Building Up The Lord’s Church

(an elder is installed)

 

7And the people served Jehovah all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of Jehovah that he had wrought for Israel. 8And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Jehovah, died, being a hundred and ten years old. 9And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill-country of Ephraim, on the north of the mountain of Gaash. 10And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, that knew not Jehovah, nor yet the work which he had wrought for Israel.

Judges 2:7-11

 

The story of the book of Judges is on the whole a dark and sad one.  It gives us a history of the tribes of Israel after their glorious conquest of the land of Canaan. A story of progressive failures, defeat upon defeat, oppression by their enemies. Relieved for short periods of time by Divine intervention which alone saved the people from utter ruin and destruction.

 

The key note of the book of Joshua the book which precedes the book of Judges, is victory; but  the key note of Judges is failure and defeat.  If we inquire the reason for this miserable turn of events, we find it in the verses of our text

7And the people served Jehovah all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of Jehovah that he had wrought for Israel. 8And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Jehovah, died, being a hundred and ten years old. ……10And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers:  now mark the next statement as we continue in verse10  : "…and there arose another generation after them, that knew not Jehovah, nor yet the work which he had wrought for Israel.."  Judges 2:7-10. 

 

Here is the explanation of all the tragic story that follows throughout the book of Judges:

"10 and there arose another generation after them, that knew not Jehovah, nor yet the work which he had wrought for Israel.."                 

That can mean but one thing namely  the previous generation had failed to teach their children the word of God.... The Lord had given explicit commandment and made special provision that the knowledge of His word and truth should be transmitted to each rising generation.

 

"…and there arose another generation after them, that knew not Jehovah, nor yet the work which he had wrought for Israel.."

Judges 2:10

 

At any given moment in history, the church is only one generation away from complete apostasy. Satan is always busy and striving to destroy faithful followers of Christ (I Peter 5:8). He has servants who live among us today, who pervert the gospel of Christ (II Cor. 11:23f; Gal. 1:6-9),  and discourages the faithful.   One of the basic functions of Christianity is to perpetuate itself in spirit and in truth. The church of the New Testament is designed to be self-perpetuating. The principle of continuing from generation to generation was expressed by the apostle Paul  in  Ephesians 4:11-12

11And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the (edifying or) building up of the body of Christ:

 

If evangelists, pastors (or elders) and teachers were necessary to the building up of the in the beginning, surely they are necessary to keeping the church built up in every successive generation.  Christians today are subjected to more social pressures than in former generations, as a consequence of the church being in contact with more people and  more influences, there is a great danger of falling back into sin.

 

The need therefore in the Lord's church is for men of : Wiser counsel, stronger encouragement, better teachers, and good examples of Christian leadership that others may imitate. Strong Christians today need to have the same mind of the apostle Paul when he writes:   1 Cor. 11:1  Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ”.

 

The New Testament records clearly show that God did not intend to leave His church, His kingdom on earth to be a formless, leaderless group of unguided people. God intended the church to be a well ordered body of people obedient to His teachings, not self-willed. The church was designed to have unity even in its diversity.  In 1 Corinthians 12:28   we read:

28And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers,

 

And again from Ephesians 4:11-12 which we read a moment ago,  hear it again:

11And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ:

 

The words pastors and teachers here and in the previous verses, unquestionable  refer to the office of  "Eldership”  The apostles mentioned in these verses were the twelve, endowed with special gifts by the Holy Spirit.  The apostles and prophets of the first century had no successors.   Today after 21 centuries we have their writings and teachings handed down in the New Testament they need no successors.

 

But for the church,  the  other groups continue generation to generation for edifying the body.  Evangelists, elders, or pastors and teachers. Of these three groups, the elder is more central to congregational growth and activity than is the minister or evangelists.   According to the New Testament teachings, the functions of the eldership overlap the privileges and duties of every other worker in the Church.

 

One of the most inclusive functions of an eldership is to oversee, superintend the work of the congregation, including the minister.    The surest hope for a strong New Testament Church in successive generations, is a strong and faithful eldership in every generation of that church.  Bigger men are sorely needed as elders to handle bigger jobs and greater dangers looming up before the church today.

 

Both 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-7 give us the qualifications of men who are honored to serve in the position of an elder or overseer over the church of the Living God.  Let us read from Titus 1:5-9

“For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that were wanting, and appoint elders in every city, as I gave thee charge;  6if any man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having children that believe, who are not accused of riot or unruly. 7For the bishop must be blameless, as God’s steward; not self-willed, not soon angry, no brawler, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; 8but given to hospitality, a lover of good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled; 9holding to the faithful word which is according to the teaching, that he may be able to exhort in the sound doctrine, and to convict the gainsayers”.

 

To this congregation this morning, I further direct your attention to, and ask you consider carefully:   Hebrews 13:17

17Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit to them: for they watch in behalf of your souls, as they that shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief: for this were unprofitable for you.

 

To our elders this morning I comment to you the statement of the apostle Paul  as he spoke to the elders of Ephesus on the island of Miletus  as recorded    Acts 20:28-31

28Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31Therefore watch, and remember,  

 

This morning on behalf of the Eldership I place before you the Mike Ford. His name was placed before you on Wednesday Evening  August 11 for your consideration. Now that no objections have been given.  Mike  will begin serving this congregation as an Elder.  Mike  may God continue to bless you and your family as you continue your great example of service here at Chestnut Mt., but now in the leadership  role as an Elder.

 

contact:

Ron Cope Minister churches of Christ

email:  RonCope@chestnutmtchurchofchrist.com

phone:  (678)617-9658