Article 1 — Purpose and division
For the maintenance of good order in the church of Christ it is necessary to have:
I offices and supervision of doctrine;
III worship, sacraments and ceremonies;
From our Introduction we may repeat: This very first sentence of our Church Order refers to the apostolic command in 1 Corinthians 14: 40:
Let all things be done decently and in order.
Desiring to obey this command our churches have established a good order by adopting a number of regulations in respect of the four different matters that are mentioned in this initial article.
It contains more than just a formal division of the Church Order: It also has a confessional character, because it claims that according to holy Scripture the offices, assemblies, supervision over doctrine and worship, and church discipline cannot be excluded from the churches of the Lord.
It is not necessary at this stage to give a summary of the various parts in Scripture informing us about God’s will regarding these matters. That will be done when we begin to discuss them in sequential order. Besides, our confessional writings and the respective liturgical forms supply us with a sufficient number of ‘proof-texts’.
Our Church Order is based on some fundamentals.
These fundamentals, then, have been further worked out in view of our church life. This is why we shall find all sorts of arrangements and agreements concerning the training for and the calling to the ministry of the Word. These being: consistory meetings, classes and synods, liturgical forms, congregational singing, the way in which church discipline is to be administered, etcetera.
By reason of the above then, we can clearly see that this first article is not indeed merely a summary of content and a formal division of our Church Order, although it definitely does offer such a formal division.
This is why we are going to read after this first article:
I. Articles 2-27, on the offices.
II. Articles 28-49 on the assemblies.
III. Articles 50-68 on supervision over doctrine and worship.
IV. Articles 69-79 on discipline.
Articles 80-81 are concluding articles.