Acts 7:51 π Acts 7:60 π Rom. 12:1 π 1 Tim. 3:2-7 π Tit. 1:6-9
The spirit of eldership is the exaltation of self-life. Self-life, void of the true love of God, has become an acceptable part of church groups in our present apostasy.
The New Testament qualifications for elders and deacons expose our spiritual poverty: “blameless…not covetous…not strong-willed…vigilant…not a novice…not greedy…hospitable…having a pure conscience…no strong drink…apt to teach.” ( 1 Tim. 3:2-7 ; Tit. 1:6-9; top )
If these standards were enforced, practically no credentials for deacons, elders or pastors could be renewed. Our double standard is further exposed as many deacons and elders condemn sins, but bless greediness, condone covetousness, elect a glutton as a deacon, hire a pastor who tells falsehoods and promotes an evangelist that prophesies out of his own heart. God be merciful to us.
Our primary example of God’s fulfillment of the true character of the office of deacon or elder is in the life of Stephen. The Scripture relates that Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit, which means that the self-life had been crucified and he was ready to be used by the Father the same way the Father used His own Son. It mentions that he was full of faith and power. The qualifications for this was death to “self,” which enabled God to use him as He pleased.
Stephen fulfilled Rom. 12:1 by making himself a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is also our reasonable service to God. Are we willing to let the Holy Spirit bring us to the same place? A true work of the Holy Spirit is crucifying and is not accepted by most present-day churches. Propose it and they will disregard your every proposal. So to the religious elders of his day, Stephen said, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. ( Acts 7:51; top ) We have the choice to follow Stephen’s eldership or the eldership of those with uncircumcised hearts, relying on their own self-life.
Stephen’s obedience, accompanied by his utterance, “Lay not this sin to their charge,” ( Acts 7:60; top ), brought death to himself, but life to many others, as Saul became the greatest apostle of all, Paul.
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