The Need for Elders – Oversight (Protecting)

Posted: Friday, October 18, 2013 in Church, Pastoral, Sermons

“Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight… (1 Peter 5:2a)

Another way that the elder “exercises oversight” is by protecting the local body from false teachers, from those who cause division in the body, and from those who are known to be in sin and are like leaven, leavening the whole lump.  As Paul was leaving Asia Minor, he exhorted the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28-31a:

Acts 20:28-31a – 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. 31 Therefore be alert.

One of Paul’s qualifications for an elder is that he be “able to teach” (1 Tim. 3:2).  He expands on this in Titus 1:9-11.  The overseer is one who holds steadfastly to:

Titus 1:9-11 – 9 the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.  10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party.  11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.

This protection is needed because sheep are defenseless animals that can easily become prey for the predator.  The people of God need to be shepherded because they are defenseless against the onslaughts of wolves that have the appearance of sheep.  The elder especially must remain spiritually alert at all times.  They must be watchful and prayerful.  They must be aware of changing issues in culture and the church.  They must be diligent in their own spiritual disciplines so that they can have the spiritual strength and courage to protect.  And most of all, like the Chief Shepherd, the elder must be willing die before he allows wolves to devour the flock.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones noted that one of the greatest areas of grief for the pastor and distress in the body comes from those who err in majoring on minors.  He noted, “We have somehow got hold of the idea that error is only that which is outrageously wrong; and we do not seem to understand that the most dangerous person of all is the one who does not emphasize right things.”[1]  So the role of the protector is to guide the flock in focusing on Christ and Him crucified, just like Paul did when he intervened in the dissension caused by those at Corinth who abused their liberties.  It is OK to have opinions and exercise your liberties, as long as you keep the main thing the main thing!

[1] Alexander Strauch, Biblical Eldership, 21, from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Sermon on the Mount, 2:244.


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