FOUNDATIONS

Lessons designed to promote the integrity of scripture and church!

I Corinthians 3:11“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is    JESUS CHRIST  

All articles are written using the NKJV, unless otherwise noted! All articles are written by David Hicks, unless specified otherwise.

 

THE BODY OF CHRIST

THE ORDER OF THE BODY OF CHRIST – PART 16

The Elders – Qualifications

In these lessons, we will look at the Divine qualifications for the ones who would be shepherds of the Lord’s body. Please note, and use the “Quick Glance chart of the Qualifications of Elders” also provided with this portion of this study.

We will look into these qualifications in a semi-organized way; looking at some of the basic elements first (A Man, Desires the Work), then the domestic qualifications (Husband of one wife, rules his own house well, number of children required, and faithful children), and finally all the other qualifications.

With these things in mind, let’s get started!

Blameless –

1 Timothy 3:2A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach”

Titus 1:6-7if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 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”

Before we define this qualification for a shepherd of God’s people in Christ, let us take a look at the conspicuous placement of this qualification.

Now in every qualification, the potential elder “Must be” qualified in them all; verses ‘on the job training’. However, Paul deems the blameless qualification first in its order to Timothy, after what I call the obvious qualifications (A man, and desiring the work). In Titus’ letter, Paul issues the qualification before the domestic qualifications and the general qualifications (and adds, “As a steward of God” – one entrusted with a large responsibilities on another’s behalf). 

This shows that this qualification is mandatory in every aspect of the qualification process and of great importance.

So, what is it to be blameless?

First, it means, “One against whom no evil charge can be sustained”; “One who is above an established charge of evil”.  This does not mean one who has never sinned or will never err; but one who has made his errors right and who always will before His God through Jesus Christ – 1 John 1:7-2:2.

Second, we have to look at practical application. Peter was an elder (1 Peter 5:1); however, if we look at Peter’s life, both pre (Matthew 16:23 – the Lord Himself told Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan”) and post (Galatians 2:11-14 – we have to remember his famous failure in hypocrisy and the rebuke from Paul he would receive) his Apostolic work, there can be little doubt that Peter was as frail as any of us. Yet, it was not his ability to fail, but his understanding of what to do when he did that kept him from blame, as it does all of us.

Philippians 2:14-16Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”

Though Christians could be blameless in Paul’s day, they were not sinless (1 John 1:8). A blameless Christian, then and now, is one who is above reproach because he corrects his sins (at times falling into sin, but never serving it Romans 6:17-18). Remembering always that Christ came for this purpose and gave us His teaching that “We may not sin” 1 John 2:1; however, “If anyone does”, we have an “Advocate” to be a “propitiation for our sins” 1 John 2:2. 

To this end, these men are not held to a different standard of blamelessness, as some attempt to establish in human thought; but, if they are first blameless before God, how can we bring a charge against them, or anyone else for that matter (Romans 8:33)?

Blamelessness does not mean that accusations cannot be levied against them. People accused the Lord (Matthew 26:59) and Paul, His servant, at every turn (2 Corinthians 10:7-11:15). Any time that a man is living as God would have him; people are going to accuse him, even if it is just their own damaged conscience doing it.

A blameless man has so protected himself in godly integrity, that no scriptural blame or reproach can be proved or attached to him, and nor will he ever err, that he does not immediately repent and shed the fault from his good name.

The potential elder is such that he has so lived his life in service to God through Jesus Christ that when anybody brings an accusation, a fair test (without subjectivity, speculation, or even worse – brethren unwilling to forgive as the Lord forgives) will prove it to be an empty accusation.

Temperate – (Vigilant)

1 Timothy 3:2A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach”

The basic idea of this qualification is “Having the mastery over, having possession of, or having control over oneself”; to be self-disciplined. The idea of vigilance or temperance is the quality where one has control of himself towards moderation of all that is lawful.

This potential candidate for shepherding God’s house is to be in control of his temper, his tongue, his desires, his recreation, his working time, etc… He is to be a man of moderation because he has control over himself, and is self-disciplined.

Sober – (Sober-minded, Prudent, or Measured)

1 Timothy 3:2A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach”

Titus 1:8but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled”

Sober-mindedness means to be discreet, prudent, moderate, temperate, and chaste, of a sober mind, of a sound mind, sane in one’s senses, curbing one’s desires and impulses. One who is sober-minded has the full use of one’s mind and body under all circumstances, as all Christians are to develop.

Romans 12:1-2I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

We use the words, “Level-headed” in the same way that Paul is using this term. He is speaking of one who is not flighty or flippant, but seriously considers things pertaining to this life and to eternal life.

Many usually associate the word sober with the use of alcohol, and certainly one whose mind has been affected by alcohol cannot be in control of his senses; however, Paul will deal with this specific case in a different qualification.

This tells us that it is in other ways which can impair the clear thinking of a person that Paul is referring too. Some lose the ability to properly discern God’s word and control one’s self under stress, anger, or fear. Some have worldly desires that interfere with their ability to think clearly, and to this end, Paul commands that they be able to overcome any of these.

On the other-hand, a sober minded individual is not someone who cannot laugh or enjoy a bit of joviality. Instead he weighs and measures when times are right for seriousness or levity and behaves appropriately for each.

Next: “More General Qualifications!”