Summary: An examination of the offices of elder & deacon from a Baptist perspective.
WHO RUNS THE CHURCH
Part 2: The Ordained Officers of the Church
The story is told of a terrible traffic accident. Police officers were called to the scene and when they arrived they found a husband, wife, and 2 children lying unconscious in the car. They pulled them from the car, and as they waited for the paramedics to arrive they noticed a monkey in the car also. Seeing that the monkey was the only witness to the accident who was conscious, the officers decided to question him about the accident. Turning to the monkey they asked, “What was the dad doing at the time of the accident?” The monkey motioned, indicating that the dad had been drinking. The officers next asked what the mother had been doing at the time of the accident. The monkey took his finger and shook it angrily at the unconscious man. The officers then asked what the children had been doing. The monkey this time indicated by hand gestures that the children had been fighting in the back seat. The officers said, “Well, no wonder there was an accident with all of that going on in the car.” As they turned to leave, almost as a parting thought they asked, “By the way, what were you doing at the time of the accident?” To which the monkey signed that he had been the one driving.
My friends, I am afraid that there are many churches today headed for trouble. There are many churches heading for an accident because they do not understand God’s design for the church. They do not understand God’s call for leadership, and as a result they have allowed the noisiest moneys in the group to run the church. My friends, noise does not equal leadership.
If you remember, last week we looked at the priesthood of the believer. Looking at the Bible we said that every believer, has the ability to approach God himself. At the same time, God says in,
> 1 Corinthians 14:40 But everything must be done decently and in order.
In order for things to be done orderly in the church, God set aside leaders. In Philippians 1:1 Paul identifies two ordained officers in the church.
> Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus: To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are Philippi, including the overseers and deacons.
In this verse Paul identifies the 2 ordained offices as Bishops and deacons. The “bishop” here, is the pastor. 3 words are used in the New Testament to describe the pastor. The words are used interchangeably. He is called an “elder” (presbuteros), a “bishop” (episkopos), and a “pastor” or “shepherd” (poimen). All refer to the same man. (W. A. Criswell, Great Doctrines of the Bible, Vol. 3; Zondervan, 1983. p. 100)
For example, look with me in Titus 1:5.
If you’ll notice, the terms “elder” and “overseer” are used interchangeably. Two ordained offices of leadership in the church. This morning I would like to look some at those two offices.
This passage mentions the 2 ordained offices in the church and the qualifications for those offices. Notice of you will, the similarities.
I. QUALIFICATIONS FOR ORDAINED LEADERSHIP
1. Good reputations – Verse 2, and verse 8 say that these leaders are to be worthy of respect or above reproach. In other words, ordained leaders in the local church are to have good reputations in the church and in the community.
Almost nothing can harm the reputation and effectiveness of the church more than having leaders that have bad reputations in the community. I remember, years ago, when my family was in the building material business, that some of the people we had the most trouble getting to pay their bills, were pastors. One of the men who ended up sticking us for a great deal of money was the son-in-law, of a pastor, and a leader in his church.
My friend, if you are going to steal from people in the community, if you are going to live in a way that brings dishonor to yourself and your church, then you have no business leading in this or any other church. Pastors and deacons are to men with good reputations.
2. Husbands with one wife – Ordained leaders are to have no more than one wife. Paul is writing at a time when many men had more than one wife. The Bible says, one, and no more than one wife. Now, there are those who believe this passage disqualifies men who have been divorced. I do not. Does the Bible teach that God intended for men and women to get married and to stay married for life? Yes it does. Do many people sin when they get divorced? Yes, and many also sin when they get married and are unequally yoked. It is God’s plan for you to wait to marry until you find a godly man, or a godly woman to share your life with, and then for you to stay together. But, my friends, divorce is not the unpardonable sin. If Jesus could call Paul, the man who persecuted, imprisoned, and supported the stoning of Christians; if Jesus could call, forgive, and use him in the church, then He can use people who have divorced as well.