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 18

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!

Not Contentious –

1 Timothy 3:3not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous”

Titus 1:7For 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”

I openly admit that some of these qualifications seem to overlap with others in very similar fashion; however, in the wisdom of the Spirit, it demands that we recognize that not only the extreme of a behavior is prohibited, but also the not-so-extreme. The extreme behavior prohibited in these men is found in “not violent”; however, for the same reasons this shepherd of God’s flock through Christ Jesus cannot be quick tempered or ready to fight verbally or otherwise all the time.

Jude 3Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”  

In this passage of scripture, we learn that there is a universal command for all Christians to contend earnestly for the faith (zealously, with deep sincerity, for the word of God which produces a singular faith). However, with the command, the Lord gave rules of conduct for this contention of faith, not:

2 Corinthians 10:3-6For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”

Ephesians 4:26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath”

2 Timothy 2:24-26And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”

James 1:19-20So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

If someone were to introduce a false doctrine, the shepherd must stand and contend for the faith in pointing out the spuriousness of the doctrine; however, the instruction given demands that he do it without an ugly, spiteful, contentious disposition and rely on the power of truth.

Not Covetous –

1 Timothy 3:3not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous”

Titus 1:7For 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.”

This qualification is generally explained in two ways. First, there is the aspect of being greedy for gain, and secondly, there is the aspect of making money by unlawful means. This is something the Apostle Peter (himself and elder) attempted to head off at the pass, note:

1 Peter 5:2Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly”

As we can see by Peter’s instruction, these two aspects go hand and glove. Everybody has the obligation or responsibility to go out and provide for his family, but this qualification is talking about a man who has the disposition of desiring money above and beyond that which is proper to fulfill this. When you look at such a man and he’s talking about making money all the time, he’s sacrificing his family for it, he’s sacrificing his service to God for it, it is then you know he’s not willing to sacrifice personal gain in order to fulfill his responsibilities as an overseer of the people of God.

Based on Paul’s words, he is in fact in danger of serving the wrong master to the detriment of his soul, note:

Colossians 3:5Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” 

In fact, such a man could never demonstrate for the rest of the Body of Christ the words of the Apostle John, note:

1 John 3:17-18But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”

Not Self-Willed –

Titus 1:7For 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.”

Self-willed means “willful”, “stubborn”, “headstrong”, “self-pleasing”, and “arrogant”. A self-willed man is one who always has to have his way, and probably gives the impression that his way is the only right way. He may have a stubborn spirit which makes him cling to his own will, and he refuses to listen to anything else, even scriptural wisdom.

An elder must work in concert with other elders, and there is no limit to the damage that can come when elders cannot act in unison to the instruction of Jesus Christ. It is similar to the damage that comes when parents are not unified in raising their children. This lack of unity can embolden the enemies of truth and doctrinal purity. All consensus should be determined by the will of God and not the will of men!

This is why in the Lord’s wisdom, no single elder shepherds or even makes decisions by himself, but in concert with other qualified elders; they possess no authority individually, nor any authority at all when it comes to doctrine, other than to enforce and teach given doctrine.

There is a good example of the damage of this kind of singular elevation found in 3 John 9-12 (Diotrephes).

By this qualification and the understanding of the damage that can come from a single elevated will, even men with strong wills must be on guard constantly to keep from dominating the others with whom they serve. This great work demands a strong sense of humility in order to focus on rendering service to the Chief Shepherd of our souls – 1 Peter 5:3-4. This teaching is a point of importance to the examples of multiple elders and never single elderships Acts 14:23, 15:4, 5, 22, 23; 20:17, 28; 21:18; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:5; James 5:14.   

Next: “Conclusion of Qualifications!”