By George Welsh Tyle
Many times while ringing doorbells, doing personal work, the above question has been asked of me. The answer has usually been, “The church you read about in the New Testament has no central organization. nor authority on the face of the earth. The church’s headquarters are in heaven.” The apostle Paul says our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20 A.S.V).Those who are in Christ’s church are in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 16:18,19). Jesus said “And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock (Peter’s confession of Christ-GWT) I will build my church: and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Please note that Jesus is speaking in the future tense in the above quotation. The kingdom, His church, was not established then. It came into existence on the day of Pentecost in A.D.33. Since the Lord’s kingdom is not of this world naturally, the capital city and central office are in heaven. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). He also said; “All. authority hath been given me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). Matthew uses the designation “kingdom of heaven” about thirty times. The headquarters of the kingdom is in heaven and there Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords sits on His throne at the right hand of God (Col. 3:1). God raised Christ from the dead, and made him to sit at his right hand in the, heavenly places, far above all rule and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and he has put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:29-23). The apostle Paul wrote, “He is the head of the body, the church” (Col. 1:18). His church has no pope or any other visible head, here on earth.
Men often express surprise that the churches of Christ have no organization other than the elders and deacons within each congregation. Though there are thousands upon thousands of people in the United States in this fellowship called Christians only, yet the only head that holds them together is their common faith and allegiance to Christ and His gospel. There is no official publishing house, seminary nor legislative office en the face of the earth. Individual congregations only work together voluntarily, just as they did in the first century. All of the members are bound together in one body “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ” (1 Cor. 12:12). Paul wrote, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all” (Eph. 4:4,5,6). Each congregation is independent of all others.
Churches of Christ are organized after the examples and commands of the New Testament. The church at Philippi had bishops or elders (overseers) and deacons (Phil. 1:1). Titus was told to appoint elders in every city on the island of Crete. There was a plurality of elders in each congregation. In 1 Pet. 5:3, he tells the elders to make “yourselves ensamples of the flock.” They were to be leaders by word and example. In the fourth verse of this same chapter he calls Christ “the chief Shepherd.” The elders have no authority whatever to make any changes in God’s plans or Word given for the church operation and government. Popes, archbishops, cardinals and other ecclesiastical officials were left out of the picture. Churches of Christ have no official conventions, conferences, associations, senates or synods provided for it in the New Testament church. God’s ways work perfectly and it is not within man’s power to attempt to make improvements in them.
Remember, the headquarters of the church of Christ is in heaven and not on earth. No man can tamper with, revise, add to, take away from, or annul any part of God’s plans, ways or Word and keep from going to hell. The Apostle John wrote in Rev. 22:19, “God shall take away his part from the tree of life, and out of the holy city.”
Truth Magazine XXII: 3, p. 61
January 19, 1978