Jul 14

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Having studied in article number three in this series, that the kingdom of Christ does work, and that worship is the first act that one who has been saved should do; we now move on to a study of just how a kingdom, without any early headquarters, which nevertheless has work to do, can do them! It is here admitted that more needs to be written about authorized worship, we shall return to this subject as we move though the articles.
It is important, as a matter of fact, it is imperative, that we have some conception of how the kingdom of Christ works! While keeping in mind that the King of the kingdom is in heaven at the right hand of God. As all authority rest in him, but it is in written form, the New Testament sealed in his own blood! If we can view the kingdom as a series of small villages, which are found round the globe, and each one being autonomous, meaning each is under local leadership, who are called “elders,” “pastors,” “bishops” and “overseers.” It is necessary that we know a little about each of these words. First, the term “elders” which refers to age and wisdom; second, the word “bishops” is an incorrect translation, as it should be translated “overseers.” It is the Greek word, “episkopos” and means: “1) an overseer 1a) a man charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others are done rightly, any curator, guardian or superintendent” (Thayer). Third, the word “pastors” should have been translated “shepherds,” being the Greek “poimen;” as Thayer gives this: “1) a herdsman, especially a shepherd.” The word does not refer to preachers as it is so often used today! These “shepherds” watch out for the “sheep,” so the “eternal purpose” of God may be done; as Paul wrote: “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:10-11). First, just here, may it be noted that Paul, by inspiration, uses the singular “church!” It is not the responsibility of one local church, “village,” to fulfil this text! It is the responsibility of the whole kingdom of Christ to fulfil the requirements of this text! Second, it must be noted that the words: elders, shepherds, and overseers, are used in the plural, meaning that no “village” (local church) is ever overseen by one elder, shepherd, or overseer but in each “village” there are plural, overseers!
With this before us, we are prepared to take up the workings of the kingdom of Christ, which shall be done in the upcoming articles, starting with this one. However, allow me to ask: When you think of the kingdom of Christ, just what is her first work? The first work of the “village” is to worship her God! Throughout the history of human kind, there is a requirement to worship God! In the New Testament, the authority of Christ, God must be worshipped “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). This sounds good to most people but just what is included in such worship? First, let us address the word “spirit.” Keeping in mind that the kingdom is within us, not some building, no matter how eloquent it may be, no matter if it is located on the highest hill or the deepest valley. Therefore, all worship must come from within us! Our “spirit” must be humble, contrite, as in bowing before the great “I Am!” Attention is here called to a word used by Paul as he addresses the Lord’s Supper, he wrote: “not discerning.” Every act of worship must be done “in spirit” discerning each act, the purpose of it. Most of us have our favorite songs, such as: “How Beautiful Heaven Must Be?” How could one sing the words of this song and not be discerning heaven? If it is done without “discerning,” then it is vain!
Second, Jesus’ words “in truth.” Just what is “truth” as it relates to worship? Is it somehow not the truth of which Jesus spoke: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Or is there another truth? Is there something not within “the teaching of Christ” that may be called truth? How about the words of Paul to Timothy: “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:1-12). Is there a truth not in “the word” of which Paul writes? If so, just where is it located? Do we find any of the churches in “The Act of the Apostles” or in any of the epistles doing it? Keep in mind, that the word of inspiration, as in breath by God, has everything: “That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:17). Therefore, if it is not in “the word,” it is simply not authorized and is outside “the teaching of Christ!” If outside “the teaching of Christ,” the person doing it has no fellowship with God or Christ! (2 John 9). Can you think of anything worse? “God forbid!”
The only things we find “the churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16) doing in the assemble of worship are: 1st, singing (Col. 3:16); 2nd, giving “as God hath prospered him,” while remembering: “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:6-7); 3rd, the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:21-29); 4th, praying, as Paul wrote: “… giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:17); and 5th, teaching that all may be edified, once more as Paul wrote: “Let all things be done unto edifying” (1 Cor. 14:26). Finally, these words must be remembered: “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:4).
Here we need to visualize each “village” in the kingdom of Christ all worshipping, “upon the first day of the week” (Acts 2:42 and Acts 20:7). Each one doing the same thing, as nothing else is found in the authority of “the King of kings and Lord of lords!”

Frank R. Williams

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