Friday, 20 May 2011

Elders are Territorial

Elders are Territorial

“Remember your leaders who have spoken God's Word to you. Think about how their lives turned out, and imitate their faith” (GW Hebrews 13:7)

Here we are again for another Truth for the Journey! As we continue with this concept of the apostle. We have taken the last articles along with this one to talk about the role of Elders in the Body of Christ, in yester-world and in today’s-world. All authority has “influence” – and all influence has a “realm of influence” over which it operates. Today we are going to look at this in terms of the world territory. So lets begin by looking at what this word “territory” actually means. Its literal meaning as follows: “an area regarded as owned by the state, social group, individual or animal.”

In addition to this, another significant word that describes territory is “province,” which in times-past was the basic “unit of administration” within the Roman Empire. Its earliest usage, was a general term that referred to the “magistrate’s sphere of administrative action.” This term signified both the “rule” of the governor and the “region” that was entrusted to his care (the geographical sense was dominant); and included the “administration of justice.” Therefore when a province was given to a governor, this was for him to: control, supervise, protect and oversee. It literally became his territory – to rule and to govern - for a specific period of time.

Now when it comes to the spiritual aspect of this matter - there are such things as “territorial spirits” (which are active within the heavenly realms) but this is another teaching altogether! However as believers it is our right to exercise our authority within any given territory and we too are meant to be territorial! We are not merely undercover agents that live invisible to the world, with alter-egos that no one knows about! We are not a secret society! Rather we aught to govern those areas or regions that God has entrusted to us as Scripture speaks about - holding-claim to every place we put our feet! (See “Territorial Spirits” by C. Peter Wagner).

This is too general in thought, even though all believers possess authority to a degree – not all believers are called to governmental office – such as elders and apostles for example. So we must not over generalise this issue and so now lets go beyond this and look more closely at our opening title “Elders are Territorial.”

This statement refers to the fact that God placed Elders within the Church to oversee it. Their influence was not merely for the Church only, but regionally and spiritually (in the spirit realm). Their influence is far reaching both practically spiritually. For instance if we go to the Old Testament, we can see that Elders often acted as “magistrates” and “judges,” who represented the people. Therefore it was their job to “administrate justice” within the areas allocated to them. Even today this whole structure has NOT changed - because of time! Rather it still continues today; the only thing that has changed (as stated in our previous articles), is that elders today have the added responsibility of visiting and praying for the sick. They do so in the power of the name of Jesus and His blood!

Elders also represent “pillars” within the Church: of maturity, wholeness, purity, integrity, righteousness, doctrine and all that is true. Every Church needs good Elders!

How then should the Church respond to such Elders? Well firstly there are three major things that need to be noted from scriptures.

Firstly: Elders are worthy of double honour, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching (1 Timothy 5:17). Church members need to respect, uphold and admonish them (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13). The job of an elder is not easy and the church needs to encourage those who are overseeing them and not pull them down or make their job more difficult than it needs to be. In fact, church members should obey their elders and submit to their authority, because they are men who keep watch over the church and who are accountable before God for it (Hebrews 13:17). Also, if an elder is serving the church on a full-time basis, then the scriptures tell us that the worker deserves his wages (1 Timothy 5:18).

Secondly: Church members should not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. Elders do not need to be the subject of gossip, which only serves to undermine their credibility and authority. Members of the church should stop people who do this and stop something getting out of hand or being blown out of proportion to the truth. However, if an Elder is found to be in sin, they are to be rebuked publicly, so that others may take warning (1 Timothy 5:19-20).

Thirdly: The church members should follow the godly example set by the Elders (Hebrews13: 7).
In closing, we all know that scripture tells us to “seek first the Kingdom of God.” The word Kingdom in also represents the “rule and reign” of God in scripture. But here today we look at the role of Elders as they use their God given positions to reign; to rule and to exercise Godly authority wherever they are placed. They actually represent the government of God within the church and must act accordingly.

All of this ties in with the role of the apostle and the apostolic age. The Elders do not function under their own authority nor do the apostles. All authority given by God must work together in unity not in contest or rivalry with each other. A house divided falls. It cannot stand and until the elders can work together with the apostles in the local church as they were ordained and equipped to do so, there will always be a certain lack of authority and power.

So bring it on! Bring on the order of God. The Church is in need of Her power. She needs to be stifled no longer. Let truth be taught and revelation restored to the Body of Christ. As all man-made-efforts to rule and to govern, have left Her barren and lacking powerful influence within society.

But if She regains Her position and spiritual possession - with all Her dignity in tact – the world will learn once again, what it is to FEAR the authority of the living God - that exists within the local church!

Finally, in closing this article - our son who is 16 years old this year got talking to his mother about the story in the bible off Ananias and Sapphire. They were discussing the awesome authority that the apostles exercised in the early church. However over lunch our son came up with this honest and simple question (and I quote him word for word simply because I think others would ask the same question!): “If the apostle is being ‘restored’ where did he go? What happened to him?”

This legitimate question was deserving of a simple reply! “The fact of the matter is…” I told him, “the apostle never went anywhere! HE is not the one being restored – rather the “TRUTH” about his role is being ‘restored’ to the Body of Christ.” “Why?” “Because over time, truth was ‘REPLACED’ by deception and distortion.”

Which brings us to our closing statement. When TRUTH is fully restored to the Church (before Christ returns) via the revealed Word of God (the teaching of “revelation”) the apostle will be able to take his rightful place, along with the elders. No longer stuffy relics of an age-old institute or relegated to stain- glass-windows of rotting church buildings. No! They will not remain this ineffective but will take their rightful places in their intended role as POWERFUL EXECUTORS OF GOD’S AUTHORITY & JUSTICE.

The government of God within the local church is vital. The apostle has a huge part to play in this, along with the elders. May this RESTORATION OF TRUTH advance with speed! How the Church needs Her divine order – just as God planned it and not as man distorted it – by humanistic ideals and replacement theology!

Nothing can REPLACE truth. We need it in all its glory! Truth brings liberty from bondage. Every generation needs it. So Father raise up those who are adept to teach with a spirit of revelation. Use them by your Spirit to restore truth. Amen.

There is a price for revelation. Apostles have traditionally experienced persecution for the revelation that they carried. The price was worth it. Truth must never lay stagnant and dormant. It is never passive. Rather has always been our liberation (from deception). I choose to take sides with the TRUTH and to stand advocate for it in my generation.

Motto: ‘God Chooses, then the Spirit Tests, but You Must Respond!’
Copyright 2011 © Alan Pateman Ministries


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