Lesson 19 - The Church Which is His Body cont.

In forming, structuring, and directing the Body, Christ has revealed it to be His purpose to use specially called, commissioned, and qualified men. God is a God of order, and as we see His order in creation and in the life of the Old Testament people Israel, we find order in "the church which is His body."

9. THE RISEN CHRIST'S GIFTS TO THE BODY

Eph. 4:8,11,12 - "Wherefore he saith, when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and GAVE GIFTS UNTO MEN...and he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ."

In the Acts of the Apostles we see how these "given men" operated. Being "given" by Christ for a specific purpose, they are under His direction as to the nature and scope of their ministry. How they functioned ideally is a historical example of the purpose of God. The apostles, prophets, and evangelists are seen going into unevangelized areas to win the lost and out of the harvest of souls establishing churches in each place. Since their ministry was not permanent in any one place it was necessary that there be permanent leadership in the churches which they had planted. This was the place for the pastor-teacher.

The apostle, prophet, and evangelist may return to the church to "confirm and encourage" the believers, however, they did not become permanent ministries in the local church. We will have more to say about the apostle, prophet, and evangelist in our third series, but for the present we want to consider the ministry of the pastor-teacher.

The word "pastor" occurs only once in the New Testament. However, the word translated "pastor" (Poinen) is translated "shepherd" 17 times. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word "raah" is translated "pastor" 8 times, "herdman" 7 times, and "shepherd" 62 times. A "pastor" then, is a divinely "given" "shepherd" to "tend, feed and protect" God's sheep." Our Lord Jesus Christ is "the good Shepherd" (John 1O:11); "the great Shepherd" (Heb. 13:20); and "the chief Shepherd" (1 Pet. 5:4). He is the perfect Pastor!
In the Acts, we find Paul and Barnabas returning to the bodies of believers they had won to Christ in Lystra and Iconium and Antioch, "confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God, And when they had ORDAINED THEM ELDERS IN EVERY CHURCH, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed" (14:21-23), So, in "EVERY CHURCH" there were "ELDERS."
Now let us look at another word, the word "bishop," When Paul is addressing the Philippian church, he writes "to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the BISHOPS and deacons" (Phil. 1:1). The Greek word for "bishop" is "episkopos" which means "OVERSEER," The Amplified version reads "bishops (overseers) and deacons (assistants)." We will consider other occurrences of this word later. To this point we have looked at three words — "SHEPHERD, ELDER, OVERSEER." With these three words in mind, let us look at Paul's words to the "elders of the church" at Ephesus whom he had asked to meet him at Miletus.

Acts 20:17,28 — “And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called THE ELDERS OF THE CHURCH ... take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all THE FLOCK, over the which, the Holy Ghost hath made you OVERSEERS, to FEED (shepherd, that is, tend and feed and guide — Amp.) the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood."

Here we see the “ELDER, OVERSEER, AND SHEPHERD" caring for the church of God in Ephesus. Peter writing to this same class of men says, 1 Pet. 5:1-4 — "THE ELDERS which are among you exhort, who am also an elder ... FEED THE FLOCK of God which is among you, TAKTNG THE OVERSIGHT thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God‘s heritage, but being ensamples to the FLOCK. And when the chief SHEPHERD shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away."

The "SHEPHERD" is called both ELDER AND OVERSEER." "Elder" refers to the person - a senior man, not a "novice." It is a title. "OVERSEER" refers to the work he does. "Oversight" is the function to be exercised by the holder of the title.

The Qualifications of the "Overseer"

The qualifications of the "overseer" are outlined in considerable detail in 1 Tim. 3:1-7; and Titus 1:5-9. He is to be

1) "BLAMELESS" (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6)

This means "above reproach, irreprehensible or unassailable. Enemies may bring all manner of accusations, but these charges are proved to be empty whenever fair methods of investigation are applied.

2) "THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE" (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6)

This is restrictive, not imperative. It does not mean that an overseer must be married, but that if he is married he must have only one wife.

3) "VIGILANT" ( 1 Tim. 3:2)

Temperate, circumspect. He is filled with spiritual and moral earnestness. He is not given to excess, but moderate, well—balanced, calm, careful, steady, and sane. This pertains to his physical, moral, and mental tastes and habits.

4) "SOBER" (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8)

Sound-minded. The self-controlled or sensible man is the man of sound mind. He is discreet, sane; hence, not swayed by sudden impulses over which he exercises no mastery."

5) "OF GOOD BEHAVIOR" (1 Tim. 3:2)

Orderly. Of disciplined life. Of inner moral excellence and of outward orderly behavior."

6) "GIVEN TO HOSPITALITY" (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8)

At this time Christians on a journey could not resort to the houses of the heathen or to public inns. The home and help of any Christian was welcome to the one in need and the overseer should be an example of such hospitality.

7) "APT TO TEACH' (1 Tim. 3:2 - Amp.)

"Be a capable and qualified teacher."

Wey. - "With a gift for teaching."

Titus 1:9 (Amp.)~ "He must hold fast to the sure and trustworthy Word of God as he was taught it, so that he may be able both to give stimulating instructions and encouragement in sound (wholesome) doctrine, and to refute and convince those who contradict and oppose it — showing the wayward their error."

JBP - "A man who takes his stand on the orthodox faith so that he can by sound teaching both stimulate faith and confute opposition."

8) "NOT GIVEN TO WINE" — (1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7)

A command like this may sound strange, but it must be remembered that in Bible lands wine was and is a common beverage. An elder was not to be a drunkard or "one who lingers
beside his wine."

9) "NO STRIKER" (1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7)

An elder must not be a violent man, one who is ever ready with his fists. "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal."

1O) "NOT GREEDY OF FILTHY LUCRE" (1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7)

"Not a lover of money - insatiable for wealth and ready to obtain it by questionable means." (Amp.).

11) "PATIENT" (1 Tim. 3:3)

This is the opposite of a "striker." It means yielding, lenient, and courteous. Though never compromising with respect to the truth of the gospel, the elder must be willing to yield when it comes to his own rights."

12) "NOT A BRAWLER" (1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7 "not soon angry")

This means "Not contentious or quarrelsome, averse to fighting." He may not be a "striker", but "being disputateous, would still be lacking one of the characteristics which are needed by an overseer."

13) "ONE THAT RULETH WELL HIS OWN HOUSE" (1 Tim. 3:4,5)

"He must rule his own household well, keeping his children under control, with true dignity, commanding their respect in every way and keeping them respectful" (Amp.). "The father's FIRMNESS makes it ADVISABLE for a child to obey; his WISDOM makes it NATURAL for a child to obey, and his LOVE makes it a PLEASURE for a child to obey."

14) "NOT A NOVICE" (1 Tim. 3:6)

This means "one newly planted." "He must not be a beginner in the faith, for fear of his becoming conceited and sharing the devil's downfall" (JBP).

15) "HE MUST HAVE A GOOD REPORT OF THEM WHICH ARE WITHOUT (1 Tim. 2:7)

"To be an effective overseer a brother must be known even to worldly people with whom he is (or has been) in contact as a man of character, a man against whom it is not possible to level any JUST CHARGES of moral turpitude. It must be possible to say with reference to him, ‘he conducts himself properly with respect to outsiders'."

STUDY QUESTIONS FOR LESSON #19

  1. How has Christ chosen to conduct the life of the body?
  2. What are the men called who look after the church in its local life?
  3. Do these men have to have special qualifications? If so, what are they?