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 7

The Elders – Take Heed to Yourselves

Acts 20:28Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

The Apostle Paul meeting face to face with the elders of the Body of Christ at Ephesus (although not at Ephesus, but Miletus); conveys a very important factor in the work and character of these shepherds of the Body; they must first shepherd themselves!

Would you trust your life’s savings to a man who was unable to manage money well?

In this same understanding, we can clearly see in Paul’s instruction that these men were to be of the highest character, extremely self-disciplined, and willing to look at themselves even before they shepherd all the flock.

If these shepherds do not watch for themselves first, examine themselves first (2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.”), how can they watch for others?

·         These shepherds must have respect for others, by the manner of life he demands from himself as a servant of Christ Jesus the King.

·         This can often be determined by how he cares for his own house – which we will discuss in detail in the qualifications (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9).

Take Heed –

This command carries the idea of “governing”. Therefore, if he is unable to govern himself, how can he govern the Body of Christ?

1 Timothy 3:5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)

However, on the other hand, if he is disciplined enough to shepherd himself (not as a perfect individual, but without blame and complete in the doctrine of Christ – more about this later); he then will also “Take heed” to false doctrines, not able to be deceived, thereby becoming instrumental in the protection of others.

The rule of conduct for shepherds, and all Christians for that matter, is truth!

Acts 20:32 “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”

·         Just as Paul commended these elders at Ephesus to the word of His grace (God’s word); elders ought to measure themselves by this truth. As they measure themselves daily by this singular standard, they make adjustments towards righteousness; like a ship righting itself to the true course.

·         It would be unwise for them to measure themselves with other men.

Romans 12:3For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”

Romans 10:17So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

·         These shepherds are to holdfast the word, especially in regards to taking heed to themselves!

Titus 1:9holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.”

Ephesians 4:11-13And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”

1 Timothy 5:17Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.”

Perfect Men verses Complete Men –

There is a strange disconnect among many brethren concerning these men who are to be shepherds, and we need to talk about it.

As we get into the qualifications in upcoming lessons, we will learn that beyond a shadow of a doubt that these shepherds are to be of the highest and most noble of character. Their service to the Lord is to be without blame – 1 Timothy 3:2.

The Body of Christ is far too important to consider the qualifications and demanded Christ like character (1 Peter 5:1-4), lightly; however, there seems to be at times among Christians the concept that shepherds cannot be appointed to this vital work unless they are perfect (subjectively speaking).

For an illustration, let us take a look at the Apostle Peter in order to examine the proper perspective of this subject.

Peter was:

We also know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Peter was not perfect (subjectively speaking)!

Yet, in all of this, Peter is never referred to as anything but a complete servant and Apostle of Jesus Christ (objectively speaking), 2 Peter 1:1. This teaches us that our understanding of what makes a man perfect (better described as complete or without blame); is to be determined by the same standard that establishes all of us – God’s word.

Just as with Peter, perfection is not found by completely being without human weaknesses, but in constant restoration (just as the Lord restored Peter – John 21:15-19), and dedication (1 John 1:5-2:2), which is what makes every Christian perfect (complete in every good work – 2 Timothy 3:16-17); objectively speaking!

All the members of the Body of Christ must always strive to know what God expects in the true order of the Body, in order to avoid at all costs not having this order due to subjective, theoretical, or individual desires placing roadblocks in the way.

Instead, we should all strive to know and live the instructions of Paul for a sound Body of Christ – read: Titus 2:1-10.

Next: “Ensamples to the Flock!”