Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Verses of the Week: 1 Timothy 3:6-7

Verses of the Week: 1 Timothy 3:6-7

7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he may not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 1 Timothy 3:6-7

                Welcome to our final lesson on the qualifications for the position of an elder. Each week we have examined the qualifications of what it is needed to be an elder in the church. We finish with our last two qualifications, not a new covert, and a good reputation with the community. These are extremely important qualifications considering what the elder does in the church and out in the community.

                Once again, we are reminded that these qualifications are for the “now.” They are not qualifications that one aspires to. To be an elder you must be exhibiting these qualifications in the here and now.

                I would recommend for any who wish to further their understanding of elders and their importance in the church, along with all facets of church structure today, to purchase and study Dr. Mal Couch’s book, “A Biblical Theology of the Church.”

6 and not a new convert, lest he become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil
7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he may not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 1 Timothy 3:6-7

                Not a new covert- The Greek word means “to be newly planted.” When a man is a new convert to the Christian faith advancement to a leadership position is not a wise idea. They should be allowed to grow “deep roots” in the faith and in the community before authority is considered for them. Even if this is an older man, who has experienced the world and possess much natural wisdom, he should not be an elder until he has demonstrated Biblical wisdom. Just being elderly does not qualify you for this position.

Another idea of the new convert is the idea of “spiritual babies.” They are still “babies” in the faith, having not grown up on the Word of God and having faced the world the world as a believer to discover what the world has in store for them.  Spiritual babes cannot carry on the work of the Lord in the local church.

The new convert being assigned to such a position as an elder may become puffed up with pride and therefore make arbitrary decisions. The most mature believers have times when they wrestle with temptation. Jesus faced Satan's temptations (Matthew 4:1–11), though He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). They have had more experience in dealing with the temptations and stresses of the Christian life. Also, they are more aware of their own shortcomings, so they are less likely to become arrogant. For these reasons, a person who is new in their faith should not be given spiritual authority over others.

Mature believers are better equipped to teach and equip members of the church. Their inexperience will limit their use to the church and to the members who may come to him for advice, not knowing the Scriptures enough to give Bible-based advice.  The elder should be the following:

1.       A man of experience, both in the Scriptures and in the world
2.       A man trained in the Scriptures. This does not mean they have gone to church their whole life therefore they know all there is. They must be able to demonstrate that they know the Scriptures and how to properly apply them to daily life situations for others.
3.       A man trained to teach the truth of the Scriptures.
4.       And as added in v. 7, a man who has proved his experience by his daily living in the church and before the community.

                He become conceited-  This literally means “to raise a smoke, emit smoke, or smolder” being puffed up. The idea is metaphorically "to blind with pride or conceit." Because of rapid advancement into a place of authority and leadership causes him to become proud. The novice is so inflated with self-conceit and ideas of his own importance, he is not able see himself or others in reality.

This is not the only reason, but it is a good one. It would difficult for young men who do not have deep roots in their faith to assume a position of humbleness and servanthood. Though age and maturity are not  complete proof against this; a more mature believer is much less likely to be injured after they have had the experience of how his heart leads him, and with a  mind has been deeply taught in knowledge with the spirit of the gospel and filled with the Holy Spirit.

                Fall- This fall may incur dishonor not just in his ministerial life but also in his personal life depending on the attack from Satan.

                Into condemnation- This is condemnation on account of pride. Just as Satan had pride grab him and control him, so to a novice is very susceptible to pride and the consequences that follow. The temptation that grabbed Satan will be used by Satan to grab the new convert.

                Incurred by the devil- Satan will know the weakest point to ensnare the new believer. He knows how to drag him down and mercilessly buffet him. Pride is an extraordinarily strong pull on a new believer if they are moved into a position of authority. They begin to believe the words of praise that is given in their direction. They will begin to feel more that this is something that is up to them, instead of relying on God.

                He must have- No choice.

                A good reputation- A good testimony. When the leader in the church has a bad reputation in the community, it often brings irreparable damage to the local congregation and indeed the entire of Christ.

                One church I attended the pastor was a historic premillennial. I attended a prophecy seminar and was approached by another attendee who noticed the name of the church on my badge. He inquired why I would be at a dispensational seminar coming from a church that was historic premillennial. It shocked me for a second how much those outside the local church attach the pastor’s belief to the whole congregation. I informed him that the majority of the church had no idea what the pastor’s end times beliefs were. Many in that church were unknowingly dispensational premillennial.

                With those outside the church- Unbelievers. Church leaders are representatives the church they minister in. The church, the people, and the facility, do not exist in a vacuum. Those that the church do business with have great insight on the elders and the way the church is run.

                Why is this important? Because those outside the church are the fields that need to be harvested. The body of Christ, especially its earthly authorities, should be continually seeking to have a godly influence for Christ upon the world. We should eye every opportunity for leading sinners to Christ. Any elder who has a bad reputation with the world will be wholly ineffective in achieving the goal of bringing others of Christ.

                There will always be those outside the church that will criticize and condemn any man who leads a clean and righteous life. But a majority in the community will be pleased with a man who properly leads the church. The judgment from outsiders will form an opinion of the church. The elder must lead a life that will communicate to unbeliever’s confidence and respect and not give reason to accuse them.

                So- In order that.

                He many not fall- We know that this fallen world’s great desire is to discover and expose men of authority in the church as hypocrites and sinners.     

                Into reproach- A bad reputation in the neighborhood. Suddenly the whole town will believe any gossip they hear about the young elder. With gossip the truth does not matter, only if the story being told is interesting and other want to hear.  He is in no way to bring dishonor to the ministry that he has been elevated to.

                And the snare of the devil- Satan likes nothing more than to disgrace God’s work and God’s people by trapping church leaders in sin before a watching world. It is important that elders achieve and maintain a good reputation before unbelievers.

I hope you have enjoyed and been enlightened as to what it entails to be an elder. It is not something any man should lightly consider. While it is a heavy duty it is also a great honor that must be bestowed only on those who qualify according to what Scripture dictates.

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