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Editorial: Young Men Arise!

In designing the local church the Lord provided for the care and protection of the flock through elders. These men are also referred to as overseers (poorly translated in the KJV and NKJV as bishops) or shepherds. Overseers, elders and shepherds refer to the same person but each word emphasizes a different aspect of his work.

Elders are part of a mature fellowship of believers and was an important part of the establishing of local churches in apostolic times.1 We take this New Testament example to be our binding authority in the present day and make every effort to copy this.

It is important to notice that elders were always in a plurality in the New Testament. Wm. Hoste writes: ‘In apostolic times one church had several bishops. In Christendom one bishop has several Churches.’2 This can be substantiated by noticing the plural reference every time elders are mentioned in the New Testament.

The plurality of overseers has proven to be a blessing to the local church. The variety of age, temperament, personality, maturity and experience combine to give the flock a rich resource in the function of shepherding.  The shared responsibility enables men to continue to function year after year and avoid the mental, emotional and spiritual exhaustion that may overtake one man responsible for everything.

The flock is not at risk when one elder is no longer able to carry out his work as others are already in place. There is safety and security in a ‘multitude of counsellors’ (Pro. 11:14). “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” (Pro. 15:22). “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.” (Pro. 24:6). “For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety.”

Today however we notice that in many assemblies few seem willing to rise to challenge of oversight work.  The reasons for this are not easy to identify but some of these might be the explanation.

It could be that some, particularly younger men, feel inadequate or unqualified for the task at hand. The qualifications of oversight are not light. A review of those qualifications given in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 are enough to set any man back.  No serious minded candidate for shepherd work would easily rate himself as meeting the qualifications. But those qualifications, while a necessity, were not given to potential elders to assess themselves, but to others who would identify elders. No man doing oversight work that I ever met boldly claims himself to be qualified, he leaves that for others to assess.

Perhaps another reason some are not willing to rise to the occasion of elder work is a feeling of not having sufficient time to do the work. It is a good sign when a young man thinking of oversight work has a sober assessment of the fact that it will take time and work. In the present time in Western economies the working world places big demands on working men. The technology that promises saving of time and labour seems to be running us more and more. The work day seems to be operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with constant work contact. A young man considering oversight work has to make some hard decisions in perhaps foregoing big opportunities in business or career. This is not an easy decision to make and limiting one’s time in earning income is not as simple as working less hours. But accepting big responsibilities, promotions and advancements may have to be curtailed if God’s people are going to be cared for. To gain in this world and to lose out on God’s calling is the height of folly.

It is possible that in some cases assemblies have suffered with a dysfunctional group of elders. This may prevent a young man from joining such a group. In such cases the potential shepherd must be in prayer and seek the counsel of wiser believers. It may be the assembly needs some additional shepherds to correct the dysfunctional nature of the present oversight.  It will not be easy, but it may be necessary to endure some difficulties until things can be put right.

I have always tried to point out to candidates for oversight work that elders are made by the Holy Spirit. (Acts 20:28) “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”  In other words, if God has made a man an elder, he really has no choice in the matter. It is not a question of deciding whether I want to be an elder, it is a question of am I going to be obedient to the call of God upon my life. This making of shepherds by the Holy Spirit is as significant as God calling a man or women to full time missionary or other service.

Young men, arise!

Endnotes

1 Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5

2 Wm. Hoste, Bishops, Priests and Deacons, John Ritchie Limited, pg. 29

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Editorial: Am I A Lukewarm Christian?

The only time the word “lukewarm” is used in the New Testament is in Revelation 3:16. It is found in the Lord’s description of the church at Laodicea. Lukewarm describes the nauseating effect this church had on our Lord. He said, “So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” In light of the seriousness of this condition, it is worth asking, ‘Am I a lukewarm Christian?’

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Editorial: Therefore I Endure All Things…

“Therefore I endure all things for the elects’ sakes…” 2 Timothy 2:10

Second Timothy is Paul’s last words to the church. The letter has a warm yet sober character to it, as Paul both encourages and challenges his younger fellow worker in the duty that lay before him. The letter has tremendous contemporary application to us today, as like Timothy, duty calls us in our generation and we must answer this call.

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Editorial: 2+2=4

W. E. Vine tells us the word ‘reckon’ is ‘properly used of numerical calculation’. Here is one instance where Paul used the word, ‘For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.’ (Rom. 8:18).

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A Letter to a Friend on the Subject of United Prayer

A Letter to a Friend on the Subject of United Prayer

I append this remarkable letter by CHM, written, probably between 1888-1892, to an unknown friend. It still communicates with freshness what had weight in his soul and brings again the appeal for the need of united prayer by all who love our Lord Jesus Christ and what belongs to Him. May the prayerful desires of this faithful servant of the Lord still speak to our consciences and stimulate the reader to similar expressions in their prayers.

Beloved in the Lord,
I have, for some time, been deeply exercised as to the condition of the whole church of God – the body of Christ; the beloved lambs and sheep of His flock, scattered through the various denominations and associations of Christendom, and the assemblies of those ostensibly gathered out to His blessed name. In a word, the low condition of things, on all hands; the little fruit in the gospel, and the excessive feebleness in collective and individual testimony for Christ. All this has weighed very heavily on my heart, before the Lord, in connexion with the fearful progress of infidelity, in all its phases, and the darkening influence of superstition; and I feel called to send forth an appeal to every child of God and servant of Christ, throughout the whole world, to unite in humbling ourselves before the Lord, in self-judgment, confession, supplication and intercession.

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Editorial: Follow Me

John’s gospel opens and closes about words.  The profound and majestic opening words of the gospel declare in clear and unmistakable terms, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’ 1   The bold, declarative statement leaves us in no doubt that the living Word is none other than the eternal Son of God. The statement demolishes the twisted notion of cults and false teachers that deny or dethrone our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Editorial: Hid In God… Now Revealed

It has been observed that the universal church is in view in Ephesians and the local church in 1st Corinthians. And while that is true, it should not be pressed too rigidly. For we find there are complementary truths in both epistles. In particular the truths of the universal church found in Ephesians have a practical bearing on the life of the local church.

One of the driving forces of Paul’s life and ministry was the revelation given to him (and the other apostles, Eph. 3:5) that God had brought both Jew and Gentile together in one body, the church (Eph. 2:11-22). Further, the church would be the means to educate and enlighten for all to see the ‘manifold wisdom of God’ (Eph. 3:10).

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The Limitations of Science

John Lennox describes the limitations of science.

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Book Announcement: The Desire Of All the Nations

Book Announcement: The Desire Of All the Nations

Dr. Mikhael shares with us the fruit of a life’s work that has been lived in occupation with Christ. He has done us an invaluable service to help us in knowing more about our Lord. Page after page, reference after reference point us to Christ. Knowledge like this, free of human pride, is the height of spiritual maturity. (Ephesians 4:1-16)

Buy it from Amazon

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Editorial: A Call For Moderation and Temperance

“Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Phil. 4:5. Wuest states that the word moderation is the translation of a Greek word that means “not being unduly rigorous, being satisfied with less than one’s own due, sweet reasonableness, forbearance”. The thought here is that we ought
to show to all our sweet reasonableness in light of the imminent coming of the Lord for His Church.

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