Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Having demonstrated that the church is a Theocracy in essence and a democracy in viewing, who then are the officers of a church and what are their responsibilities? We study this as we are proving what is a Biblical church and which are church pretenders. A true church will have (or be seeking when needed) Biblical officers.
Before we begin our study, let us be reminded that Jesus Christ is the head of each church (Col 1:18; Eph. 1:22-23). Each church is to recognize as it's Authority the Lord Jesus Christ-no man, no king, no ruler, but Him. Our Lord Jesus is the Head, our Advocate (1 Jn. 2:1), our Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5), our High Priest (Heb. 7:25), our Foundation of our church (1 Cor. 3:11). The Holy Spirit is the Administrator/Manager of each true church. Each church settles all matters under the direction of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit that directs (Rom. 8:14), calls to special service (Acts 813:2-4), guides and equips in service (Acts 8:27-29; 1 Cor. 2:12-14; Jn. 16:13-14; 1 Thess. 1:5). The Word of God is the Sole Authority and rule of faith in a true church.
Having established such, it is Biblical that a church have officers from within. First, there is the pastor. The Lord gave apostles and prophets (1 Cor. 12:28) first to the church as gifts whose work was to work miracles, give the Scriptures through the Spirit, and help establish the church Christ started. These 'gifts' were done away with when this work was accomplished (1 Cor. 13:10).
The work of the pastor goes on. A pastor in God's Word is called an "elder," "bishop", "shepherd", "preacher", and "teacher." Each name refers to a duty a pastor has from the Lord. The pastor must meet high qualifications in order to be qualified for the position of pastor. These have been discussed before, but can be found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Tutus 1:5-8. A pastor is to preach the Gospel, win souls to Christ, teach the church, lead by example, visit his members, lead in church meetings, and have the oversight as under-shepherd of all matters of interest to the church. A pastor should be supported by the church (1 Cor. 9, 1 Tim. 5:18), respected by the church (1 Tim. 5:19), and loved and prayed for by the church. A pastor is not an hireling and should not be greedy of filthy lucre. Every church needs a pastor, for without one, a church soon strays; but that pastor must be a Spirit led, Biblically secure man of God.
The ONLY OTHER BIBLICAL office is that of deacon. The first deacons were chosen in Acts 6:1-7. At this time, that church was approximately the size of 6-8,000 members. The pastors were not able to meet the needs in visitation and widows were being "neglected." The pastors gathered the church and said, "It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables." Deacons were needed to be chosen so that the pastors would not neglect their main duty to "give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word." Thus seven men were chosen to be the first deacons.
It is important to note that deacons were not Demanded in order to have a church, but a necessity as the church grew larger. The ratio of deacons to members here was about 1 per 900-1,000 members. Because of a protestant influence, deacons today are seen as a "counseling board" or "board of authority" or a "representative of the members to the pastor." This is not Biblical! Deacons are for service to the church. They were/are appointed over the task of administering relief, to be a
'pastor-helper.' Because of a misconstrued view of the office of deacons, many churches feel they need many deacons no matter their size. I know of a church that ran 22 each week and seven were deacons. This is not wise. Our church averages nearly 200 each Sunday and we have one deacon. I was recently asked when we would be ordaining more deacons, to which I responded, "When we average 1,400 we will consider this." In the Bible they were "men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom."
These deacons had to meet qualifications as a pastor does. These can be found in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. I would point out that his qualifications were "like" that of a pastor. There are a few differences to consider:
"not given to much wine" does not refer to drinking alcohol, but grape juice. I could explain this in detail, but it would take too much time, I would refer you to sermon audio.com and my sermon on "alcohol and the Bible."
"not greedy of filthy lucre" refers to the same as a pastor. I believe Scripturally speaking, there was such a demand for the office of a deacon, that they too had to be supported by the church as a 'full time position.' Thus they too could not be guilty of filthy lucre.
"Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things." For a man to be a deacon, his wife must meet a qualification not found in reference to a pastor. Why is this? Perhaps because of the role of a deacon to care for the widows. A deacon had better have a thus qualified wife if he is to spend so much time with these widow ladies. I do not seek to be crude, but this is a fact to ponder.
THAT'S ALL FOLKS! Those are the only two offices found in the Bible for the local church. Today you will find trustees, treasurers (one could argue that the first church had one, but not many people would like to mimic him), clerks, Sunday School Superintendents-but these are all man made positions. These are not Biblical nor mandatory in God's Word. Is there anything wrong in having these positions? None at all as long as they understand their position is one of service not mandated in Scripture. Many of those from a legal perspective are mandatory in today's world.
In any case, there are only two Biblical offices found in God's Word, Pastor and Deacon; and one of those (deacon) is not mandatory, but entered into upon necessity as the church grows.