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The Work of the Church Elder Within The Seventh Day Adventist Church- Part 1


by Ellen White

When they do this, they will esteem others better than themselves, and will not be climbing upon the judgement seat to pronounce sentence upon others. This has caused all the difficulties in the church. Young churches may have leaders in elders and deacons chosen to have a burden and care for the prosperity of the church, yet these men should not feel at liberty in their own judgement and responsibility to cut off names from the church. They should not have so much zeal as to make decisive moves of so grave a character. 12MR 275

Elders and deacons are chosen to have a care for the prosperity of the church; yet these leaders, especially in young churches, should not feel at liberty, on their own judgement and responsibility, to cut off offending members from the church; they are not invested with such authority. Many indulge a zeal like that of Jehu, and rashly venture to make decisions in matters of grave importance, while they themselves have no connection with God. They should humbly and earnestly seek wisdom from the One who has placed them in their position, and should be very modest in assuming responsibilities. They should also lay the matter before the president of their conference; and counsel with him.–Manuscript 1, 1878. (To the church at Ligonier, Indiana, October, 1878.) 5MR 447

Elder H used to live here and preach to the people, but he was not a shepherd of the flock. He would tell the poor sheep that he would rather be horse-whipped than visit. He neglected personal labour, therefore pastoral work was not done in the church and its borders. The deacons and elders of the church have acted wisely and worked judiciously to keep the church in order, and we find the people in a much better condition than we had expected. We are happily disappointed. But when I look over the years, and think of what might have been done, if the man entrusted with the flock had been a faithful steward of God, watching for souls as one that must give an account, my heart is made sad. Had the preacher done the work of a pastor, a much larger number would now be rejoicing in the truth. 9MR 343

The organisation of the church at Jerusalem was to serve as a model for the organisation of churches in every other place where messengers of truth should win converts to the gospel. Those to whom was given the responsibility of the general oversight of the church were not to lord it over God’s heritage, but, as wise shepherds, were to “feed the flock of God,. . . being ensamples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2, 3); and the deacons were to be “men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom.” These men were to take their position unitedly on the side of right and to maintain it with firmness and decision. Thus they would have a uniting influence upon the entire flock. AA 091

Addressing the church elders regarding their responsibilities as undershepherds of Christ’s flock, the apostle wrote: “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. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” AA 525

In the matter of praying for the sick . . . I have been considering many things that have been presented to me in the past in reference to this subject.

Suppose that twenty men and women should present themselves as subjects for prayer at some of our camp meetings, this would not be unlikely, for those who are suffering will do anything in their power to obtain relief and to regain strength and health. Of these twenty, few have regarded the light on the subject of purity and health reform. They have neglected to practice right principles in eating and drinking and in taking care of their bodies, and some of those who are married have formed gross habits and indulged in unholy practice, while of those who are unmarried, some have been reckless of health and life, since in clear rays the light has shone upon them; but they have not had respect unto the light, nor have they walked circumspectly. Yet they solicit the prayers of God’s people and call for the elders of the church.

Should they regain the blessing of health, many of them would pursue the same course of heedless transgression of nature’s laws unless enlightened and thoroughly transformed. . . .

Sin has brought many of them where they are–to a state of feebleness of mind and debility of body. Shall prayer be offered to the God of heaven for His healing to come upon them then and there, without specifying any conditions? I say, No, decidedly no. What, then, shall be done? Present their cases before Him who knows every individual by name.

Present these thoughts to the persons who come asking for your prayers: We are human; we cannot read the heart or know the secrets of your life. These are known only to yourself and God. If you now repent of your sin, if any of you can see that in any instance you have walked contrary to the light given you of God and have neglected to give honour to the body, the temple of God, but by wrong habits have degraded the body which is Christ’s property, make confession of these things to God. Unless you are wrought upon by the Holy Spirit in special manner to confess your sins of private nature to man, do not breathe them to any soul.

Christ is your Redeemer; He will take no advantage of your humiliating confessions. If you have sin of a private character, confess it to Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man. “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1. If you have sinned by withholding from God His own in tithes and offerings, confess your guilt to God and to the church, and heed the injunction that He has given you: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse.” Malachi 3:10. . . . CH 373

Praying for the sick is a most solemn thing, and we should not enter into this work in any careless, hasty way. Examination should be made as to whether those who would be blessed with health have indulged in evilspeaking, alienation, and dissension. Have they sowed discord among the brethren and sisters of the church? If these things have been committed they should be confessed before God and the church. When wrongs have been confessed the subjects for prayer may be presented before God in earnestness and faith, as the Spirit of God may move upon you. CH 374

[ Important Questions ] What is the reason that there are many found in our churches who are not settled, rooted, and grounded in the truth? Why are there found in the church those who walk in darkness and have no light, whose testimonies are half-hearted, cold, and full of complaint? Why are there those whose feet seem ready to stray into by and forbidden paths, who always have a pitiful tale to tell of temptation and defeat? Have the members of the church felt their responsibility? Have the elders and deacons of the church looked after the weak and straying ones? And have they realised that the wavering are in danger of losing their souls? Have you tried both by precept and example to plant the feet of the straying on the eternal Rock? Have Sabbath school teachers and officers realised that they have a work to do in leading the feet of the young into safe paths, and that they should count every selfish interest as nothing, that they may be winners of souls for the Master? There is a decided need of reformation in every branch of the work. CSW 161

A Neglect. Many presidents of State conferences do not attend to that which is their work, –to see that the elders and deacons of the churches do their work in the churches by seeing that a faithful tithe is brought into the treasury. This principle needs to be often brought before the men who are lax in their duty to God, and who are negligent and careless in bringing in their tithes, gifts, and offerings to God. “Will a man rob me?” “Wherein have we robbed thee?”–is a question asked by the unfaithful stewards. The answer comes plain and positive, “In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse, for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation,” Please read this whole chapter and see if words could be spoken that would be more plain and positive than these. EAST MICHIGAN BANNER APR.12,1905

Are not the qualifications which he says are essential in the deacon, equally essential in the elder of the church? The deacons were church officers (2 Cor. 6:4): “But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses;” (1 Tim. 5:22): “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins; keep thyself pure.” Here is a matter that is worthy of consideration. In the twenty-first verse the solemn charge is given: “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.” These verses, twenty-one and twenty-two, need to be carefully and prayerfully considered. Sin should be rebuked. Whatever opposition and trial might come to the elder of the church because of his faithfulness, he should not swerve from true principles. Sins should not, because of unsanctified preferences and sympathy, be lightly regarded in one man which would be condemned in another. This matter is one of great importance. If he trusts responsibilities to one whose habits and practices he knows to be wrong, he shows that his own principles are not sound, that his motives are questionable. By this very act he sanctions the errors and sins of the man he has commended and appointed to the sacred office of caring for the flock of God. Unless he is guarded by heavenly wisdom, he will place himself in a position where he will feel it necessary to sustain the man with whom he has united his influence; and God will hold him responsible for his brother’s unfaithfulness in office, and for the harm which will result to the church. He must keep himself pure by refusing to mingle with any unholy influence. PH028 017

From the time that converts come together in church capacity, they should be educated to take up such lines of work as will not only benefit their own souls, but the souls of others. “The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” The Lord has given to his followers talents of intellect and energy and means. Those who are known to be men of well-balanced minds, who have the love and fear of God before them, should be appointed as elders and deacons; and through the exercise of the ability God has given them, they may grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. They may plan wisely, and educate the individual members of the church to act their part in trading with their Lord’s talents. By a right use of their talents they may increase their efficiency in the cause of God. The church may be visited only occasionally by a minister, and yet be a growing church; for Jesus is our minister, and we are never to think that we are left alone. Jesus never forsakes the flock of his pasture. “This man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.” RH JAN.17,1893

The servants of God should become workmen that need not to be ashamed, that they may build up the church of God in the earth. This work cannot possibly be done without much meditation, prayer, and humility. There must be thought and skill and hearty thoroughness in doing this spiritual labour for the people of God. If it is properly done, it will be as much more valuable and successful than temporal work, as the heavenly is more important than the earthly. Jesus has said of his followers, “Ye are the light of the world.” A living, working church will be a power in the world, but there must be well-defined plans carried out with all faithfulness. If those who are elders and deacons in the church devote their God-given powers to money making, they will not be serving the Lord or the church; but they will be serving themselves, and the high task committed to their hands will suffer for the lack of patient, intelligent, well-directed effort. RH JUN.19,1888

I feel a deep interest in those who profess to be the children of God, that they may be the light of the world. If they respond to the requirements of God, there will be need of much greater watchfulness, much more untiring diligence. The responsibility of representing Christ to the world does not rest alone upon those who are ordained as ministers of the gospel. Each member of the church should be a living epistle, known and read of all men. A working church will be a living church. Those who are elected as elders and deacons should ever be on the alert that plans may be made and executed which will give every member of the church a share in active work for the salvation of souls. This is the only way in which the church can be preserved in a healthy, thriving condition. RH MAR.24,1891

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