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The Doctrine of Christ

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    LESSON SEVENTY-SIX Officers and Their Duties

    1. The officers of the church recognized in the New Testament are bishops, or elders, and deacons. Philippians 1:1.TDOC 228.1

    2. The terms “bishop” and “elder,” defining officers of the church, are used synonymously. Titus 1:5-7.TDOC 228.2

    3. According to the record found in the New Testament, the elders were appointed by the apostles, or some one designated by them. Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5.TDOC 228.3

    4. The seven men who had charge of “the daily ministration,” usually considered as filling the office of deacon, were nominated by the brethren, but appointed by the twelve.” Acts 6:1-3.TDOC 228.4

    5. The qualifications of a bishop or elder are fully set forth in the following scriptures: 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9.TDOC 228.5

    6. It is the duty of the elders to feed the church with spiritual food. Acts 20:28.TDOC 229.1

    7. The qualifications of deacons are also clearly stated. 1 Timothy 3:8-12.TDOC 229.2

    8. The elders of the church at Jerusalem sat with the apostles in the first council, and the decision made then was sent out in the joint name of the apostles and elders. Acts 15:6, 22; 16:4.TDOC 229.3

    Care to he taken in selecting leaders

    “Said the inspired apostle, ‘Lay hands suddenly on no man.’ In some of our churches the work of organizing and of ordaining elders has been premature; the Bible rule has been disregarded, and consequently grievous trouble has been brought upon the church. There should not be so great haste in electing leaders as to ordain men who are in no way fitted for the responsible work, men who need to be converted, elevated, ennobled, and refined, before they can serve the cause of God in any capacity.TDOC 229.4

    “The gospel net gathers both good and bad. It takes time for character to be, developed; there must be time to learn what men really are. The family of the one suggested for office should be considered. Are they in subjection? Can the man rule his own house with honor! What character have his children? Will they do honor to the father’s influence? If he has no tact, wisdom, or power of godliness at home in managing his own family, it is safe to conclude that the same defects will be carried into the church, and the same unsanctified management will be seen there. It will be far better to criticize the man before he is put into office than afterward; better to pray and counsel before taking the decisive step, than to labor to correct the consequences of a wrong move.TDOC 229.5

    “In some churches the leader has not the right qualifications to educate the members of the church to be workers. Tact and judgment have not been used to keep up a living interest in the work of God. The leader is slow and tedious; he talks too much and prays too long in public; he has not that living connection with God which would give him a fresh experience.TDOC 229.6

    “The leaders of churches in every place should be earnest, full of zeal and unselfish interest; men of God, who can give the right to the work. They should make their requests of God in faith may devote all the time they wish to secret prayer, but in public they should make their prayer’s and their testimonies short and to the point. Long, dry prayers and long exhortations should be avoided. If the brethren and sisters would have something to say that will refresh and edify others, it must first be in their hearts. They must daily be connected with God, drawing their supplies from his exhaustless storehouse, and bringing there from things new and old. If their own souls have been vivified by the Spirit of God, they will cheer, strengthen, and encourage others; but if they have not drunk at the living fountain of salvation themselves, they will not know how to lead others there.”-Testimonies for the Church 5:617-619.TDOC 229.7

    Pastors of the flock

    “The apostle does not profess to enumerate all grades of ministry [in Ephesians 4:11]. The ‘deacons’ are wanting; although we know from Philippians 1:1 that this order already existed in Pauline churches. Pastors (shepherds) a title only employed here by the apostle is a fitting synonym for the ‘bishops’ (i.e., overseers) of whom he speaks in Acts 20:28, Philippians 1:1, and largely in the epistles to Timothy and Titus, whose functions were spiritual and disciplinary as well as administrative. Addressing the Ephesian elders at Miletus four years before, St. Paul bade them ‘shepherd the church of God.’TDOC 230.1

    In 1 Peter 5:1, 2, the same charge is laid by the Jewish apostle upon his ‘fellow elders,’ that they should ‘shepherd the flock of God, making themselves examples’ to it; Christ himself he has previously called ‘Shepherd and Bishop of souls.’ 1 Peter 2:25. The expression is derived from the words of Jesus recorded in John 10, concerning the true and false shepherd of God’s flock, and himself the Good Shepherd, words familiar and dear to his disciples.”TDOC 230.2

    The church a Christocracy

    “We acknowledge the church to be ‘subject to Christ in everything.’ We proclaim ourselves, like the apostle, ‘slaves of Christ Jesus.’ But this subjection is too often a form rather than a fact. In protesting our independence of popish and priestly lords of God’s heritage, we are sometimes in danger of ignoring our dependence upon him, and of dethroning, in effect, the one Lord Jesus Christ. Christian communities act and speak too much in the style of political republics. They assume the attitude of self-directing and self-responsible bodies.TDOC 230.3

    “The church is no democracy, any more than it is an aristocracy or a sacerdotal absolutism: it is a Christocracy. The people are nit rulers in the house of God; they are the ruled, laity and ministers alike. ‘One is your Master, even the Christ; and all you are brethren.’ We acknowledge this in theory; but our language and spirit would oftentimes be other than they are, if we were penetrated by the sense of the continual presence and majesty of the Lord Christ in our assemblies. Royalties and nobilities, and the holders of popular power-all whose ‘names are named in this world,’ along with the principalities in heavenly places, when they come into the precincts of the church must lay aside their robes and forget their titles, and speak humbly as in the Master’s presence. What is it to the glorious church of Jesus Christ that Lord-So and so wears a coronet and owns half a county? Or that Midas can fill her coffers, if he is pleased and humored? Or that this or that orator guides at his will the fierce democracy? He is no more than a man who will die, and appear before the judgment seat of Christ. The church’s protection from human tyranny, from schemes of ambition, from the intrusion of political methods and designs, lies in her sense of the splendor and reality of Christ’s dominion, and of her own eternal life in him.”TDOC 230.4

    New demands to be met

    “The ascendancy of physical science, the political enfranchisement of the masses, the universal spread of education, the emancipation of critical thought, the gigantic growth of the press, the enormous increase and aggregation of wealth, the multiplication of large cities, the worldwide facilities of intercourse, these and other causes more subtle are rapidly transforming human society. Old barriers have disappeared; while new difficulties are being created, of a magnitude to over task the faith of the strongest. The church is confronted with problems larger far in their dimensions than those our fathers knew. Demands are being made on her resources such as she’ has never had to meet before. Shall w6 be equal to the needs of the coming times?”TDOC 231.1

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