INTRO: There is no event in the life of a congregation of God's people more important and critical than the selection of elders to oversee the flock of God. As we prepare to look from among ourselves for a man, or men, to be added to the existing eldership, I hope that each of us will understand the significance of our role and participation. One thing I want to emphasize at the outset of my thoughts this morning is this. This is not a popularity contest. There are very specific qualifications revealed in scripture which a man must possess before he can be selected to serve in this crucial role. Information you will be receiving will assist you in evaluating men you might consider proposing with the scriptural qualifications.
I. ELDERS IN EVERY CHURCH ... A CRITICAL NEED
A. The apostle referred to "the things that are wanting"
1. there were existing congregations without elders
2. but that situation was not one which was expected to continue
3. there was a critical lack in those churches ... elders
B. Acts 14:21-23 - "...they ordained them elders in every church..."
1. once again, scripture indicates this to be a critical need
2. congregations were not to go indefinitely without elders
3. the future of a congregation truly depends on its selection of godly and qualified men to serve as its elders! (not all godly men are qualified)
II. WHAT IS THE FUNCTION OF ELDERS?
A. Several words in scripture will help us here
1. Acts 20:28 - "overseers"
2. Acts 20:31 - "watch"
3. 1 Tim 3:5 - "take care of" - in the word "rule" is the idea of presiding over or managing - thus, if he cannot properly preside over his own family, he cannot properly preside of the church
4. Titus 1:7 - "the steward of God"
5. Heb 13:17 - "the rule over you" (the word "rule" here refers to authority, to leadership, to command, to "governing"
B. In short, they are both responsible and accountable
1. responsible for the spiritual well being of the congregation
2. they must both feed and watch - provision and security
3. and, yes, theirs is a role with authority
4. they are accountable to God for the manner of their stewardship
5. but remember, too, that we are to submit and obey
III. WHAT OF THE MEN WHO WOULD SERVE?
A. Obviously, they would be men who are older
1. this "older" would refer to both chronological age and age in Christ (notice 1 Tim 3:6 - "not a novice" - not "newly planted")
2. in Spanish "ancianos" refers to people who are of considerable age
3. why the need for "age" - life experiences, knowledge, wisdom, maturity
B. Personal qualifications (from 1 Tim 3:1-7 & Titus 1:6-9)
1. obviously, he must be a godly and faithful man in Christ
2. he must know the word; he must be self controlled; he must be fair; he must be of excellent reputation within and without the church; he must have no personal agenda
3. he must love the Lord, His church, the word and souls
C. Are there familial qualifications? yes, most assuredly
1. he must be married, the husband of one wife (note 1 Tim 3:11)
2. he must have children who are Christians and who are in subjection
3. he must superintend well the affairs of his home and family
D. Are their leadership qualifications?
1. the answer is "yes"
2. those qualifications are implied, inherent in some of the words and expressions we noted earlier
3. all good and faithful men are not necessarily good leaders - but elders must be leaders
4. from 1 Pet 5:3 - leadership that is not domineering ... but which sets the example of the faith to the church
CLOSE: Over the next few weeks we will engage in this very important process. The men whom we select may well determine the course of this church for years to come. We ask, therefore, that you pray, consider and propose wisely.
Cecil A. Hutson
22 January 2006
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)