Sermons

Summary: Elders (Overseers) are appointed by God. They are not hired to do a job; they are appointed to serve the One who appoints and to serve His holy people.

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“I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher.” [1]

His face was red and his eyes were narrow slits as he raged, “We hired you, and we can fire you.” I was equally determined as I asserted with a firm, steady voice, “No one hired me; God appointed me.” Ignoring my assertion, the enraged man informed me that he was the “Chairman of the Church.” He continued his tirade, loudly proclaiming that what he wanted, he got; what he didn’t want wouldn’t happen. Tragically, this incident was not exceptional in modern church life; such despicable despots are not an anomaly among the churches of this day. Petty tyrants on a power trip are distressingly common among the churches of our Lord.

I caution the people of God, the Holy One is quite capable of guiding His holy people without the intervention or oversight of any individual. He managed to direct the people of Israel through the wilderness for forty years and He is well able to oversee the advance of any congregation in this day. Shockingly, professed leaders among the faithful seem often to fall into the trap of imagining that God is dependent upon them—as though without their expertise or without their firm hand holding the tiller the church will soon cease to exist. Yet, no individual is indispensable for the spiritual progress of a congregation. In fact, it is fair to say that if a congregation is guided by such an individual, or even by a group of such individuals, that congregation has ceased moving forward and has either begun to regress or it awaits the final pronouncement of “hic jacet.” Employing a biblical argot, it is likely that the Head of the Church has already inscribed “Ichabod” above the door of that particular congregation.

If I should begin to act in a domineering, autocratic manner, or should the congregation begin to permit any individual or group of individuals to act in an authoritarian, overbearing fashion, the advance of this congregation will be halted and the work will suffer. The Spirit of Christ dwells among His people. What else can Paul’s cautionary word mean when he writes, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple, and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple” [1 CORINTHIANS 3:16, 17]. If anyone should begin to act presumptuously with the congregation of the faithful, they are presuming against God Himself. And just as God removed Ananias and Sapphira, so He will hold such individuals accountable even now.

That brings us to the message for this day. Paul asserts that he was appointed and not hired. His service was offered up as though fulfilling the appointment he had received. With this brief statement, the Apostle compels all who read his words to grapple with the manner in which God directs His church. Understanding the work of God is vital for a healthy church.


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