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Modesty

Modesty and following Christ
 By: unknown

One of the most controversial topics among Christian women today is the topic of Christian modesty.  Why is something that is commanded in Scripture even questioned by God´s people?  How could we, as a “Christian” nation, have degenerated so far in such a short period of time?  Less than 100 years ago women would have been arrested for wearing what some ladies would unflinchingly wear to a worship service today!  To our degradation, modesty and femininity are no longer common, or, in many cases, even desirable. 

There is much we could discuss concerning modesty and the apparel of Christian men and women.  However, since I am a woman, I will simply address the issues concerning women.  Although it is true that men should dress modestly and decently as well, I will leave such details for discussion amongst the men.  Neither will I attempt to delve into whether or not it is lawful for a woman to wear pants.  Instead, my desire is to challenge you, my sisters in the Lord, to reevaluate what God´s Word says concerning modesty. 

Many times we seem to be asking, “How much can I get away with before it is considered sin?  How many articles of clothing may I shed before it´s considered wrong?  How tight is too tight?  How short is too short?  How low is too low?”  Instead my question to you today is, “What is God´s best?”  Let us reason together and see what God´s Word tells us. 

First of all, the Bible is clear that God wants His daughters to dress modestly. 

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
(I Timothy 2:9-10)


We as women love to adorn ourselves.  Before redemption, many of us “adorned” ourselves in provocative clothing that was purposely intended to entice and seduce men. Some may have adorned themselves in costly jewelry or expensive clothing to pridefully flaunt their wealth or status to others.  How does God say we should “adorn” ourselves? “In modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety…” We must honestly ask ourselves (and our husbands!) if this describes our current wardrobe.  The Christian woman should not be "focused" on outward appearance.  Men are attracted to the female form.  If we´re showing ours off, purposely or not, we´re not being modest!  Shorts show off legs.  Plain and simple. Tight or low blouses show off other things.  Pants can also show off the crotch area and the bottom. (I don't know how to say that more politely!) 

God wants us to dress like women and be delightfully feminine (the way he designed for us to be).  In case you haven´t noticed, God made men and women drastically different!  It´s a shameful crime when society succeeds in convincing little girls they should be tough, ambitious and masculine and little boys that they should be soft, effeminate and pretty.  It starts out with a few “innocent” twists of God´s design for men and women.  Then this same evil deception and perversion leads to those fools who are under the delusion that they are “women trapped in men´s bodies” and “men trapped in women´s bodies.” 

The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are an abomination unto the LORD thy God.  (Deuteronomy 22:5)


What else can we learn here?  Go to your local mall and watch how the teenaged girls dress and carry themselves!  When we smudge the clear lines of the differences in the sexes, this is where we end up!   

We do not want to be responsible for causing a brother to stumble.  Sadly, few ladies consider their brother when choosing their attire.  “It´s his problem if we cause anyone to stumble... 

But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.  (Matthew 5:28)


Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.  (Romans 14:13)


It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.  (Romans 14:21)


These are all issues we need to seriously consider when choosing our wardrobe.  It is clear God wants us to dress in “modest apparel.”  But does He leave it up to individual interpretation what "modest apparel" is?          

There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.  (Proverbs 30:12)

Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! (Isaiah 5:21)

  
In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, (katastole) with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.  (I Timothy 2:9)


What does the Greek word “katastole” (apparel) mean?  In our modern society, the word apparel could mean a bikini!  Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words tells us “katastole” is connected with “katastello,” which means "to send or let down, to lower" (kata, "down," stello, "to send"), was primarily a garment let down; hence, "dress, attire," in general (cf. stole, a loose outer garment worn by kings and persons of rank.)  This describes a long, flowing robe-type garment. 

The only time the word “katastole” is used is when it is describing how a woman is to dress AND it is a verse that is specifically addressing modesty.  It describes a LONG, FLOWING, LOOSE, outer garment.  All other references to “apparel” in the New Testament are gender neutral.  They simply mean “clothing” or “to clothe 

Therefore we are certain that God commands Christian women to dress modestly, to dress like women in a feminine manner and to not dress as to cause our brother to stumble.  We have also learned that Scripture is not up for individual interpretation.  God´s Word is the final authority in all we believe, do and think.  Don´t allow the world to set your standards of dress! 

Dressing modestly will not get you to heaven.  It will not make you a “better” person and it will not save your soul.  What it will do is display obedience to the Word of God.  It will reflect a heart that is submitted to Him and a desire to dress “to the glory of God!” 

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
(II Corinthians 10:31)


It is a sad day indeed when God´s chosen people flaunt their nakedness shamelessly all in the name of “Christian Liberty.”  We live in a day when His precious sons and daughters wreak of the world and resemble more the heathen, than the elect. 

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate.  (II Corinthians 6:17)


But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.  (I Pet 2:9)


The feminist is, “But it´s MY body and MY choice how I dress!!  I´ll do what I want!”  Is the cry much different from our congregations?  “But it´s MY Christian Liberty to dress the way I want!  Legalism!  I will do what I think is right!

What?  Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
(I Corinthians 6:19-20)


What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?  (Romans 6:1-2)


Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.  (Romans 6:13)


Should we have the “liberty” to pick and choose what is worth obeying?

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.  (II Timothy 3:16)


Sisters, let us repent of our arrogance and rebellion.  Let us turn to the Lord with a humble and contrite heart and may the God of mercy grant us pardon for our worldly and selfish desire to dress contrary to the glory of God.

If you haven´t honestly and earnestly sought God in how He would have you dress, then I urge you dear sisters to do so now!  I pray God gives you the grace to walk and dress as befits a child of the King.  In so doing, you are considering your brother, loving your neighbor and honoring your God.



Pre-Marrital Article
 By: Ron Mehl

Choosing a life partner is the biggest decision you'll make outside of choosing to accept Jesus Christ as Savior.

I've met with scores of couples for premarital counseling through the years.  And one of the first points I try to get across to them is that "desire" does not equal love.

Desire may be illustrated by a young person who tells you they can't live without you, that they're miserable, and that life seems colorless and empty when you're not around.  That may be a form of love, but it's not the sort of love that will hold a marriage together through the years.  While they may feel they "need" you today, it's possible that five months from now you'll no longer meet their "need," and they'll find that they "need" someone else.

What I tell these young couples is that love is based on commitment, and that everything you do is to fulfill, satisfy, and serve the one you love.  Real love doesn't enter a relationship with an expectation to just receive.  It enters a relationship to give and give and give.

Let me illustrate how deceptive the world's definition of "love" can be.  Picture a young couple who has been dating for a few weeks.  It isn't long before this young man tells his girlfriend how much he loves her and how difficult it is to keep his hands off her.  Pressing her to engage in a physical relationship, he explains that he "loves her so much" he can no longer restrain himself.

The truth is, any young woman who hears that line should realize that the young man doesn't love her too much... he loves her too little.  Actually, he's not thinking about her. He's only thinking about himself. He would never rob innocence and purity from one he truly loves.  His insistence on a physical relationship only proves one thing: he loves himself much more than he loves her.

What really brings peace to a relationship? How do you choose a marriage partner?  Let me leave you with just a few thoughts.

Make sure your life partner loves God more than he or she loves you.

Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"  (Matthew 22:37-39, NIV)

It is so important to observe your partner's love for God.  Why?  Because in time, the way he or she loves and serves Him will be reflected in the way he or she loves and serves you.

Make sure your life partner is a person of character:  "Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord."  (Psalm 119:1, NIV)

Men and women of character are trustworthy in all they do and have an appetite for righteousness.  They will keep their word no matter what the cost.

Make sure your life partner is kind to others:  "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you."  (Ephesians 4:32, NKJV)

If you don't see your partner treat others with kindness and grace, in time he or she will be treating you the same way.

Make sure to note the way your life partner dresses.  "And I want women to be modest in their appearance.  They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes.  For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do."  (I Timothy 2:9-10, NLT)

I'm not saying your partner should wear a gunnysack and combat boots to cover herself.  I'm just saying the modest things she wears reveal a lot about her heart.

Make sure your life partner treats his or her parents with honor and respect:  "Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise."  (Ephesians 6:2, NKJV)

I have never yet met a young person who is truly successful or blessed who doesn't love his or her parents.

Make sure your life partner is respected by others:  "Choose a good reputation over great riches, for being held in high esteem is better than having silver or gold." 
(Proverbs 22:1, NLT)

Be wise about how you do this, but I would recommend that you discreetly ask a few people what they have observed about the person you're considering.  Pay as much attention to their hesitations as to their words!

Make sure your life partner is not flirtatious:  "Smooth words may hide a wicked heart, just as a pretty glaze covers a common clay pot."  (Proverbs 26:23, NLT)

A person's actions and looks speak volumes, so be advised, Son, and be wise.

Make sure you understand the true priorities of your life partner's life:  "Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young.  Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity."  (I Timothy 4:12, NLT)

Watch closely to see signs of your partner's love, faith, and purity.  Has this person put God first?  Does this person live to serve others?  Is this person selfish?

Make sure you know whom your life partner's close friends are:  "Do not be misled.  'Bad company corrupts good character.'"  (I Corinthians 15:33, NIV)

Make sure your life partner is not contentious or violent:  "Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred."  (Proverbs 15:17, NIV)  If you're picking up a lot of unhappiness or anger in this person, then be warned in advance.

Make sure you ask the Lord for discernment.  "Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul... May your good Spirit lead me on level ground."  (Psalm 143:8,10, NIV)

"Trust in the lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths."  (Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT)

Make sure you pray, pray, pray:  "Show me the path where I should walk, O lord; point out the right road for me to follow.  Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me.  All day long I put my hope in you."  (Psalm 25:4-5, NLT)

Pre-Marrital Article
Familylife
 By: Ron Mehl
 Click Here to Purchase Online

Choosing a life partner is the biggest decision you'll make outside of choosing to accept Jesus Christ as Savior.

I've met with scores of couples for premarital counseling through the years. And one of the first points I try to get across to them is that "desire" does not equal love.

Desire may be illustrated by a young person who tells you they can't live without you, that they're miserable, and that life seems colorless and empty when you're not around. That may be a form of love, but it's not the sort of love that will hold a marriage together through the years. While they may feel they "need" you today, it's possible that five months from now you'll no longer meet their "need," and they'll find that they "need" someone else.

What I tell these young couples is that love is based on commitment, and that everything you do is to fulfill, satisfy, and serve the one you love. Real love doesn't enter a relationship with an expectation to just receive. It enters a relationship to give and give and give.

Let me illustrate how deceptive the world's definition of "love" can be. Picture a young couple who has been dating for a few weeks. It isn't long before this young man tells his girlfriend how much he loves her and how difficult it is to keep his hands off her. Pressing her to engage in a physical relationship, he explains that he "loves her so much" he can no longer restrain himself.

The truth is, any young woman who hears that line should realize that the young man doesn't love her too much... he loves her too little. Actually, he's not thinking about her. He's only thinking about himself. He would never rob innocence and purity from one he truly loves. His insistence on a physical relationship only proves one thing: he loves himself much more than he loves her.

What really brings peace to a relationship? How do you choose a marriage partner? Let me leave you with just a few thoughts.

Make sure your life partner loves God more than he or she loves you.

Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matthew 22:37-39, NIV)

It is so important to observe your partner's love for God. Why? Because in time, the way he or she loves and serves Him will be reflected in the way he or she loves and serves you.

Make sure your life partner is a person of character: "Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord." (Psalm 119:1, NIV)

Men and women of character are trustworthy in all they do and have an appetite for righteousness. They will keep their word no matter what the cost.

Make sure your life partner is kind to others: "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32, NKJV)

If you don't see your partner treat others with kindness and grace, in time he or she will be treating you the same way.

Make sure to note the way your life partner dresses. "And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do." (1 Timothy 2:9-10, NLT)

I'm not saying your partner should wear a gunnysack and combat boots to cover herself. I'm just saying the modest things she wears reveal a lot about her heart.

Make sure your life partner treats his or her parents with honor and respect: "Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise." (Ephesians 6:2, NKJV)

I have never yet met a young person who is truly successful or blessed who doesn't love his or her parents.

Make sure your life partner is respected by others: "Choose a good reputation over great riches, for being held in high esteem is better than having silver or gold." (Proverbs 22:1, NLT)

Be wise about how you do this, but I would recommend that you discreetly ask a few people what they have observed about the person you're considering. Pay as much attention to their hesitations as to their words!

Make sure your life partner is not flirtatious: "Smooth words may hide a wicked heart, just as a pretty glaze covers a common clay pot." (Proverbs 26:23, NLT)

A person's actions and looks speak volumes, so be advised, Son, and be wise.

Make sure you understand the true priorities of your life partner's life: "Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity." (1 Timothy 4:12, NLT)

Watch closely to see signs of your partner's love, faith, and purity. Has this person put God first? Does this person live to serve others? Is this person selfish?

Make sure you know whom your life partner's close friends are: "Do not be misled. 'Bad company corrupts good character.'" (1 Corinthians 15:33, NIV)

Make sure your life partner is not contentious or violent: "Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred." (Proverbs 15:17, NIV) If you're picking up a lot of unhappiness or anger in this person, then be warned in advance.

Make sure you ask the Lord for discernment. "Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul... May your good Spirit lead me on level ground." (Psalm 143:8,10, NIV)

"Trust in the lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT)

Make sure you pray, pray, pray: "Show me the path where I should walk, O lord; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you." (Psalm 25:4-5, NLT)

What is the church?
Discipleship 101
 By: Discipleship 101

The Bible says that people who have faith in Christ become part of the "church."  What is the church?  How is it organized?  What is its purpose?

Jesus is building his church

Jesus said, "I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18).  The church is important to him—he loved it so much that he gave his life for it (Ephesians 5:25).  If we have the mind of Christ, we will love the church, too, and give ourselves to it.

The Greek word for "church" is ekklesia, which means an assembly.  In Acts 19:39, 41, it is used for a large group of townspeople.  But among Christians, the word ekklesia came to have a special meaning: all who believe in Jesus Christ.

For example, the first time that Luke uses the word, he writes, "great fear seized the whole church" (Acts 5:11).  He does not have to explain what the word meant, for his readers were already familiar with it.  It meant all Christians, not just those who happened to be there on that particular occasion.  "The church" means all disciples of Christ.  It refers to people, not to a building.

Each local group of believers is a church.  Paul wrote to "the church of God in Corinth" (I Corinthians 1:2); he referred to "all the churches of Christ" (Romans 16:16) and the "church of the Laodiceans" (Colossians 4:16).  But he could also use the word church to refer to all believers everywhere: "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25).

The church exists in several levels. At one level is the universal church, which includes everyone worldwide who accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Local churches are a different level, including people who regularly meet together. Denominations are an intermediate level, containing groups of congregations hat work more closely together because of shared history and beliefs.

Local congregations sometimes include unbelievers —family members who have not accepted Jesus as Savior, yet nevertheless meet regularly with believers.  Local congregations may also include people who consider themselves to be Christians, but may not be.  Experience shows that some of these will later admit that they were not really Christians.

Why we need the church

Many people claim to believe in Jesus Christ but do not want to attend any of his churches. The New Testament shows that the normal pattern is for believers to meet together (Hebrews 10:25).

Paul repeatedly exhorts Christians to do different things to "one another" (Romans 12:10; 15:7; I Corinthians 12:25; Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 4:32; Philippians 2:3; Colossians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:13).  It is difficult for people to obey these commands if they do not meet with other believers.

A local congregation can give us a sense of belonging, of being involved with other believers. It can give us some spiritual safety, so that we are not blown around by strange ideas.  A congregation can give us friendship, fellowship and encouragement.  It can teach us things we would never learn on our own.  A congregation can help train our children, help us work together for more effective ministry and give us opportunities to serve that help us grow in ways we did not expect.  In general, the value that we get out of a local congregation is in proportion to the amount of involvement we give to it.

But perhaps the most important reason for each believer to participate in a local congregation is that members need each other.  God has given different abilities to different believers, and he wants us to work together "for the common good" (I Corinthians 12:4-7).  If only part of the work force shows up, it is no surprise that the congregation is not able to do as much as we would like, or to be as healthy as we would like.  Unfortunately, some people find it easier to criticize than to help.

Our time, our abilities, our resources are needed to fulfill the work and mission of the church. The commitment of mission-focused people is essential in order for the church to effectively reflect Jesus and his love to the world. Jesus said to pray for laborers (Matthew 9:38).  He wants each of us to be working, not sitting on the sidelines.

Individuals who try to be Christian without the church fail to use their strengths to help the people the Bible says we should be helping.  The church is a mutual-aid society, and we help each other, knowing that the day may come (and in fact is already here) that we will need to be helped.

Descriptions of the church

The church is described in several ways: the people of God, the family of God, the bride of Christ. We are a building, a temple and a body.  Jesus described us as sheep, a field of grain and a vineyard.  Each analogy describes a different aspect of the church.

Many of Jesus’ parables of the kingdom describe the church, too.  Like a mustard seed, the church started small and yet has grown quite large (Matthew 13:31-32).  The church is like a field in which weeds are scattered among the wheat (vv. 24-30). It is like a fishnet that catches bad fish as well as good (vv. 47-50).  The church is like a vineyard in which some people work a long time and others only a short time (Matthew 20:1-16).  The church is like servants who were given money to invest for the master, and some produce more fruit than others (Matthew 25:14-30).

Jesus described himself as a shepherd, and his disciples as sheep (Matthew 26:31); his mission was to seek lost sheep (Matthew 18:11-14).  He described his people as sheep that must be fed and cared for (John 21:15-17).  Paul and Peter used the same analogy, saying that church leaders should be shepherds of the flock (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2).

"You are…God’s building," Paul says (I Corinthians 3:9). The foundation is Jesus Christ (v. 11), and people are the building built on it.  Peter said that we are all "living stones...being built into a spiritual house" (I Peter 2:5).  As we are built together, we "become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit" (Ephesians 2:22).  We are the temple of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 3:17; 6:19).  Although God may be worshiped in any place, the church has worship as one of its purposes.

We are "the people of God," I Peter 2:10 tells us.  We are what the people of Israel were supposed to be: "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God" (v. 9; see Exodus 19:6).  We belong to God, because Christ purchased us with his blood (Revelation 5:9).  We are his children, and his family (Ephesians 3:15).  As his people, we are given a great inheritance, and in response we are to try to please him and bring praise to his name.

Scripture also calls us the bride of Christ—a phrase that suggests his love for us, and a tremendous change within ourselves, that we might have such a close relationship with the Son of God.  In some of his parables, people are invited to attend the wedding banquet, but in this analogy, we are invited to be the bride.

"Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready" (Revelation 19:7).  How do we become ready for this?  It is a gift: "Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear" (v. 8).  Christ cleanses us "by the washing with water through the word" (Ephesians 5:26).  He presents the church to himself, having made her radiant, spotless, holy and righteous (v. 27).  He is working in us.

Working together

The picture of the church that best illustrates the way that members relate to one another is that of the body.  "You are the body of Christ," Paul says, "and each one of you is a part of it" (I Corinthians 12:27).  Jesus Christ "is the head of the body, the church" (Colossians 1:18), and we are all members of the body.  If we are united to Christ, we are united to one another, too, and we have responsibilities to one another.

No one can say, "I don’t need you" (I Corinthians 12:21), and no one can say, "I don’t belong in the church" (v. 18).  God distributes our abilities so that we work together for the common good, helping one another and being helped by working together.  "There should be no division in the body" (v. 25).  Paul frequently warned against the sin of divisiveness, even saying that a person who causes division should be put out of the church (Romans 16:17; Titus 3:10).  Christ causes the church to grow "as each part does its work"—as the various members cooperate (Ephesians 4:16).

Unfortunately, the Christian world is divided into denominations that sometimes squabble with one another. The church is not yet perfect, since none of its members is perfect. Nevertheless, Christ wants the church to be united (John 17:21). This does not require a merger of organizations, but it does suggest a common purpose.

True unity can be found only as we draw closer to Christ, preach his gospel, and live as he would. The goal is to promote him, not ourselves. The existence of different denominations has a side benefit, however: Through diverse approaches, more people are reached with the message of Christ in a way they understand.

Organization

The Christian world has three basic approaches to church organization and leadership: hierarchy, democracy and representative. These are called episcopal, congregational and presbyterian.

Variations exist within each type, but in general, the episcopal model means that a denominational officer has the power to set policy and ordain pastors.  In the congregational model, church members choose their policies and their pastors.  In a presbyterian system, power is divided between the denomination and the congregations.  Elders are elected and given power to govern.

The New Testament does not require any particular church structure. It talks about overseers (bishops), elders and shepherds (pastors) as if these were different words for the same type of church leader.  Peter told the elders to be shepherds and overseers (I Peter 5:1-2).  Similarly, Paul told a group of elders that they were overseers and shepherds (Acts 20:17, 28).

The Jerusalem church was led by a group of elders; the church in Philippi was led by several overseers (Acts 15:2-6; Philippians 1:1).  Paul told Titus to ordain elders, wrote one verse about elders and then several about overseers, as if these were synonymous terms for church leaders (Titus 1:5-9). In the book of Hebrews, the leaders are simply called "leaders" (Hebrews 13:7).

Some church leaders were also called "teachers" (I Corinthians 12:29; James 3:1). The grammar of Ephesians 4:11 implies that pastors and teachers were in the same category. One of the primary functions of a church leader is teaching—one of the qualifications for leadership is that the person must be "able to teach" (I Timothy 3:2).

One thing is consistent in this: Certain people were designated as leaders. The local churches had some organization, though the exact title didn’t seem to matter much.

Members were exhorted to respect and obey these leaders (I Thessalonians 5:12; I Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:17).  If the leader commands something wrong, members should not obey, but for the most part, members are to support their leaders.

What do leaders do? They "direct the affairs of the church" (I Timothy 5:17). They shepherd the flock, leading by example and by teaching. They watch over the church (Acts 20:28). They should not lord it over others, but serve them (I Peter 5:2-3). They are to "prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up" (Ephesians 4:12).

How are leaders chosen? We are told in only a few cases: Paul appointed elders (Acts 14:23), implied that Timothy would choose overseers (I Timothy 3:1-7), and authorized Titus to appoint elders (Titus 1:5).  At least in these cases, there was a hierarchy. We do not find any examples of church members choosing their own elders.

Deacons

However, in Acts 6:1-6 we see members choosing some leaders to help distribute food to the needy, and the apostles then appointed them for this work. In that way the apostles could concentrate on spiritual matters, and the physical needs could also be taken care of (verse 2). This distinction between spiritual leadership and physical leadership is also seen in 1 Peter 4:11-12.

Leaders who serve in manual work are often called deacons, from the Greek word diakoneo, which means to serve. Although all members and leaders are to serve, some are specifically appointed for service roles. At least one woman is called a deacon (Romans 16:1). Paul gave Timothy a list of traits needed in a deacon (I Timothy 3:8-12), but he did not specify what they did. Consequently different denominations assign them different roles, ranging from custodial work to financial management.

The important thing in leadership is not what people are called, how they are structured or how they are appointed. The important thing is the purpose of leadership: to help God’s people grow in maturity we become more like Christ (Ephesians 4:13).

Purposes of the church

Christ has built his church, given his people gifts and leadership, and he has given us work to do. What are the purposes of the church?

A major purpose of the church is worship. God has called us that we "may declare the praises of him" who called us "out of darkness into his wonderful light" (I Peter 2:9). God seeks people who will worship him (John 4:23), who will love him above everything else (Matthew 4:10). Everything we do, whether as individuals or as a congregation, should be for his glory (I Corinthians 10:31). We are called to "continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise" (Hebrews 13:15).

We are commanded, "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" (Ephesians 5:19). When we gather, we sing praises to God, we pray to him and we listen to his word. These are forms of worship. So is the Lord’s Supper, so is baptism and so is obedience.Teaching is another purpose of the church. It is at the heart of the Great Commission: "teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:20). Church leaders should teach, and members should teach one another (Colossians 3:16). We should encourage one another (I Corinthians 14:31; I Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 10:25). Small groups provide an excellent setting for this mutual ministry.

If we want to be spiritual, Paul says, we should want to "build up the church" (I Corinthians 14:12). The goal is to edify, strengthen, encourage and comfort (v. 3). The entire meeting should "be done for the strengthening of the church" (v. 26). We are to be disciples, people who learn and apply the word of God. The early church was praised because they "devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer" (Acts 2:42).Ministry is a third major purpose of the church. Paul writes, "As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers" (Galatians 6:10). Our first duty is to our family, and then to the church and then to the world around us. The second-greatest commandment is to love our neighbors (Matthew 22:39).

This world has many physical needs, and we should not ignore them. But the greatest need is the gospel, and we should not ignore that, either. As part of our ministry to the world, the church is to preach the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. No other organization will do this work—it is the mission of the church. Every worker is needed—some on the front lines, and some in support. Some will plant, some will nurture and some will harvest, and as we work together, Christ will cause the church to grow (Ephesians 4:16).

Why should I go to church?
Why should I go to church?
 By: unknown

The Bible says that we should not forsake "our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near," (Heb. 10:25).  It is wise to go to church because that is where we can go to hear the word of God preached and to experience the friendship of other believers.

It is very important that we hear the word of God. The Bible says, "So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth. It shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it," (
Isa. 55:11).  Also, "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart," (Heb. 4:12).  The word of God, when it is preached, presents to us the truth that the Lord wants us to know.  We need to hear the word of God presented to us, analyzed, and applied to our lives so that we can live better, accomplish what God desires for us, and can bring glory and honor to Him. 

The other very good reason mentioned above for going to church is to experience friendship with other Christians. We need friends in order to be well balanced and healthy.  Also, in church we discover opportunities to serve and be served.  Therefore, we learn to apply what is taught out of God's word and then we learn to extend it to others outside the church.

Also, in church we share in the successes and failures of others and learn how the Lord has worked in the lives of other people.  In this we are encouraged.  Remember, God did not make us to be alone.  We need the friendship of other believers. 

So, you should go to church because that is where you can hear the word of God explained and applied to your life, see how God works in people's lives, and experience the friendship of others.


Pray that God will lead you to your home-church so that you can learn his divine Holy word and apply His will in your life! How are we living?