THE GREAT GOD of eternity is a God of order. In Genesis chapter 1, verses 1 and 2, we read, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." This truth is expanded in Exodus 20:11, "For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is..." Here we learn that all of creation took place in six days; therefore, the first day heaven and earth were brought into being in the form of raw material, along with light. But God didn't leave things in this incomplete stage. Each successive day as He spoke and the Spirit of God moved, the finished product of God's creation for that particular day was accomplished. God brought order out of chaos. (In fact, the Greek word for world, kosmos, implies creation and order, meaning that which has been arranged). Yes, everything was set in order to serve the worthy purpose for which it had been created. Thus, God could say that it was "good" and "very good." 
And from the spiritual perspective, God is likewise a God of definite and predetermined order. Man was created in the image of God, and being created in that image, his life was to be lived in the context of orderliness for the glory of God. But man sinned and has fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). From the fall of man until the coming of Christ the moving undercurrent pointed to redemption, restoration and order. That is what redemption is all about. The Lord came to save us from our sins, not in our sins (Matthew 1:21; Titus 2:11-14). A man right with God is a man living an orderly life, not one of dissipation (I Peter 4:1-5) and no purpose (Acts 11:26). 
A study of the New Testament verifies everything that we have said. Most of the epistles of the New Testament were written to set churches in order in some way. The epistles of I and II Corinthians, along with Galatians, especially come to mind. The other epistles are not without this emphasis. The Corinthians are nominally called a "church of God" (I Corinthians 1:2), but sin had separated many of them from God and made that expression almost meaningless. Partyism, immorality, and the abuse of worship had disrupted the unity of the church. In the midst of this Paul instructed them, then says, "And the rest will I set in order when I come" (I Corinthians 11:34). He further asserted, "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints" (14:33). Even of the public assembly, he said, "Let all things be done decently and in order" (14:40). (Yes, God is a God of order). In the follow-up letter, II Corinthians, Paul is pleased that many of them have responded favorably to his efforts to set things in order. Read II Corinthians 7:8-11. The well-known words in 7:10, "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation," are talking about nominal "Christians" repenting and being restored to the Lord (regaining their salvation), not alien sinners repenting. But still some had not repented and were holding out. Paul speaks of how he was going to have a showdown with them when he came, then prodded them, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith: prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates [do not stand the test]?" (13:5). The church and the lives of its members had to be set in order. Yes, part of the work of an evangelist is to set churches in order (I and II Timothy; Titus 1:5, etc.) 
We mention these self-evident truths, which do not seem to be so self-evident any more, to call attention to the need of setting things in order in the church. Certainly this goes against the grain of thought in a religious world plagued with denominationalism, false teaching and worldliness. We are told it really doesn't make any difference what you believe just so long as you are sincere (However, notice II Thessalonians 2:10-12; I Timothy 4:16; II John 8-11). In this era of "worshipping" that which is big and attaining mega-church status at any cost (except "counting the cost," Luke 14:26-33; I Corinthians 6:20), to get serious about setting the church in order would be disruptive to carnal ambitions. Unfinished work of so-called "Reformation" movements and "Restoration" movements as seen in denominational monuments are unpleasant reminders of failures of the past and shortcomings of the present. Yes, to even consider this is a disconcerting experience for the ecumenical mind saturated with unbelief. Ghosts from the past linger to haunt us. Traditions of men stand between us and the Word of God. 
Regardless where you may find yourself religiously, we urge you to take seriously the things that are written here. There is more to following the Word of God than simply giving lip-service to this noble concept. There is more to being the church of the New Testament than simply making that claim. There is more to being the undenominational church of Christ than asserting such an unsubstantiated and presumptuous claim. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Much setting in order needs to be done. Remember the Lord said, "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46). And it was the Lord who also said, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed" (John 8:31). Let's get serious about this. (VOL. 36, N0. 1, 1998)
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