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The Government of the Church, H.M. Riggle The government of the church of God is a theocracy. God himself works "all in all" the members. It will be remembered that this was God's plan under the legal dispensation. He said to Israel, "I am your King," and it was His design to be the supreme king and governor of his people in that dispensation. But the Israelites rebelled and took the government out of His hands and set over them earthly kings and rulers. It was prophesied that in this dispensation of divine grace the God of heaven would set up an everlasting kingdom, and in that kingdom He reigns supreme, the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is declared to be the King of saints. As He is king and head over all things to the church, the government necessarily rests upon His shoulders. Accordingly, we read, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever" (Isa. 9:6-7). Here it will be seen that the newtestament church has government, but that Christ himself is the governor of his people. "The government shall be upon His shoulder." He is the chief shepherd, the ruler, the head, "that in all things He might have the preeminence." As governor and head of His church, He has given us a perfect law. That law is the truth, the gospel. The church of God is a divine institution; hence the divine law which the Lord has given is sufficient for its government. So there is no excuse for the modern creeds of men. Modern sects are of human origin and hence need human, or man-made, rules or discipline. But had the church of God needed more than the New Testament, the allwise Lawgiver would certainly have given us more. Modern creeds and disciplines being the products of men who are fallible, they are very imperfect and need revision. So from time to time, sectarians meet in conference, synod, or presbytery, and change and revise their articles of faith to suit the times. But the divine law which governs the true church of God being perfect, it needs no revision. It remains forever the same. So in discarding all the creeds of men and accepting, teaching, and practicing the whole truth contained in the gospel of Christ, we have the same perfect rule of faith, the same government and discipline, that was enjoined upon the primitive Christians. This is government divine. The Lord by his Spirit calls and qualifies certain ones for the work of the ministry. These he places in authority in his church, and they execute his law. In this sense "governments" are placed within the church (1 Cor. 12:28). But those who feel this responsibility and labor in such capacity labor under the direction and guidance of the Chief Shepherd, the Chief Governor of his people. God's ministers are only undershepherds, and what government is administered, and whatever law is enforced by them, is simply by the direction of Him upon whom the real government of the church rests and who works "all in all" the members.


The Government of the Church