Jesus Christ has established a kingdom upon the earth. This kingdom is also called a church, an ecclesia. This ecclesia consists of persons called out from the world to be disciples or subjects of Christ. For the mutual helpfulness, and for the spread of the Gospel at home and abroad, it is necessary for Christ’s followers to unite together in some organization and under some form of government. What shall this organization be? What is the form of government for Christians? Has the Lord Jesus Christ established a system of organization and government, or are Christians at liberty to make their own arrangements and adopt their own form of government? What saith the scriptures??
The scriptures clearly establish the following: Jesus Christ is King of His kingdom and Head of His church. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him. He is Lord and Christ, the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; He is the Head of the church, which is His body; He is the Chief, the great Shepherd and Bishop of the souls of His followers.
Jesus Christ has established laws for the government of His kingdom or church. He is our Prophet or Lawgiver; we are commanded to hear Him; we are under law to Christ, and it is our duty to observe whatever He has commanded.
Jesus Christ has appointed officers for the regulation and administration of the affairs and interests of His church or kingdom. “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, divers kinds of tongues.” 1 Corinthians 12:28 “And He gave some to be apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers.” Ephesians 4:11 Comparing the two passages, we have the following order: first, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, evangelists; fourthly, pastors and finally teachers. Under Christ, the apostles stand first among the officers of His kingdom.
The apostles are Christ’s representatives or ambassadors, chosen, instructed, sent forth by Him, and inspired by the Holy Spirit to represent Christ’s authority upon His chosen, and establish His kingdom in the world. Therefore, the apostles of Christ, as His master builders or architects, established the foundation of Christ’s church or kingdom, and others are to build upon this foundation according to the apostles, and them ALONE!!
The system of church organization and administration established by the apostles of Christ for the government and regulation of Christ’s church is binding on this said body of believers to the end of time. Where the apostles bind us, we are bound to observe their directions; where they have left us free, we are free to make our own arrangements according to the law of expediency, no matter what college or self-appointed group of men think otherwise!! Matthew 28:28:18, 20; 1 Timothy 6:15; Ephesians 1: 20-23; 1 Peter 5:4; 1 Corinthians 12: 28; Ephesians 4:11; John 15:26; Luke 22:29; 30; Matthew 18:18; and John 13:20 We are under Christ and His apostles, not men!!
At first, the entire government of the church was in the apostles, and their personal supervision which continued while they lived. They made provision, however, for a continual personal supervision of the affairs of the church after their departure. The government of the church is still under the rule and guidance of the apostles, as their directions are embodied in the teaching of the New Testament, and the affairs of the church are now to be managed in harmony with those instructions!!
The commission of Jesus to His apostles is the vital LINK between the crowned Head on high and His body on earth!! He alone, reigns supreme in all matters.