Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 24, 1959
NUMBER 20, PAGE 13a-14a

B. M. Strother Writes

Wm. E Wallace, McAlester, Oklahoma

Of B. M. Strother the following was written by Foy E. Wallace in the Bible Banner of March 1939: "Brother B. M. Strother, than whom there is none more capable and qualified in personal character, knowledge and ability, as an elder of God's church . . ."

Brother Strother now lives in Bonham, Texas. He served the Lord in McAlester, Oklahoma, for nearly 50 years. Though weakened in body he is much alive intellectually and keeps a keen interest in the affairs of the church both locally and universally. It is an inspiration to visit with him. Recently I accompanied Brother Strother on a visit to Clifton, Texas, to see C. R. Nichol. It was an experience never to be forgotten. To hear these two elder saints in discussion embellished my respect for both of them.

Brother Strother has written some thoughts on the eldership and on the church. With his permission I am publishing them through this means. Write Brother Strother at 430 East 12th, Bonham, Texas.

The Eldership

"Viewed from the side-line: First, the word elder as in common use, means older or aged in contrast with youth and young manhood Second, in Biblical use as applied to an overseer in the church, its first and primary meaning holds as the first of requirements in such selection.

"Paul, in detailing to Timothy and Titus the qualifications of a bishop did not intend these specifications to be made a base to disqualify, but a yardstick to the fitness of those to be selected. God sets before us the perfect standard. We are to choose bishops by this rule, yet we must remember that imperfection is common to this life. Under this guiding rule we are to select those who are to have the rule over us.

"There is no inherent authority delegated by these appointments. All authority resides in Christ and their rule is but the execution of Christ's will as disclosed in his law. The elders in exercising their oversight are to reprove and rebuke, to discipline the unruly, to withdraw from the rebellious, while feeding the flock and shielding it from false teachers.

"It is inconsistent with the Bible examples to think a group of fifty or more have no material fitted for this service to the church or Lord. Our lack of appreciation one of another, our failure to esteem our brother better than ourselves, retard our progress in these worthy selections. Those in the selection should remember how human we are, how we are prone to find fault, to see the moat in our brother's eye, yet unaware of the beam in our own. A faithful elder must be patient, slow to speak, wiling to turn the other cheek, and maybe wear padded clothes.

"The preacher is so often the critic of an eldership rather than an encourager. We all need to remember that when we complain, charge an elder, we must have a sustaining witness or our mouth must remain closed.

"God's rule of qualifying, together with the character of those chosen to this work assures us, when followed, a group of men worthy of our respect, love and obedience. Only those without sin are privileged to cast stones. So let us honor, love, respect these godly men set in their stewardships by the Spirit of Grace."

The Church

"God is spirit. He seeks and demands spiritual service and worship. He is not worshipped by man's hands (material things). See John 4.22-24 and Acts 17:25. The kingdom or church is not of this world. (John 18:36.) It is not in meat or drink (Romans 14:17, yet we so debase her, failing to distinguish the spiritual from the material.

"The plans and purposes of God from the beginning are manifest and revealed in, by, and through the church. The scheme of human redemption is her purpose, all else incidental.

"Locally the church forms herself into units for worship, service and mutual edification — a spiritual house to offer spiritual services. (I Peter 2:5.)

"The church is the pillar and support of the truth, it is the sower of the seed of the kingdom. (I Timothy 3:15.) The church has no social aspects, it has no financial standing, no investments, no endowments, no rents or other income. Her financial needs are supplied by free will offerings, these based upon a willing mind, as purposed in heart. This is determined by the extent of the individual's ability. (II Cor. 8 & 9)

"As there is a restriction in the gathering together of these funds, so also in their disposal (I Cor. 9, II Cor. 8 & 9, I Tim. 5.) The material usage is limited to the care of the widow-in-deed, to distressed conditions that arise from famine, flood, fires and such — the balance to preaching the gospel. I would proportion the above usages as follows: The widow in deed 1%, for distress calls 2 or 3% to the material and 97% to spiritual.

"All other cares fall upon the Christian and become his fruitful life in the kingdom. He is the branch and is to bear much fruit. (John 15.) The vine (church) is not the fruit bearer. There is a wide difference in the material creation recorded in Genesis 1 and the spiritual creation in Acts 1 and 2. Let's remember God is spirit and seeks spiritual worship."