You were called to RULE. But do you understand the "system" of rule in God's Church today? Are you LEARNING through this system how to rule the WHOLE WORLD TOMORROW?
This Church preaches the good news of the soon-coming Kingdom of God. God's Kingdom is a literal government. Through it, He will soon rule over every nation on earth! As true Christians, we must learn to take part in that Government. We must learn to rule — but as God rules, not man. Many do not realize that Christ has placed government in His Church as an instrument to teach us how to rule. We need to understand the function of this Church Government — come to sincerely appreciate it — and learn from it continually.
Christ RULES His Church
In I Corinthians 5:12, after telling the brethren in Corinth to put out a fornicator, the Apostle Paul asked: "Do not ye judge them that are within?" He went on to say: "Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?" (I Cor. 6:3). Yes, indeed! We are called to judge and rule the entire world with Christ. Our training and experience for this tremendous calling comes through submitting to, exercising and learning from the Government of God within the Church — NOW. Let's come to a real understanding of how God' s system of Church Government functions. After His resurrection from the dead, Jesus instructed His disciples: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the END of the world" (Matt. 28:19-20). Christ said that He would be with and guide His apostles in His Church as they carried out this commission. He promised to be with them to the very END or consummation of this age! The Gospel of Mark states: "And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following" (Mark 16:20). So Jesus Christ was working with and through the apostles — He had not "gone way off" somewhere and forgotten about His Church, or turned it over to be ruled by the ideas of men. The early apostles knew that Christ was to directly rule the Church. When the time came to choose a successor to Judas — who had hanged himself — the apostles prayed directly and asked Christ to make the decision. They prayed and said: "Thou, Lord, which knoweth the hearts of all men, show whether of these two Thou hast chosen" (Acts 1:24). Speaking of Christ, the Apostle Paul wrote the Ephesians how God had, "put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the Church, which is His Body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:22-23). Paul describes Christ in like manner in the letter to the Colossians: "And he [Christ} is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence" (Col. 1:18). Since both of these letters were written about thirty years after Christ's death and resurrection, He is shown to be the living head of the true Church of God! And He is not the theoretical but the active Head of God's Church.
Christ ACTIVELY Guides and Directs His Church
Besides the example of choosing Judas' successor, there are many examples all the way through the book of Acts where Christ directly intervened in guiding His Church and His ministers. One of these occurred when the Ethiopian eunuch was reading and trying to understand the book of Isaiah. "Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot" (Acts 8:29). This is an example of where Christ — through Hit Spirit — intervened directly and told one of His servants to minister to someone who was in need. After this encounter, Christ performed another miracle through the power of His Spirit. He directly "caught away" Philip and took him — perhaps by "angel transport" — back to another place to continue his preaching! Then, in Acts 9, while Saul was breathing out threatenings and slaughter against God's people, Christ directly intervened and supernaturally struck down and blinded the Apostle Paul and personally spoke to him. When the time came to bring the Apostle Paul to His service, Christ was directly and very much on the job!
Christ DELIVERS Peter
Later, after the Apostle Peter was supernaturalIy delivered from prison during the Days of Unleavened Bread, he said: "Now I know of a surety, that the lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod..." (Acts 12:11). Here the living Christ intervened through His angelic servants to rescue Peter from a very unpleasant and difficult situation. You should all realize that whenever we find the Holy Spirit operating — this is actually Christ operating through the agency or power of His Spirit. He is actually the executive instrument in God's hands who directs the Spirit's activity in our behalf. Remember John 15:26: "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me." It is Jesus who sends the Spirit from its ultimate source — God the Father. In John 16:13, Jesus stated: "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall NOT speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear [from the Father or Christ'], that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come." So the Holy Spirit conveys to God's ministers or to His people what Christ has directed it to speak or reveal. Remembering this, notice now the example of the ordination of the Apostles Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13:2: "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them... So they, being sent forth by the holy spirit, departed unto Seleucia."
Christ Directs DETAILS of Work
In the same manner as above, Christ — through His Spirit — directed in intricate detail the Work of His apostles in certain key situations in Asia Minor. Notice: "Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the holy spirit to preach the word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the spirit suffered them not" (Acts 16:6-7). Here again, through the power of His Spirit, Christ was on the job as the active head directing the activities of His ministers and His Church! Again, in Verse 9, He dealt with Paul in a vision — showing him it was time to go over to preach the Gospel on the continent of Europe after an exact nineteen-year time cycle of preaching the Gospel in Asia! Later, at a time when Paul needed personal encouragement, the active, Living Christ spoke directly to Paul in the night by a vision: "Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace" (Acts 18:9). Christ is very much alive! He actively rules in His Church — managing and directing its activities through His human servants. The Work of God's Church today is Christ's Work. And the Church is Christ's "body" the instrument through whom He does His Work of preaching the Gospel as a witness and feeding His flock (I Cor. 12:27).
Christ Directly CALLS His Ministers
Before Jesus Christ appointed the twelve men who became His apostles, He spent all Night in prayer to God. This enabled Him to have the proper wisdom and guidance to make right decisions (Luke 6:12). "And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles" (Verse 13). In God's Kingdom and His Church, government is from the top on down. It is not — at any time — a matter of the people who are to be ruled deciding who is qualified to rule over them and how their rulers shall rule over them! Once Christ qualified to be our King and Priest, God set Him in His high office above all principalities and powers in the universe (Eph. 1:20-21). Once Christ — with the Father's guidance — had determined which of His many disciples or students were best qualified to become His direct apostles or ambassadors — representing His coming Kingdom — He then chose twelve of them as apostles. No one voted for them! And no one "campaigned" for their election! Since His resurrection and installment as our LIVING head and High Priest in heaven, Christ has continued to choose some in the Church as "apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...." (Eph. 4:11-12). Just as He did during His earthly ministry, Christ continues to seek the wisdom and guidance of God the Father! For He is seated at His very right hand! (Eph. 1:20). So Christ has great wisdom in ruling His Church! And He has the divine power of God to back up His decisions, and to directly handle any problems or a mistake of His human servants!
The OFFICES and FUNCTIONS of God's Ministers
The churches of this world employ various man-devised titles for their leaders and ministers. They are called popes, primates, cardinals, archbishops, monsignors and other designations of human or pagan origin. The true Church of God is the only Church which directly follows not only the form of government but employs the very titles which God Himself inspired as the designations for His ministers of various ranks and functions. These titles are partially included in the various spiritual gifts mentioned in I Corinthians 12: "And god hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues" (Verse?8). But the only complete listing in the Bible of the various ministerial ranks of authority is found in Ephesians 4 — which we've referred to above. Those mentioned first are apostles. As the original twelve Apostles, then later Paul, Barnabas, James the Lord's brother, Jude and others, the apostles are directly chosen by Christ. They are made known to the Church through the Living Christ actually placing them in office — showing clearly by what he is doing in and through them that they are in an over-all executive junction in His body, the Church. Next are mentioned "prophets." These can be either men or women and were used to foretell future events by special and personal revelation from God (Acts 11:27-30; 21:9-10). There is no example of them having any administrative authority over other ministers in the Church unless they were also apostles or evangelists. Also, from the later chapters of Acts and the following centuries of true Church history, it would seem that their function has diminished and that Christ is not placing many in this office since the basic revelation of the Bible is now complete. Next in authority under the apostles were the evangelists. Originally, they included such men as Timothy, Titus, Epaphroditus, Silas and others who assisted the apostles in directing the work of the ministry. The evangelists were often young men who were taught and trained directly under the apostles — just as Paul took Timothy with him from a youth and he had years of direct experience in the ministry under the Apostle Paul (Acts 16:1-4). Mentioned next in Ephesians 4 are the pastors and teachers. Since all ministers are spiritual "elders" — even the apostles (I Pet. 5:1) — the term "pastor" must refer to those elders who were more mature and able spiritually and were placed in complete charge of a church or churches. The other elders — perhaps with less age, ability or experience — would preach or teach in the local congregations according to their ability. Under them in God's Government — although occupying primarily an office of physical service — were the deacons — these included men such as those who were ordained to care for the Church widows in Acts 6. Yet even these men were to be "full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom." The apostles were directed to "appoint" these deacons over this physical ministration. Also, certain faithful women were installed in the office of deaconess in the early Church such as Phebe of Cenchrea [Rom. 16:1, where "servant" should be translated deaconess".
God's "Chain of Command" in the Church
Thus, your Bible reveals a definite chain of command coming from God the Father through Jesus Christ, through His apostles, then through His evangelists, down through His pastors, then through the other elders to the lay-members of god's Church. These ministers and elders are not elected by the people — they are appointed by Christ! Nor do God's ministers preach the doctrines which arc "voted in" by the members or by boards of men. Rather, they are commanded by God: "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (II Tim. 4:2) Those brethren whom the Father is calling will know by the "fruits" whom God is using to faithfully preach His Word! The members of God's Church are commanded by Christ: "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation" (Heb. 13:7). And again: "obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you" (Verse 17). So it is that the Living Christ appoints and directs His ministers and elders. They are responsible to him! He has the wisdom and the power to correct them, chasten them or put them out of office if that is ever necessary. That is his job — not the job of the lay-members. Their job is to find where God's true Church really is — where Christ is working — and to humbly and sincerely submit themselves to follow, learn from and be corrected by God's ministers as long as they are following the basic example of Christ Himself (Heb. 13:8).
God's Church is a "Team"
God's Church is to be a "team." Together, all of us compose what is called the "body" of Jesus Christ. God puts us into His Church when we are baptized and receive of His Spirit: "For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body..." (I Cor. 12:13). We are not all eyes, or ears, or noses or mouths! Neither are we all heads! But as a truly healthy human body, each member of God's Church should respond to our Head, Jesus Christ, working through His apostle and evangelists in carrying out God's work today! Each member should keep his eyes on Christ — and trust him to do His job in directing the body as he sees fit. We in God's Church today should especially remember the inspired example in Acts 15 of the conference of ministers at Jerusalem. For once again — as in apostolic days — God has established an earthly HEADQUARTERS for His ministry where conferences are held and decisions are made. Christ — the Living head of the Church — makes His will known through His earthly Headquarters now at Pasadena, California. Of course, spiritual knowledge is and must be based upon the law of God in every case. It must simply be a magnification and inspired application of the direct teachings and examples of the Bible. But unless we want to descend into the utter confusion and Satan-inspired division such as is found in the bickering denominations and sects of today, God's people must quickly and gladly yield themselves to the decisions Christ reveals through His Headquarters Work! Each member of God' s Church should have already proved the basic truth of God's Plan, purpose and prophecies and His law. He should know and understand that this is the Church of god — bearing His name and doing His work. Then he should follow where Christ is working: "If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him" (John 10:37-38). Brethren, in the next few years before we complete the tremendous crusade to which Christ has called us in preparing for His second return, there will be many decisions to make in His Work. These will not involve "strange doctrines" or "wild ideas" such as wearing long, black beards on the one hand, or fleeing to a mountaintop to wait for the Lord to return on the other! The decisions which Christ always has and will continue to reveal through his Church will include basic decisions regarding matters of Christian living — such as not smoking because it breaks the principle or spirit of God's law, or administrative decisions such as where we shall keep the Feast of Tabernacles in any particular area. These decisions will be based upon the laws and examples clearly revealed in the Bible! They will be made with much prayer and multitude of counsel — and by those ministers of Jesus Christ who are most competent and who have made themselves familiar with all the facts in any given case! Naturally, each individual member of the Church cannot be free to come up with his or her individual "idea" on every phase and facet of Christian living or on where the Feast of Tabernacles will be held, what evening should be set aside for a local Bible study, or what particular brand or model of automobile his minister ought to be driving!
RESPOND to Jesus Christ!
These may sound like trite examples — but some supposed brethren have "problems" with these very trivial matters! Obviously, we could never have the "unity of the spirit" or be of the "one mind" which Christ intends unless we allow him to direct us — as in New Testament times — through his Headquarters Church today! If we cannot learn to respond to Jesus Christ working through His ministers and His Headquarters today, we will not even be there to "reason" and "argue" personally with Christ when He comes with great power and glory. Perhaps some have not realized the importance of God's Government in His Church. But this is a matter involving the very inspired Message which we preach — the Message of God's coming kingdom or government to rule over this earth! Each of us must learn to be under authority now so we may be fit to exercise authority later. Also, all of us — in one way or another are trained in exercising government and authority in God's Church here and now as preparatory experience for our future job in His Kingdom. Each minister has a certain responsibility and authority over others. Each deacon or deaconess has a certain responsibility over the physical administration of God's Church and its affairs. Each husband has certain authority and responsibility over his wife and family Each wife has certain authority and responsibility over her household, her servants and her children. This is God's way — and it works!
Christ GUIDES His Servants
As quoted at the beginning of this article, the Apostle Paul asked: "Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?" (I Cor. 6:3). But in matters of Church Government, we should all realize that Christ will directly guide and inspire those who judge or rule for Him. Even in ancient Israel, the judges were told: "Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment" (II Chron. 19:6). And God has not changed! (Mai. 3:6). For Jesus Christ said as He sent His apostles to all the world: "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28:20). For our eternal good, all of us need to look more to Jesus Christ as the Living and very active head of His Church today! We need to realize that God the Father manifests His will in counsel and concert with His Son Jesus Christ — our Living head who sits at His right hand in heaven. In turn, Christ directly chooses and then inspires and directs His apostles over His Church. He shows plainly where He is working — for only one church in each age preaches the real truth of God, and does the real work of God in witnessing to the world and feeding the flock effectively. Through the apostles, Christ calls and trains young men as evangelists — "announcers of good news" — to raise up Churches, ordain and direct the activities of elders (Tit. 1:5), feed the flock and also assist in preaching the Gospel as a "witness" to the entire world. Under the evangelists, are the pastors — those qualified ministers who are permanently installed in authority over entire church areas or have a similar type of responsibility. Then, the preaching elders and local elders preside over the local congregations, conduct Bible studies, and serve in visiting the brethren and anointing the sick. Working closely with them — and with the evangelists and pastors as need may require — are the deacons and deaconesses who assist in the physical ministrations necessary in serving the local church brethren.
Christ's Body Is ORGANIZED
Far more than the best-trained military unit or championship athletic team, the body of Jesus Christ should be organized, responsive and ready to serve in unity whenever the need arises! Today, as He has in many past ages with other servants of God, God has raised up one man, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, as His leading minister to direct this entire era of god's Work on earth. As the Apostle Paul, Mr. Armstrong has taught and trained younger men as evangelists and others as pastors and elders. As God's Church in this age has grown over the past thirty years in this era, Christ has filled all of the ministerial ranks outlined in Ephesians 4 except that of the local "prophets" — who were not much in evidence toward the latter part of the Biblical history and after the Bible was written.
Now Twelve Evangelists
Under Mr. Armstrong there are now exactly twelve evangelists. They include men such as Garner Ted Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith and Herman L. Hoeh, who serve directly in the evangelistic work of broadcasting, writing or editing material for the whole world. In addition, Mr. Norman Smith — directing the Radio Studio and editing the broadcast for the whole world; Mr. Albert Portune — managing the business end of God's Work for the whole world; Dr. C. Paul Meredith — writing and editing the Correspondence Course for the whole world — all these men carry on in the evangelistic part of God's Work. Then there are men such as Mr. Raymond Cole — Superintendent over the churches up and down the entire East Coast — who certainly does evangelistic work in raising up local Churches and Bible studies, directing the activities of other ministers and ordaining elders and deacons. Mr. Raymond McNair is in a similar capacity in God's Work over all the British Isles — raising up churches and directing their activities. Mr. Dean Blackwell in the Chicago area, Mr. Wayne Cole in Australia and Mr. Gerald Waterhouse in South Africa have similar responsibilities. And Mr. Charles Hunting carries out in England similar business responsibilities as those of Mr. Portune in Pasadena with an ever-increasing ministerial and teaching responsibility in the British college and churches besides.
Responsibilities of Pastors and Elders
The pastor-rank ministers also include those of exceptional leadership and who have proved themselves in Christ's service such as Mr. Carlton Smith — District Superintendent over God's Churches in the Pacific Northwest, Mr. Ken Swisher — District Superintendent over God's Churches in the Southwestern part of the United States, Dr. Benjamin Rea — Dean of Ambassador College in England and speaker over The World Tomorrow broadcast in the Spanish language, and Mr. David Jon Hill — Managing Editor of this magazine for the whole Church and leading professor and teacher at God's college in Pasadena. The other pastors are all leading ministers over large church areas with much experience, or are outstanding servants of Christ in His colleges either in Pasadena or Bricket Wood. The preaching elders are those men who are full ministers and are usually over churches in the field ministry. As full preachers, they nearly always have had direct training under Mr. Armstrong at one of God's colleges for at least several semesters, and most of them are college graduates — some with master's degrees. The local elders are those men who — although perhaps not called to preach — have dedicated themselves in an unusual manner to serve their brethren and have qualified as spiritual "elders" in die local congregations. They are qualified to visit, anoint the sick, conduct Bible studies and occasionally give sermonettes — according to their ability — in serving in the local congregations. In most cases, local elders will not be full-time employees of God's Church. Rather, they will be successful members and examples from the local congregations who have their own businesses or jobs and are able to serve their brethren by visiting, counseling and anointing on certain evenings each week and on the Sabbath. As with all God's servants, their sacrifice and service should be respected by all of God's people who are commanded to "esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake" (I Thess. 5:13).
God's PATTERN of Church Government
This, then, is the "system" or pattern of Church Government laid down in your Bible by GOD. It is the Government of god — not man. The Living Christ has been installed by God the Father Himself as the Living head of the Church who in turn appoints His apostles, evangelists, pastors and elders over the flock. Be sure to pull out, perhaps mark — and certainly save and use the enclosed sheet in this issue of The Good News showing the locations of God's ministers and of His Churches and Bible studies all over the earth! This is where Christ is working! This is where his eyes and his interest is focused in a special way! So should yours be! Remember these ministers — and the Churches and Bible studies — in your earnest, prevailing prayers to the Living head of our Church. Study this article again in a few days, so that you may fix it permanently in your mind how Christ has organized His body, His Church, on earth today! When an article in this magazine, a Co-Worker letter, a member letter, a personal letter from Mr. Armstrong or the Letter Answering Department, or certainly The World Tomorrow broadcast comes your way, realize that it is the Living Christ speaking to you through His Headquarters on earth! Look to Him as your Head and the One responsible for the direction of His Work through Headquarters in Pasadena. Realizing who is really back of this, be sure you respond to Jesus Christ and His Church! Learn to be obedient and responsive — quickly and gladly — to His Government in His Church so that you may be there in His Kingdom to come! Realize and appreciate the offices of those whom God has set to serve you — now that you know how God's Government really works in His Church today!