Church Government
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Ascension Gifts vs Descension Gifts


There is a lot of confusion about spiritual gifts. There are 3 categories of gifts in the New Testament.
  
Rom 12:
6: Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
7: Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
8: Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.


This is the list of charisma gifts which all believers can have. These are from the Holy Spirit and are also categorized as the descension gifts. Those gifts the Holy Spirit gave to the church when the Holy Spirit descended. These are NOT leadership gifts, which are discussed below. The word charisma comes from the Greek word "gifts" in Rom 12:6.  

1 Cor 12:
7: But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
8: For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9: To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10: To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.


These are the manifestation gifts, also by the Holy Spirit. These are given as He sees fit. These manifest only when the Holy Spirit desires, whereas the charisma gifts operate when the believer desires. These gifts are also descension gifts.  

Eph 4:
8: Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
11: And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;


These are the doma gifts, the ascension gifts, or sometimes referred to as the 5-fold ministry. The word doma comes from the Greek word "gifts" in Eph 4:8. These doma gifts did not come into the church until Jesus ascended (read verse 8). Before this time, there were apostles, prophets, and teachers, but they were not doma's. They were gifts from the old covenant.  

I would like to give another scriptural witness to the ascension gifting:  

Math 28:
18: And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.


This is what Jesus said right before He ascended, commanding the apostles to fulfill the job of the doma's, described below (just after he lists the doma's in verse 11):  

Eph 4:
12: For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive


Now onto church government. The apostles and other doma gifts are equated with the term elder. Here are verses that put apostles and elders in the same category:  

Acts 15:2,4,6,22
Acts 16:4


More verses equating eldership with doma gifts:  

1 Tim 2:7
2 Tim 1:11
 


And below is a scripture with Peter, an apostle, where he clearly say's he is also an elder, thus equating the doma gift with eldership:  

1 Pet 5:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ... 

This is kind of important, because I know of some people or movements (I don't know how large the idea has grown), that believe elders are different than doma's, they believe elders are older men of God. That it has to do with age! This is not true, so please make note of the scriptures above equating eldership with the doma giftings. However, not every doma is an elder, but EVERY elder IS a doma. I will discuss this more further down.

Elders rule the church:  

1 Tim 5:17: Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.

Elders are ordained and set into the church:  

Acts 14:23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church...

Titus 1:5 ... ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee


Not all doma's are elders. To be an elder you must qualify:  

Titus 1:5-9

An elder is also a bishop:  

Titus 1:
5: ... ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
7: For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre


In verse 5 he calls them elders, in verse 7 he calls them a bishop. The office of a bishop is very similar to that of an elder and has similar qualifications:  

1 Tim 3:1-7

If you read that, you will see ruling is an important aspect. Elders and Bishops rule the church. They are basically the same.  

Elders have 2 distinctive roles. Bishop and Shepherd. Depending upon the gift, they may be stronger in one over the other. Most pastors are stronger shepherds than they are in bishoping.  

1 Pet 2:25: For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

The bishop usually deals with the souls of men, normally correcting them or keeping them in order. Bishops are sometimes called overseers. Shepherds feed and care for the flock.  

Acts 20:28: Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

To lead the church a person is selected by Christ. Jesus is the head of the church. The government is upon His shoulders:  

Eph 4:15: But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ

That verse is notably presented right after the doma gifts are given.  

Isaiah 9:6  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Those gifted by Christ in this capacity are the doma's. A doma then may become an elder if he is ordained and meets the qualifications. Once he is an elder, he usually is also a bishop. Not anyone can lead the church, they are chosen and gifted by Christ, Himself.  

1 Cor 3:
9: For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
10: According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.


Notice that Paul has been graced by God to be a masterbuilder.  

James 3:
1: My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.


James continues on in the term "master". James also speaks about the leaders having a stricter judgment as Paul does right after those verses above in 1 Cor 3:13-17. James continues:  

2: For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.
3: Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.


This verse speaks greatly on the subject of ruling and guiding. The doma elders direct the church just as a rider on a horse. More in James:  

4: Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.

James uses similar terminology as Paul did when Paul listed the doma's in Ephesians:  

Eph 4:
14: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive

Elders/bishops teach the church to protect them from such winds. Elders or bishops rule the church. Both (elders & bishops) are first doma's. 

Some churches have deacons rule. What does scripture say about deacons? Are deacons suppose to rule the church?  

Deacons are a separate office.  

Phil 1:1: Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons

This verse shows that bishops and deacons are separate offices. Elders/bishops and deacons are not the same. Elders rule the church. Deacons serve in the church. Qualification for deacons are found here:  

1 Tim 3:8-13

What is the source of the deacon gift?  

Rom 12:
6: Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us...
7: Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering...


"Ministry" in Greek is "diakonia", where we get the word deacon. The deacon is a charisma gift as opposed to an elder being a doma gift. Remember charisma gifts are from the Holy Spirit and doma gifts are from Jesus, and it is Jesus who is the Head of the church. Rom 12:6 gives the list of charisma's. Deacons are in that list. Here is the best biblical example of a deacon:  

Acts 6:
1: And in those days... there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
2: Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
3: Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
4: But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
5: And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
6: Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
7: And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly...
8: And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.


 In verse 1 the word "ministration" is the word deacon in Greek.  

In review, we see that to be an elder, you must have a doma gift. Which is an ascension gift. Not all doma's are elders, but all elders are doma's. That's because those who are given a doma gift must qualify by what scripture says and then must be set in authority in a church. Therefore not everyone with a doma gift is an elder. This could be do to not qualifying of the eldership/bishop requirements or simply not being set in. It's also not an instant thing, a doma could be in training to become an elder.  A bishop is another title to elder, but focuses on a specific aspect of eldership. A bishop also has a separate list of qualifications. An elder also has the work of a shepherd.  

The deacon is a descension gift, from the charisma's. The deacon is not church government but has a position within the church.  

Can a woman be involved in church government/leadership?  

 Click here

 How do elders rule? What about the shepherding movement?  

 Click here 

Has the church failed?  

 Click here 

What exactly do elders have authority to rule on?

Click here

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