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Friday, April 19, 2013

"Who's in Charge?" (Part 5)

(Ladies,  I didn't mean to lie. I really didn't.  I said this would be the final post, but it just can't be! There's just too much more left (at the end) to learn about Jesus' church!  This post deals with leadership in the local church.  Have a great weekend!  I'll post more about the church next week! Lori)

Yesterday's post left off with the following truths found in God's Word:

1.  God should be the head of my life - that's His Will for me and for you - and how life works best for us.
2.  Jesus is the head of the church.

So, what about the local church?  Who is charge of the body of Christ as it related to the day to day things....worship.....finances, etc.  As with any subject we might have questions about, we should first go to God's Word.

*Elders began being appointed in the early church.

Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. Acts 14:23

*Elders (Never singular, but always plural) were to be appointed in every town. They rule the local church together.  They are a team.  No one has, or should have, authority over another.

The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. Titus 1:5

*Other names used for elder are shepherd, overseer, bishop, pastor, presbyter (from Greek word).  

17From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. 
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God,[a] which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.
Acts 20:17, 28-30

*Not every man is qualified to be an elder.

 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. Titus 1:6-9

*Some elders were also preachers and teachers. 

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 1 Timothy 5:17

* Elders may fall into temptation and need to be removed (from being an elder over the church).

 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 20 But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning.21 I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism. 1 Timothy 5:19-21

* The elders (here shepherds is used) responsibility to the "flock"...the church.

To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. 5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. 1 Peter 5:1-5a

* The Christian's responsibility to the elders.  Pay close attention the words submit, account, joy, burden, benefit.

Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. 
Hebrews 13:17

* Several years ago, one of my preacher brother-in-laws told me about prophecy in the Old Testament that had to do with elders and their shepherding duties and responsibilities.  It shows that the organization of the church was God's plan all along.

Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart,who will lead you with knowledge and understanding. Jeremiah 2:15

“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares theLord. Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the Lord. “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 23:1-4

* Wow!  What a responsibility!  The Bible says that men should desire the work of an elder, meaning each man should strive to live out his life so that he might be considered to be an elder.  Honestly, I'm thankful I'm a woman!! :) (smile)   Really, we should all strive to follow God's Word no matter our gender, and we will all give an account to God for our lives, but shepherding the flock?  That's an awesome and humbling God-given responsibility.  Pray for the elders/shepherds of your flock and strive to not be a burden to them.

Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full[a] respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. 
1 Peter 1-7 

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