I have been preparing some stuff on the Doctrine of Humanity and the next section will include a look at Genesis 6, the Nephilim and the sons of God. I start by saying
“Man and woman are together made in God’s image to complement one another. God blesses them by providing for them and protecting them. At the same time, he commissions man to provide and to protect. This dual theme of provision and protection mean that there are limits. Provision is to be by the means set out by God and protection means that there are boundaries to be policed in order to keep out evil. This is represented in Genesis 2-3 by the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. . Adam and Eve breech the boundaries, refuse God’s provision and protection so that evil enters paradise and sin enters the world. With sin comes death as Adam and Eve bear the punishment for their wrongdoing. Death also accompanies sin as their son becomes a murderer.“
This got me thinking a bit further about the provide and protect language which is carried forward into the work of elders. In Acts 20:17-38, Paul meets with the Ephesian elders and commissions them in this regard. They are responsible for both feeding the flock with God’s Word and protecting them from wolves (false teachers). Regular readers of Faithroot.com will know that I tends to link the language of provide and protect with men, husbands and fathers and that this leads into the role and responsibility of male leaders as elders in the church. It is not that we restrict a place of hierarchical power to men, it is that they will bring their specific contribution to the life of the church as part of the family.
Here, I want to pick up on the specific issue of provision and protection in terms of Word ministry. First of all, there is the issue of provision. Just as Adam and Eve were to look for God’s provision given to them in his way and his time, so too are we to look for his provision when it comes to spiritual food. This too needs to be the right food given and received in the right way and at the right time. This means that we need to be careful in ensuring that the diet of teaching in church life comes from a right interpretation and application of Scripture. It also does mean that we have to follow carefully what Scripture says about who is responsible for such things, carefully discerning true teachers from false teachers and ensuring that Biblical calling and gifting is in place.
It also means that we must take seriously the responsibility that elders have to protect the church. This means that elders must be willing to do so, even at great cost to themselves. Elders must not shrink back from confronting false teaching and those who seek to harm, scatter and devour the flock through abusive behaviour. And it also means that we as church members need to let them. This means that we free up their time so they can focus on such things. It means that we support them and do not grumble when they have to say and do difficult and unpopular things.