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A Charge to our New Elders and Deacons


"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."

2 Timothy 3:14-15

Dear Brothers,

    You have been called by God to a noble work.  You are called, by virtue of your office as an elder or deacon, to serve as an ambassador and servant of Christ, and to labor for the beauty of His bride and the advance of His kingdom.  This is a weighty calling to a work which will take more of you than you have to give.  Yet do not despair.  Rather than being overwhelmed by this truth, be encouraged.  Just as God has been at work in your lives, He will continue to be at work in His church.  And for His glory, He will use your weakness to display His perfect power.

    Yes, be encouraged, but also be aware.  Paul tells us to expect persecution.  This is true for all believers, yet it is especially true for those called to lead in the church of Jesus Christ.  In this warning, he gives us instruction.  In the face of persecution, Paul tells us to continue in what we have learned, and to remember where we learned it.  He is telling us to maintain our identity in the gospel and to stay rooted in Scripture.

GOSPEL IDENTITY

    Though you may carry the title of "elder" or "deacon", your identity is in Christ.  You are a sinner who has been saved by grace.  Never forget it.  As you counsel other believers, as you care for their physical needs, as you reach out to non-believers with the precious Word of Christ, never lose sight of the fact that you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you once walked.  But God, being rich in mercy, simply because of the love with which He loved you, raised you up and made you alive in Christ...all by His grace!

    This reality of our gospel identity keeps us ever dependent upon Christ.  We are wounded healers, simply pointing others to the One whom we have found...or rather to the One who has found us.  Paul reminded Timothy of this as he sought to equip him for his role in leading the church.  The same is true for us in our roles in Christ Church.

ROOTED IN SCRIPTURE

    As Paul pointed Timothy to the gospel, he reminded him where he learned the gospel...in the sacred writings...the Word of God.  This Word, as Scripture tells us, is breathed out by God.  It is without error.  It accomplishes it's purpose.  It is sufficient.  It is necessary.  Timothy needed that truth.  I need that truth.  You need that truth.  And your people need that truth.

    You all have gifts which God has given you for service in Jesus' church.  Your church family has recognized those gifts and has nominated you for service.  Your elders have confirmed those gifts.  You have been examined and qualified to serve in your office.  This has all been a rigorous process, meant to prepare you.  Now, I am here to tell you that your people don't need you.  They need the Word of God.  And, they need you to be rooted in the Word of God.

    Paul tells Timothy, and us, the blessing of staying rooted in the Word...that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.  Brothers, continue to nurture a love for the Word.  Trusting in the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit, mine the depths and riches of God's Word.  Don't explore the Word merely so you will know facts and figures.  Allow the Word to transform your hearts.  Be shaped by the Word.  Then, you will truly be able to serve Christ and His people.

    My friends, you are joining a group of weak men who have come to know their desperate need for a Savior.  These are the kind of men Jesus has chosen to care for His bride.  You are in good company.  Lead with an attitude of mutual submission and a posture of prayer.  And know that I am praying for us all, that God would be glorified in you and through you.  To Him, be all praise and glory and honor.  Amen! 

Peace!

James

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