Summary: Reasons why God uses a plurality of godly elders to lead the church in making wise decisions
Why Are Elders Important?
1. These elders allowed the church to be administered by a plurality of godly leaders who met the Godly criteria stated in I Tim. 3:1-6. Here is an example of how multiple gifts, abilities and perspectives can synergistically work together for a greater total effect than the sum of several individual’s efforts. Without elders, the church can easily be led astray by one person’s agenda, personality or gift emphasis. Elders help give direction to the affairs of the church especially when there are conflicting views among the members. In Acts 15 the elders were able to establish principles of spiritual liberty and correct the errors of legalism in the church. The elders set a precedent for the selecting of their missionaries in a way that demonstrated prudence, foresight and faith. The elders confirmed the fact that Paul and Barnabas were not delivering their own private opinions, but the deliberate views of the church. The elders gave the apostles a sense of legitimacy and purity in being commissioned by a respectable community of believers. The elders authorized Paul and Barnabas’s ministry as an extension of their sending body. Ask the Lord to help your elders effectively live up to the precedents set by the early church elders.
2. These elders demonstrated a collective wisdom and brotherly love as an example for many other churches to emulate. The godly elders in the Jerusalem council were able to correct the errors of the Judaizers in Antioch before bad restrictionary trends began. Thankfully, these elders were able to purge the church of any disturbing and factious intrigues that might have threatened the well being of the church. As a result of the good work of these elders a new bond of sympathy and affection developed between Jew and Gentiles as well as between Jerusalem and the world. Ask the Lord to help your elders have multiple positive effects in solving problems, establishing positive trends and spreading the gospel.
3. These elders inspired many people to Spirit filled actions. They said, “It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us.” Without Spirit led actions, these words might have been abused and even used with a sincere feeling of devotion, yet might have led to poor decisions. Thankfully, these elders were walking in step with the Holy Spirit and allowed themselves to be channels of the Spirit’s wisdom, light and foresight. With a great measure of piety, love and carefulness, the elders made decisions that clearly reflect 100% of God’s will. By the farewell statement, these elders evidenced a desire for the brother’s happiness, well-being and the steadfastness in their relationship with Christ. Trust the Lord to help your elders’ decisions to always be Spirit led so that they may bear fruit in every good work while increasing in the knowledge of God.
4. These elders’ ministry propelled the missionary movement that would launch a world- wide attempt to fulfill Christ’s great commission of Matthew 28:18-20. The elders kept the macroscopic perspectives in balance with their local microscopic concerns. The elders knew that the gospel would bring salvation to the lost, peace to the troubled heart and deliverance to those who were prisoners to sin and self-destructive behaviors. By emphasizing the gospel of freedom, these elders helped many throw off the yoke of non-essential legalistic restrictions. James, the leader of the elders, helped eliminate the problems of a terrible burden on the Gentile believers, thwarted a harmful trend toward gnosticsm, and ignited a people group movement that allowed for cultural differences. Ask God to help your elders propel many people, provisions and programs to positive actions.