Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Church Officers

Leviticus 10:8-20; 1 Timothy 3:1-13 / Isaiah 5:7-30

I. Churches Should Have Elders

A. Elders began to serve the church in the days of Moses. “And the LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.” (Numbers 11:16-17)

B. Moses’ father-in-law explained the system.Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God: And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace. So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said. And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves.” (Exodus 18:18-26)

II. Paul Amplified Moses’ Rules

A. The office of elder is intimately related to salvation and sanctification; God first calls elders. “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.” (1 Timothy 3:1) [
episkopwn is translated bishop, overseer, and elder.] “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28)

B. An elder must be a man of character and usefulness, first demonstrated in his home life and then expanded through his ability to communicate the truths of the Bible. “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;” (1 Timothy 3:2)

C. The eldership is a team effort; a wife’s endorsement and assistance are essential. “Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.” (1 Timothy 3:11)

D. A man with character flaws or who is easily distracted by the world is disqualified from office.Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;” (1 Timothy 3:3)

E. Just as the church is a remedial family, a man’s own household is the school of the elder and the laboratory in which a man demonstrates whether or not he can be a genuine husband and father to the church; no one should be entrusted with church leadership who fails in his own family.One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)” (1 Timothy 3:4-5)

F. No one starts life with the wisdom which only grows through experience; genuine maturity in character as well as age is a nonnegotiable requirement for the eldership.Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:6)

G. Finally, outsiders must respect an elder; no one should become an elder simply because he is a successful insider in a closed community. “Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:7)

III. Avoid False Teachers

A. God warns against false teachers; defectors abandon Biblical doctrine and submit to evil influences. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;” (1 Timothy 4:1)

B. False doctrine commonly begins as a way to excuse character flaws or sins.Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;” (1 Timothy 4:2)

C. When what appears to be piety contradicts the gospel of grace something is wrong with a pastor or an elder; something which seems like a good idea at the time can be heresy when examined in the larger perspective of the gospel of grace. “Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.” (1 Timothy 4:3)

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