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Throughout the Bible we see that there were elders among God's people. In the Old Testament we can find the elders of Israel, 1Samuel 4:3; elders of Judah, 2Kings 23:1; elders of cities, Ezra 10:14, and this principle was also taught in the NT church as the normal leadership pattern of the local church, in every church and every city, Acts 14:3; Titus 1:5 etc. From the above verses, the elders were always multiple as well as Acts 15:4; Acts 20:17 etc. Elders, were mature believers who could mentor, shepherd, protect, encourage and inspire local Christian communities in following the teachings of Christ, 1Peter 5:1-3. They were not to be dictators, self-seeking or serving for financial gain. The elders were to be faithful men of high spiritual and moral character displaying Christ-likeness in their lives, 1 Timothy 3:1-11; Titus 1:5-9, leading the flock as fathers who love their children, shepherds who love their sheep seeking to bring the flock to its maximum potential in fulfilling the mission of Christ. The elders in the "Church of the Future", Christ's blueprint of the church He said He would build, as shown by Jesus to John in Revelation 4-5 is very revealing: 1. It is a Christ-centered church - Revelation 4:4; 5:6 2. It is a church with multiple elders who function in unity and in submission to the Lordship of Christ - Revelation 4:4 3. The elders are given thrones - they have divine authority - Revelation 4:4 4. The elders have golden crowns for the are conquerors or victorious believers - Revelation 4:4 5. The elders have white robes of righteousness - Revelation 4:4 6. The elders are intercessors - Revelation 5:8 7. The elders are humble believers who only want Christ to be glorified, they seek not their own, and they lay everything at Christ's feet for He alone is worthy - Revelation 4:10-11 It is sad that today the church seems to reject this biblical model of leadership and prefers man made hierarchical structures. Perhaps that's why the Christian faith is collapsing in Europe, the USA and many other Western countries. Maybe it's time to return to biblical values, and get some new wine into a new wineskin and see the dynamic vitality, awesome power, unlimited love, healing power and amazing grace of the power of the cross restored to the ministry of the church! Perhaps a return to the simple model of elders in local churches and the traveling role of the five equipping ministry gifts of Ephesians 4:11-13 is something we should pray for in this end of the age.
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