An Eldership is God’s form of government for the local congregation.

 

Live in the Thrill of Victory. Jesus conquered the grave – We win!

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Eldership

 

I want to talk about a dirty word that is used in churches today.

SUBMIT

Christians don’t like the word much more than the world. We want to be our own person and make our own decisions.  We don’t like it when someone else tells us what to do.

The fact is each of us are under the authority of someone every day, unless you own your own business. As citizens we are under the Constitution of the United States.  As Christians we are under the authority of Almighty God.  In the local body, the church, we are under the authority of an Eldership.

 

Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority.

 

Who are the leaders? The Greek word means those who rule over you.

So the question is who did God set over the local congregation as leaders.

 

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

 

Acts 20:17  From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. … 28  Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.

 

An Elder led church is the Biblical mandate for church government.

That is why we are going through this process to have Elders led this congregation.  We want to be a congregation that practices what the Bible teaches.

 

Since the Elders are given God’s authority to oversee the church then we as members of the local congregation must submit and obey them and their leadership.

 

That doesn’t mean that the Elders can go rouge. The Elders are under Christ’s headship and authority.

 

Colossians 1:18 And (Jesus) is the head of the body, the church; … so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

 

Ephesians 1:22 And God placed all things under (Jesus’) feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church.

 

Remember what Jesus told the Apostles?

Matthew 20:25  “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26  Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27  and whoever wants to be first must be your slave– 28  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

 

So the Elders of the congregation must first be servants; servant leaders, loving shepherds of the flock.

 

We don’t have a concept of this kind of governmental system because we live under a constitutional republic. Our representatives are restrained (should be) by the Constitution of the United States. Though many think we live in a Democracy, which is majority rule without limits (that is the what we have been experiencing because our elected officials ignore the Constitution).

 

We often have a democratic attitude – majority gets their way. That is not how God organized the church.  God did not set up a congregational style of government, where everything gets voted on by the congregation.  God set up an Eldership style of government – God, Elders, Congregation.

 

Back to submission – the congregation made up of individual Christians submit to the Eldership; the Eldership submits to Christ as Head of the Church.

 

We don’t like to submit because we have our own ideas and we think we are always right. That is why it is so important to make sure we have qualified men as elders of the Oak Forest Church of Christ.  Men you respect spiritually and are willing to submit and obey to their leading of this congregation.

 

The dictionary defines submit as: yield to a superior force or to the authority or will of another person.

The Greek word translated submit means: to put under or arrange under.

It is a military word that refers to soldiers arranging themselves under the orders of higher officers.

Soldiers under authority are not less valuable, they don’t have less worth, but they are under authority.

When there is not authority, when there are not rules, it is chaos.

Can you imagine driving without any laws of the road?  Driving on the wrong side of the road, not yielding, not stopping – chaos.

Every group of people has to have a form of government and that form must be followed.

God has mandated an Elder led form of government and we must submit to God’s will as Christians. If we refuse it will be chaos.  How many times has Satan caused problems in a church because members were unwilling to submit to the Eldership?  How many times has Satan caused problems in the church because elders were unwilling to submit to the Headship of Christ?  Elders have a sober responsibility and so do we as members of Christ’s church.

 

Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

 

We must obey and submit so we have an advantage of following joyful leadership. We must also respect them.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:12  Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13  Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.

 

Leaders is plural – there can’t be just one Elder there must be at least two Elders. God put in place a safe guard against power going to one man’s head.

 

As members of Christ’ church we must obey and respect the Elders of a local congregation and enjoy their protection. That is why it is important to identify with a local congregation so that you have Elders who are looking out for your spiritual wellbeing.

If you are not a member of Oak Forest Church of Christ, then please consider placing your membership so the future Elders of this church can shepherd you and your family.

 

Who did God say is qualified to be an Elder? (1 Timothy 3; Titus 1)

 

1 Timothy 3:1  Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. 2  Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,

Let’s just touch briefly on the first three points.

  1. A man must set his heart on being an overseer. A man who can’t wait to take on the responsibility of caring for God’s flock.  A man who is willing to give up his life to defend the flock of God.  A man who is eager to be held accountable before God for the actions of the church.  That man has to be crazy?  No, that man has to love God enough to care the burden of God’s people.

 

  1. A man who is above reproach, a blameless man. That is why I asked two weeks ago if you knew any reason why Tom Carrow, David Hokey, or Jeff Schnitker should not serve as an elder.  That is why I ask you to write down any accusations against them (I received none.)  Being above reproach does not mean sinless, it means mature, spiritual, respectable.  A man of good character; one whose life is an example for Christ.

 

  1. A married man. God ordained male leadership in the church.  That does not make women less valuable it just means God has commissioned men to take the responsibility of leading and teaching.  An elder is to be the husband of one wife – polygamy was not an issue in the early church so Paul was not meaning that.  The Greek says a one-woman man.  A similar phrase is used of widows who could be put on the widows list.

 

1 Timothy 5:9 No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband

The Greek says a one-man woman.

 

So the foundational qualifications for becoming an Elder is a spiritually mature Christian man who desires to care for others.

 

So we know why and we know who but HOW?

How is a man placed in the position of Elder over a congregation?

 

Acts 14:23 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.

 

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

 

So Paul an Apostle appointed along with Barnabas. Titus an evangelist under the direction of Paul appointed elders.  All the Apostles died in the first century, so what are we do to?  Without biblical command we have to look at biblical precedent.

 

The Apostles allowed the believers in Jerusalem choose the men who would be servants to the widows in need.

 

Acts 6:3  Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4  and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” 5  This proposal pleased the whole group. … 6  They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

 

So congregations must choose men who meet the qualifications outlined in scripture and appoint those men as Elders. That is what you have done through the nomination process.  You recommend men who you believe met the qualifications and the men of this congregation examined them and then we asked for more input.  We are close to presenting these men for you to affirm them as Elders.

 

We have been discussing God’s plan for the church. But the most important ingredient of the church is people.

Church means the called out ones. As Christians we have been called out the darkness of sin and into God’s glorious light of grace.

 

God is calling you to come home. Jesus died on the cross so your sins would be forgiven and you could live with Him forever in Heaven.

 

Will you come? Will you answer His call?

Come believing that Jesus died for you; come repenting of your sins; come ready to be immersed into Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins and the indwelling gift of God the Holy Spirit.

 

Jesus is calling.