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The Office of Elder

The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
June 21, 2021 2:00 am

The Office of Elder

The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew

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June 21, 2021 2:00 am

This sermon describes and explains the qualifications for an Elder in the Church from the Word of God.

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I should turn your Bibles to first Timothy chapter 3, starting in verse one will read through verse seven saying is trustworthy.

If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.

Therefore, an overseer must be above reproach, husband of one wife, sober minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money must manage his own household well with all dignity, keeping his children submissive for someone does not know how to manage his own household. How will he care for God's church must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.

Moreover he must be well thought of by outsiders so that he may not fall into disgrace into the snare of the devil's receipt of spring heavenly father we come to you the name your son and we are thankful for your word for the divine reality of the apostle Paul's ministry and his prescribed word.

As we go into the text and see how you have organized your church you've given us elders you've given us deacons you've given us offices within the church and we thank you. We thank you for the structure of the local church. Thank you for the gathering of the believers.

We pray that you would encourage us on that you would call many men this evening to aspire to this noble task of being an elder in the church we ask that you would write this word upon our hearts as all these attributes all these moral characteristics are things that we are to seek to attain. We ask that we would eagerly seek after these qualifications every single day since we pray. Amen. Happy Father's Day. I did not plan this is Father's Day and here we are looking at the fathers of the church as they have been prescribed in the Bible, and last month I did me to do this either. I preached on Mother's Day and we looked at the roles of men and women in the church.

Men are to be unified lifting up holy hands in the church not quarreling and they are to pray together in the local congregation and women are to learn in the church.

And Paul is routing this argument for male leadership back in the created order of Genesis and so now he is prescribing the structure of church leadership within the local New Testament church will see this in first Timothy three verses 1 to 7, as well as Titus chapter 1 verses 6 to 8. Both passages can give us qualifications of the church elder as well as first Peter five gives us some particular insights. I titled this the office of elder. But the word here is actually overseer and the Greek word behind this if you'll bear with me with the Greek here the word is Episcopal loss epi-meaning over and scope awesome meeting to see to oversee and the idea is that one is to oversee the congregation. The Greek Episcopal loss became the old English biscuit and now we have the modern English word ship so if you ever hear of the Episcopalian church or the office of bishop these things are correlated here. First Peter five. We actually see these words are the same office. First Peter five, Peter says I exhort the present Bureau and that is the elders among you as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory it is going to be revealed.

Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising Episcopal us. That is oversight, not under compulsion and so the Presbyterians the elders are exercising Episcopal studies oversight and they are called to shepherd the local church there to shepherd the flock is via Ross Episcopal loss point main on these three words all referring to pastor shepherds, overseers, elders, these are all terms to refer to the leadership within the church. But this concept goes all the way back to Moses. He was overwhelmed with work and his father-in-law Jethro gave him advice and said look for able men emphasis here on plural men from all the people. Men who fear God were trustworthy and hate abroad, Old Testament example of not a lover of money. Not one who is greedy for unjust gain in place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands of hundreds of 50s, and of tens numbers 11 we see the same thing the Lord says to Moses directly gather for me 70 men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be elders of the people and officers over them, and so this is the job of elders is to govern the church and the elders are still called upon today to do this task we see in the New Testament example acts chapter 15 we see the Council in Jerusalem them.

The elders begin the plurality of elders or governing over the church and it is James the half-brother of Jesus that he's among them, and he is teaching and preaching, but there's also elders that are present within the local church. This is a pattern that we see throughout the Bible that there are men that are sent into places where there is no Christian witness and they are called to teach and preach the gospel in our nomination we call this teaching elders.

Timothy was not from Ephesus he was from Leister but he went into Ephesus and he preached and taught the Bible to those in the Ephesian church Titus the same way.

He was the Bishop of Crete and he wrote Paul wrote in his letter to Titus.

This is why left you in Crete so that you might put what remained into order appoint elders in every town as I direct you. So this is an example of elders being brought up within the local congregation. We call them ruling elders, but there is this teaching and ruling office of elder within the church and the goal is that indigenous men throughout the world. Men of their own communities would be brought up and they would be raised up to be teachers and preachers within the local church.

This is how we do missions where there is no Christian witness. We send a pioneer missionary out there, typically a teaching elder and he and maybe one or two others, maybe a support staff go out into the world and share the gospel of Jesus Christ as a congregation begins to build their Armature men within the congregation to have to be raised up. That's what our nominations have been recently we've been putting out we've been advertising to nominate elders and deacons to govern Grace Church. That's the goal. And so, as men are raised up some go off to seminary and get an education, come back and they can lead as teachers and preachers within the local church and the goal of mission work is that these churches will be self sustained and we can go on to where Christ is not named. We can go out and expand the tent but the role here the role for the elder is to preach the word and commit themselves to prayer and to govern the church. The example we have an acts chapter 6 is that there are disciples increasing in number.

There's a complaint among the Hellenists that the Hebrews because of their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.

Some of the widows of the church are being neglected and so the apostles come together and they say it's not right that we should give up the preaching of the word to serve tables there saying their own role as preaching in the church. What we need are men that are to serve tables that is serving a physical capacity for those that are there and what we have is the institution of the office of deacon deacons are serving the church in a physical way and a mercy ministry sort of way, so that the elders can continue to focus on preaching and teaching and prayer within the local church as we go and all will actually be preaching on deacons next month, so just and I'll be looking at elders next month on deacons. What you will see is there are a lot of the same moral qualifications for both elders and deacons within the church. Within this office, what we see is there is a need for leadership within the local church. John Maxwell said, leadership is one who knows leadership being a leader is one who knows the way goes the way and shows the way.

It is essential that the elders of the church lead by example and so there is a preaching of the word, but there's also a practice we have orthodoxy which is right. Teaching but also an ortho proxy which is a right practice of the Christian faith throughout the Bible we see that where men follow God's word, they flourish. The people under their leadership thrive.

But sadly, there are many examples where men reject God.

They reject God's precepts. They reject the word of God and they fall into destruction. Second Chronicles 33 Manasseh is made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem worse than the heathens raising up altars to bail committing idolatry and what we see is that he is following the examples that were set before him first Kings 22 is a high of the son of Ahab.

He followed his son. He did what was evil in the side of the Lord and walked in the way of his father served bail and worshiped him, and provoked the Lord God of Israel to anger in every way, just as his father had done. The second commandment talks about how there will be persons that go on for 1/3 and fourth generation. And that is not the idea that God specifically singles out someone and says you will be cursed for three and four generations what it means is that there is a bad example set in a family where a father has bad habits and the sons adopt the same bad habits and then their grandsons adopt the same bad habits and there is a sin pattern that is generational throughout the family and so sadly evil sort of begets evil just by the simple power of example, and so goes the leadership of the church. There goes the church that is under that leadership. And that is why this topic is so serious tonight as we go in and look at the office of elder and that we might take men from among us that set an example for the flock and give moral leadership within the church starting in verse one of chapter 3.

The saying is trustworthy with that phrase from chapter 1 verse 15.

The saying is trust. When this is going around the church. This is going around the Christian community that one who aspires to the office of overseer desires a noble task is it is the third greatest honor my life to be an elder in the church. Third, to being a father being a husband and them being a father is a tremendous honor to be a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church in America it. I encourage all men to look at these qualifications.

Either you are an elder era deacon by personality and seek out to be like this elder or deacon described in the text I want to encourage you to consider these offices and in ministry. We have what we call sort of a two-part call to ministry.

First is the internal call. This is an internal desire within the heart of the man that wants to be an officer in the church. So it's a personal desire for the position you look at being an elder or deacon is that something that I want to do that. Something that I want to be and secondly this is external call, which is that other people in the church nominate you or recommend you to that office within the church and so if others believe one is called to the eldership, the Sabine external call hope is that it might match an internal call and that man or might be an elder or deacon, but where there is no internal call first Peter five tells us, we ought not compel a man to the eldership let a man come to this conclusion on his own with the encouragement of others. Perhaps one day a man might be an elder or deacon, but if he's not ready to do not compel a man second verse two we see Holly hopping around on the way some of these fit differently as I go through right now I'm kind of linear, but as I go through more of these points will start to mix-and-match together. Verse two is above reproach.

Your translation might say something like blameless. This is not report referring to Mr. perfection is really if there was perfection was a requirement only Christ Jesus would be our only elder as he is the head of the church and king of all kings and the shepherd among all the shepherds of God's church.

The idea here is that a man is above disapproval. He is free from any sort of scandal or any sort of question of scandal and Scott have tied to one's reputation among the congregation as well as among non-Christians. Verse seven actually talks about a good reputation among outsiders, even though someone might dislike the church never go to church even say that they don't like Christianity.

The hope is that the elders moral character would be seen by outsiders. They would see his kindness is hospitality's generosity and his overall respectable character in one sense I think that above reproach is sort of the qualification over all these was like you could start a list and above reproach, and these are all the many examples of being above reproach. Being sober minded being self-controlled husband and wife, etc. all these are being or applications of being above reproach. The ideas that there's not an immediate negative connotation that comes with the man's name the man's name is not synonymous with being quarrelsome or hotheaded, or money grubbing by the ideas that there is no negative idea. The proceeds the man one commentator said if someone was to bring a charge against one of our elders. Would you say that doesn't sound like him. If you were to hear that one of our elders got drunk and got into a fist fight. Would you would your default answer be that that's not our elder that that wouldn't be him. I know him.

That doesn't sound like something he would or would you say that's exactly something that he would do that. That reputation precedes him.

And that's the idea is that we would be free from any sort of negative connotation. We would be mature sanctified and it any accusation or default is that it's false. And over time it would be proven to be false. Continuing verse to a husband of one wife, being blameless I think starts with the most immediate relationship in your life starts with the one who knows the elder more than anyone starts with one's wife and if an elder is to be a man one wife honestly goes gets this idea of the Roman Catholic Church that we require celibacy on the contrary, it actually sounds like a man has to be married and elder, but must be a man of one wife almost sounds like it requires marriage but this is not requiring marriage. Paul writing. This is a single man in ministry and says it's actually good to be single.

It frees you up to do a lot of ministry work where a family you're now divided between honoring and serving the Lord as well as serving a wife and family so it does not mandate marriage but it does say that we must be committed to our wives.

It's not saying that a man cannot be remarried. This would exclude widowers as well as those who are divorced on biblical grounds which the two. We have our adultery from Matthew 19 and abandonment from an unbelieving spouse in first Corinthians 7 what is saying is that an elder is a man elder is a man going back to my last sermon God is prescribed male leadership within the church. And Paul explains in chapter 2 that this is a God ordained complementarity and role of men and women. It is not rooted in any sort of cultural norm. It's not rooted in his reactionary opinion to anything going on. It's rooted in the created and elder is a man and also he must be committed to his one wife.

There was a problem with polygamy at that time. And Paul is saying that if you go back to the created order.

A man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his singular wife and the two of them shall become one flesh. So a man's first ministry is to his wife second ministry is to his children as third ministry is to the church and a man must have his first and second ministry down before he his goal is to serve the church. Verse four. He must manage his own household well with all dignity, keeping his children submissive for someone does not know how to manage his own household.

How will he care for God's church. The family is the testing ground the proving ground, whether or not a man can lead within the local church. If you compare Timothy here saying the children must be kept submissive.

Titus actually says the children are to be believers. I've met ministers who say if one of my six children were to commit apostasy and leave the faith.

I would leave the local church. But what is the meaning of this passage when Titus says that his children are to be believers when we going to the Greek, the word is actually to stop us, which can mean believing my children are believing but can also mean that my children are faithful and in this context, they are being faithful. In Titus chapter 1 to not being open to the charge of debauchery or subordination. The faithfulness is to the leadership within the home.

The faithfulness of a covenant child under the leadership of an elder in the home is the focus here is that they might be submissive to their parents that they are being led by their parents and they're not under any sort of church discipline any sort of charge of debauchery or insubordination. So we are to pray for our children were called into obedience because they are obligated to be obedient to parents and Lord willing.

Again, we cannot save our children there believing parents to do everything they can. There's unbelieving parents that have never done anything. Of course nonbelievers and their children don't believe their parents that don't do anything and their children believe, but than their parents who've done every single thing in their power and are cheaper children just do not believe in, so we have to realize and rest on the fact that God alone saves.

Don't pat yourself on the back of your children believe but don't beat yourself up if your children don't believe do everything that you can to minister to them to show them God's word to call them to repentance and faith, but ultimately it is God that saves and an elder is called to minister faithfully to his children. John MacArthur put it this way.

I think this is a good list on how to persuade children on the wisdom of submission has three points number one is the God ordained authority.

Children need to understand that your standard is God's word is God ordained that they would be submissive to you as a parent and they are your children is God has said it this way. Secondly is the wisdom must be wise to listen to one's parents. If children were to ask why must I be submissive, there's an answer there, and there's a wise answer their God gives us good rules in the Bible we see the wisdom of God in his instruction suggest the same way.

We must encourage our children to see the natural sensible reasonable reason video but to obey them and finally love is with love in the heart that we point our children to listen to their father and mother. There is a bond that must occur where we love our children and point them to maintain this bond of love as they are disobedient. They are breaking this bond of love. They are disappointing and being disobedient, and what they need to say is that we have something precious here. The bond of a father and a mother and a family with this child. The hope is that they will not challenge that or disrupt what would be an otherwise naturally peaceful relationship with their parents so man's immediate relationships must be examined with a look at the man, not just based on how we see them on Sunday and on Wednesday we have to ask the family. The wife even outsiders that know this man, what is he like verse to a continuous sober minded sober is that someone is not swayed, we think of alcohol but really sober minded is referring to a man that is temperate, a man that is clearheaded is moderate is restrained.

He's not under the influence of any sort of cultural persuasion. There's no external pressures on the man that might make him compromise for any reason the ideas that we preach and teach the pure true gospel message and so an elder must not be prone to pride or flattery or anything that might compromise the word of course verse three not a drunkard being sober minded also takes on not being a drunk not being addicted to wine as some translations say this is not an outright prohibition of alcohol. To be clear, Jesus turned water into wine. We see Jesus instituted the Lord's supper with bread and wine. We even see in Ecclesiastes 97 drink wine and be merry at heart in this exact letter in chapter 5 will see that Paul encourages Timothy to take a little wine for your stomach. I've heard it said alcohol is a good servant and a bad master.

We cannot serve two masters. So Paul tells us in first Corinthians 6 that all things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. What is Pro what is prohibited here is an addiction to wine, not being mastered by wine that's a question we must individually asked her ask ourselves first to self-control demand is not known for losing control, one must master himself before he is to master leadership within the church must be a man of personal character Titus says in verse eight of chapter 1 using the term discipline correlating to this idea of a self-mastery and elder is to be disciplined with regular Bible reading and prayer regular study of commitment to the word of God, man is not to be violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, literally the word is one who strikes one who was a brawler, one who sets up fights and settles business with fistfights. A hotheaded someone who flies off the handle.

Someone who is arrogant or quick-tempered, as Titus says someone who responds naturally with violence as an outpouring of pride and anger. Even with quarrelsome, even someone who dislikes a good argument. Someone who just likes arguing for the sake of argument, even when there is unity very grateful that our session has a great deal of unity when I go to session meetings. We we work things out there so many different ways to look at a situation and with so many elders, the plurality of elders. Everybody gets to take a different look at the situation at hand.

And so we really do turn over every leaf we really do get look at every angle of the situation.

It's very helpful to have a plurality of elders have older men that no visa situation was and we discussed everything.

It's very helpful, but if someone was just the start an argument where this perfect unity among the session just for the sake of arguing it is destroying the unity that is within the leadership and tearing apart the church from the leadership in Titus three tells us for a person who stirs up division after warning him once, then twice have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful.

He is self condemned as a person to dislikes a fight justify is to quarrel with others. These men are known for their harshness. Back in the days of Ezekiel, God was critical of the shepherds, a vision of Ezekiel's day, they were violent and they were harsh and ugly attitudes.

Chapter 30 for four verse for the week you have not strengthened the Siggy of not heal the injured you have not bound up the straight you have not brought back the lost. You have not sought and with force and harshness. You have ruled them truth without love is cruelty. As JC Ryle put it in love without truth is barbaric. Where there is no relationship with the people this if these can be just harsh truths that hurt that there is no consolation, there's no clarity there's no pointing to the mercy of God is no love is no love there must be love present in the heart of the elder that loves the people of God. There was a time I think I just said no I'm just gonna tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may.

But I grew up and I realize that how I say things absolutely matter and elder is not simply called to tell the truth from God's word and elder is called to be gentle and elder is a gentleman and elder is to communicate gracious truths to God's people is a man that children feel comfortable to approach it. Someone that visitors feel comfortable around they can talk to and demand that is not only an elder, but a mentor, a teacher and a father in the faith.

John Newton said my people know that I love them and that of love them over the years and now I believe that they would take anything from me. He knew that he could preach on heaven, he can preach on hell could talk about dying in your sins and burning and eternal hellfire because he knew that his people loved him and he love them and return he would plead for their eternal souls and point them to heaven he pointing to grace and point them to mercy found in Christ. There was a love between John Newton and his congregation.

Paul talks about this in first Corinthians 4. He says there are countless guides in Christ have had a lot of leaders and teachers in seminary for a long time. You do not have many fathers as I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Timothy and Titus were children of Paul's ministry so it matters that we not just be guides, but we be leaders, mentors, and fathers in the faith. One way we do that as we show hospitality to one another to form a generosity as we extend meals out to those that are in hospitals. We invite others into our homes as being generous with our home with our time with our resources being friendly to strangers at church, not simply being kind, not just saying hello.

If they approach you.

But reaching out and inviting visitors with a friendly hello and a handshake and meeting with people in the church inviting people in your home, sharing food and drink and spending time together. My brother-in-law was an undergraduate at the University of South Carolina and he attended first Perez Columbia and there was a man there who was kind of known for bringing college students over to his house, his name was Henry Foster and I heard the story right before I went to the banner truth conference and I ran into an old friend from school and he was planting a church in Columbia and I said to some of the elders from first Perez were coming over and helping them with their church plant and this one guy just invites all these college kids over to his house and go. I know that guy. I just know my reputation.

What's his name. He said his name is Henry Foster and I went over and he was at the lunch table. There I gotta take a photo with him and I sent it out to my family and not only did my brother-in-law say that's when the hemi over his house. My father-in-law was invited to his house 30 years prior. This man has been inviting people over to his house for four decades. Hospitality is this unsung hero of qualifications to be a man that is hospitable and opens up his home to visitors to church members is a great simple testimony of faithfulness to the Lord. Continuing in verse two, respectable, this is the idea of a life that is organized a life that is orderly.

The opposite of chaos going to a man's home and you see there is an orderliness to it would save you have people over 40 years.

You probably have an orderly home you have to do this to me. People come in and you have to keep a well ordered life verse three, a lover of money in the ministry of Jesus we see Judas Iscariot. He was always holding onto the money and he would not want to distributed.

It's not wrong. Have a lot of money.

The problem is where we want to forward this money we want to hold onto it. We do not want to channel it into good efforts within ministry you now you know someone is a lover of money or greedy for unjust gain is more concerned about building up the bank account rather than spreading this money into good Christian ministry efforts and there is a time actually to be tightfisted. I think there is a time to be very careful with how we distribute funds as a wisdom and a discernment which comes from doing this. Over time, and careless spending I think is not being a good steward of the money that God has given us where there is a my honorable ministry effort. We ought to fund those efforts where there are church plant lands where there are missionaries that need help our brothers and sisters and me on borrower who might need funding. These are good ministry efforts that we ought to encourage verse six is not a recent convert's of qualifications simply requires time.

Some new converts are smart. They are capable some new converts might lead Fortune 500 companies, some new converts might be generals and colonels in the armed services. They lead men into battle. They have great skills and leadership that is not mean that we should immediately make them into an elder. To be fair, I see those guys is kind of being good assets to the church when they're not recent converts. I think they might make great elder but again they are just coming into the church. The King James uses the term a neophyte.

A recent convert. So what we must do is emphasize not someone who is just converted to the faith as a warning that comes with a might become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the deviled central part here is that a man must be mature word elder is older. Someone who is wise someone who has wisdom. Someone has ability to teach the word of God as well as govern the church will elders must be called from the congregation as men that are mature and active in the church. Titus chapter 1 verse eight is a lover of good and elder must love the good of the church elder must love the advancement of the saints elder loves to hear the churches are being planted they must love to hear that families are growing that professions of faith are being professed to their children that are being born and raised in the faith in their making professions and the churches is growing through covenantal children and covenant families. We want to encourage the good promote goodness within the congregation must be the biggest fans of personal growth among their hearers as well as themselves and must be encouraging this within the local church. Titus continues with upright and holy upright is our relationships with one another.

These are horizontal person-to-person relationships that we must be fair, we must be just must be upright in our conduct with our fellow man must be fair in business transactions being impartial, treating everyone fairly and holy refers to our relationship with God or vertical relationship with the Lord. We must rely upon God confess our sins to God rely the power the Holy Spirit and put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We must say, with David wash me of my sin put in my heart a clean heart, Lord, we must have a reality where we are crying out to the Lord for more and more personal growth in holiness and that we might set an example for the church and are the Lord.

First John chapter 3 verse three is everyone who hopes in him purifies himself, as he is sure then chapter 3 verse two able to teach. This is the only skill on this list.

Man must be able to teach within the local church elders must be able to lead the local congregation must encourage the saints through teaching and preaching and Titus actually says to rebuke as well so this concept of rebuking or correcting or admonishing sort with the law and then pointing them and driving them to the grace and mercy that is in Christ, we must be able to communicate the Bible not math and science, not English and social studies have to communicate God's word Nehemiah chapter 8. They read the law of God and the elders of the church would interpret the Bible to the congregation. The elders must know Scripture as well as prayer must be a man of prayer. Regular ordinary daily prayer and study of the word must be able to teach Scripture, but also our system of doctrine. We are reformed where Calvinists were Presbyterian, we must be able to answer the question, what is it mean that we believe in total depravity was a means election is unconditional. What is the sovereignty of God. What is it mean that God will persevere in the saints what is that mean was this concept will elders of those who can sit down and explain from Scripture. These concepts to those in the congregation. So as we look at these all these qualifications are worthy to be sought after by everyone. No one keeps them perfectly and they should be the goal of every single Christian within the church, seeking eldership or not, we ought to look at this list and seek to be obedient to the Lord by this example. Secondly, Christian living is about not only knowing the truth that is right. Having right teaching and right standards having right doctrine, but also actions that respond to this teaching next month. A look at the deacons and they are the the right practice. Deacons of the ortho proxy. They're the ones that are out doing the physical work of ministry and elders are back teaching orthodoxy teaching the faithful message of God's word and finally to my fellow elders if you're here tonight. I want to encourage you and exhort you through our words. The words of Peter. I exhort the elders among you as a fellow elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed.

Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you not for shameful gain but eagerly not domineering over those in charge, but being examples to the flock. When the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading client crown of glory. Likewise, you were younger, be subject to the elders, clothe yourselves, all of you with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble spring heavenly father whose was sufficient for these things you give us this list and none of us measure up, but we ask that by your grace, we would grow in these altercations eagerly every day. We pray that you would lead young men towards elder and deacon offices within the church where they might serve their wives, their children and the local congregation.

We pray that you would continue to work mildly with our hearts that you would renew us every day. We ask that you would set Christ is our example before us. Meanwhile, Lord.

Please continue to work within us, throughout the week. Let your spirit be with us within our hearts. We ask that you would renew us and renew our love for you every day actions and we pray on


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