LWEP-2 - Life & Work of Elders (Part 2)
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LIFE & WORK OF ELDERS & PREACHERS
The Bible says in Acts 20:28, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all
the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers to
Shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”
We welcome you today to our study of the life and work of an elder.
We hope that you'll get your Bible handy and stay tuned as we're going to
look at this encouraging study together.
When we think about the life and work of an elder one of the things
that stands out as premier in his life is that an elder has got to, with love
and compassion, watch out for and warn the people of God about anything
that has the potential to jeopardize their souls.
Now where do we find this? Again the principles we're looking at on
the life and work of an elder- and later that we'll look at on the life and work
of the gospel preacher- are coming from Paul's address to the elders at
Ephesus in Acts 20:17 following. We notice this principle specifically from
Acts 20:31. Notice what the Holy Spirit said “therefore watch and
remember.” Paul says that “for three years I did not cease to warn
everyone night and day with tears.” What is it that Paul is motivated by? By
his love and compassion. The very fact that Paul is doing his warning and
that he's teaching people things are going to jeopardize their soul with tears
suggests that Paul has a great compassion and love for the people of God.
Friend we see that as the example of Jesus. “God so loved the
world,” He what? “He gave.” John 3:16. Elders of the Lord's church are to
be motivated by love. They’re not to lord it over the flock, but rather to do it
in a loving and an exemplary way, 1 Peter 5:1-5. Out of a love for souls, out
of a compassion for God's people, and for purity of the Lord's church elders
are encouraged to warn the flock about anything that has the potential to
jeopardize people souls.
Now friend that could include a whole long list of things. We realize
that that list in and of itself could take up the rest of our time today. Let's
just mention some of those things that are especially important and
pertinent in people's lives.
We want to warn people about certain doctrines or teachings that
may cause people to go astray. Doctrines like ‘Once saved always saved’
that clearly teaches that you know although we may sin and fall short from
time to time, or that we can never so sin as to be lost. What kind of doctrine
is that? The Bible clearly teaches that we can so sin as to be lost. Galatians
5:4-6 the apostle Paul said “You have become estranged from Christ, you
attempt to be justified by law,” listen now “you have fallen from grace.”
We want people to know that God is a God of love. That God is ready
to forgive Psalm 86:5. But should we continue in sin that grace may
abound? Certainly not, Romans 6:1. We want to identify that in people's
lives there certain temptations that we absolutely must steer away from. Is
the devil doing everything possible to steer us toward those temptations?
You look at the lust of the flesh. You look at the lust of the eyes. You look
at the pride or temptation of life as well, and Satan in our world today is
doing everything possible to make that very alluring for each one of us.
Alcohol, drugs, immorality, gambling- all those things have such an appeal
to the eye. Is it really what it's made out to be? Friend we can read the
Bible and see that it is not. Those things that many people think of as
alluring and pleasant end up being destructive and damning to our souls.
Elders want to warn people. They do it in love. They do it out of
compassion. They must be straightforward and bold in their warning others
about those things which will jeopardize their souls.
Now as it relates to the life and work of an elder, we also mention that
a part of the qualities of a good elder is that here's a man who's going to
give himself fully to God and His word. Listen to Acts 20:32 the apostle
Paul says to the elders at Ephesus “So now brethren, I commend you to
God.” What does it mean to be commended to God? I'm putting you toward
God. I'm putting God on the spotlight and making sure that your focus and
your emphasis stays on God.
Friend for elders to really be what God wants them to be and what
the church needs them to be, we desperately need men who are fully
committed to God and His work. Now we say this with all kindness, but too
many times even elders, preachers and elders they can let things get in the
way. Hey wait, we all like to have fun and recreation- and there's nothing in
of itself wrong with that- but if those things begin to take priority and that be
begins to be our main focus, the church's got to take a backseat to that.
That's not what God wants. Maybe, and friend I understand we've all got to
make a living, don't get me wrong ‘if a man won't work, neither shall he eat.
If a man won't take care of his own, he's worse than an infidel.’ Yeah,
you've got to work. You've got to take care of your family. Friend we do that
so that we can have a family and put God first.
If an elders job, listen carefully now, if an elders job requires so much
time, effort, and energy for him that he can no longer do the work of an
elder, he's not fit to be an elder. Now I don't say that in unkindness. We
don't say that to be mean, but if he can't put the church first, the best thing
for that man is to step back, get his priorities straight until he can. The
church needs to be our top priority. It needs to be the thing we focus on.
Yeah, we may have to spend a lot of time on the job. We may have to
work, but we're doing all that so that we can support and work and function
as the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We want a man who is fully committed to the work of God and to the
Now friend, let me say this as well. We mean this with all kindness.
An elder, to really be what God wants him to be, he's got to realize that the
church cannot be swayed by what his family does or does not do. Here's
what we mean by that. Sometimes I think people in decision, in elderships,
and sometimes in the Lord's church are too often swayed by what a family
member may or may not do or some kind of problem they've got. And
sometimes, then that begins to feed over into the church.
We need men who will stay true to the teaching of Christ, who will
stay true to the teaching of God, and are not going to be swayed to change
what they think or believe. They're fully committed to the Lord and His
church. I understand an elder and his family go hand-in-hand. They ought
to be faithful and there's no doubt about that. Friend, you can't let the family
take precedence even over the church. Now listen carefully, the two ought
to go hand-in-hand. Family and working as an elder in the church ought to
work beautifully together. They ought to encourage. They ought to help.
They ought to work together with one another, and we all want to strive to
make sure that is the way it is in the Lord's church and among the family of
Now let's talk about another quality relative to the life and work of an
elder in the Lord's church. Elders must be men for the work to be what God
wants it to be. Elders must be men of the book. Part of the life and work of
an elder is that they must give themselves fully to the word of God. Listen
again Acts 20:32. “So now brethren,” Paul says, “I commend you to God,”
there's your focus on God “and to His word or and to the word of His grace,
which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those
who are sanctified.” Friend for the church to be strong, for it to grow, for it to
prosper, for it to put aside the savage wolves and the error of this day and
age, we need elders in the Lord's church who stand firmly behind the word
of God- who recognize the Bible, this book, is our authority. “All authority,”
Jesus said, “has been given to me in heaven and on earth.”
We need elders who realized that a “thus saith the Lord,” is what we
stand behind. We must never try to hide the word of God, but let it reign
freely in our lives. You see on the judgment day the world's going to be
judged by this book. Jesus said in John 12:48 “He who rejects me does not
receive my word. He's got that which judges him. The word that I've spoken
in the last day will judge him.” We want men of the book who realize this is
the inspired word of God. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is
profitable for doctrine for proof for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
righteousness that the man of God may be complete thoroughly equipped
for every good work.” This book is God's word. “If any man speaks let him
speak as the oracles of God,” 1 Peter 4:11. We want him to realize the
authority of it. We want him to recognize it’s from God. We want men in the
Lord's church, who are good students of the Scripture. “Study to show
yourself approved unto God a workman who does not need to be ashamed
rightly dividing the word of truth,” 2 Timothy 2:15. “Be ready always to give
an answer,” 1 Peter 3:15.
As we think about the work of an elder and how that's uniquely tied to
the teaching and the growth the congregation, we need elders, listen
carefully, we need elders who will insist in our and our pulpits, in our Bible
classes, in every program we've got- that the word of God is taught. If any
man speaks let him speak as the oracles of God, 1 Peter 4:11. Preach the
word, 2 Timothy 4:2. If someone is not willing to do that, then friend, it's the
responsibility of the elders to take care of that, to remove that from the
congregation, and to make sure that somebody who's going to teach and
preach the Bible is put in a position where that is going to take place.
Let me share with you another passage that speaks directly to our
need to have men in the eldership who will teach you exactly what God
wants them to and who are willing to stand up with the word of God and
defend the faith. Listen to Titus 1:9 the Bible says of the qualification of
elders, “holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught that he may be
able by sound doctrine both to exhort and convict those who contradict for
there are many insubordinate both idle talkers and deceivers, especially
those of the circumcision whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert
whole households teaching things they ought not to for the sake of
Friend let's make sure when elders are about to be put in, when the
qualifications are examined, when the congregation looks to put men in
that, we're putting in men who stand foursquare behind the word of God
and stand firmly on its teaching.
Now let's talk for just a moment about another part of the life and
work of an elder. It's this: elders must encourage and do their best to
strengthen those who are maybe weak in the faith or babes in Christ.
Where does that come from? Listen to Acts 20:35. Here's what Paul said to
the elders at Ephesus he says, “I've shown you in every way by laboring
like this that you must support the weak.” There were some who were
weaker in the faith, maybe even some who Paul had to write about in the
God in the letter of 2 Corinthians- who weren't even sure if Paul could even
take a paycheck and if you and that is why he said at times, you know he
didn't want to be a burden to the church. I've done like this. I've labored like
this to maybe even support the weak. There's some who were weak in the
faith some were weak spiritually. Paul says of the elders ‘You've got a do
your part to encourage and strengthen those who are babes in Christ.’
Part of the work of an elder is to build a work with people at every
level- from those who are mature in Christ those who have excelled in a
study of the Bible, to those who are maybe right in the middle, to those are
all the way down at the bottom a babe in Christ someone who's just maybe
obeyed the gospel. He knows what he needs to know to be saved and
become a Christian, but doesn't know a whole lot else. Hey, he's going to
have problems just like any other baby. He's going to have problems. He's
going to make mistakes. He's going to mess up. He's going to have to be
taught and learn. An elder's got to be able to work with a person like that-
not run him off, not push him away. We've got to work with them in
kindness and patience and that doesn't mean that we can correct and
teach. You have to be able to encourage and strengthen people who are
weak in the faith to bring them up where they need to be.
Think about it like this, would you talk to up maybe an older man or
woman in the same way and tone that you would a baby? Of course not.
You get down on that young person's level. You'd work with them on their
level. You try to teach them. You try to encourage them. If someone is
older mature, you can work with them in a different way. That's the way
elders need to be in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Encourage and
strengthen even those who are weak in the faith.
Here's an awesome part of being an elder, and this is something that
is so important as we think about for just a few moments the life and work
of an elder and what that requires, let's realize that part of being an elder is
to they've got to realize the blessing of being a person who's willing to give
of themselves for others.
Now we find that in Paul's words in Acts 20:35, Paul says this or
actually speaking mentioning the words of Jesus, he says “I've shown you
in every way by laboring like this that you must support the weak.” Why do
all that? Why give yourself? Why support the weak? Remember the words
of the Lord Jesus that he said “It's more blessed to give than to receive.”
What's the context of those words? I understand there's to be a broad
application for that. What's the immediate context under which Paul
reminds them of the words of Jesus? It's the work of an elder especially
working with people who are weak and who take a lot of time and a lot of
effort and a lot of patience to strengthen. Hey if you're going to work with
someone, who's weaker, the faith is a babe in Christ? Is that going to take
a lot of time? Are you going to have to give a lot of attention? Are you going
to have to give a lot effort? Are you going to have to be a giving person?
Absolutely! Why do that well? Do you remember the words of the Lord
Jesus where he said “it's more blessed to give than it is to receive”?
Friend the benefit that comes from watching somebody grow as a
babe in Christ, watching them mature, watching them maybe met and
marry a good Christian man or woman, watching them continue develop,
bring good Christian family into the world, watching them ultimately maybe
even grow one day to whether a gospel preacher or an elder in the Lord's
church, and watching them live faithful until their very last breath. What
greater reward could you have than that? That's why Jesus said. That's
why Paul references the words of Jesus. “It's more blessed to give than it is
to receive.” Giving of yourself and watching that progression happened
probably one of the greatest things in all the world.
That reminds us of this principle again for an elder. You've got to
realize the blessing of being a giving person. You can't be the type of
person that's- and hope you'll understand the way we're saying this- but
you can't be the type of person that it's all me me me and I I I and what I
want. I mean, don't get me wrong, there's times for self. You're going to
have to be more of a giving person than you are receiving person. You're
going to have to be one who is more willing to work, than he is to be
worked on, more willing to give than he is be given to, more willing to put
out than he puts in. That's going to require a lot of effort. Doesn't mean you
have to. Doesn't mean you have to neglect yourself. Doesn't mean you
have to neglect your family. It does mean you've got to balance things.
You've got to get your priorities straight. You have to work diligently with
the people of God as a truly giving person.
Now let me mention another quality and aspect of an elder that is
especially mentioned in Acts 20:36. Part of the life and work of an elder
means that you really need to be a man of prayer. Listen to Acts 20:36.
Here's Paul here's what Paul does, and this is such a really a touching
scene. Paul realizes that he's probably never going to see these elders
again- doesn't know that for sure but kind of has that in mind. And so here's
what he does. When he had said these things, the Bible says he knelt
down and prayed with them all. And they begin to even weep freely upon
Paul and the things that are about to happen. But look at Paul's
encouragement to these elders. He knelt down and prayed with them all.
What do we need of elders in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ? We
need men who are men of prayer.
Friend I want you to think about this. I want you to think about great
men of the Bible, and I want you to think about a constant quality that each
one of those men possess.
For example, I want you to think about Daniel. You know we hear
about Daniel. We talk about his life. We talk about you know Daniel being
thrown into the lion's den and all that Daniel suffered and faced. What
made Daniel such a great man of God? Daniel was a man of prayer. He
knelt down three times daily as was his custom from early days- even when
he was told by the people of that day ‘if you pray to your God you're going
to go to the lion's den.’ Daniel said ‘there's a window that's the direction of
my Jerusalem. I'm praying toward my God.’ He did that, and he wasn't
You watch other people like Ezra and like Nehemiah. You read those
books great men of God working during difficult times. Anything will happen
in Ezra and Nehemiah; they were down on their knees praying to God.
Then of course the chief Shepherd for every elder to follow Jesus Christ,
great man of prayer. You look in Mark 1:35. “In the morning a great while
before daylight Jesus departed went to a solitary place there prayed.” The
time of miracles at the time of feeding the 5000, at times of great conflict, at
times when He realized He just needed God's help more than He could
even begin to imagine probably, Jesus prayed. Think about the greatest
conflict of all maybe in the garden. Matthew 26, Jesus struggling you know
and we read in Hebrews 2:14 that he can relate to us because he became
flesh and blood as well and suffered the things we suffered. He suffered.
He faced those things in the garden. “Father if it's possible let this cup pass
from me, not My will but thine be done.” You talk about a great example of
prayer! Jesus is that pattern of prayer!
When we think about elders in the Lord's church, and the great work
that they are to do, they need to be men of prayer. We want people who
will pray for the growth of the Lord's church. Jesus said in Matthew 28:18
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel unto every creature.” We want
to hear elders who are willing to pray that evangelism will be successful,
that will find good ways and means to do that, and who are really
concerned about the salvation of the lost. We want to hear men who pray
when they pray for the Lord's church, elders who pray for the safety and
concern of the local congregation. You know to hear them pray for you and
for me, to realize they're thinking about our soul, and of that in and of itself
is a motivating factor to it. That ought to encourage each one of us to strive
to live and to do right and to know what God wants us to know and to do.
So we think about these qualities, and we think about the awesome
work of an elder in the Lord's church. As I think about this, I'm reminded
again of the words of Hebrews 13:17 except it's the last part of that that I
really think about. In summation of all the life and work of an elder, I want
you to listen to these words in Hebrews 13. I want you to ask yourself, if
you are member of Lord's church in the local congregation, are you doing
your part to make this happen? Listen to Hebrews 13:17 again. “Obey
those who rule over you and be submissive for they watch out for your
souls, as those we must give account.” Now listen to this. Am I doing my
part to make this happen? “Let them do so with joy and not with grief for
that would be unprofitable for you.” As a member the Lord's church the
body of Christ, am I letting the elders do the work they need to do with joy?
Listen very carefully, we mean this with as much kindness as we can
muster, but there are people in the body of Christ who are constantly
complaining, who are constantly down on the elders, who are constantly a
discouragement to the eldership in the local congregation- don't let that be
Friend I understand you may not, in expedient matters not talking
about in doctrine, but in expedient matters the decision may not been made
the way you thought it ought to be. That's not your decision to make.
Hebrews 13:17 says “Obey those who rule over you.” We're not talking
about false doctrine or teaching. We're talking about matters of expediency
the functioning of God's word. It may not be exactly like I would like for it be
on every decision, but you know what I'm glad there are good elders in the
Lord's church. I'm glad they're putting our souls first. I'm glad they're
striving to do evangelism.
Let's do our part to make their work a joy. Make it profitable. If I'm
constantly complaining and murmuring and can't be satisfied, friend that
work of the Lord's church is not going to be what God wants it to be.
A powerful example here. Do you remember during the times of
Moses leading the people out of the land of Canaan? You know Moses
begins to lead them, and they've gone through they'd seen all the miracles.
They've gone through the Red Sea. They’re getting fed from heaven every
night Manna. God's taking care of them. What did the people began to do?
The people following the great leader Moses, they began to complain. They
began to murmur, and they began to say ‘what did you do bring us out here
to kill us? Oh that we were back by the flesh pots in Egypt.’ You know what
happened because of that? That generation didn't see the Promised Land.
Isn't there a great lesson to be taught in that? God despises
murmuring and complaining among His people.
The encouragement for elders is: do the work of God faithfully. The
encouragement for the members of the local congregation is: help them to
do that with joy.
Let's each strive to be the type of Christian we ought to be.
Friend we want the church to prosper. We want the gospel to be
spread. We want souls to be saved.
Let's do our part to be the kind of people. God wants us to be.
Let's encourage the members and the elders in the local
congregation to do the work of God with great joy.
Study Questions for: “Elders: Lesson 2”
1. According to Acts 20:28, who must elders take heed to?
2. Who made elders overseers according to Acts 20:28?
3. According to Acts 20:28, who purchased the church? How?
4. In Galatians 5:4-6, what had the people fallen from?
5. According to Romans 6:1, should we continue in sin for grace to
6. What are elders commended to according to Acts 20:32?
7. According to John 12:48, what will judge man?
8. How do we reject Jesus according to John 12:48?
9. What must we do to show ourselves approved unto God?
10. According to 1 Peter 3:15, what must we always be ready to do?