Basic Essentials for a Church

This is what we believe are the necessary elements of a Church. This is a miniature statement of the doctrines, purposes, ordinances, practices, and faculty of a Church.

Doctrine

1. A Glimpse Of Our Beliefs

2. The Apostles’ Creed

3. The Athanasian Creed

4. The Nicene Creed

5. The Chalcedonian Creed

6. The Westminster Larger Catechism

Note: The “basic” doctrines of the Person and Work of Christ, the Trinity, and our Salvific beliefs can be found in these sources.

 

Purpose

1. To glorify God (Eph.3:21)
• This is the purpose for which God created all things. His glory is magnified in the Church.

2. To worship God in Christ (Rev.4:10, 11:11, 15:4)
• The Church’s ultimate purpose is the worship of God in Christ. The Church joins with heaven in worship – “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt.6:10b; Jn.4:23).

3. To bear witness to the Kingdom of God and Christ (LK.9:2; Jn.17:18)
• Following the example of Christ, we are commanded to proclaim the Kingdom of God in Christ (Matt.4:17).

4. To make known the manifold wisdom of God (Eph.3:10)
• The revelation of God’s will is revealed through the Church, by the Spirit, in His Word.

5. To be sanctified (Eph.5:27)
• As Christ’s Bride, God is sanctifying us personally and corporately.

6. To be a habitation of God (1 Cor.3:16-17, Eph.2:22)
• As our body is a temple of God in Christ, the Body of Christ is a temple of God in Christ.

7. The Ministry of Reconciliation (2 Cor.5:19-20)
• Bearing witness to the Kingdom of God and making known the manifold wisdom of God are the means through which the Father, by the Spirit, draws the elect unto His Son. Reconciliation includes the making of disciples  (Matt.28:19; 2Tim.3:16-17).

 

Ordinances

1. Baptism (Matt.28:19)

a. After regeneration (Acts 10:47-48)
• There are no other requirements for baptism. However, regeneration must be evidenced by the Church in a person’s [basic] understanding of their need for the Person and Work of Christ, their public confession of this, and their desire for Christ and His glory (1 Cor.12:13).

b. By total immersion (Acts 8:38)
• Immersion is the symbolic witness of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, and our union with Him in it (Col.2:12, Rom.6:1-11).

c. As the first act of obedience and confession of Christ’s Lordship (Matt.28:19, Acts 2:41)
• Baptism is an act of obedience, born out of a changed heart and a conscience cleansed by faith in Jesus Christ (1 Pet3:21).

2. Lord’s Supper (1 Cor.11:23-34)

a. For believers
• You must be born again and actively living in repentance.

b. In remembrance of Christ
• It is a time to remember the death of Christ.

c. A time of repentance and restoration
• It is a time to repent of sin and be strengthened by Christ.

d. A time of special communion with Christ
• Though not actually the body and blood of Jesus, we communion with the entire person of Christ through His divine presence which comes among us in Spirit.

 

Practices

1. Gathering on the Lord’s Day (Acts 20:7, Heb.10:25)
• The Sabbath Principle has not been changed. Christ did not abolish the Sabbath. He fulfilled it and properly defined it by removing the added burdens born out of the Pharisaic traditions.

2. Congregational prayer (Acts 1:14 Tim.2:8)
• We are commanded to pray corporately for the Church Universal and Local.

3. Public reading of scripture (1 Tim.4:13)
• Not only are we commanded to preach and teach the Word in corporate worship, we are commanded to read the Word in corporate worship. This ensures that we teach “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

4. Preaching and teaching “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27, 2 Tim.4:2, Matt.28:20, 1 Cor. 1:17)
• Expository Preaching is the biblical and historical practice of “pastoral pulpit preaching”. If we believe in the verbal plenary inspiration of scripture, then we will teach the Word of God completely and entirely.

5. Evangelism (Matt.28:19, 2 Tim.4:5)
• In the wake of the first century Apostolic Ministry, Evangelism is our complimentary and continued efforts to reach the world with the gospel.

6. Discipleship (2 Tim.2:2, Tit.2:3-5)
• Discipleship is training Christians to become devoted followers of Christ and leaders in the Church.

7. Discipline (Matt.18:19-20, 1 Cor. 5)
• Loving correction and accountability is necessary for a Church to remain pure. Leaders and members are to be accountable and corrected when found in error. To cast aside this practice is to breed disorder and confusion in the Church.

8. Charity (Rom.15:26, Ga.2:10)
• Christ carried a money bag throughout His ministry and helped the poor (John 12:5-6). Paul was commanded to remember the poor when sent out on missions (Gal.2:10). “The Ministry of the Saints” is to care for the physical and financial needs of one another (1 Cor.8 and 9).

9. Missions (Matt.28:19-20, Acts.1:8)
• It is preaching and teaching the gospel in places never reached.
• It is translating the Bible into other languages.
• It involves continued efforts with those who have been reached and/or Churches that have been planted.
• Note: There are no Missions with without Evangelism. Relief efforts and/or charity projects are good, but they are not Missions.

 

Faculty

The Head of the Church is the  Lord Jesus Christ. He and His infallible Word are our eternal guide and rule. Any deviation from Him and/or His Word risks heresy and/or apostacy.

The Church Universal (Eph.4:11-12)

1. The Apostle

a. Who was Apostle?
• One sent forth/commissioned by Christ to lay the foundation of the Church.
• One who held Authority to govern in the Universal Church under Christ’s headship.
• “The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him” (Matt.10:2-4). Mathias (Acts 1:26). Paul (1 Cor.9:1, 15:8-10).

b. What were the qualifications for Apostleship?
• Christ called him (Rom.1:1).
• Christ commissioned him (Matt.10:1-5).
• He was an eyewitness of Christ (Acts 1:21-22, 1 Cor.9:1, 15:3-10).
• He evidenced his apostolic authority through signs and wonders (2 Cor.12:12).

c. Are there still Apostles?
• No. The Apostles sealed their work in the blood of martyrdom (Mk.10:38-39).
• No. The foundation is laid and their work is completed (Eph2:20, 1 Cor.3:10-11).
• No. The qualifications for Apostleship (a.) exclude any possibility of new Apostles.
• However, the Holy Spirit may still give men a “gift” like that of an Apostle. They are gifted for foreign missions and church planting. But they do not have apostolic authority (1 Cor.12).
• The 1st century Apostolic Ministry is still active through their inspired writing’s contained in the Holy Bible.

2. The Prophet

a. What is a Prophet?
• The Lord’s Spokesman: “Thus says the Lord”.
• One who announced warnings and promises.
• One who conveyed God’s revelation of future events.

b. What are the qualifications to be a Prophet?
• Called by God (Jer.1:5).
• God has revealed Himself in a dream and/or vision (Num.12:6).                                         •Note: Prophets do not have many qualifications. They were called by God, spoken to in a vision or dream, and lived in obscurity until God revealed them. They were always despised by the religious norm of their time.

c. Are there still Prophets?
• No. God’s Word is complete. We are commanded to neither add nor take away from it (Deut.4:2, Rev.22:18-19).
• No. God now speaks through His Son, by the Holy Spirit, in His Word (Heb.1:1-4, 2 Tim.3:16).
• No. The Prophets’ (Old and New Testament) worked alongside the Apostles’ to lay the foundation of the Church (Eph.2:20).
• However, though there is no longer a prophetic office there is likely a prophetic gifting. In a sense, every Christian is called to be a prophet: we have been given the Word of God and the Spirit of God to discern what His Word means. We have the authority to proclaim what God means by what He has already said in His Word (Num.11:29, Rev.19:10c, 1 Cor.2:6-16).

3. The Evangelist i.e. gospel preachers, teachers, and proclaimers.

a. What is an Evangelist?
• One sent by God to proclaim the good news of Salvation.
• Similar to an Apostle, but they do not have apostolic authority.
• God’s agent to carry on the task that the Apostles’ began.

b. What are the qualifications to be an Evangelist?
• To be a regenerate believer of the Lord Jesus Christ.
• Gifted by God (Eph.4:11).
• Sent by God (Rom.10:15).
• The qualifications spelled out for deacons (Ministers) applies to the Evangelist.  Phillip, the Evangelist, was one of the seven Deacons appointed by the Apostles…

“Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. For those who serve well as Deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim.3:8-13).

• Note: the qualifications for an Elder only apply when the Evangelist takes on Authority in the church that requires the highest responsibilities.

c. Are there still Evangelists?
• Yes. The Evangelistic office is still active. It should be funded and supported by the local church.

4. Shepherd

a. What is a Shepherd?
• One who feeds a congregation.
• One who cares for a congregation.
• One who protects a congregation.
• Note: Not all Shepherds are called to preach, but they are all called to teach.

b. What are the qualifications to be a Shepherd?
• To be a regenerate believer of the Lord Jesus Christ
• The responsibility to Shepherd is conveyed upon the Elders (1 Pet.5:1-4). Thus, the qualifications of an Elder are the best rule for the Shepherding Office…

“Therefore, an overseer (Elder) must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil” (1 Tim.3:1-7).

c. Are there still Shepherds?
• Yes. The Shepherding office is still active. It should be funded and supported by the Local Church.

5. Teacher

a. What is a Teacher?
• Comparable to the Old Testament Scribe.
• One who studies and interprets the Word of God to the Church leaders and members as his or her primary function.
• Note: Ministry Offices can overlap. Whether an Evangelist, Shepherd, or Teacher, the Ministry of the Word is the primary function of all. How they distribute the Word is what distinguishes them.

b. What are the qualifications to be a Teacher?
• To be a regenerate believer of the Lord Jesus Christ.
• Must study and know God’s Word deeply (1 Tim.4:16, 2 Tim.2:15).
• Must know how to teach God’s Word (1 Tim.4:11).
• Depending on his responsibility in the Church, the qualifications of a Deacon and/or Elder may apply (1 Tim.3).

c. Are there still teachers?
• Yes. This office is still active. It should be funded and supported by the Local Church.

6. Member

a. What are the members?
• Men and Women of the body of Christ.
• Lay people.

b. What are the qualifications to be a member of Christ’s Church?
• To be a regenerate believer of the Lord Jesus Christ.
• However, to be a good servant in the Church you must…

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim.2:24)

c. What is their role in the Church?
• Described as joints and parts of the body (Eph.4:16, 1 Cor.12).
• Described as individual stones (1 Pet.2:5).
• Each member has a least one gift (usually multiple gifts) that should contribute to the Church. When each part works properly –among leaders and members –the Church grows (Eph.4:16).

 

The Church Congregational

(1 Tim.3, Tit.1:5-9, 2 Tim.2:24-25, Acts.6)

1. Bishops/Elders
• The Elder must have at least one of the Ministry gifts listed above.
• The qualifications described in 1 Timothy 3 are the biblical mandate –though never fully realized

2. Deacons/Ministers
• The Deacon must possess at least one of the Ministry gifts.
• Their qualifications are described in 1 Timothy 3. They are similar to the elder. However, the qualifications for a deacon are less strict.

3. Servant/Layperson
• A member of the Church.
• They are given a character ideal in 2 Timothy 2:24.
• Each member has been given a supernatural gift by the Holy Spirit. This gift is to be used for the edification of the Church. For the members or leadership to ignore a gift, is to neglect the Church.