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This is an extract from the book 'What is Truth':

Structure of Church

How then, has it come to be that more than one church exists in His name when this is not what Our Lord wanted?

It is important to look at how the Lord built the Church and how He asks us to live obediently within His Church which has His authority.

Our Lord, in His divine wisdom and love, a wisdom and love that is far greater than any other, a wisdom and love where all other true wisdom and love comes from, chose His apostles upon which to build His Church (Eph 3:20 Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Jn 15:16 It was not you who chose me but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain).

So it must follow that His Church must be an apostolic one given by Christ through His apostles for all people. Our Lord appointed the apostles to carry on His mission of love (Jn 20:21 As the Father has sent me, so I send you) to build His body of love, His Church for all people so all can become one in His love, one in His Church, one in His kingdom.

From amongst the apostles, in His divine wisdom, Our Lord chose Peter to lead His Church. Peter was the God-given rock upon which the Church would be built

(Mt 16:18 So I say to you, you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church). Peter, chosen by God and accepted by the apostles as the Lord’s appointed leader. Peter, appointed to strengthen his brothers’ faith (Luke 22:32 You must strengthen your brothers). Our Lord Jesus said to all that there will be one shepherd to lead the flock (Jn 10:16 There will be one flock, one shepherd) and in His choosing of Peter as the rock upon which His Church is to be built and the leader to strengthen the faith, Our Lord said to all, here is My chosen shepherd (Jn 21:17 (Jesus) said to him: "Feed my sheep").

With these acts the Lord was putting in place the hierarchical structure of His Church. Peter as the leader, the apostles, brothers of Peter and leaders in their own right, but they themselves led, strengthened, and fed by Peter. St Paul in his letter to the Ephesians gave an insight into the hierarchical structure of the Church (Eph 4:11 And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers). In his letter to Timothy, St Paul identifies the role of bishops, priests and deacons (1 Tim 3:1 Whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task. 1 Tim 3:8 Similarly, deacons must be dignified. 1 Tim 5:17 Presbyters who preside well deserve double honour; especially those who toil in preaching and teaching). While in the letter to Titus is the commission for bishops to ordain priests (Titus 1:5 And appoint presbyters in every town).

God gave mankind the Church in this way because God knows mankind’s weaknesses and He knows that unless guided correctly, in the way God wants, that mankind’s pride will lead it astray. So Our Lord set in place the structure of love, the structure of faith, the structure of hope which is to be His Holy Apostolic Church to lead mankind into His glorious and eternal kingdom of Heaven

(Eph 3:21 Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord).

Authority of the Church

It follows as Our Lord placed St Peter in charge of His Church, then the authority of Christ was given to St Peter and also to the apostles who were there to help form the Church and help the Church grow. In His own words Our Lord gives this authority to the apostles (Mt 18:18 Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven). With these divine words the Lord was saying to all who would listen that everyone must follow the teachings of the Apostolic Church, accept the God-given authority of the Church and be obedient to the Church.

Not doing so brings people to reject and deny the word of God in Holy Scripture and also the word of God through His Holy Apostolic Church (Luke 10:16 Whoever listens to you, listens to me. Whoever rejects you, rejects me and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me). The giving of authority to the Apostolic Church is also confirmed in the way the Lord sent the apostles out to the world (Mt 28:18-20 All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe all I have commanded you. Jn 20:21 As the Father has sent me so I send you).

Alan Ames Ministry

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