The church is referred to by many metaphors in the Bible. One of the sweetest is that she is described as the bride of Christ. In this metaphor, the church is being made ready for the marriage supper of the Lamb when the Groom, the King of the universe, returns in full and final victory to consummate the marriage relationship by celebrating the Lord’s Supper with all those that are His (Rev 19:9). Oh, what a glorious day this will be!
Until that day, though, there is much to do inside of the church. Yet another metaphor used in the Bible of the people of God is that they are referred to as sheep. In this metaphor, Jesus calls Himself the Great Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep (Jn 10:11). As their Shepherd, His sheep hear His voice when He calls them by name and leads them out. He goes before them and His sheep will follow Him. What a beautiful picture of our Savior and what a safe place for the sheep!
However, as we are all aware, Jesus has ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father until such time as He boldly and victoriously returns. In His absence, what are the sheep to do? Who will tend to the shepherding duties on behalf of the Great Shepherd? In His place, Jesus has ordained that under-shepherds stand in the gap. In fact, Jesus gave a direct command to Peter to do just this when in John 21:16 He said, “Tend My sheep.”
In 1 Peter 5:1-5 we see a clear picture of how this is to be carried out. Peter refers to himself as a fellow elder, or pastor, and he exhorts all of the other elders in the Dispersion to ‘shepherd the flock of God that is among you (v. 2).’ He calls them to give oversight and to do so willingly and not out of compulsion or merely out of some sense of duty. Elders are not to shepherd the flock for selfish gain but are to do so eagerly. They are not to be domineering but are to serve as imperfect and humble examples to the flock. They are to do so knowing that they will stand before God to give an account of how they have shepherded (Heb 13:17).
In addition to instructions for the elders, Peter has some words for the sheep as well. He tells those who are younger in the faith to be subject to the elders. And, the writer of Hebrews says that the leaders of the church are to be obeyed and submitted to. This authority is to be submitted to for the very reason that it is ultimately from the Lord. In so doing, the body will make it joyful for the elders to carry out their God-given duties.
It’s important to note that the authority that is held by elders is derived from God Himself as revealed in His Word. Everything done in the church, whether by an elder or a member, is to be fully subject to God’s Word and His final authority. In addition, as stated earlier, this authority is designed to be used for the good of those under its care. It is not to be used for selfish gain. In fact, the elders will be accountable to God for their stewardship of this authority.
The elders all understand the grave responsibility given to us in our position of authority within the church and we would covet your prayers. We ask that you pray that we would walk, lead, and teach with all humility living in light of the grace of God that has made us alive together with Christ, that has raised us with Christ, and that has seated us with Him in the heavenly places. We ask that that you would pray that the body would properly submit to the authority that God has granted to the elders and that Grace Fellowship would be a body that is known for its zeal for and delight in the King of Kings!
Humbly In His Service-
The Leadership Team
Tim Bell, Pat Dirrim, Larry Farlow, Randy Ferguson, Kevin Hosner, Dan Miller, Ken Rutherford