The conversion of an individual, his growth and progress in the knowledge of Christ; his work and service; and his worship of God and Christ are all personal and individual in nature. His responsibilities cannot be carried out by proxy. He cannot be a spectator over on the sidelines. As a good soldier of Christ he must be in the thick of the battle, fighting the good fight of faith. He is on service to his Lord at all times. He should realize that as a member (part) of the body of Christ he must perform the effectual work that every part of the body can supply, thereby making increase of the body of itself in love (Eph. 4:16). The Christian must do his share in the body.
The worker of the Lord needs no religious hierarchy, institution, organization, or any religious machinery to carry out his responsibilities and mission. God has furnished him everything necessary to accomplish his work. Paul told Timothy that the inspired scriptures are profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work, or all good work. (II Tim. 3:16-17). The Christian is the trustee of the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ. All Christians stand on an equal footing with the Lord.
The Christian has a divine mission to perform. He is the workmanship of God; he is created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Eph. 2:10). The religion of Christ is best described by the word "WORK." When one is reconciled to God, he alone is personally responsible for his own life, and is individually accountable for fulfilling the mission and purpose of his "calling."
Every phase of the Christian's work is personal and individual, in that no other person in the world can stand in for him. He personally is a steward, who has been given his Lord's goods. They have been assigned to him alone. He is only responsible for his work. The "local church," the institution, or organization can not be his proxy. The preacher, the elder nor the deacon can't do it for him.
Below are listed some of the works and responsibilities that Christ has assigned to the Christian; and Christ will hold him accountable in judgment, based upon how well he has met the duties assigned, according to his ability. Please note the immensity of the work. The Christian, as a part of Christ's body, must fulfill this work of the ministry and edification of the body (Eph. 4:12-16). When we as members of His body, carry out this work, we are doing the work of the "church." It is easy to forget that the "kingdom is within;" that the reign of Christ is in the hearts of men. Christ authorizes men, not organizations, to do His will. The "seed" is sown in the hearts of men and there it is to germinate and bring forth fruit to the Lord.
You are urged to study carefully the following responsibilities:
(1) Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33).
(2) Take up your cross and follow Christ (Matt. 10:38).
(3) Give a cup of cold water in the name of the Lord (Matt. 10:42).
(4) Work in the vineyard (Matt. 20:1)
(5) Watch (Matt. 25:13).
(6) Be faithful and trustworthy in using the pounds and talents given by the Lord (Matt. 25).
(7) Give food to the hungry, give drink to the thirsty; take in the stranger; clothe the naked, visit the sick - ministering to the Lord (Matt. 25:35-46; James 2:15-16).
(8) Bear fruit or be cut-off (John 15:1-8).
(9) Fear Him and work righteousness to be accepted with Him (Acts 10:35).
(10) Let not sin reign in your mortal body (Rom. 6:12).
(11) Yield your member as servants to righteousness unto holiness(Rom. 6:19).
(12) Present your body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God; this is your reasonable service (Rom. 12:1).
(13) You must not conform to the world (Rom. 12:2).
(14) Your love must be without dissimulation (Rom.12:9).
(15) You are to abhor evil and cleave to that which is good (Rom. 12:10).
(16) Be kindly affectioned one to another: in honor preferring one another (Rom. 12:10).
(17) Be not slothful in business; but fervent in Spirit serving the Lord (Rom. 12:11).
(18) Continue instant in prayer (Rom. 12:12, Col. 4:2).
(19) Be patient in tribulation (Rom. 12:12).
(20) Distribute to the necessity of the saints (Rom. 12:13).
(21) Given to hospitality (Rom. 12:13).
(22) You are to bless them that persecutes you; bless, and curse not (Rom. 12:14).
(23) Rejoice and weep with other saints (Rom. 12:15).
(24) Mind not high things but condescend to men of low estate (Rom. 12:16).
(25) Provide things honest in the sight of all men (Rom. 12:17).
(26) Live peaceable, as much as lieth in you, with all men (Rom. 12:18).
(27) Avenge not, but give peace to wrath (Rom. 12:19).
(28) If your enemy is hungry, feed him: if he thirsts, give to drink (Rom. 12:20).
(29) Overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21).
(30) Be subject to the higher power of men (Rom. 13:1).
(31) Render to all their due (Rom. 13:8).
(32) Love your neighbor as yourself, not committing adultery, not stealing, not bearing false witness, nor coveting (Rom. 13:9).
(33) Cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light (Rom. 13:12).
(34) Walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness; not in strife and envying (Rom. 13:13).
(35) Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provisions for the flesh (Rom. 13:14).
(36) Receive him that is weak in the flesh (Rom. 14:1, 15:7).
(37) Judge not thy brother - we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ (Rom. 14:10-13).
(38) Follow after things which make for peace and things which edify your brother (Rom. 14:19).
(39) Bear the infirmities of the weak and please not yourself (Rom. 15:1-2).
(40) Receive one another as Christ received us to the glory of God (Rom. 15:7).
(41) Be filled with goodness, knowledge, being able to admonish one another (Rom. 15:14).
(42) Strive together in prayers with brethren for other brethren (Rom. 15:30).
(43) Mark them which cause division and offenses contrary to the doctrine of Christ and avoid them (Rom. 16:17).
(44) Speak same thing -- let there be no divisions among the saints -- perfectly joined together (1 Cor.1:10).
(45) Labor together with God (I Cor. 3:9).
(46) Defile not the temple of God..."which temple ye are" (I Cor. 3:17).
(47) Flee fornication (I Cor. 6:18).
(48) Examine self, and so eat the bread and drink of the cup -- Lord's Supper (I Cor. 11:20-34).
(49) Examine self as to whether you are in the faith (II Cor. 13:5).
(50) Be filled with love -- or be nothing (I Cor. 13).
(51) Withdraw from every brother that walks disorderly (II Thess. 3:6; I Cor. 5:1-13).
(52) Be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (I Cor. 15:58).
(53) Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage (Gal. 5:1).
(54) Walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16,25).
(55) Be not desirous of vain glory nor provoke one another, envying one another (Gal. 5:26).
(56) Restore the brother overtaken in a fault, in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou be tempted (Gal. 6:1).
(57) Bear one another's burdens (Gal. 6:2).
(58) Prove own works (Gal. 6:4).
(59) Communicate (give) unto him that teacheth in all good things (Gal. 6:6).
(60) As you have opportunity, do good unto all men especially those of the household of faith (Gal. 6:10).
(61) Let Christ dwell in your heart by faith and be rooted and grounded in love (Eph. 3:17).
(62) Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called (Eph. 4:1).
(63) Endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace with the lowliness and meekness; with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love (Eph. 4:32).
(64) Walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise (Eph. 4:15).
(65) Be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another (Eph. 4:32).
(66) Be followers of God as dear children (Eph. 5:1).
(67) Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them (Eph. 5:3-11). Withdraw from every brother that walks disorderly (II Thess. 3:6).
(68) Understand the will of the Lord (Eph. 5:10, 17).
(69) Speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in our hearts to the Lord (Eph. 5:19; I Cor. 14:15; Col. 3:16).
(70) Give thanks always for all things (Eph. 5:19).
(71) Submit to one another in the fear of God (Eph. 5:21).
(72) As a servant, obey your masters, with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as unto Christ, with good will, doing service, as to the Lord and not to men (Eph. 6:5-7).
(73) Let love abound more and more in knowledge and judgement proving things excellent, being sincere and without offense til the day of Christ (Phil. 1:9-10).
(74) Be filled with fruits of righteousness (Phil. 1:11).
(75) Do all things without murmuring (Phil. 2:14).
(76) Shine as lights in the world -- holding fast the word of life (Phil. 2:15-16).
(77) Let your moderation be known unto all men (Phil. 4:5).
(78) Those things, which you have learned, received, and heard and seen in Paul - do (Phil 4:9).
(79) Walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, increasing in the knowledge of God (Col. 1:9-10).
(8O) Let no man beguile you with enticing words (Col. 2:4).
(81) You are complete in Christ (Col. 2:10).
(82) Set affections above (Col. 3:2).
(83) Mortify members on earth (Col. 3:5-6).
(84) Put on the new man (Col. 3:12-13).
(85) Above all put on love which is the bond of perfectness (Col. 3:15).
(86) Let the peace of God rule in your hearts and be thankful (Col. 3:15).
(87) Whatsoever you do in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord (Col. 3:17,23).
(88) Let your speech be always seasoned with grace, that you may know how to answer every man (Col. 4:6).
(89) Study to be quiet, and do your own business, and work with your hands, walking honestly toward those without (I Thess. 4:11).
(90) The Christian who is a woman - adorn yourself in modest apparel with shamefacedness as becometh a woman professing godliness with good works (I Tim. 2:9-10).
(91) If you do not provide for your own you have denied the faith and are worse than an infidel (I Tim. 5:8).
(92) Study to show thyself approved of God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of Christ (II Tim. 2:15).
(93) Consider one another and provoke unto love and good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is (Heb. 10:24-25).
(94) Cast not away your confidence, which has great recompense of reward (Heb. 10:35).
(95) Obey them that have the rule over you (Heb. 13:17).
(96) Be doers of the word - not hearers only (Jas. 1:22).
(97) Be slow to speak, slow to wrath, swift to hear (Jas. 1:19).
(98) Bridle the tongue or else your religion is vain (Jas. 1:20).
(99) Visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and keep self unspotted from the world (Jas. 1:27).
(100) Do not have bitter envying and strife in your heart, if so, you lie against the truth (Jas. 3:14).
(101) Must not speak evil of one another (Jas. 4:11).
(102) Grudge not one against another (Jas. 5:19).
(103) Be holy (I Pet. 1:15-16).
(104) Pass sojourning in fear (I Pet. 1:17).
(105) Suffer patiently, as a Christian (I Pet. 2:21, I Pet. 4:16).
(106) Wherefore, give diligence to make your election and calling sure - by adding virtues and graces (II Pet. 1:5-10).
(107) Love in deed and in truth (I Jno. 3:18).
(108) Try the spirits (I Jno. 4:1).
(109) Contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3).
(110) Keep yourself in the love of God (Jude 21).
This is not a complete list of all that is required of a saint of God, but these surely reveal the immensity of the work that Christ desires of His followers. This is the divine pattern for the Christian's work in the Lord. It is not hard to find or understand. Isn't it odd that we disagree so vehemently about the divine pattern for "the work of the church?" Have you ever wondered why the Lord didn't plainly tell us in no uncertain terms what He expected of the organized "local church"? You don't have any trouble understanding what He wants from the disciple, do you? Look at the list and you can see exactly what He expects of the individual.
Brethren who contend that the body of Christ ("universal church") does not function; that it is not a functional unit, look again at the parts (members) of the body working and functioning. I don't believe you could have any better government or organizing of the work than what the Lord has given.
The body functions whether we are separated from each other or working side by side. That God calls His servants together no one can deny; but that He calls them together to form some organization or institution to be governed by human beings is an assumption.
When we reach the point in time when the "local church" is something more than or other than saints or redeemed people acting together in doing God's will, then at that point we have become or have created another denomination. And when we feel that our work is performed only through this organization - corporate - entity - functional unit, then in essence the responsibility for the individual to function separate and apart from this entity, is removed. Disciples are then content to attend a little and give a little.
Brethren, something is wrong with us. We are not getting the work done that our Lord wants done. We are becoming smaller and smaller. "The Problem"? We are institutionalizing ourselves to death. Institutionalism occurs anytime Christians allow an organization to do what they as individual Christians should be doing. Isn't this what we have done, and are doing? When this happens, and it has happened, we then are a denomination named "The Church of Christ".