Elders: The Spiritual Shepherds of the Church

(Leadership Structure of the New Testament church) Bible Lesson. Teen Bible Lesson.

Leadership is important. Without good leadership, important goals are not accomplished. Godly leaders are vital to us as Christians. God knew that His church would need leadership in order to fulfill its commission (Matthew 28:19, 20).

Jesus trained the apostles to begin this work. But as Christianity spread throughout the world, the apostles could not possibly meet the specific needs of the many Christians in the various parts of the world. We learn from the Bible that God raised up other forms of leadership – elders and deacons – to serve in each church.

Keep in mind that this lesson is a very general overview of the roles and qualifications of an elder.

What Does the New Testament Teach About Elders?

Directions: Fill in the blanks (or answer the questions) below. You can read the Scripture references by clicking on them. A new window will open for your convenience.

Acts 20:17, 28 – 32

1 Timothy 3:1 – 7

Titus 1:5 – 9

1 Peter 5:1 – 4

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1. An elder must have vigilant eyes, so he is spoken of as an ____________ (1 Timothy 3:1).

2. Before one can be given the task or work of an elder, he must first ____________ it (1 Timothy 3:1).

3. Because they watch for the welfare of their flock, elders are spoken of as ____________ (1 Peter 5:2).

4. Elders have God and ____________ to feed the church and to protect the church (Acts 20:32).

5. An overseer or elder must be above ____________ (1 Timothy 3:2).

6. The church leaders from Ephesus (who met the apostle Paul in Miletus) are called by three different titles (Acts 20:17, 18 – 32). List them here:

  • ____________
  • ____________
  • ____________

7. An elder must also have a ____________ reputation with non-Christians (1 Timothy 3:7).

8. Why is Paul’s list of eldership qualifications focused mostly on “being” and not on “doing” (Titus 1:5 – 9)?

9. An elder must not be a lover ____________ (1 Timothy 3:3).

10. Because there is a need to know God’s truth and because there are so many false teachers, an elder must be able to ____________ (1 Timothy 3:2).

11. Some people view the office of elder as a way of gaining power and wealth (1 Peter 5:1 – 4). How does the apostle Paul oppose this idea in Acts 20:28 – 35?

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Concluding Remarks:

There are only three qualifications for elders and deacons that do not apply to every Christian: he must be man, he must be the husband of one wife and he must have children (1 Timothy 3:1 – 13; Titus 1:5 – 11; 1 John 1:9).

The point being that elders and deacons are just normal people who use their God-given abilities to serve others. They are not superhuman and (in most cases) they are not even extraordinary people. Much of what God expects of them, He expects of us (members of the church; His children).

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Is There An Unforgivable Sin?

(Is There An Unforgivable Sin?) Bible Question

Question:

“In a recent sermon I heard, the preacher said there is no unforgivable sin. He quoted 1 John 1:8 – 10. But what about Matthew 12:31, 32 (where Jesus clearly says one sin will be not forgiven)? The preacher contends Matthew 12 applied only to the people to whom Jesus was speaking at the time.”

Answer:

“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.”

– Matthew 12:31, 32 (New American Standard Bible)

Jesus seems clear and unequivocal in His message. Anything but blasphemy against God’s Spirit will be forgiven. To reject God’s Spirit and blaspheme against the Spirit will be held to one’s account forever. Who is Jesus speaking about and does it apply to us?

It is important to put these verses in their proper context. Jesus is being accused of being in league with Satan (Matthew 12:24). His critics contend that the miracles Jesus performed were from Satan’s power. Jesus said it alright to misunderstand the work of Jesus (the Son of Man). But to attribute the work of the Spirit to Satan is blasphemy.

The Spirit’s work was designed to create faith and demonstrate the presence of God. God was clearly present in the miracles and teachings of Jesus. To not quite grasp what that meant and to stand in the way of Jesus was not unforgivable (Matthew 16:22, 23). But to attribute the clear and powerful work of the Spirit in Jesus’ ministry to Satan was an act that could not be forgiven.

The reason it was unforgivable has nothing to do with Jesus’ power to forgive. It has to do with the state of mind of the blasphemer. If a person rejects the testimony of the Spirit of God (in the life, work and teachings of Jesus and His followers), then that person has no hope of knowing God.

God is present in the form of His Spirit in the life of Jesus. To reject the presence of God is to cut oneself off from the only source of salvation. Those who reject the Spirit’s testimony by calling it evil, cannot be saved since they have rejected the one source of salvation.

That was certainly true of Jesus’ audience. The Pharisees who attacked Him had no hope of being saved until they accepted the testimony of the Spirit concerning Jesus. It is still true with those today who reject the Spirit’s testimony in the revealed Word of God. Those who call the Bible evil, who despise its teaching, will not and cannot be forgiven, until they repent and accept the message of God.

Simply put: any sin can be forgiven. But those who persist in rejecting the witness of God’s Spirit have no hope of forgiveness. They are not beyond God’s power to save, but have removed themselves from God’s reach by rejecting Him.

What Must I Do To Be Saved?

Bible Lesson.

Today’s post is another follow-up to a question recently asked on this website (“How Does One Enter the Kingdom of Heaven?”)

How people were saved and added to the church (kingdom of God, Christ’s body, etc.) is recorded in the book of Acts. The 9 separate conversions of the book give us the God-ordained and inspired directions about how people became Christians at the very beginning. For a list of these conversions, check out the last post (dated 12/11/2012).

For the sake of simplicity, the Biblical plan of salvation is presented below in 6 major steps. This is a general summary.

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Hearing (and understanding) the Gospel.

Romans 10:13, 14; Matthew 7:24 – 27; Luke 8:20, 21; Matthew 13:15

Essentially, the Gospel is the Biblical account of the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (the Son of God) for the purpose of reconciling humanity back to God.

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Believing the Gospel.

John 8:24; Hebrews 11:6; Mark 16:15, 16; John 3:16; John 20:30, 31; Romans 5:1, 2

Believe that Jesus Christ lived, died, was buried and was resurrected on the third day for the forgiveness of your sins. Develop a conviction that Jesus is the Son of God, that He is the only one who can save you from sin, spiritual death, and Hell. This conviction (faith in action) should lead you to willingly obey God.

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Repenting of your sins.

Luke 13:3; II Peter 3:9; Luke 24:45 – 47; Acts 17:30; Luke 15:7

This means making the ongoing decision to turn from your sins and make the commitment not to continue to live in your sins (changes in your attitude, thoughts, behavior & lifestyle).

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Confessing faith in Christ.

Matthew 10:32, 33; Romans 10:9, 10; Acts 8:36, 37

Publicly confess from your heart your belief that Jesus died for your sins and that He is your Savior and Lord.

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Being baptized for the remission (forgiveness or pardon) of your sins.

Matthew 26:28; Mark 16:16; Galatians 3:27; John 3:5; Acts 2:38

Be submerged (immersed) in water for the forgiveness of your sins.

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Remaining faithful unto death.

Matthew 28:18 – 20; II Peter 1:2 – 8; II Timothy 4:7, 8; I Corinthians 15:58; Ephesians 2:8 – 10; Revelation 2:10

This means live an active and faithful (committed) Christian life. As Jesus commands, the new Christian is to “observe all things whatsoever I have commanded.” The primary purpose of the books of the New Testament (from Romans to Jude) is instructing Christians in the Christian lifestyle. Living such a dedicated and sacrificial life will involve times of intense persecution and may even mean physical death.