Elders and Fivefold Callings
Eldership are the leaders of the church body. They have the responsibility for and along with the oversight of the believer assembly they are committed to. These elders are ordained to walk in their appointment office of eldership. They should have attained unto a minimum maturity level. The following scriptures apply: Titus 1:5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou should set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
Note how Crete would receive the ministry of the young apostle Titus, who set government in order. We are clearly told that any church which does not have or is not working towards raising up a multiple eldership is out of order. These elders are all to be involved in "feeding (preaching/teaching) and oversight of the flock." Some will be "fivefold called" and some will not. (1 Timothy :1) Elders were "appointed and ordained," by the apostle discernment, and not average voting.
We also observe the sending by the fivefold apostle Paul, when we read of Paul's request to the teacher and elder Apollos, to minister in Corinth. The Corinth church and elders would receive Apollos, to be blessed by the fruit of his "watering" ministry. 1 Corinthians 16:12, As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time. Apollos did in time minister at Corinth, as requested. Here we see the esteeming of fellow ministers and callings. Note the discernment of callings Paul pointed out. The apostle "planted." The teacher waters by the teaching of the Word. 1 Cor. 3:6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, (Ephesians 5:26)
Paul directed the young apostle Timothy, as to what elder maturities should be.
This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that rules well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (Titus 2:11, Timothy 1:1)
All mature churches had a multiple eldership. And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. 18, And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, 27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. 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. (Act 20:17)
All fivefold called ministry should mature to become elders when they are beyond the "novice" stage of growth, in spiritual discernment, knowledge and fruit of the Spirit. There are also many elders, who are not of the "fivefold" callings. Genuine elders have a genuine elder's heart for the flock and will minister to the believing body they are committed to. This issue of commitment is important. One may be an elder in a local assembly, yet not have responsibility for a neighboring fellowship. (see authority and responsibility) All elders are to esteem each other. When Paul and Barnabas came to Jerusalem to settle a dispute of a doctrinal question, they were received by the church, apostles and elders.
And certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. 2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. 4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. (Acts 15:1)
These elders included all fivefold callings that were present, but note that there was no distinguishing made between the fivefold calling elders or other "any man" elders. In verse 32, the elders Judas and Silas were identified as fivefold prophets.
Here we see the authority structure and multiple eldership of the church in Jerusalem. All were recognized, submitted one to another and in unity. Peter, a fivefold called apostle, identified himself as an elder in 1 Peter 5:1, The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder. May we receive fivefold ministries and elders in our churches, much as Jerusalem did.
1. Christ's church Government,
All churches should have a ministry structure composed of a multiple eldership. One cannot find a different pattern or example in the New Testament churches. In fact, may those who question this statement read where the Apostle Paul under Holy Spirit inspiration said that any churches which did not have a multiple eldership were "lacking" and out of order. For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: (Titus 1:5)
All believers should have and know whom the Lord has placed over them. All elders should know who they are responsible for and have a "knowing" ministry to these people, with a personal relationship. This is more than hearing a Sunday sermon.
a) Know those who are in the Lord over you. 1 Thessalonians 5:12)
b) Remember, obey, greet “Rule over you” (Hebrews 13:7, 17, 24)
Holy elders and leardership
The sad truth is that many wandering Christians do not recognize or apply this text. Often the elder leadership with whom they could have had a God appointed relationship with are equally guilty in this non developed relationship, as they have not sought out these people, to encourage a shepherding relationship. More commonly this is due to the one elder not being capable of this while an eldership team would be.
Then we also have a commonly missed Bible truth. The Lord holds the believers responsible for whom they follow and set over them. We must decide and discern who we will accept and place as ministry over us. We see this truth from Ezekiel.
And you shall say to the rebellious, to the house of Israel, This says the Lord Jehovah: O house of Israel, let it be more than enough for you, of all your hateful deeds, 7 that you have brought strangers, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in My sanctuary, to profane it, even My house, when you offer My bread, the fat and the blood. And they have broken My covenant because of all your abominations. 8 And you have not kept the charge of My holy things, but you have set keepers of My charge in My sanctuary for themselves. 9 So says the Lord Jehovah: No son of an alien, uncircumcised of heart and uncircumcised of flesh, shall enter into My sanctuary, or any son of an alien among the sons of Israel. 10 But the Levites who have gone far away from Me, when Israel went astray; those who went astray from Me after their idols; they shall even bear their iniquity. 11 Yet they shall be ministers in My sanctuary, overseers at the gates of the house and ministering to the house. They shall kill the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister to them. 12 Because they ministered to them before their idols, and caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity, therefore I have lifted up My hand against them, says the Lord Jehovah, and they shall bear their iniquity. 13 And they shall not come near Me, to do the office of a priest to Me, nor to come near any of My holy things, in the most holy place; but they shall bear their shame and their abominations which they have committed. 14 But I will make them keepers of the charge of the house for all its service, and for all that shall be done in it. (Ezekiel 44:6)
We should always have an eldership over us, who we may question with a gentle and correct spirit. Just because an aggressive "elder" says "if you do not heed me, you have denied the voice of God and will receive God's judgment," this will not necessarily be true. A godly elder will gently communicate and reason, always referring to scriptural text and truth. They will not be offended at questions to discuss and gain understanding.
Note the contents of the Ezekiel scriptures quoted:
a) V6, This was said to the house of Israel, the church adherents.
b) V7-10, You have brought in "uncircumsized" of heart and set these over you instead of my appointed Levites. (today's eldership, fivefold ministry)
c) V11, Levites (ministry) who went astray, yet will still minister before me.
d) V12, They ministered wrong focus, idols ($, pride) and shall bear the results of their sin.
e) V13, Their judgment is, that they shall not "come near to me." They have a form of but no genuine anointed relationship.
f) V14, Yet they shall due ministerial duties, without "coming near to me."
We are responsible to know and discern whom we follow. If one struggles with the leadership involvement they are following, due to actions or inactions or theology. Gently talk to them and reason with them. Regardless, one will never find a "perfect" church and it stops being so when we join it, so we must also demonstrate a heart of grace which we all need. We should all have some as an elder and a church affiliation. To claim to be a Christian and not be part of attending and building up a local body is a rebellious sin. Ministry and elders should exemplify this in their personal walk and relationships. To claim to be a Christian and not be part of attending and building up a local body is a rebellious sin.
a) Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25)
b) From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:16)
2. Christ’s Lordship and giving:
We must receive and bow to His Lordship and holy Word to do things correctly.
We see Peter's preaching of who Jesus Christ is.
a) God made this same Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:34-36) (Gr. Koo-ree-os) “supreme God, Lord master")
b) And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:18)
c) Child born to us - the government shall be upon His shoulders – He is the mighty God, the everlasting Father. (Isaiah 9:6-7, 1 Timothy 3:16)
d) Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. 8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. (Revelation 1:1, 1:7, 11-18)
Just as in Samuel's day, when Israel demanded a King as the other nations, thereby despising God's giving and order, we have the same dilemma as we look at the churches of today.
Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, 5 And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. 6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. 7 And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. 8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. (1Samuel 8:4)
Likewise, with no scriptural mandate or instructions we have presumptuously denied Christ's stated giving of ministry gifts. We have denied His appointed elders and Christ called New Testament Apostle prophets and teachers. (1 Corinthians 12:18, 28)
We have disregarded a multiple ministering eldership and have one-fold ministers who are comfortable with their solo authority ministry positions. Godly ministry and elders bow to the Word of God and work at building churches with a scriptural multiple eldership. Their mini god of one man authority has died.
a) And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. 28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers,(plural) to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. (Acts 20:17, 28)
b) For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou should set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: (Titus 1:5)
c) Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (Ephesians 4:8)
d) And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. (1Corinthians 12:28)
Most of the churches disregards these scriptures, thereby denying Christ's Lordship. I will not! When we bow before Him as Lord, we also bow at His Word!