What We Believe: The Church, Part Seven (051723)

What We Believe  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  38:05
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What we believe about the church.

We believe that the local New Testament church is composed of regenerated, baptized believers, voluntarily united together for the purpose of worship, edification, ordinances, fellowship and service;
We believe that the officers of the local church are pastors and deacons whose qualifications, claims and duties are clearly defined in the Scriptures;

We believe that the officers of the local church are pastors and deacons

A basic statement that can be made is that the three terms, used in the New Testament - bishop, elder, and pastor - all refer to the same office and are used interchangeably in Scripture.
Each title gives us an understanding as to the various roles of the pastor.


While this is the word/title that we use the most often, it is the word/title that is used the least in the New Testament.
The prophet Jeremiah uses it several times in the book of Jeremiah, in the Old Testament.
Jeremiah 3:15 KJV 1900
And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
I must say, though, that the vast majority of times that the word is translated as pastor(s) in the book of Jeremiah, it is used in a negative connotation.
The underlying Hebrew word (Old Testament) is a word that is most often translated as shepherd or feed/graze which speaks to the responsibilities that a shepherd fulfills.
The word pastor is only used once in the New Testament. (And then it is used in the plural.)
Ephesians 4:11 (KJV 1900)
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
The underlying Greek Word:

ποιμήν (poimēn) n. masc. shepherd.

That particular Greek word is used 18 times in the New Testament. 17 of those times it is translated shepherd.
John 10:11 KJV 1900
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
Hebrews 13:20 KJV 1900
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
1 Peter 2:25 KJV 1900
For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
All of these verses refer to the truth that Jesus Christ is our Shepherd. This is why a pastor, at times, is called the under-shepherd.


The particular Greek word:

ἐπί-σκοπος, ὁ, one who watches over, an overseer, guardian,

This Greek word is used the least in the New Testament.
Paul refers to the “bishops and deacons” at Philippi. (Philippians 1:1)
Paul speaks of the “office of a bishop” and the qualifications of a bishop in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1:7.
In 1 Peter 2:25, as we’ve already seen, Jesus Christ is referred to as the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls.
That particular Greek word is also used, by Paul in Acts chapter 20:
Acts 20:28 (KJV 1900)
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
Notice, in this verse that Paul uses that verse in close relation to the work of a shepherd to take care of his flock.
Peter speaks to the work of the Bishop in 1 Peter chapter 2:
1 Peter 2:12 (KJV 1900)
Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Visitation is the translation of another form of the Greek word used for bishop. It refers to the job of a bishop. It is the fulfillment of the responsibility of a bishop.
“Inspect what you expect.”
Illustration: Your company’s president drops by your local office to “check up” on you and to see how things are going.


This is the word which is used the most often in the New Testament.

πρεσβύτερος (presbyteros), ου (ou), ὁ (ho): n.masc. [BAGD adj.] [served by 4565]; ≡ DBLHebr 2418; Str 4245—1. LN 9.31 old man (Ac 2:17+); 2. LN 53.77 an elder, community leader (Mt 15:2; Ac 11:30; Ac 14:23; 1Ti 5:17, 19; 2Jn 1; 3Jn 1; Jn 8:9 v.r. NRSV)

Literally, this word simply means, “older; old man.”
Or, when spoken of in the feminine - “old woman.”
Titus 2:1–3 (KJV 1900)
But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:
That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.
The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
In the Gospels and in the first 6 chapters of the book of Acts, this word was usually used in reference to a particular group of the Jewish religious leaders.
Luke 9:22 (KJV 1900)
Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.
Sometime, though, between Acts chapter 6 and Acts chapter 11, the first century church began to use the term.
The first time that this term is used - positively - in reference to the first century church:
Turn to and read Acts 11:27-30.
Acts 11:30 KJV 1900
Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
Three terms: Pastor, Bishop, Elder
Which all speak to the great responsibility which lies upon my shoulders.
I have a responsibility to care for the members of this local church.
I have a responsibility to oversee the ministries of this local church.
I have a responsibility to exercise wisdom as I care for and oversee South Charlotte Baptist Church.
Do you know what, at times, makes the fulfillment of these responsibilities difficult?
The members of the local church.
Isaiah 53:6 KJV 1900
All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned every one to his own way; And the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Sometimes the members of the local church don’t want to be cared for or do not want the care that is needed.
Sometimes the members of the local church don’t want to be “overseen.”
Sometimes the members of the local church, because of pride, don’t want to be pastored - they don’t want to follow; they want to do their own thing.
Sometimes the members of the local church want a preacher - not a pastor. They want someone who will declare the Word of God but other than that they want to be left alone to do their own thing.
Hebrews 13:7 KJV 1900
Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.
Hebrews 13:17 KJV 1900
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
Before I move on, I would like to address one last matter concerning the office of Pastor.

Plurality of Elders

Acts 11:30 (KJV 1900)
Which also they did, and sent it to the elders [of the church in Jerusalem] by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
Acts 20:17 (KJV 1900)
And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.
Titus 1:5 (KJV 1900)
For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
With the little bit of studying that I have done, it seems that prior to the 1820’s, some churches had plural eldership.
It was sometimes a formal recognition of the ordained ministers, the elders, in their membership. These elders assisted the pastor as necessary in preaching and administering baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
By 1820 most churches had dropped the practice.
South Carolina’s Tyger River Baptist Association, in 1835, determined that “the eldership of the church” consisted of “the ministers and deacons.”
Some church historians concluded that a plurality of elders was needed in the first century because persecution forced congregations to meet separately in small groups in houses and each meeting needed the services of an elder. They concluded that since modern congregations can meet together, they no longer needed plural elders.
However, what might we (South Charlotte Baptist Church) need to do should the time come when it become dangerous to meet together in one centralized location? Might we then, at that time, need to do the same thing?
I would argue that, in a very real sense, we have a plurality of elders (although we wouldn’t call it that).
Philippians 2:19–20 KJV 1900
But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.
Paul could not do what needed to be done without the assistance of others.
I cannot accomplish the work of the ministry without the assistance of others. Many of those others are individuals who are part of the paid staff.
To those who are on staff here at SCBC, I would challenge you:
Be likeminded with me.
Have the same care and concern for this ministry as I do.

We believe that the officers of the local church are pastors and deacons


In a previous week, I’ve already touched on the office of Deacon.
Allow me to simply reiterate/emphasize the purpose of/for deacons.
Acts 6:3–4 KJV 1900
Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
Deacons serve the local church.
Deacons allow the pastor of the church to focus on the ministry of prayer and God’s Word.
To those men, who have served and might serve in the future as deacons, I would like to challenge you with this:
James Alter, in his book, Why Baptist?, states:
Two abuses of this office are evident in modern Baptist churches. The first abuse is the authoritarian deacon.
There is not even a remote hint in the New Testament that the deacon's office was a ruling office.
The second abuse is the do-nothing deacon. This deacon believes his only responsibilities are to set the church budget and fill communion cups.
Alter, James; Robertson II, Dolton. Why Baptist?: The Significance Of Baptist Principles In An Ecumenical Age . Ancient Baptist Press. Kindle Edition.
1 Timothy 3:13 KJV 1900
For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Used properly, the office of a deacon can be a wonderful blessing to the local church.
Used improperly, the office of a deacon can do tremendous harm to the local church.

Whose qualifications, claims and duties are clearly defined in the Scriptures;

While we will not take the time, tonight, the qualifications of a pastor and for deacon can be found in
Acts chapter 6
1 Timothy chapter 3
Titus chapter 1
The danger that I want to make sure that we avoid is the one that many churches have fallen prey to where:
The pastor is the CEO (and is too busy for actual study and prayer).
The deacons are the Board of Directors.
The assistant pastors and staff do the work of the ministry (and burn out ever so quickly).
And the church members simply give their offerings and expect to be entertained.

Prayer Requests

Echo Prayer App
Praise - (Donna Scott) Thank you for asking and praying. She is doing well overall. COVID symptoms are gone other than tiring easily. Also the dizziness seems to be getting better or less frequent. Thanks again for your concern and please thank the church family for the card and especially the prayers. We love you all.
Weekly Class Picture: Third Grade
The father of Mrs. Michelle Dillon - suffered massive heart attack/needs salvation - After surgery/doing well - Continue to pray for salvation
Need: SCBA K4 Teacher & Kindergarten Teacher
Will you please consider fasting and prayer until the Lord provides these needs?
Also, we have a SCBA family that is need of help in transporting their children to and from school next year. (The family lives in the Danby neighborhood.) If you would be willing to help, please let me know.
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Church Parking Lot Repairs
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Yesterday, in Raleigh, the NC General Assembly successfully overrode Governor Cooper’s veto of pro-life legislation SB20 which, among other things, bans elective abortions after the first trimester (12 weeks), except in cases of rape, incest, life-limiting fetal anomalies and medical emergencies.
While I believe that abortion is wrong in any situation, this is, at least, a step in the right direction.
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