There are two offices in the New Testament Church which are the office of deacon and that of Elder or Bishop. Both are ordained to that office by the church in the form of a Presbytery and the laying on of hands. When men are ordained they are invested with the authority to function in all the aspects of that office which they are not authorized to do otherwise.
In the case of deacons, the church is the instrument from the beginning to look out among the church to see those men who are full of faith, wisdom and the Holy Ghost to minister in the office of deacons. The early church did this in Acts 6:3 and chose seven men who were ordained to function in that office and minister to those who had been neglected in the daily ministration.
In the case of a minister, the Lord does the choosing and not the church. The Lord must call a man to the office of minister or else he will never truly function as God intended. Paul said he was made a minister: “Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.” (Eph. 3:7). We have no priests today like they had in the Old Testament but the scriptures compare them to the honor of the called of God to the ministry. “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” (Heb. 5:4).
After a man has been called to preach, the church often recognizes he has a gift either through his own personal testimony or other means and he is given the opportunity to exercise that gift in a public way in the church assembly and thus his gift is proven. He is to have such sufficient experience in preaching the word that he is not considered a novice. The Bible says regarding his qualifications: “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” (I Tim. 3:6). If a man has a ministerial gift, there will be room for him. “A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.” (Prov. 18:16).
Once the gift has been recognized and then proven, then the church calls for his ordination to appoint and invest him with the authority to function as an ordained Elder. This isn’t something that is done in a hasty manner as the scriptures say, “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.” (I Tim. 5:22). The church calls for the assistance of ordained Elders from other churches of like faith and order to sit in the Presbytery and the ordination. The apostles were instrumental in ordaining elders to serve the various churches. Â “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:” (Titus 1:5). The apostle Peter was also called an elder as he instructs other elders to feed the flock but not for filthy lucre. (I Pet. 5:1-3)
The first true gospel ministers were John the Baptist and the apostles, but there was no group of men that sat in their ordination. They were ordained by the Lord Himself out of all the disciples that came to Him. “And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,” (Mark 3:14). The apostle Paul was also ordained by the Lord.
The ordained elders, (in the Primitive Baptist church the deacons are also present) gather on the day appointed for the ordination and form a Presbytery to ordain the man who has been called. There is a laying on of hands on the man with the gift in the course of the ordination as Paul writes to Timothy by way of exhortation: “Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” (I Tim. 4:14). Paul also writes to Timothy, “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.” (II Tim. 1:6)
A charge is usually given to the man with the gift by another Elder just as Paul charged Timothy in his letter. “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;Â Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (II Tm. 4:1-2).
After the ordination, the man with the gift is returned to the church as a duly ordained Elder. He now has the authority to minister to the flock of God. He now has the authority to baptize brothers and sisters in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. He can administer the Lord’s Supper and preside over the washing of the saint’s feet.
The Lord calls ministers into his gospel service whereas the church calls men of the church to the office of deacon. Don’t mistake the difference.
Brother Jonathan Wise was ordained to the office of Elder on March 9, 2014 and Brother David Wise will be ordained, Lord willing, on May 16, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. We do pray this prayer: “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” (Matt. 9:38)–April 27, 2015–Elder Larry Wise