The purpose of this church is to be obedient to the commission of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, when He said,

Go therefore and make disciples of 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 that I have commanded you... Matthew 28:19-20

We will endeavor to fulfill this commission through...

We will seek to foster within our members a Biblical attitude and respect for the family and child raising, for missions at home and around the world, and for worship, including the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

We will seek to foster the Biblical concept of true spiritual worship and fellowship in contrast to ritual, dress, status and tradition.”

Too often, people are part of an organization, but they don’t know why they are a part of it, nor do they know what that organization stands for, or its purpose for existence. This is especially true when it comes to churches. People often choose a church because:

But very seldom do you hear, “I like their stand and purpose.”

In the case of the church, ignorance is not bliss. Not knowing the purpose of the church, and its operating procedures can be tragic to the one not knowing, and to the church in general. One of the major causes of church failures and closings is the fact that the purpose has been set aside, and the church program is aimlessly moving from one project to another. When the purpose is not clear or has been set aside, the direction of the church will usually be on a downward course. The degeneration of the church, and its program will often be slow at first. So slow that many will not recognize that the church is off course until it is too late to make corrections.

As a church program expands, and more people become involved in the program, it’s so easy for the church program to move just a little off target, and no longer be operating according to its purpose. After all, there are many good things that need to be accomplished. If doing those good things takes a church away from its purpose, it will not be long until the church is spending its time and effort just doing good things, and never accomplishing its purpose, thereby losing its direction. Once a church looses its direction, the good things that it was involved in will become more and more humanistic. Very few churches plan to move away from the spiritual realm into the humanistic social gospel, but it will happen automatically, unless there is a constant vigilance against such a move.

Jude 1:3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
contend [earnestly] = (Greek) to contend about a thing as a combatant.

Earnestly is not in the text, but was added in an effort to bring out the meaning of the Greek word for contend which is a little weak when translated into English. The combatant, mentioned in the definition, does not refer to a street brawler. Instead, it has reference to a well trained and disciplined athlete or solider, who by using all his skill, power and technique is able to stand his ground and thereby win the contest. In this type of contending, the combatant must know and follow the rules in all earnestness, or the referee will blow his whistle and call foul. The translations that do not use the word earnestly are not poor translations. However, just using the lone word contend does not give the meaning of the Greek term, either.

For right now, let’s start reading with Ephesians 6:13.

Ephesians 6:13-14 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

We are to do all we can to stand. That involves knowing how to stand, practicing the techniques needed to stand, being aware of the hazards involved in standing, etc. In context, this “having done all” is using what God has provided in His word, through the new birth, the three-way proper relationship with people (spouse, children and employment), and the whole armor of God, etc. Once we have availed ourselves of all that God has provided, then we are to stand using all of those resources. However, it does not tell us to just stand. But after we have done all in preparation to stand, then we are to stand equipped by God’s provision. We are to stand even in the face of literally hell or high water, as we see in the context. The high water was added by the expounder, but we will have to stand against all the forces of Hell.

Ephesians 6:12-14 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

There is no way of totally protecting a local church from the danger and possibility of being diverted from its purpose. There are some things, however, that can be done and should be done. We have tried to put preventive measures in place here at MBF. Even so, we still need to earnestly contend for the faith, which we have done, and continue to do. There have been times when we have had to contend for the faith even against other believers, who traded human viewpoint for God’s viewpoint.

A partial list of things we’ve tried to put in place in order to contend for the faith according to the essence of that Greek word is:

There are many areas that move a church from this position of standing and contending for the faith. However, there are three very active areas that are likely to cause a church to leave the business of contending for the faith, and turn to the monkey business of literally contending against the faith. Those three areas are:

These three usually work hand in hand to do their dirty work within a church.

The answer to all three of these church destroyers is the body concept as given by the Holy Spirit, and practiced by the entire church. It is impossible to give a clear declaration of the Biblical body boncept in a few short paragraphs, but let me give a brief and somewhat poor summary of the Biblical body concept of local church government:

The body is a singular unit. Many different and unique members, but all members are equally a part of the body

No one member can operate as a body apart from the body. The body can operate without some of its members, but it is not complete, nor can it function properly in that manner

The structure MBF has chosen to administer is this congregational form of government is:

The Responsibility/Authority Structure of MBF


I know, you’ve heard this before, AND you’ll hear it again and again. It is vitally important to know and understand the structure, so each can function within it, and in harmony with it. When we fail in the function of this structure, it brings division and loss of direction. Then we have fertile ground for the development of the three major church destroyers - “No Purpose”, “Divisions” and “Legalism”.

The hierarchical structure is from within the local body of Believers. The basic structure of MBF presently consists of:

The authority to operate that structure is assigned by the local body of Believers.

The Pastor is chosen by the body of Believers, and is charged with the responsibility of the spiritual well being of the church, its programs, the teaching, and the body of Believers in general. The pastor is to serve in that capacity until either the pastor or the church, as a body, feels it is time for his ministry to cease.

The church Board consists of men who are members of the congregation, who have made themselves available and who have been approved by the Board. The term of service is approximately three years. The Board is charged with the operation of the church, and to assist the pastor and staff in the Spiritual well being of the church. To establish a group of men from which to choose the Board, MBF uses a system we call Availability Sheets. Each male member over the age of 18 is encouraged to consider the qualifications of a deacon as presented in the Scriptures. Then, if he is striving to meet those qualifications and to make them a part of his daily living, and he feels that God would have him consider the responsibility and privilege of being a deacon, he signs an Availability Sheet. It is from that group of men, who have made themselves available, that the deacons are chosen.

The Staff is chosen by the pastor, approved by the body of Believers and appointed to their position by the board. The staff is to serve in their capacity until either the pastor, the board, the body of believer or the staff member feels it is time to terminate that ministry. Committees, leaders, teachers, etc. are appointed by the staff and approved by the Board.

The responsibility and accountability for that authority is to the local body of Believers. Committees, leaders, teachers, etc. are accountable to the staff. The staff is accountable to the pastor. The pastor is accountability to the board. The board is accountable to the pastor, and both, the board and the pastor, are accountable to the body of Believers.

The local body of Believers willingly submits to that structure and authority, including those who have been granted authority to operate the structure.

The entire local body is accountable to submit to the structure, and make every effort to see that it functions properly.

This Responsibility/Authority Structure is patterned from and after the model given in Ephesians 4 and elsewhere. The Word of God does not give us a prescribed order to follow, but instead sets out the principles. From those principles, each local church should design an order of government that will best facilitate those principles during the time and in the circumstance that particular group of Believers find themselves. Each period of time and location will demand a difference in make-up of the government for each group of Believers. Even within the same time period and location, there may be a vast difference in the type of government needed for a local church, depending on the background, training, the number of Believers, etc.

There is no way we can properly study the entire fourth chapter of Ephesians in this lesson. However, I would like us to start looking at this chapter, and I hope you will read and re-read it during these next weeks while we are away on vacation, and then we will be taking a short by-pass within this series to some other passages. I want to look at the many principles set forth here, and see the context in which those principles are given. Quite often in this passage, we will see the principle, the need for the principle, and the results of using that principle. Please forgive the hurried and incomplete study of this passage, but it is so important to see the overview of the passage. It will take several lessons to take a brief overview, and we will just get started today. We can come back for further details later. The Body concept is taught in many other places in the Bible, and we need all of that teaching collective and in harmony to fully understand the government of the local church. This passage in Ephesians is so basic and clear. Therefore, we will use it as our foundation passage.

Ephesians 4:1-3 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to have a walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Throughout this passage, Paul will move from the Believer’s personal walk, to the church universal, to the local church and back again. We must remember that Paul’s writings were directed to local churches, for the most part. The principles given concerning the universal church must be put into practical application within each particular local church, but no physical structure or plan of operation can go contrary to the principles taught. It is also important to remember that a principle taught is of little value until it is put in shoe leather and experienced by the individual local bodies of Believers.

Paul starts this passage with a plea to each and every Believer to walk in such a manner that their walk will bring unity. This unity is not just an agreement on policy and programs, etc, but the unity of the Spirit. This is the only time this phrase is used in the Bible, but it is not the only time this truth is taught. Before we look at some other supporting passages, look at how we are to live in order to “keep the unity of the Spirit”. We are to walk worthy of our calling, and that is demonstrate in our:

lowliness = (Greek) humiliation of mind i.e. modesty
modest = (Greek) orderly i.e. decorous
decorous = does not call attention to one’s self, is orderly in an orthodox manner
modest = (Webster) having a limited and not exaggerated estimate of one’s ability or worth; Not bold or self-assertive

“Not being sexual attractive” has come to be the meaning of modest in religious circles. However, that is not the Biblical definition. Modesty is not limited to sex appeal or mis-appeal, although it is certainly included. It is possible to dress and act in such a manner that the attention of others is over drawn to the person’s sexuality. It is equally true that if you dress shabbily or inappropriately, you are dressing immodestly just as surely as though you were wearing little to nothing at all. The keys concerning modesty are:

The emphases in this passage is not on the dress or actions, but on the mind or attitude. The first and natural thought in any situation is of self, and how can I profit best from this situation. You may not pause in each situation and make a list of: “How do I come away from this with the best personal position possible”, but subconsciously you do position yourself for your benefit. How a person wants to profit from each situation will differ widely with each person. Some see a situation as a means to be out front, and have the attention of the group. Others see the situation as a means of withdrawal, and becoming the invisible person in the crowd. There will be as many difference shades of attitudes towards each situation as there are people involved in that situation. For the most part each person’s attitude in every situation is: “How can I best achieve what I want from this situation?”, and “How can I act so that others will think of me as I want them to?” There are exceptions, but that is the normal attitude.

If you are going to make it in the business world or the social world, you’ll need to think and act in this manner, to some extent. The Holy Spirit, through Paul, is saying, “That’s the way of the world, but within the Body of Christ, it needs, no it must be different.” We are to walk worthy of our calling by having lowliness of mind. Our actions and responses within the body should be: “How can I think, act, respond, etc. so the ‘unity of the Spirit’ can be maintained and enhanced?” Boy, that concept would throw a monkey wrench in the works as far as why most people come to church. Most come to church for what their kids can get, or what they can get, etc.

Believers need to walk worthy of our calling in lowliness, and think, act and respond in a manner that “keeps the unity of the Spirit”. We evaluate and judge spirituality is such strange ways. If a person uses spiritual phrases, has a spiritual look, talks in a spiritual manner we seem to think they are a giant of a Christian. The Holy Spirit does not have the same opinion of spiritual life as we do. The Holy Spirit says if you are walking worthy of your calling you will walk in lowliness, in gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love. As we have the time to look at those other words, we will find that they are saying the same thing as lowliness only from a different perspective and with a different emphases. Our Christian walk and life within the Body is to have as its focus “keeping the unity of the Spirit”. If the Body is functioning properly within the “unity of the Spirit”, and we are an active part of that Body, we will receive what we need personally, or else the Spirit isn’t the Spirit I think He is, or that the Word of God says He is.

Some time a go a family attended the church. The lady had the words, expressions and deportment that could impress some with her great spiritual depth. I expect some still think of her as a spiritual giant. However, if what we have seen in this passage so far and what we will see is any indication of spiritual quality, this lady would have been anything but a giant spiritually. Instead of, “What can I do to bring and preserve unity?” Most of her actions were, “What’s in it for me? My kids aren’t getting a fair shake!” etc. The policy of the church was of no concern to her, for she knew better than the church, so her way was better and more proper than any other. It got so bad in AWANA that there was hardly a night that she didn’t corner some leader and climb their frame because her kids weren’t receiving something, or were not treated in the way they deserved, etc. Leaders wanted to avoid her, because they didn’t want to be put through the ringer again. This attitude and action spilled over into every aspect of the church in which she was involved. It would have split the church if it had been allowed to continue. As a matter of fact, it almost did split the church by letting it go as long as we did.

This type of situation is repeated on a daily basis all across the country, in church after church. There is very little in these types of situations that would even come close to qualifying as: “lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” For many, the only possibility of unity is by doing it “their way”, and “their way” has little if anything to do with the unity of Spirit, the program of the local church or care of the total body. This selfish attitude has nothing to do with lowliness. The legalist will develop outward actions that they feel are lowly, and others may see as lowly. However, an outward action, no matter how desirable, can never substitute for the inner reality. When we substitute an outward action for a proper inner attitude, it only increases the sin of religious pride and self-righteousness.

Ephesians 4:1-3 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to have a walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
gentleness = (Greek) mild, by implication humble

Gentleness is an inward grace of the soul. The exercise of gentleness should be first and chiefly towards God. It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. Gentleness is closely linked with humility, and follows directly upon it.

Ephesians 4:1-3 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to have a walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
longsuffering = (Greek) Longanimity (the disposition to bear injuries patiently) i.e. forbearance or fortitude (sometimes confused with patience)

Longsuffering is that quality of self restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish. It is the opposite of anger, and is associated with mercy, and is used of God. So we can see the shade of difference between longsuffering and patience: patience is the quality that does not surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial, because it is based on a greater hope than either. It is the opposite of despondency and is associated with hope. It is not used of God. By the way, when you or someone you know dips into despondence, the best therapy is Biblical hope. The sad thing in these situations is that the despondent person usually concentrates on their present (or their perceived) condition, rather than living by Eternal hope, God’s hope.

Ephesians 4:1-3 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to have a walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing withone another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
bear with = (Greek) to hold one’s self erect and firm; To endure without condescending.

Boy. if a church had all its members-- “walking worthy of their calling through lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering,” and each “bearing with one another in love, thereby keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” -- that would make for some pretty good church members!

One who is humble in mind, not calling for attention to themselves, but instead having a grace of soul that accepts God’s dealings without disputing or resisting, and has self-restraint in the face of provocation, and does not hastily retaliate, and is able to hold himself straight and proper when putting up with the strangeness of others, and above all, through this lifestyle endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Yes, that would be a pretty good church member or wife or husband or father or mother or child or young person or anyone.

To God this would be the goal, and constant effort of each and everyone.
© Clyde White, Austin TX, 1998