Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Local Church

Temple Baptist Church - 2-1-2012

Philippians 1:1


A. Paul is writing with a two-fold purpose:

1. To encourage the saints in light of his imprisonment by letting them know that he is in bonds in the will of God. God often uses dire circumstances to work His will and to accomplish spiritual ends. Trials and tribulations make us more dependent upon the Lord and strengthen us spiritually.

2. To commend the Philippian believers for the work and labor of love in the area of missions and promises them that, as their power to give ebbs and flows, God meets the needs of Him men through others.

B. As we begin the Book of Philippians, I want us to turn our attention to the first verse because it is one of a kind in the Pauline Epistles. In all other of his epistles, the Apostle Paul wrote to the saints in general or to individuals. This salutation is different as he mentions not only the saints but also the offices of that local church.

C. Over the past few decades, there has been a movement across America to minimize the importance of the local church. I do not know what there is about “not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together” that the modern day “Christian” does not get but, to me, the command is plain and simple to understand. I love to use the phrase “Not means no and no means never.” The Bible strongly emphasizes the local church.

D. The local church has organization that curtails confusion and division. Today’s churches are “laid back” in both organization and worship to make the carnal believer and the lost religionist feel right at home in the presence of a thrice holy God. God is neither the Author of confusion nor does He condone carnality in worship.

E. I may take these first couple of weeks preaching on the local church. I will not preach a series but will take my time dealing with this particular subject matter. I preach along these lines occasionally because of the “drifting” that has and is occurring in the Bible Belt. I am a strong local church preacher. I believe that its Founder is the Lord, its organization is Divine, its worship is pure, and its purpose is pointed.

F. Tonight, let’s look at what Paul pointed out in his salutation concerning the Philippian Church. There are three distinct classes of believers in the local church. By classes, I am not speaking of importance or worth, because all three are important and have definite purpose. Each is nothing without the other two.

G. I will deal with them in the order of mention.

1. The Saints - Act 2:41-43, 46-47 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. (42) And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. (43) And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles … (46) And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, (47) Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

a. The Were Added – “gladly received” These individuals got the “real thing” and it showed in the immediate change of life. They were, for the most part, orthodox Jews who love the Temple and rejected Christianity. Now, they became identified with Jesus Christ, the rejected One, and the people of like precious faith. So many people get “saved” and never leave the false doctrine and deadness of their former religions.

b. They Assembled – “added unto them” Those who were truly saved had no problem with either baptism or attendance! There is a distinct difference between religion and salvation and that difference is evidenced here. When people get “saved” and have to be dragged to church and pushed into the baptismal waters, they are possibly missing something.

c. They Adhered – “continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine” They became “sheep” instead of “goats!” Goats “butt” and are often unruly. These believers recognized and accepted the truth being taught through the power of the preached Word and the inward dwelling of the Holy Ghost.

d. They Adored – “Praising God” Their assembly was punctuated by worship and glorification of the One who saved them. They worshipped unashamed and loved unreserved. Their hearts forever changed and filled with the love of Christ and His church.

e. They Became Active – “fellowship…breaking of bread…prayers” They followed God’s men, adhered to the doctrine taught, were faithful in fellowship, and became prayer warriors. They were not “pew sitters!” The work of the church must be done corporately!

f. They Added – “such as should be saved” God uses “sheep” to begat “sheep.” As their friends and loved ones saw the change that came through real salvation, they desired the same. From faith to faith is God’s way of propagating the gospel. We are saved and then tell others. Church visitation is an everyday event as God’s people mix and mingle with the unsaved both in public and within their families.

2. The Bishops - Jeremiah 3:15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. (There are denominations and churches that have women pastors and preachers. These churches are willfully ignorant of the scripture. A bishop must be the husband of one wife. This qualification also applies to missionaries and evangelists or preachers of any kind. If these verses in 1 Timothy only apply to the office of a bishop—then then the evangelists, missionary, or other preachers do not have to meet any qualifications!)

a. The Design of the Pastor – 1 Timothy 3:1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. (It is an office! “Superintendence” To be placed in charge or to be director over. As the Godhead is triune, so is the body of the church. Chain of command is by divine design and is essential for the welfare and work of the local church. Without it, there would be much confusion because of a lack of spiritual leadership.)

b. The Description of the Pastor – Ephesians 4:11-15 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (12) For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (13) Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (14) That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (15) But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (He is God’s man for you! Without apology, he is special because of his office, not because of his person. If he is God’s man, he will lead you right, he will love you right, he will advise you right, and will never intentionally hurt any of you.)

c. The Duties of the Pastor – 1 Corinthians 9:16-17 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! (17) For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. (God’s man is divinely obligated! God’s call is not optional; God’s call is a stewardship. He is not to be lazy or lax in his obligation. The pastorate is not an easy way to make a living, it is a ministry.)

1) The Pastor Is A Shepherd - 1 Peter 5:2-3 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. (This speaks of both authority and obligation.)

2) The Pastor Is A Watchman

a) Warns Against Sin - Ezekiel 3:17-21 Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul. (Wicked Lost and Wicked Saved)

b) Warn Against False Teachers - Acts 20:29-31 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

3) The Pastor Is A Preacher

a) Always Instant - 2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

b) All Inclusive - Acts 20:26-27 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. (27) For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

1a. Preaches Salvation to the Lost

2a. Preaches Sanctification to the Saved

4) The Pastor Is A Teacher - 1 Peter 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

5) The Pastor Is A Friend - 2 Corinthians 12:15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.

3. The Deacons - 1 Timothy 3:8-12 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; (9) Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. (10) And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. (11) Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. (12) Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. (Many churches have both men and women deacons but do err concerning the Scriptures. The qualifications for a deacon are the same as those of the bishop. He must be the “husband of one wife.” Those that err try to go to the Greek text underlying our English Bible to prove their appointment of women deacons. In Romans 16:1, Paul calls Phebe a “servant” of the church. The word “servant” used in this verse is the same word used in 1 Timothy 3 when giving the appointment and qualifications of deacons. Therefore, they concur that Phebe was a deacon in the local church. The Scofield Reference Bible adds to this confusion with its center column reference concerning the word “servant.” If you have a Scofield Bible, you will notice a little “s” if front of the word “servant” in verse 1. The center column explains the notation by calling Phebe a deaconess! There are two problems with Phebe being a deacon: 1) According to 1 Timothy 3, she is disqualified by not being able to be the husband of one wife 2) 1 Timothy 3 speaks of the “office” of a deacon and Romans 16 makes no such claim. Phebe was a precious lady who did what she could to serve the church but did not hold the office of a deacon. Though the scriptures say little concerning this particular office, good deacons are invaluable to the work of the local church.)

a. Deacons are invaluable to the local church - Acts 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. (Many times, people do not receive the visits that they both need and deserve when sick, in nursing homes, or in the hospitals. The pastor is expected to do all of the visiting and good pastors do make visits but, if he is the only one who visits the sick, those in nursing homes, or in the hospitals—those needing the visits will not get many visits! Churches do not realize how busy a pastor is during the week. My week gets planned out very quickly and, if not careful, I will let all of those plans interfere with the most important aspects of the pastorate. Our people who are sick and in need should have visits from someone besides the pastor or they will think that no one else cares.)

b. Deacons are invaluable to the pastor - Acts 6:2-4 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. (3) Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. (4) But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. (Good deacons “serve tables” to keep the pastor from having to do so. The main work of the pastor is two-fold: prayer and the Word of God. Study and prayer time are ever so important to the pastor: 1) For his personal wellbeing 2) For the wellbeing of the pulpit! These men of God are not only table waiters but are also sources of encouragement and counsel to the pastor. Their faithfulness to the Lord, the church, and their pastor is a blessing that only heaven will reveal completely. Good deacons are blessed: 1 Timothy 3:13 “For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.”)

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