The Encourager

The Encourager

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Elders - Edward O. Bragwell, Sr.

Saturday, April 06, 2024

Elders

Edward O. Bragwell Sr.

(May 28, 1936 – Sept 29, 2020)

 

Perhaps there is no greater need today among churches than to qualify and appoint elders to oversee them and their work. No church can reach its full potential until it reaches the point of having qualified men appointed as overseers (Titus 1:5). When appointed they should be respected for their work’s sake (1 Thess. 5:12-13). As Shepherds of the flock of God, they have an awesome responsibility (Heb. 13:17).

 

Having served as an elder in the past, I know firsthand some of the hard decisions that have to be made and the unjust criticism that often comes with the territory. I also know the joy of overseeing a flock who, for the most part, are humbly serving the Lord. My hat’s off to those elders who understand their God-given role of watching for souls and use their position accordingly.

 

However, elders are not gods or lords. They are men. They make mistakes, some trivial, but others serious. They should not be automatically followed unconditionally. Sometimes, they should be rightly rebuked for their sins (1 Tim. 5:19-20).

 

Local churches have been led into error by people blindly following an eldership because people believe that to “obey them that have the rule over you” means that they must follow the elders – no matter what. There is the unwritten rule in many congregations that the elders’ decisions must always be followed and respected – no questions asked. This conveniently takes the burden of studying and thinking for oneself and gives a convenient “out” if questioned about anything happening within the congregation – “it was the elders’ decision, and I respect the elders.”

 

Also, individuals and churches often make it their practice to honor without question or investigation any action that the elders of another congregation may take against a member. Folks, wake up. Elders are fallible. Sometimes, they can (wittingly or unwittingly) be harsh and unjust in some of their actions. To say the least, it is irresponsible to automatically accept the judgment of any group of fallible men and act upon it without asking for the basis for their judgment.

 

Any elders, worth the salt in their bread, will welcome any questions you might have about any decisions they make and will be willing to sit down and discuss the reasons for their decisions. Only those that rule as “lords it over God’s heritage” (1 Pet. 5:1-4) will tell you that they expect you to accept without question their decisions because they are “the elders.”

 

It is this “no questions asked” mentality that caused many congregations to adopt the unscriptural innovations of the past.

Devoted to Worship - Jeff Curtis

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Devoted to Worship

By Jeff Curtis

 

The early Christians were devoted to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer. There is a great lesson here for us: Worship is at the heart of our expressing our commitment to the Lord, at the heart of our growing as Christians, at the heart of our remaining faithful to God. Are we as eager as those early Christians to learn God’s will? Do we really devote ourselves to reading and studying the Word? Do we do it continually? We need to ask ourselves whether or not we are as concerned about our relationship with our fellow Christians as they were. Are we committed to getting to know our brothers and sisters in Christ and to express our oneness? We also must consider our attitude toward the Lord’s Supper. As we observe how haphazardly some today come together to remember the Lord’s death, we should long for a renewal of the spirit of those who continually devoted themselves to the breaking of bread. We must also consider the communication with God, our Power Source, through the avenue of prayer. Are we continually in prayer? Let’s notice 1Thessalonians 5:16-18; “16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

 

Church Growth

By Jeff Curtis

Today countless words are flooding from platforms, pulpits, and papers on “how to make the church grow.” If we want know how to effect God-pleasing church growth, we can do no better than to take a crash course in Acts 2:42-47; “42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”

Just because a congregation increases in size doesn’t mean its “growth” pleases God. God-pleasing growth doesn’t involve compromise of the truth. God wants us to grow numerically as well as spiritually, but faithfulness to God always takes precedence over growth in numbers. A cancerous tumor is a growth, but it is an unhealthy, life-threatening growth.

Wouldn’t it wonderful to part of a congregation like the one described in Acts 2:42-47? Before you nod your head with too much excitement, we should note that we can be part of such a congregation if each of us will be what we should be: worshiping, reverent, unselfish, happy, and sharing. Remember that the Bible is a mirror to help us inspect ourselves, not a magnifying glass to allow us to inspect others. Pray that God would help us to be the kind of Christians who would fit in “the church we would love to be members of.”

Meditate on these things:

Proverbs 19:11

The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.

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