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Choosing a Pastor

Church Leadership in the New Testament, Part 10

Qualifications of an Elder, I Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9

 “A bishop then must be... not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” (I Tim. 3:2,6)

“Not a novice” (Lit. newly planted, neophyte) Christian maturity is required before one is appointed as a bishop and every believer is commanded to grow toward maturity. We are exhorted to grow and to press on to maturity by obedience to God’s Word (I Pet. 2:2; Heb. 5:11-14; James 1:22; Phil. 3:7-14). What is the maturity that is referred to here?

Every believer of this age is baptized in/by the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 12:13). Contrary to what is frequently heard in the Pentecostal/Charismatic circles, there is no Bible command for a believer to be “baptized in the spirit.” (16) The reason for this is that God does that Himself when we believe. The Charismatics also often equate “baptism in the Spirit” with the “filling of the spirit.” They may occur at the same time but they are totally different operations.

Any believer can instantly be “filled with the Spirit.” The Bible uses this wording (Eph. 5:18), but because of the prevalent misuse of the word it may communicate the Bible meaning better to use different terminology. “Filled” means to fill in the sense of being “imbued or influenced.” Its meaning is similar to Gal. 5:16, “Walk in the spirit.” This means for our manner of life “to be “guided by” or “responsive to” the Holy Spirit, or as in Gal. 5:22, “to walk in step with.”

 Contrary to the statements concerning “baptism in the Spirit,” many of the “filling” related passages are in the imperative mood, i.e. commands. Because of all the commands in the Bible for the believer to be obedient in various areas, it is evident that this does not occur automatically. Believers may be Spirit-controlled one moment and not the next. We need to confess our sin (I John 1:9) and again yield ourselves to God in obedience in order to become Spirit-controlled (Rom. 6:16).

 This leads us to the subject of maturity. When one is habitually obedient to God over a period of time he grows. He attains a level of maturity and discernment (Heb. 5:14). The bishop is to now possess and to have shown a pattern of obedience to God’s Holy Spirit. This is not determined by emotional eruptions but by the Word of God. Emotions are God-given and different people express them differently. Our emotions also are fickle, changing and unpredictable. We must interpret our experience by God’s Word, not God’s Word by our experiences.

We can infer from this passage that if a person displays sinful pride that he is not spirit-controlled at that time. A bishop should show a pattern of humility.

 Note the progression; Lifted up — fall. When we are lifted up by pride we will fall. “Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18; Matt. 23:12; Eze. 30:6; Hos. 5:5).

 Satan fell by pride (Isa. 14:12-17; Eze. 28:8-19). Pride heads the list of the sins which God hates (Prov. 6:16-19). Those who teach contrary to God’s Word are proud (I Tim: 6:4). James 4:6 and I Peter 5:5 tell us that God resists the proud. These verses also contrast pride with humility. Pride is on the list of attributes of those who have walked away from God and have a reprobate mind (Rom. 1:25-32.

 In spite of these warnings, how often do we see sinful pride displayed in the Christian church? Of course, it is always in others, the ones who object to me having my way when I am being proud. We must judge and forsake this sin. It divides and weakens the Body of Christ. Jesus is the Head, not you.

Humility is not an easily acquired trait. Humanly speaking, a humble person is often considered weak or “wimpy.” No one likes to be labeled as such. The stigma can be paralleled to one becoming “a good loser.” You have to “lose” to become one. Nonetheless, James 4:10 truthfully admonishes us, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He shall lift you up.” (See also I Peter 5:6). This is the opposite of falling.

Commentators are divided on the meaning of “the condemnation of the devil.” Is it referring to “the devil’s judgment of us” or “the same type of judgment that the Devil incurred for his pride.” Either way, we would be wise to shun the prideful spirit that would invite this judgment. The similar statement in the next verse is obviously referring to what the Devil is doing to us.


(16) The following are the verses that mention the baptism of the Spirit. None are commands, (imperative mood) just statement of fact (indicative mood).

Matt. 3:11. “...he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.”

Mark 1:8. “I indeed have baptized you with water, but he shall baptize you with fire.”

Luke 3:16. “...he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.”

John 1:33. “...upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.”

Acts 1:5. “...but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence”

Acts 11:16. “Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.”

The first five verses are all prophecies given before the beginning of the Church telling of Jesus, who, sometime in the future, would baptize in or by means of His Holy Spirit. The sixth verse is Peter's reiteration of the what Jesus had told them just before Pentecost (Acts:1:5).

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