Vol.XV No.VIII Pg.6
October 1978

Notes On An Elder

Robert F. Turner

Recently one of our elders, W. E. Stephenson, preached a sermon on Col. 3:17 — "Do All in the Name of the Lord Jesus." Brother Stephenson is seventy-six years mature, and mounted the speaker's stand with a cane, but his voice was strong and his lesson a model of plain talk. Some present may not have agreed with what he said, but all understood both the principle and the applications proclaimed.

"We claim to be followers of Jesus Christ," he said. "Our words and our deeds must be in accordance with His will — promoting His cause — in keeping with His authority." "What He has authorized we must accept as right, and limit ourselves to that." There followed many examples, each backed by scriptural reference. "Preachers, elders, all members, are obligated to teach the truth." "Individual saints are to care for their aged ones, that the church may care for 'widows indeed."' "Elders are shepherds of the flock among them." He gave scripture for the support of the preacher, and of certain elders — and added that he knew of no scriptures violated in appointing a preacher to be an elder — but he said this may not be expedient, and should be considered with extreme caution. (And I'll 'Amen!' that.)

He commended the two men Oaks-West is now considering for additional elders; and cited the authority for additional deacons — but he made it clear that deacons are not elders, have not in the past been overseers here, nor should they be in the future. He gave some pointed remarks on the need for "qualified" women, children, and homes of elders and deacons. He expressed concern for members who were careless and negligent in their service to God, and for young people who had not yet obeyed the gospel; and he asked our forgiveness for failure on his part to guide us toward more faithfulness, as a good elder should. It was a plea of love.

Turning then to Acts 20:28-f. he warned how elders, saints, and churches can drift. "Changes," he said, "rarely come suddenly." As an example he pointed out how, in 1929 or 30 the truck from an Orphan Home had come to his store to collect food and cash left there by individuals. They would not then accept cash or check from a church. THEN, a busload of singers had come to the church building, and a man stood at the door following the "sing" to collect donations. LATER, for convenience sake, they asked the church to deposit the money, and give them a check. NEXT, the church was asked to give a "special" contribution — a second passing of the plate.

WITH THE PASSING OF A FEW YEARS, the institution asked for the entire 5th. Sunday contribution. NEXT, they wanted a place in the regular monthly budget. AND WHEN OPPOSITION AROSE, it was, "If you don't send, you are an 'Anti-' church." Asked why he now opposed something he once had a part in, Bro. Stephenson said he replied: "I once drank whiskey, and smoked; but when I learned better, I quit it." He concluded, "I am an old man, soon to die; but I must warn younger saints of the ways of 'Step-by-Step digression'." Do you wonder why we love our elders, and why this congregation has grown more strong in the faith??