Monthly Archives: April 2013

Understanding Isaiah 53 the Good News of God’s Substitutionary Saving Grace! Part 1

Isaiah-Bible-Series(ver 1.1)   This is Part 1 in a lesson series on understanding the prophesied saving work of Jesus predicted to come in Isaiah 53.  I recently received a valid important question concerning the prophecies found in Isaiah 53.   The basis for the question was who this chapter was about, who are the players and characters being described and is this God pouring out His judgment upon someone and why was it necessary?  As part of this question I surmised that this also included the implied question of, “Was all of this prophecy fulfilled and if yes, what was accomplished by the fulfillment of this prophecy?”    I will not be attempting to answer every part of all these questions in this single Bible lesson today.   In order to understand the deep subjects of any chapter in the Bible we must first regress to understand the very basic subjects that establish the foundation for the deep.   Therefore today’s lesson is a teaching of the basic concepts found in Isaiah 53 to lay the foundation for the coming more complex subjects being mentioned.   I pray that you understand why I teach in this manner.  Paul said “I fed you milk and not with meat because you were not able to bear it” (1 Cor 3:2).  God teaches us very clearly that we should not get the cart before the horse and expect the passage to be successful while striving for deeper knowledge and understanding.   Therefore I am going to leave the meat parts of this subject to a future lesson in the series and focus upon the more important subjects in today’s lesson.

This chapter of the Old Testament is actually vital to understand as a Christian.  God places certain facts here that apply to us today and these help us understand why some people are saved and some are not.   In the English King James Version of the Bible there are several Hebrew words that were poorly translated by the translators.   These mistranslated Hebrew words cause serious doubts and even confusion when read in isolation ignoring the New Testament explanations and descriptions.  Without studying and researching what these original Hebrew words really mean people are left wondering what was actually prophesied by God to occur and who these words were really written about.   Also when we find the Hebrew scripture being quoted in the New Testament many of the Greek language translations were done with greater degree of accuracy.  Why the translators were not smart enough to be consistent I cannot explain but I have learned that I must find the answers from the New Testament in order to understand the writings of the Old Testament.

There is an essential basic concept found on the pages of the Old Testament that is absolutely crucial to understanding any of it.  Every word found on the pages of the Old Testament is completely true from a natural perspective but the spiritual meanings of the words have been hidden from the natural human viewpoint being veiled from their carnal minds.   I know of very few Bible teachers that teach or try to explain this spiritual veiled writing technique.  I have learned this fact simply because the Holy Spirit taught it to me personally and I did not learn it from any human teacher.   That is exactly why I teach this over and over to allow more people to understand the importance of this truth.   Every unsaved person will never be able to read the O.T. in isolation and figure out what it is all about.  Even carnal baby Christians do not have a clear perspective to what the O.T. was written about.  In today’s lesson whatever I say about the chapter of Isaiah 53 will come directly from the New Testament and this is the proper way to understand any verse written in the O.T.  In doing this we allow the Holy Spirit to interpret and define the O.T. words that are presented.     I am going to focus only on the first verse in this lesson on Isaiah 53.   I believe that Isaiah 53:1 contains the key to unlock the rest of the chapter.  In other words if you do not understand Isaiah 53:1 completely you will not understand the verses that follow. We will discover this fact by continuing to read and learn what the Holy Spirit has to say about it.

IS ISAIAH 53 EASILY UNDERSTOOD?

What I am going to do to begin this lesson is to turn to a story in the New Testament and go through a good portion of it to help confirm what I have just introduced you to in the first few paragraphs concerning the hidden spiritual information found in the O.T.   I want you to ask God to open the spiritual eyes of your understanding and allow you to see what He has to say in His Holy Word!  God gives us a very clear example of the O.T. hidden spiritual truth fact in the book of Acts.   If you go to Acts chapter 8 you will find this story and I ask that you read it over carefully and consider what was just revealed to you by God and how it applies to your understanding of the same passage:

  • Act 8:26  And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.
  • Act 8:27  And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,
  • Act 8:28  Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
  • Act 8:29  Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
  • Act 8:30  And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
  • Act 8:31  And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
  • Act 8:32  The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:
  • Act 8:33  In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.
  • Act 8:34  And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
  • Act 8:35  Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

This God inspired story is pretty awesome.  You can clearly see from reading verse 34 that the man did not understand what he was reading.  Here is a Gentile man from Ethiopia and he was sitting and reading the book of Isaiah and wondering what these words meant.  If you note from the context this man was a seeker of God coming to Jerusalem to worship and that is very important for what happens next and why.  Hebrews 11:6 tells us that God rewards those that diligently seek Him and this story is a prime example of that basic truth.   The Ethiopian man was struggling greatly with the understanding of the words that he could clearly read on the scroll before him but he still desired earnestly to know their meaning.  If you are observant you will find that this man was reading the words found in Isaiah 53.   God sent to him a preacher man to help explain the words and this man was named Philip an evangelist of God.    Well as you can clearly read in verse 35, Philip preached the hidden Christ in Isaiah 53 and as a result of this explanation this man was saved.    We have just learned something very important.

I have personally learned a lot from this story.  The primary take away is to understand that Isaiah 53 is predominately about Jesus the Messiah/Christ.  The second most important thing to understand from this chapter of Isaiah is the primary theme concerning Jesus pertains to human salvation since the Ethiopian was saved after hearing and understanding just these words.  The initial verse that Philip preached from was Isaiah 53:7.  This was where the Ethiopian was focused on so Phillip used it to teach the man about Jesus our silent sacrificed lamb.   It is important to note that when Acts 8 occurred there was no New Testament to read or share with others.  So the early church had to use only the Old Testament to preach and get people saved.    Do you understand this?   Why couldn’t this Ethiopian man just read the text, figure it out and get saved without anyone preaching and teaching him what the words meant?   Did the words on the page suddenly change when someone preached them?  I really do not think they did, but something happened to change the man’s perspective who was listening to a new way of seeing them.   A wrong thinking within the human mind is the greatest reason why the words are not known to the spirit of the man.   Once the mind is opened and cleared to see the words they are passed into the spirit of man to be believed.   I’ll definitely be talking more about his as we go forward.

God designed a system based upon divine grace and human faith where salvation is the common desired end result for both.  The fact that someone must preach the Gospel and the hearer must believe the Gospel is just a part of God’s design for salvation.  There is something about a man speaking with authority and preaching the Gospel with boldness that makes the words on the page come alive to many people that want to know them.  This Ethiopian man clearly desired to know them, was open to learning about them and God sent the preacher to open the words up from their concealed original state to be seen through preaching and teaching.

So far we have looked at only one reference of Isaiah 53 found in Acts 8 and have discovered the central theme to be salvation and the theme giver to be Jesus Christ.  That is the foundation for the rest of this lesson.   I might point out to you that the name “Isaiah” does not appear in the New Testament.  However that does not mean his written words are not found there.   The problem is that the New Testament was written in the Greek language and the name Isaiah was transliterated from Hebrew into Greek and then into English.   The Old Testament was transliterated directly from Hebrew omitting the Greek transition and thus we have two different spellings for the same name.   In the KJV New Testament the name “Isaiah” is written as “Esaias”.   This Greek word that was changed to “Esaias” is G2268 and it is derived from the Hebrew name H3470 written as “Isaiah” in the English.  Just understand that they are both the exact same name.  Then learn what the name means in the Hebrew.  “Isaiah” literally means “Jah saves”.   “Jah” is a short form of the Hebrew “Jehovah” (H3050) a primary name of God in the Old Testament.  The name of the prophet designates further hidden confirmation of the book’s main subject content.   Isaiah the prophet wrote about God’s plan of salvation for man so we need to learn how this applies and what it entails.

ISAIAH 53:1

I’m only going to go through the first verse in Isaiah 53 to keep the lesson shorter.  Then I will move to the New Testament to understand this verse.   What we will be looking for is the New Testament explanations and applications for what Isaiah recorded for God.   It is absolutely essential that you understand these words written to the natural nation of Israel are applicable to us and for us in the church.  If you do not know this you will discount them as being irrelevant and unimportant.  The reason I know they apply to the church is because these verses in Isaiah 53 are quoted in the New Testament repeatedly and explained there.  So we will begin reading with verse 1 of Isaiah 53 and then find the references to it in the New Testament:

  • Isa 53:1  Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?

Isaiah 53 begins with one of the most incredible O.T. hidden secrets that was only revealed to us in the New Testament writings after Jesus was raised from the dead.  Isaiah 53:1 is about the subject of faith.  Nowhere in this verse is that subject described, named, or defined and that is the reason very few understand it.  Galatians 3:23 describes a principle that faith was revealed (uncovered, made clear, opened for view) by God in the New Testament.  In order for any subject to be uncovered for view it had to be previously covered from view.  That is further confirmation for what I have taught.    However, if you do not understand the subject of faith then you will not understand this verse is about faith.   I would strongly suggest that you go and read my lesson series on “Understanding Bible Faith” if you have not read them.  This will build a foundation for understanding what is written here in Isaiah 53:1.   I will attempt to give you a brief overview of the subject of faith but I cannot repeat the lessons in any detail.  What is the number one question being asked here in Isaiah 53:1?   God very clearly says “Do you believe the report”?   What is a report?   A report is a spoken account of a given event by a witness or an expert qualified to speak about it.   Remember what we just read about in Acts 8 concerning the Ethiopian man?   Didn’t God send the report of a witness to the man from Ethiopia so that he could hear and believe it?   Did the Ethiopian believe the report sent by the Lord?  Evidently the Ethiopian man was saved because he did believe what was reported to him by Phillip.  Wow, that is pretty amazing!

Let’s analyze the last part of the verse, before we move on to the New Testament references.   What does it mean if something must be revealed?   As I previously stated anything that is revealed must first be concealed.  No one on their birthday ever knows for sure what present they have been given until it is opened and revealed to them.  What does the arm of the Lord represent in this verse?  These are both key determining factors for what I am teaching.   God reveals what was previously hidden from plain view was something unexpected.   In this case the subject being revealed is connected directly to the “arm of the Lord”.  The Hebrew word H2220 that was translated as “arm” can have either a literal or figurative application.   God’s “arm” in this verse is a reference to the figurative and not the literal.   This figurative Hebrew word will apply to God’s strength and power being revealed.   But, since we are limiting the discussion to Jesus and the salvation of man by definition of context discovered from reading the Acts 8 application, we will need to search and find what God says concerning the power of God that has saved men today.   Do you recall any verses like this in the New Testament?   One comes to my mind very quickly and I ask you to read and learn the reason why I say this:

  • Rom 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

I need you to see what God has just plainly stated.   The Gospel is defined to be the power of God for our salvation.  We also have a direct connection to Isaiah 53:1 with God’s usage of the word “believe”.   Since we have previously seen a clear example of Phillip preaching the Isaiah 53 verses to an Ethiopian Gentile man and him being saved from it because he believed the spoken report, we know concretely that Isaiah 53 is the Gospel that contains the power of God for salvation.   Therefore God declared Isaiah 53 to be His arm of power that saves if you will see what it says.  Let’s move on and look at the direct quotes of Isaiah 53:1.

Isaiah 53:1 is quoted specifically in the New Testament twice.  We will look at both of them.   I believe to fully understand this verse we must go and discover how God used it in the New Testament, how it was applied and why it was selected.  The first occurrence of Isaiah 53:1 is found in the book of John.   Jesus is the primary speaker within the context and His words are followed by God’s connection to Isaiah 53:1.  Therefore these words of Jesus must contain some very important information directly from the author of the entire book.   Read these verses very slowly and carefully:

  • Joh 12:35  Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.
  • Joh 12:36  While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.
  • Joh 12:37  But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:
  • Joh 12:38  That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?

These are actually very relevant words to learn.   Jesus claims to be the light of the world.  But this is a spiritual light and not a physical one.   Then Jesus says to them “to believe in the light”.   What is God in the flesh saying?    He is saying I’m here to fulfill Isaiah 53 and you can see this very clearly reading the context in verses 37 and38 where John also quotes from Isaiah 53:1.   What God is doing is teaching us that people have a very significant role to play in the process of salvation.   Jesus was God in the flesh walking like every other man before them and they chose not to believe in Him of their own freewill.  These Jews were NOT saved because they failed to believe and not because Jesus failed to save them.   If you don’t understand this you need to regress to even more basic Bible subjects.

Isaiah asks who has believed the report and Jesus said “Believe in me” and then goes away and hides himself from the people so that they can see what it would be like without Him being found.   John tells us that they saw great miracles but still did not believe in Him.    That is not good news for them because there are no second chances after death occurs.   I do not have time to teach everything that is found in these verses.  Just understand the statement that Jesus was sent to fulfill Isaiah 53 and this further confirms the chapter was about Him and His saving work for man to believe in.  Let’s move on to read the second critical N.T. reference of Isaiah 53:1 which is found in the book of Romans:

  • Rom 10:16  But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
  • Rom 10:17  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Here in this chapter’s context is found invaluable information concerning God’s saving power extended to man.    God quotes Isaiah 53:1 in verse 16 after He tells how to be saved in verses 9 and 10 of this chapter.    How are you saved according to Romans 10:9-10?  You must start by believing in Him and this includes believing that God raised Him from the dead.  Then you must confess with your mouth Him to be your Lord.   This is the basic requirement for salvation and it starts with believing the report since you were not there to witness the resurrection for yourself.  That is how faith works, you believe and you say.  This is a very basic reality but one that is ignored by many Christians.

It is very interesting to note that Paul quotes 12 different O.T. verses from Deuteronomy, Psalms, Isaiah, Proverbs, Nahum and Joel in this chapter context including the last verse of chapter 9.   I find that fact off the charts fascinating and significant to learn.  This knowledge helps to prove what I call the law of related distributed truths.   I am a firm believer that God has placed many connected clues in the Old Testament being spread out like random seeds in a field as perceived by the casual reader.   To put these random verses all together correctly without the Lord’s assistance is like trying to solve a large complex double sided puzzle without any pictures on any of the pieces.  If you do not understand the significance of this distributed factual information being combined together as an integrated lesson then I would suggest that you go and read the context of every O.T. quoted verse found here in Romans 10 and then try to figure out for yourself how God did this and why.   How is it possible that 12 different verses from several different books of the Old Testament were combined into a single unified subject lesson taught to the church?  I wish people would begin to learn the complexity of the Bible instead of ignoring these types of important factual details.

I believe that this information which I have just given to you is confirmation that the entire O.T. contains hidden references about Jesus, the church and salvation and we should quickly begin to realize that Jesus is the central theme of the entire book.   God teaches us how that the writings of 5 or 6 different prophets can all be tied together to teach a single cohesive lesson about Jesus and human salvation.   I’ll give you a list of the verses so that you can do some more research on your on:

QUOTE

O.T. REFERENCE

Romans 9:33 Isaiah 8:14
Romans 10:6 Deuteronomy 30:12
Romans 10:7 Deuteronomy 30:13
Romans 10:8 Deuteronomy 30:14
Romans 10:11 Isaiah 28:16
Romans 10:13 Joel 2:32
Romans 10:15 Isaiah 52:7; Nahum 1:15
Romans 10:16 Isaiah 53:1
Romans 10:18 Psalm 19:4
Romans 10:19 Deuteronomy 32:21
Romans 10:20 Isaiah 65:1
Romans 10:21 Proverbs 1:24; Isaiah 65:2

I want you to understand God’s usage of the Isaiah 53:1’s reference in the context of Roman’s 10 more clearly.  If you back up and read the end of chapter 9 you will clearly see that Paul was writing about the natural Jews that Jesus was speaking directly to in John 12 and this connection carries forward into chapter 10 with Paul’s statement “I pray that they all will be saved” in verse 1 of chapter 10.  Paul then goes into a comparative writing between two diverse types of people; those saved by faith and those that were attempting to save themselves by their individual works of righteousness.   Paul as you can observe says these people of natural Israel have rejected the gift of God’s righteousness through faith because they have failed to believe the report.   Now let me emphasize two other verses found in Romans 10:

  • Rom 10:14  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
  • Rom 10:15  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

These words contain some of the keys to understanding Isaiah 53.  We need to learn that God has directed some to preach the Good News Report.  This is a required design from God.   Jesus came to the earth to preach and teach as well as to save.  We have already seen the fact that Isaiah 53:1 was used by John to inform natural Israel that Jesus had brought them light and Jesus said for them to follow the light.  Follow the light is just another way to say “Believe”!    I have also previously shown you in Acts 8 where Phillip preached Isaiah 53 to get the Ethiopian to believe and get saved.  Now we can see Paul using Isaiah 53 and all of these references have to do with the existence of a preacher with a message sent to those that can hear and have faith to believe the report to be saved.    We have just achieved 3 witnesses in the New Testament that Isaiah 53 is the GOSPEL of JESUS CHRIST!   Gospel literally means good news.   What was the good news that Jesus provided to us from Isaiah 53?  I guess that is what everyone needs to know next.  But let’s focus in on one more verse in Romans 10:13:

  • Rom 10:13  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Whosoever means me!   This is a verse written to me since I am clearly a “whosoever” by qualified application.   Whoever calls upon the name of the LORD, will be saved.   I want you to review one key word in this verse found in the original Greek language.    The Greek word G4982 which is translated as “saved” is the word “SOZO” and I have made mention of this word before.  But I want you to learn a new association.  We can clearly see the primary subject is salvation and God connects salvation back to the verses found in Isaiah 53:1 by His choice and intelligent design.  Therefore we must understand what Isaiah 53 was written about by understanding how God uses it here in the N.T.    The Greek word SOZO literally means to be made whole and complete.  The antithesis of wholeness is incompleteness.  Incompleteness is a state of lack or a deficit in entirety.  This word has broad application.  This Greek word crosses over into three realms of reality simultaneously.   God’s plan of salvation included your spiritual salvation (wholeness), your mental salvation (wholeness) and your physical salvation (wholeness) in one act of His divine saving Grace.  This teaches us literally what Isaiah 53 must contain and it MUST include all of these subjects or God does not remain consistent with the N.T. message of salvation.   We now should better understand what to be looking for when reading Isaiah 53.   We must search and look for the salvation of our spirit, soul and body.

I think this is a good place to end this lesson today.   We have learned a lot of good basic information from searching the New Testament and finding God’s explanations for what was written in Isaiah 53.  We should now know that the 53rd chapter of Isaiah is God’s power (arm) to save, heal and deliver us.   We should also  know that Isaiah 53 is only made effective in a human’s life if they choose to hear it proclaimed and believe the report.  I thank you for your time reading the Bible and studying God’s Words.  Please come back and tell others about what you have learned.  God Bless!

If you would like to continue reading in this series of lesson you may continue to “Part 2” now.

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BIBLE ANSWERS: What Does the Bible say About Church Governance and the Proper Structure of Authority?

Question-marks(Ver 1.1)  I recently received this question and felt led to respond to it publically.  The question was asked, what is the correct organized structure of authority for church government?  My answer from the Bible may or may not conform to what you believe is true or the way that your church does things.   But, my answer will definitely be spiritually Word of God based and that will automatically cause many to reject it.  You are welcome to give me any specific Bible verses that teach what you believe represents the truth for this answer.  What I will not accept is your denomination’s doctrinal statement created by ignorant men that does not conform to any Biblical truth.   If that is what you want to give me don’t waste your time or mine.  I only base my beliefs on the Bible and I leave out the opinions of all others.   You would probably be wise to do the same.

Too often Christians want to read the Bible and find all of the rules for life, the church and for being a real Christian in a neat set of itemized instructions.  People like to over simplify everything and live by a list of prioritized “do this” and “do not do this” in order to believe that they are on the correct path to pleasing God.   They often feel like their good works permits them to be worthy to be in God’s presence.  Possessing any feelings that you are pleasing to God because you have satisfied a very small part of what you think you know about the Bible is a very foolish attempt at exalting yourself to match God’s established standards and know everything that God knows.  If this approach did not work for Lucifer it will never work for us either.  What I am attempting to do is to point us to a new spiritual way to think about church government.    Quit thinking like mere men and consider the thoughts and ways of God and make these your priority in the church.  Today I’m going to list at least 3 key factors for establishing correct church government and structure.  Without all of these three spiritual factors being involved nothing that we do will work.

#1: BEING LED BY THE SPIRIT

What I have noticed about God in the Bible is that He rarely does the same thing twice exactly as He did before with anyone.  One time in the wilderness when the people desperately needed a drink of water God told Moses to hit the rock with his staff and the water would come.  The next time this exact same event occurred God said “speak to the rock” and the water will come.  If God addresses the same problem in two different ways why do people want to make every church organization look exactly the same?  That mindset does not make any sense to me!   A one solution fits all approach to Christian life and church government is not how I have ever viewed that anything really works successfully.  What works well in one church may not be what God wants to happen in another church at another time and another place.

There is a very profound statement made to ALL Christians in the New Testament that is sometimes rarely followed in many church organizational structure designs.   This essential concept is found in Roman 8:14 where God says “Those that are led by His Spirit, they are the sons of God”.   This verse is very clear to me and it says for us to seek God’s direction and He will guide our steps into the correct paths when organizing our church governments.  God knows how it should be setup and who should be in every position.  Ignore God’s leading and you will get what you will get and that is your best effort to satisfy God in your ignorance.   I believe Romans 8:14 applies directly to us right here and right now in establishing and organizing any church.   Therefore what God might lead for one church might not match exactly for another church.  There are just too many variables and  factors that are involved in creating and managing a church.  The location can be different, the culture can be different, the people can be different, the leadership can be different, the community outreach can be different and all of these play a role in God’s decision on how to direct.  Of course the Spirit of God is never going to contradict His written Holy Word.  Whatever God directs us to do with His Spirit will align perfectly with the Words in the Bible that apply to this subject.   But we need to be careful with following the traditions of men who thought they knew the answer while possibly ignoring the leading of the Spirit of God for what He desires will work best.    Consider the fact that God knows more than you do.  Then realize we need to ask for this wisdom or we will potentially fail.  Therefore the number one factor for establishing correct church government is to be led by the Spirit of God.  Can I get a witness?

GOD IS A GOD OF ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURED AUTHORITY

I saw in my Bible studies that angels are a highly organized group of spiritual beings separated into tiered levels of organization with varying levels of authority.   Angels appear to be organized like a large military body.   Jesus said that He could call down 12 legions of angels in Matthew 26:53.  That statement implies a high degree of organization with a precise arrangement containing a direct hierarchical structure of authority.   Therefore if God has structure and established levels of authority in heaven it makes perfect sense for the same to be present here on the earth in the church.  Do you agree with this?  What I also observe from reading and studying the Bible is that God is a very detail oriented being.  He pays attention to the least little details to even number the hairs on our head (Mat 10:30).   I use this information to confirm that every church needs to be organized and have the same great attention to every detail within the church.

In the ministry of Jesus on the earth you can clearly observe an organized structure of authority.  Jesus was the leader and the next group under His authority were the 12 disciples that I call His inner circle followers.   Jesus would spend extra time and effort with those of the inner circle to explain the plan of God and what He taught to others in parables only.  Within the group of 12 not everyone has the exact same role of responsibility.  Peter, James and John would go with Jesus when the other 9 did not always go.   Judas held the money bag and acted as the treasurer for the group.  Therefore the other 11 came to Judas for financial matters.  Clearly there were roles of designated responsibility to each follower.  Underneath the second tier of12 within the Jesus ministry organization came the 70 (Luke 10:1).  This is now the third tiered level of authority with new responsibilities and roles.   These 70 were assigned the task to go ahead of Jesus and the twelve and prepare other cities for their coming.

It is just very clear based upon just these two examples given to us by God that every church requires at least the same basic organization, structure, designed roles, responsibilities and varying levels of authority and accountability.  This should be very basic common sense and I pray that you see the need for such to exist.

#2: JESUS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH

I do not agree with the Catholic Church philosophy of church government.  The Catholic Church is the largest group of people that call themselves Christians on the earth and they are extremely organized with varying degrees of authority rising to their ultimate leader called the Pope.  Nowhere in the Bible is one man designated to be the head of the church other than JESUS CHRIST.   Ephesians 5:23 leaves no room for misinterpretation clearly stating that Christ is the Head of the whole Church.  This truth represents the church past, present and future and there can never be any other head than He.  The church is clearly called the body of Christ and Jesus is clearly called our head (Col 1:18).   How then can any individual body part of the church claim to the leader of the body?  I think we need to learn the truth and stick with only that.  When we are led by the Spirit of God we are being led by the Head of the Church.  The Spirit of God will not speak of Himself but what He hears that will He speak (John 16:13).    I just paraphrased a portion of that last verse in John to make a point that the Holy Spirit speaks to us and directs us into things to come.  Go read the verse for yourself and see how it applies to setting up church governments and being led by His Spirit.  Recognizing the Head of the church to be Jesus Christ is the number two factor for establishing correct church government.   Ignoring the Head of the church will just result in man’s attempts to please a God that they do not know.

CHURCH ORGANIZATION, STRUCTURE AND AUTHORITY

There are certain and specific church offices of differing roles and responsibilities mentioned in the Bible.   For example, in Ephesians 4:11 God lists what many call the “5 fold ministry”.   These five are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.   I personally believe that those are listed in the order of church authority.   It is essential to know and understand that not everyone is called to be in these offices.  In fact in the body of Christ there are mostly disciples and they can later be promoted to one of these 5 specialized callings by God’s choice.  When a person is called by God to stand in one of these offices they are anointed by God to fulfill that role.  Therefore God enables them with gifts to do the role.  Each role of office is important and necessary and we as Christians need to give proper respect to those in these offices.  I am not going to go through what every role entails in detail.  But I will give a quick overview.  An Apostle is one that is sent by God for a specific purpose.  The 12 Apostles were clearly given leadership roles that others under their authority should revere.  Apostles are clearly called by God.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:1 that he was a called apostle.

The Prophet is also another major role within the church body today.  God calls certain individuals to be His voice on the earth.  These people hear directly from God and speak His words to the people of God.  They are often given revelation knowledge and can even hear from God about coming events on the earth.   Paul stood in the office of both an Apostle and Prophet since Paul was given special revelation from God and Paul wrote about things to come as direct prophecy in his letters to the church.

The third ministry office is called the Evangelist.  The primary role of the Evangelist is to preach the Gospel to the lost world to turn them to receive Christ as their Savior.   While every Christian has this basic role, some are called by God to do this as their service for God.  Phillip was an evangelist in the early church and this office still exists today.  The Evangelist is not so much a teacher as he is an exhorter to call people to repentance.  John the Baptist held a role very much like this found in a modern day Evangelist.  John called people to the kingdom of God pointing them to one that was greater than he was.

In a local body congregation the leader of that body is always a Pastor.  A pastor is the designated shepherd of the flock.  Peter was a shepherd and an apostle.  Jesus asked Peter to feed His sheep (John 21:17).  Feeding the sheep is the primary role of the pastor.  They take the Word of God and feed it into the spirits of their congregation.   Every Pastor shepherd is usually always a teacher also.  They go hand in hand to some extent.   Peter was a teacher as well as an Apostle.  Paul was a teacher as well as an apostle and a prophet.  One person can be in multiple offices but rarely is it more than 2 or 3 offices at the most and then not every office is in continuous manifestation in everyone full-time.  One person might be a teacher on occasion and an Apostle full time.  Another person might be an Apostle full time and part time prophet.  One person can be a pastor full time and a part time evangelist.  All of these offices can teach on occasions but not all may be called to teach full time.  Again this is called Jesus is the Head of the church and you are not!  If the Spirit of God leads someone to do a specific task then they just do it because God desires it and not because they asked to do it.

Jesus was the only person that I know of that held every office role concurrently.  Jesus is called an Apostle and a Prophet in the Bible.  Jesus said He was the Great Shepherd meaning a pastor of all.  He also demonstrated that He was a teacher and an evangelist.  Therefore, Jesus clearly showed us that He could fulfill multiple roles being the head of the church.   It is essential for you to learn what your role is in the body of Christ.  Everyone has a purpose and a place.   God has a planned reason why you are here no matter what you think about it.  It does not have to be a role where you stand in front of thousands to teach the Bible.  No it could be simply a behind the scenes ministry position that supports the pastor’s role.

Churches as they grow need increased levels of support to oversee the work of God.  A pastor in a small church can do several roles but in a large church that becomes unmanageable.  One pastor in a large church should have an inner circle of associate shepherds to help lead the flock in manageable numbers.   There are needs for many other leadership positions and roles especially in large congregations.  One Pastor or Shepherd cannot adequately maintain a flock of 5000.  Even Jesus taught this when He designated the inner circle 12 to have the authority to go and feed the flock of 5000 the 5 loaves and the 2 fishes.   Jesus stood back and watched while the under shepherds did the feeding.  Don’t misunderstand what I am saying we all know that Jesus taught the whole group but when it came time He appointed others certain  roles to play.  You can clearly see that Jesus did not even try to do it all Himself.  Let’s talk briefly about the other Biblical roles in a local church’s government.

Correct church organization for leadership should include what the Bible calls “elders”.  Church Elders are not just mature looking people on the outside.  It is more important to be a mature spiritual Christian inside regardless of what your appearance is on the outside.  A spiritually new born baby that has an appearance of maturity externally is not fit to be called an elder of the church.  God very clearly tells us that He does not look at the outward appearance of humans but rather He judges them and calls them according to their hearts (1 Sam 16:7).  People tend to judge how the person looks externally in order to determine if they should become their leader.   But that is certainly not being led by the Spirit.  That practice is walking by your sight or by the appearance of others and that is clearly not a spiritual way to do anything in the church.

I personally believe that a spiritual elder is someone born again and spirit filled for at least 10-20 years.  These people should also display the fruits of the spirit in observable clear ways even under pressure.  An elder of the church should have wisdom that is needed to fulfill their role of responsibility.  God can give people anointed gifts in certain areas of church administration that are needed to wisely manage the church’s affairs.   It is very clear that elders played a role in the early church’s organization.  However, in the spiritual food chain of authority they are always under the authority of the other 5 church offices.   Elders do not hire or fire the pastor, God calls the pastor to be the pastor.  This makes God the head of the church and not the elders.

The other major church role mentioned in the Bible is often referred to as the “deacon”.  This is a very interesting term because it denotes someone called to serve another.  That clearly means they are not in the top command of authority or it could mean that they purposefully lowered themselves in order to serve someone that is in need regardless of their called position.   Jesus demonstrated this concept when He set the disciples down and washed their feet.   He lowered His position to become the least among them even though He was the greatest one present.  Any church office within the Body of Christ is called to be a servant of God.  In the church we all serve Christ first and others second.  If people would gather this knowledge and implement it the church would become a great place to be a part of.

RESOLVING CHURCH CONFLICTS CORRECTLY

Within any large church congregation there will always be potential conflicts.  Most of the time these are human carnal jealousy based factors.  People see what others get from God and think this should just automatically apply to them.  I am not going to address every church problem and the reason for them.  I am only going to give one quick example of God establishing a structure of church administration in the early church.  These verses are found in the book of Acts chapter 6:

  • Act 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.
  • Act 6:2  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.
  • Act 6:3  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.
  • Act 6:4  But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
  • Act 6:5  And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
  • Act 6:6  Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

I am not going to go into everything these verses say in great detail.   I underlined most of the key words that need to be understood on this matter.  In verse 1 we see the problem being stated between two carnal groups of disciples.  Disciples in the church organization are the lowest in the church authority so this is why I called them carnal thinkers in need of spiritual growth.   The twelve represents the apostle group that holds the ultimate responsibility and authority for church administration.  Did you notice what they said?  They acknowledge the need but said it was not their responsibility to leaven teaching the Word of God to feed the body of Christ with natural food.  In a small church they could do this, but in a large growing church it becomes impossible for even 12 to do everything.   Therefore they said that there should be a selection of 7 men with wisdom that were honest.  But foremost they must be filled with the Spirit of God and that goes back to them being led by the Spirit of God.

This is just an excellent story for how church government should work and be established.  We do not create positions just to create positions.  We only create new positions when new needs arise to solve problems.   As soon as any new need becomes a distraction to the pastor in a church so that he is unable to spend adequate time in prayer and study to preach the Word of God that is when new areas of church government needs to be expanded.   As the church grows and more needs arise, more roles of responsibility can be established.  It is also important to note how this was done.  After they have been selected, the hands of the leadership are placed upon them and this is done for what reason?   You see this represents a transfer of authority and anointing.  What the leader was anointed to do is passed down to the next level for them to perform as the representative of the pastor.  God teaches us so much in this example and I hope that you will take the time to study it and see how God wants things to work and grow in church governments today.

#3:  THE NEW TESTAMENT LAW OF LOVE

I’m going to end this Bible study lesson talking about the third spiritual factor for establishing correct church government.  What is your motivation for creating this church government?   There is only one commandment given directly by Law from the Head of the church to the church in the New Testament and this is the God established Law of Divine Love.   The Law of Love governs every action of every church member from the disciple to the apostle.   Jesus very clearly said a NEW COMMANDMENT I give thee (John 13:34).   If a church’s government is not founded, established and ruled by the law of love then they are not within the church’s prime directive and will fall short.   Therefore we must permit love to govern our motivations and our actions.   God is defined to be LOVE in 1 John 4:8.  Therefore when we are led by the Spirit of Love we are being led by God.    Do you see how all of these three factors for correct church government establishment are connected together?   Christ is the head of the church, Christ is Love personified and we all answer to follow His desired directions of love.

Love rules the church!  Love governs the church!   Love leads the church!  Love teaches the church!   Love preaches to the lost!  Whatever is not done in love is not by the leadership of God.   This is just the spiritual basics for what we do as Christians.   I have said this before but it will apply here again.  I like to teach WWLD.  If you have heard this before then take it as a courteous reminder.  Before doing anything in this life, ask What Would Love Do?   When reflecting on God’s love in order to make a decision this will help guide you into a closer relationship with the Head of the church.  Are you love dominated and love controlled?   If not then you are in serious trouble.

I have just given you three directives for establishing correct church government.   I will recap them one more time for those that need it.   When creating a church government do the following:

  1. Recognize that Jesus is the Head of the Church and no one else takes His place.
  2. Be led by the Spirit of God who is the Head of the Church when creating your government.
  3. Be led by the Spirit of Love in Love extended towards all others.

Only those that will submit to authority correctly can understand how to be in authority correctly.   All others not submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ will be establishing their own church to benefit themselves.  Run from these people quickly or be consumed with their selfish motivations.  My subject today was not authority and what it is defined to be by God, but it does apply and you need to learn this subject.   Being faithfully submitted to God’s authority will give God the privilege to promote you to higher authority levels.    Thank you for reading my Bible studies.  May God continue to lead and guide you into higher spiritual levels of understanding His Precious Holy Word!