Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 20 Number 11 November 2018
Page 7

Three Things to
Remember about Elders

Jesus gave the apostles permission to bind and to loose the things that were already bound and loosed in Heaven (Matthew 16:19; 18:18). When we read of things done and taught by the apostles in the New Testament, we know that the things they were doing had been approved by God. As Paul and Barnabas established churches throughout the first century world, they went on a second missionary trip and established elderships in every city where formerly a church had been begun (Acts 14:23). The New Testament gives us the qualifications for men who would serve as elders in the church (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9).

It is God’s design that each congregation have or develop qualified men who can serve in the eldership and lead God’s people. The denominational world has a false idea of what makes a man an elder or a pastor. The words for pastor, elder, bishop, overseer and presbyter are sometimes used interchangeably throughout the New Testament to refer to the same office in various ways. Each word emphasizes an aspect of an elder’s function. Yet, sometimes Christians forget who elders are and what their work entails (2 Peter 1:12-13). Notice three things the New Testament teaches about those who serve as elders.

Elders Watch for Our Souls

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17). As the Book of Hebrews concludes, the writer wanted to admonish Christians to obey their leaders. While the passage does not mention elders explicitly, its message certainly applies to them. Elders watch for the souls of the members who they shepherd. It should be the goal of each member to live in such a way that an elder’s job will be easier, not harder (1 Thessalonians 3:8). Scripture is clear that we will all give account of ourselves to God (Romans 14:12). Nevertheless, elders will also give an account of us as members and how we worked with them or failed to do so. Elders want to give a favorable account of each member, but we must live in such a way that this can be done. What will the elders say about you or me as members?

Elders Are Worthy of Honor

“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you” (1 Thessalonians 5:12). “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching” (1 Timothy 5:17). Elders are held in high esteem by God, and we should view them the same way. God rebuked his people in the past for not seeing things as He sees them (Isaiah 55:8-9). Paul’s encouragement in 1 Thessalonians 5:12 to know those who are over us is not simply to know their names but to recognize them. We should count elders worthy of double honor. It is hard enough to watch for one’s own soul but to look after the souls of others is an even more daunting task. Jesus taught the greatest in His kingdom are those who serve (Matthew 23:11). As elders serve the local church and make countless sacrifices to lead us in pleasing God, we should let them know how much we appreciate them and their service (Philippians 1:3). The word translated “value” in 1 Timothy 5:17 means to attach value to someone or to something. Do we know how privileged we are to have godly elders?

Elders Need Our Prayers

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all” (Acts 20:35-36). Paul called the elders of Ephesus to Miletus to speak to them for his final time (Acts 20:17, 25). He gave them many commands and warnings. As he ended his discourse to them, he bowed down, and they prayed together. These men were godly leaders, trained by the apostle Paul but they still needed prayer. Elders need our prayers. Pray for the elders that they will lead the congregation the way God desires. Pray that in areas of judgment they will do the most expedient thing and make the wisest decisions (James 1:5). Pray for their families as their wives and children are sometimes burdened as the leaders of their families invest so much time in the lives of others. Pray that they will continue to grow spiritually and enjoy the necessary physical health to carry out their duties (3 John 2). Christians must pray for each other regardless of the way we serve in the church (1 Thessalonians 5:25). However, when you pray, do not forget to include the elders.


Elders are not perfect. Elders are human like the rest of us. Elders struggle with temptations (James 1:14). Satan wants to devour them and discourage them from the work they are doing. We as members who serve under the oversight of the elders would do well to remind our elders that they are doing a good work and will receive an eternal crown when the Chief Shepherd appears (1 Timothy 3:1; 1 Peter 5:4). Find ways to encourage and hold up the hands of the elders so that they might continue to shepherd to the glory of God (Exodus 17:11-12).

Is Baptism Really
Necessary for Salvation?

Ernest S. Underwood

Ernest S. UnderwoodIsaiah wrote, “But He was wounded for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). In the New King James Version, the word wounded has a notation that says, “pierced through.” Keep this word “pierced” in your thoughts.

John 19 records the trial, condemnation and crucifixion of Jesus—the Christ. After being nailed to the cross between the two malefactors, the Lord hung suspended for a period of some six hours. His last words recorded by John were, “It is finished.” Read with me John 19:33-37.

Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for the Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen this testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled. “Not one of His bones should be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”

Now notice with me that Isaiah said this One would be “wounded.” The note reference says “pierced.” John said that Jesus was already dead when the Roman soldier “pierced” Him. He then adds another passage that says they would look on Him whom they pierced. John’s record definitely states that Jesus was already dead when His side was pierced, and when it was pierced that both blood and water came forth out of His body. It is important to notice here that His blood was shed in His death. Why is this point of inspired Scripture so important? Paul stated in Romans 6:1-7, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?”

From these passages we learn that when the One who was to be our Savior would be pierced that it would be for the transgressions of man. Jesus was crucified and died on the cross. After His death, while still on the cross, His body was pierced, and out came blood and water. Paul stated that when one is baptized into Christ, he is baptized into His death. Why His death? Simply because it was in His death that He shed His blood, and being baptized into His death we contact His cleansing blood.

Is there any other place in all of the Bible where we are told how and/or when we contact the blood by which we are saved? This writer knows of no such place. Time and time again the Scriptures tell us that one is saved only by the blood of Christ. One is never told that he is saved by “faith alone,” by “saying the sinner’s prayer” or by anything else other than the blood of Christ. Again, in Romans 6:3-4, we are told that one is baptized into His death, where His blood was shed.

Notice two more passages of Scripture. “But God be thanked that though you were the slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became servants of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18). “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Have you, my friend, been baptized into Christ, into His death, and then raised up out of the water of baptism as a new creation of Christ Jesus? If not, then you are still laden down with every sin you have ever committed. Won’t you please search these and other Scriptures. Then, obey them and be made anew in Christ Jesus.

[Editor’s Note: Jesus Himself plainly declared the essentiality of baptism to be saved (Mark 16:16). A host of Scriptures in the New Testament emphasize baptism in relation to salvation, probably because God in His foreknowledge knew that it would be the primary point of resistance by men. The apostle Peter connected baptism and the remission of sins or salvation (Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21). Luke (who penned Acts), Ananias (who called upon Saul to be baptized) and the apostle Paul likewise taught that baptism is the moment at which sins are washed away (Acts 22:16). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]

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