1. We all have some responsibility in the Lord’s church, but many today fail to do fulfill their office. (Romans 12:4-5)
2. With this lesson I would like to continue our series on our responsibility in the Lord’s church with the Elders.
3. This will benefit us all by learning:
a. What the elders here among us must do
b. Why the elders do the things that they do
c. For members to appreciate the work of the elders
4. The work of the elders was prophesied in: (Jeremiah 3:15; 23:3-4)
5. The Lord chose the strongest of Christian men to do this work, and those that meet the qualification set forth in His word. (Titus 1:5-9; I Timothy 3:1-7)
a. This is a good work, and one that must be desired
b. This work requires much time, serious thought, and a love for the cause of Christ.
c. This work is worthy of “double honor” and a “crown of glory” when it is done well.
6. The elders responsibilities are in three different areas:
a. Responsibilities to God
b. Responsibility to himself
c. Responsibility to the local church
I. The Elders Must :
A. FULFILL THEIR OFFICE, DUTY AND RESPONSIBILITY.
a. The word Elder suggest one of experience and dignity as age would confer.
b. The important decisions and functions of leadership would naturally fall to these men.
a. This word is used in connection with feeding and tending a flock.
b. This word was used in Palestine of them that cared for the sheep by leading them to pasture and water
c. This word suggests one who would protect the sheep from danger and anything that would devour them.
d. This would mean that these men must teach and guide the church (flock) into safe paths.
3. Overseers/ Bishop
a. This signifies one who superintends or oversees.
b. This gives the idea of ruling as a part of their duties
c. This rule follows the standard which Christ gave, exercising a delegated authority.
d. This rule is also limited to the “flock which is among you” (I Peter 5:2)
a. This signifies that the elders are to be the model or pattern of Christianity for all others in the church.
b. Part of the elders work would be to go before the church and lead them to where they should be.
a. The elders work is to tend to God’s property.
b. This property is “the house of the living God”
c. The elders must take care of the church. (I Timothy 3:15)
B. TAKE HEED TO THEMSELVES (Acts 20:28)
1. They must consider their standing before God
a. If they are watching over the souls of others, they should take heed to themselves.
b. Considers Paul’s teaching in II Cor. 13:5.
c. He must take care of his house before taking care of the house of God (I Tim. 3:4-5)
d. It is certainly an embarrassing thing to condemn yourself, but more so when others do it.
e. The elders must measure themselves by God’s word, the eternal truth and take heed to themselves.
2. The elders must go before all and lead the way.
C. BE GUIDED BY THE WORD OF GOD (Acts 20:32; Titus 1:9)
1. The elders must hold fast the word, and be guided by the word in his work.
2. This is something he must do to be qualified for the eldership, and continue in to remain qualified.
3. The elders must let the word rather than their desires guide them in their work.
4. Too many elders today let the feelings and whims of the congregation make their decisions.
a. No sheep ever told the shepherd where to go!
b. The elders must lead and make decisions from God’s word
5. A thing done can only be right when the word says it, not an elder, preacher, or a member.
D. BE ENSAMPLES TO THE FLOCK (I Peter 5:3)
1. A good elder is a pattern for the church to follow.
2. Not being a “lord” over the flock, but an example to follow.
3. Instead of commanding and driving to service, he rather set the example and beckons others to follow. (See John 10:4)
4. The voice of a shepherd never leads in a way he has not trod.
a. Will a shepherd let the sheep lead the way.
b. Does he put the sheep in danger by letting them go astray and do as they please.
5. Every Christian must be an example, but needs to have an example to follow (Matt 5:16; I Cor. 11:1)
6. Christians must follow the elders (Heb. 13:7)
a. If elders aren’t evangelistic, other won’t be
b. If elders don’t assemble regularly members won’t
c. If elders don’t grow, the members won’t
d. If elders don’t , nobody will
7. Some ways that elders can be an example:
- Are his children faithful to his rule?
- Is his wife in subjection to him?
- Does he love his wife?
- Does he have a good report of others?
- Can he teach, and convince the gainsayer?
- Is he always trying to look to God’s word for his own well being
- Is he truthful in all of his dealings?
g. Recreation/ Entertainment
- Does he live a pure life in his activities?
- Is he a man that always likes to stir up strife?
i. Worker in the kingdom
- Does he look for ways to reach the lost, teach the erring, and strengthen the weak?
-Does he provide the plans for future goals and things the congregation may need to do?
E. TAKE THE OVERSIGHT (I Peter 5:2)
1. He must take it willingly
a. Some have suggested that this means he is forced to take it...not so
b. This means that a man who is in the office of an elder must will to take this work.
2. The oversight is important
a. The word “overseer” suggests one who superintends or looks over all the phases of the church.
b. He must see if the worship is scriptural, the songs are true to the word, prayer must be in the spirit, giving is done according to the scriptures, the gospel be preached and taught, the Lord’s supper is done correctly, evangelistic and benevolent work is completed God’s way...etc.
c. Every activity of the church is under the oversight of the elders, and they must carefully watch over all of it.
d. Some try to curve the elders decisions by saying “You are lording it over the flock”.
-If the elders are following the authority of the Bible and are exhorting the congregation to do a certain thing based on that authority, they are NOT lording it over the flock.
-Just because it doesn’t suit some member should not persuade the elders decision in a congregation.
-H.E. Philips said “The duty of the elders to plan the work of the church, to oversee the worship and mission of the church in general, to properly discipline any member in error, even to the withdrawing fellowship is perfectly in line with their delegated authority and is not “lording it over the flock”
F. TAKE HEED TO THE FLOCK (Acts 20:28)
1. Keep an eye on the church
a. An elder must watch his own spiritual conduct, but must also watch for the spiritual conduct of the congregation.
b. He must look out for any danger that could come upon the members.
c. This point is seen when he is considered as a shepherd:
-The elders must know the flock
-The elders must care for the needs of the flock. (food and water)
-The elders must watch the ways of each one, and learn to work with each one.
d. The Bible shows an example of some failing (Jeremiah 23:1-4)
e. The elders should see the needs of the church and supply them through godly wisdom.
G. RULE WELL (I Timothy 5:17)
1. The elders do rule in the congregation
a. Many fail to believe this so let us consider what God’s word says:
-I Timothy 5:17
-I Timothy 3:5
-Hebrews 13:7, 17
b. The elders are in fact the rulers in the congregation.
2. They must rule WELL
a. There is a difference in ruling and ruling well.
b. The elders must rule “not as lording it over the flock” (I Peter 5:1-3)
c. The elders must rule according to the word of God (II John 9)
d. The elders must rule as executives of Christ law, not a legislative body (James 4:12)
e. They must rule by being examples
-Some contend this is the only way they rule.
-If so we are all rulers (Matthew 5:16)
-Elders must rule according to the will of God (Titus 1:9)
-Elders must rule with diligence (Romans 12:8)
3. This rule requires discipline
a. Those that live in sin must be disciplined
- See Romans 16:17-18
-See also Matthew 18:15-17
b. It is important that elders will exercise discipline in their rule.
-When Corinth was in sin Paul taught “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (I Corinthians 5:1-6)
-One sinner undisciplined in the midst of a congregation of God fearing people, may result in a congregation in sin.
1. When we consider the great responsibility of an elder we must respect and honor them in their work (I Peter 5:4).
2. When we think about a shepherd’s love, let us never forget the love of the “chief shepherd" (I Peter 2:21-25; John 10:11-16)
3. And finally then let us consider the voice of the shepherd:
a. Hear (John 12:48)
b. Believe (John 8:24)
c. Repent (Luke 13:3,5)
d. Confess (Matthew 10:32-33)
e. Be Baptized (Mark 16:16)
f. Be Faithful (Matthew 24:13; Revelation 2:10)
4. Will you heed God’s plan to come and be saved?
a. Let us assist you in whatever way that we can...
b. Come while we stand and sing
RESPONSIBILITY OF ELDERS IN THE LORD’S CHURCH
1. We want to continue our studies on our responsibility in the Lord’s church. (Romans 12:4-5)
2. The elders have a very serious function in the Lord’s church and it will be our aim to studies further the work that they must do.
I. The elders must:
A. FEED THE FLOCK (Acts 20:28; I Peter 5:1-2)
1. The expression “flock” refers to “sheep” which describes Christians in relationship to the “shepherd”
2. The shepherds must
a. guide safely from place to place where the sheep can obtain good food and water.
b. stay with the flock and see to their needs.
c. handle the young tenderly and deal sternly with the unruly.
d. know where they are going, so that they can lead the flock into healthy territory.
e. follow the example of the “Chief Shepherd” (Psalm 23)
-lead the sheep to green pasture
-lead them to the water
-lead them in the paths of righteousness
f. feed the sheep good food all year long
-underfed sheep are unhealthy
-sometimes it calls for more than just a little milk.
3. H.E Philips suggests that the elders duties are three fold:
a. keep each member from straying from the church and becoming lost.
b. protect the flock from wolves (false teachers). (Acts 20:29-30)
-Many groups who were once the church of the Lord, have gone astray because of false teachers bringing innovations that are not scriptural.
c. they are to water and feed the sheep.
- “The elder who fails to divide to each member a good portion of this food completely fails in his duty”
B. STOP THE MOUTHS OF VAIN TALKERS (Titus 1:11)
1. The elders must discipline in a local congregation.
a. false teachers must be marked and avoided
b. sinners unwilling to repent must be disfellowshipped.
c. any unruly brother or sister must be exhorted, rebuked, and chastened.
-Some elders are so afraid of what some in the congregation might think.
-Should you obey God or the emotions of men. (Acts 5:29)
-Remember “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (I Cor. 5:6)
-See also Acts 20:30...notice “away”...after them”
-What happened when Ananias and Sapphira were disciplined? “great fear came upon all the church” (Acts 5:11)
2. The Lord’s church needs elders that will stand for that which is right, at any cost.
C. DECIDE DIFFERENCES IN THE CHURCH (Acts 15:6)
1. Sometimes differences in opinion or things spiritual arise among God’s people.
2. The Bible gives an example of who should help in the deciding of these matters.
a.the apostles and elders came together for such things. (Acts 15:2)
b.Some may ask “What about the apostles today?”
c.(See Acts 2:42) Do we have that doctrine today?
-we have the words of the apostles
-we have the words of Christ
-we have God’s inspired word
d. By using their qualifications, the standard of authority and a non-bias judgment, they ought to be able to make decisions.
-members must respect their decisions when God has authorized it.
-we cannot stand against the truth.
D. ADMONISH THE CHURCH (I Thessalonians 5:12)
1. One of the duties of the elder is to teach and or admonish the congregation.
a. “apt to teach” (I Timothy 3:2)
b. “apt to teach” (II Timothy 2:24)
c. “holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayer” (Titus 1:9)
2. There are several ways this must be accomplished:
a. By the good example they show
b. Personal instruction to each member
c. By selecting teachers and preachers to instruct
- “the growth of some congregations is seriously hindered because of the lack of godly admonitions that should be supplied by the elders” ---H.E Philips
E. SUPPORT THE WEAK, PRAY FOR THE SICK AND ADMINISTER TO THEIR NEEDS (Acts 20:35; James 5:14)
1. Although, this is simply a Christian duty, the elders are charged with these things.
a. When a brother or sister is in need, the church can supply their needs personally.
-physically or spiritually weak they must be supported
-their support should not be delayed.
b. The Bible says to call for the elders to pray for the sick
- The elders because they are qualified righteous men would be able to pray fervently with results (James 5:16)
c. What about anointing them with oil?
-Are these miraculous elders? NO
-The oil here was used for medicinal purposes in that passage. (Mark 6:13; Luke 10:34)
- Oil was used in the Bible for:
*appointing one to an office
*for food / to make bread
*a cosmetic for the face
*to burn for light
*as a medicine
-Today, there are many things that can be used by the elders to see to the needs of the sick.
2. Every Christian should help others as they have opportunity, but the elders are called upon to do this work.
F. ESTABLISH THE CHURCHES WHEN NEEDED (Acts 16:4,5)
1. The elders are responsible for seeing that the gospel is spread to the establishing of the churches.
2. H.E. Phillips says “No elder should be content unless the gospel is being preached in all the community in which he lives”
3. In the first century the gospel was preached to “every creature under heaven” (Colossians 1:23)
4. With the serious efforts of the elders today, it can all be done again.
5. Elders can accomplish this by:
a. sending men into the field “white with harvest”
b. having members and a preacher educated to work with them.
c. allowing the preacher to preach the gospel in another city (meeting)
d. opening opportunities for radio programs, newspaper articles, and other evangelistic efforts.
6. Jesus never said just “preach the gospel”, he said “Go into all the world”
a. One elder had remarked “The church is here and everyone in the city knows about it. If the people do not come and hear the gospel, it is their own fault and not mine.”
b. The elders have the oversight and should certainly make sure the world is evangelized.
G. WATCH FOR THE SOULS OF THE CHURCH (Hebrews 13:17)
1. The elders have been entrusted with every soul in the local congregation.
a. The elders will have to answer for what he has lead others to do.
-he must teach the members
-he must evangelize the lost
-he must set the example for all
b. He is responsible to watch over and keep any from error and apostasy.
2. No greater charge has ever been given to any man
a. The Bible tells Christians to watch:
-for the devil
-for false teachers
-for every opportunity to do good
-for the second coming of Christ etc.
b. The Bible charges the elder to watch for souls
3. The reward for successfully “watching” is certainly worth while.
a. They should have “double honour” here on earth. (I Timothy 5:17)
-the church should respect and honor the elders for their work.
-the elders can also be supported for their work by the church. (vs.18)
b. They will receive a “crown of glory” when the Lord shall come. (I Peter 5:4)
1. May this congregation continue to encourage these men to do the work of an elder.
2. May each member learn to submit to their rule as they labour in the kingdom.
3. And speaking of a crown of glory, every Christians can look forward to wearing a crown if in fact they have been faithful to God and His word (Revelation 2:10)
4. Are you a Christian? Do you hope to where a crown?
a. To be a child of God you must:
-Hear (John 12:48)
-Believe (John 8:24)
-Repent (Luke 13:3,5)
-Confess (Matthew 10:32-33)
-Be Baptized (Mark 16:16)
-Be Faithful (Matthew 24:13; Revelation 2:10)
b. If you are subject to this invitation let us know while together we stand and we sing.