being fought. What does Scripture mean? Scripture is brief and factual. A simple statement is made: “A woman [is not] to teach, nor to hold authority over a man…Some commentators say that this passage is to be interpreted only in the context of its day…But note: this position is most unlikely because of the universal reference to Adam and Eve. Scripture is drawing a universal application from the creation of Adam and Eve. It is because God created in an organized and orderly way and gave specific functions to both man and woman that man is to take the lead blazing the path through life for his family and the church.” (1 Timothy 2:12-14, p. 151-152)

o        Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, (Discover the Bible, Nelson Electronic Bible Reference Library, Quick Start Guide, version 2.1f, Nashville TN, 1999, by Thomas Nelson, Matthew Henry’s Commentary New Modern Edition Database copyright © 1991, 1994 by Hendrickson Publishers, Commentary on 1 Timothy 2, verse 12-14)

“According to Paul, women must be learners, and are not allowed to be public teachers in the church; for teaching is an office of authority, and the woman must not usurp authority over the man, but is to be in silence…Aquila and his wife Priscilla expounded unto Apollos the way of God more perfectly; but then they did it privately, for they took him unto them, Acts 18:26. Here are two very good reasons given for the man’s authority over the woman, and her subjection to the man, v. 13, 14. Adam was first formed, then Eve; she was created for the man, and not the man for the woman (1 Corinthians 11:9)”

o        Dr. R. Finlayson on 1st Timothy 2:12, (The Pulpit Commentary, Hendrickson Publishing, Peabody, Mass., undated, Vol. 21, p. 49 on 1 Timothy 2:12)

“The position of the apostle, that a woman is not to be a teacher in the house of God, is very implicit: I permit not a woman to teach.  Whatever her qualification—and some women are better qualified to teach than men—the apostolic enactment is against her teaching.  This enactment is grounded in what is natural. It would be reversing the natural order of superiority for men to sit under a woman as their teacher.”

When Paul reached back into Old Testament history and cited God’s creative work (Adam created and then Eve), he made it clear that his admonition to restrict the woman from holding a place of authority over the man in the church was universal, not just for the local culture. In Genesis chapter 3, when God called out, “Adam, Where art thou?” it was because God holds the man responsible for his family and for the leadership of the church. (1 Timothy 3:5). Please remember that Eve took the very first bite out of the forbidden fruit and nothing happened to her. There was no change in her emotional state or physical being. It was when Adam violated the Word of God that the curse of death fell upon both Adam and Eve, and also upon all creation.

There are those who suggest that when Paul was writing to Timothy and providing instructions for the building of the church in the Gentile world, that in many cases he was only writing his opinion and not speaking by Godly inspiration. A minister recently wrote in a Christian periodical, “Most often when Paul uses the first person (i.e. I), he is giving his opinion, not making a decree from God.” Now suppose we adopt Brother Grubbs' point about Paul’s inspirational/no-inspirational writing, what then do we do with 2 Timothy 3:16-17, where Paul says:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Dr. Albert Barnes writes,

"[The Epistles of Paul] are as full and complete as we could desire in regard to the nature of the office, the qualifications for it, and the duties which grow out of it. They are fitted not only to direct Timothy and Titus in the work to which they were specifically appointed, but to counsel the ministry in every age and in every land. It is obvious that the character and the welfare of the church depend greatly, if not entirely, on the character of the ministry. The office of the ministry is God’s great appointment for the preservation of pure religion, and for spreading it abroad through the world.”

The debate over whether women should serve in the pastorate will not be settled today for this church. There are many God-fearing, God-loving, and faithful servants of God who see no dilemma with the issue and would fully welcome a woman as their pastor. But for this Pastor, the Spirit of God (though some might question) moves my heart to applaud our sisters in Christ for the work wherein they have been called, and have been faithful to serve, and have won many to Christ Jesus, but on the other hand, to stand in the place where God calls me to stand.

May God’s work not be hindered!