Ben Thinkin’ #3: Rogue Elders, Worshiping Through Jesus, and Feelings
[The Ben Thinkin’ series is a venue for answering questions my readers have submitted. I answer several questions in each post. If you would like to submit questions for future Ben Thinkin’ posts, please leave a comment at the end of the article.]
1. Smith asks: Can a congregation “unappoint” an elder who is in error and refuses to repent? Would his impenitence not void his qualifications? Or is a man always an elder once he becomes an elder?
Situations like this demonstrate how important it is for congregations to carefully appoint their elders (instead of haphazardly appointing men for the sake of appointing elders, regardless of how well he meets the qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1). The Bible does not give a specific description of how to oust an elder from his office.
However, individual elders must always be submissive to the eldership; there is no such thing as a ‘head elder.’ Otherwise, an elder would be domineering over the flock (1 Pet. 5:2-3). The eldership can, and should, ask an elder in sin to step down. If he refuses, I submit he is being divisive and should be withdrawn from (Rom. 16:17). Elders can be withdrawn from just like any other member of the church. And any member who is divisive or impenitent over sin should be withdrawn from (2 Thess. 3:6).
2. Samuel asks: Since we pray through Jesus, do we praise through Him as well?
This is a very interesting question, and I’m not entirely sure I know the best way to answer it. It is true that we pray through Jesus (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25; 1 Tim. 2:5; 1 John 2:1-2; 1 John 2:1-2). And when we pray, we do so “in the name of Jesus” (Eph. 5:20; John 16:23). And yes, there is at least a sense in which we praise God through the Son as well. “Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God” (Heb. 13:15; cf. 1 Pet. 4:11). Paul said, “First, I think my God through Jesus Christ for all of you” (Rom. 1:8). However, whenever we discuss worshiping the Godhead, we need to make sure we do not separate the Son, the Father, and the Spirit so much that they cease being One, though they are still distinct from one another.
3. Anna asks: How much should Christians rely on their feelings?
Our faith and obedience should never be based upon feelings. Instead, how we ‘feel’ should be based upon our faith and obedience to God’s Word. Salvation is primarily intellectual, not emotional. That does not mean, however, that Christianity shouldn’t be filled with emotion. How can I help but feel overwhelmed with grief and thankfulness when I approach the cross of Christ during the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:23-29; cf. Isa. 53)? How can I help but feel a sense of terror when I think about what the devil wants to do to me (1 Pet. 5:8)? How can I help but echo the humble and awestruck words of the psalmist when I think of God’s sovereignty and power (Psa. 92)? But these are examples of how how important feelings should be to Christians, but they are examples of feelings based upon an understanding of God’s Word.
When my feelings are detached from my knowledge and obedience to God’s Word, I am in trouble. For example, Jesus warned that His disciples would soon be persecuted by people who actually “think they are offering service to God” (John 16:2). In other words, some who persecute Christians actually feel like they are pleasing God and are secure in their salvation, but in reality, they are not. Let us avoid any kind of religion that is based upon feelings that are divorced from knowledge (Rom. 10:1-3).
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