Bible Study – The Organization of the Church

October 2 – 8, 2022

Key Text

“And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.” 1 Corinthians 12:28

Study Help: The Acts of the Apostles, 158–165


“System and order are manifest in all the works of God throughout the universe. Order is the law of heaven, and it should be the law of God’s people on the earth.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 26



1.a. What did Jesus do during the first part of His earthly ministry? Luke 6:12, 13



Note: “When Jesus had ended His instruction to the disciples, He gathered the little band close about Him, and kneeling in the midst of them, and laying His hands upon their heads, He offered a prayer dedicating them to His sacred work. Thus the Lord’s disciples were ordained to the gospel ministry.” The Desire of Ages, 296

1.b. What commission was given to the disciples—and to us? Matthew 28:18–20



Note: “To His disciples Christ said, … To you, My disciples, I commit this message of mercy. It is to be given to Israel first, and then to all nations, tongues, and peoples. It is to be given to Jews and Gentiles. All who believe are to be gathered into one church.” The Desire of Ages, 821

“The disciples were to teach what Christ had taught. That which He had spoken, not only in person, but through all the prophets and teachers of the Old Testament, is here included. Human teaching is shut out. There is no place for tradition, for man’s theories and conclusions, or for church legislation. No laws ordained by ecclesiastical authority are included in the commission. None of these are Christ’s servants to teach. ‘The law and the prophets,’ with the record of His own words and deeds, are the treasure committed to the disciples to be given to the world.” Ibid., 826



2.a. Who has God appointed to facilitate church organization? 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11



Note: “Let none entertain the thought that we can dispense with organization. It has cost us much study and many prayers for wisdom, that we know God has answered, to erect this structure. It has been built up by His direction, through much sacrifice and conflict. Let none of our brethren be so deceived as to attempt to tear it down, for you will thus bring in a condition of things that you do not dream of. In the name of the Lord I declare to you that it is to stand, strengthened, established, and settled. …

“Angels work harmoniously. Perfect order characterizes all their movements. The more closely we imitate the harmony and order of the angelic host, the more successful will be the efforts of these heavenly agents in our behalf. If we see no necessity for harmonious action, and are disorderly, undisciplined, and disorganized in our course of action, angels, who are thoroughly organized and move in perfect order, cannot work for us successfully. They turn away in grief, for they are not authorized to bless confusion, distraction, and disorganization. All who desire the cooperation of the heavenly messengers must work in unison with them. Those who have the unction from on high will in all their efforts encourage order, discipline, and union of action, and then the angels of God can cooperate with them. But never, never will these heavenly messengers place their endorsement upon irregularity, disorganization, and disorder.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 27, 28

2.b. What would be the result if there were no order, system, and organization in the church? 1 Corinthians 14:33; Ephesians 4:14


Note: “O how Satan would rejoice if he could succeed in his efforts to get in among this [independent-minded] people, and disorganize the work at a time when thorough organization is essential, and will be the greatest power to keep out spurious uprisings, and to refute claims not endorsed by the word of God! We want to hold the lines evenly, that there shall be no breaking down of the system of organization and order that has been built up by wise, careful labor. License must not be given to disorderly elements that desire to control the work at this time.” Gospel Workers, 487



3.a. Describe the experience of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. Acts 9:1–6, 10–12


Note: “Many have an idea that they are responsible to Christ alone for their light and experience, independently of His recognized followers on earth. But in the history of the conversion of Saul, important principles are given us, which we should ever bear in mind. He was brought directly into the presence of Christ. He was one whom Christ intended for a most important work, one who was to be a ‘chosen vessel’ unto Him; yet the Lord did not immediately impart to him the lessons of truth. He arrested his course and convicted him; but when asked by him, ‘What wilt thou have me to do?’ the Saviour placed him in connection with His church, and let them direct him what to do.

“Thus Jesus gave sanction to the authority of His organized church, and placed Saul in connection with His representatives on earth. All blessings flow from Christ, but He had now established a church as His representative on earth, and to it belonged the work of directing the repentant sinner in the way of life.

“Jesus is the friend of sinners; His heart is touched by their woe; He has all power, both in heaven and upon earth; but He respects the means that He has ordained for the enlightenment and salvation of men; He directs sinners to the church, which He has made a channel of light to the world.” The Review and Herald, March 23, 1911

3.b. Can someone belong to Christ while he or she repudiates the organized church, the body of Christ? Matthew 12:30


Note: “Everyone who seeks to do well in his own finite strength, will find his efforts a failure; but those who accept Christ by faith, will find him a personal Saviour. They will enlist in His army … .” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 292

“[I]ndependence of spirit is liable to lead the human agent to have too much confidence in himself and to trust in his own judgment rather than to respect the counsel and highly esteem the judgment of his brethren.” The Acts of the Apostles, 163

“The Lord loves His church. It is not to be disorganized or broken up into independent atoms. There is not the least consistency in this; there is not the least evidence that such a thing will be.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 68, 69



4.a. What does the word of God say about persons whom the Lord does not call for the gospel ministry but who push themselves in? Jeremiah 23:21


Note: “Those men who are not called of God are generally the very ones that are the most confident that they are so called and that their labors are very important.” Early Writings, 98

“The church should feel their responsibility and should look carefully and attentively at the lives, qualifications, and general course of those who profess to be teachers. If unmistakable evidence is not given that God has called them, and that the ‘woe’ is upon them if they heed not this call, it is the duty of the church to act and let it be known that these persons are not acknowledged as teachers by the church. …

“[I]n the apostles’ day the church was in danger of being deceived and imposed upon by false teachers. Therefore the brethren chose men who had given good evidence that they were capable of ruling well their own house and preserving order in their own families, and who could enlighten those who were in darkness. Inquiry was made of God concerning these, and then, according to the mind of the church and the Holy Ghost, they were set apart by the laying on of hands.” Ibid., 100, 101

4.b. What should the church do about those who act divisively independent from the church, the body of Christ? Romans 16:17; Titus 3:10



Note: “The spirit of pulling away from fellow laborers, the spirit of disorganization, is in the very air we breathe. By some, all efforts to establish order are regarded as dangerous—as a restriction of personal liberty, and hence to be feared as popery. These deceived souls regard it a virtue to boast of their freedom to think and act independently. …

“Some have advanced the thought that, as we near the close of time, every child of God will act independently of any religious organization. But I have been instructed by the Lord that in this work there is no such thing as every man’s being independent. The stars of heaven are all under law, each influencing the other to do the will of God, yielding their common obedience to the law that controls their action. And, in order that the Lord’s work may advance healthfully and solidly, His people must draw together.” Testimonies, Vol. 9, 257, 258



5.a. Why is organization vital in the church? Ephesians 4:11–16


Note: “In order for the work to be carried forward with efficiency, the Lord sent forth His disciples two and two. God has a church, and these churches are organized on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.” Testimonies to Southern Africa, 7

“As our numbers increased, it was evident that without some form of organization there would be great confusion, and the work would not be carried forward successfully. To provide for the support of the ministry, for carrying the work in new fields, for protecting both the churches and the ministry from unworthy members, for holding church property, for the publication of the truth through the press, and for many other objects, organization was indispensable.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 26

5.b. What was Paul’s attitude about organization? 1 Corinthians 1:10–13; 14:33, 40


Note: “Notwithstanding the fact that Paul was personally taught by God, he had no strained ideas of individual responsibility. While looking to God for direct guidance, he was ever ready to recognize the authority vested in the body of believers united in church fellowship. He felt the need of counsel, and when matters of importance arose, he was glad to lay these before the church and to unite with his brethren in seeking God for wisdom to make right decisions.” The Acts of the Apostles, 200



1    What characterizes the doctrinal standard of God’s true church?

2    What contrasts exist between God’s organizational plan and Satan’s ways?

3    What does Saul’s conversion experience teach us about organization?

4    What basic qualifications for ordination should be taken more seriously?

5    In what ways does organization bring blessings to the church?

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