Exhortations for Church Members

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Introduction - How many churches are destroyed by leadership conflict?

Obey Your Leaders and Submit to Them

Obedience to this command requires formal church membership.
In order to be obedient to this command you must formally commit yourself to a local church with biblically qualified and faithful leadership.
This is what we mean by church membership, a formal, committed, covenantal relationship between a church and an individual.
You have to submit yourselves to a particular church with a particular plurality of elders.
The elders have to know what people they are responsible to pastor.
The Church must follow the leadership of the elders.
The Lord gives the elders of the church spiritual authority.
In Acts 20:28 - “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”
The Holy Spirit works through the members of the church to set apart men for the function of spiritual leadership. These men are to be respected, obeyed, and their leadership followed as long as it is in accordance with God’s Word.
Elders have a particular spiritual jurisdiction
Teaching Authority - Example: Elder can teach from God’s word about biblical stewardship and giving. This teaching is authoritative and we are bound to act in obedience to Scripture to live generous lives free from the love of money. But, an elder does not have jurisdiction over what kind of car you drive. It is up to you the way you apply and strive to walk in obedience to Scripture.
Recommending Authority - Example, an elder has the authority to exhort a member of the church to attend worship on the Lord’s Day. This is an exhortation that should be followed, yet an elder has no way of enforcement, he only has the authority of recommendation. So if a member continues in violation of the church covenant, an elder has the authority to recommend discipline to the church. These recommendations should be submitted to and affirmed by the church.
Organizational Authority - Elders exercise oversight over the affairs of the church as an organization, as this authority has been delegated and delineated by the church. Example - how are we going to manage the life of the church during an unusual cultural situation such as Covid-19? The leadership of the elders should be submitted to on such matters, even if there is something you don’t like.
Submit to your elders because they are keeping watch over your souls.
The primary task of an elder is tending to your soul.
1 Peter 5:1-3 calls the elders to shepherd the flock, “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.”
Watching over your soul includes four main activities:
Preaching/Teaching
1 Tim 5:17 “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”
2 Tim 4:2 “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”
Protecting
Acts 20:28-31, “28 [Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. (the importance of plurality) ]31 [Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.”
Warning
Ezekiel 3:16-21,  “And at the end of seven days, the word of the LORD came to me: 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 18 If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. 20 Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul.”
Discipline/Growth
1 Cor 5:1-5, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. 3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. “
James 5:13-15, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”
The Elders will be held directly accountable by Jesus, the chief Shepherd.
1 Peter 5:4 “And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory”
1 Cor 3:10-15, “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”
So in a sense, this frees the elders to lead in a way that is not dictated by the church as constituents, but we serve on behalf of the church under the lordship of Jesus Christ alone!

Let the Elders Lead with Joy and Not Groaning

It is of no advantage to your souls to make church leaders miserable.
8 Ways to Help Your Elders Lead with Joy
Active presence and participation
Avoid grumbling, complaining, or thinking the worst of your leaders.
Elders are not making decisions with the intention of making anyone angry or upset.
Come directly to leadership with real questions and concerns, but not with little annoyances.
Communicate needs
Spiritual, physical, etc.
Do not assume we have heard or have seen your posts on social media
Commit to have skin in the game.
Example: Respond when challenged to participate in group efforts for evangelism, giving, etc.
Show hospitality to guests, initiate relationships
Remember that your leaders are human and will make mistakes, be gracious and forgiving.
Qualified men should aspire to serve as elders and deacons and the church should recognize them.
1 Tim 3:1, 3 “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task”
1 Tim 3:13, “For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.”
Wives - you should support your husbands if God has gifted them and given them this aspiration - and yes, it will require a sacrifice of time for the benefit of the church. Proverbs 31:23, speaks of the excellent wife’s husband, “Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.” It is one thing to have a husband busy with hobbies and buddies and rarely home. It is quite another to have a husband who works hard at both his vocation and ministry. The second is praiseworthy.
Pray (vs. 18)

Conclusion: I am so thankful for our church family!

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