By Connie W. Adams
Teenaged Girls Appointed Elders
The Morning News of Rogers, Arkansas reported on January 25, 1997, that the First Presbyterian Church of Rogers has recently appointed two teenaged girls elders, one aged 16 and the other aged 15. This is a part of their effort to get young people more involved in church decisions. It was reported that youth elders have been appointed for about 20 years nation-wide, though this was the first time in Rogers. These youth elders will serve for one year instead of the usual three years served by other elders.
First, there is the word “elder” to consider. It means a senior, one who has reached maturity in age and experience. Next, the qualifications indicate men, not females. “If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work” (1 Tim. 3:1). “A bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife … one that ruleth well his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)” (1 Tim. 3:2-5, emphasis mine, CWA). Oh yes, bishops and elders are the same thing in the New Testament (Acts 20:17, 28).
The “co-pastor” of the church is quoted as saying, “Typically, you think of an elder as someone who is elder and has been in church awhile, but the Presbyterian form of government allows for someone under 25 to serve. It allows the church to adopt a youth elder.” Well then the Presbyterian form of government allows something about which the word of God knows nothing. If they really want to help young people, a good starting place would be to teach them respect for the word of the Lord.
Serving While Waiting
Every few years some cult decides they know when the Lord is returning. This results in adherents walking off their jobs, giving away property and sitting around waiting for the fateful hour to arrive. That the Lord is coming again, Bible believers confidently affirm. Jesus spoke of this in parabolic form when he described the man taking his journey while appointing his servants work to do while he was gone. They were taught to “watch” but while they watched, their service continued (Mark 13:34-35). Every chapter of 1 Thessalonians closed with a reference to the second coming of our Lord. Yet, in 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 he said they had “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven.” Note that while they waited, they were to continue serving. The return of the Lord is the great expectation of the saints, but it was never intended to cause us to retire from the work to be done. We must work while it is day. We must go everywhere preaching the word and save as many as we can. Then we must mature and stabilize the saved. That gives us plenty to do while we watch and pray.
Suffer Hardship as a Good Soldier
The work of teaching those who in turn will be able to teach others also requires soldiers of Christ to endure hardship. Paul made that clear in 2 Timothy 2:1-10. The work requires rigorous training. An untrained solder is ill equipped for the battle. The warfare will demand strenuous effort, endurance to the limit. Preaching the gospel is not a place for wimps, whiners, and cowards. Everybody will not love us. Some will ignore us and others will despise us and do whatever they can to hinder our work. The faint hearted will grow weary in well doing and quit. Men with mixed allegiance will be distracted by error and some will be ensnared in it. Hardships come in different packages. Sometimes it may be inconvenience. Then it may take the form of criticism. Or it may be overt opposition. It might be financial stress. It could be discouragement. Whatever form it takes, Paul said, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18). What-ever it costs, it is worth it. It was this settled persuasion which moved Paul to say, “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Tim. 3:10).
The Continuity of the Covenant
It is being taught by some among us these days that no law ended at the cross, that we have one continuous covenant throughout the Bible. At least one book is in print which advocates this view and it is being taught in various places in this country and abroad. This position is related to the false doctrine that the alien sinner is not under law to Christ, but to an eternal moral law. This has been taught in connection with the issue of marriage, divorce, and remarriage to the effect that God’s marriage law is not binding on the alien until he becomes a Christian. In practical terms, that means that if he has been married fifteen times and divorced each time for reasons other than the sexual unfaithfulness of his previous wives, that baptism takes care of all of that and he may now continue on with wife number fifteen. Necessity is the mother of invention. One false doctrine leads to another.
The denominational preachers of a former day called this doctrine of one continual covenant throughout the Bible the “identity of the covenants” and some of them used it to justify infant church membership. They argued that since circumcision was practiced on infants and was the sign of their part in the covenant with Abraham, then it is now in order to baptize infants and admit them to the church. They said, “baptism of infants comes in the room (place) of circumcision.”
There are several covenants mentioned in the Bible. God made covenants with Adam, Noah, Abraham, and with the nation of Israel through Moses. It is this later covenant called “the first” in Hebrews as it is contrasted to the covenant of Jesus Christ. “He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:9-10). That described as “first” in verse 9 is identified with “the law” in verse 8. He took away the first that (hina, in order that) he may establish the second by which will we are sanctified. All of this was done by what was offered on the cross. How on earth any man who claims to be a gospel preacher could teach that no law ended at the cross and that we have one continuous covenant from Genesis to Revelation is beyond me.
Guardian of Truth XLI: 9 p. 3-4
April May 1, 1997