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Scripture Memory: Edifying Speech.
 VERSE : Psalm 34:13 
“Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.”

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O Worship the LORD in the Beauty of Holiness

18 May 2014
8 am & 1045am Worship Service
Eld Chin Hoong Chor (Cast thy Burden Upon the Lord, Ps 55:1-23)
6:00 pm Evening Service:
Mr Joel Seah (Smyrna – The Persecuted Church, Rev 2:8-11)

25 May 2014
8 am & 1045am Worship Service
Eld Ng Beng Kiong (Church that Prays Together, Acts 12:5)
6:00 pm Evening Service
Rev Mathews Abraham (Pergamos - The Compromising Church, Rev 2:12-17)

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OUR CHURCH GOVERNMENT

The word “Presbyterian” in the name of our church shows that we entrust the governing of the church to a group of elected elders. This means that there is plurality of leadership. Proverbs 11:14 – “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” This distinguishes it from the Episcopal form of government, where the leadership takes the form of an hierarchical structure, and from the Congregational form of government, where authority is vested in all the members of the church.

We believe that the Presbyterian form of church government is the closest to the pattern given in the Scriptures. This can be seen in the apostolic Church, where the apostles were the governing body of the whole church. Peter was not above the rest of the apostles, but was also accountable to them (Acts 11:1-4). In some churches today, pastors are also called teaching elders because they are theologically trained. In terms of rank however, pastors are on the same level as the rest of the elders who are called ruling elders.

Every Church Needs to Be Governed

In Titus 1:5, Paul instructed Titus to “ordain elders in every city” (Titus 1:5) – This would ensure that each congregation in Crete would have its own governing body of elders. This was not the first time in Scripture that this was done. Paul had already done this much earlier for the Galatian churches – “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.” (Acts 14:23)

It is of interest to note that the word ‘ordain’ in this particular verse literally means ‘to vote by raising the hand’. This is how we derive our present system of electing office bearers to serve in the church – The members of the congregation choose them by voting. This system ensures that there would be no dispute later on about the right of these elders to govern the church.

Deacons were also elected in the church in the same way as elders. We know this from Acts 6. The church in Jerusalem had grown so much (about 8,000 members) that the apostles could not keep up with the needs of the people added to the church. And so the widows of the Greek-speaking Jews were inadvertently left out in the distribution of help. What was needed were leaders who would focus on meeting the physical needs of the church, so that the apostles could continue to focus on meeting its spiritual needs. And so the apostles told the congregation (vv.2-4) “It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.”

The multitude responded by choosing seven men (probably by voting) and presented them to the apostles. It is worth noting that the word ‘appoint’ in v.3 is the same Greek word that is translated in Titus 1:5 as ‘ordain’. From this, we can infer that what Paul instructed Titus to do for the elders at Crete was the same as what the apostles did in Acts 6. We observe how the seven deacons were appointed in v.6 – “Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.”

By putting all these together we now have a full picture of what Titus was to carry out at Crete: He was to go to every city and gather the believers together to choose some of their own members to serve as elders. And when these had been chosen by the congregation through voting, he would ordain them by praying for them and laying his hands upon them. From then on, these men would govern the church as elders.

Qualifications for Governing the Church

Whom should the congregation choose to govern the church? What criteria should they use when making their choice? Paul gave Titus a list of qualifications for choosing elders for the churches in Crete in Titus 1:6-9 – “If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught…” These were required not only to make all elders effective in governing and teaching, but also to make them good examples for church members to follow.

Likewise, the apostles gave the church in Jerusalem a list of qualifications for choosing deacons in Acts 6:3 – “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.” Choosing men with such qualifications would ensure that those who serve as deacons would be above reproach in all matters, spiritually attuned to God’s will and desires, and possessing the requisite ability to organize and plan, and to exercise faithful stewardship of all the church’s resources.

Elders are Overseers

This is found in the alternative designation for elders given in Titus 1:7. Here, those who were called elders in v.5 are called bishops. The switch shows that the two terms are interchangeable, yet with a different connotation. The term ‘elder’ implies the maturity and dignity of the man, while ‘bishop’ implies his responsibility, since it means ‘overseer’.

In fact, that is how the same word is translated in Acts 20:28 – “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers [bishops], to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with His own blood.” The context of this passage shows that the ones who were being addressed here were elders (Acts 20:17). And so the elders of the church are responsible to oversee the church, and that involves ruling, leading, directing, and managing all the affairs and ministries of the church.

This function is also reflected in verse 7 where elders are called stewards of God. A steward was the manager of a household or estate, appointed by and accountable to the owner. In the case of elders, they are the appointed stewards of the Church and they are directly accountable to the owner of the church, who is God (Hebrews 13:17).

More specifically, God holds elders accountable for feeding His flock: “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:1-3)

Pastors are Specialised Elders

Ephesians 4:11 lists pastors among the spiritual gifts that God has given to the church. The term ‘pastor’ actually means ‘shepherd’ and so the spiritual nurture of the flock is their primary responsibility. Just as a shepherd leads his sheep to green pastures and still waters, church pastors are responsible to feed their members with good, nutritious spiritual food, freshly and diligently prepared from God’s Holy Word. Just as a shepherd protects his sheep from being devoured by predators, church pastors are responsible to protect their members from being deceived by false teachers.

In the early church, apostles and elders are mentioned together about six times, e.g. Acts 15:6 – “And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.” Since Peter called himself an elder in the church in 1 Peter 5:1, all the apostles must also have been considered as elders. The difference is that the apostles were elders who specialised in the ministry of the Word of God and in prayer (Acts 6:4).

Although there are no apostles in the church today, the ministry of the Word of God and of prayer is now undertaken by specialised elders called pastors. And so, the role of the apostles in the church is now taken over by pastors. The difference is that the apostles were used by God to write His Inspired Word, while pastors today can claim no such authority, but are used by God to preach and to teach that Inspired Word.

Deacons Are Servants

The term ‘deacon’ is derived from a Greek word which means ‘servant’ or ‘attendant’. Under the direction of the elders, they are to attend primarily to the physical needs of the congregation and to the proper maintenance of the church’s properties.

In the first-century church, deacons gave attention primarily to the ministry of mercy, e.g. in caring for members who are widows or poor (Acts 6:1; 1 Timothy 5:16). Today, in addition to doing this, deacons facilitate the ministry of the church by ushering worshippers, by collecting, keeping and distributing the offerings, and by leading the people in worship and assisting with the Lord’s Supper.

Form is Not Everything

Our present form of church government is not an exact replica of the government of the New Testament church in the apostolic era. There are certain details not furnished by the Scriptures, and while the principles are abundantly sufficient for all the practical necessities of men or communities, “there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.” (The Westminster Confession of Faith I.6). These would include details like how many elders and deacons a church should have, and how long they should be allowed to serve.

Strictly speaking, our present form of church government does not fully conform to Presbyterianism, since that would require us to belong to a larger group known as a Presbytery or Synod. While we maintain close fraternal relations with many other like-minded Bible-Presbyterian Churches, we are an independent church. The advantage of having a Presbytery is that when the church takes disciplinary action or faces a doctrinal controversy, there is recourse for appeal to a higher body if there are legitimate grounds for it. The disadvantage is that it requires much precious time, energy and resources to maintain a Presbytery for long.

While having the right form of church government is desirable, it is important for us to understand that this alone does not guarantee that everything that is done through it will always be done right. Church history bears ample testimony to this. The truth is, no matter what form of government a church uses, effectiveness depends on how much everyone in the system submits to the Lord Jesus Christ, and recognises Him to be the ultimate Head of the church. Any form of church government will fail if those who are in it love to have the pre-eminence (3 John 9) or make themselves lords over God’s heritage (1 Peter 5:3).

May the Lord enable all our elected pastors, elders and deacons to be humble, Christ-like and Christ-led servant-leaders, and bless Life Church through them.                                       —Pastor

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1) Life B-P Church Camp, 16-19 June 2014 at Awana Genting, West Malaysia.  On-line registration at the church website, www.lifebpc.com/churchcamp2014.htm.  Registration forms are also available at the front entrance for those who have no internet access. Love gifts to defray the cost are welcome.

Church Camp Registration Office will be opened on Sundays till 8 June for camp fees payment between 9.30-10.30am and after second service. Location will be at Church Office Level 3 Beulah Centre.

2) Reminder for VBS General Staff Briefing 2014: Held today at 12.30pm. Kindly proceed to the Old Chinese Service Hall to collect your packet lunch. Lunch will be followed by Staff Briefing at Beulah MPH. Attendance is compulsory for all Staff.

3) Day Seminar: Archaeology and the Trustworthiness of the Holy Scripture  by Dr John Davis, Th.D., D.D. 14 June 2014 (Sat); 2– 5 pm at Life B-P Church. *Sign up online at this link: bit.ly/LifeArc (Registration ends by 1 Jun 14.)

4) ERBL Seminar 2014. 23-28 Jun (Mon-Sat, 8.30am - 1.00pm) at Beulah Centre. Speaker: Rev Dr Tim Yates. Topic: Biblical Precepts for Effective Leadership & Discipleship for the Local Church.

5) FREE ERBL Night Lectures on 23 and 26 Jun 14 (Mon and Thurs, 7.30pm to 9.30pm) at Beulah Centre. Speaker: Rev Dr Tim Yates. Topic: Christ-Centered Bible Application. 

6) ERBL Jul–Nov 2014 begins on 7 Jul 2014. Early bird discount before 9 Jun 14.

Preaching appointment: Rev Quek at Thai Service, 2.30pm

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

December 3 & 10 - Holy Living

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 2 Peter 3:11