In my last blog, I shared with you what I am committed to. Today, I want to address this further by talking about my commitment to the church.
I am committed to the church from which Jesus is the head. Colossians 1:18 says that “He is the head of the body, the church, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” As the head of His church He mediates His rule through godly men called elders. I have said on past occasions that the term elder and pastor are used interchangeably when referring to this office in the church. Acts 20:17 says, “From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. Acts 20:28 says, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” In these two passages they are referred to as elders, overseers, and pastors. Elder emphasizes his maturity, overseeing and shepherding refers to his function. Because the Bible mentions elders in the church, I am committed to having them. That means I have to wait for God to raise men up, examine them, and then ordain them to ministry (1 Tim.3:1; Tit.1:5).
The Bible teaches that the elders of the church have the oversight of the church. That means they are “rule” the church (1 Tim.5:17) but not as “lords over those entrusted to [them], but being examples to the flock” (1 Pet.5:3). Their major emphasis is on teaching sound doctrine. 1 Tim.3:2 says they are to be “apt to teach. ” Titus 1:9 says they to hold fast “the faithful word as [they] has been taught, that [they] may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.” They are called “pastor-teachers” in Ephesians 4:11 – as such they are to equip “the saints for the work of the ministry” (v.12).
The second group in the church are deacons. These serve the church by implementing what the elders teach. 1 Timothy 3:8-13 mentions the office of deacon and deaconness. When Paul addressed his letter to the Philippians he said in 1:1: “Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.” When he wrote his letter to the Romans, he said in 16:1-2: “I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also.”
Where does the congregation fit in all of this. They model submission. When Paul wrote his first letter to the Thessalonians, he told them in 5:12 to “recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you.” In Hebrews 13:7 and 17 he said essentially the same thing and called for the people to submit to their leadership. Peter in his first epistle said the same thing in 5:5, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility.”
God has given a high calling to the church. We are to structure and behave ourselves according to His Word. I am committed to these truths and I pray you are too. In our next blog we will talk about accountability.