A THE CORE OF CONGREGATIONAL POLITY (CONCLUSION)
In the last three articles, we have covered the fundamental core theology behind Congregational Polity. We hope that they will provide teaching opportunities and or sermon ideas for the coming year. Please reach out via email or the message board on the Pasco Baptist Association web page if you would like further reading or research materials.
In conclusion to this series, we look back at Peter’s portrayal of the church as a living, spiritual house, with Christ as the foundation and cornerstone and each believer as a stone in the wall (1 Peter 2:4-12). Paul illustrates the church as a body, with Christ as the head and each believer as a member (Ephesians 4:15-16). Both pictures emphasize community. One stone is not a temple or a wall; one body part is useless without the others. Our American culture can be very individualistic. Making it is easy to forget our interdependence with other believers. When God calls an individual to a task, remember that he is also calling other individuals to work together. Individual efforts multiply when the church comes together. Working together as the people of God, the church is joined together by the hand of God to be built into a beautiful house for God to share His Kingdom.
The church as a congregation is a call to ministry and service. Congregational Polity is a barometer of the quality of our life together in the Body of Christ. And the coherence of our witness in the world for which Christ died. In the local community of believers, God works through the congregation by the power of His Spirit. He has called together to act as priests to each other and the world around them. The church stands before God and intercedes for one another, proclaiming God's Word to one another and celebrate His presence among them in worship, praise, and fellowship.
The priestly ministry does not terminate upon ourselves as the Church; it only begins there. The priesthood of all believers propels us into the world (the community around us) in service and witness. It constrains the church to "show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light" (I Pet. 2:9).
The church's practice of the Sacrifices of the Priesthood is a Total Life Commitment:
The Sacrifice of Prayer "Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. And he was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne" Revelation 8:3
The Sacrifice of Praise "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name" Hebrews 13:15
The Sacrifice of Giving "Indeed, I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, a sweet aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God." Philippians 4:18
Priests make Appeals to God "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men" 1st Timothy 2:1
All believers should seek to be disciple-makers, striving to lead the wanderer's back to the Way, stretching forth a hand to the fallen, and winning over the outsiders. These should become the church’s measure of health.
Jesus said, Go make Disciples!
Who do you walk with? Who is your disciple?
Who are you praying for? Make intercession for?
Then there is the question, what does the Preacher do then?
Eph. 4:11-16 NCV And Christ gave gifts to people—he made some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to go and tell the Good News, and some to have the work of caring for and teaching God's people. 12Christ gave those gifts to prepare God's holy people for the work of serving, to make the body of Christ stronger. 13This work must continue until we are all joined together in the same faith and in the same knowledge of the Son of God. We must become like a mature person, growing until we become like Christ and have his perfection.
The result of living this doctrine:
14Then we will no longer be babies. We will not be tossed about like a ship that the waves carry one way and then another. We will not be influenced by every new teaching we hear from people who are trying to fool us. They make plans and try any kind of trick to fool people into following the wrong path. 15No! Speaking the truth with love, we will grow up in every way into Christ, who is the head. 16The whole body depends on Christ, and all the parts of the body are joined and held together. Each piece does its own work to make the entire body grow and be healthy with love.
While pastors and teachers have a special responsibility to guard with care what has been committed to their trust (1 Tim. 6:20), this is the entire community of faith's task in the final analysis. Not merely one segment of it. Indeed, this is one of the prominent features of the Reformation doctrine of the priesthood of all believers.
Teamwork is a vital part of life in the body of Christ. God's work involves many different individuals with a variety of gifts and abilities. There are no superstars in this task; only team members performing their God-given particular roles. We become useful members of God's team by setting aside our desires to receive glory for what we do. Don't seek the praise that comes from people—it is comparatively worthless. Instead, seek approval from God (Gal 1:10).
The Good Shepherd's description in Ezekiel 34:11-24 tells us that being a good shepherd requires dedication, humility, and perseverance. Yes, only Christ is the Good Shepherd. Yet, Christ called us with – Follow Me! – that was His call to all who would hear and obey. Jesus said, “I will make you fishers of men,” (Matt 4:19) and instructed us to go make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:18-20). That is the challenge for you as Pastor and the congregation.
A final thought on Congregational Polity:
1 John 1:7 (NLT) But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.