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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Seventh Mark of a Sound Church

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day -
Acts 14:23 - So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

Acts 6:2-3 - Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, "It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;

1 Timothy 3:1-13 - This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Titus 1:5-9 - For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you-- if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

Daily Scripture Reading - 1 Timothy 3

Puritan Catechism
Question #11 - What are God's works of providence?
Answer - God's works of providence are his most holy (Ps. 145:17), wise, (Isa. 28:29) and powerful (Heb. 1:3), preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions (Ps. 103:19; Matt. 10:29).

Devotional Thoughts
The Seventh Mark of a Sound Church:
Church Government and Leadership
as Instituted by the Apostles is Established

Let's start with a few facts. Plain truth. The church is not a democracy. The majority does not always know the will of God. Actually God usually uses a small remnant to accomplish His will. And as we have already learned, He expects us to do things the way in which He ordained it to be done. So how does the Scripture tell us that the church is to be lead, or "run?"

The Bible is very clear and specific that God gives as a special gift to His church its leaders! That's right. He gives them to each church. They are not randomly selected, or voted in and out of office by popular vote. They are not elected for a term and the replaced by a younger, fresher face. They are not chosen for their people skills or abilities. They are chosen by God based on their calling and qualifications to fill the job that He assigns to them. He gives them to the church.

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastor and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, - Ephesians 4:11-12

Those He gives were in Bible times the Apostles and Prophets. These offices were filled and no longer exist in active practice in the church today. These were men who spoke specifically for God to the nation of Israel and to the church, sharing direct revelation from the mouth of God.

An Apostle (the word means "one sent on a mission") were chosen by Christ, physically saw Him after the resurrection (Acts 1:21-22; 1 Cor 15:7), numbered 12 in total (Rev 21:14) including the Disciples (Matthew 10:2-3), with Paul (1 Cor 9:1) replacing Judas. Apostles served these three purposes in the church:

1. Laid the foundation of the church (Eph 2:20)
2. Received, Wrote, and Declared God’s Word (Eph 3:5; Acts 11:28; 21:10-11)
3. Confirmed the Word by miracles and signs (2 Cor 12:12; Acts 8:6-7; Heb 2:3-4).

Prophets also comprise the foundation of the church, along with the Apostles, and Jesus, Who is the Cornerstone. They served both in the Old and New Testament (Hebrews 1:1-2), called by God (Jeremiah 1:5, etc) and given direct revelation of truth by His Spirit to convey to His people and to others (Jeremiah 7:25). Prophets often foretold future events and were judged by a strict criteria. If a prophet gave one false prophecy then he was branded a false prophet and was never to be trusted (Deut 18:21-22). In the New Testament church prophets were to have what they preached tested by the Apostles (1 Cor 14:32) and proclaimed truth from the Old Testament in order to aid the church in spiritual growth.

Those He gave then and now continue to be evangelists and pastor-teachers. Evangelists are called and tasked specifically with preaching the gospel to those in need of conversion (Acts 21:8). While pastors are to do the work of an evangelist (2 Tim 4:5), there is also the sense in which this is a separate calling and office within the church. This would be seen today as missionaries and church planters.

Pastor-teachers (the word pastor literally means "shepherd") are responsible to lead the church in preaching and teaching, applying proper doctrine and exhortation to equip the saints for the carrying out of the ministry in their own daily lives.

Another term for these leaders is "elder." Those who are called in the Bible elders, bishops, or overseers are those men who are called and qualified to serve as loving shepherds in His church. Christ is Lord of the church and He rules with authority through godly elders (1 Timothy 3:1-7; 5:17; 1 Thess. 5:12; Hebrews 13:7; Acts 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-2).

The elders and the body itself are aided by deacons, literally "servants" or to be more specific, "table waiters." The deacons serve the body in whatever ways are needed. Distributing to the poor and needy those resources given through the church, taking care of widows and orphans, and freeing the elders for the works of prayer and preaching. This is not a position of authority or leadership, but a position of humble service to the church. There is no specific or official responsibility listed in the Scriptures for the deacon to carry out but we are told that they are to do whatever tasks the elders assign them to do in aiding them in the ministry of the church (1 Timothy 3:8-13; Acts 6:1-4).

In summary I would like to share a brief Scriptural look at these offices of leadership and service within the church. A church must these offices functioning according to the Scriptures if they are to be in any way sound in their doctrine and church life.

In explaining the purpose, function, and duty of elders and deacons we will see that there are rigorous requirements and qualifications for those who would be appointed to lead and serve the Body of Christ. The elders (pastors, overseer) and deacons (servants) both serve distinct purposes, though the qualifications are closely matched. The elders are given one additional requirement in that they are to be "able to teach."

Scriptural Terms for the Elders - 1 Peter 5:1-2; Acts 20:17, 28; Ephesians 4:11

1. Episkopas - translated "bishop" in most Bibles, the word means an "overseer, guardian, decision maker, or manager."

a. 1 Peter 2:25 - Christ is the "overseer" of our souls
b. Philippians 1:1 - the leaders of the church at Philippi are called "bishops"
c. 1 Timothy 3:1 - The position of "bishop" is a good one to be desired by qualified men
d. 1 Timothy 3:2 - A "bishop" must meet qualifications listed in vs. 2-7
e. Acts 20:28 - told to shepherd the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made them "overseers"

In Romans and Greek usage culturally, the "overseer" (episkopas) was an authority figure representing Caesar in a conquered territory (Pontius Pilate was the Roman episkopas in Jerusalem). The term signified the person's authority, their accountability to a higher authority above them, and their task of introducing a new order of life to a conquered people.

2. Presbuteros - translated "elders" it means one who is older or mature. It also refers to a "council of elders" (plural).

a. Acts 14:23 - a new church is planted by appointing elders
b. Acts 20:17 - Paul sent for the elders at the church in Ephesus
c. 1 Peter 1:1; 5:1-2 - the churches scattered over Asia had elders

Biblically, the elders (plural) "rule" the church by unanimous decision led by the Spirit and guided by the Word of God. (1 Cor 1:10; Eph 4:3; Phil 1:27; Phil 2:2).

3. Poimen - translated "pastor" , the word means shepherd, one who cares for, protects, and leads.

a. Hebrews 13:20-21 - Christ is our shepherd
b. 1 Timothy 5:17 - the labor of shepherding refers to effort, not amount
c. 1 Timothy 3:1-7 - They must be qualified men
d. Titus 1:6-9 - Restatement of qualifications
e. Ephesians 4:11 - they are given by Christ to His Church

The imagery of shepherding is used throughout Scripture to indicate the role of a caretaker. The shepherd is responsible for the health and well being of the flock. He provides both protection from harmful foods, situations, and from predators.

Of these three terms, the word "overseer" refers to what he does (job). The term "elder" refers to who he is (identity). The word "pastor" refers to his heart as he does the job (character).

Scriptural Terms for Deacons - Acts 6:1-7; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:8-13

1. Deaconien Trapedzais - translated "table waiters" in Acts 6:2

The Apostles were finding their time consumed with the demands of those needing to be ministered to by the church, but they saw as their calling to be about the ministry of the Word and prayer, so they oversaw the appointment of these first servants of the church. They were to assist in the everyday operations of ministry, especially in the area of provision of basic needs for widows and others in the church.

"The deacons (lit. servants), submitting to the rulership of the elders, serve the local church in order to free up the elders to devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:1-6). Their delegated duties can include caring for the church finances (1Tim.3:8), ministering to the physical needs of the church (Acts 6:1-6), and assisting in areas of church administration (1Tim.3:12)."

2. Diakonous - translated "deacon" the word literally means "servant."

a. Philippians 1:1 - they were identified with the elders as representatives of the local church.
b. 1 Timothy 3:8-10, 12-13 - the qualifications for deacons are given.

The deacon is a servant of the body assisting in ministry as directed by the elders.

3. Gunaikas - translated "women", this word in 1 Timothy 3:11 refers to women who are to serve as deaconesses within the body.

Some translations see this as the "wives" of deacons, but there are no requirements for elders wives given and in the Greek text the use of the word "likewise" suggests an introduction to another group of servants, distinct from the men. The qualifications for these deaconesses are given in 1 Timothy 3:11. It should also be noted that Phoebe is referred to in Romans 16:1 as a "deaconess" in a church near Corinth.

Puritan Voices
We are reading a small portion each day from a sermon by Charles H. Spurgeon titled The First Christmas Carol from Luke 2:14.

What is the instructive lesson to be learned from this first syllable of the angels' song? Why this, that salvation is God's highest glory. He is glorified in every dew drop that twinkles to the morning sun. He is magnified in every wood flower that blossoms in the copse, although it live to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness in the forest air. God is glorified in every bird that warbles on the spray; in every lamb that skips the mead. Do not the fishes in the sea praise him? From the tiny minnow to the huge Leviathan, do not all creatures that swim the water bless and praise his name? Do not all created things extol him? Is there aught beneath the sky, save man, that doth not glorify God? Do not the stars exalt him, when they write his name upon the azure of heaven in their golden letters? Do not the lightnings adore him when they flash his brightness in arrows of light piercing the midnight darkness? Do not thunders extol him when they roll like drums in the march of the God of armies? Do not all things exalt him, from the least even to the greatest? But sing, sing, oh universe, till thou hast exhausted thyself, thou canst not afford a song so sweet as the song of Incarnation. Though creation may be a majestic organ of praise, it cannot reach the compass of the golden canticle—Incarnation! There is more in that than in creation, more melody in Jesus in the manger, than there is in worlds on worlds rolling their grandeur round the throne of the Most High. Pause Christian, and consider this a minute. See how every attribute is here magnified. Lo! what wisdom is here. God becomes man that God may be just, and the justifier of the ungodly. Lo! what power, for where is power so great as when it concealeth power? What power, that Godhead should unrobe itself and become man! Behold, what love is thus revealed to us when Jesus becomes a man. Behold ye, what faithfulness! How many promises are this day kept? How many solemn obligations are this hour discharged? Tell me one attribute of God that is not manifest in Jesus; and your ignorance shall be the reason why you have not seen it so. The whole of God is glorified in Christ; and though some part of the name of God is written in the universe, it is here best read—in Him who was the Son of Man, and, yet, the Son of God.

But, let me say one word here before I go away from this point. We must learn from this, that if salvation glorifies God, glorifies him in the highest degree, and makes the highest creatures praise him, this one reflection may be added—then, that doctrine, which glorifies man in salvation cannot be the gospel. For salvation glorifies God. The angels were no Arminians, they sang, "Glory to God in the highest." They believe in no doctrine which uncrowns Christ, and puts the crown upon the head of mortals. They believe in no system of faith which makes salvation dependent upon the creature, and, which really gives the creature the praise, for what is it less than for a man to save himself, if the whole dependence of salvation rests upon his own free will? No, my brethren; they may be some preachers, that delight to preach a doctrine that magnifies man; but in their gospel angels have no delight. The only glad tidings that made the angels sing, are those that put God first, God last, God midst, and God without end, in the salvation of his creatures, and put the crown wholly and alone upon the head of him that saves without a helper. "Glory to God in the highest," is the angels' song.

2. When they had sung this, they sang what they had never sung before. "Glory to God in the highest," was an old, old song; they had sung that from before the foundations of the world. But, now, they sang as it were a new song before the throne of God: for they added this stanza—"on earth, peace." They did not sing that in the garden. There was peace there, but it seemed a thing of course, and scarce worth singing of. There was more than peace there; for there was glory to God there. But, now, man had fallen, and since the day when cherubim with fiery swords drove out the man, there had been no peace on earth, save in the breast of some believers, who had obtained peace from the living fountain of this incarnation of Christ. Wars had raged from the ends of the world; men had slaughtered one another, heaps on heaps. There had been wars within as well as wars without. Conscience had fought with man; Satan had tormented man with thoughts of sin. There had been no peace on earth since Adam fell. But, now, when the newborn King made his appearance, the swaddling band with which he was wrapped up was the white flag of peace. That manger was the place where the treaty was signed, whereby warfare should be stopped between man's conscience and himself, man's conscience and his God. It was then, that day, the trumpet blew—"Sheathe the sword, oh man, sheathe the sword, oh conscience, for God is now at peace with man, and man at peace with God." Do you not feel my brethren, that the gospel of God is peace to man? Where else can peace be found, but in the message of Jesus? Go legalist, work for peace with toil and pain, and thou shalt never find it. Go, thou, that trustest in the law: go thou, to Sinai; look to the flames that Moses saw, and shrink, and tremble, and despair; for peace is nowhere to be found, but in him, of whom it is said, "This man shall be peace." And what a peace it is, beloved! It is peace like a river, and righteousness like the waves of the sea. It is the peace of God that passeth all understanding, which keeps our hearts and minds through Jesus Christ our Lord. This sacred peace between the pardoned soul and God the pardoner; this marvelous at-one-ment between the sinner and his judge, this was it that the angels sung when they said, "peace on earth."

3. And, then, they wisely ended their song with a third note. They said, "Good will to man." Philosophers have said that God has a good will toward man; but I never knew any man who derived much comfort from their philosophical assertion. Wise men have thought from what we have seen in creation that God had much good will toward man, or else his works would never have been so constructed for their comfort; but I never heard of any man who could risk his soul's peace upon such a faint hope as that. But I have not only heard of thousands, but I know them, who are quite sure that God has a good will towards men; and if you ask their reason, they will give a full and perfect answer. They say, he has good will toward man for he gave his Son. No greater proof of kindness between the Creator and his subjects can possibly be afforded than when the Creator gives his only begotten and well beloved Son to die. Though the first note is God-like, and though the second note is peaceful, this third note melts my heart the most. Some think of God as if he were a morose being who hated all mankind. Some picture him as if he were some abstract subsistence taking no interest in our affairs. Hark ye, God has "good will toward men." You know what good will means. Well, Swearer, you have cursed God; he has not fulfilled his curse on you; he has good will towards you, though you have no good will towards him. Infidel, you have sinned high and hard against the Most High; he has said no hard things against you, for he has good will towards men. Poor sinner, thou hast broken his laws; thou art half afraid to come to the throne of his mercy lest he should spurn thee; hear thou this, and be comforted— God has good will towards men, so good a will that he has said, and said it with an oath too, "As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, but had rather that he should turn unto me and live;" so good a will moreover that he has even condescended to say, "Come, now, let us reason together; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as wool; though they be red like crimson, they shall be whiter than snow." And if you say, "Lord, how shall I know that thou hast this good will towards me," he points to yonder manger, and says, "Sinner, if I had not a good will towards thee, would I have parted with my Son? if I had not good will towards the human race, would I have given up my Son to become one of that race that he might by so doing redeem them from death?" Ye that doubt the Master's love, look ye to that circle of angels; see their blaze of glory; hear their son, and let your doubts die away in that sweet music and be buried in a shroud of harmony. He has good will to men; he is willing to pardon; he passes by iniquity, transgression, and sin. And mark thee, if Satan shall then add, "But though God hath good will, yet he cannot violate his justice, therefore his mercy may be ineffective, and you may die;" then listen to that first note of the song, "Glory to God in the highest," and reply to Satan and all his temptations, that when God shows good will to a penitent sinner, there is not only peace in the sinner's heart, but it brings glory to every attribute of God, and so he can be just, and yet justify the sinner, and glorify himself.

I do not pretend to say that I have opened all the instructions contained in these three sentences, but I may perhaps direct you into a train of thought that may serve you for the week. I hope that all through the week you will have a truly merry Christmas by feeling the power of these words, and knowing the unction of them. "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will toward men."

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship


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