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God asks the church to be a community of people sharing a common purpose and fellowship, continually growing in faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God. Paul describes the church as “... his body, the fullness of him who filleth every thing in every way” (Eph.1:22).
God calls us into His body for the purpose of establishing a saving relationship with Him and community with one another. The Holy Spirit convicts our minds, leads us to repentance, and plants us within the church.
The symbol of water baptism marks our entrance into the body of Christ and also marks the baptism of the Holy Spirit experienced by a new disciple. “I tell you the truth, unless a man is born of the water and the Spirit, He cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). The Holy Spirit is the vital life force of the church. When you come to Christ, you are prepared by the Holy Spirit, who has already led you to repentance, for service.
When a church serves the world it is an expression of the love of Christ to the world. It is the body of Christ serving the world’s needs and being used by the Spirit as an agency of salvation. Thus, the church is a servant body. It was created for service. It serves the Lord in praise, serves one another in love, and serves the world in humili- ty. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).
God calls every member of the church into ministry. The church is a kingdom of priests set free to minister for Christ. Our priesthood is to each other within the church and to the world. An elder, like any other church officer, is a ministering ser- vant of God. Every Christian believer is called to ministry, gifted by the Holy Spirit, and in baptism ordained for ministry (Eph. 4:11-12).
It was during the middle ages that the clergy became distinct from other members as a superior element in the church. The biblical concept of laity includes all believers as ministers in the body. In actuality, the church today still has a great distance to go before effectively applying this concept. You should view the work of an elder as a ministry to which God calls people; it is His will operating in their lives.
Duties of the Elder
The ministry to which a person is called when he or she becomes an elder can best be described in the following ways:
Responsibilities in the Local Church. North American Division Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists. Copyright © 1997, Revised 2017. Permission to copy for local church use.