by, Quartus, a brother
GOOD LEADERSHIP is essential to good assemblies. In a day of departure, the saints need both direction & example. The Holy Spirit will raise up such men if the saints will pray for such & acknowledge those whom God has fitted for the care of the churches. We shall seek to draw an outline of what THE WORD OF GOD TEACHES about this important subject.
WHO ARE THESE MEN & WHAT IS THEIR WORK?
Their designation (The Spirit of God chooses some very descriptive words): ELDER, or PRESBYTER: These words suggest spiritual maturity. BISHOP, or OVERSEER: These words describe the TYPE OF WORK TO BE DONE; that of overseeing, or presiding over the affairs of the assembly. PASTOR, or SHEPHERD: These words mean to tend and to feed, with spiritual capacity for the work that is undertaken.
These are found in Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3. The first demands doctrinal soundness, while the second demands moral soundness. These test a man in three ways: INWARDLY, he must be in control of his own spirit not a striker or brawler. DOMESTICALLY, he must rule well his own house. OUTWARDLY, he must have an honest character before the world.
In Acts 20, three duties are pointed out: TO THEMSELVES, “Take heed to yourselves.” Maintain a good spiritual condition always. TO GOD: To remember that their appointment is of God, “over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers.” TO THE CHURCH: Never to forget the preciousness of their charge, “the church of God which He has purchased with His own blood.” Their burden is the CARE of the church. In connection with the man that the good Samaritan took to the inn, he told the host to take CARE of him. Like the inn, the assembly is the place of spending, lending, and mending.
SIX WORDS . . . to describe the variety of these duties:
1. FEED: (ACTS 20:28) In this verse the divine trinity is seen, all concerned with the proper food for the saints.
2. EXAMPLE: (1 Pt.5:3) Leadership has the thought of going before. Of such men we read, “Whose FAITH FOLLOW.”
3. WATCHMEN: (Heb.13:17) They watch for the dangers that confront the sheep. Two of these are mentioned in Acts 20: grievous wolves (from without) & those that would arise from within. Thus, they must WATCH for heretical teaching from without; and warped, unbalanced teaching from within. Good leadership will counteract both.
4. RULERS: (Heb.13:7) Three functions of good oversight are blended in 1 Thess.5:12: The tireless servant; “Know them that LABOR among you”; the presiding overseer, “and are OVER you in the Lord”; the patient instructor, “and ADMONISH you”.
5. PILOTS: (1 Cor.12:28) Government. Here we have the thought of the steersman’s art to guide the ship around many hidden rocks.
6. TRUSTEES (2 Tm.1:14; Tit.1:9) Their authority is delegated authority. It is the authority of God, as is enshrined in THE WORD. MERE HUMAN OPINIONS ARE WORTHLESS HERE.
1 Peter 5 warns: “NOT BY CONSTRAINT” Leadership is a SERIOUS BURDEN that is to be carried gladly because it is for the glory of God & the good of the saints. “NOT FOR FILTHY LUCRE” Neither for the love of money, nor for the love of power nor for the love of prestige is this work to be undertaken. IT IS SELFLESS LABOR with reward awaiting the judgment seat of Christ. “NOT AS LORDS” The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. By love we should serve one another. A minister is a SERVANT. (Mt.20:27) Ezek.34 warns: “SHOULD NOT THE SHEPHERDS FEED THE FLOCKS?” The shepherds fed THEMSELVES but had no nourishment for the flock; no medicine for the sick; no strengthening for the weak; no binding of the broken; no restoring the backslidden; no seeking the lost. v.2 10
IN CONTRAST: note the I WILLS of the Great Shepherd of the flock: (Ezekiel 34:14 16)
I WILL feed them. v.14
I WILL rest them. v.14
I WILL seek them. v.16
I WILL bind the. v.16
I WILL strengthen them. v.16
May God help the under shepherds take character ONLY from the Great Shepherd, who tends with unwearied care the flock for which he bled & died. PAUL warns in Philippians: “Beware of dogs.” (Ph.2:19 21; 3:2,18 19) ISAIAH warns against false prophets, or bad watchmen: “His watchmen are BLIND…they are all IGNORANT; they are shepherds that CANNOT UNDERSTAND…” (Is.56:10 12) JEREMIAH warns: “They are all DUMB DOGS, THEY CANNOT BARK.” A watchdog that cannot bark? The TRUE watchman warns the ungodly of coming judgment, and he warns the believer of careless or selfish living, and the consequent loss for eternity. To prophesy smooth things, rather than to declare the WHOLE COUNSEL of God is fatal folly. WE DARE NOT be DUMB DOGS. (Jer.6:14) They are GREEDY DOGS…they all look TO THEIR OWN WAY, every one for HIS GAIN…” (Is.56) They are LAZY DOGS: Sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber (Is.56:10 12). Come, they say, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and tomorrow shall be as this day, and much more abundantly. The shepherds & the flock should TAKE HEED.
PAUL’S sermon to the elders: (Acts 20:17 25) I KEPT BACK NOTHING THAT WAS PROFITABLE UNTO YOU, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house. I HAVE NOT SHUNNED TO DECLARE UNTO YOU ALL THE COUNSEL OF GOD. TAKE HEED therefore to FEED THE CHURCH. For I KNOW THIS, that…grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also OF YOUR OWN SELVES shall men arise, speaking perverse things. THEREFORE WATCH, and remember, that I CEASED NOT TO WARN EVERY ONE NIGHT AND DAY WITH TEARS.
PETER’S message to the elders: (1 Pt.5) FEED THE FLOCK…TAKING THE OVERSIGHT…BEING ENSAMPLES TO THE FLOCK. BE SOBER, BE VIGILANT; BECAUSE YOUR ADVERSARY THE DEVIL, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour WHOM RESIST STEADFAST in the faith. (Along with this read 1 Cor.11:19 and Luke 17:1) MESSAGE TO THE FLOCK: (Heb.13) REMEMBER them which have THE RULE OVER YOU, who HAVE SPOKEN UNTO YOU THE WORD OF GOD: whose faith FOLLOW. Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we SEEK ONE TO COME. Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God coontinually, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to HIS NAME. OBEY THEM that have THE RULE OVER YOU, and SUBMIT YOURSELVES; for THEY WATCH FOR YOUR SOULS as they that MUST GIVE ACCOUNT, that they may do it with JOY, and not with GRIEF; for THAT is unprofitable FOR YOU. SUFFER THE WORD OF EXHORTATION.