Qualifications for Elders

by Mike Ratliff

holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. (Titus 1:9 NASB) 

In one of our discernment group discussions today the topic came up about Mark Driscoll’s replacement at ACTS29 actually being a promotion as per this article. From that it naturally followed that basically the same thing was going on with John Piper at Bethlehem Baptist. In each case, these men were moving on to positions of more influence and more power. Also, the man who is replacing John Piper taught “Spiritual Formation” at the College level. Who is replacing Mark Driscoll? Isn’t it Matt Chandler? Isn’t he the one who claims to hear commands directly and audibly from God just like Driscoll? 

In any case, towards the end of that part of the discussion one of my friends restated Tim Keller’s comment, “God sees everything in community.” My friend then stated, “I don’t even know what that means…” Of course we were brainstorming. My response was, “It means that, he speaking for God, sees all who profess to be Christians as the Church and should be unified—regardless…” Ken Silva then replied to my statement, “Bingo… That’s why they attack those of us who insists on e.g. Titus 1:9. That verse assumes there is such a thing as proper doctrine and that we can know it.” And, from that discussion this post was born. Ken’s last statement in that stream was, “I’ve often said there’d be no need for this kind of ministry if they did what the Bible says.”

5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 6 namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. 7 For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, 8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. 10 For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. 12 One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed. (Titus 1:5-16 NASB) 

First, God’s standards for all believers are high. His requirement for church leaders is to set that standard and model it. Their qualification to do so is not based within their natural abilities, intelligence, or education. No, it is based with their moral and spiritual character an their ability to teach with skill as the Holy Spirit sovereignly has equipped them. Second, Paul wrote this epistle to Titus in order to instruct him how to correct wrong doctrine and practices in the Cretan churches, which Paul had not had time to complete himself. What does this tell us? There is no room in the True Church for wrong doctrine and wrong practices. Also, from v9 alone we know that right doctrine from God’s Word is knowable and it must be taught and used to rebuke those who teach and practice otherwise.

What does this say about those in the visible church in our day like those mentioned above who are all about unity because “God sees everything in community”? First, I find that nowhere in God’s Word. Sorry… Second, these men are being disobedient to God’s Word and it appears that there is an agenda.

What I did not mention from our discussion above was that we talked about the fact that those men like D.A. Carson, John Piper, et al should be the ones doing the rebuking and setting things right within the visible church in our time, but what is the reality? These very men are joining ranks with those saying ignorant things like Tim Keller’s quote above. Within that discussion it was asked why these men couldn’t or wouldn’t do or say anything about what was going on. It was mentioned that the there was a common thread within those going after the NAR/Dominionism bent, which is the corrupting influence of Contemplative Prayer or Spiritual Formation. Those with Charismatic leanings seemed especially susceptible to it. Then one of my friends said, “I think it’s possible that we are God’s judgment upon them, for not doing what they have been called to do. Think Deborah and Barak.” Here is my reply, “And…along with that judgment as accumulating spiritual blindness. They simply are unable to see the truth and actually believe they are right. They are self-deceived. How tragic!

Things are happening quickly my brethren.

Soli Deo Gloria!

28 thoughts on “Qualifications for Elders

  1. Mike, I was reading in Acts 5 today where Peter speaks to Ananias about holding back some of the money from a sale and then pretending he had given it all to the church. Peter rebukes Ananias and he falls down dead at Peter’s feet. next, Ananias’ wife, Sapphira walks in. Peter is not wringing his hands over Ananias, he is not apologizing to Sapphira, he doesn’t even sit her down and gently tell her that her husband is dead. What does Peter do? He asks Sapphira about the money – he calls her to account! When she lies about the money, she too falls down dead. Can you even imagine such a scenario in today’s weak church? Can you even imagine a leader today being so strong and Christ-centered? One with so much love for the body of Christ that he would rebuke not one, but two believers in this way in order to protect the church? One this outraged because believers have lied to the Holy Spirit by lying to the church? I cannot imagine it myself.

  2. Julie, I taught that lesson back in the late 1980’s to a group of 6th grade boys and girls and asked them some of those same questions. They could not imagine that scenario at all. They KNEW beyond all doubt that in our church and all their short life experiences in church up to that time that no Pastor or church leader they knew of would do as Peter had done. One of the things that always intrigued me about that passage is how the young men simply came in, took out the bodies and buried them, no fuss, no muss. In our day, this would be all over the news and the church leaders would probably go to jail or at least be sued by family.

  3. Thanks Mike. The upcoming successor to Piper is Dr. Jason Meyer. He received his masters of divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and also a Doctorate of Philosophy from there years after.

    Is not Southern Baptist Theological (Mohler is pres.) home of Dr Donald Whitney; author of his supposed “the biblical” spiritual disciplines? (spiritual formation/contemplative spirituality) Ahhhh… seems a little coincidental. And… are not Dr Whitney (?) and Dr Bruce Ware former instructors at Mark Driscoll’s “RE:TRAIN” program/school for pastors? (http://theresurgence.com/authors/bruce-ware )

    (PLEASE READ APOLOGIST BOB DEWAAY’S BIBLICALLY CENTERED ARTICLE RE: WHITNEY’S DISCIPLINES: http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue111.htm )

    The upcoming Dr. Jason Meyer HAS taught Spiritual Formation at Louisiana Baptist Seminary in Pineville, Lousiana. (note this was AFTER his training at SBTS) http://hopeingod.org/jason-meyer-curriculum-vitae-2012

    It seems Dr Mason would fit right in the ongoing Piper camp of extraBiblical promoters who advocate 1.) ExtraBiblical Revelation as in audible words from god and 2.) Visions from god. He also could continue the Piper misnomer of reformed charismania.

    So.. what is Piper’s “Vision casting” agenda now as stated in his reasons for leaving the pulpit?
    PIPER:
    “The reason we are moving forward with the succession plan now has to do with a strong conviction that good pastoring is more than preaching. I could still preach. Some have encouraged me to do just that. Just preach. Hand off other leadership responsibilities to others. I do not believe such an arrangement would make Bethlehem a healthy, thriving, mission-driven, aggressively visionary, growing church—which is what she should be!

    A disconnect between the pulpit and **vision-casting** will not work for the good of the church. The pulpit is the *main voice of the vision.* The* vision* is hammered out in the grueling labors of countless encounters with staff and elders as biblical truth meets structural, congregational, and cultural reality. These** vision-forming, vision-sustaining, vision-finalizing labors** require leadership—leadership to keep the vision biblical; leadership to keep the vision energized and joyful and wise and relevant and possible; leadership to keep the vision moving through obstacle after obstacle; and leadership to trumpet that vision winsomely to thousands of members. ”

    What Vision is he talking about?? ‘Some notion that involves a dressed up, fancy verbiage constantly referring to “The Vision”- which always seems somehow to be inseparable from him interacting with everybody? What is it and why does it always revolve around him? Indispensible in whose mind ?

    (note what Pastor John MacArthur states about Vision Casting: http://www.discernthetime.com/messageboard/showthread.php?t=31917 )

    Of course there always seems to be some excuse for what is unBiblical. That’s just how Satan is. ‘angel of light, deceiver of the brethren, and one who brings in false teachings – “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires” 2 Tim.4:3

    Men; perusing and clinging to man’s methodologies, glorying in spiritual “experiences”, seeking some higher plane (or believing they are on a higher plane) of spirituality on earth.

    That is completely contrary to what God’s Word; from the breath of the Almighty’s Mouth!!

    And men would DARE add to this? (Rev. 22:18) Oh the days here are growing shorter and shorter.

    Take heart you who have “ears to hear” (Mark 4:9) and look up for Jesus IS coming soon!

  4. Like you said Mike, I think they also have an agenda. I believe they may have a “franchising” agenda like I mentioned once.

    I don’t know the details, but reading their financial annual report I believe they are using their brand as a franchising business. If it is like a franchising business, like Mcdonalds or other companies, Acts29 ought to receive some revenue by their sattelite churches.

    Mike, I hope it’s ok if I paste links here, I’ll leave it up to your discretion to remove them if you wish.

    Read this testimony from a church which became a Mars Hill sattelite.

    “…Mars Hill Church paid a generous sum of money in order to bring City on a Hill Church aboard as a new church. The decision was made to keep all City on a Hill staff and facilities. Salaries and benefits were increased, technology was improved, new flooring was added in the vintage Lobo Theater, signage changed, and storage space was constructed. Lastly, Mars Hill Church invested significant money so that sermons could be translated into Spanish for the benefit of the people living in Albuquerque and beyond.”

    You can read the rest here:

    http://marshill.com/2011/11/16/why-did-a-church-in-new-mexico-decide-to-join-mars-hill/

    And here’s their annual report, you may want to check pages 42,44,52 for their financial report.

    Maybe someone can chime in, but does this look to you like a business model of some sort, or is it normal stuff?

  5. Like you said Mike, I think they also have an agenda. I believe they may have a “franchising” agenda like I mentioned once.

    I don’t know the details, but reading their financial annual report I believe they are using their brand as a franchising business. If it is like a franchising business, like Mcdonalds or other companies, Acts29 ought to receive some revenue by their sattelite churches.

    Mike, I hope it’s ok if I paste links here, I’ll leave it up to your discretion to remove them if you wish.

    Read this testimony from a church which became a Mars Hill sattelite.

    “…Mars Hill Church paid a generous sum of money in order to bring City on a Hill Church aboard as a new church. The decision was made to keep all City on a Hill staff and facilities. Salaries and benefits were increased, technology was improved, new flooring was added in the vintage Lobo Theater, signage changed, and storage space was constructed. Lastly, Mars Hill Church invested significant money so that sermons could be translated into Spanish for the benefit of the people living in Albuquerque and beyond.”

    You can read the rest here:

    http://marshill.com/2011/11/16/why-did-a-church-in-new-mexico-decide-to-join-mars-hill/

    And here’s their annual report, you may want to check pages 42,44,52 for their financial report.

    Maybe someone can chime in, but does this look to you like a business model of some sort, or is it normal stuff?

    Joao

  6. Aloha Mr. Ratliff,

    Alas, in today’s church culture it seems popularity instantly means you are doing something wrong. That delusion has talked about in within my circle for some time, but we have been reluctant to get involved because our conclusion is that a major problem, if not the major problem is that mystics have usurped the authority or role of the Teacher. That is, because I have that ‘God feeling’ there is that hint of ‘knowing’, a fire and passion in my voice which inspires people to ‘seek the vision’. I am good at motivating people to seek the things of God, and the problem as I see it is that people like me have taken over defining what those things are, defining the vision. Obviously there is a place for people like me, helping people not get discouraged in their sanctification, in our conforming to the Image of Christ. But what people are ignoring is that it is Scripture which gives us a complete Image of Christ, so the teaching of Scripture is what the pulpit is for.

    This is, of course, simply putting what you and Pastor Silva has point out in different words. I just wanted to point out that as someone who comes from the Love first side that if we take our sanctification seriously then Love not only requires but also demands orthodoxy. That is where I think the delusion is, that there can be unity without Love, and there can be Love without the desire to teach the truth. Maybe it is just me, I after all a ‘crusader with a story’. But as my passion drives me to inspire people to go to God, to give up everything to God in prayer, it has always seemed a bit suspicious to me that those who claim to be teachers would not have the same passion of teaching and inspiring people to go to the Word.

  7. Driscoll’s “What’s Next for Me?” article shows him to be a pragmatists from his sandals up. He has set himself up as the Pope of the great North West, Warren is the Pope of the South West (and the ambassador to the World!), Piper is the Pope pf the mid-west, Ed Young, Sr. is the Pope of the South West. What “great man of God” will arise to be the Pope of the East?

    May those called by God to serve His church be content with His approval.

  8. No pastoral change planned for here at “Hearthside Fellowship of the Living Stones.” My assessment of 95% of the buildings being reprobate “jesus franchises” riding the government grey V train might have to be ratcheded upwards a tad pretty soon! UN Agenda 21 and sustainable communities of faith is progressing along quite well with their influential community groups. Soon Satan will be unchained for a little while to bring great tribulation to the saints on the Narrow Path… And the “christians in the jesus franchises” will lead the way in doing god a favor as they discipline the narrow minded critical ones who simply want to walk and talk the Good News of their Lord.
    Piper fits the bill of “Vain Dreamers” to a tee!

  9. Thanks for all that information Denise. So many have a huge blind spot about these guys and refuse to listen even though the evidence of their mixing of good fruit with evil fruit is clear. How can they do that? They can’t, for in the mixing all that is brought forth is evil. God help us.

  10. I’m sick of it all Manfred. Have you seen The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer by Jean-Leon Gerome? It’s on my Facebook page. I fully expect something akin to that for the true church when these devils are given full control.

  11. :-) Mickey :-) What would it be like to have been part of the 1st Century Church with the Apostle Peter or the Apostle Paul or the Apostle John as our pastor or even Timothy or Titus? Methinks these businesses or entertainment venues or storefronts that call themselves churches do not measure up.

  12. Mike,

    I Googled “The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer by Jean-Leon Gerome” (don’t do Facebook). I’ve seen that picture many times. I think we in the U.S. of A. are closer to Acts chapter 4.

    One step at a time.

    Maranatha, Lord Jesus!

  13. I would love it! Heck, I would even settle for Jude or James, both would have short to the point sermons now wouldn’t they! Actually I was hoping for you to have a change of heart and desire for change of scenery! Ligoner is only a short drive trip from here, brother! Your skin has to be thick enough by now…

  14. Mickey, well actually I am ready for a change, but still have to work. :-) In any case, I’m with you on deeply desiring to be free from the compromising.

  15. Ah, but brother, I am and we are free from the compromising, except for warning others and naming names!
    Other then that, Jesus said, “Leave them alone.” Which I am finding easier to do all the time.
    Again, other then what I just said, we have no need for justification in our works, because we are already justified in Him! It’s the santification that stings! LOL
    “Blind guides and leaders of the blind” has never been seen nor heard more clearly then in this end of the age!
    I appreciate your work and your understanding of this walk. Wait till the cranky find out their e-scat-ology is in the litter box and the doors will only open out as they fall away in droves. But oh what/who they will run to in the name of peace and security…..

  16. Well the very FIRST Qualification and prerequisite is that a person needs to be saved. I don’t see the love of Christ(the PURITY of God’s love) as first in these men’s lives such as Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller (who is always so oblique with his messages and circuitous) and John Piper who is as one Brother said is the “Master of the oblique approach”- and hardly does his keen insight come directly from the BIBLE. And I certainly don’t see them living for God’s glory. All I see are mere men who are living for their vapor of glory that will desiccate in the presence of a Holy God.
    Shame on all these men who “in the name of Christ” using our precious Lord Jesus for their own selfish gain. I’m disgusted with how far they’ve gone. what is really even worse than these men getting away with sordid acts against the blood bought Church of God by Jesus Christ is Christians who don’t believe that these men are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
    I base my conclusions on the word of GOD-by their FRUIT you will recognize them~~
    When it comes to preaching sound doctrine, oh Satan is very orthodox. This is not and never should be an indication whatsoever that these men are genuine believers. Yet, many well known men of God believe so. I always look at their love for Jesus Christ and I don’t see it. People need to use the barometer of if they truly have holy affections for the Lord Jesus Christ and His UNIQUENESS and their reverence and awe of our Lord of GLORY.
    Isn’t it the R.C.C. that is the juggernaut behind all this? I personally believe so..
    Tim Keller is into mysticism and asceticism
    John Piper is into Lectio Divina
    Mark Driscoll is into grunge and swill and is so creepy. If I ever had a Pastor who talked about his sex life and sex in the pulpit I would run out the door as fast as I could -”As a man thnketh in his heart so is he”
    Pope Piper and drivel Driscoll
    What good is it for men to show mercy if it is not mercy from the fountain of God’s mercy? false piety
    What Good is it to show kindness if it’s not learned from the Lord’s kindness in our life-from Jesus? False kindness
    ALL mercy, kindness, love begin and originate from Jesus Christ in a true genuine believer. It is ALL JESUS and He gets all the awe and glory and we adore HIM when we merely get to return to HIM what he allows us to share in his LIFE.
    All men apart from Jesus Christ manufacture what they don’t have. These men of power and prestige are only kidding themselves because they are but dried up dead branches.
    they are being given over to deception thinking they are so great. Lord have MERCY on these men that HE would grant them repentance before it’s too late

  17. Has any one been over to Sola Sister’s blog and read the accounts posted by the wife of a former elder who I believe the last name is Petry? The accounts made me sad, sick to my stomach and very angry toward Driscoll, in a righteous indignant way, to be sure. After reading about constant changes in MHC’s governmental structures and such, it seemed to me that Driscoll has taken his cue in church government by adopting “The Moses Model” of church leadership from pastor Chuck Smith. This model of church government was not the one established by Paul, and has to be rejected at all cost! The Calvary Chapel “Distictives” in my opinion is starting to bear forth some very rotten fruit. I know this first-hand as I was in CC for almost 30yrs. These guys basically drove me into MacArthur’s camp……and into Reformed Theology.

  18. Thanks so much for this post, Mike. To state the obvious, there needs to be a return to the Bible! It is so disheartening to witness so many falling by the droves to these wolves and it is equally distressing to have many refuse to heed warning. God bless you!

  19. ezekielcountdown, yes, it is the “droves” who are deaf, dumb, and blind…, that is, deceived, that is so heartbreaking. Thanks for the encouragment!

  20. Thanks so much for this post, Mike. To state the obvious, a return to the Bible is crucial. So glad to have your site to visit and rejoice that others can learn here that wolves are in the sheep fold. God bless you!

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