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Sermon #8302

The Marks and Government of the Church

A Sermon on the Government of the Church



Sermon Description

Jesus Christ is the leader of the church. In this sermon on the government of the church, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones delves into the practical aspects of why and how Christ created and leads His church. Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that a church exists to preach the word, for the upbuilding of the saints and the strengthening of faith, for evangelism, for administration of the sacraments, and for the exercise of discipline. This last characteristic is key and most often overlooked by Christians. The global church suffers due to not exercising discipline. Church discipline is commanded for those who call themselves Christians and yet live or teach contrary to Scripture. The apostle Paul repeated this command, warning that a church entangled in the ways and thoughts of the world will not be a channel through which the Holy Spirit works. Dr. Lloyd-Jones surveys various views on church governance, including the Presbyterian and Catholic views. Choosing a biblical church is an incredibly important part of being a Christian, and this sermon by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones helps educate believers on certain traits to look for in biblical churches.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The importance of understanding the doctrine of the church in light of the ecumenical movement. It is the duty of every Christian to develop an informed perspective on this issue.
  2. Definitions and pictures/comparisons of the church were previously discussed, including body, building, empire, and bride.
  3. The relationship between the kingdom of God and the church was discussed. The kingdom is bigger than the church.
  4. The marks or characteristics of the church will now be discussed. Historically, the common Protestant view is that there are three marks: preaching the word, administering the sacraments, and exercising discipline.
  5. Preaching the word is the primary purpose of the church. It is for the edification of believers and the evangelization of unbelievers.
  6. Administering the sacraments is the second mark of the church. This will be discussed in more detail in the future.
  7. Exercising discipline is the third mark of the church. This is the most neglected mark. Discipline should be exercised in terms of doctrine and practice.
  8. Matthew 18:15-18 and other passages show the importance of discipline. Some wrongly argue against discipline by misapplying the parable of the tares. That parable refers to the kingdom, not the church.
  9. Discipline was exercised by leaders like John Wesley. A lack of discipline has contributed to the weak state of the modern church.
  10. Discipline in doctrine means confronting false teaching. Discipline in practice means confronting sinful living which contradicts the faith.
  11. If a brother does not repent after confrontation, he is to be removed from membership in the church. This may involve handing him over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh.
  12. The government or ordering of the church will now be discussed. There are varying views on church government.
  13. Some believe there should be no church government, as any government will quench the Spirit. This view emerges as a reaction against ecclesiasticism and Christendom. There is some validity to this view, but it is not fully scriptural. Some leadership is inevitable.
  14. The Erastian view believes the state should govern the church. This is the view of the Lutheran and Anglican churches.
  15. The episcopal view believes bishops should govern the church. They claim bishops are the successors of the apostles. However, the terms bishop and elder are interchangeable in Scripture. There is no evidence for a separate order of bishops.
  16. The Roman Catholic view takes episcopacy to an extreme, with one bishop (the pope) governing all others. They claim the pope is the successor of Peter and the vicar of Christ. There is no historical evidence for this view.
  17. The Presbyterian view believes local churches should be governed by representative bodies (presbyteries and general assemblies) to which they submit. This is the system of government used in Scotland.
  18. The congregational or independent view believes each local church governs itself, with no higher authority. Originally held by Congregationalists and Baptists, though most have now adopted a Presbyterian system. This view seems closest to the New Testament pattern.
  19. No system is perfect, but the independent view avoids the problems of evangelicals being subject to unbiblical teaching and practice in larger denominational structures. Local churches should fellowship together voluntarily, not by compulsion.
  20. This has been a spiritual discussion, as the government of the church is of vital importance. We must ensure the visible church does not contradict Scripture.

Great Biblical Doctrines

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.