The elders are a gift to the church (1)

Current Blog Series : Biblical Vision Explanation

“’Baptist’ has always intended to mean ultimately faithful to Scripture. So the question we must begin with is, not ‘is it Baptist?’, but ‘is it Biblical?’ Do we find elders in the New Testament?” – Mark Dever Ph.D.

God gifts churches with elders to
                Feed God’s sheep God’s word (Jn. 21:15-17),
                Guide the sheep (1 Tim. 4:16; 1 Pet. 5:3, Heb. 13:7),
                Protecting the sheep from attackers (Acts 20:27-29; 2 Tim. 4:3-4; Tit. 1:9),
                Protecting themselves, the church through the wisdom of their plurality (Prov. 11:14; 24:6).

            First and foremost The Pastor of any church should be Christ. He is the ultimate shepherd of our souls. Depending upon your church tradition the leaders may be called, Bishop, Elders, or Pastors. My church routes are Baptist, but I have come under the conviction that the Bible teaches that each local church should be led by a plurality of godly, qualified men called elders. In Ephesians 4 we see the following offices are gifts for the Church; the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, all given to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.

            In Numbers 11 we see the people desperate for food, so the Lord through Moses appoints 70 men to share in leadership, Spirit and responsibility for feeding the people. This one particular instance is a great picture for new testament Christians sharing the role in feeding the sheep (John 21:17). Through preaching the Word the elders lead the congregation as the Spirit leads in their personal lives. Elders are to be men filled with the Spirit and mature so that they do not take advantage of the congregation (1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9).  If there is a plurality of Elders there is accountability one with another (Acts 14:23, Acts 20:17, 1 Timothy 4:14, 1 Timothy 5:17, and James 5:14).

            This structure is very similar to the "church council" approach to the democratic congregational structure, but leadership is within the ministerialy gifted men who follow the leadership of Christ and the Spirit. Often people put Deacons onto the elders list, but as we will discuss later, deacons are servant leaders. I believe through Scripture that we see congregation involvement in decision-making. The Congregation helps in the approval of the church budget, the appointing of the Elders, and any decision that involves the purchase of property or construction of buildings or financial indebtedness on the part of the church.

Biblical church leadership is important because without it, God’s people are sheep without Spirit empowered shepherds. 

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